There's someone in Toussaint Guy will do anything to protect. Jilly Gable is desperate to find the love of the family who abandoned her as a child. And when the wife of a powerful New Orleans antiques dealer and loan shark sweeps into town claiming to be her mother, Jilly is all too willing to love and forget.
Slowly and methodically, evil closes in on Jilly, and only the truth—and Guy—can save her. Connecting the dots between the Big Easy and Toussaint all but cinches his case, but Jilly and Guy are still in danger. They have only each other for protection.
But will that be enough?
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About the Author
Stella Cameron is the New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling, award-winning author of more than 45 historical and contemporary romantic suspense novels and novellas. Each of her single-title releases has appeared on the Waldenbooks mass market and romance lists, and on the Barnes & Noble list.
Stella has won the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense, and both Waldenbooks and Bookrak sales awards. In 1998 she was the recipient of the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association Achievement Award for distinguished professional achievement and for enhancing the stature of the Northwest literary community.
Stella is married and has three children--one married. Her passions are (surprise!) writing, reading (everything), music (music holds the same position as food in her life), drama--anything performed on a stage. "If I don't have tickets for a performance waiting on my desk, I go into a funk. I should have put my animals before the theatre...." Stella's pets, a dog named Spike and a cat named Raven, are her constant buddies. When she's away on trips, buying gifts for the two furry friends is at the top of her list of "musts." Are they spoiled? You betcha.
Read an Excerpt
A Grave Mistake
By Stella Cameron
MIRACopyright © 2005 Stella Cameron
All right reserved.
Jilly Gable had a man to confront. Maybe this time Guy Gautreaux would keep his big mouth shut and let her finish what she had to say before he piled in and told her what to do and why, and reminded her of his earlier warning that the reappearance of her longlost mother could be bad news.
Guy had trouble with the concept that a woman could have a change of heart after thirty years of not giving a damn about a person. He didn't believe people changed; he thought that as years went by they became more of what they had always been. In this case, once a bad mother, eventually a really bad mother.
Jilly pulled her aging VW Beetle into the forecourt at Homer Devol's gas station — the last gas station on the way out of the town of Toussaint, and first on the way in, depending on whether you were going or coming and which side of the sign you looked at.
Homer usually went to pick his granddaughter up from school in the afternoon, leaving Guy to tend the gas station and the convenience store beyond, where a string of colored lights outlined the roof. The lights stayed on all day and into the evening, all year.
Pots of showy geraniums hung beneath the eaves with ivy trailing to the ground.
Jilly looked around. Nothing on two legs moved. With her head out of the window, she called, "Homer! Guy!" then she screwed up her eyes and listened. No response. She looked quickly toward the road. All day she'd had a sick sensation that she was being followed, watched. Last night she had got a warning, even if it wasn't direct, that someone was watching her movements. Who better to advise her than Guy, a New Orleans Police Department homicide detective on extended leave?
Way to the left, closer to the bayou, Homer's splittimber house stood on stilts with its gallery facing the bayou across the sloping back lawn.
She got out of the limegreen Beetle and went through the useless exercise of trying to take in a breath. Hot didn't cover it. Heat eddies wavered above the burnedout grass and did their shaky dance on tops of the roofs. From where she was she could see cypress trees crouching, totally still, over Bayou Teche. Beards of Spanish moss hung from branches as if they were painted there, and the peagreen surface of the bayou might have been setup JellO. Even the gators would be sleeping now.
She reached behind her seat and hauled out several bakery boxes tied together with string. If she didn't get them inside fast, the contents would be gooey puddles. Jilly owned All Tarted Up, Flakiest Pastry In Town, one of Toussaint's favorite gathering places. Her brother, Joe — a lawyer — had been her partner until his marriage the previous year. She'd been able to assume the loans and she loved having the business to herself.
Guy's beatup gray Pontiac hugged a slice of shade beside the store, but she saw no sign of the man, either in the gas station or the store. He didn't live out here and mostly stayed away from the house.
A walk toward the bayou ended her search. He stood on the dock, a cell phone clamped to his ear, his arms crossed, and his face pointing away from her.
A door slid open behind her and she jumped, swung around and barely kept her balance. Homer's fishboiling operations were housed in this other building, one you didn't see until you got close to the bayou. Ozaire Dupre walked out and turned to slide the doors shut, but not before the dense smell of boiling fish rushed free. Ozaire, caretaker at the church, man of many schemes, also helped out with Homer's boiling and drove the giant pots of fish, and sometimes vats of his parttime boss's own special gumbo, to backyard barbecues or any event looking for real Louisiana cooking.
Ozaire saw Jilly and frowned, shook his big, shaved head dolefully. "Better you keep me company today, girl. That one down there — he's one big, black cloud, him." Ozaire fooled some people with his short, thick, slowmoving body. In fact, the man's strength was legendary in the area, and his speed if he chose to hurry.
