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Best Of All
Janet Mills
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Passion. Heartbreak. Betrayal. Murder. Deceit. Revenge. Friendships hanging in the balance. Innocence lost. Young lives forever changed. In a sleepy mountain town, a high school graduation party is underway. By morning’s light, four friends will make choices that will impact their lives for years to come.

Dani, Wade, Ken, JeriAnn. One of them will break her best friend’s heart. One will marry the girl of his dreams, only to be plagued by doubts over the paternity of their child. One will spend the next two decades longing for the return of the fourth, who left town in the wake of a murder.

Sierra, California -- May 1977

The front screen door slammed with a bang. Danielle Harcourt’s rubber-thonged feet flip-flopped across the yard, through the grape arbor, past the barn, and down the dirt path that led to Angel Creek.

Familiar voices floated like butterflies on the warm breeze as Dani neared the bottom of the hill. Her dog Buddy ran ahead of her, barking happily in his zeal to join their friends for one of their first outings since the warm weather had begun. Dani picked up her own speed as well, and her braid swished gaily across her back. She smiled at the thought of graduating from high school in just a few weeks. Then she realized Buddy had stopped, and the new cadence of his barking signaled a warning.

“What is it, boy?” Dani slowed, cautiously rounding the last manzanita bush on the trail. At first she saw nothing, but her ears picked up the distinctive rattling sound. She froze. Her heart slammed into the back of her chest. The snake, less than two yards away, coiled its long scaly body to strike. Buddy continued to bark with unfettered ferocity, oblivious to his own danger as he put himself between his mistress and the rattler. Dani remained as still as the stone the snake had been sunning itself upon and fought her rising panic. She’d almost rather get bitten herself than see her pet hurt.

The shovel seemed to come out of nowhere, falling like a guillotine to decapitate the rattlesnake’s head. Dani screamed and fell backward onto her bottom in the sandy dirt. She took a long shuddering breath that turned into a strangled sob. Buddy licked her face. She wrapped her arms around the little dog.

“You okay, Dani?”

Wade Stevens loomed above her, blocking the sun with his body. One large hand grasped the wooden shovel handle. She blinked up at him and managed a quivering smile, all the time wishing it had been another who’d rescued her.

“I’m fine.”

Her gaze searched behind Wade to locate the person who made an appearance each night in her dreams. She scrambled to her feet and sidestepped Wade to fling herself into Ken Moody’s arms. Ken held her for a moment. Dani clung to him, burrowing against the warm, spice-scented skin of his bare chest. When he released her, she felt a little dizzy and weak in the knees.

She stared with morbid fascination as the snake’s headless body writhed in the dirt, demanding attention and respect even in the throes of death. Buddy growled and circled the carcass.

“I’d slay dragons for you, m’lady.” Wade spoke the words softly and in earnest. From the brooding expression on her best friend’s face, Dani knew she’d hurt his feelings. She had a knack for it. Pangs of guilt flickered through her, yet she couldn’t feel sorry for seeking Ken’s comfort.

“My hero,” she said, sending Wade a gentle smile. His lips curved into a grin, but she could detect a lingering sadness in the deep blue of his eyes. She’d seen it countless times before, though she was reluctant to dwell upon its meaning.

“Gawd,” JeriAnn Murphy exclaimed, coming up beside her stepbrother Ken. She pointed at the rattlesnake. “It’s hee-uge.”

Dani laughed as she brushed the sand from the seat of her cut-offs. She headed for the creek, taunting the others, calling them slowpokes as she broke into a run. Within minutes, a boisterous water fight ensued. Dani claimed victory for the girls’ side until Wade launched a salamander at JeriAnn. The shrieking girl ran out of the shallow water only to collapse in giggles on the creekbank. Ken followed, his faded jeans wet, heavy, and drooping precariously across his narrow hips.

Ken settled next to JeriAnn on her beach towel. A ridiculous spurt of jealousy went through Dani as she watched them, then a splash brought her around. Wade plowed through the water toward her, holding another brownish-green salamander. She stepped backward into a deeper pool.

"Janet Mills is one author I’m adding to my automatic read list. Her ability to tell a story like this one and keep the reader engrossed is absolute brilliance. Sometimes younger characters can tend to be really juvenile, but Ms. Mills wrote them so believable and did not make them appear petty or childish. They handled the problems they encountered like real people would. There was so much love and caring between the foursome and that made the story all the more believable." Reviewed by Jennifer Ray for The Road to Romance


BEST OF ALL was named BOOK OF THE MONTH by two book clubs in Janet Mills' hometown!
Blue Ribbon rating of 4 "BEST OF ALL is a superb story. The plot moves along well, the characters are unique individuals who each have to come to terms with their pasts. But the strongest achievement is the relationships. This story has three separate relationships that all impact the story: Dani and Wade, JeriAnn and Ken, and Micah, Dani’s son, and Breanne, JeriAnn’s daughter. With each relationship, the reader is invited into a new world of romance and love and the happiness and troubles that come with any bond. Janet Mills writes a great story that any reader can relate to because it touches on the many issues of growing up, being an adult, and learning that love can’t always heal all wounds. BEST OF ALL is truly a touching story." -Sarah


Ms. Mills delivers an intriguing tale of love, loyalty and trust... -Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times Magazine


A crafty piece of work! Suffice it to say that I loved it! -Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews


A story of young love that matures, BEST OF ALL encompasses passion, tenderness and familiarity between a couple who have known each other a lifetime. Janet Mills has delicately explored a love that endures through heartbreak, shared secrets and an undying passion. -Karen Larsen, Romance Reviews


Best of All is a moving, well written book about growing up that spans nineteen years in the life of Danielle, flowing smoothly through years of love, laughter, pain and the knowledge that past mistakes always come home to roost. A contemporary romance from a talented author. Four stars! -Michael Barnette


"BEST OF ALL is a sweet, gentle love story... Janet Mills does a beautiful job... The characters are very believable both as teenagers and as adults." -Jayne Donahue, Bookaholics


"A deeply moving story of friendship, love and choices, this book is an emotional journey of the heart. Janet Mills has created a masterful work that is sheer pleasure to read." -Aimee McLeod, Word Weaving


"Author Janet Mills has successfully captured the emotions... The dialogue and descriptions are realistic, and there is a strong emotional appeal. Life and death are contrasted, as well as lust and love. The murder, which takes place near the beginning of the book, hovers in the background, waiting for closure. In fact, readers will be happy to know that the author is faithful to provide closure to all the loose ends." -Joyce with Love Romances


Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Contemporary Books

ISBN: 1593740891
ISBN(13-digit): 9781593740894
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 405
Paper Weight (lb): 16.8

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