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Setting the Stage by Kat Martin

July 28, 2020 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , ,
Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

Today’s Guest Author is Kat Martin. We hope you enjoy her post on Setting the Stage and the excerpt from her next romantic suspense novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL


New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


Setting the Stage

I love to read novels set in interesting places. Currently I’m reading an historical romance that takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. I’ve always loved Paris, which makes the book even more fun to read. Being able recognize the settings where the action takes place, as well as the names of restaurants and streets I have visited.


As a writer, going to the place your book is set, or choosing a place you have actually been, is the best way to make your book seem real.


In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, the novel takes place in Colorado, a state I love to visit. After I’d concluded my second Maximum Security novel, THE DECEPTION, which was set in Texas, I was looking for someplace different for book number three. Colorado, with its wide variety of landscapes and extreme climate conditions seemed perfect.


Having been to Denver a number of times, street names were familiar, parks and airports, locations of smaller towns and rural mountain communities.


Since this was a Maximum Security novel, a romantic thriller, I began by researching crime in the state. I had digging and digging and finally stumbled onto an article about the U.S. Army chemical weapons depot near Colorado Springs. As Brandon Garrett, the hero of my story, was a former army officer, I loved the idea of Bran interacting with his military past.


The idea of stealing chemical weapons from a storage depot gave me all sorts of plot ideas. In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, she’s determined to clear his name. Afraid for her life, Jessie turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett. But time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie risk everything to solve the riddle and stop the threat–before it’s too late.


Because of the military setting, this was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written. I think it turned out to be one of my best. I particularly love the interaction between Bran and Jessie and I hope readers will, too.


I hope you’ll watch for THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL and that you enjoy Bran and Jessie’s story. Till next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat


The Ultimate Betrayal
by
Kat Martin
Excerpt

Too much downtime always made him nervous, kind of edgy as he waited for the other shoe to drop. It had been a week since his last client had headed back to Nashville, a week of peace and quiet he should have enjoyed.


Instead, he had this nagging feeling that something bad was coming down the line.


Lounging back in the chair behind his desk at Maximum Security, Brandon Garrett looked up at the sound of the front door swinging open. A gust of cool, late October winds swept in, along with a petite, whirlwind of a woman with the prettiest strawberry blond hair Bran had ever seen.
She had a sweet little body to match her fiery curls, he noticed, outlined by the dark blue stretch jeans curving over her sexy little ass and the peach knit top that hugged her breasts.


It wasn’t tough to read the anxiety in her big green eyes as she surveyed the room, but instead of heading for the receptionist’s desk, those big green eyes landed on Bran and as she started toward him, there was something about her that rang a distant bell. Interest piqued, he rose from his chair. “Can I help you?”

“You’re Brandon Garrett, right? You were a friend of my brother’s. Danny Kegan? I recognize you from the photos Danny sent home.”


The mention of his best friend’s name hit him like a blow, and the muscles across his stomach clenched. Daniel Kegan had been a member of his spec ops team, a brother, not just a friend. Danny had saved Bran’s life at the cost of his own. He was KIA in Afghanistan.


Bran stared down at the girl, who was maybe five-foot-four. “You’re Jessie,” he said, remembering the younger sister Daniel Kegan had talked so much about. “You look like him. Same color hair and eyes.”

She nervously wet her lips, which were plump and pink and fit her delicate features perfectly.


“My brother said if I ever needed help, I should come to you. He said you’d help me no matter what.” She glanced back toward the door and his mind shifted away from the physical jolt he felt as he looked at her to the worry in her eyes.


“I’ll help you. Danny was my closest friend. Whatever you need, I’ll help. Come on. Let’s go into the conference room and you can tell me what’s going on.” When her gaze shot back to the door, his senses went on alert.


“I didn’t mean I needed your help later,” Jessie said nervously. “I meant I need your help right now.”


Gunshots exploded through the windows. “Get down!” Bran shouted to the other guys in the office as he shoved Jessie down behind his desk and covered her with his body. Glass shattered and a stream of bullets sprayed across the room.


Jaxon Ryker popped up, gun drawn, and ran for the door. Hawk Maddox and Lissa Blayne were shuffling through their desks, arming themselves. Jonas Wolfe drew his ankle gun and ran for the rear entrance, ready for any threat that might come from there.


