Cold Case, Hot Accomplice (Harlequin Romantic Suspense Series #1779)

( 4 )

Overview

Bestselling author Carla Cassidy brings in the Men of Wolf Creek to seek a missing woman

Roxy Marcoli cares about three things—her restaurant, her sisters and her aunt Liz. When Liz disappears, she's forced to turn to shameless playboy cop Steve Kincaid. Every time the sexy detective turns on the charm, he gets Roxy's hackles up.

Despite his reputation, Steve is no ladies' man. His casual flirting hides the pain of an unbearable loss. As they ...

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Cold Case, Hot Accomplice (Harlequin Romantic Suspense Series #1779)

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Overview

Bestselling author Carla Cassidy brings in the Men of Wolf Creek to seek a missing woman

Roxy Marcoli cares about three things—her restaurant, her sisters and her aunt Liz. When Liz disappears, she's forced to turn to shameless playboy cop Steve Kincaid. Every time the sexy detective turns on the charm, he gets Roxy's hackles up.

Despite his reputation, Steve is no ladies' man. His casual flirting hides the pain of an unbearable loss. As they search for clues, he discovers what lies beneath Roxy's prickly exterior and sharp tongue. As his desire grows, so does his fear. Because it's not just Aunt Liz the killer wants—but Roxy, too.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373278497
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/3/2013
  • Series: Harlequin Romantic Suspense Series , #1779
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 324,356
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 5.02 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Carla Cassidy is an award-winning author who has written more than fifty novels for Harlequin Books. In 1995, she won Best Silhouette Romance from RT Book Reviews for Anything for Danny. In 1998, she also won a Career Achievement Award for Best Innovative Series from RT Book Reviews. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

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Read an Excerpt

For the first time in three and a half years, Aunt Liz was late. Roxy Marcoli checked her watch for the third time in the past five minutes and tried not to panic.

The older woman had never been late delivering the baked goods that were offered each day to the customers of the Dollhouse. She always arrived at six-thirty, a half hour before Roxy turned the closed sign to Open, signaling the beginning of another day at the restaurant.

It was now quarter till seven and still no sign of Aunt Liz. Roxy had already called her aunt's house twice, and there had been no answer. She'd also tried Liz's cell phone, but it had gone directly to voice mail.

"Maybe she's held up in traffic," Josephine Landers, Roxy's manager, said as she checked the quiches that baked in the oven.

"Yeah, because traffic jams are such an issue in Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania," Roxy replied drily. She couldn't remember the last time she'd heard of a traffic snarl in the relatively small tourist town twenty miles up the mountain from the bigger city of Hershey.

"You know she'd never answer her cell phone if she was driving. She'll probably be walking in here any minute now," Josie said, obviously unconcerned about Liz Marcoli's punctuality or lack thereof.

What worried Roxy was that her aunt Liz was the one person in the entire world she'd always depended on, the one person who had always been there for her. She checked her watch once again. Almost seven. This was so out of character for Aunt Liz.

A thousand scenarios played out in Roxy's head, one worse than the other. Maybe she'd slipped and fallen in the shower. Or she'd been in a car accident and was at the hospital. Half the time she forgot to carry her purse with her, so if she was in an accident and rendered unconscious, it was possible that nobody would know her identity.

Stop it, Roxy commanded herself. Stop thinking so negatively. She'd been told often enough by both of her sisters and her aunt that she was prone to always seeing the bad side of any situation.

Maybe for once in her life, Aunt Liz had simply overslept. But then why hadn't she heard the phone ring? "Maybe I'll just give Marlene a call and have her run over and check in at Aunt Liz's," she said, more to herself than to Josie.

"Whatever you're going to do, you'd better do it fast because our first customers should be coming in any minute." Josie pulled the tray of homemade quiches from the oven.

Roxy grabbed her cell phone from her apron pocket and punched in her middle sister's number. Marlene picked up on the third ring, her voice groggy with sleep.

"You'd better be profusely bleeding or on fire," she said to Roxy.

"Neither, and I'm sorry to bother you so early, but I can't find Aunt Liz," Roxy replied. She leaned one hip against the large butcher-block island in the center of the kitchen.

"What do you mean you can't find Aunt Liz?"

Roxy could hear the rustle of bedsheets and could easily imagine her blond-haired, beautiful sister sitting up in her bed in her tiny walk-up apartment bedroom. "She didn't come this morning with the baked goods, and I've tried to call the house and her cell phone, but I get no answer." Roxy tried to keep the worry from her voice, but it was obvious Marlene heard it.

