They're the Savage Sevena ragged group of mercenaries who trust no one, risk everything, and get the job done, no matter what it takes. . .
So much for diamonds being a girl's best friend. . .
Once upon a time, Kirk Mann led a normal life. Now, as second-in-command at Savage Seven, he takes on assignments no one else would dare to handle. Like protecting Olivia Pountuf, a sexy, pampered socialite who was engaged to the manager of a diamond mineuntil she discovered her fiancé's murderous business tactics. Kirk arrives in Johannesburg too late to stop Olivia being kidnapped, but rescuing her stirs up a firestorm of longing as hot as it is dangerous. And that's just the kind he likes. . .
Olivia grew up believing that money would protect her. But the man she was to marry wants her dead, and the one person who makes her feel safe is a rough-around-the-edges ex-Marine who couldn't care less about wealth or privilege. Now, the only way to survive is to uncover an illicit scheme that others will kill again and again to protect, and trust in a desire that's veering straight out of control. . .
About the Author
Katherine Garbera is a strong believer in happily-ever-after. She’s written over 35 books and has been nominated for RT Book Club’s career achievement awards in Series Fantasy and Adventure. Her books have appeared on the Borders best-seller list and on the USAToday extended bestseller list. Visit her on the web at http://www.katherinegarbera.com.
Read an Excerpt
The MERCENARYTHE SAVAGE SEVEN
By KATHERINE GARBERA
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Katherine Garbera
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAugust 1, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
The phone rang as Olivia Pontuf was in the middle of stripping down for a shower. It had already been a long day and it was only 10:30 A.M.
"It's Olivia," she said, answering her cell phone. Her BlackBerry was her lifeline to her old life. She relied on it. Last week she'd thought she'd lost it and had brought the entire household to a standstill until it was found. Ray had been amused, but Olivia hadn't been. Everything she had was in that phone.
"Darling, I need you to bring me a file from my office," Ray Lambert said.
She reached into the shower and turned off the water. "Okay, give me a second to go downstairs and you can tell me which one you need."
"I don't have a minute to waste while you do whatever it is you do to fill your day," Ray said.
"I was getting in the shower, Ray, I trust you don't want me to walk naked through our home," Olivia said. Their home was a large estate house in an affluent suburb of Johannesburg. She really had no problem with nudity, but the three security guards who lived with them creeped her out a bit.
"Okay, but hurry."
She bit her lip to keep from reminding him that she had just said she'd hurry. She pulled onher thick terry bathrobe and walked out of her bedroom suite and downstairs to Ray's home office.
He said nothing while she made her way downstairs and she told herself that one of the things she'd always liked about Ray was that he didn't waste time with small talk.
The room was darkly appointed and smelled faintly of the Cuban cigars that Ray liked to smoke after dinner. "I'm here."
"About time," he muttered. "Go to my desk and open the middle drawer."
"Middle, middle? Or left middle?" she asked.
"Middle," he said. Ray seemed tense, which wasn't like him. He was usually relaxed and charming when he dealt with her. She'd seen him get short tempered with help or with service people who didn't meet his standards, but never with her.
"It's locked," she said.
"Dammit. There is a key on the credenza behind you in the bottom of the Zen rock garden," he said.
She turned around and saw the garden; she used the little rake to move the sand around until she exposed the key. She pulled it out and wiped it off on her robe before fitting into the lock.
"Okay, I've got the drawer opened."
"The folder I need is in a black envelope. Do you see it?"
She rooted around in the drawer, uncovering the envelope in the back. It was padded and thick. She resisted the urge to linger in the drawer and see what else was important enough for Ray to lock away. "I have it."
"Great. Have Burati drive you to the mines. I need that file as quickly as you can get here."
"I guess a shower is out," she said.
"Yes, Olivia, some things are more important than appearance." Feeling like she'd been slapped, she was silent. "I'm well aware of that, Ray."
"I'm sorry, darling. I just need that file. Please bring it as quickly as you can."
"Of course, I'll be there as soon as possible," she said.
He hung up and Olivia knew she had to face the truth about this new life of hers.
She knew she had a life many would envy. She had grown up among the crème de la crème of European society, and moving from London to Johannesburg (or Jo'burg, as the locals called it) had seemed very exciting.
The reality of life here in Jo'burg was so different from what she'd imagined. The beauty of South Africa was marred for her by the constant threat of violence and crime. She couldn't jog in the early hours as she'd always done at home but instead had to wait until mid-morning when it was safer.
She wasn't a health nut but had found her habits made her life here seem more normal. And she relied on them to keep her sane.
