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Seven years ago she left, abruptly. Now she’s back.
- No longer available as of October 13th. Some copies may linger in retail stores after this date, but this Ellora’s Cave edition will cease publication on this date.*
- Sensual contemporary romantic suspense
- MF, contemporary settings, Western Australian settings.
- Will be re-released in all the popular e-book formats, and print
- Pages: About 180 in PDF including front matter (Novel-sized story)
For five years Vivian and Paul were together, constantly challenging each other to greater and more daring feats. Paul was a licensed pilot, and flew helicopters — often participating in sea searches and rescues. Vivien won championships and excelled in all the dangerous sports — windsurfing, body surfing, scuba diving, rock climbing, flying. And through it all, Paul was right there beside her.
Until suddenly and without explanation, Vivien left town.
Now seven years have passed, and Vivien has dared to return to Geraldton. Why is she back? And what will happen when she meets Paul…?
Tracy Cooper-Posey rocks in this book. …it was heartbreaking. Night Owl Romance.
Ms. Cooper-Posey has done another wonderful job… This is a fantastic book… Literary Nymphs.
From the previous edition of this book:
Ms. Cooper-Posey easily brought to vivid life the romance between these two very dynamic characters. Without a doubt this is a treat for romance readers.
Contemporary Romance Writers – A Romance Designs Community Website
If you are looking for a sweet romance, Dare to Return is sure to please. Convincing dialogue and reactions had me rooting for the pair. Despite their stubborn pride, which comes through clearly through their actions, they both realize that their love has not diminished. Their inner struggles as they attempt to forgive and forget past mistakes are genuine and easy for the reader to appreciate. Surrounded by the descriptive narrative of coastal Australia, it was easy to imagine yourself sitting on the rocks as the surf crashed, sending spray over your face.
Tracy Farnsworth for Romance Reviews Today
As a light read, this is a very good book. Each character is strong and believable. Though Paul is often unreasonable, he is no more so than any other man might be. Slightly more conflict could have added spice to the story, but then again, it might have been contrived to do so. This is a perfect novel for beach reading, as you can imagine yourself sharing the same beaches Paul and Vivien do in Australia.
Amanda Killgore for The Romance Reader’s Connection
Dare to Return is a reunion story, with a heroine who has matured and grown during the time apart. The hero is pretty much in the same spot as he used to be. Only with her advent does he start to at least question his thinking. I enjoyed the story, which has an easy tone and fairly light plot. Ms. Cooper-Posey’s descriptions of the helicopters, of the rescue mission and of the Australian life in a tourist town are vivid, as is the scenery developed throughout the book. I can recommend Dare to Return as a fun read, where the hero finally gets a clue.”
Karen Larsen for Scribes World Reviews
Horrified, Vivien stared at Morris, her hands still, the pen trapped in her fist. “You’re not saying he was trying to kill himself, are you?”
It was a long moment before Morris answered. He shook his head again. “No, I can’t say that. I don’t know what was going on in his mind, you see. But he was reckless. Very reckless. And in this business, and in those past-times, reckless can get you deader than a dodo very, very easily.” He took a breath. “And of course, he was volunteering for every rescue and sea search that was going.”
“Was he as reckless when he was on rescues?” Vivien asked.
“I don’t know, Vivvy. I wasn’t there. I’d hazard a guess and say no. Nothing was ever said by anyone who was in at the deep end with him. But then, when there’s an emergency on, risks get taken anyway. That’s how lives are saved, and Paul has saved more than his fair share of lives since he joined the company.”
Vivien stared at the desk top, her mind whirling. “You’ve been sidling up to this point ever since we sat down at the desk, Morris. What are you really trying to tell me? I mean, he’s over it now. You said so yourself, that he seemed to snap out of it. So why tell me? You’re not trying to make me feel guilty, are you? Because you’re succeeding, if that is your intention.”
“No, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. You did what you had to do. You’re not a flighty girl, Vivien. I know that whatever your reasons were for leaving, they were good ones. And I’ve managed to make a few guesses over the years, from what Paul let slip occasionally.” Morris pushed his coffee cup to one side. “You two seem to be getting along tolerably well since you came back. That’s good, but it’s also pretty damned suspicious. I would have thought, considering the history between you two, that there would have been a post mortem at least.”
