Wanted: Husband and Father
Stunned that his sister ordered him a mail-order bride, John Wallin insists he's not the husband Dottie Tyrrell needs. The scholarly logger knows Dottie will make the perfect wife--for some other man. Yet he's compelled to invite the lovely widow and her infant son to stay with his family...but only until she can find her own way.
Dreams of true love are for other women. Betrayed by her baby's father, Dottie just wants a safe home for her precious child. But who could resist a man with John's quiet strength? When her secret past brings danger to their door, they may yet find this mail-order mix-up to be the perfect mistake...
What a delightful, refreshingly genuine, and endearing story! Last night I was just going to start the book and finish it today, but I was so engaged in the twists of the plot and the destinies of the characters I could not put it down until I reached the very satisfying ending of the tale.
The story is well balanced and the plot is built cleverly. It has the perfect portion of drama and trouble, joy and sweetness, faith in God and growth as a character. All the elements are well embedded into the romance, suspense, and the everyday life at the frontier, engaging the mind of the reader, and welcoming to join the scenes.
John Wallin is such a good, lovable man. He is humble, kind, helpful, generous, protective, great with kids, adults, and pets. His doubts of his own worth and input to the society showed his unpretentious nature and made me love and appreciate him even more. He is both alpha and beta, and the perfect mate to Dottie Tyrrell. I loved his relationship with the Lord. John's faith is a natural part of him, and his conversations in prayer with God are artless and sincere.
Dottie's life is currently driven by the motivation to keep her son safe, and herself away from her baby's father. The fear, shame, worrying and suppressing her life, emotions, and future goals and needs are all temporary. Underneath it all is a kindhearted, capable, and lonely woman, wishing for a connection and circle of friends, even family, to belong to.
The connection between John and Dottie is adorable and tangible. The danger intensifying around them increase the depth of the emotions growing between them, yet the feelings are true and real and hold the test of the drama and trouble surrounding Dottie's past.
A charming, genuine, earnest tale that captivated my mind and won over my heart.
~ Four Spoon with a teaspoon on the side
by J.L. Meyers
Genre: Psychological Thriller
A fatal car crash. The sole survivor. And the dark hooded stranger that wants her dead.
When a terrible accident--not accident--stole my parents’ lives, my whole perfect life changed. My memories are hazy, and there are scars on my wrists. I’ve been locked away for my own protection…until I prove my sanity, until I lie. There was no hooded figure on the road that day, no one standing over me as I lay paralyzed watching my parents burn.
I am Cassidy Lockheart…20-year-old orphan.
Determined to free my caged mind, I find myself far away on an unexpected trip to help return my forgotten past. The snow was part of my life before, but now it’s like a blank slate, until an avalanche changes everything. But I’m not alone. These other ‘lucky’ trip winners may not be the strangers they pretend to be. And my hooded attacker…I see him everywhere.
Is this real? Or delusion caused by head trauma?
Either way, I’m being watched. I can sense it. I can feel it. Someone is after me; maybe they’re after us all. The avalanche was no accident. It was staged to deliver us to this abandoned place. A place where the walls whisper dark secrets of a sinister past…a past no one can escape. Trapped, this snow won’t let up…it won’t let us leave. My lost memories hold clues, but they’re buried so deep, polluted and twisted in my every waking nightmare. What is real? I don’t have the answers. But I need them. Time is ticking and if I don’t figure this all out soon it will be too late.
The past is coming for us all…and it wants blood.
Warning - This book contains some graphic scenes that are only for an adult audience.
Psychological Thriller / Horror
"Think of the tension of Silence of the Lambs combined with the horror of Carrie and you have Nerve Damage. This is a psychological thriller that won’t let you put it down, yet you are almost too scared to turn the page!”
This chilling tale from J.L. Myers is a suspenseful and twisted addition to other great psychological thrillers from the likes of Sarah A. Denzil, K.L. Slater, and Dot Hutchison.
I trudged along a scenic, tree-winding road that saw at most a few cars every hour. In gray jeans and a black hoodie, I blended into the dreary surroundings, just another shadow below the early morning ashen clouds.
A deep ache settled in and I shrugged my clanking backpack higher once, twice, three times after a few more steps. My gloved hand on the strap kept the heavy load from sliding back down. My car was well out of reach now. Out of sight too, down over the steep drop-off to the right in an isolated parking lot no one used in these colder months of the year. Safe and hidden…until I needed it. The rain that fell was ignored, the crunch of wet gravel under my combat boots lost to the sway of wind-battered trees.
Though I stared ahead, what I saw was not the hardening downpour or the flying of loose leaves. Instead, I saw a girl’s face. Young. Innocent. Twentyish with forest-green eyes and long, almost black hair. Her smile had been infectious and the words from her pretty mouth had set my course. “…Saturday morning. At the crack of dawn. My dad doesn’t believe in waiting for sunrise. Not when the whole day is waiting. That Kananaskis Trail…”
Now I was here. Soon I’d be the one waiting.
Right before a hairpin bend on this less-traveled road, my booted strides stopped. Anticipation filled me with a flood of warmth, but a deep breath of brisk air tightened my chest. I ignored the discomfort as raindrops trickled down my brow and cheeks. After days, months, and years this was it. There was no turning back now. This was my only escape, my only way to make the past right.
Dropping my backpack with a clatter and quick stretch of my back, I bent over. A flash of cold metal came free, long like a chain but not as smooth. The long length jangled as I stretched it out over the asphalt and then the weedy grass beyond before tucking the end behind a bush.
A quick jog delivered me back across the road and I reclaimed my lumpy backpack. Then I was back at the bush and crouching behind it. A quick grab and click cemented the scene as my Polaroid camera hummed out a happy snap. A memento. As I tucked the device back out of the rain, a set of headlights shone around a smooth bend back down the road and brought my head up.
“Shit!” I spat from beneath my hood as an old sedan sailed too fast up the rain-slicked road. My gloved hands tugged the length of metal back just before the sedan’s tires could claim those sharp spikes. Heart pounding like a drum, I muttered as I watched the red taillights disappear around the bend. Wrong car. Then I ran out to string those spikes back in place. An approaching white glow had my hood snapping up to see another car coming.
Right on time.
Racing back over the road, I dove for cover behind the bush. The headlights of the approaching white Merc flashed on highs for two beats.
I’d been spotted.
And then the front tires hit the spikes. With a hiss of released air, traction was lost. The man driving yanked the steering wheel and anchored on the brakes, the tires barely squealing on the wet asphalt. But it was too late. The drenched road provided a slippery passage as the sedan fishtailed then spun, sliding sideways over the edge too fast to stop. It tipped on the sudden drop-off, tumbling guts over roof, guts over roof.
The tall cypress tree that halted its descent with a deafening clap wasn’t a Godsend. Metal cried out as it curved around the tree, reshaping the driver’s side and shattering the windshield.
And then there was a moment of pure quiet, nothing but the sound of peaceful whooshing wind as the rain eased off.
Tugging back the spikes and concealing them behind the bush, I hoisted up the backpack and unhurriedly made my way down the slippery path to the wreck. The next part to come was a means to an end. My anticipation lied in the aftermath but not in this act. And yet with each step, I felt nothing. No uncertainty. No regret. Those feelings I’d shed long ago. I’d had no choice.
Reaching the wreckage, red was visible beneath the mud-caked windows. My backpack was dropped to gain a closer look. The middle-aged female in the front passenger side was out cold, with cuts that leaked blood down her face to her blouse. In the driver’s side, the man’s features were unrecognizable, covered in glossy red. There was a creak of movement. It wasn’t him. In the back, there she was, her perfect lips no longer smiling and dark bruising puffing up her pale face. With a blink of her lids over her bloodshot green eyes, she wasn’t dead.
Unfortunate for her…she was coming around.
I tugged the car’s back door open and reached in, taking hold of the young woman and dragging her out. She was pretty out of it, eyes dazed and lids twitching. She was injured too, with multiple cuts and bruises on her face and arms. A bump on her forehead was ballooning beneath the skin. Her feet trailed as I dragged her by her arms across the mushed-up ground.
Then I noticed the object she somehow clutched in her tight fingers. A phone. Relieving her of the device once we were well out of reach, I positioned her to face the wreck.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got you now.”
My combats squelched through the mud back to the car, and with a lean over the dead man, a click sounded as I unlocked the fuel tank. Back around the Merc, I found the fuel lid open and unscrewed the cap. My black Zippo lighter came free of my pocket along with a long rag. A minute or so after soaking the rag and I was yards away, the Zippo’s flame fighting the wind and rain and losing.
“Cassidy…” The woman still in the car—the young woman’s mother—was waking up. Still alive. She moved as her hand came up to her head. “Cas…talk to me.” She groaned, and then sucked air as she twisted to get a better view, seeing her husband and the empty back seat. “Cas!”
The girl’s eyes fluttered then went wide. Her voice was a painful rasp. “Mom…”
“Time to say goodbye.” There was a crunching scrape as the Zippo sparked back to life. The flame met the material’s end and I returned to the girl, turning to see the fire retreat.
“Mom!” The girl’s voice was shrill, and she swayed as she scrambled to get up. Her eyes rolled like marbles, bringing her back down. And then it was too late. With a whoosh the soaked rag below the sedan ignited in a fiery ball, climbing up the metal walls and curving inside the dry cab. The woman’s shrieks cut through the dying rain as my camera immortalized this moment in time. But the sounds of her death faded all too fast, the fire taking her pain away. Taking her life away.
