The Unbroken Heroes are back!
Agent Dare Servant is aghast at this fellow Ops members settling down. He knows without doubt that the domestic life will never be for him - the thrill of the chase and the high of danger to strong to ever give up.
But when a quirky and charming caterer ends up smack dab in the middle of a criminal mastermind's plot, Dare will uphold his honor and protect her. Even though she pushes all his buttons.
Even though her beauty drives him to distraction. Even though he's in danger of losing his heart to her and hanging up his Shadow Ops life for good…
First, thank you for my fellow reviewer who reached out and gave me a heads up about the possible formatting issue with the eARC that could have affected into my enjoyment of this exciting, interesting, romantic suspense novel, a series where I jumped right in the middle of yet relished it.
The teams of Shadow Ops play without rules. They are the good guys who sometimes have to do bad things for the greater good of the mankind. The tension even within the team is a powerful force. It is obvious that the members of this elite team don't trust anyone completely, that they never let their guard down, that they always are prepared to the worst outcome, relationships are not an option and feelings are for the others.
Jenna was an innocent bystander who' life ended up being collateral damage in the war against human trafficking, greed, and power. She has spunk, she is brave, she can handle herself in any situation. It was easy to admire her and her tough spirit, loyalty, and honesty.
Agent Dare Servant, I liked him, I really did. I even understand why he was being such a jerk to Jenna, yet still, I don't like his actions. He is the best of the best, he is fierce, tough as nails, always on, never lets his guard down. Because of Dare's actions, the connection between Jenna and him is fragile, when the bond is tight. So many things are against them, from the circumstances to the people wanting them dead, so the odds for them to have any kind of future together are low.
The storyline was interesting, I was fascinated by the teams and the web of people surrounding them, the political implications of the Shadow Ops position are intriguing. The story is brutal, it is fierce, it has this scary kind of reality in it that makes you wonder if all this could be true if things like this could actually happen, does the world really have that rotten underbelly where human life has so little value to some in power.
A captivating and fascinating story, that really awoke my interest to the rest of the series
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Dawn Ryder has not been abducted by gypsies. She stepped through a time tunnel and has been busy writing about Scots in kilts and English Knights for Kensington’s Brava line. but she will return, very soon to her special operations guys and the other characters that are demanding their turn to tell their story. please check back for updates and click on over to MaryWine.com to discover what she’s got releasing.
Spring has come to Eternity Springs in The First Kiss of Spring, the newest installment in this New York Times bestselling series by Emily March.
Life could be a dream...
Goal-oriented and gorgeous, Caitlin Timberlake's dreams took her to the top of the corporate ladder in New York City. Now years later, her goals have changed. She wants to come home to Eternity Springs and build a business and a family of her own—with the new man in town. So what if sexy mechanic Josh Tarkington wants nothing more than a fling? Caitlin is a patient woman who knows how to work hard and strategize to win what she desires. She desires Josh. Unfortunately, he has other plans.
If only things were different...
Josh craves Caitlin and all she has to offer. However, he is a man with secrets. He has worked hard to overcome his tragic past, but he's afraid to risk having a future because he knows trouble is never very far away. When a selfless act brings that trouble to his door, he stands to lose everything he cares about—including Caitlin. Will her love and the healing magic of Eternity Springs be enough to save him?
Caitlin Timberlake exited the Telluride Regional Airport terminal and turned in a slow circle as she feasted on the scene. Colorado’s Western Slope was a world of jagged, rocky mountain peaks, of icy-cold streams that burbled and frothed and grew silvery fish that tasted like heaven when cooked over a campfire for breakfast. The San Juan Mountains in summertime presented a banquet of color—hills of green and gold; red rocks and alpine meadows blanketed in wildflowers of pink, blue, purple, and yellow, all presenting majestically beneath an azure sky.
She filled her lungs with clean mountain air, smelling pine and fir and forest, and tension melted from her bones like snowfall in spring.
For the better part of eight years, she’d lived in New York City, hustling and bustling and busting her butt as a textile designer, trying to build a life for herself. She specialized in fabric design for bedding and while she liked the creative aspects of the job, work fulfillment remained elusive. After all, pretty bedspreads would never change the world, and Caitlin wanted her work to matter. She wanted her life to matter.
Caitlin’s discontent had been born in the moment when she’d learned that her brother Chase had gone missing in a war-torn part of the world, and it had grown in the weeks that followed. His safe return home hadn’t squelched the emotion. She’d discovered too much about herself and her wishes and desires during that troubling time.
Primarily, she’d recognized that she’d spent too much time living thousands of miles away from those she loved. It had taken her some time to figure out what she wanted to do about it and even more time to make the decision to act. A few significant hurdles remained in her way, but she was closer than ever before to becoming her own fairy godmother and making some of her wishes come true.
She exhaled loudly, grinned, and announced, “Hello, Colorado. I’ve missed you.”
She’d have sworn she heard the wind whisper back, Welcome home, Caitlin.
“I’m doing the right thing,” she told herself. Now if she could only convince her mother of that fact.
Well, that was a battle for another day, one after she’d cleared her hurdles and had her fairy wand in hand. Today it was time to shift into bridesmaid mode.
Caitlin had flown to Denver yesterday after work and spent the night in an airport hotel. This morning’s flight into Telluride had landed right on time, and the hotel shuttle was waiting for her. After wrestling with her purse, her tote, her computer case, and two suitcases stuffed to overflowing with necessities for her role as bridesmaid, she wanted to kiss the friendly van driver who introduced himself as he took the burdens off her hands.
The fact that Will Gustophsen was cute and about her age didn’t hurt, either.
A year ago when her college friend, Stephanie Kingston, asked her to be a bridesmaid at her destination wedding, Caitlin hadn’t hesitated to say yes. She just wished she’d known sooner about all the stuff Steph needed her to bring with her and she’d have shipped it ahead.
“You here for an extended stay?” Will asked as he lifted a suitcase into the back of the van.
“Because I have so much luggage?” Caitlin smiled ruefully and explained, “I’m here for a wedding.”
“Ahh. In that case, you travel light.”
With the luggage loaded, she climbed into the shuttle and, as the only passenger, had her pick of seats. She buckled her seat belt, then settled back for what should be a short drive to her hotel.
As the driver turned onto Last Dollar Road and headed down the big hill he asked, “Where are you from?”
“Here. Well, not Telluride. I grew up in Denver. But I went to college in Tennessee and moved to New York City after graduation.”
“Should I offer my congratulations or condolences?”
Caitlin laughed. “I’m glad I had the experience. I’m ready to come home, though.”
“Back to Denver?”
“No.” Her gaze focused on the small town nestled into the valley below. “I’ve developed a fondness for mountain towns.”
Will Gustophsen glanced into the rearview mirror and wagged his brows flirtatiously. “Please tell me you’re moving to Telluride.”
His obvious interest soothed the spot on her heart still achy from a breakup last Christmas. Doug Wilkerson hadn’t broken her heart when he dumped her, but he had bruised it. “I doubt it. This place is a little too pricy for me. Besides, I have family in Eternity Springs.”
“That’s a nice little town, but then so is this. It’s possible to live here without breaking the bank. You just need to be smart about it.” He launched into a Telluride pitch that sounded as if it had been written by the Chamber of Commerce.
Caitlin couldn’t argue with him. The scenery was spectacular and the activities he rattled off sounded inviting. As they approached her hotel in Mountain Village, the pedestrian-friendly, European-style planned resort community built above Telluride and connected to the historic mining town by a gondola lift system, she was anxious to get out and explore. She’d been a kid the last time she’d visited this part of Colorado, and she was sure the place had changed. She had a few hours to kill before meeting Stephanie for a drink, so this was her time to play tourist.
“I get off work at six,” Gustophsen said. “I’d love to show you around. Buy you dinner.”
“Thank you,” she responded, meaning it. Having a cute guy hit on her was nice. “But I’m afraid I already have plans this evening. The bride arrives this afternoon and the weekend is jam-packed from there.”
He gave an exaggerated sigh. “Always my luck.”
The friendly chatter continued until they arrived at the hotel. After he wrestled her luggage from the van and gave her his number in case her plans changed, she gave him a large tip and thanked him for the hospitable welcome.
Caitlin checked into her room and spent some time answering a few of the unending stream of work-related e-mails. She would miss a few things about her job. The mountain of e-mails that required her constant attention wouldn’t be one of them.
With her professional fires put out, she shut her laptop with a satisfied thump, grabbed a hat and sunscreen, and left the hotel. She walked around Mountain Village a bit and was suitably impressed with the style and elegance of the resort town. However, she didn’t feel quite at home until she took the gondola down into Telluride and wandered up and down the streets, reading historical markers and inspecting the shops, comparing them to those in another small, historic mining town near and dear to her heart.
Eternity Springs might not have a gondola and ski runs, but the bakery, handmade soap shop, and Christmas store could definitely hold their own against these. People came from all over the country to shop at Vista’s art gallery and Whimsies glass studio, and her mother’s Yellow Kitchen was the best five-star restaurant in Colorado.
She couldn’t wait to be there.
She ate lunch at the Thai spot that her driver had recommended, then indulged in a chocolate ice cream cone for dessert. Taking a seat on a park bench near the gondola station, she savored her treat and people-watched.
The town was bustling this August weekend with tourists and locals alike out enjoying the afternoon sunshine. She grinned as a pair of preteen boys whipped past her on mountain bikes, their mud-caked clothing providing as much evidence of a fun-filled, reckless ride down the mountain as did the joy in their smiles.
Too bad her weekend was packed with wedding activities. She wouldn’t mind giving that a try herself. She was impressed by the way the ski resorts had found ways to attract vacationers, athletes, and daredevil fourteen-year-old boys during the off season. Such was the way little mountain towns became tourist destinations and supported thriving economies throughout the year.
