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Beg for Mercy (Mercy Hollings, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077832365X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778323655
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #942,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A page-turning start to what promises to be a very intriguing series." -- BookPage

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I've never been certain I'm human. Oh, the X-rays and blood tests are normal, and no doctor, not even my gynecologist, has ever suggested otherwise, but it's see, at least. Most people have no reason to suspect I'm more—or less—than I appear to be. But none of them really know me. Sometimes I get tired of being cautious. But not so tired I let my guard down. Ever.

That's probably why I go to Jimbo's. Balboa's most notorious dive is not the kind of place that invites curiosity.

In the summertime, the population of Southern California's Balboa Peninsula swells as the beachfront condos fill with vacationing families. The trio of tiny three-car ferries circle continuously, and those who choose the longer overland route discover that the two four-lane roads leading onto the peninsula rapidly merge into one congested street and that all parking spaces are full by ten in the morning.

Evenings, when the beaches have emptied and the tourist traps have closed their doors, the heartier visitors migrate to pubs specializing in tropical drinks and steel bands. They drink Red Stripe beer and dance to reggae in their bikinis and sarongs, glowing from sunburn and tequila shots.

In the midst of this festival atmosphere, Jimbo's staunchly refuses to be festive. Its windowless single room, decorated with faded photos of men holding prize-winning fish caught half a century earlier, has little appeal to any lost tourist who stumbles into its dimly lit interior. Occasionally, some brave souls might try to blend in with the locals and sit at the bar for a draft beer and a pickled egg, but they seldom ask for a refill. If they stay long enough to need them, the bathrooms will probably scare them off. The graffiti, never painted over, is legendary.

I was sitting at the bar sipping a Budweiser—Jimbo's sells no other beer—and listening to Sukey prattle on about her latest flame, Rocko. Sukey is crazy for big, beefy guys who are long on muscles and short on brains. We definitely do not compete for the same men.

"He's gorgeous," she gushed. "I can't wait until you meet him!"

I smiled and nodded. We'd had this conversation many times before. Sukey is the most wonderful person in the world, but she's a bit high-maintenance for most men. She'll call them twelve or fourteen times a day at work and give them adorable nicknames, often involving food. In my experience, most men don't want to be called "cupcake" in front of their drinking buddies.

"Are you supposed to meet him here?" I asked, already knowing the answer. For Sukey, a date meant he had said he might stop in. If he showed up, it would count as the first step toward commitment. If he didn't have a girl on his arm, that is. I really hoped that wouldn't happen tonight. Sukey is usually a happy drunk, but a crying binge was not out of the question.

"He had some other things he had to do first," she said. "But he should be here soon. I'll just call him." She fished around in her massive purse for her cell phone. Wondering how many times she had already called him today, I put a hand on her arm and looked around for a means of distracting her. "Cupcake" would find out about Sukey's telephone habits soon enough. Maybe I could buy her a little time.

"Who's that guy over there?" I asked, pointing to the back of a head I didn't recognize. Sukey knew everyone in town and was an excellent source on anything male.

"Oooh, I'm glad you reminded me," she said, forgetting the cell phone. "That's Sam. He's the guy who bought Butchie's business. He doesn't come in here very much. And he's exactly your type."

I didn't consider Sukey an expert on my type, but the change of subject was welcome. "I missed Butchie's retirement party. Isn't this guy from Florida or something?"

"Key West." Sukey sipped her margarita. "His father's got Alzheimer's, and Sam came out here to take care of him. Sam's dad and Butchie were best friends in the Korean War or something. Sam's really nice but kind of boring." This meant that when Sukey had flirted with him, he hadn't flirted back. "He's always at the coffee shop in the morning, reading some enormous book," she went on. Because I was on a first-name basis with everyone who worked at the local library and the secondhand bookstore, she assumed any man who had read a book was my dream boy. Reading probably meant he wasn't a complete moron, but it hardly qualified him as relationship material.

I was about to point this out when the man in question turned and I got a good look at him. I think I actually managed not to gasp, but this was my idea of gorgeous. Sort of Sam Shepard meets Matthew McConaughey. Tall, lean and wearing a chambray shirt washed until it looked as soft as a feather. Laugh lines had weathered in exactly the right way, and his light blue eyes almost matched the faded shirt. He smiled at something one of the local commercial fishermen said, and I saw the glint of white teeth against a tanned face.

Sukey laughed. I realized I had frozen when about to take a sip of my beer, and I was still holding it in front of my parted lips. I'd been staring like an idiot, and Sukey had enjoyed the whole scene.

"I told you!" she said, whacking me on the shoulder. "Do I know what you like or what?"

