Authors: Heather Long
Some Like It Deadly
By Heather Long
Being the best friend to a prince isn’t all it’s cracked up
to be. As attorney and spokesperson for the royal Andraste family, Richard
Prentiss lives under a microscope. Fair or not, he’s not able to date like a
regular person. So when his personal assistant retires, Richard knows her pretty
replacement, Kate, is strictly off-limits.
Kate Braddock’s resume includes special forces training and
enough profiling work to pick a threat out of a crowd. None of that prepares her
to resist the charming, down-to-earth attorney she’s assigned to protect.
Determined to treat him like any other body to guard, she struggles to maintain
her distance. It’s her job to step in front of the bullet with Richard’s name on
it, nothing more.
When threats against the royal family take a deadly turn and
his new assistant foils two attempts on his life, Richard’s grateful—and more
than a little intrigued. There’s more to Kate than meets the eye, but what is
she hiding? He’ll have to trust her with his life when the danger proves to be
closer than either realized...
Book three of Going Royal
August here in North America is one of last-minute frenzy for many of us: fit in as many more days at the beach as possible while it’s still blazing hot, get one final vacation in before school starts, and read as many excellent books as you can before next month’s books arrive. Okay, maybe that last one could be said of every month (at least for me) but with beach time and vacation time does come more reading time, so I find I often get to read more in August than any other month.
This month, kick off your beach reading with a little contemporary crack romantic suspense from Lisa Marie Rice. I’ve been a fan of her writing for years, and I’ve read everything she’s written, so I was thrilled when she agreed to come write for me at Carina Press, and revive her popular Midnight series in
. Longtime fans of Lisa Marie Rice will see a return to her well-known, compulsively readable, alpha-tastic story and characters. Readers new to Lisa Marie Rice can dive in to
and discover just what I mean by contemporary crack, compulsively readable and So. Darn. Good!
Fans of contemporary crack-type reads will find themselves drawn to Heather Long’s
Some Like It Deadly
, a book everyone on the team found themselves talking about just how much they liked it. As attorney and best friend to a grand duke, Richard Prentiss has dealt with everything from the paparazzi to business moguls, but when he takes an interest in Kate Braddock, his new “personal assistant,” it’s up to her to keep it professional—unbeknownst to him, it’s her job to step in front of the bullet with his name on it.
New York Times
bestselling author Shannon Stacey is back with her final (for now) novel in the Kowalski series. Meet Max: a little bit odd, a little bit obsessive, a whole lot sweet and sexy. He’s ready to find his perfect match, someone he can share his days and nights with. Meet Tori: a little bit flirty, a little bit sassy, a whole lot happy being single. She’s ready for some temporary fun, to help Max get in dating fighting form. What she’s not ready for is to find herself longing to be the person Max spends his time with. After having a front row seat to her parents’ bitter divorce—and bitter after-divorce—she’s determined not to go down that road herself. And Max is determined to be the one to change her mind. Don’t miss
Falling for Max
—you’ll fall in love with him too.
If you’re in the mood for more contemporary romance, I urge you to pick up Stacy Gail’s
One Hot Second
. Stacy has mastered the art of creating a contemporary romance that’s both deeply emotional and offers laugh out loud moments. And for those contemporary readers who love the
, you’ll love Tamara Morgan’s contemporary romance
When I Fall
. After a leaked photo forces rich, privileged media trainwreck Becca Clare to lie low for a few weeks, she puts her trust into the hands of the last man in the world who’s qualified to safeguard it—Jake Montgomery, a profligate playboy whose one ambition in life is to have no ambitions at all.
Kate Willoughby follows up her dynamite debut contemporary romance release,
On the Surface
Across the Line
. Left winger for the NHL San Diego Barracudas, Calder Griffin is hellbent on proving he can be a top six player like his hotshot older brother, but when he meets Becca, he discovers that, like hockey, love demands a lot of hard work and pain, but in the end, it’s worth the fight.
Fans of paranormal romance will be drawn to
by A.J. Larrieu. Powerful telekinetic Cass Weatherfield has learned to control her dangerous abilities, but when she faces a terrifying new enemy, she’s forced to embrace the dark side of her powers, with devastating results.
And for those looking for a little more erotic with their paranormal, Nico Rosso’s
Ménage with the Muse
should be right up your alley. Two very different demon rockers, Wolfgang the wild drummer and Ethan the solitary guitarist, find their fated Muse at a music festival, and it’s the same woman, Mia, a musician who’s been hurt so many times she’s slow to trust anyone, let alone two satyrs who have drawn her into their world.
