Downright Dangerous

Downright Dangerous

by Beverly Barton
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Downright Dangerous by Beverly Barton

She had always been the good girl, putting her family first, never thinking of herself. But now Elsa Leone was a woman on a mission, and her well-meaning attempt to put an end to crime in her town had earned her enemies. Deadly enemies.

Enter Rafe Devlin, top-notch bodyguard and just about as bad as a man can be. Or so he said. But the moment Elsa saw the tender lover beneath the hard-bodied protector, she knew the stakes had just gotten higher. Because if letting Rafe into her lonely life was trouble, loving him was downright dangerous....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426877438
Publisher: Silhouette
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Series: Protectors (Intimate Moments) Series , #21
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 589,688
File size: 467 KB

About the Author

Movies fascinated Beverly Barton from an early age, and by the time she was seven she was rewriting the movies she saw to give them all happy endings. After her marriage and the births of her children, Beverly continued to be a voracious reader and a devoted movie goer, but she put her writing aspirations on hold. Now, after writing over 70 books, receiving numerous awards and becoming a New York Times bestselling author, Beverly's career became her dream come true.

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1946

Date of Death:

April 21, 2011

Place of Birth:

Tuscumbia, AL

Place of Death:

Tuscumbia, AL

Read an Excerpt

Downright Dangerous

By Beverly Barton

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-27343-6

Chapter One

Elsa Leone had become a major irritation, stirring up trouble and getting the whole town of Maysville worked up over the problems down in Honey Town. After receiving a few phone calls and letters of warning, she should have gotten the message that she was involving herself in things that could get her killed. But she hadn't heeded those friendly warnings. The woman was as tenacious as a bulldog with a juicy bone. Using her position as the manager of WJMM's TV and radio stations to spotlight the crimes being committed in the once red-light district of their beloved little town had served as a catalyst for every law-abiding citizen to join ranks. Elsa had spearheaded the drive to form the Maysville Good Samaritans, MGS, who were demanding action. And those demands grew louder every day.

Allowing things to go this far had been his first mistake, one he had to rectify. Orders had been given. Tonight action would be taken. And if the smart and sassy Ms. Leone didn't take heed, then she would have to die.

Glancing up at the podium in the grand ballroom at the Magnolia Plaza, he joined the audience in giving Elsa a standing ovation as she hosted tonight's fund-raiser for MGS. He'd never seen her dressed to the nines as she was this evening. Despite being attractive in a dark, rather exotic way, she seemed to be one of those women totally unaware of her beauty and sex appeal and usually did absolutely nothing to enhance either. But tonight she'd undoubtedly made a special effort. Her form-fitting black satin dress revealed her slender yet adequately round figure.

Watching her, appreciating her feminine charms, he sighed, all the while keeping a phony smile in place. Such a shame. Such a waste. If Ms. Leone had busied herself with womanly things and kept her nose out of affairs that should remain men's business, she might have lived to be a grandmother. But her liberal feminist aggression would more than likely be the death of her.

Elsa had spoken to the audience from her heart, but without sharing her own personal tragedies that had been precipitated by alcohol and drug addiction. As far as anyone in Maysville, Mississippi knew, Elsa's campaign to help clean up the crime-ridden part of the city came from her desire to accomplish something positive for the community simply because she was a good person.

And I am a good person, Elsa thought as she finished off the last sips of ginger ale in the crystal flute before heading toward the cloak room to retrieve her coat. It wasn't that she was always a nice person, though God knew she tried to be. However, she didn't have the type of personality that allowed her to suffer fools gladly. She had always expected the best from herself and found it incomprehensible that anyone would waste their life by not living up to their potential.

Just as she retrieved her sensible black wool winter coat, a large, warm hand touched her back. She froze instantly. Glancing over her shoulder, she stared directly into the faded blue eyes of Ellison Southwell Mays, the scion of Maysville's oldest and most prestigious family. She barely knew the man; and Elsa disliked virtual strangers touching her. Besides, there was something odd about Mr. Mays, a man of indeterminable age - somewhere between forty and sixty, she surmised.

