Worth the Risk: Partners\The Art of Deception



Matthew Bates had wanted Laurel Armand for years, but he was her professional nemesis, and the sultry Southern belle has always kept him at a safe distance. But when the rival reporters are forced to work together on a case of murder and madness down in steamy New Orleans, the sparks fly. Determined to get their story, Matt and Laurel find themselves in the path of a deranged killer, putting love and ...

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Matthew Bates had wanted Laurel Armand for years, but he was her professional nemesis, and the sultry Southern belle has always kept him at a safe distance. But when the rival reporters are forced to work together on a case of murder and madness down in steamy New Orleans, the sparks fly. Determined to get their story, Matt and Laurel find themselves in the path of a deranged killer, putting love and life on the line!

The Art of Deception

Supposedly he had come to her father's estate looking for respite. But was handsome Adam Haines really the man he pretended to be? Kirby Fairchild couldn't be sure. What she did know was that as the days and nights wore on, the attraction she felt for him was building, whether she'd wanted it to or not. Was she in danger of falling hard for a stranger who was even more practiced in the art of deception than she was?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373285839
  • Publisher: Silhouette
  • Publication date: 11/24/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts is a bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels. She was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. As of 2011, her novels had spent a combined 861 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, including 176 weeks in the number-one spot. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone.


Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.

As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.

For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."

Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.

Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."

Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."

Good To Know

Roberts still lives in the same Maryland house she occupied when she first started writing -- though her carpenter husband has built on some additions. She and her husband also own Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland. When Roberts isn't busy writing, she likes to drop by the store, which specializes in Civil War titles as well as autographed copies of her own books.

Roberts sued fellow writer Janet Dailey in 1997, accusing her of plagiarizing numerous passages of her work over a period of years. Dailey paid a settlement and publicly apologized, blaming stress and a psychological disorder for her misconduct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      J. D. Robb; Sarah Hardesty; Jill March; Eleanor Marie Robertson (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Keedysville, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Silver Spring, Maryland

Read an Excerpt

Bedlam. Phones rang continuously. People shouted, muttered or swore, sitting or on the run. Typewriter keys clattered at varying paces from every direction. There was the scent of old coffee, fresh bread, tobacco smoke and human sweat. An insane asylum? Several of the inmates would have agreed with that description of the city room of the New Orleans Herald, especially at deadline.

For most of the staff the chaos went unnoticed, as the inhaling and exhaling of air went unnoticed. There were times when each one of them was too involved with their own daily crises or triumphs to be aware of the dozens of others springing up around them. Not that teamwork was ignored. All were bound, by love for, or obsession with, their jobs, in the exclusive community of journalists. Still each would concentrate on, and greedily guard, his or her own story, own sources and own style. A successful print reporter thrives on pressure and confusion and a hot lead.

Matthew Bates had cut his teeth on newsprint. He'd worked it from every angle from newsboy on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to feature reporter. He'd carried coffee, run copy, written obituaries and covered flower shows.

The ability to scent out a story and draw the meat from it wasn' t something he'd learned in his journalism courses; he'd been born with it. His years of structured classes, study and practice had honed the style and technique of a talent that was as inherent as the color of his eyes.

At the age of thirty, Matt was casually cynical but not without humor for life's twists and turns. He liked people without having illusions about them. He understood and accepted that humans were basically ridiculous. How else could he work in a room full of crazy people in a profession that constantly exposed and exploited the human race?

Finishing a story, he called out for a copy boy, then leaned back to let his mind rest for the first time in three hours. A year ago, he'd left New York to accept the position on the Herald, wanting, perhaps needing, a change. Restless, he thought now. He'd been restless for… something. And New Orleans was as hard and demanding a town as New York, with more elegant edges.

He worked the police beat and liked it. It was a tough world, and murder and desperation were parts of it that couldn't be ignored. The homicide he'd just covered had been senseless and cruel. It had been life; it had been news. Now, he wiped the death of the eighteen-year-old girl out of his mind. Objectivity came first, unless he wanted to try a new profession. Yet it took a concentrated effort to erase her image and her ending from his mind.

