A Secret Worth Dying For ~ Withholding Evidence by Rachel Grant


WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE, the third book in my series of romantic thrillers that explores the intersection of archaeology, politics, and war, released late last week. I had a blast writing this short novel. I loved finding Trina’s voice and Keith’s… well, I pretty much love everything about Keith.

Like all books in this series, this story can stand alone, but the characters from the previous books are present in WE, and I really enjoyed writing the friendship between Trina, Mara, and Erica, as they all work together at Naval History and Heritage Command. Years ago my husband worked for NHHC’s underwater archaeology branch making writing about the organization especially fun.

Today I’m excited to share with our Kiss and Thrill readers the first scene of Withholding Evidence.

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Trina Sorensen stiffened her spine and rang the town house doorbell. She couldn’t hear a chime, so after a moment of hesitation, she followed up with a knock. Seconds ticked by without any sound of movement on the other side. She rang the bell again, and then repeated the knock for good measure. The front door was on the ground floor, next to the garage. Glancing upward, she checked out the windows of the two upper floors. No lights on, but at nine in the morning on a hot August day in Falls Church, that didn’t tell her anything. If the man she hoped to meet was home, he’d have to descend at least one flight of stairs, possibly two.

She was about to ring the bell again when the door whipped open, startling her. She stepped back, then remembered she needed to project poise and straightened to meet her target’s gaze.

Keith Hatcher was even more handsome in person than in his official navy photo, but she couldn’t let that fluster her. It just meant he’d been blessed with good genes, a rather superficial measure of a person, really.

She took a deep breath and held out her hand. “Mr. Hatcher, Trina Sorensen, historian with Naval History and Heritage Command. I’d like to ask you a few questions about Somalia.” She cringed as she said the last part. Too perky. Too eager. That was not how to approach a former navy SEAL when asking about a mission.

Sporting tousled dark hair that suggested he may have just gotten out of bed, and wearing low-rise jeans and nothing else, the man leaned an impressive bare bicep against the doorframe and raised a quizzical thick eyebrow. “Trina? Cute name.” He smiled. “It fits.” He reached out and touched the top of her head. “But I think you should go back to the day care center you escaped from and leave me alone.” He stepped back, and the door slammed shut.

She jolted back a step. He did not just pat her on the head and slam the door in her face.

Except that was exactly what Senior Chief Petty Officer Keith Hatcher had done.

She was aware she looked young, but dammit, she was thirty-one freaking years old—the same age as Hatcher. She squared her shoulders and rang the bell again. Seconds ticked by. Then minutes. She pounded with the side of her fist.

Finally the door opened. “Yes?” He leaned against the doorjamb again, this time stretching out an arm to touch the hinged side of the opening. His body language conveyed amusement mixed with annoyance.

“Senior Chief, I’m Dr. Trina Sorensen”—she never referred to herself with the pretentious title of doctor, but figured his crack about day care warranted it—“and I’m researching your SEAL team’s work in Somalia five years ago for Naval History and Heritage Command and the Pentagon. You must answer my questions.”

“Dollface, it’s Sunday morning. The only thing I must do today is jack off.”

She crossed her arms. “Fine. I can wait. It’ll be what, one, maybe two minutes?”

The man tilted his head back and laughed. She saw her opportunity and ducked under his arm, entering, as she’d suspected, an enclosed staircase. The door to the left could only go to the garage. She went straight for the stairs, heading up to his home. Her heart beat rapidly at her own audacity, but she was never going to get the information she needed to do her job from the SEAL without taking risks.

“What the hell?” he sputtered, then added, “Who do you think you are, barging into my home?”

“I told you. I’m Dr. Trina Sorensen from NHHC,” she answered as she reached the landing that ended in the most spotless mudroom she’d ever seen. She crossed the room and stepped into his kitchen. She leaned against a counter as he paused in his own kitchen doorway. His mouth twitched, but his jaw was firm, making her think he couldn’t decide if he was annoyed or amused.

“I’ll wait here while you masturbate. We can start the interview when you’re done.”

Amusement won, and a corner of his mouth kicked up. He took a step toward her. “It’ll go faster if you help me.”

