London Calling

London Calling

by Veronica Forand

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Overview

Small town police officer Emma Ross loves her simple life––but it takes a hard turn into crazy when she’s kidnapped by MI6 and is put under the protection of an over-bearing, albeit sexy, Scotsman. A man who believes she’s lying to protect her father—a father whom she had no idea worked for British Intelligence and is now missing.

Liam Macknight’s partner was assassinated and he’s certain Emma’s father had something to do with it. But the stubborn woman isn’t talking, and she’s determined to get herself killed trying to find out the truth. Locking her in a room does no good––he tried that. So he’s forced to work with her, even if he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to trust her.

When he's assigned to kill her dad to protect the identity of British spies in the Kremlin, he knows what little trust they’ve gained is about to be destroyed forever...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640637757
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 03/25/2019
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 183,550
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Veronica Forand is an attorney and an award-winning writer of romantic suspense. She’s lived in Boston, London, Paris, Geneva, and Washington, DC and currently resides near Philadelphia. An avid traveler, she loves to roam across continents with her husband and kids in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and finding the perfect piece of chocolate.
For more information on Veronica Forand, see her website at www.veronicaforand.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Eight minutes.

Macknight scanned the surroundings outside the hotel room window. Everything seemed as it should be in downtown Minsk. Clear sky, bright sun, no abnormal congregations of people in the plaza. Men and women wearing only a few variations of the same dark business attire and blue-collar workers in somber colors headed to lunch while groups of school children loitered nearby during a break from classes. Up above, on a rooftop over the plaza, a lone security guard kept watch, more interested in his mobile than his job.

"How does this look?" Lucy asked, as though she were meeting a guy she'd swiped right on Tinder.

How did she look? Like bait for a very important fish. Her blond hair tumbled over her shoulders in loose waves. Her blue silk blouse showed an indecent amount of skin. Her short black skirt and sky-high heels gave the impression she'd be easy on the first date. If everything went as planned, she'd be a sure thing.

In the past, watching Lucy prostitute herself in the name of the Queen had pulled at Macknight's conscience, but she'd always had the choice to say no, and she never did. Not in the five years since she'd joined his team. Her work made asset acquisition easier. Men lusted after her, adding incentive for potential spies to turn traitor to their own countries.

"You look perfect," Owen answered. He circled her, nodding in approval. "If Panin doesn't want you, Macknight and I will take you out tonight dancing and drinking and ..."

Macknight lifted his hand to shut down Owen's chatter. "If there's a problem, we'll be on a plane back to London to regroup and prepare for our next assignment. She's not a party favor."

Lucy's confidence and ability to step straight into the lion's den without hesitation should be recognized for the fearless act it was. Mollycoddling her before she set foot on center stage was the worst thing they could do for her.

"Let him be, Macknight. Owen wants what I want — a retirement spent sailing in Santorini and clubbing in Berlin."

"And Ibiza. That was one insane night," Owen added.

Macknight checked his watch again. "Five minutes."

She walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, her touch calming the tension in his muscles. "Isidor Panin shouldn't be difficult to seduce. He's a mid-level bureaucrat at the Russian Ministry of Energy. Sounds like a pretty dull existence to me. I'll add a bit of spice to his life." After five years of working together, she'd become his sanity, keeping him human, even on his worst days, a sister to replace the family he'd lost so many years ago. "Is everything ready?"

He nodded. "Owen and I will be at a table only a few feet away from you. We'll have your back."

"You always do." Her smile faded. The game wasn't new to them anymore, the thrill no longer overshadowing the risk. "Did the additional background check reveal anything new?"

Owen took his handgun off the table and secured it inside the waistband of his jeans. "Not much. He's more than willing to sell his reputation and everything he knows about Arctic oil exploration for fifty thousand pounds per year. He's drowning in debt, and his wife left him to move back in with her elderly mother."

"Sounds pathetic, actually." Lucy checked herself in the mirror again, a perfectionist in her art.

"He's the ideal pawn. As long as we can keep him safe and undiscovered," Macknight responded.

Lucy turned to face them. "We always do."

"I don't know what MI6 would do without us," Owen replied, basking in his own praise.

"Let's not get too confident." Macknight tended to be the drag on their assignments. That was part of his job. Cross the T's and dot the I's. Get everyone home safe.

Once MI6 recruited an asset in a critical industry in a target country, the first few months determined the future effectiveness of the recruit. Money always flowed into their hands, but the transactions often included safe passage to the United Kingdom if anything went sour. When money wasn't enough, there was sex to keep the asset loyal.

