Death Angel

Death Angel

by Linda Howard

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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In Linda Howard’s gifted hands, second chances, unexpected romance, and unrelenting action combine into a riveting new novel of suspense. In Death Angel, bad girls can wake up and trust their hearts, bad guys can fight for what’s right . . . and dying just might be the only way to change one’s life.

A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed.

Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can’t hide–and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it?

Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She’s no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound–and stop nervously looking over her shoulder–she will need to take down those who marked her for death.

Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she’s ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself–as well as her heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345486554
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 145,592
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.92(h) x 1.00(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

New York City

“You did an excellent job,” Rafael Salinas purred to the assassin, who stood on the other side of the room, near the door. Either the man didn’t like getting too close to other human beings, or he didn’t trust Salinas and was giving himself an avenue of escape if the meeting turned sour—in which case he was smart. People who were wary of Salinas tended to live longer than those who trusted him. Drea Rousseau, curled close to Salinas’s side, didn’t care what the assassin’s reasoning was, so long as it kept him at a distance.

He gave her the creeps, the way he never seemed to blink. She had seen him once before, and at that meeting he’d made it obvious he disliked her presence. He’d leveled his flat, unblinking gaze on her for so long that she’d begun wondering if he made it a practice to eliminate people who could identify him—other than the people who paid him, of course, and maybe even them after the money was safely in his hand, or his account, or however assassins collected their fees. She had no idea what his name was, didn’t want to know, because while truth was supposed to set you free, in this case she thought it might possibly be deadly. She thought of him as Rafael’s assassin, but in fact he wasn’t one of Rafael’s regular crew; he was a free agent, hired by whoever could afford him. At least twice now, that she knew of, Rafael had met the price.

To keep from looking at him and maybe finding that unnerving stare locked on her again, she unhappily examined the magenta polish on her toenails. She had put it on just that morning, thinking it would look interesting against the creamy white of the silk lounge outfit she was currently wearing, but the purple undertones were too garish. She should have gone with a shell pink, something delicate and almost transparent to compliment the outfit instead of contrasting with it. Well, live and learn.

When the assassin didn’t reply, didn’t rush to assure Rafael that he was honored to work for him the way others had, Rafael’s fingers drummed impatiently on his thigh. It was a nervous habit he had when he wasn’t comfortable, a telling little gesture, at least as far as Drea was concerned. She’d intensely studied his every mood, his every habit. He wasn’t exactly afraid, but he, too, was being wary, which meant there were two smart men in the room.

“I’d like to offer you a bonus,” Rafael said. “An extra hundred thousand. How does that sound?”

Drea didn’t look up, though she quickly processed the offer and what it meant. She went to a lot of trouble to never show any interest in Rafael’s business dealings, and when he’d occasionally asked her some very casual but leading questions she’d pretended she didn’t understand what he was getting at. As a result, Rafael wasn’t as careful around her as he might otherwise have been. As far as he was concerned, she had no interest in anything that didn’t directly affect her, and in a way that was true, just not in the way Rafael thought. He assumed she didn’t care who the assassin had killed for him, that she cared only about what she was wearing, how her hair looked, about making Rafael look good by being as sexy and glamorous as she could make herself.

She was definitely interested in that last part; making Rafael look good in the eyes of others always put him in an expansive mood, a generous mood. Drea studied the platinum and diamond anklet that circled her right ankle, enjoying the way the dangling diamond glittered in the sunlight, the way the platinum glowed against her tanned skin. The anklet had been one of Rafael’s gifts when he’d been very happy about something. She hoped his pleasure with the assassin’s success put him in an equally generous mood; she wouldn’t mind a matching bracelet—not that she ever hinted. She was always very careful not to ask Rafael for anything, and to ooh and aah over everything he gave her even if it was butt-ugly, because even butt-ugly crap could be sold.

She had no illusions about the permanency of her position in Rafael’s life. Right now she was at the top of her game, mature enough to be womanly, young enough that she didn’t have to worry about gray hair or wrinkles. But in another year or two, who knew?

Eventually Rafael would tire of her, and when he did she wanted to have built up a nice little nest egg for herself, mostly in the form of jewelry. Drea Rousseau knew what it was to be poor, and she intended never to be poor again. She’d severed all ties with the girl she’d been growing up, white-trash Andie Butts, the target of malicious jokes because of her name as much as anything else, and made herself over into Andrea (pronounced anDRAYuh, which sounded French to her) Rousseau (to go with the fancier pronunciation).

“Her,” said the assassin. “I want her.”

