About the Book

Just when she thought she would live happily ever after…

Leila Ashburn Dempsey is desperate. The lovely New York socialite’s dream marriage to feted author Hank Dempsey has become a nightmare. Beneath his charm is a cheating husband addicted to hashish, alcohol, and women. Leila’s life runs awry when she meets Rork Milburn, an artist and her husband’s new business partner.

After Rork saves her from a near drowning, Leila cannot get him out of her mind or heart. When tragedy strikes, Leila embarks on a journey to find Rork across the wilds of 19th Century America, where she learns hard life lessons that could destroy her.

“I’m reading it at bedtime. I just love the way you write and the way the story works.”

Joy Smith is the author of Oh, No, They’re Engaged!, The Empty Nest Cookbook, The Perfect First Mate, Kitchen Afloat, The Smart Guide to Cruising, the romantic suspense novel Green Fire, and children’s story Seagulls Don’t Eat Worms

Joy Smith


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An Excerpt from The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey

Warmth enfolded Leila despite a cool breeze brushing against her. The faint smell of leather and earth tinged with musk intoxicated her. As she moved, pain shot from the back of her head to her temple. Memories of her dress dragging her under flooded back.

A rich baritone voice permeated her addled mind. “You are safe now.”

She blinked and looked up at a rugged, bearded face. The stranger’s intense gray eyes absorbed her. Who is he? Panic gripped her, and she squirmed from his arms. Nausea climbed in her throat, and she tried to breathe. Fog seeped through her mind like a mist rolling over the mountains.

The firm, masculine arms gathered her close again. His resonant voice murmured soft words. “You are safe.”

This man is—is a stranger. His steady gaze—hypnotic.

“You could have drowned. Thank God I heard you scream. How are you feeling?”

 “I-I’m not sure.” She put a hand to her head. “My head wants to explode.”

“You must have hit the back of your head on a rock.”

“Oh, is that why it hurts?”


“Would you mind helping me up?”

He lifted her, keeping one arm around her waist.

She trembled like a newborn colt, unsure of its legs. “Thank you, sir. I’m grateful.”

He inclined his head. “You’re most welcome.”

A breeze sighed past. She shivered and lowered her eyes. Heat invaded her face as she realized her disheveled state. She strained to button the errant pearls.

“I tried to fasten your buttons.”

Leila gaped at him. “Y-you tried to button my bodice?”

“I did.” He watched her with an intensity that startled her. She lifted her eyes and caught a breath. His smile refreshed her. She tried to smooth her sodden dress.

His eyes caressed her from head to toe. “You resemble a beautiful water sprite.”

That one long look filled the empty spaces in her heart.

“Your boldness is offensive, sir.”

“Please, I don’t mean to be offensive. Forgive me.”

Leila placed her hand on her flushed face.

He gazed into her eyes. “How can the truth be offensive?”

She opened her mouth to deliver a rebuke and covered her lips with her fingertips. His sheer size and latent strength bordered on intimidating. Dark, wet chestnut hair fell in waves on his forehead and curled over his collar. She took a few paces back.

The hard planes of his face contrasted with his easy, seductive smile. Those eyes pinned her in place.

She retreated, sure that he got what he wanted, she knew he wanted her. She took another step back. “I-I must go.”

He held up his hands and smiled. “Please, my intentions are honorable.”

Heat crept up her neck. Did I misunderstand? “I must go.” Flight. Uppermost in her mind, yet she remained rooted to the spot, staring up at him.

“I hope to see you again, m’lady.” His smiling eyes teased her.

She shook her head, pressing icy hands to flaming cheeks. He’d held her and looked at her, as only a husband should. Oh, Lord, how could I forget I’m married?

Leila lifted her soaked skirts and fled.

“Wait, please wait.” His heavy footsteps followed close behind as she ran through the trees and along the grassy riverbank.

She stumbled to a halt at the brook’s edge, breathless, and stared at the water surging around rocks. Moments ago, this brook had tried to drown her. A wave of nausea swept over her and her knees buckled.

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