Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane – Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the author. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a $75.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice & open internationally) or one of thirty-two digital copies of either Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows (winner’s choice & open internationally).

Hi!! Hey, thank you so much for having me over to your lovely blog! *waves* Okay, I’m here with an excerpt of my new book, BEHIND THE MASK. The plot, in a nutshell:

When Association head Zelda learns her long-lost prostitute sister was won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, she takes her place—and comes face-to-face with the legendary killer she spent years hunting.

So things are a little tense between Zelda and Hugo for much of this book—understandable, what with his being a killer and Zelda being the ex-CIA agent and all. Things are also tense on another level if you know what I mean.

In this scene, they are at a stopover in a motel in South America. He’s got her captive, making her help him deal with some bad guys. (She has botany knowledge he needs to solve a mystery.) They’re en route to deal with some bad guys. She has to color her hair to disguise herself.


When her hair was full of dye, she leaned out the bathroom window and studied the raucous street below. She needed to focus on important things.

Like survival. Like the killer on the other side of the bathroom door. Her captor. He only needed her for a few more hours—just enough time to get into the greenhouse. And then what?

Small groups of people congregated around the brightly painted doorways. She traced the scent of fried sausages to a busy stall on the corner. The stall next to that one seemed to be selling fried green plantains.

She memorized every detail as she waited the recommended twenty minutes for the dye to take…and tried not to think of Hugo would do to her when he no longer needed her. All the heat between them, what did it matter?

He knew who she was now. A danger to him.

When the twenty minutes were up, she moved to the sink to rinse the dye. A knock at the door. Three raps.

“It’ll be a while,” she said.

The lock clicked. The door opened.

“Hey!” She spun around to face Hugo. He slammed the door shut behind him, gaze roaming wantonly over her mostly naked body.

Her belly felt melty. “You can’t be in here.”

He said nothing, chest rising and falling under the dark gray T-shirt.

She motioned to her hair, full of goopy dye. “I’m not done with this process.”

“Zelda,” he grated, rattling off some dark and wildly dirty Spanish. Then he yanked her to him and kissed her, whiskers rough on her skin.

“Hugo!” she said, pushing him away, leaving brown smudges on his shirt. “We can’t—”

“We have to,” he panted.

“Look at me! I’m full of dye. You have to let me at least rinse it off.”

He stood there like a predator. It created a kind of vulnerability that she probably shouldn’t like. “You’ll do it after.”

“That’s not how it works,” she said.

He reached out a finger and touched her bare belly. Slowly he trailed that lone finger up to the bottom of her bra, taking her mind firmly offline with just one swipe. Then he hooked it under and pulled her to him. “I will rinse it, then.” He kissed her neck. “I will handle it from here.”

She pushed him away, trembling with arousal. Usually, having goop in her hair would be the most unsexy thing she could imagine, but the way he looked at her told her he didn’t agree. “I don’t need help.”

“Then explain to me beauty salons, Corazon.” He jerked his chin. “In the sink? That’s how you rinse it?”


He glided his finger down her bare belly, causing her insides to undulate. “You have no choice in the matter, Zelda,” he said. “You are my prisoner in this. I take care of what’s mine. Turn around.”

Her heart beat in her throat. “Seriously?”

“Must I turn you myself? Must I tie you? Are we back to that?”

She studied his hooded eyes. Was he serious?

His tone was strangled. “Face the sink. I have this under control.”

She pulled off the gloves and turned to face the sink, the mirror. His head loomed above hers in the mirror, gaze dark, hair unruly. He reached around her to turn on the water, adjusting it to his satisfaction. “Bend over.”

She complied, putting her head under the stream. He stood over her, massaging the water through her hair, bringing incredible precision to the chore. This was the precision he brought to throwing blades. An artist. A killer.

He made her tip her head and stroked a bit over her ear. His fingers were magic, movements strong and deliberate. He was making the process his as he made everything his. As he’d made her his that first night with those slow, languorous motions. Destroyed by pain and opium and still he’d made her his.

He gathered her hair on top of her head and leaned over to kiss the back of her neck. “I have this…” he kissed her again… “under control.” He kissed her again, pressing into her. She could feel the hard log of his cock at her ass, nearly bursting through his jeans.

He didn’t seem under control. He seemed out of control, and God, she loved it.

“I have needed to be inside you all day,” he said, breath ragged, massaging the dye out of her hair.


“Quiet, or I will gag you again. All day I have imagined taking you, making you come over and over and over.” Her heart pounded as he pushed her head to the other side, working symmetrically. “When you sucked in my fingers, I imagined them inside you.”

He turned off the water and pulled her up by her hair.

She opened her eyes to see him behind her in the mirror, holding her wet hair, focused down on her with a level of intensity that felt frighteningly primal.

“And I imagined that I would make you come screaming. After that I would take you.” His words came out in gusts. “I can wait no longer.” The furrow between his eyes looked deeper, his cheekbones more sharp-cut, more ruthless somehow. Her killer, her lover.

“Okay,” she said stupidly.

He tightened his grip on her hair; she could feel his intensity clear through his fingertips. His voice lowered, control clearly fraying. “Hold on to the sink. You must hold on.” He didn’t wait for her to comply; he fit her hands to the sides of the sink himself. Even that turned her on—the way he thought he had to stabilize her.

With trembling fingers he undid he bra. Or maybe that was her trembling. The whole room trembled. She had to remove her hands from the sink to allow him to pull the bra free of her arms. He planted them back on the sink like she was an unruly child who hadn’t behaved. “You must not let go.”

She gripped the cool porcelain, blood racing.


Read more: Links for BEHIND THE MASK are here at my website.


When her estranged sister is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group–and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again.

Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…

Meanwhile, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?

About the Author:5_20 Crane Author PhotoI am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats.

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  1. Plot sounds interesting.

  2. lori faires says:

    I like a strong alpha female and male that butt heads. They also should try to resist their attraction to each other while trying to stay alive. He should also be trying to protect her from someone or thing, but she thinks she doesn’t needs his help. But nearing the end they get together and make sexy time. HEA

  3. Sally Schmidt says:

    Sounds like an exciting read.

  4. Rita Wray says:

    I like the premise of the story.

  5. This looks like it’s going to be INTENSE!

  6. Ashley F says:

    the cover and premise look and sound awesome.

  7. Hi!! I just wanted to stop by and thank you soooo much for hosting my excerpt at your lovely blog. I’m happy to be here, and grateful that you helped make my release week special.

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