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Samantha Evans is determined to make a name for herself in the cutthroat world of advertising. Newly hired by a prestigious ad agency, she volunteers to work on location in Mexico City as a personal assistant to the beautiful and driven creative director Katrina Edwards. At first the association seems promising. But Ms. Edwards seems preoccupied in a way that makes Samantha increasingly uneasy. In fact, many in the group seem like they are not being completely open about the project including David Ayala, the mysterious and moody photographer for whose attention the two women find themselves competing. After several strange accidents and numerous appearances by an unknown man, Samantha discovers the truth: not everyone on the team is in Mexico to create a stellar advertising pitch. When her sleuthing leads to her abduction, she is brought to the pyramids of Teotihuacán and comes face-to-face with the venomous evil of the South American crime boss known as “The Serpent.” Now Samantha must not only fight for her life, but she must also discover if she can trust the man she’s come to love.
- Pages: 224
- Size: 6 x 9
- Released: 01/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
About the Author
K.C. Grant was born in rural Idaho but has made Utah her home for most of her life. She lives in northern Utah with her family. She lives in northern Utah with family. After serving a full-time, Spanish-speaking mission, she returned to Weber State University, where she received her bachelor of arts with a double major in English and Spanish. She has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and studied briefly at a local college in the state of Michoacan. Over the years, she has been a frequent contributor to several family/home-oriented magazines, such as LDSLiving, Natural Life, The Washington Family, and BackHome and has also written for the Deseret News and KSL. She is an active member of both the League of Utah Writers (where she was a chapter president for three years), LDStorymakers, and the Association for Mormon Letters. To learn more about the author, visit her website at www.kcgrant.com
Looking across the table at my roommate slurping down pasta like
tomorrow was the end of the world, I wondered what life looked like
through her eyes—if Terri ever doubted herself or felt regret. Probably
not. She was the epitome of confidence. I would never forget the day Terri interviewed me for the apartment.
“Can you pay the rent, share the phone bill, and handle your own food
“Do you have a problem with gays, Jews, African-Americans, people
of any other ethnic or religious background?”
“No, not really.”
“Are you okay with the fact that I often stay out late, do yoga on the
living room floor, and have to have the tissue paper unroll from the top?”
I stifled a laugh. “Yes. I am also very partial to that type of tissue etiquette.”
After that, I received a hearty smile and approval to move in immediately.
It had been an interesting few months since then, but even though Terri
had her moments, I was coming to realize that she was a genuinely good
person underneath the makeup, hair, and unbridled personality. You
really had to see it to believe it, and it was hard to explain to others,
especially my parents.
Cross my heart, I had tried, according to my parents’ wishes, to
find out before I moved about any families or single LDS women who
needed roommates. But I didn’t have any real luck. Of course, I had
neglected to tell them about the Brody family with seven children who
said they had converted the garage into a studio apartment with a small
kitchenette. Seven children! I knew I would become a nanny to those
children in a matter of minutes, and that was the last thing I wanted.
Naturally, my choice of roommates wasn’t the only decision where
I’d fallen short with my parents. Graduating from the University of
Utah with a degree in advertising hadn’t been their first pick of the draw
either. Why couldn’t I be a teacher or a nurse? That way I would either
have the perfect job for impending motherhood or, even better, be in
the vicinity of future medical practitioners! They didn’t understand how,
when I was younger, I was often more entertained by the commercials
than the actual programs on TV. But I had also realized the negative
influence advertising could have as well. So maybe in a small way, I
could put my two cents in and contribute positively to the profession
that created the laughter and tears that had affected me all those years.
While I was in school proclaiming my independence, the silent
blows had come. My older brother had graduated with his engineering
degree a few years ago and was accepted to law school right on cue. He
was now living in Virginia with his perfect wife and two small children.
My younger brother was currently enrolled at dental school in Nebraska,
and his wife had baby number one on the way. And my younger sister,
Karen, who was on the verge of graduating from high school, had been
named sterling scholar in dance and needed her own phone line to
handle the tidal wave of phone calls from testosterone-laden admirers.
It’s only fair to admit that my parents had stood beside me last year
until I told them I was accepting a job offer in San Diego.
“Where? Oh sweetheart, it’s so far away!”
“Mom. Dad. It will be okay.” I’d tried to reassure myself as much as
them. “It’s a beautiful city, I hear, with lots of history and parks. Plus, I’ll be
by the ocean.”