As the girl I’d saved from the wreck whimpered, I readied what I needed before returning. Standing over her, the small boulder in my hands blocked the view of my face. The hefty weight of the rock returned that ache to my tired shoulders. “Don’t worry, Cassidy. This isn’t the end. I need your help…to bring them all to me.”
Jessica L Myers' vivid imagination and quiet demeanor as a child led her to the imaginary worlds of books. Even at a young age, her love for the supernatural was prevalent, with her first loved books being R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Following that she took an interest in other non-fantasy fiction, including Virginia C. Andrews series Flowers in the Attic.
In her teen years, Jessica spent many school hours writing poetry and dark short stories and took up sketching some of the terrifying things that came from the graphic night terrors she’d grown up with.
As an adult and after meeting the love of her life, Jessica got married and started a small construction business with her husband. With the birth of her son, Jessica suffered PPD and found escape in her books and their fantasy landscapes. It was at this time that her need to write flourished. In 2009 the decision was made and the first words to her New Adult Paranormal Romance novel What Lies Inside were written.
When Jessica isn’t immersed in writing about extraordinary characters with dangerous abilities and deadly obstacles to overcome, she likes to spend time with her two kids and husband, curl up with a good book, or watch anything and everything supernatural.
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RISKING HER HEART
Sloane Hartley is deeply rooted to her family’s ranch in Blue Falls, Texas. So she isn’t about to risk falling for a tempting tumbleweed like Jason Till. To Sloane, Jason is a handsome heartbreak waiting to happen. Like all rodeo cowboys. If she ever let herself love again, she certainly wouldn’t pick someone like him!
Jason only has eyes for one prize – the steer-wrestling championship. And he can’t afford any distractions. Certainly not a blond beauty with trust issues like Sloane. She represents everything a cowboy on the circuit can’t have anyway – home, family, a real relationship. Everything he thought he didn’t need. But when he’s with Sloane, Jason can’t remember why winning at the rodeo seemed so important…
I have really enjoyed seeing the Hartley siblings falling in love and finding their partners for life. There is something so heartwarming and outright fun about the family, the caring, the protectiveness, the banter, the teasing, the bond they have and how they are with each other - it was impossible for me not to fall for them!
Sloane has from the start been the most brickly sibling in the bunch, she keeps people at the arm's length even though it is obvious she has a heart the size of Texas, and she truly cares for the people surrounding her. Her camp for the foster kids is something she burns for, has a great passion for, to create lasting, happy memories with those whose everyday life is more challenged than most kinds lives ever will be.
The foster kid aspect of the story and the adopted siblings in the family are told about in an inspiring and encouraging way. I find myself wanting to support the cost and to make a difference after each book I have read in the series. That is a rare occasion that a story speaks so strongly to my heart, an admirable accomplishment for sure!
Jason Till is a true cowboy hero. He is kind, generous, considerate, handsome, and good with kids. He captures Sloane's attention, yet it takes a true effort on Jason's part and the whole family's help, to get Sloane to trust her instincts and her feelings. Thankfully, Jason has patience, good intentions, and his heart is true as enticing Sloane is not easy and it takes time for her to open up and trust both Jason's and her own feelings.
Then life throws a curveball and the budding relationship is put to a test either of them could not have foreseen.
A tender and sweet romance in a charming tale of rodeo cowboy on the road, falling in love with a woman whose trust and love is as challenging to win, as the national rodeo championship.
~ Four Spoons
HIS HIGH-STAKES BRIDE
Texan Brides #3
by Martha Hix
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 8/29/2017
Win, lose—or fall in love . . .
After losing her mama and all she has, vagabond Patience “Patty” Sweet dreams of reuniting with her father in the New Mexico territory. So she teams up with a no-good gambler whose winnings enable her to get her closer to her destination. Patty hates hanging around saloons and poker parlors, pulling dishonest deeds. But when a game of five-card draw goes wrong in Lubbock, Texas, Patty gets offered up as collateral—to a handsome stranger who’s about to turn the tables . . .
Lawyer Grant Kincaid has no intention of claiming his prize—a nearly nineteen-year-old petite beauty with sweet eyes—who has a hold on him he can’t deny. But as he tries to help Patty untangle herself from her shady partner, he discovers she’s not as innocent as she seems. For starters, she’s already stolen his hardened heart . . .
Lubbock, Texas, 1910 Under a full moon
It is a sad day in a woman’s life when she comes to grips with weakness of character. Today might have been that way for Patience Eileen Sweet, but she couldn’t dwell on something like that. Not this day, which had turned into a warm autumn night in 1910. Not when she intended to escape the mess of her own making. Her papa would have told her, “Patty Cake, proceed with caution.” He always claimed full moons bring babies, lunatics, and any number of disasters, particularly mine cave-ins.
Tonight would bring change; that she knew beforehand. This night unfolded for Patty in a saloon. By the midnight hour the floozies had served their last drinks and were nowhere to be seen, most of the customers having cleared out. The bartender did nothing to cover his yawns. Cigar smoke still curled toward the tin ceiling. Gaming chips still pinged. Three gamblers refused to give in or give up.
Still and all, it would be over soon.
Looking up from her mending, she meant to steal a glance at her “stepbrother,” but she locked gazes with one of the gamblers instead, and not for the first time this evening. The three were close enough that she could get a good look—he was the handsomest man she’d ever seen. As he had the other times, he nodded once. There was a puzzled, curious look to his fine features, certainly not the nasty-old-pervert leer that Dorinda had warned her to look out for.
She did like this man’s black-haired, blue-eyed looks. He wore the garb of a West Texan—a yoked shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons and denim britches that hugged him just right. His boots were the same kind that cowboys wore, only this ’poke’s weren’t scuffed or worn out. His clothes looked too clean, his hair and chin too smooth for a man of the land. He looked rich.
Patty moved her line of sight to her partner-in-crime, Chet Merkel. It was his turn to deal, and she could tell he was losing at five-card stud. They couldn’t afford for him to lose, not even for one evening, yet she prayed for his bad luck.
She knew what his next move would be. He’d barter her virginity. For the third time.
Twice before to two different men in two different towns.
Tonight it was Scarlet Garter Jenny’s Saloon. The “winner” would be a short, dark sheriff wearing a big, thick wedding ring. Or else the winner might be that curious fellow—the smooth-shaven pretty boy that the drunkards, gamblers, and preening waitresses called “counselor” and “mouthpiece,” with “Grant” or “Kincaid” thrown in from time to time. Well, the painted ladies usually said “Sugar.”
Neither of these men looked as gullible as the previous winners of her so-called prize.
Anyway, Patty knew how to get out of being the night’s reward. Did she even want to? Just looking at Grant Kincaid had her in a tizzy. One way or another, things would be different tonight. She was cutting all ties to her double-dealing snake of a “stepbrother,” Chet Merkel.
Definitely, she wouldn’t be rendezvousing with Chet later.
* * * *
Grant Kincaid spent many nights at the poker table. As a bachelor uninterested in ice-cream socials or musical recitals performed by the boring flowers of Lubbock society, he lacked choices beyond reading and visiting friends or relatives. Not that he had any local relatives, beyond the Kincaids of the High Hopes farm and ranch and their relatives, the Craigs. He hailed from the shoals of the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama. Besides, he enjoyed playing cards. After the last hand of an evening, he sometimes got lucky with one of the tarts, two if he was really lucky. He liked ’em ripe, filled out, and hotter than a thin-skinned jalapeño pepper
under the broiling Texas sun.
Tonight, he’d been leery of the tinhorn already at the Garter when Grant arrived for Thursday night poker. The odd-looking fellow, who’d shown up with an adolescent sister in tow, wanted to join the game between Grant and the general store proprietor, a local rancher, noted baker Mrs. Jewel Craig, and Sheriff Wes Alington, who played whenever his mother went visiting in San Angelo.
The last seat was occupied by a cotton-gin salesman from Dallas. Since the High Hopes Ranch showed that cotton could be successfully grown in West Texas, cotton had become a popular way to make money in the previous decade.
Tonight, the table cleared early with the less-than-dapper newcomer— he introduced himself as Chet Merkel—taking several hands. Jewel the baker bowed out first. Next went the general store man and the rancher. The cotton-gin representative took his leave after his third bad hand. That left Alington, Grant, and the tinhorn.
Luck started going Grant’s way, then the sheriff’s.
Always cool and quiet at the table, the compactly built lawman wore black and a shiny silver star, but never a sign of his wealth. His history with card playing didn’t reach far back. After he’d married a Valkyrie from the Hill Country, he’d taken up gaming. His mother had and would object to just about anything that might have “enjoyment” tacked to it, but the missus advised Alington just to do what he wanted, as long as he was smart enough to hide it from Mother Dear and it didn’t involve cavorting with other women. That was laughable. The sheriff had eyes only for his Lisa-Ann. Grant hoped when he found a wife that he could love her even half as much as Alington idolized the blonde from The Divide.
“Do you plan to answer my bet, Mr. Merkel?” Wes Alington pointed to the five green chips he’d slid to the center of the baize-covered table.
A bead of sweat popped on Merkel’s temple. Carelessly flicking cigar ashes on the floor, he cast a glance at his sister who sat primly in a straight chair in the corner, mending a garment that looked to be a shirt.
