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Jo Webnar

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Saving Tampa
by Jo Webnar   

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Publisher:  Highland Press ISBN-10:  0981557368 Type: 


Copyright:  May 2008 ISBN-13:  9780981557366

Romantic Suspense
A psychic and an FBI Agent are forced to work together to prevent a terrorist attack.

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Jo Webnar

For as long as she could remember, Rachel Cunningham feared and hated her psychic ability. When a stranger accidentally touches her, she sees the death of thousands. Rachel knows the FBI won't believe her, but she has to try. Lives are at stake.

Special Agent Arrons dismisses her warning as a publicity stunt, yet his conscience nags him. When Rachel identifies an Al Qaida cell leader, Arrons puts his career at fisk and issues an alert.

Together they race against time to prevent a terrorist attack. Will the threat succeed, or will Rachel and Arrons find the solution in time to Save Tampa?

 Please see attached excerpt and reviews


Summer 1983 Prologue

Rachel skipped by her mother’s side eager to join her friend Sally in the sandbox. “I’m a little teapot short and stout,” she sang in a sweet childish voice, her bouncing curls tickling her shoulders. When she plopped down beside Sally, she stopped mid verse and shuddered. Her smile and laughter vanished. The sun was bright, but a strange shadow only she could see covered her friend like a malignant fog.

Sally stared at her feet and when Rachel touched her she felt...pain. Rachel’s back and thighs seemed like they were on fire, and there was a gigantic lump in her throat. She was terrified.

Tears ran down Rachel’s cheeks as she snatched her hand back. “Your daddy hurt you!” she screamed.

Rachel’s mother knelt beside her. “What’s wrong, honey? What is it?”

“He hurt Sally. Her daddy hurt her.” She sobbed on her mother’s shoulder.

Sally’s eyes were huge pits in her small face, and she too started to cry. In obvious pain, she stood and backed away from Rachel.

The child’s mother grabbed her by the arm and dragged her away. “You keep that freak away from my girl. You hear me?”

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Rachel’s mother pulled her closer, clearly shielding her from the woman’s words. “My daughter is not a freak. What did your husband do to Sally?”

Sally’s mother looked guilty and terrified at the same time. “He didn’t do anything and it wouldn’t be your damn business anyway.”

Rachel knew better, she had felt it. Her mother obviously didn’t believe it either, for she glared at Sally’s mother.

“It was just a slap. That’s all.” Pulling the crying child behind her, Sally’s mother left the park.

* * * *

Still in the sandbox, rocking Rachel in her lap, Colleen made soothing noises deep in her throat. When Rachel was born, the skin of the birth sac had formed a veil that covered her face. As soon as she had seen the caul, Colleen had known her daughter would have the second sight. She just never realized how much the psychic ability would cause her child to suffer.

This was the first time Rachel’s ‘gift’ had shown her something she didn’t want to see, but Colleen doubted it would be the last.

Chapter One

June 15, Day 1

The man accidentally bumped into Rachel Cunningham. Instantaneously, the air froze and blackness blinded her. His aura wasn’t just evil; it was the bottomless pit of death, and she felt herself slipping into it. The malevolence surrounding her felt like a living entity. An indescribable stench made her gag, and the weight of the pulsating air choked her. From out of the pit a multitude of voices screamed in agony.

The man muttered an apology and walked off without noticing how he’d affected her. She saw a bench for weary shoppers a few steps away, and forced herself toward it. The tissue of her lungs screamed for oxygen. In silent desperation she hung onto the back of the bench until her vision cleared, and she could breathe.

Her fingers gripped the wood so hard they turned white. Blinking, she tried to focus, but it was several moments before she was aware of her surroundings. Fight it. She tried to clear her mind of the impressions that overpowered her like lightning strikes. The muscles in her stomach clenched, and bile rose in her throat. Rachel let out a soft groan.