Her interest caught—who was her?—Drea looked up . . . and the bottom dropped out of her stomach. The assassin was staring at her with the same cold, unblinking gaze she remembered. Shock slammed into her like a tidal wave; she was the her he was talking about. There were no other women in the room, no one else he could possibly mean. Icy fingers of sheer panic laced around her spine, but then common sense reasserted itself and she relaxed. Thank God Rafael was a possessive man; he would never—

“Ask for something else,” Rafael said lazily, looping his arm around her shoulders and snuggling her close to his side. “I couldn’t give away my good-luck piece.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead and Drea beamed up at him, almost limp with relief, though she tried not to reveal that for a moment she’d been scared almost senseless.

“I don’t want to keep her,” the assassin said dismissively, without looking away from Drea’s face. “I just want to fuck her. One time.”

Reassured by Rafael’s immediate rejection of the request, confident once more, Drea laughed. She had a sweet laugh, as harmonious as the chiming of bells. Rafael had once told her she reminded him of an angel, with her long, curly blond hair, big blue eyes, and her bell-like laugh. She used the laugh as deliberately as if it were a weapon, reminding Rafael without words that she was indeed his angel, his good luck.

At the sound, the assassin’s entire body seemed to tense, his attention so tightly focused on her she could almost feel the touch of it on her skin. Until then, if she’d thought about it much, Drea would have said he was already alert, but now he was somehow more so, as if all his senses were heightened, his focus so intensi- fied she felt the burn of it on her skin and her laughter choked off as abruptly as if his hand had closed around her throat.

“I don’t share,” Rafael said, an irritated note underlying the ease of his tone. The top man never shared his woman; if he did, then he lost an edge, an important one, in the authority he had over his men. Surely the assassin knew that. But they were alone in the penthouse apartment, with no witnesses to what Rafael did or didn’t do, so maybe that was why he’d thought he could have what he wanted.

Again the assassin said nothing, merely watching, and though he didn’t move there was abruptly something lethal stewing in the atmosphere between them. Curled against him as she was, Drea felt Rafael’s almost imperceptible twitch, as if he, too, was aware of the change.

“Come now,” Rafael said, his tone cajoling, but Drea knew him well; she caught the uneasiness he was trying so hard to disguise, and because that wasn’t something she was accustomed to seeing in him she almost darted an alarmed glance at him, before catching herself and instead inspecting a fingernail as if she’d spotted a chip in the polish. “That’s a lot of money to throw away for something so brief. Sex is cheap; you can buy a lot of it with a hundred thousand dollars.”

Still the assassin waited, as silent as a tomb. He had made his request, and the only thing yet to be determined was if Rafael would grant it, or deny him. Without saying a word he made it plain that he wouldn’t take the money that had been offered; instead he would walk away, and at best Rafael would no longer be able to call on the assassin’s services when needed. At worst— Drea didn’t want to think about what the worst could be, would be. With a man like this, anything was possible.

Rafael suddenly looked at Drea, his dark gaze cool and assessing. She sucked in a breath, alarmed by that abrupt coolness, by the assessment. Was he actually considering the idea, weighing the cost if he continued to say no?

“On the other hand,” he mused, “perhaps I have convinced myself. Sex is cheap, and I, too, can do a lot with a hundred thousand dollars.” He removed his arm from around Drea’s shoulders and stood, straightening his pants with a practiced movement that made the hem break across his foot at precisely the right spot. “One time, you said. I have business across town that will keep me tied up for five hours, which is more than sufficient.” He paused, then added lightly, “Don’t damage her.” Without even glancing at her again, he walked across the living room toward the door.

What? Drea bolted upright, unable to think straight. What was he saying? What was he doing? This was a joke, right? Right?

Drea pinned her desperate, disbelieving gaze on Rafael’s back as he walked to the door. He didn’t mean it. He couldn’t mean it. Any moment now he would turn around and laugh, enjoying his joke at the assassin’s expense, never mind that he’d almost sent her into cardiac arrest. She didn’t care that he’d scared her half to death, she wouldn’t say a word to him about it, if he’d just stop, if he’d say, “Did you really think I was serious?”

There was no way he’d give her to the assassin, no way—

Rafael reached the door, opened it . . . and left.

Barely able to breathe, her lungs constricted by the tide of rising panic that threatened to strangle her, Drea stared blindly at that door. He’d open it now, and laugh. Any minute now, Rafael would come back in.