She knew that such success didn’t happen on its own. She’d had a front-row seat during the revitalization of Eternity Springs and saw how people had worked together to make it happen.
Eternity Springs. It’s funny how the little town called to her. It wasn’t even home. Not the home of her childhood, anyway. She’d never even visited Eternity Springs until her parents lost their minds and separated after she went off to college at Vanderbilt and her mother ran away from home.
The ringing of her cell phone interrupted her thoughts. She dug the phone from her backpack and checked the number and the time. Stephanie. They were due to meet up in Mountain Village in half an hour. “Hello, bride.”
“Hey, Cait. You won’t believe what happened. Our plane out of Logan was late and we missed our connection. We won’t get to Telluride until late tonight.”
“Oh no.” Potential ramifications of such a delay flittered through Caitlin’s mind. “What did you have scheduled for today? What can I do to help?”
“It’s all covered. I built extra time into the schedule, thank goodness. I’m just really disappointed that you and I won’t have our girl-time this afternoon to catch up, and of course, missing dinner with George and Nathan. Nathan was really looking forward to spending some time with you before we dive into wedding business. Tomorrow will be jam-packed.”
Stephanie had been trying to set Caitlin up with her work friend ever since Doug dumped her. However, the guy’s Instagram was a total turnoff and Caitlin simply wasn’t interested. Unfortunately, Stephanie was a terrier when she set her mind to something, and she’d decided Caitlin and Nathan were made for each other—despite the little issue that she lived in NYC and he in Miami.
This plane delay might be a blessing, Caitlin decided.”Don’t worry about it, Steph. You and I will both be at Marsha’s wedding in October. We can have a nice long visit then.”
“That’s true. And maybe you and Nathan can find time to grab a drink together tomorrow. It might fit after our spa appointments and the guys’ round of golf. I don’t want you to miss the opportunity to meet him. Telluride is such a romantic place.”
Caitlin closed her eyes and worked to keep the sigh out of her voice as she said, “Telluride is beautiful, Steph. It’s a gorgeous place to have your wedding. And the weather for Saturday is supposed to be spectacular.”
They discussed arrangements for meeting the following day. Before ending the call, Stephanie said, “If you happen to meet a tall, dark, and handsome stranger tonight, feel free to invite him to the wedding. I had six last-minute cancellations, and I’ve already paid for the meals.”
“I thought you have your heart set on me and Nathan.”
“I do, but it never hurts for a guy to have a little competition.”
Thinking about her lack of a love life put a damper on Caitlin’s day. Maybe she should have taken the shuttle driver up on his offer, after all. As luck would have it, as soon as she slipped her phone into her backpack, her gaze landed on a couple about her age, holding hands and stealing kisses as they walked along the sidewalk. This time, she couldn’t hold back her sigh.
She was alone. Again. Still. How was it that she could live and work in a city of more than eight million people and always feel alone? Even when she was dating someone? But she did feel alone and she was tired of pretending otherwise. Tired of pretending, period. Hadn’t she been partially relieved when after eight months of dating, Doug sat her down and gave her the “just friends” talk?
Thinking about relationships while sitting in a mountain town caused her thoughts to drift back toward her parents. In hindsight Caitlin could see that she shouldn’t have been so hard on her mom when Ali ran off to Eternity Springs. If Ali Timberlake’s feelings back then had been anything like those Caitlin experienced now, then Cait could better understand her mom’s actions. Ali had tried to explain, using terms like “lack of fulfillment,” “yearning for more,” and “unwillingness to settle.” Caitlin hadn’t wanted to hear what her mother had been trying to say. For a while, neither had her father.
But Ali hadn’t let anyone stop her, had she? She’d left Mac, left Denver, and eventually opened a restaurant in Eternity Springs. She’d made new friends and a place for herself in the community. In proving to herself that she could live without Mac, Ali had realized that was the last thing she wanted to do. Living alone in Denver, Mac had come to a similar conclusion.
“And all was well that ended well,” Caitlin murmured, tearing her eyes away from the lovers. Guess her parents hadn’t lost their minds when they separated, after all.
Caitlin polished off her ice cream, licked her sticky fingers, and decided she’d had enough sightseeing. She’d go back to the hotel, maybe change into her swimsuit and do a few laps in the indoor pool. Shoot, maybe she’d change her clothes and rent a bike and act like a fourteen-year-old boy.
Making her way to the gondola entrance, she took a place at the end of the line. A group of college-age tourists fell in behind her, laughing, talking loudly, smelling strongly of weed.
Caitlin stepped forward and as the gondola attendant opened the cabin door for her to climb inside, the constant stream of foul language coming from two girls behind her put her off. She stepped aside. “I’ll let them go first.”
They giggled and stumbled and f-bombed their way into the cabin. The attendant met Caitlin’s eyes and rolled his, then shut the door.
As she watched the next cabin approach, a male voice spoke behind her. “This is one of the pet-friendly cabins. I hope you don’t mind sharing with my dog?”
Caitlin glanced over her shoulder and saw a tall man with sun-streaked dark hair and striking high, defined cheekbones. But it was his eyes that demanded a woman’s attention. Framed by long, thick lashes, they were the color of a stormy spring sky, and they were mesmerizing. She stared into them just a little bit too long.
What had he said? His dog. “I love dogs.”
Embarrassed, she finally jerked her gaze away from those fabulous eyes and toward his dog. Because he’d asked if she minded sharing, she expected to see a big, hairy, scary-looking dog. Instead, she saw a pretty miniature long-haired red dachshund with her hind legs propped up by a doggie wheelchair.
* * *
The hot blonde went gooey. They always did. It was one of the few perks Josh Tarkington had found of being the owner of a dog with a broken back.
“Oh no.” Her moss green eyes softened, her bee-stung mouth rounded. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Her,” Josh corrected as the cabin arrived and the attendant opened the door for them. “She’s a girl. She jumped down from a sofa and hit wrong. She’s paralyzed from the middle of her spine down.”
“That’s so sad,” the blonde said, stepping into the cabin and taking a seat.
“She’s actually a happy girl.” Josh scooped up the dog and wheelchair and set her on the seat opposite the woman. He shrugged out of his backpack, sat beside his dog, and smiled at his gondola companion. “The woman who owned her at the time of the accident said Penny was depressed for about three days, but after that she recovered her usual sunny disposition.”
A large group of children and adults asked to wait for the next cabin since they traveled together, so the attendant shut the door with Josh and the blonde as the only passengers.
“Her name is Penny?” she asked.
He nodded, and when the woman extended her hand to let the dachshund sniff her, Josh noticed she wore no ring on her left hand. “Copper Penny. I’m Josh, by the way.”
She lifted her gaze from the dog and smiled at Josh brightly. “Nice to meet you, Josh. My name is Caitlin.”
“Are you a local, Caitlin, or are you visiting?”
“I’m here for a college friend’s wedding. I live in New York. How about you?”
“I’m playing tourist here this weekend. This is my first trip to Telluride.”
“It’s the first time I’ve been in years. It’s gorgeous here, isn’t it?”
“Definitely.” Josh said it without looking away from her.
Judging by the flutter of her smile and sudden shift of her gaze, his subtle flirtation did not go unnoticed. Caitlin returned her attention to the dog and asked, “So, how long have you had this precious Copper Penny?”
“Not quite a month. Her owner had to move into an assisted living center that doesn’t allow dogs, so she asked our local vet to find Penny a home. I’d gone to the adoption center to get an appropriately manly dog. I’m still not sure how I walked out with a crippled doxie.”
“Obviously, you needed a little good luck.”
Josh needed a couple of seconds to make the connection. “Ah, as in ‘See a penny, pick it up?’”
“And all the day you’ll have good luck,” Caitlin finished.
“It must be working. I get to share the gondola with a beautiful woman instead of the campers standing behind me in line. They obviously don’t have showers at their campsite.”
“I’m flattered.” After a brief pause, she added, “I think.”
The gondola exited the station and started up the hill.
Josh leaned forward and spoke earnestly. “I’m shooting for flattery. I’m not always very good at it, I’m afraid. I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth whenever I attempt to flirt.”
A smile played at her lips. “Is this an attempt at flirtation?”
“I’m bad at it. I know.” He gave her his go-to sheepish grin. Her eyes went gooey again. Damn, I’m good.
But after only a moment of goo, Caitlin’s eyes narrowed. “Actually, I think you’re probably very good at it.”
“In fact…” She folded her arms and studied him. “I have two older brothers. I know how these things work. Is the dog even yours?”
Josh sat up straight and added an offended note to his tone. “Are you insinuating that I use Penny’s handicap to help me pick up women?”
Her eyes glittered with amusement. “Before they met their wives, my brothers would have done it in a heartbeat. Stephen borrowed a puppy one time to attract a girl’s attention.”
Josh laughed. “Okay, so maybe it hasn’t escaped my notice that Penny is a bit of an icebreaker, but she is my dog. A high-maintenance one at that.”
Then he rolled out the winner. He had yet to meet a dog-loving woman who wasn’t impressed by the fact that keeping Penny healthy and happy meant he had to manually express her bladder three times a day.
“Okay, I never would have thought of that,” Caitlin said. “That’s dedication.”
Josh decided to save the daily dog-laundry ammo for later. “She’s worth it. She really is a sweet dog. So do you have a pet?”
“No. My apartment doesn’t allow anything bigger than fish, and besides, I travel too much with my job.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a textile designer.” She named the famous fashion design house she worked for and explained a little about her work.
He was impressed. “So, you’re an artist. I’m always intrigued by creative people. Do you work on a sketch pad or at a computer?”
“Both. I usually begin with sketches, but most of the designing is done on the computer.”
“I think it must be very rewarding to create something out of nothing. Bet it’s neat to see your work in a department store.”
Caitlin offered him a brilliant smile. “It is. I was so excited the first time it happened. I knew the date the line was due to be released. My mother flew in and we went to Macy’s together.” She laughed softly and added, “She bought one of everything and then we went and drank champagne. I think she was even more thrilled than I was. But enough about me. How about you? What work do you do?”
