Category Archives: Harlequin

[Review] Naughty Christmas Nights by Tawny Weber

Naughty Christmas Nights by Tawny Weber

Publication date: December 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Pages: 221

Back of the book

 
This Christmas, it’s nice vs. naughty… 

Lace stockings… 

Hailey North has worked her butt off to make Merry Widow Lingerie a success. But if she doesn’t win the bid for Rudolph’s department store, she’s in big trouble. Her strategy? To prove that romance, playfulness and eroticism are what women want. The problem, however, is what Hailey wants…her wickedly hot, sexy competitor. 

Or black leather? 

Sex sells, and the Milano line is certainly all about sex. Besides, winning is the only way Gage Milano can extract himself from the family business. Unfortunately, Hailey’s romantic lingerie threatens not only his freedom, but his libido! But when their professional rivalry turns into a red-hot rendezvous, the competition really starts heating up. And Xmas is about to get a whole lot more X-rated!

 

Pre-Order Naughty Christmas Nights

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18050815-naughty-christmas-nights?from_search=true


My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Naughty Christmas Nights

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Tawny.  This book includes Erotic fun, passion, laughs, heartache, and betrayal.

Tawny will pull you into the story and before you know it you will either be laughing out loud or yelling out loud!!  

Hailey North needs to win the contract to save her company. 

Gage Milano needs to win the contract so he can get a year off from his family’s business.

When it all comes down to it who will win the contract that they both want?

They are attracted to each other even before finding out they are competing for the same contract. 
How will they set aside the attraction to win the contract?  Is that even possible?

Hailey knows what it like when people let you down.  Seems everyone has always let her down.  Will Gage also let her down?

Love both of these characters.  Gage is tough but also sweet.  Hailey is a sweetheart who hopes that everyone is not going to let her down but gets disappointed every time.  They are both funny and sweet together. 

 

One of my favorite parts:

“The party’s great,” she said, nerves starting to poke through the champagne bubbles. ” I thought it was a fun theme, coming as your favorite holiday character. At least I did until I saw the guy dressed as a pair of Christmas balls waving his candy cane around.”

“You think I did all of that?  You actually like that I called you on being a jackass?”

“Well, I’m not saying I want it to be my new nickname or anything. But I appreciate that you see me, that you understand me. And that you believe in me.”
 

Contact Info for Tawny Weber

 
 
 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Website | GoodReads


About Tawny:

I love romance.

Happily ever after, hot love scenes… all the good things in life.

For a long time, I was content to explore this enticing world through books. Then, wow – I found out it can happen in real life. I met my husband, who showed me that all those wonderful, magical feelings described in the books are real. Hey, what d’ya know, fiction really IS based in reality.

Once that particular dream came true, it was like Pandora’s Box opened… if I could have that dream, why not the one I’d hidden away in that quiet corner of my mind… the one about putting those stories dancing around in my head onto paper (or computer screen) and writing my own romances? It took awhile. Workshops and classes, voraciously devouring every how-to book I could buy, studying the market and finding my niche, to say nothing of my voice. Throw in those little distractions like life, children and such… but the dream started taking life.Once I joined RWA I found another form of magic. Camaraderie, support and friendships that have touched my heart. The dream is blooming. Over the years, I’ve served as President, Secretary and VP of Administration in various RWA chapters, as well as Publicity Chair, Mentorship Chair, Critique Chair, Judged and coordinated various contests and moderated a few other programs. All of this gives strength to that dream, and keeps it grounded. 2012 will see my thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth Harlequin Blaze novels in the shelves, as well as three indie Karma Cafe novellas.

I do have other dreams that I’m happily tending: my own real-life hero husband and our two children. Our Northern California home, an ode to ideas and obsessive redecorating/remodeling. Good thing my hero is handy with a saw. Gardening, scrapbooking, crafting and an incredibly supportive family round things out. Along with homeschooling our children and writing, I work from home with my Intuitive Consulting business. I would love to hear from you.

  

 

Read an Excerpt

Hailey North loved the holidays.

All the glitter and fun. Smiling faces glowing with joy, the secrets and excitement. And the gifts. Gifts and surprises always rocked. Especially hard-earned ones, presented at a fancy dress-up ball. Or, in this case, a ballroom packed with the rich and influential of the Northern California fashion scene all dressed up like holiday cartoons.

She should be ecstatic. Over-the-moon excited.

Tonight she’d finally be sure that her lingerie company wouldn’t be joining Father Time in waving goodbye at the end of the year.

Instead, she was afraid the past couple of months of financial worries and stress over keeping her company had sent her over the edge into Crazyville.

Here she was surrounded by male models and wealthy designers, many of the most gorgeous specimens of the opposite sex to be found in the Bay Area. And it was the six-and-a-half feet of green fur, snowshoes and a bowling-pin shaped body across the room that was making her hot.

Hailey squinted just to be sure.

Nope. There was absolutely nothing enticing about the costumed guy at the bar. But sex appeal radiated off him like a tractor beam, pulling her in. Turning her on.

Green fur, for crying out loud.

Wow. Month after month of no sex really did a number on a healthy woman’s libido.

Or maybe it was a year dedicated to the objective of making romance sexy. Of studying romantic fantasies, and finding ways to tastefully re-create them in lingerie form and show women that as long as they felt sexy, they were sexy.

Or, possibly, it might have something to do with the glass of champagne she’d knocked back for a little social courage when she’d walked into a ballroom filled with high-powered movers and shakers, most of whom had more money in their wallets than she had in her bank account. And all of them here to impress Rudy Rudolph, a department-store tycoon with a wicked sense of fun and prized openings in his new spring fashion lineup.

She glanced at her empty champagne flute, then at the bar. She should trade this in for something nonalcoholic. Something that didn’t make her go tingly over green, grouchy holiday figures.

Then the Grinch pushed back his fur to check the time. When the hairs on his fingers caught on his leather watch-band, he yanked off the gloves in an impatient move, tossing them on the bar.

Thirst forgotten, Hailey stared at his hand as he reached for his own drink. Long and lean, with tapered fingers. Even from across the room, his palm looked broad. Her mind played through every hand-to-penis-size euphemism she’d ever heard and came up with the only conclusion possible.

The Grinch was hung.

The only question was, did he go for cute elves? Or was he strictly a man-and-his-dog kind of guy? Maybe she should have dressed up like a Who?

She’d taken two steps toward him, her body desperate to find out, before she caught herself.

No. She was here for business.

She peered at the baggy, saggy, furry back and grimaced. Not for fun. No matter how big the fun’s hands were.

“Hailey, darling.”

Relieved, both at the distraction from lusting after the Grinch and at there actually being someone here who knew her name, Hailey turned.

Her social smile shifted to genuine delight at the sight of the man who’d made this night possible for her. Jared Jones, assistant to the wealthiest—and most eccentric—tycoon in the department-store business.

Jared had taken her under his wing last summer when they’d met in an elevator. Hailey had been on her way to pitch her lingerie designs to the sales team and Jared had been bemoaning a rip in his shirt. Before they’d reached the sixth floor, she’d pulled out some fabric tape for a temporary mend, earning his gratitude and his endless devotion.

Apparently, a fashion faux pas was, to some, the end of the world.

“Jared,” she greeted, leaning in for a hug but careful not to let him bump her head. It’d taken her twenty minutes to get the bell-festooned elf hat pinned to her curls in a way that didn’t make her hair look like fluffy poodle ears.

“I love your gingerbread-man costume. Is that your favorite holiday character?” she asked, flicking her finger on one of his cheerful, oversize buttons. Her eyes widened before she laughed aloud as she noted the words Eat Me etched on the red plastic.

“Edible goodness, that’s me,” he said with a wink. Then he shifted his head to the left and gave a little wag of his chin. “And if all goes well, that drummer boy over there will be having a taste before the night is out.”

Used to Jared’s aggressive sexuality by now, Hailey gave the drummer an obligatory once-over before sharing an impressed look with her horny gingerbread friend.

“But look at you,” he gushed, his loud enthusiasm aimed as much at getting the drummer’s attention as it was appreciation for Hailey’s costume. “You know, I’ve seen at least a dozen elves tonight, but you’re the best by far. You look fabulous. Is everything you’re wearing straight from your lingerie line?”

“Everything but the skirt,” Hailey confirmed, arms wide as she gave a slow turn to show off the goods. Her candy-cane-striped bustier with its red satin trim and white laces paired nicely with her red stockings and their white seams up the back that ended in clever bows just below the hem of her green tulle ballerina skirt. She was proof positive that the right lingerie could make any woman feel sexy.

Nothing like a year in the gym, a carb-elimination diet and a great tan to make a girl look damned hot in lingerie.

Too bad she’d only hit the gym maybe four times in the past twelve months, loved carbs like she loved her momma and was closer to winter-white than sun-kissed tan.

But that was the beauty of Merry Widow lingerie. A girl didn’t have to have a supermodel body to look—and feel—fabulous in it.

“Oh, darling,” Jared breathed in admiration as he completed his inspection.

Hailey didn’t have to follow his gaze to know where he was staring. After all, the guy might not be interested in what her lingerie was covering, but he was all about fashion.

And her boots were pure fashion candy.

The white Manolo booties were an early Christmas present from her father. Well, not really from him, since he never knew what to get her. But she’d bought them last month with the holiday check he’d sent, so that made them his gift to her.

“Hailey, you have the best taste in footwear,” he sighed. “Those boots are perfect. And such a great touch to bring the outfit from cute to couture.”

“Thanks. Will Mr. Rudolph be arriving soon?” she asked, shifting from one foot to the other. She wiggled her toes in her most excellent boots as a reminder that a girl could handle anything if she was wearing fabulous footwear. “Since he’s announcing his choices for the spring exclusives, shouldn’t he do it before all the designers are drunk?”

While she was still tipsy enough to use getting one of those prized exclusives as an excuse to seduce the Grinch.

“Drunk designers only add to Rudy’s sense of fun,” Jared told her with a sly grin. He didn’t say a word about the contracts, though. She knew he knew who’d been chosen. And he knew she knew. But they both knew she wouldn’t ask.

“Quit obsessing,” Jared said, giving her a nudge with his shoulder and leaving a streak of glitter on her arm.

“Maybe you should see if the drummer boy’s sticks are worth checking out.” She tilted her head toward the guy he’d been scoping. “I can’t clear my head enough to be fun company.”

“Darling, I’m here to enjoy the party with my favorite designer. If there was anything I could do to set your mind at ease so you could give the party the appreciation it deserves, I would. But you know me—I don’t kiss and tell.”

Giving in to her nerves, and reminding herself that she’d taken a cab here, Hailey traded her empty champagne glass for a full one, then arched one brow at Jared.

“Okay. So I don’t spill company secrets.” He hesitated, then wrinkled his nose and leaned closer. “At least not the ones that could get me fired.”

Then he looked past her again. This time when his face shifted, it wasn’t into lustfully suggestive lines. Instead, he came to attention.

“I don’t think the news will be secret for long, though,” he told her, twirling his finger to indicate she turn herself around.

“Welcome, welcome.”

Hailey, along with the rest of the ballroom, turned around and came to the same subtle attention that Jared had as a skinny Santa took the stage with two helpers dressed in swaths of white fur and a whole lot of skin.

She leaned forward, peering at the trio. The nerves in her stomach stopped jumping for a few seconds as she stared in shock. “Wow. Mr. Rudolph sure looks different without his tie.”

Or maybe it was the fact that the pervy old guy was shirtless under his plush red jacket. Wasn’t he in his seventies? Now, that wasn’t a pretty sight. Afraid to look at it too long, in case it rendered her blind, Hailey glanced at the rest of the crowd. Nobody else seemed surprised.

“Thank you, everyone,” he said, “for joining the Rudolph-department-store annual holiday costume party. As you can see, my favorite character is Santa Claus. Appropriate since I’m the man giving out the gifts tonight.”

Fingernails digging into the soft flesh of her palms, Hailey puffed out a breath, trying to diffuse the nerves that’d suddenly clamped onto her intestines.

This was it. The big announcement.

She felt like throwing up.

“This year, instead of simply awarding spring women’s-line contracts, I’ve decided to make things fun. I’ve chosen two favorite designers in each department. Women’s wear, shoes and lingerie. Those designers will compete through the holiday season for the top spot.”

Hailey’s stomach fell. Competing? That didn’t sound good. She wasn’t the only one who thought so, either, if the muttering and hisses circling the room were anything to go by.

She gave Jared a puzzled look, trying to shrug off the sudden despair that gripped her. The contracts weren’t being awarded tonight? But she needed to know. Without that contract, she was going to lose her business.

Jared ignored her stare, tilting his head pointedly to get her to pay attention.

She dragged her gaze to the stage with a frown. Instead of looking abashed, the old man seemed delighted by the angry buzz. His grin shifted from wicked to a visual cackle as he held up one hand for silence.

It took all of three seconds for him to be obeyed.

“So without further ado, here are the finalists in women’s wear,” he announced. A model featuring an outfit from each line crossed the stage behind him as he named the designer.

Hailey swallowed hard, trying to get past the tight worry in her throat. It wasn’t as if she’d irresponsibly put all of her hopes on this deal. It was more a matter of everything else falling apart until this deal was all that was left to hope for.

She shifted from one foot to the other, trying to appreciate the gorgeous shoes as Rudolph announced the designer finalists for footwear. But not even the studded black leather stilettos could distract her worry.

Then he got to lingerie.

She didn’t even listen to the names.

She just watched the models, her eyes locked with desperate hope on the curtain they entered from.

One strutted out in a wickedly sexual invitation in leather. It was the complete opposite of the Merry Widow’s style, a look that screamed sex. Hot, kinky sex.

Hailey frowned. It wasn’t her style, of course. But it was appealing. If you like hot, kinky sex.

Did she like hot, kinky sex? She’d never had the opportunity to find out. For a second, she wondered if the Grinch was into leather. Before she could imagine that, worry crowded the sexy thoughts right back out of her brain. She held her breath.

“And last but not least, Merry Widow Lingerie.” Echoing the announcement was a model in a white satin chemise trimmed in tiny pink rosebuds, a design Hailey had labeled Sweet Seduction.

Fireworks exploded in her head, all bright lights, loud booms and overwhelming excitement.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod,” she chanted, hopping up and down in her gorgeous booties. She spun around to grab Jared in a tight hug, then did another little dance. “That’s me. That’s me. I made it.”

She made it. She had a chance.

An hour later, she was still giddy. It wasn’t a contract, but it wasn’t a rejection, either. And she’d learned young to take what she could get.

“This is so cool.” Ever since Santa Rudolph’s announcement, people kept coming up to congratulate her. That part was great. What was even better, though, were the compliments about her designs, which were displayed all around the room.

She felt like a rock star.

“I’m excited for you, darling. I am sorry it’s not a definitive answer, though,” Jared said quietly, his face taking on a rare seriousness. “I know how bad you need this deal, and I’ve been pitching hard for you. But Rudy got this wild notion that a contest would bring in more publicity and make it more fun. He’ll decide before the New Year, though. He has to for marketing purposes.”

“What kind of publicity?” Big publicity? Good publicity? Could it net her some new clients, maybe a few features in the fashion rags? Hailey’s stomach danced again.

“Well…” Jared drew out, wrinkling his glittery nose. “I honestly don’t think he has a lot of publicity lined up. We were all under the impression that he was simply choosing a single designer for each line. But Friday he talked to some marketing guru who convinced him that it’d bring in great promotion if he made it a competition of some sort instead of a straight-up announcement.”

“Who makes the final decision?” she wondered.

Jared pulled another face and shrugged. Clearly he didn’t like not being in the know any more than she didn’t like not having a clue.

But before Hailey could ask more questions, they were joined by a dapper-looking guy dressed like a festive reindeer with his green-and-red-plaid bow tie.

“Congratulations, Ms. North. I’m Trent Lane, the photographer for Rudolph department stores. I was happy to see your designs in the running. I’ve taken test shots of each submission and yours is my favorite.”

“Really?”

“Really. It seems to epitomize romance. But sexy romance. The boudoir-photo kind, not the Hustler- spread kind.”

Hailey giggled, wondering if the leather getups were Hustler material.

“It’s my favorite, too,” Jared agreed. “I told you when I first saw the line. It’s perfect. Next season is all about nostalgia with overtones of passion. Bridal fresh but womanly confident.”

Hailey wrinkled her nose, wondering if he realized he’d just described her gorgeous designs in the same terms used for feminine-hygiene products.

“Baby’s breath and air ferns lining the runway. Satin backdrops. Maybe one of those long couch things, like Cleopatra would lounge on,” Trent mused, falling into what she immediately saw was a creative brainstorming habit between him and Jared.

“A chaise. Perfect,” Jared agreed. Tapping his chin, he added, “Maybe carried down the runway by four muscle-bound sex slaves?”

“That’s not romantic,” Trent dismissed. “You know Rudy really wants to lead the trend this season. If you suggest sex slaves, he might seriously consider Cassia Carver’s mesh love sleeves for a part of the women’s-wear line.”