Sure, she had a lot of social events to keep her busy and, as always, she was working on one of her fiction books about Krissie Carmichel, girl-spy. But there were also lots of bodyguards and trained attack dogs that were always nearby to keep her safe. Ten-foot-high fences surrounded the lush, leafy green residential neighborhood they lived in.
And she'd said yes to Ray's offer of marriage because he was wealthy, good looking, and moved in the same circles she did. Now she was having second thoughts.
Ray worked almost every day from before sunrise, leaving their home with his bodyguards Nels and Mumba and not returning until well after the cocktail hour. She was doing her best to fit in here, but the shopping malls closed at three, which limited her outings, and her charity work was also limited to only daylight hours.
Her work seemed stymied lately. She attributed it to the move. Moving always threw her off her writing groove.
While the people she'd met were nice, the constant threat of crime and having to always stay vigilant was wearing her down. That was why today she'd had enough.
She took a brief shower and dressed quickly in a Chanel pantsuit. Despite the fact that she knew time was of the essence, she took ten minutes to put on some makeup; she felt naked if she went out of the house without eyeliner and lipstick on.
"Going somewhere, ma'am?" Burati asked.
"Just running this folder up to Mr. Lambert at the mines," she said.
"I will have the car brought around," Burati said. His accent was lyrical and she liked to listen to him talk.
"I'd like to try driving on my own this time, Burati," she said. She needed to be alone for a little while. Her car was equipped with bulletproof glass and very safe.
"I will call Mr. Lambert and verify that."
"No, Burati, you will not. I am perfectly capable of getting myself safely to Cullinan and back." She disliked that the bodyguard treated her like a dummy. She felt his constant disdain every time she asked him to do something. If it wasn't for her writing, this world would be strangling her right now. She was a grown woman and had already figured out that she needed to make this situation work.
Burati nodded and left. She found her keys and hurried out of the house, guessing that the bodyguard would go behind her back, call Ray anyway, and probably end up trailing her all the way to Cullinan.
Leon Burati didn't exactly enjoy his job protecting Ms. Pontuf, but Phillip Michaels had been clear that protecting her came before collecting evidence on Ray Lambert. So the Soweto native had done it. Burati had taken the job for Lambert almost three years ago. His kid brother Thomas was working on the inside of Lambert's illegal operation. Both of the brothers were working to shut down the man-Ray Lambert-who had been responsible for the deaths of their father and older brothers.
No one knew that Thomas and Burati were related. They'd been very careful to keep that connection hidden, and for the most part that had worked in their favor. And Phillip-one of the executives from the diamond consortium-wanted to catch Lambert and his cohorts in the act. Phillip was gathering information from both sides of Lambert's operations and from his home life.
The diamond consortium was very aware that the output at Onyx Diamond Group was kept at the bare minimum and yet there were mining shafts that were constantly being closed or abandoned, which shouldn't have happened that frequently.
Now that he knew where Lambert hid the key to his locked drawer, Burati could go through the desk while Ms. Pontuf was gone. Being a bodyguard to the fiancée of a man whose illegal actions had put the Soweto people in danger wasn't exactly rewarding, but Burati was a patient man and would do whatever he had to until there was enough evidence to put Lambert away for life.
He let himself into the den and found the key where Olivia had left it in the Zen rock garden. The little garden had a place of honor on the corner of Lambert's credenza.
Burati opened the desk drawer and took photos of everything in there with his BlackBerry. He'd send them all to Phillip as soon as he was done.
His mobile rang before he could send the photos.
"It's Thomas. I'm at the mine and I've got the photos and the rocks that he's been selling. But something is going down. Mr. Ray seems very tense." "Careful, brother. You shouldn't call from the mine. His people are very loyal."
"You worry too much. I can handle Mr. Ray. I'm leaving now. I will meet you in Pretoria."
"I will be there in two hours. Take your time and don't do anything to raise his suspicions."
"I won't," Thomas said. "Be cool, brother. Everything we've worked for is about to bear fruit."
Thomas disconnected the call. Burati offered a quick prayer to Allah that his brother wouldn't do anything stupid and would make it to Pretoria alive. Burati had arranged for Thomas to work on the inside of Lambert's illegal operation because he needed more information about how the actual illegal mining was done.
The many deaths at the Onyx mine were another red flag that had brought the mining operation to the diamond consortium's attention. The other mines in Africa didn't have the mortality rate that Onyx did.
Burati finished up in Lambert's den and put everything back as it had been. Then he locked the drawer and hid the key.
