EVERY SMALL TOWN HAS A SECRET
The rolling fields outside Curry, Oklahoma, are a beautiful spot to ramble on an early spring day . . . and a lonely place to die. Among the prairie grass and wildflowers, a killer kneels beside a curled-up figure, plunging a syringe beneath skin to deliver the fatal dose. And as the victim’s last breath mingles with the air, it sends a warning out to the world: This is just the beginning.
AND THIS ONE
Rejecting her judge father’s prestigious connections, Ellie Guthrie opened her own law firm in Curry. But something strange is going on. Ellie’s tires are slashed. Dead rats are dumped on her patio. Her neighbor, former FBI agent Nate Marcel, insists on watching out for her. And then bodies begin turning up—supposed overdoses that Nate suspects are something much more sinister.
IS WORTH KILLING FOR
There’s a killer in town, toying with her, drawing both Ellie and Nate into a web of murder and vengeance. To find answers, she’ll have to unearth this small community’s dark and twisted past . . . before it’s her turn to die.
Praise for Pretend You’re Safe
“Alexandra Ivy gives readers a nice balance of romance and suspense in her fast-paced,
—Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author
“A satisfying mystery . . . Ivy's clever foreshadowing keeps the tension high throughout this
fast-moving tale, and the romance sizzles.”
“A pulse-raising romantic thriller.”
About the Author
Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at www.AlexandraIvy.com.
Read an Excerpt
Ellie Guthrie was savoring her second cup of coffee when her cell phone rang.
Grabbing it off the linoleum countertop, she glanced at the screen out of habit rather than necessity. She already knew who was calling. Less than a handful of people had her private number, and of those, only her secretary, Doris Harvey, would be phoning before breakfast.
"What's the disaster?" she demanded, not bothering with pleasantries.
After a year of working together, Doris had learned that Ellie was single-minded when it came to work.
"No disaster," the older woman assured her. Doris was a tiny wisp of a woman with steel-gray hair she kept cut short and dark eyes that sparkled with good humor. Beneath her sweet-old-lady façade, however, was the tenacity of a bulldog. Over the past year she'd proven to be more than just an employee. She was a loyal friend who protected Ellie with a ferocious diligence. "I was sorting through your emails and there was one from the district attorney's office that your meeting has been delayed."
Ellie frowned. She'd recently taken over the defense of a man who'd been accused of a series of thefts in the area. Today she was supposed to pick up the discovery packet so she could prepare for the pretrial hearing.
"Delayed? Did they give a reason why?" she demanded.
"A scheduling conflict is the official reason, but I would guess that the prosecutor discovered you had taken over the defense and realized that he'd better have his ducks in a row," Doris said.
Ellie's lips twitched. She couldn't see her secretary's face, but she could hear the hint of smug satisfaction in her voice.
"Ducks in a row?"
"Greg Stone is used to being the smartest man in the room," Doris said, referring to the local prosecutor. "The fact that there is a woman who can challenge him in the courtroom has him scrambling to bring his A game."
Ellie felt a stab of pride. It was one thing to graduate from a fancy law school with a 4.0; it was another to put everything she'd learned to the test by opening her own law firm.
The knowledge that she'd succeeded despite her father's stern disapproval at her walking away from a prestigious position he'd arranged for her in Oklahoma City added an extra dash of satisfaction.
She'd accomplished her success on her own.
That was important.
"Then I'd better make sure I bring my A game as well," Ellie said.
"Your game is A-plus, baby."
Ellie chuckled. "You're very colorful this morning," she told her secretary. "Did you spend the weekend binge watching The Sopranos again?"
"Nope. It was Dragnet this time."
"Ah." Ellie's smile widened. She'd watched reruns of the show when she was just a child. "Just the facts, ma'am."
She wrinkled her nose. She hated having her tightly controlled schedule disrupted. Still, she understood the game. Greg Stone had a legal obligation to hand over the files he had on her client, but if she became a pain, then he'd drag his feet as long as possible.
It was better just to allow him to enjoy his power play. It was one skirmish in a war she was fully confident she would win.
"I'll head straight to the office."
"No hurry," Doris told her. "It's pretty quiet here this morning."
"Then I'll catch up on my paperwork."
Doris heaved a deep sigh. "It's supposed to be a beautiful spring morning. Don't you have something better to do than sit in your office?"
Ellie glanced around her kitchen and grimaced. She had lots and lots of better things to do.
Thousands of things.
Since buying the old ranch house five miles south of Curry, she'd done nothing more than unpack the necessities. At the beginning, she'd had grand plans of remodeling. She intended to gut the place and create an open floor plan as well as enclosing the wraparound porch for a place to sit and enjoy the peace on warm nights.
