Undercover newlyweds. New Orleans. A voodoo priestess. A secret baby.
FBI Special Agent Caitlin Chaney believes in going strictly by the book. She’s determined to prove her success has nothing to do with her father’s position in the federal government. To her way of thinking, Agent LeFevre is a rogue agent and determined to screw up her operation and her career. Just her luck.
Agent Jake Lefevre is used to running undercover ops his way, and he’s not too happy with his new boss, Caitlin Chaney, who’s primarily an FBI accountant. Her undercover experience is limited at best. He needs a partner who can hold her own, not some entitled prima donna.
Jake and Caitlin’s tenuous cover as newlyweds at a New Orleans casino is tested from the outset as they cope with living together. It’s imperative everyone believes they’re madly in love and hot, hot, hot for each other. Their assignment is investigating a casino’s money laundering and discover what happened to a whistleblower is almost compromised from the very beginning when Jake discovers Caitlin’s boss and the casino’s CFO is someone he knew and loved as a teenager. If he’s recognized, the op will be over before it starts.
Holding Her Own is a romantic suspense novel filled with sheet-burning passion along with white-knuckle suspense. Author Marie-Nicole Ryan adds in a whopping dose of family drama, because that’s life–right?
HOLDING HER OWN
FBI Guys 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover art: Marie-Nicole Ryan
2nd Edition published 2015, Ryandale Publishing
Print ISBN: 9781514392904
4 Stars! The Jeep Diva Blog “I was surprised at how much depth the story had written into it and delighted that the cover fulfilled its promise of a steamy read.” Reviewer: Marie, The Jeep Diva Blog
4 Stars! Romantic Times Book Club “Fast paced and with interesting characters, this intricate novel has red herrings in abundance. The ambience of New Orleans enhances the story by contributing to several threads. Witty verbal sparring leads to several hot and explicit sex scenes.”” Reviewer: Donna M. Brown, RT Book Reviews
5 Hearts! Reviewer Top Pick! “Marie Nicole Ryan has a hit with this beautiful book. I loved that you have two hardheaded people and workaholics too boot put closely together. Jake and Caitlin are great from their fiery tempers to their passionate interludes. Holding Her Own is just an overall awesome read. Marie definitely knows how to create memorable characters and a loved that keeps the storyline plunging along. There is never a dull moment as the excitement keeps your nose glued to the pages.” Reviewer: Melinda, Night Owl Romance
Grade A! “As a romance and suspense, Holding Her Own is a delectably perfect blend of both genres, standing out for me as top notch in both areas.” Reviewer: Madame Butterfly, Madame Butterfly’s Blog
5 Nymphs! “The writing is excellent, the plot believable and fast-paced, and the primary characters sexy, likable, and dedicated. The secondary characters…well, they fall into several categories: dedicated fellow agents, quirky casino workers, voodoo practitioners, dangerous and malevolent villains, and a high-functioning autistic child. Add all these together and you have a unique and well-constructed plot that keeps you guessing from beginning to end. This book is well worth the read, and an excellent example of the genre that I wish other authors would strive to emulate.”
Reviewer: Mystical Nymph, Literary Nymphs Reviews
“Holding Her Own…is wonderfully written, the action in this book flows like the Louisiana bayou. Caitlin, Jake and all the other characters meld together in a plot that just keeps firing in all directions.” Reviewer: Nancy Eriksen, ParaNormal Romance
5 Angels! “…a stimulating read! …could really feel the heat. Watching Caitlin and Jake find each other and bloom as a couple was invigorating. I love how Ms. Ryan portrayed Caitlin and Jake as very real individuals with their own personalities and individual problems to work through. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author!”
Reviewer: Kim N, Fallen Angel Reviews
4 Stars! “Holding Her Own is Marie Nicole Ryan’s sixth release. It is a well written book, although a little wordy and graphic at times for my taste. I did like how the relationship between Caitlin and Jake unfolded and the fact that Caitlin discovers just how strong she can be by the end of the book.”
Reviewer: Valerie, Manic Readers
©2008 Marie-Nicole Ryan
All rights reserved, Ryandale Publishing
“About that cousin thing…”
“So that was part of your con? This place is yours?”
“Yeah.” She held out her hand for his coat. “Would you like some coffee? Then we can get to work.”
Jake shrugged. “You’re the boss.”
At the far end of the foyer a door opened, and a silver-haired woman peeked through. “Miss Chaney? Back so soon?”
“We decided to work here. Is there some fresh coffee?”
The woman grinned, a web of wrinkles wreathing her full face. She patted her hair; it was so fine it reminded Jake of a pile of white cotton candy. “You know I always keep a fresh pot on. I’ll have it for you in a jiffy. Dining room or…”
“The study will be fine, Bonnie.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The door closed.
“Old family retainer? Yes, ma’am,” he muttered. Clearly Caitlin Chaney was used to the finer things in life. Probably thought being in charge of an operation was her due just because she was the Interior Secretary’s daughter. She wouldn’t have lasted twenty-four hours on the streets of the French Quarter.
“Bonnie isn’t just an employee to me. She’s a dear friend and the closest thing to a mother I’ve ever had. My mother didn’t run off. She died when I was two days old.” As if realizing how harsh she sounded, she stopped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
Hurt rose in his chest, but it was an old hurt. He shrugged it away like an out-grown jacket. “Don’t be. Shows you’ve done your homework.”
She leveled her gaze on him. What now? he wondered.
