To Die For (Blair Mallory Series #1)

To Die For (Blair Mallory Series #1)

by Linda Howard

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She was a dead ringer. Now she’s just dead. . . .

Blair Mallory lives the good life. She’s pretty, confident, and the owner of a thriving up-scale fitness center. But in the shadow of success, a troubled member of the club develops a strange fixation on Blair, imitating her style and dress. Matters take a darker turn when the look-alike is shot dead—and Blair witnesses the horror.

As the media speculates on the tawdry details of the homicide and pushes Blair into the harsh spotlight, she locks horns with police lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth. He wants to lead an investigation without interference, while Blair is determined to probe the dead woman’s life on her own. But when someone begins to menace Blair with mounting threats, Wyatt takes notice: Was this murder indeed a lethal case of mistaken identity–and was Blair the intended victim?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345476258
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2004
Series: Blair Mallory Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 185,860
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Cry No More, Dying to Please, Open Season, Mr. Perfect, All the Queen’s Men, Now You See Her, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Most people don’t take cheerleading seriously. If they only knew . . .

All-American girl, that’s me. If you look at the pictures in my high school yearbooks, you’ll see a girl with long blond hair, a tan, and a wide grin that shows off her perfect white teeth, courtesy of thousands of dollars spent on braces and fluoride washes. The teeth, that is, not the hair and the tan. I had the effortless confidence of the upper-middle-class American teenage princess; nothing bad could happen to me. After all, I was a cheerleader.

I admit it. Actually, I’m proud of it. A lot of people think cheerleaders are both brainless and snooty, but that’s only people who have never been a cheerleader. I forgive them their ignorance. Cheerleading is hard work, a demanding blend of skill and strength, and it’s dangerous. People frequently get injured, sometimes even killed, doing the cheers. Usually it’s girls getting injured: guys are the tossers; girls are the tossees. Technically we’re called “flyers,” which is really silly because of course we can’t fly. We’re tossed. The tossees are the ones who fall on their heads and break their necks.

Well, I never broke my neck, but I did break my left arm, and my collarbone, and dislocated my right knee once. I can’t count the sprains and bruises. But I’ve got great balance, strong legs, and I can still do a backflip and the splits. Plus, I went to college on a cheerleading scholarship. Is this a cool country, or what?

So, anyway, my name is Blair Mallory. Yes, I know: It’s a fluff name. It goes with the cheerleading and the blond hair. I can’t help it; it’s what my parents named me. My father’s name is Blair, so I guess I’m just glad they didn’t tag me as a junior. I don’t think I would have been Homecoming Queen if my name had been Blair Henry Mallory, Jr. I’m happy enough with Blair Elizabeth, thank you. I mean, show-business people are naming their kids things like Homer, for God’s sake. When those kids grow up and kill their parents, I think all the cases should be ruled justifiable homicide.

Which brings up the murder I saw.

Actually it doesn’t, but at least it’s kind of logical. The connection, I mean.

And bad things do too happen to all-American princess cheerleaders. I got married, didn’t I?

That kind of ties in to the murder, too. I married Jason Carson right out of college, so for four years my name was Blair Carson. I should have known better than to marry someone whose first and last name rhymed, but some things you learn only from experience. Jason was big into politics: the student council, campaigning for his dad the state congressman, his uncle the mayor, blah blah blah. Jason was so good-looking he could literally make girls stutter. Too bad he knew it. He had thick, sun-kissed hair (that’s poetic for blond), chiseled features, dark blue eyes, and a body kept in excellent shape. Think John Kennedy, Jr. The body, I mean.

So there we were, the poster couple for blond hair and white teeth. And my body was pretty fine, too, if I do say so myself. What else could we do but get married?

Four years later, we got unmarried, to our mutual great relief. After all, we had nothing in common but our looks, and I really don’t think that’s a good basis for marriage, do you? Jason wanted to have a baby so we’d look like the all-American couple while he campaigned to become the youngest state congressman, which really, if you want to know, irritated the hell out of me because he’d refused to have a baby before and now all of a sudden it was a campaign plus? I told him to kiss my ass. Not that he hadn’t kissed it before, but the context was different, you know?