He hadn't the looks of a seasoned, hard-boiled reporter, and he knew it. It had exasperated him in his twenties that he looked more like a carefree surfer than a newsman. Now, it amused him.

He had a lean, subtly muscled body that was more at home in jeans than a three-piece suit, with a height that only added a feeling of ranginess. His dark blond hair curled as it chose, over his ears, down to the collar of his shirt. It merely added to the image of a laid-back, easygoing male who'd rather be sitting on the beach than pounding the pavement. More than one source had talked freely to the façade without fully comprehending the man beneath the image. When and if they did, Matt already had the story.

When he chose, he could be charming, even elegant. But the good-humored blue eyes could turn to fire or, more dangerous, ice. Beneath the easy exterior was a cold, hard determination and a smoldering temper. Matt accepted this with a shrug. He was human, and entitled to be ridiculous.

With a half smile lingering around his mouth, he turned to the woman seated across from him. Laurel Armand—with a face as romantic as her name. She had an aura of delicacy that came from fine bones and an ivory skin that made a man want to touch, and touch gently. Her hair fell in clouds of misty black, swept back from her face, spilling onto her shoulders. Hair made for a man to dive his fingers into, bury his face in. Her eyes were the color of emeralds, dark and rich.

It was the face of a nineteenth-century belle whose life revolved around gracious indolence and quiet gentility. And her voice was just as feminine, Matt mused. It turned vowels into liquid and smoothed consonants. It never flattened, never twanged, but flowed like a leisurely stream.

The voice, he reflected as his smile widened, was just as deceptive as the face. The lady was a sharp, ambitious reporter with a stubborn streak and a flaring temper. One of his favorite pastimes was setting a match to it.

Her brows were drawn together as she finished the last line of her copy. Satisfied, Laurel whipped the sheet from her typewriter, called for a copy boy, then focused on the man across from her. Automatically, her spine straightened. She already knew he was going to bait her, and that—damn it—she would bite.

"Do you have a problem, Matthew?" Her tone was soft and faintly bored.

"No problem, Laurellie." He watched the annoyance flare into her eyes at his use of her full name.

"Don't you have a murder or armed robbery to go play with?"

His mouth curved, charmingly, deepening the creases in his face. "Not at the moment. Off your soapbox for the day?"

She gritted her teeth on a spate of furious words. He never failed to dig for the emotion that seeped into her work, and she never failed to defend it. Not this time, Laurel told herself as she balled her hands into fists under her desk. "I leave the cynicism to you, Matthew," she returned with a sweetness belied by the daggers in her eyes. "You're so good at it."

"Yeah. How about a bet on whose story makes page one?"

She lifted one fragile, arched brow—a gesture he particularly admired. "I wouldn't want to take your money, Matthew."

"I don't mind taking yours." Grinning, he rose to walk around their desk and bend down to her ear. "Five bucks, magnolia blossom. Even though your papa owns the paper, our editors know the difference between reporting and crusading."

He felt the heat rise, heard the soft hiss of breath. It was tempting, very tempting, to crush his mouth onto those soft, pouting lips and taste the fury. Even as the need worked into him, Matt reminded himself that wasn't the way to outwit her.

"You're on, Bates, but make it ten." Laurel stood. It infuriated her that she had to tilt her head back to meet his eyes. It infuriated her more that the eyes were confident, amused and beautiful. Laurel fell back on the habit of imagining him short, rotund and balding. "Unless that's too rich for your blood," she added.

"Anything to oblige, love." He curled the tips of her hair around his finger. "And to prove even Yankees have chivalry, I'll buy you lunch with my winnings."

She smiled at him, leaning a bit closer so that their bodies just brushed. Matt felt the surprising jolt of heat shoot straight through his system. "When hell freezes over," Laurel told him, then shoved him aside.

Matt watched her storm away; then, dipping his hands into his pockets, he laughed. In the confusion of the city room, no one noticed.

