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Charity House Courtship (Love Inspired Historical) Mass Market Paperback – August 7, 2012


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About the Author

 

Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town outside Jacksonville, FL.  Armed with a degree in Economics and Religion from Florida State University, she explored various career opportunities, including stints at a Florida theme park and a modeling agency. She currently lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband and a large, fluffy cat many have mistaken for a small bear.  Renee can be contacted through her website at www.reneeryan.com

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Denver, Colorado

June 1879

Laney O'Connor hesitated outside the legendary Hotel Dupree, unsure how best to proceed. Suspended in her moment of indecision, she took a slow, calming breath. The gesture did little to dispel her increasing agitation. She was, after all, about to commit a brazen act.

Could she pull this off?

Did she have any other choice?

A wave of doubt crested. With a hard swallow, she shoved the unwanted emotion into submission. This was no time for uncertainty.

Yet here she stood, motionless, hardly daring to breathe.

Lifting her gaze, she studied the ornate building in front of her. Not out of curiosity, but to gather the courage she would need to enter the most exclusive establishment in Denver and finish what she'd started this morning.

The Hotel Dupree was—as all the periodicals claimed—the most elegant building in town. Although the sun had set hours ago, modern gaslights bathed the structure in a golden, welcoming glow. Nine stories high, and boasting large, wrought iron balconies on every floor, the beautiful stone structure brought to mind beloved childhood tales where happily-ever-after always reigned.

Would Laney find her own happy ending here tonight?

Doubtful.

But she had to try. She had to forget that time had run out for her, that a shady, unscrupulous banker wanted his money in less than three days.

Three. Short. Days.

An impossible deadline.

Tears pushed at the back of her eyelids, a frightening reminder of her own helplessness, of the sharp, terrifying fear that she couldn't raise the five hundred dollars in time.

For weeks, Laney had prayed for an answer to her dilemma. She had all but begged the Lord to reveal a solution, any solution. Silence had met her countless appeals.

Now, with the clock ticking and no one to rely on but herself, Laney had to obtain the money on her own.

In the only way she knew how.

Please, Lord, please let him show.

Squaring her shoulders, she pushed through the rotating doors and entered the hotel's main lobby. Stepping to the side, she stabbed a cursory glance through the large room. The rich fabrics on the furniture, the expensive mahogany paneling on the walls and the polished marble floors spoke of an attention to detail Laney appreciated.

As much as she admired the beautiful decor, the tiny alcove in the far corner captured the majority of her interest. Small, private, out of the main traffic flow, the nook was a perfect spot for her clandestine meeting.

Head high, eyes cast forward, Laney made her way across the lobby. She kept her steps slow and purposeful, but not too obvious. She had to draw as little attention to herself as possible. Hard to do, considering the dress she'd borrowed for this occasion.

She prayed her choice of clothing hadn't been a mistake. The gown wasn't meant to entice, but rather to remind a man of his duty. And why he had that obligation in the first place.

Once nestled in the hidden alcove, Laney placed her back to the wall and waited for her quarry.

Searching faces only, a sense of foreboding slipped through her resolve. Her pulse kicked into an erratic rhythm, punching ruthlessly against her ribs. What if he doesn't show?

No. She couldn't give into doubt.

Her entire plan hinged on Joshua Greene's cooperation. And his assumption that she was a woman of questionable character. Sighing past a wave of guilt, Laney shifted her position slightly, ran her gaze through the room once more, but found no one bearing the familiar mane of gray hair and ruddy features she sought.

Another adjustment to her stance and she felt her attention pulled to the left, inexplicably drawn to the most compelling pair of steel-blue eyes on a man she'd ever seen.

Their gazes locked. And held.

Why couldn't she look away?

Stunned at her own daring, she pressed her lips tightly together. Her breathing hitched in her throat. For a terrifying instant, every rational thought receded from her mind.

Riveted into immobility, she continued staring at the handsome stranger. He stared back. Boldly, relentlessly, with a bleak expression on his face. That look, that stern, unyielding glare sent a shiver tripping along her spine.

Laney quickly broke eye contact. Something felt off about this whole situation, now more than ever. A sense of impending doom urged her to leave the hotel immediately.

She ignored the sensation, knowing she couldn't leave. Not yet. Not without her money.

Against her better judgment, her gaze sought the handsome stranger once again.

He hadn't moved from his earlier position.

This time, his lips curved around a fixed smile. Distrust, suspicion, they were both in his gaze.

Who was he? And what did he think she was planning to do here tonight?

Knowing how she was dressed, sensing he'd come to the absolute wrong conclusion, she nearly rushed out of the hotel.

