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Authors: J.R. Ward

Leaping Hearts

BOOK: Leaping Hearts
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—Huntress Book Reviews




Leaping Hearts


“This romantic drama has it all…an emotionally enthralling read.”

Romantic Times


“A strong romance.”

Midwest Book Review


“A fascinating book from beginning to end.”

—The Best Reviews


An Irresistible Bachelor


“Mystery, intrigue, power, passion, and a love story too beautiful for words.”

—The Best Reviews


“Irresistible…a well-written, engaging, and intelligent love story.”

The Romance Reader


“[An] emotion-filled romance.”



An Unforgettable Lady


“Sensational romantic suspense.”

Romantic Times


“I anxiously await her next book.”

—The Romance Readers Connection


“Exhilarating romantic suspense.”

—The Best Reviews


By J. R. Ward


The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Dark Lover

Lover Eternal

Lover Awakened

Lover Revealed

Lover Unbound

Lover Enshrined

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide

Lover Avenged

Lover Mine

Lover Unleashed

Lover Reborn

Novels of the Fallen Angels




Writing as Jessica Bird

Heart of Gold

Leaping Hearts

An Unforgettable Lady

An Irresistible Bachelor




Writing as Jessica Bird





Published by New American Library, a division of

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in an Ivy Books edition. Published by arrangement with the author.

First Signet Printing, July 2012

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

Copyright © Jessica Bird, 2002

ISBN: 978-1-101-58690-7

Excerpt from
Heart of Gold
copyright © Jessica Bird, 2002

Excerpt from
copyright © Love Conquers All, Inc., 2011

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.


Printed in the United States of America


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.


If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



For my husband, for my mother and my father,
but also for Ben.

Dear Reader:

Leaping Hearts
is my first-ever-published book, and so not surprisingly, it’s close to my heart—always will be. This is where everything started for me: I got “the call” that I was going to get a publisher on its manuscript; I got to be professionally edited for the first time; I got to hold a bound set of pages with my words on them in my hands; and I got to drive to a bookstore in Quincy, Massachusetts, to actually see my work on the shelves for sale.

I can pretty much trace everything that’s in the story back to two teenage passions: approximately six liquor boxes full of about five hundred Harlequin Presents, and the fact that, like every girl where I’m from in New York, I loved horseback riding. Of course, both are now in my past. Those wonderful white-covered novels with the gold swirls and the circle pictures of couples on the front have long been given away—and I don’t ride anymore (gravity tends to get a harder pull on you as you age)…but that intersection between falling in love and Thoroughbreds was what led me to this wonderful book.

Here’s how it all came together: throughout prep school and college and law school, I’d always written stories—some I finished, some I abandoned, but everything I put to the page was about two people falling in love. It’s just what came out of my head—and not a shocker, considering all those Harlequins I’d devoured. After I got out of all that schooling, and started working in corporate America, I kept up with the noodling and the typing and the thinking—until I finally, after so many years of missteps and half-assed stuff, got to a “The End” that really worked.

Ironically, it was right about then that my boyfriend (now my wonderful husband) and I were going down to Cape Cod to visit my mother for the weekend. The road we took once we got off Route 6 always brought us by this fenced-in field that had horses in it. For some reason, on that particular day, I looked to the right, saw a Thoroughbred
cantering around and BAM! the story that became
Leaping Hearts
took off in my head.

Always a seat-of-the-pantser back then (I’m now all about outlines,) I actually jotted down some things about the story, instead of throwing myself in at
Chapter 1
with no clue what I was doing. I also took a steno book (still have it) to a horse show and jotted down notes to refresh my memories about hunter/jumping competitions. And then it was off to the races—or over the oxers, as the case was. I wrote the thing fairly fast, and by the time it was finished, I was making the trip to New York City to meet my first agent for the first time.

Over lunch at a French bistro, I told her I had something better than the manuscript she had on her desk, and she agreed to wait to see my new project before sending anything out. About a month or so later, I FedExed it to her—and then promptly took a trip to meet my future in-laws (not that any of us knew that was in the cards at this point).

Cue Sue Grafton. Yup, THAT Sue Grafton. While I was down there, my husband’s father learned that I was dallying around with the whole writing thing and offered to introduce me to her. (He knows a lot about guns and ammunition and stuff like that, and he’d provided her with some info for one of her books.) I’ll never forget walking into Sue’s house for that initial time. She and her amazing husband had just bought this wonderful old home and were doing the interior-decorating bit. First thing she asked me was what I thought about a carpet sample.

She and I chatted (while I tried to keep my cool—I mean, not only was this A Real Writer, but Sue-frickin’-Grafton.) She offered to read the first fifty pages of my manuscript, but warned me she was really tough and brutally honest. I said please and thank you (and considered throwing up.) Two days later she called me and gave me, in the space of five minutes, the advice I now impart to every newbie who approaches me about their work (I don’t read anyone else’s manuscripts, but these three little ditties have never not been right): 1) take out your goddamn adverbs (the “goddamn” here is my addition, not Sue’s.) Literally, do a word search with -ly and rip ’em out. Most newbies push
too hard to make sure every nuance is on the page, not trusting their dialogue or descriptions to go far enough with the readers; 2) get rid of dumb-ass dialogue tags (the “dumb-ass” here is my addition, not Sue’s). No “she exclaimed,” “he derided,” “she demurred,” “he intoned.” He said, she said. That’s it; 3) cut the frickin’ drama (um, yeah, the “frickin’” is my word, not hers). Most people don’t emote at a high-pitched frequency all the time, flapping their arms and jumping around like monkeys. Yes, this is fiction, and as such, you don’t want everyone acting like boring tax attorneys, but this isn’t a silent movie, either.

It was like someone had shown me the path out of the jungle. (She also told me I “could actually write”—something she seemed to be a little surprised about. Frankly, so was I. In spite of all the time I’d spent plugging away, I still wasn’t sure I could do it.) As soon as I hung up with her, I called my agent in New York, and told her to Stop!

The thing was, my agent had liked
Leaping Hearts
much more than the other manuscript and was ready to send it to editors at the big publishing houses. She’d actually made the copies, done her letter, gotten on the phone with people—it was about to happen. And here I was, a not-yet, maybe-never, unpub’d idiot telling her her business? But then I told her I’d gotten Sue Grafton to read part of it: “How in the
did you do that?” “Long story. Just don’t send it out yet!”

(I’m thinking at this moment of the scene in the movie
Wall Street
when Bud Fox gets the call from the big fish he’s been courting—and the guy next to him whispers in awe, “Gekkkkkkkko.” Just imagine, “Graffffffffton,” and you get the gist of my agent’s and my conversation that day.)

BOOK: Leaping Hearts
13.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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