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The Black Sheep's Inheritance (Dynasties: The Lassiters Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Length: 194 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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About the Author

Maureen Child is the author of more than 130 romance novels and novellas that routinely appear on bestseller lists and have won numerous awards, including the National Reader's Choice Award. A seven-time nominee for the prestigous RITA award from Romance Writers of America, one of her books was made into a CBS-TV movie called THE SOUL COLLECTER.  Maureen recently moved from California to the mountains of Utah and is trying to get used to snow.   

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The lawyer's office at the firm of Drake, Alcott and Whittaker was too crowded for Sage Lassiter's tastes. He much preferred being out on his ranch, in the cold, crisp air of a Wyoming spring. Still, he had no choice but to attend the reading of his adoptive father's will.

J.D. Lassiter had been dead only a couple of weeks and Sage was having a hard time coming to grips with it. Hell, he would have bet money that J.D. was far too stubborn to actually die. And now that he had, Sage was forced to live with the knowledge that now he would never have the chance to straighten things out between himself and the man who had raised him. Just like J.D. to go ahead and do something whether anyone else was ready for it or not. The old man had, once again, gotten the last word.

Sage couldn't have said when the tension between him and J.D. had taken root, but he remembered it as an always-there kind of feeling. Nothing tangible. Nothing that he could point to and say: There. That was it. The beginning of the end. Instead, it was a slow disintegration of whatever might have been between them and it was beyond too late to think about it now. Old hurts, old resentments had no place in this room and nowhere to go even if he had let them take the forefront in his mind.

"You look like you want to hit something." His younger brother Dylan's voice came in a whisper.

Shooting him a hard look, Sage shook his head. "No, just can't really take in that we're here."

"I know." Dylan pushed his brown hair off his forehead and gave a quick look around the room before turning back to Sage. "Still can't quite believe J.D.'s gone."

"I was just thinking the same thing." He shifted, folded his arms across his chest and said, "I'm worried about Marlene."

Dylan followed his gaze.

Marlene Lassiter had stepped in as surrogate mother to Sage, Dylan and Angelica after Ellie Lassiter died during childbirth with Angie. She'd been married to J.D.'s brother Charles, and when she was widowed, she'd come home to Wyoming to live on Big Blue, the Lassiter ranch. She'd been nurturer, friend and trusted confidante for too many years to count.

"She'll be okay, eventually," Dylan said, then winced as they watched Marlene hold a sodden tissue to her mouth as if trying to stifle a wail of agony.

"Hope you're right," Sage muttered, uncomfortable seeing Marlene in pain and knowing there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

Marlene's son, Chance Lassiter, sat to one side of her, his arm thrown protectively around her shoulders. He wore a leather jacket tossed on over a long-sleeved white shirt. Dark blue jeans and boots completed the outfit, and the gray Stetson he was never without was balanced on one knee. He was a cowboy down to his bones and the manager of J.D.'s thirty-thousand-acre ranch, Big Blue.

"You have any idea what the bequests are?" Dylan asked. "Couldn't get a thing out of Walter."

"Not surprising," Sage remarked with a sardonic twist of his lips. Walter Drake was not only J.D.'s lawyer, but practically his clone. Two more stubborn, secretive men he'd never met. Walter had made calls to all of them, simply telling them when and where to show up and not once hinting at what was in J.D.'s will. Logan Whittaker, another partner in the firm, was also working on J.D.'s will but he hadn't been any more forthcoming than Walter.

Sage wasn't expecting a damn thing for himself. And it wasn't as if he needed money. He'd built his own fortune, starting off in college by investing in one of his friends' brilliant ideas. When that paid off, he invested in other dreamers, and along the way he'd amassed millions. More than enough to make him completely independent of the Lassiter legacy. In fact, he was surprised he had been asked to be here at all. Long ago, he'd distanced himself from the Lassiters to make his own way, and he and J.D. hadn't exactly been close.

"Have you talked to Angelica since this all happened?" Dylan frowned and glanced to where their sister sat beside her fiancé, Evan McCain, her head on his shoulder.

"Not for long." Sage frowned, too, and thought about the sister he and Dylan loved so much. Her muchanticipated wedding had been postponed because of their father's death and who knew when it would happen now. Angelica's big brown eyes were red rimmed from crying and there were lavender shadows beneath those eyes that told Sage she wasn't sleeping much. "I went to see her a couple of days ago, hoping I could talk to her, but all she did was bawl." His scowl deepened. "Hate seeing her like that, but I don't know what the hell we can do for her."

"Not much really," Dylan agreed. "I saw her yesterday, but she didn't want to talk about what happened. Evan told me she's not sleeping, hardly eating. She's taking this really hard, Sage."