If you love your science fiction with an edge of mystery,
by Timothy S. Johnston is a chilling whodunit at a claustrophobic and secluded station; a classic murder mystery scenario transformed into electrifying techno-thriller... It’s a case where the only thing that can prevent the investigator from dying a cold and cruel death is the love of the most remarkable woman he’s ever met.
Also in the science fiction category, irrepressible heroine Cherry St. Croix is back and returning to fog-choked London to settle her debts once and for all—and to rescue the Menagerie’s wicked ringmaster, whether he wants it or not, in Karina Cooper’s steampunk
As always, don’t forget to visit the awesome collection of romance, mystery, science fiction and fantasy in our backlist including titles from Ava March, Shannon Stacey, and Vivian Arend.
Coming in September, 2014: Mystery week! I can’t wait for you to get your hands on our “lifestyle Elvis” mystery! Also, the riveting conclusion to Lynda Aicher’s Wicked Play series, romances from Christi Barth, Alison Packard and more!
Here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.
Editorial Director, Carina Press
For everyone who fights the good fight, and who stands up to be counted in defense of those in need. Sometimes it only takes having one person believe in you.
As always, so many people have been involved in helping me with the Going Royal series. My darling Mini Me, who is patiently impatient even when she wants her mom and Mom is writing. Virginia Nelson, who loves the series nearly as much as I do (and sometimes I think more), always makes time to read the Some Like It chapters as I write, give me stellar feedback and a good kick in the ass when I need it. Rebecca Royce, and Patti Woodard who are wildly supportive, cheering on the characters and never hesitating to let me know when they are worried or over the moon about where the story is going. Finally, my editor, Mallory Braus—because she gets me and she gets my characters, and it’s always a privilege to work with her.
The sharp trill of the phone split the silent darkness in half. Kate Braddock jerked upright and had the phone in her hand, and answered before her mind fully processed the steps from sleep to waking. Adrenaline flooded her system, but training kept her voice calm. “Braddock.”
Too many middle of the night phone calls heralded bad news.
“Kate.” Peterson’s voice sent relief chasing through the adrenaline pumping through her system. “My apologies for the odd hour.” The head of security for Armand Dagmar personally and the Andraste Royal Family in general didn’t sound remotely apologetic. Nor did he sound deeply concerned, which hopefully meant, Anna, her protectee and the fiancée of the grand duke was also fine.
Of course, as her boss, Peterson never sounded disturbed.
“It’s fine, sir.” She gave the perfunctory answer and shoved a hand through her hair. The sharp tug helped fuel her sleepy mind. Slanting a look at the clock, she sighed. It was only four-thirty in the morning. On her day off—the single day she’d had off in weeks. “What can I do for you?”
“We have a delicate situation and I am going to be blunt, Braddock. You’re actually the only woman for the job.” Plunging right in and ripping off the Band-Aid was far preferable to beating around the bush. At this early hour, all she required were the specifics with no sugar coating involved.
“What’s the job?” Pushing back the blankets, Kate rose and padded to the kitchen. She’d already set up the coffee maker the night before. All she had to do was hit the on switch.
“Richard Prentiss slipped his security detail this weekend.” Prentiss was the grand duke’s best friend, and he’d been involved in a rather spectacular car accident a few months earlier.
Kate was impressed—with Prentiss, not his security detail. How they let a wounded man slip them didn’t bode well for their future in the business.
“He was beyond our supervision and out of communication range for nearly seven hours.” And then as if anticipating her question, Peterson added. “He left his cell phone at the house, and returned via taxi looking none the worse for wear, but...”
“But he slipped his security.” The loss had likely pinched the pride of a man as thorough as Peterson. He was damn good at his job. She didn’t envy the members of the detail who’d failed to keep the attorney under surveillance and safe. They wouldn’t have their jobs much longer—if they hadn’t been fired already. “So what does that have to do with me?”
“Mr. Prentiss informed the grand duke he would be returning to his regular duties at his office tomorrow and he wants the security detail pulled.” In a reverse of his earlier bluntness, Peterson circled around to his point. Kate turned at the sound of the coffee maker finishing its job, and poured herself a mug of the dark blend. The process kept her busy and her mouth shut.
She was a good soldier, and well-trained. Peterson would get to what he wanted soon enough.
“Look, Braddock, the grand duke wants to appease Mr. Prentiss, but he’s not prepared to remove security from him. Chatter has slowed, but it hasn’t quieted fully. When we inserted you with Miss Novak, you downplayed your presence as personal security by acting as her assistant.”
And there it was.
