Straight from the Hip (Lone Star Sisters Series #3)

( 105 )

Overview

Izzy has always been the fearless Titan sister. But when an oil rig blows up, leaving her barely able to see, her sisters find themselves as concerned by her emotional withdrawal as by the possibility that the explosion was no accident. Are the mind games their long-lost brother Garth has been playing turning physical? Or is someone else out to get them?

When her sisters enroll her in a survivor training camp, Izzy is not happy. Nick, her instructor, is determined that she won't...

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Overview

Izzy has always been the fearless Titan sister. But when an oil rig blows up, leaving her barely able to see, her sisters find themselves as concerned by her emotional withdrawal as by the possibility that the explosion was no accident. Are the mind games their long-lost brother Garth has been playing turning physical? Or is someone else out to get them?

When her sisters enroll her in a survivor training camp, Izzy is not happy. Nick, her instructor, is determined that she won't be left in the dark. In more ways than one. But if he tells her the terrible truth behind why he's helping her, he'll never see her again. Unless they're both willing to take the biggest risk of all.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373773831
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Series: Lone Star Sisters Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 145,858
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Mallery

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.SusanMallery.com.

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Read an Excerpt

In the movies there was always a warning before something bad happened. Music swelled, the good guy promised everything would be fine now or the camera suddenly went into slow motion.

Life wasn't so tidy.

Izzy Titan sat in the window seat, as she had every day for the past month, staring out at a blurry world and feeling sorry for herself. While it wasn't a career choice everyone would make, it filled the day. She ignored her sisters' pleas that she join them for lunch or shopping or even come downstairs to dinner. Like a regular person. When it got too annoying, she pointed out she wasn't regular anymore—she was handicapped. If that didn't work, she slammed the door and locked it until they went away. She'd always given everything she had, so she was ready to become the self-pity queen, if necessary.

Finally her sisters stopped bugging her. Which should have been a really big clue.

There wasn't any warning. One minute she was sitting in her usual spot, the next, someone grabbed her around the waist, pulled her to her feet, then tossed her over a very broad, very hard shoulder.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she yelled as blood rushed to her head, making her a little dizzy.

"My job. Go ahead and fight me all you want. You can't hurt me."

It was a challenge she couldn't ignore. But when she tried to kick her attacker, he wrapped one arm around her legs, holding her still. Wiggling didn't help either. The man had muscles like rock and a month of immobilizing self-pity had left her girlishly weak.

"I swear," she began, as the guy turned and started walking. "Do you know who I am?"

"Izzy Titan. Hey, Skye."

Hey, Skye?

Izzy raised her head and tried to make the room focus. Unfortunately it was dark and blurry and she couldn't see any details.

"Skye?" she yelled. "Are you there?"

"Oh, Izzy." Her sister sounded concerned, but not worried. Not afraid. "We didn't know what else to do."

"We?"

"I'm here, too," Lexi, her other sister, said. "This is for your own good."

"Having me kidnapped?"

"Nick comes very highly recommended. You told us that your doctors wanted to put you on an antidepressant, which you wouldn't agree to. This is better."

"What?"

"You wouldn't leave your room or talk to us. It's been a month, Izzy."

"You're having me kidnapped because I wouldn't go shopping with you? Are you insane?"

They moved into the hallway. She could tell because the room got darker and her fingers brushed against the walls. Then they were going down, down, down into more darkness.

Each step jarred her entire body. If she'd had that lunch her sisters were so hysterical about she would be throwing it up, right about now.

"I'm not kidding," she yelled. "Stop this right now. All of you. Nick, I don't care what my sisters said, I didn't agree to this. Put me down or I swear I'll throw your ass in jail for so long, you'll actually learn to enjoy being Bubba's love slave."

"You signed a release," rock-guy said calmly, still moving through the house.

"What?"

"You signed a release. I've got it here in my pocket."

Izzy wanted to scream in frustration as she remembered Skye asking her to sign a few checks so her sister could pay Izzy's bills. "She tricked me. I'm blind! I didn't know what I was signing."

