Editors' Retro Pick: Best Opening
[Siren Classic: Erotic Paranormal Romantic Suspense, interracial, reincarnation]
When Samantha Taylor dropped out of her senior year of college to marry gorgeous and almost ten years her senior Dawson Foster, she never knew what she was getting into. But Sam is a quick study, and a year into her marriage, she prepares to remove her unborn baby and herself from a bad situation before it's too late. A headlong tumble down some stairs, however, violently nips her plans in the bud. But someone upstairs has other plans for Sam in the form of rough-and-ready, newly-expired bounty hunter, Dara Kelly.
Twice-divorced, Dara Kelly doesn't want to get married again, not even to luscious, Cuban-Irish Caution Foster. An African-American woman, she thrives in a profession where men set the rules, garnering respect and a tough reputation to match. But along with respect comes envy and enemies who will stop at nothing to gain a bounty, not even murdering a fellow skip tracer.
A Siren Erotic Romance
5 PIXIES: "In Plain Sight by Gracie C. McKeever is one story you can't miss. This book had me glued to the edge of my seat until the very ending. The characters in this book were well developed. I felt a connection with Sam right away and I could feel her passion for life just jump off the pages. I also connected with Dara Kelly right way. She has a "her way or the highway" attitude that I loved and thought completed this story perfectly. I have to mention the sexy Caution, who is a very hot leading male for this story; he made me tingle with his sexy words. Of course the villains in this story were also great. After all, what is a suspense story without a villain to jump out and grab someone? I thought this plot was well written and very exciting. I had no idea which way the story would turn and what new character would pop in next to surprise me. This left me excited for more dark and twisting fun. The ending caught me by complete surprise. This book was a great way to get away from everyday life. I recommend you pick this book up and spend the afternoon in a sexy and mysterious tale." -- Becky Gaede, Dark Angel Reviews
5 KISSES: "Wow, Ms. McKeever, wow! When this reviewer first read the premise/synopsis of this novel, it seemed to be very convoluted and unreal, but through the extraordinary talent that Ms. McKeever has to make any story line believable, not only did this great tale spring to life but it was also extremely plausible and realistic. It was difficult to write a summary of this tale for fear of giving away too much information, but please believe that once a reader starts this story, they will find it most difficult to put down. Although this tale contains fewer sex scenes than other books this reviewer has read by Ms. McKeever, the ones it does have pack a powerful erotic punch. The characters in this story are unforgettable, especially sweet. Sam, who proves surprisingly strong and tough-as-nails Dara, who shows flashes of heart-tugging vulnerability. The ending of this tale is not to be missed and was deeply satisfying! Every time this reviewer thought that the mystery was solved, Ms. McKeever would throw yet another plot twist into the mix. Ms. McKeever has written a great tale that all readers of erotic paranormal romance should love. This one is truly a tour de force. Highly recommended!" -- Leah, Love Romances and More
5 SISTAH HUGS: "In Plain Sight is a gripping, sexually steamy, edge-of-your-seat, cut-throat suspense that tackles emotionally charged issues such as interracial dating, racism, domestic abuse, single parenthood, heartbreak, and letting go of the past to truly love yourself in the now. McKeever delivers a story woven with such intricate scenes soaked with adventure and suspense that a reader will find it difficult to close this book until the end. Characters are so vivid, so realistic that I found my heart skipping a beat as if I were racing through Dara's dangerous escapades and loving Caution Foster as if he were my man. From brutal murder to sizzling erotic scenes that simply melt your most sensual parts, In Plain Sight is definitely an erotic paranormal suspense you can not afford to miss." -- Tasha Martin, SistahFriend Book Club
5 KISSES: "Gracie C. McKeever possesses an incredible imaginative ability and the gift to make any type of paranormal element, no matter how unusual, appear perfectly realistic and [acceptable]. With any of her stories, there is never a question of the reader's suspension of disbelief, it occurs immediately, naturally, and very smoothly. Her action is fast-paced, and her characters are well-delineated. We come to know them as well as we understand our own friends and family, if not better. Any book by Ms. McKeever is well worth a first read and subsequent rereads, but in the opinion of this reviewer In Plain Sight is one of her best!" -- Frost, Two Lips Reviews
4.5 BLUE RIBBONS: "I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down until the last page was done. The triangle between Samantha, Dara and Caution is engrossing. You find yourself pulled into the story and go through the emotional roller coaster with Dara and Samantha. Through it all there is still the fact that Samantha's killer is still on the loose which opens up a whole new aspect because it is all connected. To tell anymore would ruin the story. The love scenes are magnificent and full of erotic pleasure that never ends. Gracie McKeever is an author who has gone to the top of my auto buy list and after reading this tale readers will understand why." -- Angel, Romance Junkies
"Gracie McKeever rocks with her wonderfully written stories that draw you in and make you stop and think! Gracie has a gift with words, with story lines that build and build to an explosive ending. Go and read this author's work, you will not be sorry." -- Nicole Harvey, Paranormal Romance
Samantha Foster drifted, memory fading in the wind as she tumbled head over heels down the stairs, surrounded by pitch-black silence before a burst of blinding white light greeted her several yards away, gently vibrating.
