EXCERPT: Danielle Steele's 'HRH'

In 38 years, Danielle Steel has written 96 books, among them the best-selling novels that made her a household name.

Beyond her writing, she has raised nine kids, opened an art gallery, and now runs two nonprofit groups that work in mental health.

For the first time she's putting her name on something other than a book cover -- her new fragrance called Danielle.

This is an excerpt from her new book, "HRH."

Christianna stood at her bedroom window, looking down at the hillside in the pouring rain. She was watching a large white dog, soaking wet with matted hair, digging excitedly in the mud. Every now and then he would look up at her and wag his tail, and then return to digging again. He was the Great Pyrenees her father had given her eight years before. His name was Charles, and in many ways he was her best friend. She laughed as she watched him chase a rabbit that eluded him and promptly disappeared. Charles barked frantically and then splashed happily through the mud again, looking for something else to pursue. He was having a great time, as Christianna was, watching him. It was the last of summer and the weather was still warm. She had returned to Vaduz in June, after four years of college in Berkeley. Coming home had been something of a shock, and so far the best thing about her homecoming was Charles. Other than her cousins in England and Germany, and acquaintances throughout Europe, her only friend was Charles. She led a sheltered and isolated life, and always had. It seemed unlikely she would see her Berkeley friends again.

As she watched the dog disappear toward the stables, Christianna hurried out of her room, intent on going outside and following him. She grabbed her riding slicker and a pair of rubber boots she used to muck out her horse's stall, and ran down the back stairs. She was grateful that no one noticed her, and a moment later she was outside, sliding through the mud and running after the big white dog. She called his name, and in an instant he bounded up to her, nearly knocking her down. He wagged his tail, splashing water everywhere, put a muddy paw on her, and when she bent to stroke him, he reached up and licked her face, and then ran away again as she laughed. Together, they ran side by side along the bridle path. It was too wet today to ride.

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