“I’m an engine mechanic. I work for myself. Opened my own shop earlier this year.”
“Now that is awesome. I dream of working for myself.”
“Being your own boss is rewarding, but it’s also the hardest work you’ll ever—” Josh broke off abruptly when Penny’s ears perked and her head came up.
The gondola cabin shuddered, jerked, and stopped its forward movement.
“What happened?” Caitlin asked, alarm in her voice.
Josh looked up and down the line. He saw no sign of trouble, but plenty of evidence of panic. Behind them, children cried. Ahead of them, one of the female partiers screamed.
I am so glad that wasn’t a pet friendly cabin.
“We seem to be stable,” he said. “I think…”
Static emerged from a speaker above them, then a male voice said, “Attention passengers. Please remain calm. There is no cause for alarm. I repeat. There is no cause for alarm. Your safety is not at risk. Due to a mechanical issue, the main line from Telluride to Station St. Sophia has been halted. We are working to get it back up and running as soon as possible. We ask for your continued patience.”
In the wake of the announcement, Caitlin shrugged. “It could be worse. We could be in the cabin with the potheads.”
“Or the crying kids.”
“I’m not on a schedule. Are you?”
He’d planned to drive toward Delores and find a place to camp, but he could adjust. “Not at all. If you are here for a wedding, I’m surprised you don’t have every minute booked.”
She explained about the bride’s plane delay and confessed to relief about it, considering the woman’s matchmaking ideas. It provided a natural segue into the question he very much wanted to ask. “So, you’re not with anyone back home?”
“No. I’m single.” She reached across the aisle, scratched Penny behind her ears, and casually asked, “How about you?”
“I’m single, too. I live alone now, well except for Penny. This time last summer I lived with a whole gaggle of women, but they wouldn’t quit feeding me and I was getting fat, so I moved into a house by myself.”
At Caitlin’s owl-eyed blink of shock, he laughed aloud. “The look on your face is priceless. Before I decided to open the shop, I lived and worked in an RV park. The average age of the ladies was around sixty, and they liked to bake.”
“So you’re one of those,” Caitlin observed with a roll of her eyes.
“You like to tease.”
He had the sudden vision of curvaceous Caitlin lying on his bed, naked and shivering as he teased the tip of her breast to a point with his tongue. “Oh yeah.”
“Just like my brothers,” she said with a sigh.
That comment managed to pour icy water on his fantasies.
Reminded of thirst, he started to reach into his backpack for his water bottle when the speaker sounded again. “Attention, passengers. Stoppage is due to a mechanical malfunction that does not affect your safety. I repeat. Safety is not affected. The line from Station St. Sophia to Mountain Village will be restarted. That from Telluride to Station St. Sophia will be evacuated by our highly trained team. Again, we ask for your patience.”
“Evacuated?” Caitlin asked. “We’re a hundred feet off the ground! How will they evacuate us?”
Josh peered through the window, looking straight down. “No more than eighty feet. I’ve suspect they’ll use a rope system. They’ll buckle you into a harness and lower you to the ground.”
She didn’t sound the least bit enthusiastic at the prospect. “Are you afraid of heights?”
“No. Not really.” She showed him an embarrassed smile. “When I was in college I went climbing with my brother and one of his friends. To call him a daredevil doesn’t begin to describe him. Anyway, his friend missed a handhold and slid into me and knocked me off the mountain. I dangled at the end of my safety rope for the longest, loneliest five minutes of my life before my brother managed me pull me up. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience.”
“I wouldn’t think so.”
“How long do you suppose it will take them to get us down?”
“Depends on how big their team is and where they begin. We’re about halfway in between the town and Station St. Sophia.”
“So we probably won’t be the first they get to.”
She pursed her lips and thought about it, then nodded. “I’m okay with that. Will Penny be okay?”
Josh tore his gaze away from Caitlin and glanced down at his dog. “She’ll be fine. She’s had about all the exercise she can handle today.”
Though she could probably use the water he’d been about to pour for her a few minutes ago. He reached into his backpack for his water bottle but his fingers found the Corkcicle bottle he’d filled that morning instead.
“Since it looks like we’re going to be here for a while,” he said, wrapping his fingers around the bottle’s neck and pulling it from the pack. “Care to join me? I have blood orange kombucha.”
“I’d love some. Thank you.”
He reached back into his pack for the water and collapsible dog bowl, filled it halfway, then set it down for Penny. Next he pulled out the nesting wine glass and the collapsible water cup he carried.
He handed her the wine glass and she assembled it. “Don’t tell me. You were a Boy Scout.”
“Always prepared,” he quipped. That much was true. Sometimes in certain company, it was easier to drink his own “wine” than explain why he wasn’t drinking.
As he filled her glass, she observed, “You’re the first guy I’ve met who drinks kombucha. Are you into the natural health scene?”
He eyed her speculatively. “See, I don’t know you well enough yet to know how to answer that.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’ve lived in California and Oklahoma. If I told you I eat tofu and bean sprouts and you’re a California girl, chances are you’d be impressed. However, an Oklahoma girl possibly would dismiss me as a weak little weirdo.”
Caitlin gave him a fast once-over. Dryly, she said, “You’re obviously not weak or little. I don’t know you well enough to judge the weirdo part. Personally, I won’t go near tofu, but I don’t hold tofu against someone. Do you eat red meat?”
Solemnly, he nodded. “Every chance I get. Do you eat junk food?”
“I order Cheetos by the caseload.”
“That’s it, then. We’re meant to be. Will you have my baby?”
She almost choked on her kombucha. “Weirdo.”
He laughed aloud and they shared a grin, then the conversation settled into more first-date type of questions. She asked where was his favorite place in the world. He asked her who influenced her most in life. She asked him what made him laugh. As always, Josh deflected questions about his childhood and steered the conversation away from family. They talked quite a bit about dogs.
More than an hour passed before they saw any sign of rescue. Josh didn’t mind the delay. He hadn’t flirted with a woman in a long time and he enjoyed himself. She was witty and intelligent and so very fine on the eyes. Caitlin didn’t appear to mind the delay, either. She flirted right back.
He decided to ask her to dinner. He’d take her to one of the fancy restaurants in Mountain Village. He actually had a suit in the trailer because he’d attended a funeral for the elderly mother of the mayor of Eternity Springs the morning before he headed out on this trip.
While he waited for the right moment to pose that question, he continued the small talk by asking, “So, did you always want to be a textile designer and live in New York?”
She hesitated, a shadow crossing her face. “Not exactly. I’ve been living my mother’s dream.”
“That’s an intriguing statement.”
“She was a stay-at-home mom who wanted to be a career woman. She—whoa!” The gondola cabin swayed as a loud thump sounded above them. “What’s that?”
“I think we’re being rescued.”
She sounded almost as bummed about it as he felt.
A moment later, the cabin door opened and a man loaded down with equipment swung inside. “Everybody okay in here?”
“We’re good,” Josh responded.
“So we have two adults and a dog to go down? Is the dog paralyzed?”
“I’ve seen those wheelchairs on Animal Planet. Cool contraption. I have a pet harness. Any reason she shouldn’t go down that way?”
“Not that I know of. She’s a calm dog. She should be fine. It is better to send her down alone than with me holding her?”
“Yes sir. It’s safer for her to go alone. She’ll be completely secured.”
“If that’s best, then let’s do it.”
“Good. We’ll send her down first.”
While the rescuer deployed the rope system, Josh devoted his attention to Penny. He wasn’t worried about sending her down by herself. She’d already proved herself to be a scrapper. So far, he hadn’t found anything that phased her. He dug a dog treat out of his backpack and fed it to her while the rescuer strapped her into the pet harness.
Following a short discussion with Josh, the rescue worker attached the three-pound wheelchair to the rope, too.
Caitlin scratched the dachshund behind her ears and made kissy noises. Josh told Penny to behave, sneaked her one more treat, then watched her ride the rope down. The rescue team on the ground greeted the dog enthusiastically.
“Nothing pulls the heartstrings like a crippled dog,” Josh observed, turning toward Caitlin with a grin that quickly faded. The woman had gone green around the gills. “Caitlin? Are you okay?”
“I shouldn’t have watched that,” she said. “I’m not a cowardly person. I ski black diamond trails. I’ve ridden Class V rapids. But I really, really don’t want to leave this cabin by rope.”
The rescuer frowned at her. “Ma’am, you don’t exactly have a choice.”
“I know. I’ll handle it.” She smiled weakly and added, “I’m sorry. I have this … thing.”
“You’ll be perfectly safe. Even if the worst case happened and something failed, there’s a backup safety system.”
Josh eyed the harness and asked, “Do you have a tandem harness?”
“We have one we use for children, but adults—”
“She doesn’t weigh a hundred pounds. We can go down together.”
“One-oh-five,” Caitlin corrected, turning a hopeful gaze toward the rescuer.
Josh didn’t know how any red-blooded man could resist that look, so he wasn’t surprised when the rescuer reached for his radio and spoke to his partners on the ground. A few minutes later after the deploying the rope system, a different harness arrived from the team on the ground. The rescuer secured Josh first, then assisted Caitlin. Her cheeks turned bright red when he told her to wrap her arms and legs around Josh and hold on tight.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
“Says the stranger with his hands on my ass,” she murmured.
He was laughing when he gave the rescuer a thumbs up and they swung out into the air.
Although they descended the eighty feet slowly, it went by much too quickly for Josh. Caitlin kept her eyes closed and her head buried his against his chest, but her mouth ran the entire time.
“I wish I’d had a glass of wine instead of kombucha. Two glasses of wine. One wouldn’t be enough. It’s humiliating to be so afraid. I’m gonna kill my brother—it’s all his fault. I’m shaking like a baby.”
And I’m hard as the granite on Mt. Wilson.
