With Kiss and Tell, Cherry Adair wowed readers and set their pulses racing. The breathless, adventure-filled books that followed transformed Adair into one of romantic suspense’s brightest stars. No,w in her long-awaited hardcover debut, the award-winning author thrills us with a wild ride through the frozen north, where there are dangers greater than the bitter cold–and passions hot enough to melt ice.
Lily Munroe thought she had married an honest, dependable man, but she was painfully mistaken. It didn’t take long for her once-loving husband to become a secretive stranger–mixing with shady people and even shadier dealings. Although Lily nursed him through a sudden terminal illness, her marriage was over long before he passed away. During that difficult time, only her passion for the exhilarating Iditarod race across Alaska gave her something to look forward to–and she channeled her emotions into training dogs for the grueling event. Now single again, she’s more determined than ever to win the race, awaken her sense of self, and leave her past behind.
In the competition, the person to beat is two-time winner Derek Wright, a man Lily dubs Mr. Wrong. Extremely sexy and devilishly charming, Derek is the consummate playboy. Or is he? Although Lily can’t deny her intense attraction, she believes he is dangerous to her scarred heart. Little does she know that Derek is an elite antiterrorism agent–or how desperately she’ll need to depend on his skills to keep her alive once the race is under way.
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USA Today bestseller Cherry Adair took nearly ten years to become an overnight success. Before deciding to channel her creativity into writing suspense full-time, Cherry owned an interior design business in the San Francisco Bay area. She now lives in western Washington State, where she dreams up ways to torture her characters to make them find love. Her novel Hide and Seek was voted one of Romance Writers of America’s Top Ten Favorite Books for 2001. A multiple RITA finalist, Cherry has won dozens of awards for her action-adventure novels.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The newborn calf lay curled in the straw at its mother’s feet while the proud mama started licking it clean. Outside the glowing warmth of the birthing barn, night pressed icy black fingers against the windows, and snow lay thick on the ground.
Exhausted but triumphant, Dr. Lily Munroe tried to ignore the itchy, someone-was-watching-her sensation on the back of her neck, a creepy feeling she’d had off and on for several hours. She patted the cow’s russet-colored rump. “You have a beautiful bouncing baby boy. Good job, Peaches.”
“Peaches?” a familiar husky voice said behind her. “She’s not a pet, Doc.”
The straw at her feet rustled as Lily whirled around, hand to her throat. “Damn it! You scared me to death!”
Tall, dark and annoying.
With one shoulder resting against the planked wall, he looked as though he’d been there awhile. His physical presence was like a hard punch to Lily’s chest, and her stomach did its usual betraying flip-flop at the sight of six foot four inches of pure, potent male. His lean, handsome face was ruddy with the cold, his glossy dark hair mussed sexily by the wind she heard howling outside.
Beneath her fingertips she felt the hard pounding of her heart, and hoped to hell Derek couldn’t hear it. And if he could that he’d attribute it to the fright he’d just given her. The adrenaline rush made her feel light-headed. She ruthlessly tamped down her body’s visceral reaction to the sight of him as she started cleaning up her instruments and other birthing paraphernalia from around the stall.
“Sorry,” he said, voice silky. “Didn’t mean to spook you.” He didn’t look the least bit sorry, and she shot him a dark look. His lips twitched. “You’re hell on a man’s ego, Doc.”
“There’s nothing wrong with your ego. It’s healthy as a horse,” Lily told him. The breathless, heart-stopping feeling would fade if she took deep breaths and got a grip. “Maybe you should wear a bell around your neck when you skulk. Or whistle. Or stomp or something.” She bent to pick up the obstetrical handles and chains she’d used earlier and sealed them in a bag to sterilize later.
“I wasn’t skulking. I was waiting for you to finish what you were doing so I didn’t distract you.”
Oh, he distracted her, all right, but she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing it. Had it been the subconscious awareness of Derek watching her that she’d felt for the last few hours? She couldn’t imagine him staying quiet for that long. She met his eyes. Zing went the strings of her heart. She wished her heart and brain would get into sync.
“I’ll have you know I have a reputation for being very light on my feet,” he told her, suave as always. His dark blue eyes twinkled beneath midnight brows.
“Have to be to sneak out of all those bedrooms, huh?”
He shook his head and smiled. A smile, Lily noticed, that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “No sneaking. No bedrooms. I dance like Fred Astaire,” he told her immodestly.
He probably did. For such a big man he did move with surprising grace. “Good for you. Could you dance back a bit? You’re spooking Peaches and the baby.”
They both looked at the cow and calf. Neither had noticed the two humans invading their space. Derek gave her a slow, assessing look. “Feeling crowded, Doc?” One corner of his mouth lifted and Lily told herself to ignore his sex appeal.
