A Bodyguard of Lies
by Donna Del Oro
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GENRE: Romantic suspense
The past and present collide as FBI analyst Jake Bernstein is recruited to go undercover and investigate an elderly American grandmother, currently on a tour of England and Ireland with her granddaughter, who is suspected of WWII war crimes. Jake joins them and runs into complications when his growing attraction to the granddaughter challenges his obligation to remain emotionally detached. As the investigation intensifies, a neo-Nazi group tries to prevent him from learning the truth and achieve justice for all concerned. Danger mounts, and Jake struggles to stay alive long enough to either prove the old woman’s guilt or exonerate her.
Despite Meg Larsen’s mounting passion for the stranger who has joined their tour, she suspects he’s not who he claims to be. When she realizes her grandmother is the target of the man’s investigation, her first instinct is to protect the woman who raised her. Eventually, however, Meg must face the possibility of her grandmother’s lifetime of lies while forced to trust a man who has become both their nemesis and bodyguard.
My new FBI series, INTERNATIONAL RELEASE-JUNE 8th, is the Jake Bernstein FBI series–A BODYGUARD OF LIES, Book One. If you love a genre that’s chock full of danger, suspense, crime drama and a heavy dose of sizzling romance, you’ll LOVE THIS SERIES! FBI agent Jake Bernstein is my epitome of a hardy, justice-seeking federal officer who combines good looks, a sense of humor and unyielding courage. He knows how to investigate as one of the Bureau’s best undercover agents, but he also knows how and when to bend the rules for the sake of true human justice.
The idea for this book, A BODYGUARD OF LIES, struck me when I was tipping a pint with fellow tourists at an Irish pub. There on the wall was an old, WW II photo of Irish dockworkers sharing their pub with German U-boat sailors. That started me wondering about the role that Ireland played during the war, its uneasy relationship with Nazi Germany and the German spies who infiltrated Ireland and England. Lots of research followed, which led me to a contemporary story about an FBI undercover agent who investigates an elderly, naturalized American grandmother, wanted by MI6 for war crimes. Little ol’ Mary McCoy Snider, a dangerous WW II Nazi spy who caused the deaths of thousands? Even Agent Jake Bernstein finds that an unbelievable stretch. The granddaughter whom Jake finds himself falling in love with also disbelieves MI6’s allegations.
Until his investigation draws him into the middle of a dangerous, secret neo-Nazi group that’ll stop at nothing to protect one of their own. And then Jake must choose, the old woman and her lovely granddaughter. Or justice!
Her expression grew serious once more. He hated to see her worried. Hated the idea that Meg and her grandmother were falling under that couple’s control. Hated even more the possibility he might never see her again after today.
“Code? Like what?”
“You said they were talking about photo shoots in Berlin and Hannover. If they take you there…for Berlin, tell me your plane had to stop in Boston on the way back to Texas. B for B. If it’s Hannover, your plane stopped in…”
“Houston. I get it. I’ll improvise.”
“Good, you’re a quick study. If they take your phone away, well, I’ll have to assume it’s Berlin first, then Hannover. MI5 will think you’ve gone home but they’ll expect you to get in touch with me, so my cell phone might be monitored. At least, for the first twenty-four hours after you leave. Enough of a delay for me to get to Germany and the right city.”
Meg looked uncertain. “You’ll ditch the MI5 agents?”
“You bet I’m following you.”
“Good, I’m glad. I don’t trust those people. You won’t believe this, Jake.” Meg was preceding him down the inn’s narrow, wooden stairway. “They’ve been speaking German to Grandma, calling her Clare. Madeleine’s even calling her, mother. And Grandma’s so zonked out, she believes them! I’m so confused, I’m half believing them myself.”
“Meg, we think your grandmother is Clare Hillenbrand Eberhard from Hannover. She was a gifted foreign language teacher and amateur actress until her husband, Horst Eberhard, recruited her to join him in the Abwehr. He was her handler during the war. Both of them were moles, spied for the Abwehr and then later the SS. Horst was killed during the war, sometime in early 1945 during the German retreat from Italy. Your grandmother…well, she hooked up with your grandfather, Captain John Snider of the Army Air Corps, married him and, you might say, got out of Dodge as soon as she could.”
Jake looked back at Meg as she halted by the inn’s door to the kitchen. By the look on her face, he could tell she wasn’t totally surprised. He was just confirming what she’d already tossed around in her mind. Still, the truth hurt. He dropped the key on the counter as the blushing teenaged boy watched them stop and talk.
They lingered beside the kitchen door, reluctant to part. Jake’s pulse quickened at the melancholy look Meg wore. She shook her head morosely.
“So Gran’s been undercover all these years. What a terrible burden for her, regardless of what she did during the war.” Meg looked up at him. “I thought I knew my grandmother. I don’t really know her at all, I guess. Jake, I think Gran was in touch with the Le Blancs before this tour. I think they met up on purpose.”
Her voice sounded on the verge of breaking, so Jake tried to console her by stroking her face with the back of his knuckles. He wished like hell he could assure her that his investigation had cleared her grandmother. Just the opposite was true, and now the Le Blancs had unwittingly confirmed his and MI5’s theory.
Donna is a retired high school English teacher and is finally able to fulfill her dream of writing fiction. She lives in Northern California with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing novels, she’s singing with the Sacramento Valley Chorus or traveling with her husband. Life is good and she feels very blessed.
Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.donnadeloro.com/
Contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Del Oro will be awarding a copy of A Bodyguard of Lies (a print copy for a US winner or an ebook for an international winner) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.