Nodding, he told his brother, "She and the old man were so close, of course she's taking it hard. Not to mention, J.D. collapsing at her rehearsal dinner adds a whole new level of misery. We've just got to make sure she gets past this. We'll tag team her. One of us going to see her at least every other day…"

"Oh," Dylan said, chuckling, "Evan will love having us around all the time."

"He's the one so hell-bent on marrying into the Las-siter family," Sage pointed out wryly. "If he takes one of us, he gets all of us. Best he figures that out now anyway."

"True." Dylan nodded then sat back in his chair. "Okay, then. We'll keep an eye on Angelica."

Dylan kept talking, now about his plans for the restaurant he was opening, but Sage had stopped listening. Instead, he watched Colleen Falkner, J.D.'s private nurse, slip quietly into the room, then make her way to the front, where she took a seat beside Marlene. The older woman gave her a watery smile of welcome and took her hand in a firm grip.

Sage narrowed his gaze on Colleen and felt a hard jolt of awareness leap to life inside him-just as it had the night of the rehearsal dinner. The same night J.D. died.

That night, he'd really noticed her for the first time. They'd met in passing of course, but on that particular night, there had been something different about her. Something that tugged at him. Maybe it had been seeing her long, amazing hair loose, cascading down her back in beautiful shimmering waves. Maybe it had been the short red dress and the black heels and the way they'd made her legs look a mile long. All he knew for sure was when he'd caught her eye from across the room, he'd felt a connection snap into place between them. He had started toward her, determined to talk to her-then J.D.'s heart attack had changed everything.

She wasn't wearing party clothes today, though. Instead, she wore baggy slacks, a sapphire-blue pullover sweater and her long, dark blond hair was pulled back into a braid that hung down between her shoulder blades. She had wide blue eyes that were bright with unshed tears and a full, rich mouth that tempted a man to taste it.

If he hadn't seen her in a figure-skimming red dress at the party-a dress that remained etched into his memory-Sage never would have guessed at the curves she kept so well hidden beneath her armor of wool and cotton.

He hadn't had much interaction with Colleen, since he and J.D. hadn't exactly been on the best of terms, so Sage didn't spend much time on Big Blue. But that night at the party, she'd intrigued him. Not only was she beautiful, but when J.D. collapsed, she had sprung into action, shouting orders like a general and taking charge until the paramedics showed up.

She had been devoted to J.D., had earned the family's affections-as evidenced by the way Marlene reached out to take the woman's hand-yet through it all had remained a bit of a mystery. Where was she from? Why had she taken a job working for a grumpy old man on a remote, if luxurious, ranch? And why the hell did he care?

"Colleen do something to you?"

He glanced at Dylan. "What?"

"Well, you're staring at her hard enough to set her hair on fire. What's up?"

Irritated to have been caught out, Sage muttered, "Shut up."

"Ah. Good answer." Dylan just smiled, shook his head and leaned forward to ask Chance something.

Sage let his gaze slide carefully back to Colleen. She bent her head to whisper something to Marlene, and he watched that long, silky braid slide across her shoulder, baring the nape of her neck. Soft blond curls brushed against her skin and he suddenly had the urge to touch her. To stroke that skin, to slide his fingers through her hair, to- He cut that thought off as fast as he could and scowled to himself.

The only possible reason she had for being here was if she was mentioned in J.D.'s will. Sure, J.D. had needed a nurse over his last few months, with his health failing, but such a beautiful one? Was that why she'd taken the job of caring for the old man? Had she been hoping for a nice payoff someday? Maybe he should spend a little time looking into Colleen Falkner, he thought. Do some checking. Make sure-

"You're looking at her again," Dylan pointed out.

Glaring at his brother and ignoring the smile on the man's face, Sage grumbled, "Don't you have something else to do?"

"Not at the moment."

"Lucky me."

"I just think it's interesting how fascinated you seem to be by Colleen."

"I'm not fascinated." Much. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and told himself to stop thinking about her. How could the woman have gotten to him so easily? Hell, he hadn't even really talked to her.

"Not what it looks like from where I'm sitting."

"Then maybe you should sit somewhere else." He wasn't fascinated. He was…interested. Attracted. There was a difference.

Dylan laughed shortly. True to form, Sage's younger brother was almost impossible to insult. He was easygoing, charming and sometimes Sage thought his younger brother had gotten all the patience in the family. But he was also stubborn and once he got his teeth into something, he rarely let it go.

Like now, for example.

"She's single," Dylan said.


"I'm just sayin'," his brother continued, "maybe you could leave your ranch once in a while. Have an actual date. Maybe with Colleen."

Sage drew his head back and stared at his brother. "Are you running a dating service I don't know about?"

"Fine," Dylan muttered, sitting back in his chair. "Have it your way. Be a hermit. End up becoming the weird old guy who lives alone on an isolated ranch."

"I'm not a hermit."

