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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). For more information on Adrienne's books please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com or download the Adrienne Giordano app. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Assistant State's Attorney Zac Hennings leaned back in his chair the second before a newspaper smacked against his desk.

"If there's any blowback on this," Ray Gardner said, "it's yours."

Zac glanced at the newspaper. On page one, below the fold, was a photo of a young woman-brunette-gazing out a window framed by a set of gold drapes. Someone's living room. The headline read Fighting for Justice. He skimmed the first few paragraphs. The Chelsea Moore murder.

A burst of adrenaline exploded in Zac's brain. Big case.

Turning from the newspaper, he looked back to his boss. Ray's generic gray suit fit better than most he wore but still hung loose on his lean frame. Once in a while, to keep his staff sharp, Ray would show up in a blue or black suit. Regardless, the guy needed a good tailor, but Zac wasn't going to be the one to suggest it. Not when Ray led the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, the largest of the six divisions of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Ray gestured to the newspaper. "The Sinclairs got traction with this. Steve Bennett-"

"The detective? The one who died last week?"

"That's him. Brain cancer. He apparently refused to face his maker without clearing his conscience. He sent Emma Sinclair a video-starring himself- telling her the witness who ID'ed her brother wasn't sure he got the right guy. According to Steve, detectives pressured the witness into saying he was positive."

Zac took his time with that one, let it sink in. "We locked up Brian Sinclair for murder and now we've got deathbed revelations?"

"Something like that. The State's Attorney called me at six this morning after seeing her newspaper. She wants the office bulldog on this. That's you, by the way. You'll have all the case files this afternoon."

More files. Every open space in Zac's office had been jammed with stacks of folders containing all the lurid details of crimes ranging from robberies to murders. Where he'd put more files he had no idea, but as one of nine hundred assistant prosecutors in Chicago, a city plagued with over five hundred murders last year, he had bigger problems than storage space.

Not for the first time, his responsibilities settled at the base of his neck. He breathed in, gave that bit of tension its due diligence and put it out of his mind. Unlike some of the attorneys around him, he lived for moments like this. Moments when that hot rush of scoring an important case made him "the man," marching into court, going to battle and kicking some tail.

The cases were often brutal, not to mention emotionally paralyzing, but his goal would always be telling the victim's loved ones they got a guilty verdict. No exceptions. In this case, they'd already convicted someone. Zac had to make it stick.

Adding to the drama was Chelsea's father, Dave, who was a veteran Chicago homicide detective. A good, honest cop who'd lost his child to a senseless act of violence.

In short, Zac wanted to win. Every time.

"We're already behind the curve with this article," Ray said.

"I'll get us caught up."

When Chelsea Moore's murder occurred, Zac had been grinding his way through misdemeanors. After getting promoted to felonies, he'd worked like a dog to win his cases and it paid off. Big-time. Ray had just assigned him a politically and emotionally volatile case that he'd bleed for in order to keep Chelsea's killer behind bars.

No matter how hard Emma Sinclair came at them, Dave's daughter deserved justice. And Zac would see that she got it. He'd study the trial transcripts and learn the facts of the case.

"The P.D. will go to the wall for Dave Moore," Ray said.

"Yep. The guy breaks cases no one else can. He won't tolerate his daughter's murderer going free. His buddies won't, either."

Ray pointed. "Bingo."

If Emma Sinclair managed to get her brother's conviction overturned, the Chicago P.D. would not only be angry, they'd also make sure Helen Jergins, the new State's Attorney who'd promoted Zac, got run out of town. Hard.

Ray shifted toward the door then turned back. "Whatever you need, you let me know. We have to win this one."

"I got this," Zac said. "Count on it."

Emma stood in front of the huge whiteboard she'd rolled to her mother's basement wall and contemplated her revised list of target defense attorneys. Given the newspaper article, today would be the day to once again get cracking on Project Sinclair.