Instead, she'd piled her boxes in a spare bedroom and concentrated on the office she'd purchased in downtown Curry. It was far more important that she make the perfect first impression to her potential clientele. The only real updating she'd done at her house was buying a state-of-the-art coffee machine that looked like some sort of alien technology on the chipped countertop.
With a shrug, she shoved aside thoughts of the enormous number of repairs that were waiting for her. She'd muddled along for the past year. She could muddle along a couple more months. Once summer arrived she might have more enthusiasm to tackle at least a few projects.
"I have work to do," she told her secretary.
"You always have work to do," the older woman chastised. "And don't try to pretend you didn't spend last night at the office."
Ellie was caught off guard by the accusation. "How do you know?"
"It was bingo night at my church. Whose car do you suppose I spotted in front of the office when I drove home at ten o'clock?"
Ellie rolled her eyes. "I sometimes forget I live in a fishbowl now."
"It's not a fishbowl. Our interest in each other's lives comes from a place of love, Ellie."
"Hmm." Ellie had spent the majority of her life in Oklahoma City. She hadn't realized the cultural shock of moving to a small town. Some days she loved feeling a part of a community. Other days she hated the sensation she was constantly being watched and judged by her neighbors. "I'm going to change into something more comfortable and I'll be in."
"Suit yourself," Doris said.
"I always do."
Ellie ended the conversation and headed toward her bedroom. She quickly stripped off the black skirt and crisp white shirt that matched the other black skirts and white shirts hanging in her closet. She reserved them for her appearances in court or meeting with the DA, preferring slacks and soft sweaters for her day-to-day office uniform.
Stepping into the bathroom that had an old claw-foot tub and a sink that was chipped and yellowed from age, she grabbed a brush and stood in front of the mirror.
With a quick efficiency, she pulled her honey-brown hair into a ponytail. She usually kept it shoulder length, but she was well overdue for a trim. Now it fell almost to the middle of her back and it always seemed to be in the way.
She grimaced as she caught sight of her reflection. She looked like she was twelve, not a woman approaching her twenty-ninth birthday. And it wasn't just the ponytail. Her features were delicate, with large brown eyes that were heavily lashed. Even worse, she barely topped five-foot-four, with a slender body that still looked like she was in her tomboy years.
Her elegant mother had rued Ellie's lack of sophistication, incapable of understanding why Ellie wanted to play softball and run in marathons rather than prance around in a pretty dress.
Ellie scowled, tossing aside the brush.
She'd moved to Curry to get away from the heavy sense of duty she always felt when she was in the presence of her parents. She wasn't going to let bad memories haunt her.
Pausing long enough to grab her purse and a light jacket, she stepped out of her house and locked the door. She headed to the driveway, where she'd left her car. She had an attached garage, but the door was jammed. Just another project on her to-do list.
At least it promised to be a lovely spring day. The sun was peeking over the horizon, spreading a golden warmth that battled against the crisp air. Ellie paused, glancing around the rolling fields that spread as far as the eye could see.
Not many women her age would choose to live alone in such an isolated area. She had friends from law school who had all leaped at the opportunity to join firms in large cities where they could quickly climb the corporate ladder. When she told them she was happy in her shabby ranch house in the middle of nowhere, they shook their heads and heaved resigned sighs. With Ellie's powerful family connections, she could have her choice of plum jobs.
Sucking in a deep breath, she caught the scent of rich earth and winter wheat. Much better than the smell that wafted from the dumpster when she stepped out of the door at her old apartment in Oklahoma City.
A smile touched her lips as she neared the silver BMW her parents had given her when she'd graduated from law school. Okay, she hadn't totally turned her back on the finer things in life. The sports car wasn't the most sensible vehicle, but she loved it too much to give it up.
Eventually she'd have to buy an old truck for those days when the roads were too muddy or too icy to get her car into town. But she hadn't had time to look around.
Reaching the vehicle, her smile abruptly vanished.
She squatted down, staring at her tire. It was flat. Completely and totally flat.
Annoyance soured her mood. This was a trade-off to avoiding the problems that plagued big cities: gravel roads were hell on tires.
On the point of rising to her feet so she could pop the trunk and pull out her spare, she caught sight of the back tire. Crap. It was as flat as the front one.
What had she run over?
Impossible to know for sure, she acknowledged with a rueful sigh. And it didn't really matter now. She was going to have to call the local auto shop to come out with two new tires.
She was pulling her cell from her purse when she heard the sound of a loud engine. Her stomach tensed. She didn't need to turn her head to see who was headed up the gravel road. She'd recognize the racket of Nate Marcel's old pickup a mile away.