“You want me to do the same for Mr. Prentiss?” She hadn’t been especially fond of deceiving Anna, but then she’d never had to lie to her directly either. Peterson and the grand duke had simply told her that Kate had been vetted by security and could act as her assistant. That Kate could do the job. The deception kept her in Anna’s orbit. Every time Anna left the tower to work, Kate had gone with her.
“Yes, we’ve arranged to have his legal assistant head out on a worldwide cruise, all expenses paid. She leaves today, in about three and a half hours, I need you to meet with her and get everything you’ll need to know about how to do the job because you’ll be interviewing with him tomorrow. I’ll have the car picking her up swing by to get you in ninety minutes.” Peterson had thought of everything, his smug tone might be well deserved. Mr. Prentiss wasn’t the easiest protectee.
So much for her day off. “Do you think that Mr. Prentiss is just going to hire me because his assistant left? I’m assuming he has others in that law firm he could borrow—”
“He could, obviously, but he and the grand duke are scheduled to have lunch later today and...” Peterson trailed off and actually sighed. “Let’s just say that he’ll receive the news of his assistant’s departure under controlled circumstances and the grand duke will then volunteer your services. We’ll get you in the door, you need to secure the position.”
How very Machiavellian of the grand duke.
“You’re asking me to protect someone who doesn’t want a detail and who won’t know what I’m doing.” The potential for clusterfuck was enormous. Anna had been a similar case, but she’d also had a full detail on her at all times in addition to Kate. “What kind of detail is Prentiss going to have?”
“A discreet one.” He paused a beat, then continued, “Kate, I know this isn’t the easiest assignment. I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I didn’t think you were fully capable of it. The grand duke is worried about Mr. Prentiss’s visibility. We can’t properly secure him without his cooperation. You will have backup, but they could be twenty seconds out.”
And twenty seconds could be the difference between life and death.
“Understood.” She drained her coffee and glanced at the wall clock. “I’ll be ready in ninety minutes for the car.”
Once he had her agreement, Peterson disconnected the call and Kate carried her cell phone into the second bedroom that she’d converted into a workout room. Five minutes later, she was running on the treadmill. Too wired to go back to sleep, she checked the time.
It was nearly noon in Germany, her brother usually had Sundays off and spent them watching recorded sports. After dialing her brother’s number—international code included—from memory, she waited. When he answered on the second ring, the last knot of tension Peterson’s middle of the night call had wound in her soul relaxed. “Hey, Beany Baby, how are you?”
His groan made her laugh.
He was okay. Alive.
She could handle everything else.
* * *
“I’m not going to lie to you, Ms. Braddock—the job won’t be easy. This position demands travel at least forty percent of the time. Where I go, you go. When I need a file, I need you to pull it up. You have to anticipate last minute changes and I may be calling or texting you at three in the morning to come in because we need to have a brief in front of a judge at eight.” Richard Prentiss leaned back in his chair and studied the dark-haired woman seated across from him. Her calm, cool eyes—he couldn’t tell if they were hazel or just a very pale brown—betrayed no hint of concern. Considering he was offering her well-compensated indentured servitude, he’d hoped for a little more bite in her responses. “This is a steep learning curve and I wish that Miranda had given me more notice before she left, but we have to work with what we have.” He wasn’t sure what frustrated him more—Miranda leaving on such short notice or that she left at all. Miranda Keen had worked for him since he’d hung his shingle and despite Armand’s copious attempts to fund his law firm, Richard had built his client list from the ground up. No one knew him better than Miranda—and no one deserved to come into a windfall as much as she, either. He’d paid her well, but that didn’t mean she wanted to spend the rest of her life working sixteen-hour days.
“That won’t be a problem, Mr. Prentiss. I’m used to a tough schedule and travel.” Of course she was. Kate Braddock had been recommended to him by Armand during their racquetball game—the first he’d been able to play since a car accident laid him up some months before. Losing a kidney and his spleen meant a lot of changes in his routine, but he was finally well enough to kick his armed babysitters to the curb. He’d understood the need for increased security, particularly during his recovery, but he didn’t like having a posse of heavily armed babysitters entrenching themselves in his life, tearing it apart, and dictating his movements. Armand hadn’t liked the idea, but as Richard’d informed his best friend, he could stuff it.
“True, you’ve been with Anna the last few months.” Richard grimaced and drummed his fingers against the resume sitting atop her personnel file. The speed of Miranda’s departure meant he had to cut corners to find her replacement. Kate’s previous stint with Anna meant he didn’t have to worry about a background check. She’d have been vetted by at least two different security agencies. “How will she handle your departure?”