The children, she told herself. Think of the orphans.

The reminder helped her recover the necessary courage to finish what she'd come here to do. Yanking her gaze free, Laney melted deeper into the shadows of the alcove.

She held her breath, waiting, counting the endless seconds, praying the stranger would grow tired of watching her and leave. Finally, after shooting one more look in her direction, he disappeared into the adjourning restaurant near the bank of elevators.

Instead of experiencing joy over his departure, another bout of uncertainty reared.

Again, Laney disregarded the feeling.

She could do this. She had to do this. For the abandoned children who needed the safety of the home she alone provided.

A movement at the hotel's entrance cut through her thoughts. Joshua Greene had arrived.

Relief nearly buckled her knees, even as the well-dressed, gray-haired gentleman paused in the doorway. Laney eyed him cautiously, hopefully. Dressed in an expensive, hand-tailored suit, the cut as elegant as the man himself, Judge Greene looked every bit the distinguished Denver citizen that he was.

He glanced around the room with a caged expression on his face. Apparently, he was as unsettled by the nature of their impending transaction as Laney.

Wanting to ease his mind, she moved out into the open and flashed her brightest smile at him. He did not return the gesture. Instead, he tugged his hat over his face and set out in her direction.

Despite her impatience to be finished with this uncomfortable meeting, she waited until he was nearly upon her before speaking. "Good evening, Judge Greene."

A brief nod was his only answer.

So, he was going to play it that way. Laney sighed. "I'm sorry we had to meet this way." And she was. More than she could put into words.

"I, too, am sorry, Miss O'Connor." His lips twisted into a frown. "But I suppose it's better than the alternatives."

It was her turn to nod in agreement. Given the unorthodox nature of their relationship, Laney could never have met him at his home, or hers. And certainly not his office in the courthouse. The Hotel Dupree provided them anonymity.

Wanting to protect his identity as best she could, Laney took his arm and pulled him into the shadows with her.

He followed willingly.

Once they were out of sight of the other hotel guests milling about, he wasted no times with pleasantries.

"Miss O'Connor." He kept his voice low, his words barely audible over the din from the lobby. "As much as I sympathize with your predicament, you must never again contact me as you did this morning. Such recklessness goes against our original arrangement."

The reminder slammed into her like a punch. "I had no other choice," she whispered.

"I know, my dear." Softening his tone, he patted her hand with a benevolent, fatherly touch. "I understand this is difficult for you. Truly, I do. If it's any consolation, you look very much like your mother tonight. Quite beautiful, really."

Instead of relishing the compliment, Laney's heart filled once more with guilt.

She hated putting this man in such a precarious situation. But what else could she do? Her loan had been called in six months early. And this former "friend" of her mother's owed Laney far more than she was asking of him tonight.

Considering the circumstances, he was getting off easy.

Keep telling yourself that.

As if wishing to finish their business as quickly as possible, he slipped a hand inside his coat then pulled out his wallet. A flick of his wrist and she was in possession of her money.

Surprised at how quickly the transaction had gone, Laney automatically curled her fingers over the large bundle and pressed it to her heart.

"Can I assume this settles our account?"

"Yes." She gave him a firm nod. "Thank you, Judge Greene. As per our agreement, you owe me nothing more."

"Excellent." He turned to go, then spun back around to face her. "I know I don't have to remind you of the necessity for secrecy, but under the circumstances, I feel I must verbalize my request so there is no misunderstanding."

Knowing what was coming next, Laney waited silently for him to continue.

"Never reveal who gave you this money, Miss O'Connor.

Or why."

She clutched the bills tighter in her fist. "No, I won't. Your secret is safe with me."

"Thank you. I trust we shall not meet again. I…" As if only just realizing what he was saying, a sad smile crossed his lips. "Take care of my boy."

Such an easy request. "You may count on it."

Without another word, he pivoted on his heel. This time, he didn't turn around.

Light-headed from joy over her success, Laney slumped against the wall and sighed. She glanced after the judge's retreating back. He moved quickly, already halfway to the bank of elevators. At least he was sticking to their plan. As agreed, he would ride to the ninth floor of the hotel, and then exit the building by way of the back stairwell.

Laney wo...

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Product Details

  • Series: Love Inspired Historical
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373829272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373829279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned how to surf and skateboard very poorly. As a teenager, she gave up on both pursuits and began entertaining herself during countless hours of "laying-out" by reading all the classics.

After graduating college, with a degree in Economics and Religion, she explored various career opportunities at a Florida theme park and a modeling agency. She moved on to teach high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams.