Grant eyed the girl, as he had several times. This dimple-cheeked young lady had long titian-hued hair held up in a big white bow. Dressed in the childish style of a sailor, she wore leggings that covered her slender calves, and her hems were short, befitting a little girl. He would bet every last chip in front of him that she wasn’t a day over sixteen.
She was too young to be candy to the senses. Most men of his age wanted to marry girls of sixteen or seventeen—often even younger, to pluck a cherry from the tree—but this man preferred women to girls, and he wasn’t angling for a wife.
That’s what he liked to tell himself. In truth, he yearned to find the ideal lady to fill the emptiness of his heart and home.
Martha Hix grew up in Texas and didn’t mind listening to stories about how her ancestors had been in the place for a long, long time. Well, in Texas that just meant more than a hundred years. This weird kid soaked up the stories and became an ardent student of family and general history, which came in handy when she took to writing both fiction and non-fiction. Eventually, her romance novels were translated into many foreign languages, some of them very foreign, like Japanese, Greek, and Turkish. On the home front, she lives in the fabulous Texas Hill Country with her husband and their spoiled four-legged kids. Visit her on the web at marthahix.com.
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Sir Arthur's Legacy #5
by Sarah Hegger
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 8/29/2017
A light in the darkness . . .
The youngest son of Anglesea, the once idealistic Henry has survived the Holy Pilgrimage, but lost all his deeply held beliefs in honor and nobility. Captured in battle, he is sold as a slave into the home of Alif Al-Rasheed, a wealthy Genovese merchant who has converted to Islam. Bereft of faith, imprisoned in a foreign land, Henry has lost hope in his ability to love again—until he lays eyes on his captor’s beguiling daughter.
A marriage of opposites . . .
To Henry, Alya is a beacon of beauty he cannot ignore. But the heart of this proud daughter of Cairo will not be won so easily. Divided by religion, language, and culture, Ayla has little in common with the disillusioned Englishman—and yet he has vowed to protect her life in exchange for his freedom. As they embark on a perilous journey to safety, their bond will grow—and be tested—in ways neither can anticipate. For their greatest challenges will arise where Henry least expects. With threats conspiring to divide them, will he find the strength to stand by Ayla—and together will they find a common ground on which to build a future?
A mix of dust, goat, and spices of a hundred evening cook fires infused the air. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon twined together and made English’s mouth water. Sunset splashed the sky above Cairo in burnt orange, growing brighter closer to the fiery ball sinking behind the soaring minaret. He tried to remember the name of that mosque, but his head didn’t work like it used to.
After herding a small flock of goats into their pens for the night, he ended his working day with the soft click of the latch.
From the city beyond the walls came the wail of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. “Allah is great; Allah is great.”
The inner courtyard emptied as people sought their prayer mats. “I bear witness that there is no divinity but Allah.”
English bore witness to no divinity, and he did not pray. At one time, in another land and to another god, he might have.
Drawn to the heat the stones gathered during the day, he pressed his aching back to the wall and waited.
Like him, she did not pray. The girl on the wall. He knew her name as Alya, had heard it called often enough, but to him she remained the girl on the wall.
Curtains fluttered at the open doorway on the roof balcony. Here she came. For certain, she remained unaware of him concealed in the deepening shadows and watching. To be caught with his eyes on her now would mean Bahir and his whip. Still he waited, would not move from this spot until he saw her.
There. A slim figure shrouded by her hijab.
The girl on the wall stopped at the parapet and faced the street. She pushed aside the hiqab, which concealed all but her eyes. Then, she lifted her hijab and shook her hair free. It spilled down her back as she raised her face in a silent blessing to the day that passed. Dying sunlight rushed to pay tribute to her loveliness. Her hair dark and lustrous as the wood of the wild cherry that grew in a thicket he had once walked, her skin like crushed almonds.
Not that he could see from this distance, but her eyes above her niqab were lighter than he would have expected. A mix of green and brown that he had only glimpsed in passing before she hastily lowered her head. He wouldn’t call her beautiful in the way of other women now hazy in his mind. Her chin held too firm a jut, her nose slightly hawk-like. The strong slash of her cheekbones bore testament to her mixed blood. She had a strong face, fascinating, and in her private moment on the rooftop her elemental fire drew him like a starving man to a feast. Her very essence called to that barely living part of him that remembered life in abundance. In her evening ritual, she discarded the modesty she showed during the day. She believed the rest of the household to be at prayer and in these forbidden moments before she would be called in, or admonished by the older woman who always accompanied her, English became a man again.
* * * *
“Come in, Alya.” Nasira beckoned from beyond the curtains. The old woman knew Alya well enough to end her prayers early and drag her back inside before anyone else saw her. Creases on Nasira’s craggy features meant another lecture on the way.
As Alya reached the point on the rooftop garden where her hoarse whisper could be heard Nasira started. “You show your face like a street woman.” Nasira shook her head. “What will people think when they see you like so?”
“Nobody sees me.” Alya pushed the gauzy curtains aside. A stiffening evening breeze sent them dancing around her. “I only do it when nobody else is about.”
“Somebody is always about.” Grabbing a brush, Nasira motioned for Alya to sit. “Especially now.”
“Why especially now?” Nasira’s tone gave Alya pause. She tried to turn and look at her.
Nasira rapped her on the head with her brush. “Stay still. Your father has called for you to attend him after prayers.”
“He did?” They always ate the evening meal together.
Huge frown creasing her brows, Nasira nodded. “There has been trouble, habibti. In the suq today.”
Trouble in the suq hardly deserved the look of doom Nasira’s face. Trouble blew perpetually through the suq. One merchant squabbled with another, buyers quibbled over prices, and the constant thieves threaded through the place like snakes, always looking for the chance to strike. “What happened?”
“I will let your father tell you, but it is bad. Bad.” Nasira lowered her head in obeisance. “Enna lillah wa enna elaihe Rajioun.”
“Did someone die?” Alya swung about on the stool, wincing as Nasira’s hold on her hair tugged at the roots.
“You ask too many questions.” Nasira grabbed her shoulders and turned her about again. “Your father will tell you all you need to know.”
Her nurse should know better than to think she would leave it there. “But someone did die?”
“Come.” Nasira bustled to her clothing and grabbed a fresh tunic. “I sent the boy for water, you must wash and attend your father.”
A new tunic meant the news her father bore was weighty. She washed and dressed quickly, flinging her veil over her shoulder as she trotted out of her chamber and down the stairs to the small, inner courtyard shaded on one end, where her father and she shared their evening meals. The table lay set for their meal but her father sat beside a small pond, staring into the water.
His skin was so darkened by the sun, a stranger could never tell he had not been born in this land, but had come from somewhere beyond the sea. “Alya.” Holding his hands out, he smiled and drew her forward for a
kiss on both cheeks. “Nasira tells me you have been on the roof again.” “The sunset was particularly beautiful today.” She could always get
around him with a bit of teasing. He smelled as he always did of silk and spices, and fruit tobacco from his hookah.
Tonight, he turned from her and went back to his study of the pool. “You need to be careful, Alya.”
“What happened in the suq?” Father dressed, ate, spoke, acted and even prayed as a son of this land, but he had raised her differently. Nasira warned his indulgence of her would come to no good, but Alya had always been encouraged to speak openly with her father.
“A merchant was killed.” Father trailed his fingers through the water. Flashes of light glimmered beneath the surface as fish darted away from him. “A foreign merchant. He was murdered.”
“Why?” Alya sank to the low stone lip of the pond. Her father acted not
as himself this evening. Dread prickled across her skin and sunk deep into her belly. “What are you not telling me?”
“The tension between the local merchants and the foreigners grows worse.” With a sigh, he sat beside her and rubbed the back of his neck. “And the Sultan does nothing to aid the foreigners. What, with the same battle taking place in his palace, his hands are tied.”
“You know why?” Father looked up at her. She had her eyes from him, a mix of green and brown that marked them clearly as not from here.
Alya nodded, she did know why. “The army of unbelievers.”
Even now, years after the Nile had risen and forced the invaders to flee, the distrust lingered.
“You must be more careful than ever.” Father captured her hand and squeezed. “Eyes are everywhere and looking for a way to discredit us.”
When dripped with venom from the wrong tongue, her simple act of freedom on the walls at sunset could take on the worst of connotations. She nodded. “I will be more careful.”
“Let us enjoy our dinner.” Father smiled but the worry lingered. “And then I must see Bahir.”
Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble. Mimicking her globetrotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother. She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
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The perfect summer escape…?
Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him – too gorgeous, and still too good for her – and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in The Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the perfect way to escape her past…
Their relationship might only have lasted a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss – if she’s run away to The Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her…
From Manhattan With Love is the one series this year that I have bought all the paperbacks for, addition to having the ebooks because I love the series so much that I wanted to have them visually present on my bookshelves, as keepsakes. I guess that is a true book-girl thing...
Why do I love the series - and Holiday in the Hamptons -so much?
The characters are real, they are like us, like the people we meet every day and spend our time with. They live in this fairytale, yet they have real problems, real issues, relationships that are challenging, and families that not only drive them mad but shaped them to be the people they are today.
The dialog is lively, it is sassy, and borderline bantering even when talking to and with their grandmom. And the dialog is refreshing, it is fun, and it is built such way that it keeps the plot flowing forward and the moment alive and vibrant, keeping the energy elevated in every scene.
