Deadly Ties

( 21 )

Overview

HER ENEMY WILL STOP AT NOTHING FOR CONTROL…
SHE WILL RISK EVERYTHING FOR FREEDOM.

 
A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa.  To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep ...

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Deadly Ties: A Novel

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Overview

HER ENEMY WILL STOP AT NOTHING FOR CONTROL…
SHE WILL RISK EVERYTHING FOR FREEDOM.

 
A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa.  To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep Annie and Lisa apart—and he does. Years later, though keenly aware of Dutch’s evil intent, Lisa and her mother seize a chance to be a family, safe in a home where love dwells. But they fail to fathom how far Dutch will go to keep his vow.
 
Determined to control his women, Dutch proves resourceful. His associates in crime are feared at the highest levels across the globe—and for Lisa they plan a fate worse than death. Yet she too has formidable connections, including former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor. Burdened by his own traumatic past, Mark has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life—and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. All as one question haunts them: Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it’s too late?
 
“Vicki Hinze has…talent for transforming the unlikely into something beautiful.”
—PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Deadly Ties

“DeadlyTies is Vicki Hinze at her absorbing best. Crisply written and fast-paced, Deadly Ties is a can’t-put-down story of depth, faith, and twists and turns that would put anyone to the test.”
—Carla Neggers, New York Times best-selling author

DeadlyTies is a compelling, suspenseful action-adventure novel with a believable faith-challenging message, not only for the characters but for the reader as well. Vicki Hinze captured my attention, heart, and emotions in this gripping tale of pain, healing, forgiveness, and second chances, complete with colorful characters and a tender, playful love story woven into a powerful drama. I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.”
—Nora St. Laurent, founder of The Book Club Network and ACFWBook Club Coordinator

Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze is suspense candy! This is one of Vicki’s best yet and is full of unexpected twists and turns that will have you up late at night with the light on determined to finish this book before daylight. The characters are real and will kidnap your heart. Read this book! (But make coffee.)”
—Freeda Foreman

“As expected, Deadly Ties filled my need for encouragement and though it explored some rather disturbing issues, its consistent reminder of God’s omnipotence was a welcomed comfort.”
TheChristianManifesto.com

Praise for Vicki Hinze

“Tense, breathless, multi-layered - and highly recommended.”
—Lee Child New York Times bestselling author

“Hinze has written a masterful, complicated tale of suspense that gains momentum with each turn of a page. Her writing flows surely, moving from one character to the next, one setting to another, with readers keeping the swift pace.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Fans of Christian suspense will enjoy Hinze’s latest thriller.”
Library Journal

“[Hinze] keeps the pace brisk and the tension high. Don’t start reading too late at night—you may see 2 a.m.”
Crosswalk.com

 “Excellent characterization and a compelling plot draw the reader in and never lets go. Perhaps most importantly, the novel addresses the universal question of the purpose of pain and the importance of faith when all hope seems lost. Evil is unapologetically painted black and bold, making the redemptive power of Christ seem all that much more powerful. Deadly Ties is absolutely magnificent.”
Fictionaddict.com

Library Journal
After her husband's death, Lisa Harper's mother quickly remarried. Unable to escape her abusive new spouse but fearing for her daughter's life, she sent Lisa to live with a trusted friend. Years later Lisa tries to seek a relationship with her mother against her stepfather's will. VERDICT Fans of Christian suspense will enjoy Hinze's (Forget Me Not) latest thriller.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601422064
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/8/2011
  • Series: Crossroads Crisis Center Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of more than twenty novels (including Forget Me Not), three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a vice president on the International Thriller Writers board of directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. Visit www.vickihinze.com for more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue:

The child is not; and I, wither shall I go?
GENESIS 37:30 (KJV)

