Sex and violence power the satisfying second installment of Leigh's Elite Ops series (after 2008's Wild Card ). Risa Clay's malicious father, Jansen, arranged for her to be kidnapped, drugged and raped. Eight years later, Elite Ops agent Micah Sloane triggers both her distrust of men and the lingering, arousing effects of the drugs. Legendary assassin Orion, who killed Micah's family, is targeting Risa, so Micah asks her to pose as his lover to lure Orion into the open. Micah struggles to shield emotionally fragile Risa from his sexual hunger; Risa fights her growing affection for Micah because she knows he will leave her when the mission is over. The passion and the danger move swiftly, and alpha male Micah makes an excellent foil for Risa's innocence and fierce determination to free herself from her emotional hell. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Maverickby Lora Leigh
Micah Sloane knows almost everything there is to know about Risa Clay, including the vicious betrayal she endured years ago and the distrust she's harbored ever since. The only way for the Elite Ops agent to uncover an assassin—and banish the ghosts of his own dark past—is to use Risa as bait. But nothing has prepared him for her disarming blend of
Micah Sloane knows almost everything there is to know about Risa Clay, including the vicious betrayal she endured years ago and the distrust she's harbored ever since. The only way for the Elite Ops agent to uncover an assassin—and banish the ghosts of his own dark past—is to use Risa as bait. But nothing has prepared him for her disarming blend of innocence and sensuality, or for his overwhelming need to protect her…
Risa has spent six years rebuilding her life. And now, to save it, she must pose as Micah's lover and draw a killer into the open. It's a risky plan—especially with a man as powerfully seductive as Micah. But, as their charade becomes reality, Risa realizes the greatest danger may lie in losing her heart forever…
“A phenomenal read.” Romance Junkies on Maverick
“Scorching-hot sex, deadly secrets and a determined assasin add up to another addicting Leigh thriller. Leigh's ability to credibly build damaged characters who are both intriguing and intense gives her stories that extra punch.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Maverick
“Leigh's books can scorch the ink off the page.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews
“Highly emotional and addicting…an intoxicating first installment of a brand new series.” Romance Junkies on Wild Card
“Ferocious passion!” Romantic Times BOOKreviews
Read an Excerpt
By Lora Leigh
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Lora Leigh
All rights reserved.
Six Years Later
TONIGHT RISA CLAY was going to take a lover.
Behind her, in the bathroom garbage were the overly large cotton pants and t-shirt she normally wore. None of that tonight. With her heart beating an erratic tattoo in her chest, she forced herself to turn and stare into the full-length mirror, at her naked body. She had to force herself to look, to be objective, to push back the panic rising inside her at the thought of what she was about to do.
She was pale. Pale skin, pale breasts, and pale pink nipples. Her gaze went lower to the bare pale lips of her sex and she had to swallow quickly to hold back the nausea that rose in her stomach. She was pale there as well. Perhaps she should have tried the tanning bed, she thought. If her body didn't look like her own, perhaps this would be easier to do.
She could cancel until she tanned. But she immediately vetoed that idea. No excuses, she told herself. No more backing out, no more cowardly nights hiding.
She could do this. She had gone to the spa yesterday, hadn't she? She had sat in the chair and spread her thighs while the technician had waxed her most private parts. Parts that she had hated for so long. The part of herself that she blamed for the worst episode in her life.
She forced her eyes to close and inhaled quickly. She wasn't thinking about that tonight. She wasn't going to let the past ruin the plan she had come up with. She had promised herself she wouldn't. This was the right decision. She could do this. If she was ever going to regain her life and her independence, then she had to grab it with both hands and hold on, no matter how frightened she became.
Staring back at the mirror, she checked her hair. The thick, heavy dark blond strands that had once fallen halfway down her back were now shoulder length and fell neatly around her face. They weren't pale, at least not any longer. Highlights had been added by the beautician. Dark and golden brown strands were mixed with the sandy color now. At least it no longer faded into Risa's face.
There wasn't much she could do with her face, with the exception of the makeup she had learned how to use. The smoky shadow highlighted her pale blue eyes and rather nondescript features and gave her an interesting appearance instead. Her lashes were longer, darkened with mascara and eyeliner. Her lips were more lush than she had thought they were. Bronze lipstick had brought out their shape, and a light coating of blush highlighted her rather high cheekbones.
The makeup specialist Risa had gone to had complimented her on her cheekbones and the arch of her eyes and taught her how to bring out the best in them. If only that addition of makeup could instill the confidence she had lost so long ago.
