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If I Should Die (with bonus novella Love Is Murder): A Novel of Suspense (Lucy Kincaid Novels Book 3) Kindle Edition

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Length: 514 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling author of many romantic thrillers, including Kiss Me, Kill Me; Love Me to Death; Sudden Death and Killing Fear. A five-time RITA finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Brennan enjoys spending her free time reading, playing games, watching high school sports, and researching her novels. A member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, Allison Brennan lives in Northern California with her husband, Dan, and their five children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Present day

Sean Rogan watched Lucy stretch with the grace of a cat, her thick, wavy black hair falling across his bare chest. She sighed as she relaxed on top of him, her dark eyes closed, a half-­smile on her face.

There was little Sean enjoyed more than early-­morning sex with Lucy.

For the first time in months, they were alone—­no friends, no family, no stress—­sharing a secluded cabin in the middle of the Adirondacks. Just the two of them. Lucy didn’t seem to realize how much she’d needed this vacation—­already, after one night, she was looking more rested than he’d seen her in months. Sean hoped their change of plans to help his brother Duke’s friend wouldn’t put a damper on their week together.

“This is perfect.” Lucy kissed his chest. “I wish it could last.”

A faint, nagging fear that such unadulterated happiness would come at a cost marred Sean’s good mood. He knew Lucy was talking about their time alone, but he couldn’t help but think she had been reflecting on their relationship.



What should he say? That their vacation could last forever? Should he call her out on her skepticism? If he asked her to explain her comment, she’d overthink her response, and worse, she’d put her shields back up. He’d worked hard at getting her to put down her armor; it was these rare moments when she was entirely comfortable that he savored.

“Up for a hike this morning?” he asked instead.

Lucy didn’t sound as though she noticed his hesitation. “After breakfast. I’m starving.”

Sean laughed.

She leaned up and looked at him, her eyebrows raised. “What’s funny?”

“In the four months I’ve known you, not once have you told me you’re hungry, let alone starving.”

He grinned, then reached up and tickled her ribs. Her spontaneous laugh was genuine, such a rare sound that every time he heard it he remembered how much Lucy needed him to remind her of the good in life, and forget the evil from her past.

“This is war!” she declared. Before Sean could tighten his abs in resistance, she tickled the sensitive sides of his stomach. He tried grabbing her hands as he laughed, but she enjoyed winning far too much to make it easy for him.

“Stop. Please.”

“Say Uncle.”


She stopped, and he flipped her onto her back. “Now that you woke me up—­”

“You mean you weren’t awake when we were having sex?”

“That was just a prelude, Princess.”

She tensed, and for a moment Sean thought he’d done or said something wrong. He was about to ask her what it was when she said, “Do you smell something?”

Her hair, their sweat . . . and something else he recognized only as she spoke. “Smoke.”

They jumped up and pulled on the clothes closest to them.

He grabbed his backpack and they ran out the door, the scent of burning wood palpable as soon as they stepped outside.

They sprinted down the shadowy trail to the main lodge. Dawn had just broken over the mountain ridge, casting a fresh but pale light all around. A growing plume of dark gray smoke rose from the trees, and as soon as the lodge came into sight Sean saw smoke pouring from an open kitchen window. Several flickers of orange flames glowed through the thick smoke, but the fire hadn’t reached the external walls.

Sean instantly took in the scene: twenty-­two-­year-­old Adam Hendrickson at the water tank struggling with the hose attachment; his older half-­brother Tim bolting across the center clearing, his face a mask of disbelief and rage; the Spruce Lake Inn manager, Annie Lynd, at his heels, her long, dark red braid trailing down her back.

There was something else—­a sound in the background, growing fainter. A motor? Had the saboteur who had caused the Hendricksons’ extensive property damage over the last several months now moved up to arson?

Sean scanned the area. Partly obscured by the barn a lone figure dressed in black rode slowly away on an ATV, glancing over his shoulder at the house. When he saw that Sean had spotted him, the rider sped up and disappeared into the trees, hightailing it away from the lodge.

Sean caught up with Tim and gestured toward the fleeing arsonist. Sean said, “I need an ATV.”

“In the barn—­”

“I’ll get him! Take care of the fire.” Sean sprinted toward the barn.

Lucy caught up to him as he turned the ignition in the ATV. “Be careful,” she said.

“Always.” He took his gun from his backpack and threaded his holster through the loops in his jeans. “I’ll switch my cell to radio, better to communicate short distances. I’ll keep in touch.”

Sean sped out of the barn. The arsonist had left a light trail of exhaust, the ground too moist to kick up much dirt. But Sean found the tire tracks in the soft earth and stuck with them, picking up speed, driving the ATV with as much confidence as he drove his Mustang. He lowered the face shield on the helmet and leaned forward. The bastard had picked the wrong way to escape—­Sean was boldly proficient on any sort of wheels, from motorcycles to SUVs.