An elderly woman, sitting at the far end of the bench, stared at her. “Are you okay, missy? You’re not going to faint are you?”

The woman’s soft voice brought Rachel back to the present and helped her recover. Get it together. You’re making a scene. Gorge increased in her throat and she swallowed hard trying to fight the need to vomit

“No…something I ate,” she mumbled, her voice sounding as cold and dead as she felt.

Before the woman could reply, Rachel staggered away from the bench and turned toward the exit. All she could think about was getting home as she fought her way through the shopping mall. When she pushed open the outside door, the bright Florida sunlight hurt her eyes. Where did I park?

Once she reached the Miata, Rachel sighed in relief. She threw her purchases in the trunk, and forgot them. All she wanted was the safety of her condo—and Ralph.

Ralph stood in front of the door patiently waiting for her. She sank to her knees and buried her face in the warmth of his fur. The long-haired German shepherd whined and licked her face. Accustomed to Rachel’s moods, his dark eyes were pools of wisdom. He knew.

“Damn it, Ralph, that’s the worst vision I’ve ever had. It was terrifying. I thought I’d never find my way out.”

The dog cocked his head to listen and waited until she calmed down. Still holding onto Ralph, Rachel concentrated on breathing deeply. When she finally stood, he looked up expectantly and whined.

She sighed. “I’m okay, boy. I just need a cup of tea and then I’ll tell you about it.”

Ralph tucked his bushy tail between his legs and obediently followed her to the bright kitchen. When she leaned over to give him a cookie, he gently took it. Still holding it in his mouth, he padded behind her into the great room.

Rachel decorated the condo in complementary shades of turquoise, green, yellow and mauve her favorite colors. It amused her to have whimsical accents amid her watercolors, and as an artist, she loved the view of the boats below. For a moment she stood and watched as a small cabin cruiser entered the marina. She turned toward the grand piano that stood in the corner by the French doors, and considered playing for a while, but Ralph nudged her with his head. Instead, she sank into a comfortable chair. Ralph sat in front of her. To let her know she had his full attention, he set the cookie down.

Rachel closed her eyes, gathered her thoughts, then stared straight at him as if he could read her lips. “I was shopping in the mall when a man bumped into me. When he touched me, I felt as though he’d sucked me into hell. Ralph, there were thousands of voices.”

With a whine, Ralph lay down and placed his head on his paws.

Without thinking she reached and gently stroked his head. “This one really hit me hard.” Leaning back, she let out a groan. “Ralph, why does this always happen to me? Why won’t they stop?”

With his cold nose he nudged her hand.

“I know I have to tell someone, but who will believe me?”

Ralph cocked his head.

“Don’t you dare give me that look. If I call Danny and tell him about this, he’ll worry about me.” Preoccupied, she tucked a stray curl of hair behind her ear.

Ralph gave a soft woof when she mentioned Danny’s name—one of his favorite people. Since Rachel refused to own a gun, her older brother, a Chicago detective, had bought Ralph for her protection. The first time she held him he’d been a fat ball of fur with a very large wet tongue. That was eighteen months ago, and now he weighed over ninety pounds and was still growing.

Whimpering, Ralph put a paw on her knee.

“Okay, okay.” She sighed, reaching for the cordless phone beside her. “I’ll call Danny.”

“Detective Cunningham,” a deep voice answered.

“Danny, it’s me.”

“Hi, sis, what’s up?” Danny, a big redheaded man with broad shoulders, replied.

Rachel visualized him leaning back and putting his feet up on his desk. The old suit he’d be wearing would be wrinkled, and his tie pulled loose. Danny was almost ten years her senior and she knew he not only adored her, but was one of the few people who understood her.

“Oh shit, Danny. I really hate to tell you this…I had another vision.” Rachel’s voice caught.

The brief pause told her she had his attention. “Tell me about it.”

“It was the worst I’ve ever had. I was in the mall when this man bumped into me and sucked me into something so horrific I can’t describe it.” She took a deep breath. “I know you’re not going to believe this—”

“Rachel, I believe everything you tell me!”