“Black SUV with tinted windows,” Ryker reported. Six feet of solid muscle, dark hair and eyes, Jax was a former Navy SEAL, currently a PI and occasional bounty hunter. “Couldn’t get a plate number.” Jax’s gaze swung to the front of the room. “Mindy, you okay?”


The little receptionist eased up from beneath her desk. “I-I’m okay. Should I call the police?” Around here, it was never good to jump to conclusions.

Bran hauled Jessie to her feet. He could feel her trembling. Her eyes looked even bigger and greener than they had before. “Are they coming back?” he asked.

“I-I don’t know. It could have just been a warning.”


Bran turned to Mindy. “Unless someone’s already phoned it in, let’s wait to call the cops till we know what’s going on.” His attention returned to Jessie. “We need to talk.”


She just nodded. Her face had gone pale, making a fine line of freckles stand out across her forehead and the bridge of her nose.

Bran took her arm and urged her toward the conference room. “Keep a sharp eye,” he said to The Max crew. “Just in case.”

Jessie sank unsteadily down in one of the rolling chairs around the long oak conference table. The man she had come to see, Brandon Garrett, sat down beside her.


“Okay, let’s hear it,” he said. “What’s going on?”

She thought of the men who had just shot up his office and her pulse started thumping again. “Danny said if I ever needed help–”


“Yeah, I get that. Your brother knew he could count on me. Like I said, I’ll help you any way I can, but I need to know what’s going on.”


Bran was taller than Danny, around six-three, with a soldier’s lean, hard body, vee-shaped, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. Powerful biceps bulged beneath the sleeve of his dark blue T-shirt. With his slightly too-long mink brown hair, straight nose and masculine features, he was ridiculously handsome, except for the hard line of his jaw and the darkness in his eyes that contrasted sharply with their beautiful shade of cobalt blue.


“Start at the beginning,” he demanded.


Since she wasn’t sure exactly where to begin, Jessie dragged in a shaky breath and slowly released it.


“I’m here because of my father–Colonel James Kegan, Commander U.S. Army Alamo Chemical Depot. Just before he died a little over two months ago, my father was removed from active duty. He was charged with larceny–specifically the theft of chemical weapons stored at the Depot. Because the Army believed he was selling the weapons to a foreign entity, he was also charged with espionage and treason. I need you to help me prove his innocence.”


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Story Ideas by Kat Martin

November 4, 2019 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , ,

Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s hardcover, THE DECEPTION, a Romantic Thriller, was released on September 10th.


Story Ideas

I’ve always loved a good plot. People ask me how I come up with ideas for my novels, but the truth is, I really don’t know.

Sometimes the kernel of an idea grows out of a newspaper article or something I see on Facebook or just some old movie. Most of the time, it’s so long ago I don’t actually remember, but my mind does.

The novella, SHADOWS AT DAWN, blossomed the way most of my stories do, basically out of nowhere. Jaxon Ryker first appeared in THE CONSPIRACY, a former Navy SEAL, now a detective working for Chase Garrett, the wealthy owner of Maximum Security, an extremely successful private security firm in Dallas.

I liked Jax right away. He was definitely hero material, but at the same time, Jax was different, kind of soft-spoken, not arrogant, just a really nice guy. Unless you pissed him off.

Turns out Jax had a protective streak a mile wide and the sweet little receptionist at The Max was his weakness.

When Jax happens upon three men attacking her in the parking lot after work, his hero instincts kick in—big time.

Jax is convinced the attack isn’t random and that even after the fight that saved Mindy and drove the men away, she might not be safe. And no way is Jax letting anything happen to her.

I liked the two of them together from the start. These days, readers want kick-ass women, but there are other ways a woman can be strong. What Jax sees is a sweet girl he believes would never be able to handle a tough guy like him. But Mindy proves him wrong.

As the danger unfolds, Mindy and Jax are forced to work together to find the men who want her dead and figure out why.

I hope you’ll give this fun read a try and that you like Jax and Mindy as much as I did. If you do, you can also find them in THE DECEPTION, book #2 of my Maximum Security Series after THE CONSPIRACY.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat 


SHADOWS AT DAWN

EXCERPT
Kat Martin

Finally satisfied with her progress for the day, Mindy shoved her round tortoiseshell glasses up on her nose, slung the strap of her purse over her shoulder, and headed for the door to the parking lot behind the office. She managed not to glance at Jax, but it wasn’t easy.

