Slow Burn

Slow Burn

by Julie Garwood


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Every fire begins with a little heat–and in Slow Burn, bestselling author Julie Garwood provides the spark, skillfully blending pulse-pounding action, intense emotion, and characters with grit and heart. The result is an electrifying novel of romantic suspense that will have readers burning through the pages.

An unpretentious beauty who radiates kindness, Kate MacKenna doesn’t have a bad bone in her body–or an enemy in the world. So why are bombs igniting everywhere she goes? The first explosion brings her face-to-face with a handsome Charleston police detective. The second sends her into the arms of her best friend’s brother–a Boston cop who’s a little too reckless and way too charming for comfort. But Dylan Buchanan won’t let emotion prevent him from doing his job: Someone is trying to kill Kate, and Dylan is the only one standing between her and the monster who wants her dead.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345453846
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/30/2005
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Julie Garwood is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Fire and Ice, Shadow Music, Shadow Dance, Murder List, Killjoy, Mercy, Heartbreaker, Ransom, and Come the Spring. There are more than thirty-six million copies of her books in print.

Read an Excerpt

Slow Burn

By Julie Garwood

Random House

Julie Garwood
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345453859

Chapter One

Chapter One

The crusty old man was going to cause an uproar, and he was only sorry he wouldn't be around to watch it.

He was about to pull the rug out from under his useless relatives, and oh, were they going to take a tumble. But it was high time someone in this miserable family righted a terrible wrong, high time indeed.

While he waited for the equipment to be set up, he cleared the clutter from his desk. His gnarled fingers stroked the smooth wood with as much tenderness and care as he had once given his mistresses when he touched them. The desk was old and scarred and as worn out as he was. He had made his fortune in this very room. With his phone glued to his ear, he had worked one lucrative deal after another. How many companies had he purchased in the past thirty years? How many more had he destroyed?

He stopped himself from daydreaming about his many victories. Now wasn't the time. He crossed the room to the bar and poured himself a glass of water from the crystal decanter one of his business associates had given him years ago. After he took a sip, he carried the glass to the desk and placed it on a coaster near the corner. He looked around the paneled library and decided it was too dark for the cameras, so he rushed to turn on all the table lights.

"Are you ready?" he asked, impatience brimming in his tone. Pulling the chair out, he sat down, smoothed his hair, and adjusted his suit jacket so the collar wouldn't stand up. He tugged on his tie as if that would loosen the tightness in his throat. "I'm going to prepare my thoughts now," he said, his voice raspy from years of barking orders and smoking his cherished Cuban cigars.

He wanted a cigar now. There weren't any in the house, though. He'd given up the habit ten years ago, but every once in a while when he was nervous he would get a sudden longing for one.

At the moment he was not only nervous but also a little fearful, which was an odd, almost unfamiliar, feeling for him. He was desperate to do the right thing before he died, which would be soon now, very soon. He owed at least that much to the MacKenna name.

The old-fashioned video camera with a VHS tape was positioned on a tripod facing the old man. The digital camera was being held up directly behind the video camera, and the eye was also focused on him.

He looked beyond the cameras. "I know you think digital is enough, and you're probably right, but I still like the old way with the videotape. I don't trust those discs, and so the videotape will be my backup. You nod," he instructed, "when everything's turned on, and I'll begin."

He picked up his glass, took a drink, and put it down. The pills those aggravating doctors forced on him made his mouth dry.

A few seconds later, all was ready, and he began.

"My name is Compton Thomas MacKenna. This is not my last will and testament because I've already taken care of all that. I changed my will some time ago. The original is in my safe-deposit box; a copy is in my file at the law firm I have employed for the past twenty years, and there is also another copy, which I assure you will rear its ugly head if for any reason the original and the attorney's copy are misplaced or destroyed.

"I didn't tell any of you about the new will or about the changes I made because I didn't want to spend my last months being harassed, but now that the doctors have assured me the end is approaching and there is nothing more they can do, I want . . . no, I need," he corrected, "to explain why I have done what I've done . . . though I'm not sure any of you will understand or care.

"I'm going to start my explanation with a brief history of the MacKenna family. My parents were born, raised, and buried in the Highlands of Scotland. My father owned quite a bit of land . . . quite a bit," he repeated. He paused to clear his throat and take another drink of water before continuing. "When he died, the land came to my older brother, Robert Duncan the second, and to me equally. Robert and I traveled to the United States to complete our education, and both of us decided to stay. Years later Robert sold me his share of the land. With his inheritance, that made him a very wealthy man, and it made me the sole heir to the property called Glen MacKenna.

"I never married. I had neither the time nor the inclination. Robert married a woman I didn't approve of, but unlike my brother, I didn't threaten or carry on because he chose someone I didn't like. Her name was Caroline . . . a social climber. She obviously married Robert for his money. She certainly never loved him. She did do her duty though and gave him two sons, Robert Duncan the third and Conal Thomas.