She slowed. She didn't know how far she'd traveled, or to where, and didn't know if she was in control or had totally lost it. She just wanted the crazy ride to end. She'd had enough, and was tired of hoping for a different ending to her life than the pitiful reality.
She'd always been athletic growing up, and was a varsity soccer player in high school. She continued to keep herself in shape with daily Pilates and yoga sessions, even had some martial arts training under her belt, which was both a good and bad thing since the arts focused more on the philosophy of self-discipline rather than self-defense. Unless one's life was threatened, of course, but Dawson's attacks had been so abrupt and unprovoked, Sam hadn't had an opportunity to properly respond. She had never dreamed she'd have to use what she'd learned against her husband.
It was an embarrassing insult to go out in such a manner. It was so mundane and unoriginal—no drama, barely a struggle or whimper—taking a headlong tumble down a flight of stairs. The one time she had to defend herself against someone turned out to be with the man who'd sworn to love and protect her.
Sam wasn't completely sure now whether to blame him or herself, not completely sure who had struck the fatal blow. She remembered swinging out with her free hand before Dawson lost his grip on the one holding the only piece of luggage she had packed, and she hit the bottom of the case landing at an awkward angle. Her head struck against the shiny parquet floor with a sickening crack, luggage wedged beneath her back and the floor.
She smelled the scent of polished wood and new house as she left her body and floated over the scene to watch the action unfold like a fender-bender's spectator. She remembered thinking that if she wasn't dead, she was at least a quadriplegic. That's how broken her body had looked. She lay bent and twisted like a crime scene chalk outline model. She remembered going after Dawson in her astral form, angrily swinging at his head as he tearfully knelt beside her body at the bottom of the stairwell. She'd barely stirred his hair, but at least garnered a slight shiver as her fist went through his jaw. The very last thing she remembered before she'd been yanked away from the scene was seeing her father go after Dawson, her parents having entered the house at some point during their daughter and son-in-law's altercation.
She should have stood up to him sooner, planned her escape better, left him when her parents had wanted her to—so many shoulda, coulda, wouldas—and now it was too late.
Or was it?
The light ahead glimmered with a life all its own, white-hot and beckoning.
Sam floated several feet before it, finally came to a stop, calm and at ease.
"Tater-Tot." The sobriquet came out on a strangled whisper, and Sam wondered why the memory of an infant boy was so vivid when her baby hadn't yet been born. It was a mere three-month fetus nestled within its mother's womb unknowing and unprotected at impact.
Sam lowered her palms to her stomach, cupped her abdomen in a protective gesture to shelter a life that had already been lost. She'd failed before she ever had a chance to try, failed despite her best intentions to remove her baby from a bad situation while she still had a chance.
You did not fail, Samantha.
Had that voice come from the light? Only her parents called her Samantha, and usually when they were at their wits' end trying to either talk some sense into her strong head, or talk her out of one of her rebellious antics.
Sam smiled. She had to admit that she drove her parents to the brink of several nervous breakdowns with some of her stunts. The last two infamous ones were dropping out of college during her senior year and marrying a man almost ten years her senior.
"Sam, honey, we're only looking out for your welfare. You need to explore the world, explore yourself. Why settle down so soon?"
