According to family legend passed along from her Native
American ancestors, Dawn Perry can only find true love when mountain lions
return to Central Pennsylvania. But the large cats have been extinct there
for more than 100 years. Dawn scoffs at the legend... yet when a mountain
lion unexpectedly appears, she can't help wondering if its presence has
caused ruggedly handsome Jonah Campion to come into her life.
But, Dawn is a straight-laced lawyer determined to
save the cougar from overeager hunters by placing it in the safety of
her grandfather’s animal sanctuary. And Jonah is an ex-con who reveres
freedom--his own, and the mountain lion’s--above all else.
Can the legend come true and bring them together? Or
will the mountain lion’s unexpected presence, and their differences
about how to save it, keep them apart?
"STRANGER ON THE
MOUNTAIN is a delicious blend of contemporary romance
and myth, with a meaningful story line that explores the nature
of freedom (of both man and beast). The author delivers a finely
developed hero and heroine, lots of sexual tension, delightful
secondary characters, and all the charm and frustration of life
in a small town. Highly recommended." --
Bookbug on the Web
"Linda O. Johnston
gives readers a tale of people learning to put aside prejudices and accept
human imperfections. STRANGER ON THE MOUNTAIN works as a warm
and loving drama." -- Jill M. Smith,
RT Book Reviews
"Lovers of freedom will find STRANGER ON THE
MOUNTAIN invigorating, and believers in the power of love will
find it inspiring. The pacing is fast, character development is
excellent, and the setting abounds in natural beauty. All my emotions
were tapped in this soul-searching story." --
"Linda O. Johnston gives readers a tale of people
learning to put aside prejudices and accept human imperfections.
STRANGER ON THE MOUNTAIN works as a warm and loving drama." --
"What brings you here?" Dawn asked Jonah softly, needing to make
conversation but not wanting to be too loud in case the hunters were
"Probably the same as you: our good friend, the
mountain lion." The bitter sarcasm in his tone was nearly as hurtful as
his ignoring her. "Have you figured out where you're going to keep it?
Maybe you can train it to leap on command -- right against the bars of
"Jonah, please." Dawn nearly choked on the lump in her
"Please what?" he snapped back. "Please help you catch
it. Turn it into a pet? Break its spirit?"
He put on a spurt of speed that left her behind. She
watched his tall form for a moment. He wore a blue denim jacket she'd
seen before. But this time, it did not emphasize the breadth of his wide
shoulders. No, his posture was slumped. Defeated. Even his head hung
forward, though his tawny hair was long enough to ruffle in the mountain
Her heart went out to him. But how could she
understand his agony? How could she even begin to comprehend?
She couldn't. But there was a place near here she
could share with him. A place she had discovered years ago, where she
still went when troubles bore down too hard on her. A peaceful, majestic
place where nature provided unfathomable solace.
She had spent a lot of time there after her fiancé's
This time, it took her several minutes to catch up
with Jonah, since, though he must have heard her coming, he did not slow
even a little.
Perhaps he even speeded up.
When she got to his side, she took his arm. "I want to
show you something. Will you come with me?"
He finally decreased his pace, though not by much. He
looked down at her. The green in his eyes seemed nearly washed away with
gray pain, and his frown was an acid that etched deep, horizontal lines
into his tanned flesh. "Where?"
The syllable seemed fraught with suspicion, but there
was also a hint of curiosity.
"You'll see," Dawn said.
* * *
It was her favorite spot on Eskaway, maybe anywhere:
the natural rock quarry through which a wide, bubbling stream galloped
and gurgled downhill.
Trees surrounded the clearing. Some stretched into the
cloudless blue sky. Others had been pounded and displaced in earlier
days of spring when the stream turned into a torrent from melting snow;
they leaned over the water, branches extended as though greeting fellows
equally bowed and disabled on the other side.
Dawn looked around, then smiled. She had not been
certain this was the right time of year -- but there it was, a carpet of
spring flowers in the flat patch off to the east.
Bluebells and jack-in-the-pulpits grew in riotous
display along with the beautiful blush-pink blossoms of mountain laurel.
Their aroma permeated the clearing, along with the fresh moistness cast
into the air by the rapid stream.
She still held Jonah's arm. It remained rigid, but he
had not pulled it away. "That," she said, "is what I wanted you to see."
He said nothing for a long while. He did not seem to
move. Maybe he was too damaged inside to appreciate this offering of
some of the most beautiful nature had to offer.
But then he said, nearly too softly for her to hear,
"It's beautiful, Dawn. Thank you."
You're welcome," she replied. That darned lump was
back in her throat, for she heard the deep emotion in his voice. She
took his arm and used it to lead him to one of the mounds of boulders.
She removed her backpack and set it on the ground.
Using the rubber soles of her athletic shoes to help her climb, she
scrambled up the rocks, then scooted her behind around to find as
comfortable a position a possible on an unyielding rock. There. She
looked around. From up here, they had a marvelous view of the stream,
the surrounding woods and the field of flowers.
Of beauty that symbolized the spirit of Eskaway.
"Come join me," she called. "It's incredible up here."
To her surprise, he obeyed, settling his substantial
body unsettling close to her on the rock. Their shoulders touched.
She closed her eyes, bathed suddenly in the memory,
not so long ago, when more than their shoulders touched. When he had
touched her all over, had made such extraordinarily tender and
passionate love --
"We can't stay long," she said hurriedly, opening her
eyes again. "We need to be out there to save the mountain lion."
His smile was wry. "Both of us in our own ways."
She nodded, filled suddenly with a sense of
frustration that had nothing to do with the nearness of him. How could
she get through to him? "I'm sorry they can't be the same, Jonah," she
said. "I really am."
"Me, too," he said simply.