A tropical vacation turns into a deadly puzzle where happily-ever-after and the family fortune hang on who solves it first. Betsy Love’s first novel will keep you guessing until the last page is turned.
While vacationing in Mexico, two similar-looking young women find themselves caught in a chain reaction of mistaken identities. Amelia is a wealthy heiress and business owner, and Savannah is a sweet Mormon girl deciding whether or not to serve a mission. When they end up on the same flight to Phoenix, Savannah and Amelia unravel the sequence of events that wreaked havoc on their trips, and they make plans to resolve the subsequent misunderstandings. But their flight is cut short when the plane crashes, killing one of the young women and plunging the other into a world of intrigue and deceit where identity means everything.
- Published: 2011
- Pages: 304
About the Author
The clock on the microwave read 10:55 a.m. Amelia crossed her arms and drummed her perfect fingernails on her silky skin. Five more minutes and she’d be out of here. Brent was an hour later than he’d promised, and her resolve to wait for him in his condo was disappearing fast. He’d promised to take her into Guaymas for breakfast. This would be the last time he stood her up.
The aromas from El Mar de Cortez, the condominium complex’s restaurant, wafted through the window. That did it. No more waiting! Amelia stormed back to her own condo to grab her wallet. If it hadn’t been for her business relationship with Brent, she’d have taken the first flight back to the States. Mexico, of all places.
She jammed her key into the lock and the door swung inward a few inches before she had a chance to even turn the knob. I know I locked the door, Amelia thought. She pushed the door open farther. From her position on the step she peered into the front room, half expecting to see her fiancé. “That better be you.” She flung the door all the way open. “Brent?”
There was no answer, but it had to have been him. She clenched her teeth as she remembered the way he had practically jumped for joy after convincing her to vacation in San Carlos, Mexico. Why this was his favorite place she couldn’t even begin to guess. No room service, no concierge, and very few amenities. The poor excuse of a weight room with a measly treadmill and couple of dumbbells could hardly be called a “fitness center” at all.
Brent must have been out of his mind when he suggested they come back later for their honeymoon. At least then they wouldn’t have to book separate condos because of legal issues with his ex-wife. But even if they couldn’t share a room, San Diego would have been better—no money exchange, same white sandy beaches and scrumptious Mexican food, not to mention luxury rooms where everything worked. Amelia couldn’t imagine why Brent was so enamored with this despicable excuse for lodging. She blamed being here at all on a momentary state of weakness, one she had no intention of repeating again, if there ever was a honeymoon.
She quickly scanned the room but saw no flowers and no other sign Brent had been there. Yet nothing looked out of place, either, so it was obvious the place hadn’t been robbed. Her Gucci bag sat on the end table next to the couch. She rummaged through the contents: wallet, Visa Gold, MasterCard Platinum, Discover, company gas card, cash, Giorgio Armani sunglasses. If Brent hadn’t been in her condo, who had? Had the maids come to clean? Perhaps one of them hadn’t closed the door properly. Management would hear about this, and someone was going to get fired, that was for certain.
A tapping penetrated the still air. Stupid faucets. One of the maids must have forgotten that, too. Couldn’t anyone do anything right in this place? Amelia checked the faucets, then tracked the sound to her bedroom. She gasped at the sight. The contents of her dresser were in disarray on the bed and floor. Her makeup case had been dumped on the table, with some items spilling onto the floor.
Instead of the leaky faucet as Amelia had suspected, the noise came from the tapping of the curtain cord against the wall as the breeze blew through the broken window. Shattered glass lay on the carpet, and the window screen had been cut through.
What if the intruder was hiding in the closet or under the bed? A taste like metal rose in Amelia’s throat. A choking sensation gripped her, and she clutched at her neck. Unable to catch her breath, she backed out of the room. Her legs went weak, and she barely made it to the bedroom door, where she backed into a muscular chest. A sharp scream escaped her lips as her knees gave out.
“Whoa.” Brent grasped her shoulders. Amelia trembled as she collapsed into his arms. “What’s the matter?” He stroked the back of her hair.
