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So what in the world was that noise?
She'd only been gone twenty minutes—long enough to drop her son off at preschool and return home. Each tick tightened her nerves, winding them with more tension than a spring.
Lincoln must have left the timer going on one of his toys, she realized. Didn't that windup dragon make a similar sound? Yes, it did.
Madison let out an airy laugh, shook her head and closed the door, shutting out the bright rays of sunshine from outside. Of course, one of her son's toys was to blame. What else did she think it was? A bomb? She chastised herself again for her out-of-control imagination.
Out of habit she clicked the lock on the front door into place. Being a single mom for the past three years, she tried to err on the side of caution. After depositing her purse and keys on the marble-topped table in the foyer, she glanced at her watch and saw she only had one hour before she had to meet with her next client. She had to get showered and changed out of her yoga pants and T-shirt—and fast.
As she started down the hallway toward the bedroom in her ranch house, the ticking intensified. She paused at the bathroom door. Was that where the sound came from? Reaching inside the bathroom, she flipped on the lights. Her blue-and-yellow lighthouse-themed room came into view. On the bathroom counter between the faucet and the soap dispenser sat her son's old-fashioned egg timer. Had Lincoln actually taken her advice to brush his teeth for two minutes this morning? Perhaps he'd accidentally set the clock for longer.
She picked the plastic device up, noting it was set to chime in twenty minutes, and twisted the handle until the bells jangled. Her nerves seemed to stretch tighter at the sound.
But if her son had set the timer before they'd left this morning, why hadn't she heard anything? She remembered their rushed departure. The TV had been on, Lincoln had been singing his favorite preschool song, and she had been frantically trying to urge him out the door.
Her schedule was tight today and she couldn't afford to even start it a minute late, knowing if she did her tardiness would have a domino effect and put her behind on all of her appointments.
She tossed the timer into a drawer that overflowed with hairbrushes and toy boats, and then hurried across the hall to the spare bedroom-turned-office. Finding her calendar, she checked her schedule one more time and reviewed her assignments for the day. Just seeing the jam-packed list made her feel weary. But she had to squeeze in as much work as possible. Making ends meet as a single parent was becoming harder and harder.
She closed the calendar and, wasting no more time, went into the master bathroom. After showering she towel dried her shoulder-length honey-blond hair and threw on some khakis and a button-up white top. Five minutes later she'd applied make up, grabbed her camera from her office and started down the hall. She had fifteen minutes to get to her appointment. Time would be tight, but she could do it.
She froze midway down the hall and placed a hand on her hip.
What was that sound?
She shook her head. It couldn't be
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
Fear pricked her skin.
The timer? She'd turned it off. Thrown it in the drawer.
Was she hearing things? The sound was subtle, subdued. Maybe the device had started again in the drawer? The thing was cheap, often turning off in the middle of one of Lincoln's time-out sessions. Had it turned on by itself now?
She sighed and stepped back into the hallway bathroom. Flipping on the light, she yanked the drawer open and found the timer exactly where she'd thrown it. She picked it up and shook her head. Cheap thing. It had been free, sent as a part of an advertising campaign for some new company in town. What was that slogan? Don't Let Time Run Out on Our Special? Clever.
Before she could twist the plastic white timer off, the bell jangled.
Madison jumped, dropping her camera bag onto the tiled bathroom floor. Papers detailing today's work scattered all over the room. Hand over her heart, she laughed at herself. Silly woman. Jumping at nothing.
She dropped the timer back into the drawer, shaking her head. Why was she so skittish? And over something so silly?
She caught a glance of herself in the mirror over the sink, noting the circles under her eyes. She'd been working too much lately, worried too much about finances. She leaned toward her reflection and wiped a streak of mascara under her eye. As she turned to leave, something in the mirror caught her eye.
She glanced at the reflection of the shower curtain behind her.
Her heart froze.
A man stood there, a knife in his hand. Before she could scream, he grabbed her.
Brody Philips always considered sweat a good measure of hard work. If that was the case, then his jog this morning should earn him a vacation. He continued on his ten-mile run, nearly finished now. The hot and muggy day couldn't even be eased by the gentle breeze that floated from the Chesapeake Bay.
The part of the Bay he lived by wasn't the sandy beach area. Instead, marsh grasses jutted up and little streams filled with tadpoles and crabs meandered between the foliage. Herons and egrets made their homes in the sun-bleached wetland area. Finally the grasses subsided until the glorious blue of the bay shone in the distance.
