HER ENEMY WILL STOP AT NOTHING FOR CONTROL…
SHE WILL RISK EVERYTHING FOR FREEDOM.
A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa. To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep Annie and Lisa apart—and he does. Years later, though keenly aware of Dutch’s evil intent, Lisa and her mother seize a chance to be a family, safe in a home where love dwells. But they fail to fathom how far Dutch will go to keep his vow.
Determined to control his women, Dutch proves resourceful. His associates in crime are feared at the highest levels across the globe—and for Lisa they plan a fate worse than death. Yet she too has formidable connections, including former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor. Burdened by his own traumatic past, Mark has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life—and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. All as one question haunts them: Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it’s too late?
“Vicki Hinze has…talent for transforming the unlikely into something beautiful.”
About the Author
Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of more than twenty novels (including Forget Me Not), three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a vice president on the International Thriller Writers board of directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. Visit www.vickihinze.com for more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.
Read an Excerpt
The child is not; and I, wither shall I go?
GENESIS 37:30 (KJV)
July 1987, Seagrove Village, Florida
It was an ordinary day. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen on ordinary days. Only normal things.
Annie Harper looked at her reflection in the entryway mirror. Her hair was a wreck. The dark circles under her eyes looked as if they’d been drawn on with markers and then smudged. And her nails were a disgrace. Haggard and beaten down. That’s how she looked. And she felt worse.
“There should be universal rules about this,” she told her reflection. “When a woman is body slammed, she can only take so much without breaking under the pressure.”
Gathering a full head of steam, she frowned and jabbed her finger in the air. “Life should go easy on you then.” That would be humane. Civil. “And if bad things have to happen, there should be warning signs so there’s time to brace and prepare for them.”
She dipped her chin and glared into her own eyes. “Especially if it’s too horrific to wrap your mind around—and it happens not to you, but to someone you love.”
Pain shot through her heart, leaving her chest hollow and empty. “But there aren’t any rules and there weren’t any signs.” She shifted her gaze to the ceiling. “Why, God? Why didn’t You send me at least one bad feeling? An intuitive flash? Couldn’t You spare me even one piddling stomach flutter?” Tears stung her eyes. “I’ve been loyal, obedient. Why didn’t I get something?”
No edgy nerves. No hitch in her chest. No whispered warning in her mind like, Annie Harper, you listen to me, woman. Trouble’s coming. Summon your faith and gird your loins because every mother’s worst fear is about to knock on your door.
Fisting her hand, she rested it on the gleaming wooden table beneath the mirror. But did You? No.
She glared at the vase of freshly cut white roses. The scent was heavy, cloying. “Women’s intuition?” She picked up a bud, plucked a petal, and dropped it on the spotless marble floor. “No, I failed.”
Tore off another petal. “Mother’s intuition?” Tossed it down. “Failed.”
Jerked at another petal. “God?” Thrust it. “Failed.”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Everything failed.”
She reached for more petals, but she had stripped the rose bare. All that remained was its stem and thorns.
Outrage and agony ripped her soul. Oh, I resent this and I wish I had someone to blame. But You didn’t even give me that. Why?
She staggered into the living room and collapsed on the sofa, curling her knees to her chest to keep the pain bottled up inside. If she let it loose, she’d never recover, and anyway, there was nowhere to dump it.
It was just an ordinary day.
“Take me back,” she cried out, her face tear-soaked. Cradling herself, she rocked back and forth, seeking comfort where there was none. “Just twenty-four hours. Please, take me back.”
“Annie?” Miranda Kent came in from the kitchen, clipping an earring back onto her lobe. Not a strand of her auburn hair was out of place. Loose curls framed her face. Her nails, like the rest of her, were perfect.
She snagged a tissue and passed it to Annie. “I’ve put on a pot of coffee. The church ladies were meeting at the club, but I told Nora about Charles. She said they would be here in a flash.”
Annie nodded, pretending to care. She wanted two people in her house. Two. And neither of them would be coming. “Charles and I were at the club night before last.”
She and her beloved husband had enjoyed dinner with the mayor and forty or so close friends at Somerset House on the Bay. They feasted on salad with baby artichoke hearts and spears of cucumber, then ate honeyed baby carrots and blackened grouper caught fresh that morning in the Gulf of Mexico. Grouper was Charles’s favorite. She swallowed hard. They’d never dine there again.
“We were with you, remember?” Miranda clutched her flat stomach. “I know better than to eat a heavy meal that late. I was up all night.”
Annie and Charles had slept like rocks. After they got up and ate breakfast, Lisa and he went on their way.
Miranda sat beside Annie and crossed her ankles. “Is Lisa seven or eight now? I can’t remember. After thirty, the years tend to run together.”
“Seven.” Annie’s voice cracked. Lisa was bright and beautiful inside and out—at times all sweetness and innocence, and at others wise beyond her years.
“She told me she wanted to be a doctor like her dad. We were at Nora’s birthday party, I think.”
Pain twisted in Annie like hot wires coiled tight. “It’s what she’s always wanted.” Lisa idolized her father. “She has a stronger stomach for medical procedures than I do, and she never complains about Charles’s long hours at the office and hospital.” Annie sniffed and dabbed at her eyes. “His practice takes him away from us so much, but Lisa always defends him.” Oh, how Annie wished he were at the office now. That Lisa were here with her.
“They left early yesterday, didn’t they?”
Annie didn’t answer.
“Annie? They left early yesterday, right?”
“If this shows up in the Village Log, I’m going to cut off your fingers, Miranda.”
“Not a word without your express permission.” She crossed her heart.
Annie believed her. “Yesterday. At the crack of dawn.” Seagrove Village was up in the Florida panhandle, and getting down to Orlando for a trip to Disney World would take a solid eight hours. “Charles wanted to beat the tourist traffic.” She’d been so proud of him for finally taking a break from work to spend some quality time with Lisa. Charles was brilliant and committed to his patients, but he rarely took time off.
“Highway 98 is a nightmare during the season.” Miranda shifted on the white sofa. “I’m sure Lisa was excited.”
She was their only child, their miracle baby. “Beyond excited.”
“Why didn’t you go with them?”
“It’s my month to chair the charity function. I couldn’t beg off, and rescheduling would have been a nightmare for Charles’s staff and patients.” Now she wished she had gone. That she hadn’t, she’d regret forever.
“Just as well.” Miranda stood. “If Charles is anything like my Paul and you’d been there, he would have spent the entire week on the phone with his office.” She walked to the kitchen.
Dishes clanged in the kitchen, and Annie resented the racket almost as much as she resented Miranda’s being right. Charles would have used Annie as a buffer, and Lisa didn’t need him just being in the same room; she got enough of that already.
