Carla stared at the gun and David Thornbyor whatever his name was. Her mind fissured, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other knowing it was not. Her throat ran dry, air backing up in her lungs. She swallowed.“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estateand finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why? Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people. Perhaps even change the face of a nation …Crimson Eve is book three in the Kanner Lake Series. Set in a small lakeshore town in pristine northern Idaho, this series combines suspense and fast-paced action with intriguing, well-crafted characters and many an unexpected twist.Also available: Violet Dawn and Coral Moon in the Kanner Lake Series.
About the Author
Brandilyn Collins, known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™, is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve, Eyes of Elisha, and other novels. She and her family live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Visit her website at www.brandilyncollins.com and her blog at www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com
Read an Excerpt
By Brandilyn Collins
ZondervanCopyright © 2007 Brandilyn Collins
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Really, is a heinous murder any reason to devalue such a glorious piece of real estate?"
The words rolled off the man's tongue in a luscious British accent and with a hint of tease, lending him a cocky James Bond air. He was dashingly handsome (a good British description, what?). Dark hair, rich brown eyes, a jaw cut just so-not too square, but firm. Carla Radling glanced at his left hand. No ring. But then he'd already intimated he was single. A real-estate developer, he'd said over the phone yesterday. And apparently rich, although no proper English gentleman would say so. He was "seeking a beautiful and private piece of property near water as a second home," and the half-page ad in Dream Houses had caught his eye. If he liked the place, he'd pay cash.
To think she'd complained about the high cost of the ad.
Behind them, the heavy wrought-iron gates of the estate that once belonged to the late actress Edna San closed with a muted clang. Carla steered her white Toyota Camry down the impressive driveway curving through forest. Her client, David Thornby-although James Bond fit so much better-dignified her front seat. His legs, in impeccable beige trousers, were confidently apart, his left arm draped over the console, fingers casuallydrumming. His navy sport jacket boasted a thousand-dollar weave.
Carla laughed at Thornby's "heinous murder" remark. "No devaluing here. But often that's what happens to the homes of celebrities caught in a scandal-or murder. Gives potential buyers the willies to picture the crime occurring in their living room."
"Technically, it didn't occur here, correct? Edna San was taken out of the home, with no one being sure exactly where she was killed."
That accent was just to die for. "Right. The news was where they found her, not where she was killed."
But enough of this morbid topic.
"The property has only been for sale a little over a year," Carla said. "That's not a long time given its price for this area. I told Edna's heirs I fully expected that someone out of the area would buy it."
Carla rounded a curve in the wide driveway, and the actress's magnificent two-story home of wood and stone swept into view. A front porch with thick round pillars ran its entire length, the arched and mullioned windows giving it a castlelike quality. Surrounded by twenty acres of forest, it included a smaller home on the property for a full-time caretaker or perhaps a gardener, whatever a well-bred English gentleman might prefer.
Thornby drew in a breath. "It's stunning. And look at that view."
Kanner Lake sparkled some three hundred feet beyond the backyard of the main house, its waters tinged crimson in the sunset. Carla caught a glimpse of it through the side yard as she pulled up to the front of the house.
"Yeah, isn't it great? Like the ad said, a large dock and two hundred feet of sandy beach. Plus, with the forest all around you, it's completely private. And you'll see plenty of wildlife. Deer, with their new spotted fawns each year, wild turkeys." No need to mention the skunks, coons, and occasional bear.
Carla slid another look at Thornby. He leaned forward, anticipation on his face. The man liked what he saw.
A vague warning twinged in her stomach. Such obvious excitement didn't fit the demeanor of a suave British gentleman, did it?
Carla pushed the thought away. Pure stereotype.
She stopped close to the wide porch steps and cut the engine. "Wait till you see the inside."
He smiled at her, and his eyes twinkled. Twinkled. Carla hadn't known a pair of eyes could do that-outside the romance novels she used to read as a teenager.
How old was this guy? Maybe forty? Not so much older than her thirty-two years.
Please, oh, please, buy this house, you handsome thing. Then marry me quick.
"Thanks for letting me leave my car outside the gate," he said. "This was a treat, being free to ogle while you drove in."
"We aim to please."
They mounted the three curved flagstone steps side by side, Thornby a good eight inches taller than her five-six frame. Power and control emanated from him, his back straight, chin high, and eyes alert. He ran his knuckles down the huge carved door as Carla, trying her best to appear unaffected by his charm, slid her key into the lockbox. She removed the lock, pushed back the door, and waved him inside. "After you."
He stepped over the threshold onto gleaming tile floor, Carla following. Thornby's head tipped back to admire the grand curving staircase to their left.
