The Search For Her Sister Could Cost A Woman Her Life
Christy McKenna, the smartest fashion writer in New York, thought she'd escaped her childhood in the impoverished rural West. Then came a call for help from the one person she could not refuse—her sister, the internationally celebrated model known only as Jo.
Jo's plea draws Christy back to the magnificent mountains and mysterious red-rock canyons of the Four Corners country. But she's too late—Jo has disappeared. However, Christy does find an unlikely ally in outlaw archaeologist Aaron Cain, and together they pursue Jo and a fabulous cache of ancient Indian artifacts worth millions.
Christy and Cain clash at every turn, but their antagonism soon turns into partnership—and blazing passion.
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About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell has more than eighty titles published to date with over twenty-four million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.
Date of Birth:April 5, 1944
Place of Birth:Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education:B. A., University of California, 1966
Read an Excerpt
The Secret Sister
By Elizabeth Lowell
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Elizabeth Lowell
All right reserved.
Christy McKenna looked at the date on the message call slip. Three days old. Just one of the many notes that had built up during her two-week vacation. But reading this note made her stomach feel as though the bottom of the world had just fallen out.
She hadn't heard from her younger sister in twelve years. It had been bad news then.
It would be bad news now.
Christy felt the old familiar mixture of love and guilt and unease wash through her. Jo-Jo couldn't help that she'd been born with the kind of beauty that literally made people stop and stare. It wasn't Jo-Jo's fault that most people tripped over themselves in their rush to please her. Against an everyday setting, the kind of beauty she had was stunning.
As a result, Jo-Jo thought the universe revolved around her perfect body.
You like people because of certain things, Christy reminded herself wryly. You love them despite certain things. Like a beauty that's equaled only by her selfishness.
For better or for worse, Christy loved her dazzling younger sister. She always had. Twelve years couldn't change that. Nothing could.
But Christy really wished she could like her sister.
As she flipped through more telephone messages the cool breath of the past chilled her spine. After twelve years of silence, Jo-Jo had called five times in two weeks.
What's gone wrong in my baby sister's life that a smile and an extra swing of her fabulous hips can't fix?
Nothing answered Christy's silent question but the equally silent slips of paper clenched in her hand. She had a gut-deep certainty that something was very wrong.
Something Jo-Jo would expect Christy to fix.
"Shit," she muttered.
Nobody responded to the unhappy word. She was alone in her office with the door closed because she didn't want to be interrupted while she did triage on the work that had been piled on her desk while she was gone.
"Why me, Jo-Jo?"
That was easy enough to answer. There wasn't anyone else left of their "family" but the two of them.
"What makes you think I'll drop everything and come running?"
Twelve years of it.
Christy had never entirely forgiven Jo-Jo for taking whatever caught her eye on her way through life--Christy's clothes, shoes, boyfriends, girlfriends.
Grandmother McKenna's gold nugget necklace.
Of all that Jo-Jo had taken, only the necklace still rankled. It was the only piece of the past that Christy wanted. Jo-Jo had known it.
That was why she took it.
"So what?" Christy said impatiently to the messages. "Gramma is dead. I'm in New York. Jo-Jo is wherever Jo-Jo wants to be. I'm doing what I love. Right?"
Silence and years and guilt for not being able to make it all turn out right.
Frowning, Christy looked around her office. The shelves were still crammed with books on art, fashion, philosophy, and human adornment, from Stone Age body painting to Tiffany's most astonishing diamond necklaces. The lone window still needed washing and still had a view of another Manhattan high-rise an arm's length away. The nameplate on the door still said Christa McKenna, Contributing Editor.
Nothing had changed.
Yet she had an uneasy feeling that everything had changed. Maybe it was as simple as wanting a few more weeks of vacation. Maybe it was as complex as the restlessness that had overtaken her in the months since her thirtysecond birthday.
Maybe it was the past, wounded, bleeding, never healed.
The past, and the hope that this time would be different. This time the old wounds would be healed because Jo-Jo was finally old enough to understand that other people hurt, other people cried, other people bled. Not just Jo-Jo. Everyone.
Even her older sister.
Christy reached across her desk for the newest Horizon magazine and flipped to Peter Hutton's standing six-page ad package. The layout had been shot on the deck of a yacht off Martha's Vineyard and featured Hutton's signature model, an internationally famous beauty known to the world by only one name: Jo.
Leggy, blond, innocent and wicked in the same instant, Jo-Jo wore a pastel silk pullover sweater and white silk slacks. The sea wind swept her straight hair to one side, letting her look up from under dense eyelashes at the world. She had wide green eyes. Cat eyes. Waiting for the next stupid mouse to move.
Christy stared at the ad, looking for some reason, some hint that would tell her why Jo-Jo was calling after all these years. Nothing came but the sheer physical presence of an internationally successful model.
Jo-Jo wasn't a swizzle stick kind of clothes rack. Her waist was as narrow as a girl's, but she had a woman's hips and high, full breasts. The weave of the silk sweater was so loose and the yarn so fine that her nipples stood out clearly. The silk of the slacks was equally thin, almost sheer. A brunette would have had to shave up to her navel to get away with the pants. On Jo-Jo, the clingy material was an "accidental" striptease frozen just before the moment of total nakedness.
Pure Hutton. Pure Jo-Jo. Seemingly casual, sexually challenging, and manipulative as hell.