His house—actually, his cousin's house that had been kindly loaned out to Brody for the next several months while his cousin was stationed with the army in the Middle East—stood in the distance. He passed the home of his one and only neighbor on the secluded street.
He'd met her once. Madison Jacobs. She'd come over that first week after he'd moved in to introduce herself. She seemed nice enough and certainly she was easy on the eyes. But Brody hadn't moved here to make friends, not even acquaintances, really. He'd moved here to get away from everything about his past in New York.
The secluded little Virginia town was the perfect spot for his self-imposed hiatus from his old life. He'd taken a job as a detective for the county's sheriff's department, one that was considerably slower paced than his former position in the Big Apple. Aside from his job, he avoided most of the townspeople when possible and whenever he needed a dose of anonymity, he visited the nearby city of Newport News or headed to Virginia Beach.
His neighbor had seemed to take the hint and hadn't bothered him since that first introduction when he'd moved in. The woman—pretty with her sun-kissed skin, natural blond hair, and sparkling blue eyes—would smile tightly and wave as she passed him in her SUV coming and going. The action wasn't overly exuberant, but appeared to be more of a forced courtesy.
Perhaps he should have been friendlier when she'd rung his doorbell, toddler and cookies in tow. He'd taken one look at her and known that getting to know her better would be way too tempting. Instead, he'd done the opposite and offered as little information about himself as possible before insisting he was in the middle of something so she'd go home. Her eyes had changed from friendly to perceptive and then annoyed as he'd closed the door. Good. It was better that way.
As his feet hit the dusty road, rocks crunching beneath him, a sharp, high-pitched sound split the air.
Brody slowed his pace and wiped the perspiration around his face with the bottom of his T-shirt. Was that a scream? Or was it the shrieking call of one of the marsh birds?
He glanced at Madison's house. Her car was in the driveway, but he didn't see her anywhere. She must be inside, either chasing her toddler or doing some work. He couldn't be positive, but his best guess was that the woman worked at home.
His jog slowed to a walk, and he kept his ear attuned for any more sounds. Nothing. He must have imagined the earlier noise.
He tried to be satisfied with that, but he wasn't convinced. He was a detective. His finely trained instincts told him to stay on guard.
Something crashed in the distance. The sound had definitely come from Madison's house. His muscles tensed. He should go back to his house, get his gun. But everything in him screamed to get to her house, that time couldn't be wasted.
He ran across crunchy grass toward his neighbor's brick ranch. His gaze scanned the house as he approached. Nothing appeared out of place. The closed shades made it impossible to see inside.
He crept onto the wooden porch, grabbing a baseball bat left on a rocking chair. Slowly he twisted the brass handle of the front door.
Something else crashed inside. A woman cried out.
He pictured Madison's pretty face and imagined the horrors that might be going on inside. Adrenaline surged in him. He backed up and, on the count of three, charged forward. His shoulder impacted with the door. Wood split, cracked, then crashed.
The foyer stood before him. Dust and wood particles settled to the tile floor. Then an eerie quiet filled the space.
"Hello? Anyone home?" Brody stepped over the door, his ears attuned for any telltale signs. Bat in hand, he peered around the corner into the hallway.
A shadow passed by a door in the distance.
Sucking in a deep breath, he braced himself for whatever was to come.
Posted October 30, 2012
This book is well written. However like a lot of suspense novels and movies when the characters do something that is so not realistic I find it to difficult to carry on. But I decided to read the entire book. Like I said very well written. I appreciate the lack of offensive language. So I will keep this author. But when the killer successfully breaks into the home and tells her she is now a messenger did not make sense to me. So I have issues with the plot. Also typical of these kinds of suspense if a person is being stalked they take protective realistic measures. There are too many alarm systems that could have been installed that would have alerted anyone that an intruder was somewhere close. Driveway alarms, portable alarms. Etc. They are easy to come by. So let's keep the stories real. And who runs off by themselves when they know that a very ingenious stalkers seems to know their whereabouts at all times. The ending was too abrupt and too typical of endings. But a very well written book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2012
When searching for a suspect, sometimes the closer to home you look is the best plan. Madison Jacobs, a widowed mother of a son lives in a sleepy little Virginia town where everyone trusts everyone else. When a new neighbor moves in next door, she takes the proverbial casserole along with her welcome to him. He seems aloof and not interested in small talk. That’s a big enough hint for Madison. Unknown to Madison, her neighbor Brody Phillips has left New York City and is now a sheriff’s deputy in town. Their boy-meets-girl first encounter grows into something meaningful between Madison and Brody. When an attempt is made on Madison’s life, Brody thwarts it. Christy Barritt leaves clues along the way as did Hansel and Gretel, but the reader probably won’t know for sure till the last few pages who the predator is and why. Barritt is a master of suspense.