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Filed under Blaze, Excerpt, Harlequin, Review, Tawny Weber

[Review] Spy In The Saddle by Dana Marton

Spy In The Saddle    

by Dana Marton

Publication date: November 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Series: HQ: Texas # 6
Pages: 224

Back of the book

Two agents must work together without letting a tense past—and a sizzling new attraction—disrupt their most important mission in Dana Marton’s HQ: Texas miniseries

It’s been ten years since soldier Shep Lewis laid eyes on delinquent-turned-FBI agent Lilly Tanner, and this time they have an even bigger problem than each other: terrorists. In the center of a smuggling operation, Shep and Lilly must partner up and protect each other.

Not even their undercover identities can mask the mounting attraction between the pair as they struggle to survive in the merciless Texas borderlands. Can they put the past behind them and focus on the mission at hand? Or will their partnership reignite the flames of their untapped passions?  



Pre-order Spy In The Saddle

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | HARLEQUIN | BAM! 


HQ: Texas series reading order


LAST SPY STANDING

SPY HARD

THE SPY WORE SPURS

MOST ELIGIBLE SPY

MY SPY

SPY IN THE SADDLE

    


My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Spy In The Saddle (HQ: Texas # 6)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Dana.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, kidnappings, murder, betrayal and a few gun fights.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first from “HQ: Texas” series.
LAST SPY STANDING
SPY HARD
THE SPY WORE SPURS
MOST ELIGIBLE SPY
 MY SPY


Shep Lewis, an undercover operative, is working a case on tracking smugglers.  The team he is on has learned the FBI is sending an agent to help them.  When the Agent arrives Shep is stunned.  He was Lilly Tanners parole officer years ago.  She got him fired after setting his house on fire, stealing his car, and sending emails to him. 

This is who the FBI wants them to work with a “delinquent”?  He is pissed off.  She is hot and he is attracted to her and does not want to be.
Top it off they have to work together as a team and have each other’s back. 
Lilly has stayed out of trouble for years.  She worked her way up the ranks at the FBI and can protect herself.  She does not need Shep but boy does she want him…
 
Lilly gets a job in the Bar they are staking out singing so she can be there each night and watch the players they think are involved with the case.  Shep pretends to be her boyfriend.  As they both want the kisses and touches more each time they are running into trouble keeping it impersonal.
When they end up in bed he apologies and she punches him in the face.  When the other guys on the team see the bruise they wonder exactly what the hell happened.  Which makes working together that much harder. 
 
When Lilly goes missing Shep is beside himself trying to find her before something bad happens.  When she calls him to lure him into a trap but gives off clues he knows he needs to save her.  He arrives and calls for the backup that is needed but is hit with a dart and is kidnapped too…

Now who is going to save the day?  Will they try getting help from the team or have to help themselves? When Lilly lets Shep know the other reason she is in town to check out the team he feels betrayed.  Will Shep be able to overcome the betrayal and forgive Lilly for not telling him sooner?  

 
 
    
The chemistry between these two is like a fire that burns bright and hot!  Lilly is funny and sweet at the same time. I love how she is not afraid to step up and lay a smack down on Shep.  Shep is all protective male.  Once Lilly lays down the law he better damn well follow!!  Dana delivers another winner.  Very good read.   


 
Look forward to the next book in this series.

A few of my favorite parts:

Shep lay next to her, spent and stunned, staring at the ceiling. A part of his world had shattered and he didn’t know how to piece it back together, didn’t know how to process what had just happened between them.

It had seemed so right, so easy. Yet now, as sanity returned, he had to seriously reevaluate his actions. He had to take responsibility for the way he’d lost control.

“I didn’t come up with this in mind, I swear.”

She made some sleepy sounds. “I’m not complaining.”

Yet the fact remained that he hadcome up to her hotel room and made love to her. She’d been tired after work and…confused. He’d taken advantage of her. That was the way Jamie would see it. And Mitch. He winced.

He had no idea how to make this right.

“Marry me,” he blurted as he looked at her and tried hard not to want her again, tried and failed. His body was stirring already. Insanity.

She turned to him, wide-eyed and a lot more awake now, as a succession of emotions crossed her face. “What?”

“Jamie and Mitch are going to kill me for this.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Did you just ask me to marry you because of Jamie and Mitch?”

He looked at her miserably.

She sat up in the bed. “Get out,” she bit out the words. “I want you to leave.”

He sat up, too. “I should have protected you. Even from myself—”

She growled as she punched him.




The familiar voice flooded her with relief. “Shep? I’m stuck in here. Can you help?”

“Give me a minute.”

He sounded strange, slow and dazed. Was he injured? Maybe they’d beaten him before they’d tossed him in the back of the truck with her. That would explain why he hadn’t responded to her banging before. Maybe he’d been beaten unconscious. “Are you okay?”

A moment of silence followed, then, “What are you doing in there?”

All the frustration inside her surged to the front. “Getting a pedicure. What do you think?”

“Okay,” he said after a minute. “Move away from the lid.”

She flattened herself to the bottom of the container and pulled some feedbags on top of her.

Was he going to try to shoot the padlock off? She didn’t think Brian and Tank would have let him keep his weapon. They’d certainly taken everything she had.

Bang!

Then suddenly the lid popped up, and Shep was there, gripping it with one hand while holding a fire extinguisher with the other. He blinked at her slowly, looking out of this world stoned, his irises wide, his movements not altogether coordinated.

“When did Brian give youa roofie?” She sat up, grateful to be able to breathe freely at last, every muscle in her body aching. Her clothes stuck to her with sweat, but she was uninjured, miraculously. She climbed out, with his help.

“Bull tranquilizer,” he said, his eyes glazed over. “I pulled it out, so I don’t think I got the full dosage.”

“Thank God.” The full dosage might have killed him. “Brian slipped me a roofie,” she told him.

He scanned her with thunder on his face, reaching for her hands.

“Not for that purpose,” she said, to ease his obvious worries. “Just so they could move me around easier.” But his touch felt nice, so she didn’t pull away for a few seconds.



Contact Info for Dana Marton

 

About Dana:

Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.
She would love to hear from her readers.   
Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi. 

Connect with Dana:
 

Read an Excerpt

As Shep Lewis, undercover commando, strode into his team’s office trailer on the Texas-Mexico border with his morning coffee, his bad mood followed him. To do anything right, a person had to give his all—and he did, to each and every op. But it didn’t seem to make a difference with his current mission.

He adjusted his Bluetooth as Keith Gunn, one of his teammates—currently on border patrol—talked on the other end. They all took turns monitoring a hundred-mile stretch along the Rio Grande, in pairs.

“Do you think they’ll really send in the National Guard to seal the border?”

“They won’t,” Shep said between his teeth. “It would just delay the problem.” For some reason, the powers that be didn’t see that the National Guard was a terrible solution, which frustrated him to hell and back.

His six-man team had credible intelligence that terrorists with their weapons of mass destruction would be smuggled across somewhere around here, on October first—five short days away. His team’s primary mission was to prevent that. Switching out players for the last five minutes of the game was a terrible strategy.

They had the exact date of the planned border breach. If they could somehow discover the exact location, they could lie in wait and grab those damned terrorists as they crossed the river. The bastards would never know what hit them.

The National Guard coming in to seal the border could not be hidden, however. Which meant the terrorists would move their crossing to a different place at a different time and might slip through undetected. The sad fact was, even the National Guard didn’t have the kind of manpower to keep every single mile of the entire U.S. border permanently sealed.

“The op has to be small enough to keep undercover to succeed,” he said, even if Keith knew that as well as he did.

“Except, we don’t have the exact location for their crossing.”

“We will.” But he silently swore. They were running out of time, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher—national security and the lives of thousands.

There could be no more mistakes, no distractions. They had five days to stop the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Failure wasn’t an option.

Keith cleared his throat. “The FBI’s guy will be here today.”

“Don’t remind me.” Frustration punched through Shep. Everybody seemed to have a sudden urge to meddle. “Where are you?”

“Coming in. Ryder’s cutting the shift short. He wanted to talk to the whole team at the office.”

“More good news?”

“He didn’t say. We’ll be there in ten.”

They ended the call as Shep strode through the empty office that held their desks and equipment, passed by the interrogation room to the left, then team leader Ryder McKay’s office. Ryder had been on border patrol this morning with Keith.

Voices filtered out from the break room in the back, so Shep kept going that way.

“She burned down his house, stole his car and got him fired from his job.” Jamie Cassidy’s voice reached him through the partially closed door.

Okay, that sounded disturbingly familiar. Shep’s fingers tightened on the foam cup in his hand as he paused midstep, on the verge of entering. His mood slipped another notch as old memories rushed him. He shook them off. No distractions.

“She broke his heart,” Jamie added.

All right, that’s enough. Shep shoved the door open, maybe harder than he’d intended.

He stepped into the room just as Ray Armstrong said in a mocking tone, “Must have been some love affair.” He glanced over and grinned. “Hey, Shep.”

Shep shot a cold glare at the three men, all hardened commando soldiers: Jamie, Ray and Moses Mann.

The latter two had the good sense to look embarrassed at being caught gossiping like a bunch of teenage girls. Jamie just grinned and reached back to the fridge behind him for an energy drink.

The fridge and wall-to-wall cabinets filled up the back of the break room, a microwave and coffee machine glinting in the corner. In front of the men, high-resolution satellite printouts covered the table.

This close to D-day, they didn’t take real breaks anymore. They worked around the clock, would do whatever it took to succeed.

Yesterday’s half-eaten pizza, which they were apparently resurrecting as breakfast, sat to the side. Jamie pushed it farther out of the way as he lifted the drink to his mouth with one hand while he finished marking something on one of the printouts with a highlighter.

“So—” He looked at Shep when he was finished, too cheerful by half. “Want to tell us about her?”

Shep stepped closer, in a way that might or might not be interpreted as threatening. They’d all been frustrated to the limit lately, and a good fight would let off a lot of pressure. “I liked you better when you were a morose bastard.”

Ray leaned back in his chair. “He’s mellowed a lot since hooking up with the deputy sheriff.” He turned to Jamie. “She’s definitely changing you, man.”

And not to his advantage, Shep wanted to add, but that wasn’t entirely true, so he didn’t say it.

Jamie didn’t seem concerned about the perceived mellowing. A soft look came over his face as he capped his highlighter. “Love changes everything.”

“Really?” Shep narrowed his gaze at them. “Four of the roughest, toughest commandos in the country and we’re going to sit around talking about love? What the hell? Are we still part of the top secret Special Designation Defense Unit, or is this now the Wrecked by Cupid Team? Have changes been made while I’ve been out?”

He believed in true love. He’d seen it work; his parents had had it. But he also knew that—like anything else important—it only worked if you gave it your all. People like him, and the other guys on his team, could never do that.

He wasn’t the type to do things halfway, anyway. He either charged full steam ahead or wouldn’t even start. Love just wasn’t in the cards for him.

“Romance is the kind of—” he began, trying to be the voice of reason.

But Mo gave a warning cough.

He would. He was another recent, unfortunate casualty.

He looked Shep straight in the eye. “Love is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Shep wished the best for him and Jamie, but in his heart of hearts, he had doubts about their long-term chances. Yet what right did he have to be discouraging? He laughed it off. “It’s sad to see battle-hardened soldiers turn sappy.” He shook his head, looking to Ray for support, a good laugh or some further needling in Jamie’s direction.

But, in a stunning display of betrayal, Ray turned against him. “So what’s this about your psycho girlfriend?” he asked between two bites of cold pizza, sitting a head taller than anyone else in the room.

If Mo was built like a tank, Ray was built like a marauding Viking—his true ancestry. Jamie, between them, was the lean and lithe street fighter.

They didn’t intimidate Shep one bit. “We’re not talking about me.”

A roundhouse kick to Jamie, then vault on Ray, knock him—chair and everything—into Mo. That would put an end to all the smirking.

Except that Ryder, the team leader, had forbidden fighting in the office after an unfortunate incident when they’d first set up headquarters here. As it turned out, even though the reinforced trailer was bulletproof, the office furniture, in fact, was not indestructible.

So Shep threw Jamie only a glare instead of a punch that would have been way more satisfying. “She was a kid, all right? I wasn’t her boyfriend. I was her parole officer. End of story.”

“He never pressed charges,” Jamie told Mo under his breath in a meaningful tone, obviously in the mood to make trouble this morning.

Shep threw his empty coffee cup at him. “Didn’t anybody ever teach you to mind your own business?”

Jamie easily ducked the foam missile. “How about you tell us about her and then it’ll all be out in the open? It’d be good to know what we’re dealing with here.”

When they built ski resorts in hell and handed out free lift passes.

“Any reason we’re discussing Lilly Tanner this morning?” Saying her name only made him flinch a little. His eyes didn’t even twitch anymore when he thought of her.

Ray suddenly busied himself with the printouts on the table. Jamie had a look of anticipatory glee on his face.

A cold feeling spread in Shep’s stomach. “How did her name come up?”

He’d made the mistake of mentioning her to Jamie when they’d been on patrol together a while back. He hadn’t expected that she would become the topic of break-room discussion. Jamie wouldn’t have brought her up for gossip’s sake. But then why?

“She’s the consultant the FBI is sending in,” Mo said with some sympathy. He might have been built like a tank, but he did have a good heart.

Shep stared, his mind going numb. Individually, all of Mo’s words made sense. But having them together in a sentence defied comprehension. “Has to be a different Lilly Tanner.”

The one he’d known over a decade ago had been a hellcat. He’d always figured she would end up a criminal mastermind or an out-of-control rock star—she had the brains and deviousness for the first, the voice and the looks for the second.

Jamie tapped the highlighter on the table and grinned. “She’s the one. I checked when I heard the name.”

He didn’t like the new, cheerful Jamie. He was used to the pre-love morose Jamie who could curdle milk with just a look. As a good undercover commando should.

The only thing he liked less at the moment was the thought of Lilly Tanner reappearing in his life. The possibility caused a funny feeling in his chest. “They’ll have to send someone else.”

“Unlikely.” Ray grimaced. “We’ve been read the riot act.”

“Sorry about that.” Jamie had the decency to look apologetic at least. “My bad.”

He’d crossed the border and taken out someone he’d thought to be the Coyote, the crime boss who set up the transfer of terrorists into the U.S. Except the man Jamie had shot had been a plant. The Coyote had gotten away, and the Mexican government was having a fit over a U.S. commando entering their sovereign territory.

Hell, none of the team blamed Jamie. But now the FBI was sending in their own man.. woman.

Shep closed his eyes for a pained second.

His team would either stop those terrorists from entering the country with their chemical weapons or die trying. The last thing they needed was the FBI meddling and putting roadblocks in their way at the eleventh hour.

Ray shrugged. “D.C. city girl coming to the big bad borderlands. Give her a few days and she’ll be running back to her office, crying.”

Shep swallowed the groan pushing up his throat. The Lilly Tanner he’d known didn’t run crying to anyone. He was about to tell them that, but gravel crunched outside as a car pulled up, then another.

“Ryder and Keith are coming in early,” he told the others. Maybe Jamie was wrong. Their leader would have the correct information.

Keith, the youngest on the team, came through the door first, tired and rumpled after a long night on the border. He did the best with people they caught sneaking over. One of his grandfathers was Mexican. He had the look and spoke the language like a native. People told him things they wouldn’t have told the rest of the team.

He looked around and apparently picked up on the tension in the air because he raised a black eyebrow.

“What’s wrong?”

Shep couldn’t bring himself to answer. He sank into the nearest chair and reached for a slice of cardboard pizza, then stared at it for a second. He wasn’t even hungry.

“The FBI agent who’s coming… She’s a woman,”

Mo said. “She’s—”

Ryder pushed in. “I was just talking to the Colonel, too. Lilly Tanner. Isn’t it great?”

Shep’s jaw tightened. “How do you know about Lilly?” He shot a dark look at Jamie. Couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?

But Jamie shrugged with wide-eyed innocence.

“She’s Mitch Mendoza’s sister,” Ryder said.

A moment of confused silence passed as the men looked at each other, processing the unexpected information.

Jamie spoke first. “The one he’s been looking for?”

His sister was married to Mendoza, so this was family business for him. “I thought her name was Cindy.”

“Got changed at one point along the way. You can ask her all about it when she gets here.”

Mo clapped Jamie on the back. “Hey, that makes her your sister-in-law, doesn’t it?”

A stunned smile spread on Jamie’s face as he nodded. “Kind of. Yeah.”

Ryder headed to the back for coffee. “Mitch found her just recently. Different name and everything, but it’s definitely his sister. They had the DNA test done to confirm it.”

Shep rubbed his temple where a headache pulsed to life suddenly.

Mitch Mendoza, another member of the SDDU, Special Designation Defense Unit, the large team that Shep’s smaller group belonged to, came from a family destroyed by drugs. He’d been a teenager when his father had sold his little sister for coke. Mitch had been looking for her ever since.

And now he’d found her at last.

Except that through some bizarre turn of events, Mitch’s Cindy Mendoza was Shep’s Lilly Tanner. Shep swallowed. And she was coming here.

He tried to remember if he had any aspirin in his desk drawer. “They’ll have to send someone else.”

Jamie lifted an eyebrow, a warning look forming on his face. “She’s my family,” he said, in case somehow Shep didn’t get that.

He did. Shoot me now.

“She can’t be my Lilly Tanner. There must be a hundred Lilly Tanners out there.” He stubbornly clung to denial.

“She’s yours.” Jamie extinguished that hope with ruthless efficiency. “I ran a background check on her when I got the name. Right age. Came from the juvie system. Right city.”

Shep pushed to his feet.

