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Deadly Identity

Deadly Identity

3.4 23
by Lindsay McKenna

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One tragic decision dashed Rachel Carson's plans and made her scared of her own shadow. Now on the run, she must forever give up the hope of love—or a baby. But with her new identity, she can help care for a motherless little girl, left in the protection of handsome Sheriff Cade Garner.

As tough as his Wyoming mountains, Cade takes his


One tragic decision dashed Rachel Carson's plans and made her scared of her own shadow. Now on the run, she must forever give up the hope of love—or a baby. But with her new identity, she can help care for a motherless little girl, left in the protection of handsome Sheriff Cade Garner.

As tough as his Wyoming mountains, Cade takes his responsibilities seriously. He will do whatever is necessary to protect baby Jenny and give her the life she should have had. But his sharp instincts tell him something is up with the mysterious nanny who swept into their lives. The alluring blonde has roused his senses…and his heart. As a lawman, he seeks to uncover her secrets. He knows he can protect her and the baby, if only she will dare to trust again.

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming , #2
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Read an Excerpt

"You're a dead woman if you don't get over here."

The voice sent a chill down Susan's back and she did all she could to keep from screaming. As they stood in the kitchen, her husband of five years, Dirk Payson, cocked his fist. She had just dropped the plate with his breakfast eggs on them. The moment it shattered on the floor, Dirk leaped up from the table, rage in his face. It had been an accident, and yet, as she peered into his wild-looking blue eyes, she knew. A sickening dread washed over her while she quickly picked up the pieces of the broken plate off the floor.

"I—I'm sorry, Dirk…"

"it won't happen again," she whispered, her hands trembling as she gathered up the pieces. One of the shards of the glass plate cut her index finger. Susan didn't feel the pain or the warm blood that flowed from the deep cut. The agony and fear clutching at her heart took most of her attention—that and not making Dirk even angrier. Breathing like an enraged bull, he stood near the table, as if frozen for a second. Was he ready to hit her again? Oh, God, no!

Susan's mind sought the closest escape. She was six months pregnant and had to protect her growing baby. The last time Dirk had struck her—two months earlier—he'd broken her nose. Why did he want to hurt her like this? Why couldn't she do anything right for him? No matter what Susan did, it was wrong for Dirk. And Dirk was there to correct her with his fists.

"You bitch!" he rasped savagely, taking a step forward. "You ruined my breakfast, dammit! I was hungry!"

"I—I'm sorry, Dirk. I—I'll make you another plate of eggs. Just give me a chance?" Her voice sounded breathless and frightened. Susan placed pieces of the plate on the granite counter. With a dishcloth, she rapidly cleaned the eggs up off the floor, as well. Susan could feel adrenaline shooting through her. She needed to run! The look in Dirk's eyes was deadly this time. He wanted to do more than break her nose. Mouth dry, her hands shaking, Susan cleaned herself up under a stream of water from the faucet.

"Please…give me just a few minutes, Dirk. I'll fix some more eggs just the way you like them."

"I'm tired of you. I bet that baby isn't even mine!" That's when he lunged.

Susan screamed as his fingers wrapped around the long, blond hair that hung down her back. Wrenched backward, she felt her feet fly out from beneath her. Red-hot pain radiated from her scalp. She slammed onto the cold, hard floor. Susan threw up her hands to try and stop Dirk's other fist from striking her face.

But as she tried to twist away, he leaned over, his fist sinking hard into her protruding belly.

"No!" Susan shrieked from the impact, the pain flooding her. On instinct, she pulled out of his grip, strands of her hair still in his fist.

"Bitch! You're gonna die!"

Everything became slow motion for Susan. Somehow, she found the strength to rise, her hand across her belly where her baby lay. The pain was far too intense but she had to get away. She grabbed the handle of the black iron skillet and swung it at Dirk as he launched himself at her once again. Her entire arm vibrated from the sudden impact with his skull.

