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Panic Snap
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Panic Snap

3.9 11
by Laura Reese

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Her first novel, Topping from Below, was a cause celebre of erotic fiction. Now, in Panic Snap, Laura Reese once again crosses the boundary between pleasure and pain with a story of extreme sexual obsession and one family's terrible secret.

The accused murderess in a sensational trial, Carly Tyler waits outside a California courtroom as a jury


Her first novel, Topping from Below, was a cause celebre of erotic fiction. Now, in Panic Snap, Laura Reese once again crosses the boundary between pleasure and pain with a story of extreme sexual obsession and one family's terrible secret.

The accused murderess in a sensational trial, Carly Tyler waits outside a California courtroom as a jury decides her fate: Is she the depraved Madame de Sade of the newspaper headlines or the innocent victim of one wealthy family's gothic past? Left for dead by the side of a road fifteen years earlier, she emerged from a coma with no memory and a face completely altered by the plastic surgery need to repair her injuries. Who is she and what happened to her? The trail leads her to a magnificent vineyard and its mysterious owner, James McGuane, a man of wealth and immense sexual charisma who holds the key to her past. But to unlock it, she must risk her life on a terrifying erotic journey that tears apart a dynasty and reveals the truth about an appalling murder.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Wickedly raunchy...suspenseful...charged with carnal energy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Blurring the line between pleasure and pain, Reese wraps a wickedly raunchy tale of sexual obsession and sadomasochism inside a taut, suspenseful thriller...Her prowess in mixing erotica and mystery creates frissons of excitement.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A] highly erotic novel...dangerous sexual appeal.” —Woman's Own

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Blurring the line between pleasure and pain, Reese (Topping from Below) wraps a wickedly raunchy tale of sexual obsession and sadomasochism inside a taut, suspenseful thriller. Transfigured by extensive plastic surgery and hampered by full amnesia, Carly Tyler, 32, has been pursuing her past ever since she was beaten and left for dead on a California roadside 15 years ago. When a magazine photo of one James McGuane provides Carly with a spark of recognition, she decides to get a job at Byblos, the Napa Valley vineyard run by James's family, in an attempt to find clues about her previous life. There, she meets a man so charged with carnal energy that she is immediately and perilously drawn to him. Carly and James's dominant/submissive sexual relationship involves whips and bondage, psychological torture and devotion, all presented by the author at a pace guaranteed to steam up the windows. The nefarious James is quick to figure out who Carly is (or was). He promises to explain a connection between her and his dead wife if she continues to appease him, and he strings Carly along for months while his jealous twin sister, Gina, does nearly everything possible to get rid of her. As memories trickle back, the three characters veer toward a deadly climax that leaves one of them on trial for murder. Reese's workaday prose is burdened by repetitive character descriptions, but her prowess in mixing erotica and mystery creates frissons of excitement. Agent, Barbara Lowenstein. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Panic Snap

Before the Verdict

I must not think about the verdict. I must NOT. But, of course, I do. I can think of nothing else. I keep looking at the clock, watching the time, wondering when the jury will reach a decision. I can see it there, up high, through that narrow slit of a window, plain as day. It's the old-fashioned kind, with a round face and big black numerals and a constantly moving red second hand, ticking off the time. No digital numbers flashing, not on this one. I look again. The red second hand continues its sweep, steady, unrelenting: five hours so far and still no verdict.

Limping from my injuries, I pace back and forth, slowly, from the gray west wall to the locked door and then back again, a short distance, a few steps. The first hour or two wasn't so bad, not really. My lawyers came, gave me a few encouraging words, sat with me for a while. I could tell, despite their words, they had doubts about the outcome, but their presence reassured me. Now, alone, I pace and watch the clock, each hour more difficult than the one before. What do other people think about, I wonder, while they're waiting? What? Mostly, I'mjust scared, and I think about that. When I was first arrested, my lawyers assured me the case would be dismissed, it wouldn't even go to trial. They were wrong. My fate, my life, will be decided by a jury of twelve, but what I've learned, over the years, is that justice doesn't always prevail.

I place my forehead against the wall, just to feel the coolness on my skin, the temperature stone cold and soothing, bringing slight relief to this face newly marred. I'm on the second floor of the courthouse building, a guard outside my door. It's a cell, really, but they call it the waiting room, a kind of holding tank for the soon-to-be-judged. Innocent, I go free; guilty, I stay.

Two guards—I haven't seen them before—walk quickly past my locked door. They glance inside the window as they pass, wanting to catch a glimpse of me, curious to see the woman whose crime made headline news. A sharp tension cuts the air, something almost palpable, as prickly as stinging thorns. The guards wait, as do I, for the verdict. Everyone wants it over with.

