Mercy by B.J. Daniels
Harlequin; August 26, 2014
352 pages; $7.99 U.S./ $8.99 CAN.
For U.S. marshal Rourke Kincaid, there’s the law…and then there’s his law. When the two don’t agree, he always trusts his instincts. A killing spree has gripped the Northwest, showing a strange connection that only he sees, and now the old rules of justice no longer apply. Forced to turn rogue, he goes deep undercover to track his mysterious female suspect to a quiet, unassuming café in the wild, isolated mountains of Beartooth, Montana.
But encountering Callie Westfield complicates his mission in ways he never expected. As suspicious as she seems, her fragile beauty and sexy charm get to Rourke. Then the gory crimes begin anew. With his heart suddenly at war with his instincts, he has only two options. Either turn Callie over to the law, or put everything—including his badge and his life—on the line to protect her.
This is the fifth book in the Beartooth, Montana series. Each book can be read as a stand alone novel. So you can jump into this series now with Mercy or read then all starting with Unforgiven. This book had the right amount of romance and mystery. My issues were that Callie did not connect with me right away like Rourke did. Also, the story seemed to drag because it seemed like while nothing was literally repeated, it did seem to repeat itself. When it came to the mystery. For someone as smart as Rourke who has been doing his job for a long time, I thought he would have figured out the truth sooner. The reason that I did not connect with Callie right away is because she was timid. I wanted her to be more outgoing. Although she did make up for it later in the book. The romance between Callie and Rourke was steamy but like a PG to PG-13 type of rating. A good quick read.
New York Times bestselling author
B. J. DANIELS
"Daniels is truly an expert
at Western romantic suspense."
—RT Book Reviews on Atonement
"Will keep readers on the edge of their chairs from beginning to end."
—Booklist on Forsaken
"Action-packed and chock-full of suspense."
—Under the Covers on Redemption
"Fans of Western romantic suspense will relish Daniels’ tale of clandestine love
played out in a small town on the Great Plains."
—Booklist on Unforgiven
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I joke that this book tried to kill me. I realize now that the ones that really grab me are the ones that I struggle with and end up loving the most. This one grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. So this book is dedicated
to the man who saw me through it, even the three a.m. trip to the hospital with my f irst migraine.
To my husband, Parker, who takes good care of me so I can just write. I couldn’t be more grateful for your loving support or the wonderful meals you cook me
or the patience you have deadline after deadline.
I couldn’t do this without you. I love you.
rourke breathed in the sweet, mysterious scent of Callie Westfield as his mouth took possession of hers again.
She moaned, sending his already pounding heart drumming harder. He wanted this woman, wanted to get under her skin, wanted to know her intimately. He knew how dangerous it was. He didn’t care. She’d
been a mystery to him for too long. Now she was in his arms, her mouth opening invitingly to his, her breath mingling with his, her tongue—
Callie suddenly pulled back, her gaze locking with his again. He was breathing hard. He didn’t want to let go of her.
She took a breath, her cheeks f lushed. Her arms moved from around his neck. She pressed her palms against the front of his shirt—but she didn’t push him away, and he didn’t loosen his hold on her, afraid if he did she would slip away.
He watched her catch her breath, her dark eyes search- ing his face before her gaze locked again with his.
"Tell me I’m not wrong about you," she whispered. "Tell me I’m wrong about you," he wanted to plead, but instead he said, "I guess that depends on what
you’re thinking about me right now."
Her smile was slow, her eyes bright with moonlight and desire. "That you’re going to break my heart."
"I hope not. I sure don’t want to."
She cocked her head, studying him. "You don’t know how much I wish I could read your thoughts right now." "You would be disappointed. I don’t think much with you in my arms, and when you’re kissing me, my only thought is your mouth." The truth of that made him smile. He certainly wasn’t thinking like a U.S. marshal. He could hear Laura’s warning. Don’t get too close. He realized he could have just kissed his first
"Have you had your heart broken before?" he asked, curious as both a man and a marshal.
Callie pushed back gently, still studying him. He loosened his hold, and she slipped from his arms, turn-
ing her back to him. He took a deep breath, mentally kicking himself for spoiling the moment. He let the breath out slowly as she picked up her empty beer bot- tle and glass.
"That was probably a mistake," she said, her back to him.
"If you’re talking about that kiss, nope, that was definitely not a mistake."
I was talking about something else?"
He wanted to say that only time would tell. Instead, he joked, "The mistake was stopping kissing. But then, maybe it wasn’t."
"Because if we hadn’t stopped, you would have wanted to make love in the moonlight by the lake."
"What about you?" she asked, cocking her head to the side.
prefer to wait until the third date—not the first."
lower lip. "First kiss. First date, don’t you think?" Shaking her head, she smiled at him. She had a
great smile. Sometimes it even reached her eyes. "Think you can sleep now?" he asked.
