Just Before Dawn

( 17 )

Overview

Sudden Passion

After prosecuting the biggest case of her career, New York district attorney Sara Sterling was looking forward to relaxing amid starry desert nights in her childhood home in New Mexico. Then she met enigmatic neighbor Salem Lassiter, who inspired an inescapable hunger…and made her reassess everything she thought she valued.

Forever Love

Salem had once risked his heart in marriage—only to see his...

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Overview

Sudden Passion

After prosecuting the biggest case of her career, New York district attorney Sara Sterling was looking forward to relaxing amid starry desert nights in her childhood home in New Mexico. Then she met enigmatic neighbor Salem Lassiter, who inspired an inescapable hunger…and made her reassess everything she thought she valued.

Forever Love

Salem had once risked his heart in marriage—only to see his whole world shattered by betrayal. He was sure he could never bring himself to care about anyone again. But when several mysterious "accidents" threaten Sara's life, he realizes that he must come to terms with his deepest hurts…if he is to claim a love that promises always.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nice pacing and a good storyline filled with characters that could very well be a part of your family. Ms. Alers has written another winner" - RT Book Reviews on JUST BEFORE DAWN
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After successfully convicting a high-profile businessman with Mafia ties, New York Assistant District Attorney Sara Sterling retreats to her parents' sprawling New Mexico horse ranch for a three-month leave of absence. There, she expects to escape the strain of police escorts and the many anonymous death threats she's been receiving. Sara soon meets Salem Lassiter, a handsome Navajo veterinarian whose troubled romantic past includes the recent suicide of his pregnant wife and the death of his toddler son. Sara, who has been dealing with her own personal issues since her ex-fianc came out of the closet, quickly warms up to the doctor. Alers (Harvest Moon) builds suspense by interspersing the dialogue with conversations between the man who wants Sara dead at any cost and the ineffectual hit man he's hired to infiltrate her Southwestern sanctuary. Blessed with the mystical powers of a shaman, Salem (even while hundreds of miles away on a business trip) is able to sense the danger and death following Sara, which is lucky for her but leaves few real surprises for the reader. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373534562
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Series: Hideaway (Kimani) Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 934,595
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most popular African-American authors of women's fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award. Visit her Web site www.rochellealers.com
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Read an Excerpt

Sara Sterling glanced at the delicate stainless-steel-and-gold watch on her wrist, frowning slightly. The nine-thirty meeting that should have ended half an hour ago continued without any indication of adjourning at noon.

She knew John Bohannon was waiting—she doubted patiently—outside the U.S. District Court building in Brooklyn to drive her to the airport. He had taken a day off from his coveted position as a securities broker to spend time with her before she began her planned three-month leave of absence. He'd offered his services to chauffeur her despite her objection that she could call a car service. They had argued, but in the end she'd relented.

As an assistant district attorney for New York's eastern district she had spent the past two years working diligently to alleviate the court's overloaded docket, and the result had been a string of victories coupled with the threat of impending career burnout.

She was now returning to her home state for the first time in twenty-six months. She had prepaid her rent for three months, disconnected her telephone and made arrangements to forward her mail to her parents' home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She needed to reconnect with her mother, father, brother and the horses she had learned to ride a year after she had learned to walk.

Her gaze met the intense stare of the Brooklyn district attorney, and she nodded. He returned her nod as she stood up and pushed back her chair. All eyes were focused on the tall, slender woman who offered them a smile before she walked out of the conference room.

Her heels made distinctive clicking sounds as she made her way across the marble flooring to the small, cramped office she shared with another assistant district attorney. Barring a horrific traffic jam on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, John could make it to La Guardia Airport in time for her to check her luggage before she boarded her flight.

She retrieved her handbag, making certain it contained her ticket, and rushed out of the building, down the steps and around the corner, where John had promised to wait for her. She spied him leaning against the bumper of his late-model Lexus and waved. He straightened, returning her wave.

Sara had dated John half a dozen times over the past four months and, although she found herself the envy of many young black professional women who saw her and John as the perfect couple, she could not rouse any emotion deeper than friendship for the highly successful, very "together" brother.

Most times John looked as if he had just stepped off the cover of GQ. His professional curriculum vitae listed the best schools and professional affiliations, and his net worth was purported to approach seven figures.

He was perfect for any woman—except her. She did not know what it was, but there was something about John that would not permit her to completely relax in his presence.

John Bohannon watched Sara Sterling's approach, his dark eyes widening appreciatively behind the lenses of his sunglasses. She was ideal—his female counterpart.

She was a brilliant attorney who had come to the Brooklyn federal court at twenty-six, and had distinguished herself within less than three years as a tenacious, aggressive prosecutor. She figuratively devoured defense attorneys, relishing their decisions to go to trial rather than accept plea bargains. Sara had never discussed her work with him, and had warned him on their first date that she would no longer see him if he broached the subject.

