Reading Between the Lines

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Sometimes reality can be hotter than fiction!

Mr. Valentine

by bestselling author

Vicki Lewis Thompson

Romance author Candy Valentine is actually the very rugged, very masculine Jack Killigan. But noboby knows that — including his publisher! So when Jack discovers he's just been signed up to do a book tour, he's stuck . . . until he convinces his best friend, Krysta ...

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Overview

Sometimes reality can be hotter than fiction!

Mr. Valentine

by bestselling author

Vicki Lewis Thompson

Romance author Candy Valentine is actually the very rugged, very masculine Jack Killigan. But noboby knows that — including his publisher! So when Jack discovers he's just been signed up to do a book tour, he's stuck . . . until he convinces his best friend, Krysta Luekenhoff, to be "Candy" for the week. Only, between sharing hotel rooms and reading Jack's steamy novel, Krysta's curiosity is at a fever pitch. Can Jack make love as well as he writes it? There's only one way to find out . . .

Thrill Me

A sassy new story by rising star

Leslie Kelly

Sophie Winchester is the all-American small-town girl — except for her secret life creating mayhem as horror writer R. J. Colt. So when notes for her latest novel land on the desk of police chief Daniel Fletcher, he's convinced someone's out to murder her. How can she tell Daniel she's not in danger — especially when she's so enjoying having Daniel protect her, day and night?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373836338
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Reading Between The Lines


By Vicki Lewis Thompson Leslie Kelly

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-83633-3


Chapter One

Mr. Valentine

"Well, Cat, I hope to hell this is sexy enough."

From her basket next to the computer, a butterscotch tabby watched with an unblinking stare as Jack Killigan packaged up the romance novel he'd just written.

"Had to go back into the old memory bank," Jack continued, "considering it's been a while since I've had any hands-on experience." He scratched behind the cat's ears and looked into her green eyes as she began to purr. "But if you'll pardon me for bragging, I make damn good love on paper. Damn good."

He smoothed the label onto the envelope, running his fingers across the pseudonym he'd chosen for the project. Candace Johnson. Although Manchester Publishing had invited any unpublished novelist to enter a manuscript in its Valentine's Day romance contest, Jack firmly believed a woman stood a better chance than a man.

A chilly dawn forced its way through the drizzle of another November day on Puget Sound. He had just enough time to climb into his coveralls and rain gear, make the wet motorcycle trip to Rainier Paper and clock in at the shipping dock at eight. He'd mail the manuscript on the way.

Krysta would chew his butt again all through lunch about not getting enough sleep. He took off his glasses to massage the bridge of his nose. Then he put them back on and smiled. He doubted that she knew how much he enjoyed the self-improvement lectures she delivered on a regular basis while they shared a lunch table in the company cafeteria. Or how much she'd inspired this latest book.

* * *

Krysta Lueckenhoff walked into the contracts office of Rainier Paper at ten minutes before eight, the first one in the office, as always. She started coffee perking, turned on her computer and straightened the papers on her already neat desk in an effort to quiet the turmoil in her mind. The routine refused to comfort her today. She'd planned so carefully, yet nothing was working out the way she'd hoped. It looked as if she wouldn't be able to afford live-in help for her father in September, after all.

She picked up a framed picture on her desk and brushed a speck of lint from the glass. She'd taken the snapshot the previous June, when all four of her younger brothers had managed to get the day off from their summer jobs to celebrate Father's Day. They'd had a picnic on the beach, her dad's favorite place to eat, and for the picture his sons had lifted him out of the hated wheelchair and propped him against a large piece of driftwood. Then they'd clustered around him, their young, strong bodies obscuring his wasted legs, and for the first time in years, Krysta had caught a glimpse, through the camera lens, of the man her father used to be.

Krysta put the picture down with a guilty start as Rosie Collins came into the office shaking rain from her umbrella.

"Hi, there," Krysta said, flashing a smile.

"Don't put on that fake grin for me." The dark-skinned brunette had become Krysta's friend in the two years they'd worked together in the contracts department. "When I first came in, there was tragedy all over that pretty face. Something's wrong."

Krysta sighed. "After you left last night Juliet called me in and told me she won't accept the vice presidency even if they offer it to her."

Rosie gazed at her with compassion. "Sorry, girl."

"Yeah. That means there's no promotion for Krysta, either." Krysta ran her fingers through her hair. "I can't blame her. She's decided to adopt a child and doesn't want the added responsibility."

"No kidding?" Rosie took a mug from her desk drawer and walked over to pour herself some coffee. "Bancroft's adopting a kid? That's a shocker."

"A little girl from China, no less. It's a very humanitarian thing to do, and you have to admire her for it, but I was so sure she'd accept the vice presidency and I'd get her job. And her paycheck."