If Lucy wasn't the right type of bait, Owen took over. He handled men and women equally. Macknight had a different job. If the risk of someone living became too high, he eliminated them. Anyone could be his target — a potential spy with loose lips or even a colleague at MI6 if the person knew too much. Only a few people in the world were safe from him, mainly Lucy and Owen. He didn't keep a count of his kills, but the number was large enough to send him to the lowest levels of hell.

"One minute," he said, glancing at his watch.

The conversation stopped, and each team member focused on their own part of the game. Macknight played through the scenario a few more times in his mind and ignored the gnawing in his gut whenever Lucy became someone's plaything. He and Owen would remain in the background, watching for any threats. Hopefully, that would be enough to keep her safe.

She grabbed her purse off the couch. When she reached the door, she turned toward the men and waved. "Do svidainya."

Once outside of the hotel room, they'd only speak Russian until they returned to London. Lucy would only refer to herself as Katya Nikonov, a Russian translator who grew up in the U.K. The hotel room had been swept for any surveillance devices when they'd arrived, providing them one small, safe haven where they could relax.

A minute later, Macknight and Owen headed into the plaza and found a not-so-perfect table. Large flower pots ablaze in reds and oranges and huge white and yellow sun umbrellas blocked part of Lucy's introduction to Panin. As Macknight adjusted his seat to place Lucy in his line of sight, Owen ordered two beers. Beer in Belarus was never as smooth or as cold as a pint in London, but the only other palatable option, Russian vodka, would obliterate Macknight's ability to assess the situation around him.

He'd dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, his hair pulled back and tied, a bloke out for a beer with his mate, who appeared a bit edgier with his brown hair gelled and spiked into a style only an overconfident punk could get away with. The goal was to keep attention off of them. Not even Panin should know he had a few extra observers in the vicinity. Although they'd guard the potential asset with their lives, his loyalty had yet to be proven. So they remained close, but unannounced.

A crisp May afternoon brought crowds of people outside. Too many for Macknight's liking. Between the umbrella stands and customers jockeying for a better location on the patio, the view of their targets three tables over wavered between perfect visibility and complete blindness.

The meeting involved three people — Lucy, Panin, and Edward Ross, the MI6 recruiter. Ross located potential assets while flying around the world as an executive for British Petroleum. He'd recruited over thirty members of the Russian government to spy for the British. More professional, rational, determined, and driven than anyone Macknight had ever met, he'd been a mentor to Macknight, introducing him to the style and finesse required while living within the MI6 matrix.

When Ross had learned of Panin's interest in becoming a mole for MI6, he offered him a large amount of cash — and Lucy — in exchange for critical information. From the smile on Panin's face and his hand on her knee, he was more than willing to close the deal. Might as well live large while he could. If someone on the other side learned of his turning spy, he was a dead man.

A few people stood up at a table between Macknight and their targets. He feigned an ache in his back and stood up, his height allowing him to see over shoulders and heads.

This location wasn't his first choice for a meeting. It wouldn't have been his second or third choice, either, but Panin had requested a public place. Either the information he offered was more valuable than they'd thought, or he was extremely insecure and paranoid. Recruitment involved a dance between conflicting needs and loyalties. The more patient party often won out.

A wee girl brushed by Macknight, leaving a swipe of chocolate ice cream on his pant leg.

"Hey, watch it," he said in Russian, holding back the swear word that sat on the edge of his tongue. He wiped off the sticky mess with a napkin. About five years old, the little blonde hadn't meant to ruin his jeans, but the damage was done. She rushed away between the cramped tables and chairs, catching up to her mother and clasping her hand.

"Telling off children now?" Owen raised his glass toward the girl disappearing into the crowd.

"These are my favorite pants."

"You need a vacation or a woman."

Macknight pointed to the stain on his knee. "I've never had a woman come into my life without causing chaos. Except Lucy." Dedicated to her job, she was a sympathetic ear after a tough assignment and the peacemaker of the team. She was perfection.

They returned their focus to the conversation at the other table.

Ross took a slow, relaxed sip of his vodka, while Panin and Lucy focused on each other.

"When are you available?" Panin asked her, all sound coming through the wire in Lucy's ear.

"Tonight?" Her fingers rested on his arm; her gaze fell toward his lips. Sexy innocence oozed out of her every movement.

Panin smiled. A cockiness set his posture straighter. He turned to Ross. "I think this arrangement will work just fine."

"May it be prosperous for everyone. If you'll excuse me, I need to find the men's room." Ross stood, kissed Lucy on the cheek, and headed inside the bar. He glanced back at the table twice before disappearing into the building.

"Watch them while I meet with Ross," Macknight told Owen.