“We’ve talked about it.”
Morris waved her answer aside, dismissing it. “I’m not talking about a quick five minute conversation. I really don’t want to make you feel guilty, Vivien, but I’m trying to show you that your leaving created more than a few hiccups in people’s lives, and you can’t just waltz back into town and not expect some sort of reaction. I’m trying to warn you, I guess. As civilized as you two seem to be acting with each other, there’s too much that’s happened in your past for it to stay that way.”
Vivien felt a very small smile twitch her mouth. “Morris, are you trying to protect Paul? From me?”
Morris looked at her, and blinked his eyes. “I guess that’s just what I am trying to do,” he said, and smiled weakly himself.
Vivien reached over to pat his thickly veined hand where it rested on the old-fashioned blotter. “I’m not here to make Paul writhe, Morris. We’re being polite to each other because he feels the same. It is in the past, and over now. I’m here to do a job, and that’s all.” She smiled ruefully. “Paul’s not the only one that suffered. I don’t want to resurrect those days any more than he does.”
Morris laughed gruffly. “Hell’s bells, girl, you don’t think you’ve got any say in the matter, do you?”
She stared at him. “Of course I do. We’re different people, now. We’ve both decided to leave the past where it is, and move on.”
He shook his head. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” he intoned. “That’s a wonderfully strong philosophy, Vivvy. I wonder if life is going to listen to you?”
Behind them, in the front office, the radio suddenly blared into life. “Base, this is Batavia one.” Batavia one was the call sign for the Gazelle. “Base, Batavia one. Jenny? Morris?” Paul’s voice sounded remote and tinny, issuing from the tiny speaker.
“Back to work,” Morris muttered, standing up. He hurried out into the front office, seating himself in front of the radio equipment.
Vivien remained sitting at the desk, trying to marshal together reasons why Morris could be wrong. She couldn’t think of a single thing.
“Morris here, Batavia one. What’s up, Paul?”
“I seem to have a slight problem here. I think I’ve got some crud in the fuel. I’m ten minutes out of Wallaby, and I’ll continue to fly on a direct heading for home. That’s a compass reading of 48 degrees, okay?”
Vivien stood up, and whirled to look at Morris. He was writing the figure down on a pad.
“Right, got that,” he said. “Do you want me to alert harbor traffic control?”
There was a static filled pause before Paul’s voice replied. “No, I’ve done that myself. There’s no need to panic unless I do go down, in which case you’ve got my bearings. You’ll just have to follow the line until you find me.”
Vivien put her hand over her mouth, trying to hold in the gasp. She moved quickly to Morris’ side, and grasped the back of his chair, staring at the radio.
Morris spared a glance at her before turning back to the set. “Okay,” he said into the microphone. “What are your chances of getting back?”
“So far the engine’s only coughed a couple of times, and I’m almost half-way home, now. I’m about fifteen, twenty minutes out of Geraldton. You figure out my odds, Morris, I’ve got my hands full. I’ll check back in five minutes—if I’m still up in the air.”
“Five minutes,” Morris confirmed. He sat back in his chair, and blew out his breath hard.
Vivien had to clear her throat to speak. “If his fuel’s impure, he’s not going to know the engine will cut out until it does. He won’t have a warning.” Her voice sounded strange even to her.
Morris shot a glance at her. “He’s already had a warning, girl. He’s still up there.” He spoke gruffly, and she knew he was worried. The tight band that had settled around her chest grew tighter. Her heart was laboring under the constriction.
Stiffly, she walked over to the picture window that gave a view stretching past the helipads to the sea. When Paul came into sight, he would appear from that direction. If he made it.
Behind her, she heard Morris dial up a number on the telephone on Jenny’s desk, his big finger stabbing down onto the buttons. His call was answered quickly, for he spoke almost straight away. “Jimmy, boy, it’s Morris. We’ve got a problem out here, and it could be scuddy fuel. Jack filled the Gazelle up out there at the airport, so can you check the tank?” The reply was short. “From the drums? Then I’d say our guess is right. Those damned drums have all sorts of crap lying at the bottom of them…Thanks. Quick as you can.” Morris hung up with a small bang.