Each story in the series has had me completely lost in the tale, right there with the characters, feeling and experiencing life with them. I love the closeness of the friends they have, the love and support for their siblings are admirable.
Felicity 'Fliss' Knight is a bit of a drama queen, she is a woman with big emotions. Fliss is the most loyal, protective, and loving to those she cares about, yet she is the master of hiding her feelings and running from the emotions that tumble inside of her heart and mind. Coming from a dysfunctional family, she is used to protecting her twin sister, she is used to standing in front of any threat towards her, might that be bullying, hurtful words, or painful emotions. At the same way, she has learned to protect herself and her feelings, hiding from the possible pain a rejection and dismissal might bring.
Seth Carlyle is the golden boy, the successful, friendly, kind, considerate, handsome vet of the town, that everyone admires. He is open, honest, and a loving man and recent loss had made him realize letting Fliss go ten years ago was the biggest mistake of his life. Determination and patience are Seth's strengths, and he is going to need them to convince Fliss that trusting him, opening up to him, and learning to love him are going to be a worth the risk of pain.
As much as this is a story of second chance romance, this is a story about families, the influence the growing up years has on us, and how it shapes us as people. There is always more going on behind the closed doors than anyone outside can know, there is no such thing as a perfect family. Yet the love and caring are there, the loyalty, and protectiveness is strong. Fliss has a lot to learn from the broken family of hers and she has much more to offer to people around her that she might give herself a credit for. Holiday in the Hamptons is a story about learning to trust, to be open, to share the deep, dark, scary thoughts and emotions that most would rather run away from. It is a story about learning to be vulnerable and exposed to loved ones to make the relationship work and last a lifetime.
While this was a fun, entertaining, and witty story of love, trust, and families, it also has life lessons embedded in it that made me take a notice. A cleaver, smoothly flowing, humorous, and delightful tale to continue the brilliant series
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Their future was set. He was going to be a firefighter, and she was going to be a filmmaker. They were going to get married and live happily-ever-after with two kids and a dog…She supposed one out five ain’t bad.
Mackenzie Sutton was an award-winning documentary filmmaker who had put her past where it belonged, behind her. But when her old flame’s hometown becomes the setting for her new project, she’s forced to remember what she wanted with all her heart but never got to have.
Eli Bishop achieved his goal and became a firefighter. And although the sexy hero risks his life daily, in reality, he has nothing to lose since he lost her all those years ago.
With fate giving them a second chance, both Mackenzie and Eli will be forced to relive the past if there is any hope of them having a future in…Fire and Love.
Stand-alone Hope Falls romance, complete with HEA--and plenty of heat and heart along the way! For 18+
Returning to Hope Falls sort of feels like coming home, so many memories there with people you have grown to care about. And it was nice to run into couple characters from the original cast, I swear I had this smug smile on my face while reading about the book club 'I knew them way before...'. Hah.
Eli Bishop and Mackenzie Sutton have that special bond of a teenage first love. But the love they experienced at the young age wasn't puppy love, it was one of those rare occasions where the young feelings take a deep root, where the intentions are sincere and the desire to build a future together is real. But life happens and they are torn apart without a word of explanation or a goodbye.
Eli, the kind and considerate firefighter, who is always willing and able to extend a helping hand, who cares and take care of people around him, is genuinely a nice guy. He has that boy next door vibes, he adores his mom and has a great relationship with his parents. He would do anything to protect his family and is not afraid to stand up for bullies. His feelings for Mackenzie are bottomless, passionate, and true. He knows what he lost a long ago when he walked away from her and is now willing to do the hard things, to have the difficult conversations, to be vulnerable and open to get her back, if only she would give him a chance for that.
Mackenzie Sutton had her heart broken by Eli when he walked away without a word of explanation. She has done her best to built her life, to fulfill her dreams and goals, yet the yearning for more, the longing for Eli, and missing what they had has always been at the back of her mind. Mackenzie knows her feelings for Eli will always be there and can be ignited to a blazing inferno by one touch. To enjoy the physical connection and flame between them is one thing, to be open and talk about the past, the hurt and pain Eli cost her and the reasons for it is too dangerous for her peace of mind.
The dance between Eli and Mackenzie and their flaming feelings is a beautiful, emotional, and adorable thing to witness. The palpable heartache, the tangible passion, the earnest feelings, adoration, and admiration they have for each other string all the feels of the reader, causing smiles and sighs throughout the tale.
Fire and Love is a charming tale of first love, the kind of love that last a lifetime and no distance or disruption can dim its force or its fierceness. It is a story about a delicate second chance with love, a delightful new chance with the alluring fire burning in Eli and Kenzie for each other. It is a wonderful, smoothly flowing romance story that hits all the feels as it unfolds.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Pretend You're Safe
by Alexandra Ivy
Genre: Romantic Suspense
He Sees You
First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .
He Knows You
Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.
And He’ll Never Let You Go
Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention-seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .
“Alexandra Ivy gives readers a nice balance of romance and suspense in her fast-paced, well-plotted novel.” --Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author
On some level Jaci knew that Elmer was keeping up a running conversation, but it was impossible to make out the words over the buzzing in her head. And thankfully the older man didn’t seem to expect a response as he coaxed her to drink the overly sweet coffee and eat one of the muffins she’d baked earlier that morning.
God, it seemed a lifetime ago.
Since then, a dead body had been found floating in a field. And a skull. The sheriff had dismissed her fears as if she was a whackadoodle. She’d endured a meeting with her mother. And her mysterious stalker had made a return, leaving one of his creepy lockets for her to find.
She didn’t know which was worse.
As she finished the muffin, however, the sugar kicked in and her shock began to ease. At least enough to be aware of the sound of the back door closing and Rylan moving to stand next to the sofa.
Tilting her head, she felt the familiar jolt of awareness.
The same awareness she’d felt when she’d returned home to see Rylan standing in her front yard. And again when she’d opened her eyes minutes ago to find him bending over her, his expression tight with concern.
Heck, she’d been aware of this man since she first understood the difference between boys and girls.
From a very young age, Rylan had been stunningly handsome. His features were finely chiseled, with a proud, aquiline nose and wide brow. His eyes had always been a fascinating shade of gold, but they were emphasized since his move to California, where his skin had been tanned to a rich bronze and his hair had been bleached to a light blond.
He also had the sort of body that made a woman itch to run her hands over every inch of his hard, perfectly sculpted muscles.
But it was his raw, male power that captured and held her attention. He had a potent energy that could fill a room and stir a woman’s deepest fantasy.
It was really no surprise she’d been plagued by a desperate puppy love for her gorgeous neighbor. Even when he’d made it painfully clear that he wasn’t, and never would be interested in her as more than a friend.
She was a young woman in a town where gorgeous men were few and far between. The only surprise would be if she hadn’t been obsessed with Rylan Cooper.
Now she grimly squashed her predictable response to his presence as she glanced toward the window. She could hear people moving around her porch, but she couldn’t see anyone.
“Where’s Mike?” she demanded.
Rylan’s gaze moved to the tray she’d set on the low coffee table, as if assessing whether or not he was satisfied with how much she’d managed to eat.
“He’s doling out duties to his deputies,” he at last said. “He’ll be in once he’s done.”
She frowned in confusion. “What duties?”
“Dusting for prints and taking pictures.”
“I asked Ed to photograph your driveway as well as the yard for any footprints,” Mike explained as he entered the living room, clearly having used the back door. “It’s a long shot, but it’s better than nothing.”
“Mike.” She managed a shaky smile as she watched her friend move across the room, taking a seat on the sofa next to her.
“Hey, Jaci.” He removed his hat, then reached to take her hand so he could give it a tight squeeze. “I’m so sorry. I should have listened to you earlier.”
She wrinkled her nose. “It doesn’t matter now.”
“It does, but we’ll discuss it later,” he said. Mike was the sort of person who was always harder on himself than anyone else. He glanced toward the looming Rylan. “We’ll need some privacy.”
Rylan frowned, clearly not happy. “Why?”
Elmer moved to grab his son’s arm. “Come on, Ry.” Rylan dug in his heels. “No.”
Mike narrowed his gaze. “Is there a problem?”
“Yeah,” Rylan said, his jaw tight. “Jaci just suffered a severe shock. I’m not leaving her here alone.”
Mike scowled. “She’s not alone.”
With a firm tug, Elmer was urging his son out of the room. “We’ll be in the kitchen.”
Mike watched them leave before he turned his attention back to Jaci.
“Is there something I should know?”
She gave a slow shake of her head. Rylan had always been the sort of guy who stuck up for the underdog. He’d punched the local bully, Joey Burke, in the nose for picking on the younger boys. And risked his neck to save a baby duck that was trapped in an abandoned well.
Was he feeling some need to be her protector because she’d fainted?
Or was it a symptom of his guilt because he hadn’t believed her when she’d asked for his help all those years ago?
“I think the world’s gone insane,” she said.
“Me too,” Mike agreed. He sounded like his day had been almost as crappy as Jaci’s. Quite a feat. “Now tell me about the locket.”
Jaci gave an abbreviated version of her return home to find the necklace hanging on her doorknob.
She didn’t need to share her breathless reaction when she’d first caught sight of Rylan. Or her awkward haste to get rid of him, which explained why she hadn’t noticed the locket until she was just inches from the door.