Keeping her gaze focused on her phone, she scrolled through her contacts. She was sure that she'd put in the name of the garage. What was it called? Something that started with a G?
Fiercely trying to concentrate, Ellie found herself distracted as she heard the truck begin to slow.
Drive on, drive on, drive on, she softly whispered.
Of course, he didn't.
Her nearest neighbor would never, ever be the sort of guy who would drive past a woman who looked like she might need his help.
She didn't know if it was his training as a former FBI agent. Or if he'd been born with a hero complex. Either way, he'd been the first to arrive on her doorstep after she'd moved to Curry, offering to help her with the numerous repairs on her property.
The sight of him had frankly taken her breath away.
He was gorgeous in a rugged sort of way. He had a strong, square jaw that constantly looked like it was a few hours past a five o'clock shadow. His nose was bold and his mouth bracketed by a pair of unexpected dimples. He kept his dark hair cut short, but it lay like glossy satin and her fingers had itched to touch it. And his pale eyes seemed to hover somewhere between blue and gray.
He had been wearing the traditional uniform of all men in the area: flannel shirt, faded jeans, and cowboy boots. But no one could mistake him as just one of the guys. His body was rock hard with muscles, while he managed to move with a smooth grace that came from years of some sort of martial arts training.
Her first impulse had been to look for a wedding band. When she didn't see one, she'd made the firm decision to get him into her bed as quickly as possible. He was just so damned sexy.
Then, he'd started offering to help with her unpacking and showing up with tools to fix her clogged sink, and she'd panicked. She was eager to enjoy a brief sexual relationship with the man. Just being close to him was enough to make her body sizzle with awareness. But it hadn't taken long to realize that Nate wasn't a man who indulged in meaningless hookups. At least not with his neighbors.
He was looking for a relationship with a woman who could give him more than her body.
Instinctively she retreated from his bold flirtations, going so far as to try and avoid him whenever they happened to be in town at the same time. It was a habit she'd developed when she was younger and her mother would invite over boys in the hope she could influence Ellie to settle down with a socially suitable husband.
Her only defense was to crawl into a shell like a turtle, taking cover until the danger passed.
Within a few weeks Nate had accepted her rebuffs, his smile mocking as he watched her scurry away when he walked into a room. The knowledge that she was acting like an awkward teenager instead of an intelligent, successful lawyer only intensified her discomfort.
Now she felt heat crawling beneath her cheeks as the noisy truck pulled into her driveway and the sound of a door opening and closing forced her to glance toward the approaching man. It was that or scampering back into her house and closing the door.
Not even she was that childish.
"Trouble?" he asked, his voice low and slightly gravelly.
A strange sensation fluttered in the pit of her stomach and her mouth went dry. He was wearing a Henley shirt that hugged the width of his chest and a pair of faded jeans that hung low on his hips. The wind ruffled his dark hair, and he had a shadow of whiskers on his jaw.
A tall, dark invitation to sin.
Inside she melted. Outside she forced her lips into her "courtroom" smile. Professional, meaningless.
"Nothing I can't handle."
"So you've told me before," he said in dry tones.
"Because it's true."
The pale eyes that were more blue than gray in the morning sunlight narrowed, his jaw tightening at her cool dismissal.
"Yeah, yeah. I got it. You're Wonder Woman and I'm an annoying male who is too stupid to take the hint." He flicked a glance toward her flat tires. "Have a great day."
Ellie grimaced. Christ, what was wrong with her? She was acting like a bitch.
"Wait," she called out. "I'm sorry."
He slowly turned back to face her, his expression unreadable. "Are you?"
She blinked in confusion. "What?"
"Are you sorry?"
Ellie's lips twitched at the blunt question. Nate came across as a down-to-earth guy who said exactly what was on his mind, but Ellie had never been fooled. He'd been an FBI agent for years. Which meant he was a master of deception. He could be the naïve boy next door. The sophisticated charmer. Or the reckless playboy. Whatever was needed to get what he wanted.
This morning, however, she sensed his reaction was genuine. Here was a man who'd reached his limit with an aggravating female.
"I'm trying to be sorry, does that count?"
His tension eased, his own smile rueful. "Do you have a spare tire?"
"Yes, but I'll need to call the garage to get one for the back."
His brows arched as he realized the back tire was as flat as the front.
"Did you run over something?" he demanded.
"I didn't notice anything, but I must have. I had these tires put on less than three months ago."
He frowned, a strange expression settling on his face as he circled the hood of the car to study the tires on the other side. Then, without warning, he was disappearing from view as he bent down.
Curious, Ellie followed to see what had captured his interest. Instantly her heart dropped to her toes. She didn't have two flat tires. She had four.