Vivien found herself twirling the pen through her fingers again, staring out to sea, where the sun was dancing on the surface in silver flecks. She strained to sight a black speck on the horizon that might be Paul flying back, despite the knowledge that he couldn’t possibly appear for another five minutes or so.
In her mind’s eye, she was watching Paul going through all the motions that would help the helicopter stay up in the air. Decreasing the fuel feed, selecting the best altitude, maintaining an exact compass heading so that rescue boats could find him if he went down, and nursing the craft home. His face would be impassive, the eyes glittering with concentration, and his mind racing, busy thinking up ways out of danger for every eventuality.
If anyone was skilled at survival, Paul Levissianos was, she told herself. He had been running against the odds for so long, fate had given up on him. He would get his way. He would make it back.
It was an old chant, devised during other times just like this, and the words came back to her accompanied with all the fear and pain of those other times. While Morris went about the few small tasks he could complete to assist Paul, Vivien stood at the window in a silent still vigil, waiting for the first sight of the helicopter.
The last time she had stood at this spot, seven years ago, the sea had been churned up into gigantic peaks and troughs by the power of a spring storm, moving restlessly under a thick gray sky.
She had just turned twenty-three and was the radio operator for the company—the position Jenny now held.
Paul had been flying a small two-man helicopter, providing an aerial marker for the rescue boats beating their way out to a ship that had gone down in the heavy seas. Beneath him had been two life rafts full of survivors. By rights, he should have had a co-pilot with him, but he had flatly refused to let her fly with him when she had asked him before he left. She had tackled him in the kitchen as he had been putting together a fast sandwich before flying out.
His refusal was curt. “You’ve never done rescue work.”
“You’ve never let me.”
“You’ll be in my way.”
“I’ve had my license for four years now, and you still keep telling me no.”
He shook his head, busy with pouring coffee into a thermos. “What sort of help do you think you’ll possibly be out there?” he asked over his shoulder.
“You can’t fly out in this weather by yourself,” she shot back. “With the cross winds and buffeting, you’ll have both hands on the controls all the time. How are you going to coordinate the rescue boats on the radio? And what if something else crops up that needs another hand?”
“I’ll manage,” Paul replied grimly.
“I can help.”
He shook his head. “No.”
Vivien felt her temper give. “Damn it! Why do you do this to me? I’m a good pilot! I can help, and you know it.”
The flaring of her temper caught his attention. Paul grinned at her. “God I love it when you get angry. You’re so beautiful.”
He meant every word, but Vivien knew he was trying to distract her. If he made her angry enough, she would walk away, fuming, and leave him the victor of the field. And from experience he knew that telling her how beautiful she was when she was angry was one fast way of making her too furious for words.
But she gritted her teeth, and hung onto the scraps of reason. Not this time. This time she had to make him see her side of it. It had gone on too long for her to tolerate much longer.
“I’m going over to Harbour patrol and volunteering myself. Maybe they will appreciate my help,” she told him.
“You’ll do no such bloody thing!” he roared back.
Vivien shook her head. “You can’t stop me. Not really,” she told him.
“You make one move out of this office, and I’ll hog-tie you to the verandah post and leave you there until I get back.”
“That’s just like you!” she cried, losing a little more of her control. “Brute force—just because you’re physically stronger than me.”
“Yes, and that’s what makes me the better man for the job.”
She turned for the door, intending to head for the headquarters of the harbor patrol, who were coordinating the search and rescue, but had only gone three steps when Paul’s hands came down upon her arms, and spun her around. “Where are you going?” His eyes were glittering, narrowed.
“Where do you think?”
He shook his head. “Over my dead body.”
“Which is just what it will be one of these days—and I’m not going to be standing here waiting for them to bring your body back to me!” She heaved in a deep breath. “I won’t be waiting, you hear?” She could feel tears pricking her eyes and hated herself for showing that weakness. Paul saw the tears, too, and all his own impatience and anger drained from his face.
“I hear,” he said quietly. “But it won’t be today, so rein in your temper, Vivvy and resign yourself to waiting for today. I won’t let you out there, where I have to worry about you.”
“You don’t own me,” she’d whispered back.
