Pierce Carver was one of Austin's richest, most successful surgeons. And he was going to marry trauma nurse Rose Marie Castle and put her aching feet into glass slippers. Unfortunately, the doctor had a weakness for the allure of youth and feminine perfection. He jilted Rose Marie three years ago, and she's still dreaming of revenge
And things are looking bad for Rose Marie. The night Pierce died she was inside his magnificent home, half naked and very willing to accept his apologies. Now she's the prime suspect. Worse, her high school sweetheart is the investigating detective. But if Rose Marie didn't kill the not-so-good doctor, who did? Between his ex-wives, his angry stepchildren and the deep, dirty secrets driving their lives, somebody resorted to murder. And it looks as if Dr. Carver kept the biggest, baddest secrets of all .
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"Oh my God! More blood?" She'd thought it was only a nick.
Rosie couldn't believe what had just happened. Pierce had gotten angry so quickly. He'd seemed weird, strung out, not himself at all.
Her every breath was a harsh, tortured rasp as she grabbed a tissue and dabbed at her cut finger and the steering wheel. She didn't want to think about her former fiancé, or their quarrel, or how quickly the violence had escalated.
Perspiration drenched her, not just because it was a hot, sultry August night or because of the champagne she'd drunk with Pierce before the evening had gone wrong. Or because today was her fortieth birthday and maybe she was simply having an early hot flash.
She rubbed her head. Her scalp hurt where Pierce's watch had caught her hair. He hadn't cared that he'd hurt her. In fact, he'd smiled.
She wrapped the tissue around her finger and applied pressure. When the Beamer's tires squealed, rounding a sharp curve, she gripped the wheel. It wasn't like her to mistreat her car by driving too fast. She was that anxious to get away.
Well, at least she was finally over him. No more wisecracks to the other nurses about wanting revenge, to salve her wounded ego because they knew he'd dumped her for Anita.
For what it was worth, tonight Mr. Prominent Plastic Surgeon hadn't paid her a dime of the money he owed her, either. Big surprise. She still didn't know why she'd snapped. But for sure, she had bigger problems now than the money he'd owed her.
What had she ever seen in Pierce? He was a gifted doctor, and being a nurse, she'd admired that. She'd been having a hard time accepting her grown daughter's lifestyle, so maybe he'd come along when she'd needed to feel successful in other areas of her life. Being seen on the arm of a handsome plastic surgeon had made her feel good.
But even before he'd dumped her, the romance had taken a dark turn. Like a lot of Rosie's boyfriends—and there'd been a lot, way too many in some people's opinions, such as her mother's—Pierce had developed the knack for punching the wrong buttons. He brought out the Bad Rosie, just like her mom, Hazel, did sometimes, which was why Rosie should have been delighted when he'd jilted her for a younger woman right before their wedding day nearly a year ago.
Okay, so Rosie hadn't been delighted or acted mature, despite her "mature" age. Okay, so maybe that was partly because she'd been feeling romantic about being a bride again, and partly because she'd seen Dr. Pierce Carver as the ticket to the sparkling train car.
Rosie's least favorite movie scene of all time, and of course it had to be the one that haunted her, was the opening sequence in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. In the scene, poor Woody sat in a dark, dirty train car with a bunch of other pathetic losers. Unfortunately, he had looked out the window just in time to see a sparkling train car filled with happy, glamorous people drinking champagne streak by him, and he had despaired.
There'd been a lot of times when Rosie would have sold her soul to be in that sparkling car.
Pierce had come into her life just when she'd been feeling superguilty about Carmen dancing at The Cellar and neglecting her five-year-old daughter, Alexis, to the point that Rosie had had to take Alexis under her wing. Pierce had seemed glamorous and caring and sure of himself, when she'd been feeling vulnerable because she was getting older and didn't have enough to show for it.
When he had jilted her and she'd had to face reality again, she'd had to see a shrink for a while to reclaim her sanity—on a weekly basis, as a matter of fact.
So—okay. Okay. Okay.
Rosie really had thought she was over Pierce, until he'd called tonight. He'd flattered her and said he was tying up loose ends. He'd promised to pay her the money he owed her, and she'd agreed to give him a new key to the warehouse where he stored some medical records.
Now she was racing down the curving, narrow road in Westlake Hills that led through sweet-smelling juniper-covered, limestone hills, away from his mansion.
Rosie lifted her gaze to the rearview mirror. She caught a glimpse of one blue eye and her coppery-red curls. She adjusted the mirror and saw her shoes on the back seat.
As for her bra and panties... Her heart began to beat fast. She did not want to dwell on missing underwear.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
She couldn't believe he'd made her feel so vulnerable and lonely. Why else had she started stripping for him and...
He'd said she was beautiful, and maybe she was...for her age. She was slim. Her legs were long. Okay, so maybe she was a little worried about her neck at times. Just as she lifted her chin to check it in her rearview mirror, her cell phone vibrated on her lap.
Damn. No way could she talk to anybody.
But when she picked up the phone, she saw Yolie's name highlighted in brilliant blue. Yolie had let her and Alexis move in when Rosie's house had burned not long after Pierce had jilted her. Alexis was home with Jennifer, who was just a teenager. A responsible one, but still a teenager. Yolie was supposed to go to her ranch tonight.
What if there was a problem? Rosie had to answer. "Where've you been? Celebrating your big birthday with a lot of sex and sin and alcohol, I hope," Yolie said in that crisp, in-your-face voice she usually reserved for the managers of her various fast-food Taco Bonito restaurants.
