Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
As part of the FBI’s elite Apostles team, bomb and weapons specialist Evie Jimenez knows playing it safe is not an option. Especially when tracking a serial killer like the Angel Bomber. He calls himself an artist—using women as his canvas and state-of-the-art explosives as his brush. His art lives and breathes . . . and with the flick of a switch . . . dies.
As the clock ticks down to his next strike, Evie faces an altogether different challenge: billionaire philanthropist and art expert Jack Elliott, who’s made it clear he doesn’t care for Evie’s wild-card tactics.
Jack never imagined the instant heat for the Apostles’ defiant weapons expert would explode his cool and cautious world—and make him long to protect this woman. But as Evie and Jack get closer to the killer’s endgame, they will learn that safety and control are all illusions. For their quarry has set his sight on Evie for his final masterpiece…
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A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and restaurant reviewer. These days Shelley writes smart, funny novels for teens and big, edgy romantic suspense. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, she lives and loves in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her baking high-calorie, high-fat desserts and haunting local farmers markets for the perfect plum.
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Book Excerpts to whet your appetite!
At the door to the roof stairs, Jack dug into his pants pocket and frowned. He patted his suit coat and shirt pockets.
The frown reached his eyes.
“What is it?” Evie asked.
“I left my key card in my other suit coat.”
“No worries.” She dug into her bag and pulled out her key card. “I got us covered.”
He waved it off. “Visitor badges don’t allow roof access.”
She swiped anyway. The dot remained red.
Jack dug out his phone and jabbed at the face. He barked an order, then disconnected the call with another jab. “Security will have a man here in ten minutes.” He jabbed at the phone again. “Let me call my maintenance team and see if they can get here quicker.” His face now sported a full-fledged scowl.
“It’s not that big a deal, and there are worse places to be stranded.” Evie wandered back toward the garden. Back home in Albuquerque, she had a potted cactus garden one of her nephews had made her for her last birthday, the perfect type of garden for her as it could stand the heat, was small, and didn’t need much tending.
“As you keep reminding me, a clock is ticking.” More than a hint of irritation edged his words.
She laughed and sat on a bench near the copper-sheeted fountain. “This isn’t about a clock, Jack. It’s about you making a mistake.”
As expected, he strode to her side. “Excuse me.”
She propped her boots on the rock surrounding the koi pond. “You’re the type of guy who doesn’t make mistakes, and it ticks you off that you left your key card in your other coat.”
He watched the fish slide in and out of light dappling the waters before shaking his head and sitting next to her. “I take it you know this because you’re not the type of gal who makes mistakes.”
A laugh ripped from her chest. “Hardly.”
“There’s no room for error in the bomb business,” he argued.
“True. I don’t cross wires while at work, but I’m no stranger to messes.”
This time he laughed as he reached out and plucked a leaf from her hair. “So you get a little ruffled.” He held up the leaf.
She plucked it from his fingers. “Oh, no. I make full-on mistakes.”
“I think we’ll need more than ten minutes.”
“Like?” He kept that intense gaze on her, a man who commands attention and answers. But she didn’t have anything to hide.
She cupped her hands behind her head. Where to start? “Like having an egg hunt with my nephews last Easter in my mom and dad’s house and not being able to track down all the eggs. For three months the house stank until my mom unearthed the last of the rotten eggs, which six-year-old Tommy had hidden in a vent in the laundry room.”
“I call that unbridled enthusiasm.”
“And there was the time just last month when my teammate Finn Brannigan asserted his motorcycle was faster than my truck. Of course I had to prove him wrong, and I did until a cop pulled me over just as I got the speedometer past one hundred. Definitely a mistake, and for the record, we both got speeding tickets.”
“And that’s team bonding.”
She could see why Jack Elliott was so successful in business. He could put a twist on anything he wished. She unlaced her hands and let them fall in her lap. Did he even remember kissing her fingers? Did he sense the jolt his lips had sent through her entire body? “And then there’s last night.”
A vertical line striped the center of his forehead. “What mistake did you make last night?”
She grabbed his hand and twined her fingers with his. Last night he’d been vulnerable when he admitted his hope, his bone-deep desire, that his sister was still alive. Looking at him over their clasped hands, she said point-blank, “I should have kissed you back.”
Jack’s eyes sparked, and she knew he remembered the touch of his lips to her fingers. His shoulders, so wide they blocked the rising sun behind him, bounced in a soft laugh.
“Does that bother you?”
“No, not at all. I like strong, courageous, independent women.”
“Is that the type you take to your bed?”
“I . . .” He tilted his head, not a single wave of hair falling out of place. “Yes, it is.”
“That’s good to know.” Because knowns were always so much easier to work with. She was about to open her mouth, when the roof access door opened, a harried security guard rushing at them and apologizing for not getting there sooner.
For a solid five seconds, Jack stared at their clasped hands before turning to the guard. “No worries,” Jack said as he pulled her to her feet and walked her toward the stairs, their fingers still intertwined.
Wake up, sleeping beauty.” Carter Vandemere kissed the smooth, warm curve of the woman’s shoulder. “The clock is ticking.”
Tick tock, like a clock, ready, set, go!
Maria moaned but didn’t open her eyes. He didn’t know her name, but he called her Maria. Mary. The Madonna. Beautiful. His lips brushed the two-inch square of raw, rippled flesh on the back of her shoulder. So, so beautiful. His lips trailed along her throat. Soft. The tip of his tongue slid along her jaw. Sweet. His cheek brushed hers. Warm. Like heated cream. He nibbled her ear, then bit. Hard.
Her eyes flew open, and she tried to scream. The duct tape held, a scream-catcher of sorts.
He gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry, Maria. Soon the entire world will hear you.” With a grin, he settled onto the edge of the futon that reeked of body fluid stew. His fingers sifted through the thick fall of honey-colored hair, and his nails dug into the raw flesh on the back of her shoulder. Her eyes bulged and cheeks flushed. So much color and texture. She was his finest work yet.
“So here’s the deal, Maria.” An electrified heat pulsed through his fingers as he picked up an eighteen-gauge wire. “Tiny little thing, isn’t it? But with it you have the power to live or die.” He attached the wire to the mercury switch secured to the fanny pack he’d belted around her exquisite hips. The pack disrupted composition and led the eye astray. Definitely not beautiful, but necessary, the final brushstroke. Hot sparks shot down his arms and across his chest.
His fingers lingered over the corner of the duct tape at her mouth. Pain was part of art, part of the artist.
“You son of a bitch. You sadistic, fu—”
Smack! How dare she ruin his work with such crudeness? He pulled in a breath, cooling the electric firestorm. In his art, timing was everything.
“Such ugly words from such a beautiful mouth,” he said with a soft cluck as he taped the wire to her bottom lip.
“Now let’s talk about that beautiful mouth. From this moment on, if you open your mouth, the wire will trip the anti-movement switch. After a thirty-second delay, enough time for me to get away, an electric loop will close, setting off the initiator and starting the firing train. The train will activate the primary explosive, which will detonate the main charge. And boom!” His fisted fingers fanned out, but he didn’t see the paint-smudged digits. He saw the spark, the gritty puff of air, the exquisite shattering and scattering of metal and Maria. Breathtaking.
“Bottom line, Maria. You open your mouth, you die. Understand?”
She sat before him, a still life. There was beauty in everyday, inanimate objects, but masterful art lived and breathed. And in his case, died.
“Blink once for yes. Twice for no.”
Maria gave him one blink, one terrified, beautiful blink.