"Grab me a beer while you're in there."

"One is enough."

"We're going to be sitting here for another hour while they make arrangements to shag. I need something to shift my mind off the image of Lucy and Panin in bed together."

Macknight looked over at Panin and Lucy. Their conversation had veered to blow jobs and handcuffs. Maybe another beer would be helpful. First, he had to meet with Ross to confirm that Panin was acceptable. He pressed through the crowd and found Ross washing his hands in the men's room, his back to the door, but his eyes focused on the mirror to provide a perfect view of the area. He gave Macknight a short nod to acknowledge the room was clear.

"Another jewel in the crown. Good work," Macknight said.

Ross was an artist when it came to the subtle and dangerous negotiations that led to new moles inside key government positions.

"Not yet. He's interested in Lucy, but he doesn't show enough interest in the money, which might mean he's playing us." Ross massaged one of his temples and frowned. "Stay on guard. I don't trust him yet."

An uncomfortable chill spread through Macknight's gut. That was the problem with recruiting. Sometimes people were legitimate, most of the time they weren't. The Russian Military Intelligence Service, the GRU, could be entrapping Panin as much as MI6 was attempting to turn his loyalty.

"I'm going to say goodbye to Lucy and Panin then head to the airport. If he sends me the documents, I'll wire his account and give Lucy the go-ahead. Keep an eye on him."

Macknight nodded. "Maybe I'll see you at the next go-round."

"There's always a possibility." Ross stalled at the door. "Take care of yourself."

Macknight gave Ross time to make it back to his table, then left the washroom and turned toward the bar. A pretty redhead came over to take his order. She leaned toward him and didn't say a word, just lifted her brows in invitation.

"Two glasses of Krynitsa," he ordered.

"Anything else?" She pulled out two mugs. "I'm free in a few hours."

He rested against the carved edge of the bar and imagined relaxing with a stranger in a foreign city. Nothing stirred in him but impatience. Owen and Lucy were his priority. "I have to work tonight."

She gave him a forced smile. "Maybe next time."

"Sure." Though he'd never be back. Watching over a teammate meant the closest he'd get to a night of shagging would be listening to the grunts and groans of Lucy and Panin sealing the deal.

Owen's voice in his earpiece cut through his thoughts. "Is Ross with you?"

"No. He went back to the table." He scanned the bar. "He's not here, and the lunch crowd is swelling."

Before he could make it out the door, an explosion rocked the pub, shattering its windows. He fell to the floor, his hands covering his face to avoid the debris flying in all directions. As the initial shock of the blast left his system, he stood up and pushed several bystanders out of his way.

The roar of terror intensified as people ran from the scene. Screams and cries echoed across a war zone. New sounds came from the terrace now, glass breaking, the hiss of flames, and the wailing of the injured and dying. Smoke billowed from the spot where Lucy had been seated.

Lucy.

His thoughts scrambled, trying to make flash judgments. He ran past the table where he'd sat for the past hour. Owen was gone.

In the middle of the patio, there were at least twenty people on the ground unconscious or dead. Limbs and blood mixed with broken tables and chairs. Macknight pushed past a crowd of shocked bystanders. With each step, guilt, anger, and frustration built inside him. The flowers on the tables had scattered on the ground, adding more red to the blood already splattered everywhere. Shattered remnants of dishes blanketed the area with sharp edges. A few people hurried into the fray, wanting to help. Some turned away, their faces pale after seeing the carnage.

He left his handgun at his waist, afraid the sight of a firearm in his hand would set him up to be arrested. Instead, he crouched low, steadying his breath and focusing on one task. Protect his teammates, then kill the son of a bitch who did this.

He found Isidor Panin dead on the ground. Part of his chest was gone. The part where his heart had been. Blood coated his face and drenched the area surrounding him. His eyes stared out into something beyond this spot, his mouth open in shock. He'd never stood a chance.

Lucy was on the ground about ten feet away. The sight of her stunned him into a moment of paralysis. His heart, his head, his entire being ceased to function. The woman he'd lived with for the past five years hadn't been murdered, she'd been destroyed. The pounding in his ears blocked out the screams of the living.

Owen was at her side, closing her eyes, moving hair away from her face. Macknight didn't help. It wouldn't make her whole again, and he didn't care to scuffle with his teammate in his grief. Instead, he wanted someone to suffer and die for what they'd done. He glanced away from the bombing. Where was Ross?

"Ross?" he called out.

"Never made it back here." Owen remained with Lucy, staring and shaking his head.

