Dana Marton

Harlequin Intrigue
ISBN: 0373695950
Black ops specialist Mitch Mendoza had thought this South American rescue mission would be routine. But the jungle held unexpected dangers: deadly snakes, armed drug runners and Megan Cassidy. The undercover CIA agent had legs for miles and a hidden agenda—one that interfered with Mitch's plans. So though he was a lone wolf, he had to keep her close, or risk letting his mission fail. After years of working alone, Mitch found himself distracted by Megan's steely resolve and her soft curves. And he couldn't afford that. Not if he wanted this assignment to be a success…and get both of them out of the jungle alive.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The unforgiving South American sun scorched Mitch Mendoza's neck as he watched three men on the hillside below him through a pair of high-powered binoculars.
His current mission had only two rules. Rule number one: Don't mess up. Rule number two: If you mess up, don't leave witnesses.

The three men, aka the witnesses he wasn't supposed to leave, moved at a good clip. They were local, used to the jungle terrain and the humidity that made breathing difficult for outsiders who had no business being in these parts. Outsiders like Zak "Kid Kansas" Goodman who gasped for breath as he tried to keep up with Mitch.

"We can't let them reach the river." Mitch let the binoculars drop against his chest and looked back at the twenty-two-year-old trust-fund jerk whose only ambition seemed to be finding trouble and annoying as many people as possible in the process.

The boy was a long way from his fancy college fraternity, scratched and gaunt, wearing the signs of his recent imprisonment. "They're just a couple of goatherds. Let them be."

Mitch didn't think the kid had developed a conscience—although, that would have been nice. More likely, he was just too lazy to pick up the pace, too soft to put in the effort that would be necessary to catch up.

"I'm hungry. I want a break." He was worse than a three-year-old whining, Are we there yet? from the backseat.

"Soon." Mitch moved forward, adjusting his half empty backpack.

Their food had run out the day before. Neither of them had washed since last Friday. Not that he would have said they were roughing it. They still had a bottle of drinking water between them, and a tent to keep out the poisonous creepy crawlers that liked to pay jungle trekkers nighttime visits.

"Watch your step."

The faster they went, the more careful they had to be. Snakes hid in the undergrowth, stones blocked their steps on the uneven ground. Neither of them could afford a twisted ankle. They needed to catch up with those goatherds. Quickly.

Word that two Americans were trespassing through infamous drug kingpin Juarez's part of the jungle could not reach the nearest village. Or the head of the local polizia. If the police chief was corrupt, he'd report right back to Juarez. If he was clean, he'd report the info to his superiors. Mitch didn't need complications like that. Enough had gone wrong already.

The trip should have been a simple in-and-out rescue op, except that Zak wasn't the clueless victim his file had indicated. Mitch had found him in a shed on Juarez property just as the kid had shot the drug lord's second in command. Juarez's brother-in-law, in fact.

That wasn't going to be forgiven.

Juarez was going to move heaven and earth to find the idiot. What had the kid been thinking anyway? He'd shoot his way out of camp and make it out of the jungle? He would have been dead within the hour if Mitch hadn't been watching the camp for days; if he hadn't been ready to grab the kid and run with him.

He pushed forward and knew without having to turn around that Zak was falling behind. The kid made a lot of noise.

"Keep up and keep quiet." His mission was to get Kid Kansas, aka Kansas Governor Conrad Goodman's son, out of the South American jungle in one piece without anyone knowing that he'd been there in the first place.

They didn't exactly have authorization from the local government. Mitch didn't have authorization from his own government, for that matter. Just a request from Colonel Wilson. The governor and the Colonel went way back, to a double tour of duty in 'Nam. They were blood brothers.

That the Colonel trusted Mitch with the mission was an honor. Mitch would have walked through fire for the man.

He looked up at the sun and prayed for a little luck, although he was used to his prayers going unanswered. But maybe this was his lucky day, because suddenly the three men he was following stopped. It looked like they were going to have a bite before crossing the river.

"Let's move." He set the pace even faster. "I can't."

"Should have stayed home, then."

"It's not my fault I was kidnapped," the kid snapped. He was getting his spirit back and then some.

Right after he'd shot Juarez's brother-in-law, he'd been ready to fall apart, panicking when Mitch had busted into his prison. But in the past two days, once he'd realized his escape had been successful, he'd come to consider himself some sort of an action hero—or, at the very least, Mitch's equal.

"I don't deserve any of this," the boy kept on whining.

