Burn

Burn

by Linda Howard

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Overview

When Jenner Redwine wins a lottery jackpot, she can’t imagine ever finding a place in the world of the wealthy. Seven years later, though, she finds an ally—and a guide to the rarefied realm of privilege—in the kind-hearted heiress Sydney Hazlett, who invites Jenner on a charity cruise aboard a luxury liner. But what Jenner gets is more like a Hitchcock movie than a Love Boat episode. Taken hostage by a menacing stranger, with nowhere to run, Jenner is drawn into a game of dizzying intrigue and harrowing danger. But as fear of her captor turns to fascination, Jenner rediscovers feelings she hasn’t had in years—and realizes she’s found a life worth living. If she survives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345486578
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/31/2010
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 214,212
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Seven years earlier . . .

Jenner Redwine’s cell phone rang as she was trudging across the parking lot to her car. That would be Dylan, she thought with a flash of annoyance as she fished the phone from the bottom of her denim purse; she’d had the phone for just five weeks, and already he’d developed a pattern. She bet she knew what he wanted, too. She thumbed the Talk button, said “Hello,” and waited to see if she’d won the bet with herself.

“Hey, babe,” he said, as he always did.

“Hey.” If he’d had an ounce of sensitivity he’d have noticed the distinct lack of welcome in her voice, but “sensitivity” and “Dylan” were direct opposites.

“You off work yet?”

As if he hadn’t been watching the clock, she thought, but didn’t say it. “Yeah.”

“How about stopping at the Seven-Eleven and picking up a six-pack, okay? I’ll pay you for it.”

He hadn’t yet, she thought grumpily, and she was getting tired of it. His dead-end job paid more than hers, but he was mooching his beer off her. Last time, Jenner promised herself as she said “Okay,” and hung up. If he didn’ t pay her this time, this was her last beer run.

She had just clocked out at the end of second shift at Harvest Meat Packing Company, she was exhausted, and the bottoms of her feet throbbed from standing on the concrete floor for the past eight hours. Dylan’s job at a machine shop was first shift, which meant he’d been off work for roughly those same eight hours, but he hadn’t bothered to get his own beer. Instead he’d been watching her television and eating her food.

Having a steady guy had seemed like a good deal at first, but Jenner didn’t suffer any fool gladly, even when the fool was herself. Unless Dylan pulled off a miraculous recovery, she’d shortly be placing him in the “mistake” column. She’d give him this one last chance—not because she thought he’d come through, but because somehow she needed this one additional bit of evidence to push her past the point of no return. Hanging on to people when she should let go was a character flaw, but she knew herself well enough to accept that she had to give him this one last chance, or uncertainty would eat her alive.

Reaching her battered blue Dodge, she unlocked it and pulled hard on the door handle—the driver’s door tended to stick. After initially resisting her effort, the door suddenly gave way with a creak of rusty hinges, and Jenner staggered back. Controlling her irritation, she got in, slammed the door, and stuck the key in the ignition. The engine fired right up. The Blue Goose didn’t look like much, but it was reliable, and that was all she asked. At least she had something she could depend on, even if it was just a beat up, rusty car.

The 7-Eleven nearest her duplex was a few blocks out of her way, but certainly close enough that Dylan could have gone there with very little effort. The shop was brightly lit, and the parking lot packed despite the late hour. Jenner wedged the Dodge into a space that was as tight as too-small panty hose, but what the heck; what did another ding matter in a car that was practically one big ding?

She shoved her shoulder against the door and, sure enough, it swung open with too much force and banged the car beside her. Wincing, she contorted herself so she could slide through the small opening, and rubbed her finger over the ding in the other car in an effort to smooth it out—not that the owner was likely to notice one more, considering this car was almost as bad as the Goose.

The combined smells of exhaust, gasoline, and hot asphalt hit her in the face. Typical summer smell, and all in all she kind of liked the smell of gasoline. Kerosene, too. Weird, but not something she wasted time worrying about.