They went outside. She saw the blurry outline of trees and the welcome light and heat of the sun.

"You shouldn't sign what you can't read," Nick told her.

She could hear the humor in his voice and that really pissed her off. Seconds later, he opened a car door and dumped her onto a smooth leather seat. Before he could close the door, she pushed past him and bolted for freedom. She made it all of three steps before he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her against him.

It was like pressing against the side of a mountain. She kicked and tried to pull her arm free. Irritation turned to fury and betrayal. She turned toward the house—at least she could see something that big—and assumed her sisters were on the porch.

"How could you do this to me?" she demanded. "You're my family."

"Izzy, we love you." There were tears in Skye's voice.

Good, Izzy thought furiously. She hoped Skye felt guilty for the rest of her life.

"We didn't know what else to do," Lexi called, sounding less than sure.

"I would never do this to you," Izzy screamed. "Don't think I'll ever forgive you. Ever!"

The last word was cut short as she was tossed back into the rear of a car or SUV. She couldn't tell which. The door slammed shut before she could run again. She lunged for the door handle, only there wasn't one. Nor could she open the windows.

Seconds later she discovered a thick, mesh screening behind the seat and between her and the front of the vehicle. She was trapped.

She heard the door open and vaguely saw Nick slide behind the wheel. Then they were driving away. Her sisters had hired a stranger to take her from her home and do God-knows-what to her. They'd abandoned her. No. This was worse—this was actual action on their part. The two people she'd counted on her entire life had discovered she was too much trouble and had tossed her out like the trash.

For the next three hours, Nick Hollister drove ten miles above the speed limit. He wanted to go faster, but knew he couldn't outrun the inevitable. His pretty, dark-haired passenger was staring out the window with a determination that told him she was about ten seconds from losing it.

"You can cry if you want to," he said. "It won't bother me." He'd seen a lot worse than tears.

Izzy didn't turn toward him. "I won't give you the satisfaction."

"You think I win if you cry?"

"Don't bullies always enjoy knowing they've hurt someone? You didn't win. You can't break me."

She raised her chin as she spoke, instinctively defying him. Good, he thought grimly. She was going to need every ounce of strength she had if she wanted to find her way back. Which was his job—to make sure she did.

"Break you?" he asked, ignoring that she'd called him a bully. He'd stormed into her life and taken her away from everything she knew. Hardly comfortable circumstances. He understood the fear of the unknown, although her unknown was a whole lot more controlled than his had been. "Dramatic much?"

"Hey, you're the one who tossed me into the back of a car."

"SUV."

"Whatever. This is kidnapping. I get to be however I want."

"Your sisters know where you are and what will happen when you get there."

"And I should find that comforting why?" She swallowed. "Don't even talk to me."

He heard the fear in her voice. He could see it in the way she kept herself stiff. Behind fear was terror and while he wanted her attention, he didn't need it that bad.

"My name is Nick Hollister," he said, using the same tone that calmed unbroken horses. "I run a school that teaches corporate survival training. That pays the bills. I also take in kids who have suffered a traumatic loss or been victims of a violent crime. I teach them how to survive in my world. That helps them cope with their own."

Izzy stared out the window, obviously ignoring him. He wondered how much she could actually see.

"Your sisters asked me to take you on for a few weeks, to help you adjust to being blind."

"I'm not blind," she snapped. "I have thirty percent of my sight."

"You're acting like you're blind," he told her. "You've been hiding in your room for a month."

"It's not like I can do anything else."

"Your life is over? Because of one little challenge? That's impressive."

"Shut up," she yelled. "You don't know what you're talking about. You can see fine."

"Wouldn't it be interesting if I couldn't?" He swerved slightly as he spoke. The SUV swayed. Izzy didn't bother looking up.

"Very funny."

"I thought it was," he said. "Look. They care about you. Your sisters," he added, in case she wasn't following.