Eighteen months ago her twenty-two-year-old brother, a guy who had nothing but love for those around him, had been convicted of strangling a young woman outside a nightclub. Unable to withstand the injustice of the circumstantial case-no fingerprints or DNA-Emma started banging on the doors of defense attorneys all over the city, trying to win a reversal. No matter how many times she was told no, she would not be silenced. Not when her innocent brother was rotting in prison.

She flicked her finger against the whiteboard. The new video evidence would lure one of these lawyers in. It had to. The case suddenly had all the political melodrama- corruption, false witness testimony, withholding information-defense attorneys thrived on.

She spun back to the oblong folding table, shoved aside an open banker's box, grabbed the binder with her latest set of research and made a note to study up on Brady and Giglio material. Being a first-year law student, a field she'd never imagined for herself, she hadn't yet mastered the concepts, but they involved impeaching a witness and items prosecutors were required to share with the defense. Maybe in the next few days she'd have a defense attorney-preferably pro bono, considering that she was broke-to help her slice through the technical aspects of the case.

Above her head, the exposed water pipe clunked. Her mother flushing the toilet. Emma sighed. She should move all this stuff upstairs to Brian's old room, but her mother didn't need to see a daily reminder that her son was a convicted murderer. Bad enough the poor woman had to think about it, never mind see it every time she walked upstairs.

So Emma and her effort to free her brother would stay in the cold, dreary basement, surrounded by cobwebs that, no matter how many times she brushed them away, kept returning. When the time came for her to move out on her own again, she'd have a finished basement. No doubt about it. For now, she'd left her cute little apartment in Wrigleyville so her widowed mother wouldn't have to face her demons alone.

A rapid click-click-click of heels hitting the battered hardwood came from the first floor. Emma had spent countless hours listening to her mother's footsteps above. Whether early morning or the darkness of night when sleep eluded them, Emma recognized the sound of her mother's shoes. The ones she'd just heard didn't belong to her mom. Someone's here.

"Emma?" her mother called from the doorway.

"Yes?"

"There's a Penny Hennings here to see you."

Emma froze. Penny Hennings. She perused her whiteboard, where she'd alphabetized the lawyers' names. Hennings. There it was. Not Penny, though. Gerald, from Hennings and Solomon.

Maybe Penny was a relative sent to check her out for Gerald Hennings, who might want to take the case. And if said relation fought downtown traffic on a weekday morning and hauled herself to the North Side, to Parkland, it had to be serious. Emma linked her fingers together and squeezed. Please, let it be.

"Be right up, Mom."

She glanced down at her sweats, torn T-shirt and pink fuzzy slippers. Great. She'd have to face some snazzy lady from a big-time law firm in this getup. She plucked a rubber band from the little bowl with the paper clips. Least she could do was tie back her tangled hair.

Rotten luck.

Forget it. She had to put her appearance out of her mind. For all she knew, Penny Hennings could be a cosmetics saleswoman.

But what were the chances of that? Particularly at 9:00 a.m. on the morning an article about Brian ran?

"Emma?" her mother called.

"Coming."

She straightened. If Penny Hennings was from Hennings and Solomon, Emma had to go into full sales mode and convince this woman that her firm should take Brian's case. After eighteen months of studying overturned convictions and hounding lawyers, it was time for their odds to change. And Hennings and Solomon could make that happen.

Emma ditched her slippers at the base of the stairs and marched up. She looked like hell, but she'd dazzle this would-be-lawyer-slash-cosmetics-saleswoman with her powers of persuasion.

The basement door stood open and Mom's voice carried from the living room. Emma closed her eyes. This could be it. After a long, streaming breath, she stepped out of the short hallway.

A minuscule woman-maybe late twenties-with shoulder-length blond hair sat on the sofa. The plaid, overstuffed chair tried to swallow her, but her red power suit refused to be smothered. No, that puppy screamed strength and defiance and promise. Could be a good sign.

Plus, to the woman's credit, she kept her gaze on Emma's face and not her attire. One cool cookie, this blonde.

