A mysterious plane crash . . . a dangerous trek through the Idaho wilderness . . . a smoldering attraction . . . and a deadly game of cat and mouse. In her latest tour de force of romantic suspense, New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard blends these elements into a gripping story that will keep readers breathless-and leave them begging for more. For in Linda Howard's world, trust can be a weapon, a kiss can be a threat, and intimacy can be deadly.
Bailey Wingate's scheming adult stepchildren are surprised when their father's will leaves Bailey in control of their fortune, and war ensues. A year later, while flying from Seattle to Denver in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters-and then fails.
Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot, manages to crash-land the aircraft. Stranded in the wilderness, and struggling to douse her feelings for the ruggedly handsome man by her side, Bailey begins to wonder whether this was a mere accident. Who tampered with their plane? Who's trying to reunite Bailey and her husband in the afterlife? Cut off from the world, and with little hope of rescue, Bailey must trust her life-and heart-to Cam, as they battle the harsh elements to find a way out of the unforgiving wilds and back to civilization . . . where a killer may be waiting to finish the job.
Sexy, suspenseful, and lightning fast, Up Close and Dangerous showcases a beloved author at her dazzling best.
From the Hardcover edition.
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July 16, 2007
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Excerpt from Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard
Bailey Wingate woke up crying. Again.
She hated when she did that, because she couldn't see any reason for being such a wuss. If she were desperately unhappy, if she were lonely or grieving, crying in her sleep would make sense, but she wasn't any of those things. At worst, she was pissed.
Even being pissed wasn't a full-time attitude; that came only when she had to deal with her stepchildren, Seth and Tamzin, which, thank God, usually happened only once a month when she signed off on the allotted funds they received from their inheritance from her late husband. They almost always contacted her then, either before to make their pitches for more money, which she had yet to approve, or afterward to let her know, in their individual ways, what a scummy bitch they thought she was.
Seth was by far the most vicious, and more times than she cared to count he'd left her emotionally bruised, but at least he was forthright with his hostility. As tough as he was to take, Bailey preferred dealing with him to having to wade her way through Tamzin's passive-aggressive crap.
Today was the day their monthly funds were released to their bank accounts, which meant she could look forward to either their phone calls or actual visits. Oh, joy. One of Tamzin's favorite punishments was to visit, and bring her two young children. Tamzin alone was tough enough to take, but when her two whiny, spoiled, demanding children were added to the mix, Bailey felt like running for the hills.
"I should have asked for combat pay," she grumbled aloud as she threw back the covers and got out of bed.
Then she mentally snorted at herself. She had nothing to complain about, much less cry in her sleep over. She'd agreed to marry James Wingate knowing what his children were like, and how they would react to their father's financial arrangements for them. He had, in fact, banked on those reactions and planned accordingly. She had gone into the situation with her eyes open, so she had no grounds for complaining now. Even from the grave, Jim was paying her well to do her job.
Going into the plush bathroom, she glanced at her reflection--something that was difficult not to do when the first thing she faced was a floor-to-ceiling mirror. Sometimes, when she saw herself, she had a moment of almost complete disconnect between the person reflected and what she felt like inside.
Money had changed her--not inside so much as outside. She was slimmer, more toned, because now she had both the time and the money for a personal trainer who came to the house and put her through hell in the private exercise room. Her hair, before always a sort of dirty blond, was now so artfully streaked with different hues of blond that it looked completely natural. An expensive cut flattered her face, and fell into such graceful lines that even now, fresh out of bed, her hair looked pretty damn good.
She had always been neat, and she had dressed as well as she could on her salary, but there was a world of difference between "neat" and "polished." She had never been beautiful, and certainly wouldn't qualify for that level of good looks even now, but she did sometimes reach "pretty," or even "striking." Skillful application of the best cosmetics available made the green of her eyes more intense, more vibrant. Her clothes were tailored to fit her and only her, instead of millions of other women who were the same general size.
As Jim's widow, she had the full and unquestioned use of this house in Seattle, one in Palm Beach, and another in Maine. She never had to fly on a commercial airline unless she wished to; the Wingate corporation leased private jets for its use, and a plane was always available to her. She paid only for her personal possessions, which meant she didn't have to worry about bills.