"This time, I have to admit you do." I raised my beer and clinked her margarita glass, causing salt to fall into my beer and raise a head of foam that dripped over my hand and onto my jeans. We laughed together, and I thought about how much I liked this silly, shallow girl. The one who was always so genuinely happy to see me and thought I had no faults. The one who was as excited as I was when I opened my own business.

No, I don't let anyone get too close, but I almost made an exception for Sukey. She didn't have a sus that of a child—easily distracted by the next pretty, shiny thing. In a million years, she would never guess my secret. And she was unlikely to make me angry.

I have to be very, very careful about getting angry. I went to the bar to get some napkins to sop up my spilled beer and turned to find the object of my recent attention standing right in front of me. "Excuse me," he said, and we did that awkward dance where two people each try to let the other pass and keep choosing the same path.

I heard a voice behind me shout, "Sam! Meet the Newport Bitch!" Jimbo himself was tending bar tonight. He had coined the nickname on one of my earliest visits, and never tired of the joke. Resigned, I moved so Sam could put down the empty bottles he was carrying and put out a hand to shake mine.

"Sam Falls," he said.

"Mercy Hollings." He had a good handshake, and his eyes were even more arresting up close. I probably stared just a moment too long, because Jimbo started shouting again. Years of running a boisterous bar had left Jimbo with only one volume—full.

"Whoooeee, she must like you, Sammy boy. Usually she shoots 'em down like skeet." Jimbo mimed sighting down the barrel of a rifle. "Pull…BLAM!

Another poor bastard, shot right out of the air." Thankfully, the other customers kept Jimbo from warming to his theme, and he walked away, leaving me with Mr. Blue Eyes. I shook my head.

"If I didn't know he only insults the people he likes, I'd be hurt," I said and smiled tentatively, wondering what Sam thought of Jimbo's performance.

"He must hate me, then, because so far he's been friendly." The white smile crinkled those laugh lines again, and I felt my stomach do a tiny flip-flop.

"Give him time. He's probably still trying to think up something really offensive."

"I'll look forward to it." Again the smile. God help me. The tingle in my stomach moved lower. I was trying to think of something clever of my own to say when I saw the smile fade as his gaze moved to look at something behind me.

I turned to see what he was looking at and saw three men coming through the back door. I should say I was aware that there were three men, but one of them drew the eye so completely, the other two were mere outlines.

My first instinct was laughter. Luckily, years of caution had taught me to think before I acted, and I managed to look away before I lost control. "Holy shit," I breathed. "What is that?"

"I don't think I want to know," said Sam, turning toward the bar and picking up the beer Jimbo had placed before him. I tried to keep my eyes on the bar, but it was like trying not to look at a train wreck. With what I hoped was subtlety, I glanced out of the corner of my eye at the apparition at the door.

He was muscle-bound and wearing a white T-shirt with the sleeves cut off—and about two sizes too small. His black hair was slicked back and shimmered with oil, and matched his moustache and goatee. From his mirrored aviator sunglasses to his oversized diamond stud, he was a walking mass of clichés. To my dismay, his scan of the room caught my glance, and he flashed me a "you know you want me, baby" smile. I shuddered and turned away.

"Looks to me," said Sam dryly as he sipped his beer, "like a bad case of testosterone poisoning."

I did laugh this time but hoped having my back to the man would disguise the object of my amusement, who was, at this very moment, relating a story to his cronies in a voice designed to ensure everyone could hear him. "So I told him 'Go ahead and hit me, asshole. Fighting gives me a hard-on." His sidekicks laughed dutifully, and the walking anachronism stepped up to the bar and pounded on it with the flat of his hand, making everyone jump.

"Hey, Jimbo, you old pervert, get us some tequila shots, wouldja? And not that cheap shit, either. The Patrón Silver, okay?" To my horror, he turned to me.

"You ever try the Silver, sweetheart? It's smoother than a baby's ass. Hey, Jimbo, get a shot for hot stuff here, too." Jimbo grabbed a fourth shot glass and, just as I was about to protest, a squeal interrupted.

"Hey, baby, get me a shot, too!" Sukey squeezed in between me and the man's oily biceps—were they shaved?—and beamed. Please, God, say it ain't so. It can't be. But I ...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 187 people found the following review helpful By J. Hulet on January 4, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I think that it would be nice if Amazon or someone would identify up front that a book is a Romance with paranormal story lines instead of painting a picture that's not very accurate. This is a Romance novel, basically, and it has a little paranormal stuff thrown in to make it different than the thousands of other romance novels out there.

The Main Character is an embittered, unknowingly beautiful, powerful paranormal who is so cliche that you have probably read about her 10 times already if you have been a big fan of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. The author is not a bad writer, but the story is really boring if you are looking for more of the fantasy/paranormal and less of the romance.