Carla hung back, giving him time to admire the sights-a formal living room on the right, furnished in leather couches and Persian rugs, rich wood wainscoting on the walls.
"Of course if you don't like Edna San's taste in furniture, you could always-"
"I do like it, very much. Makes it easier to buy a second home when it's turnkey."
"Well, that's good." Carla dropped her keys into her purse. "Since Edna's son and daughter didn't seem to care a whit about taking anything. Other than the crystal and china, that is, and the photos of Edna with Bette Davis and other movie cohorts."
"I thought Edna San hated Bette Davis." Thornby stepped into the living room and leaned down to inspect the fifteen-thousand-dollar rug.
Carla shrugged. "Didn't all the legendary female movie stars hate each other? It's a cat thing."
"Yeah, you know how women can fight over ..." Carla eased up beside him, and he looked at her with those incredible eyes. Carla pressed her lips together. "Never mind."
He flashed another smile, sending a tingle down Carla's spine.
"So." She pointed toward the entryway. "How about if I show you the kitchen and dining room?"
In the large kitchen Carla pointed out the amenities. Thornby stood back while she opened cabinets, the refrigerator.
Odd. Prospective buyers typically inspected every nook and cranny.
Must be a man thing. The guy probably didn't even cook.
He glanced at his Rolex watch more than once.
Carla tilted her head. "Are you in a hurry?"
"No, no, sorry. Just the habit of a businessman."
Down a short, wide hall off the kitchen they stepped into the formal dining room. A highly polished cherrywood table lay beneath a sparkling crystal chandelier, the matching hutch elegant despite its emptiness after Edna San's children had claimed its dishes and goblets. On the hardwood floor spread another luxurious Persian rug. Carla walked around to the other side of the table, gesturing toward the large back windows. "Great view of the lake."
Thornby put his hands on his hips. "Splendid." He gazed at her, mouth curving. "And so are you."
Carla blinked. Was he talking about her skills as a realtor?
Huh-uh-the look on his face said something far different.
He sighed. "It's such a shame."
Carla was half tongue-tied. This man was so ... mesmerizing. "What is?"
He spread his hands. "You. This place. That I can have neither beauty."
Whoa, where had that come from? She searched in vain for one of her typical witty comebacks. "You can't?"
"No. You see, unfortunately things aren't quite as I represented."
It took her a second to realize the glorious accent had vanished. The guy now sounded as American as her coffee-guzzling pals down at Java Joint.
Carla stared at him. What was going on? She thought of the things she'd chosen to ignore-his request to leave his car outside the gate, his obvious anticipation of ... something, the refusal to touch anything, the glances at his watch. Her spine tingled, but this time it didn't feel so exciting.
"You're not British." She would not let her voice tremble, even though the ten-minute drive to town suddenly seemed like a trip to the moon. What was she thinking, coming out here alone near dusk? After all the trauma Kanner Lake had seen in the past year.
But good grief, he'd sounded so normal. Not to mention anxious to buy.
His lips spread in a slow smile. "No."
Fear flushed through Carla-and that ticked her off. She raised her chin. "Well, how about that. So tell me how much you told me is true. Are you a real-estate developer?"
He shrugged. "It seemed like such a respectable line of work at the time."
"At what time?"
"When I called you."
She stuck her tongue between her lip and top teeth. "Okay, let's cut the games. Just what are you?"
His graceful right hand slid into his coat pocket. "To use the vernacular, vulgar though it is"-his voice carried a light, engaging tone-"I'm a hit man."
He pulled out a handgun and aimed it at her heart.
Excerpted from Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins Copyright © 2007 by Brandilyn Collins. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Collins takes us on another suspenseful journey centered around the cozy community of Kanner Lake. As in the first book, a young woman's past catches up with her and she has to run from an assassin. I found this to be a pretty good page-turner, the fast pace and sense of community were both good points. I found some parts to be too far-fetched though, and since I skipped book 2 in the series I didn't get some of the references to the events of that book. Fans of Christian suspense looking for a quick read should enjoy this series--but read it in order.