The bottoms of her sneakers stuck to the softened tar of the parking lot as she trudged across it. The air-conditioned coolness of the convenience store washed around her as soon as she made it through the door. She wanted to stand for a moment, just absorbing the cold air. The heat wave that was cooking the Chicago area seemed to suck every bit of endurance out of her. Damn, she was tired. She wanted to be at home where she could kick the shoes off her aching feet, peel out of her sweaty jeans and shirt, and flop across the bed so the breeze from the ceiling fan could blow across her mostly naked body. Instead, she was buying Dylan’s beer. So who was the loser? Dylan, or herself?

She glanced at the curiously long line at the counter, and had an aha! moment as suddenly it clicked: lottery. She had to be tired, not to have realized immediately what was going on. A huge jackpot had been building, and the drawing was tomorrow night. That was why the parking lot was full and there was such a long line at the counter. Every now and then she played the numbers, and a couple of times she’d won a few bucks, but for the most part she didn’t bother. Tonight, though . . . hell, why not? Let Dylan wait for his beer.

She grabbed a six-pack, then joined the queue, which wound between two aisles to the back of the store, then snaked halfway up another aisle. She passed the time by examining prices, looking at candy, and trying to decide which numbers to pick. She was sandwiched between two guys, both of whom smelled like stale beer and equally stale sweat, and who both kept making occasional comments to her, which she mostly ignored. Did she have some invisible sign on her head that said, “All losers apply here”?

Then again, maybe they just wanted her beer. On a hot summer night, beer had to rate pretty high—maybe even higher than a tired Clairol blonde in an ugly blue shirt with the words “Harvest Meat Packing” embroidered on the pocket. Though when she was on the job she had to wear coveralls and a plastic head-cover, the packing company required that their employees wear the company shirts to and from home, figuring they’d get free advertising. The employees even had to buy the damn shirts—but at least, if she quit, she got to keep the shirts . . . until she threw them away the first chance she had.

On the other hand, these two bozos maybe looked at the shirt and thought, “Hey, she has a job! And beer!” She hated to think this shirt could be a come-on.

Eventually, the slow shuffle of the line brought her to the counter. She plunked down her money and bought three tickets, mainly because three was supposed to be a lucky number. She chose three sets of numbers at random, thinking of birthdays, telephone numbers, addresses, and anything else that occurred to her. Then, dropping the tickets into her bag, she trudged back out to her car. The vehicle that had been parked beside her was gone, and a pickup truck had taken its place. The truck was parked so close there was no way she could get the driver’ s side door open. Muttering a curse under her breath, she unlocked the passenger door and managed to wiggle in, then she had to climb over the console. At least she was skinny and limber, otherwise she’d never have managed.

Her cell phone rang as she was wedging herself under the steering wheel. She jumped, banged her head, and cursed again. This time it wasn’t under her breath. Digging out the phone, she punched the button and snapped, “What?”

“What’s taking you so long?” Dylan demanded.

“Buying the damn beer, that’s what’s taking so long. There was a line.”

“Well, hurry it up, will ya?”

“On my way.” If her tone was grim, he completely missed that little detail, but then, Dylan seemed to miss a lot of signals.

Each half of the duplex where she lived had its own tiny drive, a luxury she appreciated as she didn’t have to park on the street. At least, normally she didn’t. Tonight, Dylan’s Mustang was in her drive, so she had to hunt for a space. By the time she found one, trudged back to her place—where every light was on—she was all but breathing fire.

Sure enough, when she went in, the first thing she saw was Dylan sprawled on her couch, his work boots propped on her coffee table, a wrestling show blaring on her television. “Hey, babe,” said Dylan with a smile as he got up, half his attention remaining on the television. He took the six-pack from her hand and fished one out of the carton. “Shit, it isn’t cold.”

She watched as he picked up the opener he’d already fetched from the kitchen—so he wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of waiting for his brew—popped the top off the bottle, and lifted the beer to his mouth. He dropped the top onto the coffee table, and settled himself back on the couch.

“How about putting the others in the fridge on your way to change clothes,” he suggested. She always changed clothes as soon as she got home because she couldn’t stand wearing the ugly polyester shirt one second longer than necessary.

“Sure thing,” she said, picking up the carton. She told him how much the beer was.

He gaped at her. “Huh?”

“The beer.” She kept her voice very even. “You said you’d pay me for it.”

“Oh, yeah. I didn’t bring any money with me. I’ll pay you tomorrow.”

