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Raintree: Inferno (Silhouette Nocturne) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Silhouette Nocturne (Book 15)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Silhouette; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373617623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373617623
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Linda Howard is an award-winning author whose New York Times bestsellers include Open Season, All the Queen?s Men, Mr. Perfect, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Dante Raintree stood with his arms crossed as he watched the woman on the monitor. The image was in black and white, to better show details; color distracted the brain. He focused on her hands, watching every move she made, but what struck him most was how uncommonly still she was. She didn't fidget, or play with her chips, or look around at the other players. She peeked once at her down card, then didn't touch it again, signaling for another hit by tapping a fingernail on the table. Just because she didn't seem to be paying attention to the other players, though, didn't mean she was as unaware as she seemed.

"What's her name?" he asked.

"Lorna Clay," replied his chief of security, Al Rayburn.

"Is that her real name?"

"It checks out."

If Al hadn't already investigated her, Dante would have been disappointed. He paid Al a lot of money to be efficient and thorough.

"At first I thought she was counting," said Al.

"But she doesn't pay enough attention."

"She's paying attention, all right," Dante murmured. "You just don't see her doing it." A card counter had to remember every card played. Supposedly counting cards was impossible with the number of decks used by the casinos, but no casino wanted a card counter at its tables. There were those rare individuals who could calculate the odds even with multiple decks.

"I thought that, too," said Al. "But look at this piece of tape coming up. Someone she knows comes up to her and speaks, she looks around and starts chatting, completely misses the play of the people to her left—and doesn't look around even when the deal comes back to her, she just taps that finger. And damned if she didn't win. Again."

Dante watched the tape, rewound it, watched it again. Then he watched it a third time. There had to be something he was missing, because he couldn't pick out a single giveaway.

"If she's cheating," Al said with something like respect, "she's the best I've ever seen."

"What does your gut say?" Dante trusted his chief of security. Al had spent thirty years in the casino business, and some people swore he could spot cheats as soon as they walked in the door. If Al thought she was cheating, then Dante would take action—and he wouldn't be watching this tape now if something hadn't made Al uneasy.

Al scratched the side of his jaw, considering. He was a big, bulky man, but no one who observed him for any length of time would think he was slow, either physically or mentally. Finally he said, "If she isn't cheating, she's the luckiest person walking. She wins. Week in, week out, she wins. Never a huge amount, but I ran the numbers, and she's into us for about five grand a week. Hell, boss, on her way out of the casino she'll stop by a slot machine, feed a dollar in and walk away with at least fifty. It's never the same machine, either. I've had her watched, I've had her followed, I've even looked for the same faces in the casino every time she's in here, and I can't find a common denominator."

"Is she here now?" "She came in about half an hour ago. She's playing blackjack, as usual."

"Who's the dealer?"

"Cindy."

Cindy Josephson was Dante's best dealer, almost as sharp at spotting a cheater as Al himself. She had been with him since he'd opened Inferno, and he trusted her to run an honest game. "Bring the woman to my office," Dante said, making a swift decision. "Don't make a scene."

"Got it," said Al, turning on his heel and leaving the security center, where banks of monitors displayed every angle of the casino.

Dante left, too, going up to his office. His face was calm. Normally he would leave it to Al to deal with a cheater, but he was curious. How was she doing it? There were a lot of bad cheaters, a few good ones, and every so often one would come along who was the stuff of which legends were made: the cheater who didn't get caught, even when people were alert and the camera was on him—or, in this case, her.

It was possible for people to simply be lucky, as most people understood luck. Chance could turn a habitual loser into a big-time winner. Casinos, in fact, thrived on that hope. But luck itself wasn't habitual, and he knew that what passed for luck was often something else: cheating. Then there was the other kind of luck, the kind he himself possessed, but since it depended not on chance but on who and what he was, he knew it was an innate power and not Dame Fortune's erratic smiles. Since his power was rare, the odds made it likely the woman he'd been watching was merely a very clever cheat.

Her skill could provide her with a very good living, he thought, doing some swift calculations in his head. Five grand a week equaled two hundred sixty thousand dollars a year, and that was just from his casino. She probably hit all of them, careful to keep the numbers relatively low so she stayed under the radar.