The pressure of her loss punched into Macknight's chest. He couldn't breathe. Lucy's hair, stained in blood, covered part of her face. She was missing a shoe on one leg. The other leg was gone. His knees gave out until he was kneeling on the ground next to Owen.

"What the hell happened?" He wanted a name, a person he could chase down. Someone had murdered the wrong woman. Someone who would wish they'd never stepped inside Belarus. Lucy had been his sanity. On his worst days, she urged him on. For her, he pulled himself out of his grief and went to work. He slid the earpiece off her to keep her anonymous, even in death.

Owen fisted one of his hands and paused for a few breaths. "I had a decent view of Lucy and Panin, but lost sight of Ross after he stepped out of the bar. When I turned to look for him, the bomb went off. Everything went to hell pretty fast after that."

Owen glanced away from Lucy's corpse toward him. Part of his ear was missing.

Shit.

"You okay?" An icy shiver shot through Macknight's spine. He clenched his fist to steady the emotions coursing through him. He wouldn't lose two teammates in one day.

"I'm fine. It's Lucy ..." Owen's voice trailed away as blood streamed down his neck. He shook his head as though he had a bug in his ear. His skin was sallow, and he swayed like a drunk. "I missed something."

"We'll have time to figure it all out. Let's get you out of here." The tightening in his chest decreased enough for him to inhale a decent breath of air mixed with smoke and debris.

"Good idea." Owen tried to stand, but his legs didn't hold, and he fell back to the ground. Between the shock and the blood loss, his body shut down, collapsing in a heap next to Lucy.

Police and ambulance crews arrived. The sound of the sirens echoed through Macknight's skull. Lucy was dead. But Owen wasn't.

