Discover the exciting opening story of The Justice Agency series from Susan Sleeman!
The Justice Agency: Family and law enforcement go hand in hand
Photographer Jennie Buchanan unknowingly captures a drug cartel meeting on film. And now she has become a killer’s next target. Even worse, her only protection from the danger that threatens her life is the man who threatens her heart. Dodging bullets almost seems safer than facing the feelings stirred up by seeing ex-FBI agent and ex-boyfriend Ethan Justice again. Ethan vows to safeguard Jennie from the deadly men on her trail. And for a second chance at Jennie’s love, he’s willing to risk anything to expose the truth—about the drug smugglers, the past and the future together he still wants.
Originally published in 2012
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Someone threatened to kill her last night. Now a man was following her.
Coincidence? Not likely.
Jennie Buchanan's breath hitched as she boarded Portland's MAX light-rail train and wound through standing passengers toward the far door. She glanced back.
The guy crept in. Searching the car, he caught sight of her and headed down the narrow aisle.
Her photographer's eye took in every detail. Short, stocky, wearing a light gray hoodie, twenty-five at the oldest, he looked like one of the many skaters hanging out at Pioneer Square. His eyes told a different story. Dark and narrowed, fixed on her like a hunter sighting prey.
He advanced. Silent. Stalking. One hand never leaving his hoodie pocket.
Had to be a weapon. A gun, maybe, or a knife.
Fear razored through her stomach, and she backed deeper into the car. She tripped on a baby stroller, grabbed the handle and righted herself. The fresh scent rising up from the sweet baby did nothing to calm her fears.
"Sorry," she said to the mother, her voice trembling. She tried to smile an apology, too, but her mouth wouldn't cooperate.
She couldn't endanger the baby so she kept moving, easing in and out of people. She ached to ask them for help. The tall man with a kind face. A young woman, earbuds snugged in her ears and tapping her foot, her face buried in a book like many of the other commuters.
Not a good idea. What could she say? How could she make them believe she was in danger when even she didn't know why?
She searched for an escape route before the train departed, but the doors grated on their hinges and closed with a solid thud. She had no way out. Her heart picked up speed, thudding in her ears, a rapid thump, thump, thump as her brain clouded with indecision.
Please, God. Send a police officer. Even a transit cop would be good. Anyone official, really. Just someone in uniform to scare him off.
He continued to move closer. Slower now. Stealthily, like a hunting cat. He flipped up his hood, his face dark and shadowed. Who was he? And what did he have planned?
He came to a stop on the other side of the car. He looked up and the overhead light gave her a clear look at his dark eyes boring into her.
The train jerked on its rails. A high-pitched squeal grated up her nerves. Riders jostled. She lost her footing for a moment. So did he, wobbling then reaching up to clamp stubby fingers around a slick aluminum pole.
His fingers. His hand. Stained bright red, the color running down the underside of his sleeve. Paint. Red paint.
The same color used in the art gallery break-in last night where someone had ripped her photos from the wall and spray-painted a message.
OPEN THE SHOW AND YOU DIE! it said.
She hadn't seen the warning, but the gallery owner had phoned first thing this morning. She'd said the police wanted to talk to her, but Jennie was photographing a sixalarm fire for the newspaper so they agreed to interview her later. Jennie had spent the past two hours waffling between breathing in caustic smoke and wondering if these creeps would kill her if she went through with the show designed to raise money for her charity Photos of Hope.
Would it actually come to that?
She glanced at the guy again. Cold, deadly eyes peered out from the shadow of his hood.
Yeah, when she didn't cancel the fundraiser, he'd make good on the threat. And she wouldn't cancel. Of that, he could be sure. Her charity supported impoverished children and many would suffer without the money she raised for medicine and food. The children came first. They always came first.
But he couldn't possibly know they'd already decided to hold the show as scheduled. Only she, the gallery owner and the police knew, right? So why was he coming after her now?
He shifted, eyes raking her body. Drilling into her face as if he were mining her thoughts. Maybe he did know, and he was here to end her life.
Easy, Jennie. It's broad daylight. People around. He's not going to hurt you here.
She had no idea what he intended.
She wanted to bolt through the car to move far away from those piercing eyes.
Stay calm. Two more stops. Just two more stops.
Then what? Get off the train and become an easier target?
