France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
Hunter’s eyes snapped open, his blood pounding in his ears. “What do you know about The Blue Heart?”
“Only that it is one of the most famous and rare diamonds in the world, over 30 carats, and said to be flawless.”
Hunter rose from his cot and paced his small cell, heart racing. “Ah, finally something you don’t know. Le Coeur Bleu has a small flaw, an inclusion visible only with a jeweler’s loupe.”
Campbell inclined his head. “My mistake. I bow to your superior knowledge of the stone.”
He met Campbell’s calm stare. He doubted this man ever made mistakes. “What else do you know about the diamond?”
“I know the diamond is reputed to have magical powers. Some even say it is cursed.”
“You don’t really believe in magical powers, do you?” Hunter scoffed.
Campbell lifted one shoulder in a delicate shrug. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Do you think your friend Jean Philippe Bertrand believed in magic?”
All the air rushed out of Hunter’s lungs and he struggled to breathe. “What do you know about Jean Philippe?”
“That he came into possession of Le Coeur Bleu and was murdered for it by the Nazis.”
Hunter dropped heavily onto his cot, shock and pain turning his knees to water. Snippets of the telegram he’d received from his best friend a few weeks before his arrest flashed in his head. Need to buy Heartstone times two from Jewish refugee. Desperate. Send cash. Hunter had immediately wired JP the money to buy the Heartstone, the name by which Le Coeur Bleu was sometimes known. He never heard from Jean Philippe again. In all the months of his captivity he’d clung to the hope that Jean Philippe was safe. But now that hope was dashed.
“Dead? You’re sure?”
“Yes. The SOE is very well connected in France. I can assure you, your friend was killed for Le Coeur Bleu.”
Guilt flowed through Hunter’s veins like a poison. If he hadn’t sent the money, JP wouldn’t have had the diamond and the Nazis would have had no reason to kill him.
Campbell stepped closer to Hunter’s cot, determination glittering in his eyes. “I’m giving you the opportunity to avenge your friend’s death. Will you take it, Mr. Smith?”
“How is stealing The Blue Heart going to avenge Jean Philippe’s death? It’s just a stone, Mr. Campbell. Very pretty, very valuable, but just a rock. Is stealing it going to bring him back?”
“No, it won’t,” Campbell conceded, “but it will hurt the Nazis immensely. I can assure you that taking Le Coeur Bleu from them will reduce their capacity to fight, Mr. Smith. It may even shorten the war and provide the turning point we’re looking for. Is this not what your friend would have wanted?”
As Hunter stared into Campbell’s round face, he remembered the last stinging conversation he’d had with his friend. “If you used your God-given talents for good instead of squandering them on party tricks, perhaps you’d be a lot happier. It’s time to grow up, Hunter. For once in your life, be a man.”
Perhaps the time had finally come.
“How soon can I get out of here?”
Campbell smiled in satisfaction. “Follow me.”
FLAWLESS (e-version) is on sale for .99 cents at all major e-retailers between December 4 and 17, 2015.
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Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.
Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?
She whirled around to glare at him, her eyes blazing. “No! I’m not a child! I don’t have to be mollycoddled and babysat. I spent six years in a war zone, hiding in bomb shelters, never having enough to eat. I worked in a hospital treating blitz victims with wounds so horrendous grown men would gag to look at them. I faced those horrors every day. Sometimes things were so bad I thought I couldn’t go on. But I did. Because I had to. And I’ll face things here, too. So don’t tell me to give up, because I won’t!”
Erik pushed himself out of his chair to face her, awed by her spirit and courage. She lifted her chin as if defying him to contradict her, her hands clenched at her sides. Her dark hair curled in wild abandon as it dried, framing her pale oval face like a halo. Her beauty and ferocity were magnificent.
“I think you’re the strongest woman I know.”
Her eyes widened in surprise, her hands unclenching. He caught the quiver of her chin as she fought to hold back tears.
“I made such a mess of things,” she whispered. “I’m sorry for all the fuss I caused everyone.”
Erik took a step toward her. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let you go alone in the dark.”
“You didn’t know I would stupidly walk out onto thin ice.” She shook her head. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be useful. I can’t stand feeling so bloody useless.”
“You’re not useless. You’re an amazing woman. Anders is a fool for letting you go.”
She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you.”
He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist, clinging to him.
He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.
“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”
“I know I’m being stupid. Tears don’t solve anything,” she said against his chest. “But I was so cold, and so scared. I thought I was going to die.”
He tightened his hold and kissed her hair. “Don’t think about it anymore. You’re safe now.”
He heard her sigh, felt her relax against him. “Yes. I’m safe.”
She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted, and Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing shallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.
HOME FIRES (e-version) is on sale for .99 cents at all major e-retailers between December 4 and 17, 2015.