Cover image for Tender escape
Tender escape
Poarch, Candice.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Arabesque Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
250 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


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X Adult Mass Market Paperback Popular Materials-Urban Fiction

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Tender Escape by Candice Poarch released on Jan 25, 2000 is available now for purchase.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Twelve years have passed since the hit-and-run death of Olivia Hammond's husband, and the mystery of what happened to the booty of the gold heist he was allegedly involved in only weeks before his death remains unsolved. Now 38, Olivia is the owner of a successful day spa and mother of two well-adjusted adult children; her biggest problems are shedding the extra 30 pounds she's gained over the years and finding a cure for empty-nest syndrome. Her stable world is turned upside down when she becomes the target of an anonymous extortionist threatening to uncover incriminating evidence on her deceased husband. After unwisely caving in to the blackmailer's initial demand, Olivia hires a private investigator, Clifton Zayne, instead of involving the police. More determined than ever to catch the culprit after a second letter threatens her children, Olivia is soon spending long hours undercover and on stakeouts with the handsome PI. Poarch's (Intimate Secrets) mix of business and pleasure is only half successful; mystery fans will find the blackmail plot well paced, but there may not be enough believable romantic chemistry between the ordinary characters to sustain all readers' interest. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Twelve years after her husband was killed in a hit-and-run accident soon after the armored car he was driving had been robbed, Olivia Hammond is a successful businesswoman, has two children in college, and has her life back. Then a blackmailer threatens to spoil it all. But when Olivia hires an attractive, tenacious private investigator to get to the bottom of things, blackmail suddenly becomes the least of her worries. A pair of well-matched protagonists set sparks flying in this fast-paced, rather suspenseful contemporary that helps a cynical, untrusting hero and a heroine who needs to let go of the past to find healing and love. Poarch (Intimate Secrets) has written a number of African American romances for the Arabesque line and lives in Springfield, VA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Twelve years ago     Olivia Hammond faced three high school friends, her grief hanging over her like a dense cloud.     Friends , she thought. She and Debra had been friends since third grade, when Debra had moved two doors down from her in Regency Apartments in Southeast, DC. Diane and Tonya had become friends with them through the high school drama club, when they'd performed together.     They'd gone to movies together, summer camp, church, and even hung out at the prom with their dates together. She wondered if the four of them could work together once again.     Boneless from her loss, Olivia only wanted to lie in her bed and give in to her grief. But she couldn't. She had two small children, seven and five, who depended on her.     One hour at a time , she thought, and glanced at the pitcher of Kool-Aid and plate of sugar cookies on the scarred cocktail table she and Joe had brought at a garage sale for a song a month and a half ago. They'd planned to sand and refinish it to highlight the natural grain of the wood. Olivia crossed her arms below her breasts, clutching her elbows with each hand.     Joe was dead, killed in a senseless hit-and-run accident Was it already a month ago? She clutched her elbows tighter and turned her back to her guests, thankful they were engrossed in their own conversations, as a tear escaped her lids. How many times had she told herself she'd shed her last tear ... that there couldn't be a drop of moisture left in her? And every time she'd proved herself wrong. Even now, when she felt weak in the knees and split in two, she tried to use Joe's strength to keep her uptight. Drying her tears with the back of her hand, she searched for something to do. The more active she stayed, the more able she was to cope. Activity left less time to think and mope.     The cookies and punch needed replenishing, she remembered, focusing on the mundane task. Locking her knees, she swiveled to face the table. Taking the plate and bowl in each hand, she started for the kitchen.     Debra appeared at her side, relieving her of the punch bowl, and fell in step beside her. Debra's shoes clicked rhythmically on the scarred hardwood floors. Olivia hasn't had time to buy throw rugs or sand the floor yet , she thought as she opened the peeling door to the kitchen.     Debra was a friend of few words, but she chattered incessantly now as she filled the plate with cookies and mixed up another batch of Kool-Aid in the bowl while Olivia gathered strength, tuning out the one-sided discourse. Her friend had been her anchor the last few weeks, helping her with funeral arrangements, forcing her to eat, helping out with the children. Before she knew it, Debra was marching through the swinging doors back to the living room.     Glancing around, Olivia inhaled a huge breath, seized the plate of cookies from the table, and followed her.     Sitting on the old ragged couch Olivia had covered with an inexpensive spread, Diane placed her eight-month-old on her shoulder, stroking the child's back. She leaned over and took a cookie. "These are really good," she said, biting into the treat.     