“Where are you going?” Mo wanted to know.

“Taking a break.” He needed an hour at the gym.

He needed a little time to clear his mind so he could focus fully on his work. His thoughts were all over the place, and he had plenty to get done today.

No distractions. He had to erase the picture that filled his mind: the seventeen-year-old bundle of holy terror that had made him quit the juvenile justice system. Sort of. Okay, fine, they fired him because of her.

But even as he moved toward the fridge to grab a bottle of water to go, another car pulled up outside. A throaty engine rumbled, sounding nothing like the team’s SUVs. A car door slammed.

He had a hollow feeling in his stomach.

The urge to run hit him, but he stood immobilized as he listened to heels clicking on the floor in the main office area. On reflex, he cataloged the weapons within range: his gun at his hip, his backup firearm in the ankle holster, the knife in his pocket.

Then the door swung open and a pair of familiar devil-black eyes, fringed with thick lashes, scanned the break room before they zeroed in on him.

Oh, holy hell. She was definitely his Lilly Tanner.

Yet she was nothing like the girl he remembered.

Her full lips stretched into a smile that made Ray stare openmouthed. Shep considered throwing the water bottle at the idiot to snap him out of it. Then he realized that the rest of them were just as bad, staring at her, more than a little dazed. Great.

“Good morning, gentlemen.” Her voice was a sexy purr, enough to make a man sit up and pay attention, nothing like the disdainful teenage tone Shep still heard sometimes in his nightmares.

She had stretched up and filled out, and somehow managed to look like a Playboy Playmate even in a straight-cut charcoal FBI suit. She wore her wild, dark curls pulled back into a no-nonsense bun, her five-inch heels a somber black, yet everything about her somehow spelled sex, which made Shep feel all wrong and uncomfortable.

She’d been his charge once. He was pretty sure he shouldn’t be standing there thinking how she was the hottest thing he’d ever seen.

Good thing he knew too much about her to fall for the new look. Hell, he even knew where her tattoos were—

He caught himself and tried to backpedal out of that thought. Too late. A strange heat flooded him.

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Filed under Dana Marton, Excerpt, Harlequin, HQ: Texas, Intrigue, Review, Synopsis

[REVIEW] TO TAME A COWBOY by Jules Bennett

TO TAME A COWBOY

by Jules Bennett
Published by Harlequin
On Sale November 5, 2013
Texas Cattleman’s Club Series

Desire Series #2264
ISBN-10: 0373732775
ISBN-13: 9780373732777


A Texas Cattleman’s Club tale of best friends falling in love


Royal, Texas, is the perfect place for rodeo star Ryan Grant to slow down and finally show Piper Kindred she’s the woman for him. When an accident sends Piper rushing to take care of him, her sexy bedside manner suggests to Ryan that seducing his best friend will be easier than he’d expected.

But Piper knows the lure of the rodeo circuit—and the risk of a broken heart, when Ryan realizes he’s not ready to hang up his saddle for good. She can’t let herself fall for a cowboy. If only her heart would listen!

 

 

 

Pre-Order: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble
Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound


Pre-Order eBook: Kindle | Nook



My Review
4.5 Star Review – To Tame A Cowboy (Texas Cattleman’s Club: The Missing Mogul #5)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Jules.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, pain, and betrayal.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first from “Texas Cattleman’s Club: The Missing Mogul” series.

Rumor Has It by Maureen Child
Deep in a Texan’s Heart by Sara Orwig
Something about the Boss by Yvonne Lindsay
The Lone Star Cinderella by Maureen Child

 

Piper Kindred (Red as Ryan calls her) and Ryan Grant first met in grade school when he accused her of lying about knowing about the rodeo and her father being a big name in the rodeo.  She in turn punched him in the face.  He got up and invited her to hang out and they have been best friends ever since.

Piper is now a paramedic who is called to an accident scene where she recognizes the car involved.  While looking for Ryan to verify he is okay she stumbles across a missing friend, Alex Santiago who was also in the accident.  He has been missing for months.  He does not know who he is or why he was with the others in the accident.  After sending him to the hospital she finally tracks down Ryan.

Ryan is a rodeo Cowboy so he is used to getting hurt.  She decides no matter what he said she is going to take care of him.  So she takes him home to do just that.

Ryan is home for good as he retired from the rodeo.  With him staying with Piper in such close quarters the sparks are flying.  He is determined to get her to see him in a new light as not just her best friend but also a man who wants her.  If he has to seduce her then so be it!

When she finally lets down her guard and starts to fall in love will a call from a rodeo buddy to help out shatter the entire relationship? 

So much chemistry between these two it might just combust this book…  Love the softer side of Ryan that comes out in the book.  Red is very confused throughout the book.  She should trust a relationship with Ryan as she knows the call of the rodeo is strong and will pull him in again.  She compares him to her father who left his family for the rodeo but should she know better?


Favorite Parts:

Ryan closed the bathroom door and turned around to…

Oh for the love…

Could he not catch a damn break? First he wasn’t steady on his feet because he’d hit his head, then he’d nearly kissed his best friend and now this? Come on.

Lingerie everywhere. Every damn where.

Red lace, yellow satin… Bras, thongs, silky-looking nightgowns. Of course she hung this up to dry. And of course laundry day was the day he had to stay with her.

Well played, Fate.

 

When she gripped the armrest on the door and put her foot on the running board, Ryan cupped his hands around her rear end.

“Need a spotter?” he asked.

Piper glanced over her shoulder to see him squatting, smirking and staring up at her. “Get your hands off my butt, Slick.”

“Just trying to help a friend.”

His hands remained until she swatted him. “You’re trying to cop a feel, pal.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Simply helping you get into the truck.”

Piper climbed in, by herself, and stared back at him. “I’ve climbed into this truck, and my own, for years. You’ve never offered to spot me before.”

“A guy can’t decide to just help without being ridiculed? I’m hurt.”

 

 
Look forward to the next books in this series listed below.

It Happened One Night by Kathie DeNosky– Due out in December

Beneath the Stetson by Janice Maynard
What a Rancher Wants by Sarah M. Anderson
The Texas Renegade Returns by Charlene Sands

Connect with Jules Bennett: Facebook | Twitter | Website
 

About Jules

American romance author, Jules Bennett, has been touching the hearts of thousands of readers since 2005. A former beauty salon owner, Jules juggled the demands of owning her own business, raising two small children and attempting to get home in time to cook her husband (also her high school sweetheart) dinner all while plotting the next scene in her head.
After twelve years of juggling the roles of beautician, wife, mother and romance writer, on very little sleep; Jules decided to hang up her shears and turn her part-time, late-night craving into her full-time passion.
Since beginning her writing career, Jules has had the pleasure of writing for The Wild Rose Press, Samhain Publishing, Berkley Publishing, and currently writes for Harlequin Desire.

Her first two books, HOME AGAIN and LOVE IN BLOOM with Wild Rose Press written in Jules’ sweet, sassy and sexy style started her path toward Harlequin Desire.
Jules was a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards and has also won writing awards such as the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the CataRomance Reviewer’s Choice Award for one of her 2010 releases, FOR BUSINESS OR MARRIAGE?
Her books have been published all over the world in several different languages: German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek and many others. It still thrills Jules when she receives a foreign copy of one of her books.
A member of the Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s (COFW) a chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Jules participates in many conferences throughout the year. Jules also attends book signings to promote her books.

Her passion for writing romance has given Jules the drive to continue her dream and she has just contracted her 20th book! Her Hollywood series with Harlequin Desire has been a hit with readers and reviewers and in 2013 she will branch out with a new series from Samhain Publishing called “Scandalous.”
Jules loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her contact page and readers may like her fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all the happenings in Jules’ writing life

Excerpt

Piper Kindred did a double take at the black sports car. Her heart sank, bile rising in her throat. No, it couldn’t be.

Oh, sweet mercy. There was no way this massive accident would have no casualties. Wreckage lay crushed with mangled pieces across the median, shattered glass scattered along the stretch of highway, a black BMW on its top and a large tractor-trailer on its side, blocking both lanes of traffic.

As a paramedic, Piper had seen plenty of wrecks, fatalities and gut-wrenching scenes, but nothing settled fear as deep within her as seeing the familiar car that was so often in her driveway…the car that belonged to her best friend, Ryan Grant.

The ambulance barely came to a stop before Piper grabbed her heavy red medical bag, hopped out and hit the ground running. The warm November sun beat down on her back as she ran toward the chilling scene.

The medic in her couldn’t get to the victims fast enough. The woman in her feared what she’d uncover once she reached Ryan.

Once closer, she squatted in an attempt to see the inside of the vehicle. A wave of relief swept through her the second she realized the car was empty. Okay, so he wasn’t trapped, but what was the extent of his injuries?

Sirens blared in near surround sound between the police, ambulances and a fire truck trying to assist the wounded and clean up the mess.

Piper tried to keep her eye out for Ryan, hoping she’d see him sitting in the back of an ambulance with just an ice pack on his head. But her duty was to assist where needed…not to seek out those most important in her life.

As she moved closer to the tractor-trailer, where the majority of the cops seemed to be congregated, she noticed numerous Hispanic people huddled together. With disheveled clothes, scraggly beards and various cuts and bruises, Piper couldn’t help but wonder what they were all doing at the scene of an accident involving only one semi and the car of her best friend.

Piper ran to the group of obviously injured men and women. Some were crying, some had their heads dropped between their shoulders and some were shouting Spanish slang even she didn’t understand because of the rapid rate, but she could tell they were angry and scared.

As Piper passed two uniformed police officers she heard the words illegal and FBI. Yeah, this was so much more than an ill-fated accident. By the number of uniformed officers scouring the area, it looked as though these people were not here legally.

Moments later she heard other officers discussing how so many stowaways were hidden in such a small compartment in the back of that semi. This situation was beyond what Piper was used to. Her job right now was to assess and treat the victims, not to worry about the legalities of this mess.

“Where do you need me?” she asked another paramedic who was examining a man’s leg beneath his torn pants.

“The truck driver was pretty shaken,” the paramedic told her. “He’s sitting in the back of a squad car for questioning right now. No visible injuries, but his pupils were dilated and he did say his back was hurting. Seems he was driving this illegal group and he had no clue.”

Piper nodded, gripped her bag tighter and headed toward the squad car closest to the overturned semi. Sure enough a trooper had his forearm resting on the roof of the car as he leaned in and listened to whatever the man seated in the back was saying.

“I swear I had no clue what was in the back of my truck. Please, you’ve got to believe me,” the driver pleaded. “I was just trying to get into the other lane and that car came out of nowhere. I didn’t see him at all.”

According to the man’s story, he was completely innocent. This was a mess of epic proportions and not something a few questions would solve. But all Piper needed to do was to assess the man to see if he needed to go to the hospital or if he could continue being questioned.

“Officer, may I please check him out?” Piper asked. “I understand he has back pain.”

The officer stood to his full height and nodded, but didn’t move too far away. Often medics and cops worked together. Being a first responder required teamwork and so far she’d never had an issue with any cop getting in the way of her treating a patient at the scene.

Piper leaned in and saw a middle-aged man with a protruding belly hanging over his faded jeans, a dirty, bushy blond mustache with matching beard and nicotine-stained fingers.

“Sir, my name is Piper and I’m an EMT. I was told your back is hurting. Can you stand?”

He nodded and slid out of the car as Piper backed up. When he came to his full height, he winced, grabbing his lower back—whether for show to get the officer’s sympathy or because the pain was indeed real, she didn’t know. Yet again, not her place to judge.

“If you’ll come this way, we can set you in the back of an ambulance. You may want to go to the hospital just to make sure nothing else is wrong, but I can get your vitals over here.”

“I appreciate that, ma’am.”

As she led the man toward the nearest empty ambulance, her eyes scanned the crowd for Ryan. Had he already been taken to the E.R.? Were his injuries life-threatening? The unknowns were killing her.

She knew a life flight chopper hadn’t been dispatched to the scene, so that was a mild comfort. Not only for the fact Ryan didn’t need a medevac, but that none of the others involved in the accident did, either.

Another ambulance arrived on the scene as Piper assisted the truck driver into the back of a vacant one. When fresh paramedics hopped from their emergency vehicle and made their way toward the group of injured people, she jogged back over to assist.

But froze in her tracks as one head lifted and a familiar set of dark eyes met hers. He was amid a group of Mexicans, but this man… She knew this man.

Dear God. How could this… What the hell…?

“Alex?” she whispered to herself.

Piper took off at a dead run and stopped beside Alex Santiago. Her bag dropped at her feet as she held her breath.

Was she honest to God seeing the man who’d disappeared months ago without a trace? Could it truly be him?

The man glanced up at her, holding his hand over his eyes to block the glaring afternoon sun.

My God. It was him. The hair was a shaggy, unkempt mess and the scruff on his cheeks and chin indicated he hadn’t shaved in a few days or even weeks. But this was Alex. The man who’d been missing from Royal, Texas, for months.

The man most people assumed had become a victim of foul play, maybe even at his best friend’s hand. But here he was, living and breathing.

“Alex, what on earth are you doing here? Where have you been?” she asked, eyeing the knot on the side of his head.

He winced as she slid her fingertip over the swollen bump. “You must have me confused with someone else. My name isn’t Alex.”

Piper’s hand stilled above his head as she leaned down to look him in the eyes. She was pretty sure she knew what her friend looked like. Just because she hadn’t seen him in months didn’t mean she was clueless.

She looked closer. Um…yeah, this was Alex. If he didn’t think he was Alex, then he’d hit his head too hard in that crash. But at least he was alive.

“Your name is Alex Santiago,” she told him, making sure to keep her eyes locked on to his, waiting for a spark of recognition from his end.

His brows drew together and he slowly shook his head. “I’ve never heard that name.”

“Then what do people call you?” she asked, worry growing deeper with each passing moment.

Alex’s eyes searched hers; he opened his mouth, closed it and sighed. “I don’t…remember. That doesn’t make sense. How could I not know my own name?”

“You have a good bump here on your head,” she reminded him as her eyes traveled down to the wrist he cradled in his other hand. “Looks like you may have broken your wrist.”

He glanced down and simply nodded. Piper worried shock may be setting in. Between the accident and the apparent memory loss, she had no doubt Alex was shaken.

“Let’s get you to an ambulance and see what the doctors have to say once you get to the hospital,” she said gently. “I’m sure you’ll remember you’re Alex Santiago in no time. I’m Piper Kindred and we’ve been friends for a while. Can you at least tell me how you got into that truck?”

Piper lifted her duffel bag, helped Alex to his feet and held an arm around his waist when he started to sway. “Easy,” she told him. “No rush. We’re only going to that ambulance a few feet away. Think you can make it or should I bring a gurney?”

“No, I’m okay.”

She didn’t quite believe him so she kept him leaning against her side as she led him to the waiting ambulance.

“Go ahead and lie down on that cot,” she said as she assisted Alex into the back of the vehicle.

“Do you know where you are?”

His blank look added to the sickening feeling in her stomach.

“We ready to roll?”

Piper glanced at the other EMT on the scene. They might as well go without her because there was no way in hell she was leaving without at least seeing that Ryan was okay…and to tell him of miraculously discovering Alex.

“Go ahead and take him. He’s got some memory loss so he doesn’t know his name. Make sure the doctors are aware this is Alex Santiago and he’s been missing for months. I’ll go inform an officer because Alex was the subject of an ongoing investigation.”

Turning her attention back to Alex, Piper offered a warm smile. “You’re in good hands now, Alex. I know you’re confused, but I’ll be at the hospital as soon as I can to check on you.”

Continuing to hold on to his wrist, Alex leaned back on the gurney. Piper closed the doors and tapped the back to inform the driver he was good to go.

With several paramedics now on the scene, Piper felt comfortable going in search of Ryan.

After searching frantically, running through the chaos, she found him next to the road on the other side of the overturned semi. Her knees weakened with relief at the sight of Ryan whole and upright. He was a good bit from his car, so she had to assume the officer had taken him aside to get his statement.

But glancing at Ryan and actually talking to him were two different things. He looked fine, but looks, as she’d discovered numerous times over the years, could be deceiving. Internal injuries were nothing to mess around with and could prove fatal even when a patient looked perfectly fine.

Added to needing to know the extent of his injuries, she had to tell him about the mind-blowing discovery she’d just made.

Alex Santiago was alive. Their friend who had been missing for months was alive and on his way to Royal Memorial Hospital with an obvious broken wrist and some memory loss. But he was alive.

But, my God, what in the world had he been doing in the back of a semi-truck filled with illegal Mexicans? So many questions whirled around in her mind. She had no idea what the hell was going on, but she knew Alex was probably scared and confused.

As Piper moved closer, she noticed Ryan holding on to one of his sides. A trooper was jotting down notes and nodding as he took Ryan’s statement. Piper closed the gap, but stayed a few feet away, waiting for him to finish.

The sight of him with a slight bruise over his right brow and his hair even messier than usual made Piper want to throw her arms around his broad, muscular body and squeeze him to death for scaring her. But he’d probably laugh at her if she got all misty-eyed or mushy right now.

She’d seen this cowboy compete on the rodeo circuit countless times. She’d seen him get knocked around, bucked and nearly trampled, but nothing had terrified her more than the sight of his totaled car.

The trooper stepped away and Piper inched closer on still shaky legs.

Ryan caught her eye and offered that crooked smile. “Hey, Red.”