She needed help. She should call 9-1-1. And what? Tell them a man with red paint on his hands was following her? By the time she convinced them to respond, she'd be dead.
Think, Jennie. Think.
Her phone pealed from her pocket, the shrill ring making her jump. She turned away from her stalker's cold stare and looked at the screen. Madeline. The gallery owner.
"Thank goodness you called," Jennie whispered into her phone. "Someone's following me. He has red paint on his hand and jacket. I think he's the guy who broke into the gallery last night." Her words tumbled over each other.
"Where are you?" Madeline sounded calm, as usual.
"On MAX. First car. Two stops away." Anxiety made it hard to breathe. She paused and sucked in stale air but still felt lightheaded.
"Ethan Justice is here. I'll send him to meet your train."
"Ethan." Of course! Ethan! Madeline had hired his P.I. agency to investigate the break-in and keep them safe. Thank You, God.
"Stay on the phone," Madeline continued. "I'll give it to him and he can talk to you on his way there."
As the train slowed for the next stop and passengers stirred, Jennie heard Madeline relay details to Ethan. The doors opened, and she stepped aside to let people pass. Her hooded tail stayed put. His eyes never leaving her, the razor-sharp gaze terrifying.
"I'm on my way, Jen." Ethan's voice, warm and familiar, rumbling through the phone, sent relief flooding down her veins, the last reaction she expected for the man she'd walked out on ten years ago.
"He's after me, Ethan," she whispered.
"I can't hear you, Jen. Too much background noise."
"I don't want anyone to hear me," she said a bit louder. "It'll quiet down in here when we start moving again."
That was Ethan. Patient and caring. Coming to the rescue of a woman who'd hurt him. Hurt him badly. And yet here he was. On his way to stop the creep whose scowl said he'd kill her without a second thought.
She shivered, a long shudder working over the length of her body. She wrapped her free arm around her stomach and waited for the train to reach cruising speed. When the car settled into a soft, rhythmic hum, she cupped her hand over her mouth and phone.
"There's a man," she said. "He followed me from the fire."
"Are you sure he followed you?" Ethan breathed fast, as if running.
"Yes. I was shooting pictures as I walked to keep my mind off the break-in. I caught him in the viewfinder a few times. I was already freaked out from hearing about last night so I wondered if he was tailing me."
She quickly looked to see if he still stood there. Fierce and threatening, he hadn't moved.
"I got on the closest MAX car," she went on. "Ran through it and back outside. Then I boarded the next car. He did the same thing."
Ethan mumbled something she couldn't make out. A loud exhale followed. "Madeline said something about paint."
"Red. On his hand and jacket. I didn't see it until he got close."
"What's he doing now?"
She glanced at him again. "Just watching me. But I'm afraid, Ethan." Saying it aloud sent another shiver down her body. "I think he might have a gun. He hasn't taken his hand out of his jacket pocket this whole time."
"Calm down, Jen. Panicking might make him do something crazy." He paused and she heard him draw in air. "I'm almost there. You should be able to see me soon. I'm wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and jeans."
As if she needed to know his attire. Even with this creep threatening her life, she'd instantly recognize someone she'd once loved.
"Madeline said you were in the first car," he continued. "Wave when you see me."
"Okay." She peered out the window, searching for the man she hadn't seen since their amazing summer vacation from college. Hadn't seen since the night she'd lied and told him that she just didn't love him and didn't want to be in a relationship with him anymore.
She'd never forgotten his face that night. Shocked, surprised, but most of all hurt. So hurt. She still felt horrible about lying to him. She had a choice and had taken the easy way out. Rejecting him had seemed less painful than waiting for his rejection when he learned about her past. That would end their relationship anyway, so why wait? So much easier to end things before she fell even more in love with him.
Now he was committed to helping her.
In the distance, she saw him running, dodging people on the busy downtown sidewalk. She took in his lean, wide-shouldered build, square jaw and dark hair cut shorter than she remembered. The white shirt set off his dark coloring, making him look dangerous yet very appealing at the same time.
The train began to slow and she waved to let him know she saw him.
He stood tall and strong where her train would disembark. "Where's the guy standing in relationship to you?"
She checked to make sure he hadn't moved. "Behind me. A little to my left. Near the other door."