“Of course, we’re sure it’s a wonderful place to visit. But, Samantha,
there must be some options closer to home. We’d get to see you more
often, and there would be more, well . . .
I knew that was another way of saying “eligible men.” So I countered
with, “Did you have this conversation with Kurt when he went off to
Georgetown or with Daniel? And I suppose it’s okay that Karen’s been
submitting applications out of state.”
“No, but, sweetheart, that’s different.”
“Because you believe in them and not me? I’m going. And that’s final.”
Naturally I had hoped time would prove who was right and who was
wrong. The months passed, and I dreaded the weekly phone calls from
family as I tried to sound upbeat yet reveal as little as possible. But in my
mind, I could hear the conversations that must be going on back home.
“And Samantha. What news from her?”
“Well, she is still unmarried and living in that beach city with the
most dead-end job she could find. Oh, and did we mention that her
roommate is a heathen and completely wanton?”
Okay. So maybe they didn’t sink that low, but I was sure disappointment
had given way to subtle meddling.
“Samantha? Well, from what we hear, she’s waiting for a big break
at that advertising firm she works for. She isn’t currently seeing anyone,
though we do have a family in our ward who just moved in and has a
son. He’s going to be a doctor and is attending BYU!”
You’re just jealous because everyone has a life and you’re circling the
Oh, did I mention the antagonistic voice in my head? I usually try to
ignore or dispute it, even if it does have a good idea every now and then. This time, I chose to ignore.
I knew I was struggling with the way my life was going, but I was
determined to have my parents remain oblivious to this fact. Sure, living
in a quaint apartment in San Diego and working for an advertising firm
sounded glamorous on the surface. The reality was, my workday was
mundane, my social life all but nonexistent, and any titles before or after
my name seemed to be fading away in front of my very eyes.
At least Terri’s appetite was consistent. “Could you pass me some
more garlic bread, please? I’m dying here!”
Leave it to my roommate to put hunger before introspection.
“Excuse me, but if you don’t come back to planet earth and tell me
if there’s more pasta, you may find me wasting away, and then who will
tempt you with Monte Cristos from the Tavern?”
Monte Cristos were my all-time weakness and one of the ways Terri
made up for her errant behavior. I could starve myself all week if I knew
Terri was stopping on her way home from work to pick up one of those
luscious sandwiches layered with meat and cheeses between French toast
and the most mouth-watering raspberry jam on the side.
“Okay, okay. Yes, there’s more pasta, and since when were you wasting
“Oh, dahling,” Terri purred, “it’s purely metaphysical wasting—the
rest of me isn’t going anywhere.”
As I checked the remaining Alfredo sauce, Terri pounced on my thoughts
once again. “Where are you, roomie? Even I’m noticing you’ve been kind of
distracted all evening.”
“Oh.” I paused, not wanting to let Terri in on all of my self-doubts.
Then I came up with a topic I knew would distract her. “You’ll never believe
what happened to me today.” I redirected the conversation to my most
recent dilemma. “I opened my credit card bill today and, well, look at this.”
I retrieved the bill from my bill organizer and showed Terri.
“Whoa, honey! Someone’s moving up in the world.”
“But that’s just it,” I explained. “You know me. These aren’t my charges.
Somebody’s using my credit card number.”
“Uh-huh. Isn’t that the way of things? You do all the work, and somebody
else does the living for you. What are you going to do?”
I rehashed my phone call to the credit card company and then the
police, with their less-than-helpful attitude. “The bank is supposed to
call me in a few days. In the meantime, this card’s on hold.”
“Oh no!” My companion feigned a horrified expression. “What will the
booksellers of America do? How will they survive without your shopping
I scowled. “Hey, thanks a lot for the support. So I like to read. Maybe,”
I retorted in an attempt at a comeback, “you ought to try it sometime.”
“Touché. I couldn’t even make it through the first chapter of that last
one you lent me. What does wuthering mean anyway?”
Disguising my own ignorance, I shoved another bite of bread into
my mouth. Terri looked pensive as she twirled the last of the pasta
around her fork. “Seriously, sometimes I think you hide behind those
books. You go to work for the Establishment, where they treat you as if
you didn’t have two bright ideas to rub together. Then you come home,
cook me dinner—for which I am immensely grateful, I must say—now,
where was I? Oh yes, cook me dinner and then keep your nose behind a
book until you go to bed—and then you get up and do it all over again.”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “What brought you here anyway, Sam?”
