Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford Series #2)

( 66 )

Overview

The author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series returns with her latest novel featuring an exciting heroine with a lethal hidden talent. This time she?s hot on the trail of a young woman no one else cares about?and a killer who?s bound to strike again.

Nadia Stafford isn?t your typical nature lodge owner. An ex-cop with a legal code all her own, she?s known only as ?Dee? to her current employer: a New York crime family that pays her handsomely to bump off traitors. ...

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Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford Series #2)

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Overview

The author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series returns with her latest novel featuring an exciting heroine with a lethal hidden talent. This time she’s hot on the trail of a young woman no one else cares about—and a killer who’s bound to strike again.

Nadia Stafford isn’t your typical nature lodge owner. An ex-cop with a legal code all her own, she’s known only as “Dee” to her current employer: a New York crime family that pays her handsomely to bump off traitors. But when Nadia discovers that a troubled teenage employee and her baby have vanished in the Canadian woods, the memory of a past loss comes back with a vengeance and her old instincts go into overdrive.

With her enigmatic mentor, Jack, covering her back, Nadia unearths sinister clues that point to an increasingly darker and deadlier mystery. Now, with her obsession over the case deepening, the only way Nadia can right the wrongs of the present is to face her own painful ghosts—and either bury them for good, or die trying. Because in her book everyone deserves a chance. And everyone deserves justice.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553588385
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Series: Nadia Stafford Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 313,509
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong is the author of nine books of the Otherworld. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her family.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Below the belfry, the city sparkled, the late afternoon sun glinting off the skyscrapers, every surface dripping from a brief shower. A spectacular view . . . even through the scope of a sniper's rifle.

A pigeon landed on the ledge beneath the belfry, squawking about the rain. My eye still fixed to the scope, I reached into my pocket and tossed a handful of dried corn into the courtyard below. A flapping of wings told me he'd gone for it. The pigeons were the one drawback to this perch. Fortunately, I'd noticed them when scouting and came prepared. I didn't want a sudden flurry of birds from the belfry telling onlookers exactly where the shot had come from.

The doors below opened onto the quiet side street and at exactly five-thirty, out walked Grant Beecham. A creature of habit, like most people. He was alone. I expected that, but found myself instinctively looking for bodyguards or well-armed friends. I was used to Mafia thugs who knew there was a mark on their heads and never set foot outside alone.

But Beecham had no reason to think his life was in danger. He was just a pharmaceutical company researcher. Yes, he'd suppressed reports of fatalities in a new multiple sclerosis drug study. But his confession came only after evidence was found in an illegal search, so it'd been ruled inadmissible, the case thrown out. He hadn't even been fired; he was too valuable.

Sure, there were devastated families who'd lost loved ones, but this wasn't the Wild West. Injured parties seek financial restitution through the courts, and you take the money and shut up. You don't use your payoff to hire a hitman.

Beecham's car rounded the corner. A Lincoln with a driver to take him to his big house in Forest Hill, maybe with a stop along the way to convince another desperate family that he could provide—under the table and for the right price—the suppressed miracle drug.

I pulled the trigger. The bullet passed through the base of his skull, killing him instantly.

I didn't wait to see him crumple to the sidewalk. Or to watch passersby look over warily, assessing the cut of his suit before deciding he hadn't just fallen down drunk. By the time someone took out a cell phone, I'd be halfway down the belfry stairs.

I moved as quickly and silently as I could. Not easy when the steps were so ancient each one protested under my weight.

Dust whirled in my wake. I was wearing disposable booties, the kind considerate furniture deliverers wear. They'd eliminate prints, but did nothing for the dust reaching my nose and eyes. At my second stifled sneeze, a head popped around the bottom flight. Quinn, aka the Boy Scout—though the latter wasn't used by anyone who wanted to get on his good side.

Beecham was Quinn's job. Vigilante work was the only kind he did, hence the unflattering alternate nom de guerre. Among professional killers, a vigilante—even one as solid as Quinn—is viewed with the same disdain a veteran beat cop has for an idealistic, college-educated young detective. A prissy boy who wants to do a man's job without getting his hands dirty.

At six foot two, with a solid linebacker's physique, square face, stubborn jaw, and piercing eyes, Quinn didn't fit anyone's image of a "prissy boy." But few of the hitmen who scorned him had ever seen him. Like me, Quinn kept to himself, and for good reason. Killing criminals wasn't the only way Quinn pursued justice. He was a federal agent. What branch, I had no idea. I didn't ask.

Most people in my profession would have a problem partnering with a cop, even one moonlighting as a hitman. I didn't. I came from a long line of law-enforcement officers. My life goal had been to join that family tradition. And I had . . . until seven years ago, when I shot a suspect point-blank, made national headlines, and saw my life crash and burn.

