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Breaking Loose (Steele Street Book 10) [Kindle Edition]

Tara Janzen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Shadow of a Doubt
Shadow of a Doubt
Following your heart is usually the right thing to do … unless you are part of an underground British spy agency. Devon inadvertently puts his beautiful girlfriend in danger and they wind up on the run. Learn more about the author, Tiffany Snow

Book Description

SIN AND DANGER COLLIDE WHEN THE WORLD’S HOTTEST SECRET AGENTS COMPETE FOR THE PRIZE EVERYONE’S LUSTING AFTER….

No one’s ever seen it. Everybody wants it. That’s why the government has just unleashed its secret weapon. Drop-dead-gorgeous art dealer Suzi Toussi has been tapped for the toughest mission of her career: to locate the Memphis Sphinx, an ancient artifact rumored to possess otherworldly powers. Tracking it to Paraguay means going up against Dax Killian, the sexy special ops agent who’s planning to snatch the coveted relic right out of her hot little hands. If he can find it first…

Dax first spotted her outside a seedy bar—in three-inch heels and a too-tight dress. He’d know those curves anywhere. But what was Suzi doing in a hellhole like Ciudad del Este? Dax knows the answer: the Sphinx. Suddenly the game is on—and only one of them will walk away with the prize. With the Sphinx surfacing and passion taking Suzi and Dax under, they’re headed for a showdown that could reveal the secrets of the ages…or expose them to the hottest danger of all.


From the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tara Janzen lives in Colorado where she is at work on her next novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


Ciudad del Este, Paraguay—Saturday afternoon

Sitting at an outside table in front of the Mercado cantina, possibly the slummiest bar in the southern hemisphere, Dax Killian made one more careful checkmark in his notebook, right next to the word "asshole." It was the third such mark he'd made in the last hour—sixty minutes, three assholes.

Not bad.

Things were heating up.

Taking a short swallow of beer, he keyed a number into a small receiver and held it to his ear, tapping back into one of the transmitters he'd planted in the Galeria Viejo down the street.

Three days in this hellhole of a city, with one day left to go, and all Dax really had to show for his efforts was the notebook, and his checkmarks, and an appointment for later tonight that he hoped to hell panned out.

He was ready. More than ready with the deadline looming ever closer—Sunday, tomorrow. Do the deed by then, or have the rest of his life to nurse his regrets. It was a helluva deal. He'd been handed an opportunity here, and he didn't want to fuck it up.

He took another swallow of beer, then popped the last piece of his empanada into his mouth.
Asshole number three was dawdling, taking his sweet time getting to the gallery. Short and dark-haired, dressed in black slacks and a brown polo shirt, he stopped at one of the market stalls bordering the street and looked at a couple of cheap-ass nylon duffel bags.

Maybe he was a guy looking for a deal on cheap-ass nylon duffel bags, but Dax was betting not. He knew a wiseguy when he saw one. A few more moments passed, with the guy moving a couple of stalls closer to the gallery, then he knelt down to tie his shoe, and Dax figured that maybe his ship was about to come in. The man was signaling somebody—somebody with three potential bodyguards now in place on the premises.

Lucky, lucky day, if this thing actually turned into a party.

The two earlier arrivals were still in the gallery's back office with the owner, a thin, harried-looking man given to crumpled linen suits and Panama hats named Remy Beranger. The men were still regaling the French expat with an account of their latest debauchery and the superior quality of the new crop of whores at the club down the street, La Colonia, The Colony.

Whatever. Dax pulled his phone out of a cargo pocket on his pants and pressed a couple of buttons. He could see The Colony from his prime spot in front of El Mercado, and the girls looked as tired and lifeless and bored as any he'd seen, maybe even worse. Regardless, nothing of relevance to the problem at hand had been said in the office since the first two guys had gone in, and Remy Beranger had hardly said a word at all, relevant or otherwise, but that was the nature of surveillance—hours and days of next to nothing, and then bingo.