The early April weather was humid, warm but not hot, the last of a pinky gold sky fading to darkness. She spotted her little red Volkswagen Beetle, one of the few vehicles left in the lot, and started in that direction.

If she hadn’t been working for a security firm, listening to crime stories on a daily basis, she might not have noticed the white Chevy van whose motor sparked to life and began idling in the shadows not far from her car.

When her steps unconsciously slowed, she told herself she was being ridiculous, a paranoid response to the guys’ sometimes gruesome, often frightening tales.

Pausing to dig her car keys out of her purse, she took a deep breath and tried to calm her racing heart. When the effort failed, she forced her feet to move, closing the distance between her and her vehicle. She had almost reached her destination when the van doors slid open and three men dressed head-to-foot in black wearing black ski masks jumped out and started running toward her.

Terror struck. Mindy let out a high-pitched scream, dropped her purse, whirled, and started running.

Jax’s long day wasn’t over yet. Before he picked up a pizza and headed home for a couple of beers, he had a meeting with a client on the other side of Dallas, a cold case he had been working where the mother of a murder victim had discovered new evidence she believed would help find her daughter’s killer. The police weren’t convinced, but Mrs. Donahue had hired Jax to prove it. Or at least find out the truth.

He checked his heavy black wristwatch. If he wanted to make his appointment on time, he needed to get on the road. Grabbing his laptop off the desk, he headed for his dark blue Dodge Ram pickup, parked in the lot behind the office, his mind on the case he figured would earn him a nice fat fee—and maybe help bring a killer to justice.

He had just stepped out the backdoor when a blood-curling scream cut through the sticky night air. A petite young woman with long dark hair and glasses struggled with three masked men.

Adrenaline shot into his blood. Mindy! Even as he bolted into a run, Jax registered their appearance: one tall and lean, one average height and weight, one big and beefy, thick-shouldered and muscular. He was flat out running by the time Mindy spotted him and started screaming his name.

“Jax, help me! Jax!” Kicking and biting, she fought like a wild thing, but she was no match for the men. As they hauled her toward the open van doors, Jax grabbed the tall man and pulled him off her, pounded a fist into his face and slammed another into his stomach, doubling him over. A hard right sent the guy careening backward, hitting the ground on his back and sliding across the asphalt.

The second man, Mr. Average, stepped in and swung a punch Jax ducked. He shot out a kick, knocking the assailant into the side of the van, then heard the sound of a switchblade snapping open behind him.

“Jax, watch out!”

Whirling toward the threat, he dodged the flashing blade and shoved Mindy toward safety, then went back in for the kill. Rage burned through his usual calm. She worked with him, as far as he was concerned, was under his protection. More than that, she was kind and sweet and he cared about her far more than he should. Jax wanted to end the bastards who were trying to hurt her.

“Run!” he shouted. “Go back to the office and lock the door! Call 9-1-1!” The knife flashed. Jax dodged the sweep of gleaming silver wielded by a big, thick-fingered, extremely capable hand, jumped back from out of the way of another slashing attack as he and the big man crouched and circled each other. From the corner of his eye, he saw the tall, thin man back on his feet and rushing toward him.

Jax looked up to see Mindy swinging her purse like a ball and chain, smashing the bag into the side of the tall man’s head, sending him staggering, grunting as he landed on his hands and knees.

“Bitch! he screamed, shaking his head to clear it, providing the distraction Jax needed. He kicked the knife out of the beefy man’s hand and threw a punch that sent him reeling. Mr. Average had already climbed into the van and shoved the vehicle into gear.

“Come on!” the man shouted through the open passenger window. “Let’s go!”

The tall man turned and ran, leaping through the open van doors, and the big, muscular man shot in behind him. Tires burned and smoke rolled up from the wheels as the vehicle screeched away.


Shadows at Dawn

SHADOWS AT DAWN
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Reviews

“It’s a quick, easy to read, entertaining, action packed read and is just as amazing as the other books in the series!”

“Mystery, suspense, thrills and chills with a whole lot of action!”