"Damn!" Laurel swore as she maneuvered her car through the choking downtown traffic. Matthew Bates was the most irritating man she'd ever known. Squeezing through on an amber light, she cursed fate. If her brother Curt hadn't met him in college, Matthew would never have accepted the position on the Herald. Then he'd be insufferable in New York instead of being insufferable two feet away from her day after day.

Honesty forced her to admit, even when it hurt, that he was the best reporter on the staff. He was thorough and insightful and had the instincts of a bloodhound. But that didn't make him any easier to swallow. Laurel hit the brakes and swerved as a Buick cut her off. She was too annoyed with Matt to be bothered by traffic warfare.

His piece on the homicide had been clean, concise and excellent. She wished she'd stuffed the ten dollars down his throat. That would've made it difficult for him to gloat over it.

In the twelve months she'd known and worked with him, he'd never reacted toward her as other men did. There was no deference in him, no admiration in his eyes. The fact that she despised being deferred to didn't make her resent him any less.

He'd never asked her out—not that she wanted him to, Laurel reminded herself firmly. Except for missing the pure pleasure of turning him down. Even though he'd moved into her apartment building, virtually next door to her, he'd never come knocking at her door on the smallest of pretences. For a year she'd been hoping he would—so she could slam the door in his face.

What he did, she thought as she gritted her teeth, was make a nuisance of himself in a dozen other ways. He made cute little observations on her dates—all the more irritating because they were invariably true. These days his favorite target was Jerry Cartier, an ultraconservative, somewhat dense city councilman. Laurel saw him because she was too kindhearted not to, and he occasionally gave her a lead. But Matt put her in the intolerable position of having to defend Jerry against her own opinion.

Life would be simpler, she thought, if Matthew Bates were still hustling newsprint in Manhattan. And if he weren't so impossibly attractive. Laurel blocked Matt, and her ten dollars, out of her mind as she left the traffic behind.

Though the sun was hanging low, the sky was still brilliant. Warmth and light filtered through the cypresses and streamed onto the road. Deep in the trees were shadows and the musical sound of insects and birds, creatures of the marsh. She'd always known there were secrets in the marshes. Secrets, shadows, dangers. They only added to the beauty. There was something exciting in knowing another way of life thrived—primitive, predatory—so near civilization.

As she turned into the lane that led to her ancestral home, Laurel felt the familiar mix of pride and tran-quility. Cedars guarded each side of the drive, arching overhead to transform the lane into a cool, dim tunnel. The sun filtered through sporadically, throwing patches of light on the ground. Spanish moss dripped from the branches to add that timeless grace so peculiar to the South. As she traveled down the drive of Promesse d'Amour, the clock turned back. Life was easy.

At the end of the drive, Laurel stopped to look at the house. There were two rambling stories of white-washed brick surrounded by a profusion of azaleas, camellias and magnolias. The colors, vivid and delicate, the scents, exotic and gentle, added to the sense of antebellum style and indolence. With the window down, she could smell the mix of heat and fragrance.

There were twenty-eight Doric columns that added dignity rather than ostentation. Ivy clung to each corner post. The grillwork on the encircling balcony was as delicate as black lace and French doors led to it from every room. The effect of the house was one of durability, security and grace. Laurel saw it as a woman who had coped with the years and emerged with character and gentility. If the house had been flesh and blood, she couldn't have loved it more.

She took the side steps to the porch and entered without knocking. Her childhood had been spent there, her girlhood, her adolescence. A wide hallway split the building in two, running from front door to back. Lingering in the air was the scent of beeswax and lemon, to mix with the fragrance from a bowl of camellia blossoms. The hall would have held the same scent a century before. Laurel paused only briefly in front of a cheval glass to brush the hair away from her face before she walked into the front parlor.

"Hello, Papa." She went to him, rising on her toes to kiss a cheek rough from a day's growth of beard. William Armand was lanky and handsome with dark hair just hinting at gray. While he ran his daily paper with verve, temper and tenacity, he chose an easier pace for his personal life. He smelled of good whiskey and tobacco. In an old habit, he mussed the hair Laurel had just straightened.

