Truth or Dare

Truth or Dare

4.6 55
by Jayne Ann Krentz

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The New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz is at the top of her game with Truth or Dare.


The New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz is at the top of her game with Truth or Dare.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz makes quite a case for both romance and suspense in her second hot and hard-hitting tale about the psychic interior designer and the hardheaded P.I. she introduced in her New York Times bestseller Light in Shadow.

Like many people, Zoe and Ethan both came to the beautiful desert community of Whispering Springs, Arizona, for a fresh start, but their past followed them. Trust and love blossomed during the life-and-death case Zoe hired Ethan to solve. Now the newlyweds are finding that, while the danger that brought them together may be past, giving what started as a sham marriage a real chance isn't as easy as they both hoped it would be. Secrets, new and old, challenge their commitment to blending their very different styles…and their marriage, their businesses, and their friends are all at risk. When Zoe finds shadows of madness clinging to her work in the coveted Designers Dream House project, she fears that breaking and entering and stalking are only the beginning of a new nightmare. And soon she and Ethan are searching for the truth amid an intricate web of potentially deadly, dark designs, where victim, method, and motive are all in shadow…and the danger grows with every breath. Sue Stone

Publishers Weekly
Zoe Luce, psychic interior decorator, has finally settled down to domestic life in Whispering Springs, Ariz., with private investigator Ethan Truax after their tempestuous courtship in Krentz's previous romantic thriller, Light in Shadow. However, sinister cobwebs of energy confront her when she enters certain rooms, threatening to make her lose her tenuous grip on sanity. Meanwhile, Arcadia Ames, Zoe's old friend from Candle Lake Manor Psychiatric Hospital, fears the husband she sacrificed her identity to escape has finally tracked her down. Krentz never fully explains exactly why Grant, Arcadia's husband, wants her dead, relying instead on facts revealed in Light in Shadow. Indeed, from beginning to end, this sequel feels more like an appendix to the last book than a novel in its own right, as Krentz forgoes a strong central plot to focus on the kind of warm and fuzzy details about Zoe and her Whispering Springs friends that most novels relegate to the epilogue. She fattens the story with pizza dinners, heartfelt talks and proffered slices of lemon meringue pie, but scrimps when the action picks up and offers limp, far-fetched conclusions to the book's various subplots. Though no one will begrudge the goodhearted characters from Whispering Springs their tasty tidbits, in her rush to get to the happy endings, Krentz leaves readers hungry for a more substantial story. Author tour. (Jan. 5) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this romantic suspense novel, a sequel to Light in Shadow, newlyweds Zoe Luce and Ethan Truax, who were brought together when he found the murderer of her first husband, are settled in Whispering Springs, AZ, trying to make their marriage work. Zoe is threatened by a stalker who knows all about her, and her best friend, Arcadia, is also in danger. With the help of Ethan, a private detective, they find the truth about their situations and tie up some loose ends from the earlier book. Reader Joyce Bean is a competent and smooth narrator. With a fast-paced plot and many story lines, this work is recommended for popular fiction collections.-Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
What is it about November? And about sequels? There are sunny skies over Whispering Springs, Arizona, yet everyone's unhappy. Even though Zoe Truax is psychic, she can't figure out why her handsome new hubby, p.i. Ethan Truax, has the blues. Oh-his brother was murdered in November. Right. Just when Zoe was thinking that she, an escapee from a sinister loony bin, and he, a three-time loser at wedded bliss, might make a go of their hasty marriage, everything is going haywire. They're remodeling Nightwinds, his desert house, and roughing it in a nearby cheesebox apartment complex run by insanely perky manager Robyn, who's a stickler for the rules-and really getting on Zoe's nerves. Ethan, meantime, can't shake his bleak, edgy mood. Lots of edgy sex does seem to help, thank you, but daily vitamins, organic muesli, and intimate chats don't seem to help. Zoe's psychic abilities, however, still work when it comes to interior decorating. She just might land a lucrative contract to decorate the house of wealthy meditation guru Tabitha Pine, but there's competition: glamorous, bitchy Lindsey Voyle. On with the plot! Ethan broods, Zoe frets, and someone from the past shows up: Arcadia Ames, Zoe's fellow patient at Candle Lake Manor. Arcadia had had herself committed to fool her murderous husband Grant, who is still on her trail. But who's stalking Zoe? Perky manager Robyn, driven batty by a brain tumor? Maybe. What else is going on in Whispering Springs? Well, Mayor Paloma Santana hopes to clear the name of her dead grandmother, who, a humble housekeeper, was accused decades ago of murdering her employer, famous author Walter Kirwan, to inherit his house, though some said his agent did him in. Couldvaluable unpublished manuscripts lie hidden in that very house? A lackluster showdown between an academic expert on Kirwan and a rare-book dealer awaits. Ethan, playing Nancy Drew in male drag, finds conclusive evidence by using nothing more than a common screwdriver. Four trite plots for the price of one, from the ever-popular author of Light In Shadows (2002, etc.). Author tour. Agent: Steven Axelrod