Her heart thumped in a slow, heavy beat. Barging into his home might’ve been a mistake. She frowned. Of course it was a mistake. “I’m good to go. Already took care of business this morning in the shower. You go ahead without me.”

He barked a sharp laugh, then shook his head. “What do you want, Dr. Sorensen?”

“As I said already, I’m here to ask you questions about Somalia.” She pulled her digital recorder from her satchel. “Do you mind if I record our conversation?”

His brown eyes narrowed. “Hell, yes, I mind. More importantly, we aren’t having a conversation. You are leaving. Now. Before I call the police.”

“Please don’t be difficult. I’m just doing my job.”

“SEAL ops are classified.” All hint of amusement left his voice, leaving only hard edges.

She sighed in frustration. Hadn’t he bothered to read any of her e-mails? “I sent you what you need to verify my security clearance in my e-mail. And my orders came directly from the Pentagon.”

“I don’t give a crap if the pope sent you on orders from the president. I’m not telling you shit about a place I’ve never been.”

He expected her to accept that and walk away? She’d never have gotten anywhere as a military historian if she allowed the men in her field to brush her off. “Oh, you’ve been to Somalia all right. You were there on a reconnaissance mission, gathering data about a rising al Qaeda leader who was taking advantage of a power vacuum created by ongoing interclan violence.”

He crossed his arms and spoke softly. “I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

The man had a solid poker face; no hint that she’d surprised him with the paltry facts she knew. So he was handsome and big and had the most gorgeous sculpted pecs and abs she’d ever seen, and he was sharp to boot. “I’m researching various SEAL actions in Somalia over the last two decades, starting with Operation Gothic Serpent and ending with yours.”

“The work I did when I was in the navy is classified. Not only do I not have to tell you about an op I was never on in a country I’ve never visited, but I could also get in serious trouble if I did tell you a damn thing about the places I have been.”

She handed him her card. “But you do have to answer me. The Pentagon wants this report. Your input is necessary.” This project was her big break. Future naval operations could depend on her findings, and the biggest of the brass were eager for this account. She was already having visions of moving out of the cubicle next to cantankerous Walt. She could have walls. And a door.

“But, you see there, dollface, that’s the problem. I’m not in the navy anymore. I don’t take orders from the Pentagon. I don’t have to follow commands from anyone, least of all a five-foot-nothing librarian who invaded my kitchen without my permission.”

She straightened her spine and threw back her shoulders, determined to reach her full height. “I’m five foot three. And I’m an historian.” Her glasses slipped, and she nudged them back to the bridge of her nose.

He chuckled, and she flushed. She’d have been better off if she hadn’t corrected him on the librarian label as she adjusted her glasses.

“Whatever, doll. Listen, you have one minute to get out of my house, or I’m going to assume you’ve decided to watch me jerk off after all.”

She couldn’t look away from the brown eyes that held hers in a tense gaze. Just her luck that he was so frigging gorgeous. Attractive men made her self-conscious. Especially ripped, half-naked ones. “I’m not playing games, Senior Chief. I’m just here to do my job.”

He smiled slowly and reached for his fly.

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Withholding Evidence is a short novel – approximately 50,000 words/150 pages.
Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Today I’m giving away a signed print copy of WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE. To enter the drawing, tell me: are you are willing to read books in a series out of order, or do you always start with book one?

About Rachel Grant

Archaeologist Rachel Grant writes romantic suspense where archaeology, politics, and war collide.

Posted on March 5, 2014, in Rachel Grant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 55 Comments.

  1. I am fanning my red face as we speak! Wow!

  2. Morning Rachel. That was such a funny scene 🙂 Those two were certainly combustable together… As for the question.. I am willing to read out of order. If I see a new release that really captures my attention I have no problem reading it even if its book 5 or 10 in a series. There are some series where that can be done and other where you need to have read all the previous books to really get the significance of what is happening in the latest book. Case in point I just read the 5th book in a series I’ve loved since the first book – there were some great revelations that happened in it – answers to things started in the first book. When I went to post my review I saw someone had given it a lower rating and read why and they had not read any other books in the series so they didnt get how huge these things were to the fans of the series. Only a person that had read all the previous books would.

