In #1 New York Times bestseller Iris Johansen's riveting novel of danger and romantic adventure, a gutsy reporter and a rugged inventor battle the elements, outlaws, and their own primal attraction in the scorching Mexican desert.
Kate McKenna is a photojournalist with a renegade reputation--and a fearless streak that lands her in an experimental hot air balloon, flying over the Rio Grande with the infamous Nick O'Brien. She wants to capture the real man behind the brilliant inventor, but to do that she needs to survive a crash landing in a lawless land and the ruthless bandits who take them hostage. As they conspire to escape their captors, Nick's fierce protective instinct ignites a deep, primitive desire.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and Nick's working on a plan to get them out of harm's way. But he never anticipated the desperation he feels to keep Kate safe. Out here, they need each other to survive. But if they make it back to the real world in one piece, will the bond forged in crisis be strong enough to last a lifetime?
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November 22, 2011
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Excerpt from The Bronzed Hawk by Iris Johansen
"I'm sorry, Miss McKenna, but Mr. O'Brien refuses to see you." The security guard at the desk in the lobby of the high-rise apartment building returned the phone to its cradle. There was a trace of genuine regret in his face as he regarded the disappointed expression of the young woman across from him.
Kelly bit her lower lip, and her jade green eyes darkened to almost emerald. She hadn't really expected any other answer than the one transmitted to her by the guard, but she had admitted to a hope that O'Brien would miraculously change his mind and see her. Her lips curved in a wry smile. What a miracle that would have been! Nick O'Brien's antipathy toward journalists and the media was practically legend. He had been refusing both her written requests for an interview and all her phone calls for over three weeks now. She sighed. She hadn't wanted to use the wild card that might gain her entrance to his presence, but now it seemed that she had no choice.
She reached into her voluminous bone leather shoulder bag, drew out a long white business envelope, and handed it to the burly, gray-haired security guard. Her glowingly appealing smile was the same one that once had gotten her past the bodyguard of a South American dictator. And the article resulting from that had earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination. The memory made her feel even more confident . . . and bold. "I wonder if you could possibly give this to Mr. O'Brien for me," she pleaded softly. Her wide-set jade green eyes in their extravagant frame of dark lashes were brimming with a distress that was only half feigned. "I'm sure there must be some mistake. If you'll just give him this envelope, I'm positive that everything will be straightened out in no time."
The security guard shook his head doubtfully. "I don't know, Miss McKenna," he said uneasily. "I'm not supposed to leave my desk without a replacement. The building manager would have my job if he happened to drop by and I wasn't on duty." Despite his protests, his face softened infinitesimally as he gazed at the young woman before him. There was something very appealing about Kelly McKenna. She had an aura of breathless, wide-eyed eagerness, as if just living was a vividly exciting adventure.
Her ash blond hair was now sun-streaked to almost white gold in places. It was cut so that it clustered about her face, ears, and the nape of her neck in a riot of silken, glossy curls that tempted a man to wrap the strands around his fingers. The most arresting feature of her thin face was her magnificent green eyes. Her lips were well defined and had a curve that was sweetly memorable. She had a vaguely fragile air about her that was belied by her golden tan and the determined tilt of her chin.
That chin was squared now as Kelly McKenna said persuasively, "I'll be glad to fill in for you until you get back. It will only take you a moment, and I can handle anything that comes along. I earned my black belt in karate last summer."
The security guard disguised a chuckle as a cough. Kelly McKenna couldn't be more than an inch or two over five feet tall and except for her height, she looked like a fashion model. Her designer blouse was left open stylishly to display just a hint of cleavage; her rust suede skirt was slit to the thigh in front to reveal tantalizing glimpses of shapely limbs, emphasized by knee-length high-heeled boots. She looked about as lethal as a baby fresh from its evening bath.
He took the envelope and rose slowly. "In that case I'll feel safe to leave you in charge," he said solemnly, his eyes twinkling. "You watch sharp now." He moved briskly to the elevator and pressed the button for the penthouse, leaving Kelly to stare after him with satisfaction mixed with a tinge of displeasure.
It certainly wasn't the first time she had encountered indulgent condescension from the male sex, she thought crossly, but still it never failed to irritate her. She was well aware that her size and general air of fragile femininity were deceptive, but it took a good deal of effort to convince men of that! Most of the time she found it wasn't worth the effort and saved her strength for the more important battles that faced a woman photojournalist in a field dominated by men. When she was first starting out, she'd thought her "image" was very important and, trying to look anything but delicate and feminine, she'd chosen a wardrobe of only pantsuits and jeans. But she soon found that she was defeating her purpose. The day she had overheard herself described as "cute and cuddly" in a pair of shapeless bib overalls, she'd grimly abandoned that fruitless strategy.