Bestselling author JoAnn Ross turns up the heat in a novel of heart-stopping suspense and white-hot passion that takes readers from the sultry South Carolina Lowcountry to the rugged Northern California coast, and ultimately into the darkest reaches of the human heart....
Fire cop Tess Gannon is hot on the trail of a pyromaniac who's been setting buildings ablaze throughout Somersett, South Carolina, when ATF Special Agent Gage O'Halloran arrives on her fire scene. Coming out of a self-imposed exile, Gage suspects that Tess's "Flamemaster" is connected to a serial killer he apprehended three years ago.
Tess doesn't like Gage. He's too rude. Too arrogant. Too damn...male. Worse yet, she doesn't trust him. Forced into an uneasy alliance, Tess and Gage race to stop the killer from striking another fatal match. But Gage's fragile hope for redemption is put to the test when Tess becomes ensnared in a homicidal pyromaniac's deadly obsession. And time is running out....
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July 30, 2005
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Excerpt from Blaze by JoAnn Ross
THE FLAMEMASTER HAD BEEN WATCHING the building for weeks, studying her, learning all her secret quirks. Even in her youth she hadn't been all that attractive, and despite the recent face-lift, the passing of years still showed. She reminded him of a dowager who'd fallen on hard times, then gotten an extreme makeover from a quack plastic surgeon.
A couple approached his vehicle, the woman's stiletto heels clattering on the crumbling cobblestone sidewalk.
The Flamemaster scrunched down in the driver's seat so they wouldn't see him. Not that he was in danger of being discovered; they were so blissfully oblivious to anything or anyone around them, they could have been strolling in the peaceful, moss-draped environs of Admiral's Park on a Sunday morning, rather than risking this industrial waterfront neighborhood.
The man leaned down and murmured a soft something in the woman's ear; she laughed silkily in response. They paused, staring into each other's eyes, like some love-struck couple in a diamond commercial.
As their lips met and clung, The Flamemaster imagined a formally dressed couple in a gilded hotel room. The man opens a black velvet box, revealing an iceberg-size diamond glittering like ice on black satin. The woman instantly falls to her knees and attacks her companion's zipper.
Two carats or more, the deep voice-over advises as violins soar. And she'll damn well have to.
He chuckled at his little joke.
A purple cloud drifted over the sliver of moon, casting the couple in deep shadow. The only light was from the faint yellow flicker of old-fashioned gas lamps edging the pier. Music drifted from a dinner cruise ship somewhere out on the fog-draped harbor, fading in and out on the soft March air.