“This story is a cute, sweet and steamy romance full of suspense, excitement and unexpected twists that keep readers hanging on to the edge of their seat.”


KAT’S WEBSITE

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More Books by Kat Martin

BEYOND CONTROL

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BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

Buy now!
BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

Buy now!
BEYOND REASON

PIVOT

Buy now!
PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

Buy now!
SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE CONSPIRACY

Buy now!
THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

Buy now!
THE DECEPTION

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

Buy now!
THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

WAIT UNTIL DARK

Buy now!
WAIT UNTIL DARK

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Creating A Page Turner by Kat Martin

August 29, 2019 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , , ,

“I couldn’t put it down!” Those words are some of the most satisfying comments an author can receive. Nothing pleases me more than a note from someone grumbling about staying up late to finish one of my books.


It’s music to my ears.


There are lots of ways to earn those precious words. Writing a fast-paced novel is one of them. It is certainly my goal every time I start a new book.

Beyond Danger | Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange

My latest, THE DECEPTION, was no different. I knew I would be writing Hawk Maddox’s story. Hawk had been on my mind since he first appeared in a previous novel, BEYOND DANGER. I knew what he was like—strong, determined, tough as boot leather, and at six-foot-four, two-hundred-twenty pounds, a total beefcake hunk.


He was also a bounty hunter, which made him an interesting character with an interesting job. I always try to find the hero’s perfect match, and Kate Gallagher was just right for Hawk. Tall, blonde, and curvy, she loved country music and drinking tequila at the Sagebrush Saloon.


But that was her secret side. She also owned her own business consulting firm, so she was smart and hard-working.


I like to read books that draw me in and won’t let go, books I can’t wait to pick up again to find out what’s going to happen next.


There are lots of ways to do it. Pairing down description makes the story move faster—or as Elmore Leonard once said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”


A Hollywood movie trick is to jump right into the scene. Leave out the the Hello, how are you? I’m fine, how are you? and just start talking.


I try to use hooks at the beginning and end of chapter, though some authors end a chapter in the middle of the action to keep you turning the pages.


I’ve found I do a lot of characterization by showing how the hero, heroine, and sub characters react in a situation, rather than telling about their past. For instance, I don’t mention what the heroine did in high school unless it’s important to how she’ll solve the problem she’s facing.


These are a few of my techniques, though every author has his own style and there is nothing wrong with any of them as long as they work.


In THE DECEPTION, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she learns her sister has been murdered. Determined to find Chrissy’s killer, Kate hires lethal bounty hunter, Hawk Maddox. Working together, they follow a trail of clues that lead them deep into the city’s underbelly. Though Hawk warns Kate of the danger, nothing he says can convince Kate to walk away.


I hope you’ll watch for THE DECEPTION and that you find it a fast-paced, high-action page-turner.

Until next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat


Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


Books by Kat Martin

BEYOND CONTROL

Buy now!
BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

Buy now!
BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

Buy now!
BEYOND REASON

PIVOT

Buy now!
PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

Buy now!
SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE CONSPIRACY

Buy now!
THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

Buy now!
THE DECEPTION

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

Buy now!
THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

WAIT UNTIL DARK

Buy now!
WAIT UNTIL DARK

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The Deception by Kat Martin

August 8, 2019 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , , , ,

Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


As I was finishing the last few pages of upcoming novel, THE DECEPTION, Hawk Maddox and Kate Gallagher’s story, I got an interesting phone call. I’m fortunate to be represented by a literary agency in New York as well as an agency in Hollywood.

Beyond Reason | Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange


Since I love movies, I’ve always wanted to see one of my books made into a feature film. The Hollywood agency phoned about my novel BEYOND REASON. The story is set in Texas, an action adventure that revolves around the rivalry between Carly Drake, who inherits her grandfather’s failing trucking firm, and powerful, multimillionaire Lincoln Cain, her number one competitor.


Worse yet, Carly needs Linc’s help to find the men who are willing to kill to keep her from making Drake Trucking successful again. Big money is involved. And very big danger.


The transaction involving the rights was exciting from beginning to end, with David Haring at TinRes Entertainment making the offer, several agents negotiating the terms, and me thrilled to have a chance to see one of my books made into a film. Most likely, the story will be a made-for-TV movie, but it is also optioned with the possibility of a major motion picture or TV series. I would love to see 6’5” Lincoln Cain on a weekly TV show!