Risa forced in another deep breath before reaching for the soft bronze silk panties she had bought. The low-rise thong was daring and terrifying. It was an invitation. A silken bit of nothing that would take no time to pull from her body.
But that was what she wanted, she reminded herself. Something that would be easy to remove, that wouldn't give her time to think or to consider what she was doing once she started doing it.
Next came the stockings. In ways, the stockings were even harder to put on. The thigh-high shimmering color made her legs appear longer, sexier. Another invitation. She was painting a "fuck me" sign on her body and she was doing it deliberately.
God help her to go through with this, because if she didn't, she might never have the nerve to try again.
Smoothing the stockings over her legs, she turned to the dress that hung on the hook by the bathroom door. The dress was her own challenge, the challenge being in actually putting it on and walking out of her apartment.
She didn't give herself time to think. The brown silk beaded baby doll dress ended well above her knees in a fall of sheer shadowy color. The bronze underslip showed through clearly and ended a few inches higher along her leg. The empire waist was banded by darker brown silk while the thin slip straps were the pale bronze of the underslip.
She smoothed the material over her hips before forcing herself away from the mirror and slipping on the chocolate brown stiletto heels that matched the dress.
She couldn't look at herself in the mirror again. If she did, she might chicken out of this and hide beneath the blankets as she did night after night.
Her hands shook as she opened the bathroom door and stepped into the bedroom. Picking up the little bronze beaded evening bag, she dropped her house keys inside along with some cash, a credit card, ID, and lipstick. The brown wrap she threw over her shoulders would protect her from the chill of the air against her shoulders but little else. It was thin enough that it was no more than dark smoke against her naked shoulders and arms.
She was ready. But for what?
To be a woman for a change, rather than a thing? A memory? To be something more than the automaton she had become over the years? Stilted, doing nothing but getting through the day and facing the night alone. She was so very tired of always being alone, of never knowing what she could have been or what she was missing out on as a woman. But would tonight do anything to free her, or would it only give strength to the demons that chased her through the night?
The feel of her hair brushing her shoulders as she shook her head at her own question spurred her to move to the door. A cab was waiting for her downstairs, her friends were waiting for her at the club, and if she was lucky, tonight she would find out what pleasure was, rather than pain.
If she was lucky. If she wasn't lucky, it wasn't as though she hadn't known the pain before. At least tonight, it would be her choice.
Still, her hands shook and her stomach rioted as she stepped off the elevator and walked into the main lobby of her apartment building.
The open, airy atmosphere of the lobby was given an almost intimate, welcoming touch by the low padded couches and chairs in various conversational arrangements. Huge potted plants provided an air of privacy for the groupings and aimed to set an air of intimacy and ease for those who used the lobby.
The security guard's eyes widened as he saw her, and the doorman stepped forward with a wide smile.
"Miss Clay, your cab is waiting on you," the doorman, Clive Stamper, announced as he opened the wide glass door for her. "And may I say you look especially lovely tonight."
Her smile trembled. "Thank you, Clive." Her voice was firm, low, as she moved past him and waited for him to open the passenger door of the cab.
Risa slid onto the leather seat, her fingers clenched around her purse as she gave the driver the name of the club.
Clive closed the door and stepped back and the cab moved forward.
It wasn't too late to turn back, she told herself. She could have the driver stop now. She could run back to her room as she had done last month, the last time she had tried this. She could put her baggy clothes back on and she would be safe.
Safe and so very miserable.
She was tired of being miserable. And there was always the chance that for the first time in six years, she could find a place inside her that wasn't tormented by the past. She just had to make that place, she told herself. That was all. She could do this. After all, she had survived hell, hadn't she? If she had survived hell, then she could survive one night in a lover's arms.
"WILD CARD AND Maverick pulling out." Noah Blake spoke into the mouthpiece as he pulled out behind the cab in the dove gray Lexus that had been provided to follow Risa Clay on her way to the nightclub where some of the former members of SEAL team Durango were waiting with their wives for the arrival of Miss Clay and Noah's passenger, Micah Sloane.
"Heat Seeker and Hell Raiser coming up behind you." John Vincent, the Aussie of the Elite Ops teams, and Nik Steele, the former Russian special forces soldier, were in the blue gas-guzzling Dodge that pulled up in Noah's rearview mirror.
"Live Wire has the club; Black Jack is inside." Jordan Malone, the team commander, spoke through the receiver.
"Black Jack has the table in view. Everything looks good to go."
