The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seeing Red ignites crackling suspense and fiery emotion in an unforgettable novel of passion and vengeance.
When her younger brother, Danny, commits suicide, Sayre Lynch breaks her vow never to return to her Louisiana hometown, and gets drawn back into her tyrannical father's web. He and her older brother—who control the town's sole industry, an iron foundry—are as corrupt as ever. Worse, they have hired a shrewd and disarming new lawyer, Beck Merchant…a man with his own agenda. When the police determine that Danny's suicide was actually a homicide, Sayre must battle her family—and her passionate feelings for Beck—as she confronts a powder keg of old hatreds, past crimes, and a surprising plan of revenge.
|Product dimensions:||4.12(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Sandra Brown is the author of sixty-eight New York Times bestsellers, including Mean Streak, Deadline, Low Pressure, and Smoke Screen. Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, most of which remain in print. Sandra and her husband, Michael Brown, live in Arlington, Texas.
Date of Birth:March 12, 1948
Place of Birth:Waco, Texas
Education:Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
Read an Excerpt
"Do you remember Slap Watkins?"
"The guy who was spouting off in the bar."
"Can you be more specific? What bar? When?"
"The night you came to town."
"That was three years ago."
"Yeah, but you should remember." Chris Hoyle sat forward in an attempt to goose his friend's powers of recall. "The loudmouth who caused the fight? Face that would stop a clock. Big ears."
"Oh, that guy. Right. With the..." Beck held his hands at the sides of his head to indicate large ears.
"That's how he got the nickname Slap," Chris said.
Beck raised an eyebrow.
"Whenever the wind blew, his ears "
"Slapped against his head," Beck finished.
"Like shutters in a gale." Grinning, Chris tilted his beer bottle in a silent toast.
The window blinds in the den of the Hoyles' home were drawn to block out the shimmering heat of a late-afternoon sun. The closed blinds also made the room agreeably dim for better TV viewing. A Braves game was being televised. Top of the ninth and Atlanta needed a miracle. But despite the unfavorable score, there were worse ways to spend a stifling Sunday afternoon than inside a semidark, air-conditioned den, sipping cold brews.
Chris Hoyle and Beck Merchant had idled away many hours in this room. It was the perfect male playroom, with its fifty-inch TV screen and surround-sound speakers. It had a fully stocked bar with a built-in ice maker, a refrigerator filled with soft drinks and beer, a billiards table, a dartboard, and a round game table with six leather chairs as soft and cushy as the bosom of the cover girl on this month's issue of Maxim. The room was paneled with stained walnut and furnished with substantial pieces that wore well and required little maintenance. It smelled of tobacco smoke and reeked of testosterone.
Beck uncapped another bottle of beer. "So what about this Slap?"
"I didn't know he was gone. In fact, I don't think I've seen him since that night, and then I was looking at him through swelling eyes."
Chris smiled at the memory. "As barroom brawls go, that was a fairly good one. You caught several of Slap's well-placed punches. He was always handy with his fists. He had to be because he shot off his mouth all the time."
"Probably defending against cruel cracks about his ears."
"No doubt. Anyway, that smart mouth of his kept him on everybody's fighting side. Soon after our altercation with him, he got into a feud with his sister's ex-husband. Over a lawn mower, I think it was. Things came to a head one night at a crawfish boil, and Slap went after his ex-brother-in-law with a knife."
"Flesh wound. But it was right across the guy's belly and drew enough blood to warrant an assault with a deadly weapon charge and probably should have been attempted murder. Slap's own sister testified against him. He's been in Angola for the past three years, now out on parole."
Chris frowned. "Not really. Slap's got it in for us. At least that's what he said that night three years ago when he was being hauled away in a squad car. He thought it unfair that he was being arrested and we weren't. Screamed invectives and threats that made my blood run cold."
"I don't remember that."
"That may have been when you were in the men's room nursing your wounds. Anyhow," Chris continued, "Slap is an unstable and untrustworthy ne'er-do-well, a trailer trash Bubba whose only talent is holding grudges, and in that, he excels. We humiliated him that night, and even drunk as he was, I doubt he's forgiven and forgotten. Keep an eye out for him."
"I consider myself warned." Beck glanced over his shoulder in the general direction of the kitchen. "Am I invited to dinner?"
Beck settled even more comfortably into the sofa on which he was sprawled. "Good. Whatever's baking in there is making my mouth water."
"Coconut cream pie. Nobody can make a better pie than Selma."
"You'll get no argument from me, Chris."
Chris's father, Huff Hoyle, strode in, fanning his ruddy face with his straw hat. "Get me one of those longnecks. I'm so damn thirsty, I couldn't work up a spit if my dick was on fire."
He hung his hat on a coat tree, then plopped down heavily in his recliner, swiping his sleeve across his forehead. "Damn, it's a scorcher today." With a sigh, he sank into the cool leather cushions of the chair. "Thanks, Son." He took the chilled bottle of beer Chris had opened for him and pointed it toward the TV. "Who's winning this ball game?"
