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Caught in the Act

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Overview

Some desires are too dangerous to embrace.

As the owner of a flourishing Latin American crafts boutique, Karina Strauss should be basking in her success. Instead she’s worried about her troubled sister, the girlfriend—and prisoner—of drug lord Carlos Moreno. Kari wants no part of that life, but when she helps a friend cross into the United States illegally, two men on opposite sides of the law take notice: Moreno and Adam Cortez, the handsome ...
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Caught in the Act

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Overview

Some desires are too dangerous to embrace.

As the owner of a flourishing Latin American crafts boutique, Karina Strauss should be basking in her success. Instead she’s worried about her troubled sister, the girlfriend—and prisoner—of drug lord Carlos Moreno. Kari wants no part of that life, but when she helps a friend cross into the United States illegally, two men on opposite sides of the law take notice: Moreno and Adam Cortez, the handsome border protection officer who lets Kari off the hook. It’s not just Kari’s tantalizing flash of skin that catches Adam’s attention—her drug cartel connections bring back the demons of his past.

Moreno demands that Kari smuggle a package for him in exchange for her sister’s freedom. Adam also gets dangerously close, tempting her to surrender and fulfill her wildest desires. As Kari prepares for the drug run, dark secrets, violent criminals, and deadly consequences lurk around every corner. But concern for her sister drives Kari toward a terrifying act, despite Adam’s warnings, despite her overwhelming fears—and despite the odds against coming out alive.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sorenson’s sleek sensuality and fresh new voice are sure to score big with readers.”—New York Times bestselling author Cindy Gerard
 
“With Jill Sorenson, you are guaranteed a dangerously addictive, gut-wrenchingly fast-paced read.”—Stephanie Tyler, author of Night Moves
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553592641
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 644,178
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Sorenson is the author of Crash into Me, Set the Dark on Fire, and The Edge of Night. After earning a degree in literature and a bilingual teaching credential from California State University, she decided that teaching wasn’t her cup of tea. She started writing one day while her firstborn was taking a nap and hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in San Diego.
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Read an Excerpt

Caught in the Act


By Jill Sorenson

Bantam

Copyright © 2012 Jill Sorenson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780553592641

1 T Karina Strauss approached the San Ysidro border crossing at a snail’s pace, her cargo van idling among a thousand other vehicles.

There were twenty-­four lanes on the Tijuana side, a massive snarl of traffic that found order in the last hundred yards. Before the inspection booths were visible, the dividing lines were ignored. The more aggressive drivers made their own lanes, squeezing into narrow spaces and zigzagging across the chaos. Everyone else lurched forward in semiregular intervals while street vendors navigated the shifting aisles, selling everything from chicle and cold drinks to silver jewelry and colorful hammocks. Some of the peddlers were children whose shoulders barely cleared the hoods of the cars.

Kari let out a slow breath, removing her sweaty hands from the steering wheel. She’d turned off the air-­conditioning and rolled down the windows in hopes that her van wouldn’t overheat. At just past noon, the summer sun was blazing. Her left shoulder, exposed by her sleeveless cotton top, felt burned.

As the crush of vehicles evened into single rows, Kari became aware of impatient drivers angling toward the right. Her lane seemed more backed up than the others—­not a good sign. Some of the inspectors were very thorough, checking the contents of each and every car. Normally she appreciated their diligence.

Today she was desperate for lax security.

She put on her signal and tried to merge into the next lane, with no luck. A woman in a midsized sedan stole the spot, her radio blaring Juan Gabriel.

The space in front of Kari cleared and she was forced to move ahead in the same lane. Now there were only a few cars between her and the inspection booth. She met her startled reflection in the rearview mirror, swallowing dryly. Her heart slammed in her chest, beating too hard, too fast.

Stay calm, she told herself. Act cool.

The officer stationed at the booth ahead didn’t appear lax in any way. His dark blue uniform fit well. He had short black hair and a stern face. She couldn’t see his eyes behind the lenses of his authoritative sunglasses, but she’d bet they were brown.

Kari watched the officer walk around a dusty Olds­mobile, gesturing for the owner to open the trunk. His short-­sleeved shirt stretched across his back as he leaned forward to glance into the trunk’s recesses. He looked strong, broad-­shouldered, bronze-­skinned. There was nothing unusual about him, other than an eye-­pleasing physique, but she sensed that he was sharp and precise.

Sweat trickled between her breasts.

Too nervous to sit still, she unfastened the top buttons on her blouse, searching around the front seats of the van for a tissue to blot her perspiration.

The line crawled forward again. Damn!

She used the hem of her skirt to wipe her chest and left the buttons undone. Maybe she could entice the inspector to look down her shirt rather than inside her vehicle. Tapping the gas pedal, she eased the van closer.

