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3.7 127
by Diana Palmer, Phil Gigante (Read by)

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Can she convince a man to let down his defenses when he's set on guarding his heart?

Tall, dark and eligible?

That's all that matters to the women of Jacobsville when it comes to handsome and aloof FBI agent Jon Blackhawk. But if it were up to him, he would never settle down. Luckily, Jon has the best gatekeeper: his efficient and


Can she convince a man to let down his defenses when he's set on guarding his heart?

Tall, dark and eligible?

That's all that matters to the women of Jacobsville when it comes to handsome and aloof FBI agent Jon Blackhawk. But if it were up to him, he would never settle down. Luckily, Jon has the best gatekeeper: his efficient and reliable assistant, Joceline Perry. Without her help, he'd be at the mercy of husband hunters—but the more he comes to rely on her, the more he notices how invaluable she really is…

While Joceline can't deny that her boss is attractive, as a single mother with responsibilities she's determined to be professional. But when Jon is accosted by a criminal seeking revenge, she comes to his aid—fueling the spark that is growing between them.

As the attempts on Jon's life increase, Joceline stands by his side. But when the smoke clears, will the man who avoided love realize that all he ever needed was right there all along?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Palmer...is the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love."

-Publishers Weekly on Dangerous

"The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense."

-Booklist on Lawman

"Palmer knows how to make the sparks fly...heartwarming."

-Publishers Weekly on Renegade

"Sensual and suspenseful."

-Booklist on Lawless

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Long, Tall Texans Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
2.81(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.39(d)

Read an Excerpt

The attractive blonde sitting on the chair beside Jon Black–hawk's desk in the San Antonio FBI office was as irritating as most of the prospective brides his well–meaning mother threw at his head. He was impatient and half out of humor already, with testimony on an upcoming court case awaiting him. This woman's fascination with the latest trend in hairstyles was leading him to think of bars. And he never took a drink.

"See, mine was done by Mr. James at Sherigan's," she continued, indicating her haircut, which looked quite frankly as if someone had put her head in a blender. He bit his tongue trying not to make the comment out loud. "He could do wonders for you. That long hair is so retro!"

There was a perfunctory knock at the door and his administrative assistant, Joceline Perry, stuck her head in the door. "Excuse me, Mr. Blackhawk, but you're due in court in ten minutes."

He nodded, forcing himself not to dance on the desk with glee. It would have been totally out of character, but the past thirty minutes of fashion information had left him feeling brainless.

He got to his feet. "It was good to see you, Charlene. Please give my love to my mother when you see her."

"I'll be seeing her tonight, since we're going to the theater together. It's a production of that romantic comedy that Shakespeare wrote, in a modern setting," she enthused. "Your mother has three tickets to it," she added with a hopeful smile.

He cleared his throat and tried desperately to think of an excuse.

Joceline, her blue eyes twinkling, interjected, "There's that meeting with your informer tonight at seven," she lied.

"Oh. Oh, yes, thank you," he said, trying not to sound as relieved as he felt. "Another time, perhaps," he told Charlene.

She shrugged. "I suppose your job requires you to do things at odd times," she said. "You might think about another profession," she said with a thoughtful frown. "I mean, if you get married, you won't have time for these evening job–related thingies."

His black eyes glittered. "I have no plans to marry."

She gave him an odd look. "Your mother said you were ready to start a family," she said blandly.

The glare darkened. "My mother has plans of her own. They are not mine," he added firmly.

Charlene gave him a charming smile and touched the sleeve of his gray suit jacket with a well–manicured hand. "Well, most men don't want to marry and have a family, until they realize how nice it is."

He didn't bend an inch.

Charlene sighed. "Rome wasn't built in a day," she ventured.

"It was, however, sacked by Charles V and his forces in one of the most violent attacks in military history," Joceline said with a sigh. "The Pope was forced to flee for his life." Her blue eyes went dreamy in their frame of short, straight black hair that just covered her small ears. "Charles V was the father–in–law of Mary Tudor, who was the sister of Elizabeth the First. Mary was in her thirties and Philip II was in his twenties when they married. It was a very strange match. But royalty in the sixteenth century was somewhat different in attitude." She smiled. "Do you study history?" she asked Charlene.

