Excerpt from Birthright by Nora Roberts, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Birthright

By Nora Roberts

Birthright
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2003,
    480 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2004,
    512 pages.

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"I didn't know you'd gotten new stock. Is this one?" At his nod, she gently turned the book around.

Roger dealt in rare books, and his tiny shop was a small cathedral to them. It smelled, always, of old leather and old paper and the Old Spice he'd been sprinkling on his skin for sixty years.

A rare bookstore wasn't the sort of thing expected in a two-stoplight rural town. Lana knew the bulk of his clientele came, like his stock, from much farther afield.

"It's beautiful." She traced a finger over the leather binding. "Where did it come from?"

"An estate in Chicago." His ears pricked at a sound at the rear of the shop. "But it came with something even more valuable."

He waited, heard the door between the shop and the stairs to the living quarters on the second floor open. Lana saw the pleasure light up his face, and turned.

He had a face of deep valleys and strong hills. His hair was very dark brown with gilt lights in it. The type, she imagined, that would go silver and white with age. There was a rumpled mass of it that brushed the collar of his shirt.

The eyes were deep, dark brown, and at the moment seemed a bit surly. As did his mouth. It was a face, Lana mused, that mirrored both intellect and will. Smart and stubborn, was her first analysis. But perhaps, she admitted, it was because Roger had often described his grandson as just that.

The fact that he looked as if he'd just rolled out of bed and hitched on a pair of old jeans as an afterthought added sexy to the mix.

She felt a pleasant little ripple in the blood she hadn't experienced in a very long time.

"Doug." There was pride, delight and love in the single word. "Wondered when you were going to wander down. Good timing, as it happens. This is Lana. I told you about our Lana. Lana Campbell, my grandson, Doug Cullen."

"It's nice to meet you." She offered a hand. "We've missed each other whenever you've popped back home since I moved to Woodsboro."

He shook her hand, scanned her face. "You're the lawyer."

"Guilty. I just stopped in to tell Roger the latest on the Dolan development. And to hit on him. How long are you in town?"

"I'm not sure."

A man of few words, she thought, and tried again. "You do a lot of traveling, acquiring and selling antiquarian books. It must be fascinating."

"I like it."

Roger leaped into the awkward pause. "I don't know what I'd do without Doug. Can't get around like I used to. He's got a feel for the business, too. A natural feel. I'd be retired and boring myself to death if he hadn't taken up the fieldwork."

"It must be satisfying for both of you, to share an interest, and a family business." Since Douglas looked bored by the conversation, Lana turned to his grandfather. "Well, Roger, since you've blown me off, again, I'd better get back to work. See you at the meeting tomorrow night?"

"I'll be there."

"Nice meeting you, Doug."

"Yeah. See you around."

When the door closed behind her, Roger let out a steam-kettle sigh. "'See you around'? That's the best you can do when you're talking to a pretty woman? You're breaking my heart, boy."

"There's no coffee. Upstairs. No coffee. No brain. I'm lucky I can speak in simple declarative sentences."

"Got a pot in the back room," Roger said in disgust, and jerked a thumb. "That girl's smart, pretty, interesting and," he added as Doug moved behind the counter and through the door, "available."

"I'm not looking for a woman." The scent of coffee hit his senses and nearly made him weep. He poured a cup, burned his tongue on the first sip and knew all would, once again, be right with the world.

From Birthright by Nora Roberts, Copyright © 2003 Nora Roberts, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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