To her disbelief, he fell like a pile of rags on the floor. He had a huge gash across his brow, but at least she'd stopped him. Maybe forever. Tears splattered from her eyes. Tears of pain. She could have stood there for hours but for the sudden ripping sensation through her abdomen.

Please don't let me lose my baby! A baby she'd wanted all her twenty-three years of life. Susan had endured Dirk's beatings just to bring this beautiful, clean, innocent baby into the world.

Gasping, Susan saw everything begin to gray before her eyes. She had to escape! She had to get out of here before Dirk woke up! When he did, he'd kill her and her baby. Something raw and primal surged through her. Susan staggered forward, both hands covering her belly. Though she prayed to God that He would save her baby, Susan felt she might die.

Sobbing for breath, Susan tried as best as she could to get out of the five-million-dollar Miami estate that had been her home for all of seven months. Why hadn't she realized sooner that Dirk was a drug dealer with the Mexican cartel? That he was beyond dangerous? She'd come from a small Iowa cattle farm so what did she know? Now she was running for her life.

Warmth flowed between her legs. She knew it was blood or worse, the fluid surrounding her baby. Save my baby…save my baby… Susan wove unsteadily past the palm trees at the front of the house. Her world began tilting, and more fluid flowed down her legs. Sobbing, Susan ran as if drunk toward the sidewalk below. She nearly fell but she made it to the concrete walkways of the rich community. Help! She could never go back into the estate that reminded her of a prison. She had to escape Dirk! She had to save her baby girl that she'd named Sarah.

Cars slowed down, and drivers gawked at her. Susan wove on rubbery legs, her hands stretched outward to keep herself upright. Gasps and sobs exploded out of her mouth as the pain made her hunch over. Help!

Susan knew no one in Miami. Dirk had kept her inside that mausoleum, not allowing her to make friends with anyone. Her strange marriage went against her grain. At home in the small community of Greenfield, Iowa, people knew each other. They were a tight-knit community. They supported and helped one another. Susan hated Miami, hated that she'd made the stupid decision to marry Dirk Payson. At eighteen years old, when she'd fallen in love with him, she'd thought she knew everything. Against her parents' wishes, she'd run off and married him. How she regretted her choice now.

Everything had gone wrong. Susan bent over, her hands cupping her belly. Suddenly, she heard the screech of tires nearby. Looking up, Susan noticed a dark blue car stop and a man running toward her. Susan didn't know who he was, but she sank to her knees. She was too weak to stand, too weak to see if he was friend or foe. Yet, the look in his green eyes told her he was there to help her.

Then, as if someone had lowered a black curtain across her vision, Susan crumpled to the sidewalk. She knew nothing more.

Five years later…

"Susan, something has happened," FBI agent Brenda Wilkins said, gesturing for her to sit down in a chair within an enclosed glass office.

"Oh?" Susan frowned and, automatically, her heart began to beat harder. It was snowing outside and getting to this building in six inches of snow had taken a long time. After pulling off her black wool coat and removing her red scarf, Susan placed them on a nearby hook.

The news had to be about Dirk. She had lost Sarah, her baby, and nearly her own life thanks to her ex-husband. When she'd awakened in the hospital, Brenda Wilkins had been at her bedside. The red-haired woman, in her forties, with thick glasses perched on her large nose, told Susan that the FBI needed her help. For the past five years, Susan Donovan had no longer existed.

After testifying against Dirk, she'd entered the federal witness protection program and become Susan Johnson.

Brenda offered her some water from a pitcher. Palms sweaty, Susan took the glass and murmured her thanks.

"What's wrong? You seem upset," Susan said. As she looked around the small, spare office, she noticed instantly that all the blinds had been drawn except at the front door. Brenda was meeting her in a special FBI front that sported another name: Garrison & Sons Life Insurance Agency.

Brenda had literally saved Susan's life. Indeed, the FBI agent had been her gateway to a life without fear of being hunted down and killed by Dirk's Mexican drug-cartel connections, even though he was in prison. Oh, there was no question in Susan's mind that Dirk had sent out hit men to find her. So far, he hadn't succeeded.