I made out like a bandit in the divorce settlement. Maybe I should feel guilty; I mean, it isn’t exactly a feminist thing to do. Stand on your own two feet, make it with your own accomplishments, that kind of stuff. And actually I do believe in all that; I just wanted to make Jason suffer. I wanted to punish him. Why? Because I caught him kissing my youngest sister, Jennifer, on New Year’s Day while the rest of the family was in the den totally zonking out on bowl games. Jenni was seventeen at the time.

Well, being furious doesn’t slow me down any. When I saw them in the dining room, I tiptoed away and found one of the disposable cameras we’d been using that day to record the occasion for Jason’s campaign album—family stuff, celebrating a holiday, pigging out around a table loaded with all sorts of artery-clogging goodies, watching football. He liked to have pictures of my family get-togethers because my family is so much better looking than his. Jason used any edge he could get in a campaign.

Anyway, I snapped a really good picture of Jason and Jenni, with flash and all, so he knew I had him by the short hairs. What was he going to do, chase me down and tackle me in front of my father, and wrestle the camera away from me? Not likely. For one thing, he’d have to explain, and he knew he couldn’t count on me to go along with his story. For another, my father would have drop-kicked him over the televison for daring to harm a hair on his namesake’s head. Did I also mention that I’m Daddy’s girl?

So I filed for divorce, and Jason gave me everything I asked for, on one condition: that I give him the photograph and negative of him and Jenni. Well, sure, why not? It isn’t as if I hadn’t had more than one copy made.

Maybe Jason thought I was too stupid to do that. It never pays to underestimate how dirty your competition will play. For that reason, I really don’t think Jason will do well in politics.

I also told Mom that Jenni had let Jason kiss her. You didn’t think I’d let the backstabbing little hussy get away with it, did you? Not that I don’t love Jenni, but she’s the baby of the family, and she thinks she should get anything and everything she wants. Occasionally she has to be shown differently. I’ve also noticed that her name rhymes, too: Jenni Mallory. It’s really Jennifer, but she’s never been called that, so it doesn’t count. I don’t know what it is about rhyming names, but they’re bad news for me. The difference is, I forgave Jenni, because she’s blood. No way in hell was I forgiving Jason.

So Mom took care of Jenni, who tearfully apologized and promised to be a good girl or at least show better taste, and my middle sister, Siana, who was in law school, handled the negotiations with Jason. The name “Siana” is supposedly the Welsh form of “Jane,” but take it from me, the name really means “man- eating shark with dimples.” That’s Siana.

With the Mallory women in action, the divorce went through in record time without Daddy ever finding out exactly why we were all mad at Jason. Not that he cared; if we were mad, then he was mad, too, on our behalf. Wasn’t that sweet of him?

What I got from Jason in the divorce settlement was a very nice little chunk of change, thank you. I also got the red Mercedes convertible, of course, but the money was the most important because of what I did with it. I bought a gym. A fitness center. After all, you go with your strength, and I know all about staying in shape. Siana suggested calling it “Blair’s Beautiful Butts,” but I thought that would limit the clientele and maybe give people the impression I also did liposuction. Mom came up with “Great Bods” and we all liked it, so that’s what the former Halloran’s Gym became.

I blew a bundle on remodeling and refurbishing, but when I was finished, the place practically screamed “high class.” The mirrors were polished; the equipment was the best available; the bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers were completely redone; two saunas and a lap pool were added, plus a private room for massages. A member of Great Bods had a choice of yoga, aerobics, Tae Bo, or kick-boxing classes. If the yoga didn’t mellow you out, then you could go kick ass without ever leaving the building. I also insisted all of my staff be trained in CPR, because you never know when an out-of-shape executive with high cholesterol will hit the weight machines in an effort to get back his teenage body overnight so he can impress his new secretary, and there you go: heart attack for the asking. Besides, it was an impressive thing to see in an ad.

All the money and the CPR training was worth it. Within a month of opening our doors, Great Bods was going great guns. I sold memberships by the month or by the year—with a discount if you paid for a year of course, which was smart because it hooked you in and most people will use the facility then because they don’t want to waste their money. Cars in the parking lot give the perception of success, and, well, you know what they say about perception. Anyway, success breeds like a bunny rabbit. I was thrilled all the way down to my leg warmers—which some of those not in the know consider passé, but they’re seriously out of touch with what makes your legs look great. High heels top the list, but leg warmers are a close second. I wear both. Not together, of course. Puh-leeze.