That smile could melt the panties off any woman, and it had according to rumor. But Ryan was her friend so her panties had stayed in place over the years. Though she wasn’t blind—her bestie was the sexiest cowboy she’d ever laid eyes on.

With that dark, messy hair usually hidden by a black Stetson and heavy-lidded baby blues, yeah, Ryan Grant was one very fine-looking cowboy and he did some mighty nice things to a pair of well-worn jeans.

“You need to be seen,” she informed him, raking her eyes over him to look for other visible injuries. “And I won’t take no for an answer.”

“I’m just sore and banged up a little, that’s all.” He reached out, grabbed one of her shaky hands and squeezed. “You look tense. I’m fine, Piper.”

“You will be checked out because you’ll want to come to the hospital anyway when I tell you who I saw.”

Ryan shrugged, hissing and grabbing his side again.

“Who?”

Piper’s eyes darted down to his ribs. “If they’re not broken, they’re bruised, so you’ll be going straight to X-ray when you get there, big boy.”

“Who did you see?” he insisted.

All joking aside, she leaned in and said, “Alex.”

“Alex?” he repeated. “Alex Santiago?”

Piper nodded. “He was in the back of that semi.”

“Piper…” He eyed her as though she was the one who’d hit her head. “Alex was in the truck?”

She merely nodded, crossing her arms and silently daring him to argue.

“How in the hell did he get there?” Ryan asked.

Piper nodded toward another ambulance and guided Ryan toward the open back. “He doesn’t remember.”

Ryan, still holding his side, put his foot on the back step. “He doesn’t remember how he got into the semi?”

“He doesn’t remember anything,” she whispered. “He didn’t even know his damn name was Alex when I was talking to him. He didn’t recognize me and he was totally clueless.”

“Damn it.” Ryan glanced around at the group of Mexicans being tended to by EMTs and talked to by the cops. “He has amnesia?”

Piper shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. He had a good-size knot on his head, but that could’ve happened from the accident. He’s on his way in the squad I came with, so we’ll catch a ride with another. Right now I think we both need to get to the hospital for multiple reasons.”

“I don’t need to get checked out, but I’ll appease you only because I want to see Alex for myself.”

Piper studied him, as if she could see beyond the surface and actually make an official diagnosis.

“You all right?” he asked. “You look a little pale.”

Piper caught his worried gaze and smiled. “I’m fine. And if the doctors give you the go-ahead and release you, I’m going to kick your rear end for worrying me to death when I saw your overturned car.”

Ryan’s wide, signature smile spread across his face. “There’s that Piper love. Come on. Let’s get to the hospital.”

“Oh, God, Ryan.” She held a hand on his arm before he could step into the back of the ambulance. “What about Cara? Someone needs to call her.”

Piper couldn’t even imagine what Alex’s fiancée, Cara Windsor, would think when she was told he was alive. Piper was stunned and thrilled, but she was worried about how extensive this memory loss was.

“Let’s get the facts from the doctor first,” Ryan suggested. “We can’t have her running all in there in hysterics and shock. We need to prepare her for this and have concrete information.”

Piper nodded. “I agree. Let’s get to the hospital. And while you’re getting checked out, I’ll find out Alex’s status.”

“Red—”

She held up a hand. “The fact my heart rate is still out of control after not knowing if you were okay or not gives me the right to override anything you say. Now get your butt in and let’s get to the hospital.”

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Filed under Desire, Excerpt, Harlequin, Jules Bennett, Review, Texas Cattleman's Club: The Missing Mogul

[Review] My Spy by Dana Marton

My Spy by Dana Marton

Publication date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Series: HQ: Texas
Pages: 440

Back of the book

2 Complete Novels for 1 Price!  

The stakes are higher and the danger is bigger in Dana Marton’s HQ: Texas miniseries. 


A mission gone wrong forced injured soldier Jamie Cassidy to start anew…and run right into the path of deputy sheriff Bree Tridle. The sassy, sexy Texan was as determined to uncover a local money-laundering scheme as Jamie was to keep her safe from the stalker hot on her trail. But Jamie, now an undercover operative, was also on a covert mission of his own: track smugglers threatening to bring terrorists into the U.S. Could Jamie’s and Bree’s cases be related? When a deadly attack on Bree’s home escalates the danger and their attraction, Jamie and Bree must face their enemies together to save not only their country, but their one chance at love. 
 

2 books in 1! Last Spy Standing also included in this book!

 


 

 

 

Pre-order My Spy


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HQ: Texas series reading order


LAST SPY STANDING

SPY HARD

THE SPY WORE SPURS

MOST ELIGIBLE SPY

MY SPY

SPY IN THE SADDLE

    


My Review: 

5.0 Star Review – My Spy (HQ: Texas # 5)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Dana.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, a stalker, murder, handicapped characters and a bomb.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first from “HQ: Texas” series.

LAST SPY STANDING – this is included in this book 

SPY HARD

THE SPY WORE SPURS

MOST ELIGIBLE SPY

 


Jamie Cassidy, an undercover operative, is working a case on tracking smugglers.  He has to reveal his job when he almost gets arrested for spending a counterfeit bill he got from the bank on a book. 

Brianna ‘Bree’ Tridle, former beauty queen, now deputy sheriff takes him in custody.  She is working on a money-laundering case that could be related to Jamie’s case.

After Jamie is told to work with Bree he discovers that she is being stalked.  As their investigations continue the leads they get point back to each of their cases. 

As the stalker escalates the danger to Bree has Jamie in knots over his feelings and protectiveness to her and her sister. 

What is happening to the man who decided he never needed a woman?  As Bree is drawn closer to Jamie she is wondering if he will want her to choose between him and her sister.  

         
The chemistry between these two is explosive.  Bree is a cheerful sarcastic woman who is trying to keep her town free of crime and take care of her sister.  I love how Dana wrote Jamie’s character I totally love him.  The storyline in the bank where Jamie opens up a little about his feelings and his loss just about breaks your heart.  As tragic as Jamie’s back story is you can get an understanding of his feelings and concerns from it.  She totally cracked me up with him getting busted with the counterfeit bill while buying a book.  Well played Dana well played. Very good read.  


 
Look forward to the next book in this series.


Spy In The Saddle – Due out in November 2013

A few of my favorite parts:

 “I assume you didn’t go get stiches because you don’t have time, not because you’re scared of the needle?”
He shot her a dark look. He did that so well. Must have been part of his training.
“Why don’t I slap on some butterfly bandages, as long as we’re both here. Then you won’t have to go see a doc. You’ll save a ton of time that you could use to glare at people. I’d hate to see you slip off schedule.”
His eyes remained stoic, but the corner of his sculpted mouth twitched. “Make it quick.”


“I’m not asking. I’m telling you. Don’t involve yourself. Forget everything we’ve talked about earlier.”
“Or what?” A laugh escaped her and trilled along his nerve endings. “You’ll spank me? For heaven’s sake. I’m an officer of the law. I’m trained to handle myself.”
The visual of the spanking bit left him both speechless and breathless for a second.


“You know, we do have a public-indecency ordinance in place.  You seem to have a habit of going pant-less in public,” she remarked as she stood and squeezed water out of her hair and clothes. 
He glanced back as he got to his feet. “You going to arrest me for that?”
She sighed. “I kind of like it. Does that make me shallow?”
Surprise crossed his face, then a half smile formed. “You’re not what I expected.”

Contact Info for Dana Marton

About Dana:

Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.
She would love to hear from her readers.   
Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi. 
 

Read an Excerpt

He had two weeks to gain the information he needed to stop terrorists with weapons of mass destruction from entering the country. But everything his six-man team had done so far had been a bust.

Undercover operative Jamie Cassidy sat with his back to the wall in the far corner at the Yellow Armadillo, a seedy, small-town bar on the backstreets of Pebble Creek, Texas. Country music streamed from overhead speakers; the place was dark and dingy, the food was fried within an inch of its life. But the beer was cold, the only nice thing that could be said about the joint.

“So you have no idea who the new boss is?” he asked the scrawny farmhand across the table.

Billy Brunswik fingered the rim of the tattered Stetson on his lap, his eyes on his empty glass. A cowboy tan left the top of his forehead white, the rest of his face several shades darker. His checkered blue shirt was wrinkled and smudged with dirt, as if he’d been wearing it for more than a day or two. He silently shook his head.

Jamie had his own cowboy hat and jeans and shirt to fit in, a far cry from his usual commando gear. In a place like this—a known hangout for smugglers—being spotted as a government man could quickly earn you a bullet in the back.

He waved the perky blonde waitress over for another round for Billy but didn’t return her flirty smile. His attention was on the man across the table. “It’s tough. Believe me, I know.” He waited until the waitress left. “In this economy, and they cut off work. Hell, what are you supposed to do? Who do you go to now?”

“Nobody knows nuthin’.” Billy set his empty glass down and wiped his upper lip with the back of his calloused hand, then pulled out a tin of chewing tobacco and tucked a pinch between gum and cheek. “I can barely buy groceries for the girlfriend and me, I’ll tell you that.”

Jamie watched him for a few seconds, then slid three twenties across the table. “I know how it is.”

Billy was on the cash like a duck on a june bug, the bills disappearing in a flat second. He looked around nervously, licking his crooked yellow front teeth. “I ain’t no snitch.”

Jamie gave a sympathetic nod. “A man has to live. And I ain’t asking for nothing that would get you in trouble. Just need enough to show the boss I’ve been working.” He shrugged, playing the halfhearted customs agent role.

Billy hung his head. “I do work a little,” he admitted. “When nobody’s lookin’. Just some weed.”

“Who do you kick up to?”

“Ain’t nobody there since Kenny.”

And no matter how hard Jamie pushed the down-on-his-luck farmhand after that, Billy didn’t give up anything. Although he did promise to get in touch if things changed.

Developing an asset was a slow and careful business.

Jamie left the man and strode across the bar, looking for familiar faces as he passed the rows of tables. The two border towns his team watched, Hullett and Pebble Creek, had their share of smugglers, most of them lying low these days. He didn’t recognize anyone here today.

He paid the waitress at the bar, stepped outside into the scorching heat then shoved his hat on his head and rubbed his eyes. He’d spent the night on border patrol, then most of the morning running down leads. His legs hurt. The doc at Walter Reed called it phantom-limb pain.

He resisted the urge to reach down and rub his prosthetic limbs. It did nothing for the pain, and he hated the feel of the cold steel where his legs should have been.

He strode up to Main Street, came out by the bank and drew a hundred out of the ATM while he was here, since Billy had cleaned him out. Then his gaze caught on the bookstore across the street. Maybe a good read would help him fall asleep. When on duty, his mind focused on work. But when he rested, memories of his dark past pushed their way back into his head. Sleep had a way of eluding him.

He cut across traffic and pushed inside the small indie bookstore, into the welcoming cool of air-conditioning, and strode straight to the mystery section. He picked out a hard-boiled detective story, then turned on his heels and came face-to-face with the woman of his dreams.

Okay, the woman of every red-blooded man’s dreams.

She was tall and curvy, with long blond hair swinging in a ponytail, startling blue eyes that held laughter and a mouth to kill or die for, depending on what she wished.

His mind went completely blank for a second, while his body sat up and took serious notice.

When his dreams weren’t filled with blood and torture and killing, they were filled with sex. He could still do the act—one thing his injury hadn’t taken away from him. But he didn’t allow himself. He didn’t want pity. Foreplay shouldn’t start with him taking off his prosthetics—the ultimate mood killer. And he definitely didn’t want the questions.

Hell, even he hated touching the damn things. Who wouldn’t? He wasn’t going to put himself through that humiliation. Wasn’t going to put a woman in a position where she’d have to start pretending.

But he dreamed, and his imagination made it good. The woman of his dreams was always the same, an amalgamation of pinup girls that had been burned into his brain during his adolescent years from various magazines he and his brothers had snuck into the house.

And now she was standing in front of him.

The pure, molten-lava lust that shot through his gut nearly knocked him off his feet. And aggravated the hell out of him. He’d spent considerable time suppressing his physical needs so they wouldn’t blindside him like this.

“Howdy,” she said with a happy, peppy grin that smoothed out the little crease in her full bottom lip. She had a great mouth, crease or no crease. Made a man think about his lips on hers and going lower.

He narrowed his eyes. Then he pushed by her with a dark look, keeping his face and body language discouraging. Who the hell was she to upset his hard-achieved balance?

He strode up to the counter and paid with cash because he didn’t want to waste time punching buttons on the card reader. He didn’t want to spend another second in a place where he could be ambushed like this. The awareness of her back somewhere among the rows of books still tingled all across his skin.

“I’m sorry.” The elderly man behind the counter handed back the twenty-dollar bill. “I can’t take this.” He flashed an apologetic smile as he pushed up his horn-rimmed glasses, then tugged down his denim shirt in a nervous gesture. “The scanner kicked it back.”

“I just got it from the bank across the street,” Jamie argued, not in the mood for delay.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“Everything okay, Fred?” The woman he’d tried to pretend didn’t exist came up behind Jamie.

Her voice was as smooth as the kind of top-shelf whiskey the Yellow Armadillo couldn’t afford to carry. Its sexy timbre tickled something behind his breastbone. He kept his back to her, against enormous temptation to turn, hoping she’d get the hint to mind her own business.

Then he had to turn, anyway, because next thing he knew she was talking to him.

“I’d be happy to help. How about we go next door and I’ll help you figure this out?”

The police station stood next door. All he wanted was to go home and see if he could catch a few winks before his next shift. “I don’t think so.” He peeled off another twenty, which went through the scanner without trouble. Next thing he knew, Fred was handing back his change.

“I really think we should,” the woman insisted.

Apparently, she had trouble with the concept of minding her own business. He shot her a look of disapproval, hoping she’d take the hint.

He tried to look at nothing but her eyes, but all that sparkling blue was doing things to him. Hell, another minute, and if she asked him to eat the damned twenty, he would have probably done it. He caught that thought, pushed back hard.

“Who the hell are you?” He kept his tone at a level of surly that had taken years to perfect.

The cheerleader smile never even wavered as she pulled her badge from her pocket and flashed it at him. “Brianna Tridle. Deputy sheriff.”

Oh, hell.

He looked her over more thoroughly: the sexy snake-skin boots, the hip-hugging jeans, the checkered shirt open at the neck, giving a hint of the top curve of her breasts. His palms itched for a feel. If there was such a thing as physical perfection, she was it.

Any guy who had two brain cells to rub together would have gone absolutely anywhere with her.

Except Jamie Cassidy.

“I’m in a hurry.”

“Won’t take but a minute.” She tilted her head, exposing the creamy skin of her neck just enough to bamboozle him. “I’ve been having a hard time with counterfeit bills turning up in town lately. I’d really appreciate the help. I’ll keep it as quick as possible, I promise.” The smile widened enough to reveal some pearly white teeth.

Teeth a man wouldn’t have minded running his tongue along before kissing her silly.

Another man.

Certainly not Jamie.

Okay, so she was the deputy sheriff. The sheriff, Kenny Davis, had been killed recently. He’d been part of the smuggling operation Jamie’s team was investigating. A major player, actually.

After that, Ryder McKay, Jamie’s team leader, had looked pretty closely at the Pebble Creek police department. The rest of them came up squeaky clean. A shame, really. Jamie definitely felt like his world would be safer with Brianna Tridle locked away somewhere far from him.

She was too chirpy by half.

He didn’t like chirpy.

But if she wasn’t a suspect, she could be an ally—if he played his cards right. Although poker wasn’t the first thing to spring to mind when he thought about playing with her. He could no longer feel the air-conditioning. In fact, it seemed the AC might have broken since he’d come in. The place felt warm suddenly. Hot, even.

He loosened the neck of his shirt. “Fine. Five minutes.”

He held the door for her, regretting it as she flashed another gut punch of a smile. She better not read anything into that basic courtesy. He’d been raised right, that was all. He couldn’t help it. He wasn’t falling for her charms, no way, he thought as she walked in front of him, hips swinging.

The gentle sway held him mesmerized for a minute. Then he blinked hard as he finally focused on one specific spot. Was that a small firearm tucked under her waistband, covered by her shirt? Hard to tell with his eyes trying to slide lower.

He looked more carefully. Damn if the slight bulge wasn’t a weapon. She’d been armed the entire time and he’d never noticed. He was seriously losing it.

He drew in a slow breath as they walked into the station. On second thought, forget developing her as an asset. Working with her would probably be more trouble than it was worth.

He was going to tell Brianna Tridle where, when and exactly how he’d come into possession of the stupid twenty-dollar bill in question. Then he was walking out and not looking back. If he had even a smidgen of luck coming to him, he’d never see her again.

“I really appreciate this.” Bree measured up the cowboy with the bad attitude.

Not a real Texas cowboy, actually. He was missing the Texas twang, his general accent making it difficult to pin down from where he hailed. And he wore combat boots with his jeans. It threw off his cowboy swagger. He had shadows all around him, his aura a mixture of dangerous and sexy. He was hot enough to give women heart palpitations on his worst day.

Not that that sort of thing affected her. She was a seasoned law enforcement officer. “And your name is?”

“Jamie Cassidy.” He didn’t offer his hand, or even a hint of a smile as he scanned the station.

She’d bet good money he didn’t miss many details.

