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On the Loose (Steele Street, Book 7) Mass Market Paperback – October 30, 2007


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044024384X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440243847
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


One day later, the Blake Hotel, Panama City, Panama

Unbelievable.

Smith stood stock-still at the edge of the hotel's pool deck, staring at the bikini-clad blonde testing the water with the perfectly polished toes of her right foot.

Tilting his head slightly to one side, he sized her up from a different angle, not that it made any difference. She was perfect from every angle, absolutely perfect. Geezus. His life couldn't possibly be this complicated, this crazy. He should be with the guys at Joint Ops Central, hot on the trail of two traitors, a notorious drug runner with global connections, and a plane the DEA analysts were still drooling over. He shouldn't have been rousted out of his hotel room in the middle of the night and shoved on a flight leaving Lima before dawn, and he sure as hell shouldn't have been reassigned to a lousy Personal Security Detail, a PSD, not for any reason—but especially not for this reason.

Panama City, hell.

Standing next to him, a State Department flack rattled on about being held personally responsible for any mishaps or screwups, of which there had better be absolutely none, zero, or Smith was going to get his ass handed to him on a platter. The stakes were high, the flack said; Rydell was being tagged for a job that he no way in hell deserved, and he damn well better remember it.

Yeah, yeah. Smith had heard it all before, and like everyone else who'd ever tried to sell that line, the State guy had it ass-backward. Guys like him never got tagged for jobs they didn't deserve. They got tagged for the jobs nobody else could do or the jobs nobody else wanted. Neither reason of which actually applied to the current situation, he silently admitted. Every guy in the world wanted this job. Guys dreamed about a PSD like this one, fantasized about them, and there were hundreds of badass knuckle-draggers out there who could do it at least as well as he could, and probably a few who could do it better, because at fifty feet he was already going down in flames.

Honey York.

Unbelievable.

She stepped down into the pool, bent over—sweet geezus—and splashed some water on her arms.
He reached up and loosened his tie.

Fuck.

Yeah. Right. They'd done that, and seeing her again only proved what he'd done a pretty damn good job of denying for the last four months: Once had not been enough.

Not even close.

And it pissed him off.

He didn't need this.

"Ms. York's safety and comfort are going to be your top priority for the next two days," the flack was saying. "Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to come between you, and absolutely nothing is going to happen between you, so get those thoughts out of your head, and if you bring her back here with so much as a single hair out of place, you will find yourself back at the bottom of the food chain. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Rydell?"

"Crystal." The single word was cold, succinct, and in no way indicative of his current internal condition, which was hot under the collar and veering toward some sort of epiphany he was sure he didn't want to have.

But, dammit, strings had been pulled somewhere to get him taken off the Peruvian mission, and those same damn strings had to have been bought, sold, and horse-traded in dark alleys in order to get his butt landed on the pool deck of the most exclusive hotel in Panama City for a baby-sitting job—strings a whole helluva lot bigger than the ones holding Honey's bikini together.

String bikini.

Black bikini.

An if-there-were-a-hundred-and-four-square-inches-of-material-in-the-whole-damn-thing-he'd-eat-his-hat bikini.

And he couldn't take his eyes off it or the curves it did absolutely nothing to contain—which wasn't doing a damn thing to improve his mood.

"The itinerary for Ms. York's tour is in your portfolio, including all departures and arrivals and the names of every major coffee grower in the highlands. She's especially keen on meeting the plantation owners."

Smith slanted a glance down through his Ray-Bans at the shrimp-sized flack in his bespoke suit and handmade leather shoes. Brett Jenkins III had Yale written all over him, and asshole written all over that.

"Coffee? Tour?" Nobody had said anything about coffee to him. Nobody had used the word "tour."
High-priority personal security detail was what he'd been told, orders straight from the top, code red, a full-court press requiring the utmost discretion and a covert operator from SDF.

He let his gaze stray back to the woman leaning over the side of the pool and taking a sip from a pi–a colada with enough fruit in it to qualify as a side dish.

Discretion, his ass.

There was nothing discreet about Honoria York-Lytton in a black string bikini, nothing discreet about the huge pair of rhinestone-studded black sunglasses perched on her nose, nothing discreet about the hundred and one shades of blond hair she'd twisted up into a perfectly disheveled pile of wild curls on top of her head.

A hair out of place? Give him a break. She didn't have a hair in place. What she did have was a tiny black cocktail umbrella tucked in her wild blond curls. When she took the pink umbrella out of her pi–a colada and stuck it in her hair, too, the picture was complete: bimbo, party girl, five feet two inches of pure plaything.