"Not the Braves. In fact it's over." Beck muted the sound as the commentators began their postmortem of the game. "We don't need to hear why they lost. The score says it all."
Huff grunted in agreement. "Their season was over the minute they let those high-paid, non-English-speaking, prima donna players start telling the owners how to run the show. Big mistake. Could have told them that." He took a long swig of the beer, nearly draining the bottle.
"Have you been playing golf all afternoon?" Chris asked.
"Too hot," Huff said as he lit a cigarette. "We played three holes, then said screw this and went back to the clubhouse to play gin rummy."
"How much did you fleece them of today?"
The question wasn't whether Huff had won or lost. He always won.
"Couple of hundred."
"Nice going," Chris said.
"Ain't worth playing if you don't win." He winked at his son, then at Beck. He finished his beer in a gulp. "Either of you heard from Danny today?"
"He'll show up here in a while," Chris said. "That is if he can work us in between Sunday morning worship and Sunday night vespers."
Huff scowled. "Don't get me in a bad mood by talking about that. I don't want to spoil my dinner."
The gospel according to Huff was that preaching, praying, and hymn singing were for women and men who might just as well be women. He equated organized religion to organized crime, except that churches had impunity and tax advantages, and he had about as much intolerance for Holy Joes as he did for homosexuals and laborers with union cards.
Chris tactfully steered the conversation away from his younger brother and his recent preoccupation with spiritual matters. "I was just telling Beck that Slap Watkins is out on parole."
"White trash," Huff muttered as he toed off his shoes. "That whole bunch, starting with Slap's granddaddy, who was the lowest reprobate ever to draw breath. They found him dead in a ditch with a broken whiskey bottle jammed in his throat. He must have crossed somebody one time too many. There's bound to have been some inbreeding in that family. Down to the last one of them they're ugly as sin and dumber than stumps."
Beck laughed. "Maybe. But I owe Slap a debt of gratitude. If it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be here sharing Sunday dinner."
Huff looked across at him with as much affection as he showed his own sons. "No, Beck, you were meant to become one of us, by hook or by crook. Finding you made that whole Gene Iverson mess worthwhile. You were the only good thing to come out of it."
"That and a hung jury," Chris said. "Let's not forget those twelve. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here sharing Sunday dinner. Instead I could be sharing a cell with the likes of Slap Watkins."
Chris often made light of having been put on trial for the murder of Gene Iverson. His joking dismissal of the incident never failed to make Beck uncomfortable, as it did now. He changed the subject. "I hate to bring up a business matter when it isn't even a workday."
"In my book, every day's a workday," Huff said.
Chris groaned. "Not in my book, it's not. Is it bad news, Beck?"
"Then can't it wait till after supper?"
"Sure, if you'd rather."
"Nope," Huff said. "You know my rule about bad news. I want to hear it sooner rather than later. I sure as hell don't want to wait through dinner. So, what's up, Beck? Don't tell me that we've been slapped with another fine by the EPA over those cooling ponds "
"No, it's not that. Not directly."
"Hold on. I'm going to pour a drink first," Chris said to Huff. "You like to hear bad news early, I like to hear it with a glass of bourbon in my hand. Want one?"
"Lots of ice, no water."
"I'm fine, thanks."
Chris moved to the bar and reached for a decanter and two glasses. Then, leaning closer to the window, he peered through the slats of the blinds and twirled the wand to open them wider. "What have we got here?"
"What is it?" Huff asked.
"Sheriff's car just pulled up."
"Well, what do you think he wants? It's payday."
Chris, still looking through the blinds, said, "I don't think so, Huff. He's got somebody with him."
"I don't know. Never saw him before."
Chris finished pouring the drinks and brought one of them to his father, but the three said nothing more as they listened to Selma making her way from the kitchen at the back of the house to the front door to answer the bell. The housekeeper greeted the callers, but the exchange was too softly spoken for individual words to be understood. Footfalls approached the den. Selma appeared ahead of the guests.
"Mr. Hoyle, Sheriff Harper is here to see you."
Huff motioned for her to usher him in.
Sheriff Red Harper had been elected to the office thirty years before, his campaign substantially boosted and his win guaranteed by Huff's pocketbook. He had remained in office by the same means.
His hair, which had been fiery in his youth, had dulled, as though it had rusted on his head. He stood well over six feet tall but was so thin that the thick leather gun belt with the accoutrements of his job attached looked like an inner tube hanging on a fence post.
He looked wilted, and not only because of the heat index outside. His face was long and gaunt, as though three decades of corruption had weighted it down with guilt. His woebegone demeanor was that of a man who had sold his soul to the devil far too cheaply. Never jolly, he seemed particularly downcast as he shuffled into the room and removed his hat.
By contrast, the younger officer with him, a stranger to them, seemed to have been dipped in a vat of starch along with his uniform. He was so closely shaven, his cheeks were rosy with razor burn. He looked as tense and alert as a sprinter in the blocks waiting for the starting gun.