I am not going to breakdown the story any further because if you are a fan of romance and like the paranormal slant you will want to read it and not me spoil it. If you are not into romance novels then skip this book and read Patricia Briggs or Kim Harrison who write the Fantasy/Paranormal with romance as a sidenote.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By melindeeloo TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Advoiding the first-book-in-a-series pitfall of excessive world building, author Toni Andrews does an excellent job of creating a unique and compelling heroine, telling an interesting story and making great use of her Balboa Island setting to give the story a sense of reality. And yet from hints that were dropped, I suspect that there is a lot more about this world that has yet to be uncovered.

Heroine Mercy wonders if she's human. She discovered her unusual psychic talent the hard way as a child, when she told a classmate to `shut up', he didn't speak again for years. Mercy calls her talent the `push' and because the mental suggestion is magnified by strong emotion, she's avoided relationships and cultivated rigid control and a strict moral code to keep from taking advantage of others or harming them with her powers. But if her control were perfect there would be no story and one little lapse snowballs into a very convoluted set of circumstances that change Mercy's life forever.

There are several things that I really like about Mercy's character. She is not the stereotypical impulsive, sassy kick butt heroine with a tormented past that is popping up so frequency in these urban fantasies. Instead, she is capable and, in spite of her one little slip, she stops and thinks things through and doesn't go off half cocked. She also makes use of her resources, in this story she gather together quite a support system or as she calls them `minions'. She has been a loner in the past, but not out of angst-ridden self-torture but just a side product of trying to avoid misusing her powers.

There are several other well developed characters in addition to Mercy. I loved Mercy's best friend Sukey.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Wiley VINE VOICE on September 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mercy Hollings has spent a lifetime keeping people at an emotional distance. Called a freak and shuffled around in the foster care system as a child, Mercy has learned to keep secrets, particularly the secret concerning her psychic power. She calls it the "press", her ability to control people via telling them what she wants them to do. Her power is a dangerous one as sometimes there are unintended consequences. Mercy only wants to help her friend, Sukey, but what follows is a nightmare. Mercy will have to learn to trust others if she and her friends hope to survive.

Okay, the names distracted me. I am already attached to two other series with heroines named Mercy and Sukey (albeit, spelled a bit differently), and there is even a Sam in one of those series. I hate to sound nitpicky, but those names already resonate very strongly for me with other characters and that kept me from really appreciating this story to the degree I would have liked.

Mercy Hollings is a quirky but very feisty character. I like her willingness to defend and protect her friends. Sukey is a fantastic best friend for Mercy, as her bubbly personality keeps Mercy in check. Mercy has had a horrendous past, and Sukey helps Mercy focus on the positive and on living life to the fullest.

Mercy's love interest is Sam but don't expect BEG FOR MERCY to follow the path of a traditional romance. BEG FOR MERCY is more of an urban fantasy laced with a touch of romance. The action is fairly high powered although the limits of believability were stretched a bit.

BEG FOR MERCY is a fun first novel. While I did have some qualms about the book (most notably the names), I fully intend to read the second tale to see where Toni Andrews takes this story. The "press" is an interesting choice for a psychic power, and I hope to see further revelations about Mercy's past.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox on October 27, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The blurb on the back of this book made me wonder if Mercy Hollings is something like the Incredibly Hulk in that we're told that people around her are at risk when she gets angry. But no, Mercy doesn't turn into an unjolly green giant, instead she has an ability to 'press' or bend people to her will. For example, if someone annoyed her and she said "go and take a running jump" they would. Clearly this is significant in terms of her interaction with people; something said in the heat of the moment, when drunk, without thought, could cause significant harm - and has in the past done so.

So Mercy is a loner, newly working as a hypnotherapist (with very good results) and with a strong personal code of ethics as to how she uses her ability. Not much, in other words, unless with the person's full consent, which is only really possible as part of her hypnotherapy practice. However Mercy's life is undergoing something of a change - she's finding herself with some friends who seem to care about her and when she cares about them too, and rescues her ditzy friend Sukey from an unsavoury man, she opens up a whole can of worms. Sometimes breaking some of her code of ethics means having to break even more to clean up the mess.

The cast of characters in this book is excellent, from Mercy herself (yes, another Mercedes, like in Patricia Briggs' paranormal series) whose daily decisions about whether to use her talent, together with doubt over her own humanity and her origins, give her a vulnerable and yet powerful edge; to Sam, the love interest, a surprisingly phlegmatic man who sees enough in Mercy to overlook her secrets; and to Sukey, the friend with a frightening taste in men who grows up quickly in this book.
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