She’d been waiting in traffic for over an hour and the final moments were the most intense. Blood pounded in her ears, her temple, her throat. She took a small sip of water and fiddled with the radio, trying to disguise her fear. Her pulse was racing, her hands trembling. She didn’t dare glance back into the cargo space.

At last, it was her turn. She pulled up to the inspection booth, which was underneath a shaded structure, and prayed for a wave-­through.

“Citizenship?”

“U.S.,” she murmured, handing him her passport. Most of the stamps marked her visits to Mexico. Others were from the Czech Republic, where she’d been born. She watched him handle her paperwork, fixating on the almost indiscernible grain of stubble along his jaw, the smoothness of his taut brown throat.

Officer A. Cortez, the name tag on his shirtfront read. He was Hispanic, but that didn’t relax her. There was no room for mixed sympathies in his profession.

“Anything to declare?” he asked.

She fumbled for her inventory list. His voice was low and even, no trace of an accent. He was also disturbingly handsome. As she passed him the handwritten ­account of the items in her van—­well, most of the items—­she remembered her gaping blouse. The flat expression on his face suggested that he’d noticed but wasn’t impressed.

“It’s all just stuff for my store,” she explained, flushing. “Zócalo, on E Street?”

His gaze dropped to the insignia on the side of her van. Authentic Arts and Crafts from Latin America. The accompanying image was whimsical, a dancing skeleton in a sombrero. In Mexico, even death was a fiesta.

“Please turn off the engine and step outside the ­vehicle.”

Her stomach dropped.

She switched off the ignition and removed the keys, curbing the urge to ask if she’d done something wrong. Better to stay mum. With numb fingers, she opened the driver’s-side door. The instant she climbed out, her rubber flip-­flops soaked up the heat of the asphalt, and a warm breeze rippled through her calf-­length skirt.

She followed Officer Cortez to the rear of the vehicle, her heart in her throat.

“Open the doors, please.”

Oh no. What could she do? Refusing to cooperate was not an option.

As she approached the double doors on shaky legs, her keys slid from her slippery grip, clattering to the pavement. She bent to pick them up, aware that her thin cotton skirt was clinging to her backside.

Cortez waited patiently, making no move to assist her.

Straightening, she unlocked the doors. Although her eyes had trouble adjusting to the dim interior, she could make out a few shadowy boxes and piles of textiles, her usual haul. She stepped aside, not allowing her gaze to linger.

Cortez glanced into the cargo space and then squinted down the line of cars, assessing the rows of vehicles. When he looked back at her, she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, self-­conscious. He touched the radio at his shoulder and spoke into it, engaging in a clipped conversation she couldn’t overhear.

Kari had to do something to distract him from the contents of her van. As he dropped his hand from the radio, she saw that he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. He had a lean, muscular build, and he was medium-­tall, maybe six feet. Under different circumstances, she wouldn’t have to feign interest.

“This must be an exciting job,” she ventured, trying to sound fascinated.

He perused her cargo. “It has its moments.”

“Have you handled any big loads?”

That got his attention. He gave her a bald look, obviously wondering if she meant to be suggestive.

She smiled, fanning her cleavage with one hand. “Hot, isn’t it?”

Behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses, his eyes followed her movements. Although she’d dressed for comfort, not seduction, the outfit flattered her figure. Most men liked breasts, and hers were half-showing. Cortez was also fairly young, which worked in her favor. He might be an exemplary officer, but he wasn’t immune to the stuff.

To her disappointment, he tore his gaze from her chest and continued the routine inspection, a muscle in his jaw flexing.

Her mind whirred with ridiculous options, like pretending to faint on the hot blacktop. Then a loud noise stole Cortez’s attention. Several lanes over, a trio of intimidating-­looking German shepherds were barking up a storm, straining at their leashes. Alerting officers of illegal cargo.

Officer Cortez stepped away from her vehicle. “Have a nice day, ma’am,” he said, handing back her paperwork. After calling for another uniformed man to cover his station, he walked toward the commotion in long strides.

Kari shut the back doors of the van, dizzy with relief. She went around to the driver’s side and got in, ears peeled for a shout to halt. Thankfully, it didn’t come. She turned on the engine and pulled forward, crossing the border into San Diego. Clear, organized roadways and a clean ocean breeze greeted her.

Freedom.

She stepped on the gas and inhaled deeply, letting the wind whip through her shoulder-­length hair. Even after she’d gone a few miles, her heart wouldn’t stop racing. She didn’t dare glance back into the cargo space for fear she was being followed.

“Oh my God,” she said finally, letting out a nervous laugh. “That was close.”

Normally she went straight to her store, which was near Old Town, to unload the van. Today she drove to her quiet little house in Bonita. The tiny San Diego suburb was only a ten-­minute trip from the San Ysidro port of entry. As soon as she came to a stop in her driveway, she scrambled into the cargo space, wading through cardboard boxes.