Once the deal was completed, I went back to work on THE DECEPTION, which is being released September 10th. I hope you will watch for it and that you will also keep an eye out for Linc and Carly’s movie. It takes years to complete a film, but I promise to keep you posted on details as they come in.


Till then happy reading and all best wishes, Kat


Media Links

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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW for THE DECEPTION

Martin revs the power from page one of this fast-paced romantic thriller, the second novel in her Maximum Security series (after The Conspiracy). After Kate Gallagher’s runaway younger sister, Chrissy, is murdered, she’s determined to find the killer, no matter what it takes. Bounty hunter Jason “Hawk” Maddox, a former Marine, doesn’t do relationships, but he’s quite willing to dance with Kate and start nudging her toward his bed; then she blurts out that her sister was killed. When Kate hires Hawk’s employer, Maximum Security, to investigate the murder, Martin immediately begins leading her well-drawn characters through a high-octane plot with hair-raising twists and turns, skillfully dragging red herrings everywhere. A subplot about a terrified, trafficked 13-year-old crackles with undeniable energy, as does the hot romance between Kate and Hawk. Even Martin’s most despicable characters (especially pedophile Denny Rayburg) are complex, adding to readers’ emotional investment. Fans of romantic suspense won’t be able to put this book down until the final page is turned, and Martin is likely to recruit thriller readers as well as romance fans with this snappy story. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (Sept.)


Books by Kat Martin

BEYOND CONTROL

Buy now!
BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

Buy now!
BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

Buy now!
BEYOND REASON

PIVOT

Buy now!
PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

Buy now!
SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE CONSPIRACY

Buy now!
THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

Buy now!
THE DECEPTION

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

Buy now!
THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

WAIT UNTIL DARK

Buy now!
WAIT UNTIL DARK

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The Texas Mystique

July 29, 2019 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

Since my book, THE CONSPIRACY, Chase Garrett and Harper Winston’s story, is set in Texas, I thought it might be fun to talk about one of my favorite places.

The cover to Kat Martin's The Conspiracy

There is something special about Texas. My husband and I lived in Houston for a couple of months one summer and it was a wonderful experience. The people in Texas are extremely friendly, and always seem to be in a good mood.

We stuffed ourselves on gourmet meals in some of the country’s finest restaurants, ate a ton of delicious Tex Mex, enjoyed Asian, Indian flatbread, and just about everything else.  We visited art galleries, the beach, and drove past some of the beautiful ranches in the area. 

That was the good news.  The bad news was Houston in August is HOT. It’s also muggy and sticky and you just can’t wait for October to arrive. Or maybe September.

Two years ago, we traveled to Lubbock for a Western Writers of America conference. I was reluctant to go in the summer, but it turned out to be a really great trip—hot but dry. We visited the Museum of Texas Tech and met some fun people, including old-time movie star, Barry Corbin, who’s been in everything from Urban Cowboy to The Best Little Whore House in Texas.

For the past few years, I’ve been setting my stories in Dallas, one of my favorite cities. In THE CONSPIRACY Harper Winston’s brother has disappeared. Desperate to find him, Harper is forced turn to the wealthy owner of Maximum Security, private detective, Chase Garrett, once her brother’s best friend.

But dealing with the Winston crime family won’t be easy. With time running out, Chase must find a way to keep Harper safe…and both of them alive.

Texas is a place that captured my soul long ago. If you don’t have time to visit, I hope you look for Harper and Chase in THE CONSPIRACY, out in paperback July 30th, and that you enjoy.

Till next time, all best and happy reading, Kat


Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel,BEYOND CONTROL, hit both big lists … NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST as well as the USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS LIST. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


The Conspiracy

by Kat Martin

EXCERPT

In the throes of wild monkey sex with Harper Winston, Chase awoke covered in a film of perspiration, an unwelcome throbbing beneath the sheet. Cursing, he sat up in bed and ran a hand over his face. Only a dream. Or in this case, a nightmare.

He shoved his fingers through his sweat-damp hair. Jesus God, he couldn’t remember a dream that had felt more real. Or ever being more aroused.

