Hunter's Moon: A Novel

Hunter's Moon: A Novel

by Karen Robards

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Molly Ballard was desperate. It wasn't easy caring for two brothers and two sisters, and keeping a roof over their heads. She needed money more than ever. Yet in a fit of anger she quit her job as a groom at the posh Wyland Farm in Kentucky's rich turf--and then stole out of the tack room with $5,000 in FBI cash. So when Agent Will Lyman catches her in a lie, she agrees to cooperate in a sting. She'll do anything to protect her family, to shield the secrets of her past, and guard her heart from further hurt. Molly will even spy for Will and let him pose as her lover. But soon the passion they pretend becomes searingly real as they court danger in bluegrass country and cross the path of a killer who will stop at nothing under a Hunter's Moon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307801494
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/20/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 85,782
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Karen Robards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty-seven full-length books and one novella. The mother of three boys, she lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Read an Excerpt

October 11, 1995

"Hey, Will! Will! Would you look at that?"

Will Lyman responded to his partner's urgent whisper by opening his eyes a slit and glancing up at the monitor installed in the ceiling of the van.  He was slightly groggy, and it took him a second to remember where he was: parked outside a barn at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, charged with bringing to justice a gang of the pettiest crooks it had ever been his displeasure to chase.  He, who had pursued big-time names from Michael Milken to 0. J. Simpson and worked on big-time cases from the Hillside Strangler to Whitewater, had been assigned to get the goods on a gang of has-been horsemen who had taken to supplementing their income by substituting fleeter-footed "ringers" for the broken-down Thoroughbreds they were scheduled to race.

How the mighty are fallen!

It was just before 4:00 a.m. and dark as the inside of a grave in the van.  The gray glow of the monitor's screen provided the only illumination.  The picture was grainy, old black-and-white TV quality, but the image it conveyed was unmistakable: a slender young woman in skin-tight jeans had entered the previously empty tack room in the barn they had had under surveillance since dark.  Back to the camera, she was in the act of bending over the baic a large burlap feed bag stuffed with five thousand dollars in cash.

When Wyland Farm manager Don Simpson took it home with him, they had him.  Case closed.

Only this girl was not, by any stretch of the imagination, Don Simpson.

"Who the hell is she?" Wide-awake now, Will shot off the dilapidated couch that filled one side of the lawn service van that was their cover to stand staring in disbelief at the monitor.  "Do we have a file on her? Lawrence never mentioned a girl.  He said Simpson would pick up the money himself."

"Nice ass," Murphy said, staring at the screen.  The comment was detached. Murphy, fifty-two-year-old father of five, had been more or less happily married for thirty-some years.  When it came to female flesh, he was looking, not buying.

"We got anything on her? Do you know who she is?" Irritated that Murphy had forced him to notice the small, firm, unmistakably feminine butt that was thrust almost in his face as the girl bent at the waist, backside toward the camera, Will spoke with an edge to his voice.

"Nope.  Never seen her before in my life."

"Well, don't go into a panic over it." Will spared a second to glare at his partner.  Murphy never hurried, never worried, never got into a state about anything.  The trait was about to drive Will insane.

"Okay, okay." With a grin, Murphy swiveled sideways in his chair, turned on the computer that rested on the narrow work station built into the wall opposite the couch, and started punching computer keys.  "Caucasian, female, between, oh, twenty and twenty-five years old, five feet seven, wouldn't you say, and maybe a hundred fifteen, hundred twenty pounds....  What color's her hair?"

"How the hell should I know? The damn picture's in black and white." With an effort, Will controlled his irritation and took a closer look.  "Dark.  Not blond."

"Brown," Murphy decided, typing it in.  

"She's opening the bag!"

The clicking of the computer keys ceased as Murphy swung around to watch too. The girl on the monitor now crouched in front of the sack, which rested on the speckled linoleum floor in the corner directly opposite the hidden camera.  Her hands were busy untying the frayed piece of hemp that was wrapped tightly around the sack's twisted neck.  Her back was still to the camera, but at least her butt was down.  A thick curtain of shoulder blade-length hair kept Will from getting a look at her face.  Though her butt was certainly memorable enough for him to be able to pick it out of a lineup if he ever had to.

"Can you get me something on her, please?" Perilously controlled annoyance at both himself for noticing and Murphy for existing tightened his lips.

Murphy turned back to the computer.

"She's found the money." Will hadn't really meant to say it aloud, because he didn't want Murphy distracted.  But the circumstances were so damned unexpected that his mind was not operating with its usual efficiency.  He needed an ID, pronto.  To decide what to do, he had to know who she was.  Did the girl who sank back on her heels to stare at the bundles of cash she had uncovered work for the target of their investigation, or did she not?

The clicking stopped as Murphy, as expected, glanced around at the monitor. Will shot him a look that should have singed his eyeballs.  Murphy hunched a shoulder guiltily, and started typing again.  The girl reached into the sack to finger first one then another rubber band-bound bundle of twenties.

"Nothing .  .  .  nothing .  .  .  nothing," Murphy grunted as the screen blinked a couple of times, then shone a maddeningly blank fluorescent green. "No woman fitting her description in the files.  Unless I've done something wrong."

That cheerful admission made Will want to tear out his hair.  For a quick-talking, quick-thinking, quick-acting type A personality like himself, being teamed with a laid-back kind of guy like Murphy was a penance.  Which was probably just what Dave Hallum had in mind when he paired the two of them up. Will's boss was still mad over the loss of his cabin
cruiser.  Hell, Will couldn't help it if the crooks he'd been chasing had thought the damned thing belonged to him, and decided to blow it up.

Hallum always had been one to hold a grudge.

Clearly this assignment, complete with Murphy, signaled payback time.

