Author: Jana Richards
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense (WW2)
France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
The birds took to the sky, their cries calling a warning as General Dietrich strode between the trees lining the entrance to the fountain area, his boots gleaming in the sunshine. The self-satisfied look on his face told Madeleine he did not mean for her to get away this time.
Madeleine quickly rose and glanced around for something to use as a weapon. There was nothing, not even a rock or a stick. The general’s gardeners had groomed the property to perfection. She lifted her chin in a show of bravado.
“I must get back to work.”
He grabbed her arm as she tried to pass. “They are not expecting you for…a while.”
He pulled her against him, one arm holding her in a vise-like grip. “I would have preferred our first time together in my bed, with silk sheets and soft music playing. But this will do quite nicely.”
He kissed her hard, forcing her mouth open to accept his probing tongue. His free hand, large and calloused, found the hem of her skirt and snaked up her thigh. He tugged at her panties, inching them downward. For a moment Madeleine thought she would be sick, but then she made her mind go blank. This wasn’t happening to her. This was a bad dream, and soon she would wake up in Jean Philippe’s arms.
Jean Philippe! Please help me!
The angry male voice surprised her. Dietrich released his hold just enough to allow Madeleine to free herself and run towards the exit, her eyes blurred with tears. A strong hand grabbed her arm and, for the second time, she was prevented from leaving the fountain glade.
Madeleine’s head snapped back from the force of the slap across her face. Her head swam for a moment, but when her vision cleared she looked up into the face of the American.
Damn him! The bastard! What did he think he was doing?
She roared in indignation and raised her hand to slap him back. He easily intercepted her blow, holding both her arms behind her back with his as he brought her tight against his body.
“Is this how you greet your husband? Have I been away so long that you turn to someone else?”
Madeleine barely had time to process this bit of news before Hunter’s mouth descended on hers. She braced herself for a hard, punishing kiss much like the general’s. But instead Hunter’s kiss was gentle, soft, almost…pleasant.
He released her arms and somehow they wound themselves around his neck. At last his lips left hers, and he kissed her cheek.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in her ear.
Madeleine stared up into his face, not knowing what to say or do. She wasn’t even sure what to feel.
“Well, this is a touching scene. The prodigal husband returns.” The general straightened his uniform as he approached them, his eyes blazing with anger. Madeleine shrank against Hunter’s side, his strong arm around her, holding her up.
“Yes,” Hunter said. “I just arrived this morning from Paris to start my new job here at the chateau as a gardener. We couldn’t bear being apart any longer.”
When he looked into her face, Madeleine could almost believe he meant what he said. His eyes were full of tenderness and his smile spoke of deep fondness, love even. Her mind whirled in confusion, but she managed to return his smile. They both had parts to play.
The general laid a possessive hand on her shoulder. “Your wife and I were just getting acquainted. In future I do not wish to be interrupted.”
Hunter’s hand tightened on her waist. “You will not touch my wife again.”
The general’s lip turned up in a sneer. “If you wish to continue working at the chateau, if you wish to continue living in Lille, you will not interfere.”
Madeleine’s blood turned to ice. Surely, the American would not be so stupid as to antagonize the general! The man was capable of murder. This she knew for a fact.
“Jacques, please. Don’t.”
The general laughed, pleased with himself. “Listen to your wife, monsieur. She knows what is good for both of you.”
“I am concerned for my wife, monsieur.” The thrust of Hunter’s chin told Madeleine he refused to be intimidated. He was going to get them both killed. “She is pregnant with my child.”
Both Madeleine and the general stared at him. She did her best to hide her shock. Hunter gently smoothed her hair from her forehead.
“How are you feeling, ma petite? Are you still ill every morning?”
She blinked at him a moment. “Oui, very ill. Every morning.”
Hunter took her face in both his hands and kissed her forehead. “Now that I’m here, I’ll look after you.”
General Dietrich dropped his hand from her shoulder. “You’re pregnant?”
She turned to face him, hoping he couldn’t see the lie in her eyes. “Yes.”
He glanced at her belly and then at her face, his expression full of disgust. Without a word he marched back to the chateau, his steps brisk and his spine rigid with anger. They watched until he disappeared inside the chateau. Only then did Madeleine release the breath she was holding.
“Are you all right?”
The concern in his voice undid her. She put her hand over her mouth to stop the tears, but still they came, great shuddering sobs that buckled her knees. Hunter pulled her close and held her, his touch offering support and understanding, and much-needed strength. It felt good to be held once more, to be touched and comforted. She hadn’t been held in so long, not since…
Not since Jean Philippe had been murdered.
What was she doing? Hunter had betrayed the man she’d loved, causing his death. The man she still loved.
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
If you like romantic suspense, FLAWLESS is a must-read. If you enjoy romance set against the drama and danger of World War Two, FLAWLESS is a must-read. If tales of espionage and spies are your thing, FLAWLESS is a must-read. And if you love an enemies-to-lovers romance, FLAWLESS is for you.
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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full-length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist, and in 2018 “Lies and Solace” won Best Contemporary romance in the I Heart Indie contest.
In her life away from writing, Jana is an admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com
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