Swearing foully, he rolled out of bed. His brother Bran would get an I-told-you-so laugh out of his misery, but Chase didn’t find his unwanted attraction to a Winston the least bit funny.

Not when Harper’s father ran his world much like a Mafia don, a highly successful criminal enterprise that allowed him to get away with murder—literally. Everyone in the Dallas underworld knew that to cross Knox Winston might get you dead. The DA’s office turned a blind eye, along with the dirty cops on Knox’s payroll.

Aside from the legitimate businesses Knox now ran—from motels, restaurants, and laundries, to larger enterprises like hotel chains, no one really seemed to know how Knox had actually amassed his fortune. Since his son had once been Chase’s best friend, Chase didn’t want to know, either.

He wondered how much Harper knew about her father’s activities. Not much, he would guess, since Knox had gone to great lengths to keep his children under the illusion he was just a mega-successful businessman. And Harper had been gone from Dallas for years.

Chase had a hunch Michael had suspected, that it was part of the reason he had turned to alcohol and drugs, but they had never talked about it.

Padding naked into the bathroom, he reached into the shower and turned on the water, setting the temperature a little colder than he liked. He wanted to wash Harper’s beautiful face out of his head, the memory of her small, perfect breasts that—thank God—he had never actually seen.

Pulling on his jeans and a short-sleeved yellow Oxford shirt, he was ready to meet with Dutch, who had arranged a boat to Curacao. They could have gone by plane, but he wanted the flexibility to check, if necessary, other spots around the island once they got there.

He wished he was going by himself instead of dragging a woman into what might turn out to be a bad situation. But as he walked into the living room, Harper came out of the other bedroom, straw hat in hand, dressed and ready to go. His mind flashed back to the hot, erotic dream, and a shot of lust hit him like a fist.

Chase dragged in a lungful of air and forced himself to think of something else. Palm trees might have worked if she hadn’t walked close enough for him to catch a whiff of her soft perfume.

“Good morning,” she said. “Sleep okay?”

Jesus God, help him. He didn’t want to think of the dream, refused to allow his mind to slide back into the gutter. Chase had never been more grateful to hear his iPhone ring.

Pulling his cell out of his pocket, he recognized Tabby’s number and pressed the phone against his ear. “What have you got for me, Tab?”

“Pia’s phone pinged at the Zee Winden Marina in Curacao, same as Michael’s. Both phones are now inactive.”

Not good. He could contact the authorities in Curacao, but he could probably be there before the investigation—such as it would likely be—actually got underway. And once he got the police involved it would limit what he would be able to do.

“Anything else?”

“Not at the moment. If I get something I’ll call.”

“Thanks, Tab. You’re the best.” Chase hung up the phone, his mind back on the case. In his business, the job had to come first. People’s lives depended on it.

“What did she say?” Harper asked.

“Zee Winden Marina in Curacao, same as your brother. Call Christy and tell her, then pack an overnight bag. We might not get back tonight.”

So saying, he grabbed the duffle, now packed, he had brought empty in his carryon, something smaller, a little easier to manage. Just a dupe kit, clean underwear, a dress shirt and slacks, high-topped boots and cargo pants, things that might be useful as they moved into uncharted territory, where his search for Michael might lead.

A few minutes later, Harper walked back into the living room carrying the colorful oversized canvas bag she had carried onto the plane. It was stuffed full and zipped shut ready to go. She had pulled her hair into a ponytail, but flyaway pale blond strands floated around her face, gleaming like pale spun gold.

The heat returned to his groin. Dammit, what was there about her?


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Harper Winston’s brother has disappeared. Pursuing his dream of sailing the Caribbean, Michael hasn’t responded to texts or emails in days. When even the Coast Guard can’t find him, Harper is forced to take desperate measures. Which means going to Chase Garrett, once her brother’s best friend, now the only man she can trust…or so she hopes.


As the successful owner of Maximum Security, Chase has learned to trust his gut. He knows Harper’s father is mixed up in a deadly business, and suspects there’s more to Michael’s disappearance than meets the eye. Getting involved again with the Winstons goes against everything he stands for, yet old loyalties die hard. As the case draws him closer to Harper and deeper into the Winstons’ snarled crime family, he is forced to put everything on the line to keep Harper safe…and both of them alive.

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