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Whispering Springs Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Jayne Ann Krentz


Copyright © 2003 Jayne Ann Krentz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-399-15073-0

Chapter One

He hated cases that ended the way this one was going to end. Ethan Truax closed the file folder and placed his hands on the small round table. He regarded the man sitting in the undersized hotel room chair across from him.

"You're sure these numbers are solid?" he asked neutrally.

"Absolutely." Dexter Morrow smiled his reassuring investment adviser's smile. It did nothing to conceal the calculating expression in his eyes. "I took them straight off Katherine's personal laptop last night after she went to sleep."

"You did say that you were close to the boss."

Morrow chuckled. It was the kind of man-to-man laugh that you heard in locker rooms and bars. "Real close. I can tell you from personal experience that she's almost as good in bed as she is at running her company."

Ethan managed to keep his face expressionless but it was not easy. He was here to get the job done for the client, not to defend her honor.

Outside the window the Arizona sun shone down on the hotel's blue-tiled pool and lounge area. It was warm and bright, the kind of day that made the state famous. But in here there was a chill in the air, and it was not coming from the air conditioner.

Morrow casually cocked one ankle on his knee. The collar of his pricey, cream-colored polo shirt was edged with a thin black stripe. The shirt complemented the designer-label trousers and Euro-leather loafers. A gold Swiss watch gleamed on his wrist.

Dexter Morrow had it made. He worked in a plush office, played golf in the middle of the week and entertained his clients in expensive places such as the Desert View Country Club. He was a winner here in Whispering Springs.

Ethan was about to take it all away from him.

"All right," Ethan said quietly, more than ready for the endgame. "We've got a deal."

Morrow glanced at the aluminum-sided suitcase that sat on the floor beside Ethan's chair. "You brought the cash?"

"Small bills, as agreed." Ethan reached down, grasped the handle of the suitcase and shoved it across the carpet toward Morrow.

In a world where money could be transferred around the globe in the blink of an eye with computers, hard cash in a suitcase was still the transfer method of choice for those who did not want to leave any electronic tracks for the Feds or the SEC to uncover.

Morrow picked up the suitcase and hoisted it onto the table. Ethan could tell that he was trying to appear cool but he was not doing a very good job of it. Morrow's fingers shook a little when he unsnapped the locks. The guy was excited.

Morrow raised the lid and looked at the stacks of neatly banded bills. Near-feverish anticipation radiated from him in heavy waves that in another man might have been mistaken for a sick lust.

"You want to count it?" Ethan asked softly.

"That would take too long. I've got to get back to the office. I don't want anyone to start asking questions." Morrow reached into the suitcase. "I'll just do a random check."

Ethan got to his feet and put some distance between himself and the table. You never knew how a man would react when he realized he'd been cornered.

Morrow riffled through a stack of crisply cut blank paper bundled beneath the single real twenty-dollar bill. For a couple of seconds he did not appear to understand what had happened. Then comprehension struck. His tanned face flushed a dark red. He swung around to face Ethan.

"What the hell is going on here?" he snarled.

The bathroom door opened. Katherine Compton walked out.

