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Corie Rickman grew up sheltered and indulged in a privileged Los Angeles suburb. Chaffing under parental admonishments to avoid the wrong side of life, she married a man who beat her senseless one time too many. Now, with the help of her real estate baron father, Corie tries to put her past behind her by running her bookstore, A Literal Haven. Now her evil ex looking for the evidence she has of his illegal doings.
When Narcotics Detective Laine Tanizaki rescues the owner of the independent bookstore in Beverly Center Mall, he doesn’t know what he’s in for. The last thing Corie Rickman needs is a man who works at the burger joint fighting her battles. But there he is, soda in hand, putting his muscular body between her and a thug from her past. The attraction begins. So does the subterfuge. Can they keep their secrets and still fall in love?
Police Lt. Laine Tanizaki hasn’t been worked undercover for two years, not until his best friend was killed during a drug operation Laine ran. Now to make amends with his conscience, he wants to complete the sting by going undercover at a fast food restaurant in a Beverly Hills Mall. He hadn’t counted on the bookseller who has a secret of her own across the upscale mall.
Knight in shining armor Laine rescues Damsel in Distress Corie and the attraction begins. So does the subterfuge. Can they keep their secrets and still fall in love?
Corie Rickman, from a prominent African American family, has a sheltered and indulged upbringing in LA. Once on her own, she sowed her wild oats by marrying a man her father warned her about. It wasn’t until he beat her senseless that she discovered the only things Ronald Reynaud wanted from her was her family’s name, position in society, and money. She escapes the aspiring crime lord and tries to put her past behind her by toiling late into the night at her bookstore, A Literal Haven. She’s been safe for a year, now Reynaud wants the evidence of his illegal doings that Corie has and he’s willing to kill her to get.
Japanese-American Laine Tanizaki has taken care of people all his life, from his alcoholic father to his partner and best friend. Laine, in charge of an undercover operation, partnered Russ with a rookie. The rookie made a mistake and they were both killed. Now Laine’s trying to atone by doing something he hasn’t done in two years—going deep undercover to infiltrate the narcotics ring working out of the fast food restaurant across from A Literal Haven. He didn’t count on the bookseller with a secret of her own. Distracted by his desire to take care of her, he risks blowing his cover to save her.
Corie and Laine struggle against their hearts, afraid that lowering the barriers to allow someone to love them will let their shame and secrets fall out. What they don’t realize is what they are hiding may get them killed.
“You tell him I said `Go to hell!’” The woman placed her hands on Laine’s back to look around his shoulder and shout the curse. “And so can you, you bastard!”
Now you're tough. Laine suppressed the grin pulling at his mouth. Her touch jolted the electrical system of his body. He could hardly ignore the currents as they watched her assailant move down the corridor through the crowds of shoppers.
Now that the thug was gone, Laine faced her. “Are you all right?”
“Sure.” She stepped away, not looking his direction while she smoothed her blouse. Manicured nail tipped fingers slipped along the waistband of her straight skirt. “Why wouldn't I be?”
“You weren't doing so well before,” he pointed out. Her perfume, definitely not the drugstore kind, swirled around in his brain. He wouldn't soon forget the aroma of vanilla and cinnamon.
She wouldn't meet his eyes. “You don't know everything.”
Now he really was interested even if she wasn't why he was undercover in the mall. “Why don't you tell me then?” Laine offered the soda. “What’s he want?”
“It's none of your business.” But she took the drink. Good. She hadn't fled into the store. Eventually she'd tell him her life story. They always did.
“I've a way of making other people's business mine.” He gave his shoulders a shrug. It was true. If he hadn't tried to run everyone's life, his best friend might still be alive.
“I should thank you.” She looked up and he was drawn into her aura. Her deep dark eyes held his long enough to join the perfume in his memory.
Laine was hypnotized as he watched her fingers pulling the straw up and down through the hole in the plastic lid. Her lips pursed around the straw and she sipped. Flashes of an erotic nature formed.
“It was nothing.” He dismissed her gratitude. He didn't come to the rescue of women to obligate them. It was his nature to help the underdog. “I'm happy for a little excitement in my rather boring job…which I should get back to before I get fired.” The last thing he wanted to do was leave her side.
“Wouldn't want to be the cause of that.” The smile she turned to him warmed every crevice of his soul. A bright twinkle was in the black pools. Her eyes held a hint of the recent fear.
“You sure you’ll be okay?” A nagging voice encouraged him to probe, to learn what scared her.
“If you need help…or something, I’m over there,” Laine pointed to the hamburger counter. “I’ll be…going.” He made a hesitant step across the corridor but stopped.
“Well, thanks, Galahad.” She twinkled her fingers at him and walked into the bookstore. Laine watched until she was out of sight, then returned to Burger Train. Even though his thoughts were on burger and fries and drug dealers, images of the beautiful bookseller lingered. As soon as his shift was over, he crossed the mall to the bookstore.
Great Multiculutral Read
Undercover narc cop, Laine Tanizaki had noticed the soft-spoken bookseller for weeks when his protective instincts were raised as he noticed her being accosted by a big brute. Instinctively, he knew he had to rescue her, but in a way that wouldn't blow his cover. In the end it turned into a golden opportunity to actually meet her. As his feelings grew, caring for Corie might prove fatal should he let his guard down while trying to maintain his undercover persona.
Corie Rickman was a frightened woman. In an act of rebellion she'd made a horrendous choice that almost cost her life. Now Corie wanted nothing more than to keep the evil away from herself and the people she loved. Trusting a man -- any man would take an extreme act of faith yet feeling safe with Laine, the clerk at the Burger Train, seemed the most natural thing in the world.
*** Swanson quickly engrosses the reader with her deep characterizations and plot in another of her multi-cultural contemporary romances - bravely going where others fear to tred. Born with the proverbial silver-spoon, her female lead Corie, had rebelled by going after a `bad boy' and getting more than she bargained for, so much so, that now she's disgusted with herself for being weak and ineffectual in re-claiming her life. Laine was developed with his own issues of having grown up on the other side of the tracks with an alcoholic father and knowing that even if he could reveal his true self, he could never fit in with the upper echelons of the society she came from. Swanson works magic in developing her characters so that all things become possible as Laine, through his love and patience, manages to give back to Corie her self-esteem and strength in order to re-claim that part of her life she'd lost. Additionally, the sizzling sensuality Swanson conveys as these two finally give into their overwhelming attraction and passion is nothing short of divine. This was a terrific read I recommend.
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