"Yeah? When's the last time you had a woman?" Frowning, Sage said, "Not that it's any of your business, but I get plenty of women."

"One-night stands? Nice."

Sage preferred one-night stands. He didn't do commitment, and spending time with women who felt the same way avoided a lot of unnecessary hassle. If his brother wanted to look for more in his life, he was welcome to. As for Sage, he liked his life just the way it was. He came and went as he pleased. When he wanted a woman, he went and found one. When he wanted to be left the hell alone, he had that, too.

"Now that you mention it," he said quietly, "I haven't noticed you busy developing any serious relationships, either."

Dylan shrugged, folded his arms across his chest and said, "We're not talking about me."

"Yeah, well, we're done talking about me, too."

Then the office door opened, and lawyer Walter Drake stepped inside and announced, "All here?" He swept the room with a sharp-eyed gaze and nodded to himself. "Good. Then we can get started."

"I don't know if I'm ready for this," Dylan grumbled.

Sage was more than ready. He wanted this day done and finished so he could get back to his ranch.

After settling himself behind a wide oak desk, Walter, an older man who looked like the stereotypical image of an "old family retainer"-handsome, gray haired and impeccably dressed-picked up a stack of papers and straightened them unnecessarily. That shuffle of paper and the rattle of the window panes as a cold wind gusted against it were the only sounds in the room. It was as if everyone had taken a breath and held it.

Walter was clearly enjoying his moment in the spotlight. Every eye in the room was on him. Once again, his gaze moved over the people gathered there and when he finally came to Angelica, he gave her a sad, sympathetic smile before speaking to the room. "I know how hard this is on all of you, so I'll be as brief as possible."

Sage would be grateful.

"As you all know, J.D. and I knew each other for more than thirty years." Walter paused, smiled to himself and added, "He was a stubborn man, but a proud one, and I want you all to know that he took great care with his will. He remade it just a few months ago because he wanted to be sure to do the right thing by all of you."

Scraping one hand across his face, Sage shifted in the uncomfortable chair. He flicked a quick glance out the window and saw dark clouds rushing across the sky. April in Wyoming, he mused. It could be sunny in the morning and snowing by afternoon. And right now, it looked as though a storm was headed their way. Which only fed the urge to get back to his ranch before the bad weather hit.

"There are a lot of smaller provisions made to people J.D. thought well of over the years," Walter was saying. "I won't be reading them aloud today. Nor will I make mention of other estate business that will be handled separately."

Sage frowned thoughtfully and shifted his gaze to Walter. Handled separately? Why? What was the lawyer trying to hide? For that matter, what had J.D. been trying to hide? He braced his elbows on his thighs and leaned forward, keeping his gaze fixed on Walter as if the man was about to saw a woman in half. Or pull a dove from a magic hat.

"That part of the will is, at this time, not to be shared with the family."

"Why not?" Sage's question shattered the stillness left in the wake of Walter's startling statement.

The older man met Sage's gaze squarely. "Those were J.D.'s wishes."

"How do we know that?" An insulting question and he knew it, but Sage didn't stop himself. He didn't like secrets.

Dylan jammed his elbow into Sage's side, but he didn't so much as flinch. Just kept staring at the lawyer waiting for an answer.

"Because I tell you so," Walter said, stiffening in insult.

"C'mon, Sage," Dylan muttered. "Let it go for now."

Product Details

  • File Size: 524 KB
  • Print Length: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Desire (April 1, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2014
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,377 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

USA Today best selling author Maureen Child is the author of more than one hundred romance novels and novellas. Maureen is a seven time nominee for the prestigious Rita award from Romance Writers of America. (Think Oscars for romance writers).

One of her novels, A POCKETFUL OF PARADISE, was made into a CBS-TV movie called The Soul Collector, starring Melissa Gilbert, Bruce Greenwood and Ossie Davis.

Maureen was not only on the Texas set to watch her characters come to life in front of the cameras, she was also tossed into the last scene by her husband and the producer, who both thought this would be a fun way to humiliate an author!

When her kids were small, Maureen started writing as not only a way to stay sane, but in the hopes of finding a job she could do and stay at home with them. Sanity is still an issue, but she did manage to write her way into a career she wouldn't trade for anything.

Over the years, she's written under lots of different names and she prefers the term 'pseudonym' to 'alias'. As Ann Carberry, she wrote western historical romances. As Kathleen Kane, she wrote not only Americana romances, but western paranormal romances as well. As Sarah Hart, she wrote one really spectacular western paranormal that is still one of her favorites. And once, Ann Carberry even wrote a Victorian historical which she absolutely loved doing.

Under her own name, Maureen writes short contemporary novels for Silhouette Desire--books she loves to write because of their fast pace and condensed story telling. Maureen is also writing funny, contemporary paranormal romances for NAL and darker paranormal stories for Silhouette Nocturne.