"Just wanted to tell you how delighted we are to have a real hot-blooded little go-getter like you firing up the folks around here." Mr. Mays's hand lingered on Elsa's back, making her feel downright uncomfortable.

"Thank you." She offered him a weak smile. She had learned early on after she moved to Maysville that it was wise not to offend certain people - particularly the old guard, who possessed social and economic influence over the entire county.

"Ms. Leone," a male voice called to her, giving her a diplomatic reason to pull away from Mr. Mays.

"Excuse me, please." Keeping a forced smile in place, Elsa slipped away, walking toward Maysville's local boy who made good, Harry Colburn, an up-and-coming young entrepreneur. Her smile turned genuine for Harry. "Thanks for coming tonight, Mr. Colburn. We certainly appreciate your support. Your pledge to MGS prompted others to dig deep and give as generously as you did."

Harry grinned, a rather shy yet charmingly boyish smile, and Elsa thought for at least the dozenth time how incredibly good-looking this man was. A real pretty boy, with his curly black hair and honey-brown eyes.

"Please, call me Harry. And I was pleased to do you a favor, Elsa." Harry didn't touch her, except with his dark, pensive gaze. "You've worked wonders since taking over the reins at WJMM. When was it - only eight months ago?"

Her shoulders heaved as she sighed. "Yes, we've been here eight and a half months, but sometimes it seems as if I've lived in Maysville for years. I've truly come to love this town and the people here."

"And we've come to love you."

Elsa tried not to read too much into Harry's comment, despite the way he kept looking at her - as if she were some delectable dessert he wanted to sample.

The corridor outside the ballroom grew congested as people began leaving, person after person pausing long enough to speak to Elsa and congratulate her and thank her for WJMM's support for the MGS group.

"Not as long as I've been police chief have we had so many Honey Town residents working with us instead of against us to clean up that part of town," Chief Van Fleming told her.

And Mayor Noah Wright added his own strong praise. "Elsa's been a godsend for Maysville. Yes sir, that's for sure."

Occasionally Elsa felt overwhelmed by all the accolades, but she accepted everyone's good wishes as gracefully as she knew how. For a girl who'd grown up very poor, very plain and very shy, being in the spotlight was often difficult for her. But she had spent most of her thirty years working extremely hard to make something of herself, so she was determined to enjoy the success she had achieved. It did her ego a world of good to be accepted by everyone who was anyone in this lazy little Mississippi town. And everyone included not only the mayor and the police chief, but people like Ellison's aunt Nella Southwell, the old grand dame of local society, as well as Maysville Junior College president, Bruce Alden.

"Would you like a ride home?" Harry Colburn asked when the crowd began to thin.

"Oh, no, thank you," she replied. "I have my car. I'm going straight to the station. Troy's truck has been in the garage for a couple of days and he'll need a ride home from work. Besides, I have tons of things I can catch up on at the station until it's time for him to leave."

"Your brother is quite industrious," Harry said. "Attending junior college full-time and working at WJMM."

Elsa simply smiled and nodded. She was proud of Troy, prouder than anyone in town would ever know. Since he'd been a kid, her twenty-year-old brother had fought a courageous battle against drug addiction. He'd been clean and sober for nearly two years now and she had high hopes that at long last he'd turned his life around. Accepting this job in Maysville had not only given her a wonderful career opportunity, but it had given her brother a chance to start over with a clean slate in a town where no one knew about his past.


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All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Downright Dangerous 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
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I read a review that said Elsa was not a good heroine. Wrong!!! She was not selfish. She cared very much for her siblings and the people in Maysville. She fell in love with Rafe and did not care that he was not rich and socially prominant. Good book in the Protectors series.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In the previous book of the series Elsa was a very likeable character, independent, caring and trying to do her best with her orphaned brother. But in this book she became a sanctimonious, social climbing, money hungry individual. She turned into a snob and seemed to morph into Grace (from ¿Grace Under Fire¿). Her goal was to marry a rich, powerful, socially respected man. So in her mind Rafe wasn't acceptable. Rafe was one of the good guys and understood what was important in life. It¿s a mystery why he was attracted to her. I was really looking forward to this book and was very disappointed.