He walked into the hallway and sent the photos to Phillip's e-mail account. Phillip acknowledged the e-mail and mentioned he would contact Burati soon. Burati hoped now they would have enough evidence to arrest Lambert. Phillip had promised Burati a job at the Onyx Mining Group's main offices running labor relations.
Labor relations was something that Burati was very interested in. He was always looking for ways to improve his fellow villagers' quality of life. And he knew in a position of power he could make a real difference in the Soweto ghetto.
Burati had grown up in the worst ghetto near Jo'burg, Soweto. Though parts of the area had been revitalized, the section where his family lived was still a maze of cardboard boxes and dying HIV babies. He had gotten himself and his brother out as soon as he could. But Burati vowed he would save his entire village.
Chapter TwoAugust 1, Cullinan, South Africa
Olivia had called her mother last night, when her parents were in port on their cruise. Olivia needed some advice about marriage and her fears, but her mother simply said that Ray was a good catch. Audrey Pontuf thought her daughter needed time to adjust to living in South Africa. "Give your new life a chance before you run back home," her mom had said.
Olivia was determined to do just that.
One of Olivia's school friends, Anna Sterling, had just gotten married. Anna was someone who always adjusted well to any situation. Without thinking twice about it, Olivia picked up her mobile phone and dialed Anna's number.
"Anna, hello. It's Olivia."
"Hi, Ola. What's up? Do you have another spy-girl question for me?" Anna asked.
"Um, not exactly. You helped me immensely with that plot glitch I had for Krissie. Do you have a few minutes to talk about something personal?" The problem with her plot had been fixed, but she was still stuck in chapter four.
Olivia could hear the sounds of loud music blaring in the background. Anna must be working on her computer.
"Sure thing," Anna said. "What's on your mind?"
"I'm hardly an expert."
"Well, you're the only one I can talk to about this. I tried speaking to my mother, but that was a lost cause."
"I am only just married. Jack and I aren't exactly a conventional couple."
Anna was married to a mercenary-a gun for hire. While Olivia knew she'd never be comfortable with that kind of man, he was perfect for her friend. Olivia needed a certain level of sophistication and refinement from her men, which Ray delivered nicely. Anna worked in the shadowy world of spies and agents and having Jack for a husband made a lot of sense.
"You know more about marriage than I do."
"Okay, what do you want to know?"
"Um ... I'm not sure if it's simply living here in Jo'burg or if Ray has changed."
"Do you like South Africa?" Anna asked.
Sometimes she liked it. Despite the poverty and unrest left by the end of apartheid, Olivia was safe enough in her insular world. She knew that. It was simply that she was tired of always having someone by her side. She knew that she had to have guards, because many of her acquaintances here did, but enough was enough.
"It is one of the most fascinating places I've ever lived, but it's hard to balance the constant threat of violence with the beauty. I'm not sure if I like it."
"You might think about joining one of those meet-up groups. There are plenty of expats there."
"I have thought about it, but Ray likes me to stay close to home or take a bodyguard with me."
Anna said nothing.
"I sound like I've lost my backbone, don't I?"
"Yes, you do."
Olivia had relied on Ray for much of her support during the last month. Their engagement wasn't really a love match, but they were fond of each other. Her mother had always said that was enough to make a good marriage last.
"I guess I've answered my own question."
"What was the question? You sound lost, Ola, and that's not like you."
"I'm thirty, Anna. You know what that means?"
"That you aren't young and impulsive anymore," Anna said.
"Exactly. I'm ready for my life to begin."
"Don't discount the years you've already had. Your life has been pretty exciting."
"I'm not, but I want a husband who cherishes me and a family of my own," Olivia said. The drive to the mines outside of Cullinan made her feel a bit more normal. Getting away from the guards in Sandton, the suburb where she lived, was what she needed. She liked her new life, she thought.
Really, she did.
"I never felt that way," Anna said quietly.
Anna had been kidnapped as a child, something that Olivia realized had shaped her friend into the woman she was today-a woman who didn't really trust in the future. It made sense that Anna wouldn't have been thinking about kids before her marriage.
"Even now?" Olivia asked.
"It's worse now. The work I'm doing with Jack's group ... it makes me realize how very vulnerable we all are."
"You know, that's part of what I'm feeling here in South Africa. There is a definite feeling that I'm never really safe."
"Can you live with that? You've always had your father and brothers. You seemed very secure in your life."
Olivia laughed. "Not really secure. I guess I picked up my mother's acting skills."
Anna laughed too. "Probably."
She felt a hundred percent better having talked to her friend. "Thank you."
