18 March 2010

Excerpt Thursday: Lorelie Brown

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're featuring Unusual Historicals contributor Lorelie Brown as she celebrates the release of her 1920s-set debut, JAZZ BABY. Let's hear it for Roaring 20s romance! Join us Sunday when Lorelie will be here to discuss this sexy romance and give away a copy. Here's the blurb:

Of all the juice joints he had to bust, this one had to be hers...

In the world of illegal speakeasies, Kate Kirkland has her life running smoother than a Model T. Maybe moving the family bar into the basement wasn’t the best choice for her alcoholic brother, but Kate's making them a living--until a local gangster tries to expand his territory. Right into her bar.

Luckily Micah Trent, her handsome and too-suave bootlegger, is ready and willing to offer her a helping hand. If Kate can bring herself to accept it. Since sharing one sensual dance to seal their deal, she can’t ignore the delectably wicked way he makes her feel.

Micah is keeping secrets of his own. He's a Prohibition Agent, sworn to shut down the gin mills and distilleries that keep illegal booze flowing. Kate's speakeasy is next on his list--right after he uses her as bait to catch the gangster hunting her.

But even if Micah and Kate can maneuver their way through the gangsters' dangerous underworld, will their love survive the trial by fire?

Dark enveloped the alley at four in the morning. Humid summer air lay heavy on Kate's bare arms. Dawn light slipped skinny fingers between the tall buildings. At this ungodly hour, the streets were quiet. Lucas and Nick shuffled and rustled behind her. Even the most determined revelers had stumbled home. Kate had shut down The Kirk an hour ago.

Headlights turned into the narrow alley. Nick shook off his doze and straightened from the brick wall. Lucas and Kate had already been alert. Lucas because he was always studiously observant in dangerous situations. Kate because she could seldom rest. When the Ford truck pulled even with the weathered door, she moved forward. Lucas stood behind her and to the right.

The driver's door of the battered truck opened and a man slid out. In the dim light, Kate could see only his outline. Tall and lean, he inclined his head to her. Kate's heartbeat leaped into her throat, the same silly reaction she'd had at every meeting over the last three weeks. She didn't move.

"Miss Kirkland." His voice was deep and buttery rich.

"Mr. Trent."

"I wish you would let me call you Kate."

She ignored the urge to say yes and eyed the man who had climbed out of the passenger side, Trent's partner. Jacob Sterling was shorter and stockier than Trent and while Trent managed to look elegant in his dark two-piece suit, Sterling only looked messy. "Hello, Mr. Sterling."

The man nodded, adding no greeting. It was normal for him. The most words she'd heard from him at one time were when he and Susie Nichols, The Kirk's resident songstress, snipped at each other.

Trent pulled a slim case from his jacket that gleamed silver in a stray beam of light. Behind her, Lucas tensed and lifted a hand to his waistband. Kate waved him off. Much about Trent made her nervous, from his wickedly edged smile to the heat in his gaze when he looked at her. The chance of him opening fire on them was not one. Trent smiled and his even teeth flashed pale white. Naturally he'd seen Lucas flinch, but it didn't seem to rattle him. Nothing did.

He held out the silver case. "Would you like a cigarette?"

She shook her head. "No, thank you."

"Always so unswervingly polite."

"I've found it serves in matters such as this to keep a cool head."

He slid the case back into his breast pocket. "I'd been under the impression that all you modern women smoked."

"I can't abide the taste." The dawn illuminated her, though it only backlit Trent, so Kate allowed a wicked smile to tip her lips. "From the source or from my men."

His chuckle was low and genuine. Something low in her belly took a tumble.

"I'll be sure to remember that in the future."

"Why do you believe you'll have a reason to? You've asked time and time again but my answer hasn't changed."

"I am incredibly determined. Like a mule."

She tilted her head. "Are you begging me to compare you to an ass?"

"I don't suppose it would convince you to finally accept my invitation to dinner?"

"Not a chance."

"I'll have to think of another tack for our next meeting."

"You're not determined, you're flat out stubborn."

Dramatically, Trent threw a hand over his heart. "You're starting to know me. I've got no hope now."

She smothered a laugh, even as her heart strummed heavily under her breastbone, and a low-level heat drew a taut sting of awareness through her.

Micah Trent was the one man who tempted her to mix business and pleasure. It was a damn shame that in her business letting her guard down and getting involved with the wrong man could get a body killed. Nick shuffled his feet behind her, always restless. Lucas waited patiently, but guilt flushed through Kate. The man had a wife and child at home, and she kept him out late while she flirted.

She propped a hand on her hip. "Time to show the goods, Trent."

"Are we back to business again?"

"We always were." Trent said nothing and the lie weighed heavy on her chest. She wished suddenly that she could see his eyes as more than a gleam in the dark. "Let's get on with it."

"Your wish is my command."