Miranda returned with a tea tray and the puzzle from the New York Times. “I saw this on the counter and thought you might want a diversion.”
“I don’t work the puzzles. I saved it for Lisa. She loves them.” Annie took a cup and saucer Miranda extended to her. “From the cradle, she couldn’t resist a mystery of any sort.” She was good at solving them too.
“Obviously that’s from Charles’s side of the family.”
Annie nodded. “They want to know and fix everything.” If they could fix this, Annie would never complain about that again.
But they couldn’t. God help her, no one could.
Miranda poured tea into her own cup. Steam lifted from it. “Interesting family dynamic. The Harpers are into everything, and you avoid everything.”
“I don’t.” Annie took exception. “I face what I have to face to survive.”
“Exactly.”Miranda waved. “You only worry after you’ve prayed and done all you can do. I’ve always admired that about you.”
Annie didn’t want or need admiration. She wanted and needed her family.
She stared through the sheers out to the lawn. It was a glorious summer day, much like yesterday when Miranda and Annie had skipped the fashion show and played nine holes of golf. The club’s courses were the best in northwest Florida, and Miranda’s game was far better than Annie’s, but then it should be. Annie dabbled. Miranda hit the links nearly every day.
The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it.” Miranda set down her cup and got to her feet. “You just relax. Shall I bring the church ladies in here?”
“Yes.” Annie stood. “I’m going to my room for a few minutes to compose myself.”
Miranda nodded. “Good idea.” Pity shone in her eyes. “I’ll keep them busy until you’re ready to see them.”
Annie walked through to the master suite, shut the door, and then flung herself across her bed. If this were yesterday, she’d be in the hammock out back facing the cove, enjoying the salt-tanged breeze, lost in a good book. Even as night had fallen and the clock inched toward eight, she hadn’t been antsy.
Lisa had promised to phone every night at eight for a virtual tuck in. She’d outgrown it but indulged Annie because it was her favorite daily ritual, not that Annie ever dwelled on how much it meant to her. She learned early in life not to want or need anything too much.That could make you do crazy things. But the truth was, it was just too scary—the risks of wanting those things and not getting them. She’d worked hard on that, but life lessons instilled young were as hard to break as bad habits.
Was that just another latent gift of being orphaned and raised by a series of foster parents? Maybe so. Two were good people, but more than two should have been in jail. Yet more likely, she avoided those risks because until she’d married Charles, she had to claw her way through her whole life just to survive.
She scrunched her pillow and wadded it under her ear. The lavender smell reminded her of the roses. She tossed the pillow aside and tugged over Charles’s. His scent clung to the pillowcase. Gripping wads of the fine linen in both hands, she held on tight and buried her nose deep. Yesterday, those early days had faded from her life.
Yesterday, she had a good husband, an amazing daughter, a beautiful home in the village, and more stuff than anyone could want, much less need.
Yet even then, the fear of being hungry never went away. She could tell herself anything, go through all the therapy in the world, but down deep she still feared being hungry again.
Annie always had kept money stashed away for a rainy day. At least she had until a month ago. Lisa came home from Sunday school and said an orphanage in Haiti needed a roof to get the kids out of the rain.
Images of those children soaked to the skin burned in Annie’s mind now as they had then. She hadn’t slept a wink. It was a fierce battle, but on the third day she forfeited her stash. She wasn’t hungry, and the kids were suffering. They needed to get dry.
Charles was indulgent and Lisa was ecstatic, lavish with grateful butterfly kisses and twinkling sparkles in her dancing blue eyes. She had no idea Annie had virtually been on her knees ever since, praying she hadn’t set herself up for starvation.
“Take me back twenty-four hours,” she mumbled into the pillow. “Let me live them just once more.” She wept openly, begged without shame. “Just once more.”
The picture formed vividly in her mind. Twenty-four hours ago she had walked down the tiled east wing to Lisa’s room. Rex, her two-year-old yellow lab, lay parked right in the middle of her canopied bed. He seemed so sad that Annie lacked the heart to fuss at him. “You miss her too, eh, boy?”
Rex wagged his tail. She crawled up beside him and scratched his ears. Without Charles and Lisa, the house was far too big and empty. Rex felt it too. His bottom line was that he wanted Lisa and Annie in the same space. Anything less and he just wasn’t happy. Truthfully, neither was she.
At straight-up eight, the phone rang. Rex barked and Annie snagged the receiver. “Hello.”
Lisa. “Hi, darling.” Annie smiled. “Did you make it down okay?”
“We’re not in Orlando. We went to Disney, but Daddy messed up the hotel reservation. He made it for tomorrow, not today.”
“Oh no.” She should have double-checked that. Charles was lousy with the mundane. One of the quirks Annie adored about him. “So where are you guys?”
“In a motel by a big hat. It’s loud here, but the resort man couldn’t find us anywhere to stay, so we drove around until Daddy found this place.”
July Fourth weekend. Not an easy task to find a room with all the tourists in town for the holiday. An incredible amount of racket in the background hurt Annie’s ear. She pulled the receiver away. “Where is Daddy, darling?”
“In the shower. Scrubbing off road grime.”
Rex pawed at her thigh, nudging her to keep scratching his scruff. “So you guys are settling in for the night, eh?”
“Yes, but Daddy isn’t happy about the music.”
“Oh, that’s not the TV?” Annie sank back against the pillows and scratched Rex’s ears. The dog was nearly as spoiled as Lisa.
Annie frowned. “So what’s making all the noise?”
“There’s a place across the street that’s got an orchestra.”
A band. Hard rock, from the sounds of it. Charles would definitely hate that. Annie grinned. “Why do you sound winded?”
“Oh, that man’s back, knocking on the door again.” Lisa sounded more annoyed than scared. “Mom, he’s got a spiderweb drawn on his hand.”
Wait. The man was back? Alarmed, Annie sat straight up. “Lisa, do not open that door.” She tried to keep panic out of her voice, but her throat was clenched-fist, white-knuckle tight. “Go get Daddy, darling.”
“Just a second. The man is saying something to me through the window.”
“What?” Rex perked his ears, lifted his head from her lap—a terrible sign. “What’s he saying?” Was there a fire in the building or something?
“It’s time for you to become a shrub.” Lisa sounded baffled. “What does that mean?”
Become a shrub? Definitely a nut case. Whatever was going on sounded bad and felt worse. “Go get your dad. Do it right now, Lisa Marie!”
A loud crackle ripped through the phone. Something cracked. Splintered. Scuffled. Shattered.
“Lisa!” Annie jumped out of bed. Growling and baring his teeth, Rex barked. “Lisa, answer me. Lisa!”
The line went dead.
Annie’s blood ran cold.