Table of Contents

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To Die For (Blair Mallory Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 173 reviews.
CrystalPosey More than 1 year ago
Business savvy club own Blair Mallory finds herself in trouble after witnessing a murder in her parking lot. The killer has no way of knowing that Blaire didn't see his face, and therefore she needs police protection. Having had an intense but short relationship with Blair years ago, when Lt. Wyatt Bloodworth hears that Blair's club is the crime scene of a murder he rushes to the scene to take over. After serious reflection on walking way from her once, Wyatt is game on. Blair? Not so much. Wyatt takes the challenge head on using their intense chemistry-that Blair scowls at throughout the book-to his advantage. It's testosterone verses estrogen, and there is no battle of the sexes like Blair Mallory and Wyatt Bloodsworth. Watching these two compromise, rebuild trust, and learn how to understand each other is the best part of this story. Blair is full of wit, charm, and was taught by her momma that when a man comes back, he does it crawling. Wyatt is masculine, determined, protective and sensitive when it counts. It's impossible not to love this couple, particularly Blair. She's pure, cheerleading fluff. An All-American girl with a no nonsense attitude, and confidence to kill for. A pink hammer? Of course, tools don't have to be ugly. A cheerleader? Hard work, dangerous, and can you say college scholarship? You simply cannot go wrong with this book. It's light. It's sexy. It's out right FUN. -Posey, Everybody Needs A Little Romance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This chick is everything she says she is in the first chapter or more. You will love her or you will hate her. And she will will remind you of someone you actually know. I had to love her because I know someone un-apologetically just like her. And the guy is OK too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently buying another copy of this book because I wore out the original. I read through the reviews for grins, and I have to say I was amazed at the number of negatives. I have all of LH's books and while there are three I didn't care for or finish, this is not one of them. LH is one of the few authors out there who risks writing in different genre (contemporary, western, futuristic, paranormal, etc.). While her books can vary quite a bit from one novel to another, in style and character type, she remains a very good character writer. I think the negative reviewers could use some literary education and some perspective on why we pick up a book in the first place. I noticed that the biggest complaints were about the 'ditzy' female lead Blair and the first-person writing style. Blair is far from the typical blonde, she is one smart tough 'cookie'. The first person writing style was chosen for a reason and LH uses it very effectively. Without it as a vehicle of understanding, Blair would be a flat character. Much of Blair's personality comes out through the ruminating conversations she has with the reader, not by what she says or does. To understand her you have to put all the peices together. I personally found her to be a hoot. The inter-action between her and Lieutenant Bloodsworth is extremely entertaining. I love the way she gets around him and his attempts to circumspect her. After reading this book answer this question: What female wouldn't love to be Blair? An author's main goals are to involve the reader in the plot, to envoke a response to the characters, and to tell a good story. Otherwise why spend all that time and effort. LH has done an excellant job with this book even though the writing style is a stand alone for her. This story is extremely funny and entertaining. This is one of the first books I pick up when I need to laugh at myself or the world, and I can't wait for the sequel due out soon. I also recommend the following titles by LH: Now You See Her, Mr. Perfect, Kill and Tell, All the Queens Men, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Dream Man, Open Season. I also highly recommend Cry No More, but to be honest as the mother of a young daugther, I could only read this emotional book once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Linda Howard fan and enjoyed this book; however, the suspense part of the plot is a little thin and because it's told in the first person, we don't really know the hero as well. A nice, easy read but I'm eagerly awaiting her next hardback.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was surprised and dismayed when I saw that this book was written in first person. I usually hate books that use this narritive form but I gave the book a try because I usually love Linda Howard's books and trust me it was great! The chemistry between the main characters was great and I laughed several times out loud at some of the crazy dialouge between the two. The story line was kinda predictable but the characters more than made up for it. I would recommend this book to everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jackie307 More than 1 year ago
I've been reading Linda Howard for quite some time - but this series is the first time I've laughed out loud!! What a hoot and joy to read!!!! Thanks.
Bigedsgirl1 More than 1 year ago