"She's taking the money!" Will watched as the unidentified girl, after retying the sack and casting a quick glance around that afforded him the merest glimpse of her profile, stood up with their bait in her arms.  Then she turned, finally facing the camera, and walked straight toward them.  Her face, Will discovered to his disgust, was as memorable as her butt: fineboned and beautiful.  He blinked in pure self-defense, and in that brief time she--and the Bureau's money-- were out of camera range, and presumably out the door.

Murphy, leaning back in his chair, wolf-whistled appreciatively.  "Whoa! Fox-y lady!"

Ignoring him, Will pressed a button beneath the monitor, and waited for the second camera panning the barn itself to pick up the action.  All he got was a screenful of snow.

"Doesn't look like it's working," Murphy observed as Will frantically twirled dials and pressed buttons.

No kidding.  Will gritted his teeth, abandoned the monitor, and with a dagger-glance at his partner snatched up the phone.

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Hunter's Moon 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello (post)
JennaBear00 More than 1 year ago
Good book kept me guessing :)
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bookcatcc More than 1 year ago
This is a keeper I've reread for years, one written when Karen Robards was at the height of her ability to intertwine a suspense plot with a sizzling romance. Will Lyman, a special agent for the FBI, finds himself fighting a powerful and inconvenient attraction to young, poverty-stricken Molly Ballard, whom he has coerced into working undercover to help him crack a case of horse-racing fraud in a sleepy town in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. Detailed from Chicago, Will is a fish out of water in the rural South, and Molly, caught on camera committing an impulsive crime in a weak moment, has no choice but to pose as his unlikely girlfriend. Despite the negative first impression, Molly works hard as a groom on a horse farm, and is the dedicated, sole support of her four younger, motherless siblings. Defensive, prickly, suspicious, and, though no fool, somewhat reckless, she is also strongly attracted to Will; both are determined to hold the upper hand in the situation and in their fiery, alternately antagonistic and tender relationship. As Will becomes more and more involved with her and her family, Molly fears the inevitable heartbreak of a temporary romance; Will tells himself he only wants to enjoy the benefits of a short-term sexual relationship. Will's return to Chicago leaves them both on their high horses (pun intended), yet unable to move on. As you might suspect, the horse-racing case is the MacGuffin of the story. An old unsolved crime, a recent murder, and a series of animal tortures resurface and quickly escalate to the unthinkable, and Molly turns to Will for help. The plot twists and turns, and suspense mounts to a fever pitch as Will races to solve an ugly case that could shatter their lives and the entire community. This is a rare suspenseful romance that actually surprised me at its conclusion. It's quite a feat to build and maintain a superheated romance in the grisly atmosphere of this story, but Robards succeeds. Despite differences in age, background, and temperament, Will and Molly seem made for each other; the reader believes. They're real characters with real flaws. However, I do have a few caveast about this book. Despite the wonderful romance and the gripping suspense, there are some portions of the book that are told from the point of view of a murderer; I found these disturbing, and I have to admit I skipped over most of them. For readers in the Nightmare on Elm Street generation, they are child's play, I'm sure. For those who were shocked by Psycho as a child, it's a different story (more puns intended). Also a climactic scene between Will and Molly seems contrived. On the whole, however, their soul-stirring romance carries the day; there may not be enough crime procedure for mystery fans, but there's romance and suspense aplenty for the rest of us. A supreme page-turner.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Looking for a break from a Nora Roberts marathon I stumbled across The Midnight Hour by this author and loved it. Wanting more, I purchaced The Senators Wife and Hunters Moon. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, Hunters Moon was by far the best! The plot was entertaining, the characters believable but the sexual tension SIZZLED! WOW! This book is right up there with Linda Howards Mr. Perfect on the sexual tension scale! Don't pick this book up unless you have alot of time on your hands. I'm off to buy Heartbreaker now. I'm on a Karen Robards roll.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a an exciting book to read. It has a great plot that keeps you guessing till the end...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was such a well written novel. I read this summer and i couldnt put it down. i thought the characters were awesome and I loved the magic in them also. This book was my sixth romance novel by Mrs. Robards and it surely will not be my last.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must say that it has to be one of my many fave books. Hunter's Moon is a wonderfully written book. I have to say that not a whole lot of books can be this wonderful. It's one of the best reads. It has everything in it: the ending is twisted, Action packed, Romantic, and the characters are so real, so alive. Karen Robards does not disappoint her fans and non-fans in this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very exciting story. The ending was shocking. Ms. Robards knows what her readers want. Once you get started, you won't be able to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karen Robards' books are wonderful. I belive this perticular book should be made into a movie. The characters are so realistic. Some of the things that has happen in this book I can relate to. Knowning that a lot of teenagers don't read, this is a book that I would recommend. I found myself not able to put this book down. 'Karen if you were to make this book out of a movie I would love to be a part of this ,even if I wasn't in the movie I would be the first one to watch this on the women's channel. Keep up the good work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A tale about love, faith, pain and one that proves that true love concurs all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully romantic tale of love, pain, and hardship. I don't knwo what Annie would have done without Will. A wonderful ending to a great twisting tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A large cat cane in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can i join? ((I was Moonfur. I tracked you all here!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hollyflame looked at songpaw with a hurt look on her face. She backed up to the edge of the camp and studied her paws~Hollyflame
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
~Hm. That Thymedust post is mine. I just thought if I used another NOOK I could post..~ He glared at Nightfang, and a sly hatred glittered in his gaze for Velvetstar.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He padded in
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story flowed but the premise of a random 24 year old girl next door being recruited by a trained FBI agent was hard to believe. The heroine was just not captivating, physical desriptions aside. An interesting read nonetheless.