Feeling defensive and no longer hungry, I stood and walked over to
my thoughtful spot at the window and, in a response more emotional
than coherent, said, “I’m here because I want to be. I fell in love with
California during my mission, and I couldn’t think of a better place to
live. I think San Diego’s a nice place. As for my job, well, I like what I
do . . . some of the time. And they’re going to notice me and offer me
a better position; I know it. I’m actually getting to work on branding
techniques with the copywriting department, and just last week I was
asked to deliver some storyboards on a new campaign to Mr. Phizer’s
office. I think they’re starting to appreciate my abilities.”
“It’s about time,” muttered Terri under her breath.
Ignoring her, I continued, “As for my social life, well, I’ve been busy.
There isn’t a lot of time and opportunity to meet new people around
here. I still have faith that things will work out when it’s time.”
“Hmm. Sam, I don’t mean to razz you here. You’re a great girl,
probably the best I know. It’s strange how this faith of yours sure sounds
like another word for excuse.”
Terri’s accusation stung.
My faith had always been something of great value. I believed
Heavenly Father loved me and wanted what was best for me. I had felt
His guidance throughout my life, during my school years, my mission—
life had seemed so simple then.
“Well, babe.” She stood up. Apparently Terri was going for a hit-and-run.
“Dinner was great. I gotta go. Javier might be waiting for me at the club.”
“Thanks for the enlightenment about my pitiful life,” I tried to joke.
“I guess I’ll turn in early and do a little reading.”
“Well,” Terri said with a hint of encouragement, “at least you’re consistent!
Ugh. Glancing back at the table, I somehow knew I’d get stuck with
the dishes again.
Stacking the dirty plates into the sink and running the hot water,
I heard Terri’s in-need-of-attention Chevelle pull out from behind the
apartment. Steam drifted up and coated the window above the counter. I
reached a finger out and traced through the condensation and found that
I had drawn a heart.
“What’s wrong with me?” I groaned out loud, throwing a dish into the
sink and splashing water all over my front. I was used to feeling talented
and smart and occasionally sure about what I wanted from life. Only now,
as I found myself looking at the reflection that stared back at me from the
rinse water, there was a detached sort of feeling about myself, as if I had
lost my former identity somehow. So what if my features were nice and
even and I had a naturally slim figure that did elicit momentary glances
from an occasional male admirer. This was little consolation, considering
most of my weekends were spent in the pages of a book.
Yeah, the type where somehow the plain girl ends up with her dream guy.
I’d hardly call myself plain.
Ah, such vanity.
It wasn’t completely unwarranted. In the fog of the window, my hazel
eyes looked luminous, and I couldn’t see the small bump on my nose that I’d inherited from my mom. Even the uneven lengths of my brownishblonde
hair—which only slightly resembled the dishwater below—had
finally grown out from a bungled attempt to look like Posh Spice. Sure,
the style had shown off my high cheekbones and long neck, but I’d felt
too exposed without the safety of falling hair about my face almost like a
permanently attached security blanket. Only now the added weight made
it hang limply in silent protest, and I often found myself brushing it away.
At first I was glad that Terri was gone, leaving me alone with my
thoughts. Even though I had the privacy of my own room, some of my
roommate’s phone conversations could wake the dead, let alone leave the
living with anything less than a feeble ability to concentrate. Now the
silence seemed deafening as my doubts continued to close in on me.
So what do you do now? Throw in the towel? Go back home to Utah where
your parents can line you up with every eligible man in the Beehive State?
You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
I felt as if I were free falling from a tall cliff. Not knowing what to
do wasn’t a comfortable feeling in life. Neither was not being in control.
Was I really that badly off or just panicking because things were a bit up
in the air at the moment? Maybe time would take care of my job and
Since when did you get so complacent?
