Sheriff Archer Tobias has watched the Callahan family struggle to find peace and acceptance in the community—despite the murders that continue to haunt them. But his darkest suspicions grow worse when Anna Corbin, a member of one of the country's most influential families, becomes the next target…
Anna knows she's in danger. She knows she's on a trail of secrets and lies that could lead to a dead end. But no matter what, she's determined to learn the identity of the killer—even if it's someone she loves…
Torn between duty and desire, Sheriff Tobias cannot allow Anna to put herself in the path of a deranged murderer. But as the investigation pulls them closer together—and deeper into the nightmare—he realizes that he cannot save her from this legacy of blood and vengeance…without putting his own life on the line.
About the Author
#1 New York Times bestseller, LORA LEIGH is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.
"Lora Leigh writes compelling, red-hot romance." --Sacramento Book Review
Read an Excerpt
By Lora Leigh
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 Lora Leigh
All rights reserved.
Six years later
She had only been home for less than a day and the first thing she had done was seek out Archer Tobias. The man she was determined to seduce. But now, as she stood there, staring at him, she started to lose her breath.
Anna could feel her body weakening, a sensual, overwhelming surge of sensations flooding her, whipping through her, tearing across her flesh like an erotic tidal wave.
Dark gold eyes watched her through lowered lashes, his face set in an expression that, even in her limited experience, she knew was filled with hunger.
His lips parted as she licked hers to relieve their dryness, his gaze dropping to them, then lifting to her eyes once again.
She had only wanted to dance.
The music was pulsing through her blood, filling her with energy as the beat wrapped around her, and invisible notes seemed to be dragging her onto the gazebo patio used as a dance floor.
The evening air was turning cooler, but as she began to move — as Archer watched, his gaze caressing her body — heat flooded her. Perspiration dewed across her skin and a fever burned beneath her flesh as she turned to him once again. Her hips swayed, long black hair trailed down her back as she slowly, slowly shed the long-sleeved, Victorian-style velvet shrug she'd worn over a white silk camisole.
The feel of the velvet rasping over her bare arms sent a shiver racing over her, electric pleasure sizzling through her.
Did he see her reaction?
His eyes seemed to flare with some dark emotion or hunger as the muscles of his arms bunched, his fingers clenching where they gripped the support post of the awning he stood beneath.
Dropping the shrug to the top of the bistro table near her, Anna tipped her head back, feeling her hair brush past her hips. Heat surged through her. Her nipples ached, hardened, her breasts swelled in painful need.
Between her thighs the swollen bud of her clitoris throbbed with the need for his touch.
The feel of his fingers — his lips ...
Oh God, the feel of his lips doing all the things she had ever fantasized of.
She needed his touch.
She needed him like air, like water —
Forcing her eyes open, Anna met his gaze again. Letting her hands caress her hips, her sides, stopping just beneath her breasts before stroking down once again, Anna teased him.
Her hands reaching her thighs, she stopped, stroked back to her hips, then lifted her arms over her head and swayed, moving for him, her hips shifting and swaying —
She lost her breath.
Releasing the hold he had on the post, Archer moved slowly down the steps, striding toward her with slow, purposeful strides as the music slowly changed.
The hard, driving beat slid slowly into an erotic pulse of sensual chords. Couples filled the floor as he reached her, his arms surrounding her a second before he suddenly jerked her against his hard body.
"Archer —" Breathing in roughly, her hands gripped his shoulders, holding tight as she felt the hard length of his erection pressing into her lower stomach.
Sensual heat swept through her. Pounding, fiery sensations burned through her, weakening her knees and her womb before they struck at her clit with such pleasure that her breath caught and new heat flushed through her face.
"You're teasing a very hungry man, sweetheart," he growled as he began to move, stroking against her, his arms holding her as she stared up at him, caught, held by the dark hunger in his gaze.