The first thing Susan had done was to dye her hair from its original blond color to sable. And she trimmed it to shoulder-length to add more change. Brenda gave her a new name, social security number and all the rest to complete the transfer to begin living a normal life of sorts. All these things ran through Susan's mind as she studied her handler. Brenda's red mouth was pursed. Adrenaline started to pour through Susan.

"Dirk escaped," Brenda said bluntly.

"What?" The word exploded from Susan's lips. She was on her feet with nowhere to go. The panic came back with a vengeance. "What? How could that be?"

"I know, I know. Come sit down, Susan. Please…" Brenda waved toward the chair.

Susan couldn't calm down. Dirk had sworn to kill her. He had promised to track her down and finish the job he'd started at their Miami home five years ago. Grabbing the arms of the wooden chair, Susan felt her knees weaken. She sat down before she fell down. Beads of perspiration dotted her wrinkled brow, her gaze burrowing into the FBI agent's eyes. "How could this have happened? Do they know where he is? Are they going to recapture him?" Her mind flew like a tornado around the possibilities.

"Take some slow, deep breaths, Susan. Please. You're looking pale and I don't want you to faint on me." Brenda reached over and gripped the hand that was clenched on the arm of the chair. "Come on now…breathe, breathe…"

Gulping convulsively, Susan tried. She was gasping, her breaths shallow and rapid. Just the steadying touch of Brenda's hand helped her focus. Oh, God, no! The very worst nightmare that had dogged her heels all these years had finally come true. Dirk would be looking for her. Even though he didn't know where she was or what she looked like, Susan knew he'd stalk and find her. Fear of dying made her choke. She coughed violently several times, her hand pressed against her constricted throat.

"Come on," Brenda muttered, holding the glass of water toward her. "Sip this. You're hyperventilating. You've got to settle down, Susan. Not everything is lost." Brenda sat back down, her hands folded, her red nails shining against her dark green suit.

The water was cool and soothing. Susan took several gulps. Her tightened throat began to relax, but her heart pounded like a freight train in her chest. "Tell me what happened."

Frowning, Brenda picked up the report. "Dirk escaped. No one knows how. Guards suspect he was taken out in a laundry bag to the laundry truck, and he took off from there. No witnesses, though. This is all possibility, not fact. He had to have help. His cell buddies are being interrogated as I speak. And his visitors are being questioned."

"What does this mean for me?" Susan whispered. "I have a new name, a new identity. He doesn't know I'm living here in New York City." It was a long way from Miami, Florida. Dirk hated the northeast because of the cold winters.

Lips twisting, Brenda said, "Hon, I know you've made a great life for yourself as a nanny here, and you're doing well in art school. I know you want to become a children's book illustrator someday." With a deeper frown, Brenda added in a softer voice, "But for your own safety, Susan, you're going to have to leave New York City for a while."


Hand held up, Brenda said, "Listen to me. You're easy to find here. There's a lot of vermin, too. My boss also feels you would be safer away from the east coast. In a place where you can disappear. Don't worry, we'll do all the moving for you."

"Where?" Susan felt trapped.

"Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It's out in the middle of godforsaken nowhere. And knowing Payson's hatred of cold places, it's perfect for you. Plus, with him on the loose, you don't want him to flash a photo of you at the school and have someone recognize you. New York is a big town but it can be a small town. That's why we're moving you, hon. You need a new place and a new identity."

"That means you don't anticipate finding him soon," Susan said in a low tone. That meant her mother, who was also in the witness protection program, was affected. But so were her brothers, who lived on the family farm where she'd been born in Iowa. "You promised if he ever broke out of prison, you'd protect my family. What about my mom? My brothers at our farm? Are you doing that?"

"Already done," Brenda assured her. "We're working with local and state police. Your family has been warned in Iowa. And your mother is fine. We're not moving her. We feel she's fine where she is. They know Dirk escaped, and your brothers will be guarded 24/7 by those police agencies."