"Crap," she muttered.
Nate reached out to touch the tire. "Slashed," he said.
Ellie swallowed a resigned sigh. She could see they were slashed. And trashed. And beyond any hope of repair.
"There must have been something metal in the road," she said. "Probably a strand of barbed wire."
With a shake of his head, Nate straightened. His expression was grim as he met her gaze.
"These weren't caused by a stray piece of metal," he told her. "They were deliberately slashed with a knife."
Ellie stiffened. "How can you know?"
"I was an FBI agent."
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "And your training included identifying weird holes in tires?"
"Only knife holes."
She flinched, her gaze zeroing back on the car. Was he right? Had someone crept onto her property and used a knife to slash her tires?
The mere thought made her stomach clench with an icy sense of revulsion.
"That's ridiculous," she finally said, more in an effort to ease her fear than to convince Nate he was wrong. "No one would do that to my tires."
"Are you claiming you don't have any enemies?"
Her gaze snapped back to his face. "Why would you assume I do?"
"You're a lawyer."
He said the words without apology. As if he hadn't just insulted her.
"Not everyone has your prejudiced opinion of my profession."
He shrugged. "Maybe not everyone, but your work involves keeping bad guys from being punished for their crimes. That pisses people off."
She felt a burst of irritation. Of course an FBI agent would assume that everyone who needed a lawyer was guilty.
"I represent clients who are presumed innocent until they're proven guilty."
He ignored her chastisement.
"And a few bad guys that hire you actually go to jail," he continued, seeming to enjoy pointing out the number of people who held grudges against lawyers. "Which pisses off even more people."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "You Will Suffer"
Copyright © 2019 Debbie Raleigh.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
YOU WILL SUFFER is an exciting and engaging read. The suspense is eerie and methodical and the storyline is full of dangerous intrigue. The plot had me gripped tight and I couldn't stop reading until I unraveled the mystery! I didn't think Nate and Ellie had great chemistry but they were essential characters to the plot. I would have liked a little more heat in their relationship. Overall, this was a very enjoyable reading experience. I think Ms. Ivy has found her knack in the romantic suspense genre and I look forward to future projects! ***I voluntarily read and reviewed a copy of the book provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects or influences my thoughts and feelings about the story***
## FANTASTIC murder whodunit. It kept me intrigued and guessing througout which I love. There was a nice balance between the romance and the mystery. The author toed that line perfectly. I liked both hero and heroine which I can rarely say. The hero was protective, funny, and sweet. And the heroine was smart, capable, and beautiful. I loved that she wasn't immediately falling at his feet just because he was hot. Enjoyed this a whole lot.
Nate and Ellie moved to their small town for a new start and become neighbors. There's an immediate attraction between them but Ellie is determined to ignore it. Nate is patient and decides he can wait on Ellie to change her mind until strange things start to happen to her at home and her office. Then there are several deaths that seem suspicious and somehow connected. Nate and Ellie join forces to figure out who is behind everything that is happening.
I didn't know that this was the third in the series but I wasn't lost so I do not think you need to read the other books first but since I did enjoy this book I will go back and read them. We meet strong female in Ellie and some weird things start happening and she is just going to ignore them no big deal until her neighbor Nate who was an FBI agent thinks she should worry more and take them seriously and she should considering someone is killing people and no one knows who.. So she and Nate get together to find out who is doing it and why? While spending time together they realize they like each other more than they thought..Grab a copy my friends and enjoy! Rcvd an ARC at no cost to author..(negalley) Voluntarily reviewed with my own thoughts and opinions
I like that it kept me guessing.
This chilling romantic suspense keeps readers guessing throughout with lots of suspenseful events, surprising twists and disturbing secrets. Ellie and Nate are strong, captivating characters that easily draw the readers into their story and their romance is one that adds to the suspense of the story. Ellie and Nate certainly have that magnetic attraction and sizzling chemistry going on but Ellie fights it to the very end which adds lots of relationship ups and downs to the story. Their characters also complement each other really making the story center around them as the events unfold which makes it easy for readers to become engrossed. The story takes a place at suspense building pace that ensures that readers don’t want to put the book down until every last detail has been uncovered. With Nate and Ellie discovers pieces to the puzzle in true crime solving fashion which has readers trying to work out the ‘who, what where and why’ answers right along with the characters. The author gives vivid details and builds the suspense so thoroughly that readers can’t help but be shocked and surprised when the true culprit is revealed.
Fantastic page turner from the first to the last. This is an intense thriller that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed smart down to earth lawyer Ellie Guthrie and hunky former FBI agent Nate Marcel. This is a smart, action packed brain teaser that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed it. This may be part of a series but can be read stand alone. I highly recommend this fast paced mystery.