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Death Angel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 146 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First off, I'm a huge fan of the anti-hero in Romance. I love his contempt for following rules and ambivalence about doing the right thing. He's a survivor and looking out for number one is what he does best. Ruthless is his middle name. But en route to his 'happily ever after' with the heroine, something sad happens to the anti-hero. He becomes reformed. Pretty much, he loses his bite which is what made him so fascinating in the first place! In Howard's latest, this 'declawing' is refreshingly absent which makes Simon aka the Assassin, one of the most compelling characters in Romance I've come across in a long time. When we first meet him at the beginning of the book, he's terrifying. When the heroine's drug dealer boyfriend offers him a bonus of $100,000 and he says he'd rather sleep with Drea one time, it's a big GULP moment. Something profound happens between them that afternoon that the Assassin can't quite shake off. So when Drea disappears with a big chunk of the drug dealer's money and Simon is offered the job of finding and killing her, he's conflicted about carrying out the hit. I'm not going to reveal too much more of the story, but when he believes Drea is dead and then discovers to his shock that she's actually alive, I can only describe his reaction as a total unraveling. It's an emotional body blow and one that forces Simon to acknowledge the possbility that miracles exist. At the end of the book, even though the emotional cost to himself is high, he eliminates an enemy to protect Drea, and you realize with satisfaction that this kitten still has claws. He might be in love, but he's still a cold-blooded killer. My only quibble, is that Drea and Simon spend a lot of time apart in the book. When they finally get together, there's maybe 40 pages left. I would've loved to have seen more of them together. When they are, though, it's explosive. Also, there's not a lot of dialogue. All of which I can forgive since Simon is so deliciously dark and complex.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was different, but once it started rolling, it turned incredible! There's a certain evolution of the characters that's intense and real. I almost felt like I was intruding in on their lives at certain points. Linda Howard always knows how to put danger, and heart-pounding uncertainty into her books, and that's a big reason why I'm such a huge fan!
Cerulean_Talon More than 1 year ago
Death Angel was very entertaining and had such a unique twist to the characters that I was captivated nearly from the first line. A page turner that will keep you on your toes to the fascinating end. Linda Howard, you did it again! Thanks!
Granny-H More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I expected at all, which was not a completely bad thing. Overall it was a good read, however, there were a few "mystical" elements to the book, so beware all you logical and literal readers; it may make your rigid minds rebel! But, because I'm flexible and a great lover of Ms. L.H. in general, I even liked the unbelievable parts. The story was also very sweet. Kudos to L.H.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It really caught me by surprise but i loved it
gordhead More than 1 year ago
I am sucker for action/romance. The crash... AMAZING. This book is the book that will cause me to pick it up just because it was written by Linda Howard. This is one of my top 5 EVER most favorire books. I own it in hardcover and I am going to add it to my nook library for sure.
Book-LoverCL More than 1 year ago
From the first chapter Linda Howard grabs your attention. I couldn't put the book down and it's been a long time since I have read such an attention getter. I am now searching for another book by Ms. Howard and hope it is just as exciting. If you love the action packed, exciting love story then this is a must read!
Dreamah More than 1 year ago
This is the book you want to take on vacation, read during a snowy day, read when it's raining, whenever! Loved it. It's not often when a book captivates me from page 3. Loved the characters and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down! Thank God I had the day off! Definitely a must have.
Tracy Herman More than 1 year ago
I was seriously disappointed with most of Howard's work after All The Queen's she too old for passion? But this book is classic Linda Howard!! Worth the sleepless night!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Main characters were a surprise & a delight. Most main characters aren't that flawed, but it worked well in this story.
Spin86 More than 1 year ago
I have become quite the Linda Howard fan, she is creative and can pull an interesting and unique story with each book. This one does not disappoint. There is a nice twist in the middle that keeps the story interesting. I really come to like the characters, especially as she keeps them each true to themselves. And, I always like the more steamy, love scenes...again, no disappointment there either! Worth the time to read...
Ruthless More than 1 year ago
The main characters are a little off beat for romantic suspense but the writing is so good it just doesn't matter. The plot goes from dark humor to believing in angels - just go along for the ride. This is good entertainment - if you are looking for reality, read a newspaper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank God!! I was getting worried. I love all Linda's books but the last one or two made me a little nervous. (Don't get me wrong, they were ok) Thought I was losing my favorite 'MUST BUY' author. BUT, this was fantastic. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I had to read it straight thru. Thank Goodness it wasn't a work day. Simon is the total anti-hero.