"And now to the heart of this history lesson. When my nephew Conal chose to marry a woman without social standing, his father disowned him. Robert had chosen someone else--a woman from an influential family--and he was outraged that his wishes were being ignored. Conal's wife, Leah, was no better than a street beggar, but Conal didn't seem to care about the money he would lose." He let out a huff of disgust and said, "All Robert had left was his firstborn, a real yes-man who did whatever he was told to do.

"Over the years I lost track of Conal," he continued. "Too busy," he added as an excuse. "All I knew was that he'd moved to Silver Springs just outside of Charleston. But then I got word that he'd been killed in a car accident. I knew my brother wouldn't go to the funeral . . . but I went. Not so much from a sense of obligation, I admit. I guess I was curious to see how Conal made out. I didn't tell Leah or anyone I was there. Kept my distance. The church was packed with mourners. I even went to the cemetery and saw Leah with her three little girls, the youngest no more than a baby." He stopped as though envisioning the scene. Not wanting to betray any hint of emotion that might cross his faded eyes, he looked away from the camera for a second. He straightened in his chair and resumed. "I saw what I went there to see. The MacKenna line would continue through Conal's children . . . though it was a pity there weren't any boys.

"As for my brother's other son . . . Robert the third . . . he indulged him . . . taught him to be useless. He didn't allow him to have ambition, and in return my brother lived long enough to watch his firstborn drink himself into an early grave.

"The sin of excess has been passed down to the next generation. I have watched Robert's grandsons squander their inheritance and, even worse, defile the MacKenna name. Bryce, the oldest, is following in his father's footsteps. He married a good woman, Vanessa, but she couldn't save him from his vices. Like his father, he's a drunk. He has sold all of his stocks and cashed in his bonds and has gone through every dollar. He spent a good deal on alcohol and women, and only God knows what he did with the rest.

"And then there's Roger. He's been the most elusive-- disappearing for weeks at a time--but it didn't take my sources long to track him down and find out what he's been up to. It appears Roger has turned to gambling for his amusement. According to the reports, last year alone he lost over four hundred thousand. Four hundred thousand." The old man shook his head and continued as though the words left a foul taste. "What's worse, he's been dealing with mobsters like Johnny Jackman. Just having the MacKenna name associated with a thug like Jackman makes my stomach turn.

"Ewan, the youngest, can't or won't control his temper. If it were not for his high-priced and very clever attorneys, he would be in prison now. Two years ago he nearly beat a man to death.

"I am disgusted with all of them. They are useless men who have contributed nothing to this world." The old man pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his brow.

"When those worthless doctors told me I would be here for only a few more months, I decided to take stock." He turned and opened the side drawer and withdrew a thick black folder. He opened it in the center of the desk and stacked his hands on top of it. "I've had an investigator do some checking for me. I wanted to know how Conal's children turned out. I must admit I had low expectations. I assumed, after Conal's death, Leah and her girls would have been living hand to mouth. I also assumed none of them would have gone beyond high school . . . if that. I was wrong on both counts. There was enough of a settlement from the insurance company after Conal's accident that Leah could stay in their house with the children. She took a secretarial position at a girls' private school. The pay was meager--I don't suppose Leah was capable of much more--but there was a trade-off. All three of her daughters attended the private lower school and upper school, their tuition waived." He nodded approval and said, "Conal evidently had taught her the value of a proper education."

He glanced over the report in the folder. "It seems that all three of them are hard workers. Not a slacker among them," he added with emphasis. "The oldest, Kiera, received a full scholarship to a good university and graduated with honors. She received another scholarship to medical school and is doing exceptionally well. The middle girl, Kate, is the entrepreneur in the family. She, too, received a full scholarship to one of the finest universities in the east and also graduated with honors. She started a business while she was still in school, and today her company is growing and on its way to being very successful." He looked back at the camera. "It appears she is most like me."

"Isabel, the youngest, is certainly intelligent as well, but her true talent is her voice. I understand she is quite gifted." He tapped the report with his index finger. "Isabel plans to study music and history at the university, and it is her desire to one day go to Scotland to meet her distant relatives." He nodded. "This news pleases me considerably.

"And now to the changes in my will." The corners of his mouth lifted slightly in an almost imperceptible, devious smile. It faded as he continued. "Bryce and Roger and Ewan will each receive one hundred thousand dollars in cash immediately. It is my hope that the money will be spent on rehabilitation, but I doubt that will happen. Vanessa will also receive one hundred thousand, and she will get this house. She deserves at least that much for having put up with Bryce these past years. She has brought respect to the MacKenna name through her work with charities and the art community, so I don't see any sense in punishing her for her choice of husbands.

"Now to the other MacKennas. I've signed over all my treasury bonds to Kiera. The maturity dates are outlined in the will. Isabel, a history buff like me, will receive Glen MacKenna. There are stipulations that go along with it, of course, and she will be apprised of these in due time. This is all they are to receive from me, but I believe I have been more than generous."

