IN JASPER, MONTANA, SHERIFF SETH LANDRY WAS THE LAW
So when bodies turned up in his Rocky Mountain town, Seth took it personally.
Seth always got his man. But this trail led to beautiful, elusive Savannah Wyatt. Protecting Savannah meant getting close to her--to flush out the killer. Which meant Seth would turn on the heat and make his seduction of Savannah look very, very real.
Falling for Savannah was not part of the plan. But there were some things that even Sheriff Seth Landry just couldn't control.
About the Author
In June, 1995, Roberts developed the wildly popular Rose Tattoo series for the Harlequin Intrigue line. These novels "...offer the best of her unique ability to seamlessly blend romance and mystery." Romantic Times goes on to say that "Roberts is a master of the romantic suspense genre." Affaire de Coeur says that her "humor and dialogue sparkle."
In 2000, Roberts developed a second series for the Harlequin Intrigue line, The Landry Brothers. This seven-book series has received both critical acclaim and established her as one of the top-selling Intrigue authors. In addition to writing for Harlequin, 2005 saw the release of her first title from Ballantine, Killer Christmas. In 2006, Roberts will continue her Landry Brothers series with The Last Landry. Her contribution to the Miami Confidential series for the Intrigue line, Absolute Proposal, will be out in June. At the end of the year, she will launch a new chick-lit mystery series for Kensington with the release of Knock-Off.
Roberts is a sought-after lecturer and workshop presenter, as well as a much-requested media guest. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, and makes frequent appearances on both radio and television. She founded The Writers Workshop at Anne Arundel College in Maryland, and was the lead instructor in their craft and genre writing courses for three years. She is considered an expert in why women read and write crime fiction, as well as an excellent authority on plotting and structuring the novel.
Roberts is a member of The Author's Guild, Romance Writers of America and Florida Romance Writers, Inc. She resides in south Florida with her family.
Read an Excerpt
Savannah Wyatt was armed for a sneak attack. Slowly, cautiously, she tiptoed across the cool wood floor, moving ever closer to her prey. Her victim didn't flinch. Didn't turn around in time to see her coming.
"Gotcha!" she exclaimed as she captured the field mouse between the floor and the box. Its days of stalking her dried goods for the better part of a week were history!
She could hear the little thing scurrying around under the box, clearly frightened and disoriented. She muttered a guilty curse and blew out a breath. The kitchen, where she had trapped the varmint, was a good twenty feet from the front door. She was less than three feet from the kitchen door, but a five-foot snowdrift blocked it. Silently, she said a few choice words about Montana in the grips of winter, none of them flattering.
Considering her options, Savannah tried to think of a way to grant the mouse freedom without actually touching it. One of the solutions she considered was barbecue tongs, but that would mean lifting the shoe box edge high enough for the furry little monster to make an escape, so that was abandoned.
Lifting her foot, she applied pressure, thus leaving her hands free to search for a way out of this mess.
Catching sight of herself in the stainless steel refrigerator, she decided she looked a tad like a brunette version of the painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River by Larry Rivers. Shaking her head, Savannah reminded herself that art and fashion were her past. Her present was the very unglamorous job of liberating Mighty Mouse.
A knock reverberated through the two-room cabin.
"Enter at your own risk," Savannah called. She had stopped locking the door of the secluded cabin during the day after her first few desolate weeks in Jasper. Besides, it wasn't as if she had lots of strangers dropping in.
She smelled his inexpensive cologne a flash before she turned and saw Junior Baumgartner standing in the foyer, stomping snow from his boots on a rag rug designed to save the finish on the wide pine flooring from potential water damage. His balding head was covered by a navy watch cap, which was the same shade as his down parka. She smiled at him. Frederick—known only as Junior around Jasper—was a kind of friend. She worked part-time for his mother and the two of them sort of came as a package deal, in spite of the fact that Junior had to be pushing forty.
As was his habit, he kept his eyes downcast when he spoke. "What are you doing?"
"I was smart enough to trap a mouse but not smart enough to know how to get rid of it once I did," she replied in a rather self-deprecating tone.
"Want me to kill it?" Junior offered.
"Lord, no!" she fairly shouted. "I just want to put him outside to fend for himself. Mice can live outside in this kind of weather, right?"