The Yamaha Raptor he was riding had terrific responsiveness. He reached fifty miles per hour on the straightaway leading into the woods, though he suspected he could push it faster. Any other day, he would enjoy being on this powerful mechanical beast, but today, he had a job to do.

He was at a slight disadvantage in that he didn’t know the area. Whoever was sabotaging the Hendrickson property was most likely a local, born and raised in the Adirondacks. The saboteur also had a big lead—­Sean couldn’t hear the other quad over his own engine. Without a line of sight, Sean pursued on instincts alone, following the fresh dirt trail the arsonist’s ATV left in its wake.

The trees where Sean had seen the rider disappear came quickly into view, and Sean slowed to maneuver down a trail barely wide enough for the quad. Branches cut into his bare arms and he pulled his elbows in. The cold morning air seeped into his bones, his adrenaline keeping him from shivering.

The trail wound dangerously through the trees, a foot-­worn path unsuitable for ATVs. Only the newly turned soil told Sean he was heading in the right direction.

The path came to a sudden end and Sean almost drove straight into the lake. He breaked rapidly and turned ninety degrees, fishtailing. Though the drop was short, the sheer ledge led directly to the water below. Sweating, Sean leaned forward and to the left, using his weight to balance and maintain control.

For a split second, he thought he’d stall out; the quad sputtered and jerked. He eased up on the throttle, rolled back an inch, then gunned it. The engine roared back to life, and Sean let out a relieved sigh.

He pushed on along the edge of the lake. The initial cold Sean felt wearing only a T-­shirt and jeans had given way to overheating, sweat dampening his shirt. He barely registered the sharp sting of pine needles on his neck when he came too close to a low-­hanging evergreen.

The trees thinned out and Sean found himself in a clearing about half the size of a football field. It appeared to be a seasonal camping spot, with two wood pits on either side.

The asshole he was pursuing had spun donuts in the area in an attempt to confuse him. “You’ll have to do better than that, prick,” Sean muttered. He ignored the disturbed campground and looked for where the other ATV had exited the clearing. Sean grinned when he found it after less than a minute.

The rocky trail turned steep quickly, and a sharp turn took him in the opposite direction of the lake. The terrain was becoming more difficult the higher he climbed up the mountain, with large branches that crunched under the quad’s wide tires. Sean was forced to slow down to circumvent a rock that, had he hit it, would have flipped the vehicle; at thirty miles an hour he’d probably have broken his neck.

But that meant the arsonist had to slow as well. The chase might end when one of them ran out of gas—­Sean hoped it was the other guy.

A sharp bend in the path nearly sent Sean down the mountainside fifty feet. His back wheels spun off the edge. He was losing ground and almost jumped from the ATV to save his life when the front wheels caught traction and he lurched forward.

The quad stalled, and he took a moment to breathe. He wouldn’t do anyone any good if he ended up dead.

In the sudden silence, Sean heard the other rider, much closer than he thought. He saw that the path peaked only twenty yards away; the arsonist sounded like he was right on the other side.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3556 KB
  • Print Length: 514 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 22, 2011)
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004R1Q2AU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,314 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award winning author of two dozen romantic thrillers and mysteries, and numerous short stories. Most recently, she was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award by Kiss of Death. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in northern California with her husband, five kids, and assorted pets. She's either writing, reading, playing video games, or attending her kids sporting events. Allison writes two series, the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan romantic thrillers and the Maxine Revere mysteries. Visit her website for more information.

Dear Reader:

Like most writers, I am an avid reader. I started light - Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew - but by the time I was eleven, I'd discovered my mom's vast Agatha Christie and Ed McBain collections.

But two things happened on my way to becoming a mystery writer.

First, I discovered Stephen King.

As a thirteen-year-old book fanatic, I learned about page-turners early. I wrote Stephen King a fan letter after reading THE STAND and told him I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. He wrote back and told me: "If you want to be a writer, write." Which I took to mean, why wait until I grew up?

My problem? I never finished anything I started. As soon as I was well into the story and had figured out what was going to happen, I became bored and started a new project.

In high school, I became fascinated with true crime, and it wasn't until college that I started reading my mom's romance novels. They hadn't appealed to me as a teenager, but as a "mature" twenty-one year old, I found them entertaining.

Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and others introduced me to contemporary novels that didn't involve murder, dismemberment, or deranged clowns living in the sewer.

Over the next decade, I built a career, married, had five kids, but never stopped reading--or writing.

I soon discovered a wonderful blend of suspense and romance with the romantic suspense novels of Tami Hoag, Kay Hooper and Lisa Gardner, and knew exactly what I wanted to write. I could take my mystery reader background, my fascination with true crime, and my desire for a happily ever after, and blend it into a romantic thriller.