"Or you're teasing a very hungry woman," she suggested breathlessly. "And I'm tired of waiting for you, Sheriff."
His hands tightened at her hips as his dark gold eyes flared with open lust.
"You could be asking for more than you can handle, Anna," he warned her.
"I've wanted you for so long that I feel as though I've lived my entire life with this hunger, Archer. I don't think I've lived a day without burning for you." Such an admission could end up breaking her heart.
And she didn't care. A broken heart could be a small price to pay for the chance, for just one night in the arms of the man who had held that heart forever.
How many times had her friend, Amelia, warned her that Archer would destroy her heart? That he was the type of man no woman could ever forget? The type of man who might never belong to one woman, forever.
She'd suggested that perhaps Archer wasn't capable of loving anyone but the law.
Once, though, he had loved a sister. Anna had heard the regret and loss in his voice as he had talked about her that last night she had seen him.
Smoothing her hands over his shoulders to the hard, bunched muscles of his biceps, Anna told herself she didn't care. She wasn't going to let herself be afraid of the pain that could come later, when the pleasure was awaiting her now.
Her lashes drifted closed as his head lowered, but he wasn't moving to kiss her as she hoped.
At least, not on her lips.
Instead, his lips brushed over her closed eyelids, moved to her neck, their rough velvet stroking against nerve endings so violently sensitive she couldn't hold back the breathy moan that tore past her lips.
"I need you," she said breathlessly.
Thank God she had slipped out of the house, that her family hadn't known where she was going. She prayed no one called her gran'pop. Or, Lord forbid, her parents.
"What do you need, Anna?" His fingers pushed beneath the hem of her top to find bare skin, his fingertips rubbing and caressing in the small of her back, beneath the veil of her hair.
"I need you," she answered, eyes closing, her body moving instinctively against his as she felt her juices spill between her thighs, dampening the lips of her pussy and the silk of her panties. "Touching me." Forcing her eyes open she stared up at him. "Kissing me. I need your kiss, Archer. You've never kissed me, and you did promise."
"I've kissed every inch of your body in my dreams," he growled, sounding almost angry. "You torment my sleep."
"So, pay me back for it," she suggested, her womb clenching so hard it was like a punch to her lower stomach, shortening her breath and weakening her knees.
"You've been teasing me since you were seventeen," he accused her roughly.
"I've been teasing you since I was thirteen," she countered. "You just refused to notice."
A sense of satisfaction rose inside her at the shock that filled his eyes at her statement.
"I'm glad I didn't notice," he breathed out roughly. "Thirteen?"
"I had some very naughty dreams." She let her nails scrape down the fabric that covered his upper arms. "Dreams of us —"
"Uh, damn, Anna ..."
"Of you holding me when it was dark," she whispered, remembering those long, tear-filled nights when she'd faced the dark with no one to turn to. "Dreams of your laughter, and the way you teased me over my hair, or scowled at the older boys who flirted with me."
"Damn perverts is what they were," he muttered as his head lowered once again, his cheek resting against the side of her head as they moved to the music, easing further into the shadows at the far end of the patio-style outdoor dance floor.
His fingertips moved farther up her back, beneath the stretchy material of her camisole top as he slowly eased her into position to allow his knee to slide between hers.
"Then my dreams started getting really naughty," she breathed as his thigh pressed into the soft silk of her skirt, rubbing the material between her clit and the hard muscles of his upper leg.
"Please tell me you were at least eighteen." He sighed.
Despite the hungry need pounding inside her, Anna had to grin in amusement at the resignation in his voice.
"The night of my eighteenth birthday — remember? — you were there."
Archer nodded slowly, the hammered gold of his eyes darkening further as he stared down at her.
"I dreamed you followed me to my bedroom and gave me a very special birthday kiss." Trembling, heat flushing her body further at the memory of that dream and how often it had repeated itself.
His fingers flexed at her hips, pulling her closer as he moved them deeper into the shadows and into one of the small, private grottos, surrounded by fragrant blooms and tall evergreens kept expertly manicured.