"You want me to go over there and check things out?"

"Would you mind? I'm just about to open my doors, and I can't imagine what's held her up this morning. This has never happened before."

"It will take me a few minutes to pull myself together and get over there, but I'll call you back as soon as I know something."

Roxy released a small sigh of relief. "Thanks, Marlene. And if she shows up here in the meantime, I'll give you a call back."

Roxy hung up at the same time she heard a rapid knock come from the front door of the three-story Victorian home she'd turned into a restaurant.

For the past year, the first three customers at the door every Monday, Wednesday and Friday were three of Hershey's finest who, before beginning their shifts as detectives, started their day with a hearty Doll-house breakfast.

As Roxy left the kitchen to open the front door, pride of ownership filled her heart. The restaurant consisted of three seating rooms, the large kitchen and a small storage area that had once served as a mudroom.

She was open six days a week, from seven in the morning until five in the evening. She'd initially envisioned the intimate restaurant to be popular with small women's groups and lunching ladies. She'd never expected the men who showed up for breakfast, and as a result, her morning offerings had become bigger in size, heartier than the lunch menu.

When she reached the front door, she was unsurprised to see the three familiar men standing on the porch. Jim Carmani, Frank Delaney and Steven Kin-caid were all detectives with the Wolf Creek police force. As she opened the door to let them in, her stomach twisted into a small knot of tension.

She busied herself turning the sign from Closed to Open in the glass pane of the front door, and the three men seated themselves where they always did, at the round table nearest the front window.

Knowing they would want coffee all around, she hurried to the kitchen to grab a serving pot of the fresh-brewed drink and then returned to their table and placed the silver pot in the center.

Jim and Frank both murmured a good morning. Steve eyed her with bright blue eyes and a sexy smile that should be considered illegal. "Foxy Roxy, you're looking stunning this morning as usual."

This was the man who twisted the knot in her stomach. Half the time after serving them, she wasn't sure if she wanted to pull out his shaggy surfer blond hair or her own black curly strands.

"Don't call me Foxy Roxy," she snapped.

"Why not?" he asked. A light of amusement shone in his ocean-blue eyes as his gaze perused her from head to toe.

"Because I told you not to," she said and then smiled at Jimmy and Frank. Both of them were dressed in black slacks, white shirts and lightweight suit jackets, while Steve was clad in a pair of slacks and a blue dress shirt that emphasized the color of his eyes and the shoulder holster that held his gun.

"What can I get for you this morning?" she asked Jimmy. "I'm afraid I don't have any cinnamon rolls or muffins. They haven't been delivered yet." She tamped down a new burst of worry about her aunt. Where could she be?

"I'll take your breakfast special, scrambled eggs with bacon and white toast," Jimmy said.

"And those Belgian waffles are calling to me, the ones smothered with bananas and caramel topping," Frank added.

Roxy nodded and turned to Steve. He grinned at her, and the knot in her stomach twisted a little bit tighter. "I'd like a plate of your long gorgeous legs and a hint of your pretty smile."

"Vegetable quiche," she said as she wrote on her pad, knowing few men ordered the delicate dish.

"No, wait!" Steve released a low rumble of laughter. "Give me the same as Frank."

"That's what I thought you said," she said drily and then twirled on her heels and left the table. "That man," she exclaimed as she entered the kitchen where Josie and Gregory Stillwell, another employee, were manning the oven.

"Let me guess," Josie said as she took the order sheet from Roxy. "Detective Steve Kincaid?" She didn't wait for Roxy's answer, but instead pointed Gregory to the waffle maker while she got eggs from the fridge. "I don't know why you let him get under your skin. Every woman in town thinks he's hot and sexy and would love to get a little of his flirtation and a taste of his lush lips, but we all know he's not really the serious type."

"He looks like some surfer dude who wandered in from a beach instead of a detective on the police force."

Josie grinned at her. "And you look like a hot, take-me-to-bed-right-now kind of woman instead of the man-hater you really are."

"I'm not a man-hater," Roxy grumbled. "I just refuse to buy into anything any of them are trying to sell."

Josie looked down at the wedding ring that had adorned her finger for the past three months. "Sometimes they're just selling you love," she replied, her voice gooey with sentiment.