July 1987, Seagrove Village, Florida

   It was an ordinary day. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen on ordinary days. Only normal things.
   Annie Harper looked at her reflection in the entryway mirror. Her hair was a wreck. The dark circles under her eyes looked as if they’d been drawn on with markers and then smudged. And her nails were a disgrace. Haggard and beaten down. That’s how she looked. And she felt worse.
   “There should be universal rules about this,” she told her reflection. “When a woman is body slammed, she can only take so much without breaking under the pressure.”
   Gathering a full head of steam, she frowned and jabbed her finger in the air. “Life should go easy on you then.” That would be humane. Civil. “And if bad things have to happen, there should be warning signs so there’s time to brace and prepare for them.”
   She dipped her chin and glared into her own eyes. “Especially if it’s too horrific to wrap your mind around—and it happens not to you, but to someone you love.”
   Pain shot through her heart, leaving her chest hollow and empty. “But there aren’t any rules and there weren’t any signs.” She shifted her gaze to the ceiling. “Why, God? Why didn’t You send me at least one bad feeling? An intuitive flash? Couldn’t You spare me even one piddling stomach flutter?” Tears stung her eyes. “I’ve been loyal, obedient. Why didn’t I get something?”
   No edgy nerves. No hitch in her chest. No whispered warning in her mind like, Annie Harper, you listen to me, woman. Trouble’s coming. Summon your faith and gird your loins because every mother’s worst fear is about to knock on your door.
   Fisting her hand, she rested it on the gleaming wooden table beneath the mirror. But did You? No.
   She glared at the vase of freshly cut white roses. The scent was heavy, cloying. “Women’s intuition?” She picked up a bud, plucked a petal, and dropped it on the spotless marble floor. “No, I failed.”
   Tore off another petal. “Mother’s intuition?” Tossed it down. “Failed.”
   Jerked at another petal. “God?” Thrust it. “Failed.”
   Her breath caught in her throat. “Everything failed.”
   She reached for more petals, but she had stripped the rose bare. All that remained was its stem and thorns.
   Like me.
   Outrage and agony ripped her soul. Oh, I resent this and I wish I had someone to blame. But You didn’t even give me that. Why?
   She staggered into the living room and collapsed on the sofa, curling her knees to her chest to keep the pain bottled up inside. If she let it loose, she’d never recover, and anyway, there was nowhere to dump it.
   It was just an ordinary day.
   “Take me back,” she cried out, her face tear-soaked. Cradling herself, she rocked back and forth, seeking comfort where there was none. “Just twenty-four hours. Please, take me back.”
   “Annie?” Miranda Kent came in from the kitchen, clipping an earring back onto her lobe. Not a strand of her auburn hair was out of place. Loose curls framed her face. Her nails, like the rest of her, were perfect.
   She snagged a tissue and passed it to Annie. “I’ve put on a pot of coffee. The church ladies were meeting at the club, but I told Nora about Charles. She said they would be here in a flash.”
   Annie nodded, pretending to care. She wanted two people in her house. Two. And neither of them would be coming. “Charles and I were at the club night before last.”
   She and her beloved husband had enjoyed dinner with the mayor and forty or so close friends at Somerset House on the Bay. They feasted on salad with baby artichoke hearts and spears of cucumber, then ate honeyed baby carrots and blackened grouper caught fresh that morning in the Gulf of Mexico. Grouper was Charles’s favorite. She swallowed hard. They’d never dine there again.
   “We were with you, remember?” Miranda clutched her flat stomach. “I know better than to eat a heavy meal that late. I was up all night.”
   Annie and Charles had slept like rocks. After they got up and ate breakfast, Lisa and he went on their way.
   Miranda sat beside Annie and crossed her ankles. “Is Lisa seven or eight now? I can’t remember. After thirty, the years tend to run together.”
   “Seven.” Annie’s voice cracked. Lisa was bright and beautiful inside and out—at times all sweetness and innocence, and at others wise beyond her years.
   “She told me she wanted to be a doctor like her dad. We were at Nora’s birthday party, I think.”
   Pain twisted in Annie like hot wires coiled tight. “It’s what she’s always wanted.” Lisa idolized her father. “She has a stronger stomach for medical procedures than I do, and she never complains about Charles’s long hours at the office and hospital.” Annie sniffed and dabbed at her eyes. “His practice takes him away from us so much, but Lisa always defends him.” Oh, how Annie wished he were at the office now. That Lisa were here with her.
   “They left early yesterday, didn’t they?”
   Annie didn’t answer.
   “Annie? They left early yesterday, right?”
   “If this shows up in the Village Log, I’m going to cut off your fingers, Miranda.”
   “Not a word without your express permission.” She crossed her heart.
   Annie believed her. “Yesterday. At the crack of dawn.” Seagrove Village was up in the Florida panhandle, and getting down to Orlando for a trip to Disney World would take a solid eight hours. “Charles wanted to beat the tourist traffic.” She’d been so proud of him for finally taking a break from work to spend some quality time with Lisa. Charles was brilliant and committed to his patients, but he rarely took time off.
   “Highway 98 is a nightmare during the season.” Miranda shifted on the white sofa. “I’m sure Lisa was excited.”
   She was their only child, their miracle baby. “Beyond excited.”
   “Why didn’t you go with them?”
   “It’s my month to chair the charity function. I couldn’t beg off, and rescheduling would have been a nightmare for Charles’s staff and patients.” Now she wished she had gone. That she hadn’t, she’d regret forever.
   “Just as well.” Miranda stood. “If Charles is anything like my Paul and you’d been there, he would have spent the entire week on the phone with his office.” She walked to the kitchen.
   Dishes clanged in the kitchen, and Annie resented the racket almost as much as she resented Miranda’s being right. Charles would have used Annie as a buffer, and Lisa didn’t need him just being in the same room; she got enough of that already.
   Miranda returned with a tea tray and the puzzle from the New York Times. “I saw this on the counter and thought you might want a diversion.”
   “I don’t work the puzzles. I saved it for Lisa. She loves them.” Annie took a cup and saucer Miranda extended to her. “From the cradle, she couldn’t resist a mystery of any sort.” She was good at solving them too.
   “Obviously that’s from Charles’s side of the family.”
   Annie nodded. “They want to know and fix everything.” If they could fix this, Annie would never complain about that again.
   But they couldn’t. God help her, no one could.
   Miranda poured tea into her own cup. Steam lifted from it. “Interesting family dynamic. The Harpers are into everything, and you avoid everything.”
   “I don’t.” Annie took exception. “I face what I have to face to survive.”
   “Exactly.”Miranda waved. “You only worry after you’ve prayed and done all you can do. I’ve always admired that about you.”
   Annie didn’t want or need admiration. She wanted and needed her family.
   She stared through the sheers out to the lawn. It was a glorious summer day, much like yesterday when Miranda and Annie had skipped the fashion show and played nine holes of golf. The club’s courses were the best in northwest Florida, and Miranda’s game was far better than Annie’s, but then it should be. Annie dabbled. Miranda hit the links nearly every day.
   Ordinary.
   The doorbell rang.
   “I’ll get it.” Miranda set down her cup and got to her feet. “You just relax. Shall I bring the church ladies in here?”
   “Yes.” Annie stood. “I’m going to my room for a few minutes to compose myself.”
   Miranda nodded. “Good idea.” Pity shone in her eyes. “I’ll keep them busy until you’re ready to see them.”
   Annie walked through to the master suite, shut the door, and then flung herself across her bed. If this were yesterday, she’d be in the hammock out back facing the cove, enjoying the salt-tanged breeze, lost in a good book. Even as night had fallen and the clock inched toward eight, she hadn’t been antsy.
   Lisa had promised to phone every night at eight for a virtual tuck in. She’d outgrown it but indulged Annie because it was her favorite daily ritual, not that Annie ever dwelled on how much it meant to her. She learned early in life not to want or need anything too much.That could make you do crazy things. But the truth was, it was just too scary—the risks of wanting those things and not getting them. She’d worked hard on that, but life lessons instilled young were as hard to break as bad habits.
   Was that just another latent gift of being orphaned and raised by a series of foster parents? Maybe so. Two were good people, but more than two should have been in jail. Yet more likely, she avoided those risks because until she’d married Charles, she had to claw her way through her whole life just to survive.
   She scrunched her pillow and wadded it under her ear. The lavender smell reminded her of the roses. She tossed the pillow aside and tugged over Charles’s. His scent clung to the pillowcase. Gripping wads of the fine linen in both hands, she held on tight and buried her nose deep. Yesterday, those early days had faded from her life.
   Yesterday, she had a good husband, an amazing daughter, a beautiful home in the village, and more stuff than anyone could want, much less need.
   Yesterday.
   Yet even then, the fear of being hungry never went away. She could tell herself anything, go through all the therapy in the world, but down deep she still feared being hungry again.
   Annie always had kept money stashed away for a rainy day. At least she had until a month ago. Lisa came home from Sunday school and said an orphanage in Haiti needed a roof to get the kids out of the rain.
   Images of those children soaked to the skin burned in Annie’s mind now as they had then. She hadn’t slept a wink. It was a fierce battle, but on the third day she forfeited her stash. She wasn’t hungry, and the kids were suffering. They needed to get dry.
   Charles was indulgent and Lisa was ecstatic, lavish with grateful butterfly kisses and twinkling sparkles in her dancing blue eyes. She had no idea Annie had virtually been on her knees ever since, praying she hadn’t set herself up for starvation.
   Ordinary.
   “Take me back twenty-four hours,” she mumbled into the pillow. “Let me live them just once more.” She wept openly, begged without shame. “Just once more.”
   The picture formed vividly in her mind. Twenty-four hours ago she had walked down the tiled east wing to Lisa’s room. Rex, her two-year-old yellow lab, lay parked right in the middle of her canopied bed. He seemed so sad that Annie lacked the heart to fuss at him. “You miss her too, eh, boy?”
   Rex wagged his tail. She crawled up beside him and scratched his ears. Without Charles and Lisa, the house was far too big and empty. Rex felt it too. His bottom line was that he wanted Lisa and Annie in the same space. Anything less and he just wasn’t happy. Truthfully, neither was she.
   At straight-up eight, the phone rang. Rex barked and Annie snagged the receiver. “Hello.”
   “Mom?”
   Lisa. “Hi, darling.” Annie smiled. “Did you make it down okay?”
   “We’re not in Orlando. We went to Disney, but Daddy messed up the hotel reservation. He made it for tomorrow, not today.”
   “Oh no.” She should have double-checked that. Charles was lousy with the mundane. One of the quirks Annie adored about him. “So where are you guys?”
   “In a motel by a big hat. It’s loud here, but the resort man couldn’t find us anywhere to stay, so we drove around until Daddy found this place.”
   July Fourth weekend. Not an easy task to find a room with all the tourists in town for the holiday. An incredible amount of racket in the background hurt Annie’s ear. She pulled the receiver away. “Where is Daddy, darling?”
   “In the shower. Scrubbing off road grime.”
   Rex pawed at her thigh, nudging her to keep scratching his scruff. “So you guys are settling in for the night, eh?”
   “Yes, but Daddy isn’t happy about the music.”
   “Oh, that’s not the TV?” Annie sank back against the pillows and scratched Rex’s ears. The dog was nearly as spoiled as Lisa.
   “It’s off.”
   Annie frowned. “So what’s making all the noise?”
   “There’s a place across the street that’s got an orchestra.”
   A band. Hard rock, from the sounds of it. Charles would definitely hate that. Annie grinned. “Why do you sound winded?”
   “Oh, that man’s back, knocking on the door again.” Lisa sounded more annoyed than scared. “Mom, he’s got a spiderweb drawn on his hand.”
   “A tattoo?”
   “Uh-huh.”
   Wait. The man was back? Alarmed, Annie sat straight up. “Lisa, do not open that door.” She tried to keep panic out of her voice, but her throat was clenched-fist, white-knuckle tight. “Go get Daddy, darling.”
   “Just a second. The man is saying something to me through the window.”
   “What?” Rex perked his ears, lifted his head from her lap—a terrible sign. “What’s he saying?” Was there a fire in the building or something?
   “It’s time for you to become a shrub.” Lisa sounded baffled. “What does that mean?”
   Become a shrub? Definitely a nut case. Whatever was going on sounded bad and felt worse. “Go get your dad. Do it right now, Lisa Marie!”
   A loud crackle ripped through the phone. Something cracked. Splintered. Scuffled. Shattered.
   Lisa screamed.
   “Lisa!” Annie jumped out of bed. Growling and baring his teeth, Rex barked. “Lisa, answer me. Lisa!”
   The line went dead.
   Annie’s blood ran cold.
   Yesterday was no longer an ordinary day.