Renee now writes for Love Inspired Contemporary and Love Inspired Historical. For further information about Renee, check out www.ReneeRyan.com


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
63%
4 star
37%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
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See all 19 customer reviews
A very intriguing story.
Jutzie
A must read for those who've read the other books in this series.
Monica Partida
I enjoyed every page and read it in one sitting!
Irene's Book Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Williams on June 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
an excelent read. i could not put it down. laney has a strong character with a will to match. she is not afrai to set goals and go after them. you know there are sparks between her and marc as soon as his character is introduced, but completely unprepared for the twist that almost destroys their relationship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clare O'Beara on May 23, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a revised version of the earlier book Extreme Measures (2002).
Set in Denver, Colorado in 1879, the tale explores some social issues of the day and looks behind the scenes of the hospitality and brothel industries at that time. A charming relationship is presented as the foreground of the story and there is plenty of well-researched detail.
Laney O'Connor needs to repay a loan to an unscrupulous banker who has shortened the term by six months. She approaches a judge of her acquaintance in a venture which verges on blackmail. Justifying the move to herself because the judge pays nothing towards the welfare of his son, who is in Laney's care, she meets him in the foyer of an upmarket hotel and discreetly accepts five hundred dollars.
Marc Dupree, the hotelier, notices the attractive young lady entering his premises alone, and presumes that she is a professional courtesan. He prides himself on running the classiest hotel in Denver and won't stand for disreputable women. Marc apprehends the young woman and brings her into his office but she refuses to admit anything. Marc isn't surprised - he can't trust women since his wife Pearl ran off with all their savings, and he has offered jobs to some of the city's working girls to provide them with an alternative, but finds them unreliable.
All Laney cares about is protecting the children she looks after - called orphans, but really the children of brothel girls, the men concerned taking no responsibility. Laney, daughter of a working girl herself, has to pay off the loan on her house, and to do that she needs to accept Marc's offer of a receptionist job, however patronising his attitude. She turns up to work in the evening, but finds her new boss too handsome for comfort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Irene's Book Reviews on January 21, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This author is a very good writer. The story flows quickly and the characters are believable. I gave this book 5/5 stars. I liked how the relationship between Laney and Marc was written. Their conversations were great; you could feel the tension in their words to each other. I liked the setting too as it added to the story with it being an orphanage. Laney needing the money and Marc being a way for her to get it added to the conflict in their growing relationship. If you have not read any of these Love Inspired Historical novels this one is a great book to start with. I enjoyed every page and read it in one sitting!

I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
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By rhonda on August 7, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Charity House Courtship by Renee Ryan
4 STARS Laney O'Connor was at the Hotel Dupree Hoping to get money she needed for her ophanage from Judge Greene. 500$ that the banker has called in on her loan to be repaid six months early. Judge Greene used to be one of Laney's mothers boyfriend. He also tells her to take care of his boy. Never tell anyone why and who she got this money from. Laney was dressed in a dress the one of the working girls she knows lended her so no one would wonder what she was doing talking to the judge. Marc Dupree has taken over the running of his hotel and he no longer lets and dishonorable behavior occur in his hotel. He witnessed Laney and the Judge talking and the transfer of envelope that he gave her. Then the Judge got in the elevator and Marc knew Laney would follow him in a few minutes. Instead 20 minutes later Laney was leaving the hotel and Marc intercepted her with a bouncer Hank took her to his office and looked in her purse saw 500$ she got from the Judge and asked her why she was in the hotel. Laney was going to tell then she realized she could not. Marc had money and purse put into his safe. Said he would give the money back to the Judge. Laney tried to get him to let her go with her money. Then Marc left her locked in his office and went to the room Laney said he was in. Laney opened safe, changed into marc's extra clothes, left him note climbed up onto his desk and out the window and straight into Marc arms. Laney ended up hurting him and got away with the money. Next day at the bank she went to pay the banker and he said yes the loan was here but not the interest and she owed him 50.00 by the end of the month. Banker admitted he wanted Laney to fail then they would leave town. Laney's mother was a prostitute and died of drug use.
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By Sis Steele on August 6, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Throughout the Charity House series, I have wondered, "how did Charity House begin?" Now I have my answer. A wonderful series comes to an end with a story about the beginnings of an orphanage/foster home and founding characters who providing fodder for great romance, conflict and faith challenges in this book and the ones that follow. Renee Ryan has a talent for being gritty as well romantic in her writing, making for a compelling read you will not want to put down. If you have not read the others in the series, no matter! You are starting at the beginning.
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