No way was Rosie admitting the truth. That she'd gone to Pierce's. That she'd almost... Not to Yolie, of all people! Yolie, who, among her many identities, happened to be one of Pierce's ex-wives.
Yolie had totally agreed with Nan, Rosie's shrink, when she'd advised Rosie not to date for a while, so that she could confront the psychic wounds of her childhood. Whatever.
They both said she'd obsessed about Pierce for too long. They'd been the first to quit laughing when she'd joked about having vengeful fantasies, although Yolie had enjoyed her saying she'd have Pierce's head on a silver platter if he kept refusing to pay her what he owed her.
Alarmed that Yolie, who hadn't gotten rich in the fast-food business by being the dimmest bulb in the kitchen, might somehow hear the quiver in her voice and suspect something, Rosie tensed.
"Oh...I was at my house—you know, painting with Harry...so that someday—sooner rather than later—you'll have your mansion back to yourself." Not exactly a lie.
Harry's main job was to run her rental properties, which included houses in her old East Austin neighborhood, as well as the warehouse where Pierce stored some of his stuff. Of late, Harry had been the contractor on her house.
"Really? Until midnight? I just got back from your place. Harry was smoking grass in that portable potty your nosy, next-door neighbor, Mirabella, is always in such a snit about. Would you believe Mirabella was actually up and that she and her dog watched me from her kitchen window? Does she ever mind her own business?"
"She makes a career of running me down to the entire neighborhood."
"When I knocked on the door of the portable potty, I almost got high myself on fumes when he kicked it open. Harry was pretty fuzzy headed, but he did say he thought Jennifer called you around 11:00 p.m., maybe about Alexis, because you sure peeled rubber when you left."
Busted. Rosie swallowed. She'd been only too happy to let him think it was Jennifer, her favorite babysitter.
But had she actually said she was going home to check on Alexis? No. Did she have to account for her actions to Harry, of all people? Definitely—no!
"I..." With Yolie, who was way smarter than Harry, sometimes the less said, the better. "So... what's up?"
"I was on my way out the door, late as usual, to go to the ranch, when Beth called. In fact, I just left Jennifer and Alexis, who are fine, by the way. Beth sounds frantic. Says she's been calling you for over an hour...."
Beth was an R.N. in the I.C.U. at Brackenridge Hospital, where Rosie worked. Beth had been sick earlier in the week, and Rosie had had to pull double shifts. Not fun, since she needed every spare minute to clean and paint her burned-out mess of a house because Harry's progress on the job had been so slow and her neighbors, stirred up by Mirabella, were bugging her about the unmowed brown grass and the awful orange portable potty in her front yard.
"She said to call her at the unit ASAP." Yolie paused. "Oh, and before I forget, I left you a teeny piece of double-fudge, Italian-cream chocolate cake in the fridge for your birthday."
"You swore you wouldn't—" Rosie stopped herself. There was no point in arguing with Yolie, who was a larger woman, who loved to cook, and who ate whatever she wanted. She wasn't neurotic about her butt size or her jean size or even the fact that her next big birthday would be fifty. She had a thing for younger men, too. Her current hottie was Xavier, her gardener, of all people. He was ambitious. Yolie was always helping him with his English. He was going to school, and he worked for Taco Bonito, too. The one condition she'd made when Rosie had moved in was to leave Xavier strictly alone—or she'd teasingly threatened to turn her into taco meat for her restaurant chain.
Of course, Rosie had promised to leave the yardman to his clipping, but that was before she'd seen Xavier, who had a head of thick black hair, a body of sleek dark muscles and a lopsided smile that reminded her too much of the first man she'd ever given her heart to, under a palm tree in Mexico, no less.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although an interesting whodunit story, that keeps you turning its pages at a frantic pace, ultimately this book is a hollow read. It is only good for its entertainment value, and not much else. Don't get me wrong, if you're looking for a thriller, this is a good one - but ultimately, I find the characters shallow and materialistic, just shells of people, really. There were almost no characters that I could actually relate to, and I didn't like the way the women were portrayed in the story, anyway. It seemed as if the characters kept making bad choices, and for no good reason other than because it was what kept propelling the story along. I enjoyed feeling like I wanted to know what happened next, but I was also able to guess who might have done it half way through the book. Overall, fast-paced, whodunit mystery but lacking any depth.
In Austin, Texas, someone murders plastic surgeon Dr. Pierce Carver. Austin Homicide Detective Michael Nash leads the investigation into the slashing killing of the renowned physician whose hands were tied together with a black bra that the cop assumes belongs to nurse Rose Marie Castle, a woman both men knew intimately.--------------------- Michael quickly learns that Rosie was the last person to have seen her late fiancé alive with their parting being an argument and a broken engagement. She is a prime suspect having motive, means, and opportunity. However, so did Carver¿s former wives, his business associate, and just about anyone who met the arrogant but gifted plastic surgeon. Knowing she is a prime suspect and not trusting her former boyfriend to look elsewhere, Rosie begins her own investigation, quite amateurish. She gets in Michael¿s face and he is bothered because he still wants her.-------------------- Combining an amateur sleuth thriller with an urban police procedural, Ann Major provides her audience with a strong romantic suspense tale. The story line is action-packed though some slapstick moments seem intrusive while lessening the tension. Still the suspense hooks the audience wanting to know what twist comes next and whether the lead couple will end up together handcuffed in or out of bed. THE SECRET LIVES OF DOCTORS¿ WIVES is a strong whodunit romance.--------------- Harriet Klausner