Olivia merely smiled and sat in a chair across from the cocktail table. The springs squealed in protest. She also reached for a cookie, then checked herself when she remembered how Joe had hated the extra pounds she'd gained after her second pregnancy. She'd blown up, and hadn't been able to lose the weight. She straightened in her seat. She really didn't want the cookie, anyway. She hadn't tasted anything people had shoved at her for the last few weeks.     Tonya, who had been Olivia's friend since ninth grade, swallowed the Kool-Aid and nodded. "The punch, too." Then she suddenly set the glass on a wooden coaster Olivia had bought at a yard sale, seeming to be as weary of pretending as Olivia was. "How are you and the kids doing, girl?" she said. "It was such a shock. Joe was a good man.     "It always happens to the good ones. He drove all that money from place to place every day in that armored truck, and he's done in by a hit-and-run car," Tonya added. She left her seat and moved next to Olivia to pat her hand, offering comfort. She sat on the arm of Olivia's chair and put an arm around her shoulder.     Olivia tried her best not to burst into tears again, but it wasn't easy. "We're okay," she stammered. She wasn't, really, but that was what people expected to hear--wanted to hear--even friends. They didn't quite know what to do to console, beyond the weak offers of help and compassionate words that escaped her when she was alone--in the dead of night, when she realized that she had two young children to provide for ... now without a husband, without enough insurance money left over after burying Joe to pay even three months of the new mortgage. They'd moved into their fixer-upper on Georgia Avenue only two months ago. How happy they'd been. Both of them had grown up in apartments, and they'd longed to be homeowners.     Joe had loved this house. He'd seen more potential in it than even she could. But Olivia knew she couldn't dwell on that any longer. She had to find some means of supporting her children, and of keeping this house that meant so much to him. The time to get down to business had arrived.     "At least he put you in a decent home," Diane said.     Olivia nodded and cleared her throat.     Tonya returned to the couch.     "Actually," Olivia said. "That's why Debra and I called you all here. I have to find a job. I've finished two and a half years of college, but I have a year and a half to go. If I get a regular job, day care will take up a huge portion of my check. I've heard some of you complain about how dissatisfied you are with your jobs."     "You can say that again," Diane said, nodding her head and patting her baby's back. "I don't make enough to live alone, even with my mom taking care of Alonzo. If she charged me, I couldn't afford to work. I pay her something, but it's not enough."     "Well, I thought that maybe we could start a cleaning business together. Just until we can take some college courses or learn trades that will make us more employable."     "The economy's better," Debra added from across the room. She sat in a ladder-back chair near the fireplace. "More and more women have jobs."     "And the wages for domestic help are higher than they used to be. I've done some research. There are commercial contracts, which pay more and take less time. If we decide to do this, I know of two buildings that are open for bids right now. So we'd have to move quickly. They aren't large, but it's a start."     "The problem is day care," Tonya said. "I have two children. Who's going to take care of them while I'm making minimum wage?"     Tonya was in the same boat as Olivia, with two young children and no child support, except that her husband had left her.     "Debra's moving in here to cut down on rent. My basement is large enough for you and your two children. With the three families living here, I could afford my mortgage, and that would give you someplace to live."     Tonya looked askance at the peeling paint, scruffed floors, and dilapidated furniture.     Olivia and Joe had lived with yard sale specials while they'd saved for the down payment for the house. Olivia had planned for her high school graduation and wedding at the same time. Less than a month after she graduated, they were married. A year later their first child was born. Olivia had never worked outside the home.     "We can work together to paint and make some minor repairs," Olivia added hopefully.     "She's willing to let us use the extra room on this floor as an office, and the big family room in the basement as a day-care center," Debra pulled the ladder-back chair she occupied from the corner to sit beside Olivia.     "My mom will be happy to help with day care," Diane said. "She's good with children. And her social security doesn't pay nearly enough to live off of."     "If she's willing to commit, she can get someone to work with her, and maybe take in a few more children. I know some of the neighbors are looking for reliable day care."     As the conversation continued agreeably, the first that had clutched Olivia's chest for the last two weeks eased a bit. Maybe the plan she and Debra had cokked up would work, after all, she thought as the conversation swirled around her.     "The rest of us could run the cleaning business. Make up flyers and leave them on the doors in the suburbs. On bulletin boards in grocery stores," Debra said.     "My sister can help out, too. She loves kids, and hates her job. She's making minimum wage right now," Tonya said.     "Two of my sisters are willing to help with the cleaning," Debra said. "I forgot to tell you that they want to return to school." Then she glanced at the ladies on the couch. "Let's take a few days to think about it. Before they quit their jobs, we'll see how much business we can drum up. In the meantime, Debra and I can draw up some notes and work on the contracts for those buildings." Copyright © 2000 Candice Poarch Baines. All rights reserved.