"I was just about to ask you the same question, Dex," she said. Her voice was flat with controlled anger. Her handsome features were tight and drawn. "But that would be a waste of time, wouldn't it? I already know the answer. You just tried to sell those confidential bid figures to Mr. Truax."

Something that might have been panic flickered across Morrows face. "He said his name was Williams."

"It's Truax," Ethan said. "Ethan Truax of Truax Investigations."

Morrow's hands clenched and unclenched at his sides. He appeared to be having difficulty connecting the dots. "You're a private investigator?"

"Yes," Ethan said.

He was a little surprised by Morrow's stunned expression. The guy had a history of scams like this one. You'd think he'd be accustomed to having things go wrong once in a while. It wasn't like he was in any real jeopardy here, and he had to know that. Employers almost never prosecuted in these situations. They didn't want the negative publicity.

"I hired Ethan last week when I started to get suspicious of you, Dex," Katherine said.

Morrow spread his hands in a pleading gesture. "Darling, you don't understand."

"Unfortunately, I do," she said. "I understand everything. You certainly made a fool out of me for a while, but it's over."

Morrow glanced briefly at Ethan. Rage darkened his face. He turned back to Katherine. "You've got it all wrong. You're making a huge mistake here."

"No," Katherine said.

"Listen to me. I knew there was a leak and I knew that it was very close to you. I was trying to identify the bastard who was screwing you."

"You were the bastard who was screwing me," Katherine said.

"That's not true. I love you. I was trying to protect you. When Truax put out feelers letting me know that he was in the market for those bid figures, I thought I'd finally gotten a lead on who was behind the inside leaks. I'm here because I warned to set him up so that I could get him to spill some information. I was playing him."

"Don't worry," Katherine said. "I'm not going to file charges. A court case would hurt the company. We're all about trust and long-term business relationships at Compton Investments." She smiled thinly. "But then, you already know that, don't you, Dex? After all, you've worked for me for nearly a year."

"Katherine, you've got this all wrong."

"You can go now," she said. "A security guard will meet you at the office. He'll stay with you while you clean out your desk, and then he'll take your keys and escort you out of the building. You know the drill. Standard procedure in situations like this. No one will be told why you were let go. I'm sure that everyone in the firm is aware that you and I were involved. The assumption will be made that we ended our personal relationship. Whenever that sort of thing happens, it is always the lower-ranking executive who leaves the firm, isn't it?"

"Katherine, you can't do this to us."

"I'm not doing it to us. I'm doing it to you. Speaking of keys, I'll take back the one to my from door that I gave you a few months ago. You won't be needing it anymore." She held out her hand, palm up.

"I'm telling you, you're making a mistake." Morrow sounded hoarse now.

"No, I'm correcting the one I made when I got involved with you. My key, please." Her tone sharpened without warning. "Now."

Morrow actually flinched. Ethan was impressed by the speed with which he got the gold key chain out of his pocket.

Morrow fumbled the key off the ring and tossed it to Katherine.

"I'll have the locks changed, just to be on the safe side, of course." Katherine dropped the key into her purse. "This morning after you left I packed up the things you've been keeping at my place for the past few months. The spare shirts and the razor and such. I dropped them off at your condo."

Morrow's face worked furiously. He looked at Ethan. "This is your fault, you son of a bitch. You'll regret it, I promise you that much."

Ethan took the tiny digital recorder out of his pocket. They all looked at it. Without a word he switched it off.

Morrow's jaw locked when he understood that the threat had been recorded. Without saying another word, he picked up his briefcase, his grip so fierce it squeezed the blood out of his knuckles.

He went to the door, opened it and let himself out of the hotel room.

There was a short silence. The room seemed to exhale deeply on a long sigh.

Katherine did not take her gaze off the door. "Do you think he meant that threat he made to you, Ethan?"

"Don't worry about it." Ethan went to the table, picked up the packet of phony twenties and tossed it back into the suitcase. "Guys like Morrow prefer not to take the risk of getting physical. When they get caught, they disappear as fast as possible. He'll be out of town by this time tomorrow. Day after at the latest. In a couple of weeks he'll be set up somewhere else, working on his next scam."