Lifting the phone to eye level, Dax took a look at the screen, zoomed in, then took the polo shirt guy's photograph. Keying in another sequence sent the photo to his computer in his room at the Posada Plaza, two blocks away. He had quite a little yearbook of gophers, traders, tourists, and customers accumulating on his hard drive in the dumpy room, but no kings, no real movers and shakers, and if they didn't start showing up here pretty damn quick, then he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his appointment with Remy Beranger later tonight was going to be one big bust, just him and maybe a couple of no-name hustlers playing patty-cake in Beranger's back room.
He couldn't afford that, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, not this week. Time was running out. He'd been chasing this damn score for months.

With the photo sent, he returned his attention to his handheld receiver, just in case somebody _decided to talk about something, anything, besides nooky. He'd wired the gallery his first morning in town. Nights in Ciudad del Este tended to be extremely busy, the streets and alleyways rocking and rolling with the transport of illegal everything, but in those quiet couple of hours before sunrise, things settled down, and that's when Dax had accessed a small rooftop patio tucked into the back of the building and broken into a second-floor window to go to work inside.

He took another short swallow of beer, and when the guy stood up and looked down the street, Dax followed his gaze. A black Range Rover bristling with antennas was nosing its way through the crowds, heading for the Old Gallery.

Bingo. Game on.

Dax knew the Range Rover. It belonged to Esteban Ponce, the youngest son of a large, obscenely wealthy family based in Brazil, with Ponce money fueling businesses from one end of South America to the other. According to Dax's intel, Esteban Ponce's "moving and shaking" included a lot of low-end women and upper-end antiquities, especially anything connected with the occult, like maybe something from Egypt's Twelfth Dynasty, possibly a sphinx with rock-crystal eyes that enabled a viewer to see the past, the future, and the present at locations far removed from the statue itself.

Or not.

Dax was a little on the skeptical side of the hocus-pocus equation, but he didn't have to believe. He just had to get the damn thing and deliver it to Sao Paulo, Brazil, by Sunday night, where one crooked piece-of-crap German named Erich Warner was waiting for it, and for his trouble, he'd been guaranteed two names.

That's all he needed, two goddamned names, one of a man, the other of a place, somewhere in Texas, and he'd be good to go. He could call his old Special Forces commander, Colonel Hanson, who'd been kicked up to the E-ring at the Pentagon, and rest a little easier at night, knowing the good guys could chalk up one more win in the war on terrorism.

So here he sat, waiting for his chance with Remy Beranger, hoping to gather some workable information from the afternoon, or some actionable intelligence. Cut a deal or steal the guy blind, either option worked for Dax. He just needed to know the Memphis Sphinx was in play, and where it was—at the gallery, or stashed elsewhere, or worst case, not within a thousand miles of this damn place.

He sure hoped to hell not on that last scenario. There wasn't time to put together another search, and he'd all but guaranteed Warner that the damn thing would be here, this weekend, in Ciudad del Este.

Fortunately, he worked well under pressure . . . quite well. 

No, no, no. No sales, not today, and not tomorrow, Beranger had said, when Dax had shown up at the gallery, flashing his cash. Later, monsieur, in two, maybe three days.

Two or three days hadn't cut it for Dax, though, not on this deal, so he'd pushed until he'd gotten a more workable schedule on the table, knowing guys like Beranger didn't turn down cold cash in U.S. dollars, not unless something was up, like an even bigger score.

Tomorrow night, then, late, Beranger had finally agreed. I have some very nice Moche ceramics I can show you, very nice, the erotic style, just as you wish.

Eighteen-hundred-year-old erotica—Dax couldn't remember ever being in the market for anything stranger, but apparently, for those in the know, Galeria Viejo in Ciudad del Este was the place for acquiring a little ancient pornographic pottery. 

He slipped his hand into the cargo pocket again and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. His lighter came next. Settling a little deeper into his chair, he lit up, and through a thin veil of smoke, watched the Range Rover muscle its way through the crowds of people and vehicles, until it reached a spot in front of the gallery.

Lowering the cigarette, he flicked off the ash and readied the phone in his other hand. One, two, three more bodyguards exited the Rover. Then the boy from Brazil stepped out—Esteban Ponce, tall and noticeably thin, dark hair hanging in a long braid down the middle of his back, expensively dressed with lots of flash, black slacks, white sports coat, red silk shirt, and sporting a long gold chain strung with a crucifix, an Egyptian ankh, and a pentacle, and yeah, Dax figured that should just about cover all the other-world crap that could ruin a guy's day.