The honeymoon stage, that's all it was, Roxy thought. Josie had married her high school sweetheart three months ago. Sooner or later the honeymoon would pass and real life would intrude—and that's when everything went to hell.

Roxy knew…. She'd lived it with her mother for the first seven years of her life. Men had led her mother to utter destruction, and Roxy wasn't about to make those same kinds of mistakes. She was good by herself, thank you very much.

It took only minutes for the three meals to be prepared and served, and by that time other diners had entered to get breakfast and enjoy the ambiance of the cozy eatery.

The three dining areas were named by the wallpaper and color theme in each room. The main area was the blue room, papered in a rich blue satin paper with antique glassware and trinkets on display on various shelves. The second biggest room was mauve, also decorated with a variety of antiques, old hats and framed news articles that chronicled the history of Wolf Creek.

The final dining area was the green room, which hinted of an outdoor eating experience with lush plants and the requisite antiques used to flavor the room.

For years this had been Roxy's dream. She'd worked two jobs since the age of eighteen in order to have a healthy down payment on a place.

The Dollhouse only used the best and freshest ingredients, utilizing local farmers and the nearby Amish community to assure quality in every dish they prepared.

She'd been open less than four years, and already she was functioning firmly in the black. This place wasn't just her dream; it, along with spending time with her two younger sisters and her aunt, was her very life.

For another half an hour she took orders and served customers. Allie Jenkins, one of her part-time waitresses, worked the crowd, as well.

Roxy was standing in the kitchen doorway waiting for an order to be ready for delivery when her cell phone rang. It was Marlene.

"Roxy, she's not here. The door was unlocked. I've gone through the entire house and she isn't here, but her car is in the driveway and her purse and all the baked goods are on the counter ready to transport."

A thrum of thick anxiety shot off in the pit of Roxy's stomach. "But she has to be there someplace if her car is there."

"Roxy, I've checked every room in the house. I even went down to the basement, and there's no sign of her." Marlene's voice rang with a touch of the anxiety that grew bigger and bigger inside Roxy. "What do you want me to do?"

"Have you called Sheri?" she asked, referring to their youngest sister.

"I did, and she hasn't heard from Aunt Liz since around two o'clock yesterday afternoon."

The simmer of anxiety moved into full chest-crunching alarm. "Go home and try not to worry," Roxy told her sister. "I'm sure there's a logical explanation. I'll take care of things." That's what Roxy did—she took care of things when her aunt wasn't available.

And why wasn't she available? Had Roxy's mother, Ramona, showed up after all these years and asked Liz to go someplace with her? Or had Ramona called and Liz gone running with no thought of anything else?

That could only mean bad news. Where Ramona went, chaos followed.

Liz had a soft and forgiving heart for everyone, and despite everything Ramona had done over the years, Liz would easily want to believe the best of her much younger sister. Liz would definitely drop everything if Ramona had called.

It had now been an hour and a half since she'd expected Liz to show up, and the alarm inside Roxy could no longer be ignored. There was only one thing she knew to do.

With stiff shoulders and the feeling that the world was suddenly all wrong, she went back into the blue room, where the three detectives were just finishing up their breakfasts.

"I need your help," she said without preamble. "We can't find my aunt. She's missing, and I need you all to go to her house and see if you can find out what's happened to her."

Jimmy, a handsome Italian, frowned. "How long has she been missing?"

"Almost two hours," Roxy replied. "My sister has been over to her house and can't find her anywhere. Aunt Liz's car is there, but she isn't. Something is wrong."

"Roxy, we can't check out someone who has only been missing for a couple of hours," Frank said kindly. "She's an adult. She's allowed to be missing if she wants to be."

"I'll go." Steve drained his coffee cup and then stood and looked at Roxy expectantly.

Both of his partners looked at him in surprise, and a sinking feeling swept through Roxy.

Of the three men at the table, the last one she wanted to have anything to do with was Detective Steve Kincaid. But at the moment her concern for her aunt overweighed her disgust at having to deal with the handsome devil.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Cold Case,Hot Accomplice was a light romantic read with some goo

    Cold Case,Hot Accomplice was a light romantic read with some good old-fashioned mystery tossed in. I do like a book that is told in both the male and female POVs, so that was a plus. The characters were likable, the backdrop was quaint, and the mystery had me guessing until the end. The chemistry between Steve and Roxy was restrained given that neither were looking for love.The story kept a steady pace which i very much enjoyed.There seemed to be quite a bit of story and character development that took up a good third of the book. But once the story was fully on its way, it was a book I did not want to put down and the ending was a  surprise...
     
