Happy New Year, Dear Reader!

Hope your New Year is full of fun and excitement. Well, maybe not TOO MUCH excitement. Too much of a good thing can turn into a real challenge sometimes. Mitch Mendoza, the hero of my current thriller, LAST SPY STANDING, finds that out the hard way. He's in the South-American jungle to rescue a U.S. governor's dope-head son. If only the little twit would cooperate instead of putting their lives in more danger. With the army of a deadly drug lord after them and the jungle ready to eat them alive, Mitch has to be at the top of his game to stay alive. And that's before he runs into special agent Megan Cassidy who has her own designs on the kid... and an agenda that completely messes up Mitch's mission... and long legs and soft curves, the thought of which very inconveniently keeps him up at night.

Heat and danger, what's not to like about a jungle survival adventure thriller? :-) I had so much fun researching this one. But while the setting is certainly wild and exotic, it's the instant sparks between Mitch and Megan that brought this story alive and made it easy to write. The chemistry just worked from first sight. And then it grew into something more, a special kind of true love that made me sigh with satisfaction even while being an admittedly jaded writer after thirty books. I would love to hear what you think of LAST SPY STANDING. Did I get it right? Email me at danamarton@yahoo.com and let me know what you think!

Wishing you all the best,

Dana Marton

Excerpt from Last Spy Standing

© Dana Marton

“This is what we’re going to do. We’ll clean up then have a decent meal. Get some rest.” He looked at Megan. “You should wait to report the attack until you reach a bigger place. The polizia in a village like this is probably one man. He won’t be able to do much. And he might even be in league with the bandits.”

Plus, he didn’t want any part of any police report. If they were together when she went to the authorities, the police would also want to talk to Zak and him.

She went a shade paler, probably remembering the attack, but she nodded.

Key was, not to let her think too much. “All right. Let’s get on with the cleaning up. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty hungry. The sooner we get ourselves in decent enough shape to go out and look for food, the better.”

Zak went first, didn’t take long, then settled in front of the ancient radio bolted to the wall, trying to make it work while Megan took her turn. She didn’t loiter overly much either, confirming Mitch’s suspicions about the water being unheated. He was about to ask Zak, but then the bathroom door opened and she stood there wrapped in nothing but a worn towel.

His tongue got stuck to the roof of his mouth.

She had legs a mile long. Lean, pink thighs. Zak stared at her wide-eyed, with a stupid grin on his face. She tugged the towel down in a self-conscious gesture that nearly caused her breasts to spill on top. She looked desperate and embarrassed, the hottest thing Mitch had seen in years. Or ever.

Stop staring, get moving, he told himself, and after a few seconds could actually do it.

He headed for his gun on the dresser that had every knob broken off and one leg substituted with a brick. He wanted to take the weapon into the bathroom with him. But she moved toward her bag on the bed at the same time, getting between him and the dresser.

In nothing but a towel.

Which would have been just fine--more than fine--if she were a different sort of woman, they were alone and he wasn’t in the middle of a clandestine mission.

He practically ran for the bathroom, needing that cold shower now if not sooner.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” he called through the closed door, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

He peeled off his clothes, then the spray was hitting his head. Ice cold. Exactly what he needed. He tried not to think of Megan Cassidy in that flimsy towel, those legs, or those wet, soft locks framing her delicate face.

Morning couldn’t come too quickly. She needed to go far away from places like this and men like him. She needed to develop some self-preservation instincts.

He shut up the little voice in his head that said he should put Zak on the military transport then stay behind and personally escort Miss Cassidy back home to make sure nothing bad happened to her.

Had nothing to do with those long, lean thighs. Rescue missions were too deep in his blood. He couldn’t help if his mind went there. His job was to save the good guys and take out the bad ones--a pretty straight forward mission, even if the line blurred from time to time.

She was the proverbial damsel in distress, a scared, lost little thing who’d gone through considerable trauma in the past day. She collected orchids in New Jersey. This was probably the first massacre she’d ever seen.

He couldn’t relate to a life that sheltered.

He was drying off when he heard the crash in the room, and he burst through the door without thought, ready for fighting. He swore viscously at the sight that greeted him.

Zak was tied up on the bed, a rag in his mouth keeping him quiet. Megan stood legs apart in the middle of the room, dressed in shorts and a black tanktop, boots on, hair pulled back into a no-nonsense ponytail, looking like the lead character out of a kick-ass video game. A scar ran from her ear to her throat, a pink line her tumbling locks had covered up until now, that made her look even fiercer.

All uncertainty was gone from her eyes, the amber now burning with fire, all paleness gone from her face as she looked at Mitch, holding his own gun at him. A matching weapon was in her other hand.

Where did she get that from? “Put them down.”

Instead, she stepped closer.

“Who are you?”

“Who are you?” she turned the question on him. “Definitely not a hiker from Panama.” She shoved one weapon into her waistband behind her back, pulled a plastic cuff from her back pocket, one she had to have stolen from his backpack, then gestured toward the water pipes behind him.

“No.” He measured the distance between them, judged it too great to be covered in a single leap. He was going for it anyway.

Or not.

She squeezed off a shot that passed so close to his ear he could feel the wind of the bullet.

“Hey, all right.” He stepped back, knowing no help would be coming. In a place like this, people knew enough to walk away from gunfire and not toward it.

She tossed him the plastic tie. “The pipe.”

He took a step back, held his left hand up to the pipe and cuffed himself to it, swearing under his breath, not taking his eyes off her for a second. He’d been had. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.

What in hell had he been thinking? But, of course, he hadn’t been thinking at all. She’d short-circuited his brain the moment she’d stepped into that clearing.

He flashed her his most lethal glare. “The money I have on me ain’t worth it, honey. I’m going to track you down. That’s a promise.”

She gave a cocky smile, keeping her gaze above his shoulders, then turned from the bathroom, leaving him handcuffed and naked.

But if he thought this was about cash, he had to realize his mistake a second later when she grabbed Zak and yanked him to his feet, not paying any attention to the boy’s muffled groaning.

“You let him be,” Mitch ordered on a voice that usually brought results.

She didn’t bother with as much as a backward glance. Next thing he heard was the door closing behind them, then the key turning.

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Dana is excited about her new Harlequin Intrigue novel and to celebrate, she's giving away a free ebook or print copy of Agents Under Fire novella trilogy to four lucky winners! For a chance to win, please visit Dana's website to answer this question:

In the excerpt, what is Mitch Mendoza wearing when Megan handcuffs him to the bathroom pipes?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answer and mark the subject heading as Last Spy Standing. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address. Please note, responses sent to any other email address will be disregarded.

Contest deadline - January 18th, 2012.

Good luck!!

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