She nodded slowly. Was that disappointment or re- lief he saw in her eyes?
"Good, then you don’t mind if I follow you as far as town," he said, taking her glass and bottle from her
and picking up his own. "I would hate to see you run into Carson Grant again tonight."
laura couldn’t Sleep. Like a scene out of a Poe tale, she could hear the trunk under her bed calling to her. Giving up fighting it any longer, she climbed out of bed and dragged out the trunk.
She realized she had no choice but to open it. She had to see what was inside. Her fingers trembled as she pulled out the key to the padlock, and then in a fit of terror, she shot to her feet to pace back and forth. Her mind listed all the reasons she should have de- stroyed the contents.
Reaching for her phone, she started to call her psy- chiatrist, but stopped herself. She knew what he’d say. The same thing he had been saying all along. She had to face her past, shine light on those dark holes of blank memory from her childhood and face her fears.
She stopped pacing to stare at the trunk. Why hadn’t she burned everything like she’d planned? Because she had to know all of it. Her mother had saved it for her. Saved it for this moment when she came face-to- face with her past.
Wasn’t it possible there would be something in the trunk that would prove Callie was the killer?
But she feared it was too late. "No, it won’t be too late until he finds himself tied to a bed and a knife to his throat," she said to the empty room.
Her mother had hidden this trunk in the basement. Locked it so no one else could see what was inside. Maybe especially her sister, Catherine?
by the bed. She didn’t have any more time. If there was something in that trunk…
Moving to it, she fished the key to the padlock back out of her pocket and bent down to insert it into the lock. It snapped open, feeling icy cold beneath her fin- gers. Removing the lock, she told herself it wasn’t too late. She could still burn the contents.
She thought of Rourke and felt a weight on her chest that made it hard to breathe.
With a curse, she reached down and grabbed the edge of the trunk lid and lifted it. The old metal creaked, re- minding her of her mother’s wheelchair. For just a mo- ment, she saw the pillow in her hand, the spot of blood on it, the blood on her mother’s lip… .
Laura threw off the disturbing image as she looked down into the trunk at the jumble of papers. Off to one side of the loose papers, she spotted what at first looked like a book.
With trembling fingers, she picked it up. A diary. Her mother had kept a diary? She opened it to the first page, her fingers trembling.
when rourke reached town after following Callie back, he parked on the main drag in front of the café. Originally he’d planned to just make sure she got in- side her apartment without any trouble.
But after parking, he decided to walk the perimeter to be certain Carson wasn’t hiding in the dark like he had been earlier lying in wait for her.
As Rourke made his loop around the café, he was surprised to find that Callie had gone up to her apart- ment, turned on the lights and then come back down.
She was waiting for him at the bottom of her outside stairs.
Moonlight played on her face, making her dark eyes bright. Her hair, which she’d had pulled back earlier, now framed her face, the raven locks against her pale skin. She couldn’t have looked more beautiful. Or more desirable. He felt a tremor inside him like nothing he’d ever felt before. Red f lag warnings were going off like fireworks in his head.
She smiled, and the moment he stepped to her, all he could think about was kissing her again. His mouth took hers hungrily, the kiss all passion and need as he pulled her into his arms. Lifting her off her feet, he pressed her against the side of the building. He could feel the soft curves of her body, the heat she radiated warming the October night.
Neither of them must have heard the vehicle approach- ing. Before they knew it, they were caught in blinding- bright headlights. Ducking back into the shadow of the building, they burst into nervous laughter, desire spark- ing like fireflies between them.
"Third date, huh?" Callie said, sounding as breath- less as he felt.
The light glowing in her apartment just yards away drew him like a moth to a f lame. He knew how dan- gerous this could be, and yet…
"I suppose we could consider this our second date," he said, his voice husky with desire. "Maybe if I left and came back…"
She laughed and gave him a playful push. "Don’t get ahead of yourself, cowboy."
Timber. Say yes."
Callie took only a moment to consider. "Yes," she said, then raced up the stairs, stopping at the top to look back at him before disappearing inside.
He watched her go, asking himself if he hadn’t just made a date with a serial killer.
B.J. DANIELS, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist and author of 37 published short stories. That first book, ODD MAN OUT, received a 4 ½ star review from Romantic Times magazine and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue for that year. Since then she has won numerous awards including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and numerous nominations and awards for best book. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two Springer Spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America.
Author Q&A for B.J. Daniels Mercy
The next thing I knew, I was on the trail of a possible serial killer with my rogue U.S. marshal Rourke Kincaid. I loved his perseverance (something writers know well.)
He took me for quite a ride before the book was finished. I ended up in the hospital at 3 a.m., 20 degrees below zero outside, with my first migraine. MERCY, the 5th book in the Beartooth, Montana series, became the book that almost killed me – and my first serial killer book.
How did you come up with the title?
