Ex-cop Gina Ryan traded in her Smith & Wesson to follow a dream. Now she's creating decadent desserts aboard a luxury cruise ship in the Caribbean. But a gorgeous passenger is about to send her perfect world up in smoke....
Trace O'Halloran is a hard-edged navy SEAL, under strict orders to take some high seas R & R. There's a shipload of women in bikinis eager to help him unwind, so why can't he take his mind off the stubborn pastry chef with an attitude the size of Montana?
When a dangerous assassin from Trace's past appears, Gina and Trace must join forces to save the ship's guests. The clock's ticking, and they'll need every weapon at hand--from body armor to chocolate ganache!
It's The Six Million Dollar Man meets The Love Boat in this fifth addition to Skye's energetic Code Name series (following Code Name: Blondie). Fresh from a northern Afghanistan war zone and worse for the wear, microchip-enhanced navy SEAL Trace O'Halloran has a new assignment guarding valuable human tissue samples aboard a luxury cruise ship en route to Mexico. Trace, who'd rather be in a northern Afghanistan war zone, grimaces his way through boarding and the first uncomfortable meal before meeting pastry chef Gina Ryan, a rising industry star who gets her kicks creating and plating a thousand creme brulees a night. Unfortunately, Ryan's nascent celebrity has netted her an enemy in Blaine Richardson, the Cruella DeVille of beverage service. When a villain from Trace's past resurfaces, things go from bad to deadly. While the romance between Trace and Gina feels inevitable and uninspired, and the plot line barely plausible, it makes a fun, antic read. Series fans will find what they came for, but newcomers will want to save themselves some confusion by starting at the beginning. (July)
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June 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Code Name: Bikini by Christina Skye
Wind and death.
Trace O'Halloran didn't move. Cold dug under his Kevlar vest as he watched the rugged road below him.
Something moved over the snow-dusted ground near his feet. Another rat.
Red eyes glowed in the faint green light of his nightvision goggles. Only rats could survive in this godforsaken mountain pass in winter.
It was Christmas Eve. Back in the States, families sang hymns and parents assembled dollhouses to surprise wideeyed children while snow fell in the soft hush.
But here on a rugged plateau in Afghanistan, the cold was merciless and wind cut with icy fingers. Frostbite was unavoidable if he didn't find shelter soon. But the mission came first.
Trace leveled his gaze on the road three hundred feet below his hiding spot. He didn't think about the fresh wounds across his left wrist or the blood that darkened his forearm, courtesy of a difficult high altitude, low opening--HALO--jump.
Abruptly he felt movements in the night. Leaning forward, he read a change in energy patterns. A three-truck convoy crawled through the darkness. Their Korean-made trucks were guarded by soldiers wielding Soviet RPG-7 shoulder-launched missiles.
An equal-opportunity war, he thought grimly.
And this was his target. The convoy carried covert German communication technology extorted from a weapons designer based in Singapore. Not surprisingly, the man had disappeared before he could reveal his blackmailer. In the hands of a trained technician, the new device could track a massive quantity of U.S. communications. Through the application of mathematical predictive models, government assets could be located and areas of vulnerability tapped within minutes. In enemy hands the system could inflict catastrophic damage, and Trace's job was to see that the hardware never reached its destination.
Truck lights carved the darkness. The convoy stopped with a screech of brakes. Agitated voices cut through the cold, still air.
The men in the Korean trucks were ruthless and well trained. They would shoot anything suspicious on their trek to an isolated mountain stronghold sixty miles to the north. But Trace didn't intend to be noticed until he was ready. As he glanced at his watch, his skin burned. Frostbite was setting in.
Ignoring his pain, the SEAL fingered a button on the device in his left pocket.
Something moved down on the road. The first truck pulled sideways and two soldiers jumped out. Arguing loudly, they pointed to a paper flapping in the bone-chilling wind.
Right on schedule, Trace thought. Nice to see technology working right for once. His maneuver had lured them exactly where he wanted them.
Dark fur brushed his arm. Ears raised alertly, a black Labrador retriever held his down position behind a rock, awaiting Trace's next order. The big dog had trained with Trace for months to prepare for this mission, and Trace sensed the dog's eagerness to go to work.
Not yet, Duke.
His hand settled on the dog's head. The Lab watched every movement, waiting for the next touch command.
As the wind keened over the rocky slope, Santa Fe and Christmas cheer were a universe away. Trace couldn't even remember his last Christmas at home. His last two leaves had been cut short because of security alerts. As part of a top-secret government team, code-named Foxfire, Trace trained hard and kept personal attachments next to nil. That was the price of admission for special operations work, but the conditions had never bothered Trace, not when the stakes were so high.
Other people might call him a patriot. But for Trace the job boiled down to very personal terms--protecting family, friends and a way of life from enemies without honor or scruples. If doing his job meant taking a bullet, he was more than ready to pay that price with his own blood.