He wondered how long she'd been taking him, how long she'd been winning a little here, a little there, before Al noticed.

The curtains were still open on the wall-to-wall window in his office, giving the impression, when one first opened the door, of stepping out onto a covered balcony. The glazed window faced west, so he could catch the sunsets. The sun was low now, the sky painted in purple and gold. At his home in the mountains, most of the windows faced east, affording him views of the sunrise. Something in him needed both the greeting and the goodbye of the sun. He'd always been drawn to sunlight, maybe because fire was his element to call, to control.

He checked his internal time: four minutes until sundown. He knew exactly, without checking the tables every day, when the sun would slide behind the mountains. He didn't own an alarm clock. He didn't need one. He was so acutely attuned to the sun's position that he had only to check within himself to know the time. As for waking at a particular time, he was one of those people who could tell himself to wake at a certain time, and he did. That particular talent had nothing to do with being Raintree, so he didn't have to hide it; a lot of perfectly ordinary people had the same ability.

There were other talents and abilities, however, that did require careful shielding. The long days of summer instilled in him an almost sexual high, when he could feel contained power buzzing just beneath his skin. He had to be doubly careful not to cause candles to leap into flame just by his presence, or to start wildfires, with a glance, in the dry-as-tinder brush. He loved Reno; he didn't want to burn it down. He just felt so damn alive with all the sunshine pouring down that he wanted to let the energy pour through him instead of holding it inside.

This must be how his brother Gideon felt while pulling lightning, all that hot power searing through his muscles, his veins. They had this in common, the connection with raw power. All the members of the far-flung Raintree clan had some power, some heightened form of ability, but only members of the royal family could channel and control the earth's natural energies.

Dante wasn't just of the royal family; he was the Dranir, the leader of the entire clan. "Dranir" was synonymous with "king," but the position he held wasn't ceremonial, it was one of sheer power. He was the oldest son of the previous Dranir, but he would have been passed over for the position if he hadn't also inherited the power to hold it.

Gideon was second to him in power; if anything happened to Dante and he died without a child who had inherited his abilities, Gideon would become Dranir—a possibility that filled his brother with dread, hence the fertility charm currently lying on Dante's desk. It had arrived in the mail just that morning. Gideon regularly sent them, partly as a joke, but mainly because he was doing all he could to insure that Dante had offspring—thus upping the chances that he would never inherit the position. Whenever they managed to get together, Dante had to carefully search every nook and cranny, as well as all his clothing, to make certain Gideon hadn't left one of his clever little charms in a hidden place.

Gideon was getting better at making them, Dante mused. Practice made perfect, after all, and God knows he'd made plenty of the charms in the past few years. Not only were they more potent now, but he varied his approach. Some of them were obvious, silver pieces meant to be worn around the neck like an amulet—not that Dante was an amulet kind of guy. Others were tiny, subtle, like the one Gideon had embedded in the newest business card he'd sent, knowing Dante would likely tuck the card into his pocket. He'd erred only in that the very power of the charm gave it away; Dante had sensed the buzz of its power, though he'd had the devil's own time finding it.

Behind him came Al's distinctive knock-knock on the door. The outer office was empty, Dante's secretary having gone home hours before. "Come in," he called, not turning from his view of the sunset.

The door opened, and Al said, "Mr. Raintree, this is Lorna Clay."

Dante turned and looked at the woman, all his senses on alert. The first thing he noticed was the vibrant color of her hair—a rich, dark red that encompassed a multitude of shades from copper to burgundy. The warm amber light danced along the iridescent strands, and he felt a hard tug of sheer lust in his gut. Looking at her hair was almost like looking at fire, and he had the same reaction.

The second thing he noticed was that she was spitting mad.


More About the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Customer Reviews

This is the worst book I have ever read by Linda Howard.
Cecile B. Mcgee
I was, however, disappointed by a profound feeling of being left hanging by the book's ending.
Sara Holland
The suspense build-up at the end was good and I look forward to reading the next 2 books.
Janet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By J. Lesley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
While reading the reviews for this book the word disappointed shows up so often I wish I knew how to say it in another language just to add some comic relief.