Hutton's vision of fashion skated dangerously close to being coarse, yet somehow always managed to avoid the label. Jo-Jo's sheer beauty had a lot to do with it.
"What's the matter?" Christy asked the ad. "Did Hutton finally discover you aren't his alone? Is he going to throw you out on your fantastic ass?"
Christy shivered and set aside the magazine. She could no more ignore her sister's needs now than she had been able to long ago, far away, in another part of the country.
Get it over with. Call and find out what's wrong. Because you know something is.
The call-back number had an area code of 305. Christy pulled out a phone book and flipped to the map in the front.
Excerpted from The Secret Sister by Elizabeth Lowell Copyright © 2005 by Elizabeth Lowell.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This a re-issue of The Secret Sisters written by Anne Maxwell in 1993 - another of Elizabeth Lowell's identities. Like all of Lowell's books, it is a good read. I am disappointed that no mention was made of the re-issue status - I just bought and read a book that I had already bought and read - just did not realize it until I got into the book - who can remember a 12 year old title!
Christy's sister Jo-Jo is a supermodel, and Christy hasn't spoken with her in twelve years. When a frightened call from Jo-Jo asking for help coincides with an assignment from her editor to interview Peter Hutton for whom Jo-Jo acts as muse, Christy is drawn back into a family dynamic she's been purposely avoiding. Christy has always rescued Jo-Jo from trouble, and it seems like this time is no different, except that maybe this time Jo-Jo is in too deep for even Christy to pull her out. Despite Jo-Jo's warning not to trust him, Christy teams up with Aaron Cain, an archaeologist, to find out what happened to some artifacts which could be the key to Jo-Jo's disappearance.I'm aware of how complicated that summary sounds, but the book does a decent job of laying all this out, even though it's a little too coincidental that Christy just happens to work for a magazine about style, not just trendy fashion, but also an almost psychological view of how style sometimes transcends into art. I can't even think of a magazine to compare the fictional Horizon to. Also, it kept bugging me that ostensibly Christy was supposed to be writing a piece on Hutton's new designs, but instead she's wandering around the desert looking for artifacts with Cain. Most of the middle part of the book took place in said desert doing said wandering. It almost got boring, but with the threat of cave-ins and possible artifact-finding, it never completely lost my interest. In terms of chemistry, I thought Christy and Cain had a fair bit, but it always bugs me, particularly in romantic suspense, when people who've known each other less than two days are suddenly totally in love. I get that a lot has happened in those two days and that it totally feels like two years, and I would buy the adrenaline-induced lust, but the "and then they got married and lived happily ever after" just bugs me. A more realistic ending would be that the two decided to date for a while and see if they still liked each other when people weren't out to kill them. Even an epilogue that implies they continued to see each other for a while after the book's climax, and decided they'd make a compatible couple, so entered into a mutually agreeable living arrangement with an eye towards marriage... But, I digress.I was interested in the Anasazi history and lore, as that's not something I'm well versed in, and I believe I learned some worthwhile things. I've liked Lowell's work lately that focuses on gemstones and their history, properties and sales arenas. I always feel like I'm getting more out of the book than just a satisfying love story. And, this was pretty satisfying. Despite my above nitpicks, I did enjoy reading it. If you are a fan of this genre, I'm sure you'll like it, too.
Have you ever read a book about which you are indifferent? This book falls under that category. I loved "Moving Target", and lent it to my best friend to read, who also enjoyed it. So when she picked up "The Secret Sister", she handed it to me to read, saying that she really enjoyed it. The storyline was very unique and intriguing. If there's anything I love about Elizabeth Lowell's books, it's that I learn something. In "Moving Target", it's all about medieval manuscripts, and in "The Secret Sister", the reader learns about the Anasazi and their culture. We're taken on a journey through Western America as Christy searches for her lost sister. Kokopelli, potsherds, kivas, cliff dwellings...The author describes them fluidly and vividly. But (you knew there was a "but" coming...) she describes them a bit too much. This seems to come up quite a bit in my posts; the over verbosity of authors. Readers aren't dumb. We get it. You don't need to go on and on about a tree, or in this case, a potsherd. Get to the point already. She could have saved a bit of paper if she was short and sweet. One love scene went on for at least 4 pages. Yes, Christy's in the throes of ecstasy. Move on. Ms Lowell also used the same phrases and ideas more than once. In the very first chapter, Christy decides to break up with her boring boyfriend Nick. So I established in my head that she was broken up. But then, a few chapters later, Christy decides again to break up with Nick, and the author uses almost exactly the same wording she had already used. There were also a few back-and-forths between Christy and Cain that were repeated, and I remember thinking to myself, didn't we already go through this? The search for Christy's sister Jo-Jo kept me excited for the story despite the issues I mention above. The good balances with the bad, which is why I'm indifferent. It's an ok book. Probably not one I'll read again (like "Moving Target", which I've read more than once), but it won't turn me away from Elizabeth Lowell, either. Maybe her next one will be more impressive.
Maybe it was the love of the characters, or the Anazazi Civilazation that kept me from setting the book down. I read on average 5 books a week, and this was certainly this weeks favorite. I have only read two other books by Lowell, however, this certainly will not be my last.
I began to get impatient with this book before I was halfway through. The focus was narrow without being interesting and neither of the two main characters jumped off the pages like her characters often do. I finished this book out of sheer determination because the plotline wasn't what kept me interested.