"You didn't come to Bogota for sightseeing."

The governor had bought that line from his spoiled son. Mitch didn't. But Zak's lies were an issue for another day. Right now, he had bigger fish to fry. The men in front of them weren't his only problem. Juarez's soldiers were hunting for Zak, and they couldn't be far behind.

He got the kid down the hill in twenty minutes, stashed him in some nearby bushes, then moved toward the men's camp. The goatherds had already lit a fire to warm water for theiryerba mate, a favorite herbal drink of most South American natives.

They seemed simple men, each traveling with a single bag, wearing worn, mismatched clothes under their equally tattered ponchos. Their only crime had been being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Then again, better men than these had been killed for lesser reasons.

And how many truly innocent men hung out in this part of the jungle? Where was their herd, for starters?

What had they been doing that close to Juarez's camp? The day after Mitch had rescued Zak, he'd stashed him out of harm's way and left the idiot for half an hour, so he could double back and see how close their pursuers were getting. Zak's only job had been to sit tight. But when he'd heard people moving through the woods, he lost his head and panicked. He'd run, yelling for Mitch in English. The goatherds had seen him.

And for that, they would have to die. Mitch checked his gun with distaste. He didn't condone senseless killing. And he hated having his hand forced by Zak, who should have simply followed him out of the jungle, quietly appreciating the rescue along the way.

He shook all that off and focused on what he was about to do. He would take these men out because he had to. But he wasn't going to shoot them in the back. He took a deep breath and stepped out into the clearing.

The next second, ponchos were shoved aside, the men—definitely not simple goatherds—aiming AK-47s at him. Mitch's index finger curled around the trigger of his weapon, adrenaline shooting into his bloodstream.

But instead of all hell breaking loose, everything became absurdly surreal as a blonde suburban housewife stepped out of the bushes at the edge of the clearing. She wore khaki capri pants and a matching tank top, blond waves tumbling around her heart-shaped face, translucent amber eyes as wide as they could be. She looked like she came straight from a backyard barbecue or a kid's birthday party. The only things missing were the oven mitts.

"Excuse me. I'm sorry. Can you help me?"

Then their moment of grace was over and the "goatherds" opened fire on Mitch. They apparently didn't consider the woman much of a threat. Mitch dove for the bushes to avoid the flying bullets. But one nicked him in the shoulder. He ignored the burn as he shot and rolled, careful to avoid Blondie.

Lucky for her, he was good at what he did. The fight ended in seconds.

She stood in the same spot, her feet frozen to the ground, her entire body trembling. And he noticed now that her clothes were stained in places, her hands dirty.

"Oh," she said, as he came to his feet, blood trickling down his arm. Her full lips trembled faintly. "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Don't move." He patted her down, feeling surprised, and a little guilty, that he enjoyed it. Her eyes went even wider, and her cheeks blushed pink.

When he was done, he slipped the small designer backpack off her shoulders and checked over the contents: a small first aid kit, bug spray, suntan lotion, extra clothes and a water bottle with a filter that made even mud puddles safe to drink. No weapons.
He gave the bag back. Damned if he knew what to make of her. "Okay. Get sick if you need to."

She ran for the bushes she'd come from, and a second later he could hear her retching.

He turned to the bodies on the sand, then to Zak, who was inching forward from his hiding spot. He looked green around the gills, too. He threw a questioning look toward the bushes where they could still hear their mysterious guest.

Mitch shrugged and collected the weapons. "Go see what they have in their bags." Food would be welcome. He looked with regret at the yerba mate that had been spilled.

"Hey, check this out!" Zak held up two-kilo bags of white powder a minute later, grinning from ear to ear.

Mitch leveled his gaze on the idiot. "Rip it open, then dump it into the river."

"What? No way."

Mitch went stock-still. "Dump it into the river or I'll leave you here to rot."

A long minute passed before the kid sprinkled the white powder over the water, his stance belligerent. He took a quick sniff from the back of his hand when he thought Mitch wasn't looking.

The governor of Kansas was a decent man, but too softhearted. He was going to have to learn tough love in a hurry if he wanted to straighten out his son. Mitch didn't envy him.

He collected the AK-47s and tossed them into the river. He had plenty of ammo for his own gun and didn't need the extra weight to carry in this heat. No way he was giving one to the kid.

The bushes rustled as Blondie returned, none too steady on her feet.

Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.

She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi.

ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
DANA: My husband. Once we drove along a winding road in the woods and came upon an overturned SUV in the middle of a dangerous curve. We could have easily hit it, but he stopped in time. The motor was running, gas dripping on the road and smoke coming from the back. My thought was that the car would blow any second and we should pull back. Then we saw hands in the window. He rushed to the SUV, climbed on it and opened the stuck door, pulled out three petrified teenage girls. And I could give you quite a few more examples of him doing what needs to be done without thought to personal cost or danger to him. I LOVE that man! 

ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
DANA: I’m not a great fan of old-fashioned fairy tales. Take Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. The female character is in suspended animation until the male character comes and kisses her (representing a sexual act). They move from childhood to womanhood when validated by the male. No personal growth or strength required. Really? My heroines kick the bad guy’s behind and save the hero when he gets in trouble. Take that, fainting beauties! 

ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
DANA: Weak characters.  

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
DANA: Everywhere, all the time. LOL I read any chance I get. If I do end up watching TV, I still have a book in hand and will read in the commercial breaks.  

ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
DANA: The ocean. I can sit on the beach and listen to the ocean forever.

ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
DANA: Definitely action adventure!

ANGI: What was the first story you remember writing?
DANA: A historical romance set in Ancient Egypt. I never finished it, but I did have a few hundred pages. Unfortunately, it was saved on one of those 5” floppy disks, which got corrupted, so I lost that story completely.

ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
DANA: Love, Actually (I watch it every Christmas)

ANGI: Who’s your favorite villain?
DANA: Not exactly villains, but I noticed that I always like the ‘bad boy’ character better in any love triangle story. Like Jacob in Twilight, Eric in the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and Ranger in the Stephanie Plum series. 

ANGI: Be honest, when reading...do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?
DANA: Yes! So she better be tough and competent.  

ANGI: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
DANA: Definitely writing. I’m completely in love with the written word. I’m a very visual person, not at all auditory. 

ANGI: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans?
DANA: I’d love to tell my readers how much I appreciate them. They read my books and email me and keep me going on a daily basis. I’m a writer to the bone. They make it possible for me to do what I love most in the world. Thank you!!!! 

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: Hey Dana, I love this description of where a typical Intrigue proposal would take place: “Dangling on a wire over the Grand Canyon with the bad guys shooting at you from a helicopter and the bomb he just cut off you exploding below.” Have you used this in one of your books yet or something like it?
DANA’S GOTTA ANSWER: I like to challenge my characters, although I haven’t used this exact scenario yet. But I love wild locations and lots of action. My heroes and heroines have definitely disarmed their share of bombs. 

We’ll be DRAWING for a free DANA MARTON ebook, AGENTS UNDER FIRE. Find it at: Amazon.com
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

SPY HARD June 2012

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join me next Wednesday when I host Debut author HELEN LACEY And come back tomorrow when Donnell hosts Cathy Perkins. ~Angi

What is your favorite setting for a book? Do you prefer big city U.S? Cowboy country? Jungle and other exotic locations?


  1. Hi Dana,

    I always enjoy your books. I love all different kinds of settings. After all, variety is the spice of life.

    Nice to have you here on GLIAS. Like Tammy, I love all locales as long as the story's awesome. But I'm a softie for Scottish Historicals.


  3. Hi Tammy! I agree with you and read pretty widely. It's nice to try different things.

    Angi--Thank you so much for having me here!!! It's an honor to be the guest of one of my top favorite Intrigue authors.

  4. Dana, I'm humbled to be called a favorite from someone who writes Intrigues and kept me reading the line !!

    Love your work!

  5. Hi Dana, Lately I've been enjoying the jungle settings a lot, and that is certainly due to Last Spy Standing, which was action packed and you never knew which direction danger would come from next. I do like all settings in general.

  6. Thank you Angi and Gayle!!! Hope you're having a fun day. I've been editing another jungle book all day, SPY HARD. I'm soooo ready for a break. Not to happen. 50 more pages to go.

  7. Hi! I enjoy your books!
    I prefer the settings of the books I read not be big cites.

  8. Hi Chey! Thank you for stopping by! And thank you so very much for reading my books :-) I'm not a big city person myself. I need some silence and peace on a regular basis.

  9. Thanks for being with us, Dana. Looking forward to a lot more Dana Marton books !!


    You're the winner of Dana Marton's eBook: Your choice from her AGENTS UNDER FIRE series.

    Happy Reading!

    Send me an email at GetLostInAStory@gmail.com and we'll get it set up.