Geezus.

Every over-rich, inbred family Dax had ever worked for could lay claim to one of their own as the resident fuckup, and Esteban was the Ponces'. No guts, no brains, no glory, but plenty of time and money on his hands, most of it spent trying to carve a niche for himself in a pack of world-class wolves and jackals.

Personally, Dax doubted if there was much competition for resident Honcho of the Voodoo Hoodoo in the Ponce clan. He took everybody's picture, including a couple of group shots and a zoomed-in close-up on the Range Rover's license plate. While he forwarded all the photos to his computer, the Brazilian contingent moved inside the gallery, leaving two guys to guard the door.

Clamping the cigarette between his teeth, Dax typed in a brief, coded text to Sao Paulo, then returned the phone to his pocket and went back to listening to the handset.

"Senor Ponce, my pleasure. So pleased, so very pleased . . ." Remy Beranger finally came to life, his words verifying Dax's identification of Esteban Ponce, not that he'd needed much verification. He'd started doing his South American homework as soon as he'd realized where the game was heading. "Oh, yes, senor, the others will be here very shortly. Very shortly, indeed."

Others? Dax thought.

Good. Maybe this thing was going to roll.

He took another drag off his cigarette and checked both ends of the street while he exhaled. A silver Mercedes was heading his way, looking promising. The luxury sedan passed him by and kept going almost the length of the block, before it pulled to a stop a couple of cars down from the Range Rover, in front of a bar so seedy it almost made the Mercado look like it had some class. Two men got out of the front. Only one got out of the back—Levi Asher, short, balding, narrow through the shoulders, rumpled, potbellied in a pale blue suit, and sweating like a pig in the heat.

Perfect.

Under any circumstances other than a stakeout, Dax would have grinned. The day was definitely looking up. Levi Asher was exactly the guy Dax had wanted to see in Ciudad del Este, the same way he'd seen him in Milan, and in London, and in that nondescript little spot on the road north of Washington, D.C., the two of them on the same damn trail.

Sonuvabitch. Third-rate Remy Beranger and his fourth-rate gallery had actually scored the Memphis Sphinx, and in the nick of time. Everybody had heard the stories, they knew the legend of what was supposed to happen Sunday night. They'd all just been waiting for the damn thing to show up somewhere, and to a man, everybody Dax had met or dealt with over the past four months of his investigation believed that what was supposed to happen Sunday night, would happen, that the Gates of Time, whatever the hell those were, would open and reveal the secrets of the ages, possibly even the secrets of immortality.

Everybody believed, that is, except Dax. But he got paid to be skeptical. Fortunately, he was very good at that, too.

Yeah, that was him, just one damned fortunate guy.

Erich Warner sure as hell believed in the Sphinx's powers. The guy was desperate to get his hands on the Maned Sphinx of Sesostris III, which in Dax's book made him more than a little unstable on top of already being a psychopathic asshole.

He dropped his cigarette to the pavement and ground it out with his boot, all the while watching a dark blue Land Cruiser ease its way down the street through the crowds.

The Cruiser came to a stop next to Levi Asher's silver Mercedes, and a minor player named Jimmy Ruiz got out from behind the wheel and crossed in front of the car. Dax recognized him as an associate of Remy Beranger's from the file he'd compiled on Galeria Viejo. When Ruiz stopped next to the passenger door and started to open it, Dax set aside his handset and pulled his phone back out of his pocket. Then he reached for his beer. 

There were three things he knew for certain about the Memphis Sphinx: Erich Warner wanted it; Dax was going to get it; and there wasn't a nutcase from here to Cairo who wasn't after it. He already had Asher and Ponce. That was enough to assure him he was in the right place at the right time. Anyone else was either a pure bonus or an unnecessary complication.

Or both.

In spades.