As I rounded the last flight, Quinn backed inside. Gaze still fixed on the trash-cluttered courtyard, he unbuttoned his dark overcoat to reveal a suit. I passed him the fake briefcase that housed my takedown rifle. As I tugged off my shoes, he backed in another step and gave me his arm for support. Off with the sneakers, and on with pumps more suited to my slacks and blazer. There was more to our disguises than clothing, but that was all we changed.

I let go of his arm, then slung the leather knapsack with my gear onto my shoulder. Quinn took my hand. We walked quickly through a narrow alley, then slowed to a stroll as we stepped into a paved passage between office towers. At the end, we merged with the commuter crowd heading to the subway.

As we stepped onto the subway stairs, the distant wail of sirens was almost swallowed by the roar of rush-hour traffic.

There are many names for what I do. Want to channel your inner Godfather? Go for hatchet man or hired gun. Prefer an air of legitimacy? Try professional killer or contract killer. Add an air of mystery and intrigue? Use assassin. I like it plain and simple. Hitman. Hitwoman or even hit-person, if one wants to be PC, but if you ask me, "politically correct" and "killer" are two terms never meant to go together.

I moonlight as a hitman to keep my business—a wilderness lodge—open. After the crash of my life seven years ago, the lodge is my lifeline to sanity, and if killing traitors for a small New York crime family keeps it running, then that's fine with me. I know it shouldn't be. But it is.

Quinn doesn't need the money; he needs to scratch the itch that can come with immersing yourself in a justice system that doesn't always see justice done. I exploded on the job and watched my career implode. Quinn found a better way.

I met him six months ago. My mentor, Jack, put together a team to go after a hitman whose foray into serial-killer-hood put us at risk. He'd invited Quinn to keep us abreast of the federal investigation.

Quinn and I had exchanged almost weekly e-mails since. Then, two weeks ago, he said he had a job in Toronto, could use a second pair of hands and eyes, and, knowing I lived somewhere in Ontario, would I be interested.

I'd insisted on taking the shot. I'd been distance shooting since high school and narrowly missed being on the Olympic team. Quinn had started three years ago. When he balked, I'd reminded him that he was risking my safety on his marksmanship. That made him back down.

"Hey, there's the CN Tower," he said as we emerged from the subway. "Earlier it was hidden in the fog."

"Smog."

"I didn't think you got that up here."

"We get everything up here. Except HBO."

He peered up at the tower as we moved away from the commuter crowd. "Nice and clear now, though. Good night to eat in that revolving restaurant."

I made a face. "Overpriced tourist food."

He went quiet. I looked over to see him scratching his chin.

"Unless you want to, of course," I said quickly. "You are a tourist. It might be tough without reservations . . ." I caught his look. "You made reservations."

"Kind of. Yeah."

"Shit. I'm sorry. Really, I'd love to try it. I've just never had the cash to go."

"I should have asked you first. You're the local. I wanted to take you someplace nice, to say, you know . . ."

"Thanks for pulling my hit?"

A sharp laugh. "Yeah. I tried finding a Hallmark. They say they have a card for every occasion, but they seem to have missed that one. I thought we could have a quiet dinner, maybe talk about that thing I mentioned."

"Sure."

When I'd arrived, Quinn had announced he needed to talk to me about something personal. It was almost certainly about where our relationship was heading. Now, even as he mentioned it, my heart thumped double time. With anticipation or dread? I honestly wasn't sure. Fear probably covered it either way.

 Last year, Quinn had made it clear he was interested in me. Very clear and very interested. Stoked by the case, I'd reciprocated. He was fun and sexy and we had a lot in common. And, yes, I'll admit it, I'd been flattered. I'm a thirty-three-year-old wilderness lodge proprietor. The closest thing I get to a pass these days is married guys with beer breath cornering me in the boathouse and saying they think I'm "kinda cute."

After the job ended, we had to go our separate ways, so we'd stepped back into friendship.

Months passed and, as much as we communicated, there'd been no whiff of anything but friendship. Maybe I should have been disappointed. But I wasn't. I was almost . . . relieved.

I have an odd relationship with risk. I grew up looking each way twice before crossing the road. Then, after my life-crash, one day I found myself perched at the hatch of an airplane, parachute on my back. Today, I couldn't live without the adrenaline rush of white-water rafting or rappelling down a cliff. But I still look both ways—twice—before crossing. I have tidy boxes for the risk in my life, and Quinn doesn't fit into them.

I like him. I think we could have something. As weird as it sounds, he could be exactly what my life needs. But even now—walking with him, enjoying his company, sneaking peeks and liking what I see—I can't feel what I want to feel. I'm sure it will come. I just don't want to rush into a decision. So I'm praying that whatever he needs to talk about, it isn't that.