“Where have you been?” Before she let him answer, she shoved him with all the force of an adrenaline rush, sending him into the doorjamb. “You promised . . . what if . . . you left me . . . I could have been—”
“Don’t sweetheart me!”
“You’re shaking like a leaf. What happened?” His arms wrapped around her.
She buried her head against his wetsuit-clad shoulder. “Someone broke in.”
Brent led Amelia to the front porch, where she plastered herself against the condo’s outside wall. He said he was going to look around, then went back inside the condo. He was probably only gone for a few minutes, but to Amelia it seemed far too long. What if the burglar got to him?
Amelia jumped when Brent came back out and asked, “Where’s the necklace I gave you?” She pulled it from underneath her blouse. “I wish you had left it in Marc’s safe.” Brent took her hand and kissed her fingers. “Let’s get you over to my place. Then I’ll go to the front desk and call the police.”
“I’m not staying here tonight.” Amelia pushed her hair behind her ear and crossed her arms. Separate condos—that was the stupidest thing about this whole ridiculous getaway.
“You can stay in mine,” Brent said gently. “I’ll stay here.”
“Oh, no. I’m not staying alone in either room. We stay together or I’m checking out.”
Once they were inside his condo, he led her to the couch. “At least you didn’t bring the schematics with you,” he said as Amelia sat down.
She played with the locket. “They’re not in Houston.” She met his brown eyes. “You can’t possibly think they’d be safe there.”
“What? Where are they?” He ran his hand through his dark brown hair.
“The security of the whole project has already been breached. I just couldn’t trust it being left anywhere. When I went to get the schematics from the safe, only half of them were there.”
“What do you mean only half?”
“I ran the chip to make sure they hadn’t been tampered with, and what came up was half of the blueprints. I don’t understand why Marc would do that.” Amelia pulled her hair behind her with a quick sweep of her hand.
Brent touched the silver heart-shaped locket dangling from the chain around her neck. “We’ve been over this so many times. You can trust your father.”
“Stepfather,” Amelia corrected, falling back against the cushions.
“Fine—stepfather. What did you do with the chip?” Brent sat down next to Amelia and stroked her arm.
She pulled away from his touch, then slipped the necklace over her head. She laid it on the coffee table and worked off the link and filigree, like a Chinese puzzle. The outer casing twisted free from the locket. Once the pieces were separated, she pressed the tiny clasp and opened the heart, revealing the amplification crystal and a picture of her and Brent taken two years before, just after her mother’s death, and before his fiasco of a marriage.
“Here’s the crystal, but where’s the chip?” He touched the pear-shaped gem.
She lifted the picture with her fingernail and exposed the microchip taped to the back of the photograph. “If someone tampered with the blueprints, I couldn’t very well leave this behind.”
“Marc wouldn’t do that. Do you think anyone else knows?” Brent brushed a lock of her hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” She flipped the strand of hair back across her cheek.
No one outside of the firm’s research department knew about the project. Would a confidentiality clause be enough to keep developers from leaking information? Each had been handpicked for his or her years of loyalty to the company. The only other person who knew, besides Brent, was Marc Baylor, the man Amelia’s mother, Anna, had married. But Anna was dead, leaving Amelia and Marc joint heirs of Cell Technologies, Inc.
“Perhaps someone from the lab—”
Amelia shook her head and thought about each of the developers. They knew that to divulge information outside of the company meant not only termination, but a lawsuit as well. Each one had too much invested in the company, both monetarily and personally. They knew Amelia’s grandfather when cell-phone technology was in its infancy, and all of them had respected him.
“I spoke with Marc the day before we left—”
Amelia cut him off. “It has to be Marc. He’s the only one who knows.”
She watched Brent bite his lower lip and pull at the sleeve of his orange and black wetsuit. “Your stepfather wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the company. I’m going to go report this to the police. You wait here, and I’ll be right back.”
Amelia grabbed his hand. “If you stand me up one more time—”
“I didn’t stand you up. I got detained.” Brent moved closer and put his arm around her shoulders.
“Detained? That’s your answer for everything. I’m sick of it, Brent.” She slid away from him, snapping the locket closed.
“I’ll be back.” He took her hands in his again. “Do you have your cell phone?”