Noah glanced over at his passenger, Micah Sloane, and almost grimaced at the emotionless, cold façade the former Israeli Mossad agent carried.
Micah was an enigma, even now, more than four years after the formation of the Elite Ops unit. He was a man who kept to himself, didn't share secrets, and never gave shit away.
He could get pissed, but it was a cold, icy fury. He could slice through flesh with words alone and leave others quivering in fear. He was the type of man that Noah would hesitate to make an enemy of, and there weren't many men in the world that Noah would really give a damn if they were friend or enemy. But Micah wasn't the type of man that Noah felt comfortable leaving the broken little Risa Clay with. He was too hard, too cold. Risa needed a man who knew how to be gentle, who knew how to be warm.
"You know, that cold, blank look could put a woman off," Noah told him quietly as he maneuvered through Atlanta's early evening traffic.
"I'll worry about my look; you worry about the traffic." There was no accent to Micah's voice, no Middle Eastern hint or so much as a tonal shift that would reveal he wasn't fully American.
His American father with his pale Nordic looks and height had added to the lightening of Micah's skin, as well as contributing to his tall, lean frame. Micah was over six feet, his black hair cut close and lying over his head to his neck in an almost haphazard manner. Black eyes in a face that appeared to be just darkly tanned and topped with thick slashing brows gleamed with menace. His lips were just a little too full, just a little too sensual. "Wide, mobile lips," Noah's wife, Sabella, had stated once. Noah hadn't been happy that she had noticed.
"I worry about this op," Noah stated. "I'd like to get home before the baby is born, if you don't care."
Noah's wife was carrying their first child. The wife he had nearly lost because of his own stupidity, his own pride. Being away from her didn't sit well with him. But it was his hand that had signed on to the Elite Ops; it was his decision that had placed him with the teams when he could have easily walked away from it all to be with Sabella.
That pride thing. He'd learned his lesson, he had his Sabella back, but he was still a member of the team and would be until the day he died.
"You signed on, you take the heat." Micah shrugged as he laid his arm along the armrest of the door and watched the traffic closely.
"One of these days," Noah muttered, almost to himself.
Micah was a hard bastard, there was no doubt. What the hell made him think he was the best man to charm a woman who knew nothing but fear where men were concerned, Noah hadn't figured out yet.
"One of these days your wife will do us all a favor and shoot you with your own gun," Micah grunted as his gaze continued to watch the traffic closely. "I hear she threw you to the couch last month."
Noah frowned. How the hell had Micah found out about that?
"Hell," Noah growled. "She told Kira, didn't she?" Kira being the wife to one of the ex–Navy SEAL commanders Micah would be having dinner with that night.
The members of the Durango team had all officially resigned their commissions with the SEALs over the past three years, though none of them were actually free of their covert status. They were the Elite Ops backup team, though Elite Ops was using backup less and less for the smaller operations.
"Maybe she didn't tell anyone," Micah stated. "Maybe I was testing your home security and saw you sleeping on the couch. I could have sliced your throat in your sleep."
"Dream on, asshole." Noah grinned. "Admit it. Sabella told Kira and she blabbed like the little minx she is. You didn't pass my security and we both know it." Wasn't possible, he had made certain of it.
Micah didn't so much as smile.
"Look, I'm serious," Noah sighed. "You go into that club looking like you're ready to kill and that kid is going to go running for the hills."
"She isn't a child."
Noah paused at Micah's statement and flashed the other man a curious look.
"She's not exactly an experienced, worldly woman, either," Noah assured him. "She's twenty-six years old, Micah, and all but a virgin."
"She is a virgin still." Micah's tone never changed.
"She was raped." Noah felt as though he were talking to a brick wall. "She's wounded, man. You can't show her the killer face and expect her to trust you."
Micah turned to look at him now. "The killer face?" he asked evenly.
"Yeah, that icy Mossad façade you're wearing right now," he growled. "Ease up, man. Practice smiling or something."
He flashed Micah a glare as the other man turned his head once again.
"I'll worry about her reaction to me; you worry about getting us to the club in one piece."
Noah almost gritted his teeth in frustration. Hell, he still remembered the night he had helped rescue Risa Clay from Diego Fuentes's cell. She had been like a broken little doll. Vacant-eyed, shuddering from the drugs pumped into her, and fighting the reaction from them with every breath in her body.
She had been such a damned tiny thing. Naked and bruised, blood had marred her thighs, and pain had filled her eyes. Traumatized was a kind word for the state that kid had been in.
"Micah," he began.