At the end of the first chapter, my killer is telling her victim to "Beg for mercy." But to me the title is more about having been given mercy (compassion, love, understanding) at some point in our lives and how that makes us the people we are.
When I was doing research on serial killers, I became fascinated by how one person in the same type of family situation becomes a killer and the other person doesn’t.
The cover illustration overlooks a small town. Can you tell us how this cover sets the tone for the book?
I write about small towns because that’s what I know. The Beartooth series takes place in and around a small Montana town where everyone knows everyone else – and their business. But there are always secrets. Also, things work differently in places where everyone knows each other, so I have more leeway when it comes to even how law enforcement operates.
You said that the books that you struggle with the most are the ones that you end up loving the most. Can you talk about the writing process for Mercy?
You mean the book that tried to kill me? I do love this book though because of it. It was hard to write, but they say write what you know. I often write about characters from dysfunctional families. I grew up in one though I later realized there were families a whole lot worse than mine. Instead of becoming a serial killer, I became a writer. We both live in fantasy worlds where we settle scores, get revenge, make those in the wrong get what they have coming to them (at least what we think they have coming to them.)
Where I struggled with MERCY was giving the reader enough information and yet not giving away who the killer really was. I didn’t want any of them to be the killers at one point. I cared too much about them and what they’d been through. I kept telling myself that I was wrong about who I suspected. There had to be someone else who did the killings. Talk about denial.
Also this book took a twist I wasn’t expecting. I think all authors draw on their own life experiences. A lot of me and my life ends up in my books. I grew up with a mother who was…somewhat psychic. It scared her. I often wondered how that ability (who knows how strong it was since she fought it) would shape a person’s life – or torture that person.
So it was bound to end up in one of my books.
Was there a scene in this book that was harder to write than others?
I often struggle with the action scene during the climax. I just feel as if every fight scene has been done. It’s easier to figure out how the good guys get the upper hand than the choreography of the fight.
What was your favorite part of the book to write?
I loved creating all of the characters. I felt I knew them by the end. That’s why I didn’t want any of them to be guilty of the murders. They all wanted to be good people, but they were flawed and struggling with the hand they’d been dealt. We all know it isn’t fair to blame your childhood once you’re an adult, but that childhood is what shaped you and some people fight and fight to overcome it and just can’t.
Can you tell us a bit more about the town of Beartooth, MT and the people who live there?
They are mostly rural people who appreciate where they live and don’t want it to change. They are often suspicious of newcomers. I know when I moved to a very small Montana town eight years ago, people kept asking me why I’d done such a thing. There are always those who dream of going to a bigger city. They are usually the ones who never leave though. So Beartooth and the community around it are people who know each other, who depend on each other and take care of their own.
How do the dual locations of Seattle, WA and Beartooth, MT add to the story?
But in this story you have a marshal who is like a fish out of water in a small town like Beartooth. Of the two women in the story, most people go to a big city to disappear but Cassie came to a small Montana town. Laura is a prime example of someone leaving Montana for greener grasses.
They did get too real in this book. I remember interviewing Tim Cahill years ago when I worked for the newspaper. He was writing Buried Dreams: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer, the story of John Wayne Gacy. I remember him telling me that his wife hated it when he came home after interviewing Gacy. He said it was impossible not to bring it home with him and that thoughts of it lasted for years.
Did you base the character of Callie Westfield on anyone?
Callie had a classic serial killer background. One characteristic of a serial killer that I found very telling in my research was the person’s relationship with his/her mother. The mother seemed the key.
Also don’t most of us think love can conquer all? Even as we are getting in deeper, we make excuses. We tell ourselves that we’re fine, that we can get out at any time. Or worse, that the other person will change.
If this wasn’t true, then there wouldn’t be so many bad relationships where the warning signs were apparent before the couple went into it – and yet they couldn’t seem to help themselves.
I would love Amy Smart for Cassie and Alanna Uvbach for Laura. For Rourke…Paul Walker!
What is the best advice you received when writing Mercy?
To not give up. It is hard sometimes. I would go home after work and tell my husband that this could be the book that never gets finished. He always says, "Oh, you’ll be fine. You always finish them." He’s not helpful.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I hope they enjoy the mystery and the romance and it takes them away for however many hours it takes them to read it. I don’t kid myself. I write escape fiction. It’s okay too if I scare them a little. Mercy intrigued and scared me. Ultimately, there are some people who can’t be saved – or let loose on the rest of society.
What is your next project?
The Beartooth, Montana series continues with the six-book series: The Montana Hamiltons. The first book, WILD HORSES, will be out in March, followed by LONE RIDER, in July. It is the stories of the six Hamilton sisters. Their father, Senator Buckmaster Hamilton, is running for president of the United States. But as each of his daughters find romance – and trouble – it threatens his candidacy. The future of the country hangs in the balance by the sixth book because Buckmaster has a mystery of his own.
I have 1 copy to give away. US. Leave a comment with your email address. Winner chosen September 6th