Placing both hands on the wall, I feel the cool texture of concrete against bare skin. My fingernails, once long and manicured, painted in reds and pinks, are gone now, chewed to the nubs. Earlier, for lunch, I ate an apple, the only food I could manage to eat. A trickle of juice, very sweet, dribbled down my chin. I didn't wipe it off. Instead, I leaned back against the cell wall, closed my eyes, savored that apple as if it was the first I'd ever tasted. I thought about a happier time, the time I realized I was in love, really in love. We took an afternoon off from the winery and went hiking in the mountains, the air fresh and smelling of rich humus and tree bark. He said I had such a carefree manner, my step blithe and springy, like a young girl on a clandestine adventure,that anyone, just by observation, could tell I thought nothing bad would happen that day. Carefree, blithe, and springy—not words usually applied to me. My hair was blond and clipped short, a style worn by tomboys or gamines, and that morning I wore scuffed tennis shoes and faded blue jeans and a black T-shirt that said, in cotton-candy-pink lettering, "Sweet ... but not innocent." I looked like a teenager from the back, he told me, my body slight, my arms slimly muscled, but as soon as I turned around, anyone could see I was a woman, late twenties, maybe early thirties, hard to tell with a face like mine, he said, smooth, no lines, an unusual face, slightly odd, difficult to describe—and here he stroked my cheek, then added—but with a waifish expression, sweet, innocent, vulnerable too, in those pale blue eyes, inspiring protection, wanted or not. His words took me by surprise. Where others, and I, saw a peculiar coldness in my face, he discovered something else.

That apple made me cry.

I sit down. The trial and stay in jail have taken their toll: dark crescents beneath my eyes, from lack of sleep, give me a haunted look, and a heavy air of defeat seems weighted on my shoulders. My hair, grown a few inches, hangs straight and limp. The judge, from the very beginning, denied me bail, and even though Napa County is on a fast-track court system, I've been in custody for almost three months now. If the verdict comes back guilty, I'll be in prison for years. I'll be an old woman by the time I'm released. I may never get out.

As I think about this, my heart races, pounds. "It's okay, it's okay," I mumble to myself, quietly, over and over. "It's okay." I knead my hands, balled up tight in fists, the knuckles white, into the sides of my thighs. Imprisonment, for years and years. It'salmost too big to think about, too incomprehensible. This shouldn't be happening to me, not on top of everything else. The world will go on, the seasons will change, the sun will rise on a new day. All without me. No sunshine in a prison cell. I close my eyes, try to squeeze back the tears. My fists dig into my legs. Right now, right this moment, I want to believe in God. Save me, God, I pray. Save me from this. But all I get is a sinking feeling that hollows out my chest. Maybe this is what I deserve. I rock slowly on the edge of the chair. Through the narrow window, I see the clock high up on the wall, another hour gone by. I want to scream. I want to cry.

Instead, I get up and begin pacing again, drag myself slowly from one end of the room to the other. I try to divert myself, try to think of other things. I used to wear beautiful clothes, dresses, skirts, tailored suits, classy slacks, skimpy sundresses, lots of clothes in different colors, a rainbow of hues. Now I always wear blue; blue chambray work shirt, faded blue pants—standard jail issue. I've come to hate the color blue. Slowly, I walk back and forth, to the door, to the wall, back to the door again, my shoes beating out a soundless march, my legs and back aching with each painful movement. "It's okay," I say again, even though I don't believe it.

When I think back, I wonder what I could have done to prevent all of this from happening. Almost a year ago, I met the McGuane family. Seven months later, I was in jail. But it began even before that, with a lifelong search I was powerless to stop. At one time, I would have given anything for my questions to be answered, for my search to be successful. There was no price too high. The reality, however, is the forfeiture of my freedom.

Peering out the window, I see guards down the hall, then I check the clock once more. My handsfeel cold, my mouth dry. A few minutes ago, I was sweating; now my palms are clammy. This, I recognize as fear. I swallow, but I have no saliva. This, also, is fear. The time is close, a verdict will come soon. The jury will decide if I am guilty. Suddenly, my skin begins to itch, a frantic call to life, as if all the nerve endings are screaming to be felt. In my ears, the blood pounds, hammers out my panic in a throbbing pulse. "It's okay," I whisper, "it's okay," repeating the words that have become my mantra, my prayer of reassurance, two small words of denial to get me through the day—but it isn't okay. Nothing is okay. I don't want to spend the rest of my life in prison. I was foolish to believe no price was too high. I say it once more, "It's okay," then place my forehead against the gray wall, again feel the cool concrete on bare skin, and wish for a mother, for the warmth of a mother's love, unconditional and always protective. Where is my mother?