He wanted to see her—every day, if possible. When he was first introduced to her through a mutual friend, he could not believe some man had not married her. It was only two days ago that he had realized he wanted to marry her. Not seeing her for three months had elicited an emotion he had not experienced in years—insecurity. He did not want her to leave New York and never return. He wanted her.

After an early-morning telephone call, he realized he had also needed her. Now he needed her to protect him from an impending legal entanglement that could destroy him and all that he had worked so hard to achieve over the past decade.

An admiring smile lifted the corners of his mobile mouth. Her stunning natural beauty was mesmerizing—especially her eyes. They were an odd shade of green with gold, which made him think of her as a lithe, graceful feline. Her naturally wavy black hair was cut in a becoming, sophisticated style that fell into layered precision when brushed off her high, intelligent forehead. Her delicate nose and lush mouth complemented a rich deep-brown coloring that made him wonder what bloodlines she claimed other than her obvious African ones. He had asked her once, and she had refused to discuss it.

If John found her face perfect, her body was even more so. She was tall for a woman, five-eight, slender without being thought of as too thin, and as physically fit as any professional female athlete. He knew she worked out five days a week at a local sports and health club. Her regimen included aerobics, thirty minutes on a treadmill and a vigorous game of racquetball. He had beaten her only twice on the racquetball court, feats which did little to assuage his bruised male ego.

His admiring gaze lingered on her long, shapely legs below the hem of a slim black linen skirt. Her conservative suit, ivory silk blouse, sheer black hose and two-inch black patent leather pumps did little to subdue the obvious sensuality she refused to openly acknowledge.

"I'm sorry I'm late," she said in apology, offering her cheek for a chaste kiss. "I thought it would have ended more than thirty minutes ago."

John flashed a warm smile he did not quite feel at that moment. He opened the passenger-side door of his car. "It's all right. We still have time to pick up your luggage from your apartment. I wanted to leave early because I thought perhaps we would have time to share lunch before you boarded."

Sara ducked her head and slipped onto the leather seat. Impeccable manners, she mused. Aside from his classic good looks and fastidious style of dressing, she silently admired John's manners. There was never a time when she was in his presence that she had not felt protected. John was the only man, other than her father, who had accomplished that.

Sara waited until he took his seat behind the wheel, then rewarded him with a warm smile. Her brilliant, jewel-like, slanting eyes tilted upward and caused him to catch his breath for several seconds before he let it out. Sara had no way of knowing how much of a turn-on it was for him whenever she smiled at him like that.

Reaching into her handbag, she withdrew a pair of sunglasses and perched them on the end of her short, straight nose. "Anything we'll eat in a restaurant in the terminal would have to be better than what I'll be served during the flight."

John returned her smile, then turned the key in the ignition. It caught immediately, and seconds later he maneuvered the luxury sedan through the narrow streets in the direction of her one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights.

He took a quick glance at Sara when she settled back on her seat and closed her eyes. "Tired?" "Exhausted."

He wanted to talk, but decided against it. One thing he'd learned about Sara Sterling was that he could not persuade her to do anything she did not want to do. He had heard a rumor that she had been engaged to a fellow prelaw student when they were undergraduates, that it was she who had ended the relationship, and that they had decided to attend different law schools.

She attended a local New York City law school, making law review, and had come highly recommended to the district attorney's office. She always spent weeks preparing for her cases, and when she walked into the courtroom all eyes were riveted on the woman who never raised her voice above its normal tone. What caught everyone's attention immediately was that whenever she opened her mouth her words were layered with a distinctive Southwestern intonation. It had surprised John when she disclosed that she had grown up on a horse farm in New Mexico. But then, everything about the woman amazed him.

His jaw tightened as he clenched his teeth. She had picked the wrong time to take an extended leave. But then, maybe it wasn't. He quickly changed his mind. Her being away gave him three months. Three months to plan how he would make certain Sara never returned to New York.

Sara pushed her salad around on her plate with a fork, not hearing what John was saying. She was listening for the announcement that it was time for her to board her flight. It came, and she put down the fork and picked up her handbag. She waited until John dropped a large bill on the table, then stood up.

They walked side by side until they arrived at the gate where she would board the aircraft. Turning, she smiled up at him. "Thanks for everything."

He grasped her hands, pulling her closer. "I'm going to miss you."

She examined his even features and close-cropped hair, noted the exquisite quality of the fabric of a banded-collar, pale wheat linen shirt under his matching suit jacket.

"I'll send you a postcard," she teased.

"You can call me," he countered, successfully concealing his stinging annoyance regarding her apparent indifference to his feelings.

Moving closer, she curved her arms around his neck. "I'll do better than that. When I come back I promise I'll make more time for you."