"What kind of birthday kiss, Anna?" he questioned, his voice hoarse, rough.
"Do you remember the dress I wore?" she asked, tilting her head back as his lips moved along the shell of her ear.
She ached for his kiss. He had never kissed her. She had never felt his lips on hers, and she needed it.
"I remember," he growled.
The dress had been white, long and flowing, the soft chiffon a caress against her flesh and falling around her like a waterfall of material.
"You lifted me to my dresser and pressed me back to the mirror. You pushed my gown above my thighs as you spread them, and you kissed me there."
She couldn't stop the flush that surged beneath her skin at the declaration.
His breathing was rough and ragged as his fingers flexed at her hips, then slid around to her rear. Clenching the rounded curves and lifting her, he ordered, "Spread your thighs, baby, grip my hips."
His cock ground against the mound of her pussy, nothing but the silk of her panties and Archer's pants between him and the slick dampness spilling from her sex.
Anna's mind froze. For one long moment she couldn't think or process the sensations racing through her.
"I think I can make that dream come true soon," he groaned as she felt her rear settling on the top of a table and his fingers speared into her hair and pulled her head back.
The sharp, heated sensation that tugged at the roots of her hair shouldn't have been pleasure, and it shouldn't have been arousing. But it was.
Then his hand moved, sliding around to her cheek, her jaw, his fingers cupping it as his thumb glided over her lips. The rasp of his flesh against the sensitive curves had them parting as she drew in precious air.
Eyes narrowed, he watched her, the gold of his gaze mesmerizing her as the pad of his thumb stroked, caressed, building the heat inside her to an inferno.
Finally, he parted her lips, the broad digit pressing against them as she flicked her tongue over the pad of his thumb.
Archer froze, a hoarse growl leaving his lips as she licked, then sucked it inside and loved the feel, the taste, of him. Rubbing her tongue over the pad, she suckled at it. She felt the hard, aching clench of her womb and the heated wetness as her juices flowed from her pussy.
"Damn you, Anna, you're going to cause us both to get arrested if I end up fucking you here," he groaned, pulling his thumb free of her lips.
"What's wrong, Sheriff?" she asked. "Afraid you can't stop with a kiss?"
"One kiss would never be enough."
Staring up at him breathlessly, lips parted, Anna waited with adrenaline-laced anticipation as his head lowered and his lips touched hers.
As her lashes feathered closed, sensation began erupting inside her. His lips rubbed against hers, stroked and smoothed until a whimper of longing spilled from her lips.
"Please, Archer, kiss me. Just once." Trembling, adrenaline and pure hunger crashing through her system as her nails bit into his shoulders, Anna didn't think she would survive if he didn't kiss her.
His teeth caught her lower lip, gripping it for a second before releasing it, and then he gave her the kiss she had always dreamed of.
It wasn't hard and rough. His lips settled on hers with a firm heat and an erotic caress. His tongue licked at the plump curves of her lips, parting them, catching the lower lip between his lips and licking over it before taking advantage of the fact that her mouth had parted for him.
Slanting his lips over hers, his tongue slid over her lips, licked against them, and possessed her with tenderness.
Pure erotic need shot through her senses.
Her lips parted further beneath his, her arms wrapping around his neck as her knees tightened at his hips and he ground his cock between her thighs. The rasp of material, his and hers, over the swollen bud of her clit sent waves of furious need whipping through the oversensitive bundle of nerves and striking to the heart of her womb with burning heat.
Pushing her fingers into his hair, Anna fisted them in the thick strands, desperate to hold him to her. He nipped at her lips, licked the little wound, then came back to take hard, heated tastes of her.
One hand slid from her rear, then his fingers stroked beneath the fabric of her skirt to find the curves of her rear left bare by the thong she wore beneath the frothy material.