I love romance because I want a happy ending. True love should win over adversity, if the hero and heroine are worthy. They need to earn it, because nothing achieved easily is truly appreciated. But I also love intense thrills and chills because they are physical--fear causes the entire body to react, heart pounding, head thumping, hands shaking.

DEAD HEAT, a Lucy Kincaid Thriller, is available now. Coming in July is the next Moreno & Hart Mystery, HIT AND RUN, co-written with Laura Griffin. Spring 2015 will have COMPULSION, the second book in the Max Revere series.

Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate your feedback and enthusiasm.

~ Allison Brennan


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Nix on November 23, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Aspiring FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid and her boyfriend Sean Rogan are taking a vacation...kind of. Sean has promised to use his private investigation skills to help his friend find out who has been vandalizing his property. Sean's friend is planning on turning the property into a resort but evidently someone isn't happy about that. When fire is set to the property Sean pursues the arsonist and finds himself in a bit of trouble. Lucy comes to the rescue but she finds a dead body along with her boyfriend. Lucy and Sean's much needed vacation turns into an intense investigation that could have fatal consequences for those involved. Follow the clues with Lucy and Sean as they attempt to find the mastermind behind the madness in If I Should Die.

Prepare yourself the adrenaline will be pumping as you read Allison Brennan's If I Should Die. Lucy is back better than ever and Sean is a long for the ride in a major way. From the very beginning things are dark and dangerous piquing the curiosity of the reader. It is so exciting Lucy and Sean are happy on vacation thinking things should be nice and simple and then they get thrown into this immense plot. What I love is that Ms. Brennan makes this seem totally plausible. It's not like let's throw our favorite investigator into a different locale for the hell of it, this actually works perfectly. The transitions are great and the suspicious players in this small town make the story a stand out. I cannot think of one thing that I didn't like about If I Should Die.

Normally I prefer tons of romance and for that to be the star of a book, however, sometimes with suspense and mystery novels romance takes a backseat. When you have a series you can almost guarantee that romance will take a backseat after a couple of books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jess on November 27, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Book 3 in the Lucy Kincaid series finds Lucy and Sean away on a "sort of" vacation. They're trying to help friends figure out who is vandalizing their new resort and preventing it from opening on schedule. What starts out as a vandalizing case which leads them to a 17 year boy that started the fire at the resort, opens up all kinds of secrets that the small town of Spruce Lake has been hiding for years. There are plenty of reasons that people don't want the resort to open on schedule, a resort that would bring, hopefully, many tourists into this small struggling town. But along with an increase in people, brings more eyes into this town to potentially catch on to all the dealings that have been going on that involve quite a few players, and that's what made the suspense portion of this book very interesting to me, and set it apart from the first 2 books in the series.

We get the POV of the worst of the enemies in this story. We know from the start that the bad "guy" is really a bad woman, a psychotic woman, as we're able to get inside her head and her thoughts for most of the story until we actually meet her on page. What I enjoyed most about the suspense storyline was that involved the town, literally. Everyone looks guilty of something at some point and it takes a lot of twists and turns to finally find where the line is drawn and see who ends up on the right side of the law, or the bad side. There are a few people who want to stop all the craziness in their town, and are driven by vengeance. Not only do Lucy and Sean need to connect all the clues, that start when Lucy finds a body in one of the abandoned mines outside town, but they have to figure out who they can trust, how the past is impacting current events and how they're supposed to stop a crazy woman.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 22, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
FBI agent Lucy Kincaid and her boyfriend private investigator Seth Rogan go on a romantic Adirondacks vacation. They enjoy wake up sex when they smell smoke. The nearby Spruce Lake Inn is on fire with an apparent arsonist fleeing the scene. Sean borrows an ATV from the resort owner and pursues the firebug. He falls inside an abandoned mine shaft.

Kincaid extracts Rogan from the mine, but she also finds the corpse of a young woman inside the shaft. Sheriff's deputy Weddle ridicules Kincaid as the body vanished. As Rogan heals from his dislocated shoulder and minor scrapes and bruises, he and Kincaid investigate a murder that the townsfolk ignore. Someone tries to kill the intruders while FBI agent Noah Armstrong arrives to assist his friends.

The third Lucy Kincaid FBI suspense (see Love Me To Death and Kiss Me, Kill Me) is an exhilarating tale from the moment the idyllic week ends with the arson. The story line is fast-paced throughout as reader will enjoy this taut tale while also wondering whether Kincaid can tell Rogan she loves him.

Bonus novella: Love Is Murder. Lucy Kincaid visits her brother Patrick, a former cop, in the Sierra Nevada's. Also at the Delarosa Mountain Retreat are three newlywed couples. A snowstorm isolates the lodge from the outside as one of the brides Vanessa took too many pills and is found dead. Patrick suspects murder, but he becomes ill, so Lucy investigates the homicide. This is an entertaining locked lodge mystery occurring before the heroine became a Fed but Kincaid professionally works the case like a seasoned veteran.

Harriet Klausner
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