We were still in disguise at dinner. That's the downside of socializing with colleagues in this job. You can never just be yourself. Quinn had briefly seen me without a disguise last fall accidentally, but that was no excuse to leave it off now. With Quinn, I wasn't Nadia, I was "Dee." Yes, that was my nom de guerre. I'd have preferred one with a little more flair, but Jack had picked it. Jack didn't do flair.

We'd just stepped inside the base of the CN Tower when Quinn's cell phone buzzed. I wandered over to read one of the displays while he took the call. Likely business—the legitimate kind. He'd arranged the Beecham hit to coincide with a work trip. I wasn't sure that was wise, but trusted he knew what he was doing.

When he was done with his call, we went up the tower, where I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "revolving restaurant" didn't revolve very fast. I don't know what I expected: a merry-go-round? It moved so slowly you didn't notice until you looked up and realized the view had changed. And it was a good thing the motion didn't cause queasiness, because the prices certainly did. After I choked on the thought of paying fourteen dollars for a Caesar salad, Quinn confiscated my menu and read me the choices.

Through the appetizers and into the entrees we talked about our ski seasons, comparing stories and injuries.

"I have to admit," Quinn said. "When I first mentioned getting together, that's what I had in mind. A ski trip. I had a place in Vermont picked out. Even scanned a brochure to e-mail you. Then I chickened out."

"How come?"

He stabbed a pearl onion with his fork, his gaze fixed on his plate. "I guess I took another look at the brochure—couples in hot tubs, couples sipping hot chocolate, couples in front of blazing fires—and it just seemed so . . . couple-ish."

"Which isn't what you had in mind."

"I know I rushed things last time. The job was intense, and that spilled over."

"No kidding, huh?" I gave a small laugh. "Look, I totally understand—"

I broke off as his cell rang again. A murmured apology to me and he pulled it out. A matron at the next table shot me a glare, as if to say I shouldn't tolerate such behavior. Obviously she'd never dated a cop.

"Work," he said as he glanced at the display.

"I'll go to the washroom while you—"

He laid his hand on my arm as I rose. "Sit. Eat while it's warm. If I need to, I'll step outside, but it's probably the same as last time. He can't find a file."

I'd rather have had the excuse to leave for a minute, gather my thoughts, prepare for what was coming. Because I knew now that it wasn't good.

Since we'd met that morning, Quinn hadn't flirted with me, hadn't even given me one of his sexy grins. That was not the Quinn I remembered. I'd thought he was just trying to play it cool until after the job, having been chewed out by Jack last year for acting unprofessional. But now, with his admission about the ski lodge, I knew I was about to get the infamous "Maybe we should just be friends" speech.

I should have been happy. Hadn't I been thinking the same thing? But it still stung. To have a guy be interested, then back off once he got to know me better? I only wish I could say it was the first time that ever happened.

Quinn's brows furrowed as he listened to his call. "What?"

Pause.

"When?"

Pause.

"Goddamn it!"

A furtive look my way, then a slight rise in color as he caught the glower of the woman beside us. He mouthed an apology.

I tried not to eavesdrop, focusing my attention on his free hand, drumming the table. He had square hands, big and broad. Smooth, but with ghosts of calluses and tiny scars, as if he'd worked with them once, maybe teen summers in construction.

He'd stopped drumming now, fingers gone still, tips raised a quarter-inch above the table, as if halted midtap. His fingers curled under, clenching as his voice went brittle before his fingers unfolded and collapsed, palm flat, to the tablecloth.

It took a moment to realize he'd hung up and was watching me, waiting until he had my attention. When I looked over, the crease between his brows was still there, now joined by faint lines at the corners of his mouth.

"You have to go," I said.

He nodded. "It's a case. I'm booked on a flight in two hours."

"Should we get the bill?"

"No, no. We're finishing. I get through security a little faster than the average tourist."

We ate for another five minutes before I said, "So what did you want to talk to me about?"
He moved a mushroom aside. "It wasn't important."

Before I could prod, he launched into the story of getting snowbound driving to a ski hill, and I realized I wasn't getting a better answer. Not tonight.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

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(38)

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(19)

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(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it...

