Librarian and rookie CIA covert operative Quinn Ellington revises her honeymoon plans when she and her brand-new spy husband uncover a drug trafficking ring stretching from the Caribbean to St. Petersburg. Turquoise waters, white sand, and intra-agency relations provide a lush backdrop for raiding enemy strongholds, tailing movie stars, and dodging more than a few bullets. Meanwhile, Quinn’s unique skills prove indispensable in luring a dangerous villain into the proper trap.
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The bottom of Quinn Ellington's unbuttoned white lab coat fluttered behind her like a superhero's cape as she strode along the corridor of a Frankfurt pharmaceutical research facility. James Anderson kept pace beside her, his matching lab coat equally billowy. The aluminum briefcase hanging from his hand sporadically brushed against her thigh.
Dr. Dieter Ziegler and his assistant had joined a meeting in the conference room at the end of the hallway a moment before. That meant she and James had thirty minutes to slip into Ziegler's office, steal the vials from his safe, and sneak out without being noticed.
Quinn dipped her chin and adjusted her black-rimmed glasses, shielding her face from the woman passing them from the other direction.
"You want to do something next weekend?" James asked when the woman was out of earshot.
She smiled at his attempt to keep her loose during her first mission as a full-fledged CIA undercover operative. "I can't."
"I've got a wedding to go to."
"Blow it off."
"I can't. I kinda have to be there."
"I'm the bride." Their pace slowed as they neared Dr. Ziegler's office.
"You know, now that you mention it, I have a wedding to be at, too."
"Yeah? That's weird. I wonder if it's the same one. Is it in California?"
James held the ID badge he'd liberated from an unsuspecting senior scientist in front of the electronic lock. When the red light turned green, he pushed in the door and held it open. Quinn swept past him into a small front office. "As a matter of fact, it is. A beautiful church in Redondo Beach."
A brass nameplate placed at the front edge of the desk informed them Sabine Müller was the name of Ziegler's assistant.
"Mine, too. Maybe I'll see you there," Quinn said. She tried the knob on the door leading to the inner office. Locked. She slipped the lock pick set from the pocket of her lab coat and zipped open the case.
She took two implements and slid the wiry ends into the lock.
"How about you meet me at the front of the sanctuary, say four-fifteen or so?" James asked.
"I can do that. I hope you don't mind, but my dad will be with me. Fair warning. He'll be armed."
"No need for a shotgun. I'll be there of my own free will."
One of the tumblers in the lock gave way. "Nah, it'll just be his sidearm under his tux jacket. You know how Marines are."
"I do," he said. "I'll be armed, too, by the way."
"Me, too. I picked up a pretty thigh holster for the occasion. It's white and lacey. You'll like it."
She smiled at his rumbling growl.
"All right, you two. That's enough," she heard the long-suffering voice of Darius Sampson say through the communication device in her ear. "You keep it up and I'm gonna hurl all over this van full of expensive surveillance equipment. I'll tell Meyers to send you the bill."
"Okay, okay. We don't want any hurling," James said.
"What are you two doing anyway, going on an op so close to your wedding? Sounds crazy to me."
"The wedding has totally consumed my life the last two months. I needed a break before someone tossed me in a rubber room and threw away the key," Quinn said.
"Hard to argue with that, I guess," Darius replied.
"I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you more with all the planning," James said. "Living in Moscow made it difficult."
"It's okay. My mom was a huge help. I'm glad your stint there is over."
The lock gave way and she cracked open the door.
"We're in," Quinn said as she and James stepped into Ziegler's office. The door clicked closed behind them.
"Roger that," Darius said. "Ziegler and his assistant are still in the meeting."
Quinn took a quick survey of the room. The large office was well appointed with its massive wooden desk, leather couch, and bar with bottles of various types of liquor on the shelves behind it. One of the perks to being the company's chief research officer, she supposed. Ziegler may have occupied a corner office, but its location didn't mean it was meticulously kept. The desk was cluttered with stacks of scientific journals, papers, and files. Not one more book could have been wedged into the overstuffed bookcases. As much as the librarian in Quinn was drawn to examine and straighten those books, she resisted. She wasn't there for that.
James handed her the metal briefcase and headed for the desk. He inserted a flash drive into Ziegler's computer and began to type.
Quinn went straight for the painting of a tranquil lake setting located on the wall above the sofa. She set the briefcase on one cushion and stepped up onto the other. Reaching out, she slid the painting mounted on rails to one side to reveal a wall safe.
From her lab coat pocket, she removed her smartphone and a thin cable. She plugged one end of the cable into her phone and the other into a port next to the keypad on the face of the safe. With a tap on the screen, she launched the CIA- developed app that would provide her with the digital key.
