Well-known journalist Annabelle Carlyle is stunned by the personal twist of her latest assignment: her best friend Vanessa is missing. Annabelle goes undercover in the Old South to search for answers. Full of thick accents and a way of life rooted in the past, Charleston is as foreign and strange a place as any Annabelle's visited. And before she finds a single clue, she runs into a sexy man she can't shake.
Tall, dark and charming, Mark Dering is happy to show the gorgeous Yankee his hometown. He's captivated by the quick witted, quick tempered redhead. But when they're shot at, he realizes she's far more than just another tourist. Soon they're knee deep in a mystery that goes all the way back to the Civil War. For once Annabelle is in over her head. Desperate to find Vanessa, she reluctantly accepts Mark's help. It isn't long before romance blooms right alongside the magnolias.
The stakes grow higher when a body is discovered. Someone is willing to kill to keep a century old Confederate secret hidden. With her best friend missing and a killer on the loose, it's the worst possible moment for Mark to try and unlock Annabelle's heart. Or is love exactly what her life's been missing?
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He tensed, waited for a bullet to slam into his body, but nothing happened. Mark looked up and saw Jillian and Annabelle reeling in the rope, hand over hand. It felt like forever before they pulled him up the side and onto the deck. He flopped onto his back and concentrated on breathing.
“Mark, are you ok? Are you hit?” Annabelle’s voice quivered as she ran her hands frantically over his body checking for blood.
“I’m fine. Got the wind knocked out of me when the engines revved and slammed me against the boat. Think I swallowed about a gallon of river water, too.”
“What the hell is going on?” Ashby yelled over his shoulder, holding tight to the wheel. “Kind of a dramatic entrance for you. Want to fill me in? Tell me where we’re headed? And why I’m apparently stealing this boat?”
It was Annabelle who answered. “Head to the harbor. This river does connect to the harbor, doesn’t it?”
Jillian nodded. “If we use the engine instead of raising the sails we should be there in about ten minutes.”
“I haven’t navigated this part of the river in a while. Not too familiar with the layout. Might be a good idea to cut the engine and take it a bit slower,” said Ashby.
“Don’t slow down!” Mark and Annabelle shouted as one.
Mark pulled himself to his feet and tucked Annabelle securely against his side, still gasping greedily for air. “Because someone tried to kill us. We don’t want to wait around and give them a second chance.”
Christi Barth spent years performing in musicals, singing about love and giving people a happy ending in every performance. Then as a wedding planner she spent every day immersed in romance. Now she writes it! After winning 1st place in the 2008 Heart to Heart contest, and 1st place in the 2009 Emily contest, she is thrilled to be able to share Carolina Heat with the world. She lives in Maryland with the absolutely best husband in the world (sorry ladies, its true!).