Yesterday was no longer an ordinary day.
July 2007, Iraq
Mark Taylor hated sand.
He’d hated it before coming to the desert for the tenth time in three years, but now buried in it, he really hated it. It got into everything, everywhere—in his boots, along with the scorpions; in his eyes; in his ears. Its grit was always clinging, chafing his skin.
As irritating as it was to his team, the sand was even harder on their equipment. Every man in his unit and Jane, the lone female attached as mission essential because she was a subject-matter expert, protected their weapons as best they could. Their lives depended on it.
Sensitive equipment repairs were left to other experts. When they had their heat source–detecting equipment and it worked, they ruled the night. Unfortunately, they had arrived, the equipment had not, and the honchos had classified immediate action critical. Under direct orders, they’d left the Green Zone without it to do the impossible on sheer guts, determination, and a wing and a prayer.
They’d succeeded at taking out the terrorist cell and gathered data that could help Intel save lives. Overall, execution of their plan had gone smoothly. But five klicks from their rendezvous exit point, they hit a snag. A big one.
Two Humvees of hostiles sped toward each other down the road the team was to follow.
“I thought this road was abandoned,” Joe said.
“Obviously not,” Tim whispered. “Gentlemen, scatter.”
Mark tapped his lip mic. “Six, where are you?”
“Three-Point Charlie,” she said. “On point, sir.”
Jane was on schedule, the other men had disappeared from his sight, but Mark’s luck ran out. The hostiles halted about fifty meters in front of him.
He dropped back, well out of the beam of their headlights, dug in, and prayed they hadn’t seen him. Even his breathing seemed magnified, echoing across the desert floor. Stealth movement when digging in yourself and a sixty-pound pack didn’t go hand in hand.
He waited, shallowing his breath, watching… Noting no signs that they were aware of him, he stilled, his heart thumping against his ribs.
Long minutes later, Mark adjusted his lip mic and whispered, “Delta Three, you read me?”
“Loud and clear, bud,” Sam responded. “Where are you?”
Seven minutes and two klicks short of where he should be. “Detained.” Mark craned his neck and squinted to see. Weak moonlight was to his advantage, and he was grateful for it. Both Humvees had .50 cals mounted on them. Outgunned, his team needed all the help it could wrangle to get out of this alive.
“Two vehicles. Parked fifty meters off the tip of my nose.” He didn’t dare check his watch for the GPS coordinates. The Humvees faced each other on the road. One man inside each vehicle stood, and they talked back and forth between them. He couldn’t make out their words, but they didn’t seem anxious or excited.
“Window’s closing, bud.”
“Routine patrol. Eight hostiles. Dug in.” Mark was out of position and late. The chopper would arrive in minutes. It couldn’t linger; it’d be spotted for sure. “Is Six clear?”
He’d met Jane in advanced intelligence training four years earlier, and she’d become the little sister Mark never had, a spitfire with attitude and the smarts to back it up. He loved her, pure and simple, not that he’d ever told her. She loved him too as a brother, not that she’d ever told him. They’d just drifted into a makeshift family. Natural, considering her birth family ranked about as low on the lousy scale as his.
“Not yet,” Sam said. “Everyone else is still on the move.”
Worry streaked up Mark’s backbone, stung the roof of his mouth. “Last report?”
Had she run into trouble at Three-Point Charlie? Mark unclenched his muscles, forcing them to relax. Fear had a distinct smell. It carried on the wind, and anyone who’d been in combat conditions longer than a week recognized the scent. Jane knew how to take care of herself. She was capable and competent.
Please, let her be all right.
No answer from Sam.
He was worried too. It’d been too long since her last report. She was overdue verifying clearance, and Sam didn’t want to tell Mark. But his silence said it all.
Mark’s worry grew more urgent. He diverted his focus to calm down. Not staying calm under any kind of pressure wasn’t an option; it invited mistakes. Mistakes on covert missions infiltrating enemy territory assured death—your own if you were lucky. Your own and others if you weren’t.
Mark inhaled the night air, blessedly cool compared to the day’s scorching hundred twenty degrees and relentless sun. He was supposed to meet Jane at Three-Point Charlie ten minutes ago, then they were to make the rendezvous point and join the others for their ride home.
He glared at the men in the Humvees. For pity’s sake, move it.
The hostiles had become adept at spotting men in the night desert. Mark had become better at evading them. On his stomach, buried in sand, they’d have to be hunting him to see him. They still weren’t. That was good news.
He and the team had managed to avoid detection the entire mission and execute their orders. While they all had been trained to kill, whenever possible they avoided it. Just slipped in and out under the radar, and often under the hostiles’ noses.
“Six reporting in,” Jane’s voice sounded through his earpod. Her tone was shrill, rushed. “One, what’s your ETA? Company could be coming.”
Mark checked the Humvees. No movement yet. “Dug in. Need a diversion.”
Mark tried another. “Four?” He waited, but Tim didn’t respond. “Five?” Where was Joe?
“Off point,” Joe said. “Heading to Three-Point Charlie.”
“Two,” Mark tried Nick, then Tim again, “Four, I need a diversion—now.”
Mark’s skin crawled. “Three, where is everybody?”
“Communications are up, bud,” Sam said. “Two and Four activated radio silence. I’m out of reach. Five’s hauling it to back up Six. Diversion presently impossible.”
If communications were up and a diversion was impossible because Nick and Tim weren’t in a position to speak, then they were either hiding or dead. With the bean counters giving the team a forty percent success-and-survival rating on this mission—with the right equipment—and their being without it, they could be either.
“One, they’re closing in on me.” Jane’s breathing sped up, turned tinny and crackled static. “Closing in—fast. Digging in. Not going to make it. Oh God, help me.”
If Mark didn’t move, Jane would die. If he did move, they both would die. Yet this was Jane. Jane. Mark had to try. Every muscle in his body tensed, preparing to move. He lifted an arm, cleared the sand.
“Stay put, One,” Sam ordered, knowing Mark well. “You hear me, bud?”
Gunfire erupted in Mark’s earpod.
“Aw, no. No.” Joe’s voice cracked.
And then came silence.
Mark’s throat went tight, his chest tighter. “Six?” He forced his voice to work. Tears streaked down his face. “Six?”
Jane didn’t answer. Please, please, please.
“Think steel, bro,” Joe said. “Nothing we can do to help her now.”
No. Joe had to be wrong. “You sure?”
“I’d give everything I’ve got not to be.”
Mark swallowed hard. Oh, Jane.
“Lousy shots.” Joe grunted. “Gunfire pattern was random.”
“You mean they were just shooting to be shooting?” Sam sounded as galled as Mark felt.
“No rhythm or rhyme, bro.”
