Let the Hunt Begin... PI Diana Belmaine always gets her man, and her hunt for a clever thief leads her to archaeologist Dr. Jack Austin. Jack is drawn to smart, sexy women, but Diana's vow to expose his secret could cost him his livelihood, his reputation, even his life. Jack has nothing left to lose, so why not surrender to fate...and steal her heart? (Originally published by Avon Books in 2002.)
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About the Author
Author of several books with Avon and Pocket -- contemporary romance and romantic suspense -- and contributor to a short story romance anthology.
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Six Months Later ...
At the familiar clomp of thick-soled boots, Diana Belmaine glanced up from her desk to see her part-time secretary walk into her office. Luna was twenty-two and pretty, with pale skin and a penchant for dark nail polishes, bloodred lipstick, black hair dye, and black lace. Not surprisingly, she moonlighted as a vampire guide for night tours of New Orleans.
In a disapproving voice, Luna said, "You didn't tell me you had an appointment today."
Diana removed her reading glasses, then sat back, arching a brow. "Because I don't."
"Well, there's this old guy by my desk who says he's here to talk to you."
"Does the old guy have a name?"
"Mr. Jones." Smiling didn't mesh with Luna's image, but humor lit her dark eyes all the same. "I'm thinking probably a close cousin of Mr. Doe and Mr. Smith."
Real clients -- those wealthy enough to require her services -- weren't keen on announcing to the world they needed a private investigator. They almost never came to her; she went to them. Most of her business deals transpired over café au lait and beignets at the Café du Monde, at somebody else's office, on the phone, or in dark bars.
Diana sighed and pushed to her feet, reluctant to waste time when she had a report to prepare on her recovery of a stolen Picasso. The insurance company who'd hired her probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that the painting's owner -- a cheery, white-haired oil company exec going through financial difficulties following his third divorce -- had arranged the theft so he could collect on the insurance settlement.
A trick as old asdirt, and people never, ever learned.
She followed Luna to the small waiting area of her three-room office suite, which was decorated in baronial tones of burgundy, navy, and tan, and located on the second floor of an old St. Phillip Street building, not far from the market. The lazy whir-whir-whir of the ceiling fan blended with the street noise filtering through the filmy chiffon curtains: chattering tourists swarming through the French Quarter, beeping horns, and the plodding clop of hooves as a mule-drawn carriage rumbled past.
An elegant, silver-haired man stood by the window. He wore a conservative dark suit and carried a large leather briefcase -- a lawyer to somebody with lots of money?
Thank God she'd worn a dress. Its lime green silk played up her blond hair and lightly tanned skin, and while the sheath's slim lines skimmed her curves a bit more than she'd prefer for meeting a potential client, it was still tasteful and businesslike.
"Hello." She walked forward, spine straight, shoulders squared. The man turned, and she noted a white rose adorning his lapel. "I'm Diana Belmaine."
"Edward Jones." The man shook her hand in a firm, brief grip. "You're the private investigator who specializes in stolen antiquities, I presume."
"Yes, and I also specialize in art, jewelry, heirlooms, and antiques. I handle fraud cases, too, though not as much as when I worked with Sotheby's." She paused. "Have you lost something, Mr. Jones?"
"I'm afraid so."
Diana took in his diamond tie tack, the expensive suit, and smiled. "And you'd like me to find it."
Her smile blossomed into a full grin. "Lovely. Let's talk, shall we? This way, please. Hold all my calls, Luna."
Luna looked amused again, despite her lack of a smile. "Will do, Boss."
Mr. Jones politely nodded at Luna and followed Diana into her office. The packed bookshelves and framed licenses on the wall lent an air of authority to the room, as did stately chairs in tufted oxblood leather and the massive oak desk from a cotton exchange office that had gone out of business long ago. The overall impression was one of power. Masculine power specifically, which helped overcome the annoying handicap of looking more like a Grace Kelly society girl than a private eye.