"I don't think I did anything, but you're welcome."
"You distracted me on my drive to the mines."
"Why are you going to the mines?"
"Ray needed a file he'd left at home," Olivia said.
"Do you do that often?"
"Not really, in fact he's never invited me out before. I've been begging for a tour," she said.
She'd thought that the diamond mine would make an excellent setting for one of her spy-girl books. But so far Ray didn't want to discuss his job and he had been pretty adamant that the diamond cartel would have to approve any idea she had. Her cousin was married to an executive with the diamond consortium, so Olivia figured she could use that inside track to get her book idea approved. Besides, things always worked out for her.
"I'm almost there ... hang on a sec." Olivia couldn't be certain, but she thought she saw Ray's Mercedes off to the side of the road. She slowed her car as she saw his car on the other side of the road. There was a barrier in the middle of the road, so she pulled off on her own side.
"Sure-is anything wrong?"
"I'm not certain. Ray's Mercedes is on the side of the road," she said, straining to see over to the other side. "Well, I think his car is. Let me call you back."
"Okay. Be careful, Olivia."
"I will be. There's no one out here."
"But if his car is on the side of the road, then someone may have forced him to stop. Don't hang up. Stay on the phone with me."
"What can you do from D.C.?"
"I'm in London."
"Still hours away," Olivia said.
"Jack has men closer. If you need help, I will send someone."
"Thanks, Anna. I'm getting out of the car now."
Olivia checked to make sure there was no other traffic and there wasn't. Since the two-lane highway only led to the mine entrance, there wasn't a lot of traffic on it. She opened her door and walked across the single lane to the barrier in the middle.
Excerpted from The MERCENARY by KATHERINE GARBERA Copyright © 2009 by Katherine Garbera. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read a lot of books, and for me this book was torture to read. The dialog was stiff and boring. I never got a sense that the Savage seven were in fact savage in the least! I did not feel the story line leading to the big romance of the two main characters made me believe in their attachment. I also don't like to pay ten dollars for 170 pages unless its a stellar story.
I've read and enjoyed quite a few books by author Katherine Garbera. "Mercenary", for me, wasn't quite up to par for what I expect from Garbera. Her writing is always terse and action-filled, but, once again just for me maybe, this story lacked the emotion I needed to pull me fully into the lives of its characters.Kirk is second in command and the sniper of the Savage Seven. As such, he lives his life behind a cool wall that he uses to separate himself from his actions. The last thing he expected was to fall for a pampered socialite.Olivia grew up in comfort and security, surrounded by all the ease big money provides. But ever since becoming engaged to the manager of a South African diamond mine and moving to his home, she can't shake the 'wrong' feelings she's been getting. Her final clue is seeing her fiance kill a man and then aim the gun at her. Now she's on the run and the only man she feels safe with is the silent, stoic Kirk.I didn't like Olivia and Kirk's constant reserve made it difficult for me to believe he and Olivia fell in love in such a short time. The sex is hot, but still not enough to convince me either. The writing has a staccato feeling to it and the lack of emotion portrayed thus just reinforced my distance from the characters.If short-time-frame romance with light emotional impact doesn't bug you, you'll love this story. It's short enough (218 pages in trade paperback) that it doesn't take long to read and the sex is hot enough for an afternoon snack. But for me, I need just a tad bit more than what Katherine Garbera provided in "The Mercenary".
good, though the emotion is dry.
In South Africa, affluent socialite Olivia Pontouf and diamond-mine manager Ray Lambert are engaged. However, their wedding plans die when she accidentally uncovers evidence he commits business murder and fraud. When he realizes what his fiancée has learned, Ray plots her death. The Savage Seven mercenaries are hired to protect Olivia. However, by the time second in command Kirk Mann lands in Johannesburg, Ray has kidnapped Olivia. The ex-marine is all action and few words as he leads the counteroffensive to rescue the wealthy heiress. He succeeds, but has a new more lethal problem that neither his marine nor his Savage Seven training helps solve; he is attracted to his client and worse she reciprocates never feeling safer than when she is with Kirk. This opening act is more a thriller than a romantic suspense though there is a major romance subplot. That feels out of place and would have been better suited to have had overly spoiled Olivia in a role similar to that of Erika Eleniak in Steven Seagal's movie Under Siege. Still the story line is fast-paced and filled of furious action as Kirk and company kick butt in the terrific South African backdrop. Katherine Gabera provides an overall exciting first magnificent Savage Seven tale. look Harriet Klausner
This was a great story from begining to end. It's a sequel to her Bare series.