“I believe the recommendation came from Miss Novak, Mr. Prentiss. She has a full staff to help with her foundation responsibilities and an additional two secretaries beyond myself. Her precise words were that she would miss me personally, but professionally she was covered.” The wry response suggested a sense of humor and Richard nodded, but continued to drum his fingers. It was all a little too neat for his level of comfort. The world did not provide easy solutions—and in his experience, if one didn’t examine every angle of a potential Trojan horse, one deserved to be burned.
And she comes recommended by Armand who wants me safe
so chances are she’s exactly what she appears to be.
“The better question, I believe, is will we work well together? Do you have any particularly annoying habits that I might object to? Are you a vegetarian perhaps? Or someone who speaks with their mouth full of food? Do you eat while you dictate your notes? Do you prefer MP3s or in person dictation? What types of confidentiality contracts am I expected to sign? Will I receive any type of additional compensation for the level of disruption in my life? When you have romantic liaisons will you expect me to wait in the other room on the off chance of a three a.m. emergency?”
The rapid-fire questions eliminated his initial assessment. He grinned, she definitely had bite. “I have no idea if we’ll work well together, but my initial impression is yes. I have no annoying habits that I’m aware of, though I’ve been told I’m an ass on more than one occasion.” He let that hang out there to see what she would do with it.
“You’re an attorney, Mr. Prentiss. I would expect you received your certification in being an ass about the same time you passed the bar.” Sharp, dry and to the point.
She answered every question, and had retaliated with a few of her own.
He liked her.
“I never talk when my mouth is full.” He layered innuendo along the words on purpose. Anna and Armand’s recommendation aside, he needed a personal assistant who could do her job in the office and not on her back. Instead of rising to the bait, she merely lifted her eyebrows and waited. Impressed, he continued. “Let’s see, there is a very good chance that I will dictate notes while consuming a meal, but I expect you’ll be eating at the same time, so we’ll adjust accordingly. I tend to record notes on my cell phone when I drive and I’ll text you the voice memos as needed.”
Shifting her personnel folder to the side, he held out a fifteen-page contract and sobered. All personal quirks aside, he needed some assurances. “This is the confidentiality agreement. It’s ironclad and it stipulates on all terms that it remains enforced whether you work for me for five seconds, five months or five decades. What we discuss, what information passes in my office, is between you and I and absolutely no one else. I don’t care if the police are questioning you or the President of the United States—privileged defines every communication. If you can’t handle that, we stop right here.”
“Unless you’re planning to assassinate the president or in some way create mass havoc such as harboring a terrorist, I have no problems with signing that contract.” Utterly unruffled, she didn’t pause to consider her response. “I will, of course, insist that you add to those caveats. Privileged information does not allow you to compromise my integrity or make me complicit in a crime.” The blunt force of personality added another tick into the pro column.
He extended the sheaf of papers. “Section four, paragraph three, subsection A—it’s a personal morality clause. It stipulates if you believe a crime is being planned or has been committed that has caused, will cause, or may cause duress or undue distress to you or another living being, you may waive the privilege—in only that issue—to report it.”
“I’m not sure whether to be disturbed or impressed that you have that in a confidentiality agreement.” She took the papers and flipped to the section he’d indicated, a tiny line forming between her brows. “The fact that you’ve already considered it enough to put it in the contract suggests you’ve been burned.”
Smiling at the implied question, he spread his hands. “I’m afraid that’s confidential. However, read through and make sure you understand it. Perhaps consult an attorney and if you can do that in the next—” he checked his watch, “—fifteen minutes, that would be great. I have a backlog of cases and briefs that need my attention.”
Most people would have snapped to their feet at the urgency, but she didn’t. Instead she rested the contract in her lap and stared at him. At his raised eyebrows, a smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “You failed to answer the final two questions.”
Capable of challenging him.
Security clearance vetted by the royal family.
If she was half as good at doing her job as she was the interview, he might survive Miranda abandoning him. Picking up an envelope, he passed it over. It contained a check he’d had drawn on his way to the meeting. “That contains your stipend for this month. The stipend is a living fund and completely separate from your paycheck which, as previously discussed, is considerable. You will have access to a corporate credit card. I’ll order it today, but I expect it within the week. You may use the card to charge anything you need while working or on the job—hotel rooms, meals, clothing—provided you document the expenses.”
She didn’t open the envelope. Professional—but she would have had to be. He knew her work with Anna, particularly in recent months, meant access to discretionary funding, which added another facet to her worth in the position. Richard made a mental note to call Anna later and make sure she could part with Kate Braddock—that seemed fair.