Title: Untamed by Diana Palmer
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Stanton Rourke lives life on the edge. The steely mercenary is dangerous in every way…especially to Clarisse Carrington’s heart. She and Rourke were playmates as children, but she’s not the innocent girl he once knew. When tragedy robbed Clarisse of her entire family, her life was changed forever. Besides, she’s a grown woman now, and there are secrets that hold her back from succumbing to her pursuer. As she struggles to keep her distance, sparks as hot as a Texas summer fly between them. But danger is following Clarisse, leaving her no choice but to rely on Rourke, even as the old wounds lying dormant between them flare up again…
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She looked at him with eyes that were quickly averted. “You came all this way because you thought I’d been kidnapped?”
He shook his head curtly. “I didn’t know that until I got here.”
“Then why did you come?” she asked.
He drew in a long breath. He watched her cradle the child and he smiled, without sarcasm for once. “You look very comfortable with a child in your arms, Tat.”
“He’s a sweet boy,” she said.
His mother came back and held out her arms, smiling shyly at Rourke before she went back to the others.
“Why did you come?” she asked him again.
He stood up, jamming his hands into his khaki slacks. “To get you out of here,” he said simply. His face was taut.
“I can’t leave,” she said. “There isn’t another journalist in this part of the country. Someone has to make sure the world knows what’s going on here.”
“You’ve done that,” he said shortly. He searched her eyes. “You have to get out. Today.”
She frowned. She stood up, too, careful not to go close to him. He didn’t like her close. He backed away if she even moved toward him. He had for years, as if he found her distasteful. Probably he did. He thought she had the morals of an alley cat, which would have been hilarious if it hadn’t been so tragic. She’d never let anyone touch her, after Rourke. She couldn’t.
“What do you know, Stanton?” she asked softly.
His taut expression didn’t relent. “Things I’m not permitted to discuss.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Something’s about to happen…?”
“Yes. Don’t argue. Don’t hesitate. Get your kit and come with me.”
He put his finger over her lips, and then jerked it back as if he’d been stung. “We don’t even have time for discussion.”
She realized that he knew about an offensive, and he couldn’t say anything for fear of being overheard.
“I’m taking you home,” he said, loudly enough for people nearby to hear him. “And no more argument. You’ve played at being a photojournalist long enough. You’re leaving. Right now. Or so help me God, I’ll pick you up and carry you out of here.”
She gave him a shocked look. But she didn’t argue. She got her things together, said goodbye to the friends she’d made and climbed into the backseat of the car he and Robert had arrived in. She didn’t say another word until they were back at the airport.
He seated her beside him in business class, picked up a newspaper in Spanish, and didn’t say another word until they landed in Johannesburg. He bought her dinner, and then she got ready to board a plane for Atlanta. Rourke had connections back to Nairobi, far to the northeast. They got through passport control, and Clarisse stopped at the gate that led to the international concourse. “I’ll get on the next flight to DC from Atlanta and file my copy,” she told him as they stood together.
He nodded. He looked at her quietly, almost with anguish.
“Why?” she asked, as if the word was dragged out of her.
“Because I can’t let you die,” he bit off. “Regardless of my inclinations.” He smiled sarcastically. “So many men would grieve, wouldn’t they, Tat?”
The hopeful look on her face disappeared. “I assume that I’ll read about the reason I had to leave Ngawa?” she asked instead of returning fire.
She drew in a resigned breath. “Okay. Thanks,” she added without meeting his eye.
“Go home and give parties,” he muttered. “Stay out of war zones.”
“Look who’s talking,” she returned.
He didn’t answer her. He was looking. Aching. The expression on his face was so tormented that she reached up a hand to touch his cheek.
He jerked her wrist down and stepped back. “Don’t touch me,” he said icily. “Ever.”
She swallowed down the hurt. “Nothing ever changes, does it?” she asked.
“You can bet your life on it,” he shot back. “Just for the record, even if half the men on earth would die to have you, I never will. I do what I can for you, for old time’s sake. But make no mistake, I find you physically repulsive. You’re not much better than a call girl, are you, Tat? The only difference is you don’t have to take money for it. You just give it away.”
Diana Palmer has been writing with Harlequin since 1980 and has published over 180 titles, with over 61 million books sold! When not writing, Susan’s hobbies are gardening, knitting, crocheting, astronomy, archaeology and animals. She also has dogs, cats, birds and lizards.
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