Sam cut loose a string of curses.
Mark interrupted. “Are they coming after her?” If targeted, they would definitely verify whether or not she was dead.
“No. The rats are departing the fix. I don’t think they even saw her.”
Jane. Killed by a random shot. It took everything in Mark to hold his position. But Joe was right. It was too late to move. Only God could help Jane now. Mark mourned. Think steel. Think steel. Think—
“It’s not your fault, One.” Joe’s deep voice sounded cool and controlled.
It was his fault. His mother’s death, for which his father and brother blamed Mark his whole life, hadn’t been his fault. She died giving birth to him. But this…this was Mark’s fault. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Random or deliberate, Jane suffered the consequences. It was that simple.
Finally the Humvees sped off. One went in the direction it had been facing, away from the Green Zone. The other looped a U-turn on the road and fell in line behind the first one.
Mark shoved at the sand. “Moving out.” He ran full speed toward Three-Point Charlie, adrenaline pumping through his veins, screams boiling deep in the back of his throat. Sweat dripped from his brow and stung his eyes. His lungs burned, his side stitched and settled into an ache. He buried the pain deep and kept running.
“Four.” Tim reported in. “Quarter klick from rendezvous point.”
“Two. Arrived at rendezvous,” Nick said. “Chopper is two minutes out.”
Tim and Nick were on point. A stream of half-formed phrases and stilted, shuddered words said all that needed saying about Jane. Mark checked the GPS on his watch. Another minute.
It was the longest minute of his life. But finally he arrived at Three-Point Charlie. Joe and Sam heard him approach and spun toward him, their weapons raised.When they recognized Mark, they lowered their barrels.
Jane lay between them at their feet.
Regret burned deep in Joe’s eyes. “I’m sorry, bro. I tried but I couldn’t get here in time.”
“My fault. I should have been here.” Mark dropped to his knees beside her, huffing, struggling to even out his breathing. He pressed his fingertips to her throat, checking her carotid for a pulse.
“There isn’t one.” Joe swiped at his face with his sleeve.
Mark knew it, but he had to check anyway. Gunshot wounds peppered her entire chest, soaked it in blood. Jane had died before she hit the ground. Mark’s heart split in two. He lifted her into his arms. “Let’s go.”
“You can’t take her, bud.” Sam touched his arm. “Despite what Joe said, they had to know she was here. They’re suffering a bullet shortage. They’re not going to burn thirty rounds just for kicks. They’re just lousy shots. If they don’t find her body, they’ll come after—”
“I am not leaving her.” Mark glared at Sam.
Calm as always, Joe stepped between them. “She’s coming home. Move it—now.”
They started running across the desert floor, made it to the rendezvous point, and met up with Tim and Nick. Within seconds, the thump of chopper blades split the dark silence, then the craft hovered just beyond them, kicking up sand that salted bare skin and even through camo stung like fire. A shadowy soldier stood in the side-door opening, scanning the area with his weapon.
The team jumped onboard, and the chopper lifted.
“Let me have her, sir. Maybe it’s not too late.” A medic took Jane to the open area behind them, and Mark started to follow.
A second medic stepped between them. “Take a seat, sir. We’ve got her now.”
Mark sat, keeping an eye on the medics. They both worked hard to revive her, and they did it knowing as well as Mark that their efforts were a lost cause. Did they try for Jane or for her team?
Either way, it was too late. Jane had bled out in seconds. She hadn’t had a chance.
Tears stung Mark’s eyes. The back of his nose burned, and an ache cinched his heart in a tight fist. He’d never hear her laugh again. Never hear her introduce him to her friends as her favorite big brother. Never look into her eyes and see her looking back at him with affection.
I can’t stand this. God, why did You let me love her and fail to protect her? I can’t take—
“You okay, bro?”
Mark glanced from Jane to Joe. Of all the guys, Joe and Mark were closest. Sam, Nick, and Tim all sat staring at them. They too had red-rimmed eyes. “No, Joe, I’m not okay.” Jane was gone. Dead. He’d killed her. “I’m not okay, and I am never doing this again.”
Barely thirty, Tim swiped a hand at his temple, ruffling the premature gray salting his brown hair, and leaned forward. “Don’t make rash decisions. We’re all hurting right now. Give it time.”
No amount of time would fix this. “I wasn’t there and she’s dead.” His throat thickened. He swallowed hard. “When the chopper hits the ground, I’m putting in my papers.”
The guys studied one another, and then Sam shoved off his helmet and hung it on his knee. “You realize that leaves our team two short. The brass isn’t going to drop a guy in, bud.”
Mark wouldn’t be replaced. The team would be expected to function short. The Shadow Watchers were an elite, highly specialized unit, and its members’ skills were cumulative. It’d take at least two years to get a new man qualified to take on their kind of missions and cleared by Intel to do them. And that’s if they put the new recruit on the fast track, learning the systems they created and destroyed.
“Sorry. I’m done. I won’t risk killing another one of you.”
The chopper blades’ steady whap, whap, whap filled the silence.
Tim stared beyond the group to Jane, paused a long time, and then swerved his gaze back to Mark. “It could have been any of us. Nick and I weren’t in a position to help her either.”
“I was her primary backup.” Mark dangled his helmet between his spread knees, swinging it by its strap.
“We’re a team, bud,” Sam said. “We all watch each other’s backs.”
“Yeah, you did.” Joe cut through the clutter. “Due to circumstances beyond your control, you failed. So did the rest of us. We all risk failing each other every time we go out. You know it. Jane knew it. We all know it. She’s gone, and we have to live with it.” Joe softened his voice. “She was like your little sister. I get that. But you don’t get exclusive rights on the guilt, bro. There’s plenty to go around.”
Mark opened his mouth to object.
Joe lifted a hand to halt it. “We’re sorry we lost her, Mark. If we could change it, we would. But we can’t.”
“Dang right.” Sam shoved his fist into their inner circle.
One by one they all bumped knuckles, then Tim said, “You had to hunker down. That’s how these missions go. Stuff comes up. We deal with it as best we can. Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we don’t. Jane’s regular team goes through the same thing.”
“We’ll have to tell them.” Mark hated the thought of it, but he couldn’t let them find out through official channels, especially Omega One. They were close.
“When we get to the Pentagon, we’ll tell them together.” Joe stared at the back of the guy manning the side door. The dread on his face was as fierce as Mark’s.
Tim stared at Jane a long minute, then resolve slid down his lean face. “I’ve had enough of this too. We’ve done our share and then some.”
Nick mumbled, agreeing and disagreeing. Sam and Nick went back and forth a bit, and then they all fell silent.
Mark had no idea what position Nick had taken, but Mark had his own problems to worry about. He slumped back, doing his best to absorb what had happened.