    It's one of those books, that everyone will love, but will never become a fad. It won't be the next Twilight, nor the next Romeo and Juliet. But it's still great.
    The characters... oh my, the characters. Armstrong did an absolutely beautiful job with developing them, and keeping them in character for the entire novel. They're all interesting, no flat characters, no Mary-Sues or Gary-Stus.
    Her writing style is perfectly fine, in my opinion. She obviously knows what she's doing, it's a very simple, easy to read style, it keeps you entertained and is nowhere near difficult. She doesn't have an overly memorable style... but that's what the plot's for.
    Now, the plot. I won't include any spoilers, don't worry, but I loved the plot. And the twists in it, things you'd never expect... It was just great. I can't say much more without spoiling it, so I'll shut up about that now. I'm not usually a romance fan, but there is a little in this book. I didn't mind it one bit, I actually rather enjoyed it, honestly, it wasn't like normal romance. It was sweet, not overdone, and didn't take over the entire plot.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    Great book

    I really liked this book and the first in the series. I have read all of Armstrong's otherworld series and was a little skeptical about this one but it has been surprisingly good. There is enough suspense and twists to keep you entertained throughout the book. Like her paranormal books, the characters are all fairly complex and interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly recommended

    I have read all of Kelley's Women of the Otherworld series and like her writing style so much decided to read Exit Strategy and Made to be Broken. I'm so glad I did. Kelley's writing style is very easy to read and she pulls you in and keeps you wanting more. If you like the series, recommend it to everyone. I want there to be a third book to see where Nadia's relationship with Jack and Quinn is headed. Book sales will determine if the series continues.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Nadia Stafford Very good Character

    I love Kelley Armstrong's writing, she does a great job of pulling you into her world, in this series and her Otherworld Series.
    If you like suspense, drama and trying to pick apart clues, this one is great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Characters

    Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic writer. I love all of her series but this one I hope she continues. The main character is a strong and interesting women. Can't wait to see what happens to her next and need to know what will happen between her and Jack.

    Please buy this book so Kelley will continue the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    Awesome book!

    The first book was good, this one was even better! Cannot wait until the next one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Excellent

    Excellent book..with very engaging characters! Can't wait for the third book which is due out in November!

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    Enjoyed

    While I enjoy Kelley Armstrong's other series better, this is very good and a different kind of story. I enjoy the depth of the characters and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Read These Books!

    I loved these books so much I wrote to Ms. Armstrong to beg her to write more, something I have never done before! Just go out and get them.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Nadia's Not Just a Nice Girl

    I am a fan of the Men and Women of the Otherworld Series and decided to try this mystery. I really enjoyed it, especially the complex characters and careful dialogue that leaves enough between the lines to let the author and the reader both spin the tale. Kelley Armstrong respects the reader and is always interesting. I am always curious about what else is going on or has gone on in the characters' lives. Read this and feel redeemed.

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

    Posted May 18, 2009

    Great Book!

    I really like this series with Nadia Stafford. It's a different story than so many others I read. Very good book. Would definitely recommend it.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Nadia- when will you choose

    I know, the story is suppose to be about assassins and murder and all of that, but I can't help reading for the possible relationships that Nadia may encounter. I can't wait to read the next book to this series to see if she furthers her love life!

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Nadia Staffor a different approach from Kelley Armstrong

    This book has a lot of interesting relationship points for the main character, who is clearly wounded. But the point of the book is satisfying in that revenge and retribution are dealt out in such a way by a character that is so different from characters in her other books. In her other books, the heroine is a person with special powers, in this series, the heroine is a member of a sociopathic monster pack hunting other sociopathic monsters for reasons of her own. It takes one far away from the realm of good and evil into the grey area of expedience and pragmatism. I enjoyed this.

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  • Posted December 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an entertaining thriller

    To finance her Red Oak Lodge in the Kawathas, two hours from Toronto, she is a part time hit-woman contracted mostly by the Tomassinis mob. Nadia Stafford¿s partner on her current job is a Federal Agent, but Quinn sees that justice is done by playing vigilante. Nadia¿s mentor in how to be a successful hit-woman is Jack, a mercenary for hire with few scruples.<BR/><BR/>When Nadia returns to her prime business she has a fight with her employee. Seventeen year old Sammi Ernst lives with her little daughter Destiny who accompanies her on her job. Sammi pays more attention to her child than her work so a frustrated Nadia explains her duties to the teen mother. When the mother and daughter vanish, Nadia searches for a grave. With Jack¿s help she finds it, but Destiny remains missing. Since the cops believe Sammi ran away, they refuse to look for her. Nadia, Jack, and Quinn discover there are other crimes when a disenfranchised teenage mom with a baby disappears. Mindful of an incident in her past, Nadia wants to take out those who caused Sammi¿s death and find the still missing infant. Jack and Quinn assist her on her avenging quest for justice.<BR/><BR/>Known for her Otherworld tales, Kelly Armstrong also writes exciting refreshing and enthralling sagas that are every bit as great as her urban fantasy sagas. The protagonist believes everyone she kills deserves their fate so when the Canadian legal system fails she becomes an avenging Lady Justice if the case is personal. However, she is not someone to role model after as she also kills in cold blood as a means of making money. Though not admirable, she is refreshing and fascinating as are her two cronies. MADE TO BE BROKEN is filled with twists and blind cul de sacs, but it is the lead trio especially the lodge owner who turn this into an entertaining thriller.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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