Mike nodded, reaching beneath his jacket to pull out a small notebook and pencil that he’d no doubt bought at the local dollar store. In this area, cops had a limited budget. They had to trim costs whenever possible.
“Did you notice anyone when you were driving home?” Assuming he meant after she’d turned onto the gravel road that ran in front of her house, she gave a shake of her head.
“No.” She stiffened as she recalled the SUV. “Oh.”
“I thought I saw Blake, but I can’t imagine what he’d be doing out here.” She shrugged. “Besides, I spoke to Mother when I was in Baldwin and she mentioned he was flying back from St. Louis later tonight.”
A strange expression settled on his blunt features. “What about Christopher?”
“What about him?”
“Did you see him today?”
She stared at him in confusion. “I haven’t seen my half brother for almost two years, although I heard he’s back home,” she said.
Mike didn’t bother to write anything in his notebook. Instead he abruptly changed the direction of his questions.
“Is there anyone you can think of who would want to scare you?”
It was a question that had haunted her for years. “No.”
“Any enemies?” He held up a hand as her lips parted. “Even if you don’t think they would leave the locket?”
“You’re sure?” he pressed. “You’re a beautiful woman with a growing business. That can make people jealous. Especially if they think your success has come at their expense.”
She forced herself to consider his words.
It was true that there had been a few local ladies who had their noses out of joint at the high demand for her pastries. And there had been at least two farmers who’d tried to pressure her into selling her grandfather’s land after his death.
But they certainly weren’t her enemies.
Well, not unless she counted her half sister, Payton. But she couldn’t make herself believe the younger woman would sneak around to try and terrify her. She far preferred being a bitch in public.
“I really can’t think of anyone,” Jaci insisted.
Mike tapped his pencil on the notebook. “There haven’t been any other threats?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strange phone calls? Letters? E-mails?”
She frowned with impatience. Why was he wasting time?
“Mike, we both know this isn’t about some neighbor who’s pissed off about me baking muffins or selling crafts in my garage. The locket has something to do with that body you found this morning.”
His lips flattened. “I don’t want to leap to conclusions.” She flinched, disappointment slicing through her. How many times did she have to go through this?
First the fear. The knowledge some sicko was out there playing with her emotions. Then the pain at the realization that no one believed her.
She started to stand, only to be halted when Mike placed a restraining hand on her shoulder.
“Jaci, I’m trying to protect you,” he growled. “Something I can’t do if I don’t keep an open mind and investigate every potential threat.”
There was a sincerity etched on his face that made her heave a small sigh.
“I’m sorry.” She wrapped her arms around her waist. She felt chilled to the bone. “I just can’t believe this is starting again.”
His hand lightly glided over her shoulder and down her arm. “You know you can stay with me until we figure this out.”
It was tempting. Not only because she was a little itchy at the thought of remaining in such an isolated spot on her own. But because no lunatic would dare to try and get to her while she was in the protective custody of the sheriff.
Only the knowledge that she couldn’t hide in Mike’s house forever made her stiffen her backbone.
She had a life. And this was her home.
She wasn’t going to let the mysterious jerk steal either of them from her.
Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at AlexandraIvy.com.
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Duty and danger bring an alpha hero to Mystery, Montana
Waylon Fitzgerald had a life of adventure all planned out--one that did not include returning to his family's ranch to bring his missing ex-wife into custody for murder. With so much bad blood between them, the sexy military police officer understands why his ex's sister, Christina Bell, hates him. And yet he and Christina spark a sizzling attraction.
What changes everything for Waylon is Winnie, Christina's adorable ward...and the startling revelation that he's her father. When she goes missing--her mother a killer at large--Waylon's world is upended. Will he redeploy to follow his passions around the world...or stay where his heart has found an unexpected Christmas present?
Mr. Serious takes us back to Mystery, Montana where the murder investigations take a new turn, as Waylon Fitzgerald come home to help his brother to find his ex-wife who is the suspect in the murders of two women.
I liked Waylon, he made it easy to relate to him and admire him with his sensible look of life, his kindness and humbleness were outstanding. He is a take-charge kind of man, yet he can follow the rules and take direction. He's flexible and protective, he has a good sense of humor and a soft spot in his heart for Winnie from the first time he laid his eyes on her. He is a talented investigator, knows what he is doing, and gets results fast. His tangible love and respect for his family are admirable, the banter between the brothers is entertaining and fun.
Christina Bell has made a home on her sister's ex-husband's parent's ranch. She is the caretaker of little Winnie after Winnie's mother, who is also Christina's sister, goes missing. Even though Christina knows about the instability of her sister, she has taken her sister's stories about Waylon as the truth and judged him by those words before meeting him. Christina seems to leap before looking when it comes to most matters. She has a quick temper, and with the stress and fear in the air, it flairs. She keeps people at the arm's length, a lesson she learned well in her childhood home. And maybe that's the reason why I had such a hard time connecting with her.
Christina jumps right in to help Waylon and Wyatt with the investigation and while working together the sparks ignite between Christina and Waylon. Yes, it is like a daytime show with all the family relations getting mixed in, but the characters were aware of the drama as well. The secret the whole family has been keeping from Waylon is unacceptable, yet he seems to get over it fast. I don't understand the reasoning behind keeping the information from him, but I was in the minority since Waylon found the understanding and forgiveness in his heart rapidly.
The investigation has its intriguing twists, the tension escalating through the story keeping the suspense high.
The relationship between Christina and Waylon moves swiftly from dislike to admiration to attraction as the deeper feelings take root. But the road ahead of them will not be an easy one, and Christina is not convinced there could be a chance of future together for them.
I would recommend reading the book one in the series, Ms. Calculation, first. This story continues the suspense around the murder and mayhem happening in Mystery, Montana even though the couple trying to find their way to each other and a future together is a new one.
Adrent yet sweet love story on the side of tension riddled family secrets, murders, kidnappings, and burglaries moves the plot forward with a rapid space while the tension escalates, and loyalties are tested. A fascinating small town crime spree that takes unexpected turns and leaves the reader anticipating for more to come in the series
~ Four Spoons
Danica Winters is an Amazon bestselling author who has won multiple awards for writing books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and occasionally a touch of magic. Most recently, Danica was the winner of the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Paranormal Romantic Suspense Book of the Year Award and Chanticleer Media’s Paranormal Book of the Year for her novel Montana Mustangs.
When she’s not working, she can be found in the wilds of Montana testing her patience while she tries to understand the allure of various crafts (quilting, pottery, and painting are not her thing). She always believes the cup is neither half full nor half empty, but it better be filled with wine.
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KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE
by Heather Heyford
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 8/29/2017
When the town of Clarkston, Oregon, welcomes Captain Sam Owens home from the service, Sophia “Red” McDonald is first in line. The sassy psychotherapist has known Sam since they were kids, and the grown-up Sam is darned near irresistible. With his abs of steel and those gorgeous hazel eyes, he could have any woman he wanted. Naturally, Red is thrilled when he takes her hand . . .
She’s a modern woman, happy to canoodle with the sexy soldier, no strings attached—until her heart changes the rules. Suddenly, after months of casual hookups, Red finds she wants more. She longs to possess Sam body and soul. But his warrior's heart was wounded long before he joined the service. As a therapist, Red has ways of making him talk. Only if Sam opens up and spills his secrets can they finally have everything their hearts desire . . .
Heather Heyford is the author of contemporary romances set in the wine country. See what inspires her writing on her many Pinterest boards, read more about her on HeatherHeyford.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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An "international thriller with soul." Features a broad cast of characters with kids playing significant roles. Ideal reading for fans of Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Brad Thor, Dan Brown, Matthew Reilly, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and Vince Flynn.
Brainrush Series Summary
Brainrush is a story about second chances, and embracing every day of your life as though it’s your last. Called “a terrifically entertaining thriller” by Publishers Weekly, Book-1 of the series was named The Wall Street Journal #1 Bestselling Action/Adventure in their Guide to Self-Published Big Sellers, while Book-2 was on the Top-10 Amazon Mystery/Thriller Top Rated list for 53-straight weeks. This set the stage for the blockbuster release of the third book in the series, which was heralded by Suspense Magazine as “part science fiction, part thriller, part suspense, part love story, and part mystery. It’s got it all and that’s what makes this novel one of the best.” The characters live on in the final four books of the series. Books 4 & 5 were released in 2014, and were met with rave reviews that outpaced even those from the first three books. Book-5 was named “one of the best books of the year” by IndieReader.com. The final two books in the series, No Refuge and Against All Odds are available now, and they promise to keep you on the edge of your seat in a fashion that lives up to what the series is all about—a thought-provoking, soulful and satisfying rush that will keep you gasping long after the final page.
Get the first three books in a box set!!
Brainrush Series Book 1
by Richard Bard
Genre: Action/Adventure Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Publishers Weekly heralded the first book in Richard Bard's Brainrush thriller series as "terrifically entertaining" and "inventive and compelling." It went on to earn The Wall Street Journal's #1 Action/Adventure slot in the Guide to Self-Published Big Sellers list.
Before he slid into the MRI machine, Jake Bronson was just an ordinary guy with terminal cancer. But when an earthquake hits during the procedure, Jake staggers from the wreckage a profoundly changed man, now endowed with uncanny mental abilities.