Red Harper acknowledged Beck with a slight nod. Then the sheriff looked toward Chris, who was standing beside Huff's chair. Finally his bleak eyes moved to Huff, who had remained seated in his recliner.
"Huff." Instead of looking directly at Huff, he focused on the brim of his hat, which he was feeding through his fingers.
It wasn't Huff's habit to stand up for anyone. That was a show of respect reserved for Huff Hoyle alone, and everybody in the parish knew it. But, impatient with the suspense, he pushed down the footrest of his recliner and came to his feet.
"What's going on? Who's this?" He gave the sheriff's spit-and-polish companion a once-over.
Red cleared his throat. He lowered his hat to his side and nervously tapped it against his thigh. He waited a long time before looking Huff in the eye. All of which signaled to Beck that the sheriff's errand was much more consequential than picking up this month's graft.
"It's about Danny..." he began.
Copyright © 2004 by Sandra Brown Management Ltd.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have been reading Sandra Brown books for years. I have to say this one is just as good as the others. I love a good ending!! There were so any twists and turns in this book that it just kept me guessing. I love a book that I can read and say on my goodness I did not expect that. All in all I thought this was a great read!!
This was my first book by this author, and I only picked it up because I was bored with a series I had been reading. Needing a break I looked for a distraction before going back. I was caught up from the beginning and now look forward to reading more by S. Brown.
It has twist after twist. So many shocking turns of events. Lust and love and many family secrets. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.
I found it intriguing and kept my attention as well had trying to determine all of the different sub plots. Only of a few of my ideas came true. I like that, because it keeps me reading to discover the REAL stories and there are many in this one book. This is definitely an adult book. (violence, frightening situations and sexual innuendos as well as graphic scenes.)
I couldn't put it down!
Sandra Brown is my favorite story teller. I have read her books for years. This book did not disappoint. It held my interest from 1st page to the last. Loved Beck and Sayre. All i can say is ... there must be a continuation of this story? I certainly hope so. EXCELLENT READ
So many twists and turns, totally absorbing, absolutely loved it
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The story of Sayer, Beck, Chris, and Huff is excellently written. It has a surprise ending that even I (who usually can detect them) couldn't guess in a million years. Because this book is so great, I'll be reading other Sandra Brown books. Enjoy. :o)
White Hot was a very good book. It's a long book, with a lot of characters and plots. It took me a little bit to get into it, but then I loved it and had fun trying to figure out all the mysteries. Was a perfect vacation book when I could read it all in a few days!
Omg! I loved this book! I couldnt put it down and i loved the way the characters werent the happy fairy tale kind. The twist at the end was unpredictable and totally caught me by surprise.
I've read this book twice and it still excited me. Could not put it down and the ending "WOW"
This book was awesome! The ending is full of surprises that will keep you turning the pages and have you guessing all the way to the end. My mouth literally fell to the floor on the last page. I didn't want the book to end, I hope there is a sequel sometime in the future. I want to know more about about the main characters. The love scenes are so sweet and well written. I have read many Sandra Brown books this is for sure one of her bests! A must read!!
This book is good. Once it's over there's an unexpected twist and then surprise another twist and just when you think it's done one more is thrown out there. White Hot is definitely hot. Way to go Sandra Brown I'm enjoying your work.
This book took a little before I got involved with it. The plot-kind of sags at the beginning and then steps up. A complete twist at the end-give it a 7.5 on a scale from 1-10.
This was the first Sandra Brown book I have ever read... but definitley not my last... I have read A LOT of books and this is probably one of the best ones I have ever read! It was so good even with all the twists in it and especially the shocking ending! i loved it!
I've read several other books by Sandra Brown and this was by far the best!!! Being an avid reader I'm often able to figure out the ending well before it arrives. This is NOT the case here what a GREAT ending!!! Also I was glad to see that Brown had toned down some on the romance... she can be a bit too racy, and it's unnecessary. I highly recommend this book and wish she'd pen more at this caliper.
This is my second Sandra Brown novel. I thought that I loved Exclusive, but, this one is even better. It started out slow, but, when the two lead characters meet, it's a steady race to the climax. I loved it. I loved it so much, after I finished with it, I went online to buy it--to read it again, this time at my own pace--(checked out at the library).
Sandra Brown really out did herself in this book, this was a great book, I couldn't put it down. I would have never expected the outcome, not in a million years!!! Highly recommened. This is the type of book I will read more than once
This book was INCREDIBLE!! I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book. It had a bit of everything - suspence, romance and thriller all wrapped perfectly together. At countless times while reading the book, I was commited to figure out 'who did it' before it was revealed to me. I must say that there were so many twists and turns that I couldn't put it down and ended up staying awake much longer than I had planned. This is an A++++ book and for anybody looking for a real page turner!!
I thought this book would be another "Girl returns home and falls in love" story. I could not have been more wrong. This is a multilayered suspense novel with a surprise ending that came out of nowhere. Another great read from the great Sandra Brown!
Awesome intrigued reading.
This was a great book! It was suspenseful and had twists that you don't see coming!
Excellent read ... great twist!