Her knees tightened further against his hips, shudders working over her body as he stroked lower, curving between her thighs to find the hot, silken juices gathering at the entrance of her pussy, saturating the silk of her panties.
His fingers eased slowly, so damned slowly beneath the elastic of the thong —
His head jerked up as he found the tightly clenched entrance at the same moment that slick dampness spilled from her again. Anna trembled against him, tiny, whimpering little cries escaping her lips as she felt the violence of the pleasure threatening to erupt into flames inside her.
"Come home with me, Anna." His gaze locked on hers, his body demanding, the need inside her insisting.
Come home with him?
No one had ever said those words to her before.
Come home —
She'd never had a home, but the need to leave with him was suddenly as fierce, as strong, as the need to have him. As strong as the need to belong —
"Sheriff, we have a situation." The voice that came through the radio at his hip was like a shock of ice against the heat raging through Anna's body.
Archer stilled, stiffening against her, his lips drawing back from hers as she bit back a cry of denial.
Forcing her eyes open, staring up at him as he slowly eased her to her feet, Anna wanted to grab the radio and throw it away. Throw it so far that they could never be destroyed by it again.
"Sheriff, you there?" John Caine, Archer's deputy, repeated, his voice low but no less demanding.
Pulling the radio from the case at his hip Archer brought it to his lips. Lips swollen by their kisses, sensual, sexy.
"I'm here," Archer answered, the hammered gold of his eyes slumberous with the need for sex but quickly clearing, as though that hunger had never been there. "What's your location?"
"I'll meet you on the western edge of town, out near the Hopkins' place. I'm on Hopkins Creek Pass, at the clearing," John answered. "Give me your ETA."
"ETA is thirty minutes unless you need me faster."
His gaze didn't leave hers. He didn't blink, and Anna felt her throat tighten with the need to scream, to rage, to deny the fact that he had to leave.
It had taken so long to get her nerve up. So long to tease him, to tempt him to her.
"Thirty minutes." Caine sounded as though the time wasn't the problem.
Disconnecting the radio, Archer lowered it to his hip and pushed it into the case again.
"You have to leave," she said, her hands sliding down his hard chest to the clenched muscles of his stomach as she licked her lips, suddenly uncertain.
He nodded slowly.
She waited, staring up at him, knowing, praying she was wrong; praying it wasn't over.
Surely he would ask to call her? To see her? Perhaps have her wait for him — in his bed?
"I better go," he said softly.
Her throat tightened and she felt the rejection coming. She was intimately acquainted with being left behind, but this time it had been the last thing she had imagined happening.
"Shhh." A finger against her lips reinforced the command. "Think about this, Anna. Think about it, and be sure, be very sure, this is what you want."
Before she could assure him that it was, he had moved away from her and disappeared along the shadowed path outside the small grotto. The protest forming on her lips was left unsaid, and the tears that filled her eyes, as always, were left unseen.
She couldn't believe this.
Staring into the dark, with music, muted voices, and laughter surrounding her, Anna realized she should have expected it. After all, she couldn't remember a time that she hadn't been rejected, in some way.
Blinking back her tears and drawing in a deep breath, she too left the grotto. Unfortunately, she couldn't leave the memory of what had happened in it behind her.
Excerpted from Secret Sins by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2012 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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 have enjoyed the mystery, suspense and romance of this series, but I have a hard time reading a book that is so badly edited. Repeated sentences, inconsistent tenses, poor grammar. And this is not the first time Ms. Leigh has released a book in this condition. Such a prolific author should take more care of the quality of her product. Ms. Leigh, fire your current editor and hire a new one. If you don't use an editor, hire one. I am available if you are interested. And Barnes & Noble, review the product before you sell it.