I'm sure you know by now that this book Raintree: Inferno is the first book in a trilogy about a clan of good wizards (the Raintree) and a clan of evil wizards (the Ansara). This book was used to set up the background history and information necessary to carry the story forward and to tell the tale. I have read all three books and I will tell you that this is by far the weakest link in the chain. I expected more, much more, from Linda Howard.

I am a very slow reader but it only took me four hours to read this book. That was not meant as a compliment! In the front of each book there is a note from the author for the reader. Linda Howard's note is even the shortest note. If it really took these three authors three years to bring this trilogy about, then I am shocked. Book two is really quite good and three is better than a lot of books I've read and they deserve to be reviewed elsewhere. This one just needs to be forgotten. I don't understand why the publishers didn't issue these three in a package deal. They actually could have been presented in one volume as a related anthology. It would probably have cost about the same as three individual books.

This is not a stand-alone book. It makes no sense unless you read the other two books because this one just ends.....with absolutely no resolution to anything. Dante Raintree tells Lorna Clay to "Stay here." and drives off into the sunset without telling her where he is going or when he will be back.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By marian on May 30, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a Linda Howard fan for a long time, but, with the way she has been writing lately, very dark and heavy story lines, I have settled for rereading some of her older works if I need a Linda Howard fix. I tried this book on a whim and have to tell you, to my dismay I found myself skimming through the book. I have never felt the need to skim a Linda Howard novel before. I have seen a trend in many former romance writers moving toward darker, action packed, death filled novels. I have to tell you if I want that I can watch the news. I read fiction to relax and escape the headlines for a few hours. I guess that some people must like these heavier story lines, because more and more authors are turning to them. I have to tell you I am running out of people who write stories I like to read. I might have to start making up my own. At least then I know I will like the story.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Elaine C McTyer VINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is good, and I thought if it was like her other short novels it would be a good read. However, there is no depth to the characters, mainly because the book is printed in LARGE type that takes up space but cuts down on the words. It is more like a prologue to a novel, she sets up things but adds no depth. Maybe with all three books togather it will be a better read. My advice is to wait until you have all three to even try to read this one.

Dante Raintree is king of the raintree clan. A clan of wizards and sorceresses who have psychic power over the elements. He is a fire master. He runs a casino in Reno.

Lorna Clay is a psychic who uses her power to gamble. She is brought to him when she consistantly wins 5 to 10 thousand dollars every time she plays.

He is sure she is a member of the Ansara Clan, the enemy clan to the Raintree. A couple of hundred yrs ago they had destroyed most of the Ansara but they have rebuilt over the yrs. While he is interviewing her the Ansara attack and only with her help does he survive.

Lorna is untrained and doesn't know anything about others like her. The book only covers three days. The subsequent books will also cover the same three days and I guess the last one will conclude the story.

It felt very much like a prelude to a story and unfinished. Wait and hope the other two books are more informative. I wouldn't hurry out to get it yet.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Popsicle Toes on April 27, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thought this book was good, not great, but a solid 'B' for me. The mind control thing bothered me a bit but I could accept LH's explanations abt the reason behind it. I knew going in that this was part 1 of a trilogy, and that this was a short book. So I didn't expect this to be a 'complete' novel. Perhaps that's why I was able to enjoy this book a lot more than others who reviewed here. The excerpts for books 2 and 3 were very interesting too, and I'm definitely curious to read how the story ends.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Cecile B. Mcgee on April 22, 2007
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This is the worst book I have ever read by Linda Howard. Linda usually writes red hot love scenes and believeable scenes for most of us. IE: Why the characters love or hate, etc. This book showed only the rebellious side of the female; suddenly the guy wanted her, etc..no build up from either side. I still cant figure out how the enemy stayed alive if they were all as colorless and clueless as the ones in this book. Not long ago, I read Heartbreaker by Linda; this was a romance book - the best I have ever read. What has happened to Ms. Howard's passionate side? I believe that Ms. Howard has a very clear view of the real human being but absolutely no hint about aliens (or however these characters would be classified), etc.. I go to Christine Feehan for vampires; and previously, to Linda Howard for human love. Hope Linda does better by her fans in the future. CC McGee
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