An ocean away, Luciano Battista wants a piece of Jake's talent. Posing as a pioneering scientist, the terrorist leader has been conducting cerebral-implant experiments in a sinister quest to create a breed of super jihadist agents...and Jake's altered brain may be the key to his success. But Jake refuses to play the pawn in an unholy war--and when an innocent woman and autistic child are taken hostage to force his cooperation, he embarks on a jihad of his own. Jake and his band of loyal friends are thrust into a deadly chase that leads from the canals of Venice through Monte Carlo and finally to an ancient cavern in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan--where Jake discovers that his newfound talents carry a hidden price that threatens the entire human race.
An "international thriller with soul." Ideal reading for fans of Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Brad Thor, Dan Brown, Matthew Reilly, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and Vince Flynn.
Veterans Administration Medical Center Santa Monica, California
JAKE BRONSON SPENT THE PAST two weeks preparing to die. He just didn’t want to do it today,
trapped in this MRI scanner.
The table jiggled beneath him. He was on his way into the narrow tube like a nineteenth-
century artillery round being shoved into a cannon. The glassy-eyed gaze of the bored VA medical technician hovered over him, a yellow mustard stain on the sleeve of his lab coat.
“Keep your head perfectly still,” the tech said.
Yeah, right, like he had any choice with the two-inch-wide strap they had cinched over his forehead. Another wiggle and the lip of the tunnel passed into view above him. Jake squeezed his eyes closed, anxious to ignore the curved walls sliding by just an inch from his nose. Three deep breaths and the table jerked to a stop. He was in, cocooned from head to toe. He heard the soft whir of the ventilation fan turn on at his feet. The breeze chilled the beads of sweat gathering on his forehead.
The tech’s scratchy-sounding voice came over the speakers in the chamber. “Mr. Bronson, if you can hear me, press the button.”
A panic switch. Hadn’t he been in a constant state of panic ever since the doctors told him his disease was terminal? He’d agreed to this final test so he’d know how many months he had left to live, to make at least one positive difference in the world. After today, no more doctors. After today, he’d focus on living. Jake pressed the thumb switch gripped in his hand.
“Got it,” the tech said. “If it gets too confining for you in there, just press it again and I’ll pull you out. But remember, we’ll have to start all over again if that happens, so let’s try to get it right the first time, okay? We only need thirty minutes. Here we go.”
Jake’s thumb twitched over the panic button. Crap. He already wanted to push it. He should have accepted the sedative they had offered him in the waiting room. But his friend Marshall had been standing right there, chuckling under his breath when the tech suggested it.
Too late now.
Why the hell was this happening to him again? Cancer once in a lifetime was more than enough for anyone. But twice? It wasn’t right. He wanted to lash out, but at what? Or whom? This morning he’d smashed the small TV in his bedroom over a movie trailer for Top Gun 2. “Coming next fall.” He hated that he was going to miss that one.
The chamber felt like it was closing in on him. A claustrophobic panic sparked in his gut, a churning that grew with each pound of his heart, a hollow reminder of the crushing confines of the collapsible torture box he’d spent so many hours in during the air force’s simulated POW training camp.
Come on, Jake, man up!
Thirty minutes. That was only eighteen hundred seconds. He clenched his teeth and started counting. One, one thousand; two, one thousand; three--
The machine started up with a loud clanking noise. The sound startled him, and his body twitched.
“Please don’t move, Mr. Bronson.” The tech was irritated.
The tapping noise sounded different than he remembered from the MRI he had ten years ago. “Lymphoma,” the flight surgeon had said. “Sorry, but you’re grounded.” And just like that, Jake’s childhood dreams of flying the F-16 were cut short on the day before his first combat mission. The chemo and radiation treatments had sucked. But they worked. The cancer was forced into remission—until two weeks ago, when it reappeared in the form of a tumor in his brain.
The annoying rattle settled into a pattern. Jake let out a deep breath, trying to relax.
Eight, one thousand; nine, one thousand--
Suddenly, the entire chamber jolted violently to the right, as if the machine had been T-boned by a dump truck. Jake’s body twisted hard to one side, but his strapped head couldn’t follow. He felt a sharp pain in his neck, and the fingers on his left hand went numb. The fan stopped blowing, the lights went out, and the chamber started shaking like a gallon can in a paint-store agitator.
A keening whistle from deep within the machine sent shooting pains into Jake’s rattling skull. A warm wetness pooled in his ears and muffled his hearing.
He squeezed down hard on the panic button, shouting into the darkness, each word trembling with the quake’s vibration. “Get—me—out—of—here!”
No one answered.
He wedged his palms against the sidewalls to brace himself. The surface was warm and getting hotter.
The air felt charged with electricity. His skin tingled. Sparks skittered along the wall in front of his face, the first sign in the complete darkness that his eyes were still functioning. The acrid scent of electrical smoke filled his nostrils.
Jake’s fists pounded the thick walls of the chamber. He howled, “Somebody—”
His body went rigid. His arms and legs jerked spasmodically in seizure, his head thrown back. He bit deep into his tongue, and his mouth filled with the coppery taste of blood. Sharp, burning needles of blinding pain blossomed in the hollow at the back of his skull, wriggling through his brain. His head felt like it was ready to burst.
The earthquake ended as abruptly as it started.
So did the seizure.
Jake sagged into the table, his thumping heart threatening to break through his chest.
Faint voices. His mind lunged for them. He peered down toward his toes. A light flickered on
in the outer room. Shadows shifted.
The table jerked beneath him, rolling out into the room. When Jake’s head cleared the outer
rim of the machine, two pairs of anxious eyes stared down at him. It was the tech and Jake’s buddy Marshall.
“You okay?” Marshall asked, concern pinching his features.
Jake didn’t know whether he was okay or not. The tech helped him sit up, and Jake spun his legs to the side. He turned his head and spat a bloody glob of saliva on the floor. Holding the panic switch up to the tech, he said, “You may want to get this thing fixed.”
“I’m s-so sorry, Mr. Bronson,” the tech said. “The power went out, and I could barely keep my balance. I—”
“Forget it,” Jake said, wincing as he reached over his shoulder to massage the back of his aching neck. He gestured to the smoking chamber. “Just be glad you weren’t strapped down inside that coffin instead of me.” He slid his feet to the floor and stood up.
The room spun around him.
He felt Marshall’s firm grip on his shoulders. “Whoa, slow down, pal,” Marshall said. “You’re a mess.”
Jake shook his head. His vision steadied. “I’m all right. Just give me a second.” He took a quick inventory. The feeling had returned to his fingers. Other than a bad neck ache, a sore tongue, and a tingling sensation at the back of his head, there was no major damage. Clutching the corner of the sheet on the table, he wiped at the wetness around his ears. The cotton fabric came away with a pink tinge to it, but no more than that. He stretched his jaw to pop his ears. His hearing was fine.
Using the small sink and wall mirror by the door, Jake used a damp paper towel to make sure he got all the blood from his bitten tongue off his lips and chin. His face didn’t look so bad. The tan helped. His hair was disheveled, but what the hell, sloppy was in, right? And if he could get at least one good night of sleep, his eyes would get back to looking more green than red. It was a younger version of his dad that stared back at him. He sucked in a deep breath, expanding his chest. Six foot two, thirty-five years old—the prime of his life.
He tried to sort out just what had happened in that chamber, but the specifics were already hazy, like the fading details of a waking dream. He threw on his T-shirt and jeans and then grabbed his blue chambray shirt from a spike by the door and put that over the tee. As he slipped on his black loafers, he glanced back at the donut-shaped ring of the machine that had almost become his tomb. The seam that traveled around it was charred, with faint wisps of smoke still snaking into the air.
“Never again,” Jake muttered.
On the way out, a pretty nurse grabbed Marshall’s hand and slipped him a folded piece of paper. Jake stifled a smile. Ten to one it was her phone number, though the concerned look Marshall exchanged with her suggested otherwise.
Marshall stuffed the paper in his pocket, turned his back on her with a friendly wave, and followed Jake out the door. “Dude, you sure you’re okay?” he asked.
But an odd, sporadic buzzing in Jake’s head told him something was very different.
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The Enemy of My Enemy
Brainrush Series Book 2
The Enemy of My Enemy (Brainrush 2) became the Amazon #1 Top Rated (best reviewed) Mystery/Thriller, AND the #1 Top Rated Action/Adventure within one month of its release. It maintained the #1 or #2 slots for 10 straight months.
Bestselling author Richard Bard returns with his highly rated Brainrush thriller series, pitting hero Jake Bronson against his jihadist nemesis--and a new bioweapon that threatens the soul of every mother in America.
When a freak accident gave Jake Bronson near-superhuman mental powers and landed his loved ones in the crosshairs of an Islamic terrorist, the only way out was with guns blazing. But Jake was unable to put a stop to his nightmares or his murderous nemesis, Luciano Battista, in that ferocious Afghan mountains showdown. Now the terror czar and his minions have brought the fight to American soil--along with the most terrifying bioweapon that has ever threatened the free world. They demand vengeance, and Jake's family and friends are caught in the crossfire.
From California's beaches and Mexico's deserts to the depths of a raging underground river and the treacherous Venezuelan jungle, Jake and his unlikely alliance of combat veterans and gangsters wage a rolling war of wits, weapons, and indomitable will--to rescue those they love, to save America from extinction, and to stop a madman's bid for global conquest dead in its tracks.