She was soft and warm and she used coconut-scented shampoo. Josh didn’t care for the taste of coconut, but he loved the scent. To distract them both, he said, “So you’re a Denver girl. Someone told me that Mt. Wilson is the mountain depicted on the Coors beer logo. Is that true?”
“What? Oh. The logo. Yes. I think that’s true. The logo depicts the Wilson Group. Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, Gladstone, and El Diente.”
“The tooth,” Josh translated. “It does look like a tooth, don’t you think?”
Caitlin lifted her head and looked toward the mountains. “How beautiful,” she said, her head swiveling. “Oh wow. What a view this is.”
When the smile slowly spread across her face, a captivated Josh couldn’t help himself.
He kissed her.
Copyright © 2018 by Emily March in The First Kiss of Spring and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
1st edition, 342 pages
Publication: February 27th 2018
by St. Martin's Paperbacks
In this first novel in the explosive, brand-new romantic suspense Sons of Broad series from Tara Thomas comes a novel of deadly secrets and hidden danger. In the sultry streets of Charleston, one family, ruled by its powerful, take-no-prisoners sons, has risen to the top. But a merciless enemy is out to destroy them…and everyone they hold close…
SHE THOUGHT SHE’D LOST HIM FOREVER
Tilly Brock has learned—the hard way—how to take care of herself. Once a pillar of Charleston society, her family lost everything in the wake of a shocking scandal. And then Tilly lost the only boy she ever loved.
BUT NOW THAT HE’S BACK IN HER LIFE
Keaton Benedict is Charleston’s most notorious bachelor. But in spite of all his advantages—the money, the women, the family name—he longs for more: the heart of the young woman he still can’t forget.
THE DANGER HAS JUST BEGUN…
When Keaton re-enters Tilly’s life, after all these years, she is torn between feelings of doubt and desire. Can they put the past behind them and learn to love again? Tilly is willing to try. But Keaton is afraid that a vengeful enemy is watching—and waiting to destroy them. Can the rekindled flame of their love defeat the deadliest rival and light their way forward in the darkest night?
Two scantily clad women strutted out onto the stage.
Keaton was too far away to see details. All he could make out were tiny bikini tops and even tinier thongs. Blondes. And pretty enough to make any red-blooded man fantasize about ripping the scraps of fabric off them. A movement to the side of the stage caught his eye. A server. He only saw her profile, but there was something about her.
He slid off the barstool to get a closer look.
“Hey, man,” Michael called after him. “Where are you going?”
Keaton didn’t reply.
“Where’s Benedict going?” he heard someone ask. “He’s interested in a dancer? Here?” someone else asked.
Keaton shook his head; it wasn’t a dancer that captured his attention. He wasn’t a stranger to the numerous clubs around the city that catered to wealthy men and their carnal needs. However, he’d never singled out any particular woman while at one. After all, he’d al- ways said, one half-naked woman was just as good as another. As made evident by the number of times his picture was in the society pages, but never with the same woman twice.
And yet, here he was, eyes fixed on the petite waitress at the side of the stage, currently trying to blend into the background and not take away from the duo on the stage. It was a horrible failure. He wasn’t sure why the management even felt the need to put anyone onstage with her working here. How could anyone look at those two with her in the room?
She moved with a grace that made the two blondes look like ducks swimming alongside a swan. She stretched out her hand to pass a glass to a man sitting on the far inside of a booth. Everyone in her vicinity turned to watch her lithe body.
“Drooling over a topless dancer?” Michael asked, coming up behind him. “I have to say, I’m a bit surprised. They look a bit rough.”
“Not a dancer,” Keaton let slip before he could stop himself.
Michael moved to stand beside him and followed his line of sight. His low whistle signaled he saw the woman in question. “Hot damn. Wait until a certain blonde hears about this. I’m sure Miss Elise Germain will love the fact that her intended is drooling over a half-naked barmaid.”
“Shut the fuck up.” Keaton didn’t shift his attention from the goddess taking drink orders. “I’m not engaged.” “Please,” Michael’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “You two have been promised to each since you were what? Fifteen?”
Keaton mumbled a curse under his breath, but right now, he couldn’t focus on anything other than the serving siren. It sounded so crazy, he couldn’t even verbalize it, but he thought he knew her from somewhere. Some- thing about the way she moved called to him. Pulled him forward for a better look.
He took another step toward her.
She was magnificent. And the way she moved continued to captivate the audience near her. Keaton’s eyes traveled over her body, taking in as many details as possible: her light brown skin, the curve of her hips, and the slope of her breasts covered by a tight cropped shirt. He knew they would be oh-so-soft to touch. His eyes drifted higher at the same time she turned her head his way and he froze.
He couldn’t breathe. It couldn’t be.
What was she doing in Charleston? The last he’d heard, her family had moved to Texas. Granted, they’d both been fourteen at the time, but he’d never forgot- ten the day he’d got home from school, walked into the eerily quiet kitchen, and discovered his life had changed forever.
Tilly always came over to his house after school to help him with his homework. Usually her mother would come over with her and gossip with his mom. But there was nothing that day. He’d looked out the back door to get a peek of their house and gasped. There were men all over the yard, carrying furniture.
He’d run back inside and up the stairs to his mother’s room and, with a stomach filled with dread, asked where Mama Ann and Tilly were. His mother arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow. She didn’t like that her children called their neighbor Mama Ann, but every- one called her that. It was just her personality. She was so kind and loving, the name came naturally.
“They’re moving to Texas,” she said, and his world shifted out of focus.
“Why?” he managed to croak out. Texas was so far away. It made no sense why they would move away from their family like that and so suddenly.
“It’s been discovered that Mr. Brock has been embezzling money from your father.”
“What?” He couldn’t believe it. Not Tilly’s dad. He was stealing from them? Something didn’t sound right. His mother gave him a sad smile. “I’m afraid he was caught red-handed. The Brock family’s basically ruined now. Best they move and try to start over.”
His parents had always joked that he and Tilly would get married one day. Everyone talked about it and he didn’t even care because Tilly was smart and pretty. The week before, he’d kissed her for the first time. Her lips had been soft and sweet, and he’d looked forward to kissing them over and over. How could he kiss her if she were in Texas?
“Your father’s going to promote Howard Germain.
Isn’t his daughter in your class, too?”
Elise. Tilly’s best friend. Or was. He felt sick. He mumbled a half-intelligible answer to his mom and ran down the stairs to the living room. He had to call Tilly. Had to talk to her, even if it was only to say good-bye. But their phone had already been disconnected and when he went to their house, the men moving all the furniture told him they’d already left.
Tilly Brock put on her best plastic smile and muttered a soft, “Excuse me, please,” to the man blocking her path to her customer. She recognized the move for what it was: an attempt to make her reach across him. Two more months. Two more months. She grit her teeth and made sure the men saw just enough of her cleavage as she handed the drink to the waiting customer.
“Thank you, darling,” he said, eyes firmly planted on her chest, never once looking her in the eyes. “Why ain’t someone as pretty as you up onstage?”
Like she didn’t hear that ten times a night. Her mother might not roll over in her grave at the thought of her daughter serving drinks at a gentlemen’s club, but Tilly knew she’d come back from the dead for the sole purpose of telling her how disappointed she was if she even thought about dancing topless.
“Two left feet,” she told the guy instead.
“Trust me.” His laugh gave her chills. “It ain’t your feet we’re interested in.”
Two more months. I can do two more months.
Onstage, the dance was almost over. One of the blond twins glared at her and in doing so, tripped and almost fell. Several men booed. The other twin shot her a look that told Tilly they were blaming everything on her. Oh well, what else was new. It wasn’t a day that ended in “y” if she didn’t piss off the Wonder Twins.
She gathered several empty glasses and nodded as a few drink orders were given. Her tray was heavy, but she thought she could make it back to the bar. She turned that way and suddenly felt someone’s eyes drilling holes into her from the back of the room. Out of habit, she lifted her head to try and find who was watching her so intensely.
She scanned the crowd, but no one looked out of place. Then she saw him, standing slightly off to the side, watching her with an easy confidence, but with a tilt of his head that somehow seemed familiar. He recognized her at the same instant she recognized him.
Her tray and glasses fell to the floor.
Copyright © 2018 by Tara Thomas and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
A Montana Man risks everything for the woman he loves . . .
Undercover DEA Special Agent Dawson King spent five months in a Montana prison establishing a fake identity to take down a ruthless drug dealer and put him behind bars. Except there’s a wild card . . . the killer’s beloved daughter. Cara Potter may appear to be on the right side of the law, but King has learned the hard way to trust no one—even someone as tantalizing as the coffee shop owner. She’s irresistible . . . but is she also dangerous?
From the moment he enters her life, King makes Cara . . . nervous. The handsome drifter says he wants to get his life together . . . but there is something about him that doesn’t quite ring true. Cara wants to believe in him, yet she holds back despite the way he awakens dormant dreams and leaves her breathless with his sexy smile, steamy kisses, his every touch.
When the explosive truth comes out and she’s betrayed by the ones she loves, Cara must decide—can she trust her heart, or should she listen to her head?
An intense, vigorous, potent romantic suspense story that took my breath away. The depth of emotions in the story shouldn't have come as a surprise, as I am a huge fan of Ms. Ryan's writing, yet the abyss of feelings she pulled me in as a reader was just astonishing. I had to wait a couple of days to write this review because I was a blubbering mess.
Do not let the easy-going cover dupe you into thinking that this is another fun cowboy romance. Undercover DEA Special Agent Dawson King is great at the bluff, he might come across as charming, kind, and fun man with easy smile and encouraging way to talk to people while making delicious cherry-turnovers, yet he is a sharp, smart, and fierce agent in deep undercover, a sniper with a patience of a saint.
I loved Dawson - or King or Flash - whatever you call him, whoever he was pretending to be, he was always a hard-working, honest, solid man, a protector, with dignity, loyalty, and honor. It was impossible not to like him, to get him, to admire him.