This book is by far one of the most action-packed novels I had read in a long time. From the very first sentence the reader is dragged into the action and it doesn¿t slow down until the final sentence. Brandilyn Collins has proven that each successive book in a series can get better than the previous one. Carla Radling, who readers will remember as the real estate agent from the first two Kanner Lake novels, takes front and center in this book. Eagerly anticipating the sale and commission from the Edna Sans Estate, she meets a handsome British man on the property to close the deal. What she is unaware of is the deal that is to be closed is her life. As she stands face to face with her would-be assassin, she knows that her past has come back to haunt her. Thus begins the exciting journey or secrets kept, stories told and fabricated, and powerful people unwilling to let anything block the road to success. As Carla runs away from Kanner Lake and all of her potential helpers, she also unravels her hidden past. A new cast of characters as well as the familiar ones from Kanner Lake play vital roles in finding and saving Carla. Brandilyn created a world of politics, intrigue and danger. Check your calendar and be sure you are free, because you will not want to put this book down until it is finished. And yes, friends, you will need to remember to breathe!
Plain and simple, this story blew me away. The suspense had me anxious through the majority of the story. If I bit my nails they would've been chewed to the quick. Carla's tragedy and heartache kept me turning the pages. So many lies, so much pain, and such an awesome tale that I will be thinking for months about the ramifications of the plot that kept my head spinning. This was an incredible tale of intrigue and deception, lust and greed, power and evil personified. Crimson Eve was an awesome story crafted with the best suspense I've ever read. Brandilyn has created a masterpiece with this novel and her insight into the heart and wickedness of man is impressive. I'm truly amazed at how much I learned from the hard lessons that Carla endured. And in regards to in-your-face edgy content, this story packs a powerful punch. I can't recommend this story highly enough. It's downright fabulous!
It's probably not surprising that I sped through Crimson Eve and loved it, considering that's been my experience with the previous two novels in the Kanner Lake series. :) It probably does help to read the books in order, but I think each one does a good job of having most of its story stand apart from previous events. There may be references in Crimson Eve to Books One and Two, but they don't have a huge impact on this story, and I appreciate that - there have been so many times in my reading history that I've only been able to find a later book in a series and I hate to be shut out. I made guesses along the way with Crimson Eve, trying to determine what was going to happen. I was close with a few things, but Brandilyn has proven once again how much better she is at plotting. She's been honing her skills for years and I love the result! And just in case you don't think suspense novels are your thing, this one is action-filled with realistic characters and great dialogue. (I'm so picky about translating everyday speech to the page!) I hope you'll like it, too.
As a fan of the Kanner Lake series, I eagerly anticipated the release of _Crimson Eve_, and I was not disappointed at all. Brandilyn's talent for weaving threads of deep spiritual truth into nail-biting stories shines even more in this, the third book of the series. Carla Radling, Kanner Lake's beloved realtor, must face a horrendous past in the midst of a deadly present. Cut off from all who can help her, she must try to survive long enough to find out why someone would want to kill her. This is a fast-paced read. I recently took a quick airline trip and finished the whole thing on the plane and during layovers. I could not put it down.
WARNING! Do not pick up this book unless you have time to read it straight through. Brandilynâ¿¿s books have never disappointed me, but this one was simply impossible to put down. Even when I figured out one of the plot points with 100 pages left Iâ¿¦COULDâ¿¦NOTâ¿¦PUTâ¿¦THISâ¿¦BOOKâ¿¦DOWN. Crimson Eve is a classic woman in jeopardy story with plenty of twists ala Seatbelt Suspense. I have read all of Brandilynâ¿¿s suspense, but canâ¿¿t think of one that has the tight timeline combined with knowing who the villain is. Usually in her books, the reader races to figure out who did it before the heroine stumbles in to harmâ¿¿s way. And Violet Dawn had an extremely tight timeline, but Brandilyn did not reveal the real reason behind the actions until practically the end of the book. This time, the reader knows much sooner exactly what is going on with enough fog to keep us guessing. At the same time, the knowing ratchets up the suspense to new levels. So if you are looking for a suspense that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, race out and buy this one!
Margie's Review¿As an original writer for Brandilyn's promotional blog featuring the characters from the Kanner Lake series, Scenes and Beans, I've been privileged to have a part in this wonderful series. This third book, Crimson Eve, is in my opinion the best of the series so far. Instead of starting with a murder, this book opens with someone trying to murder realtor, Carla Radling. Carla finds herself on the run, not fully understanding the reason why . . . until she finds her house has been searched and the diary holding the secrets of her past was still hidden in her closet. In Brandilyn's usual fast-paced style, the story kicks into high gear until the exciting climax. People do die in the book. What Brandilyn Collins book would be complete without some dead bodies? LOL But on the way, Carla, thinking she is all alone in what could be her last battle in life, learns she has true friends in Kanner Lake, those who are willing to risk their lives in order to help her. No matter what her secrets or mistakes are. Plus she finds the Friend who is above all others. I highly recommend this series, and especially this book, to all readers of mystery and suspense. But don't forget to fasten your seat belt!