While the app ran, she took a small, flat plastic box with Ziegler's fingerprint on a thin piece of latex from her other pocket and opened it. She placed the latex on the pad of her thumb and breathed on it several times to moisten it.
Her phone chimed and displayed the six-digit passcode. She pressed her thumb to the biometric scanner and punched the code into the keypad.
The safe started to beep.
Was it supposed to do that?
"Babe? I might have set off —" The beeps ceased and she heard a soft click. She released a relieved breath. "Never mind. We're good," she said and swung the safe's door open.
Inside, a half dozen glass vials of emerald-colored liquid were precisely arranged on a shelf. "Why is the evil stuff always green?"
"That mandate is clearly stated in section thirty-seven of the League of Evil Scientists Handbook," James replied, his eyes never leaving the computer screen. "I'm sure Ziegler checked to make sure the color of his psychotropic agent was regulation."
Quinn grinned as she lifted one of the vials from the safe and carefully secured it in the slot cut in the gray foam lining of the briefcase. "I bet he did. He wouldn't want to get kicked out of the League of Evil Scientists for such a heinous violation." She repeated her actions and secured another vial. "Almost done?"
"Yeah. I uploaded the Trojan horse onto his system already. I only need a couple more minutes to finish copying the restricted data files."
"Uh, guys?" Darius said. The tightness in his voice snapped Quinn to attention. "You may not have a couple of minutes. Ziegler and his assistant just left the conference room."
"What?" she said with a frown. "He's not supposed to be out of there for at least another twenty minutes."
"I dunno. No one else has left. Even the CEO is still there. Hang on. Maybe they're not ..." After pause, Darius said, "They're on their way to you."
"Copy." Under his breath, James grumbled, "Dammit."
Adrenaline flooded Quinn's system. Moving quickly, she snatched the last two vials in each hand and jammed them into the foam. She slapped the briefcase shut and snapped the fasteners.
Quinn closed the safe, removed the phone cable, and slid the painting back in place. She leaped from the couch, grabbed the briefcase's handle, and looked at James. His blue eyes were slightly wild as he urged on the computer. "Come on, come on, come on."
"Forget it. We gotta go."
"Done!" James yanked out the flash drive and sprang to his feet.
The urgency in Darius's voice sliced through her. "Too late. They'll see you if you come out now."
"Maybe we can chance it and tell them we were waiting for him but decided to leave," Quinn said.
James shook his head. "This is a restricted floor. We're not even supposed to be here."
"Crap. You're right." She looked at the bar and then at James. "Do we hide or shoot our way out?"
"Make a decision, guys," Darius said. "They're almost there."
James grabbed Quinn's hand and pulled her behind the bar. "We hide. Let's hope they came back to get something for the meeting and will leave again right away. If not, we tranq them and take off." Crouched behind the bar, they balanced on the balls of their feet, removed their tranquilizer pistols from their ankle holsters, and held them at the ready.
"They're about to open the outer door," Darius said.
Quinn strained to hear clues as to exactly where Ziegler and Sabine were. She heard their muffled voices through the wall between the two offices. If James was right and they had come back for something related to the meeting, was it was inside Ziegler's office? If so, he would go to unlock the door any second. She hoped she hadn't left any evidence that the lock had been picked. Otherwise, trouble would come their way fast. She swallowed and tightened her grip on her pistol.
She flinched when she heard what sounded like a body slamming against the door. The knob rattled, but the door remained closed. There was another loud thump.
James glanced at Quinn in confusion. She shrugged in response.
The doorknob turned and the door flew open. Ziegler murmured in a low tone, prompting a giggle from Sabine. Heavy breathing punctuated throaty moans.
No, no, no.
Quinn's blue eyes rounded and she looked at James. He wrinkled his nose in reply.
She heard two clunks on the floor, which she assumed was Sabine kicking off her shoes. A white lab coat arced through the air and draped over the bar.
Ziegler spoke in an urgent growl.
Sabine's response was breathy and pleading.
For a fleeting moment, Quinn considered turning the tranquilizer gun on herself.
Air gusted from the couch cushions with a fwoomp, indicating the amorous couple had crashed onto the leather couch.
It sounded like a wrestling match had broken out.
Quinn grimaced when Sabine expelled a prolonged, guttural groan.
At the unmistakable clap of a hand slapping flesh, Ziegler blurted, "Ach! Ja!" With each smack, the level of his lusty enthusiasm rose.
Quinn bit her lip and struggled to keep the giggles at bay.
James's face relaxed into a grin.
The movements on the couch turned rhythmic.