Shooing away the voice like an intrusive insect, I abandoned the
remaining dishes, grabbed my running shoes, and raced out the door
and down the back stairs until I came around to the front of our blueand-
white clapboard apartment. The path to the beach was only five
blocks away. There was a slightly pinkish hue from the setting sun
and a cool breeze that made me glad I had worn long pants instead
of cut-offs. (Of course, the real reason for that decision was that it
had been days since I’d shaved my legs.) When I arrived at the seaside
promenade, I passed mothers with strollers, tourists, and in-line skaters
who could obviously relate to the joy of being outdoors. Blood began
surging through my veins, and I felt the tingly, prickly feeling of muscles
and tissues waking up. Breathing deeply, I realized how much I loved
everything about the ocean. From the squawking of seagulls to the tang
of sea air, I was hooked from the first moment I’d seen it.
I still remembered that first trip our family had taken when we were
kids. We’d loaded up into the family station wagon to make the elevenhour
ride—I don’t know how my parents did it. Of course, there were only three of us at the time, and we’d made a few stops along the way in
Las Vegas and Barstow. Thanks to the laxity of seatbelt laws back then,
we’d quickly turned the car into our own playground, hopping back and
forth over the seats and trying to invent games to keep us entertained.
Our favorite was sitting in the backward-facing rear seat and pretending
we were the crew of a starship and the yellow lines whizzing by us were
phaser fire as we pelted the oncoming enemy’s ship.
And then, just when I’m sure my mom was ready to abandon us at
the nearest convenience store, we’d arrived.
Stumbling toward the glittering horizon, I felt as if I’d come to the
end of the world and all that was left was the brilliant mirage wavering
in front of me. All my siblings had cared about was digging in the sand
and picking up shells and seaweed. I’d wanted to get lost in sunset and
sit and watch it forever. That day I’d vowed the ocean would carry me to
every corner of the world. Only, here I was already twenty-five and I had
never left the country.
I ran as far as the next turnoff and then decided to head back to the
apartment before it got too dark. Even though I seemed to be in good
company, I hadn’t gotten over my sense of vulnerability being alone at
night. With fresh endorphins feeding my brain, I knew I didn’t want to
give up on my life here and go home. If things didn’t work out at Phizer-
Lewis, there would be openings at other companies.
Oh, and what kind of reference would you get? Never missed a day of
work and didn’t drink any of the coffee?
Thanks a lot. Well, I’d have to cross that bridge when I came to it, but
I was sure of one thing now: this was my life, and I needed to start being
the one in charge of it.
by Customer - reviewed on January 17, 2012
This was a very exciting read. The suspense built and built and I was left wondering who the main character could trust and what I would have done in those circumstances. Plus I loved the details about Mexico and it made me want to visit this beautiful country.
A different type of suspense / mystery—in a good way.
by Jason - reviewed on February 18, 2012
“Venom” by K. C. Grant is a different type of suspense / mystery—in a good way. I think the term “slow burn” is a good way to describe the feel of the book, but that doesn’t mean it was boring. For me, a “slow burn” takes time to build up the suspense, like a pot of boiling water. And just like said pot, once the water does get to a full boil, it is quite turbulent. So, if it takes its time to develop, then what happens in the meantime? Grant uses this to develop her characters so when the spam hits the fan, you honestly care about what happens. The story centers around Samantha Evans, a woman in her mid-twenties who is working at an entry level position at a big advertising firm. She seems to be going nowhere fast, until opportunity knocks. The company is sending a team to Mexico City to work on a campaign. Samantha speaks Spanish fluently thanks to an LDS mission she served to California. Because of her knowledge of the language, she gets the chance to go with the group as an assistant / translator. Grant does a wonderful job creating the unique and definable characters that go on this trip. As a single woman, Samantha finds herself getting attention from a couple of the men on the trip—one she appreciates and one she doesn’t. But it’s not cut and dried. Just as Samantha starts to figure out these men, they do things that make her doubt their intentions. During the two week trip, Samantha comes to realize the people aren’t who they pretend to be—each for their own reasons. She discovers she is involved in much more than an advertising campaign. One aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the insight to Mexico and its culture. We learn it through Samantha’s eyes, so we discover things as she does. It adds a level of depth that many books lack. Did I enjoy this book? Yes, yes I did. Very much so, in fact. It’s written very well with enough detail to be interesting, but not bogged down. I came to like, or despise, the characters over time—I made a real connection with them. For me, this is more of a character story set in a mystery / suspense setting. Who would like this book? It’s a clean read with no bad language, sex scenes and very little violence. It’s geared more to an LDS (Mormon) audience as there are many references that non-members may not fully understand or appreciate.