He paused with the beer bottle halfway to his mouth, his gaze riveted to the navy-blue-and-white-striped, peep-toe spectator pump descending from out of the passenger side door of the Land Cruiser. The shoe was elegant, expensive, leather, and handmade, and it encased a sweetly feminine foot whose arched lines extended up a delicate ankle, a silken calf, a slender, cream-colored thigh that hit him where it hurt, all the way up to the leading edge of a tight navy blue dress that wrapped and swirled its way up the most dangerous set of curves Dax had seen since . . . since he didn't remember when.

On second thought, he did remember when.

His gaze narrowed, zeroing in on the woman and cataloguing every square centimeter of her lush female form, every brass button marching down the front of her short cropped jacket, every perfectly tailored fold and sweep of the navy blue dress so lovingly molded to her body, every inch of blindingly white piping accenting the suit, right up to the tortioiseshell sunglasses on her face, and the elegantly broad-brimmed, white Panama hat set at a rakish angle on her head. Her richly colored hair was swept up under the hat, but there were enough silken auburn strands drifting down the nape of her neck to tell him he was in way more trouble than he had bargained for—more than a boatload, more than made sense.

He carefully set his beer back on the table, untouched. There weren't many women built like the one getting out of the Land Cruiser, but he knew one. He knew one with that exact set of cyclone curves and auburn hair.

Geezus.

He didn't believe in the impossible, any more than he believed in the immortal powers of the Sphinx. But there she was, straight out of his dreams, the headliner of his fantasies, the girl who'd stood him up at Duffy's Bar in Denver six months ago, the one whose presence here told him more about her than he'd unearthed in all his months of investigation—and everything it told him set every nerve ending he had on full, redline alert.

Product Details

  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0440244706
  • Publisher: Dell; Original edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002HMJZ7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,201 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High octane romantic adventure July 30, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Suzi Toussi and Dax Killian are the romantic leads in the latest hit in the Crazy and Loose series. They and a bunch of bad guys are in Paraguay to authenticate, the purported magical and know only in rumors, myth, and stories, Manned Sphinx of Sesostris III. The Sphinx is said to grant: unlimited power; the ability to see the past, future, and present locations remotely; as well as immortality and resurrection when held up into the moonlight on the third full moon in the year of Horus. Easy to see why everyone wants it and will kill to get it, and guess what happening tomorrow night? Yup, that full moon. When the showing to the potential buyers goes bad - mayhem and death ensue - the race is on to find the still missing Sphinx. And so Tara Janzen's trademark twenty four hours of action, romantic adventure and suspense begins. As always the Special Defenses Force team achieves their goals, which may or not be those they have been tasked with...

"Breaking Loose" is the tenth book in this awesome series and is another excellent work of pure entertainment. This book like all the others can be read alone. But, for the full wonderfulness of the adventures and romance featuring these fabulous Steele Street chop shop boys read them all. Tara Janzen delivers her signature style of an action packed, thriller-diller, special ops; romantic adventure and suspense. Her characters are well drawn; there is plenty of romance, and great dialogue as well as fast action. As is true in all these books, the first part is a build up to the ending that goes out with a bang, and this one's a total cliff hanger too! There are interesting side characters, plots and sub-plots, more of past characters and of characters that will star in the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost interest October 27, 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tara Janzen seems to have a pretty efficient book-writing system as she has published several over the last few years in the Steele Street series, most of which I think I've read.

Breaking Loose was the first that I was unable to finish. I gave up halfway, hoping to get some enthusiasm after a break, but whenever I picked the book up again I found my mind wandering.

For this reader at least, the story took ages to get going. Suzi Toussi, our heroine, is sent out to Paraguay to authenticate and recover a Sphinx which has (supposedly) supernatural powers. But Suzi's not the only one after the relic - Dax Killian, whom she met several months before, is also tasked to get it, as are several other characters.

There's a fair amount of action in this story but I found myself really struggling to keep up and even to care about it. Action scenes are great, but they need something more to hold them together than I was finding in this story.

I found I was pretty much bored whilst reading it. Although the locations were interestingly described and there were some good scenes, the overall book just didn't hang together for me and I felt disinclined to spend any more time on it.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner! October 18, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The lastest escapades of the Chop Shop boys is another page turner in this fabulously entertaining series. Suzi Toussi, and fairly newcomer, Dax Killian take center stage in the latest installment set in Paraguay. Glimpses of Suzi's traumatic past are revealed and some intriguing connections are exposed while she goes head to head with Dax over a supposedly mystical statue. They match wits against each other while staying one step ahead of the ruthless competition. This book is fast paced and virtually non-stop action! I love the way Ms. Janzen gives each character their own little quirks and picadilloes to make them more real.