Thank you so much to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I did not know that this book was the third in a series but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by not reading the first two. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. I felt like the author was trying too hard to make a mystery/suspense novel and some of it was just too over the top for me. This book is centered around Ellie who has returned to her hometown and opened her own law office away from her controlling and high power father. When Ellie walks out to her car one day to discover someone has deliberately slashed all of her tires she finds herself spending more and more time with her next door neighbor Nate who she’s always admired from afar but has never done anything except fantasize about him in her head. When more vandalisms start occurring and then a body is found every day in the quiet little town, Ellie and Nate must figure out who is responsible before they come after Ellie again. I enjoyed the thought behind the plot and I did like the characters Ellie and Nate. I feel like they were well written and I liked the romance between them. But the suspense to this book was sadly lacking. No the ending was not a dead giveaway that you could figure out way ahead in the book but it also wasn’t a huge shocking making you gasp ending.
YOU WILL SUFFER is the third instalment in Alexandra Ivy’s contemporary, adult THE AGENCY romantic, suspense series. This is retired FBI Agent Nate Marcel, and attorney Ellie Guthrie’s story line. YOU WILL SUFFER can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Told from dual third person perspectives (Ellie and Nate) as well as first person (murderer) YOU WILL SUFFER follows the search for a killer(s). With a recent spate of murders and disappearances in the small town of Curry Oklahoma, local attorney Ellie, and her neighbour retired FBI agent Nate Marcel begin an investigation of their own only to find themselves in the line of fire. In the hopes of trying to connect the pieces of the growing puzzle, Ellie and Nate will soon learn about the mysterious past of Curry Oklahoma, and a group of well-connected and prominent people whose secrets are about to be revealed. What ensues is the building relationship between Nate and Ellie, and the fall-out as our couple’s investigation begins to reveal a dark and dangerous past. YOU WILL SUFFER is a story of betrayal and vengeance; secrets and lies; power, fear, and control; mystery and suspense. A killer is on the loose in Curry Oklahoma, a killer who is determined to destroy those who destroyed their life. More suspense thriller than romance, YOU WILL SUFFER focuses on the clues-both the past and the present-and the victims whose ties to one another reveal a dark, sordid and dangerous history, a history that seeks revenge for sins of the father, and sins of the past. The cleverly written premise is intriguing and intense; the colorful supporting characters are numerous ; the romance is secondary to the overall premise
This is the 3rd book in The Agency series but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone book. All I can say about this is WOW! It is mostly about Ellie Guthrie and what is happening to her and the town she was born in. She is a young lawyer who has moved back to where she was born in the hopes of getting out from under her parent's thumbs and making herself happy. Nate Marcel is a former FBI agent and her neighbor. And while the attraction is there for both of them, she backed off because she doesn't want a full on relationship with someone. But when things start happening to her and the people of the small town, Nate helps keep her safe. I really liked this book! Ellie is smarter than can be but also knows what she wants in her life and is working to get there. Nate is moving on from leaving the FBI and trying to figure out exactly where that leaves him. They compliment each other perfectly, even when they are arguing! This story drew me in from the beginning and kept me reading and the twist with the end! I definitely wasn't expecting that!! The only thing that made me not give it a 5 star was there were parts that seemed too slow to me or unnecessary. Otherwise, I absolutely loved the rest of it! Definitely well worth the read!
You Will Suffer by Alexandra Ivy The Agency #3 There’s a serial murderer loose in Curry, Oklahoma! Who is it and why are they killing? There is a mystery to solve before the killing can stop and Ellie and Nate may figure out who it is before the police do. Ellie Guthrie has moved away from the big city to open her own law office and has been avoiding a “relationship” with nate Marcel for a year when their story begins in this book. He stops by again even though he knows she is independent and keeping her distance and he finds she does need help and she finally is willing to ask for it. Why? All four of her tires are flat – they have been slashed. A great number of things happen in this story and it takes some time to figure out who the killer actually is and what is motivating the need to kill. It was twisted and sordid and at the same time there thankfully was the romance going on between Nate and Ellie to keep things from being way too dark. I am not sure how believable this book is but it was an interesting way to spend the day and I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington – Zebra for the ARC. This is my honest review.
I enjoyed this book. You can read this book as a stand alone. I didn't know who the killer was until it was revealed which makes me like this book even more. I love how Nate already knows how much he loves Ellie and wants to be with her, now it's just convincing her of that. This book has a great mix of drama, romance and mystery. If you like all of those things then pick this book up so worth it. *I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.*