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Evidence that a notorious criminal is hiding out in a small, seaside town in rural Maine leads to an FBI agent going undercover in this new Romantic Thriller from New York Times bestselling author Toni Anderson.

Grady Steel returns to the insular community of Deception Cove, Maine, where he spent his troubled youth unfairly labeled the town’s bad boy. Now a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, Grady is on a risky undercover mission, hunting one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives.

Recovering from a broken marriage, Brynn Webster comes home to the sleepy small town—where nothing ever happens—to help her parents run their seaside cafe during her mother’s illness. After diving into the frigid waters of the winter harbor to rescue a dead man, Brynn begins to realize that the ocean isn’t the only place swirling with dangerous undercurrents.

Grady befriends the pretty manager of the local cafe in an effort to unearth the town’s closely guarded secrets. Deceiving Brynn isn’t easy, though, especially when he starts to fall for her. Then, when decades-old crimes lead to modern-day murder, Grady’s mission becomes a race against time as he strives to catch a ruthless killer—before Brynn becomes the next victim.

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Chapter 1

January 22 Fri., 8:00 a.m. FBI HRT morning briefing

FBI Hostage Rescue Team Operator Grady Steel leaned back in one of the hard plastic chairs with his arms crossed and his legs stretched out under the table as he listened to the big boss debrief them on their last op in the Arizona desert two nights ago.
Grady had been there on the ground, and his teammates
had filled him in on anything he’d missed. He already knew the details. Gold Team had been lucky overall, luck earned by training their asses off on a daily basis, but lucky, nonetheless. No deaths. No serious injuries. Lots of bad guys neutralized, one way or the other.
Meghan Donnelly and Seth Hopper had both suffered minor injuries. Hop had fractured a bone in his foot, but the guy had limped in here this morning with a grin the size of Texas on his butt-ugly face.
Grady glanced at his buddy and rolled his eyes.
Shook his head.
Love made people stupid.
“We found a defect in Operator Donnelly’s chute that was responsible for the malfunction at lower altitudes. We’re conducting a review of all the equipment to make sure the other chutes are fully operational so nothing like this happens again.”
Grady glanced at Donnelly as she sat there stony-faced. The defect had made her smash into a canyon wall after a nighttime HAHO jump. She could easily have died or broken her neck, but, thankfully, aside from being winded and suffering some nasty bruising, she’d been unhurt. Grady suspected the life-threatening danger and minor injuries weren’t what bothered her most.
She might not show it, but Grady knew she was feeling relieved and vindicated that there was tangible proof it hadn’t been her fault.
Donnelly was like him.
She’d scrapped to get through Selection with every ounce of grit and determination she possessed, and then, afterward, when she’d finally made it, she was still not a hundred percent convinced she deserved to be here. Donnelly was the first female operator to make it onto the Hostage Rescue Teams, which meant she’d worked twice as hard as everyone else to get here. The pressure not to fuck up must be intense.
Especially when she doubted herself.
It was hard to explain that unsettling mix of bone-deep self-confidence walking secretly hand-in-hand with a perfectly disguised and well-hidden sense of insecurity. It kept you on your toes, that was for damn sure.
The two of them shared an equipment cage, and he was slowly getting to know the taciturn operator.
She was solid.
He liked her.
But she, like him, in a small corner of her brain that she would never admit to, probably feared that at some point, someone would realize a mistake had been made and throw her off the teams. It was his recurring nightmare, but he was finally starting to believe.
That this was real.
That he belonged.
Daniel Ackers cleared his throat.
The director of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team didn’t join the daily team briefing very often, but when he did, he liked the sound of his own voice. “Given the events of January so far, we want to make sure everyone talks to psych. Schedule a meeting within the next two weeks, or we will do it for you.”
Ackers met Grady’s narrowed gaze before flicking to Cowboy. Ryan Sullivan was openly scowling.
“This is mandatory,” Ackers continued.
Grady kept his expression neutral and his protests locked behind his teeth. He hated shrinks. They all did. The fact the assigned shrink was a pretty blonde was the only saving grace. Still, Grady would rather do cold weather exercises in the high Arctic than have his head examined.
Aaron Nash, an assaulter on Gold Team’s Char
lie squad, glanced at his watch. “Less than ten days of January left. The sooner this month is over, the better.”
Grady swallowed the thick knot in his throat that wanted to garrote him with grief. He refused to let it.
He’d learned long ago that any show of weakness was punished. He was alive. He was healthy. He had his dream job, where jumping out of helicopters and blowing things
up was all part of a day’s work. He was fortunate, and he didn’t intend to fuck it up. He planned to enjoy it for as long as he could and then retire to join a fugitive task force in
one of the big cities, chasing bad guys and kicking ass until he couldn’t keep up anymore. He had no idea what he’d do after that. Buy a boat and sail around the world? Set up whale watching tours the way he and one of his childhood friends had once dreamed? As long as it didn’t involve Florida or golf, he’d figure it out.