"Hispanic. Short. Stocky. Wearing a light gray hoodie. He has the hood up."
The train's automated voice announced their pending stop and they slowed to a crawl.
"I see him," Ethan said. "When the doors open, I'll come forward and I want you to run out and get behind me. Okay?"
"I'm gonna hang up now to keep my hands free."
She nodded her understanding and slid her phone into her pocket. His hands came to rest at his sides, as he settled into a centered stance, clearly poised and ready for anything. Probably an unconscious habit from years at the FBI.
She was so thankful for his lawenforcement training. Despite the years they'd been apart, it was immediately obvious how strong and capable he was. He'd probably been a wonderful agentjust as she'd always known he'd be. She wasn't surprised when she read in the paper that Ethan and his four siblings followed through on their high-school pact. They'd decided to serve in law enforcement to show their appreciation and respect for their adoptive dad, who was a retired cop.
She was surprised, shocked really, when she read the rest of the article about an intruder murdering their adoptive parents. The local police department couldn't solve the case so the five of them left their jobs to hunt down the killer and then stayed together to form the Justice Agency.
If someone wanted to hurt her, she could think of no better allies than Ethan and his siblings.
Brakes squealed as the train slowed even more. This was it. Time to escape this creep.
Her palms grew moist. She scrubbed them over her jeans, stained and sooty from the sixalarm fire. She glanced back to check on her tail. He was on the move. Slowly inching toward her.
"C'mon, open, open, open," she whispered to the doors, but kept her eyes on him.
His hand came out of his pocket. Something slid through his palm and between his fingers. Looked like a knife. A switchblade. Closed. But easily opened with a flick of his fingers. He took a few more steps.
The train jerked to a stop. She lost her balance, wobbled and worked to regain her footing. She braced for the attack she feared was imminent.
His footfalls thumped slowly across the metal floor.
Close now. Too close.
Please, God, please! Let me get to Ethan before this guy hurts me.
The doors whooshed apart, but not before she heard a click. Not any click, but the distinctive snap of his switchblade opening a whisper of a space behind her back.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A well written and developed romantic suspense story. Jennie Buchanan is a photographer that unknowingly captured a drug-cartel meeting on film. Now she has become a killer’s next target. She has The Justice Agency providing her protection. The only problem with that is Ethan Justice is the one man that threatens her heart, and he is the one specifically taking charge of her protection. Which will be safer for Jennie, dodging bullets or facing the feelings stirred up by spending time with former FBI agent and ex-boyfriend Ethan? The plot of this romantic suspense is very well developed. The characters are well rounded and very easy to understand what makes them who they are. I really enjoyed looking at their backgrounds as they were revealed in relationship with the current situation they were in. Susan did an incredible job of building the story around the past actions and decisions affecting how people deal with current things. I’m really looking forward to reading the other books in this series and seeing what develops for the rest of the Justice siblings. I won a free copy of this book through a giveaway that Susan Sleeman had on her blog.
Jennie Buchanan photographs needy children. She's having a show of her photographs for her charity, Photos of Hope, that helps the children receive medical care and food. When someone trashes her photos on display for the show, they send Jennie a message not to open the show. She teams with the Justice Agency for protection and brainpower to decide who is behind destruction of her photos and also her house. Ethan Justice heads up the case. Jennie broke Ethan's heart and her own a few years ago when she walked away from their relationship. Jennie couldn't live with her past, much less explain it to Ethan. Can she now work with him as he protects her from harm but at the same time makes her heart flip?
Susan Sleeman is a master at creating suspense-filled, riveting stories. It’s obvious that she does much research and puts a lot of effort into making her stories authentic. Double Exposure captured my interest right from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. The characters were engaging and multi-layered and the premise was interesting. This is part of The Justice Agency series by Susan Sleeman, but it works well as a stand-alone book. I would recommend this to those who enjoy romantic suspense. It is a clean Christian fiction book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.