Brainrush Series Book 3
With Publishers Weekly heralding the first book in his Brainrush thriller series as "terrifically entertaining" and "inventive and compelling," and Book-2 holding a death grip on the #1 or #2 slots of the Amazon Top-Rated (best reviewed) Mystery/Thriller and Action/Adventure lists for 10 straight months, Beyond Judgment, the third in the series, sees hero Jake Bronson at the mercy of his hidden past.
After waking up with amnesia from a six-year coma, Jake Bronson's past is lost to him. But that doesn't mean the past hasn't been looking for him--or that it will let him live when it finally catches up.
Jake's placid, anonymous life in Italy is shattered by the arrival of an assassination squad hell-bent on eliminating him--and he has no idea why he's in their crosshairs. He's saved only when an American scientist intervenes, wielding strange technology that briefly reactivates Jake's dormant memories and deadly skills. As unknown enemies continue to hound Jake's every step, the scientist helps him reconnect with lost friends and loved ones who believed him long dead.
Any happy reunion is forfeit, though, as Jake's murky history and mysterious talents conceal a terrible secret that--should it fall into the wrong hands--could trigger the extinction of the human race. Averting this apocalypse means Jake must risk everything to reawaken his true self and stop an ancient order from unleashing humanity's ultimate judgment.
Brainrush Series Book 4
The first three books in #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Richard Bard's Brainrush series garnered over 2,000 Amazon 5-Star reviews, setting the stage for the continuing story spanning three continents and two more books. With Brainchild (Brainrush 4) called "a high-speed thriller that ignites pages with scenes of action and suspense" by Kirkus Reviews, and Smoke & Mirrors (Brainrush 5) named "best book of the year" by IndieReader.com, this mind-gripping adventure is sure to capture the imagination long after the final heart-stopping chapter.
A gifted boy forced to grow up too fast... A father who will do anything to protect him... A madman bent on destroying them both.
In Amsterdam, a visionary scientist is laying the groundwork for a cybernetic life-extension project that will transfer individual consciousness to a personalized avatar. Halfway around the world, his brilliant grandson is secretly planning to use the same technology to infiltrate the world's most secure networks. But the scientific advances necessary to perfect the brain-to-computer interface are slow in coming, too slow for the aging founder of the Everlast foundation--who may die before realizing his dream of immortality--and too slow for his ruthless grandson, who will stop at nothing to attain the recognition that is his birthright.
Caught in the middle are Jake Bronson and his seven-year-old son, Alex, whose combined mental gifts might provide the key to leapfrogging the impasse.
When Jake's family and closest friends are simultaneously abducted in a globally coordinated kidnapping scheme, he races across two continents before uncovering the first clue to their whereabouts, unaware that his hostage son and teenage siblings crash-landed in the jungles of South China, where they must find every ounce of their courage and wits to survive the wilds and escape the ruthless drug lord who is hot on their heels. Can a seven-year-old boy learn to kill to save his family?
Smoke & Mirrors
Brainrush Series Book 5
Named "Best Book of the Year!" by IndieReader.com
Smoke & Mirrors (Brainrush 5) is the exciting conclusion to Brainchild, Book-4 of the Brainrush series.
A gifted boy forced to grow up too fast... A father who will do anything to protect him... A madman bent on destroying them both.
Jake Bronson and his seven-year-old son, Alex, possess mental gifts that could provide the missing link to a cybernetic life-extension project that will transfer individual consciousness to a personalized avatar. But those same gifts are sought by a Chinese underworld mastermind who will use them to infiltrate the world's most secure networks.
As the story continues from Book-4 of the Brainrush series, Alex and his brother and his sister are lost, and Jake's wife and best friends have been taken hostage. Jake will risk everything to save them, and he is thrust into a frantic race that takes him from the back alleys of Hong Kong to the depths of the South China jungles, where he must lever every scrap of his failing abilities to rescue his loved ones and crush a madman's plans to bring the world to its knees.
Brainrush Series Book 6
#1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Richard Bard, who entertained fans with his wildly successful Brainrush thriller series, now unleashes the heart-pounding series finale in a two-book ride that will take your breath away.
Jake Bronson's family and friends are mourning him. They'd watched as he sacrificed himself so their lives could return to normal. But normal wasn't to be. The megalomaniac whom Jake had killed during his suicide assault left a legacy of videos that damn Jake and everyone associated with him, leading to a price being put on their heads, dead or alive. They go to ground, unaware their every move is being tracked by a new breed of young, tech-savvy jihadists about to unleash vengeance on America's homeland--with Jake's family and the unsuspecting citizens of Los Angeles in their crosshairs.
As the jaws of the terrorist trap begin to close, Jake's eight-year-old son, Alex, faces a threat of his own. He carries a deadly secret that endangers the world, and now that his father is dead, Alex is the only one who can deal with it. He slips away to heed the call of unearthly visions that demand his presence, and his journey draws him to the back alleys of Bogota, Columbia, where he encounters a group of terminally ill orphans. One of their siblings has been abducted by child traffickers. Alex can't ignore their cry for help, and the unlikely alliance plans a nothing-to-lose rescue mission that has little chance of success.
But the bloodthirsty outcry against Alex's family and friends reaches beyond those who wish them harm, as do the visions that reveal their dark secrets to Alex. Help is on the way...
Against All Odds
Brainrush Series Book 7
The highly anticipated series finale to the #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller Publishers Weekly called "a terrifically entertaining thriller!"
In this conclusion to Richard Bard's popular Brainrush series, Jake Bronson's family and friends face their biggest threat ever. The startling challenges revealed in No Refuge (book 6) are coming to a head, and the team must wrest every resource available to them in hopes of preventing a terror-driven cataclysm unlike anything America has seen.
But the menace from within America's borders pales by comparison to the global threat revealed to 8-year-old Alex Bronson in a series of otherworldly visions. And Alex isn't the only one targeted by the mind-bending revelations.
The stakes are higher than ever. The fates of America and the world hang in the balance, and Jake Bronson's family and friends must risk everything to tip the scales against evil.
Releases September 12th!!
A Brainrush Novella
From #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Richard Bard comes a heart-pounding adventure of love, loyalty, and survival - as a gifted child faces the ultimate question of whether or not he can kill in order to save his loved ones.
A gifted 7-year-old boy and his teen siblings are ripped from their peaceful lives--kidnapped by a sinister organization determined to get back at their father. But when their plane crashes an ocean away in the bear-infested jungles of South China, the mysterious motive behind their abduction is the least of their problems, and they must lever every ounce of their courage and wits to survive the wilds and escape the ruthless drug lord who is hot on their heels.
Important Note: Gifted is a compilation novella taken from the Brainrush thriller novels Brainchild and Smoke & Mirrors, which are books four and five of the series. If you've read those full-length novels, then you've already read most of the contents of this novella. If you'd prefer to read the entire series from start to finish, then you'll be happy to learn that Brainrush (Book-1) is currently available FREE.
FREE on Amazon!
Richard Bard draws on his own experiences as a former USAF pilot and cancer survivor to craft compelling characters who risk it all for love and loyalty. Born in Munich, Germany, to American parents, he joined the United States Air Force like his father. But he left the service when he was diagnosed with cancer and learned he had only months to live. He earned a management degree from the University of Notre Dame and ran three successful companies involving advanced security products used by US embassies and governments worldwide. Now a full-time writer, he lives in Redondo Beach, California, with his wife and remains in excellent health.
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Escape To You by Jennifer Ryan
A Montana man always protects the woman he loves
He discovered her during a Montana blizzard, freezing cold, impossibly vulnerable, a little boy by her side. Undercover DEA Agent Beck “Trigger” Cooke is astonished to recognize Ashley Swan—award-winning actress, famous beauty—and missing for over a year. To keep her and the child hidden from a sadistic madman, he secrets the pair away to his isolated home.
No longer a prisoner, and protected at Hope Ranch, Ashley recovers and learns the tall, tempting federal agent may have a dark past, but it hasn’t destroyed his sense of honor.
As they shed past roles and find common ground, Ashley and Trigger can’t help but fall slowly, carefully, in love. But danger still lurks outside the boundaries of Hope Ranch, for until her crazed captor is brought to justice, and Trigger’s undercover past is laid to rest, none of them will ever be truly safe…
Escape To You is an intense, riveting, beautiful love story that was easy to get lost in.
I adore the strong characters Jennifer Ryan creates, the stories are always filled with heart, heat, and danger, and Escape To You lived up to all my expectations on each of those points with added originality when it came to the plot and the setup.
Beck “Trigger” Cooke is a hero easy to fall for. With his tough and rough exterior, he tries to keep people at arm's length, yet I took a notice on him in the previous books by the author where he was a secondary character. Inside of that fierce looking man is a kind, tender hearted, good guy, with a solid character. He seems to come alive upon meeting Ashley and Adam, his bond with them is instant and true.
Ashley Swan has been in hell for the past year, facing unimaginable abuse and torment. (This story has brutal abuse and violence against a woman, and a child, that might be a trigger to some.) Her amazing survival instinct carries her forward in life, her guts and perseverance, her good heart and kindness, her determination and courage are remarkable.
I love how the story was built, from the viciously tense beginning to the building of the relationship, the romance, the suspense, the overall story, had a seamless flow and held my interest until the wee hours of the morning. The conflicts in the story come from the outside threats and pressure, the love that awakens between Ashley and Beck - while instant - felt real and credible to me. The bond they both have with Adam was the most adorable thing to witness, Adam's trust in them heartwarming and sweet.