Emma extended her hand to the now standing woman. "Hello. I'm Emma Sinclair."

"Good morning. I'm Penny Hennings. I'm an attorney from Hennings and Solomon. I'm sorry to barge in, but I saw the story on your brother this morning."

Emma glanced at her mother, took in her cloudy, drooping brown eyes and flat mouth. A heavy heart had stolen her mother's joy. Ten years ago, at the age of forty, the woman had been widowed and learned that hope could be a fickle thing. Emma, though, couldn't give in to that defeatist thinking. There was a reason she'd been left fatherless at sixteen and now, with her brother in prison, had assumed the role her father would want her to take. To watch over Mom and free Brian.

Some would say she didn't deserve all this loss. Why not? It turned out their family had crummy luck. Her father's sudden death from a brain aneurysm had left a void so deep she'd never really acknowledged it for fear that she'd be consumed by it and would cease experiencing the joy the world offered. Ignoring that vast hole inside her seemed easier.

Then Brian went to prison-more crummy luck-and the hole inside grew. The thing she held on to day after day, the thing that kept her focused and sane and standing, was the fight to free her brother.

Whatever it took, she'd find a way to put their family back together.

"Ms. Sinclair?"

Make this happen. "Forgive me. I'm…well, I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but you're the first attorney to contact me in eighteen months and I'm really, really happy to see you."

Penny offered a wide smile and instantly Emma's pulse settled. "Please, have a seat. Would you like coffee?"

"No, thank you. I can't stay long. I spoke to my father- Gerald Hennings-on the way over. He indicated that you'd contacted him about this case some months back."

Emma sat on the love seat and rested her hand over her mother's. Maybe they'd finally get the break they deserved. "Yes. He was kind enough to review the case, but said there was nothing he could do."

"At the time, that was true, but I'm intrigued by this video you've obtained. If the video is accurate, we might be able to prove that your brother's constitutional rights were violated. Any information regarding witness testimony should have been turned over to the defense before trial."

"It's Giglio material, right?" Emma asked.

Penny cocked her head. "You've brushed up."

"Yes. I'm also a first-year law student at Northwestern. I left a job at a public relations firm so I'd be available during the day to work on my brother's case. With the hands-on experience, I figured I might as well go to law school. I waitress at night and work my classes in around everything else."

"Wow. You're good."

Emma shrugged. "Not really. My brother is innocent and he's slated to spend the next twenty-five years in prison. I can't let that happen."

Penny's expression remained neutral, her lips free of any tightening or forced smiles. No pity. Good. They didn't need pity. They needed a shrewd legal rainmaker.

"That's why I'm here. I'd like to review the information you've collected and possibly take your case. Pro bono. I'm not going to lie: this will be tough. The victim's father is a Chicago P.D. detective. The State's Attorney will go to war with us to keep your brother in prison, but I won't back down. If Brian's rights were violated, I'll prove it. Besides that, I'm hungry for a big case and I think yours might just be the one."

Suddenly, Penny Hennings seemed young. Idealistic maybe. Not the battle-hardened defense attorney her father was. Did it matter? Her wanting to step out from under her father's shadow and make a name for herself was a great motivator.

She's a rainmaker, smart and determined.

Emma gestured down the hall to the basement door. "Would you like to see what I have on the case?"

Penny smiled. "You bet I would."

Zac pushed his rolling cart stuffed with case files from the courtroom to his fifth-floor office. Along the way he passed other prosecutors dragging their own heavy loads and their stone faces or smirking, sly grins told the tales of their wins and losses.

Zac's day had consisted of jury selection for a murder trial he was scheduled to prosecute. The pool of candidates wasn't ideal, but his evidence was strong and he'd parlay that into a win.

He nudged the cart through his doorway and turned back to the bull pen for Four O'clock Fun. On most days, prosecutors coming from court gathered to compare notes, discuss the personalities of judges and opposing lawyers, anything that might be good information for one of the other ASAs. Some days, Four O'clock Fun turned into a stream of stories that would scandalize the average person, but that prosecutors found humorous. For Zac, gallows humor was a form of self-protection. A way to keep his sanity in the face of the day-to-day evil he grappled with.