A boisterous duet of ardent and sustained ecstasy filled the room.
Quinn grimaced and squeezed her eyes shut.
When the exclamations subsided and all she heard was ragged breathing, Quinn dared to open her eyes and peek at James.
He winked and shot her a crooked smile, which quickly faded. The eyes boring into hers turned intense and probing.
She held his gaze and gave him a sharp nod. Time to focus.
Quinn concentrated on the sounds coming from Ziegler and Sabine. Neither spoke as they rose from the sofa. Clothes were straightened and the lab coat disappeared from atop the bar.
One sound Quinn hoped not to hear was Ziegler settling in behind his desk. If that happened, they could be stuck behind the bar for who knew how long. Would they have to tranquilize him and his assistant to escape after all?
As Ziegler and Sabine moved about the room, Quinn kept her stare zeroed in on the open end of the bar. If either came around to pour drinks, she would drop them.
To her great relief, Ziegler didn't take a seat at his desk, nor did either step behind the bar. The door between offices opened and shut. Quinn blew out a long, slow breath.
"They're on their way back to the conference room," Darius said after the outer door closed with a clunk. "You two okay?"
"Yeah, we're fine," James said.
"What happened? I couldn't hear anything through your comms."
"We were witness to what would best be described as a quickie," Quinn said.
Darius snickered. "I wondered. They looked pretty happy coming out of that office."
James and Quinn stood and hurried out from behind the bar. "Get us out of here and we'll describe every awkward detail for you later," James said.
"Nah. I'm good." After a beat, Darius said, "The hall is clear. You're good to go."
"Copy," James said, holstering his pistol. Quinn did the same.
Seconds later, they were through the front office and out the door. Once in the hallway, they turned and retraced their steps.
They were halfway to the elevator when Darius said, "Security guard incoming from the corridor up ahead."
"Is there a bathroom or janitor's closet we can duck into?" Quinn asked.
"Nothing close enough," Darius said. "If you hurry, you can get into the stairwell next to the elevator before he turns the corner. Try not to look too obvious, though. You don't want to catch the eye of the security people watching these feeds."
Quinn practically jogged to keep pace with James when his stride lengthened. He arrived at the door first and shoved it open. Quinn caught a flash of a gray uniform as she swept past James and started down the stairs.
The sound of their pounding feet echoed off the concrete walls of the cavernous stairwell. They descended one floor and had three more to go when they heard the metal door bang closed.
"He's after you. Step on it," Darius said.
"Halt!" a voice boomed from above.
When James leapt over the steps two at a time, so did she.
Since she was short, it wasn't an easy feat. "I feel like a mountain goat," she said between panted breaths.
They tore past the door with a 1 painted on it.
"One more floor," James said. "Darius, we need the van out front."
"Halt! Jetzt!" the voice shouted.
Quinn launched over the last three steps and stuck her landing next to the door that exited to the ground floor.
She stooped, took her tranquilizer pistol from its holster, and slipped it into her lab coat pocket. James did the same.
Shoulder against the door, she held the handle and looked in James's face. "Ready?"
Quinn yanked open the door. They left the stairwell and kept their steps measured down the short corridor and into the lobby.
Her eyes darted about, surveying the area. Two security guards stationed on either side of the exit scanned faces as people left the building.
Quinn slipped her hand into her pocket and wrapped her fingers around the pistol's grip. She looked through the glass doors. No sign of the van. "Darius?"
"Almost there," Darius said. She heard the blast of a car horn. "Move it, ya jerk!"
James glanced around. "Hurry up, buddy."
Quinn looked over her shoulder. The guard from the stairwell sprinted toward them, pistol in hand. He did not look happy.
She withdrew her pistol, whirled around, and fired.
At the sound of the gunshot, shrieks broke out. People dove for cover.
The security guard stumbled forward, his face registering shock. He dropped to his knees and collapsed facedown on the marble floor.
Next to her, James fired off two shots. She spun around and watched the two guards by the door drop.
Quinn and James sprinted past the unconscious men and burst through the front doors, leaving chaos in their wake.
To their left, a black van took a turn at an impressive clip. Two of its tires nearly lifted off the ground.
They darted across the cement courtyard and arrived at the edge of the parking lot at the same time the van screeched to a stop.
James jerked open the back door. Quinn flung the briefcase into the back of the van and dove in after it. James hauled himself up behind her. "Go!" he shouted and slammed the door.
The van's violent acceleration sent Quinn tumbling backward. She crashed into James, pinning him against the back. He wrapped her in his arms and kissed the side of her head.
Trembling from the river of adrenaline coursing through her veins, she had no intention of moving. "Well, that was exciting."