He always made her want to fidget. With her hair. Her clothes. Her personality. Everything about Derek was attractive. Exciting. Larger than life. Being around him made her feel like a small brown bird. He was Technicolor. She was sepia.
Nothing wrong with sepia, she told herself firmly, annoyed that she felt this way when she was around him, and not quite sure how to fix it.
“I always feel crowded around you,” she told him honestly, tossing a spare pair of surgical gloves back into her bag. She resisted his charm with the same determination she’d used for years. It wasn’t easy. She felt his pull. Her tide to his moon. Which was fanciful nonsense. Her hormones misbehaved because he was a hottie. Chemistry. Nothing more.
“Why is that, I wonder?” he asked softly. His voice always reminded Lily of dark chocolate. It was smooth, rich and had a slight huskiness to it that abraded her nerve endings like a cat’s tongue.
She straightened and gave him a firm look. “Give it a rest, would you? I’m not up to your sparring weight tonight. I’m exhausted, hungry and absolutely filthy. If you want to flirt with someone, go inside and make a call.”
“Poor baby.” She bent to pick up her jacket, then gave it a good shake and hung it over the rail. “All your lady friends turned into pumpkins?”
“Might as well have,” he groused.
Lily shook her head. “You’re incorrigible.” And charming, and funny and unhealthily appealing.
“What’s the baby’s name?” Derek asked, white teeth flashing. He always teased her about naming the animals. He seemed to enjoy teasing her, period. He also seemed to know exactly how far he could push her, and then he’d cleverly back off. Devious man. “Pit?”
He smiled, and not being made of stone, Lily smiled back. “Only you would name a potential prize-winning bull after a movie star.”
He got it. Of course he did. Lily bit back a sigh as her smile faded. Unlike her husband, Derek had a wicked sense of humor, and an agile and clever mind behind that handsome face. All of which made resisting him damn difficult. “It’s a talent,” she told him modestly, turning back to her task of tidying up. “What can I say?”
Tucking her T-shirt hem back into her jeans as she straightened up, Lily wondered if resisting him would become easier over the years, or if it would always be such hard work.
Still, he was a pleasure to look at. No matter what the circumstances, he appeared darkly elegant and cultured. And tonight was no exception. As always he was appropriately dressed for tromping in the barn on a cold winter’s night. Jeans, boots, and a thick, cream-colored wool turtleneck under a bulky shearling jacket. Appropriately dressed, but somehow looking as though he’d stepped out of the glossy pages of a men’s magazine.
Conscious of her gunk-covered jeans, shit-covered boots and sweaty face, Lily forced her hands not to fiddle with her God-only-knew-what-was-in-it hair. “How long were you standing there, anyway?”
“Couple of minutes. Need a hand?”
“I’m good, thanks.” What she was, was sweaty, filthy and worried. They needed to talk, and talk soon. But a woman needed to be at her sharpest to match wits with Derek. And Lily wasn’t nearly up to locking horns with her partner tonight. On either a personal or business level.
Besides, she needed to have all her facts together before confronting him, and damn it, she wanted to pick the time and the place. He made her jumpier than anyone she’d ever known, including her late, unlamented husband, and she was sure he did it on purpose.
His tone changed as he said softly, “You’re skittish tonight.”
The man was way too observant. Her instincts around him had always been primitive; Lily felt the need to raise the drawbridge, man the battle stations and drag out the big guns. “I’m not skittish,” she lied. “Just tired. Peaches and I have been at this for sixteen hours.”
He gave her an assessing look that made her blood feel as effervescent as champagne as it zipped through her veins. “You look good tired.”
She snorted and shook her head. He really was incorrigible. “Sure. And wearing Eau de Bovine is downright tantalizing, too.”
“On you, yeah.”
She huffed out an amused breath and crossed her arms, then, realizing her body language practically shouted that he made her nervous, uncrossed them and stuffed her hands into the deep pockets of her rubber apron. He didn’t need to know he made her feel a little like a rabbit squaring off against a cobra: scared, but fascinated nevertheless. She cocked her head as she looked at him. “You’re wearing an earring.”
A small sapphire glinted in his left earlobe. It made him look like a chic pirate. The dark hair brushing his collar did nothing to soften his face. His eyes were a dark, almost navy blue, and thickly screened by black lashes. His mouth was frankly sensual and he had a playbill of smiles for every occasion. This one was both mocking and enigmatic and, annoyingly as hell, sent a fresh shiver down her spine. “Like it?”
She shrugged; what she’d like was to nibble it right off his ear. Absolutely disgusted with herself, Lily scowled. For pity’s sake, just how tired was she? “Not many ranchers I know wear gemstones,” she mocked. “Not the guys anyway.”
His chuckle, low, throaty and filled with implications that had nothing to do with the conversation, made Lily’s mouth go dry. “Are you casting aspersions on my masculinity?”
Not just no, Lily thought, but hell no. Derek Wright was all man. He had a magn...
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