He lifted Owen into his arms and waved away the ambulance workers, telling them his friend had passed out from the bloody scene. Owen could get medical treatment on the jet back to London. With a final look at Lucy's remains, Macknight headed to the airport. Ross better have been abducted, because if he had any part in this, he was a walking dead man.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "London Calling"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Veronica Forand.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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London Calling 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
A big thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the ARC. I am voluntarily reviewing this book. Emma is On a SWAT team in the US and gets kidnapped by MI6 to protect her. Crazy espionage stuff...is her dad a double agent??? Lots of action, a little confusing. Emma is a super strong character!! I really liked her. Convoluted but still romance. 4 stars
Merryj 4 months ago
If you love a little espionage with your romance you are going to love this book. Emma has no idea what her father is into and is caught in the middle of his drama. When she is kidnapped by MI6, she is determined to find out just what is going on. Liam has tried everything to keep her safe and has no choice but to work with her. But things heat up when he is given the directive to kill her father to protect the identity of other agents. How will this play out in the end? I voluntarily agreed to receive an ARC of this book for an honest review.
Kate_Delaney 4 months ago
Slow start but loved in the end. It took me a while to get into this book. Most books I can ready in a day or 2 but this one took me almost a week. I think I was expecting to get into the relationship and romance of the 2 main characters sooner. They had interaction but you were not sure it would lead to romance right away. Once I did get into the story, it was a great story. I liked the action and suspense of it all. I liked that I thought I knew what was going on and who was who, but then there would be a twist and someone you thought was a good guy was actually working for the bad guys. I also liked that it was written from the perspective of both the main characters. I do wish it would have maybe told you at the start of each chapter who's pov you were reading. Once I realized it was changing every chapter or so, it was not difficult to follow. Overall It was a great read and I would recommend if you like action, drama, suspense, and/or romance books.
MJHughes12 5 months ago
This book starts with a bang and never lets up in intensity until the end. With lots of action and not much romance, London Calling was one of those books that kept my heart rate up and had me wondering what new torture the author was going to put her characters through. Emma was my kind of heroine. She’s got some mad skills with a gun and can definitely hold her own with Macknight and his crew of spies. She’s also got a gentleness about her that makes her likable and I loved her fierce love of her father, the only family she has. McKnight was definitely broken in so many ways. He’s loyal almost to a fault and is really a very black and white kind of person – which is typically what works for him since he’s always in a position that he needs to keep himself and his team alive and having “grey area” tends to get people killed. I did have a hard time connecting these two romantically though. There seemed to be a lack of chemistry between the characters, something I would have liked to have seen more of. They did have some great banter and worked well together, it was just that little spark that seemed to be missing between them that I missed. I really enjoyed all the action and loved how this book was plotted out. The story has a bit of a dark edge to it and that is really noticeable in Mcknight’s character. I think I would have liked a bit more building to the relationship between Liam and Emma – her bringing some light to his dark – to satisfy my romance loving heart. Overall, this book was flawless from a technical perspective but fell just a little bit flat for me on the romance side. I’ve read several other books by this author and, while this one isn’t my most favorite, I will definitely be looking to see what she puts out next!
grandmareads102 5 months ago
Emma’s life is in turmoil. Her father, Edward Ross, has disappeared. Next she’s placed in protective custody by MI6. Emma can’t believe what she’s being told. Her father turned assets for the British government. Now her life is in jeopardy. The Russians want to use her to make her father reveal classified information. Macknight is the team leader assigned to protect her. He feels responsible for the death of one of his team. He needs to know if Ross was to blame. Did he betray them? Emma is a brave woman with a fierce determination to find her father. She hates being isolated and kept under guard. She’s a Police Officer who’s used to facing danger. I was impressed how aware she was of her surroundings. Her interaction with Macknight had its ups and downs. There was attraction and at times distrust. I wished that they would learn to rely on each other. The story kept me reading. I was pulled in by the non-stop action. I couldn’t believe the double dealing and the traitorous actions. I thought the setting added to the suspense as did the dialogue. As the story progressed I felt that I understood the characters and their motives. Nevertheless I was shocked by what happened. I’m looking forward to reading more of Veronica Forand’s stories. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
FizzaYounis 5 months ago
It is a very thrilling reading and I enjoyed reading a lot. The story is great and all the characters are very well-developed. There are undertones of romance but mostly it is a spy thriller. The story begins with a tragedy when Liam Macknight loses his teammate and he is now willing to do anything to find and kill the people responsible. His life is complicated and his missions are never easy. He is the leader whose job is to keep his team alive. But sometimes things go wrong. He is a brooding man who doesn't really know how to have fun. And now, the situation demands that he keeps his mind focused on the job. In this situation, Emma Ross is a complication he doesn't need. Unfortunately, he has no choice. Emma's father is missing. He is either a traitor or he has been kidnapped for some other reason. In either case, Emma is now in danger and MI6 decided to force their protection whether she wants it or not. Emma's life is turned upside down when her father goes missing. She learns that he wasn't whom he said he was. She had no idea that he was lying to her about his job. Now she knows but there is not much she could do as long as MI6 decides to keep her away from the action. She can't believe that she must stay in hiding while her father might be dead. It's not like she is a completely helpless woman. But no worries, she does not plan to be a bystander in her own life. She is one badass heroine who can very well take care of herself. All in all, a very well-written story that all readers can enjoy. I loved both Emma and Macknight. They are such a perfect couple and even though it is not exactly a romance novel still I enjoyed that side of the story quite a lot.
CathyGeha 5 months ago
London Calling by Veronica Forand Oooohhhh...LOVED this book! I can definitely see it as the beginning of a series and do hope it will be! I was hooked from the start and could not put this book down. I loved the characters, the way they interacted, the story and...just about everything. Sure, there were a few times I wanted to pop McKnight up side of the head to wake him up but at the same time did get why he was acting the way he was. Twists and turns and action and romance and...everything a good romantic suspense should have! This is a first book by this author for me BUT it won’t be the last. She has created characters I could see, hear, understand, empathize with and care about. I can definitely see some of the rest of the team finding partners in future books...hint hint...future books would be a wonderful thing! I could tell you what the story is about BUT the blurb pretty much tells what will happen...just not in depth or detail and you DO want to read to find those things out! What I liked: * Everything but...more specifically… * Emma Ross was a powerhouse, strong, dedicated, capable and smart...wished I could be her! * Liam McKnight is a great leader and though he might seem to have lost his soul...he really has not...I would love to be with him. * Edward Ross – Emma’s father was intriguing and what a great part he played in this book * Owen...really want to know more about him! * The potential for more books in this series and getting to know the players of the MI6 team a whole lot better. What I didn’t like” * The bad guys...but we are not supposed to like them are we? * That the story ended and I have to wait to see if there will be more and if this will be a series. Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
Linda__ 5 months ago
Loved this book! Emma, a small town cop in the states, rushes to England to tend to her dad after a call luring her there. Once she arrives, against her will, she is placed in the custody of MI6. Macknight is the team leader and he doesn't trust her and isn't answering her questions. Each time she tries to get away, something else even more dangerous occurs. Macknight isn't above using a bit of romance to keep Emma contained and cooperative, but what happens when he falls a bit for his own act? I thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced action in this novel and loved the push/pull between Emma and Macknight. I felt invested in the characters, especially Emma's, as the small town girl suddenly pulled into something she didn't understand. When paired with Macknight, an engaging "alphahole", the sparks fly. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book. I couldn't put this one down and it should be at the top of your TBR list. The author is on my must read authors' list.