Fine. She was proud of the place, clean and organized. The dozen people working there were the finest in South Texas. She would trust each and every one of them to have her back.

While he examined her station, she examined him.

He stood tall, well built, his dirty-blond hair slightly mussed as he took his hat off. When he ran his fingers through it in an impatient gesture, Bree’s own fingertips tingled.

He had the face of a tortured angel, all angles and masculine beauty. His chocolate-brown eyes seemed permanently narrowed and displeased. Especially as he took in the metal detectors she’d had installed just last week.

Lena, the rookie officer manning the scanner, held out a gray plastic tray for him.

Bree offered a smile. “We just upped our security. If you could hand over anything metal in your pockets and walk through, I’d appreciate it.”

She was in charge of the station until the new sheriff was elected. They’d had an incident recently with a drunk housewife who’d come in to file a complaint against her husband, then ended up shooting a full clip into the ceiling to make sure they believed her when she said she would shoot the bastard if he came into her new double-wide one more time with muddy boots.

She’d been a bundle of booze and wild emotions—the very opposite of Jamie Cassidy, who seemed the epitome of cold and measured.

He scowled as he dropped his cell phone, handful of change and car keys into the small plastic tray. “I’m going to set the alarm off.” He tapped his leg. “Prosthesis.”

That was it, then, Bree thought as she watched him. The reason why his walk had been off a smidgen. “Not a problem, Lena,” she told the rookie, who was staring at him with dreamy eyes. “I’ll pat him down.”

“No.” His face darkened as his gaze cut to hers.

They did a long moment of the staring-each-other-down thing. Then his lips narrowed as he fished around in his shirt pocket and pulled out a CBP badge.

Customs and Border Protection. And the plot thickens. She tilted her head as she considered him. Why not show the badge sooner?

Maybe it was a fake. She’d worked pretty closely with CBP for the past couple of years. She’d never seen him before. If she had, she would have definitely remembered him.

She widened her smile. Defusing tension in a bad situation always worked better than escalating it. “I need to check you just the same. New procedure. Sorry.”

For a second he looked like he might refuse and simply walk away from her. She kept her hand near her firearm at her back, ready to stop him. She preferred to do things the easy way, but she could do it the hard way if needed. Up to him.

But then he seemed to change his mind and held out his arms to the side. She wondered if he knew that his smoldering look of resentment only made him look sexier.

“It’ll only take a second.” She ran her fingers along his arms first, lightly. Plenty of muscle. If he did change his mind and began causing trouble, she would definitely need her service weapon.

She moved her hands to his torso and found more impressive muscles there. She could feel the heat of his body through his shirt and went faster when her fingertips began to tingle again, a first for her during pat down. What on earth was wrong with her today? She tried to focus on what she was doing. Okay, no shoulder holster, no sidearm here.

“Almost done.” She squatted as she moved down his legs, pausing at the sharp transition where the living flesh gave way to rigid metal. Bothof his legs were missing. Her gaze flew up to his.

He looked back down at her with something close to hate—a proud man who didn’t like his weaknesses seen.

“Enough.” He stepped back.

But she stepped after him. “One more second.”

Awareness tingled down her spine as she pulled up and reached around his waist, almost as if she were hugging him. And there, tucked behind his belt, she found a small, concealed weapon.

She removed the firearm carefully, pointing it down, making sure her fingers didn’t come near the trigger. “When were you going to tell me about this?” She checked the safety. On. Okay.

 

Side Note this book also contains the below book:

 

Last Spy Standing by Dana Marton

Publication date: Jan 1, 2011

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div> This is the First book in the HQ: Texas SeriesPublished by Harlequin
Pages: 224

Back of the Book

 

Black ops specialist Mitch Mendoza had thought this South American rescue mission would be routine. But the jungle held unexpected dangers: deadly snakes, armed drug runners and Megan Cassidy. The undercover CIA agent had legs for miles and a hidden agenda–one that interfered with Mitch’s plans. So though he was a lone wolf, he had to keep her close, or risk letting his mission fail. After years of working alone, Mitch found himself distracted by Megan’s steely resolve and her soft curves. And he couldn’t afford that. Not if he wanted this assignment to be a success…and get both of them out of the jungle alive.

 

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Filed under 2013, Dana Marton, Harlequin, HQ: Texas, Intrigue, October, Review, Romance, Suspense

[Review] Yuletide Baby Surprise by Catherine Mann

Yuletide Baby Surprise  by Catherine Mann

Publication date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Desire

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Series: Billionaire and Babies
Series: The Alpha Brotherhood # 4
Pages: 185

Back of the book

 
In this Billionaires & Babies novel, USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Mann gives new meaning to the words “Merry Christmas, Baby”

‘Tis the season to be jolly? It isn’t for Dr. Rowan Boothe when a princess on the run from the photo-hungry press invades his hotel room. He and Mariama Mandara had their professional clashes in the past, and Rowan has no desire to become involved in her latest predicament—until they discover an abandoned baby. Now he needs Mari’s help and soon discovers she’s no pampered royal but a desirable woman. Yet how long can their Christmas escape really last?
 



Pre-order Yuletide Baby Surprise

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My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Yuletide Baby Surprise (Billionaires and Babies | The Alpha Brotherhood # 4 series)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Catherine.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, and an abandoned baby.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first from “The Alpha Brotherhood” series.

An Inconvenient Affair

All or Nothing

Playing for Keeps


Princess Dr. Mariama “Mari” Mandara is on the run from royal fans.  She needs to find a way to escape the fans and fast.  That is when she comes across a room service tray.  She decides to pretend to deliver the tray to the assigned room.

Dr. Rowan Boothe is in town for a conference and is awaiting his evening meal.  When his meal arrives he realizes that the delivery person is non-other than his professional nemesis Dr. Mandara. 

Under the room service cart they find an abandoned baby.  As Rowan has wanted Mari for a while he decides to keep her close any way he can.  His plan is they will take care of the baby together so she is not in the system and sent to a group home.  In order to care for the baby Mari should share his suite and they should take care of the baby as a couple.

Now they must learn to get along with each other without becoming attached to the baby.  As they try to track down the mother with the help of resources from friends and the Royal fans they learn more about each other and develop feelings for each other.    

Will they be able to set aside their work differences to come together and take care of this baby?  What is going to happen when the mother is found?  Where will that leave them?

The chemistry between these two is awesome.  Love both the characters was a little mad about how the baby situation ended up.  Rowan and Mari really draw you into the story. 


 
Look forward to the next book in this series.


For the Sake of Their SonDue out in January 2014

A few of my favorite parts:

 “Ah, you said ‘if.'” He flicked a loose strand of hair over her shoulder, just barely skimming his knuckles across her skin. “Princess, that means we’re already halfway to naked.”


“If you were a good friend you would let me continue with my denial.”


“Crush? Good God, man. I’m not in junior high.”


She dug her fingers into his amazing tush. “Could you quit being so damn admirable? I’m very clearly propositioning you. I am an adult, a very smart adult, totally sober, and completely turned on by you. If’s that not clear enough for you, then how about this? Take me to bed or to the couch, but take me now.”

Contact Info for Catherine Mann

 
                               
 
 

 

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About Catherine:


USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann resides on a sunny Florida beach with her military flyboy husband and their four children. Although after nine moves in twenty years, she hasn’t given away her winter gear! Now a RITA Award winner, Catherine writes action-packed military suspense for Berkley and Sourcebooks, and steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. With over two million books in print in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated five RITA finals, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. A former theater school director and university teacher, she holds a Master’s degree in Theater from UNC-Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (with minors in both English and Education) from the College of Charleston. Catherine enjoys hearing from readers and chatting on her message board – thanks to the wonders of the wireless internet that allows her to cyber-network with her laptop by the water! Catherine and her family are also active volunteers in animal rescue, having fostered more than fifty puppies and special needs dogs for their local shelter. FMI on the latest news, upcoming releases and contests, check out her facebook page.

 

Read an Excerpt

Dr. Mariama Mandara had always been the last picked for a team in gym class. With good reason. Athletics? Not her thing. But when it came to spelling bees, debate squads and math competitions, she’d racked up requests by the dozens.

Too bad her academic skills couldn’t help her sprint faster down the posh hotel corridor.

More than ever, she needed speed to escape the royal watchers tracking her at the Cape Verde beachside resort off the coast of West Africa, which was like a North Atlantic Hawaii, a horseshoe grouping of ten islands. They were staying on the largest island, Santiago.

No matter where she hid, determined legions were all too eager for a photo with a princess. Why couldn’t they accept she was here for a business conference, not socializing?

Panting, Mari braced a hand against the wall as she stumbled past a potted areca silk palm strung with twinkling Christmas lights. Evading relentless pursuers wasn’t as easy as it appeared in the movies, especially if you weren’t inclined to blow things up or leap from windows. The nearest stairwell door was blocked by two tourists poring over some sightseeing pamphlet. A cleaning cart blocked another escape route. She could only keep moving forward.

Regaining her balance, she power-walked, since running would draw even more attention or send her tripping over her own feet. Her low-heeled pumps thud-thud-thudded along the plush carpet in time with a poly-rhythmic version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” wafting from the sound system. She just wanted to finish this medical conference and return to her research lab, where she could ride out the holiday madness in peace, crunching data rather than candy canes.
 
For most people, Christmas meant love, joy and family. But for her, the “season to be jolly” brought epic family battles even twenty years after her parents’ divorce. If her mom and dad had lived next door to each other—or even on the same continent—the holidays would not have been so painful. But they’d played transcontinental tug-of-war over their only child for decades. Growing up, she’d spent more time in the Atlanta airport and on planes with her nanny than actually celebrating by a fireside with cocoa. She’d even spent one Christmas in a hotel, her connecting flight canceled for snow.

The occasional cart in the hall now reminded her of that year’s room-service Christmas meal. Call her crazy, but once she had gained more control over her world, she preferred a simpler Christmas.

Although simple wasn’t always possible for someone born into royalty. Her mother had crumbled under the pressure of the constant spotlight, divorced her Prince Charming in Western Africa and returned to her Atlanta, Georgia, home. Mari, however, couldn’t divorce herself from her heritage.

If only her father and his subjects understood she could best serve their small region through her research at the university lab using her clinical brain, rather than smiling endlessly through the status quo of ribbon-cutting ceremonies. She craved her comfy, shapeless clothes, instead of worrying about keeping herself neat as a pin for photo ops.

Finally, she spotted an unguarded stairwell. Peering inside, she found it empty but for the echo of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” segueing into “Away in a Manger.” She just needed to make it from the ground level to her fifth-floor room, where she could hole up for the night before facing the rest of the week’s symposiums. Exhausted from a fourteen-hour day of presentations about her research on antiviral medications, she was a rumpled mess and just didn’t have it in her to smile pretty for the camera or field questions that would be captured on video phone. Especially since anything she said could gain a life of its own on the internet in seconds these days.

She grasped the rail and all but hauled herself up step after step. Urgency pumped her pulse in her ears. Gasping, she paused for a second at the third floor to catch her breath before trudging up the last flights. Shoving through the fifth-floor door, she almost slammed into a mother and teenage daughter leaving their room. The teen did a double take and Mari turned away quickly, adrenaline surging through her exhaustion and powering her down the hall. Except now she was going in the opposite direction, damn it.

Simply strolling back into the hall wasn’t an option until she could be sure the path was clear. But she couldn’t simply stand here indefinitely, either. If only she had a disguise, something to throw people off the scent. Head tucked down, she searched the hall through her eyelashes, taking in a brass luggage rack and monstrously big pots of African feather grass.

Her gaze landed on the perfect answer—a room-service cart. Apparently abandoned. She scanned for anyone in a hotel uniform, but saw only the retreating back of a woman walking away quickly, a cell phone pressed to her ear. Mari chewed her lip for half a second then sprinted forward and stopped just short of the cloth-draped trolley.

She peeked under the silver tray. The mouth-watering scent of saffron-braised karoo lamb made her stomach rumble. And the tiramisu particularly tempted her to find the nearest closet and feast after a long day of talking without a break for more than coffee and water. She shook off indulgent thoughts. The sooner she worked her way back to her room, the sooner she could end this crazy day with a hot shower, her own tray of food and a soft bed.

Delivering the room-service cart now offered her best means of disguise. A hotel jacket was even draped over the handle and a slip of paper clearly listed Suite 5A as the recipient.

The sound of the elevator doors opening spurred her into action.

Mari shrugged the voluminous forest-green jacket over her rumpled black suit. A red Father Christmas hat slipped from underneath the hotel uniform. All the better for extra camouflaging. She yanked on the hat over her upswept hair and started pushing the heavily laden cart toward the suite at the end of the hall, just as voices swelled behind her.

“Do you see her?” a female teen asked in Portuguese, her squeaky tones drifting down the corridor. “I thought you said she ran up the stairs to the fifth floor.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t the fourth?” another high-pitched girl answered.

“I’m certain,” a third voice snapped. “Get your phone ready. We can sell these for a fortune.”

Not a chance.

Mari shoved the cart. China rattled and the wheels creaked. Damn, this thing was heavier than it looked. She dug her heels in deeper and pushed harder. Step by step, past carved masks and a pottery elephant planter, she walked closer to suite 5A.

The conspiring trio drew closer. “Maybe we can ask that lady with the cart if she’s seen her…”

Apprehension lifted the hair on the back of Mari’s neck. The photos would be all the more mortifying if they caught her in this disguise. She needed to get inside suite 5A. Now. The numbered brass plaque told her she was at the right place.

Mari jabbed the buzzer, twice, fast.

“Room service,” she called, keeping her head low.
 
Seconds ticked by. The risk of stepping inside and hiding her identity from one person seemed far less daunting than hanging out here with the determined group and heaven only knew who else.
 
Just when she started to panic that time would run out, the door opened, thank God. She rushed past, her arms straining at the weight of the cart and her nose catching a whiff of manly soap. Her favorite scent—clean and crisp rather than cloying and obvious. Her feet tangled for a second.
 
Tripping over her own feet as she shoved the cart was far from dignified. But she’d always been too gangly to be a glamour girl. She was more of a cerebral type, a proud nerd, much to the frustration of her family’s press secretary, who expected her to present herself in a more dignified manner.
 
Still, even in her rush to get inside, curiosity nipped at her. What type of man would choose such a simple smell while staying in such opulence? But she didn’t dare risk a peek at him.
 
She eyed the suite for other occupants, even though the room-service cart only held one meal. One very weighty meal. She shoved the rattling cart past a teak lion. The room appeared empty, the lighting low. Fat leather sofas and a thick wooden table filled the main space. Floor-to-ceiling shutters had been slid aside to reveal the moonlit beach outside a panoramic window. Lights from stars and yachts dotted the horizon. Palms and fruit trees with lanterns illuminated the shore. On a distant islet, a stone church perched on a hill.
 
She cleared her throat and started toward the table by the window. “I’ll set everything up on the table for you.”
 
“Thanks,” rumbled a hauntingly familiar voice that froze her in her tracks. “But you can just leave it there by the fireplace.”
 
Her brain needed less than a second to identify those deep bass tones. Ice trickled down her spine as if snow had hit her African Christmas after all.
 
She didn’t have to turn around to confirm that fate was having a big laugh at her expense. She’d run from an irritation straight into a major frustration. Out of all the hotel suites she could have entered, somehow she’d landed in the room of Dr. Rowan Boothe. Her professional nemesis.
 
A physician whose inventions she’d all but ridiculed in public.
 
What the hell was he doing here? She’d reviewed the entire program of speakers and she could have sworn he wasn’t listed on the docket until the end of the week.
 
The door clicked shut behind her. The tread of his footsteps closed in, steady, deliberate, bringing the scent of him drifting her way. She kept her face down, studying his loafers and the well-washed hem of his faded jeans.
 
She held on to the hope that he wouldn’t recognize her. “I’ll leave your meal right here then,” she said softly. “Have a nice evening.”

His tall, solid body blocked her path. God, she was caught between a rock and a hard place. Her eyes skated to his chest.

A very hard, muscle-bound place encased in a white button-down with the sleeves rolled up and the tail untucked. She remembered well every muscular—annoying—inch of him.
 
She just prayed he wouldn’t recognize her from their last encounter five months ago at a conference in London. Already the heat of embarrassment flamed over her.
 
Even with her face averted, she didn’t need to look further to refresh her memory of that too handsome face of his. Weathered by the sun, his Brad Pitt-level good looks only increased. His sandy blond hair would have been too shaggy for any other medical professional to carry off. But somehow he simply appeared too immersed in philanthropic deeds to be bothered with anything as mundane as a trip to the barber.
 
The world thought he was Dr. Hot Perfection but she simply couldn’t condone the way he circumvented rules.
 
“Ma’am,” he said, ducking his head as if to catch her attention, “is there a problem?”
 
Just keep calm. There was no way for him to identify her from the back. She would rather brave a few pictures in the press than face this man while she wore a flipping Santa Claus hat.
 
A broad hand slid into view with cash folded over into a tip. “Merry Christmas.”
 
If she didn’t take the money, that would appear suspicious. She pinched the edge of the folded bills, doing her best to avoid touching him. She plucked the cash free and made a mental note to donate the tip to charity. “Thank you for your generosity.”
 
“You’re very welcome.” His smooth bass was too appealing coming from such an obnoxiously perfect man.
 
Exhaling hard, she angled past him. Almost home free. Her hand closed around the cool brass door handle.
 