Chapter 1:

July 2007, Iraq

   Mark Taylor hated sand.
   He’d hated it before coming to the desert for the tenth time in three years, but now buried in it, he really hated it. It got into everything, everywhere—in his boots, along with the scorpions; in his eyes; in his ears. Its grit was always clinging, chafing his skin.
   As irritating as it was to his team, the sand was even harder on their equipment. Every man in his unit and Jane, the lone female attached as mission essential because she was a subject-matter expert, protected their weapons as best they could. Their lives depended on it.
   Sensitive equipment repairs were left to other experts. When they had their heat source–detecting equipment and it worked, they ruled the night. Unfortunately, they had arrived, the equipment had not, and the honchos had classified immediate action critical. Under direct orders, they’d left the Green Zone without it to do the impossible on sheer guts, determination, and a wing and a prayer.
   They’d succeeded at taking out the terrorist cell and gathered data that could help Intel save lives. Overall, execution of their plan had gone smoothly. But five klicks from their rendezvous exit point, they hit a snag. A big one.
   Two Humvees of hostiles sped toward each other down the road the team was to follow.
   “I thought this road was abandoned,” Joe said.
   “Obviously not,” Tim whispered. “Gentlemen, scatter.”
   Mark tapped his lip mic. “Six, where are you?”
   “Three-Point Charlie,” she said. “On point, sir.”
   Jane was on schedule, the other men had disappeared from his sight, but Mark’s luck ran out. The hostiles halted about fifty meters in front of him.
   He dropped back, well out of the beam of their headlights, dug in, and prayed they hadn’t seen him. Even his breathing seemed magnified, echoing across the desert floor. Stealth movement when digging in yourself and a sixty-pound pack didn’t go hand in hand.
   He waited, shallowing his breath, watching… Noting no signs that they were aware of him, he stilled, his heart thumping against his ribs.
   Long minutes later, Mark adjusted his lip mic and whispered, “Delta Three, you read me?”
   “Loud and clear, bud,” Sam responded. “Where are you?”
   Seven minutes and two klicks short of where he should be. “Detained.” Mark craned his neck and squinted to see. Weak moonlight was to his advantage, and he was grateful for it. Both Humvees had .50 cals mounted on them. Outgunned, his team needed all the help it could wrangle to get out of this alive.
   “Two vehicles. Parked fifty meters off the tip of my nose.” He didn’t dare check his watch for the GPS coordinates. The Humvees faced each other on the road. One man inside each vehicle stood, and they talked back and forth between them. He couldn’t make out their words, but they didn’t seem anxious or excited.
   “Window’s closing, bud.”
   “Routine patrol. Eight hostiles. Dug in.” Mark was out of position and late. The chopper would arrive in minutes. It couldn’t linger; it’d be spotted for sure. “Is Six clear?”
   He’d met Jane in advanced intelligence training four years earlier, and she’d become the little sister Mark never had, a spitfire with attitude and the smarts to back it up. He loved her, pure and simple, not that he’d ever told her. She loved him too as a brother, not that she’d ever told him. They’d just drifted into a makeshift family. Natural, considering her birth family ranked about as low on the lousy scale as his.
   “Not yet,” Sam said. “Everyone else is still on the move.”
   Worry streaked up Mark’s backbone, stung the roof of his mouth. “Last report?”
   Had she run into trouble at Three-Point Charlie? Mark unclenched his muscles, forcing them to relax. Fear had a distinct smell. It carried on the wind, and anyone who’d been in combat conditions longer than a week recognized the scent. Jane knew how to take care of herself. She was capable and competent.
   Please, let her be all right.
   No answer from Sam.
   He was worried too. It’d been too long since her last report. She was overdue verifying clearance, and Sam didn’t want to tell Mark. But his silence said it all.
   Mark’s worry grew more urgent. He diverted his focus to calm down. Not staying calm under any kind of pressure wasn’t an option; it invited mistakes. Mistakes on covert missions infiltrating enemy territory assured death—your own if you were lucky. Your own and others if you weren’t.
   Mark inhaled the night air, blessedly cool compared to the day’s scorching hundred twenty degrees and relentless sun. He was supposed to meet Jane at Three-Point Charlie ten minutes ago, then they were to make the rendezvous point and join the others for their ride home.
   He glared at the men in the Humvees. For pity’s sake, move it.
   The hostiles had become adept at spotting men in the night desert. Mark had become better at evading them. On his stomach, buried in sand, they’d have to be hunting him to see him. They still weren’t. That was good news.
   He and the team had managed to avoid detection the entire mission and execute their orders. While they all had been trained to kill, whenever possible they avoided it. Just slipped in and out under the radar, and often under the hostiles’ noses.
   “Six reporting in,” Jane’s voice sounded through his earpod. Her tone was shrill, rushed. “One, what’s your ETA? Company could be coming.”
   Mark checked the Humvees. No movement yet. “Dug in. Need a diversion.”
   No response.
   Mark tried another. “Four?” He waited, but Tim didn’t respond. “Five?” Where was Joe?
   “Off point,” Joe said. “Heading to Three-Point Charlie.”
   “Two,” Mark tried Nick, then Tim again, “Four, I need a diversion—now.”
   No answer.
   Mark’s skin crawled. “Three, where is everybody?”
   “Communications are up, bud,” Sam said. “Two and Four activated radio silence. I’m out of reach. Five’s hauling it to back up Six. Diversion presently impossible.”
   If communications were up and a diversion was impossible because Nick and Tim weren’t in a position to speak, then they were either hiding or dead. With the bean counters giving the team a forty percent success-and-survival rating on this mission—with the right equipment—and their being without it, they could be either.
   “One, they’re closing in on me.” Jane’s breathing sped up, turned tinny and crackled static. “Closing in—fast. Digging in. Not going to make it. Oh God, help me.”
   If Mark didn’t move, Jane would die. If he did move, they both would die. Yet this was Jane. Jane. Mark had to try. Every muscle in his body tensed, preparing to move. He lifted an arm, cleared the sand.
   “Stay put, One,” Sam ordered, knowing Mark well. “You hear me, bud?”
   Gunfire erupted in Mark’s earpod.
   “Aw, no. No.” Joe’s voice cracked.
   Sam cursed.
   And then came silence.
   Mark’s throat went tight, his chest tighter. “Six?” He forced his voice to work. Tears streaked down his face. “Six?”
   Jane didn’t answer. Please, please, please.
   “Think steel, bro,” Joe said. “Nothing we can do to help her now.”
   No. Joe had to be wrong. “You sure?”
   “I’d give everything I’ve got not to be.”
   Mark swallowed hard. Oh, Jane.
   “Lousy shots.” Joe grunted. “Gunfire pattern was random.”
   “You mean they were just shooting to be shooting?” Sam sounded as galled as Mark felt.
   “No rhythm or rhyme, bro.”
   Sam cut loose a string of curses.
   Mark interrupted. “Are they coming after her?” If targeted, they would definitely verify whether or not she was dead.
   “No. The rats are departing the fix. I don’t think they even saw her.”
   Jane. Killed by a random shot. It took everything in Mark to hold his position. But Joe was right. It was too late to move. Only God could help Jane now. Mark mourned. Think steel. Think steel. Think—
   “It’s not your fault, One.” Joe’s deep voice sounded cool and controlled.
   It was his fault. His mother’s death, for which his father and brother blamed Mark his whole life, hadn’t been his fault. She died giving birth to him. But this…this was Mark’s fault. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Random or deliberate, Jane suffered the consequences. It was that simple.
   Finally the Humvees sped off. One went in the direction it had been facing, away from the Green Zone. The other looped a U-turn on the road and fell in line behind the first one.
   Mark shoved at the sand. “Moving out.” He ran full speed toward Three-Point Charlie, adrenaline pumping through his veins, screams boiling deep in the back of his throat. Sweat dripped from his brow and stung his eyes. His lungs burned, his side stitched and settled into an ache. He buried the pain deep and kept running.