He wasn't fooled for a second.

If she'd taught him one thing in San Luis, El Salvador, it was to never underestimate a woman in platform heels and a polka-dot dress—especially if that woman's family had come over on the Mayflower and her father and two uncles had been United States ambassadors, especially if that woman held an advanced degree from Harvard and her dating pool started on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and ended at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

She was connected, all right, and he hadn't called her, not once since the wild night they'd hooked up in the old Hotel Palacio in San Luis. He'd had Skeeter, one of his SDF teammates, track her all the way home to Washington, D.C., and confirm her safe arrival, and then he'd done his best to put her out of his mind. He hadn't written her, except once, but never sent the letter. He hadn't sent flowers, though he'd been damn tempted to more times than he wanted to admit, and he hadn't returned her panties.

Nope. The panties were still his, still in his possession, still in his rucksack, the sheerest, prettiest, most expensive piece of lingerie he'd ever seen, ever touched, ever whatevered.

Perfect. He had her silk underwear, and she'd sicced the State Department on him. Oh, hell no, this was no accident.

". . . limo will be here in about forty-five minutes to take you to the air base to catch a flight scheduled to leave in two hours and arrive at Ilopango International Airport this afternoon. From there, you'll be taking a private vehicle up into the mountains of—"

"Ilopango?" Smith interrupted, his attention and his gaze snapping back to Jenkins. "Ilopango is in El Salvador." And no way in hell had anybody said any damn thing about the mission being in El Salvador.

"And so are the coffee plantations Ms. York is scheduled to visit in Morazan Province along the Honduran border, near the Torola River. Ambassador Hasbert himself has arranged the introductions."
Smith's eyebrows arched above the curve of his Ray-Bans. The Torola? Jenkins had to be kidding. Didn't the man know what in the hell was going on up in the hills of Morazan? Hadn't he done any goddamn research on this PSD at all?

Obviously not.

Smith's gaze shot back to Honey, and he swore silently to himself. She knew, so help him God. She had to know, or she wouldn't have needed him, because, dammit, there was only one reason for there to be any connection whatsoever between the pampered, pedicured, and pedigreed Washington, D.C., socialite and a Third World backwater in the Salvadoran highlands. Only one, goddammit, and it was nothing but the kind of trouble somebody should have stopped before it got to the point of him staring at her bikinied bottom in Panama City.

Geezus. Just how the hell much trouble had her sister gotten herself into this time? And who in the hell had Hasbert arranged to introduce her to? The Salvadoran government-sanctioned coffee growers, or the rebel leader trying to blow them off the map, Diego Garcia, because, frankly, Ms. York didn't need an introduction to Diego Garcia. She and the guerrilla captain had met in San Luis the same night Smith had met her, four months ago, in a church, over a table piled high with the quarter of a million dollars Honey had smuggled into El Salvador and had been handing over to a dissident priest who hadn't wasted a second in handing it over to Garcia—U.S. cash, all in fifties bundled together by rubber bands into two-inch stacks.

Mission of mercy, she'd called it, a mission of mercy for her sister, a trust-fund-baby bride of Christ who was sacrificing her life as an impoverished nun in El Salvador. But all hell had broken out on the border in the last four months, and more times than he cared to remember, Smith had wondered if he should have stopped the illegal cash transaction in the sacristy when he'd had the chance.

Not that he'd had much of a chance. The money had been on the table by the time he'd gotten to the church, and he'd been a little low on firepower and authority. One .45 cartridge, that's all he'd had for the ancient pistol he'd been packing. One lousy cartridge for one old gun, because Honey had stolen his Sig Sauer, his extra magazines, and about half his brains by then.

And there she was, sipping a pi–a colada and cooling her cute ass in the pool, waiting for him to take her back into El Salvador.

Smith cleared his throat before he spoke.

"Has Ms. York been advised of the guerrilla activity on the...

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.

Customer Reviews

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Their romance sizzles off this page-turning action story.
Karen Docter
I have not had to wait for a year or 2 after the hardcover copy has come out before I can read the next story .
C. Messer
Other than Crazy Sweet which drags in a few spots, all of the other books in this series have been great.
Lady Sandra

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cherise Everhard VINE VOICE on November 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After loving every one of the Steele Street books, the last one, Crazy Sweet, was a disappointment. The main story lacked the intrigue and the wonderful characters I had come to expect from this series. That being said, the secondary story and characters of Special Defense Forces operative, C.Smith Rydell, and heiress, Honey York, saved that story from being a complete bust... And in this story C. Smith and Honey bring this series back on track, making it wonderful once again.