Life is busy but when she isn't writing you can find Maureen sitting under her 'thinking tree', coming up with new ideas for even more stories. When she isn't dreaming up a new book or writing a current one, Maureen loves to travel. Her favorite vacation spot is Ireland, with Scotland coming in a very close second. She and her husband love a good road trip and Maureen's looking forward to the day when she can actually drive to Ireland. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Maureen, a native Californian recently moved to the mountains of Utah and is learning how to live with snow! Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Becca on June 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone else stated, I normally like Maureen Child books as well, but not this one. There were so many things that tripped my trigger, it's hard to know where to begin. At first I picked two stars but the more I thought about Colleen, who was a complete nitwit, I felt I had to pick one star.

First of all Colleen is a private nurse and Sage is the adopted son of the man she cared for. In the beginning Sage's father died and for some unknown reason, he left his daughter's fiance in charge of the company instead of his daughter. Now MOST people would have simply ASKED Colleen "did he give any indication as to why he made that change in his will?" because she spent so much time with him, but no, Sage decided to cozy up to Colleen and then to have "hot. crazy sex" with Colleen to get the information out of her. Can you say "making up any excuse you can to have sex, kids?". This was even AFTER his sister just asked if she knew anything about the will and Colleen denied it. Clearly, he's a hormone ridden Einstein. At one point, he said he was going to determine if Colleen "conspired with JD to cheat Angie out of what was rightfully hers". Colleen getting three million dollars had NOTHING to do with Angie becoming the CEO of the family company so this whole storyline was just some lame excuse to have sex. I was very disappointed in this entire book. It felt "lazy" as if the author didn't even bother to put any effort into it.

At the beginning of the book, Sage is referred to as a "hermit" as someone who rarely left his ranch by Daddy dearest and his siblings. And yet, Colleen managed to find a picture of Sage online at a Hollywood awards show with the "latest Oscar winner" on his arm.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Meagan @Teen Scene & By the Book Reviews on April 2, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first book in the Dynasties: The Lassiters series definitely doesn't disappoint. Although there were a few things I thought could have been better, I really enjoyed this story & finished it quickly. I don't think I've ever read anything by Maureen Child that I didn't like. She knows how to tell a good story & this one is no exception! It exposed you to the family yet left you wanting, which is the perfect way to start a series. I wish that I had realized that Beauty & the Best Man was a prequel to the series because I would have read it first, but I do still plan on reading it soon!

The main characters of this book, Sage & Colleen, are both so different. Colleen knows a lot about Sage, since she was his father's nurse but Sage seems to have some serious misconceptions about her, especially in the beginning. The relationship that develops between the two of them happens very quickly, due to the fact that they can't seem to fight their growing attraction to each other! I can 't wait to read more about the Lassiter family!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on April 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this book Colleen was a nurse for a man who has a heart attack at his daughter's rehearsal dinner. When his will is read all check breaks out. There are many interesting twists and turns to the plot which lead to a happy ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sheri V on May 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A great story from a powerhouse like Maureen Child, this has it all, a slightly brooding grumpy Alpha male, a semi naïve sweet heroine who has a secret backbone, then throw in a small misunderstanding and it’s an entertaining read.

This definitely hooked me into the Lassiter world, and I look forward to reading more of this family and their stories. I really liked Sage, he’s grumpy and a bit misguided but when he falls, he falls hard. Colleen is a bit naïve because she’s never lived in the mountains of Wyoming, and easily falls in love with the charming and helpful Sage Lassiter.

When things come to a head, and they have issues, I felt like they handled it well, and it was understandable and well done in such a way that I could believe that they could find their way back to each other. I do recommend this story, it has passion and a lot of heart.

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Clarke on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Although I though this novel would also deal with Angie and Evan, it's still a great story into the heart of the Lassiter family as well as the searing chemistry between Sage and Colleen. Lots of home truths and personal growth for Sage, the black sheep of the family. Colleen is a pure hearted person without a streak of mean-ness which Sage quickly realises. Not that he's going to admit falling in love!

I want Angie and Evan's story - let me know if anyone finds it! Not that it's Evan's fault at all, but I hope someone punches Evan's lights out! He's not putting up much of a fight returning his fiance's inheritance is he?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This was an ok romance. Rich guy thinks nurse swindled money from his dying father. Rich overbearing man learns to love and stop hiding away alone. Sweet innocent nurse gets caught up in the whirlwind that is him. It's a story line I've read before. But this was a quick and easy read. Still delightful, but not as sexy as I would have preferred coming from Harlequin
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By roxanna blazer on June 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was not real taken with this book, which is unusual because I usually love Maureen Child's books. This one was just too predictable and not really my cup of tea. Perhaps it was my mood at the time I read it. But if you are looking a sappy love story, this is it!
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