Conard County: The Next Generation
Excerpt from book:
Charity Atkins drove into the outskirts of Conard City and suddenly felt sickeningly out of her depth. It was a grandiose name for a small town, she realized, and although she was a good arson investigator, she'd only worked in industrial areas and other businesses in large cities, not on ranches out in the boondocks.
It didn't help to remind herself that location didn't matter, that figuring out whether the arson was attempted fraud remained the same no matter where it occurred. For the first time, though, she knew why Todd had claimed he couldn't handle this job and had recommended Charity take his place. All the stuff he'd said about how she was such a great investigator? She'd thought it was exaggerated at the time, but now she knew why. Separating Todd from his metropolitan comforts might have been too much to ask. She snorted.
Two minutes later she realized she couldn't have been more inappropriately dressed. The casual clothes of people she passed were mostly well-worn versions of Western style. Wearing a gray business suit and high heels was going to make her stick out like a sore thumb. Of course, given the size of this place she'd probably stick out anyway.
She felt like an alien, but that was something she was fairly used to. Always being on the road kind of created that feeling.
She reminded herself that arson was arson no matter where it occurred. Still, when she'd been told to come to Conard City, she'd envisioned a much larger place. Flying in on a four-seater Cessna hadn't concerned her, and she hadn't really thought about it when she climbed into a rental car that wasn't new enough to have a GPS mapping console.
Only now, driving down Front Street toward what she hoped would be the fire station, did she get a clear picture. The houses were all older Victorian and Craftsman styles commingling contentedly. The leafy trees looked as old as the houses, and for a main street this one struck her as awfully narrow, narrow enough that parking was allowed on only one side. She'd been in some older neighborhoods in Atlanta like this, but if this was the whole town
She was a city girl in rural territory, and immediately she began imagining all kinds of problems with the locals who'd probably resent the heck out of her. She had traveled the world throughout her entire life and knew that outsiders were rarely welcomed. Looking into a big industrial fire often only drew flak from the owners. In a place this small she might draw flak from the entire community. But she always drew flak, some of it potentially dangerous. She'd been threatened more than once.
She shook herself and continued the slow drive. She'd manage. She wasn't here to be liked, merely to protect her insurance company against fraud.
The firehouse was near the town square, she'd been told at the airport. Couldn't miss it. Well, she hadn't passed anything resembling a town square yet so.
Just then sirens penetrated her thoughts. She pulled over immediately to the curb, and soon a fire engine came racing by. Behind it was a red SUV with flashing white-and-red lights. She hesitated, then figured that in a burg this size it was unlikely the chief would still be at the station. He'd probably be out helping.
So she pulled an illegal U-turn and followed the truck. Might as well see how this department operated in action. That could sometimes be useful to her investigation. An ambulance, horn blaring, raced past her, forcing her to the curb again.
She kept to the speed limit, unlike the trucks, but soon reached them. They had pulled over on a side street, already being blocked by police to traffic. Two men in yellow firefighting gear were headIn New York Times bestselling author Rachel Lee's latest Conard County romance, passion blazes between a fire chief and a beautiful arson investigator
The cunning arsonist targeting Conard County has fire chief Wayne Camden stymied. Teaming up with investigator Charity Atkins seems like a no-brainer. She has the expertise to track down the firebug before he kills someone. But Wayne never anticipated making Charity a target.
Since his wife left, Wayne's had little interest in relationships. The single dad is unsettled by the electrifying attraction Charity ignites. Wayne is rooted in the community, and Charity's a nomad. But with danger stalking them, irresistible desire forces them both to reevaluate their lives.