She tore open the largest box. “Maria?”

Her stowaway was hidden in a very cramped space, her slender limbs contorted in an uncomfortable position. As Kari lifted the top flaps of cardboard, Maria Santos moaned, insensible. Her eyes were closed and her head lolled to one side.

“Oh shit,” Kari said, grabbing her bottled water. The box must have been hot, stuffy, and intensely claustrophobic. She poured water on the young woman’s dark hair, trying to rouse her. Maria choked and sputtered, shaking her wet head. Kari put her arms around her slight body and heaved, pulling the woman from the box. Although Maria was slim, she weighed at least a hundred pounds and it wasn’t easy for Kari to get her out. When she was free, they lay together on the floor of the van, panting from exertion.

Continues...

Excerpted from Caught in the Act by Jill Sorenson Copyright © 2012 by Jill Sorenson. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Another great read from Jill. The heroine Karina Strauss is fr

    Another great read from Jill.

    The heroine Karina Strauss is from the Czech Republic. Her father brought her and her sister to the United States after their mother died. He created a business from the ground up and did well enough to spoil Karina and Sasha. At 18 there father died leaving Karina to raise Sasha. Sasha had always been wild and Karina felt she didn’t do a good enough job protecting her after something happened one night at a club.

    Karina is now the owner of a Latin American crafts boutique and often crosses the border into Mexico to buy crafts from the local women. On one such trip she meets Maria and the two became friends. Maria needs work to support her family and begged Karina to get her across the border. Karina managed to get Maria across the border but not before coming under the attention of Adam Cortez who works for Border Patrol and Carlos Moreno who is a Mexican drug lord and also the boyfriend of Kari's now strung out sister.

    Moreno demands that Kari smuggle a package for him in exchange for her sister’s freedom. And they also tell Maria she must work for them at the Hotel del Oro where Chey Pena who words for Moreno runs a drug selling business. Adam who had a feeling something was fishy with Kari at the border crossing inspection follows her home and see's Chey leaving and assumes she is working for them but also feel something for her he has felt since the death of his wife at the hands of Moreno.

    Adam decides he is going to get close to Kari in hopes that he can get close to Moreno to take him down once and for all not expecting to start to feel something for her.

    Ian Foster has been Adam's friend since childhood. They both went through the academy together. Ian left CBP after finding a girl in the desert raped and beaten. He is now on an undercover op at the Hotel del Oro as a drug addict buy from Chey. We find out when Maria and Ian run into each other that she was the girl he found that night years ago raped and beaten and that neither had forgotten the other.

    The deception from all parties runs high. Kari feels she much do the drug run to try and save her sister and get her the help she finally needs. But as with alot of addicts the sister doesn’t want to be saved.

    Adam and Kari's story pretty much wraps up at the end of this book. But Ian and Maria story I hope gets its conclusion in another book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    4.5 stars Kari Strauss is a good girl doing bad things for go

    4.5 stars

    Kari Strauss is a good girl doing bad things for good reasons. She smuggles a young Mexican woman, Maria, across the border. She agrees to smuggle drugs, in an attempt to rescue her drug addict sister from the clutches of the bad guys.

    Border Patrol Officer Adam Cortez is a good guy, as well. He suspects Kari of being up to no good, and tells himself that’s why he’s keeping an eye on her. These two are on opposite sides of the law, if not opposite sides of the sheets..

    What I really liked about this book:
    • The explicitly steamy romance between both the A couple, Kari and Adam, and the more tender romance between Maria and Ian.
    • The fast-paced action, and unexpected twists and turns.
    • The way the bad guy was not cartoonishly bad, but had his good points.
    • The humor interlaced with the suspense, especially the date at Adam’s house that gets crashed by his babysitting gig.
    • The way the author isn’t afraid to put her heroine through the emotional wringer.

    What bugged me about this book:
    • It took a little bit too long for Kari and Adam to trust each other.
    • Kari’s business seems too convenient; it’s thriving, though she doesn’t have any sales clerks or other help, and only rarely does it seem there is more than one person in her store.
    • The engagement ring at the end.

    Yes, danger, adrenaline and hormones does inspire healthy young people to jump in the sack together. But I hate when couples are “in love” and ready to marry when they’ve known each other less than a month. Be a couple, boink each others’ brains out, sure, but don’t start shopping rings and talking marriage until you’ve known each other at least six months or more.

    *steps down off soapbox*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 26, 2012

    Good Read

    This story revolves around Kari and Adam, two individuals brought together by the opposite sides of the law. Kari is being forced to smuggle drugs from Mexico to the U.S. under a death threat to her sister while Adam is a border protection officer who is dedicated to keeping drugs out of the U.S. Together, can they figure out how to stop a drug cartel, rescue Kari's sister, and bring Kari back home safe?

    The only question I have is...What happens to Maria and Ian? Are you writing another book for them?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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