His breathing became labored and he stopped to take another drink of water, emptying the glass before he finished speaking.

"Finally, to the bulk of my estate, my assets calculated to be worth eighty million dollars. This is the accumulation of my life's work and it will be passed on to my blood relations, but I'll be damned if I'll just hand it over to my depraved nephews, and so it will go to Kate MacKenna. She is the most driven of the whole lot and, like me, knows the value of money. If she chooses this legacy, it's all hers.

"I trust that she will not squander it."

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Slow Burn by Julie Garwood
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Slow Burn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
BeachRead245 More than 1 year ago
Meets Your Expectations! Have you ever felt frustrated! Life not going your way? Have I got a story for you! In Slow Burn the fifth novel in the Buchanan series we Kate MacKenna and her sisters. Synopsis: It all started with the wonder bra! Kate was on her way to an exhibit when an explosion occurs. She wakes to find paramedics and policemen looking her over. Kate brushes off the explosion as nothing more than bad luck. She starts to put it behind her when asked to come to Boston by her friend Jordan Buchanan. Kate meets up again with the Buchanan family who she knows well, and one in particular brother Dylan Buchanan. After one night together she leave quickly but her luck doesn’t change. Who is out to harm Kate? Will she and Dylan hook up? My Thoughts: If you are excitedly waiting for Julie’s next novel. Then I suggest you either revisit Slow Burn or read it for the first. I happened to be able to listen to the audiobook this time around. I have listened to others on audio that are by Julie Garwood and this one is the best! I thought the reader did a great job! Ms. Garwood tells stories with much humor and wonderful plot. She employs a form irony which pokes fun at her characters which creates an entertaining read. One side note if you have followed her other novels then you will know that they relate back to one another.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I literally read it in a matter of hours. I only wish it had been longer. I can't wait till she writes more about this family. I feel as if I have known them all my life.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did have style issues, and it's not as if the prose is anything to savor, but compared to so many wretched torturous styles I've suffered on the romance recommendation list I've been working through this was readable--with a narrative that flowed well and characters I cared enough about to want to keep going to the very end. I even found one part that choked me up a little. I liked Kate--an entrepreneur with one sister in medical school and another entering college still in mourning for her mother who recently died. She has family she cares about and friends--it's not all about the guy. And the guy involved, Dylan, a Boston Police Department detective, is pretty appealing. Though the mystery's resolution wasn't too surprising, it made sense.
bakersfieldbarbara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A quick read for an insight into family inheritances, and murder and lust for power and money. A beautiful woman is about to inherit a family fortune, and someone doesn't want her to have it. There are many suspects who are trying to blow her up and a romance is developing as her hero childhood friend decides to help her stay alive. Well written, easy plot to follow but not easily guessed as to the outcome , and a surprise ending that had me going back to see how I had missed out on suspecting the criminal responsible for the bombings. Interesting that even the one who made the bombs turns out to be a sort-of hero. How? Read the book and find out. A must read for a relaxing evening at home.
booksaroonidooni on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read several Julie Garwood books, and this is not among my favorites. I generally use her books to cleanse my palate between heavier reads. They are all light suspense, a little racy. This one just didn't do it. Not up to her usual par.
DGrivetto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't read many romances. I don't necessarily like to read racey sex scenes, and this one has some. But it also has a little mystery to it which kept me turning the pages. Very easy read. I may pick up another of her books.
ForeignCircus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to say I found this book disappointing. The plot was clunky- neither the mystery nor the romance pulled me in at all. The main characters seemed more like caricatures, the mystery wasn't that mysterious, and there were entirely too many subplots cluttering up the landscape whose only purpose seemed to be laying the groundwork for future novels about these two families.

I've always been a huge fan of Garwood's historical novels, and hoped her signature depth and humor would shine through this contemporary story. Unfortunately, all of the elements of a classic Garwood were missing from Slow Burn, and I was left with shallowly drawn characters and a sketchy plot- not enough to carry the book.
Camethyste on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy reading about this family, and this book was no exception. Excellent book, and amusing as well. I didn't figure out who the culprit was until near the end, which is definitely great!
raspberryvixen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I normally was never one for murder/mystery novels, but I find myself getting into them more and more lately. This was a very interesting story, and a very quick read, mainly due to the fact that it seemed to be written on a grade school reading level, which was very disappointing. If it wasn't for the half-decent plot, I would've given up on the book after the first few chapters. Very interesting twist at the end, and it wasn't one that I expected!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series. can't wait to read next book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the suspense and all the twists and turns, great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was the author being paid by the word? to much information about topics not related to the main plot.
PeniA More than 1 year ago
I am continually surprised at the imagination and writing of Julie Garwood. An outstanding storyteller. This story is one of my favorite.
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chineeangel More than 1 year ago
first Garwood book and I was hooked. Slow Burn had me on fire love it read it 3 times! Dylan Buchanan is one sexy character :D
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kayteeMD More than 1 year ago
I prefer Julie Garwood's historical romances, but it was an okay read.