More Than A Mission

mission.jpgMore Than A Mission
ISBN: 037327498X
Silhouette Intimate Moments
August 2006

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Available as part of the CAPTURING THE CROWN E-Bundle

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Read an Excerpt

See a Sneak Preview Video for the sequel to MORE THAN A MISSION.

Revenge has never been hotter . . .

She’d murdered the heir to the throne, and now the assassin was firmly in undercover agent Aidan Spaulding’s sights. With her regal looks, Elizabeth Moore looked more like a princess than a prince killer. But for Aidan, it was personal. Though he had no idea how personal it would get.

The leather-clad stranger didn’t look like any job-seeker Elizabeth had ever seen. But the restaurant owner needed a bartender, and the bad boy fit the bill. Until she discovered what Aidan was really after. As a peaceful kingdom exploded in scandal, Elizabeth faced another kind of threat: the sensual danger to one woman’s heart.

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Reviews

  • “A thrilling spy romance, complete with passion and poison! . . . Caridad Pineiro has crafted another hot and spicy romance with two well-matched characters that totally pull you into their world. The plot is strong with lots of intriguing twists and great repartee from the supporting characters. I was especially taken with Lucia and her interactions with Aidan as they sought to figure out the mysterious Elizabeth. Warning: You will have trouble putting this book down. Not only will you love this book, but, if this is year first read by Ms. Pineiro, you’ll definitely want to seek out the rest of the “Capturing the Crown” series. A real gem!”

    Freshfiction.com

  • “As I have come to expect from this author, I found my attention captured faster than lightning and just as startling. I am glad I had several hours reserved for the story, because I never stopped reading until the last page had been turned. I never noticed how much time had passed as I sat on the edge of my seat with my nose stuck in this book. Next time I get something written by this author, I’ll order out for pizza before opening the cover! Romantic Suspense gets no better than this!” For the complete review, visit Huntress Reviews.

    -HUNTRESS REVIEWS (Detra Fitch)

  • “Caridad Pinero is a sure shot when it comes to keeping a reader fully engaged for several hours of pleasure . . .and her latest tale MORE THAN A MISSION does so too as the audience will fully enjoy this one sitting thriller. The story line reads like a cat and mouse caper with the audience wondering just who the feline is and who the rodent is as Lizzy Bee and Aidan constantly skirmish. Fans need to know if she is the assassin as Ms. Pinero keeps the audience and the hero guessing. This reviewer has not read the four previous Capturing the Crown tales by different authors (impossible as that seems), but that does not take away from a terrific romantic suspense.” The full review is available here.

    10 out of 10 from Review Centre

  • “For an intriguing and fairly spicy tale, be sure to check out MORE THAN A MISSION.”

    Romance Reviews Today

Excerpt

Chapter 1

She’s to be taken alive, Aidan Spaulding reminded himself as he walked the streets of Leonia, trying to become familiar himself with the lay of the land before heading to his latest assignment — identifying the killer of Prince Reginald, the man who would have been king of the island monarchy of Silvershire.

Corbett Lazlo, the head of the group for whom he worked, had received information that a world renowned female assassin was behind the killing. The Sparrow, as she was known, was believed to have poisoned the Prince. Aidan was to confirm that and try to capture the elusive gun for hire.

Aidan had other more personal reasons for wanting the Sparrow caught. Two years earlier, he and his best friend, Mitchell Lama, had been on the trail of a suspected terrorist as part of another Lazlo Group detail. They had been about to close in on their suspect, unaware that the man they were seeking was also apparently being sought out by the Sparrow.

Mitch and he had split up in the narrow and twisting alleyways of Rome’s Trastevere section, communicating via walkie talkie as they attempted to corner their man.

When the walkie talkie in his hand had gone dead, Aidan had realized his friend was in trouble. After so many years in the military together, Mitch knew better than to go incommunicado without some kind of signal to his partner. The nature of the mission had changed suddenly as he raced through the alleyways, now trying to locate him. He had finally found the friend who was almost like a brother, sprawled on the ancient cobblestones of a back alley.

Mitch had been nearly gutted and was barely alive. He had held him as he had called for medical assistance, but knew he might not survive until help arrived. Somehow though, his friend had managed one last word before he died in Aidan’s arms — Sparrow.

He had been looking for her ever since, intent on avenging Mitch’s death. Now here she was, being handed to him on a silver platter. The only problem was he could do nothing about it until after the Lazlo Group had all the answers it needed regarding Prince Reginald’s murder. But after that . . .

Nothing would keep him from giving her just what the Sparrow deserved.

The young woman that they suspected of being the Sparrow — Elizabeth Moore, alias Elizabeth Cavanaugh — ran a restaurant in this modest seaside town. The restaurant, apparently a cover for her real occupation, had become quite well-known for its seafood and Silvershire-inspired cuisine.

He had seen the “Help Wanted” sign go up late yesterday morning in her restaurant’s front window, so it was the perfect time to see about applying for the bartending position.

Pulling his PDA off his belt as he approached the Sparrow’s restaurant, he used the walkie talkie adapter he had built into the unit to cue Lucia — the Lazlo group’s top computer specialist — to see if she was picking up the signal from the earpiece he was wearing.

“Mix Master to Red Rover. Come in Red Rover.”