   “Four.” Tim reported in. “Quarter klick from rendezvous point.”
   “Two. Arrived at rendezvous,” Nick said. “Chopper is two minutes out.”
   Tim and Nick were on point. A stream of half-formed phrases and stilted, shuddered words said all that needed saying about Jane. Mark checked the GPS on his watch. Another minute.
   It was the longest minute of his life. But finally he arrived at Three-Point Charlie. Joe and Sam heard him approach and spun toward him, their weapons raised.When they recognized Mark, they lowered their barrels.
   Jane lay between them at their feet.
   Sam wept.
   Regret burned deep in Joe’s eyes. “I’m sorry, bro. I tried but I couldn’t get here in time.”
   “My fault. I should have been here.” Mark dropped to his knees beside her, huffing, struggling to even out his breathing. He pressed his fingertips to her throat, checking her carotid for a pulse.
   “There isn’t one.” Joe swiped at his face with his sleeve.
   Mark knew it, but he had to check anyway. Gunshot wounds peppered her entire chest, soaked it in blood. Jane had died before she hit the ground. Mark’s heart split in two. He lifted her into his arms. “Let’s go.”
   “You can’t take her, bud.” Sam touched his arm. “Despite what Joe said, they had to know she was here. They’re suffering a bullet shortage. They’re not going to burn thirty rounds just for kicks. They’re just lousy shots. If they don’t find her body, they’ll come after—”
   “I am not leaving her.” Mark glared at Sam.
   Calm as always, Joe stepped between them. “She’s coming home. Move it—now.”
   They started running across the desert floor, made it to the rendezvous point, and met up with Tim and Nick. Within seconds, the thump of chopper blades split the dark silence, then the craft hovered just beyond them, kicking up sand that salted bare skin and even through camo stung like fire. A shadowy soldier stood in the side-door opening, scanning the area with his weapon.
   The team jumped onboard, and the chopper lifted.
   “Let me have her, sir. Maybe it’s not too late.” A medic took Jane to the open area behind them, and Mark started to follow.
   A second medic stepped between them. “Take a seat, sir. We’ve got her now.”
   Mark sat, keeping an eye on the medics. They both worked hard to revive her, and they did it knowing as well as Mark that their efforts were a lost cause. Did they try for Jane or for her team?
   Either way, it was too late. Jane had bled out in seconds. She hadn’t had a chance.
   Tears stung Mark’s eyes. The back of his nose burned, and an ache cinched his heart in a tight fist. He’d never hear her laugh again. Never hear her introduce him to her friends as her favorite big brother. Never look into her eyes and see her looking back at him with affection.
   I can’t stand this. God, why did You let me love her and fail to protect her? I can’t take—
   “You okay, bro?”
   Mark glanced from Jane to Joe. Of all the guys, Joe and Mark were closest. Sam, Nick, and Tim all sat staring at them. They too had red-rimmed eyes. “No, Joe, I’m not okay.” Jane was gone. Dead. He’d killed her. “I’m not okay, and I am never doing this again.”
   Barely thirty, Tim swiped a hand at his temple, ruffling the premature gray salting his brown hair, and leaned forward. “Don’t make rash decisions. We’re all hurting right now. Give it time.”
   No amount of time would fix this. “I wasn’t there and she’s dead.” His throat thickened. He swallowed hard. “When the chopper hits the ground, I’m putting in my papers.”
   The guys studied one another, and then Sam shoved off his helmet and hung it on his knee. “You realize that leaves our team two short. The brass isn’t going to drop a guy in, bud.”
   Mark wouldn’t be replaced. The team would be expected to function short. The Shadow Watchers were an elite, highly specialized unit, and its members’ skills were cumulative. It’d take at least two years to get a new man qualified to take on their kind of missions and cleared by Intel to do them. And that’s if they put the new recruit on the fast track, learning the systems they created and destroyed.
   “Sorry. I’m done. I won’t risk killing another one of you.”
   The chopper blades’ steady whap, whap, whap filled the silence.
   Tim stared beyond the group to Jane, paused a long time, and then swerved his gaze back to Mark. “It could have been any of us. Nick and I weren’t in a position to help her either.”
   “I was her primary backup.” Mark dangled his helmet between his spread knees, swinging it by its strap.
   “We’re a team, bud,” Sam said. “We all watch each other’s backs.”
   “I failed.”
   “Yeah, you did.” Joe cut through the clutter. “Due to circumstances beyond your control, you failed. So did the rest of us. We all risk failing each other every time we go out. You know it. Jane knew it. We all know it. She’s gone, and we have to live with it.” Joe softened his voice. “She was like your little sister. I get that. But you don’t get exclusive rights on the guilt, bro. There’s plenty to go around.”
   Mark opened his mouth to object.
   Joe lifted a hand to halt it. “We’re sorry we lost her, Mark. If we could change it, we would. But we can’t.”
   “Dang right.” Sam shoved his fist into their inner circle.
   One by one they all bumped knuckles, then Tim said, “You had to hunker down. That’s how these missions go. Stuff comes up. We deal with it as best we can. Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we don’t. Jane’s regular team goes through the same thing.”
   “We’ll have to tell them.” Mark hated the thought of it, but he couldn’t let them find out through official channels, especially Omega One. They were close.
   “When we get to the Pentagon, we’ll tell them together.” Joe stared at the back of the guy manning the side door. The dread on his face was as fierce as Mark’s.
   Tim stared at Jane a long minute, then resolve slid down his lean face. “I’ve had enough of this too. We’ve done our share and then some.”
   Nick mumbled, agreeing and disagreeing. Sam and Nick went back and forth a bit, and then they all fell silent.
   Mark had no idea what position Nick had taken, but Mark had his own problems to worry about. He slumped back, doing his best to absorb what had happened.
   Deep inside the Green Zone, the chopper started its descent at headquarters. Tim glanced from man to man. “Gentlemen, it’s time for us to go home and get ourselves lives.”
   Seated beside Joe, Sam jerked. “Whoa, bud.” He had helmet head. His hair was smashed in places, ruffled and on end in others. “Two short, we no longer have a viable team. Mission selection will be the pits.” He rounded on Nick. “Figured out your final call yet?”
   Nick shrugged, then his body tensed. “I don’t like the way things are shaping up. They’ll never let us run two short, much less three. They’ll disband the unit.” He leaned back, crossed his outstretched legs at the ankles. Sand sprinkled off his boot. “The team’s the only reason I’ve hung in here. If you’re gone, it’s gone, so I’m gone.”
   “That’s it then.” Sam rolled his shoulders. “We’re just moving up the timetable on them before they move it up on us.”
   There’d been high-level talks of breaking up the unit. The work would continue to be essential, but the political climate didn’t currently welcome it. So the unit would be formally disbanded and informally re-formed elsewhere by others under a different covert umbrella.
   Joe crossed his arms over his chest, seemingly at peace with their decision. “None of us planned to make this a career. Duty called with 9/11. We answered. Now we’re done.”
   One by one, they all nodded. But none returned Mark’s gaze. All eyes were on the medics. Both pulled back from Jane’s body, and one made the sign of the cross. “Sorry, sirs. Nothing more we could do.”
   Mark moved and squatted beside Jane. Her pasty skin was cool to the touch, but without her warm expressions, her vibrancy, she didn’t much look like herself. That should have helped. She was at peace now. But it didn’t.
   I already miss you, Jane. You needed me and I wasn’t there. I won’t ask for forgiveness—I haven’t earned it. But I’ll regret failing you every day of my life. Tears washed down his face. I’ll never forget you.
   With a trembling hand, he closed her sightless eyes and then lifted the sheet over her beloved face.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Read