I always enjoy Lora's books, but this one lost a star for editing. There's an entire scene that is repeated almost verbatim starting around page 120 and then again around page 206. That's just unacceptably poor editing. This is definitely not a good book to start with, so if you are just discovering Lora, go grab the start of her Seals or Elite Ops series. Overall, the story moves us quite a bit further in the mystery and we are given considerable additional back story. We also suddenly find this story tied in to the Elite Ops series and Rory Malone appears. The sudden tie-ins seemed more than a little forced and it was this that lost the book it's second star. I've never gotten as emotionally connected when reading this series as I have in the Elite Ops or Breeds series. The characters just haven't been able to grab me the same way. Still, a good read.
I have always heard great things about Lora Leigh’s books. And, having never read one, I was really excited for the opportunity to experience this one. The verdict? It was…… okay. It’s the third book in Leigh’s Callahan series, and I would highly recommend that you read the series from the start, as I felt I had missed A WHOLE LOT of backstory by beginning in the middle. However, it is not necessary if you’re just looking for a steamy romance novel. The characters in this book annoyed me. Anna is naïve, weak and sad. She’s let her family bully her, and once she’s in the care of the sheriff, Archer, she lets him do the same thing to her. Archer, who is first portrayed as a caring and understanding person, comes off like a horny teenager who can only think of sex. He spends most of the book considering ways to sleep with Anna. He doesn’t really seem to care about her, just her body. They argue constantly, and instead of standing her ground, she just gives in and lets him have his way with her. It’s sad and not at all what I would call romantic. The idea behind the storyline is wonderful. The author is clearly creative in the sense that she knows what will make a great plot. There just wasn’t enough time spent on the ins and outs of such a brilliant idea. I felt like she put entirely too much emphasis on sex. About 70% of the book is repetitive sex scenes that were mostly void of any real emotion. I really felt cheated out of what could have been a great romantic suspense novel. As irritated as I was about the storyline, this will not stop me from reading other books by Lora Leigh. I’ll definitely give her books another try, as I did enjoy the idea of her storyline. I just think I may steer clear of this series, as this book wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Reviewed by Marie for Cocktails and Books.
Story line moved along well. Sex was same old ,same old. But, it is a must read if your keeping up with series.
I have loved all of LL books but there was to much sex. I mean I loved her Pleasure series. I skipped many pages in this book
Enjoyed the entire series, this didnt disappoint
Very bad,I will never buy her books again.To much of a porn book.
A really great read.
I love the series, but I thought that this book wasn't an easy read like the others. The sex scenes are hot but sometimes went on too long. It was hard to believe that a virgin could be such an expert in bed despite her inexperience. I did like that we now know about the reason the Callahan's are being targeted and identity of the slasher(s).
More than one repeat scene or sentences. Good story, but very hard to concentrate when you keep thinking you've read this part before. Please change editors or something.
Greatly Disappointed!!! As a big fan of Lora Leigh's work....this book ranked bottom of the barrel. Grammatical errors, wrong words used, misspelling of a character's name. To top it off, there are several scenes that were repeated verbatim. Story did not have a consistent flow...love was professed then several pages later it was as if this did not happen. Fast forward several pages and the love is professed in a different manner. Also a scene ended in a way that leaves the reader lost....my friend actually thought she skipped some pages by mistake. I hope Ms. Leigh does a better job on her next installment of this series.
I am a huge Lora Leigh writer fan, I have read the other books of this series and that definately helps with the storyline, I love that she brought other characters from the other series into this story cause I was really sorry when that series ended. But I have to say a disappointment with Archer and Anna, yes there was sex, but it was just vanilla the only time there was something different was in his thoughts. I mean Archer is kind of built up in the readers eye as theTake no crap,. bad guy in the bed room to try just about anything so you keep reading on to expect something different but ... It's not happening!!!!!!! So that was boring, I do have to agree with one reader it did get tiring hearing," it's so good Archer". Ms. Leigh you are an amazing writer, I just think whoever proof reads your books should have pointed things like that out, because there have been a few books that have been like that.
Nauti Boy's and their cousin. Just started this today and I am already half way finished!