Cara Potter had never met a person who was completely honest with her. The excuses for the choices her family and friends had made, the lies, the betrayals, they cut deep into her soul and to her ability to trust anyone. She was a loner, she came off as a bit of a cold, tough, and headstrong person. Yet her heart is pure gold. She takes care of everyone around her and she makes risky choices just to do the right thing. She wishes for normalcy, a loving family, caring people surrounding her, a safe home, yet knows in her heart those things are not in her reach because of the family she was born into.
The web of deception and treachery surrounding the cartel is rooted and wide. The cartel seems to has its reach to everything and everyone around Cara. The tension, the fear, the constant uncertainty and not knowing who to trust and when the people around you are going to stab you in the back, put the story into another level of ferocity. The action in itself is brutal, explosive, even deadly, with hair-raising and heart-stopping moments one after the other.
Well entwined with the suspense and action is the poignant and touching romance between Cara and King. The connection between them is remarkable and as intense as the danger surrounding them.They had me in tears because of the heartbreak, sighing and smiling because of the adorable connection and bond they had. The adoration and the deep-rooted emotions took my breath away and had me swooning. They pulled all the emotions from me and had me rooting for them, wishing them to overlive the treats they were facing and find a chance for a future together.
An ardent and beautiful love story developing in a middle of a thrilling war against the drug cartel where survival is not guaranteed, no life is sacred, where the future is filled with uncertainties and trust is a luxury you can not afford.
~ Five Spoons!
Dead Oaks Terrors Book 1
by Rena Marin & Skylar McKinzie
Welcome to Dead Oaks.
The New Home of Fear!
Something strange is happening in the sleepy, little, town of Dead Oaks, N.C. Tales of disappearances, strange deaths, murder, and mayhem have been passed down through the town’s history and are now used as scary tales to keep local children behind locked doors at night. Still, it all continues. Whatever sinister force that has its claws into Dead Oaks is still there, and it wants nothing more than to claim the town as its own.
Six Years Ago
Hikers, campers, and even locals had been disappearing around Dead Oaks Lake. Some claimed the ghost of a local man who went missing years before was the reason. During a neighborly camping get together, Tiffany Sellers vanished in the middle of the night. Mia Evans was the only witness. What she saw that night sent her family far from Dead Oaks in hopes of escaping the evil surrounding the town.
Mia, and her twin sister Tia have come back to their family’s cabin by the lake. Their hopes? To finally put the past behind them and reconnect with old friends for a Halloween bash to remember. As an unexpected snow storm strands the twins and their friends, they find themselves fighting to survive not only the storm but whatever is haunting the lake. Soon they realize, in Dead Oaks, sometimes the past should just stay buried.
Watching the dancing flames of the campfire, Caleb Rollins found himself filled
with anticipation. This was the first night since the annual Rollins-Evans
camping tradition had started that his younger brother, Austin, and the Evans
twins, Mia and Tia, were being allowed to stay up and listen to ghost stories. For
years, his father had told stories to him and the twins’ parents. On more than one
occasion, he had found himself too scared to sleep. He hoped tonight he would
do the tradition honor.
Taking a seat by his girlfriend, Tiffany Sellers, he waited for everyone to
gather around. His brother was trying his best not to show any fear. The girls
were not trying nearly as hard. They were huddled close together, holding hands
near their mother. Considering the three of them were only thirteen years old, he
could understand why. He popped a marshmallow on his stick and waited for his
father to give him the signal to start. When he saw the wink, he leaned forward
“I know you three haven’t been able to sit around and share stories with us
here by the lake. There’s a good reason why. Everyone has heard about the
disappearances here in Dead Oaks over the years. We’ve all tried to keep the
three of you from hearing too much about them, but that’s basically impossible.
Word spreads in small towns. The same for legends. Most people believe that a
certain man is responsible for the disappearances—his ghost anyway.”
As Caleb paused, both girls huddled closer to one another. The fear was easily
noticeable in their bright green eyes. Austin had also decided to move closer to
the others. He had settled himself in between Tia and his mother, his arms
wrapped around himself protectively.
“His name was Martin Chambers. He was a local boy who had grown up
around here. His family never had a lot of money. He usually found himself as
the butt of high school kids’ jokes and older people’s wrath. Some claimed he
was a good guy though. Dad here and Mr. Evans both say they remember him
and that he was never any trouble.”
Both men nodded their heads solemnly in agreement.
“Unfortunately, Martin was the first one in Dead Oaks to go missing. One day,
his mother showed up at the courthouse begging for help in finding him. The
sheriff sent his men out. They searched and searched but could find nothing.”
“No one knows what happened to him?” Mia asked. It was clear she was
completely enthralled by Caleb’s story.
“No, and that’s where things get weird. When the hikers and campers started
going missing, people started claiming sightings of a strange guy in the woods.
They all claimed he was tall and heavyset with long hair. When they described
his clothes, it made locals really wonder. They claimed he wore a pair of khaki
pants and a torn red shirt with a smiley face on the front. That just happened to
be Martin Chambers’s favorite outfit. His mother even complained to the sheriff
that he had her wash his favorite shirt almost nightly. That wasn’t the only thing
they were seeing though. They all claimed his clothes were covered in mud and
yuck. Some even said it seemed as if he had just crawled out of the lake there.”
Caleb glanced toward the water. “As time went on, the stories got stranger.
Locals claimed they saw him walking through their yard at night. One woman
even said he tried to get inside her house. Each time police came to investigate,
they found the same evidence: wet, muddy footprints.
“It started keeping people away from the lake. For years, the place was like a
ghost town. No one used their cabins for summering anymore. Those who lived
here on the lake, like my family, had the run of the place. No one bothered us. It
was nice at first, but then, well, it got a bit strange. We were the ones who were
starting to see things. Mom saw the stranger in the woods one night when she
went out to check on the dogs. Dad swore up and down that he saw a strange
man walk out of the lake in the middle of the night when he got up to go to the
bathroom. Tiffany and I saw him one night. The two of us were down here by
the lake, holding hands, kissing a bit, when we heard water splashing. He
stepped out of the water, looked our way, then turned and started walking toward
the woods. Before we knew it, he was gone.”
“You’re lying,” Austin snapped. He had never truly believed much of
anything that came out of his brother’s mouth.
“No, he’s not,” Tiffany said as she stared down at the water. “It was late on a
Saturday night. You were already in the house and in bed. It was almost our
curfew, and we were spending our last few minutes together before I had to go
home. It was honestly the scariest thing I have ever seen. The way he stared at us
out of those weird, blank eyes. The blood on the side of his head…” Tiffany
pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. Just talking about what
she had seen that night freaked her out.
Seeing the fear that had taken over Tiffany sent a chill down Tia’s back. She
opened her mouth to support Austin in his claim that they were making all of it
up. The words just would not come out.
Caleb continued. “Tonight, when you lay down to sleep in the tents, keep it in
mind. That’s all this story is for. Yeah, it’s cool that it scares you guys, but it’s
even cooler that it’s real. You have to keep your eyes open. The last thing you
want is to be the one Martin comes to drag back to the lake with him. None of us
have proof that’s what he does, but what else would it be? No bodies are found,
but everything revolves around that lake. Dead Oaks Lake.” He stared off at the
water and said, “Always be careful of the water. You never know what lurks
beneath the surface.”
Seeing fear in the kids’ eyes, Evelyn Rollins stood up. “That’s enough. Come
on, let’s all turn in. Spooky stories are just that, stories. We’re all together and
Everyone agreed and began getting to their feet. Once the mess from around
the campfire was cleaned up, they slowly began disappearing into their tents one
by one. This would be the last night the Evans family would spend at the cabin
on Dead Oaks Lake.
Rena Marinis a fantasy/paranormal/horror author as well as reviewer. In 2017, she and her co-author S.C. Storm introduced the world to The Tempest Isle Series, with "The Guardians," which was published by Zombie Cupcake Press. At the end of 2017, she and her co-author also penned the short, "My Sister's Keeper," which was featured in the Zombie Cupcake Press Anthology, Madame Scarlet's Carnival.
A writer of fantasy/paranormal/horror, Rena finds herself a lover of the written word and hoping to branch out to multiple genres.
Rena is happily married to her soul mate, Daniel. The two of them reside in the beautiful mountain town of Newport, Tn. with their two children Cody and Amber.
Skylar McKinzielives in the small town of Screven, Ga. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also loves long walks and sitting by the bonfire in October, which is her favorite month of the year.
She writes horror and paranormal romance. She is working on her next novel due to be released by the end of the year.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!
She cheated death once…But a killer still lurks.
After a gunshot rips streetwise police officer Gina Galvan from the line of duty, all she wants is to return to the front line and stop a shooter.
But good guy physical therapist Mike Cutler won’t back down from a challenge, or his blazing attraction to Gina.
Without a badge or a gun, Mike is ready to face anyone—including a killer—to prove he’s every inch a hero.
Refreshingly realistic and true to life storyline of dreams and ambitions of everyday people. The tension on the streets and neighborhoods, the events that occur, the crimes that are committed and the consequences of them, it all was authentic, the story smoothly flowed like a movie in my mind, the images so vivid, so clear.
Mike Cutler has grown up in the shadows of the police force because of his father's career (Takedown by Julie Miller). He has overcome a handicap, he has built a life for himself, his new business with his friend Troy about to take off. He is kindhearted, generous, and always wanting to help those in need. He is easy to like, to relate to, his charm is warm, caring, and courteous. He is always willing to go the extra step for those he cares about, protect them, take care of them, fix things for them.
Gina Galvan is an independent, strong-willed, fierce, and gorgeous. She has had to fight every step of the way to be the person she is with the job she has today. She takes care of her siblings and elderly aunt and uncle, she's trying to advance in her career, she is eager to be the best she can be, go as far with her career she can, there is no stopping her. Until she gets shot and she feels she is the only who wants to look for the culprit shooting the cops.