Deep inside the Green Zone, the chopper started its descent at headquarters. Tim glanced from man to man. “Gentlemen, it’s time for us to go home and get ourselves lives.”
Seated beside Joe, Sam jerked. “Whoa, bud.” He had helmet head. His hair was smashed in places, ruffled and on end in others. “Two short, we no longer have a viable team. Mission selection will be the pits.” He rounded on Nick. “Figured out your final call yet?”
Nick shrugged, then his body tensed. “I don’t like the way things are shaping up. They’ll never let us run two short, much less three. They’ll disband the unit.” He leaned back, crossed his outstretched legs at the ankles. Sand sprinkled off his boot. “The team’s the only reason I’ve hung in here. If you’re gone, it’s gone, so I’m gone.”
“That’s it then.” Sam rolled his shoulders. “We’re just moving up the timetable on them before they move it up on us.”
There’d been high-level talks of breaking up the unit. The work would continue to be essential, but the political climate didn’t currently welcome it. So the unit would be formally disbanded and informally re-formed elsewhere by others under a different covert umbrella.
Joe crossed his arms over his chest, seemingly at peace with their decision. “None of us planned to make this a career. Duty called with 9/11. We answered. Now we’re done.”
One by one, they all nodded. But none returned Mark’s gaze. All eyes were on the medics. Both pulled back from Jane’s body, and one made the sign of the cross. “Sorry, sirs. Nothing more we could do.”
Mark moved and squatted beside Jane. Her pasty skin was cool to the touch, but without her warm expressions, her vibrancy, she didn’t much look like herself. That should have helped. She was at peace now. But it didn’t.
I already miss you, Jane. You needed me and I wasn’t there. I won’t ask for forgiveness—I haven’t earned it. But I’ll regret failing you every day of my life. Tears washed down his face. I’ll never forget you.
With a trembling hand, he closed her sightless eyes and then lifted the sheet over her beloved face.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Summary: Annie Harper remarries after her husband is killed. She later finds out her new husband has a disliking for her daughter so she arrange for trusted friends to raise her daughter. As her daughter, Lisa, grows up she becomes aware of her step father demonic ways and vows to get her mother away from him. Mark Taylor a highly trained military veteran who worked as a Special Operatives Officer and has come to the aide of Annie to watch over her daughter. The stepfather, Dutch, is involved with a very highly well known organized mob, and he has hired them to kidnap his stepdaughter and badly hurt or kill his wife, Annie. The hitman, Keith, has just finished a job and is talking with his wife when he learns that she has cancer and a short time to live. Now, the plot thickens as Annie is taken to the hospital after an attempt on her life is done, Lisa is kidnapped from the hospital while visiting her mom, straight from under Mark's and his highly trained team noses while Dutch continues to make plans that will haunt Lisa and her mother life for the rest of their lives. My Review: This was a very good read. I was so disgruntled with the character of Annie for her vow to stay with a man that stripped her of every enjoyment she had and was a daily reminder of misery. The storyline involved a few elements of crime such as: Human trafficking, kidnapping, murder, physical abuse entwined with trust, faith, friends, and relationships. I liked how the author manipulated a child hood incident from the beginning of the story and repeated it later when the character became an adult, you never saw that coming. I don't know why I was a bit confused the first few chapters but soon it all came together for me. I enjoyed all the characters even if I didn't like what they did. It was a steady read up to the character of Annie meeting Keith while walking, then my reading pace picked up. I am looking forward to reading each book related to this one and will go back and read the first installment.
It seems my readings of late have been filled with women in crises. Lisa Harper certainly is one, she has been living on her own since her mother made her move out at age 16. She has just finished med school, has great friends and co-workers. Just one itty bitty thing wrong: her stepfather wants her dead. Lisa and her mother have made arrangements for Annie to move in with Lisa after she graduates and leave her abusive husband. Annie didn¿t want Lisa to move out but it was safer form both her and her daughter.Mark Taylor has loved Lisa for a long time, and she him but LIFE always got in the way. His as a spy and hers as a self-defense instructor, dodging stepfather attempts to end her associate with her mother, etc. They now have time to explore their possible future together. Not even close!Lisa is abducted, Annie attacked and Mark and his team have all they can do just to follow the dots. With the help of their ¿prayer warriors¿, God, and their faith in Him and in each other can justice be found in time? An Up-all-nighter for me and for you as well as soon as you open page one of this fantastic book.
Lisa Harper's father was killed. Feeling desperate Lisa's mother, Annie, marries Dutch Hauk who turns out to be an abusive monster. He has plans for Lisa that will be a fate worse than death. But before he can do anything, Annie gives over custody of Lisa to a trusted friend. Dutch has made it his mission to keep Lisa and Annie apart. He's successful for a lot of years. But now Lisa and Annie have an opportunity to be a family except they didn't anticipate how far Dutch would go.Mark Taylor is living with a burden he can't seem shake. Being a former Special Ops officer, he's been watching over Annie and Lisa. Mark has secretly loved Lisa from the time they met but he just doesn't feel he deserves her love. He has told her more about himself than anyone else. But her's afraid of failing her. When Lisa finds herself in trouble both Mark and Lisa need to muster all the strength they can and have trust in the One that will never leave them or forsake them.Great Story! This author pulled you into the story right from the start. I haven't read anything by this author so didn't know what to expect. But this tale had it all, romance, mystery, suspense, intrigue. I must say that the subject matter was difficult to read about although Human Trafficking is a very real problem. This author handled it honestly without being overly descriptive. I thoroughly the characters in the story. Mark was a great hero and I really liked the interplay between him and his old team. Sometimes intense but with a lot of humor interjected. The villains were written in such a way that you felt threatened by them. Some suspense stories don't really come across that way but you certainly hated these villains. Lisa was a great character. Though she had lots of hardships in her youth she hadn't completely lost her faith. She was still bubbly and sweet. I liked watching Mark and Lisa together. I also liked the way the author always brought the reader around to the fact that God walks with us through our darkest times, that He's always there and using that circumstance to make us stronger for some something that may come up in the future. To me that was uplifting. What was a little tough for me to grasp was Annie staying married to Dutch. Even if she didn't divorce him she needed to at least get to a safe place. Which Mark offered in the story. If you like Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon and Anne Patrick then you're sure to like Deadly Ties. It's Book 2 in the Crossroads Crisis Center Series but I must say I didn't feel lost in the story by not having read book one, Forget Me Not. Thank you goes to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for my review.