She'd known the level of her mother's desperation at hearing that last one. Neither of her parents had ever approved of any of the boyfriends she'd entertained. "Common riff-raff," they usually said. "Beneath you," they harped on. Not to mention their favorite against her marriage to Dawson: "If he really loves you, he'll wait."
But Sam had been the impatient one, and unwilling to wait when she knew what she wanted, knew she had found the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
Dawson was mature, so much more so than the boys Sam had dated. Dawson wanted her the way a man wanted a woman—with tender passion and primal lust. And she'd wanted him.
She should have listened to her parents for once.
Do not regret, child. It gets you nowhere.
"Why?" One word, encompassing, and the omnipotent voice understood.
We have plans for you.
"Plans? Why did you let me die then? Why not after I had my baby? At least you could have let me have my baby!" Sam sobbed. She wondered if she would have done a better job as a mother than she had as a wife. She wondered how good she would have been at protecting her baby once it was born. Then she remembered her dream, the one where she made a clean getaway from her ranting husband, their newborn son, Tate, alive and well behind her in his infant seat. Well, almost a clean getaway. If memory served her, she'd crashed on the highway as Dawson gave chase in his car, screaming about her not taking his son anywhere.
Not a dream.
Sam sniffled, heart skipping with hope. "You mean it was real?"
One reality. An alternate reality.
"Then you can send me back? I can have my baby, my life—"
Not in the way you expect.
What was that supposed to mean?It means, we have plans for you.
Sam wasn't so sure she liked the sound of that, but something told her she didn't have much say in the matter.
They had plans for her.
* * * *
Dara reached for her gun too late.
The shadow stepped across the threshold, gun drawn. He took aim at her chest, fired, hitting her dead center.
Dara flew back, realization dawning as the bullet pierced her vest.
Cop killers. Oh hell, oh damn…
Her old rival noiselessly, unhurriedly strode across the carpeted floor past the skip cowering behind the bureau. He smiled down at Dara as she crawled backwards, towards the window, on her elbows and heels.
She reached behind her, pulled herself up on the windowsill, blood seeping through skin, bone, and Kevlar, numbing her limbs. She leaned a shoulder against the jamb as her assailant leisurely switched guns, leering at her once more when he raised the new weapon.
"I told you I'd pay you back no matter how long it took. No one takes a skip away from me and gets away with it. Especially not some lezzy cunt."
Dara wheezed, gurgling her next words. "Tarrent, think about what you're doing."
"Oh, I have. Long and hard." He smiled, moving so close to stare her in the eyes she thought for a moment he might have changed his mind. Then he reached out to snatch the small gold hoop from her left earlobe.
Dara gasped, then regretted it immediately.
"I'll keep this as a souvenir of our time together." He graced her with sharp white canines as he pocketed the earring. "Be glad it's not your ear. Not that you'll have much use for either in a few seconds." He stepped back, taking aim at her chest.
Barbarian, cannibal, man-eater…Dara closed her eyes, knew she was a dead woman, but tried to get through to him one more time. "Tarrent, ple—"
His next shot sent her crashing through the glass and tumbling out the window.
* * * *
Dara landed on the hard pavement, surprised that she wasn't dead and wishing she was.
Excruciating pain lit up every nerve ending in her body. She was sure she had broken her back, among other major and minor bones, in the fall, but her insides, they were the real problem, on fire like someone had shoved a grenade packed with razor blades inside her abdomen and detonated it. She'd heard about talon slugs before, breaking onto the street in the nineties, but had never come across anyone who'd used them, or lived to tell about being shot with one. Leave it to that mean-spirited bastard to use outlawed ammo.
The pain was unreal, unbearable, inhuman, and just when Dara thought she couldn't take another minute of suffering, she felt herself drifting—up, up, up, and away. Her body, however, remained on the rain-slicked pavement, still and bleeding.
Someone brushed by her on Dara's way out. Someone on her way in. Into Dara's body!
Dara sampled the other's soul as they crossed paths—her first impressions raising her hackles—rich, spoiled, suburban American princess. Bourgeoisie. Everything Caution's grandfather loved, everything Dara loathed. Her next impressions weren't much better—wheat-gold hair, sky-blue eyes, young, petite, beautiful…and very dead.