She grimaced. "I'm not doing the world any favors by letting him go without bringing charges, am I?"

"Not your job to do the world a favor," he said without inflection. "You've got a responsibility to your company and your clients. It's a tough call."

"No," she said without hesitation, "it's not. The company comes first. We're in the middle of some extremely delicate negotiations. Between the three branches of Compton Investments here in Whispering Springs and in the Phoenix area, I've got over fifty employees and hundreds of clients who will be directly affected by this deal. I've got an obligation to all of them."

Spoken like the real CEO she is, he thought.

Katherine shook her head, looking weary now that it was all over. "I never thought I'd ever get taken in like that by a man, you know. I was always so sure of myself and my instincts. So sure that I could spot a phony."

"You did spot Morrow." He closed the lid of the case and snapped it shut. "That's why you picked up the phone and called me, remember?"

She was startled by that observation. After contemplating it for a moment, she nodded once, acknowledging the truth of the statement.

"Yes, I did call you, didn't I?" She walked resolutely toward the door. "Thank you for reminding me of that salient fact, Mr. Truax. In all the excitement, I had forgotten that I was the one who finally realized that there was something a little too good to be true about Dexter Morrow."

Ethan followed her out into the hall and closed the door. "Your instincts were working just fine."

"I was actually thinking of marrying him, you know."

Ethan nodded.

"It would have been my second marriage," she added.

Ethan nodded again. He stopped in front of the elevators and pressed the call button.

"My first husband married me because he wanted to get his hands on my father's company," Katherine continued. "When he realized that I was the heir apparent and that I intended to run Compton myself, he filed for divorce."

Ethan prayed to the hotel gods in the vain hope that the elevator doors would open quickly. He understood the client's need to talk after it was all over. He usually made it a point to listen patiently. He considered the debriefing part of the job. But today he just wanted to be done. A bone-deep weariness was creeping through him.

The adrenaline rush that generally accompanied the satisfactory resolution of a case had not hit him back there in the hotel room. Maybe that was because he had not been sleeping well lately.

He knew the reason for the insomnia. It was November. November was a bad time. If the past two years were anything to go by, he would not sleep well again until December.

Mercifully, the elevator doors opened. Katherine moved inside ahead of him.

"Have you ever been married?" she asked.

"Oh, yeah," Ethan said.

Her brow climbed. "Divorced?"

"Three times."

She frowned. He was not surprised. One or two divorces were acceptable in this sophisticated day and age. There were excuses that could be made. Three, however, raised questions concerning possible innate character flaws.

"Are you married now?" Katherine asked.

He thought about Zoe waiting for him at home. He summoned up the image of her sitting across from him at breakfast that morning, vibrant and vivid in an amethyst-colored pantsuit. He remembered how the morning sun streaming through the window had touched off sparks in her dark auburn hair and how she had looked at him with her mysterious, smoky eyes. His woman; his wife.

The mental picture was a talisman that he carried against the dark forces of November that swirled around him. But part of him dreaded the future because he was pretty sure that sooner or later those forces would triumph and drive Zoe away from him.

He punched the lobby button.

"Sort of," he said.

Chapter Two

It had been a good day. She had not encountered any screaming walls.

For the vast majority of interior designers, "screaming walls" implied an unfortunate choice of paint color or a really bad window treatment. But for a psychic designer who happened to be acutely sensitive to the invisible aura left in rooms that had been scenes of violence or strong passions, the term "screaming walls" could be interpreted quite literally.

She had not set out in life with the intent of becoming an interior designer, Zoe reflected as she poured two glasses of wine. Her original plan had been to pursue a career as an art curator. But the murder of her first husband had changed everything.

She was the first to admit that she had lost control for a time following Preston's death. What could she say? She had been a desperate woman. The cops had concluded that Preston had been shot by a transient burglar. The instant she had stepped into the cottage where the murder occurred she knew that was not what had happened. The walls had screamed bloody murder.

In her passion to see justice done, she had made the near-fatal mistake of telling everyone who would listen that Preston had been killed by someone close to him. In a desperate attempt to convince her scheming in-laws that one of them was to blame, she had told them that she could sense the terrible rage that the murderer had felt clinging to the walls of the cottage.