“Dr. Mandara, are you really going so soon?” he asked with unmistakable sarcasm. He’d recognized her. Damn. He was probably smirking, too, the bastard.
 
He took a step closer, the heat of his breath caressing her cheek. “And here I thought you’d gone to all this trouble to sneak into my room so you could seduce me.”
 
Dr. Rowan Boothe waited for his words to sink in, the possibility of sparring with the sexy princess/ research scientist already pumping excitement through his veins. He didn’t know what it was about Mariama Mandara that turned him inside out, but he’d given up analyzing the why of it long ago. His attraction to Mari was simply a fact of life now.
 
Her disdain for him was an equally undeniable fact, and to be honest, it was quite possibly part of her allure.
 
He grew weary with the whole notion of the world painting him as some kind of saint just because he’d rejected the offer of a lucrative practice in North Carolina and opened a clinic in Africa. These days, he had money to burn after his invention of a computerized medical diagnostics program—a program Mari missed no opportunity to dismiss as faux, shortcut medicine. Funding the clinic hadn’t even put a dent in his portfolio so he didn’t see it as worthy of hoopla. Real philanthropy involved sacrifice. And he wasn’t particularly adept at denying himself things he wanted.
 
Right now, he wanted Mari.
 
Although from the look of horror on her face, his half-joking come-on line hadn’t struck gold.
 
She opened and closed her mouth twice, for once at a loss for words. Fine by him. He was cool with just soaking up the sight of her. He leaned back against the wet bar, taking in her long, elegant lines. Others might miss the fine-boned grace beneath the bulky clothes she wore, but he’d studied her often enough to catch the brush of every subtle curve. He could almost feel her, ached to peel her clothes away and taste every inch of her cafe-au-lait skin.
 
Some of the heat must have shown on his face because she snapped out of her shock. “You have got to be joking. You can’t honestly believe I would ever make a move on you, much less one so incredibly blatant.”
 
Damn, but her indignation was so sexy and yeah, even cute with the incongruity of that Santa hat perched on her head. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning.
 
She stomped her foot. “Don’t you dare laugh at me.”
 
He tapped his head lightly. “Nice hat.”
 
Growling, she flung aside the hat and shrugged out of the hotel jacket. “Believe me, if I’d known you were in here, I wouldn’t have chosen this room to hide out.”
 
“Hide out?” he said absently, half following her words.

As she pulled her arms free of the jacket to review a rumpled black suit, the tug of her white business shirt against her breasts sent an unwelcome surge of arousal through him. He’d been fighting a damned inconvenient arousal around this woman for more than two years, ever since she’d stepped behind a podium in front of an auditorium full of people and proceeded to shoot holes in his work. She thought his computerized diagnostics tool was too simplistic. She’d accused him of taking the human element out of medicine. His jaw flexed, any urge to smile fading.

If anyone was too impersonal, it was her. And, God, how he ached to rattle her composure, to see her tawny eyes go sleepy with all-consuming passion.
 
Crap.
 
He was five seconds away from an obvious erection. He reined himself in and faced the problem at hand—the woman—as a more likely reason for her arrival smoked through his brain. “Is this some sort of professional espionage?”
 
“What in the hell are you talking about?” She fidgeted with the loose waistband on her tweedy skirt.

Who would have thought tweed would turn him inside out? Yet he found himself fantasizing about pulling those practical clunky shoes off her feet. He would kiss his way up under her skirt, discover the silken inside of her calf… 
 

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Filed under 2013, Billionaire and Babies, Catherine Mann, Desire, Harlequin, October, Review, Romance, The Alpha Brotherhood

[Review] Flirting with Destiny by Christyne Butler

Flirting with Destiny  by Christyne Butler

Publication date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Welcome to Destiny # 6
Pages: 217

Back of the book

 
USA TODAY bestselling author Christyne Butler presents this story of healing, hope and love in her Welcome to Destiny series

It’s a tough road to recovery for Devlin Murphy after a helicopter accident leaves scars that are more than skin-deep. But there’s a new girl in Destiny, Wyoming, who’s got the healing touch. Sure, Tanya Reeves’s approach—acupuncture, anyone?—makes Dev’s eyes roll. The woman also makes his heart rev up like no other.

For her part, Tanya can’t believe it when she first runs into this fling from her past. Dev doesn’t even recognize her! Even crazier—history is repeating itself with this irresistible man. And Tanya has to ask herself: Who’s healing whom?



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My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Flirting with Destiny (Welcome to Destiny # 6 series)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Christyne.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, pain, and betrayal.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first.

The Cowboy’s Second Chance by Christyne Butler

The Sheriff’s Secret Wife by Christyne Butler

A Daddy for Jacoby by Christyne Butler

Welcome Home, Bobby Winslow by Christyne Butler

Having Adam’s Baby by Christyne Butler

Devlin “Dev” Murphy was in a helicopter accident with his brother that leaves him blaming himself for the entire event as he was the pilot.  He was hurt and feels the entire accident was his fault.  He is feeling so guilty that he is not participating in his physical therapy as he should.  His friend Mac who is also his sponsor for Alcoholics Anonymous for the last 6 years introduces him to his granddaughter Tanya Reeves.  She is in town for 6 weeks and then leaves to go to a school.  He wants Devlin to try acupuncture. Only problem is Dev is deathly afraid of needles. 

What Dev does not know is that he has already met Tanya but does not remember as it was before he was sober.  Tanya finally tells him about meeting before and he is embarrassed about how they met and knew each other. 

His brothers are keeping something from him and when he finds out if is really upset and feels betrayed.  After they explain the situation he is still not happy but has to deal with the hurt that they kept it from him.

As they work together to heal Dev’s body and mind they grow closer and start to fall for each other.  But Tanya is leaving how can they still be together when Dev is afraid to fly and she is going overseas?  He would never make her choose so what is he to do?

 The chemistry between these two is great.  Love both the characters. 


Look forward to the next book in this series.

 Coming Soon

Contact Info for Christyne Butler

 

 

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About Christyne:

Thanks to an aunt’s love of genealogy, Christyne discovered both Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe are members in her extended family tree on her mother’s side, so she firmly believes her love of writing has always been her destiny.

Her father served in the Air Force for twenty years which resulted in her birth in Taipei, Taiwan and she spent her youth growing up all over the world before her family settled in New Hampshire in time for her to attend high school. She followed in her family’s rich military history and joined the United States Navy where she fell in love with romance novels after someone remembered women were serving aboard seagoing vessels and sent a box full of paperback romances to her ship, the USS VULCAN AR-5.

She started pursuing her own writing in 2002, sold her first ever ‘finished’ manuscript in 2006 and made her first sale to Harlequin Special Edition two years later! She writes contemporary romances full of life, love, a hint of laughter and perhaps a dash of danger too. Christyne loves the challenge of the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back and the journey of joy and hardship two people go through. And there has to be a ‘happily ever after’ or she’s just not satisfied.

When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for treasures at yard sales and antique fairs to add to her collection of memorabilia of women who served in the military, watching classic romantic movies and the great movie musicals of the 40′s and 50′s, and reading books by her favorite authors.

She lives in central Massachusetts with her family, a four-footed double-pawed black cat who rules the house and a shelter-saved pup named Harley (short for Harlequin) who really thinks he’s a cat too! Christyne loves to hear from her readers.

 

Read an Excerpt

“Hey, cowboy.” The blonde barmaid leaned across the three-foot expanse of aged wood. “I know just what you need to make your day complete.”

Devlin Murphy glanced up from his mouthwatering burger and thick-cut fries, the house specialty here in the Blue Creek Saloon. He wasn’t really a cowboy, despite the black Stetson perched on his head. She must be new and it’d been a while since he’d been in here.

Eight long months to be exact.

His brothers had tried to coax him to his old stomping grounds a few times since he’d gotten his feet back under him—literally. Devlin just hadn’t been ready.

But spring had come early in Destiny, Wyoming, and on this warm, late April afternoon, Dev decided it was past time to rejoin the world of the living.

He bumped up the brim of his hat and offered what he hoped was more of his old prowler grin than his recent pain-filled grimace. Not an easy feat thanks to the familiar white-hot fire crawling down both shoulders toward his elbows.

“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”

“Just one minute.” She offered a quick wink and then turned away.

That simple gesture did nothing for him. Not anymore.

This time last year he would’ve been all over that suggestive sign, making sure he left with her phone number, if not the lady herself.

Now? Not interested.

And wasn’t that just another kick in the ass to go along with the butt whipping he’d taken since the helicopter crash that had left him and his eldest brother, Adam, stranded for three days in the Grand Tetons National Forest.

A helicopter he’d been piloting.

Thankfully Adam had come out with just a few bruises and scratches. Dev had been the one who’d spent five months in the hospital dealing with a broken leg and two broken arms. His recovery had been slow and painful, and while he could finally take care of himself again, he’d hit a brick wall with his physical therapy. When he bothered to go, the weekly sessions were painful, without any lasting results to show for his efforts.

Of course, sitting at a bar with a straight-on view of the rows of bottles waiting to be mixed and poured for the saloon’s patrons probably wasn’t the smartest thing to be doing right now. Not with three of his former best friends staring back at him.

Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker.

Yes, he and the boys went way back. Back to before he could even drive. But the four of them hadn’t pulled an all-nighter in six years.

That didn’t mean the desire had left him.

No, that stayed with him every day.

Just then the barmaid returned and placed a frosty mug of freshly poured beer in front of him.

Every pain-filled muscle in Devlin’s body froze.

“Here you go.” She offered a toothy grin. “You look like a man who’s earned a tall, cold one.”

Dev kept his gaze glued to the glass, the golden color calling to him like buried treasure to a weary pirate. White frothy foam lapped against the rim while beads of condensation chased one another down the length of the mug until they soaked the paper napkin below.

He swallowed, his forearms pressing hard into the rolled edge of the bar as his fingers curled into tight fists. A deep inhale through his nose caused the yeasty, bitter flavor he still remembered to come alive again inside his mouth.

Damn, coming here had been a bad idea.

“Uh.” He paused and blinked hard, breaking the hypnotic hold the beer had over him. After clearing his throat, Dev looked up at the barmaid and tried to summon the courage to set her straight. “I don’t—”

“Lisa, why don’t you take care of the crew at the end of the bar?” A strong feminine voice cut him off. “I’ll take over here.”

The blonde turned and looked at her boss, Racy Steele, the fiery redhead whose personality matched her name even though she was happily married to the town’s sheriff and was the mother of twins.

“But I’m talking to— I mean, I’m helping…”

Dev sat silently as the two women stared each other down. He knew who would win, and sure enough, when Racy tilted her head slightly, the barmaid shrugged and turned away.

With the ease of experience, Racy made the beer disappear, replacing it with a tall glass of ice water. “Sorry about that. She’s new.”

Dev nodded, releasing a deep breath.

“It’s good to see you up and on your feet again,” Racy continued, offering an easy smile. “You’ve been away from the Blue Creek for too long.”

“Been away from everything too long.”

“Of course, when you are here you usually don’t sit at the bar.”

Another defense mechanism.

When he’d decided to give up the booze, he refused to give up the friendships or the fun. Somehow sitting in one of the booths or the tables scattered around the large dance floor made the ongoing battle easier to fight.

“Yeah, I know.” He grabbed a fry and popped it into his mouth.

“And you rarely come in alone.”

He’d waved to a couple of familiar faces when he’d first come inside, but purposely kept walking until he reached the bar, determined to do this by himself.

“Everyone’s working,” he finally said. “You know, being how it’s Wednesday.”

Racy braced her elbows on the bar, leveling a familiar stare that told him she wasn’t buying his flimsy excuse. A move she’d probably perfected over the years from dealing with Blue Creek customers. “Except you?”

“No, I’m back behind the desk at the family business.”

Finally. Only whenever he sat for longer than an hour in front of the bank of computers that he used to design the home security systems sold by Murphy Mountain Log Homes, his shoulders started to pulsate, sending electric shocks into his elbows and making his fingers numb.

“Just decided to get some fresh air.”

“Inside a bar? At two in the afternoon?”

“I had a craving.” Damn, that didn’t sound right. “For a burger.”

“Do you need me to call anyone?”

Her softly spoken question caused Dev’s back to stiffen, his hands falling to his lap. He rubbed at the front pocket of his jeans, searching for and finding the bronze Alcoholics Anonymous medallion he always carried with him. A reminder of what he had achieved over the last six years.

“Someone like the good sheriff of Destiny?” he asked, an edge to his words.

“If you need to talk to Gage, he’ll come. As a friend.” Compassion filled Racy’s brown eyes. “You know that, right?”

The fight disappeared as quickly as it came.

Hell, he and Gage had a history that went back to playing football together in high school. He was also the one who took Dev to his first AA meeting. “Yeah, I know.”

“Or maybe there’s someone else you’d like to talk to?”

Meaning his sponsor.

Mac had been there for Dev from the very beginning. They’d met at a local meeting, bonding over a shared love of flying, and soon Dev had asked the older man to be the one person he could turn to, anytime day or night, the one person who’d understand the fight Dev faced as he struggled for sanity, for sobriety.

For his life.

Dev pulled in a deep breath, and then slowly released it. The crisis had passed. He’d faced temptation before and would again. Recognizing the want and walking away was something he’d done on a daily basis, especially over the last few months. “No, thanks. I’m good.”

There was that head tilt again.

“I mean it, Racy. Just let me enjoy my meal.” He paused, searching for a way to lighten the mood. His gaze flicked to the end of the bar. “And the view.”

Racy grinned. “Forget it, Murphy. She’s only twentythree.”

“Ouch. Now, you’re making me feel old.”

“You’re not old.” Racy fiddled with something behind the bar out of his sight. “She’s just too young.”

Dev reached for his burger. “Doesn’t look that way from here.”

“She was still in elementary school when you were going to fraternity parties at the University of Wyoming.”

“Thanks a lot.” Okay, that was too young even if he had been interested. Dev took a bite of his burger, chewed and then swallowed, watching as Racy hovered nearby. “You don’t have to babysit me.”

“I’m not babysitting.” She wiped down the already clean areas on either side of him. “I’m working.”

“Yeah, right.”

“You do realize the Blue Creek belongs to me, right? That means I get to decide where and when—”

A buzzing noise had Racy dropping the rag and reaching for the cell phone tucked into a rear pocket. Her face lit up with a big smile as she hit a button and pressed the phone to her ear.

“Hey, honey. How’s the world’s sexiest sheriff?” She offered Dev a quick wink, then laughed. “Yes, I can feel you blushing from here.”

Devlin just shook his head as Racy stepped away to have a private conversation with her husband. Sometimes it still amazed him that Racy and Gage, two people as different as night and day, had fallen in love and married, but he’d stood up for them at their wedding.

Something he hadn’t been able to do for Adam and Fay.

His sister-in-law had been almost four months pregnant by the time she and Adam had worked out their issues last summer, and they hadn’t wanted to wait any longer to get married.

He’d ended up watching a video of their September wedding from his hospital bed, unable to keep his promise to be his eldest brother’s best man.

At least he’d been back on his feet, sort of, when the newest member of the Murphy family, Adam Alistair Murphy Jr., A.J. for short, had arrived back in February.

“How about a fresh piece of apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert?”

Racy’s question pulled Dev from his thoughts, and he realized she’d finished her call and had cleared away his empty plate. “No, thanks.”

He climbed off the bar stool, leaning heavily against the bar as he dug for his wallet. Damn, his leg felt like jelly and he’d left the cane his physical therapist insisted he still needed in his Jeep.

“Time for me to head back to work.”

She smiled and gave his hand a quick squeeze after taking his money. “You plan to stop by the firehouse on your way?”

That question caught him by surprise. “No. Why?”

“No reason. It’s just that your name comes up whenever any of the team is here. I thought they’d like to know one of their best and brightest volunteers is up and around.”

Yeah, up and around, but nowhere close to being able to rejoin the department. If ever. No, he wasn’t ready to face his former coworkers yet.

Dev shoved his wallet back in his pocket and offered a quick prayer he wouldn’t fall on his face when he turned around. “See you later, Racy. Thanks for the great meal.”

“Say hi to your family.”

Dev acknowledged her words with a wave, hating the ever-present limp that marked his walk as he headed out. His family said the slight hitch in his step wasn’t as noticeable as Dev thought, but it was just another reminder of how much his life had changed in the last year.

Making his way across the gravel parking lot, he opened the door to his Jeep and climbed inside, trying to ignore the fresh round of pain racing through his veins.

Maybe this hadn’t been such a great idea.

As wonderful as his family had been since the accident, Dev had been desperate to get out on his own again. Lord knew he hadn’t had a moment to himself in the last four months except when he was in bed at night. Even then, either one of his parents or Liam—the only brother who still lived in the log mansion that was the family home—would check in.

He appreciated all they’d done for him. Hell, with two broken arms he’d been like a baby, relying on his family for everything from his meals to bathing. It’d been three months since the casts were removed and still everyone hovered.

He needed space to think, to breathe.

And despite his father’s offer to replace the four-wheel drive Wrangler with something that made it easier to get behind the wheel, Dev had insisted on keeping it—it was the vehicle he’d bought the day he kicked his drinking habit.

“But why the Blue Creek?” he asked his reflection in the rearview mirror as he turned over the engine and backed out of the parking space. “Why not go to Sherry’s Diner? Or grab a sandwich at Doucette’s Bakery?”