Junior was about to respond when another knock sounded at the door. The sound made Junior jump nervously. Not for the first time, Savannah felt pangs of compassion for the man. Though he was a lifelong resident of the tight-knit ranching community, she seemed to be his only friend—unless you counted his sweet but overbearing parent as a friend. Savannah had learned her first day on the job that Olive was Junior's friend, mentor, and fiercest protector. He spoke with a slight lisp and seemed incapable of making eye contact with anyone. Poor man.
She wondered what made him so shy, jumpy and awkward. Possibly his mother—it seemed as if the widowed Olive still hadn't cut the umbilical cord to her only child.
"Hey, Junior," came a friendly greeting that immediately set Savannah's teeth on edge.
Sheriff Seth Landry didn't take the time to shake the snow from his boots. He entered her small home, removing his hat as he came closer. Too close, her little voice screamed.
"Some new form of intense yoga, Miss Wyatt?" he asked with enough charm to melt her bones.
Which was exactly what she didn't like about this man. Two weeks earlier he'd all but accused her of murdering Richard Fowler. Now he was sauntering in as if he'd been invited for afternoon tea.
"Sheriff," she acknowledged evenly.
"Junior?" Seth said as he opened the buttons on his leather uniform jacket. "I need some time alone with Miss Wyatt."
"But I have to help her with the mouse," Junior protested almost forcefully. "Besides, she didn't kill that Fowler man and you should leave her alone."
She was surprised to hear Junior so adamant, but then again, she knew he liked her and was probably just being chivalrous. The sheriff didn't seem to notice or care that he had upset Junior.
She watched Seth's inky-black eyes go from Junior's up-turned red face to the box she was guarding with the weight of her foot. "I'll take care of the mouse," Seth assured Junior. "You go on home now, but be careful out on the highway. Those roads are mighty slick."
"Yes, sir," Junior said, deflated, then in a brighter tone he added, "Bye, Savannah."
"Bye, Junior," she called over her shoulder. To Seth, she said, "Do your civic duty. Please."
"Where's the top of the box?" Seth asked, shrugging out of his jacket.
Savannah's mind threatened to go blank as she took in his broad shoulders, trim waist and uniform. She never would have pegged herself as a sucker for a man in uniform, but she was wrong. Seth Landry was an incredible blend of dark, dangerous and delightful. Too bad her life in Jasper was temporary.
Too bad he hasn't technically cleared me as a suspect in Richard Fowler's murder.
"The top?" Seth prompted.
"On—on the bed," she stammered.
Being in Savannah's bedroom made Seth a little uncomfortable. What should have been an investigation was quickly turning into an inventory. The room was neat as a pin and incredibly feminine. The subtle scent of flowers hung in the air. Candles adorned nearly every inch of the bedroom and what he could see of the open bathroom. Even though he knew better, he could just imagine the reflection of candlelight in her eyes. Savannah had the most incredible eyes. They tried to be brown, but somehow managed to be blue near the pupil. Her face was on the square side, but that just made her full lips seem invitingly pouty.
Like most doctoral candidates he'd met, she had a penchant for wearing casual clothing. Only, she wore tight casual clothing. He knew it was the style. He also knew that when he returned to the kitchen, he'd have to pretend not to notice that her shape-hugging sweater fell just shy of the waistband of her jeans. He couldn't notice that she worked out enough to have a perfectly toned midriff, or that her belly button was pierced with a small gold ring.
Hell, he had to pretend that Savannah wasn't his ideal woman. Or that he thought of her often. Too often. It could jeopardize his professional integrity, something he had never done.
"What are you doing in there?" Savannah called. "Going through my panty drawer? Isn't that illegal?"
Seth put on his game face and returned to the main room. "It isn't illegal if I have your permission," he offered with a wicked smile.
"Dream on," she said with a laugh.
"Stay still until I tell you to move," Seth instructed. He bent next to her leg with the box top in his hand. Because she was so petite, he found himself eye-level with her bared skin. She smelled clean, fresh. He would only have to turn his head a fraction of an inch and his lips would be against the gentle curve of her waist.
"You should have warned me that this was going to be a long-term rescue effort," Savannah teased.