"Zac," Stew Henry yelled, "Pierson got his butt kicked by Judge Alred today."

"Seriously?"

Alred had to be the easiest-going guy on the bench. It took a lot to aggravate him. Two steps toward the bull pen, Zac's cell phone rang. He checked the screen. Alex Belson, the public defender on the Sinclair case, returning his call.

"Have to take this," Zac yelled to the bull pen before heading back to his office. "Alex, hey, thanks for getting back to me."

"No prob. Got to say, screwy timing since your sister called me today, too."

"My sister?"

What's that about?

"Yeah. She's taking the Sinclair case. Wants copies of all my notes."

Zac dropped into his chair to absorb this info. "You didn't know?" Alex asked.

Penny had left a voice mail earlier in the day, but he'd been in court and hadn't had a chance to get back to her. "I haven't talked to her today."

Another call beeped in and Zac checked the screen. Penny. "Alex, let me call you back." He flashed over to his sister. "Pen?"

The sound of a horn blasted. Outdoors.

"Hi," she said. "Are you in your office?"

"Yeah."

"I'm walking into the lobby. Be there in two minutes."

She was here. "What's this about your taking the Sinclair case?"

"Word travels fast. How'd you know?"

"The PD told me. Pen, I caught this case."
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Product Details

  • Series: Harlequin Intrigue (Book 1483)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373697503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373697502
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,731,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ADRIENNE GIORDANO, USA Today bestselling author, writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.

For more information on Adrienne's books please visit AdrienneGiordano.com or download the Adrienne Giordano App available for download on the iTunes and Google Play stores. Adrienne can also be found at Facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter.com/AdriennGiordano. For information on Adrienne's street team, Dangerous Darlings, go to Facebook.com/groups/DangerousDarlings.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 47 customer reviews
I loved this book and I love that I really did not know who did it until the very end.
Michelle McCormick
Andrienne Giordano has written a fast paced, action packed story full of suspense with interesting well defined characters.
tkdmom
This would definitely be a great beach book and I look forward to downloading more books from Adrienne Giordano.
hwensils

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on March 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Unexpectedly complex, The Prosecutor satisfied all my needs in a romantic suspense.

Emma Sinclair is convinced her brother, Brian, was wrongfully convicted of murder and has been working feverishly for months to find a way to have his conviction overturned. She catches a break with a death bed confession from one of the detectives on the case who says the “positive” ID from a witness, wasn’t positive at all and that the cops on the case led the witness.

She manages to find a lawyer to take her case and, as fate would have it, said lawyer is the sister of the prosecutor, Zac Hennings — and both siblings are determined to win. With all the pieces on the board, the story starts rolling in earnest right from the start.

The reader is pretty certain right off that Emma’s brother, Brian, is innocent. That’s not what the book is about. What the story covers is finding out the truth … a truth that is difficult, convoluted and full of red herrings. The author does a good job setting up many possibilities in very few pages.

The attraction between Emma and Zac is palpable, too. At heart, he’s a good guy and really is searching for the truth. But it’s hard for him to consider that there was malfeasance by the police. The problem behind all of the previous investigation is that the victim was the daughter of a respected cop, and everyone wanted to see her killer punished. Zac is no exception.

Of course, being on opposite sides creates friction, but they can’t deny what they feel, either. It’s a believable romance full of tension and drama.

Overall, I really liked this book. Sure there were a few things that stretched my belief a bit, and the climax happened a little too quickly, but those were little things that didn’t significantly affect my thorough enjoyment. Now I wonder … will Penny and Brian get their own stories? Please?

originally posted at long and short reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hope this helps on March 26, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rated 3.5 stars
Note: Stand alone read. 1st book in series

GOOD READ! Well written, strong characters, good dialogue, surprising plot twists, great support cast, especially the zany lawyer-sister who creates a sibling rivalry with great, sassy fun. HOWEVER, the unethical up and down lust-fest between the two main characters, who are in an adversarial legal relationship, is unrealistic and gets a little annoying.