I loved the chemistry, the energy between Gina and Mike. The give and take, her need to stay in control and him being able to give her that space but have her back was just a beautiful thing to witness. The attraction is immediate, yet they take time to move on with it. There is a friendship that develops first, with him getting to know her family, and I adored how he came a part of it, the warmth and love that was in those scenes.
Intense suspense and danger-filled scenes of action in a story with fierce, strong female lead and a man who can be her true equal partner, friend, and lover. From warm and sweet to passionate and sexy to fearful and terrified the story took my emotions all over the map while held my keen interest and delivered exciting and thrilling tale.
~ Five Spoons
USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Miller writes breathtaking romantic suspense. She has earned a National Readers Choice Award and two Daphne du Maurier Awards among many other prizes for both her series and single title books. She was also honored to receive the RT BookReviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Suspense, and has twice been a finalist for RWA’s prestigious RITA Award. With millions of copies in print worldwide, many of her books have appeared on the USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists.
She was used to flying solo…
But that was before Kaleb came on board!
Temporarily grounded combat pilot Molly Markham didn’t come to Sugar Falls to get serious about a man she barely knows!
But when Kaleb Chatterson becomes her unexpected hero, she agrees to date the billionaire software developer to keep their secret from getting out.
Except the sexy brainiac—and her pretend boyfriend—is fast turning into the man of her dreams…
What a delightfully lovely story! It is filled with love for the family, love for life, passion for chosen career, and of course, passion and love in a romantic sense with a strong female lead and a hero who can match her spunk and be her partner, friend, lover, true equals in love and life. They just had to figure that one out first...
I was so afraid the last book I had read was going to put me in a long-lasting book-hangover yet this one dropped into my mailbox and it was just what I needed. Couldn't have been a better timing.
The story is like a burst of sunshine. It is filled with warmth and love and it is uplifting and cheerful and fun while touching gently some serious issues as well.
The banter throughout the story is hilarious. There are some moments that it is a bit hurtful to Kaleb, the Chatterson are a brutally honest bunch, but there is no question fo the love that is shining through.
I adored Kaleb Chatterson. He is a geek, super smart, kind, generous, honest, funny, billionaire, who relayed on the technology to make his life easier. If there would not have been mentions of his wealth, it wouldn't have come across from his behavior, and I loved that. He was like the hot neighbor guy, caring, protective, I-will-fix-it type, who only wanted the best for the people he cared about. Yes, his micromanagement was getting on everyone's nerves, but he had only good intentions.
I loved that the 'hero' military service member is a woman. Captain Molly Markham is a pilot, and she is good at what she does. Life has thrown a wrench into her career and long-term plans; the life as she has always known it is about to change. And she is not dealing well with that chance at all. She is an adrenaline junkie, she loves the speed, the dare, the competition. Now she feels her body is failing her, and to get a new kind of balance in her life, and find a meaning to her future and new plans are something she has figure out. She is a sweet, kind, and fun girl if a little cranky and confrontational at the moment, and in desperate need of her own space and peace of mind to figure out how to face the new challenges and learn to live with them.
The accidental relationship Molly and Kaleb fall into soon turns the initial spark of an attraction into an inferno of churning emotions. Molly's need to keep her new challenges from her family, especially from her sister, puts Kaleb and Molly together, and holding on to her secret turns into a game of hide-and-seek.
I smiled, laughed, sighed, and swooned, and completely fell for the lovely, alluring, adorable bunch of characters. Kaleb and Molly fit so well together, they are perfect for each other. The insecurities, the challenges, the strengths, the energy they have is well matched and they bring the best out of each other, balance the other, they see the person behind all the walls, money, and titles, and genuinely cares for each other.
The title is a part of a series but does not require the reader to be familiar with the previous books to enjoy this one. It does arouse the interest to read the rest of the series as well, though.
An engaging, delectable, sexy and cute at the same time, fun and delicious, well-written romance story
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Welcome to Valentine Bay!
Ella Fletcher spent all of high school in love with the boy next door--her best friend, Donovan. It was never more than that, but she fooled herself into believing friendship was enough.
Donovan Valentine knew he could never make a move on his best friend Ella. After all, she depended on him. He was the only stable man in her life. If denying his feelings was the price he had to pay for protecting hers, then he was more than willing to pay it.
Celebrating their high school graduation, they drunkenly took part in a marriage ceremony using fake IDs. But now, fifteen years later, it turns out that the IDs weren't so fake, and neither is the marriage.
When Donovan returns to Valentine Bay to straighten things out, will this accident turn into the best thing that ever happened to them?
*** Standalone romance with HEA and no cliffhanger ***
A sweet and sizzling hot read to heat up a freezing cold winter evening!
This book starts a new series from Melanie Shawn, and it's already promising to have a charming, alluring, and fascinating cast of characters, lots of small town banter and meddling, with humor and lots of heart and smoking hot love scenes.
Ella Fletcher and Donovan Valentine have chemistry and connection that has been developing ever since they were kids. The former best friends soon found the old tone after a couple of awkward moments. Even the love they had for each other was well established and developed though not on the forefront of their lives for the past ten years.
I found this story an entertaining and fun read. It was sexy, it was sweet, it was humorous and lovely.
There was a chance to go deeper with on the emotional side of the tale, with Donavan being 'the only stable man in her life' that was never really gotten into in more details. Donavan's guilt towards his family and mourning of his parents did show some deeper emotions, as well as his sister's need for her family while missing her brothers.
Delightful, enjoyable, and lively start to the series with likable and charming characters showing a lot of promise of intriguing stories to come.
~ Four Spoons
Published February 19th 2018 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Embrace)
Twenty-year-old Emily Winslowe has had an adventurous upbringing. Daughter of a Himalayan mountain guide, she has climbed Mount Everest and other peaks most Americans only dream of. But for all her mountaineering prowess, she's lacking some key experiences. Namely, guys. Especially one guy in particular—Luke Norgay, her childhood best friend who she hasn't seen since he left for college in the United States two years ago.
Luke unexpectedly reappears as a guide just in time for the Everest climbing season. He's even more handsome than she remembers, and that something that had been building between them during their last season together is back in front of them, bigger than ever.
The problem is, there's a detail about Emily's past that Luke doesn't know. It's the reason she ended up in the Himalayas in the first place...and the reason she must make it to the summit of Mount Everest this year. It's also the reason she would never consider following him back to Washington after the climbing season ends.
But first, they'll have to survive the mountain.
Megan Westfield grew up in Washington State, attended college in Oregon, and lived in Virginia, California, and Rhode Island during her five years as a navy officer. She is now a permanent resident of San Diego, along with her husband and two young children. Aside from writing and her family, her great passions in life are reading, candy, and spending lots of time outside hiking, skiing, camping, climbing, running, and biking.
Connect with Megan Westfield and learn more about her upcoming books at www.meganwestfield.com.
I need a wife if I want to help save my family’s billion-dollar pub empire. There’s just one problem: I never plan on marrying. So, I need someone who understands that this is just another business deal. I don’t do commitments. And my brother’s executive assistant, Fallon Smith, fits that bill.
Fallon needs help with her grandmother’s expenses, and her pretending to be my fake wife is a way we can make that happen. She’s not my biggest fan, but we can help each other and then go our separate ways. That she’s beautiful and I enjoy spending time with her–doesn’t matter. When all of this is done, she’s heading home to America, and I’ve got a company to run.
A fake wedding and a whole lot of whiskey. What could go wrong?
Magan Vernon has been living off of reader tears since she wrote her first short story in 2004. She now spends her time killing off fictional characters, pretending to plot while she really just watches Netflix, and she tries to do this all while her two young children run amuck around her Texas ranch.
Newsletter sign up
#FEELTHEVERN (Reader Group)
From Christina Phillips a sexy, new romance with a hero you won’t forget…
I'm not looking for love or a Happily-Ever-After because I know how that ends. I just need to concentrate on my degree and look after myself. But there's something about my boss, Harry, I can't resist. It's crazy since he's so hot and smart it should be illegal.
And then, just like Cinderella, I have my night at the ball and a midnight kiss, and for a week all my sexy daydreams come true. That fake date changes my life in a way I could never imagine. It turns out, Harry wants me too.
But I’m off to pursue my dreams, and he’s taking his business to the next level. There’s no way this fairytale has a happy ending, but that doesn’t keep me from wishing for it.
Christina Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her high school sweetheart and their family. She enjoys writing contemporary, historical and paranormal romance where the stories sizzle and the heroine brings her hero to his knees.
She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.
The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.
As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?
Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.
To share my opinion and intake of this title is not going to be easy, but I will do my best to express the impact this novel had on me. I have sat with my thoughts now for several days, digesting everything, and will try to do justice for Before I Let You Go.
The story is told in the first person POV by both of the sisters, even though Annie's part is from her journal. I am not a fan of the 1st person POV yet here it works. It gives the opportunity to go deep in the thoughts of the sisters, showing the deepest and darkest secrets and reflections as the tale unfolds. It goes smoothly from present to the past so the whole story can be revealed.
The novel is beautifully crafted, each moment pulling the reader deeper into the world of the sisters. The writing in itself is smooth and easy to absorb, thankfully, since the what is written about is terrifying, drastically beautiful, raw and real, and breath-taking in more than one sense.
In my eyes, the author had thoroughly researched the material, and the medical facts and the experiences Annie went through as she is falling deeper into the world of addiction sounded realistic and true every step of the way.
The bond between the two sisters is amazing and it is demonstrated delicately and repeatedly until there is no doubt in the reader's mind how strong and binding it truly is.