She shook her head. “No, I left it on the nightstand, but I didn’t see it in the mess. It must have been stolen. It’s a good thing we hadn’t tested the crystal on my phone.”
“Here then, take mine.” He reached into the top drawer of the end table and grabbed his phone. “This is probably nothing more than a simple burglary. I’m sure you’re safe here.”
“But what if it’s not a burglary? What if someone knows and they come looking here? What if they think it’s in my phone?”
Brent leaned in close and ran his thumb across Amelia’s chin. “No one outside of the lab knows, except Marc and me. Besides, who would follow us all the way to Mexico just to get the chip? Certainly they could have waited a few more days until we returned. Besides, it’s broad daylight.”
“I don’t know. But please hurry.” She followed him to the entryway, where he kissed her forehead. After she closed the door behind him, Amelia locked the deadbolt.
She ran her fingers over the filigree again before she moved it back into position and placed the chain around her neck. Maybe it really was nothing more than a burglary, she thought. But why didn’t they touch my purse? Did I scare them off? Her head began to throb. In the nearly empty refrigerator she found half a bottle of Chardonnay. That would be a good start.
Savannah stirred under her covers. Thanks to the loud hum of the air conditioner, she almost didn’t hear the light tap on the door.
“Savannah.” Haley’s voice came from the other side of the door. “Come on, sleepyhead.”
“Okay, okay,” Savannah mumbled. She hated mornings, but nothing could keep her in bed today. Haley was right; coming to Mexico had been a heavenly idea, and Savannah intended to savor every moment of it. Her last two days here had to be the best. She stretched, trying to work out the kinks in her back from sleeping on the hard mattress.
Haley knocked on the door again. “Did you die in there? C’mon, let’s go!”
“I’m up!” Savannah threw off the covers.
After slipping on her new purple shirt, she pulled a simple necklace over her head. The gold teardrop, with the Chinese symbol for luck etched in black, hung a few inches below the neckline. She reached down, took the pendant, and gave it quick kiss. “Thanks, Shawn. You’re the best brother ever.” The only thing she could think of that would make her life complete and perfect was to find the ideal husband, but those prospects seemed dismal. Maybe when she returned home to Phoenix, she would do as her bishop had urged and go on that mission.
Looking in the mirror, Savannah patted her hair one last time, smiled at her reflection, and decided if she gave the Lord eighteen months of her life, he would find her a husband when she got home. Besides, twenty-two was still young.
Savannah entered the kitchen to see Haley rummaging through the refrigerator, her plump backside blocking the way as she grabbed the carry-out box of enchiladas from the night before. She shut the door and looked up at Savannah. “Wow! That is the best color for you. If you dressed like that all the time, it wouldn’t take you long at all to find a man.” She set the styrofoam box on the counter and dug through the silverware drawer for a clean fork. “When we get home, I am hooking you up with Jordan . . . or wait, doesn’t Wayne get off his mission in a couple of months?”
“In eight months, actually,” Savannah answered. Ever since Haley’s fiancé had dumped her, she’d taken every possible chance to match Savannah up with the “perfect” man. “But let’s find one for you first.”
Haley wrinkled her face, and Savannah worried that any second her friend would dissolve into tears. Instead, Haley waved a fork. “Eew! Have you seen what’s out there? All the good ones are either still on missions, or taken.” Her mouth puckered into a pout. “Or cheating, like—”
“Exactly my point.” Savannah interrupted, then watched her friend’s face contort with the painful memory. “And we came down here to get away from men, remember?” She pulled the straw off a juice box and jammed it into the top. Liquid squirted out and dribbled down the front of her blouse. “It’s a good thing it’s apple juice. I’m not changing out of this shirt.”
Haley stuffed the last bite of enchilada into her mouth, tossed the box into the trash, and grabbed her overstuffed bag. “Since we’re going into Guaymas today, maybe we’ll run into some missionaries—you know, give them our addresses, encourage them to write.” Savannah could tell her friend was trying her best not to cry.
“Why not? It’s a great idea.” Haley put a wide-brimmed hat over her strawberry blond hair.