Ding. She heard the little bell that said he’d passed the point of no return. She waited for a sense of being set free, but instead all she felt was tired. “Don’t bother,” she said. “Just get out, and don’ t come back.”

“Huh?” he said again. Evidently he was having problems with his hearing, along with his problems thinking. Dylan was good-looking—very good-looking—but not nearly good-looking enough to make up for all his shortcomings. Okay, so she’d wasted almost four months of her life on him; she’d know better next time. The first sign of mooching, and the guy was out.

“Get out. We’re done. You’ve mooched off me for the last time.” She opened the door and stood there, waiting for him to leave.

He heaved himself to his feet, arranging his face in the charming smile that had blinded her at first. “Babe, you’re just tired—”

“Damn straight. Tired of you. Come on.” She made shooing motions. “Out.”

“Jen, come on—”

“No. That was it. You had no intention of paying for the beer, and I have no intention of giving you another chance.”

“If it meant that much to you, all you had to do was say so. You don’t have to go off the deep end,” he charged, the charming smile vanishing and a scowl taking its place.

“Yes, I do. I like the deep end. The water’s nice and cold there. Out.”

“We can work—”

“No, we can’t, Dylan. This was your last chance.” She glared at him. “You either walk out this door, or I’m calling the cops.”

“All right, all right.” He stepped onto the miniscule porch, then turned to face her. “I was getting tired of you, anyway. Bitch.”

She closed the door in his face, then jumped as he slammed his fist into the wood. That was evidently his parting gesture, because about ten seconds later she heard his car start, and she watched through a tiny opening in the curtains as he backed out of the driveway and left.

All right. Finally. She was boyfriendless, and it felt good. Better than good. The sense of relief and freedom finally showed up and she took a deep breath, feeling as if a ton had been lifted from her shoulders. She should have stood up for herself sooner, saved herself some grief. Another lesson learned.

First things first. She walked back down to where she’d parked the Goose, and pulled it into her driveway where it belonged. Then, as soon as she was safely inside her place and the doors were locked, the curtains snugly pulled, she called her best friend, Michelle, as she went back to the bedroom and began stripping out of her clothes. Breaking up with a boyfriend was definitely something a best friend should hear immediately.