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Are you saying you'll see me more than once every two weeks?"

"Yes."

Taking his cue from her apparent change of heart, he pulled her flush against his body, kissing her. Her lips parted slightly, giving him access to the sweet moistness of her lush mouth. The kiss only lasted seconds, but it signaled a promise of more to come—much more. And he would take the three months offered them to plan for their future.

Sara pushed gently against his chest. "I have to go. They're calling my row."

John released her, watching as she walked away. Then she disappeared completely from his line of vision. A satisfied smile curved his strong mouth under his neatly bar-bered mustache. Everything is going to be okay. I will beat this. The reassuring voice in his head comforted him; he had nothing to fear.

The jet touched down at the Las Cruces International Airport, and Sara adjusted her watch to reflect Mountain Time. She had gained two hours during the four-hour flight from New York to New Mexico.

Even before deplaning she felt the intense arid desert heat penetrating the glass. Removing her jacket, she inched along the aisle and made her way out of the aircraft to the baggage claim area.

A satisfied smile softened her mouth. I'm home.

She had grown to love the pulsing excitement of New York City, but there was never a time when she thought of it as home. She loved New Mexico: its color, cold, heat, mountain ranges and the colorful racial mixture of the people of the United States Southwest.

The blood of people who had built mighty empires before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas flowed through her veins. To the curious who met her for the first time and asked what she was, she always said African American. She did not add that her African blood had been blended with that of the Zapotec Indians from Mexico's southern region—a bloodline given her by her African-Mexican American father.

Her determined steps slowed when she saw a tall man leaning against a column in the baggage area, legs crossed at the ankles, holding up a sign bearing her name. It was impossible for him to see her clearly because of the wide, dark, straw Western-style hat he had pulled down over his face.

She tapped his forearm. "I'm Sara Sterling."

Salem Lassiter raised his head when he detected the touch on his arm and the haunting, seductive scent of a woman's perfume. Using a forefinger, he pushed back the brim of his hat so that he could see her face. He inhaled sharply, then let out his breath so slowly he felt lightheaded. His neighbor had asked him to meet his daughter at the airport, and never had he been asked to perform a more pleasant task.

"Your father asked that I pick you up."

She arched a sweeping, curving eyebrow. "Who are you?"

He straightened from his leaning position. "Salem Lassiter, ma'am."

"Why isn't my father here?"

Salem felt a thread of annoyance at being questioned by a woman, especially one as haughty as the one confronting him. He had to admit, though, that Matthew and Eve Sterling had produced an exquisite child who had inherited the best features of her attractive parents.

"He and your mother had to fly to Switzerland to bring your brother back home."

Her eyes widened. "Chris?"

Salem nodded. "He broke his leg skiing."

Covering her mouth with one hand, she closed her eyes and successfully composed herself. She had not realized how loud her heart was pounding in her ears until she opened her eyes and saw Salem Lassiter's mouth moving with no sound coming from it.

She lowered her hand. "I'm sorry, Mr. Lassiter. I wasn't listening."

"How many bags do you have?"

"Just one."

"Show me." The words, though spoken softly, were a command. Taking her elbow, he led her over to the carousel. Various pieces of luggage were just beginning to slide along the conveyer belt.

Sara ignored the tall man standing beside her as she watched for her bag on the moving belt. She couldn't believe her half brother had broken his leg skiing. Thirty-three-year-old Christopher Delgado had taken to skiing the same way she had first sat on a horse—like an expert. There was a time when she thought he would become an Olympic skier, but once he'd entered college he'd changed his mind, deciding on a career in politics. He ran for the state senate and won by a very narrow margin on his first attempt. During his last trip to New York to visit her he had confided that he had his sights set on becoming governor of the state. Given his looks, intelligence and infectious charisma, she knew she would one day call her older brother Governor Delgado.

She turned her attention back to the man who had been instructed to meet her, her gaze fixed on the clearcut lines of his profile. It was difficult to tell Salem Lassiter's age, but she was transfixed by the smooth dark skin pulled taut over the elegant ridge of his high cheekbones. His nose was long and thin, his mouth firm and full enough to be thought of as sensual. She knew his large slanting eyes were very dark, but hadn't been able to detect the color or texture of his hair under the wide hat.

He was tall, not quite as tall as her six-foot, four-inch father, but he came close. But unlike her father's heavily muscled body, Salem Lassiter's was lean and slender. His pair of well-worn laundered jeans and matching pale blue denim shirt fit his tight body as if they'd been tailored expressly for him. Her gaze moved down to his dusty low-heeled boots. Her single piece of luggage neared them, and she pointed at the monogrammed leather bag.