    Cindy O

    • Good morning, Cindy! Good point about series that slowly build on each other. The Hunger Games or Harry Potter wouldn’t work (for me) out of order – however in both series individual books had their own plots, ARCs, and resolutions, so I would imagine it’s possible to step in and get caught up, but wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

      The Evidence series doesn’t have an ongoing plot ARC, and I work hard to keep them spoiler free so people can jump in at any time, however, I *did* slip a few things into Withholding Evidence that will be important in Covert Evidence (Cressida’s story).

  3. dear rachel, thank you very much for your book! I especially enjoy the deep insight into your research background. to answer your question: i dislike series which can only be read in a certain order. sometimes i enjoy the added knowledge from later books when i read the first book of a series. and i like to be the wiseguy and find mistakes or gaps. but normally i would prefer to read the books in more or less the order taht the author intended.

    • Thanks for stopping by, gargravarr! I too prefer to read books in order, but I like to know ahead of time if reading in order is necessary to understand what is going on. I guess I want a warning label: “spoiler alert – if you haven’t read books 1-4 don’t start with this one” – or something like that. 🙂

  4. Oh boy, my list of must-read-now books just keeps growing and classes won’t let up! My spring breaks don’t even line up, so I can’t devote a whole week to just reading instead of prepping to teach biology to undergrads.

    I’m one of those anal read-in-order people; the only times I don’t is if I’m writing a book review for a the blog and don’t have time to get caught up, or if I didn’t realise the book was part of a series. Then I usually go read all the other books in the series 🙂

    • Hi Cris! I’ve been forced to give up my must-read-in-order ways due to critiquing, contest judging, and trying new authors to promote for this blog. But it’s never my first choice.

      Hope you manage to get some down time during your spring breaks!

  5. I always start at the beginning of a series. Maybe it’s the librarian in me, but I have to read them in order. And I’ve even been known to wait until at least four books are out so I can read them all at once. I hate waiting. 🙂

  6. Always have to start with the first book. Just loving your books!

  7. Reading a series in order is preferable; HOWEVER, if I ‘discover’ a book that I enjoy, find out it is part of a series, then I will go back & get all the series books & start at the beginning.

  8. Hubba. That is all. And I am willing to read out of order, but I definitely prefer to start at the beginning!

    • Hi, Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! And hey, didn’t the first book in your new series just come out – YESTERDAY!?

      Ohhh – and here it is:

      So excited for you!!!

  9. Heather Ashby

    OMG! Rachel, this excerpt was absolutely fabulous! I just read it out loud to my retired Navy husband and we both howled! I’m DEFINITELY reading THIS ONE!!!! (I hope I win. I hope I win 🙂 I’ve won your book before, so I’m holding out for a day or so. CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE WHOLE THING! Write On, Girl!!! And HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!

  10. Usually I listen to what the author or publisher says. If they say the story can be a stand alone even if it is related to previous books in a series, then I’ll read it out of order. But if it is said that it is important to read them in order, then I head for the first in the series. If I’m hooked, then I’ll continue on with the series. I seriously doubt my wit is thrilling, but that’s what I’m thinkin’. 🙂 jdh2690@gmail.com

  11. Yowsers! Way to start the day!

  12. Carmen Pacheco

    I’m with Carey: 8:08am and you already have me swooning?! Well done, Ms. Grant…well friggin’ done!!! 🙂

    This sounds FABULOUS and I am visiting Amazon TODAY.

    Does she…will he…Nah…better to find out for myself!!! 😀

  13. Carmen Pacheco

    See, you had me so flustered, in the best way, I forgot to answer the question, lol!!!! I am an Aries…’nuff said. I read in chronological order. EXCEPT IN THIS CASE…that first scene demands my attention TODAY. 😀

  14. I loved that scene, Rachel. I just finished the book yesterday and I really enjoyed Trina and Keith. I prefer to read books in order, but often pick up an author’s book not realizing it’s part of a series, then go back and read in order. 😉

  15. So, to answer my own question ~

    I don’t like reading books in a series out of order, but in the last few years, it has become more difficult adhere to that rule when my reading time is limited and there are so many authors I want to try. So it’s one thing I’ve learned to let go. Another habit I’ve learned to let go is forcing myself to finish every book I start – if a book doesn’t grab me, I put it aside without guilt.