rdh123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drea Rousseau was drug lord Rafael Salinas lady. Steals his cash to finance her escape. He dispatches an assassin in pursuit. Left for dead she works with FBI to take down Salinas. She eventually falls for the assassin.
huyen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was unable to put this one down. Howard, knows how to play the readers emotions and kept tossing in bits that kept the adrenaline running as well as some very sexy scenes. Some spiritual elements (a little preachy) but I bought into the near-death experience and change in the characters. Also a few very beautiful moments between the characters that tug at the heartstrings. Some readers may view the lead female as weak but I felt Howard created a believable drug lord's girlfriend who maintains her gentleness even as she attempts to live more honestly. The characters were tough, mysterious, and changeable which made them extremely fascinating. And who can resist an expert assassin?
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very strange book. It's nominally romantic suspense, but I didn't find the relationship between a drug kingpin's (soon-to-be-ex-) mistress and a professional assassin particularly romantic. Also, halfway through the book, something happens that is so utterly impossible that my disbelief became thoroughly unsuspended.Despite all that, this is still an enjoyable book. Howard is an excellent writer, and managed to pull it off well enough to keep me reading. This is one I won't be re-reading however, unlike a lot of her others.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrea Butts didn't grow up with money, popularity, or anything anyone would want. But by using her looks and her body, she's managed to survive and even excel at being a dumb blond for Rafael Salinas, a mid-level drug dealer. Using her body and hiding her brain keeps her in diamonds and certainly has its perks. She has an exit planned, but not for a while - until Salinas trades her for services rendered to a hitman. Shattered, and unable to continue her charade, Drea puts her escape plan into action and walks away clean with over 2 million of Salinas' money.Salinas sets a killer on her trial, but the deadly hunter has his own agenda, and after an accident leaves Drea a changed woman, leaving her old life behind her may be far more complicated than she ever dreamed.Howard manages to take to characters who, on the surface, seem the height of unappealing and make them sympathetic and readable. I was pleasantly surprised. It still isn't my favorite of her books, but it wasn't a bad read.
jjmachshev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm pretty sure that only Linda Howard could write a story where the lead characters were an assassain and the arm candy for a drug lord and make me like them! But like this book I did. The characters are fascinatingly complex and their reactions to events and second chances made all the difference for me.Drea doesn't ever remember being happy. Her goals in life are safety and security and she's used her looks, her brains, and sex to struggle to the comfy position she now holds. Mistress to a NYC drug lord. She knows it's a temporary gig and she's taking steps to hide some assets for when it's over. But she never expected the drug lord to acquiesce to the demand of his hired assassain for one bout of sex with her. And she certainly never expected that 4 hours of sex with a virtual stranger would change her life forever.Simon is as cold and calculating as they come. Oh, he has rules sure, like no doing cops, no leaving clues, no feelings, etc. At times he can even convince himself that he's doing the world a favor by 'taking out the trash'. From the first moment he spies Drea, he sees more than what she shows. When his request for her instead of a bonus is granted, he's amazed by the emotions she pulls from him. When she gets even with the drug lord by stealing a fortune, he gets the call to hunt her down. Will he or won't he?I just couldn't put this sucker down. I didn't like either one of them at first. I'm still not sure why I like them now. But I found myself wanting them to survive and be happy together. Go figure...If you like romantic suspense with about half and half for romance and suspense, you really need to pick up "Death Angel" by Linda Howard. It will surely make you think...
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I just don't get Linda Howard, this book is too weird and yet also too boring for me. Full of very mundane details and thought processes (not engaging!) and then full of just plain strange stuff. This didn't work for me. It's Linda Howard, so not a wall banger, but definitely not a keeper. Simon is an assassin who gets Drea for 4 hours after he bargains with her mafioso lover for her. I never quite got Drea/Andie, just didn't understand her. and Simon was standard LH cipher lover, all alpha and inexplicable. Hmmm.... there are better LH's out here.
lrobe190 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drea Rousseau, mistress of infamous drug dealer Rafael Salinas, decides to disappear from his life, taking $2 million of his money with her. Salinas hires a hitman to avenge his pride and reclaim his money. As the hitman chases Drea, her car runs off a cliff in a fiery crash. Although hired to kill Drea, the hitman has a soft spot for her based on a one-night stand they had while she was still with Rafael. When he discovers that she might not have perished in the crash, he starts searching for her.If you can get past the idea of a romance between a hitman and a former mistress, this is a suspenseful and fast-paced read.
thebookbabe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