    Strong characters and non-stop action keep you turning the pages on Carla Cassidy's newest Romantic Suspense. Our heroine has more than one reason to be looking over her shoulder and thinking about her protector makes her feel much more than safe. To have his help is she willing to risk her heart?  Loved reading this story and watching a woman finding her strength and her hope for a "happy ever after".

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  • Posted December 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A great book

    A great book Contemporary, Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania


    Roxy Marcoli has three things that matter to her in life, her restaurant, her aunt, Liz and her sisters. When Liz disappears Roxy ends up turning to Steve Kincaid, a cop with a playboy reputation. A man that tries to charm Roxy but gets her hackles up every time instead.

    Steve Kincaid isn’t anything like the ladies man reputation that he has. His flirting covers up a loss that is unbearable. As Roxy and Steve search for clues to what has happened to Liz, Steve gets to see what really lies beneath Roxy’s sharp tongue and prickly attitude. The more Steve gets to know the more he wants Roxy. As his desire grows so does the fear Steve now has because it seems Aunt Liz isn’t the only one a killer wants, they are now after Roxy.


    This story proves to be a great romantic suspense with twists and turns that are sure to keep the reader guessing as to who is behind what is happening. Just as the reader thinks they have it figured out another twist comes along that will have the reader second guessing themselves. The ending is great and this book proves to be very hard to put down. This story has a couple of plots going that make it that much more intriguing and sure to grab the reader’s attention. This one is definitely worth taking the time to check out and read.

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  • Posted December 4, 2013

    4 Stars Cold Case, Hot Accomplice I was left with some questi


    4 Stars

    Cold Case, Hot Accomplice

    I was left with some questions that I would like to bring up but it would give up too many secrets. The suspense was good. It keeps you guessing about where the missing are. Who took whom? Who was after Roxy? You don't know who to trust.

    I like the characters. Roxy is the oldest of three girls. She feels she has to be the one to hold it together for her sisters. She is feisty. Knows what she wants and goes for her dream. She opened her own restraint the dollhouse. She never plans on getting married.

    Three of her customers come in first thing three days of the week are detectives. Steve always flirts with her. When Liz her Aunt is a half hour late delivering her bake goods and doesn't answer her phone she sends her sister over their. Liz is not their but the bake goods are ready, her car is there, and her purse is there.

    They tell her that till she is missing 24 hours they can't do anything. Steve does go over to see and look around.

    Steve has his own missing case that he has not solved. He hates missing cases. He starts working the case and their are a lot of police working the case.

    When someone comes after Roxy to they don't know if it is same one who took her Aunt Liz.

    I can't wait for the next book to come out and answer my questions that I still have.

    There are a couple of sex scenes in the book. Their is also some Amish characters in the story.
    I was given this ebook to read and in return asked to give honest review by NetGalley and Harlequin.
    Publisher: Harlequin Romantic Suspense (December 1, 2013) 288 pages ISBN: 9780373278497

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    First, ARGH at the ending. But it's a good ARGH. Heh. I adored

    First, ARGH at the ending. But it's a good ARGH. Heh.

    I adored Roxy in this book. She's worked so hard to keep her sisters sheltered from their rather sucky mother, and been willing to protect them from all the muck and worries that she's dealt with as the oldest sister. She's a successful restaurateur and I love that while she can cook, she can't bake very well.

    Poor Steve, I can only imagine (and did) how much agony he must have been in to have had his son abducted and vanish for 2+ years because of his psycho ex-girlfriend. I liked how Ms. Cassidy portrayed him as still searching, but he'd also made an attempt to move on with his life to some degree even if he never gave up hope of finding his son. Some of the scenes where he was in the boy's bedroom were truly heart-wrenching.

    These two played off each other really well, and I liked the mystery that developed around Aunt Liz's disappearance. Roxy was a bit stubborn about not giving up the chase, and even wanting to start the chase before Liz had been gone more than a few hours. I can get how Steve was a bit skeptical in the beginning about an actual abduction and how he doubted much would be done...until he got himself sucked into the mystery, with a determination not to let Roxy feel the same unending worry/wonder about her vanished love one, the way he was.

    Roxy had a little growing up to do with her tunnel vision when it came to her mother and I was pleased to see she did actually do that in the end. These two truly deserved each other and I was glad when they got together finally.

    In short - read this book! Heh.

    Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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