"Ugh," Charlene said, and shuddered dramatically. "What a sick and horrible subject. Old dead people."

Joceline's eyebrows arched. "The past determines the future," she said. "For instance, did you know that in seventeenth–century America, women were accused of witchcraft and hanged for any sort of misbehavior?" She cocked her head. "That blouse you're wearing would have landed you in a river in Massachusetts in no time. You see, there was a common belief that only witches floated when thrown into bodies of water," she added helpfully. She smiled again.

Charlene gave her a blank look. "This is the latest fashion," she pointed out. She glared at Joceline's neat black skirt, small–heeled black shoes and blue button–up blouse. "You might have been jailed for having such awful fashion sense," she countered with contempt.

"No, no, they didn't jail people for that," Joceline replied smoothly. "They put them in stocks, but not for being conservatively dressed." She cocked her head again. "However, women who cheated on their husbands were branded with a large letter A."

Charlene cleared her throat and glared even more. "I am separated from my husband and we are in the process of a divorce."

"Really?" Joceline asked, all eyes. "Well, isn't it lucky this is the twenty–first century?" she asked.

"I did not cheat on him!" Charlene raged.

Joceline's blue eyes were innocent. "I never insinuated such a thing!"

Charlene's face flushed. Beside her slender hips, against the expensive fabric of her slacks, her manicured hands were clenched. "The gentleman in question and I were merely having supper together after the theater! It was all lies!"

"I'm certain that it was," Joceline said with a bland smile.

Jon had been enjoying the repartee, but he quickly collected himself. "Ms. Perry, aren't you working on a case?" he asked deliberately.

She blinked. "A case, sir?" she asked.

"Follow–up interviews in my kidnapping court case?"

"The court case. Right." But she didn't leave.

Charlene was more irritated than ever. She grabbed her purse. "I see that it's an inconvenient time for us to talk," she told Jon. She went close to him, enveloping him in expensive perfume that made him cough. "I'll talk to you again later, in a more…personal environment, okay?"

He cleared his throat. He wished to goodness that she'd just leave. "KK," he said, using a gamer's abbreviation for "okay."

She glared at him. "Those abbreviations are silly. You play those stupid video games, too, like your brother, don't you?" she demanded. "Well, that's another thing you'll have to work on. No woman is going to tolerate a man who games in every free minute!"

"Unless she's a gamer, too," Joceline said, smiling sweetly. "So many of us women are, these days."

Jon gaped at her.

Charlene glared at her. "It figures," she said curtly.

Joceline kept smiling. She stared pointedly at the other woman's haircut. "My goodness, did your head get caught in a blender or something?"

Jon coughed enthusiastically, trying to conceal laughter.

"I'll have you know I paid a hundred dollars for this styling cut!" Charlene raged.

Joceline held out a hand. "Please lower your voice, ma'am," she urged. "This is a federal office. No verbal outbursts are allowed."

Charlene glanced from one of them to the other with exasperation. "I will never come here again! I'll see you at Cammy's house, when you have time for civilized conversation," she said haughtily.

Jon didn't answer her. Joceline pointedly held the door open and smiled vacantly.

"Have a nice day," she told the departing woman.

Charlene was muttering to herself as she reached the outer office.

Jon let out the laugh he'd been concealing. "That was rude," he told Joceline.

She gave him a blank stare. "Was it, really?" She glanced toward the door. "Should I call her back and apologize?" she asked innocently.

"You do, and you're really fired," he threatened.

She shrugged. "Jobs aren't that hard to get for a woman who knows how to type and give free video game advice," she said. She smiled.

He waved a hand. "Go work on that brief. And what meeting do I have with an informer tonight?" he added with a frown.

"I could arrange one, if you like."

He let out a rough laugh and went back around to sit at his desk. "Cammy's driving me nuts with these prospective brides," he muttered. "I don't want to get married!" he added firmly and glared at Joceline, in the doorway.

She held out both hands. "Don't look at me! I don't want to get married, either. So if you were thinking of asking me," she added outrageously, and with a haughty look, "don't bother. My son would be devastated if we had to try to fit a third person into our Super Mario battles," she added, naming one of the more popular games.

"No worries, there, I like military–themed games."

"And that MMORPG you play with your brother," she told him, referring to federal agent McKuen Kilraven.