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Burn 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 155 reviews.
Lannie More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, for sure! This has all the exciting elements, suspense, mystery, romance, lessons in friendship, bonding, a hero to save the,(or destroy your life)....Yep! That's for me!!!...Loved it!...Also recommend another author I've become a great fan of, Linda Pirrung, author of EXPLOSION IN PARIS; also love Barbara Taylor Bradford,Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Gardner...
lovetheprintedword More than 1 year ago
I have LOVED Linda Howard's books for many years, keeping most of them, because they are among my most cherished re-reads. What has happened!!? This book was a struggle to finish--SO much repetition, and I really couldn't get attached to any of the characters. Then, abruptly, the book ended, leaving me with the feeling (substantiated by other reviewers) that the last pages were missing. The trouble is, I really can't get myself to care enough to pursue it. I was just too glad to be done with this book! This was such a disappointment--I have the same feeling reading this one that I occasionally have with an unfamiliar author that I try out, and say, "Oh, well, I won't read any more of her books." And that is so un-Linda-Howard-book to be feeling...
Voracious_ReaderRG More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Linda Howard fan and pre-order all of her books. This is the first book I have read by her that I have no desire to read again. None. The characters are boring, story totally WEAK. I have read most of her books over and over and over again. Countless times. There was not one single scene I wanted to revisit in this book. True Linda Howard fans will read this anyway because reviews like this are unbelievable. Everyone else: consider yourselves warned. Save your money and your time. Read something else, or read a different Linda Howard book again. This one is terrible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I have loved Linda Howard's other books. If you like her other books, more than likely you'll like this one too. It does take a few chapters before you meet the "hero," but those chapters are interesting and have to do with character development. I like all the descriptions the author gave and thought they enhanced the story. I even liked the ending. I will definitely be reading this one again.
Joy_2_U More than 1 year ago
Classic Linda Howard. I didn't think I would enjoy this story much because it sounded like a story line that has been overdone, but I loved it. If you enjoy Linda Howard then you should enjoy this.
curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
I did a lot of skimming through this book. Sometimes she went into the most boring of details about these people's lives. It has some entertaining moments but not enough to make me want to recommend it to anyone else. I don't know what happened to Linda? It makes me wonder if she took some bad advice along the way of her career. I don't understand how the same woman who wrote "Shades of Twilight", "After The Night", "Mr. Perfect", and her other beloved older books can write the stuff she has written in the last few years. LINDA COME BACK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Linda Howard, mainly because the last couple of books she's written have not been typical romance. I like Linda because of her originality in characters and plot lines.
Writer2MF More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I have read anythng by Linda Howard. I enjoyed the story line. I'm not much of a Romance reader but this had enough intreague to keep me interested. A little romance along with some mystery works for me. I like her writing style and I am now looking forward to reading some of her other books.
RegencyReader More than 1 year ago
Winning the lottery proves to be a challenge but the escape on a cruise turns out to be near deadly. No one is who the seem to be and the twists and turns leave your guessing who is the good guy from the bad.
GaGa23 More than 1 year ago
"Burn" by Linda Howard is a very entertaining and suspenseful novel in a long line of winners by this author. Initialy, I found it a little difficult to get into, but it was well worth perserving. Jenner and Cael are extremely entertaining in their acrimonious exchanges as the plot wends it way from kidnapping to saving a cruise ship full of wealthy passengers from a maniac set on annihilation. Jenner reminds me of Jane Bright from "Mr. Perfect" and Blair from "To Die For" and "Drop Dead Gorgous" - smart, acerbic and hysterically funny. I ALWAYS get Linda Howard's novels as soon as thy hit the shelves. Bravo!
love2readTX More than 1 year ago
While I have read all of Linda Howard's books, I found Burn to be boring. Have you ever noticed that the more books an author writes, the worse they get? Sandra Brown is the same way. Waste of money! Yet we contuniue to buy because we remember how great the previous books were and this one just might be another great read. Get this one in your local library or used book store.
RomanceReaderST More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Linda Howard but lately some of her books have been lacking a certain something. Well that is not so with this book. Burn went back to having a spunky, courageous, honest, and funny leading lady with attitude. Jenner Redwine made me laugh out loud. Cael Traylor was a good old fashioned hunk. He was rough around the edges but a true hero. I enjoyed the one liners and all the side characters too. There was even a very touching moment when an older lady reminisces about her past and it brought a tear to my eye. Overall I totally enjoyed this novel!
pinkrose More than 1 year ago
I am a Linda Howard fan from way back. I read her early paperbacks like Come Lie With Me and Loving Evangeline, etc. I devoured her westerns which were fantastic. Lady of The West, Angel Creek,etc. My favorite novel of hers is After The Night. I have reread ten times, it is so powerful and moving. THAT book has everything. Then her hardcovers came out which I prefer. Mr. Perfect, Open Season, Dying TO Please, Dream Man,...basically all but a few are wonderful reads with great plots, steamy sex scenes, and humor in the right places! Her latest book Burn falls flat like a pancake. You are on a luxury liner for most of the plot. The heroine is supposed to be funny but she is annoying like a gnat. The hero is bland and lackluster. The secondary characters have no depth. I am 3/4 of the way through and don't know if I can finish. The idea was great, winning the lottery, but I think Linda Howard lost her mojo when she scrounged around what to do with her characters.Don't bother to read this one.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jenner wins the lottery, loses old friends, then gains a new rich friend (who turns out to be a lovely person). On their way to a hugely expensive charity cruise, Jenner's friend Sydney is kidnapped and held to ensure Jenner's cooperation with a group of people who seem to be spying on the wealthy owner of the cruise ship.Jenner falls - grumpily - for her captor, who slowly seems to be emerging as a good guy. The chemistry between the two somewhat makes up for the far-fetched plot of kidnapper-with-a-heart-old-gold...