    Summary: Annie Harper remarries after her husband is killed. She later finds out her new husband has a disliking for her daughter so she arrange for trusted friends to raise her daughter. As her daughter, Lisa, grows up she becomes aware of her step father demonic ways and vows to get her mother away from him.
    Mark Taylor a highly trained military veteran who worked as a Special Operatives Officer and has come to the aide of Annie to watch over her daughter.
    The stepfather, Dutch, is involved with a very highly well known organized mob, and he has hired them to kidnap his stepdaughter and badly hurt or kill his wife, Annie.
    The hitman, Keith, has just finished a job and is talking with his wife when he learns that she has cancer and a short time to live.
    Now, the plot thickens as Annie is taken to the hospital after an attempt on her life is done, Lisa is kidnapped from the hospital while visiting her mom, straight from under Mark's and his highly trained team noses while Dutch continues to make plans that will haunt Lisa and her mother life for the rest of their lives.

    My Review: This was a very good read. I was so disgruntled with the character of Annie for her vow to stay with a man that stripped her of every enjoyment she had and was a daily reminder of misery. The storyline involved a few elements of crime such as: Human trafficking, kidnapping, murder, physical abuse entwined with trust, faith, friends, and relationships. I liked how the author manipulated a child hood incident from the beginning of the story and repeated it later when the character became an adult, you never saw that coming. I don't know why I was a bit confused the first few chapters but soon it all came together for me. I enjoyed all the characters even if I didn't like what they did. It was a steady read up to the character of Annie meeting Keith while walking, then my reading pace picked up. I am looking forward to reading each book related to this one and will go back and read the first installment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One of the strangest books I've ever read

    Review by Jill Williamson

    Lisa is planning a birthday party, but to do so, she needs her bodyguards to be ready. But why does Lisa have bodyguards? Lisa's father-in-law is crazy and abusive. He will stop at nothing to make Lisa and her mother miserable. Even if that means hurting or killing them both. But he won't do it himself, of course, he'll hire a hit man-the best hit man-to get the job done.

    This was one of the strangest books I've ever read. The last hundred pages were great. But I had trouble with the first part of the book. It was slow getting started. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and by a hundred pages in, nothing had really happened to the main character. She wasn't proactive. And it frustrated me to read about these amazing bodyguard guys who were obviously going to fail.