"Massively multiplayer online role playing game," he translated and smiled. "I never would have suspected you of being a closet gamer."

She sighed. "Me, either," she replied. "But Markie loves them."

Her son. She had never married, but she'd been going out with a soldier who shipped out to the Middle East and never came back. It had surprised Jon that she'd had a child out of wedlock, when she was such a conservative, religious person. She never spoke of the child's father, and rarely of the child. She kept her personal life as private as Jon kept his own.

Joceline was aware of his curiosity about her. He was dishy, she thought, staring at him unconsciously, with that long, thick black hair in a ponytail down his back and that tall, lean, elegant physique. Women found him attractive, but he was standoffish. Gossip was that he'd never had a woman in his life. Both he and his brother were arch conservatives in just about everything, and neither of them had ever been known for licentious living.

Joceline put that thought out of her mind. She knew things about him that others didn't. In the five years she'd been with the office, watching him work in the field office's Violent Crimes Squad, she often held her breath when he went to work on the kidnapping cases that were his specialty. He had a special interest in human trafficking, particularly of children. He was a bulldog when he was working a case. It was one of many things Joceline admired about him.

Joceline wondered what Jon thought of her morals, knowing that she had a son and no husband. Markie had been a surprise; a shock, really. He was the one beautiful thing in her world, but news of his existence had not been good news at the time. She had told everyone that his father had been a good friend, home on leave from the military, and on the outs with a longtime girlfriend who'd dumped him. Joceline had commiserated with him. They frequently went out together in a platonic way, but that night they'd both had too much to drink. That was her story. But it wasn't quite true.

Joceline had been unsettled and uncertain about going through with the pregnancy at all. There were so many reasons why she should have ended it. But her love for the child's father, who would never know about him, made it impossible to go to a clinic. Such a dangerous, explosive secret she kept.

"I said," Jon repeated impatiently, "do you have the case files downloaded into my notebook computer for the court appearance?"

She blinked. "Sorry. What court appearance?"

He scowled. "The one you said I was going to be late for, the Rodriguez child abduction case. I thought it was next week."

"It is next week," she told him, with pursed lips.

He shook his head. "Just as well," he replied. "Another five minutes of discussion on new hairstyles and I think I'd have gone to the window and jumped out."

She gave him a bland look. "We're on the first floor," she reminded him.

"I meant, I'd have jumped out and hit the ground running," he amended.

"Isn't that what Detective Sergeant Rick Marquez did, when a thief stole his laptop?" she recalled, chuckling. "And he got a citation for indecent exposure because he didn't put on any clothes when he went after the man?" She shook her head. "I understand the police department is still riding him high about it."

He chuckled, too. "Marquez is a conundrum. He'll make lieutenant one day, mark my words."

"I believe it."

The phone rang. She smiled, went out and closed the door.

The next morning, Joceline was almost half an hour late for work. When she came in, there were dark circles under her eyes and stress lines in her young face. She

was only twenty–six, but she looked much older. She put her purse in her drawer and looked up as Jon appeared, impatiently, in his doorway.

"Sorry, sir," she said in a subdued tone. "I overslept."

His black eyes narrowed. "I haven't said much about it, but this is happening pretty often lately."

She flushed. "I realize that. I'm very sorry."

She was conscientious. She wouldn't do menial tasks, like bringing coffee, but she was the most competent paralegal he'd ever known. She did her job, she never goofed off and she did whatever the work required, even staying late without pay if it came down to it. It wasn't like her to party, so if she overslept, it had to be for another reason.

He came to stand in front of the desk. "What's wrong, Joceline?" he asked in a tone so gentle that tears stung her eyes.

She bit her lip to contain them. "Personal problems, sir," she said huskily. She held up a hand when he started to speak. "I can't…discuss them. I'm sorry. I'll try very hard to be on time from now on."

He wondered if her problem was a new man in her life. He didn't like that thought. Then he was surprised that he was thinking it. Joceline was his assistant. Her private life was none of his business. Except that they'd been together for several years and he was concerned about her.

"If you need help," he began.

She smiled stiffly. "Thank you, sir, but I manage very well."

"What do I have on the agenda for today?" he asked, and cleared the way for business.