He smiled, and cupped her cheek in his large hand. “No. But I do love you, so humor me, huh?”
And so she had waited, and listened to the alarmed, overlapping mish-mash of radio calls as his helicopter had gone down into the sea, dropped by an air pocket created by the cyclonic gale. She had waited while they searched for him, and pulled him out of the sea.
He had returned on a stretcher, brought back by the rescue boats, and carefully loaded into an ambulance which raced him to hospital. Vivien had watched his transfer to the ambulance from the back of the crowd that had gathered, unable to get any closer in the crush.
She had left Geraldton a week later, but the memory of his unnaturally still body, gored, bruised and bloody, had had the power to shock her into stillness for years afterwards.
And now, seven years later, here she stood, looking out over the sea, waiting for his return. Again.
The radio buzzed into life behind her. “I can see land,” Paul’s voice spoke. “Five minutes, I guess. The engine is still coughing, but holding in there.”
“Paul, the airport have confirmed that the drums Jack filled up from are contaminated,” Morris replied.
Vivien had been so caught up in the memory of that other night, that she hadn’t heard the return phone call.
“Right,” Paul confirmed. “See you when I get there. You should sight me in the next couple of minutes.”
“Vivien is watching out,” Morris replied.
There was no reply.
Morris appeared next to her. “Here,” he said, holding out a powerful pair of binoculars.
She shook her head, mute, and lifted her gaze back to the view. She doubted her arms would have the strength to lift and hold the binoculars steady. Apart from the tight constricting band around her chest, the rest of her body was numb. She had the power to stand, if she remained very still, propped up by locked knees and balance.
Morris peered through the binoculars, scanning the horizon. “That sun’s bright,” he murmured. “Hang on…” he said hopefully. Then, after an endless minute, he added; “Yes. There he is.”
Vivien peered, her vision dancing because she was afraid to blink, and she narrowed her eyes against the reflected glare on the water. Morris pointed, a little to the left of where she had been looking, and she watched for the small black dot that would be her first glimpse of the helicopter. Then she saw it, and a soundless sigh pushed past her lips. She focused on the small dot, and watched it gradually grow larger and closer.
Morris lowered the binoculars. “He’s revved right down,” he murmured. “Nice and slowly does it,” he added.
Vivien whirled away from the window, and raced across to the door that led to the helipad, pushed her way outside and around the corner of the building to the edge of the landing pad, quickly spotting the approaching helicopter again.
He was nearly to the harbor now, and the sound of his approach reached her ears. The engine sounded smooth and untroubled, but even as she listened she heard it misfire, and her heart leapt up to her throat, and she caught her breath, holding it for the endless moment until the sound of the engine came back across the water again.
She gave a little moan in the back of her throat. The constriction around her chest was hurting, the tight muscles aching, and she knew that if the tension didn’t ease soon, she would throw up.
Dare to Return was written as a salute to my old home town, Geraldton, Western Australia, and although the heroine is nothing like me, I did surf, snorkel and scuba dive around the Geraldton coast, and have picked up my fair share of crayfish from the bottom of the ocean floor.
I have never, however, been inside a helicopter — the scenes in the book dealing with helicopters were a product of hard research. I was very glad when the original publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory, decided that the setting could stay as it was, because I would have been at a loss to find a North American setting that would have worked as a substitute. The setting in Dare plays an essential role in the romance. I was equally thrilled that Cerridwen Press picked the book up for re-release, and agreed to keep the original setting in place. I wrote the book in Australia, but it was substantially re-written years later in Canada, with snow falling outside the windows, which perhaps made the settings in the book more prominent– I had to work that much harder to conjure them up in my memory. One reviewer said she could hear the surf break when she read the book, so I clearly succeeded with at least one reader.
By the way — Vivien’s encounter with a Grey Nurse shark is a genuine incident. I was the diver who bumped noses with the shark at the top of the reef. And I did, indeed, walk on water that day.
Dare to Return is far more personal and evocative of my childhood than any book I’ve ever written, and I’m so glad that Cerridwen Press have allowed it to live on in a second publication. And oh my, I just love the cover. Can’t you hear those waves?
This book is now available from Ellora’s Cave, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s set in Geraldton, Western Australia.