    I appreciate the caution for young girls that the story gives out. Young women should be careful who they trust, and it wouldn't hurt for every young woman to have some self-defense lessons. And I did like the story much better once the chase is on. I would have rather had the chase start a lot sooner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    Super Sequel!

    I very much enjoyed "Forget Me Not" by Vicki Hinze and was therefore really looking forward to reading the next book in the Crossroads Crisis Center, "Deadly Ties." I was not disappointed.

    "Deadly Ties" is a different kind of sequel. Though there are some peripheral characters returning from the prior book, the main unifying "character" is the Center itself. Great technique for endless story opportunities, no? And the known characters serve to transition us seamlessly into us knowing and caring for the new.

    The new characters in "Deadly Ties" are several. Their troubled pasts converge in horrific ways as we root for not only their physical safety, but for them to overcome their pasts and trust God. The book is fast-paced, suspense-filled and heart-wrenching. I can't wait to see what Ms. Hinze comes up with next from the Crossroads Crisis Center.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    Deadly Ties

    I've never been a big fan of the horror stories. I like a little suspense, a little intrigue...just enough to wet my proverbial whistle. When I looked to see what books were available for review, I knew Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze would be a scary book. I thought, okay. I can do that. However, I didn't know how incredibly scary it would be. For me, it was too much. If you're into that heart pounding, pulse racing, sleeping with the light on kind of fright, then definitely read this. Otherwise, pass. Stick with something that won't haunt your thoughts and fill your dreams for weeks to come.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Deadly Ties

    I have just had the pleasure of reading one of Vicki Hinze's novel, "Deadly Ties". This story takes its' characters and brings them to life in the readers imagination, to the point of feeling as though you are right there in the story. It is filled with twists and turns throughout the story and as you follow Lisa Harper, one of the main characters, you can feel her emotions and desires through the story. Mark, her knight in shining armor, is part of an elite group of former Special Forces team.

    This story lets the reader into Lisa's mind as a child, when her father dies and Lisa is abducted. She eventually escapes her captors only to find that her mother marries Dutch, a mean underhanded man.

    Vicki Hinze paints perfect pictures of Human Trafficking, death and a multitude of those twists and turns which keeps the reader guessing with every turn of the page. Intrigue is only one way in which to describe this wonderful novel. You will not be able to put this novel down. Bravo Vicki, for a wonderful read.

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  • Posted March 3, 2011

    Loved It!

    "A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper's idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa.

    Burdened by his own traumatic past, former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life - and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it's too late?"

    Little did I realize when I started this book was that it was book two in a series (the Crossroads Crises Center series). By the time I figured that little fact out, I was too far involved in the storyline to pause and search out the first book. Yes, having read the first book may have answered a few questions I had, but I was by no means lost without having read it. I quickly became enthralled with Mark and his "buds", learning their quirks and envying how they had "each others backs"! Just as easily, I felt welcomed in to Lisa's small circle of confidants, the few she allowed to get close and shared her feelings with. From the very beginning of sharing their special day together (his birthday, her "graduation"), to the very end of starting their dreams of the future, the ride with Mark and Lisa is one you will definitely want to journey with them along the way. And who knows...you may even find your special "seashell" story also!

    Overall, I would give this book 5 stars. My only question is...can I wait for the next book, Not This Time, to be released in Spring of 2012? I can't wait to hear Joe and Beth's story!!

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group and was not required to post a positive review

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  • Posted March 1, 2011

    You Won't Be Able to Put it Down!

    Wow! Deadly Ties has earned a place on my top favorites list! The first book I've read by Vicki Hinze, and I was hooked - I found it nearly impossible to put the book down! The first few chapters build up the suspense and tension, and then when everything lets loose.the reader is left reeling and hanging onto the edge of her seat! I know I am reading a good book when I continually sneak off to my room every ten minutes!

    Vicki's writing style is unique, but by the time I was introduced to the heroine, Lisa, I was intrigued and captivated by her style. She really grabs the reader's attention and puts them in the characters mind. I love it when I can actually feel and empathize with the characters-and that is exactly what Vicki has done. A few times I felt conversations or scenes were a little drawn out, but not much and it certainly didn't ruin the book for me. :-)

    Lisa's bravery and determination was heroic and endeared me to her. Her protectiveness and desire to see her mother safe added to her charm. I was instantly able to connect with this character and sympathize with her. Mark was just awesome! Who wouldn't want a smart, good-looking special Ops nearby when a creep like Dutch hung around. :-) He was easy to grow attached to! Strangely enough, I also enjoyed getting into Karl's head as well. Even though he was the bad guy, he had a soft side to him. From the glimpse the reader got of his past, I got the impression he didn't choose his occupation in life, but he continued to roll with the punches. It's sad, and although I was secretly glad how his story ended in this book, I am curious if he will resurface later on. He was a complex character on the wrong side of the law.but I liked him. :-)

    There is some violence in the book. Lisa uses self defense when trying to evade her abductors. There's also mild mention of torture when Lisa remembers back to when Mr. Phen had her. Besides this, Lisa was abducted with the intent of selling her to some sort of illegal operation where women would cock-fight, of sorts. It was rather sickening to hear that people are so deprave that they would stoop so low. But besides these issues, there was nothing questionable in the book.

    I didn't realize until half way through the book that this is the middle to a series - the third book is coming out in the spring of 2012. I want to get my hands on the first book, Forget Me Not, now! Deadly Ties was such a captivating and suspenseful read! And the ending - when everything slowed down and finally came to a close - was sweet. I kept cheering for Lisa and Mark! They make such a cute couple! I can't wait to learn more about Beth and Joe in the next installment in the Crossroad Crisis Center series.

    I received this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    could not put it down!

    Just when you thought you had read all the books that were you absolute favorites, here comes a new one. A book that leaves you yearning for more of the story. I loved the first book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series, but this one just topped it! Vicki Hinze is such an excellent author, and her way with suspense and mystery sets her high on my list of favorite authors.

    Centered once again around the Crossroads Crisis Center, this story is more detailed about the people of the center, than the actual center. Lisa Harper, has had a rough life, her dad died of a supposed accident when she was young, her mom married a control freak with an evil streak, and eventually Lisa and her step-dad clashed so much that Annie sent Lisa away for her own protection. She sent her to live at the Towers apartments, with some of her trusted friends from the Center. Now twelve years later, Lisa is celebrating obtaining her license as a medical doctor, and her new job at the hospital. Now, Lisa will get her mother away from the evil Dutch Hauk, and they will live together peacefully. At least that is what she hopes, but Dutch has other plans, even if it means having Lisa's mother killed.

