||Port Town Publishing
||December 1, 2005
Linda's Place - A Site for Romance Readers & Writers
Award-winning author Linda Morelli's latest romantic suspense, Lani's Challenge, released December 2005 from Port Town Publishing. Available online from Amazon.com, or order an autographed copy direct from Linda by emailing her at RomRiter@aol.com
Lani Talbot grew up with a deep sense of duty. The daughter of a policeman, she decided early in life to follow in her father's footsteps. Recently promoted to detective, she joins the Metro DC Police—the same force her father served on before he was cruelly murdered. Her goal: to discover the identity of her father’s killer.
Garrett Pierce is a ten-year veteran with the DC police, and has a reputation for being the best. When he meets Lani—his new partner—the sparks fly. Pierce already feels partially responsible for his former partner's death. The last thing he needs is a female tagging along on dangerous assignments, and a beautiful one at that.
Lani, however, is all business and is determined to prove it as they investigate the murder of a wealthy businessman's son. As the case unfolds and the list of suspects narrows, Lani and Pierce earn each other's respect—and discover a mutual attraction. When someone tries to murder Lani though, Pierce realizes that yet another partner is in dire danger.
Can he save Lani—the only woman to touch his heart and his soul?
Detective Lieutenant David Allard had informed her that Garret Pierce was stubborn. What David hadn't told her was that Pierce was built like a professional fullback, one in prime physical shape, judging from the physique that his casual clothes did little to hide. He definitely oozed power and strength, a fact that reassured her. His build was sufficient enough to intimidate any felon, armed or not.
The censure in his steely gray-blue eyes as he stopped before her, however, was far from encouraging. He glanced down at the ID at her waist. "You're Lani Talbot?"
"Yes," she replied, extending her hand in greeting.
Pierce ignored it. "My new partner," he drawled, making his words sound like chopped liver and onionsóa meal she detested. "So, what have you found out? Oró" he inclined his head toward Hank "ówere you too busy flirting with that officer?"
She bit back the acrid retort that threatened to escape and met his steely gaze head on. If he intended to push her buttons until she demanded another partner, it wouldn't work.
"I spoke to the day guard, Tom Stafford." She nodded toward the aged sentry who stood within his four by six foot metal booth near the front gate, watching the dispersing crowd. "He promised to stop by headquarters after work to sign a statement. I also spoke to the warehouse owner, Mr. George Napolous, and his wife."
Pierce stared at the shapely young woman before him, watching her long blonde pony tail brush her shoulders each time she turned her head, the soft pink lips that required no lipstick, and the dark blue eyes framed by long dark lashes were obviously covered with mascara, judging from the pale roots. Not that she needed the makeup.
Why in the hell did I get stuck with a female partner? She could never be as quick as Joe, or as strong.
He turned to glance at the warehouse and was immediately assaulted by memories of a similar warehouse, a starless night, the flash of guns, and then his partner's blood seeping through his fingers.
He forced himself to return his attention to Lani as she continued her report. One she gave, he noticed, without looking at any notes.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Napolous and his wife, Alesia, could not supply much information, except that they're retiring and sold the warehouse to a condominium developer a month ago."
Pierce nodded. He had seen the large red 'sold' sticker some real estate agent had plastered over the "For Sale" sign in the corner of the lot. "Why the guard?"
"Mr. Napolous has had trouble with recent break-ins. He hired a security guard to keep watch on the place. Although he sold all of his machinery, he still has a few metal tables in there, plus inventory stored in locked rooms at the rear of the warehouse until he can find a buyer for them. His wife is the company bookkeeper. According to her, the auto parts stored there are worth well over five hundred thousand dollars."
Pierce released a low whistle. "I'm in the wrong business."
"Somehow I doubt that." Lani ignored the questioning glance Pierce cast her way. "In any event, I obtained the guard's name. It's Jim Osborne. I checked with the security company and he's on probation. Seems he has a drinking problem and this warehouse job was his last chance. In any event, I got his address. He lives ató"
"Give your car keys to Officer Nesbith," Pierce said, his voice brisk and brooking no argument. "Tell him to have another officer drive your car back to the station. You're coming with me."
Lani's lips curved into a satisfied smile as she headed for Hank. She reached into her coat pocket, withdrew the keys to the car and tossed them toward him. "Sherlock Holmes would like my car delivered to headquarters."