Oh God! I'm gone, dead, kaput…
Was He punishing her? Teaching her a lesson?
No, punishing would have meant leaving her soul in her body writhing in agony as her internal organs bled out. He had done her a favor by pulling her out of her body when He had.
But, Mighty Isis, what had homegirl done to deserve the fate Dara had just escaped?
Dara didn't have time to think much more on it. She hadn't stopped drifting; her journey was just beginning. She was mildly amused and mightily shocked that her trip seemed to be going in an upward direction.
* * * *
Sam slammed into her new destination with such force, the trauma left her breathless for several long moments. Awareness – painful, corporeal awareness – forced her to finally take a breath. She immediately regretted it, cursing Their plans and wishing for sweet oblivion again. The broken neck was nothing compared to what she was feeling now. Fire inside and out. Heck, even her left earlobe throbbed! This new body must have been thrown down several flights of stairs, if not the roof of a tall building. How it still possessed the ability to breathe and feel anything was beyond her. But not beyond Them, evidently. Why?
All in time, Samantha.
Yeah, sure, You say. That's what They all say.
Might as well have been talking to the backward-talking creature in Star Wars since the answers she'd gotten about her predicament so far made about as much sense as Yoda’s brain-twisting phraseology, and were about as satisfying.
"Dare! Dios mio, que paso?"
Sam opened her eyes as someone rushed over to her in the rain. The dimly lit side street where she lay afforded little opportunity to see her rescuer clearly. Or maybe he was her attacker, for all she knew, coming back to make sure he'd done the job right.
God, what had They gotten her into?
Take care, child. All will be well.
You're leaving me?
"No, chica! I wouldn't leave you for the world. And I'm so sorry I was late."
Sam hadn't realized she'd spoken out loud until she saw the horrified look on her rescuer's face and something else she could just barely make out: guilt.
She tried to sit up and gasped as the stranger pushed her back. He placed his rolled up leather jacket beneath her head and opened her jacket to probe her rib cage with gentle fingers. When one of his hands brushed the outer edge of a breast, she slapped it away before she realized he was searching for wounds, wounds inflicted despite a bulletproof vest.
She felt the weight of the contraption against her chest and abdomen, and the blood, wet and sticky against her skin, and almost became sick with the implications.
Just how badly had this body been injured? And whose body was it? Who was this Dare?
Gradually, pain faded as if fleeing in response to her questions, or perhaps the stranger's touch. Sam didn't care which, just that alleviation was at hand.
"Dios, I am so sorry, Dare. I…I was detained. I don't know what else to say."
Sam didn't know what to say either, deciding not to say anything at all for the time being, and just tried to take everything in.
She was in a cold, wet, dark alley and some strange man, obviously concerned, obviously her friend, needlessly ministered to her already healing body.
"I'm ready to get up now."
He frowned. "I really think you should wait for an ambulance."
"No!" Sam sprang to a sitting position, surprised that it didn't hurt, almost not at all. She seemed to be completely healed. She knew she had Them to thank for her miraculous recovery. The least They could do. And for some reason, she didn't think a trip to the hospital was in Their plans for her.
"All right, chica. Don't have a cow." He grinned grimly as he helped her to her feet.
Sam glanced at him from the corner of an eye, wishing she knew who he was, what his name was, and what her connection to him was.
"Did the skip do this to you? I didn't peg him for this rough a customer."
"Dios, you must have gotten knocked on the head pretty good, huh?"
"Guess so," Sam mumbled. "You're, uh…?"
"Diego." He grimaced at her incomprehension, shook his head. "Your partner?"
As in? Sam wondered but didn't say it out loud. Partner in crime? Partner in business? Life partner? Exactly how close a relationship did they share?
"C'mon, I'm taking you home."
That was an answer she hadn't expected, and raised more questions than it answered.
Where was home? Their home? His home? Her home?
She let Diego grasp her under an elbow and lead her out of the alley, having no idea where they were going, but strangely trusting him. She didn't see how she had a choice.