Story summaryA mad man, Dutch, falls in love with a married woman, Annie, for being nothing but kind to him, and decides to have the husband killed so he can move in and take over. He finds Annie's daughter, Lisa, to be an unbearable brat for no reason other than she is a kid that he finds disrespectful.As mentioned, Dutch is a mad man. He has illusioned himself into thinking that no one can defeat him, and he is an abusive control freak that beats his wife, Annie, and routinely threatens Lisa and Annie into obeying him. As the girl grows up, she becomes more a threat to him due to various set-ups, and the real drama begins when Lisa is a week away from getting her medical degree and becoming a doctor.This event would mean that Lisa is financially capable of taking care of her mother, and her mother has decided she would leave Dutch. Being the control freak that he is, Dutch makes some deals and contacts an nihilistic-anarchist society of killers for hire to ¿fix¿ his troubles.Lisa and Annie have made some rather intriguing friends of former blacks ops and the entire town. On this side of the story you have the requisite love story between Lisa and Mark, head of the black ops, and the undying devotions of close knit community.On the night of celebration when Lisa is to get her medical degree, Dutch sets into motion a scheme where he has Annie beat to a pulp, and Lisa kidnapped in order to be tortured. Mark, his team of black ops buddies, and the town folks create a rather energetic team of fanatics that stop at nothing to make sure Annie and Lisa are brought back safe.This story is a bit convoluted with many interested twists and turns from the start. While it is difficult to figure out just what is where and who is who and what is going on, the story sucks you in and holds you captive.CharactersThe characters, as described above, were really one dimensional to me. For instance, the black ops team seems to be the traditional requisite characters thrown in for various reasons, but not really to develop the story. More like a group of guys tossed in to sort of give Mark another dimension, a little bit of character background, and to be there for a little bit of fodder later on. However, they meant nothing. Same goes for the townspeople.As for the main characters, which I assume are Dutch, Mark and Lisa, they show a little more dimensionality. However, I felt they were strained and forced at some of the less required scenes, like the one where Mark and Lisa partially admit their feelings for one another. The emotions of these characters are not really fully shown in the writing style.ThoughtsThe story itself was quite entertaining and engaging, with plenty of twists, turns and excitement. But, the way the character brought the story to life seemed to make it fall flat. If this book was made into a TV show or film, it would be exclusively on Lifetime Television for women; complete with 2nd rate acting at best.**Disclaimer**I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I am under no obligation to write a positive review, just an honest one. Read the first chapter on Scribd.com,, if this piques your interest!
I enjoyed Vicki Hinze's novel Deadly Ties. When I recieved it I did not realize that it was the second book in a series. Therefore I went out and got the first one. I loved the world she created and chewed throught the books once I started. There has to be someone you can identify with in her variety of characters. Can't wait to see what comes next from her.
It's been quite a while since I've read this genre, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed reading this book. Story started out a bit slow for me, but once it got going, I could not put it down. Will definitely look for more from this author.
This is a great book about faith. The main characters both have faith that God helps others through them, but feel that He turns a deaf ear to them. They have both lost so much and endured many trials. When Lisa's mother is beaten into a coma and Lisa is kidnapped by a white slavery ring Mark moves heaven and earth to get her back. Through their latest struggle they learn to trust in God again and that they needed those trials to train them to deal with the current situation.
The second book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series. This is a religion based book about Lisa, a young woman who has overcome her childhood abduction that resulted in her father's death and then the marriage of her mother to an abusive monster who hates Lisa, to become a doctor. With the help of her friend, Mark, she tries to free her mother from her stepfather's hold. I wasn't impressed with this book. Maybe it was because I didn't read the first book in the series, maybe it was because I couldn't connect with the characters, maybe it was because of the inconsistancy of the character's personalities. I don't know. The overall plot was just too unbelievable and over the top. Secret, ruthless crime organizations, secret ex special forces soldiers, abductions, murder, attempted murder and more abductions topped off with an assassin with a conscience and a woman who won't divorce her abusive husband because the Bible says so but is willing to leave him. Mix all of that with a lot of praying and you have Deadly Ties. The religious aspect was fine, not too much most of the time. I would be cautious to recommend and will not seek out other Hinze books.
Lisa, finally able to stand on her own two feet, is very close to rescuing her mother, Annie, from her controlling stepfather. The stepfather, however, will not have it. He plans to make Lisa pay for always "being in the way." Mark, who is in love with Annie, does everything he can to help this mother and daughter reunite while also trying to protect them. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The story moved quickly and never lost my interest. The most interesting element of the story, to me, was the profound belief and trust in God that these characters have. Though Lisa, Annie and Mark's life have been filled with unthinkable trials and tragedies, they cling to their belief that God does exist, He is with them, knows best and nothing they have gone through is without reason. For me, this was refreshing element of the story.Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for providing me a complimentary book to review.
I received this book through LibraryThing's early reviewer program. I found this book to be an enjoyable read. As a Christian romance it is a very good story of faith, love, and hope. If the reader is not however, a reader of Christian romance novels, this may not be the book for you as it is sometimes bogged down with the faith aspect of the story.I personally enjoyed this book...the suspense was definitely there and the love story was well done. This book definitely belongs in the Christian bookstores. Really a good read with a great suspense plot. The characters are very well written and you can't wait to see what happens in the end.
I received this book from Library Thing Early Reviewers and I am so glad that I did. When I saw that it was book 2 in the Crossroads Crisis Center series I had to get the first book, Forget Me Not, and read it first (which I enjoyed very much). However, I would like to note that I do not think you would have to read Forget Me Not first in order to enjoy Deadly Ties. So, on to what I thought of Deadly Ties. I think it was a great book to read. I think the characters were very well developed and it felt like you knew them. The plot kept me very interested and was a quick read. This book does have a Christian base and normally that is not what I would read (I normally read romantic suspense) but do not let that deter you! I cannot wait until the third book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series comes out, Not This Time, in spring of 2012! I am also going to check out a few more of Vicki Hinze's works since I enjoyed these two books of hers.