"Noah, you want to stop now." Micah's voice hardened, and Noah hadn't thought that possible. "I know how to deal with Miss Clay. This is a meet and greet, nothing more. A chance to gauge her reaction to me, and therefore her reaction to the plan we intend to put before her tomorrow afternoon. Rest assured, I know how to treat a woman."
He might know how to treat one, Noah thought, but he sure as hell might not know how to present an unthreatening demeanor.
"Hell, what was Jordan thinking giving this op to you?" Noah questioned his uncle's decision roughly. "You'll terrify her."
"I demanded this op."
Noah glanced back at him in surprise. "Why?"
Micah's expression hadn't changed. His face was still closed, set. His eyes were like black ice and his voice like frozen air. It was enough to give a person frostbite.
"Why is for me to know." Micah shrugged. "It's your place to accept. Now if you wouldn't mind, your chattering is getting on my nerves. Perhaps Jordan could find a muzzle that would fit you."
Noah grimaced and tightened his hands on the wheel of the car as he made a turn behind the cab and gauged the distance to the hotel where Risa was heading.
Hell, she deserved better than the operation that was going to be thrown at her tomorrow. She deserved more than to be used as he knew this operation would use her. She wasn't mentally or emotionally capable of handling the stress it would lay on her fragile shoulders.
He'd mentioned his fears to his wife, Sabella. Worried that this operation would tax the girl's ability to heal and to get on with her life. But they had no choice. This wasn't just their best chance at capturing an assassin whom no one could seem to pin, but it was also their only chance to save her from a horrifying death. Risa was beginning to remember what everyone had believed she would never remember: the night of her kidnapping and rape and the man who had been in league with the father who had masterminded it.
Those memories could be the death of her.
"Risa Clay isn't a broken woman." Micah's comment surprised Noah into glancing back at him.
"What makes you think that?" Noah asked.
"You know the same things I do," Micah stated. "The trips to the spa, the shopping trip, and the clothes she's bought. The intimate toys found in her bedside drawer. No, Noah, she is not a broken woman. She is a woman trying to heal."
"And you think handing her over to you will complete that healing?" Noah snorted. "Hell, from what I've seen you can't keep a woman past the time it takes to fuck one, Micah. You're like a robot, man. That's fine with a woman that's not looking for anything more."
"Noah, you are becoming a mother hen," Micah sighed. "You remind me much of one here of late. I need to discuss this with Sabella. She's becoming a bad influence on you."
Noah grinned. Damn, his Sabella was his lifesaver.
"She'll just laugh at you," he promised the other man.
"I have no doubt she will laugh, simply because she knows you're a lost cause."
Excerpted from Maverick by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2009 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Lora Leigh is the author of Live Wire, Forbidden Pleasure, and Enigma, among many others. Writing is her passion, her peace, and her lifeline, and she can often be found daydreaming and plotting and planning with the varied characters that fill her imagination. When she isn't writing, she tends her flower gardens, watches horses romp outside her home, or spends time with the family and pets she fills her life with. She lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky.
#1 New York Times bestseller, LORA LEIGH is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.
"Lora Leigh writes compelling, red-hot romance." --Sacramento Book Review
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I believe in order to appreciate this book you need to read Dangerous Games, Killer Secrets, Hidden Agenda and Wild Card. I don't go along with most of the reviews. This book was very romantic, touching and thrilling. The love story had me crying in several parts of the book. This is a book I will be reading over and over again.
This book goes great with the other Elite Ops and Navy Seal books. This one was more emotionally charged than the others--sad in a way--but had a great ending. If you read any of the others in this series, you will love this one as well.
This is the second book in the Special Op Series of Lora Leigh. The story was great, the plot was different and good and keep me reading constantly. Micah Sloane is a Special Op and has been assigned to protect and pose as Risa's lover. She has a very nasty past due to a drug lord and her own father. Micah is very loving and caring and brings her out of her shell and forces her to live again. They both end up falling in love with each other, but his duty keeps him at bay. The ending is great. I liked the fact that Noah and Bella's story was continuing on a small level, we know that he is still in the Op's and that she is about ready to give birth. Once again though, the sex is to explicit, I have come to realize this just must be the author. I don't like how detailed the sex scenes are, so I just skip over them, but the plots of the stories are still good.
the author did a wonderful job creating the characters. I enjoy the main characters and the believable struggle between the characters. I am on my way to buy the next book in this series.
Loved Wild Card loved Maverick cant wait to read the rest
I loved the series, too bad it ended.