It was only 4 months ago when C. Smith disregarded the mission he was on to rescue an out of place Honey in the streets of San Luis. After helping her on her mission they shared one night of passion and then the next day he had her on a plane back to the States. They never saw each other again. Fast forward to the present day and SDF Operative C. Smith has been called off an important assignment to play bodyguard to Honey. She has to go back to El Salvador on yet another mission, this one more dangerous then the first.

Honey and C. Smith kept me flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. The mission they are on is complex; it involves drug runners, weapons, money and a few nuns. When you throw their chemistry into the mix, the book gets harder and harder to put down with every page. An introduction to two very dynamic new characters promises an equally thrilling next book.

This is supposed to be a spin off of the Steele Street series, but it seems to be the same type of book with a lot of the same players. No complaints here. This book was as good as I hoped it would be, containing no shortage of action, adventure, danger or romance. It left me in eager anticipation of Cutting Loose due out next winter. Enjoy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karen Docter on October 29, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you loved Tara Janzen's Crazy... series, you've probably been waiting as eagerly as I have for the launch of her spin-off series with the release of On The Loose on October 30th. It was well worth the wait! Not only is On The Loose as fun and sexy a read as I've come to expect from Janzen, she's reunited two characters I fell in love with in Crazy Sweet who deserved their own story.

From the moment Special Defense Forces operative C. Rydell Smith first laid eyes on Honey York smuggling cash through the embattled streets of San Luis, he knew she was trouble. With her polka-dot dress, platform heels, and candy-apple-red toenail polish, she'd tested his ability then to stay cool under fire. But now, four months after putting her on a plane back to safety, his latest mission is to baby-sit the delectable socialite as she saunters back into El Salvador ostensibly on a tour of coffee plantations. Honey has twenty-four hours to find a guerilla leader's camp in the El Savadoran jungle, deliver a pile of monogrammed Louis Vuitton suitcases that don't belong to her, as well as a truckload of equipment, ordnance and a locked briefcase. It doesn't take long for the bullets...and passion to fly!

Janzen specializes in writing compelling, to-die-for heroes and sexy heroines worthy of them. Rydell and Honey are no exception. Their romance sizzles off this page-turning action story. You won't be able to put down your copy of On The Loose until you've read every last exhilarating page.

Reviewed by Karen Docter
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Krista Lyn VINE VOICE on February 12, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really think this author's best might be behind her. Crazy Hot, Crazy Cool, Crazy Wild and Crazy Kisses were just great. Crazy Love was quite possibly the biggest let-down disappointment of my entire life as a reader (one that I'm still not over...bitter), and Crazy Sweet was just awful. I was really hoping that the "start" of the "continuation" of Steele Street would be a time of re-energizing for this author....not so much.

The plot is complicated and there are just to many darn characters to keep up with. I didn't particularily care for either Honey or Smith, and the whole drug cartel, ex-lovers, CIA gone bad, nuns in trouble scene is just old and tired.

I am officially done with this series and this author. I can't believe that I wasted my time on her last 3 books. How could something so good turn so horrible. I may reconsider if Janzen decides to re-write Crazy Love...otherwise....Goodbye.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
STORY BRIEF:
Honey is a wealthy socialite living in Washington D.C. Her sister Julia is a nun working in an orphanage in El Salvador. The orphanage is in an area controlled by Diego, the leader of a revolutionary military group. Because Honey has visited Julia before, the US government wants Honey to deliver money and arms to Diego. Honey wants to go because she thinks her sister might need her help. Smith is a US special forces soldier who is assigned to go with Honey to protect her. A second plot involves an enemy of Smith who is plotting and planning to kill him.

REVIEWER'S OPINION:
I didn't like Honey or her decisions and actions. If she wanted to help Julia, she could have hired someone to find Julia and pass messages along. Putting herself at risk of being kidnapped for ransom didn't work for me. In addition, Smith is putting his life on the line to protect her, yet she is not honest with him when he asks her questions about the trip. He tries to talk her into letting him go into the jungle without her, but she refuses and won't tell him why. Aside from that, the story is ok. It took awhile to get going as the reader was meeting and learning about all the different players in the first half of the book. The second half was better. The best part was the ending. The book was ok, but it didn't hold my interest as well as other books have. I prefer more witty conversation or things that surprise and delight me.

DATA:
Story length: 403 pages. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: one, 11 pages long. Setting: current day Peru, Panama, El Salvador and Denver, Colorado. Copyright: 2007. Genre: romantic suspense.
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