He was getting ready to leave for lunch with his brother, McKuen Kilraven, when Joceline came to the doorway. She wasn't smiling.

"What's up?" he asked.

She hesitated. "They cut Harold Monroe loose this morning."

He rolled his eyes. "Is my life insurance policy current?" he drawled.

She shook her head. "It isn't funny. I mean, Monroe manages to fumble everything he does, but he did attack a policeman with a Bowie knife when you had him arrested."

It was ironic that another man who'd made terrible threats to Jon earlier in the year had died of a heart attack in prison the day before he was due to be released. Joceline had thought her boss was safe, and had breathed a sigh of relief. But it didn't last. A few days later, Monroe was arrested for human trafficking and charged and swore vengeance against the people who had landed him in jail, including Jon.

"Monroe came at the policeman with a Bowie knife, tripped on the carpet, went head–over–heels and stuck the knife in his own leg," he reminded her with twinkling black eyes. "Then he tried to have the policeman prosecuted for assault."

Meet the Author

The prolific author of more than one hundred books, Diana Palmer got her start as a newspaper reporter. A New York Times bestselling author and voted one of the top ten romance writers in America, she has a gift for telling the most sensual tales with charm and humor. Diana lives with her family in Cornelia, Georgia.

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Merciless 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Jacobville, Texas his mom Cammy and a mob of spousal stalkers want San Antonio FBI agent Jon Blackhawk married. However, he prefers the life of a single an. His efficient assistant Joceline Perry is effective at keeping the she wolves at bay. Joceline raises her son Markie as a single mom. Several townsfolk have pressured her to name the dad, but she refuses insisting he is dead. Though attracted to one another, neither prefers any relationship except a professional one; they even reject the gaming connection both have with his his brother and she with her son. That changes when a killer Harold Monroe seeking revenge attacks Jon and targets Joceline and Markie as expendable pawns to get at the fed. The sequel to Dangerous (Jon's brother Kilraven's tale) is a fast-paced romantic suspense. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing as she is sassy intelligent and he is Texas tough while the support cast adds either humor or tension. Although the murder mystery subplot is thin, the online games show fast information technology turns obsolete, as Diana Palmer provides an entertaining police procedural romance. Harriet Klausner
BookaholicTracy More than 1 year ago
romance the way it's supposed to be written- loved it
ReviewsByMolly More than 1 year ago
I must say this first: WOW! Where on earth have I been that I haven't read a Diana Palmer novel before?! I guess I must have been in a cave, but now I'm out and am SO happy to have read this novel. When I chose it to review, I couldn't wait to jump into it. Boy, was I glad I did, too! Merciless is a wonderfully written novel, and Palmer's characters jump at the reader and hook them into the heart of the story with them. The reader is instantly pulled in and taken on the whirl wind of action, romance and suspense; riding along for the duration. Merciless follows Jon Blackhawk and Joceline Perry. Jon is a 30 year old senior FBI agent and his secretary Joceline is a single mom of a 4 year old little boy with medical issues. And, she harbors a secret. One that could forever change lives around her. Jon is targeted by someone he had arrested...or so he thinks. When clues start arising to the truth of his enemies, will Joceline and Jon be able to solve the mystery? And confess their true feelings for each? Or will secrets, and one mean mama, keep them apart? Each page turn brought new twists and turns, and I couldn't put the book down. I loved the western cowboy feel, the hunky FBI agent, the mysterious suspense and the romance! I highly recommend this a 5 star MUST read for every one who loves suspense, and romance, and those hunky good looking Texans! I am definitely going back to read Dangerous, Jon's brother's story! And, I look forward to being a devoted fan of Ms. Palmer's and reading all her past and future works! Reviewed for: PTA Reviewer Rewards