“Danny… Th-this wasn’t just a rapist. Somehow I knew he wasn’t even a mass murderer. Death surrounded him…like…he had caused the death of thousands.” Rachel felt like she just dropped a bomb.


“I know. I know. The first thing I thought about was 911 and everyone who died. Danny I can’t explain it.”

“Take your time, honey. I’m listening.”

Twisting her hair around her finger, she closed her eyes to concentrate. “There was so much confusion, terror, pain…death.” When she opened them the impressions were still bombarding her.

After a moment he asked, “What did he look like?”

“Just…just an ordinary guy.” Rachel sighed.

“Have you reported this to anyone?”

The tone of her voice changed. “Danny, get real. Who am I going to call? You know no one will believe me. They’ll think I’m crazy.” A bitter laugh escaped before she could stifle it.

“Did he realize the effect he had on you? Were you followed?” Danny obviously realized she could be in serious danger. He’d be sitting straighter, gripping the phone with white knuckles. She’d seen him react like this many times in the past.

Rachel thought for a second. “No, I don’t think so.” She shivered. “You know what happens, so I can’t be sure.”

“Look, Rachel. I could get more cooperation from the local PD, but if you’re right, it would be better to get the FBI and Homeland Security involved. Hell, they’re always asking people to report anything suspicious. Maybe they’ll believe a cop. I’ll call the FBI and have them take your statement. Just give them the basic facts, and let them draw their own conclusions. Got it?”

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Danny. Don’t tell Mom and Dad I called. You promise?”

Colleen, her Irish mother, took her ‘gift’ in stride, but Rachel’s father panicked every time her visions got her involved with something that could be dangerous. He was a general practitioner mystified by anything modern medicine couldn’t explain, and he couldn’t control. His bumbling attempts to shield her had caused more problems than help.

“All I need now is Dad to deal with.”

“I won’t sic him on you if you’ll promise to be careful. Remember what I’ve taught you and watch your back. I’m worried about you, sis. Don’t go anywhere without Ralph, and carry the mace.”

It made her feel good just talking to him and she giggled. “Right.”

“Rachel, this isn’t funny. I mean it!” Danny sounded like thunder rumbling in the distance.

Even though he couldn’t see her, she saluted him. “Yes, sir, Lieutenant.”

Ralph’s tongue dropped down and he flashed his best doggie grin. With great gusto, he finally attacked his cookie.

“I love you, sis. Call me tomorrow and let me know what happens.”

“Yeah, I know.” Something felt like it was stuck in her throat. “I miss you, Danny.’

“Say the word and I’ll be on the next plane.”

Before she answered, she thought for a brief moment. “It’s okay. I’ll be all right.” She exhaled. “Send the Feds. We both know how open-minded they are.”

“Yeah. Well, maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll send someone with half a brain.” He grunted. “Call me.”

If he thought she were in any danger, he’d be ringing her doorbell before she knew he was coming.

“I promise, Danny. Love ya.” She slowly lowered the phone, and for the first time in months, she was afraid.

Professional Reviews

Book Review from Long and Short Reviews
Psychic Rachel Cunningham receives a terrifying vision, from the touch of one individual. She does not doubt the accuracy of her vision - nor question the horrifying threat to the lives of thousands. Her own history has given her cause to believe. However, finding a way to convey the danger to the disbelieving agents of law will be another challenge altogether.

Special Agent Arrons not only doesn't believe; he doesn't want to believe.

Saving Tampa" is an absolute page turner; not only does the thrill of the threat pervade every page, but the challenges to the emotions, beliefs and abilities of the main character Rachel are relentless. The many smaller threads within this really flesh out the story, like that little hint of attraction between Rachel and 'her' special agent. We don't even know if we should hope for them to get together, or if their personal life should be important at all; because, indeed, the two of them are a little busy with saving the world.