I was surprised that it was Annie I first started to bond with, instead of Lexie who seemingly had her life together. The abuse Annie had to go through, and the way she was purposely broken and shattered in her mind and soul, broke my heart. She was a tenderhearted, sweet, kind and thoughtful girl until her world was devastated and changed forever. Some of the scenes, both with the abuse as well as with Annie's drug use, go so deep into that dark and ugly world, that I had to take a deep breath before I could continue reading. Because putting down the novel before finding the destiny for the sisters was not an option for me.
Lexie was the more complex sister in my mind. While Annie's past gave a good understanding of her present, Lexie had survived in her own way, mostly by ignoring and hiding the pain, thus it was difficult to see into her soul through all the walls she had built in order to survive. Her need to stay in control, to fix things, to take care of things on her own, and if possible hide it from the surrounding environment and people in it, came from the sisters past as much as Annie's drug abuse did. For her to let go of the power that came with the control was as hard as for Annie getting sober.
With the heartwrenching story of the sisters and their forever bind, on the side is one of the most beautiful love stories I have read. Sam, Lexie's fiance, and his love, understanding, patience, support, and caring were a delightful thing to witness. The love was a power that brought light into the devastating story. In the blurb, it was written that Sam's patience was tested because of Annie's action but it was never Annie that tested Sam's peace of mind. It was Lexie's inability to let Sam support and help her, to let Sam carry part of the task, to share the responsibility, to be a team. As I was reading about Sam's and Lexie's relationship, the bond, the trust, the unquestionable love that was there spoke volumes to me. In my mind, the verse of what love really is started to play as the soundtrack for the novel: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
A heartbreaking, raw, dark, devastating novel of the life of a drug abuser and how the abuse dribbles into the lives of the loved ones. Yet within all the gloom and shadows, there is the red line of love between the sisters, a love and bind that is tested but proven to be true.
One of the heaviest and most disturbing yet delicately beautiful stories I have read.
~ Five Spoons!
Ready for another round?
Ava Grace Landy’s music career is humming along until a shakeup at her label jeopardizes her recording contract and curses her with the world’s worst boss. Determined to satisfy him, she partners with Trinity Distillery to access a larger male audience. To her surprise, she’s the one who’s satisfied—by none other than Jonah Beck, the gorgeous, yet gruff man behind the bourbon.
No doubt about it, bourbon runs in Beck’s blood. But it’s audacious Ava Grace who makes it run hot. When she signs on as the spokesperson for his craft distillery, he doesn’t plan on hoisting her onto an oak barrel and rocking the rickhouse. Though he’s convinced their lives don’t mix—like a terrible cocktail—he can’t keep his hands off the alluring country star.
Ava Grace and Beck try to keep their intoxicating relationship private, but the glare of her fame is too bright, revealing secrets they both want to remain hidden. With a spotlight shining on his tumultuous past, their future is at risk. Now they must decide if being together is worth sacrificing the career she loves and the company he’s poured his heart and soul into.
Beck’s marshmallow had turned a nice golden brown, so he pulled it from the fire pit and carefully removed it from the skewer. Hot to the touch, the melted marshmallow oozed over his fingers as he placed it on the chocolate and graham cracker stack.
“What kind of s’more are you making?” Ava Grace asked.
As he pressed a graham cracker on top of the marshmallow, he thought about ignoring her question. He didn’t want to be drawn into conversation with her. It was bad enough he had to sit next to her and pretend not to notice the lacy waistband of her pastel pink panties when she leaned forward to toast her marshmallow.
Good manners eventually prevailed. “I’m a traditionalist. Plain graham crackers, milk chocolate, and vanilla marshmallow.” He sucked the marshmallow from his fingers before asking, “What about you?”
“I’m a non-traditionalist,” she answered with a smile, rotating her skewer over the fire pit. “Chocolate graham crackers, dark chocolate, and peppermint marshmallow.”
“That’s adventurous,” he gibed.
She glanced at him, the flames of the fire bringing out the gold in her eyes. “Under the right circumstances, I can be very adventurous.”
“Hmm,” he replied noncommittally while his cock demanded to know two things: what were the right circumstances, and how adventurous was very adventurous?
He looked toward the fire pit, and when he noticed her marshmallow was getting a little too done, he tapped her forearm. “Your marshmallow’s burning.”
She immediately pulled it from the flames and began to ease it from the skewer. She hissed when gooey marshmallow got all over her hand.
“Dang, that’s hot,” she murmured, raising her fingers to her mouth.
As she licked the pink stickiness from them, blood rushed to his groin, his cock throbbing with every beat of his heart. He mentally reminded himself to avoid situations that involved Ava Grace and sticky or creamy foods.
In fact, he needed to avoid all situations that involved Ava Grace. Period.
He couldn’t think straight with her around. Earlier this evening, he’d almost kissed her, and a crazy, stupid part of him—his dick—wished he hadn’t pulled back. His dick wanted to know if she tasted as good as she smelled … if her petal-pink lips were as soft as they looked.
Trying not to think about her mouth and all the adventurous things she could do with it, he took a big bite of his s’more. As he chewed, he tried to recall the last time he’d eaten one. Probably back in high school, before everything turned to shit.
“You seem to be an expert marshmallow toaster,” Ava Grace noted, a teasing lilt in her husky voice. “How’d you gain that experience?”
“I went camping a lot when I was little, and we always toasted marshmallows over the fire.”
The memory made him a little sad. Even after all these years, he still missed his dad. Nothing could fill that void.
“So you learned by example,” she said as she built her s’more.
“I guess you could say that.” He leaned back in the Adirondack chair and propped his ankle on his knee. “Did you go camping when you were a kid?”
“No. I’ve never been camping. But I’d like to go someday. Sleeping under the stars sounds so romantic.” She flashed a teasing smile at him. “Maybe you can take me.”
Strangely, the thought of taking Ava Grace camping sounded like fun. He had no doubt she’d have plenty to say about the outing, and she’d deliver those observations in that sexy, wry tone that both amused and aroused him.
And after the sun went down, he’d build a blazing fire and stretch out under the stars. He’d pull her on top of him and watch her as she rode him, her head thrown back, her eyes shut, and her thick hair streaming behind her.
His For the Week by Alice Gaines
The Test by Tawna Fenske
Published February 19th 2018 by Entangled: Scorched
Sex columnist Désirée “Rae” Knight is in a bind—and not the kind she usually likes. Her newest assignment, and possible big break, is an article for her magazine on the sex resort that just opened. The only problem is it’s couples only. Although she writes about having red-hot sex, she’s been single longer than she’d like to admit. Enter her coffee shop crush, who she’s been secretly ogling every morning. Trouble is, he doesn’t know she exists.
When Nate Winslow recognizes the shy, quiet woman at Sufficient Grounds as the author of the sex columns that fuel his fantasies, he’s surprised. And the last thing he expects is an invitation to join her at a sex resort. But his answer is hell yes!
Rae and Nate have enough chemistry in the bedroom to set the sheets ablaze. When Rae insists they limit their relationship to sex only, Nate agrees since he’s burned out on love. But the more they push each other’s boundaries, the more they realize one week won’t be enough.
USA Today bestselling author, Alice Gaines is the author of several full-length books and dozens of shorter works. She lives in Oakland, California with her pet corn snake, Casper. While Alice isn’t writing or reading, you’ll find her pottering in her garden or cooking something in her kitchen. She’s passionate about her church and funky soul band, Tower of Power, not necessarily in that order. Alice loves to hear from readers. E-mail her at email@example.com. If you visit her website at http;//www.alicegaines.blogspot.com and sign up for her newsletter you’ll be entered to win her hand-knitted and crocheted projects.
This is a test. A test of every life decision Lisa Michaels has ever made.
Lisa thought she’d gotten everything right: The nicest condo, the right career, the best hair, and a perfectly adequate sex life with her stockbroker fiancé. But when the fiancé ditches her at the altar, Lisa’s left questioning every decision she’s ever made. What if her instincts have been steering her wrong all along? And what if she tested that theory by spending one month doing the exact opposite of what she’d normally do?
A crazy-hot fling with a tattooed steelworker from the wrong side of the tracks seems like a good starting point...
When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA-nominated, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, stepkids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit www.tawnafenske.com.
Welcome to Gold Valley, Oregon, where a rough-and-tumble rancher and the girl next door are about to learn that opposites attract
Olivia Logan has a plan: win back her ex by making him see what he’s missing. But first she needs to find a man who’s willing to play along. With his laid-back cowboy charm and knack for getting under her skin, Luke Hollister is an unlikely hero—but he wants her help convincing her father to sell him land, which means he needs her as much as she needs him.
Luke likes his life—and his women—uncomplicated. So why does good girl Olivia heat his blood like no one else? She’s always been off-limits, but the more time they spend as Gold Valley’s hottest new “couple,” the more real it’s starting to feel. Luke was supposed to help her win back another man…not keep her in his arms. But now that he has her there, he’s not sure he’ll ever let go.
I absolutely loved this story. I pretty much inhaled it when I first read it, and then started to read it again.
Olivia Logan and Luke Hollister just won my heart over, with their characters and with the life lessons they learned on the way. The connection between them was solid, real, passionate, and lasting. They had known each other for twenty years and through those years an odd-kind of deep-rooted friendship had developed between them that had always included a lot of teasing, banter, and arguments that had the air around them virtually vibrating.
Olivia was the 'good twin' that had always been very goal oriented, a plan-maker, who had stamina and guts to go after what she wanted, or what she thought would be good for her, and for the image of her that she did her best to uphold for her parents' sake. They had enough heartache with her troubled twin, so Olivia was determined never to cause any waves, problems, or gossip that her parents had to endure because of her.
Luke is the kind of man everyone likes. He has the easy smiles, the way to smooth things over, to keep everyone happy and smiling, no drama, no deep emotions, no close relationship, and a smile that quite didn't reach his eyes. Yet inside there was a man who had loved deeply and lost everything. He was a loyal, hard-working, kind, generous, good-hearted fella who had no need for relationships or feelings. Until Olivia's flat tire, break up with Bennett, and the pretend boyfriend he promised to be to irritate the ex.