"Hello, princess. Good story on the mayor." He lifted a brow in puzzlement as he saw the quick flash of irritation in her eyes.

"Thanks." She smiled so quickly, her father thought he'd imagined that dangerous light. Turning, she studied the woman who sat in a royal-blue tufted chair.

The hair was pure white, but as full and thick as Laurel's. It surrounded a face layered and lined with wrinkles and unashamedly rouged. Olivia Armand wasn't ashamed of anything. Eyes as sharp and green as the emeralds in her ears studied Laurel in turn.

"Grandma." With a sigh, Laurel bent to kiss her. "Will you never grow old?"

"Not if I have anything to say about it." Her voice was raspy with age and stunningly sensual. "You're the same," she continued, taking Laurel's hand in her strong, dry one. "It's good Creole blood." After giving Laurel's hand a quick squeeze, she sat back in her chair. "William, fix the child a drink and top mine off while you're at it. How's your love life these days, Laurellie?"

Grinning, Laurel dropped down on the hassock at her grandmother's feet. "Not as varied as yours." She caught her father's wink as he handed her a glass.

"Hogwash!" Olivia tossed back her bourbon. "I'll tell you what's wrong with the world today, too much business and not enough romance. Your problem, Laurellie—" she paused to jab a finger at her granddaughter "—is wasting time on that spineless Cartier. Not enough blood in him to warm a woman's bed."

"Thank God," Laurel said with a grateful look at the ceiling. "That's the last place I want him."

"Time you had someone there," Olivia retorted.

Laurel lifted a brow while her father tried not to choke on his drink. "Not all of us," Laurel said smoothly, "have your, shall we say, bawdy turn of mind."

Olivia gave a hoot of laughter and smacked the arm of her chair. "Not everyone admits it, that's the difference."

Unable to resist her grandmother's outrageousness, Laurel grinned. "Curt should be here soon, shouldn't he?"

"Any minute." William eased his tall, angular frame into a chair. "He called just before you came in. He's bringing a friend with him."

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Nora Roberts usually delivers

    I read these two books years ago. Purchased them again in this two novels in one book format. Partners was very good, just enough thrills with romance thrown in.

    The art of deception was a pleasant surprise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    I Also Recommend:


    Nora Roberts is one of my favorite authors. This book just reinforces that opinion. The first book is very romantic with some good old-fashioned mystery thrown in for good measure.
    The second book also offers romance and mystery. If you like Nora Roberts, you won't be disappointed.

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    short but couldnt put it down

    Nora always does a fantastic job, I loved this book although i thought it was a little short. She does give you two stories in one book. I couldn't put the book down but nothing unusual with Nora.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Perfect combination of Suspense, Romance and Family.

    Worth the Risk is actually two books in one: "Partners" and "The Art of Deception". Both have a perfect combination of suspense, romance, family and clever personalities. I loved them both, but Partners was my favorite of the two. Two journalists in the New Orleans area are assigned to a story involving a murder investigation. One of my favorite things about Nora Roberts' writing is her ability to develop her characters and relationships. In this book the development of the relationship between the journalists is very entertaining, and the family relationships were warm and beautiful. "The Art of Deception" takes place in a spacious home a few hours outside of New York. At the invitation of a father and daughter who are artists, a visitor arrives to utilize their studio and scenery for a time. I didn't find the characters to be quite as likeable as in "Partners", but still very entertaining. The reader is given the feeling that there is some conflict, but it isn't clear what it is or who is guilty till the very end. I would definitely recommend these books to anyone who likes romance and a little suspense. If you like these, you might also like "From the Heart" which combines the two stories "Tonight and Always" and "A Matter of Choice".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2010

    Nora Roberts is my favorite writer.

    I really enjoyed this book and both stories. I have ready many of her books and love each and everyone of them.

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    Really fits the content

    Characters are real people that I enjoy reading about. You are madeto care for these characters, and cheer them on.

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