    What should have been a happy occasion, is the beginning of a nightmare. An exciting series of events that will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow the horrors that could be. Discovering that her mother has been beaten and left for dead, Lisa rushes to her mom's side at the hospital, only to be abducted. As she realizes the dangers that she and the other two women in the truck with her are in, she begins re-living a nightmare. The only problem is that nightmare was real, it was what happened to her as a young child. All these years of believing her dad died while on a mission trip to Haiti, Lisa is horrified to have flashbacks of him being murdered, and her being abducted. Will she survive this time, or will she live long enough to be beat to death in a fight to the death match? The horrors she faces are real, and she has got to keep her wits about her, it is the only she will survive and be able to help the other women survive too?

    Mark Taylor, the security chief for the Center, and for the owner of the center is on the job. He loves Lisa and the only person who doesn't know that is him. But he vows to Lisa's mom that he will find her and he will bring her back safe. How is he going to do this? He has no idea, but knows he has to trust in the Lord to keep her safe and to help him find her.

    A face paced book, you can not put down. I laughed and cried through the entire book and it will go into my permanent library. Do not miss this book!! Readers guide included. 323 pages US $13.99 5 stars.


    This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment was received for this review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2011

    Deadly Ties

    This book took me a little bit to get into, as it jumps between characters, and one section was kind of boring to me, but once I got past that, the characters drew me in. Just when you think the books going to end a certain way, it takes you one more more twist. I like how they showed a start of a new love interest, that will be coming out in the next book by this author!

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Deadly Ties: A Wonderful Read

    Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze is a wonderful read. It is suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time that you are reading it. This book will keep you reading and each person that reads it will identify with the characters at some point. Parts of the book are very uplifting and others downright make you think. The characters in the book develop nicely and you aren't left wondering if something was missed. This is one of the books where the characters you like you love and the ones that you don't you can't stand. The villains in this book are certainly that way; by the end of the story you absolutely cannot stand them. In a lot of suspenseful novels, the villains are too fictional to be believable but not in Deadly Ties. Overall, a wonderful and exceptional read.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    AN AMAZING INSPIRATIONAL SUSPENSE/THRILLER!! A MUST READ!! DEADLY TIES BY VICKI HINZE11

    DEADLY TIES by Vicki Hinze is an exciting inspirational suspense/thriller set in present day Atlanta,Georgia.(Crossroads Crisis Center Series). It is the sequel to "Forget Me Not",but can be read as a stand alone. It is written with depth and details. It has romance,faith,adventure,love,friends,spousal abuse, human trafficking,forgiveness,trust,control,healing and second chances. The characters are believable,engaging and will capture your heart. This is a fast paced,action packed suspense,romantic adventure that will have you captured from the first page to the last. This is a powerful story of the beginning of love and trust entwined with a powerful drama of lost,human trafficking and pure evil. I would highly recommend this book to any one to enjoys suspense,thrillers,and romance. It does have faith entwined into the story but it is not preachy.This book was received for the purpose of review from Multnomah Book Group and details can be found at Doubleday Publishing and My Book Addiction and More. ** I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review**

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    Decent love story

    I sat down to read this book a few times before really getting into it. I felt that the introduction of characters was very fast, and I was not sure who each of the people working for the NINA and Dark Shadow departments were. I would have liked to see more character development before more characters were introduced. I appreciated the author addressing such weighty issues as human trafficking with discretion and without too much detail. There seemed to be mixed messages in the story line between Annie and Dutch - I understand wanting to stay in a marriage and make it work despite differences, but I think the issue of staying in an abusive relationship/marriage was not addressed as it should have been. I had a hard time staying focused while reading the book, it didn't keep my attention as I hoped it would, but all in all, it was a nice love story woven into a suspenseful story line.


    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    BLOCKBUSTER WINNER

    Each year, nearly half-a-million women are trafficked around the world for the purpose of sexual slavery. Against this background, Vicki Hinze has fashioned a potpourri of depravity and trials of faith only she could juggle. DEADLY TIES, Book Two of her Crossroads Crisis Center series, is a roller-coaster thriller of violent twists and breakneck turns - from murder and abuse to human trafficking in an international conspiracy. DEADLY TIES is also a cross-over story that dares to examine a heinous crime most Christian fiction chooses to avoid because it is too horrible to think about. Not facing Americans forcing Americans into human bondage for servitude doesn't make it go away. Only a short time ago, a party of three was arrested in Chicago for human trafficking. Can we continue to pretend it doesn't happen any longer?

    Vicki tackles this question by reeling us in to her novel like a patient fisherman with characters trapped in human dilemmas, thwarted love and quicksand adventure: a perfect formula for a riveting movie that, in the end, reveals the true drama of forgiveness in the pursuit of justice.

    Of all Vicki's novels, I think DEADLY TIES is her most dramatic achievement. With her discussion questions at the back of the book, book clubs can enjoy a challenging discussion that will leave them with a much larger world view.

    I'm not going to summarize the story because I don't want to spoil the reader's suspense. You have to read DEADLY TIES to experience its impact, but I think Publisher's Weekly sums up Vicki's gift best: She has a talent "for transforming the unlikely into something beautiful." Truly beautiful, I would say. And worthy of a Christy Award.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2011

    Great book highly recomended

    Truly and unforgettable novel! Vicki Hinze has mastered the art of suspense and romance all in one book, Deadly Ties! This novel was a great reminder that even in those times when it seems like God has forgotten us, that is not the case! He has a wonderful plan for us and He can use events in our lives to make us into the person He wants us to be. We can rest in Him, even if we cannot see the big picture. We do not have to be "fumes-of-faith" Christians. He has more than "fumes" for us. We also get His blessings and His strength. Deadly Ties was such a great reminder of that!

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Love this book!

    Lisa Harper is about to help her mom move away from her controlling husband, Dutch Hauk. The only thing is, Dutch isn't about to give up control of his wife, and his hatred of Lisa has never run deeper. Mark Turner is a former spy who has taken on the job of guarding Lisa and her mom. Both he and Lisa have feelings for each other, but trust and timing keep them apart.

    Vicki Hinze does an excellent job of taking the reader on a suspenseful journey. She kept me turning the pages, not wanting to put the book down. Even before I was finished with the book, I was searching for more of her books. I am already planning on reading Forget Me Not, the first book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series, and am looking forward to the next book, Not This Time.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    Heart-Stopping Action!

    I liked the suspense in Vicki Hinze's first Crossroads Crisis Center novel, Forget Me Not, and so decided to give Deadly Ties a shot. This second installment in the Crossroads Crisis Series focuses on the unfolding drama of Mark Taylor and Lisa Harper-two minor characters from the first novel-while the main characters from book one (Ben Brandt and Kelly Walker) fade to the background of the story.

    My first impression is that Deadly Ties is a big step up from Forget Me Not. The plot was more complex and suspenseful, the history of the two main characters was more interesting, and I was up 'til 1AM trying to figure out what was going to happen next. That being said, I did have a few quibbles with the dialogue (particularly Mark's voice) and the sub-plot of his evolving relationship with Lisa.