Seth put his libido in his back pocket and managed to trap the mouse inside the closed box. He smiled when he saw how frightened she was, even with the little thing safely inside the box.
"Now what?" he asked.
"Free him," Savannah insisted with conviction.
Seth sighed. "I know you're new to Jasper, so you must not know that this little guy came in here to keep from freezing to death outside."
The way she wrinkled her nose was adorable. It was just another of her quirks that he tucked away in his mind.
"What do I do, then?"
"You could get a cage and some feed and…"
"I don't do roommates, Sheriff," she said. "Especially furry ones that aren't house-trained and eat trash."
No roommates? He added that to his list. "I'll take care of it," he offered.
Her expression brightened just as the reflection of sunlight filtered inside, painting her shoulder-length brunette hair with auburn highlights.
"You're going to take care of it?" Savannah fairly gasped. "As in, a favor?"
Seth shrugged. "Sure. I'll run him out to the Bronco for now so we can talk, and take him to the Lucky 7 on my way back to the office."
"You're taking him to your ranch? As a pet for Kevin?"
Seth blinked and Savannah blushed.
He allowed his mouth to curve into a slow grin. "Been checking up on me Miss Wyatt?"
Her lips pursed momentarily. "No," she insisted firmly. "Working part-time at Olive's Attic, I meet people. People tend to gossip about the richest family in town. By the way, how is Callie feeling?"
"Fine," Seth answered, hiding his disappointment. He wished she would show half the interest in him that she did on his brother Sam and Sam's expectant wife, Callie. Even before the first murder, he'd felt as if he were invisible to Savannah. He didn't like that feeling. Not at all.
"She'll tell you she feels like a whale, but I think pregnancy agrees with her."
He watched as something flashed in Savannah's kaleidoscope eyes. It wasn't long enough for him to get a read, so he had nothing to add to his list but a suspicion that babies, pregnancies, family—something along those lines—made her react, even if she was a master at hiding most of her reactions. Maybe today, with the new development, her facade would crumble.
After Seth had taken the mouse out to his car, he returned, walking in without knocking. That didn't seem to bother Savannah. She was standing in the living area, between a sofa covered with various warm throws and a coffee table made out of what looked like a portion of a wooden feed trough with a custom-cut glass top. When he took a second to glance around, he realized her place was homey in a funky, New Yorkish way. She had the usual stuff, living room, dining room and kitchen furnishings. But it was what she didn't have that tweaked his imagination. No photographs, nothing really personal in view. It was as if she hadn't existed until this cabin, but he knew that wasn't possible. He'd checked. Savannah was a transfer doctoral candidate from the University of Maryland. The dean of students at Montana West had verified all her paperwork and transfer credits.
"Should I make coffee?"
"Should you?" Seth countered.
She stiffened, "I was offering."
Seth smiled. "No, an offer is, 'May I make you some coffee?'"
Reluctantly, she smiled, as well. "Fine. May I make some coffee?"
As she took down a grinder and retrieved a bag of whole beans, she asked, "Are you the resident grammar fairy? If so, you're welcome to critique my thesis. If I ever get it finished."
"I'm not a grammar anything. My momma just insisted that all her boys be polite, especially to women." He let that sink in for a minute, then said, "Your thesis is on forensic psychology, right?"
Savannah turned and gave him a cool smile. "I keep forgetting that after Richard was killed, you investigated every aspect of my life."
"It's my job," Seth said somberly.
"If you're not here to arrest me for Richard's murder, would you kindly take an ad out in the town paper proclaiming my innocence? I've found Jasper a little slow to warm to outsiders, and labeling me a murder suspect isn't helping."
"I'm not here about Richard's murder."
That got Savannah's attention. "Since I didn't call 911 about the mouse, what brings you out this way?"
He watched and saw only a trace of boredom in her expression at the mention of his name.
"Sells real estate and is big on punctuality," Savannah supplied easily. "I was supposed to meet him at nine and I believe I was about ten minutes late because I was helping a customer at Olive's."
"Where did you meet him?"
"At the Mountainview Inn. Why?" Suspicion and trepidation had crept into her voice.
"No," she answered, less open than before. "Olive Baumgartner set it up as a blind date.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Characters, plot line, and story was well worth the read. The author creates a riveting story to follow through the whole series.