Once again, Ms Sleeman delivers a story that is not only filled with suspense, intrigue, and romance but also a story that is thought provoking, heartbreaking and heartwarming. This is a book is the first of the author’s series titled The Justice Agency, an agency owned and operated by a set siblings who previously worked in law enforcement. Their goal is to help those in need. This first one, centers around Ethan, whose girlfriend while he was in college, left him and disappeared. He was left devastated and 10 years after, he has been assigned to protect her. Jennie left Ethan because she had secrets about her past, and rather than be rejected she left. She has become a well known photographer and in charge of a charity that helps children in poverty. but someone wants her killed , and Ethan is hired to protect her. Aside from a complex set of characters, as well as a plot filled with twists and turns, the book delivers much more. It’s a story about how our past , our upbringing, and past mistakes, mold us as adults. Can we overcome these self-recriminations, doubts and feelings of being unworthy? Should we avoid trusting others for fear or rejection, or should we trust ourselves, them and God to help us overcome these fears and doubts. And doing doing so, can we find peace and love. A book worth reading. Be aware ,that these books are reprints. I was gifted this copy. The opinions expressed are solely my own.
This is book one in The Justice Agency series, so what a great place to start. I love the entire Justice family and look forward to reading more in this series. This book is full of mystery, suspense, twist and turns and of course romance. Jennie Buchanan has a heart of gold but a hard time forgiving herself and moving beyond a rough past and some difficult decisions. When she must rely on the one man who once held her heart will she be able to continue to help her charity, stay alive and keep her secret and her heart safe? I fell in love with the handsome ex-FBI agent, Ethan Justice. He must protect the one woman whom he took over a year to get over. I loved the family bond between his siblings and their unique work force. I look forward to learning more about this fun, loving, hard working family.
FANTASTIC ROMANTIC SUSPENSE!! Susan Sleeman writes compelling opening sentences that will immediately hook you. Double Exposure is another perfect example!! In this book, the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is shown in its truest form. A young photographer is poised to have an exhibition to raise money for her charity "Photos of Hope" until a series of attacks threaten to stop her show. Enter the Justice League - a family of five siblings (all adopted) who share law enforcement backgrounds but now work in the PI ranks. This book is PACKED with stay-up-all-night-suspense, mystery, intrigue, great family dynamics, lost loves, found loves, heartache, car chases, plot twists, excellent characterization and at the end you will be exhausted. But you will certainly have enjoyed every moment of the story! I was provided an ARC of this book. However, the opinions expressed here are completely my own.
4 STARS Double Exposure (The Justice Agency) Double exposure is good on keeping up the suspense. Both on who was after stoping Jennie from having her gallery showing and on her past with Ethan. I like the characters. Jennie is doing so much good with her charity, even willing risking her life to help the children in need. The Justice Agency is run and owned by a family of 5 brothers & sisters. They each went into law at different agencys. They were adopted and are close to each other. After thier parents were murdered they came home to help solve it. They then decided to open thier own agency and work together. Jennie is home getting ready for her photograph show with the procedes to help her charity. She travels the world taking photos of children living in poverty. With the money she makes from selling her photos she is able to help the children with food,education and medicine. Jennie is making a big difference in childrens lives. Now someone wants to stop the showing. They broke into the gallery and destroyed her work. They also spray painted death threats if she goes ahead with the showing. Now someone is following her and got on the train with her. The Justice Agency is hired to protect Jennie and the gallery. Ethan used to date Jennie and wanted a future with her. Jennie dumped him hard and than ran away from his life. Ethan is worried about falling for Jennie again. His family is worried about that too. They all recongize her as his Jennie from the past. They all are willing to risk thier lives to protect her and to help her. This is a Love Inspired novel. So it is a clean read. Also it does mention God,prayer and forgiveness but is not preachy just leaves you feeling good. I was given this book by the author. This is a honest review of a good book. I look forward to reading more books by Susan in the future. There is also a bonus story in the book called Hunter and Hope by lenora Worth It is a very short story about second chances too. Published June 5th 2012 by Love Inspired 288 pages ISBN: 037367516X
Romantic suspense at its finest. Susan Sleeman's "Double Exposure" met and exceeded my expectations. Lots of intrigue, and romance. Ms. Sleeman has done an excellent job of pulling us into the story from the very first sentence. The past that Jennie wants to keep hidden from Ethan defines who she is and the things she cares about, but holding onto the secret prevents her from living life to its fullest. You have to read the book to find out if she overcomes this obstacle and finds what she’s been searching for. Another wonderful romantic suspense. I look forward to her next installment in The Justice Agency series. ***I received this book free for review. The above is my honest opinion.