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Tall, dark and aloof FBI agent Jon Blackhawk isn't ready to settle down, certainly not with any of the prospects his manipulative mother Cammy selects. Fortunately, his administrative Assistant Joceline Perry has his back. She also has a secret she cannot reveal to anyone, especially her good-looking boss. However, when a revenge-seeking criminal targets Jon, his family and Joceline and her son, the two must work together...and try to deny the attraction simmering between them. For five years, Joceline has worked for Jon, determined not to let her feelings for the handsome Cherokee/Lakota man show. Joceline is efficient, indispensable to Jon, and willing to dish out the banter, but she's very private about her personal life. The story she tells people is that Markie's father was a soldier who left for Iraq and never came back. As a single mother of an asthmatic boy who may have ADD, Joceline's number one priority is to Markie, to care for him and protect him as best she can. On the job she has an uncanny ability to ferret out information needed for Jon's cases, but she's adamant about not doing menial tasks such as making coffee-not in her job description. Jon works out of the San Antonio office on the violent crimes squad and specializes in human trafficking crimes, sometimes with his older brother McKuen Kilraven, another federal agent, and Detective Sergeant Rick Marquez. Both Jon and his brother are ultra-conservative. Rumor has it that Jon has never had a woman, but it not for the women's lack of trying. It seems his mother is determined to find a wife for her youngest son, and she knows it's not going to be anyone as immoral as Jon's assistant who has an illegitimate son. Jon meanwhile, is discovering that he's quite attracted to Joceline. When a known criminal, Harold Monroe, is released, threats begin, first toward Joceline and Markie, then toward Jon and his family, and Jon seeks the help of Rourke, who seems to be a mercenary with South African origins, to guard Joceline and Markie. Eventually, Jon decides they'd be safer at his ranch. What Jon doesn't realize is the killer is after more than just Joceline and Markie. Jon is shot and lands in the hospital. Joceline rushes to his side. They return to the ranch where Cammy Blackhawk descends. Finding Joceline there, Cammy vents her rage on Joceline who now realizes any possibility of a life with Jon is but a dream. Cammy's anger sets off an asthma attack in Markie, and she rushes him to a hospital, only to be followed by a repentant Cammy who shares a few secrets of her own. I enjoyed Merciless very much despite a few niggles, namely a plot that has been done and done: a drop-dead gorgeous Texan who happens to be Native American, who happens to be rich as Croesus, who happens to have a spectacular ranch and an opinionated overbearing mother. We are told that Cammy Blackhawk is really a nice person, but in the first half of the story she seems more caricature than character. Then she transforms into a gentle and caring woman. The manner in which Ms. Palmer handled Cammy's confession pulled it from the brink for me. At this point I was invested in both the characters and the outcome. There is much more, but mentioning any of it would be a spoiler. Read the full review at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
The_Book_Diva More than 1 year ago
Can you keep a secret? Are you willing to lie in order to maintain that secret? Joceline Perry must do just that in order to protect her secrets in MERCILESS by Diana Palmer. Joceline works as an administrative assistant at the FBI and is a single mom. Her boss is Jon Blackhawk, an FBI agent, lawyer, and handsome and wealthy young man. Jon knows that he'd be lost without Joceline's assistance and their work relationship is a strange dance in comraderie and teasing. Joceline does her best to protect Jon from his mother's matchmaking and keep him on schedule and well-informed on his cases. Things are going reasonably well for both until a bad guy is released on bail. This is unfortunate because this particular bad guy was arrested for participating in the murder of Jon's sister-in-law and niece a few years ago. Of course the bad guy has threated Jon's life and now Jon winds up being shot. Of course the bad guy threatens Jon's family and co-workers so Joceline and her son must be protected. And of course, nothing remains a secret forever. Regrettably I must be a little "merciless" about MERCILESS. The story was somewhat formulaic and nothing that happened was really a surprise. I didn't like the wealthy boss and penniless and subservient but hardworking worker scheme and felt it was overdone (perhaps my cynicism is showing). Having said that...if you prefer a light, romantic HEA quick read then MERCILESS may work for you.
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This book was ok but not her best and surely not worth the cost she has better.
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judiOH More than 1 year ago
miss diana writes about the men of jacobsville often and we can't wait for the next story about the handsome and virile men of that city. jon blackhawk has sworn never to marry, he has a secretary that is sassy and smart and also a single mother. when jon's life is threatened, joceline helps him to stay safe. then jon realizes she is all he needs in his life. love conquers all! a story as only miss diana can write.
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I have been reading Diana Palmer for years and she never disappoints. Her stories are interesting and very easy to read.
derma7 More than 1 year ago
now i love dpalmer but you wouldn't believe how good this book is!!! i keep rereading this one. Tou have to read it!!!
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