“You have a way of pushing my buttons.”
“You’ll have to get used to it. We’re joined at the hip…”
Her eyes widened at the word “joined”. “If you think—”
“Until this op is over,” he finished, in a vain attempt to hide his amusement. God only knew what Jose was thinking sending this neophyte into an undercover situation. If they both came out with all body parts in working order, it would be a damned miracle.
“Let’s get to it then. The study’s this way.”
A lamb to the slaughter, he followed. Kate’s disguise for the evening included a short skirt that cupped her bottom like a second skin. He sucked in a breath. The rear view of her toned thighs…inspiring.
Down, boy. There’ll be no joining—at the hip or otherwise—tonight.
The study turned out to be a comfortable, almost masculine room. Two leather couches faced each other in the middle of the room, and a massive old desk was placed in front of the bay window. Books lined the walls and there was an oil portrait over the fireplace. He glanced around, half expecting to see a bewigged Thomas Jefferson penning the Declaration of Independence with a quill.
Caitlin plopped down on the closest sofa and motioned for him to take the other. “Get comfortable. It’s going to be a long night. Jake? Earth-to-Agent LeFevre.”
He gave a bark of laughter and sat. “This is a great room. For a minute there, I thought I’d stepped into another century.”
“It’s been like this ever since I can remember. It was my mother’s family home. She left it to me in her will. I guess she must’ve known she was dying and made it out right before she died. I was still a baby.”
He stretched out a leg and tested his long frame against the length of the couch. “Sorry about your mother. Must’ve been rough growing up without her.”
Kate’s gaze grew steely. “That’s my mother…up there, the portrait.”
“Beautiful woman. You’re very like her.”
“Yes, she was. Thank you. It’s odd. I’ve looked at her portrait so many times, but I’ve no clue what she was really like. Was she terribly in love with my father—difficult for me to imagine—was she afraid at the end? Her portrait tells me nothing.”
“But I’m sure your father must’ve told you stories about her. He must’ve been grateful to still have you.”
She glared back and ignored his comment about her father—why?
“We need to focus on the operation. This trip down memory lane is an unnecessary diversion.”
“Yes, ma’am, Special Agent—”
“And can the SAC crap, too. If we’re going to function as a team, we have to pull together and watch each other’s backs.”
Jake laughed. “You sound like you almost know what you’re talking about. I’m impressed.”
Her gaze narrowed. “I went through the same training at Quantico as you, LeFevre.”
“Let’s see if I’ve done my homework. You completed your training five years ago. All you’ve done since then is sit on your very attractive ass and crunch numbers. Tell me if I’m getting warm?”
An angry flush spread up Kate’s neck, splotches appeared, marring the soft, pale skin. “Go to hell.”
“I’m as qualified physically and mentally as the day I left Quantico—if not more. I maintain a firing range and a gym in my basement.” She raised her chin a notch. “Care to test me?”
He shook his head. “I’d rather have you in one piece for the op.”
“Maybe you’ll be the one at risk.”
“Me? Chèr, have you lost your mind?” Amused, he stood. At six-feet, one-inch, he towered over her. “You’re five-six at most.” He paused and eyeballed her trim figure. “And at two-fifteen, I outweigh you what—a hundred pounds?”
“Not quite.” The muscle in her jaw worked, demonstrating to his experienced eyes just how pissed she was. What was she trying to prove and why?
“I’m solid muscle. No excess.”
Jake laughed. He knew full well she possessed one area that wasn’t solid muscle. He’d pulled her against his chest at the front door. Her breasts were full against him, and no set of pecs were anything like as sweet.
She stood, then gave him a mock uppercut to the chin. “You’d do well to keep your gaze on my face, LeFevre. You’re treading a fine line here.”
He grasped her wrist and held it firmly but gently. “I’m guilty of being all male. Can I help it if I’m easily distracted?”
Caitlin shook her head, then jerked her wrist from his grasp. He couldn’t get by with treating her like a sex object. “This is never going to work. I’ll call Jose now and ask for a replacement.”
“Hold on a damn minute. You need me.”
She gazed into his dark, impenetrable eyes. What kind of man was he really? “How’s that? Jose said you were replaceable.”
“He was blowing smoke, trying to mollify you. Listen, babe, I know casinos. I’ve worked in security. I’ve worked as a pit boss on a half dozen undercover ops. You need me, Chaney. And you don’t
have enough experience to know how much.”
“Then get this straight. You will treat me with respect. I’m supposed to be your wife for Pete’s sake. We’ve only been married six months. We’re going to be living in the same small apartment.
What’s your problem anyway? Do you hate all women agents, or is it just me?”
“I don’t hate women agents. I’ve worked with some—”
“So it’s me?”
“Yeah, it’s you. I don’t know how you made it through Quantico, but I suspect your father’s position in the government had something to do with it.”
Caitlin clenched her fists, her nails digging into her palms. She took a deep breath and willed her hands to relax. “I don’t care what you’ve heard or what you think. My father has nothing to do with any of my accomplishments. As far as I’m concerned, he paid my school bills. I owe him my education and not another damned thing.”
“So, my father was a shit, too.” Jake shrugged.
Anger ripped through her as though LeFevre had waved a red flag in her face. “Never mention him again.”
“Translation: sore point.”
Another word and she’d have to shoot him. And how would she dispose of his body? “Excuse me,” she said through clenched teeth. “I’ll see what’s keeping the coffee.”