Read The Taking Online

Authors: Erin McCarthy

The Taking

Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for the novels of Erin McCarthy
HARD AND FAST
 
“Sizzling hot, jam packed with snappy dialogue, emotional intensity, and racing fun.”
-New York Times
bestselling author Carly Phillips
 
“Hard and
Fast was an absolute winner... a contemporary erotic romance with a perfect balance between the erotic and the romance. A definite must read for lovers of sports themed romance, smart heroines, and delicious heroes with a taste for the naughty.”
—Romance Novel TV
 
“McCarthy has done it again! This follow-up to Flat-Out Sexy is a thrill ride that’s unexpectedly funny, sentimental, and thoroughly entertaining. It’s full of real women and sexy men, and these authentic characters, their unexpected love, and a few twists will make you a stock-car racing fan.”
-Romantic
Times
 
“Erin McCarthy writes stories guaranteed to draw you in.”

The Long and the Short of It
 
FLAT-OUT SEXY
 
“A steamy romance... Fast paced and red hot.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“This is one smart, sassy, steamy, and flat-out sexy read. McCarthy will have you giggling on page one, fanning yourself by page twenty-five, and rooting for the hero and heroine the whole way through. Buckle your seat belt and hold on—this is a fast and fun ride.”

Romantic Times
 
“A fast-paced read... The action starts on page one and doesn’t stop until the last page. Erin McCarthy has written a fun, sexy read. The love scenes are sizzling, and the characters are memorable. Pour yourself a glass of merlot, ladies, and enjoy.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“An engaging, often humorous contemporary romance.”
—Midwest Book Review
 
“A treat. The characters were totally believable, and since it’s Erin McCarthy, you know it’s sexy! No one writes this type of story better than Ms. McCarthy. As usual, this author delivers.”

Fresh Fiction
 
HEIRESS FOR HIRE
 
“If you are looking to read a romance that will leave you all warm inside, then Heiress for Hire is a must-read.”

Romance Junkies
 
“Two enjoyable, empathetic people... make this romance shine.”
—Boolist
 
“Amusing paranormal contemporary romance.”
—The Best Reviews
 
“One of McCarthy’s best books to date... Characters you will care about, a story that will make you laugh and cry, and a book you won’t soon forget.”
—The Romance Reader
(5 hearts)
 
“An alluring tale.”
—A Romance Review
(5 roses)
 
“The perfect blend of sentiment and silly, heat and heart... Priceless!”
—Romantic Times
(Top Pick, 4½ stars)
 
“An enjoyable story about finding love in unexpected places, don’t miss
Heiress for Hire.”
—Romance Reviews Today
 
A DATE WITH THE OTHER SIDE
 
“Do yourself a favor and make a date with the other side.”

New York Times
bestselling author Rachel Gibson
 
“One of the romance-writing industry’s brightest stars... Ms. McCarthy spins a fascinating tale that deftly blends a paranormal story with a blistering romance... Funny, charming, and very entertaining,
A Date With the Other Side
is sure to leave you with a pleased smile on your face.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“If you’re looking for a steamy read that will keep you laughing while you turn the pages as quickly as you can,
A Date With the Other Side
is for you. Very highly recommended!”

Romance Junkies
 
“Fans will appreciate this otherworldly romance and want a sequel.”
—MidwestBook Review
 
“Just the right amount of humor interspersed with romance.”

Love Romances & More
 
“Ghostly matchmakers add a fun flair to this warmhearted and delightful tale... An amusing and sexy charmer sure to bring a smile to your face.”

Romantic Times
 
“Offers readers quite a few chuckles, some face-fanning moments, and one heck of a love story. Surprises await those who expect a ‘sophisticated city boy meets country girl’ romance. Ms. McCarthy delivers much more.”
—ARomance Review
 
“Fascinating.”

Huntress Book Reviews
 
Praise for the other novels of Erin McCarthy
 
“Will have your toes curling and your pulse racing.”

Arabella
 
“The sparks fly.”

Publishers Weekly
 
“Erin McCarthy writes this story with emotion and spirit, as well as humor.”

Fallen Angel Reviews
 
“Both naughty and nice... Sure to charm readers.”

Booklist
Titles by Erin McCarthy
A DATE WITH THE OTHER SIDE
HEIRESS FOR HIRE
FLAT-OUT SEXY
HARD AND FAST
 
The Vegas Vampires Series
HIGH STAKES
BIT THE JACKPOT
BLED DRY
SUCKER BET
 
The Deadly Sins Series
MY IMMORTAL
FALLEN
THE TAKING
 
Anthologies
 
THE NAKED TRUTH
(with Donna Kauffman, Beverly Brandt, and Alesia Holliday)
 
AN ENCHANTED SEASON
(with Maggie Shayne, Nalini Singh, and Jean Johnson)
 
THE POWER OF LOVE
(with Lori Foster, Toni Blake, Dianne Castell, Karen Kelley,
Rosemary Laurey, Janice Maynard, LuAnn McLane, Lucy Monroe,
Patricia Sargeant, Kay Stockham, and J. C. Wilder)
 
FIRST BLOOD
(with Susan Sizemore, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
THE TAKING
 
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / January 2010
 
Copyright © 2010 by Erin McCarthy.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-19553-6
 
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Heather Graham,
a wonderful friend and mentor,
who loves New Orleans as much,
if not more, than I do
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
To Kathy Love, Jamie Denton, and Christy Carlson, a huge thank you for helping me with the plot of this book and for all the words of encouragement (I need those frequently!).
 
To Chris Nelson, the best concierge in the French Quarter, who inspired the character of Chris Davidson. Thanks for keeping me from falling off the balcony and for all the late night chats!
 
To Jen Dengler, thanks for years of friendship and for letting me borrow your name. Just for the record, you’re much more fun than the Jen written in this book.
Prologue
NEW ORLEANS, 1878
The latest yellow fever epidemic held the city in its iron grip for nine days and nights, the bodies piling up like corded wood in the cemeteries, in the hospitals, and in the streets themselves, as ordinary business and cheerful living bowed in deference to death. With nary a streak of sun in the sky, the shrouded city was quiet save for the constant clatter of carriages carrying corpses and the roar of cannons in the square to clear the putrid air. The tally of dead rose daily

dozenseach hour

and the endless opening of doors to bring out a parade of victims to the carts and wheelbarrows waiting on the streets contributed to the weary denizens of despair, darkness, and numb drudgery.
No stores, businesses, or banks were open,
as
those who could had fled to the country, and all conveyances were pressed into service as hearses, while the cloud of the smoke from burning bodies created a stinging mist that lingered for days. The agony of melancholy and the silence of profound grief crept into every corner, every house, as the disease swept mercilessly from block to block, taking the young, the old, the rich, and the poor with equal enthusiasm—the sick, the dying, and the dead all intermingling.
I performed innumerable last rites from morning to night each endless day as the plague raged on, both on those I knew and victims I had never before laid eyes on. Children I had only recently baptized, adults seeking absolution for their final sins on earth, those with no one to grieve them, and whole families who left this earth together—all received my prayer.
Specific tales of tragedy abound everywhere, such as the unfortunate end of the wealthy and proud Comeaux family who had dominated Louisiana business and politics for decades. Seven members of the Comeaux family sat down to dine, hearty and hale and confident in their place of power in our city, on the second day of the infestation, and twenty-four hours later all save one were dead. Camille, the Comeaux’s youngest and unmarried daughter, was left at the tender age of twenty void of her entire family. One can only ask what such a loss would do to the state of one’s mind and heart, and how many survivors came to the same sad conclusion as she did in the epidemic’s aftermath.
 
—From the diary of Father John Henri, Catholic priest

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