This Suspense is non-stop action and you won’t want to stop reading. The plot moves quickly, but the intensity is lessened by interactions between the hero’s family/coworkers and the heroine, who just happened to dump our hero several years before the story begins. That Romance conflict also moves the story forward and brings intensity into the interactions of all the characters. Dialogue is believable and is easy to read and the characters stay true throughout the story. Susan Sleeman continues to improve her storytelling with each new book.
I've always enjoyed Susan's books and this did not disappoint. From the first page, we are involved with the heroine and feel her fear as she is stalked. Then in walks the man assigned to protect her. Jennie Buchanan did not expect to see her ex-boyfriend, Ethan Justice, again. Especially in such close proximity. Sparks fly and danger increases as Ethan fights to keep Jennie safe and Jennie continues to move forward with a photography show that somebody will kill in order to stop. A great book in a great new series. I encourage readers to check out The Justice Agency series. They won't be disappointed.
I had the privilege this weekend of reading Double Exposure by Susan Sleeman. This is book one in the Justice Agency series, releasing in June 2012. From the very first chapter, Susan brought action and suspense. She was able to carry that through to the very end, keeping me guessing and wanting to read what would happen next. Not only was the plot very intriguing, with twists and turns throughout, but she brought to life the characters that I, as the reader, wanted to invest in. Jennifer, the main character, was likeable from chapter one. She endeared herself to my heart - showing survivor skills mixed with a tender spirit. She had characteristics that helped me relate easily to her, putting myself right in the action. Ethan, the book’s hero, was the perfect fit for Jenn. Having worked through his issues before the opening of the book, he was therefore was able to give Jenn the patience, time, and grace that she needed in order to work through her past. It was through their continued interactions that Susan showed so remarkably well how they complemented each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The fact that they had a past before the first chapter made the plot more intriguing and more endearing to me as a reader. As much as I loved watching Ethan and Jenn move toward each other throughout the book, overcoming the various obstacles that prevented them staying together in the past, I think I loved even more how Susan introduced Ethan’s siblings from the start. They remained ever present throughout the entire story. The close family unit that she depicted so well, that I think all of us want to a certain degree, pulled me in as a reader and made me hungry to keep reading about how this family. I want to know more about the siblings as a whole as well as how they remain close despite life’s inevitable interferences. I am anxiously awaiting the sequels to Double Exposure so I can discover more about each and every sibling, their personal struggles, their background, and each one’s individual story. In addition to reading about the other siblings, I hope that Susan will keep the reader informed as to how Jenn and Ethan’s love continues. I am anxiously awaiting reading about the next adventure that I am confident Susan will deliver. Don’t just take my word for it - if you like mystery, adventure, suspense, and of course romance, Double Exposure is the perfect summer read to get you started on a new adventure and a whole new series. I know I can’t wait to find out what adventures lie ahead for the rest of the siblings!
Suspense fills this exciting and dramatic book in the first of The Justice Agency series. From the first line, “Someone threatened to kill her last night. Now a man was following her.” to the last, DOUBLE EXPOSURE will keep you intrigued and compelled to see what happens next. How did photographer Jennie Buchannan find herself the target of a drug cartel while trying to raise money for suffering children? Could an ex-boyfriend help her reconcile a past with deep-rooted pain while protecting her from lethal thugs, and could she ever recover her faith after years of guilt and rejection by her church family? Could Ethan Justice win her back with any assurance that she wouldn’t run out on him again? Get ready for a full evening of mystery as Susan’s skillful writing is packed with fast-paced action so you never really find a “stopping place,” because it’s difficult to put one of her novels down. In my opinion, Susan Sleeman is a top-notch romantic suspense author, and I know you’ll enjoy this book. I’m anxious to read more of the Justice Series! This book was provided by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
When photographer Jennie Buchanan's life becomes threatened she has to rely on an old flame to keep her safe. From the first chapter, no first page, you are pulled into the breath taking chase. As Jennie discovers who is after her and why she becomes more dependent on the Justice Agency to keep her alive. The Justice Agency is a family dedicated to law enforcement and they work together to protect their client. Ethan Justice takes the lead in this case and he's determined to keep Jennie safe at all cost. He's just one of the five member team, I can't wait to see what Susan Sleeman has in store for us in the next addition to this excellent series.