Trying to categorize Deadly Ties is somewhat difficult as it is at times a light romance story with heavy elements of thriller/suspense and inspirational fiction thrown into the mix. The beginning chapter of this story doesn't make much sense and as a result throws the reader off -- or at least this reader. The premise is that Lisa Harper, a newly licensed physician, witnessed her father's murder at age 7 while on a road trip and was then kidnapped with the intent to be sold (as a child bride or slave is never made quite clear). She somehows escapes her kidnappers and is reunited with her mother, Annie Harper. Annie, who is written as a woman of extremely weak faith in the first chapter, has a heart attack, presumably suffers a miscarriage, almost loses the family home and subsequently marries the first man to propose, Dutch Hauk. Regrettably this man is not only domineering but verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive to not only his wife but his stepdaughter. This abuse continues until Lisa turns 16 at which point her mother signs over custody to family friends and Lisa moves out. The abuse, however, continues and Annie, now a woman of presumably strong faith, refuses to divorce her husband because this is seen as displeasing to God even though he refuses to allow her to see or speak to her daughter and keeps her a virtual prisoner within her home. Enter Mark Taylor, an special ops veteran and security expert hired by Lisa's surrogate father. Mark facilitates communication between Lisa and Annie by providing them both with cellphones. He also works out a system where he can check daily on Annie to ensure that she has not been injured or worse. Now if you think that Lisa suffered trauma as a child, imagine Mark being emotionally tortured as a child because everyone in his family blames him because his mother died in childbirth. As a result, Mark has distanced himself from his birth family (I wonder why) and made his co-workers his family, specifically his ex special ops co-workers. Now we have the bad guys, a nefarious criminal organization referred to as NINA (Nihilists in Anarchy), which include Dutch Hauk. Dutch knows that something is going on between his wife and stepdaughter so he hires NINA to rough up his wife and then kidnap Lisa (apparently for the second time as he was behind the initial child kidnapping incident). He actually states that he wants his wife kept alive if possible but if isn't possible that's acceptable. Long-story short, Lisa is kidnapped again, fights against her kidnappers, and strengthens her faith through prayer and acceptance as a result of her trials and adversity.There are times when the action stretches credulity, but this reader is aware that fiction does not always mimic reality. If we truly wanted reality then we would read nonfiction. Even with the weaknesses in the story, it works as a story meant to inspire. This may not be acceptable reading material for everyone, but I honestly feel that it works well as an inspirational novel and could be read and appreciated by anyone of faith, be they Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other. This book was received as an part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program but due to a mail mishap (lost book), it took awhile for the book to be replaced. I thank the publishers for working with me, sending out another copy and for this opportunity.
I felt the story started out choppy. It made it a little difficult to connect with the characters. Once it got going I really started enjoying it. I actually enjoyed the Christian aspect of the storyline. I liked the new viewpoints of traditional storyline problems, and that having faith doesn't automatically make everything better.
Let me start out by saying I haven't read the first book in the series. However, this book was pretty easy to get into and it is written where you don't really need to read the first book. The story line was really good, and I understand it's a Christian book....but I think the author over did it with the faith references. It ended up slowing the story line down. If it wasn't for this little point I would definitely read the next book, but as it is I probably won't because I felt like the author was preaching to me.
This book fell just short of the mark for me. The premis was good, but it just missed out. I also found the book to be just a little bit too preachy for my tastes. It was lacking on some of the excitement that could have easily made the book really good. I had a hard time feeling the actual connection between Lisa and Mark but that may be attributed to the fact that I have not read the first book in this series. If you are a fan of Christian fiction, you will probably really enjoy this book. I, however, will probably not read this book again.
This is the sequel to the book ¿Forget Me Not¿. I would recommend you read that book if you have not yet read it. It is not a requirement for understanding this book. Shortly after Lisa¿s father dies her mother marries Dutch Hauk. He turns out to be abusive and lets it be known that he hates Lisa. To protect her, Lisa¿s mother sends her away, giving up custody. This still doesn¿t satisfy Dutch. He hates her just as much. He sees her as a threat. He knows that one day she will come between him and her mother. As she prepares to graduate he sets up a plan. For years Lisa and her mother have been protected by Mark Taylor. There are romantic sparks throughout between Lisa and Mark. The themes of Love and trust and just feeling worthy of love run throughout the book. Now here is where I tell you my thoughts. I have read many reviews of this book. Many believe it is somewhat realistic. If you have money and a means you just get out right? My sister has had two abusive husbands. They find you. Her first husband reminded me so much of Dutch. She was fresh out of high school when they got married. They had a landscape business. On one of their trips up north he tried to kill her. He shoved her out of a boat and held her under with a paddle. His uncle stopped him. He tried to tell him he was only playing. My sister wanted to believe him. He would not let her visit without being there and he would not leave her alone with anyone. When she was finally finished with the abuse she left a message in the toilet paper holder and whispered it in my ear. We waited until he left her alone in the motor home they lived in on his parents property. We rushed in and started hauling her personal belongings out. He returned and ran in. I stood between her and him with a butcher knife. We had to move because of the death threats and we had to involve the police because he kept trying to find out where we lived. People like this don¿t just give up unless they get help. My sister felt she was not worthy of being loved by a ¿good man¿ and that is what led her to her second abusive husband. He finally left her and ended up in prison. To say that this story was somewhat unbelievable has to be based on your personal knowledge and background experiences. I could not understand why my sister didn¿t just leave these men. I was not in her shoes and did not have the whole story. I do know that it made her faith and trust in the Lord much stronger as in this story. When you think there is no one to turn to you must turn to God. I recommend this to all of my friends and look forward to the next book in the series.
Lisa has had a very traumatic life, and just when it seems like things will be getting better things take a horrible turn. I had a slightly hard time getting into this one at the beginning, but after the first few chapters the pieces started coming together and I was captivated by this book. Hard to say I enjoyed it, because it was very dark...but it was a very good read, I had a hard time putting it down.
DEADLY TIES by Vicki Hinze is an exciting inspirational suspense/thriller set in present day Atlanta,Georgia.(Crossroads Crisis Center Series). It is the sequel to ¿Forget Me Not¿,but can be read as a stand alone. It is written with depth and details. It has romance,faith,adventure,love,friends,spousal abuse, human trafficking,forgiveness,trust,control,healing and second chances. The characters are believable,engaging and will capture your heart. This is a fast paced,action packed suspense,romantic adventure that will have you captured from the first page to the last. This is a powerful story of the beginning of love and trust entwined with a powerful drama of lost,human trafficking and pure evil. I would highly recommend this book to any one to enjoys suspense,thrillers,and romance. It does have faith entwined into the story but it is not preachy.This book was received for the purpose of review from Multnomah Book Group and details can be found at Doubleday Publishing and My Book Addiction and More. 5
Deadly Ties by Vicki HinzeA new book in a combined murder mystery/Christian lit genre - second in a series. When I began reading Deadly Ties, I found it a bit difficult. The Christian aspects seemed a bit heavy handed at first and the writing was a little stilted. I did keep reading though - there were enough positive aspects in the writing to make me want to continue on to see what was going to happen. I'm glad I did - the faith of the characters seemed to become more and more a part of who they were, rather than something they just mentioned constantly. I read a fair amount of Christian lit and I always enjoy it more when faith is displayed through action and kindness, rather than with soliloquies or out of place characters who spew bible verses. The characters also became more three dimensional. I liked how the main character was a strong woman, even when struck with the horror of her own past. She had someone to rescue her but she did fine on her own - a true survivor. I'm glad the author kept that aspect of Lisa Harper's personality. Still, a few negatives - some of the peripheral characters of the crisis center were hard to keep track of and I really saw no reason why Lisa's mother would choose to be with Dutch at any point during their relationship. Perhaps if I had read the first book that would be clearer. As I read it now, I kind of hated the mother for putting her daughter through all of that and abandoning her to others while she stayed with her husband because divorce was unacceptable to God. Even in the end, I couldn't ever see how she was protecting her by staying with him. Overall, an entertaining book - certainly an excellent choice to pass away a rainy day at home or on the beach while on holiday!