Salem gave her a sidelong glance before he reached over and picked up the bag in one smooth motion. His dark eyes met hers for a brief second.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    A must read

    I love the Hideaway Series. I always enjoy the stories and this one did not disappoint. It was sizzling and I can't wait for the other book to come out. Thanks Ms. Alers, keep up the good work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2004

    Just Wonderful

    This was the first book that i read by alers and thought it was just great. I'm a student and stayed up all night reading this book it just hooks you into the story of salem and sara

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2003

    Intense Passion, Romance, Suspence

    Rochelle Alers' fully embody what women love to read about 'passion and romance'. Dr. Salem Lassiter is as enchanting as he is sensual. Attorney, Sara Sterling is strong-willed, but falls under the spell of Salem. This romance gives the reader intense passion, suspense and romance. I could not put this book down. I'm looking forward to reading the next book by Alers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    Riveting

    Rochelle Alers has done it again. I often ask myself how does she continue the legacy of Kirklands and Coles,and keep them so interesting. Full of so much suspense and so much passion, I never can wait for her next book to come out. All her books are a must read.Bravo, Rochelle you have done it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2000

    Passionate, intense, and compelling........

    As usual Rochelle has outdone herself. The Hideaway Legacy has got to be the best series I had ever read. It keeps you on the edge and you have just got to love the charcters, especially Mateo Sterling!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2000

    Just Before Dawn

    I was excited about reading this book because I loved all of Ms Alers' books. I loved reading about Matt and Eva Sterling from 'Hidden Agenda' a story about Sara's parents. I might add that her parents were great in their book. Therefore, I was not at all disappointed in this book. 'Just Before Dawn,' kept me turning the pages until the end. When the end did come, I was looking for more. I just didn't want it to end. However, there were lots of suspense, lots of family unity and most of all lots of love in all the right places. I love the way she starts her books out with a verse from the Bible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2000

    Just Before Dawn

    I first read this book when it first came out in the summer. I was excited about reading this book because I loved all of Ms Alers' books. I loved reading about Matt and Eva Sterling from 'Hidden Agenda' a story about Sara's parents. I might add that her parents were great in their book. Therefore, I was not at all disappointed in this book. 'Just Before Dawn,' kept me turning the pages until the end. When the end did come, I was looking for more. I just didn't want it to end. However, there were lots of suspense, lots of family unity and most of all lots of love in all the right places. I love the way she starts her books out with a verse from the Bible.

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

    Posted May 30, 2000

    Just Before Dawn is simply mystical

    Rochelle Alers has the ability to create male characters who cause you to re-evaluate your husband, boyfriend or even your co-worker. Alers' 'men' fully embody what women love to read about. Dr. Salem Lassiter is as enchanting as he is sensual. Attorney, Sara Sterling is strong-willed, but falls under the 'spell' of the 'good doctor'. This romance gives the reader more servings of tension, suspense, action, romance and more romance. When you read Alers' books, your plate is more than full, however, you are still hungry for the next addition to her famous 'Hideaway Legacy'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2000

    Attorney trying to regroup falls into danger.

    Sara, a New York district attorney, is experiencing burnout and has come back to her beloved New Mexico home of Las Cruces. She is totally unprepared for the feelings she experiences when she meets Salem Lassiter, the local veterinarian, who has come to pick her up from the airport. Salem thinks Sara is spoiled and aloof. But neither can deny the sparks they ignite in one another. Sara is unaware that her life is in danger though she knows she prosecuted some mobsters who had threatened her. Fans of the Hideaway Series will not be disappointed as once again great loving is combined with the Afro Latin culture and one comes to expect now coupled with the flavors of Navajo culture complete with the dialect and mysticism.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2000

    Rochelle Alers Has Done It Again!

    I have become one of Ms. Alers loyal fans, having read all of her published novels and as usual I am proud to say she is truly outstanding! Rochelle Alers, for many years has brought us many stories about the Hideaway Legacy Clan. As the Second Generation Continues with family and friends, she brings us Sara Sterling (Max and Eve Blackwell-Sterling's daughter) and Salem Lassiter. you are a long time favorite of Rochelle Alers books, then you will not be disappointed as she delivers this in the same charisma as the others. If you are new to her work, it won't matter too much for you to read the sequels out of order and read this one. This book will offer a strong couple, Sara and Salem, the suspense of life-threatening danger, betrayal, lots of intimacy and the support of family. Both the major and minor plots will keep your interested all the way to the end. The author is extremely good in the details of Native American History, because here is a culture that has been solely tied with African Americans, the book provides such precise details, that you don't have to go to the library for the information, you can just read this book and gain so much more. Thank you Rochelle, for providing your readers with the use of your gift of writing, you are truly appreciated and we look forward to your next published novel.

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    Posted October 8, 2011

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    Posted September 27, 2011

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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    Posted November 19, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2011

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