An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a top secret invention before it’s too late.
Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.
In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.
Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.
(From Chapter 1)
“There is no need to fear robots,” Dr. Pickwell declared. It was clear that the suggestion that robots would displace workers annoyed him. He raised his voice to be heard above the murmurs of the crowd. “I urge you to consider that these machines could take the place of soldiers. Wars of the future will be fought with robots, not human beings. Think of the lives that will be saved.”
“You’re mad,” someone else shouted. “You want to create robots that can kill? What if these machines of yours decide to turn on their creators and try to destroy us?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Pickwell snapped. “Robots are nothing more than mechanical devices. Fundamentally, they are no different than the cars we drive or the radios that we use to get our news.”
“Futuro looks mighty dangerous to me,” the man in the front row called.
“Nonsense,” Pickwell said. “Allow me to demonstrate how useful Futuro can be. Futuro, what is the forecast for tomorrow?”
The robot answered in a scratchy, hollow voice. “There will be fog in the morning but by noon the day will turn warm and sunny. No rain is expected.”
Pickwell faced his audience. “Think about how useful it would be to have Futuro in your home at your beck and call. It won’t be long before there will be robots that can cook and clean and do the laundry.”
But the crowd was no longer paying any attention to Pickwell, because Futuro had once again lurched into motion.
“What’s that thing doing?” Hazel whispered.
“I have no idea,” Amalie said.
They watched along with everyone else as the robot opened the suitcase that it had just placed on the bench. Pickwell finally realized that he had lost the attention of the crowd. He turned away from the podium to see what was going on at the bench.
Futuro reached into the suitcase and took out a gun.
There was a collective gasp from the audience.
“No,”Pickwell shouted. “Futuro, I command you to put down the gun.”
The robot pulled the trigger. Twice. The shots boomed throughout the theater.
Pickwell jerked under the impact of the bullets. He opened his mouth to cry out but he could not speak. He collapsed onto his back.
Futuro calmly clanked offstage, disappearing behind the curtain.
Stunned, Amalie stared at the unmoving figure on the stage. It was a trick, she thought. It had to be some sort of bizarre charade designed to shock the audience.
Most of the crowd evidently believed the same thing. The majority of the people in the seats did not move. They appeared stunned.
But not everyone was frozen in shock. Amalie glimpsed motion out of the corner of her eye. When she turned to look, she saw that Luther Pell and the stranger who had accompanied him to the theater had left their seats and were making their way to the stage steps. They were moving fast, almost as if they had been anticipating trouble.
When they reached the stage they were joined by Oliver Ward, who had managed to move with surprising speed, considering that he had a noticeable limp and was obliged to use a cane. His wife, Irene, was not far behind. She had a notebook in one hand.
Luther Pell and the stranger vanished behind the curtain. Ward crouched beside Pickwell and unfastened the inventor’s tuxedo jacket to expose a blood-soaked white shirt.
The theater manager evidently had been watching the demonstration from the last row. He rushed down the center aisle toward the stage.
“Is there a doctor in the house?” he shouted.
Amalie saw a middle-aged man in the center section make his way quickly down the aisle.
“I’m a doctor,” he said in a loud voice. “Call an ambulance.”
The manager disappeared through a side door, presumably in search of a telephone.
Onstage, Ward was using both hands to try to staunch the bleeding. The doctor arrived and quickly took charge.
Luther Pell reappeared from behind the curtains. He looked at Oliver Ward and shook his head. Ward looked grim.
The stranger finally emerged from behind the curtain. He was in the act of reaching inside his white evening jacket. Amalie caught a glimpse of something metallic just before the elegantly tailored coat fell neatly back into place.
It took her a couple of seconds to comprehend what she had just seen. Then understanding struck. Like any self-respecting mobster, Luther Pell’s friend from out of town had come to the theater armed with a gun.
About the Author
The author of a string of New York Times bestsellers, Jayne Ann Krentz uses three different pen names for each of her three “worlds.” As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense. Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved these days for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.
“I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names,” she says. “The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books.”
In addition to her fiction writing, she is the editor of, and a contributor to, a non-fiction essay collection, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Her commitment to her chosen genre has been strong from the very beginning of her career.
“The romance genre is the only genre where readers are guaranteed novels that place the heroine at the heart of the story,” Jayne says. “These are books that celebrate women’s heroic virtues and values: courage, honor, determination and a belief in the healing power of love.”
She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.
She is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.
Review of Tight Rope
Review (5 Stars): Tight Rope was a thrilling tale with smart dialogue and a strong, resourceful heroine that you can’t get enough of. This is the third book in the amazing Burning Cove series and I loved every minute of this. Amalie sinks her life savings, after leaving the circus, into a bed and breakfast that has seen its fair share of death when the previous owner jumped off the balcony. Her first paying guest is Dr Norman Pickwell, a scientist who plans to spotlight his robot invention in front of a sold-out crowd but his creation turns on him and shoots him during their performance. Now, Matthias Jones, comes to Amalie’s hotel looking for clues and has his fair share of secrets as well. The chemistry between Matthias and Amalie is electric and these two are on a race against time to find a killer before it is too late.
I got lost in this story and I was hooked from the very first page of this well-written mystery. Amalie was a character that you instantly connected with who finds herself in the middle of danger and a killer that is bent on revenge. Matthias was the perfect guy for her because he had secrets of his own and he was willing to do whatever it takes to bring a killer to justice and to protect the woman that he loves. Tight Rope will keep you on the edge of your seat and I couldn’t get enough of the residents of Burning Cove.