[Scene note: Sam, who is in Dara Kelly's body, realizes that the man she thought is her abusive husband Dawson turns out to be Dawson's identical twin brother Caution.]
Shaken, Sam turned back to Dawson just in time to see he'd unlocked the cuffs.
He stood in front of her, grinning, restraints dangling from the pointer of his right hand as he whistled a nameless tune, looking entirely too self-satisfied.
How the heck had he gotten out of the cuffs? Sam couldn't remember being married to Harry Houdini!
Her heart hammered not just from the fact that she was in the room with a dangerous escaped felon, the man responsible for her death, but from the wicked butter-melting grin spreading across her husband's face and reaching his eyes. She couldn't tell whether he was enraged or just a little peeved, and didn't want to find out, but he reached out and caught her wrist with both hands, wrestling the Glock from her grip before she could squeak.
Dumbfounded, Sam watched as he ejected the chambered round, emptied the clip and pocketed it before placing the empty gun atop the marble center island.
He stalked her around the kitchen as she tried to gain the door. She dodged to her left, didn't fool him as he caught her by an arm. Sam threw one leg behind his, but just as she was about to flip him over a hip to the floor, Caution reversed position in time to take her with him, cushioning her fall with his body as they both went crashing to the linoleum.
She struggled as he flipped her beneath him, straddled her hips, pulled her arms up over her head and grasped her wrists.
"You shouldn't do that." He leered.
Sam frowned. "Do what?"
"Thrust and plunge that way. I might get the wrong idea."
She struggled harder at his words and it only made him laugh. "Let me go."
"You came into my house, Ms. Big Bad Bounty Hunter, pointing a gun at me as if I was some dangerous felon, and now you want me to let you go?"
"I was perfectly within my rights."
"And so am I, Ms. Kelly." He leaned in, lips a hair's breadth from hers, and paused as he stared into her eyes. "Is this what you wanted? Does this turn you on?"
Sam bucked. "Don't flatter yourself!"
"Actually, I'm flattering you." He leaned further, stirring her hair with his breath as he brushed her cheek with his lips, then murmured, "If I'd known you were into the kinky bondage scene, we could have tried this a long time ago."
Sam squirmed, gasped when she met Dawson's hard erection with her slit, and instantly felt moist heat between her legs as her pussy gushed. "I'm not," she said.
He arched a brow. "Not flattered?"
"Not into the kinky bondage scene." Tell that to your dripping wet cunt.
"Pity," he whispered. "Now, about this Dawson jazz…" He slid his mouth up, ran his tongue over her full lower lip. "You've never been fooled by my brother before. Besides my mother and Grampa Brody you're just about the only one in the world who can tell us apart."
Fooled? Brother? Grampa Brody? What did he mean by brother?
Sam frowned, light slowly dawning before she saw red. She should have known something was off-kilter when the man had addressed Dara so familiarly.
That evil, deceptive witch!
Sam remembered the last thing Dara had said to her before directing her to the townhouse: "I'm going to give you a lead to the skip." Not lead Sam to the skip, but give her a lead. Very subtle wording but it made all the difference.
If the woman weren't already dead, Sam would make sure the deed was done right the next time and kill Dara Kelly herself.
And Dawson! Talk about deceptive. He never once mentioned a sibling, much more an identical twin. But then again, Sam had never shown any overt interest, thus she only knew that he was estranged from his family, and she stupidly had not pried for the low down. She'd loved him, she'd married him, and the rest hadn't concerned her blind sensibilities, not to mention her overactive, twenty-two-year-old libido.
She'd married a stranger. A stranger with a twin. An identical twin. Deliciously, erotically, lusciously identical.
Calm down, kiddo, that's what got you into this mess in the first place. A fool and horny.
"Cat got your tongue?"
"Pardon?" She really wanted to tell him that he'd have her tongue in a few seconds if he didn't back off. His mouth was so close, breath warm and enticing, if she reached out to lick her lips, she'd touch his.
"This is a first. I've never seen you at a loss for words before."
Sam could well imagine. Dara Kelly didn't seem the type to hold her tongue for anyone or anything, quite the opposite.
"I'm not at a loss. I've said what I need to say. And I want you to let me go and get off."