“Because they can’t be interested in girls right now. And besides, I just pulled myself off the market.” Savannah waited for Haley’s reaction.
“What do you mean?”
After drinking the last of her juice, Savannah crushed the box. “You know I’ve been doing a lot of praying and fasting. I know it’s the right thing to do.”
“I’ve decided to go on a mission.”
Haley dropped her bag, and the hat slid from her head as she raced across the room. “That is awesome!” She wrapped her arms around Savannah. “When did you finally decide?”
“This morning,” Savannah said when Haley released her grip. “It’s like this calm just came over me. I know it’s what I’m supposed to do. The Lord has great things in store for me.” The two girls stared at each other for a moment before Savannah spoke again. “Why don’t you go on a mission too? We could put our papers in together.”
Haley stepped back. “I don’t know.”
“Don’t decide now. Think about it.”
“We probably wouldn’t be sent to the same mission.” Haley rummaged through her purse and pulled out a package of gum.
“Probably not. We probably wouldn’t even go at the same time. But wouldn’t it be cool if we did? I’d love to have you as a roommate.”
“Did you forget?” Haley laughed. “We already are roommates.”
Savannah smiled. “I know. I was teasing you.”
“Okay, here’s the test. If we run into any missionaries today, then I’ll take it as sign that I’m supposed to go on a mission, okay?”
“I don’t believe in signs, remember? Only answers to prayers.”
A Great Debut Novel!!!!
by Teri - reviewed on September 24, 2011
Identity by Betsy Love For a debut novel, Identity packed a great performance. This novel had a few twists and turns and the ending was a surprise. Samantha is a very active Mormon girl vacationing in Mexico with her best friend Haley. Samantha can't decide if she wants to serve a mission, Amelia is on vacation with her fiance Brent. When the flight to Phoenix crashes and kills all but six passengers, including one of the girls, things go topsy-turvy. When Samantha recovers from her two month coma, she doesn't remember any of her prior life and hasto learn everything over again, even to learning to love her family again. Her brother Shawn, ready to leave for the mission field, is concerned about her feelings for the new single man in their ward. Brent is suscpicious about the crash, finding out that someone tampered with the commuter plane. He has problems with knowing how to pray, so asks his secretary, who is a Mormon, to help. He feels the urgency to get to Samantha to warn her she's in danger. With the police on his tail, he borrows his secretary's car to get to Phoenix. With Samantha's family hot on the trail of the people involved in the plane tampering and another murder in Mexico, and trying to rescue Samantha, we have quite a scene. With Samantha and Amelia having a striking resemblance, anything can happen. I thoroughly recommend this debut novel to anyone who loves a good romance with a lot of suspense thrown in. I received my review copy from Walnut Creek Press. Publisher: Walnut Creek Press Date Published: Aug 2011 ISBN: 978
Action, Suspense, Mystery and Romance
by Margaret - reviewed on April 06, 2012
Identity grabbed my interest from the front cover through the very last word. I loved the crisp characterization of the all players. I also liked that even though this is an LDS novel it wasn't preachy. Betsy love wrote with such skill I was guessing all the way through the narrative and pleasantly surprised with the directions in the twists and turns of the plot. I felt as if I was part of Savannah's family by the time I was finished and yet rooted for Amelia also.
a must read!
by Adrienne - reviewed on October 03, 2011
I loved this book, the characters were engaging and the plot had plenty of twists and turns, kept me guessing who the good and the bad guys were, I highly recommend it!
A MUST READ
by Mary - reviewed on September 13, 2011
dentity is Betsy Love's 1st published novel. It is fast moving, full of adventure and suspense. The characters and the plot are well developed and there are enough twists to keep the reader wondering which girl really survived the plane crash, and just who the too good to be true boy friend really is. I loved this story, I didn't want to put it down.
Exceptional LDS suspense that will keep you guessing until the very end.
by Kelly - reviewed on January 10, 2012
This romantic suspense novel kept me guessing until the very end. The plot twists and turns as the author weaves the magic of the main characters rediscovering/discovering the gospel amidst corporate sabotage. I loved the amnesia factor, especially since my current writing project involves an amnesia victim. This is a must read. I couldn’t put it down.