This time she did glance at him, only to roll her eyes. The hazel irises were unmarred by her injury. "I'm more than capable of carrying on a conversation. I'm probably smarter than you."

"I doubt that."

"Oh, please."

"How smart is sitting on your ass, feeling sorry for yourself?"

She straightened and glared at him. "I was in an explosion," she said, speaking slowly, as if to make sure he would understand. "I could have been killed."

"But you weren't."

"I was seriously injured and I lost most of my eyesight."

"Which you could get back tomorrow if you weren't such a girl about the surgery."

He glanced in the rearview mirror in time to see her narrow her gaze.

"A girl?" she asked softly.

"Yeah. You know. Chicken. Lacking in bravery."

"That's it!" she yelled. "Let me out, right here. Let me out or I swear, I'll kill you myself. I'll rip you apart with my bare hands and feed your body to the snakes."

"Snakes wouldn't eat human flesh."

"Shut up!"

"Skye didn't say anything about you being hysterical."

"Let me out!"

"No."

She grabbed the mesh screening and rattled it, but it had withstood a lot more than a scrawny woman without much muscle on her.

"She did warn me you would be difficult," he said. "I charge extra for that."

Izzy sank back in the seat and resumed staring out the back window.

"If you won't have the surgery, then you have to survive with what you have," he told her. "That's where I come in. I teach you how to make it. You're staying with me until you can be on your own."

"What if I don't want to be on my own?"

"You think your sisters want you hanging around all the time? They have lives. You're what? Twenty-five? Twenty-six? You ready to give up so fast?"

"Go to hell."

"I've already been there."

He turned onto the familiar paved, private road and drove toward the two-story main house. He'd bought the run-down ranch nearly eight years before. Neighboring ranchers leased his pasture for their cattle, while he used the twenty acres of wilderness for his retreats. He kept a dozen horses in the big barn and had built several guesthouses where clients stayed. There were meeting facilities, a restaurant-grade kitchen that could serve up to fifty at a time and a big media room that rivaled a multiplex.

Not that Izzy would deal with much more than the barn. He planned to work her hard enough that she didn't have time to feel sorry for herself. The little he knew about her told him she would fight him every step of the way, but he didn't care about that. He would win, as she put it, in the end because he had to.

He parked in front of the house and turned off the engine.

"We're here," he said in the silence.

Izzy folded her arms across her chest and stared out the window.

"When I let you out, you can run if you want. We're about a mile from our closest neighbor and ten miles from the nearest town. But if you want to go looking, I won't stop you. The temperature is close to a hundred. Without water, you'll last maybe three days. Assuming you don't get bit by a rattler and die sooner."

"Oooh," Izzy said, still not looking at him. "I'm all tingly with fear. Want to threaten me with whips and chains next?"

"I don't usually work with adults, but I've made an exception for you. Don't think this is going to be easy. You'll work for your room and board. No work, no food."

She snapped her head around until she was facing him. "My sisters are paying you. You can't starve me."

He grinned. "I can do anything I want. I'm not the one who's blind."

"Fuck you."

"You're not my type."

If there hadn't been mesh between them, Izzy would have scrambled over the seat and gone after Nick with everything she had. He was so smug and mean and dismissive. Didn't he know what she'd been through? She'd lost most of her sight. It was easy to be oh, so confident when you hadn't suffered. She would bet Nick didn't know anything about being afraid.

She hated him and right now she hated her sisters. It was hard to say who she resented more. Anger burned within her, making her want to lash out. The problem was there wasn't anyone she could fight. At least not yet.

Nick climbed out of the SUV and walked around to her side. The door opened. She felt the blast of afternoon heat on her skin.

She wanted to be back at Lexi's house, in the cool room with the window seat. Over the past month, the four walls had been a refuge. But her sisters had sent her away. She was on her own.

She slid out of the seat and followed Nick into a large house. The second they walked inside, the light dimmed and so did her ability to see. The world darkened until it was little more than blurry shapes.