He didn’t have an answer, or didn’t want to come up with one, so he cranked up the radio as he slowed to a stop at the parking lot exit, waiting for the chance to pull onto the street.

Diagonally across from him was White’s Liquors, a red brick building with a faded red, white and blue advertisement from the 1940s to buy war bonds still visible on the side.

When old man White had been alive, he’d had the ad repainted every five years in honor of the two brothers he’d lost during the war, but his kids owned the place now and the anniversary of the repainting had come and gone last fall without being touched up.

The traffic had cleared, but Dev still sat there, staring at the building, wondering about the ad and realizing he hadn’t stepped foot inside the building in the last six years.

Hadn’t needed to. Hadn’t wanted to.

Until this very moment.

His grip was so tight on the steering wheel that his knuckles turned white. Pulling in a deep breath, he let go and put the Jeep in gear. Once he was on the street, he grabbed his cell phone and hit the button that connected him directly to Mac. Three rings later a buzzing noise filled his ear as Mac answered.

“Dev?”

Mac’s voice came through, but the reception was terrible. Dev released the pent-up breath with one whoosh. “Yeah, it’s me. Can you talk?”

“At…airport.”

Dev’s heart lurched. That was the last place he wanted to go. Okay, the second to last place.

“Heading…home…meet you there.”

Every other word of Mac’s was indecipherable, but Dev breathed a sigh of relief. “On my way.”

“Dev…need to…arrived yesterday.”

Circling the town square, Dev headed toward the sheriff’s office and the fire station. His gaze firmly on the road ahead, he didn’t allow even his peripheral vision to stray toward the open bays where a few of the firefighters were washing down the engine and the light-duty rescue truck.

“Mac, you’re breaking up. This connection sucks.” The tightness in Dev’s chest eased as he headed out of town. “You can tell me when you see me. I’ll be waiting on the front porch.”

Moments later, Dev drove past the entrance to his family’s ranch and the turnoff to his brother Adam’s place, and kept going until he saw the road to Mac’s farm. The land had been in his friend’s family for generations, much like the land the Murphy M7 Ranch sat on, but it hadn’t been a working farm for years.

Turning into the driveway, he started to slow to a stop near the two-story farmhouse, but noticed a car parked down near the metal hangar out back. When a storm had destroyed the unused barn almost a dozen years ago, Mac had it torn down and erected a steel structure that housed his baby, a 1929 Travel Air 4000 biplane.

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Filed under 2013, Christyne Butler, Harlequin, October, Review, Romance, Special Edition, Welcome to Destiny

[Review] Marrying Dr. Maverick by Karen Rose Smith

Marrying Dr. Maverick  by Karen Rose Smith

Publication date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys # 4
Pages: 219

Back of the book

 
Hitched for love—or business? Find out as Karen Rose Smith returns to Rust Creek Falls in the latest installment of the Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys!

Rust Creek Ramblings

It seems as if all we’ve been hearing about these days in Rust Creek Falls is folks falling in love and getting engaged. But this latest one tops them all. Dr. Brooks Smith, our favorite veterinarian, the most confirmed bachelor in all of Montana, is taking himself a bride!

The fact that he has chosen Jasmine “Jazzy” Cates, his new assistant, a visitor from Thunder Canyon, is only fueling speculation. Rumors are this “love match” is really just a business proposition, but sweet Jazzy may have something more in mind. Can she turn her convenient husband’s wedding fever into a lifelong condition? 

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My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Marrying Dr. Maverick (Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys # 4 series)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Karen.  This book includes passion, laughs, heartache, and betrayal.

If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books first.


Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer

The Maverick’s Summer Love by Christyne Butler

The Maverick & the Manhattanite by Leanne Banks



Dr. Brooks Smith a veterinarian is frustrated as his Dad is exhausted and will not let him help with the work load at his practice until he settles down and gets a wife.  He decides instead to open another practice in the town to lighten the load on his father.  


Jasmine “Jazzy” Cates, his new assistant is really helping out Brooks with all the organizing and getting to word out about the new practice.    


When his father is sick Brooks decides they should have a marriage of convenience so his father will let him take over the practice.  But what seemed at the time a good idea might not really be a good idea.  When feelings start getting in the way will they be headed for heartbreak or happily ever after?  With Brooks being a confirmed bachelor before they were married is Jazzy in for a fight in making him fall in love?

 

The chemistry between these two is great.  Love both the characters and you really feel them draw you into the story. 


 
Look forward to the next book in this series.


A Maverick under the Mistletoe by Brenda Harlen – Due out in November

Contact Info for Karen Rose Smith

 
 

 

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About Karen:


Karen Rose Smith’s plots are all about emotion. She began writing when she listened to music and created stories to accompany the songs. After expressing feelings in poetry, earning a degree in English and French, completing short stories that became too long to find a market, she turned to her love of relationships in romance. This award-winning best-selling author has sold 75 books since 1991 and has published with Silhouette, Harlequin, Kensington and Meteor/Kismet. Her awards include the Golden Leaf in short contemporary romance, the Golden Quill in traditional romance, cataromance.com’s award for Best Special Edition and Romance Review’s Today’s Best series romance award. Jane Bowers of Romance Reviews Today states: “Karen Rose Smith’s storeyworlds are complete and realistic and lovely places to visit and revisit. She excels at stories that feature couples brought together by infants and children, and she handles her plots and characters with sublime sensitivity.”

Karen is well-known for writing emotion. An only child, she spent a lot of time in her imagination and with books—Nancy Drew, Zane Gray, The Black Stallion and Anne of Green Gables. She dreamed of brothers and sisters and a big family like her mother and father came from, seven children in her mom’s family and ten in her dad’s. On weekends she was often surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. This is the root of her plotlines that include small communities and family relationships as part of everyday living. She believes universal emotions unite us all and that is the reason she uses them to propel her plots.

 

Read an Excerpt

Brooks Smith rapped firmly on the ranch-house door, scanning the all-too-familiar property in the dusk.

His dad didn’t answer right away, and Brooks thought about going around back to the veterinary clinic, but then he heard footsteps and waited, bracing himself for this conversation.

After his father opened the door, he looked Brooks over, from the beard stubble that seemed to be ever present since the flood to his mud-covered boots. Tending to large animals required trekking through fields sometimes.

“You don’t usually come calling on a Tuesday night. Run into a problem you need me for?”

Barrett Smith was a barrel-chested man with gray hair and ruddy cheeks. At six-two, Brooks topped him by a couple of inches. The elder Smith had put on another ten pounds over the past year, and Brooks realized he should have been concerned about that before today.

There was challenge in his dad’s tone as there had been since they’d parted ways. But as a doctor with four years of practice under his belt, Brooks didn’t ask for his dad’s advice on animal care or frankly anything else these days.

“Can I come in?”

“Sure.”

Brooks entered the living room where he’d played as a child. The Navajo rugs were worn now, the floor scuffed.

“I only have a few minutes,” his father warned him. “I haven’t fed the horses yet.”

“I’ll get straight to the point, then.” Brooks swiped off his Stetson and ran his hand through his hair, knowing this conversation was going to get sticky. “I ran into Charlie Hartzell at the General Store.”

His father avoided his gaze. “So?”

“He told me that when he stopped by over the weekend, you weren’t doing too well.”

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” his dad muttered, not meeting Brooks’s eyes.

“He said you carried a pail of oats to the barn and you were looking winded and pale. You dropped the bucket and almost passed out.”

“Anybody can have an accident. After I drank a little water, I was fine.”

Not so true according to Charlie, Brooks thought. His dad’s longtime friend had stayed another hour to make sure Barrett wasn’t going to keel over.

“You’re working too hard,” Brooks insisted. “If you’d let me take over the practice, you could retire, take care of the horses in the barn and help out as you want.”

“Nothing has changed,” Barrett said angrily. “You still show no sign of settling down.”

This was an old argument, one that had started after Lynnette had broken their engagement right before Brooks had earned his degree in veterinary medicine from Colorado State. That long-ago night, his father had wanted to discuss it with him, but with Brooks’s pride stinging, he’d asked his dad to drop it. Barrett hadn’t. Frustrated, his father had blown his top, which wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was his warning and threat—he’d never retire and turn his practice over to Brooks until his son found a woman who would stick by him and build a house on the land his grandmother had left him.

Sure enough…

“Your grandmama’s land is still sitting there with no signs of a foundation,” his dad went on. “She wanted you to have roots, too. That’s why she left it to you. Until you get married and at least thinkabout having kids, I can handle my own practice just fine. And you should butt out.”

He could rise to the bait. He could argue with his father as he’d done before. But he didn’t want his dad’s blood pressure to go any higher so he stuck to being reasonable. “You can issue an ultimatum if you want, but this isn’t about me. It’s about you. You can’t keep working the hours you’ve been working since the flood. You’re probably not eating properly, grabbing donuts at Daisy’s and potato chips at the General Store.”

“Are you keeping track of what I buy where?”

“Of course not. I’m worried about you.”

“Well, don’t be. Worry about yourself. Worry about the life you don’t have.”

“I have a life, Dad. I’m living it my way.”

“Yeah, well, twenty years from now you just tell me how that went. I’m going out back. You can see yourself out.”

As his father turned to leave, Brooks knew this conversation had been useless. He knew he probably shouldn’t even have come. He had to find a way to make his father wake up to the reality of his deteriorating health. He would…one way or another.

Jasmine Cates—”Jazzy” to her friends and family—stood outside the Ace in the Hole, Rust Creek Falls’ lone bar, staring up at the wood-burned sign. She glanced around at the almost deserted street, hoping she’d catch sight of her friend Cecilia, who was tied up at a community meeting. They were supposed to meet here.

On the north side of town, the Ace in the Hole hadn’t been touched by the devastating July flood, but Jazzy didn’t know if she felt comfortable walking into the place alone. It was a rough and rowdy cowboy hangout, a place single guys gathered to relax. But when they relaxed, all hell could break loose. She’d heard about occasional rumbles and bar fights here.

Feeling as if she’d scrubbed herself raw from her shower at Strickland’s Boarding House, attempting to wash off the mud from a disastrous date, she passed the old-fashioned hitching post out front and stared up at the oversize playing card—an ace of hearts—that blinked in red neon over the door. After she climbed two rough-hewn wooden steps, Jazzy opened the old screen door with its rusty hinges and let it slap behind her. A country tune poured from a jukebox. Booths lined the outer walls while wooden tables with ladder-back chairs were scattered across the plank flooring around a small dance floor. Jazzy glimpsed pool tables in the far back. Old West photos as well as those from local ranches hung on the walls. A wooden bar was situated on the right side of the establishment crowded with about a dozen bar stools, and a mirrored wall reflected the rows of glass bottles.

Cowboys and ranch hands filled the tables, and a few gave her glances that said they might be interested in talking…or more. Jazzy quickly glanced toward the bar. There was one bar stool open and it was next to—

Wasn’t that Dr. Brooks Smith? She hadn’t officially met him, but in her volunteer work, helping ranch owners clean up, paint and repair, she’d caught sight of him now and then as he tended to their animals. She’d liked the way he’d handled a horse that’d been injured. He’d been respectful of the animal and downright kind.

Decision made, she crossed to the bar and settled on the stool beside him. Brooks had that sexy, scruffy look tonight. He was tall and lean and broad-shouldered. Usually he wore a smile for anyone he came in contact with, but now his expression was granitelike, and his hands were balled into fists. It didn’t even look like he’d touched his beer.

As if sensing her regard, and maybe her curiosity, he turned toward her. Their gazes met and there was intensity in his brown eyes that told her he’d been thinking about something very serious. His gaze swept over her blond hair, snap-button blouse and jeans, and that intensity shifted into male appreciation.

“You might need a bodyguard tonight,” he drawled. “You’re the only woman in the place.”

He could be her bodyguard anytime. She quickly banished that thought. Hadn’t she heard somewhere that he didn’t date much? Love gone wrong in his romantic history?

“I’m meeting a friend.” She stuck out her hand. “You’re Brooks Smith. I’m Jazzy Cates. I’ve seen you around the ranches.”

He studied her again. “You’re one of the volunteers from Thunder Canyon.”

“I am,” she said with a smile, glad he’d recognized her.

When he took her hand to shake it, she felt tingles up her arm. That couldn’t be, could it? She’d almost been engaged to a man and hadn’t felt tingles like that. Brooks’s grip was strong and firm, his hand warm, and when he took it away, she felt…odd.

“Everyone in town appreciates the help,” he said.

“Rust Creek Falls is a tight-knit community. I heard stories about what happened after the flood. Everyone shared what was in their freezers so no one would go hungry.”

Brooks nodded. “The community spirit was stoked by Collin Traub and the way he pulled everyone together.”

“I heard about his proposal to Willa Christensen on Main Street but I didn’t see it myself.”

Brooks’s eyes darkened at her mention of a proposal, and she wondered why.

“He and Willa seem happy” was all Brooks said.

So the man didn’t gossip. She liked that. She liked a lot about him. Compared to the cowboy she’d been out with earlier tonight—

A highenergy country tune played on the jukebox and snagged their attention for a moment. Jazzy asked, “Do you come here often?”

“Living and mostly working in Kalispell, I don’t usually have the time. But I’ll meet a friend here now and then.”

Kalispell was about twenty miles away, the go-to town for everything anyone in Rust Creek Falls needed and couldn’t find in their small town. “So you have a practice in Kalispell?”

“I work with a group practice there. We were called in to help here because my dad couldn’t handle it all.”

She’d heard Brooks’s father had a practice in Rust Creek Falls and had assumed father and son worked together. Her curiosity was aroused. She certainly knew about family complications. “I guess you’re not needed here as much now since the town’s getting back on its feet.”

“Not as much. But there are still animals recovering from injuries during the flood and afterward. How about you? Are you still cleaning out mud from homes that had water damage?”

“Yep, but I’m working at the elementary school, too.”

“That’s right, I remember now. You came with Dean Pritchett’s group.”

“Dean’s been a friend of our family for years. He was one of the first to volunteer to help.”

“How long can you be away from Thunder Canyon?”

“I’m not sure.” Because Brooks was a stranger, she found herself saying what she couldn’t to those closest to her. “My job was…static. I need a business degree to get a promotion and I’ve been saving for that. I came here to help, but I also came to escape my family. And.I needed a change.”

“I can understand that,” Brooks said with a nod. “But surely they miss you back home, and a woman like you—”

“A woman like me?”

“I’d think you’d have someone special back there.”

She thought about Griff Wellington and the proposal he’d wanted to make and the proposal she’d avoided by breaking off their relationship. Her family had tried to convince her she should marry him, but something inside her had told her she’d known better. Griff had been hurt and she hated that. But she couldn’t tie them both to a relationship she’d known wasn’t right.

Maybe it was Brooks’s easy way; maybe it was the interest in his eyes; maybe it was the way he listened, but she admitted, “No one special. In fact, I had a date tonight before I ended up here.”

“Something about that doesn’t sound right. If you had a date, why isn’t he here with you?”

“He’s a calf roper.”

Brooks leaned a little closer to hear her above the music. His shoulder brushed hers and she felt heat other places besides there. “What does that have to do with your date?”

“That was the date.”

Brooks pushed his Stetson higher on his head with his forefinger. “What?”

“Calf-roping. He thought it would be fun if he showed me how he did it. That would have been fine, but then he wanted me to do it. Yes, I ride. Yes, I love horses. But I’d never calf-roped before and so I tried it.

There was mud all over the place and I slipped and fell and I was covered with mud from head to toe.”

Brooks was laughing by then, a deep, hearty laugh that seemed to echo through her. She liked the fact she could make him laugh. Genially, she bumped his arm. “It wasn’t so funny when it was happening.”

He gave her a crooked smile that said he was a little bit sorry he laughed, but not much. “Whatever gave him the impression you’d like to try that out?”

“I have no clue, except I did tell him I like horses. I did try to be interested in what he did, and I asked him questions about it.”

“This was a first date?” Brooks guessed.

“It was the last date,” Jazzy responded.

“Not the last date ever!”

She sighed. “Probably not.”

Was he thinking of asking her out? Or were they just flirting? With that twinkle in his eyes, she imagined he could flirt with the best of them if he really wanted to.

“So you came here to meet a friend and hash out everything that’s happened,” he concluded.

“My gosh, a guy who understands women!”

He laughed again. “No, not so well.”

She wondered what that meant. “When I’m at home, sometimes I talk it all out with my sisters.”

“How many do you have?”

“I have four sisters, a brother and parents who think they know what’s best for me.”

“You’re lucky,” Brooks said.

“Lucky?”

“Yep. I’m the only one. And I lost my mom a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

He shrugged. “Water under the bridge.” But something in his tone said that it wasn’t, so she asked, “Are you close to your dad?”

“He’s the reason I stopped in here tonight.”

“To meet him?”

“Nope.” He hesitated, then added, “We had another argument.”

“Another?”

Brooks paused again before saying, “My dad’s not taking care of himself, and I can’t give him what he wants most.”

In her family, Jazzy usually said what she thought, and most of the time, no one heard her. But now she asked, “And what’s that?”

“He wants me to marry, and I’ll never do that.”

Whoa! She wanted to ask that all-important question—why?—but they’d just officially met and she knew better than to probe too much. She hated when her family did that.