MY COMMENTS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR SOME - PROCEED WITH CAUTIONBefore I write more, I have to say I'm an avid/rabid Linda Howard fan, even her lesser books are darn fine reads, so when I comment on her works I try to be objective which isn't always possible. When I first read the synopsis of DEATH ANGEL at the Rhapsody Book Club site I thought she'd gone off the deep end so I decided to read DA from the library so I wouldn't be spending good money on something I might not like. I have to give her major points to chance-taking, innovative plot, and fascinating, interesting 'anti' characters. It's slightly reminiscent of her SON OF THE MORNING with the heroine having to run to ground, something I hope I never have to do. It's hard to label the book, which is why I tagged it both Fiction and Romantic Suspense, and romance, the kind romance readers are used to, certainly is missing in this edge-of-my-seat book. Most definitely Howard hasn't filled us in with Drea's or Simon's back story, but I think the reader can fill in those blanks through (though vague) references to their past. The focus of the book is, after all, the "now" and the "future" for these two lost souls. Is it difficult to believe that they felt this devastating "something" between them when they met? Sure, but don't we all hope for a happy ending? don't we wish the best for the hero and heroine? can we believe they'll find it? Hah, we can only hope and wish them all the best. Regarding the second chance Drea was given, I fell right into that plot line because I had just read a Kristin Hannah in which the modern day heroine was hit by a bus and while in the limbo between heaven and earth she was given a chance to go back to earth with the implied responsibility of don't screw up your second chance. One thing I was sort of hoping for was that Simon was really a deeply-buried agent, a good guy who has to do an unsavory job, but I think that would have put an entirely unrealistic twist to Howard's unconventional book. She has always been unconventional in so many ways, no holds barried, raw, gritty sex between her H/H, unusual plots with unusual, sometimes unlikeable, characters; no clear cut good/bad characters (which is pretty much like the real world, there are many sides to all of us). While I like her lighter works (I reread DUNCAN'S BRIDE yearly, as well as MR PERFECT, and her Blair Mallory books are terrific), sometimes I allow her to grab me by the hair, throw me into the recliner where I can't escape til my nails are bitten to the quick and the roller-coaster ride is over. Wow, I can't wait for her next book!
TheBooknerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this more than I did. It's a decent story, with a little more edge than I'm used to seeing from Howard, but I don't think it lives up to its potential. There are some parts that just don't mesh as a whole, but there's a satisfying amount of suspense and romance to make up for some of that.
sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drea was the arm candy of a major NYC drug dealer, marking time until... later. The book opens with the dealer's secret hired assassin asking for "one time" with Drea in lieu of a $100,000 cash bonus for a job well done. The request was granted. We are supposed to believe that Simon (the assassin's real name that we don't learn until much later) and Andie (Drea's real name - both are shortened from Andrea) experience an instant connection. I really wanted to go along with this - the book would have been so much better. However, Howard did not do her usual good job making us believe what she was telling us. This book started off weak, got ridiculously silly in the middle, turned implausible, then finished with a whimper. The only engaging scene was near the end, at what was intended to be the book's climax.The characters were not well-defined or explained. For example, we understand that Andie did not like living with the drug dealer, that she was just waiting for an opportunity to leave, but we never know why she was there, how she came to be there, what she was waiting for, or why she didn't leave sooner. Simon was never revealed to be anything more than a hardened killer who took a liking to a pretty girl, but the next thing we know, he is weeping in a hospital chapel. It just does't make sense. The most interesting characters in the whole book were the FBI agents investigating the drug dealer.Normally I really like Linda Howard's books. This one should have been sent back for revisions before being published. My first thought after finishing was that she must have been rushing to meet a deadline - like a high school student who starts a big paper the night before it is due. They are equally well-written. Recommendation - skip this one. Go back and read one of her earlier books again, or wait for the next one. Maybe it will be better.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to describe this book. It has an odd paranormal element to it that kinda freaked me out but overall I think I liked this book.Drea Rousseau is a mistress to Rafael Salinas, a very dangerous crime lord and malicious killer who hires assassins to do his dirty work. After one such hit job, the assassin asks for a few hours with Salina's mistress as part of his payment so Salinas just gives Drea to him, and they spend some hours in some scorchingly hot sex. Whew! The assassin is a cold blooded killer and the "hero" of the book and we eventually find out his name is Simon Goodnight. Both the "hero" and "heroine" are both thoroughly unlikeable characters. Drea has been playing stupid in front Salinas for a long time but now she is desperate to get out of her situation. She outsmarts him and pulls some sneaky moves and gets away with a mountain of money. But Salinas sends "The Assassin" after her.I don't want to spoil the story for you so I'll just say that Drea ends up turning her life around and totally redeems herself. Simon eventually realizes he loves her and protects her from Salinas. I really came to like Drea. Now Simon is a total mystery and we never find out who he really is and what makes him tick. The ending was rather abrupt but I liked it anyway. I don't think this book will appeal to everyone but Linda Howard is a must read for me. (GRADE: B-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book