I try to think of other things.

A newspaper reporter dubbed me Madame de Sade. And the tabloids, reveling in that sobriquet, pushed it even further—they had me bartering in souls, scourging human flesh, participating in pagan orgies, both bloody and sexual. They turned me into a monster because monsters are easy prey. The truth is much simpler. I came to Napa Valley, to the McGuanes' home, for answers. They didn't know who I was—who I really was—and perhaps the truth is never that simple, but no one was supposed to get hurt, least of all me. Two people changed all that. One tried to be my savior, the other my destroyer. I did not foresee who would bring me down. I did not see it coming. I thought I was smarter, wiser, more cunning than the other. I was wrong.

I look at the clock one more time. Still, there is no verdict. And there is no one with me while I wait, no family, no friends. I sit on a chair and close my eyes. I remember the opening line of a Dickens story I'd read in college: "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." For me, there are no pages, no story for others to see. People will remember what is printed in the newspapers. I will remember what I can. Only one thing is for certain: I am no hero.

PANIC SNAP. Copyright © 2000 by Laura Reese. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y 10010.

Meet the Author

Laura Reese is the author of the critically acclaimed Topping from Below. She lives in Davis, California.

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Panic Snap 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Kimberlia More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but I thought this book a boring read, a dull copycat of Topping From Below. The characters were not unique, as their personalities echoed Nora and Michael's. There was no intrigue, no mystery to the story at all. The sex scenes weren't very interesting, either, as they seemed to be just a continuation of the scenes from Topping From Below. I was disappointed by the author's total lack of originality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a teenager, Carly Tyler is found half buried in a makeshift grave, nearly beaten to death and suffering from a severe case of amnesia. Now, fifteen years later, she is on trial for her life, branded as a Madame De Sade by the local tabloids and accused of murdering two people who may or may not have been responsible for the crimes committed against her so long ago. Thus begins the eagerly awaited new novel by Laura Reese, author of TOPPING FROM BELOW. Still experiencing total amnesia with regards to the earlier part of her life before the brutal attack, Carly accidentally see a picture of James McGuane in a magazine dealing with wine and wineries. The picture immediately starts to tug at the lost memories of her mind. She knows this James McGuane. What she doesn't know, however, is whether he was a friend or possibly the person who tried to kill her. She decides to find out by securing a job at his winery as a cook. One thing quickly leads to another and before you know it, Carly is having an affair with James. It doesn't take him long to figure out who she is, even with the plastic surgery she had after the attack. He eventually agrees to tell her the truth of what happened, but at a price. Carly must agree to submit totally to him in whatever way he demands, both sexually and psychologically. As she falls under his spell and becomes sexually obsessed with him, Carly realizes that her life may once again be in danger, but from James or from his beautiful twin sister, Gena. This novel is filled with one twist after another. The reader is never sure who the villan really is. Will Carly find out the truth and, if so, what will the cost to her be? PANIC SNAP is a sexually explicit novel and not for the prudish or fainthearted. It is also a novel of real suspense. Sometimes Ms. Reese spends a little too much time on describing the clothes that the characters are wearing and the meals being cooked, but at other times her prose is beautiful to read, drawing the reader into the world of darkness, the world of sadomasochistic depravity. It is exciting and tense, and highly recommended. I hope Ms. Reese won't wait another five years to write her next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lilygirl0 More than 1 year ago
This is not your typical erotica. The sex scenes were disconcerting as they were meant to be. The plot was exceptionally good and the turns in it had me guessing right until the end. Great read that was more suspense and psychological thriller than erotica.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The BDSM secrecy is blown wide opened when Laura Reese writes...there is only one explanation...she had to have lived this "lifestyle". Now if only they would put Topping From Below on nookbook. I wait patiently for your next book Laura...don't make me wait too long :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love reading SM and mystery novels. Like Topping From Below, this is both. I was in suspense the whole time I was reading the book. It is one of those books that stay with you after you've read the last page. I'm still going over the details. Laura Reese makes you feel the same way toward her characters, as the characters she writes about. I can't wait for her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Ms. Reese's first novel 'topping from below' and ordered 'panic snap'..... in both she did not let me down......i am new to the lifestyle of BDSM and after reading both books i have a great understanding....thank you Ms.Reese.....for keeping us spellbound with each page.......i await your next novel
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book caught my attention at the very beginning and kept it all the way through, which is rare to find. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is just looking for a good book, that's not boring. You will be surprised!