Tender Savage

Tender Savage

by Iris Johansen

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From New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen comes a tale of danger and desire, as a woman caught up in another country’s revolution finds herself falling in love with a charismatic freedom fighter.
Lara Clavel knows that her mission to the war-torn Caribbean island of Saint Pierre is fraught with danger. But she is determined to rescue the imprisoned rebel leader Ricardo Lázaro—if only to prevent her twin brother from rejoining his revolutionary army. What she doesn’t expect is the powerful attraction she feels for the legendary poet-warrior. And the heat is mutual. From the instant they meet inside the confines of his jail cell, Ricardo seems bound and determined to possess Lara. But is love possible with a man whose every waking moment is spent in the crosshairs of some would-be assassin’s rifle? Even after Ricardo is freed, Lara will find her feelings for him put to the ultimate test, as she fights to tame a savage rebel skilled in the arts of combat and seduction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553907742
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 570,218
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and No One to Trust. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“It will be dangerous, Miss Clavel,” Paco said gravely. “I won’t lie to you. You could be raped or tortured, even killed.”

Lara Clavel tried to hide her shiver of fear from Paco Renalto’s keen gaze. In the short time she had been in the major’s tent, she had learned that there was a great deal more to Renalto than elfin features and an air of insouciance. He had a sharp, probing intelligence. She shouldn’t have been surprised. He couldn’t have risen to be Ricardo Lázaro’s second in command with only puckish charm to recommend him. She forced a smile. “I really wish you wouldn’t tell me about all these dire things that could happen. I’m scared enough already.”

“You have to be warned. Ricardo wouldn’t permit you to go into such a dangerous situation without your knowing full well what it might cost you. I can’t either.”

“Not even to save the leader of your great revolution?” Lara’s tone was deliberately flippant.

“Not even then.” A sudden smile lit Paco Re?nalto’s face. “You cannot choose without knowing the facts, and that’s what this revolution is all about. Ricardo wouldn’t thank me for discarding those principles just to save his life.”

“No? I find that hard to believe. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.”

“Some things are worth dying for.” Paco paused. “And so are some people. I’d give my life for Ricardo Lázaro.”

And so would a hundred thousand other revolutionaries on this blasted island in the Carib?bean, Lara thought wearily. The man seemed capable of hypnotizing everyone who came in contact with him. Lázaro was not only a brilliant military strategist, but the most charismatic of leaders, and the war he had waged against the Communist junta on Saint Pierre had made headlines around the world for the last nine years. It wasn’t often a figure as dashing as Lázaro came on the scene, and the media had made the most of every opportunity to capitalize on the general’s magnetism. Five years ago Lázaro had smuggled his book Right to Choose out of Saint Pierre and it had become a worldwide best seller acclaimed both for its philosophy and for its poetic style. A poet and a warrior. How was anyone supposed to fight against a combination like that? She just wished Brett hadn’t been one of those thousands to fall under his spell. She looked intently into Paco Renalto’s eyes. “Yet you caution me against risking my own life for the man.”

“You’re not one of us. You’re an American and you’ve told me yourself you have no sympathy for our cause.” Paco leaned back in his camp chair. “I’ve been with Ricardo since we were students together at the university. He’s closer than a brother to me.”

Brett had been with the revolutionaries for only six months and he expressed the same kind of loyalty to Lázaro—loyalty that had landed him in a wheelchair in a clinic in Barbados. “I don’t have to be one of Ricardo Lázaro’s so-called adorers to help him escape from prison. You said yourself that the fact I’m not a citizen of Saint Pierre is in my favor. The junta’s secret police has no record or fingerprints on file for me.”

“True.” Paco gazed at her thoughtfully. “We could falsify your documents to make sure you appear to be a vulnerable target to Jurado.”


“Captain Emilio Jurado. He commands the security police at the Abbey. You’ve heard of the Abbey?”

“Yes.” Everyone in the world knew of the security prison known as the Abbey. Formerly a religious monastery, it had been converted into one of the most horrendous political prisons in the world. Human rights organizations were constantly condemning the atrocities reported to take place there.

“That’s where they’re keeping Ricardo. He’s been there for over five months.”

Lara flinched and her grasp tightened on the wooden arms of her chair. She should have known they’d keep a prisoner of Lázaro’s importance at that hellish place. Dear heaven, what was she doing sitting there in the middle of a military stronghold trying to talk Renalto into letting her help free Lázaro? She wasn’t one of those tough guerrilla women she had seen as she had been led through the camp. She hated even the thought of war. “I’m surprised that Lázaro’s still alive if he’s been at the Abbey that long.”

“They stopped torturing him after the first few weeks. They knew he wouldn’t break and they didn’t want to make a martyr of Ricardo by kill?ing him.” Paco’s lips tightened grimly. “How?ever, they still hope to damage his image by forcing him to betray us. Jurado’s been coming at him from another angle for the last month.”

What kind of man could withstand weeks of torture inflicted by men more sophisticated in the art of cruelty than the priests of the Spanish Inquisition, Lara wondered. “How do you know all this?”

“We have a man at the Abbey. He’s one of Jurado’s officers. We couldn’t get him in the cell block, but he works in Jurado’s office and is occasionally able to exert a certain influence.” Paco looked down at the papers on his desk. “Why are you willing to help us, Miss Clavel?”

“Lara,” she corrected. “And I told you why.”

He nodded. “I knew your brother well. He’s a brave man.”

“He’s an idealistic idiot who fell under Lázaro’s spell like all the rest of you,” she said bluntly. “And look where it got him.”

“And you don’t consider yourself an idealist?”

“Of course not. I’m as hardheaded as they come. The only reason I’m here is that I know the moment they release my brother from the hospital he’ll be back here on this godforsaken island trying to rescue Lázaro from that prison.” She gestured impatiently. “The doctors say he needs another six months of outpatient therapy, but there’s no way he’ll do it. If I don’t get Lázaro out of prison before he’s released, he’ll be hobbling down here on crutches.”

“And that’s the only reason?”

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