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Killer Temptation

Killer Temptation
Mouse over the cover to see
the hero, Sean Guthrie

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KILLER TEMPTATION
Silhouette Romantic Suspense (SRS)
book 1 of the Seduction Summer trilogy
ISBN-13: 9780373275861
June 2008

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Fiji is gorgeous.
Everything about the Indigo Inn is perfect, absolutely perfect.
Well. Except for the dead guy in the hammock…

Sean Guthrie desperately needs to get a five-star rating for his new business venture, an idyllic bed and breakfast on the South Seas island paradise of Fiji. His fate is in the hands of a beautiful, starry-eyed guidebook evaluator for whom he feels a powerful and inopportune attraction. Can you say blackmail? Unfortunately, from the moment Zoë Conrad steps off the plane, one thing after another goes terribly wrong. The mysterious disappearance of a yacht, vocal feuding native families, Sean’s untimely arrest… Oh, yeah. And there’s a serial killer on the loose. How can she in good conscience give this disaster area a five-star rating?

Except something about the charming, commitment-phobic owner draws Zoë into his escalating woes, wanting to help. And also into wanting the man himself…. But Sean seems as determined to ignore their blossoming relationship as he is to solve the spiraling mysteries that beset his remote inn. Until a romantic interlude of sex on the beach turns to vicious murder.

Read an Excerpt
From Chapter One

Fiji was totally gorgeous.

Zoë Conrad gazed up at her assignment: a charming, whitewashed Queen Anne style bed and breakfast, perched on a vividly green jungle-covered slope above a sparkling blue and white crystalline beach. Romantic and isolated, the Secret Traveler info sheet had said of the Indigo Inn, which was located on one of the northeastern islands of Fiji. Zoë would add quaint and appealing to that description. Colorful birds flitted through the trees calling their exotic songs; sweet, fragrant flowers scented the air and a pretty sailboat bobbed cheerfully next to the dock where Zoë stood by her luggage taking it all in.

My God, she thought with an appreciative sigh, everything was perfect. Absolute five-star perfection.

Well. Except for the dead guy in the hammock.

Sprawled with both arms and one shorts-clad leg dangling over the sides, the man’s Hawaiian shirt was covered in blood. Zoë took one look and screamed at the top of her lungs.

Spinning around on the rickety wooden dock, she jumped up and down, waving her arms hysterically at the swiftly receding sea plane that had just dropped her off in what was supposed to be paradise.

“Wait! Stop!” she yelled as the pontoon craft pointed its nose away from her and taxied smoothly over the sparkling turquoise water. “For the love of Pete, stop! Help!”

But her friends and fellow Secret Travelers, Alicia and Maddie, who were off to their own assignments, must have thought she was simply waving an enthusiastic goodbye, because they waved back just as enthusiastically from the small, square windows of the six-seater. Then the plane lifted from the waves and soared off into the clear blue sky.

Leaving Zoë all alone with two suitcases.

And a dead guy.

“Damn,” she muttered desperately. “Damndamndamn!”

Now what? The three-day seminar she’d taken when she’d first joined the company as a hotel and resort evaluator two years ago hadn’t covered finding dead bodies.

Sticking her shaking hands under her armpits, she reluctantly turned back to the beautiful bed and breakfast on the hill, praying someone would come out to greet her. No such luck. The Indigo Inn’s owner, Sean Guthrie, had said in his last email with profuse apologies that he would most likely be away on business until morning and the new staff would not be arriving until tomorrow. She’d assured him that was quite all right, she’d picked the Inn for its solitude, not to be pampered. He’d replied okay, the front door would be unlocked as usual, the gardener would be there to help her with luggage and the Inn’s hostess, Aruna, would return from her afternoon break at four o’clock. Meanwhile there were sandwiches and beer in the fridge, help herself.

Great.

Not that Zoë couldn’t use a beer about now. Or something stronger.

A lot stronger.

A pair of red and yellow parrots swooped down and sat on a tree branch just above the hammock and started chattering gaily above the dead guy’s head.

“Shoo!” she yelled at the birds, appalled, and hurried up the garden path to chase them away from the body.

Which, just then, let out a soft grunt.

“Omigod! He’s not dead!”

She ran up and peered at the man over the edge of the giant hammock. Could this be the gardener? She held her breath, waiting for him to move.

Or do something.

He didn’t. He still looked dead.

She tilted her head. A shame, really. The guy was handsome—in a stiff sort of way. Okay, really handsome. But the tacky—and blood-soaked—tropical shirt did nothing to enhance his bronze tan and the long, sun-streaked hair that curled over its splayed collar. Nor did his mouth, which may well have been kissable when he was still alive, but now hung open in a slack slash of sculpted lips and white teeth.

A muscle in his cheek twitched.

She jumped a foot in the air and squeaked.

He was alive!

Heart pounding hard, she leaned further over him, putting her face close to his, frantically trying to tell if he was breathing or not—without actually touching him or the blood.

Strange, he didn’t smell dead. He smelled…earthy. Like salt spray and male sweat. And…spicy tomatoes. Definitely the gardener.

But he still wasn’t breathing.

Oh, God. Panic welled within her. Should she give him CPR? She swallowed heavily. Or mouth-to-mouth?

Gross!

Just then, his chest lifted slightly, as though he were trying to breathe but couldn’t. That settled it.

Gingerly, she slid her hand under his neck and lifted, then with her pulse beating out of control, she put her lips over his and prepared to—

His eyes popped open.

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