From heart-stopping danger and fear to ardent love and tenderness this story has an excellent balance of joy and gloom when two broken down souls, find a connection and home within each other, yet has to fight for the peaceful and love filled future, put their lives on the line to make it happen. With the fairytale type of ending, that had me sighing and swooning, the story was an intriguing and alluring tale that I truly enjoyed!
~ Four Spoons with teaspoon on the side
“What’s wrong?” Trigger asked.
The softness in his voice made Ashley look up at him. Way up. The man was so tall.
She found her voice under the wave of fear gripping her. “I know you don’t mean to, but you’re scaring me.”
“Look at me, Ashley.”
She sucked in a breath, found a shred of bravery from the tatters of her will, and raised her gaze to meet his.
“I will never hurt you.”
She fell into the depths of gray and flecks of blue in his eyes and drowned in the sincerity and promise she found there. Deep down, she believed him. Part of her needed to believe him, because she needed something real to hold on to before she sank any deeper into despair and the paranoia that everyone wanted to hurt her.
She nodded. “If he finds me, he’ll kill me.”
“He’ll have to get past me first.”
Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted, McBride, and Montana Men series. She writes suspenseful contemporary romances with outrageous plot twists, deeply emotional love stories, high stakes and higher drama. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.
Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.
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With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society's expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn't tear them apart first.
Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison's fiancee—and what has broken her heart.
Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both. Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy's roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?
Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.
Set against the real history of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a stirring love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in history when both were tenuous and hard-won.
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Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling author and one of today's most popular writers in the inspirational historical fiction genre. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee, not far from the Southern mansions that serve as the backdrop for six of her award-winning novels.
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The Dark Side
Nocturnal Secrets Book 1
by Cyci Cade
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: Sept 19th, 2017
“At that moment, he notices how vulnerable he is in front that creature; his life hangs by a thread—or what will remain of it if he doesn't die due to the severe burns.”
“Condemned to the eternal solitude, he wants to live his best possible life because he will have too many centuries of existence and he doesn't need to carry the weight of the guilt for had killed uncountable people to satiate his hunger.”
Ivor Alastair has many plans for his future, but they are frustrated when his parents are murdered. In danger, he cannot stay in the city he grew up and have friends anymore. Forced to move to London to live with his uncle, Ivor tries to restart his life. However, a new tragedy devastates the small family.
Alone and devastated, Ivor feels lost and without strength to move on. After a year traveling to forget his past and erase the sorrow, he discovers that it will not be so easy.
Back to London, Ivor sees his life change again when a mysterious creature with an incredibly white skin that seems made of marble and red eyes that demonstrate a frightening ferocity crosses his way.
An unexpected encounter with Arabella makes Ivor think that his loneliness will stay behind; as decades pass, he realizes that he is more alone than never.
Decided to change his story, Ivor makes a decision. He will not kill anymore!
Ivor Alastair lost his parents, house, and life. Now, he will have to restart, but will it be possible?
A month later, Amelie dies. Again, sadness falls over the family that now summarizes to two people. Uncle Victor remains silent—he rarely says a word. He is ways staring at something distant; he is thoughtful and tearful. It seems that he aged ten years in a few days.
Ivor, on the other hand, doesn't know what to do or say to comfort his uncle who received him in his house and family after his parents' death with open arms. Amelie was as his second mother. The aunt loved him in the same way his mother did, that´s why he can´t comfort his uncle. He is also suffering from the loss of the woman who helped him move on after such a hard blow of the destiny.
In a few days, Victor starts to show the symptoms of the damned disease; even having so much money, he couldn´t save his wife, and he can´t save himself.
“Ivor, we know what is about to happen. We need to have the last conversation. Take a seat in that armchair on the other side of the room.” Victor sits down on the sofa staying away from the nephew.
“Uncle, you still have some months.” Ivor sits down and tries to drag the chair closer to the uncle.
“I talked to the doctor... I will go to the hospital. Everything in this house will be incinerated. You must buy new furniture and utensils. You must redecorate the house.”
“It will be better in this way. I am transferring everything to your name; the properties, the businesses, this house... Regarding your father´s house and factory, I thought about hiring a trustworthy person to...”
Ivor interrupts him, “You thought about everything. How long have you been planning it?”
“Since I realized the gravity of the situation.” Victor takes the handkerchief to the mouth and coughs.
“I don't want any of that! Everything is yours!”
“Ivor, I am dying, and you are my only heir.” He pants before continuing, “I trust you. I know you will be a successful businessman.”
Victor leans forward. “You mustn´t say who you are. Never! The police haven´t found your parents' murderers yet. Don't trust anybody.”
Ivor gets up and walks back and forth. He walks two steps in the uncle's direction but hesitates when he sees the uncle covering his mouth and coughing. “Do you think I am in danger?”
“Maybe. The factory is good; the manager has communicated some purchase proposals during these years, but anything suspicious. Probably, Giles was not killed because of the businesses.”
“I want to make a request. I must stay here, therefore, sell the factory and the house, because I won't support to return to that place.”
“Are you sure? We are talking about your inheritance.”
“I am. I cannot manage that business. I prefer to sell everything instead of hiring an administrator,” he affirms.
“I´ll sell the factory, but keep the house. One day, you will want to return.” Victor points his trembling finger to Ivor.
The uncle's words sound like a curse—or maybe a premonition. His face tenses and his feature darken.
Uncomfortable with the situation, he answers, “I don´t think so.”
With difficulty, Victor gets up and climbs the stairs heading to his bedroom. Soon, he will go to the hospital and Ivor will be alone in that big house. Desperate, he looks for someone who can help him in his thoughts in such a difficult moment. His few friends are distant for Ivor to ask for help; the employees respect him, however, he wants to keep things on a professional level.
Cyci Cade is advertising professional, writer, and graphic designer. She writes YA fantasy, fiction, and romance novels.
She started her career writing articles for magazines, newspapers, and blogs. She published her first books in 2012, and their success encouraged her to keep writing.
Nowadays, she splits her time between her writing and the gym—one of her favorites places where she spends three hours per day.
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He's come back to Copper Ridge, Oregon, to keep a promise—even if it means losing his heart…
Putting down roots in Copper Ridge was never Alex Donnelly's intention. But if there's one thing the ex-military man knows, it's that life rarely unfolds as expected. If it did, his best friend and brother-in-arms would still be alive. And Alex wouldn't have inherited a ranch or responsibility for his late comrade's sister—a woman who, despite her inexperience, can bring tough-as-iron Alex to his knees.
Clara Campbell didn't ask for a hero to ride in and fix her ranch and her life. All she wants is the one thing stubborn, honorable Alex is reluctant to give: a chance to explore their intense chemistry. But Clara has a few lessons to teach him, too…about trusting his heart and his instincts, and letting love take him on the wildest adventure of all.
I waited to write this review hoping I would be a bit less emotional mess than I was when I finished the book, but I don't think there's hope for that. I absolutely loved Alex and Clara and their story to happily ever after. I think this is my favorite Copper Ridge novel, it just hit me in the core, and touched every single emotion on its way.
Alex Donnelly is a war veteran, the youngest brother in the dysfunctional Donnelly family. His parents did a number on him by the emotional neglect, and enforcing the thoughts of him not being enough, not being valued or cared for. His best friend died while they are deployed, and left the family ranch for Alex's care, to make sure his sister, Clara, will be set for life as the only surviving member of the family.
Clara Campbell (that last name with her eating habits is just perfect!) has lost every member of her family, yet she is surviving, barely functioning, yes, but continuing on. She has lived her life on the family ranch, teaching herself how to live, how to take care of herself and manage life with so much loss surrounding her. She is a virgin with limited life experience outside her safe circle, yet with a vast knowledge of life, loss, sorrow, and survival.
Her loneliness was heartbreaking, how death has taken everything dear to her, leaving her gasping. Yet I am not sure which is worse, her destiny, or the one of Alex's where his parents choose to leave him behind and ignore him instead. They have the feelings of solitude and survival as the common factor as other wise they are the complete opposite.
The amount of emotion the author has managed to fit on each page of the story blew me away. The feelings are raw and real, they are tense and bottomless. They are both broken inside, vulnerable under the tough exterior. They have hidden the burden of pain from the world with smiles but with each other, they find the courage and the challenge to be true to themselves acceptable.
I love how the story was built with long, deep, difficult conversations where the characters had a chance to air out their emotions, their disappointments, and triumphs of life. The conversations between Alex and Clara, the talks between Alex and his brothers, they go deep into their thoughts and feelings, to a mentally naked place where there's nothing left to hide. These characters truly get to know each other, giving a solid foundation to built their relationships on, instead of just being present, or physically satisfying their needs. They are able and willing to do the hard things to heal, to grow, and to find their peace and place in life.
The story is not all angst and tears, it is well built with a balance of dark and light. There are joy and cheer, there are moments of laughter, amusing banter, brotherly love, and passion and tenderness between a woman and a man. Yet instead of going overboard with sexual tension, the author goes deep and exposes all the difficult, hurtful inner thoughts and emotions, giving the story beautiful depth and graceful character development. Wild Ride Cowboy is easily one of my favorite stories from 2017
~ Five Spoons