Glenajo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jenner Redwine is an interesting character that grows and develops throughout the book as she moves from her life as a meat packer into the life of a millionaire after winning the lottery. After surviving the tumult created by the winning itself, and the changing attitudes of those around her, Jenner lands in the middle of a plot to sink a cruise ship. Though this is not Howard¿s best novel, it is definitely entertaining and suspense filled romance.
cenneidigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The lotto winner who needs to move on and get away from her family who keeps taking advantage of her. The cruise-ship kidnap was good and of course the rest of the romance was sweet. I don't like the violence leads to romance angle.
dd196406 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book. It was a page turner. Linda Howard does not disappoint in this one. Who doesn't like a main character who is rich because she won the lottery?
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I used to so love Linda Howard, but she's really losing it. This book was phoned in, with pages of boring, non essential details. The trouble is that the basic premise was a good one on so many levels. Jenner wins the lottery, the big one, and then everything changes. She loses her friends, her family, her life. And the life she rebuilds isn't so great, despite the money. And then her one true friend is kidnapped, and will be harmed unless she plays along... Now who isn't interested in that?It wasn't that I didn¿t believe Larkin, the lunatic villain, he was actually 3 dimensional by Howard's standards. It was that she gave barely any time to the relationship and romance of Cael and Jenner, and totally lacked the intensity of connection that her lovers usually have. Also, virtually no sex scenes, which are frankly usually one of Howard's major strengths.Sadly not a keeper.
lrobe190 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jenner Redwine works in a factory until she wins the lottery, which totally changes her life. She begins to hobnob with the wealthy and elite, but never feels like she fits in. She has one real friend, Sydney, who talks her into going on the maiden voyage of a luxurious cruise ship for charity. Before the women board the ship, they are kidnapped. Sydney is sequestered in a hotel and kept from boarding. Jenner is held hostage in one of the staterooms and forced to pretend to have a romantic relationship with one of her captors. Things aren't always as they seem, however...it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the bad guys and the good guys.The story starts out a little slowly, after the first couple of chapters, it really takes off. There is plenty of suspense and romance. Once started, it is hard to put down.
risadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Linda Howard novel and it will not be my last. This book was very entertaining. I loved Cael, he was so sexy. Very interesting story line, lots of drama and hot sex scenes. Looking forward to reading more of this author's works.
TXBookjunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Linda Howard's new hardback "Burn" is about a lottery winner who is on a charity cruise when she's coerced to cooperating with a mysterious (and, of course, gorgeous) man doing surveillance on the man in the stateroom next door. I liked the book except for the slow and choppy beginning. It starts out in present time, moves back 7 years to when the main character, Jenner, wins the lottery, and then moves forward to the time leading up to the cruise. Starting the book felt like coming into a movie half-way in. You're sort of lost and trying to figure out if you're even in the right place. Then, the chapters leading up to when Jenner wins the lottery seem sort of extraneous. I think it could all have been explained in a few pages and in a different manner that didn't slow down the pace.However, once the cruise begins the pace picks up and remains pretty steady through the rest of the book. It was a little bit disconcerting at times to read about what was happening off the ship (I had to re-read character names to realize they were talking about characters on shore), but I guess there's no help for that since it's necessary to let the reader know what was happening with other characters. Overrall, though I enjoyed Howard's new book. It had the some of the same humor she used in "To Die For" and "Mr. Perfect". And of course her heroine isn't anyone's door mat even if she's being held hostage.
susanamper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not up to Howard's usual snappy style. Takes place on a cruise ship and couldn't be more boring, and the male protagonist is given the awful name of Cael. There's a B story with the heroine's friend Syd that showed promise but was not developed. Not recommended.
jedziedz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the beginning of this book. The story of Jenner and how she wins the lottery and how it alters her life is compelling. It isn't until the second part of the story when Sydney is held by kidnappers that the story gets a little out of hand. With that said, this story is the perfect escape. Yes, the plot is a little far fetched and the romance is a little forced, but the characters are wonderful and the book allows your imagination to go places you 've never been before (let's hope).
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Winning the lottery was exciting enough. But now Jenner Redwine's hostage on a cruise ship with her good behavior the slim lifeline for her one good friend in the world. Intrigue and double-dealing on the high seas, likable main characters and a fast-paced plot make this one of Howard's better efforts of late.
Queenbethanny More than 1 year ago
Intriguing - Can a women really fall "in love" with a guy who's holding her hostage?