"It was," he replied. "If we can handle that, our wedding will be a breeze."
Quinn rifled through the clothes piled in her suitcase. Where had she put those blasted things?
The chiming phone in her pocket interrupted her frantic search. She huffed a breath to stop the rising panic and checked the screen. A soft smile formed when she saw the photo of James smiling back at her.
She put the phone to her ear. "Hey."
"Hey. I want to apologize for how awkward it got with my parents tonight. Ever since my mom left and opened that oxygen bar in Arizona, my dad has a hard time being in the same room with her. He's still bitter."
"Well, it hasn't been that long. I'm sure her showing up at the rehearsal dinner with her new boyfriend didn't help matters. How are you? Are you okay?"
He sighed. "I guess. I just wish she'd left Xander in Sedona. Him being here just adds to the drama. Mom and Kelsey are already hardly speaking to each other."
Quinn had noticed the strain between James's mother and younger sister. She wasn't about to mention it now, though.
As if trying to shake off his melancholy, he sounded more upbeat when he said, "Just so you know, you made a good impression on Mom. She said you're lovely and charming and I am lucky to be marrying you."
"Well, duh," she said, teasing him. "Seriously, though, that's sweet of her to say. I hope I get a chance to get to know her better. Meeting your future mother- in-law for the first time the day before the wedding isn't optimal."
Excerpted from "An Uncommon Honeymoon"
Copyright © 2018 Susan Mann.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An Uncommon Honeymoon started off a bit slow for me through the first third as we go through the pre wedding days and then the ceremony and honeymoon, however, it was nice to have these moments. Readers have been with Quinn and James since they met and we've seen their journey from dating to engaged and now to married. Once we got into the meat of the story with the trafficking ring I enjoyed the book a lot more and the pace started to pick up. One part of the writing did bug me a bit and since it's been so long since I read the others, I'm not sure if they were the same. Basically, there is a lot of detail in the writing and most actions are explained almost step by step. For instance, if a character where to get in the car and drive away it will be described from opening the door, to putting the eye in the ignition to start the car, to it pulling away, etc. The large amount of detail just slowed the pace down considerably, especially in the beginning. Travel to exotic locations has been a big part of the series and this time we got to travel to Russia and Monaco with Quinn and James. These to have been a great team from the very beginning and this book was no different. I loved how great Quinn and James are together; how much they communicate what they want and how they trust each other to get the job done when on missions. To say these two are besotted would be a grand understatement. They spend a lot of the book holding hands, sharing kisses, and flirting, all the stuff that newly married couples do. All of this was typically used to encourage and comfort each other and it was pretty sweet. With a mission with such heavy overtones, it was great to see them support each other. They're pretty much the perfect CIA couple. I don't know if we'll have any more books about Quinn and James but I'll certainly look forward to them if we do. I can trust Susan Mann to give readers an interesting adventure, lots of library references, and a couple you know can stand the test of time. Content Note: drug and child trafficking shown and discussed
A librarian spy? Yes, please! An Uncommon Honeymoon is the third book in the Librarian and the Spy Escapade series. If you need to see how a librarian becomes a CIA operative (and really, who doesn't???) you should probably start with the first book in the series, The Librarian and the Spy. If you're okay starting here and then going back to the beginning to see how it started (as I am), though, jump right in! Like my first favorite TV series (Scarecrow and Mrs. King, of course!), this book isn't exactly 100% realistic, but it is a lot of fun to read. The dashing spy couple--have I mentioned she's a librarian?--who fall into international intrigue while on their honeymoon are right up my alley. James and Quinn are really cute together, and make a great team at work too. Quinn's love of research and cataloging is a hoot, as is her tendency to babble random facts when she's nervous--but she's also quick on her feet and with James's able assistance manages to get herself neatly out of almost every plot wrinkle that is thrown her way. The case they are on this time around deals with human trafficking and drugs, and the author does a nice job of balancing out the heavy-duty seriousness of the crimes and their implications with some more lighthearted moments. I can't wait to go back and read the first two books, and will be anxious to see what Ms. Mann has in store next for my new favorite spy couple! Rating: 4 stars / B I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Loved this book! Quinn is a librarian who has become a CIA operative who marries her CIA operative partner, James. This is a thriller that deals with the dangerous and difficult topic of the trafficing and slavery of children. Despite the circumstances of the plot, this is a fun thriller/caper with fast action and a tightly woven plot that had me turning pages just as quickly as possible. I love Quinn and James and thoroughly enjoyed reading about their escapades. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book. While it is part of a series, this is a stand alone novel, however it's so good that you really owe it to yourself to read them all. The author is on my must read authors' list.