"Have a seat." She closed the door. "Would you like coffee or something else to drink?"
"I'm fine, thank you."
Curiosity piqued, Diana sat, pushed aside the clutter on her desk, and asked, "What can I do for you, Mr. Jones?"
As an answer, he hauled his briefcase onto his lap. After dialing in the combination and snapping open the fasteners, he withdrew an accordion file and dropped it on her desk with a weighty thump. He didn't push it toward her, and she didn't touch it.
"This file contains all the information you should require to investigate my client's recent loss."
"You're a little ahead of the game here. How about you tell me your client's name, first."
"Steven Carmichael." When her brows shot up, the lawyer smiled thinly. "You are familiar with my client?"
"Of course. Anybody in the antiquities business knows his name. And it so happens Mr. Carmichael approached me a month ago about taking on a case after the police investigation stalled. Something about missing crates of Mayan artifacts, destined for his new gallery." Diana tipped her head to one side. "But he hired another investigator."
That rejection still stung, especially since she suspected that the wealthy and powerful Carmichael had passed her over because he came from a generation that didn't believe a woman could handle a "tough" job. It wouldn't be the first time sexism had cost her a case.
"Ah, yes ... I am aware of that situation."
"Did Mr. Carmichael ever recover his missing antiquities?"
She managed not to smile. "That's too bad."
The lawyer fixed her with a hard, assessing gaze. "A most unfortunate affair, I agree, but not the one I'm here about. Mr. Carmichael has an urgent matter he needs addressed at once, and it's of a more personal nature."Getting Her Man. Copyright © by Michele Albert. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overall Rating: 4.40 // Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 4.0 / Romance: 4.75 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Intrigue: 3.0 // Laughter: 9 / Tears: 0 Michele Albert: There is just something about the way Michele Albert tells a story that works for me. She wrote an interesting, engaging, sexy and fun book. Getting Her Man: 4.40 An intriguing story of a private investigator hired to find a stolen precious artifact by gallery owner, Steven Carmichael. The intrigue is not so much about who the thief is, but about how Diana is going to figure out why Jack stole the piece from his benefactor. Dr. Jack Austin: 5.0 A professor of archeology at Tulane. Although not Cajun born and bred, he possesses that magic charisma and enjoyment of life that seems to be an integral part of a Louisiana boy's make up. Jack's intelligence and quick-wit are featured in this book and we cannot help but enjoy his blatant good looks and beautiful body as we stare at him through Diana's lust-ridden eyes. Diana Belmaine: 3.0 A private investigator who specialized in stolen antiquities. A bold, brassy, smart, gorgeous, intelligent, determined, sharp-dressing heroine. Her strong will is humanized because it is soon obvious that she is trying to re-establish herself as a competent investigator in a specialized field after having lived through the scandal of having been used by an antiquities thief two years ago. Action: 3.0 There was not a lot of exciting adventurous action, but more of the procedures of Diana's day-to-day investigational activities. Emotion: 4.0 It was easy to connect with both Jack and Diana because Albert detailed their pasts during their many confrontations as they tried to 'one up' the other as they made their way through the book. Albert's talent shines because she was able to bring forth peals of laughter with her well-written dialogue. Romance: 4.75 There is a constant stream of sexual tension and awareness between Jack and Diana as they constantly fight the losing battle of strong mutual attraction. Intrigue: 3.0 The question that ran throughout the entire book was: How were Diana and Jack going to outwit Steven Carmichael so Jack wouldn't have to go to prison for art theft and they could have their happily ever after. Sensuous: 3.5 The love scenes are filled with spice, sizzle and heat. Supporting Characters: 4.0 Interesting, intriguing, well-developed supporting characters added a rich flavor to the story -- and promoted an interest in reading the future books of the series. See Wolf Bear Does Books for a more in-depth, detailed review of *Getting Her Man*.