Relief poured through Susan. "Are you sure they'll be—"

"I am." Brenda sat up. "Listen, you need to move, Susan. I can see in your face that you don't want to, but you have to. We can't risk Payson finding you here."

"I don't think he will," Susan said, her voice strong. "I have my friends, Brenda. I have a publishing contact, the art department and—"

"It doesn't matter."

Susan's stomach knotted. "The last five years of my life I've found some peace, Brenda. I—I still haven't come to grips with losing my baby girl."

Meet the Author

A U.S. Navy veteran, she was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition.  Her heart and focus is on honoring and showing our military men and women.  Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. Visit her online at www.LindsayMcKenna.com.

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Deadly Identity 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
AAR More than 1 year ago
DEADLY IDENTITY by Lindsey McKenna is a romantic suspense/fiction set in present day Jackson Hole,Wyoming.It is the continuation of the "Jackson Hole,Wyoming series" and can be read as a stand alone. It is well written with depth,details,twists and turns.It has guilt,tragedy,love,romance,drug cartel,witness protection,FBI,spousal abuse,mystery,death,murder,plastic surgery,hidden identity,deception,lies,nightmares, family,protection,fear,new life and second chances.The characters are charming,and determined.The hero,Cade, is a widowed,a sheriff's deputy,had tragedy in his life and becomes the newly adopted father to his best friend's daughter.The heroine, Rachel, is in witness protection,trying to stay alive,stay alive from her escaped husband,been abused by her husband,lost her unborn child due to her husband's abuse,testified against her husband who was in a drug cartel,her mother is also in witness protection,and becomes Cade's nanny.This is a fast paced,action packed story of love,fear,trust,and second chances.I would highly recommend this story especially if you enjoy stories of waiting for the next shoe to fall,survival,finding true love and finding happiness after tragedy.This book was received for the purpose of review from Net Galley and details can be found at HQN and My Book Addiction and More.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Fear, guilt, and lies become part and parcel of Susan's (Rachel Carson's) life as she survives in witness protection. Life seems hopeless until one snowy Christmas Eve on a treacherous stretch of highway in Wyoming, baby Jenny comes into Rachel's life. The tiny three-month-old that cuddles close is like a balm to Rachel's wounded soul. The formidable deputy sheriff Cade Garner with his quiet authority and gentle touch gives Rachel a sense of being safe for the first time since she escaped from Dirk her abusive husband five years ago. Life has been cruel to both Rachel and Cade. When Dirk escapes from prison, Rachel is again uprooted and relocated. His threat to kill her for testifying against him becomes an immediate concern. She still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Even after months of therapy, she battles the emotional trauma of losing her unborn child, Dirk's abuse, and being separated from all family and friends. Cade also suffers from a type of PTSD. After having to deal with horrific traffic accidents that are part of his job, his body and mind rebel against the flashbacks of mutilated bodies, the screams of pain and terror, and the smells. Each time he is called to an accident, he relives the death of his wife and little girl. The alliance Cade and Rachel make to create a stable, loving environment for little Jenny pulls the reader into the psychological and emotional conflicts that must be resolved before either of them can move on with their lives in a positive way. Lindsay McKenna keeps an undercurrent of tension simmering as she reveals just enough of Dirk's activities to show that danger lurks, ready to pounce and destroy. Ms. McKenna makes the life style of the people and the location in Wyoming come alive with terrific descriptions. Some of the ranching details fall short such as the production ability of one-hundred acres in Wyoming. A few little things distract, e.g. Angora goats have mohair not wool. None of these affects the plot and dim as the reader is captivated by the compelling story of redemption and love. Deadly Identity, an in-depth look into the hearts and minds of two trouble souls, is spellbinding. The joy of seeing hopelessness turn to hope and seeing Cade and Rachel's love grow from a caring, nurturing love to a powerful passionate love with a solid foundation makes the heart happy. Good reading! Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Miami spousal abuser Dirk Payson, a Mexican cartel drug runner in the States, beat his pregnant wife Susan until she lost the baby. Five years of marital hell ends for the twenty-three years old victim when she testifies against Dirk in court before being placed in the Witness Protection Program. Five years later, Dirk escapes prison; FBI Agent Brenda Wilkins informs his former wife called Susan Johnson she must leave New York City immediately. Her new identity is Rachael Carson and her home is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In her new home, Rachel helps Sheriff Cade Garner care for little Jenny by hiring on as the motherless child's nanny. Cade senses something is not right about Rachel; little things a non law enforcement official would not notice. As he falls in love with the nanny, he prays she would tell him the truth as he swears her will keep her safe from whoever haunts her. However, he also fears confronting her as knows if he does she will bolt like the scared rabbit she is. Mindful of the Roberts-Bergen film Sleeping With The Enemy, Deadly Identity is an engaging exciting romantic suspense even with the reader anticipating a confrontation in picaresque Jackson Hole. The story line is fast-paced with likable lead protagonists, a wonderful little girl and a vile villain. Although nothing new is added to the theme, fans will relish this exhilarating thriller even while knowing what to expect when High Noon comes to Wyoming. Harriet Klausner
hebehills More than 1 year ago
Deadly Identity -- HQN -- December 2010 -- Lindsay McKenna --- Rachel Carson had been driving near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, when a SUV rushed past her on the slick road. The car skidded off the road and smashed into the cliff. When the deputy sheriff, Cade Garner got to the scene, he found a woman trying to break in to the car. He recognized the SUV as his dead partner's car, which would have his dead friend's wife Lily and their infant daughter, Jenny inside. Lily hadn't survived the crash, but Jenny was okay. Cade was Jenny godfather, now young Jenny would be his daughter. Rachel Carson, said she was a nanny and she could take care of Jenny. Cade likes Rachel, however he thinks she is hiding something; could she trust him enough to let him help her? --- Lindsay McKenna writes an emotional story that shows the terror and fear that one would experience if they were running for their life. Add to that the loving and caring family that Rachel was taken into as she cares for the baby Jenny. Rachel comes to hate that she can't tell Cade and his parents the truth of why she was in Wyoming. Pickup a copy of "Deadly Identity" and start the journey that will have your heart pounding, and turning the pages quickly to see if Cade finds out what Rachel's secret is?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried so hard to finish but to be perfectly honest when Rachel said "my body blossoming like a ripe peach" in regards to how cade made her feel I had to check the book to confirm this was not a Harlequin novel. Then you have cade who talks about her like he's writing poetry, which in the books scenerio seems missplaced. Rachel sure seems comfortable with Cade after knowing him for five minutes and ends up spending the night at his place yet men supposedly scare her and she gets ptsd. Was looking forward to this but unfortunately it didn't feel real and like enough to draw me in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horribly disappointed in this book. The writing was elementary, the story line slow and the characters flat. Don't waste your time or money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book...couldn't put it down.
AuthorKellyMoran More than 1 year ago
One bad decision changed Rachel's life forever. After her ex-husband killed their unborn child, and nearly killed her, Rachel testifies against her drug lord husband and lands in the FBI's witness protection program. But now he's escaped, and Rachel flees to a small Wyoming town where she falls in love with Sheriff Cade Turner, his adopted baby girl, and the entire small community. But when her past finds her, the consequences can be deadly. This is my first time reading a McKenna book. In honesty, the dialog, both internal and external, felt forced and unnecessary in most places, as well as repetitious. The family took to Rachel way too fast, and so did Cade. And the ending was wrapped too neatly without feeling like the tension built to a peak. In saying that, McKenna knows how to lay out the setting and landscape so you feel like you're right where the characters are. There was also a lot of sentiment and emotion in this story from the character's history, which made you root for them. *SPOILER* I also like that she had the mother assassinated, instead of going the easy route and saving everyone. Unexpected and well-done on that front.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book very disjointed. I do not suggest it worth the time meeded to read it.
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Iratt More than 1 year ago
This is my first time reading this author. I was pleasently suprised at what a nice love story with a little predictable mystory thrown in. It makes for a nice evening read.
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