A partgrown black mutt with long, silky hair loped around his legs but soon left to investigate Jilly.
"You say that every time I come," Jilly pointed out, scratching the dog's velvet head. "Who's this goodlooking fella?" "That Guy Gautreaux's a big, black cloud all the time, that's why I say it." Ozaire looked smug. His scalp shone in the sunlight and sweat ran down the sides of his round face and heavy neck. "Never got nuthin' good to say. I reckon he's got a curse on him. Badluck boy, that one."
"You should be more careful what you say, you," Jilly told Ozaire. "A man could get in trouble for saying things like that."
"Get on. I'm just sayin' it like it is. Last woman that boy got close to is in a cemetery."
Last year Guy's longtime girlfriend had been murdered in New Orleans. He blamed himself.
"Later," Jilly said, exasperated. She held out the boxes.
"We had extra at the bakery. They're fresh. Put them in the store case for Homer to sell."
Ozaire took the load from her and gave a rare grin. "An' I thought you was bringin' me a treat."
Jilly wagged a finger at him. A bug flew into her eye and she dealt with it, then pointed at him again. "You get one. I've counted those pastries, I'll count them again when I come back up. There better be no more than one gone." Give the man the chance and he'd be hauling the stuff off to sell to whoever was using the church hall at St. Cécil's.
"That there's a dog what's a prize, that's what he is," Ozaire said, as if the topic had never been pastries. "Can't keep 'im, no sir. My Lil says four dogs is enough. But this guy's too good, got too much character to drop him at the pound and have 'em put him down in a couple of days."
Jilly had been the recipient of Ozaire's earlier attempts to place strays. "Hope you find a home for him," she said. The man's love of dogs made her feel more kindly toward him.
"Reckon I have," Ozaire said. "With your prickly friend, huh? Put in a good word, huh? For the dog's sake, and for that miserable son of..." He let the rest trail off.
Jilly shook her head. "You're too hard on Guy," she told him, and headed toward the dock. She turned and walked backward a few paces. "I'm going to check on the pastries, mind."
Jilly hurried downhill.
Guy was leaning over, pushing off one of the rental boats. A couple of guys with fishing gear started the outboard and phutphutted into the middle of the channel. With the phone still clamped to his ear, Guy stood up and saw Jilly. He gave her a brief wave and started meandering back along the dock. They'd met the previous year when an investigation brought him to Toussaint and he'd become her friend, her best buddy, and she needed to talk openly with him about what was on her mind. He had never attempted to turn their relationship into something deeper, but Jilly had seen the hot looks he quickly hid — she wasn't the only one frustrated by the sexless hours they spent together.
Excerpted from A Grave Mistake by Stella Cameron Copyright © 2005 by Stella Cameron. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was the first book I read by this author and it hooks you in after the first chapter. And thru the book was non stop with things happening without revealing who was behind the attempt to the mother's death . Worth reading, story keeps you going til the end. Alot of characters mixed in with the main, but you don't get lost. Would read more of this author's books.
This is yet another outstanding book by Stella Cameron. The characters are just phenomenal -- not cut out characters but real 'people' with layers and textures. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat. Ms. Cameron blended all of the elements seemlessly into a book that you won't want to put down until the end.
I have no respect for authors who put explicit sex into a story to sell a book. The story is stopped while the characters have sex. It does nothing to enhance the plot and is unnecessary except to sell books. I have nothing against sex in books if it is an integral part of the plot or story, which in this case, is not. I will not read any more Harlequin books.
Just finished reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed this story. It took me back to my visits in New Orleans making both the characters and the scenery Ms. Cameron describes very real! The steam between Guy and Jilly was sexy red hot. A Good read!
New Orleans Detective Nat Archer heads to nearby Toussaint to enlist the aid of his partner Guy Gautreaux, on a leave of absence. Nat tells him someone shot and killed Pip Sedge in the French Quarter the victim had ties to Toussaint. Guy says no as he still heals from a tragedy. Pastry shop owner Jilly Gable wants Guy though he does all he can to discourage her even though he desires her too. He is concerned that a woman claiming to be Jilly¿s mother Edith, who deserted her years ago, wants to be back in her life. Edith has brought her husband antiques dealer Sam Preston with her. Guy does not trust the Prestons or their bodyguard although he admits he has only a feeling about the duo. Still he investigates because he will not allow any harm to come to Jilly, but is unaware of the link back to New Orleans. --- Though the flood puts a damper on this Bayou romantic suspense thriller, readers will still appreciate this fine tale. The hero is a good guy trying not to get involved, but unable to keep out especially since he is falling in love with the upbeat Jilly. She is the more intriguing character with her need to belong to a loving family sending her willingly into accepting the Prestons and ultimately into danger. Stella Cameron provides a strong tale, but the real world provides an eerie feel to the Louisiana background. --- Harriet Klausner