The heart to heart talks between Olivia and Luke, and even with Bennett, the secrets and hidden thoughts they share, the life lessons they learn, and the a-ha moments with their lives they have were insightful, inspirational, and encouraging. I love it when a story speaks to my heart and Smooth-Talking Cowboy definitely did that to me.
I fell in love with Olivia and Luke, with their loyalty, vulnerability, honesty, and eagerness to grasp for what life has to offer for them. There is so much passion, love, and tender feelings between them, so many swoon-worthy moments that had me sighing. They learn, grow, and develop as the story progress, yet their never loss that quirky banter and joy-filled humor that made me smile repeatedly. They might seem like the opposite at the first glance, but when they open up their hearts and minds to each other, there is likeness there and a conjunction that will last a lifetime.
It is no secret that I adore Maisey Yates' writing, there is always something in her stories that hit me in my heart and stays there. Smooth-Talking cowboy is an alluring, unputdownable story that I highly recommend to all the readers who love tales with deep, ardent emotions and charming characters who are easy to relate to and who grow and thrive as the story progress.
~ Five Spoons!
Trouble always finds her…
Wrapping up a normal day at the office, criminal psychologist Kieran Finnegan is accosted by a desperate woman who shoves an infant into her arms and then flees, only to be murdered minutes later on a busy Manhattan street.
Who was the woman? Where did the baby come from? Kieran can’t stop thinking about the child and the victim, so her boyfriend, Craig Frasier, does what any good special agent boyfriend would do – he gets the FBI involved. And asks Kieran to keep out of it.
But the Finnegans have a knack for getting into trouble, and Kieran won’t sit idle when a lead surfaces through her family’s pub. Investigating on her own, she uncovers a dangerous group that plays fast and loose with human lives and will stop at nothing to keep their secrets – and they plan to silence Kieran before she can expose their deadly enterprise.
Babies tended to be adorable—and this baby was especially so. In fact, Kieran wasn’t sure she’d ever seen an ugly baby, but she had been assured by friends that they did exist.
This little girl, though, had a headful of auburn ringlets and huge blue eyes. Kieran had heard that all babies had blue eyes, but she didn’t know if that was true or not. Sadly, she just didn’t know a lot about babies; she was one in a family of four children herself, yes, but she and her twin brother, Kevin, were only a couple of years behind their older brother and one year older than their younger brother.
Actually, this beautiful baby looked as if she could fit right in with their family. Each of the Finnegan siblings had a form of red hair and blue or green or blue-green eyes. Kieran’s own were blue, and her hair was a deep red.
“They say it’s the Irish,” she said softly to the little one in her arms. “But I don’t think that you’re Irish!”
Talking to the baby made sense at the moment; FBI Special Agent Craig Frasier, the love of her life and often partner in crime—solving crime, not committing it!—had arrived shortly after the police. The medical examiner had come for the body of the murdered woman. While waiting for Child Services, Kieran was holding the baby, back up in the office.
Drs. Fuller and Miro worked with the police or other law enforcement. While not with the FBI, they were regular profilers and consultants for the NYC office. The Bureau’s behavioral science teams were down in DC, and while they could be called in, the city police and FBI often used local help in trying to get a step ahead of a criminal, or in working with criminals and witnesses when psychological assessments were needed, or, sometimes, when a child or a distressed person just needed to be able to speak to someone to ask the right questions and put them at ease. Kieran did a number of those assessments before reporting to the doctors, and she worked with victims of domestic abuse and both parents and children when they wound up within the child welfare system—such as a teenager who had been assaulted by her own father, or a senior citizen who was recovering from gunshot wounds inflicted by his wife. Or Kieran’s last patient today, Besa Goga. Besa was a sad case, abused for years when she’d first immigrated to the country, and now quick to strike out. Besa Goga was in court-ordered therapy because she’d bitten a man from her cable company. Kieran had only been seeing her a few weeks.
But the office didn’t always work through the police department, FBI or other such agencies. They also handled other cases that fell their way through happenstance or other circumstances—as in the recovering alcoholic who was also a politician and doing very well with Dr. Fuller.
Kieran had called her bosses to let them know what had happened. Both had said they’d come in immediately.
She had assured them that they shouldn’t; the police were dealing with the murder, and Child Services was coming for the baby.
Dr. Fuller—who had looks as dreamy as any TV physician—was at an event with his equally beautiful wife and their six-year-old. Dr. Miro was giving a keynote speech at a conference in Southern Jersey.
Kieran had convinced them both that she was fine, that it was just strange and scary.
The poor murdered woman hadn’t been scary; she had touched Kieran’s heart. She had needed help so badly. But she had called Kieran by name. And that made Kieran wonder.
She sat out in the waiting area of the offices—right where the woman had come up to her, right where the baby had been thrust into her arms. She thought that the baby was bound to cry again soon. That’s what babies did. They were hungry or wet or had gas or…who knew? She just really didn’t have much experience. And she had no clue as to the child’s age. But with little else to do—and probably in a bit of shock herself, despite the fact that she’d now thrown herself into the crime-fighting ring for a few years and had seen some shocking things--she talked to the baby. She made soothing noises, discussed her own uncertainty with a cheerful voice, and made a few faces here and there.
She could swear that the baby smiled.
Did babies smile this young?
She knew that those who knew—experienced parents, grandparents, and so on—claimed babies did not smile until a certain age.
This one, she was certain, smiled. She waved her little fists in the air and grinned toothlessly. She even cooed.
“Hey!” Craig had come back up to the offices after checking out the scene on the street.
He nodded to the policeman at the door. Since Kieran had no idea what was going on, and since a woman who had been looking for her had just been stabbed to death, having a policeman standing guard was very reassuring, and Kieran was grateful.
She looked up at Craig, hopeful. Though, of course, she doubted that he or the police or anyone—other than the killer—knew who had stabbed the woman, or why.
“You okay?” he asked her.
“I’m fine. I was handed the baby. I don’t think anyone was after me for any reason at all, but…oh, Lord. Craig, you don’t think it’s my fault, do you? I mean, if I hadn’t chased after her—”
“Kieran,” he said, hunkering down by her. “No.” His voice was firm and—as usual—filled with confidence and authority. Craig had been a special agent with the FBI for a good decade. He always seemed to exude a comfortable assurance and strength—things she had to admit she loved about him. Well, along with rock-hard abs, a solid six-three frame and the fact that the term tall, dark and handsome might have been conceived just for him. He had hazel eyes that were like marble, seemed to see far too much, and still…well, in her mind, they were just beautiful.
“It happened all so fast,” Kieran murmured.
Craig adjusted the blanket around the baby. Kieran thought she cooed and smiled for him, too, but it was hard to tell.
Smile…maybe gas. Who knew?
They’re both undercover…
And in way over their heads.
To arrest a powerful cult leader, Officer Simon Woolridge needs evidence former group member Andi Matheson doesn’t know she has.
But the pregnant heiress is being targeted by two killers—and hiding even more secrets.
Now as she and Simon go on the run through a ferocious Colorado blizzard, her resourcefulness ignites a passion the cynical agent never saw coming… and a trap they have only one shot to survive.
An invigorating ride to escape The Family cult, and its deadly and dangerous leader. The mini-series about the Ranger Brigade's investigation to The Family comes to a thrilling and treacherous end, where Asteria's fate and future are resolved.
Asteria, aka Andi Matheson, has been part of each story from the beginning of the series. Her back-story is a twisted mangle of betrayal, deceit, and disappointments. She is pregnant with a child of an FBI agent who turned out be married with a family. Her father is a former senator who in revenge went and killed the FBI agent and is now in prison. She was the lover of the Prophet at The Family camp yet she found out he was sleeping with other women as well.
Andi has come across as a desolate, desperate, yet not very warm and friendly person since the beginning of the series. I was worried that I could not connect with her and could not learn to like her but that was an unfounded worry, indeed. When I got to know the story from Andi's point of view and when I see the thoughts and emotions gerning inside her, my heart went out to her immediately. She is determined to change her sociality lifestyle of superficial connections, and in the process, without any guidance, got lost and misguided, bringing her to the situation she is now in. She is a loving, caring, and passionate woman, who wants to find her place in the world, take care of her child and build a good, solid future for both of them.
Officer Simon Woolridge has also made an appearance in the previous novels in the series, but more in the background than Andi. Simon is a marvelous character, he is by-the-book law enforcement agent, he is stubborn, judgmental, and quick to make up his mind. He comes across at first as a crumby and uptight, but inside there is a loving, caring, considerate man with a passionate heart and deep, burning attraction for Andi and need to keep her and her baby safe. I absolutely loved Simon, with all the imperfections that he owned and admitted himself, as well.
The road Andi and Simon have to take to find the new beginning, to find safety and peace is a roll-a-coaster ride of danger, threats, and attacks. The constant menace, peril, and death threats keep the intensity high throughout the story. The mishaps and lack of backup keep both Andi and Simon on their toes, causing them to make few costly mistakes.
The relationship between Andi and Simon is filled with passion and tender, sweet feelings. I thought the connection between them was authentic. I believed in the feelings developing between them despite Andi's past. The ending was just perfect considering everything they, and especially Andi, had gone through in the previous year.
Andi and Dimon's story felt like 'this is how it was supposed to work out' and it felt right and destined to be so. So many swoon-worthy moments, so much emotion, and affection. It was hard to pick up my favorite moment, my favorite scene.
I have enjoyed this series from the very beginning with its unique setting, the alluring and engaging cast of characters, each story unique, filled with emotions and danger.
An exciting, entertaining, and captivating tale that had me up late at night so I could make sure that justice was served, that Andi and Simon found their safe haven in life, their destiny, and future together.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
THE RANGER BRIGADE: FAMILY SECRETS SERIES
Each image is linked to the Books & Spoons review blog post with the buy links