"Listen." Rosie walked around behind Krysta's desk and gestured toward the picture of her family. "Ask those guys to help pay for your dad's live-in help. I never thought it was right that you're taking on the whole responsibility in the first place."

"They can't, Rosie. Not and keep going to school, and that's so much more important. Maybe if I request a transfer to marketing, I'll have a better shot at a promotion."

Rosie shook her head. "All this jockeying for position makes my head spin. It wouldn't kill your brothers to sit out a year and -"

"It would kill me. Once out, they might never go back. And education is the key. They have to finish."

"Okay, Mother Teresa." Rosie squeezed Krysta's shoulder and headed back to her desk. "I hope all these guys you're shepherding along appreciate you."

* * *

Jack carried his tray over to the corner table where he and Krysta usually ate and waited while she hung her purse over her chair and took a seat before he settled down himself.

Krysta cast a quick glance over Jack's tray. "Coffee and carrot cake. My good friend, I hope that's not all you're having for lunch."

"Doesn't carrot cake count as a veggie?" He nudged his glasses back into position. He really had to get the broken ear-piece fixed one of these days. Tape wasn't working worth a damn.

"No, carrot cake does not count as a veggie." She positioned her napkin in her lap before giving him a little smile.

"Which you very well know."

He gestured toward his tray. "Actually, this isn't all I'm having."

"Thank goodness for that. A salad would be a very good idea, Jack." She took a dainty bite of hers, a concoction full of things like sprouts and fresh spinach.

"I was thinking in terms of three more cups of coffee. It's made from beans, isn't it?"

Krysta laughed and shook her head, causing her hair to ripple and glint like antique gold under the cafeteria's fluorescent lights. "You're a hopeless case. Clever but hopeless. You need the coffee because you spent another night in front of the tube, I'll bet."

"I did." It wasn't a lie, exactly. Computer monitors and television sets were similar, and he wasn't about to tell anyone about his writing until he'd sold something. He felt more hopeful about that today than he had in a long time. Even he had to admit that his mysteries had been clueless, his horror too tame and his science fiction was on a technical level with Tinkertoys.

"Jack, you have such potential." Krysta dabbed at the corner of her mouth with her napkin. "You may not appreciate my bringing this up, but in high school you pulled down a B average, despite all the partying."

"Maybe it was because of the partying. The grindstone doesn't rub everyone the right way, you know."

"I worked in the school office. I happened to see your SAT scores. Ninety-ninth percentile, Jack. You should be making better use of your brain than muscling paper bales by day and sitting in front of the television by night."

"That sounds like a line from my parents, if ever I heard one."

Her expression turned adorably serious. "If I repeat what your parents say, it's because I happen to agree with them." She put a hand on his arm. "Look, I know it will be hard to go back to college again after so many years, but education is extremely important. Don't you realize your innate intelligence will atrophy if you don't use it?"

He knew he shouldn't tease her, but he couldn't seem to help himself. "I subscribe to Motorcycle Mania. Some of the articles are pretty good." He grabbed a napkin as a sneeze took him by surprise.

"That's another thing. You get no sleep and then you ride around in the rain on that big old Harley of yours, catching colds." She reached down and dug around in her purse.

"Take these," she said, shoving a bottle of vitamin C tablets in his hand.

"No. They're yours." He set them back in front of her tray.

"Please take them. I'll pick up some more, but I know you won't. Maybe that bottle will get you through the worst of the rainy season, although I wish you'd consider buying a car. I'm sure you could qualify for a loan."

"Why would I want a car? They use more gas than my bike."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Reading Between The Lines by Vicki Lewis Thompson Leslie Kelly Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2004

    great

    I really love Vicki Lewis Thompson, so I was excited when I saw this book in the store the other day. I wasn't disappointed. I also was introduced to Leslie Kelly, whose story I also really enjoyed. I'm looking forward to reading many more works of these two authors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2004

    A perfect read

    Mr. Valentine is absolutely adorable. Vivki Lewis Thompson is always a winner and this short story is no exception. Fun, sexy, (did I say sexy <g>) and fast paced. Thrill Me, leslie Kelly's story is soooo good, I wanted it to be it's own full length book. Sophie is hysterical. She's smart, bold, and bitingly witty. As with all of Ms. Kelly's heroes, Daniel oozes sex appeal onto the pages. By the time these two get together, I needed a cold shower. I love Leslie Kelly boooks and always read anything with her name on it. Vicki Lewis Thompson is an extra great treat!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2004

    My Own Personal HOT PICK!

    If you love great dialog and a heroine worthy of her hero, order this book now! Sophie Winchester's sweet veneer hides a wonderfully wicked streak that Daniel Fletcher prefers, even encourages! Matched in wit and big-city attitudes while settled in small-town, USA, they begin burning up the sheets before realizing just how much they have in common--like, well, murder!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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