"This is the main house," he said. "You'll be sleeping upstairs. First door on the left. There's an attached bathroom. You'll find your luggage there. You can unpack later. This is the living room. We don't use it much. Through here is the kitchen."

She knew from his voice he'd moved away, but had trouble seeing. She managed to follow him, only to bump into a table and then trip on a single step he hadn't bothered to mention. She tried to catch herself, but there was too much momentum. The ground raced toward her.

A familiar strong arm grabbed her around the waist and jerked her to her feet.

"Maybe you should use a cane," he said.

"Maybe you should warn me about stairs."

"You'll figure it out."

"That's it?" she demanded. "Let's pause for a moment, because your incredible concern is making me all teary-eyed. I fell."

"I know. So what? You're going to fall. Then you're going to get up and move on. Or are you the type to just lie there, feeling sorry for yourself? Never mind. I already know the answer."

She wanted to tell him she wasn't like that. She was the one who climbed mountains and jumped out of airplanes and swam with sharks. She didn't believe in self-pity or giving up. At least she hadn't until the explosion.

"You don't understand," she told him.

"You sure about that?"

She heard footsteps, but couldn't tell the direction. Who else was here and what would he or she want from her?

"Oh, you're back. Good. I have papers for you to sign, Nick. And you must be Izzy. I've heard so many wonderful things about you."

The man reached for her hand and shook it. His fingers were nearly as soft and smooth as Skye's or Lexi's.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 105 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(30)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 24, 2009

    Great conclusion

    Wonderful ending...can't wait for the book on the brother.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    You will love this one!

    I'm a huge fan of Susan Mallery, and this book is another one of her great ones. It's part of a series, so you must read this one and the two that precede it. Her writing and her stories will capture you and you'll have a hard time putting this one down. Hope all of you enjoy it as much as I did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    Love all her books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    ANOTHER GREAT LONE STAR SISTERS BOOK

    The books in this series just gets better and better...you will love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Fun read

    Best in the series so far, a good read but not on the same level as Lisa Kleypas who I highly recommend.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book

    I found Izzy and Nick's story in this series to be entertaining and delightful. I loved how they showed their true selves to each other. At the end of the day, they find their way back to each other and life goes on. I enjoyed the book and found it hard to put down. Much better than Skye's story. I definitely can't wait to read Garth's story to find out how this series ends.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    Fave So Far in Series

    This was my favorite of the series so far (have not read book #4 yet). I think Izzy's character, and the personal journey she is on was an amazing story. As was the personal journey of the primary male character, Nick. The personal story lines for both characters was endearing and the building relationship between them warmed my heart. I was rooting for them in love, life, and all ways possible from the beginning to the end of the book. I loved how she left the ending, leading to the fourth book and I cannot wait to read Dana and Garth's story. what an amazing, amazing, amazing book!

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Third in the series

    The first two were my favorites. This one was a bit tedious to me. But I like the sisters and the story. The romance in this one was just so so.

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  • Posted September 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book!

    This is the third in the series and just as great as the first two (Under Her Skin#1) and (Lip Service#2).Izzy is the younger fearless sister,but when a oil rig blows up leaving her barely able to see, her sisters come together to find away to help her.And at the same time try to find out if their long lost brother had somthing to to with it. Hes been out to get them since book one but would he really go that far.Nick, Izzy's instructor trys to help her but at the sametime he has secrets of his past and scared if she know's he would lose her.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    Susan Mallery's writing style can not be beat!

    This book is a second in a trilogy but stands alone. I look forward to anything Susan writes. Her books have a great grasp of present time relationship issues.

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    ANOTHER GREAT LONE STAR SISTERS BOOK!!!!

    AS THE THIRD BOOK OF THIS SERIES ,IT MET MY EXPECTATIONS AS ALL OF THE OTHER LONE STAR SISTERS SERIES BOOKS. LOOKING FORWARD TO THE LAST BOOK IN THE SERIES FOR THE FINAL OUTCOME!!!!

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    Best of the Series so far!