Posted April 2, 2012
The tick, tick, tick is the only thing amiss in Madison Jacobs’ home before a masked intruder lunges out of the shower and attacks.
Her screams bring Brody Phillips, her next-door neighbor and a sheriff’s department detective, but the tick is marking the last moments of Madison’s life before he breaks down the door to her home and saves her. Her assailant has vanished.
Madison is a young widow with a son and Brody can’t seem to find a reason why someone would want to kill her. But then he wonders if two murders in the small town recently are connected to the attack on his neighbor. Is there a serial killer on the loose?
Believe it when you see Race Against Time is a Love Inspired Suspense. Christy Barritt knows how to keep readers on edge. Madison continues to be pursued by the man who expects one day to finish what he expected to do with her the first time.
Brody, recently transplanted from New York, not only is alert for possible murder suspects, but also for women who would like to put a collar on his neck and lead him to the marriage altar. Yet his protective instincts make him throw himself into the case and keep an eye on this beautiful young mother. After all, she’s his neighbor.
A former editor, Christy Barritt takes her writing seriously. To help provide accuracy for her crime stories, she’s been through a citizen’s police academy, as well as the FBI citizen’s academy. One of her friends is a medical examiner and a source when she needs a credible forensics report in her fiction.
Barritt is a good writer who knows how to weave suspense.
I highly recommend Race Against Time.
Posted April 2, 2012
If you are a fan of suspense, you don't want to miss this book. I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. The small town setting and characters are engaging. The romance element springs up naturally and had me pulling for the main characters until the conclusion.
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Posted April 1, 2012
Race Against Time hooked me from page one and I would've read it in one sitting if I'd had the time. It had the perfect balance of suspense and romance and kept me entertained to the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 31, 2012
Guys wouldn’t be caught dead reading romantic suspense novels. Right?
Maybe not most guys, anyhow, but when it’s as good as Christy Barritt’s new book, Race Against Time, they ought to give this genre-or at least Christy’s book-a well considered second thought. Women shouldn’t be the only ones who get to enjoy a read like this one.
When Race Against Time arrived, I took a quick peek at the first page, intending to set it aside and get back to what I’d been working on before the mail came.
My intentions failed miserably.
Christy had done the first thing every writer is supposed to do. And something few writers do very well. She hooked me with the beginning sentence. Nothing like a mysterious ticking to make even a guy curious.
Then she did the second thing a good writer tries to do: She captured and held my attention so completely for the rest of that paragraph and page that I flipped over and kept on reading, stopping only when my wife insisted that supper was more important.
I wasn’t sure I agreed.
I finished my reading that night and would’ve stayed up late to do it if I’d needed to.
At no point did Christy disappoint. Although I had strong suspicions about the identity of the villain, Christy presented such strong evidence against the possibility of it being him that I’d changed my mind until that climactic moment when she removed all doubt. And even though I had an early premonition about the connection between two things I won’t go into here and spoil your reading, Christy really surprised me with the way the two were connected. And that helped to solve a problem in a way I hadn’t anticipated.
Some women write what I would consider disgustingly sappy romance.
I found Christy’s depiction of the romance between Madison and Brody to be quite acceptable, however. I suppose it’s inevitable that a protective hero and an endangered heroine are going to fall in love, especially when both have reasons to avoid it and make a convincing effort to stay out of one another’s arms.
I’m quite fond of inspirational fiction, but I realize not everyone feels the way I do. However, I don’t recall anything “preachy” in this book-just some honest sharing of thoughts and feelings about Christianity.
Although I’m not familiar with all of Christy’s books, Race Against Time is the best of the ones I’ve read. Highly recommended-for women. . .and men.
Posted April 20, 2012
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Posted May 2, 2012
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