"Anyone ever tell you you're a bossy cuss?" Dawson—or whatever his name was— grinned, and Sam realized a total stranger held her captive. She didn't even know his name, despite knowing every angle of his gorgeous face.
How could she not tell the difference! He was so much more intense than Dawson was, serious and somber, a very solid and trustworthy vibe about him.
She wondered if the brothers were as alike as they were different. They both seemed to have the same spicy sense of humor; both had the same smooth, bronze skin, the lean-like-a-runner's build; both instantly kicked her female hormones into overdrive, but beyond these, Sam was almost in the dark as to demeanor and mood.
Where was help when she needed it and why did ghosts only pop up at the most inopportune times? Not that she had had much experience with the latter, but couldn't Dara see that she was in trouble? Or did she see and just not care?
Sam was tempted to call for Dara, but held back because of the strange man astride her.
His name is Caution.
The words came out as if said through clenched teeth, and Sam had to stop herself from searching the room for their source. Instead, she caught movement on the island behind Caution's hand, and peered as a cup and saucer violently rattled then levitated from the marble surface.
She gawked, and blurted, "Look out!" right before the ceramic-ware flew off the island towards the back of her captor's head as if flung.
Caution didn't hesitate and ducked without blinking or releasing her, and the cup and saucer hurtled past his left ear, missing his head by centimeters before crashing into the refrigerator and breaking into so many pieces.
Sam didn't know whether she was happy or disappointed the man had such quick reflexes, thwarting an opportunity for her escape.
Caution glanced behind him, eyebrows knitting as he turned back to her with a twinkle in his eyes. "Neat trick."
Sam bit her tongue in denial, but decided to turn the tables instead. "You too."
"The handcuffs. How'd you get out of them?"
"You're an escape artist?"
His enigmatic smile only emphasized the fact that he had her where he wanted her, and that she was at a distinct disadvantage.
She should have been more nervous, more afraid, but once she realized it wasn't Dawson imprisoning her, her fear had evaporated. For the moment. Who knew what other sort of threat this Caution represented, besides the assault he was currently waging on her senses of course?
"So, what are we going to do about this impasse?" he asked
"You could try letting me go and getting off of me," Sam repeated, but noticed he didn't seem in any particular hurry to do either.
"I like it where I am."
"But I don't."
"You've made that abundantly clear the last couple of months."
Sam did not want to get into a debate about Caution and Dara's relationship. "I'd rather not talk about that right now."
"Running away from our problems isn't going to solve anything."
"You never gave me an answer to my proposal."
Proposal? Now this was getting just a little too sticky for her. Sam decided she wanted not only to kill Dara the next time she saw her, but also to make the woman sorry she'd ever been born! "My hands are turning numb," she mumbled.
He smiled as he sat up straight, taking her with him and holding her hands close to his chest. He slipped one cuff around her left wrist and locked it so fast she didn't have a chance to protest.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"You wanted me?" Caution slipped the other cuff around his right wrist and locked it. "You got me."
"You're coming with me?"
"Hardly." He stood, pulling her with him. "You're coming with me."
Sam got to her feet too, but stopped when he headed for the entryway. "Where?"
"Upstairs to bed."
She arched a brow, heart drumming, and tried not to betray how much his words affected her, tried not to betray how much he affected her and that the thought of being alone with him in a bedroom totally unnerved her; totally turned her on.
Who knew she had this kinky, naughty streak, that the thought of him handcuffing her to his bed and having his way with her would zap her pussy with fire and speed her heart to near bursting? "You're kidding," was all she could manage in protest.
"I kid you not, and I don't have the energy to argue with you about it." He tugged her arm and she followed with no choice or she would have risked him dragging her like a caveman and popping her shoulder out of its socket, not to mention further damaging her ego.
She pulled back at the top of the plush, cream-carpeted staircase. "What's your hurry?"
"I'm bone tired and I want to get back to bed. I've got an early day tomorrow."
Like a two-year-old, she wanted to ask him a thousand questions—Where was Dawson? Did Caution know his brother's whereabouts, and/or was he harboring him? Why was Caution so bone tired? Early day doing what?—among her top choices. Instead, she quietly followed him into the large master suite and swallowed hard as he closed the door behind them.