    Addressing the dialogue problem, I found some of Mark's dialogue with Lisa to be slightly off somehow. In love or not, I just couldn't picture a hardened former Special Ops officer speaking like melted cheese. Maybe that's just the norm in romance novels (this one is classified as romantic suspense by the publisher), but it felt a little contrived to me.

    I was also a tad bit confused about the timeline of Mark and Lisa's relationship. I got the impression that they were both in love but not aware that the other person was in love too (that is until Lisa's party in chapter 8). But then as Mark is moping around the hospital in chapter 18 he remembers a walk-and-talk he and Lisa took on the beach a couple of years earlier. Judging from that scene, I find it hard to believe that either of them could not know the other person was in love. This seemed unrealistic, leaving me to wonder if this kind of romantic duplicity is normal for novels in the romance sub-genres.

    On the positive side, and to put the previous two paragraphs in perspective, the primary focus of the plot-Lisa's unconventional warfare with her masochistic stepfather-is extremely compelling and there are plenty of exciting twists and turns to keep the reader super-glued to the pages. One of the reasons I like Deadly Ties is that the romantic element of the plot takes a backseat to the heart-stopping action.

    Hinze also inserts the element of faith into the plot very well. Mark and Lisa grapple with the age-old questions, "Where is God when I'm surrounded by so much evil?" and "How do I keep a proper faith perspective of God when I can't see beyond my own dark tunnel of tribulation?" The faith-related dialogue and thoughts do not have that feeling of being "tacked on" just to slap a Christian label on the book, but are genuine expressions of the suffering believer. And the overarching message of the book is one more people need to take to heart-God is good, no matter what the circumstances, and He is faithful to work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2011

    Great Story!

    Lisa Harper's father was killed. Feeling desperate Lisa's mother, Annie, marries Dutch Hauk who turns out to be an abusive monster. He has plans for Lisa that will be a fate worse than death. But before he can do anything, Annie gives over custody of Lisa to a trusted friend. Dutch has made it his mission to keep Lisa and Annie apart. He's successful for a lot of years. But now Lisa and Annie have an opportunity to be a family except they didn't anticipate how far Dutch would go. Mark Taylor is living with a burden he can't seem shake. Being a former Special Ops officer, he's been watching over Annie and Lisa. Mark has secretly loved Lisa from the time they met but he just doesn't feel he deserves her love. He has told her more about himself than anyone else. But her's afraid of failing her. When Lisa finds herself in trouble both Mark and Lisa need to muster all the strength they can and have trust in the One that will never leave them or forsake them. Great Story! This author pulled you into the story right from the start. I haven't read anything by this author so didn't know what to expect. But this tale had it all, romance, mystery, suspense, intrigue. I must say that the subject matter was difficult to read about although Human Trafficking is a very real problem. This author handled it honestly without being overly descriptive. I thoroughly the characters in the story. Mark was a great hero and I really liked the interplay between him and his old team. Sometimes intense but with a lot of humor interjected. The villains were written in such a way that you felt threatened by them. Some suspense stories don't really come across that way but you certainly hated these villains. Lisa was a great character. Though she had lots of hardships in her youth she hadn't completely lost her faith. She was still bubbly and sweet. I liked watching Mark and Lisa together. I also liked the way the author always brought the reader around to the fact that God walks with us through our darkest times, that He's always there and using that circumstance to make us stronger for some something that may come up in the future. To me that was uplifting. What was a little tough for me to grasp was Annie staying married to Dutch. Even if she didn't divorce him she needed to at least get to a safe place. Which Mark offered in the story. If you like Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon and Anne Patrick then you're sure to like Deadly Ties. It's Book 2 in the Crossroads Crisis Center Series but I must say I didn't feel lost in the story by not having read book one, Forget Me Not. Thank you goes to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    Read now

    OMG this book is like so good and intense. I dont want to give too much away but man this is one hell of a mystery and I am glad that the mom and daughter rekindled their relationship. Dutch is just a plain evil guy and Mark is an amazing man Lisa is lucky to have him in her life.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    A Review

    Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze begins within the prologue when the author reveals the traumatic two-week abduction of Lisa, a small child. The story opens with Mark, Lisa's present day love interest, serving in Iraq as a Shadow Watcher, an elite, security group working for the Pentagon. Lisa is reintroduced as a physician when Mark, who has been admiring her from afar, attends a party hosted by Lisa.

    Lisa's mother, Annie, who has been abused at the hands of Dutch Hauk, Lisa's step-father, since the murder of her father, is assaulted the night of the party. Annie believed that it was God's will for her to stay, but Lisa, never makes an effort to rescue her mother. When Lisa is abducted again, with the help of Mark, she learns why she was abducted as a child, Dutch's connection to her past through NINA, and if her mother will survive the latest abuse.

    With the topic of spousal abuse and human trafficking woven throughout this book, I was disappointed that the author or publisher did not provide some sites, phone numbers, or agencies to contact for help. Although the author provides information on human trafficking on her website, clear ways to obtain help for someone are not provided. The author or publisher should have informed the reader that it is not God's will to remain with anyone who is abusing you to the brink of death.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    very intriguing read

    Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze was a nice break from otherwise dreary fiction lit that I have been reading for the past month or so (yay for decent books!). Not that I read boring books intentionally. It just sort of happens. In any case, it is a story mainly about Lisa Harper, an emotionally scarred women that wants nothing more than to have a happy and easy life like the other Christians she knows. Things don't work out as planned when her psychopathic (well, I deem him psychopathic) stepfather does everything within his power to try and ruin her life so that she will be permanently separated from her mother. To help defend Lisa against the psychopath Dutch is her (handsome) friend, Mark Taylor.

    It's a suspense story with a dose of romance, or maybe a romance story with suspense. I'm not quite sure. Either way, it is not straight-up romance, so it's good. What I loved most about the story is that neither Mark nor Lisa were nonbelievers at the beginning of the story that had to become a Christian by the end of the story so that they might marry each other and be happy. That plot is overdone quite a bit in the Christian romance drama.

    Even though the plot is not something that would happen to your average Joe, the emotional struggles are something that other Christians can find themselves going through at different levels. This made the story more intimate for the reader. Instead of just reading about some crazy suspense story or some fantastical romance, we read about two Christians struggling to survive trials. It was nice that they were not super Christians who could handle anything without a single emotional response.

    I also enjoyed the plot itself. It was fast-paced enough to keep me interested, but not so fast it was ridiculous. Hinze also made an effort to develop her characters, make them realistic, so that the reader could become emotionally invested in their story. My only problem was toward the ends things got a wee bit cheesy for me. That is to say, the overwhelming girl-power stuff at the end killed it for me. Men not being allowed to cuss without fear of getting hot sauce in their tea, people having weddings planned for them by moms and elderly women friends, wives/girlfriends manipulating their men into submission. It kind of killed it for me. It was only for the last few chapters that this became a problem though, so I wasn't completely turned off from the story. Just mildly.

    All in all, it was a good story, and I look forward to reading more from Vicki Hinze.

    *I acquired this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers

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