    Love the first 2 books of this series and this one was even better than those 2! Can't wait for the 4th one!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book

    I liked this book because of the characters and story. If you haven't read any of the Lone Star Series books, you will learn about the characters in this book. The ending was short and abrupt, which I didn't like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2009

    Trite

    It's so obvious what is coming in Book 4, and I can wait. Parts of this one were really good, but I never sensed the author had dealt with disabilities. I think Catherine Anderson would have done better with this plot. I was very annoyed that the financial side of all these issues disappeared. The father of these daughters is getting less believable with each passing story.

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  • Posted August 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    It's more than a love story, it's about why love is important!

    An amazing cast of characters and an extremely powerful and potent love story as only Susan Mallery can write! This is the youngest sister's Izzy's story where in Lip Service we learn Izzy has been involved in an explosion which has caused her severe vision problems. On top of that, her new found step brother is thought to be the cause as he wants not only to take down her father but the three Titan sisters as well.

    I can't say enough positive things about this series, The Lone Star Sisters. Once you begin to read them you'll certainly understand and each book keeps one wanting more which surely is a sign of how talented Susan Mallery is and what's made her loved by this particular reader and reviewer and put her on the New York Times Bestseller list.

    Izzy of all the Titan sisters seems the most spirited so when she's kidnapped by the strong, sexy Nick and taken to his ranch, she feels "like she's been tossed out in the trash". How could her sisters do this to her? She can't see, has no home or inheritance like her sisters and now a stranger is taking her, trying to talk her into having surgery which could leave her blind and on top of everything else wants her to work on his ranch taking care of his horses.

    The cast of characters from Nick, to his gay PA Aaron, his cook and Rita who is in charge of the stables, are quite the group. Then add to the mix her horrible father Jed Titan, her out for revenge brother Garth who has a friendship with Nick, her beautiful sisters, Lexi and Skye and friend Dana, its fabulous is all I can say.

    Life has dealt Izzy lemons in the form of a father who only wants to use her, a dead mother whom when alive never gave her the time of day and now she could possibly live in darkness for the rest of her life even if she has the surgery. However, she turns everything into lemonade and on top of it all falls in love with Nick who has secrets and is tormented by his past.

    It's more than a love story; it's a story about why love is important. As Mallery says "love is the only thing that makes us strong. It's all that matters in the end. Who we love and who loves us."

    When Nick and Garth's past are revealed it makes one understand why it's hard for Nick to love but only casts more mystery on Garth and why he's out to hurt his sisters even though it's not hard to understand why he wants to take Jed Titan down. However, in the end one gets a glimpse of what the fourth book in the series, Hot on Her Heels is going to be about and I can't wait!


    Marilyn's Romance Reviews

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Really a good book

    As always Susan writes a book you can`t put down,Really enjoyable.

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  • Posted May 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A thrilling romantic suspense thriller

    The oil platform explosion left Izzy Titan with only 30% sight and mentally shattered; she had been the daredevil of the three Titan sisters and now she lives in shadowy fear. Making her even more frightened is the fact that she believes her half-brother Garth deliberately caused the incident and he will return to finish the job. Still she has to decide on a risky surgery that could restore her sight or leave her permanently blind.-----------------

    Izzy's concerned sisters Skye and Lexi hire survivor training specialist Nick Hollister to abduct their sibling; he takes her to his ranch. Irate by his cavalier attitude, Izzy lets Nick know what she thinks of him although she quietly tells herself she is attracted to the hunk. Nick feels the same way about Izzy especially as he watches her working with his horses; however regretfully he has ties to Garth. --------------

    The third Titan romantic suspense thriller (see Skye in LIP SERVICE and Lexi in UNDER HER SKIN) stars the traumatized Izzy and a man who admires her courage. Their relationship is heat and biting as they are attracted to one another, but she amusingly rips his skin for being part of her sisters' plot. When he insists he loves her; she calmly claims he is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. With Garth still causing trouble, fans will relish this fine entry as Nick must explain himself to the siblings and the woman he loves; none will listen to him. --------------

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews

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