Rachel is a caring and driven person ... and Hawk (Agent Arrons) is devilishly attractive. No matter how much you love mysteries and will be moment-to-moment anticipating their investigative efforts, savoring the romance will be part of the reading pleasure here.

Secondary characters, including Ralph the dog, round out the story beautifully, with deft touches of humor and-or insight. Realistic scenarios play out among the many characters, and even relatively minor relationships (like Hawk's with his ex-partner Soderland) will prove important. The operations of FBI headquarters in Florida, and specific places- like among the boats at the marina, are realistic and interesting.

"Saving Tampa" is a great read, with wide appeal. Webnar's ability to create engaging characters is eclipsed only by the power and pace of her storyline

WRDF Review of Saving Tampa by Jo Webnar
Review: Top Read Highest Rating!
Ms. Webnar has written an intriguing tale of a psychic, an FBI agent, and a terrorist plot. While the reader might first think—isn’t this predictable?—one soon learns the story is no ordinary one. She has a style of writing which pulls in the reader, with snappy dialogue, natural actions, and vivid depictions of the characters and scenes, without being overly verbose. The reader will appreciate the correct, authentic jargon and tools which are the mainstay of law enforcement units. Be prepared for an exciting, surprising conclusion.
The hero and heroine in SAVING TAMPA are believable, yet unique, and even show a human, vulnerable side. Rachel and Hawk draw in the reader, not only to cheer them on in their quest, but also to participate in the unfolding love and devotion they eventually share. What good romance—suspense or otherwise—would offer anything less?
Congratulations to Jo Webnar on an excellent novel. This reviewer highly recommends it to anyone, whether or not suspense is the genre of choice.

Reviewed by Celia Yeary
WRDF Review

Book Cove Reviews
Jo Webnar – Saving Tampa:

Rachel is a psychic. She knew about her gift since she was a young girl, and since then she’s suffered ridicule from people that believed she was insane or a freak. When she meets Hawk, an FBI Agent, he doesn’t appear to believe her at first, but she convinces him it is a claim worth looking into. … Hawk discovers that she’s right…somebody is planning a terrorist attack on Tampa Bay.

“Ingenious, delightful, and explosive, I want more.”
ISBN-13: 978-098155-736-6
Thanks for letting me review this book, I loved it.

RtBBlog Highly addictive and fast paced!
Highly addictive and fast paced!

Review by Marissa: Saving Tampa by Jo Webnar is a highly addictive and fast past novel that you won't be able to put down. It's an exciting story, with elements of terrorism and romance.

All her life Rachel Cunningham has the gift (or curse) of second sight. Rachel has always looked at this as more of a curse, her visions are a draining experience, and have always made her feel like a victim. I loved Rachel's gift, and thought she could do wonderful things with it like she did in the book.

While shopping at the mall a man bumps into Rachel, and causes the worst vision she has had. She knows that he is a terrorist and plans to kill hundreds or thousands. I really enjoyed the plot of this novel. It is something that is new on the market. Terrorism is something everyone worries about to some degree, and Saving Tampa brings it to life. It will have to on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out if the residents of Tampa will survive.

FBI Special Agent Michael (Hawk) Arrons is assigned to keep Rachel safe, and to report any information from visions she might have. Hawk has trouble controlling his temper, and is used to getting things his way, that is until Rachel comes into his life. To me Hawk seemed to really bring the story alive, he brought drama and excitement.

Oh and Ralph, Rachel's dog was a wonderful addition. I loved having his so much apart of the story. He reminded me of my dog, so protective and loyal. I loved that he a bit of a beer lush. Ralph rounds out the story perfectly.

Saving Tampa is definitely fast paced and full of riveting action. The relationship between Rachel and Hawk that blooms from her vision is amazing. The characters are intertwining and convincing, you will find yourself rotting for them. It is a one-of-a-king adventure that everyone is sure to enjoy.

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