Through an intermediary, antiquities collector Steven Carmichael hires New Orleans-based private investigator Diana Belmaine to recover a stolen Egyptian Eighteenth Dynasty artifact. The object is an alabaster box with Nefertiti¿s name on it containing a lock of hair that Carmichael believes belonged to the legendary Queen. Diana wonders about the legitimacy of ownership. However with the high fee and the potential for her sleuthing reputation being praised, Diana is persuaded to accept the case. Since the purloined item was probably stolen during a party thrown by Carmichael, Diana uses the attendees¿ list as a starting point. This leads her to Tulane University where she meets Mayan expert Dr. Jack Austin, a beneficiary of grants from Carmichael¿s Ancient Americas Preservation Society. Diana quickly believes the renowned professor (People Magazine, Discovery channel) is the thief, but cannot fathom why he would steal from the hand that feeds him. As Diana and Jack duel in a game of wits, their initial attraction blossoms into something stronger, but though they share a passion for Cocoa Krispies and one another, she repudiates her love for the handsome probable felon. This is an exciting romantic suspense that grips the reader due to the delectable relationship between the lead characters that grips the audience from the moment Diana visits Jack in his college office. The story line focuses on the game of chess played on several levels between the professor and the sleuth. Though why Diana concluded that Jack was as a good a thief as an archeologist seems stretched, fans of an exciting intrigue will gain pleasure with Michele Albert¿s terrific GETTING HER MAN that will surely get her new readers. Harriet Klausner
Michele Albert is by far the most incredible author I¿ve ever read. For the life of me, I can¿t figure out why she is not at the top of list of romance authors but my hope is this incredible piece will catapult her there. Formerly writing as Michele Jerrott, I have read every story she¿s written and been amazed at her advanced ability to create an all-encompassing masterpiece. Her story lines are unique, original and spellbinding. Her characters are just as intriguing and detailed. You feel like you know them intimately by the time you¿ve read the last word. She introduces just the right amount of wit and sex to satisfy both humor seekers and sex devotees. Her heroines are self-sufficient and strong yet womanly and believable. Her heroes are original and fantasy inducing yet sensitive and real. Most authors create characters that bring `baggage¿ into the relationship. Michele does not make a major issue of those learning experiences and create over extended problems to prolong the story before uniting her heroes and heroines. In other words, her characters are mature and deal with their past history in realistic terms that don¿t drag the piece down. So many times when I¿m reading a piece, I want to say, ¿Get over it, will you, and get on with life.¿ Some authors make such a commotion out of getting their lead players together, that it distracts from the story line and frustrates the readers. Michele reveals the facts with vocabulary that is sophisticated without the reader requiring a dictionary. She uses proper forms of English, spelling and punctuation that flow smoothly, encouraging you to keep going. There is no awkwardness, dull moments or lulls to her writing. She discloses information at a comfortable pace that makes you want to keep reading without rushing, savoring every word and enjoying the interplay between the characters. She brings history to life in a contemporary setting that intrigues enough that you will find yourself looking for non-fiction books about the topic. Settings are described in a way that put you in the center of the story. You feel as if you are a bystander a few feet from the character, viewing it from their eyes, hearing the sounds, and smelling the aromas as the character is. Yet, it¿s never too heavy. It always seems to be just the right amount of description to place you there but not over extend or bore. In short, her books are masterful works by a consummate professional. She doesn¿t have `the recipe¿ where only the people and places change. I¿m tired of reading the same story over and over but slightly changed. Authors who churn out the same thing in a slightly different `flavor¿ each month do not impress me. You can tell that Michele spends a great deal of time researching her story line and developing something new and unique. Anyone who reads this piece will want to read every book Michele has written so just save your self the time and pick them all up at once. You will not regret it and will be as eager as I am for the next book to hit the shelves. Break out the champagne, pop in your favorite CD, start the fire and enjoy a feast for the senses. Yes, there is a recipe for success and Michele is serving it up to you on her best china. You will walk away from the table nourished and comfortably content but ready to return and eat your cheesecake too.