This is the book that made me a Linda Howard fan and the first one I read by her.. There is a murder, a mistaken identity of the murder victim, a new chance with an old flame, and enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. The dialogue between the main characters will sometimes have you laughing out loud, and this is one story you won't soon forget. Be sure and follow up with the sequel, "Drop Dead Gorgeous".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read.First book I read 3times.Took me a few pages to get into a different style but turned out great.She only writes great books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the negative reviews in wonder. And, yes, it's written in first person. But anything that can make you laugh out loud? That's entertainment! If you make it through this without laughing out loud, check your humor're about a quart low.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very scared to read this book considering some of the bad reviews from other customers...but I love Romance book where it deals with some kind of detective work so I went ahead and bought it.....and am I glad I was one of the most romantic books ever...the main couple is so cute and the banter between them as well as the chemistry is amazing...ok yes the main character is a little dumb at times...but the love story makes up for me and give it a chance. This was my first Howard book and won't be my last!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very different from authors other books. Very entertaining. I'd like her to continue the series with pre-quel on Blairs mom and books on Blairs sisters. Do not like the voice of the audiobook reader for this book. Accent is fake, shrill and has the character of an older woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love Linda Howard. I usually love her books. But this was a hard read for me. Didn't really care for the first person writing style. It keeps you from knowing what the other characters are thinking and feeling. It took me longer than normal to finish this book because I just couldn't get into the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just can’t wait to read more!
SaltyGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been getting a little worn out by the hyper-intense and dark books Linda Howard has written lately, so this was a refreshing change of pace. I didn't think the heroine was a ditz at all....anyone with a sense of humor that sharp and quick is bright. Quite a prima donna, and I was a little tired of her by the end, but overall I really liked the book. My only complaint was that it lost a little steam by the end. Blair and Wyatt started out sooooo intense, that there really wasn't very much room for them to grow. I wanted some sort of conflict other than the nit-picky stuff they fussed over. So I guess I'd like to have seen a little more depth in the relationship. Given that the book seems to take place in a window of 8 or 10 days, maybe that wasn't possible.
encbks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the funniest of Ms. Howard's since Mr.Perfect. I have to say since Mr. Perfect I have been diappointed by what has been out but this book has put Ms. Howard back on the top. I found the heroine too refreshing for words, I found myself agreeing for her logic and her attraction for her sexy hero. Both of them were fun, rude, loud and passionate. With statements like "I'm sure someone wants to kill you, you were a cheerleader" and his mother suggesting that she not sleep with him because he can't always get his way. You'll love this book.
cenneidigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Laugh out-loud funny, Blair is a character and then add Wyatt to the mix and you have a formula for combustion. Loved the romance and the story. Fun to read and hard to put down. He can save me anytime.
chrissywest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a little different writing style then I am used to from Linda Howard. I suppose books would be boring, and predictable if authors used the same style all the time. The first thing I noticed about the book was it was written in first person, which kept me in stitches from the very start. I really enjoyed Blair¿s character. She was a riot. Blair¿s strong personality, and the humor in the book made up for the lack of plot, and depth to the story.
klarchermi More than 1 year ago
I will read anything by Linda Howard, I did enjoy the humor of this book and the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love, love, LOVE this book!!! This is one of my favorite book’s of all time!! The characters are just “To Die For”. The main characters, Blair Mallory and Lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth have a short history prior to meeting again at the scene of a murder at Blair’s gym. He wants to get back together she does not. So ensues the classic fight between the sexes with Blair having to stay hidden because someone is trying to kill her! You need to read the book to find out what exactly happens to them!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blair and Wyatt were great together. Very funny at times. Enjoyed reading it. I have read other books of this author.
jonahfied on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book a while back, and I remember thinking it was funny. I read the sequel recently and hated it. Maybe I've changed as a person and the result is less tolerance for women like Blaire, or maybe the first book was better. I'm not willing to re-read "To Die For" to find out, so it must not have been THAT good.
utoeid1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the greatest LH book. The female character was annoying, self centered and by 1/2 through the book I hated her. Not enough focus on Wyatt Bloodsworth he seemed to be one walking talking neaderthal penis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast pace and fun.