Review by Jill Williamson Lisa is planning a birthday party, but to do so, she needs her bodyguards to be ready. But why does Lisa have bodyguards? Lisa's father-in-law is crazy and abusive. He will stop at nothing to make Lisa and her mother miserable. Even if that means hurting or killing them both. But he won't do it himself, of course, he'll hire a hit man-the best hit man-to get the job done. This was one of the strangest books I've ever read. The last hundred pages were great. But I had trouble with the first part of the book. It was slow getting started. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and by a hundred pages in, nothing had really happened to the main character. She wasn't proactive. And it frustrated me to read about these amazing bodyguard guys who were obviously going to fail. I appreciate the caution for young girls that the story gives out. Young women should be careful who they trust, and it wouldn't hurt for every young woman to have some self-defense lessons. And I did like the story much better once the chase is on. I would have rather had the chase start a lot sooner.
I very much enjoyed "Forget Me Not" by Vicki Hinze and was therefore really looking forward to reading the next book in the Crossroads Crisis Center, "Deadly Ties." I was not disappointed. "Deadly Ties" is a different kind of sequel. Though there are some peripheral characters returning from the prior book, the main unifying "character" is the Center itself. Great technique for endless story opportunities, no? And the known characters serve to transition us seamlessly into us knowing and caring for the new. The new characters in "Deadly Ties" are several. Their troubled pasts converge in horrific ways as we root for not only their physical safety, but for them to overcome their pasts and trust God. The book is fast-paced, suspense-filled and heart-wrenching. I can't wait to see what Ms. Hinze comes up with next from the Crossroads Crisis Center. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
I've never been a big fan of the horror stories. I like a little suspense, a little intrigue...just enough to wet my proverbial whistle. When I looked to see what books were available for review, I knew Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze would be a scary book. I thought, okay. I can do that. However, I didn't know how incredibly scary it would be. For me, it was too much. If you're into that heart pounding, pulse racing, sleeping with the light on kind of fright, then definitely read this. Otherwise, pass. Stick with something that won't haunt your thoughts and fill your dreams for weeks to come.
I have just had the pleasure of reading one of Vicki Hinze's novel, "Deadly Ties". This story takes its' characters and brings them to life in the readers imagination, to the point of feeling as though you are right there in the story. It is filled with twists and turns throughout the story and as you follow Lisa Harper, one of the main characters, you can feel her emotions and desires through the story. Mark, her knight in shining armor, is part of an elite group of former Special Forces team. This story lets the reader into Lisa's mind as a child, when her father dies and Lisa is abducted. She eventually escapes her captors only to find that her mother marries Dutch, a mean underhanded man. Vicki Hinze paints perfect pictures of Human Trafficking, death and a multitude of those twists and turns which keeps the reader guessing with every turn of the page. Intrigue is only one way in which to describe this wonderful novel. You will not be able to put this novel down. Bravo Vicki, for a wonderful read.
"A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper's idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa. Burdened by his own traumatic past, former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life - and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it's too late?" Little did I realize when I started this book was that it was book two in a series (the Crossroads Crises Center series). By the time I figured that little fact out, I was too far involved in the storyline to pause and search out the first book. Yes, having read the first book may have answered a few questions I had, but I was by no means lost without having read it. I quickly became enthralled with Mark and his "buds", learning their quirks and envying how they had "each others backs"! Just as easily, I felt welcomed in to Lisa's small circle of confidants, the few she allowed to get close and shared her feelings with. From the very beginning of sharing their special day together (his birthday, her "graduation"), to the very end of starting their dreams of the future, the ride with Mark and Lisa is one you will definitely want to journey with them along the way. And who knows...you may even find your special "seashell" story also! Overall, I would give this book 5 stars. My only question is...can I wait for the next book, Not This Time, to be released in Spring of 2012? I can't wait to hear Joe and Beth's story!! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group and was not required to post a positive review
Wow! Deadly Ties has earned a place on my top favorites list! The first book I've read by Vicki Hinze, and I was hooked - I found it nearly impossible to put the book down! The first few chapters build up the suspense and tension, and then when everything lets loose.the reader is left reeling and hanging onto the edge of her seat! I know I am reading a good book when I continually sneak off to my room every ten minutes! Vicki's writing style is unique, but by the time I was introduced to the heroine, Lisa, I was intrigued and captivated by her style. She really grabs the reader's attention and puts them in the characters mind. I love it when I can actually feel and empathize with the characters-and that is exactly what Vicki has done. A few times I felt conversations or scenes were a little drawn out, but not much and it certainly didn't ruin the book for me. :-) Lisa's bravery and determination was heroic and endeared me to her. Her protectiveness and desire to see her mother safe added to her charm. I was instantly able to connect with this character and sympathize with her. Mark was just awesome! Who wouldn't want a smart, good-looking special Ops nearby when a creep like Dutch hung around. :-) He was easy to grow attached to! Strangely enough, I also enjoyed getting into Karl's head as well. Even though he was the bad guy, he had a soft side to him. From the glimpse the reader got of his past, I got the impression he didn't choose his occupation in life, but he continued to roll with the punches. It's sad, and although I was secretly glad how his story ended in this book, I am curious if he will resurface later on. He was a complex character on the wrong side of the law.but I liked him. :-) There is some violence in the book. Lisa uses self defense when trying to evade her abductors. There's also mild mention of torture when Lisa remembers back to when Mr. Phen had her. Besides this, Lisa was abducted with the intent of selling her to some sort of illegal operation where women would cock-fight, of sorts. It was rather sickening to hear that people are so deprave that they would stoop so low. But besides these issues, there was nothing questionable in the book. I didn't realize until half way through the book that this is the middle to a series - the third book is coming out in the spring of 2012. I want to get my hands on the first book, Forget Me Not, now! Deadly Ties was such a captivating and suspenseful read! And the ending - when everything slowed down and finally came to a close - was sweet. I kept cheering for Lisa and Mark! They make such a cute couple! I can't wait to learn more about Beth and Joe in the next installment in the Crossroad Crisis Center series. I received this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.