Big mistake.

Her wild claims of psychic talents had given her in-laws the excuse they needed to have her committed against her will to a very private, very exclusive psychiatric hospital. She knew that she was not insane when she had entered the place, but the ordeal of her stay there had very nearly turned the phony diagnosis into a reality. To this day, she still had nightmares in which she walked the halls of Candle Lake Manor.

Zoe put the two glasses of wine on a tray together with a plate of cheese and crackers. She picked up the tray and carried it out into the living room of her small apartment.

Ethan was on the sofa, leaning forward slightly, legs apart, elbows resting on his thighs. He wore a black crew-neck tee shirt and khaki pants. He held the remote loosely in one hand, absently clicking through the early evening news programs.

She remembered her first impression of him that memorable day six weeks before in October when she had walked into his second-floor office on Cobalt Street.


Excerpted from TRUTH or DARE by Jayne Ann Krentz Copyright © 2003 by Jayne Ann Krentz. 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.

Meet the Author

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. She lives in Seattle.

Brief Biography

Seattle, WA
Place of Birth:
San Diego, CA
BA in History, University of California at Santa Cruz, MA in Librarianship from San Jose State University (California)

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Truth or Dare 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 55 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the last book titled 'Light In Shadow' the story's plot ended well. It could be considered a 'stand-alone' book. However, the author left a few strings dangling with not only the two main characters (Ethan and Zoe), but also with some secondary characters (Arcadia and Harry). ......................... In Krentz's latest novel we return to Whispering Springs, Arizona, and only weeks have passed. Zoe and Ethan are giving their marriage a real chance at becoming permanent. Ethan still believes Zoe's talent is simply excellent instincts. He accepts that SHE believes that she is psychic though and listens to anything her instincts tell her. So when Zoe encounters 'dark psychic spiderwebs' Ethan, Arcadia, and Harry take it seriously! ..................... Arcadia Ames still does not know if her husband, Grant Loring, is alive or dead. But there is no doubt that if he lives he will seek her out. The spiderwebs Zoe keeps feeling could easily be Grant. If he somehow figured out where Arcadia was and under what name. (Arcadia is her second made identity by the computer identity known only as The Merchant. And he does very good work!) Yet the feelings may have nothing to do with her. .................... The spiderwebs are familiar to Zoe. She sensed them while they were locked up at Xanadu. And Grant was never in Xanadu. This tells Zoe that the dark presence she feels is related to something or someone in her own past! Ethan thinks it is more likely to be someone from his past. A private investigator makes many enemies and someone was out to kill him. Harry and Ethan have to put all the clues together ... and FAST! Time was running out! ................. ***** A riveting sequel to 'Light In Shadow' where all the loose strings are tied up neatly. Jayne Ann Krentz even has a couple of sub-plots running in the background to keep the reader enthralled. Be sure to have a lot of time available before beginning this awesome novel because you WILL NOT want to put it down. An incredible story from one of today's most talented authors! *****
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book by a great author but I would recommend getting the first book first (this isn't per say a 'second' book but it's characters were first used in another book) and you kind of need the background. It's not absolutely necessary to follow the story it just makes things a bit easier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was good really good have to read the whole book because this book is so asam
cutierenee More than 1 year ago
You can't beat a book by Jayne. She is a favorite of mine.
Arleen1 More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and entertaining. It keeps you wanting more, you just can not put it down. Definitely a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the fact that she used the same characters as in her first book. I agree with the other readers, read Light in Shadow first. Both great books. She left the ending somewhat open. I'm hoping for another sequel. Maybe Trax's sister Bonnie could be written about a little more and finish things up with Arcadea.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its jenny and i'm royal in england
Anonymous 7 months ago
Smiles, hey
Anonymous 10 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah oh poop gtg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Then kiss her. This is Hazel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Then i will do it myself
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Inge here
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BookLoverEW More than 1 year ago
I'm a big JAK fan, but I was a little disappointed with this book. I liked the characters, but there seemed to be too many. Fewer characters and deepers ARCS would've been nice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago