>Truth and Consequences by Linda Winfree
Book One of the Hearts of the South series.
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Inc.
Released: June 19, 2007 – available now!
For undercover FBI agent Jason Harding, coming face to face with the grown-up version of his adolescent dreams is a nightmare. Kathleen Palmer sees him as a despicably corrupt small-town law officer and a murder suspect. Trapped in a web of his own making, he must see his mission through to the end and bring down the crooked cops who’ve run Haynes County for decades. To do so, he must betray the only family he’s ever known and fight his growing love for Kathleen, a relationship that could get one, or both of them, killed.
Determined to uncover the truth, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Kathleen struggles with her attraction to the one person who’s awakened her since she buried her heart and emotions in her son’s tiny grave. Listening to her heart could destroy all she has left in life – her career and reputation. When the truth about Jason’s identity surfaces, they both face unimaginable consequences: Jason may lose his life and Kathleen the man she loves.
REVIEW (What others say.)
“Within a few pages, I was hooked.
The touches of the south make it an exotic locale for me. Maybe it’ll feel like home to you. You’ll smell the magnolias, sugar.” –Kate Rothwell, aka Summer Devon
And from me: Among many other things she does well, Linda does a wonderful job with sexual tension. For a proper taste (and to keep them in order), read the excerpt posted at Samhain, then come back here to read the one I’ve posted below.
Anger set up camp in Jason’s gut, reaching out tentacles that smothered the thrill he’d gotten from blowing two hundred bucks of his oh-so-convenient tax refund on food.
What did he care what she thought of him? It wasn’t like he stood a chance, anyway. Her mind was made up, and any opportunity he’d ever had of her seeing him as something other than just another corrupt cop was long gone. He resisted the urge to shove the cart toward the truck and create another dent in the pockmarked side panel.
Insects flirted and danced against the halogen security lights, casting weird shadows on the parking lot. The spot next to his truck sat empty now, devoid of the massive blue Cadillac parked there earlier. A familiar white and wood-paneled Wagoneer was two spaces away, and Kathleen moved bags from cart to the cargo area with economic speed.
He began unloading his own purchases, aware of her glances in his direction. She slammed the cargo area door closed. After a moment’s pause, she approached him, her shoes clicking on the pavement like angry castanets. Jason settled the bag holding his milk and ice cream in the corner of the truck bed and watched her approach.
The bright security light glinted off the elegant silver studs in her ears. Anger glittered in her eyes and he stiffened. She marched up to him, her hands resting at her hips. “It’s probably not my place to say this, but I’m going to anyway. This job in Haynes County and your loyalty to your cousin are going to ruin your life. You need to get out, Jason, before you get sucked in.”
“Didn’t we have this same conversation last night?” He nestled a bag of canned goods in front of his milk. “I need this job. I need the money.”
Her gaze flickered toward the bags of groceries and he could sense the thoughts tumbling through her mind. She thought he was already selling out, taking payoffs.
Sadness settled over her features, tugging the corners of her mouth down, wrinkling her brow.
“There are other jobs out there. You don’t have to do this.”
If she only knew. He rubbed the tightness at his nape. “Yeah, I do.”
“Why?” She threw her hands skyward. “Just tell me why. Make me understand. And don’t give me that crap about family loyalty. The only person Jim Ed has any true loyalty for is himself.”
He shrugged. “He’s faithful about visiting Billy up at Reidsville.”
“Do you really think he’s going to look out for you?” She shook her head, dragging her fingers through her hair, the short wisps standing out, begging him to smooth them. “How do you know he’s not setting you up to take the fall for some of his shenanigans?”
A bark of laughter escaped him. “Shenanigans? Did anyone ever tell you, Miss Palmer, that you have an old-fashioned vocabulary?”
She muttered a word sure to have offended the old-fashioned English teacher they’d shared in high school.
He lifted his eyebrows and muffled his laugh this time. With a quick shove, he sent the cart into the buggy corral and turned to face her again. “Why do you care? Does it matter whether you’re slapping cuffs on me or Jim Ed?”
The question brought her up short. He could tell by her rapid blinking. Finally, she nodded. “Yes, it does. I don’t want to see him bring you down, too. You deserve more than that.”
The quiet words ricocheted through his brain. She thought he deserved better. No one—no one—had ever said that. While he tried to digest the idea that the girl who’d always been out of his reach thought him worthy of more than he had, she stepped forward, a hand gentle on his arm. “You have to get out now. Before it goes any further.”
I can’t. The words refused to leave his lips, his brain short-circuiting since all he could focus on was the warmth of her hand against his bare skin. He stared at her, her eyes dark and luminous.
The muggy air pressed in on them, enveloping them in the silence of the deserted parking lot.
Heat radiated from her skin on his, desire invading his blood stream, traveling through his body.
Don’t do this, man. Step away. Get in the truck and leave her alone before one of you gets hurt. Or dead.
“Jason?” Her lips parted on his name and the desire hit him hard, even weakening his knees for a split second. God, he wanted to taste his name lingering on her full bottom lip.
With a hand on the truck to steady himself, he bent his head and covered those parted lips with his own. Her soft mouth moved against his and her hold tightened on his arm. Making a small noise in the back of her throat, she swayed closer and he drank in her unique taste—mint mingled with something sweet and wild.
His tongue danced across her lips, seeking permission to invade. Her palm moved up his arm, then her arms were around his neck, mouth open under his, her body aligned with his. The tip of her tongue tangled with his, tasting, teasing.
With a groan, he backed her against the truck door, not sure his legs would support him. Wanting pulsed in his abdomen, below his belt, through his entire body. He wanted her naked, stretched out beneath him on the purity of her white sheets, making those same breathy little sounds as he made love to her. The image exploded in his brain and a moment passed before he realized her hands had slid to his chest and she was attempting to lever him away.
He pulled his mouth from hers, his breathing coming in unsteady gasps. She curled her fingers into the oft-washed cotton of his T-shirt. He nuzzled his nose against the curve of her ear. “Go home. Forget this happened.”
She slipped closer, heavy breaths pushing her breasts against his chest. Her cheek brushed his and her knuckles moved, an inadvertent caress. Her clean scent filled his head. “Say you’ll quit. Get out before it’s too late.”
Okay, she’s my CP and I’ve read this book before, but dang it, this makes me want to read it again. 🙂