Lucia’s chuckle crackled across the airwaves a moment before she said, “Very commandery of you, Mix Master. Are you at the location, over?”

“About to go in. Can you check the wire, over?” he said and a moment later, he heard in his ear, “Mix Master . . . Do we really have to do this stupid name thing?”

Aidan smiled. Lucia was never one for clandestine kind of shenanigans. Shutting off his walkie talkie, he replied, “No problema, Lucia. Can you hear me?”

“Loud and clear,” she responded and he immediately asked, “Kir Royale?”

There was a barely noticeable pause before Lucia said, “One part creme de cassis to five parts champagne, but you knew that already didn’t you?”

“It was all a former girlfriend used to drink before dinner,” he advised. Satisfied that the wire he had designed was working, he started walking toward the restaurant and said, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

#

The sun was warm on her back as she tended the border of flowers in the garden at the front of the restaurant. Wildly spreading nasturtiums lapped over onto the large granite slabs that made up the patio where guests oftentimes shared drinks or appetizers while they waited for a table inside.

Elizabeth had rescued the centuries old slabs from the reconstruction of a dilapidated private wharf on the opposite side of town. The grey was somber against the perky yellows and oranges of the nasturtiums, but a perfect foil to the ivy-covered stone building that housed her restaurant and the crisply manicured lawns scattered throughout the grounds.

Carefully she deadheaded older blossoms and picked others for inclusion in one of the seasonal salads she was offering on this week’s menu. Interspersed with the many annuals and perennials in the border were assorted herbs. She snipped off pieces here and there for use in the kitchen.

She was just about finished when she heard a footfall behind her. A man walked through the opening of the low stone wall that separated her property from the main road. A very attractive man.

Slipping the basket holding her garden gatherings onto her arm, she strolled toward him, easing off her gardening gloves as she did so.

“May I help you?” Elizabeth asked as she met him by the path leading to the door of the restaurant. Once she was before him, she realized she had to look up slightly to meet his gaze. He was about half a foot taller than her with a lean athletic build that accentuated the long lines of his body.

He motioned to her front window with one hand and replied, “I noticed the sign as I was walking earlier. I’m here to apply for the bartender’s position.”

She examined him more carefully, from the faded and sinfully tight jeans to his logo T-shirt and black leather jacket. He looked more like a tourist on vacation than someone interested in permanent employment. “I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch your name.”

He held out his hand with a brisk, almost military snap. “Aidan Rawlings. Are you the owner?”

With a quick glance at her hand to make sure it wasn’t too dirty from her gardening, she shook his hand and said, “Elizabeth Moore. Chief cook and bottle washer. Literally.”

He smiled with teeth too white and too perfect for normal humans. It seemed apropos with his shaggy and sunstreaked blonde hair and eyes so blue, she couldn’t believe they weren’t contacts. His smile broadened as he noticed her perusal of him and that she was still busily shaking his hand.

Yanking it away, she wiped her hand down on the gardening apron she wore, realizing her palm had gotten sweaty from the brief contact. “I’m sorry. You said you were here for the bartender’s job?”

He nodded and tucked his hands into his jeans pockets. Or maybe it was better to say, tucked the tips of his fingers into those pockets since the jeans were so tight, they didn’t really leave a lot of room for anything else besides his long lean legs and . . .

She stopped herself from proceeding with the perusal.

“Is the job still available?” He rocked back and forth on his heels as he asked, apparently growing uncomfortable, but then again, so was she. Not much of a surprise considering she generally avoided strangers and in particular, men like this one.

Handsome, danger to your common sense kind of men.

“Do you have experience?” After she asked, she began to walk toward the door of the restaurant and he followed beside her, keeping his paces small to accommodate her shorter legs.

“I’ve worked in a number of bars,” he replied with a careless shrug.

She supposed that he had, but not as a bartender. There was something about him. Something in the way he moved and in the slight swagger that screamed Bad Boy. She could picture him as either a bouncer since he had an air that said he could take care of himself, or an exotic dancer, but not a bartender.

As she reached the door, she faced him. “I’m sorry,

Mr. . . . Rawlings was it?”

“How about you just call me Aidan?” he said with a practiced smile that had probably swept more than one woman off her feet. Aidan, however, was going to get a swift lesson in the art of Just Say No!

“I appreciate you coming by, but the position — ”

“Is still available, right?”

She acknowledged his statement with a subtle drop of her head as if she didn’t want to acknowledge it. “Quite frankly, my restaurant isn’t the kind of place for a Tom Cruise Cocktail Redux.”

He actually jerked back as if slapped and a stain of color came to his sharply defined cheeks. “Excuse me?”

“I just don’t think you’re the right type.” And he definitely was not used to being turned down by a woman.

Surprise came once more on his face, followed by what she would possibly call admiration until he carefully schooled his expression.

“And what type are you looking for exactly?” he asked and placed his hands on his hips.

“Someone more . . . professional. This is a four star restaurant and my patrons expect — ”

“Uptight and pompous? Fair enough.” With that, he turned and walked away, but as he did so, she couldn’t help but notice just how nice a derriere he had. Not that it would change her mind.

She needed someone who wouldn’t cause trouble and although pleasant to look at, Aidan Rawlings was trouble with a capital T.

SECRET AGENT REUNION
The stunning sequel to MORE THAN A MISSION was released in August 2007 by Silhouette Romantic Suspense

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