THE STORY follows law student, Emma Sinclair, determined to overturn the wrongful murder conviction of her younger brother, Brian Sinclair. As the story opens, the case has been reopened and hotshot Assistant State's Attorney Zac Hennings is assigned to make sure Brian stays behind bars. At the same time, Zac's sister, dynamic defense attorney, Penny Hennings, comes to Brian's defense.

As Zac and Emma use their smarts and talents to search for the truth, it quickly becomes clear the police officers involved in the original case ignored and concealed evidence for a quick conviction, and are now conspiring to hide the truth. With both Emma and Brian in danger, Zac moves to protect them, while struggling to reconcile his job as the prosecutor, the evidence of police wrongdoing, and his conscience.

OVERALL, smart, complex characters and an engaging suspense story that hold the reader's attention (bpl).

You may also enjoy the complex characters and storytelling of N. Bruhns, A. Stuart, and C. Ryan. For good mystery/detective writers you might try J. D. Robb, D. Stabenow, M. Ferris, S. Grafton, J. Evanovich, S. W. Albert, Gayle Wilson, Julie Miller or B.J Daniels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rebecca moe on March 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A thoroughly enjoyable read! It was fast-paced and hard to put down, with a nice blend of suspense and romance. I didn't have a clue whodunnit until it was revealed, which was a nice change....

I loved the characters--not just Emma and Zac, but Zac's sister/Emma's lawyer Penny too--they were so much fun to read. The sibling dynamics were especially well-written between both sets of siblings, though Emma and Brian's were understandably a bit more bittersweet throughout the book. The chemistry between Emma and Zac? Fantastic!

There was one thing the characters did that bothered me--there could have been major and far-reaching consequences. Zac did own up to it, though, which made me feel a bit better, but still...it was a huge risk. I felt it could have been fun, to draw it out more--though the timeline of the book wouldn't have allowed such a scene later on, so I guess I can forgive them. This time. ;)

The ending felt a bit rushed, but not enough to affect my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I turned off the ereader with a smile on my face. How about a sequel? Penny needs her own story, I think ;)

Rating: B+ / 4 stars

I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
She will fight till the end to get a wrongful murder conviction overturn . Banging on the doors all over the city of defense attorneys to reverse the conviction. Who is she trying to help? Her younger brother Brian Sinclair charged with killing a detectives daughter. Emma Sinclair first year law student a tenacious hard working likeable person. All circumstantial evidence but still he was convicted, now a death bed confession with a video of the confession is exposed and the media gets wind of it. The case is reopen and Assistant State's Attorney Zac Hennings is assigned the case, he was instructed to make the case go away. Truth hidden, evidence concealed now it gets very interesting. Who do you think arrives on Emma's doorstep to take on the case? Penny Hennings , attorney for Hennings and Solomon her father's law firm. She will take on the case to help get Brian's conviction overturn. Not only this is strange and strenuous for Zac and I feel for him, Penny is his sister. From the very moment Zac and Emma met something click, they felt that attraction. Even though they were on opposing sides they just couldn't stay away from what is meant to be. Zac's devotion for his job weighs heavily on him because the lack of evidence, yeah cheesy evidence that would not hold up in court actually did. Did the police rush to convict because the victim was a police detective's daughter? A fast pace story, but what entertained me beside Zac and Emma's attraction, their bantering and thinking and response. The author managed to convey it so well that it was amusing. I could not put the book down so I read it in one sitting, why? It was so good I needed to know who? Who was it? Very good mystery thriller with so much, "Aha moments." The romance is just the icing on the cake on this one, yeah!!! Won this book on Goodreads, First Read Giveaway. Thank you Darlene Cruz
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