Read an excerpt from The Pretender by HelenKay Dimon

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the pretender.jpg

They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.

Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.

Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.

Excerpt

His voice sounded so genuine.

It was garbage. Oh, Harris had a good act. All concerned and acting as if he was just dropped there and doing his job. She didn’t buy it at all. “Let’s not do this.”

“What?”

“You don’t need to pretend you don’t know.”

He shook his head. “You lost me.”

“I assume someone filled you in on my family. If not Uncle Stephen, you’ve at least seen the news or heard rumors.” Pundits and so-called experts had spent hours of television time dissecting every move and every Wright holiday for years. “The only thing I ask is that you give me the courtesy of not pretending to be surprised when you’re not.”

To his credit, he nodded. She’d expected more denial and maybe a ratcheting up of the I’m-just-sitting-here act he had going, but he abandoned it all.

“Fair enough.” He tapped his fingertips together as his gaze searched her face.

“I’m guessing you have a hundred questions.” Not that she intended to answer any of them.

“There are whispers you killed your sister.”

Gabby tucked one of her legs beneath her and rocked the chair with her other foot. “They’re more than whispers. I’ve been questioned by the police multiple times.”

“There are those who believe you killed your parents.”

The allegation sliced through her until an ache settled deep in her bones. “Their plane crashed. But yes, there are those who think I picked up a mechanical engineering degree—in secret, I guess—and then used that knowledge to kill them. Really, people will make up any fact to fit with their theories about my supposed guilt.”

He shot her a sad smile. “You’ve been busy.”

“And a sociopath, apparently.” She couldn’t imagine the kind of person she’d have to be to cut a swath through her family the way people claimed.

“The only other piece of information I know is that you’ve been disinherited.”

“You forgot the part where I faked my own kidnapping when I was nineteen.” Everything started there with the allegations she had set it all up to get her parents’ money. Once people believed that, they would believe any horror story about her.

She could still hear the claims. The spoiled college kid and her friends trying to rob the poor, innocent rich couple. That was the spin the magazines and newspapers put on the story. Never mind the truth.

He shrugged. “I just hadn’t gotten to that one yet.”

His light tone kept her anxiety from spiking. She never talked about family. Certainly didn’t discuss rumors with strangers. But sitting there with the cool breeze hitting her face, rocking back and forth with her head resting against the chair, the rest of the world fell away.

His voice, so soothing, almost inviting, had the tension unspooling inside her. If he was judging her, he hid it well. If this was an interrogation, he wouldn’t get anything out of her anyway. The truth was the truth.

“My list of supposed sins is pretty long,” she said.

He nodded. “You do have quite the colorful history.”

“I actually don’t. That’s the point.”

He leaned forward with his elbows balanced on his thighs. “Every family has secrets, Gabby.”

“You say that as if you think all family secrets are the same.” She almost laughed at the thought. “My great-aunt Barbara married her brother-in-law, but that’s not what we’re talking about here, are we?”

“Naughty Aunt Barbara.”

The back-and-forth, the verbal sparring, felt oddly good. Gabby couldn’t remember the last time she joked with anyone. “Did I mention she was still married to Uncle Thaddeus at the time she took on his brother, too?”

“I hope there wasn’t a third sibling. The poor woman would have been exhausted.” Harris looked up at the porch ceiling. “For the record, would that be trigamy?”

Laughter escaped her and she almost didn’t recognize the sound. “Probably. Try to top that.”

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About the Author

HelenKay Dimon spent the years before becoming a romance author as a...divorce attorney. Not the usual transition, she knows. Good news is she now writes full time and is much happier. She has sold over forty novels and novellas to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Kensington, Harlequin, Penguin Random House, Riptide and Carina Press. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named "Red-Hot Reads" and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. She is on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America and teaches fiction writing at UC San Diego and MiraCosta College. You can learn more at her website: www.HelenKaydimon.com

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