The intertwining story in this book is whether or not The Steele Street boys have found one of their own, believed to be lost to them forever. The two stories converge in a hail of bullets and blood, leaving questions that smoothly lay the groundwork for the next much anticipated installment! Another winner from Tara Janzen!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Gave 5 Stars, I'd Give 10 Stars!! September 17, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tara Janzen's Steele Street Series is one of my all-time favorites!! Art dealer, Suze Toussi, undercover agent, is sent to Paraguay, to find the Memphis Sphinx, an artifact rumored to possess otherworldly powers. Dax Killian, special ops agent, wants it too, for a man who has information he needs. And, who has the Sphinx? Mysterious, super-powered Conroy Farrell who looks like slaughtered J.T. Chronopolous---could it be real---J.T's alive???? Creed meets him eye-to-eye and says YES, but he needs to be captured 'cuz something's bad wrong with him. Can't wait for the next story!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent November 17, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I love the series. I cant wait until the next one is out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dax & Suzi.... and J.T. April 17, 2011
By Cameo
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
J.T. aka Conroy Farrel, was the best thing about this book. He was just the coolest guy under pressure. I loved the scene with J.T. and the poor guy who thought J.T. was Jesus.

Dax & Suzi were okay, they were interesting enough to keep me interested in the book. But again, J.T. enters into the story and he is the only one I was interested in reading about.

So for those of you who want to read about J.T. Chronopolous [before his own story] this is your book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this series
I love this series! The books keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. With a great story line, fast cars and sexy men, you couldn't ask for a better book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by abc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it.
Published 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved beginning to end.
Published 8 months ago by renee engquist
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a fun, engrossing series!
Published 9 months ago by Jill Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Jane and JT story was a great sequel to the Steele Street mysteries. Can't wait until the next read from this series.
Janzen does not disappoint!
Published 12 months ago by Duckey
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick read
Fun, easy, fast read. Hard to put the book down, read it in an afternoon. Already bought the next book.
Published 15 months ago by Jill L Hegedus
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome series!
I loved this series so much! I was hooked from the first book. I love this authors writing style. Each book is packed with action and romance. Read more
Published 19 months ago by p2kids
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series
This is a great series wish there were more... I had a hard time put this book down. luv it.
Published on March 5, 2013 by -Mel-
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast read
Characters well developed. Holds your interest thru out. Fast action. Sexy. The entire series is exciting and interesting. Good looking men and women
Published on December 11, 2012 by Twin virgo
5.0 out of 5 stars She wants MORE!
This and four other books by Tara Janzen were purchased for my wife, Susan. She loved those books! _Loose Ends_, _Loose and Easy_, _Cutting Loose_ and _On the Loose_ are all... Read more
Published on April 5, 2012 by Scott Andrew Ley
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More About the Author

TARA JANZEN, New York Times bestselling author, is the creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.'s most elite black ops forces. The eleven book series begins with CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and finishes up with LOOSE ENDS. One of the books is on AMAZON'S TOP TEN ROMANCE LIST - LOOSE AND EASY, 2008. Three of her books are on the Romantic Times ALL-TIME FAVORITES list - RIVER OF EDEN, CRAZY WILD, and SHAMELESS.

Writing as Glenna McReynolds, she is the author of thirteen Loveswept romances, an epic medieval romantic fantasy trilogy, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE, DREAM STONE, and PRINCE OF TIME, and a contemporary romantic adventure set in the Amazon, RIVER OF EDEN. Tara loves doing research for her books, and her love of anthropology and the natural sciences has helped her create the landscapes of her novels, from the rich historical background of THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE trilogy, to the shores of the blackwater rivers flowing through the Amazonian rain forest in RIVER OF EDEN. Her love of the shooting sports and American muscle cars fuels all the "crazy hot" and super fast-paced Tara Janzen novels of the Steele Street series.

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