He covered a yawn.
They’d been working nonstop for weeks.
Grady was looking forward to spending the weekend slee
ping. Except, he’d offered to take Grace Monteith’s kids to swimming lessons on Sunday morning. The widow of his friend and former teammate was pregnant with her third kid. The team had rallied in general support, but Grady knew from experience it was practical help that made a real
difference. There were plenty of people to hold her hand. He’d be the one painting the walls and driving the kids around whenever he was home.
Ackers finally wound down—no new information regarding Kurt Montana’s ill-fated flight out of Harare—and Gold Team leader Payne Novak took over the briefing. A knock on the door had Novak pausing.
Grady hiked a brow. Weird. No one interrupted the daily briefing unless it was life and death.
The door opened and two FBI agents in business suits stood with their badges out, sour expressions on their unsmiling faces. One of them held a piece of paper.
Uh oh. Someone’s in trouble.
Everyone shifted as the words “arrest warrant” floated above the urgent whispers.
Someone had definitely fucked up.
Grady didn’t shift, but he frowned. Either a member of HRT or the field agents had made a big mistake. Still, the field agents had some balls serving the warrant like this, in front of everyone on the teams.
Grady stretched his neck and stared at the ceiling. More drama. He hated drama.
The two agents made their way along the side of the room, weaving through the bristling bodies that stood along one wall. Everyone was holding their breath, wondering who the hell had screwed up.
Then Grady caught Novak’s worried gaze and an icy wave of fear flooded every cell in his body.
No. No way.
A moment later, he sensed the short, white, blonde female agent stop behind him and dread crawled up his spine and expanded into his mouth.
“Grady Steel,” she said. “I’m Agent Ropero. This is Agent Dobson.”
What the fuck?
She removed her cuffs from her pocket. The big Black agent beside her watched him nervously.
“I’m arresting you on—”
Grady bolted to his feet. “The fuck you are.” He glanced around at his teammates, looking for the tightly controlled amusement that would say this was some sort of elaborate joke they’d constructed for his birthday tomorrow. “Is this supposed to be funny?”
His teammates looked anxiously uncomfortable.
“This is not a joke, Operator Steel. We have reason to believe you were involved in a hit-and-run incident a few days ago that left a senior citizen dead.”
Grady reared back. He had no clue what the hell they were talking about. No way would he fail to report an accident or to assist a person who’d been injured. He glanced around in confusion, and some of the operators refused to meet his gaze.
Did they genuinely believe he’d killed someone with his truck and then lied about it? Bitterness soured in his stomach.
Ryan Sullivan came over. Gripped Grady’s arm. The two of them often butted heads, but they were good friends. “We’ll get this sorted out. Don’t say a fucking thing until your attorney turns up.”
“I don’t have an attorney.” A cold steel bracelet wrapped around Grady’s wrist and cinched tight as his hands were drawn behind his back.
Agent Dobson removed Grady’s firearm, and Grady gritted his teeth to stop from smashing the other man in the face. The agent was only doing his job—poorly, but whatever.
Grady was innocent. Resisting arrest wouldn’t look good no matter how wrong and unfair this all was.
“I’ll make a call and get someone with you ASAP.” Ryan grabbed his shoulder and stared hard into his eyes. “Do not say a word, understand? I know you didn’t do this. There’s been some error, but don’t say a word without legal counsel.”
Grady nodded, but he was so thrown by what was happening he didn’t have a clue as to what the next step might be.
He met Novak’s piercing gaze as he walked from the room. Was that belief or condemnation written in his boss’s eyes?
Grady’s entire world was burning to the ground before him. Everything he’d ever dreamed of was slipping out of his grasp and fuck if he knew why.

FAQs: Reading order

People often ask where to start reading Toni's books. She put together this page with more information: Reading Order

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Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
Caroline Logue
Has the cold snap gotten even colder

This Toni Anderson book is a gripping edge of your seat, stay up all night kind of book. I truly couldn’t put it down. This is Toni Anderson at her finest. Her stories just continue to get better and better with each book she brings out. Grady and Bryn what a couple. Here we find hot romance blossoming between these two but the race is on to find a notorious criminal who is hiding out in Deception Cove. The story revolves around how Grady and Bryn pull together to try and find this criminal and unearth the town’s secrets before Bryn becomes the next target. An excellent story and one I can highly recommend.


Toni Anderson takes a leap from your run of the mill romantic suspense and explores a darker side of human nature, and I am hear for it!

Toni Anderson crafts a who done it that leaves you guessing who did it to the very end, and manages to portray the worst in human nature in a compelling way that explores the psychology behind deplorable behavior while weaving around it a believable fast forming, strong relationship.

If you love a fast paced looked into the darker side of human nature, mixed with a romance that will leave your toes tingling, this is what you are looking for.