    So now I read out of order and go back and read the first books if the series has grabbed me. But my first preference is always to start with book 1. I LOVE the feeling of discovering a delicious new series and knowing there are more books out there, waiting for me.

  16. Reblogged this on Rachel Grant and commented:

    I posted the first scene in Withholding Evidence at http://www.KissandThrill.com. Comment there for a chance to win a signed print copy!

  17. Never read them in order

  18. I was lucky enough to get Withholding Evidence from NetGalley but if I like a book enough, I then gift it to a friend. Love this one but of course I wanted a longer book!! Lol.
    I’m too anal to read a series out of order. It freaks me out. I’m like a previous commenter, if I can I wait until several books in a series are out.
    Now I’m impatiently waiting for your next one ; )

    • Thanks, Dolly! I so appreciate your early review of WE! It must be hard to read in order when receiving ARCs from NetGalley – or do you only request first books?

      And I’m delighted you are eager for the next book. You met the hero in WE – Alec Ravissant – and it will be a longer story, which means, sadly, a longer wait. 🙂

  19. Congratulations, Rachel!

  20. That definitely whetted the appetite, Rachel. I have read books out of order. I usually try to read a series in order, but it doesn’t bother me especially if the author mentions that the books can be read as stand alones even though they’re part of a series.

  21. How funny that you posted that here! Last weekend I told my friend Lark that your chapter almost made me fall off my chair. (And readers, you need to turn the page!)

    LOVED WE, and no, I can read books out of order. If I adore the writer though (i.e., Karen Slaughter) I will research her backlist and write down the titles in order, buy them all and bring them out like treasured possessions. If I catch an new author on her first novel, it’s a lot easier though…like YOU and Darynda Jones.

    WE is a superb romantic thriller, this will do VERY well!

  22. I’m giving away 5 copies of Withholding Evidence at Goodreads.

    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    Withholding Evidence by Rachel  Grant

    Withholding Evidence

    by Rachel Grant

    Giveaway ends April 04, 2014.

    See the giveaway details
    at Goodreads.

    Enter to win

  23. I don’t mind reading series out of order. Sometimes you get interesting insights into the characters that you might have missed if you read them in order. Congrats on your new release!

  24. Wow, that was some opening. Now I have to read on. As for the question about skipping around reading a series, I really, really, want to start with the first book. Even if I read a review about the 3rd or 4th book and want it, I am willing to go back and read from the beginning. I am one of those people who wishes the books were actually numbered!

    • Thanks, Kathleen! LOL – I’ll admit, I don’t have the books in this series numbered with the title, because I don’t want readers to pass because WE is book 3. I’m really careful to make sure the books don’t spoil the suspense plots. 🙂 I’ve had a few reviewers so far who started with this one, and I was so pleased that they indicated they planned to go back and read the first two.

  25. Brenda Southard

    I don’t mind not starting at the beginning, but if I read a later entry and like it I usually go back and start at the beginning.

  26. In any series, I prefer books that can stand alone. If a particular premise engages me I usually try to find out if I need to read the other prior series books first to follow what’s going on. Goodreads friends are helpful for that.

    Series are the trend now, but I don’t always want to commit to starting a series. I prefer single titles, but I read lots of series, too.

    After reading your opening scene from WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE, I immediately went to Amazon and bought it. Can’t wait to read it. Both characters grabbed me–immediately.

  27. As with any series, I prefer to start at the beginning so I can easily keep track of who’s who. I do and have read out of order, but unless the author provides some back story, figuring out who belongs to who and who does what can sometimes leave me feeling a bit confused and out of the loop.
    I am looking forward to reading your new one. Sound like a good one.

  28. I have read books in a series out of order but only because I did not know it was part of a series when I bought it. If I know it is a series I make sure to start in the beginning. When I realize it is part of a series I always go back and buy all that go with it. Luckily with your books I started with the first one then the second one and am very excited for your new one. Thank you for writing such great books!

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