Hank chuckled as he pocketed her keys. "I'll take care of it. Should be able to wrap things up here soon."
She began to turn, then hesitated. "About that invite to dinner. Make it for a stiff double Scotch and I'll accept."
Hank arched an eyebrow. "You don't drink anything stronger than white wine."
"Today I'm making an exception."
Hank's chuckle followed her as she walked away.
Fast and Exciting
"A well written book that is sure to keep the interest of readers, the author has done her homework in portraying police procedure. Garrett is a tough cop but has a marshmallow heart, both sweet and soft. Even though Lani feels as if she is walking on egg shells with her partner, she soon finds out that Garrett is something special. They are both honest cops who want to do their best for the people in their community. As their attraction grows heated and intense, they learn to trust and rely on each other. All the secondary characters enhance the tale and add texture to the story. Hank is an especially good friend to both Lani and Garrett.
LANIíS CHALLENGE is a short book and a fast read with an exciting finish. It is a good story that romantic suspense readers will savor."
-- Marilyn Heyman, Romance Reviews Today
A Little Bit of Everything
"Laniís Challenge is a well-written story that shows how two separate tragedies can bring people together unexpectedly. For Detective Lani Talbot, being a police officer was destiny and now that she has made detective, nothing will stand in the way of her solving a horrific crime. Detective Garrett Pierce is not so happy with a new partner, let alone one as beautiful and attractive as Lani. Coping with his own personal problems and the death of his long-time partner, Garrett vows to never trust another beautiful woman and makes sure that Lani knows exactly who is in charge. Another murder has occurred leaving them with more unanswered questions and forcing them to behave like partners in more than one way. Aside from an unavoidable and undeniable attraction to each other; Lani and Garrett did not expect to be looking for the one person that can put their personal demons to rest."
-- Monica Solomon, The Romance Readers' Connection
"Lani Talbot comes from a family of cops and even though she is the last one of her family left, she is determined to make them proud of her. She has worked her way into a detective position and has requested to be transferred to her fatherís old precinct where she plans on using her skills to finally find the person who murdered her father. Lani realizes the challenges a woman faces on the force, but she knows that she has what it takes to be a good detective and she will prove to everyone that she deserves to be there. Her optimism is dimmed a little when she first meets her new partner Garrett Pierce; he is quick to let Lani know that he doesnít trust her and that he wonít be able to depend on her.
Garrett Pierce has been a detective for ten years and has just returned to the force after being on leave because his partner of ten years was killed in the line of duty and the worst thing was his killer has still not been identified. Garrett is not pleased to learn that he has been assigned a rookie partner, but the worst news was that she was a female. When Garrett sees Lani with her beautiful face, slim figure and blond hair, he is sure that all she will be is a hindrance and that he will never be able to trust her to watch his back. The first case the pair is given involves the son of an influential man and after just two days Garrett knows that he has to change his attitude about Lani. She is a talented investigator and her skills dovetail perfectly with his. Garrett quickly learns he must trust in Lani because they will need their combined talents to solve the murder they have been handed, plus find her fatherís and his partnerís killer before the killers find and eliminate them.
LANIíS CHALLENGE by Linda Morelli is a riveting and suspenseful romance. Lani and Garrett are strong and enjoyable lead characters and their story involved an exciting and challenging mystery. I loved the interactions between Lani and Garrett and I liked how Garrett quickly turned his preconceived ideas about Lani around and was a big enough person to let her know that he had been wrong to doubt her. The case involving the murder was excellent and I was constantly changing my mind on who the killer was and I liked how all the clues came together in the end in an intelligent and believable way. I loved this book and recommend it to everyone that enjoys a good mystery combined with an excellent romance."
-- Char, Romance Junkies
"Laniís Challenge is a fast-paced read that bridges both the detective and the romance genres. The carefully researched details will satisfy readers of police procedurals while the relationship between Lani and Pierce will gratify those who long for a little romance."
-- Gale Zasada, The Brown Bookloft
"Though I normally don't read intrigue/mystery books, this one had my full attention from the first page. I fully recommend this book to everyone as a 'must read.' 5 Flames - collector's treasure."
-- Wilma Frana, Word Museum
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