Her questions must have led Brooks to think he could ask some of his own because he leaned toward her again. This time his face was very close to hers as he inquired, “So what was the job you left?”

After a heavy sigh, she admitted, “I was a glorified secretary.”

“A secretary,” he murmured, studying her. “How long are you staying in Rust Creek Falls?”

“I’ve already been in town for a while, so I guess I’ll have to go back soon. I work for Thunder Canyon Resort. I’m in the pool of assistants who handle everything to do about skiing. I had a lot of vacation time built up but that’s gone now. I don’t want to use all my savings because I want to earn my degree. Someday I’m going to own a ranch and run a non-profit organization to rescue horses.”

Brooks leaned away again and really assessed her as if he was trying to read every thought in her head, as if he was trying to decide if what she’d told him was really true. Of course it was true. A rescue ranch had been a burning goal for a while.

“How did you get involved in rescuing horses?”

“I help out a friend who does it.”

Finally, Brooks took a few long swigs of his beer and then set down his glass. He looked at it and then grimaced. “I didn’t even offer to buy you a drink. What would you like?”

“A beer would be fine.”

Brooks waved down the bartender and soon Jazzy was rolling her finger around the foam on the rim of her glass. This felt like a date, though it wasn’t. This felt…nice.

The music on the jukebox had stopped for the moment, and she listened to the chatter of voices, the clink of glasses and bang of a dish as a waitress set a burger in front of a cowboy.

Finally, as if Brooks had come to some conclusion, he swiveled on his stool and faced her. “If you had a job in Rust Creek Falls, would you stay longer?”

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Filed under 2013, Harlequin, Karen Rose Smith, Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys, October, Review, Romance, Special Edition

[Review] Task Force Bride by Julie Miller

Task Force Bride  by Julie Miller

Publication date: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>The Precinct: Task Force #5
Pages: 216

Back of the book


USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR JULIE MILLER’S THE PRECINCT: TASK FORCE SERIES HEATS UP WHEN A PLAIN JANE AND AN EXPERIENCED COP POSE AS AN ENGAGED COUPLE.

Something about Hope Lockhart fascinated Officer Pike Taylor. The cop and his canine companion had been patrolling the neighborhood around Hope’s bridal shop for months, trying to capture the criminal who targeted her. Was it the way she hid her voluptuous beauty beneath a plain Jane exterior?

Hope bore the scars of a troubling past. And despite a profession steeped in romance, she’d never known the love of a man. But when Pike is assigned to protect her by posing as her live-in fiancé, his tenderness may give Hope the courage to open her heart for the very first time.


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My Review: 

4.7 Star Review – Task Force Bride (The Precinct: Task Force # 5)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Julie.  This book includes drama, passion, laughs, heartache, and betrayal.

If you have not read the below from this series I would recommend reading those books first they are all by Julie.

The Marine Next Door

Kansas City Cowboy
Tactical Advantage
Assumed Identity

 

Pike Taylor is part of the Task force in charge of solving the Rose Red Rapist case.   Hope Lockhart is a woman that owns a business in the neighborhood he is watching.  He has been trying to get her to talk to him for months but she is shy. 

After seeing a van that fit the description of the Rose Red Rapist and reporting it to the police.  Hope becomes one person that can possibly ID the suspect.  The task force decides that Pike and Hope should pretend date so Pike can be around to protect Hope and they can solve the case without worrying about Hope getting hurt.

But she is afraid of him or his canine partner.  As they are forced together in close quarters will the fear Hope has of him or his dog be overcome enough that she can let them both protect her?   

The more time they spend together the more comfortable Pike and Hope become with each other.  Can they make a relationship work or are they both just pretending……

Why is Hope so afraid of Pike’s canine partner?  Will she overcome her fear?  What does Hope’s father want?  Who is the Rose Red Rapist?

Love both the characters and you really feel them draw you into the story.   Hope is shy but it’s great to see that Pike can help her open up even if he is using the same things on her that he would the dog.

Look forward to the next books in this series listed below.

Yuletide Protector by Julie Miller – Due out in December

Contact Info for Julie Miller

 

 

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About Julie:

Julie Miller is an award-winning, USA TODAY Bestselling author–with a National Readers Choice Award and a Daphne du Maurier among other prizes. In 2009, she was honored to receive a Career Achievement Award in Series Romantic Suspense from Romantic Times Book Reviews. Several of her 50 books have appeared on the USA Today, Amazon and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists.

Julie joined the Harlequin family when her first Intrigue, ONE GOOD MAN, was published in 2000. Since then, she has crafted the best-selling, award-winning Taylor Clan series for Intrigue, as well as its equally successful spin-off series, THE PRECINCT. While she continues to write about cops and crime scenes for Intrigue, Ms. Miller occasionally writes for Harlequin Blaze and other special projects at Harlequin–where her romantic suspense books get a steamier twist, and her military heroes have been especially popular. In addition, Ms. Miller writes single title romantic suspense with a paranormal twist for Prairie Muse Publishing.The daughter of a Marine and a speech/language therapist, Julie is a teacher who grew up in Missouri and now lives in Nebraska with her husband (a teacher and YA author), son (a college student majoring in Music Business) and an assortment of spoiled pets. She’s been dubbed the resident “Grammar Goddess” of her local writing group, The Prairieland Romance Writers. You may write Julie at P.O. Box 5162, Grand Island, NE 68802-5162 or email her questions or comments at the contact address below.

 Check out Julie’s book giveaway contests, monthly newsletter and more on her website at www.juliemiller.org.
 

Read an Excerpt

“Really?” Hope squinted and averted her eyes from the bright headlights that filled up her rearview mirror. “You’re following a little close, buddy.”

She gripped the steering wheel more tightly and pressed on the gas to put some distance between them. She wasn’t a nervous driver at all. But normally she wasn’t out this late, and she didn’t take the shortcut off the interstate through the heart of the city. But cleanup after the Barrister-Stelling wedding had run long past the end of the dinner and dancing. And though she wasn’t the one actually bussing the tables, there were family pictures and table decorations she’d promised to hold on to until after the honeymoon. Then the gifts had to be delivered to their parents’ hotel rooms. Other than the hotel staff, she’d been the last person to leave the reception.

So what if her panty hose had long since cut off the circulation to her toes? Or if she’d have to unload every last box in the trunk and backseat of her car herself because she’d sent her assistant home. Hope had earned a tidy fortune with this event. Earned every last penny playing fashion consultant, wedding planner and family counselor. The sooner she got home, the sooner she could celebrate with a glass of wine and a long, hot bubble bath. Or maybe she’d skip them both and just fall straight into bed and sleep until Monday. “What the heck?”

The same lights rushed up behind her a second time, nearly blinding her. “Jackass.”

Hope blamed the unlady-like condemnation on the length of the day and the unwanted calls piling up on her cell phone that bothered her more than she cared to admit. She must have a stamp on her forehead that said “Pick on me” today. Just because she tended to be shy and soft-spoken didn’t mean she lacked backbone or a brain or a temper. When the driver flashed his lights through her rear window, she muttered another word in the Ozark accent that crept into her voice whenever she got a little too angry or afraid. She double-checked her speed. She wasn’t poking along, by any means. Still, if the guy was in that much of a hurry…

Pulling closer to the parking lane so he could pass, Hope adjusted her charcoal-framed glasses to try to catch a look at the driver and license plate on the beat-up white van. But it veered so close as it sped past that it nearly clipped the side mirror on her car. “Hey!”

The van shot back into the lane in front of her, forcing Hope to stomp on the brake and skid to a stop. Glass rattled and boxes shifted behind her as several brief images printed like snapshots in her brain. A shadowy figure dressed in dark clothes sat behind the steering wheel. He wore a black knit cap pulled low over his forehead and a white scarf across his nose and mouth, hiding all but his eyes. In those brief milliseconds when he’d looked down into her car, she was certain their gazes had met, although he flew on by before the details completely registered. A shiny silver bumper that seemed at odds with the rusting wheel wells and dinged-up back doors was the last image she saw before it disappeared into the night.

“Where’s a cop when you need one?” She sighed, fighting a niggling sense of unease that her sleep-deprived brain was keeping her from recognizing something important.

“Need some help, sugar?” A trio of young men, dressed in hoods and jeans and more jewelry than she owned, knocked on her passenger-side window.

Startled by their approach and frightened by their leering smiles, Hope stepped on the accelerator and did a little speeding herself—leaving a trail of rubber, laughter and catcalls in her wake.

She drove three more blocks before she eased up on the gas. Hope inhaled a deep breath and ordered herself to get a grip. It was probably just the neighborhood she was driving through that had made her suspicious of the van and driver. Besides the three young men, she’d passed a homeless man pushing his cart along the sidewalk, and at least one scantily clad woman who’d been leaning into a parked car—either picking up a client, making a drug buy or both.

If Hope wasn’t so darned nearsighted, maybe she could have read the van’s license plate, even on the dimly lit street. If she wasn’t so distracted by those unwanted phone calls, she could have gotten a useful description of the driver. If she wasn’t so worn-out, maybe she would have taken the long way home and bypassed this run-down neighborhood where she had no business driving alone, anyway.

Hope breathed a sigh of relief as she finally left the less savory section of the city behind her and drove past the familiar landmarks of renovated art deco buildings, solid midcentury brownstones and converted warehouses that now housed trendy new businesses and condo apartments like her own. Her company improved, too. Instead of the prostitute and gangbangers, and rude drivers crowding her on the street, she drove past a busy bar with a neon green shamrock sign and a group of friends standing outside the front door, sharing a laugh and a smoke.

She stopped at the next light and waited for a young twentysomething couple to cross in front of her. They were holding hands, out on a Saturday night date to a restaurant or coffeehouse in the next block. Or perhaps they were meeting a group of friends to go dancing at one of the newly opened clubs in the trendy Kansas City neighborhood where Hope lived over her own shop.

A little pang of longing squeezed at Hope’s restless heart. Even if she had a date, or a whirlwind social life that included dancing and barhopping, she was too tired to do more than drive herself home tonight. She couldn’t wait to kick off her heels, slide into that bath and curl up with a good book.

Still, it would be nice if just once she had something more to look forward to than a hard day of work and a quiet night at home. She wanted something more—something a little more exciting, something a little less lonely.

Almost as soon as she thought the wish, she regretted it.

She knew she was lucky to have built a successful business. Lucky to have a solid roof over her head and plenty to eat every day. She was lucky to have a few friends and a younger brother she was so proud of serving in the Marines. Hope’s gaze dropped to her right hand where it rested on the steering wheel. A familiar web of pale scar tissue peeked above the cuff of her tan trench coat. She touched her fingers to the collar of her silk blouse, knowing there was more scarring underneath. All along her arm, her foot, her thigh—there were scars there, too.

She was lucky to be alive.

Hope was grateful to be where she was now, considering where she’d started. She was pushing her luck to dream of something more—like holding hands or being the recipient of a look like the one Jeff Stelling had given his bride, Deanna, today.

“Damn lucky,” she whispered out loud as the light changed. And she meant it. As long as other people kept falling in love, she’d have a job—and the security she’d been denied growing up. What would she do with a man, anyway? Embarrass herself? Shy, plump and partially disfigured—what man wouldn’t want to get all over that?

With a healthy dose of mental sarcasm to sharpen her dreamy focus, Hope turned onto her street. The familiar brick facade and storefront windows she’d decorated herself welcomed her as she slowed to pull into the parking lot beside Fairy Tale Bridal.

Hope parked her car in the reserved space next to the side entrance and climbed out, keys and pepper spray in hand. As stylish and reborn as this neighborhood might be, it, unfortunately, had become the hunting ground of a serial rapist that the press had dubbed the Rose Red Rapist. She had the unwanted distinction of being responsible for the horrid nickname because one of his first victims had been abducted right outside her shop. So much for fairy tales. Several more women, including a friend who’d worked just across the street at the Robin’s Nest Floral shop, had been blitz attacked, driven to another location, sexually assaulted and then dumped back here on this very block as if they were so much trash.

A client of hers, Bailey Austin, had been that first victim. Hope still felt guilty about the night more than a year ago when Bailey—then an engaged woman having a tiff with her fiance at the shop—had stormed out of Fairy Tale Bridal and been assaulted. Although the younger woman had assured Hope that she in no way held her responsible for the attack, Hope was still looking for a way to make restitution.

Hope unlocked the vestibule and picked up the mail off the floor that had come through the slot. Then she unlocked the inner door to her shop and set the bills and letters along with her purse inside before returning to her car to unload the boxes from the wedding reception. She tilted her gaze to make sure the security lights and camera monitoring the entrance were working before opening her trunk and grabbing the first box of family mementos from her car.

With each trip to and from the shop, she made a point of scanning her surroundings and locking her car. KCPD had formed a task force to track down and arrest the elusive rapist, and they had stepped up patrols in this particular neighborhood. The Rose Red Rapist had received plenty of press on television and in the local papers, although facts about the attacks often got less coverage than the reporters’ negative opinions on the police department’s handling of the case. But every woman in town knew the dangers lurking in the darkness. Every woman who lived here knew the details of the crimes—what to look for and what to avoid.

She was one woman, alone in the city. And even though she was no slim, head-turning beauty, she wasn’t so naive to think she couldn’t become a victim, too. She fit the profile of the professional women the rapist targeted. She was successful and confident—when it came to her business, at any rate. Hope was smart enough to be on guard, especially at this time of night. But she couldn’t very well surrender to the terror she faced as a single woman in this neighborhood. Her entire life’s savings was tied up in this shop. Anything she could call her own was in that apartment upstairs.

Besides, she was experienced enough in life to know that danger could find a person anywhere—in the heart of the city, or on a dusty back road in the middle of nowhere. This building was her home and her livelihood, and no man—no threat—was going to frighten her into giving up everything she’d worked so hard for. She just had to be aware. She had to pay attention to the alerts and details the police had shared with the public.

Details.

Driven to another location…

Hope shifted the box of photos to one arm and closed the trunk as a shiver of awareness raised goose bumps across her skin. That was what she should have remembered about the white van that had cruised past her. She’d read a witness account in the paper with vague details about coming to inside a white van before being dumped in the alley across the street after her assault.

White van? A driver hiding his face on a cool autumn night?

There had to be hundreds of white vans in the city. Just because one had crept up on her bumper …twice….

And the man in black and white behind the wheel? Surely he wasn’t… Hope’s stomach knotted with fear. Surely she hadn’t gotten a glimpse of the Rose Red Rapist himself.

En route to another abduction.

Returning from the scene of an assault.

“No. Surely not.” No one had seen the serial rapist. One reason he’d never been arrested was that no victim had been able to identify him—no surviving victim. She hugged the box to her chest and tried to talk herself off the ledge of fearful possibility she was climbing on to. “He was just some jackass who was in a hurry.”

A blur of white in Hope’s peripheral vision drew her attention out to the street.

A white van moved with the late-night traffic past the entrance to the parking lot. The white van? Was the Rose Red Rapist on the prowl for his next victim?

Hope’s breathing locked up the way it had at the church. She was squarely and completely trapped on that ledge. “That can’t be him.”

Cruising through herneighborhood? Had the driver followed her home? Was he hunting her?

Hope barely managed to save the box and its fragile contents from crashing to the asphalt. “You don’t even know if it’s him,” she warned herself on a whisper. “It’s just a white van. It’s just some guy in a van. It’s probably not even the same one.”

Refusing to let her imagination turn her observation into a panic, she carefully set the box down on the trunk and took a couple of steps toward the street. Rusting wheel wells. Shiny silver bumper.

She glanced up into the cab. Dark stocking cap and… not a scarf.

A surgical mask.

Shadowed eyes met hers.

“Oh, my God.”

Hope slipped her hand into her coat pocket to pull out her phone as the van suddenly picked up speed and headed toward the next intersection. She hurried out to the sidewalk to see which direction the vehicle would turn and punched in 911. The driver might not be the Rose Red Rapist, but it was definitely the same van that had nearly crowded her off the road tonight.

“Nine-eleven Dispatch,” a succinct female voice answered. “What is the nature of your emergency?”

“I don’t know if this is exactly an emergency, but I’m not sure who to report this to.” Hope turned up the collar of her trench coat and huddled against the suddenly brisk chill in the autumn air. “I just saw a white van that matches the description the police gave in the paper about the vehicle the Rose Red Rapist drives. The man inside had his face covered.”

“Are you in danger, ma’am?”

“I…” There were a few people hanging out down at the corner where the van was waiting for the light to change. A group of young women wandered out of the dance club. Was the driver watching them? Choosing one for his next victim? “I’m not. But someone else may be.” Hope glanced around at the cars parked on the street, at the closed shops, at the deserted sidewalks here in the middle of the block. She was safe, wasn’t she? The van turned right, slowly circling past the group of women waiting at the crosswalk. “I think you should send the police.”

“Yes, ma’am. Where are you now?”

Hope relayed her location, refusing to take her eyes off the van until it disappeared from sight. A man wearing a surgical mask wasn’t necessarily a threat. Maybe it was part of his work—such as an exterminator, or someone who worked with food might wear. Or maybe he was one of those people who was phobic about catching germs. Still…it just didn’t feel right.

“We already have an officer in the area, ma’am,” the dispatcher assured her. “I’ll send him to your shop right now.”

Good idea. Go back inside her shop. Lock the doors. “Thank you.”

Hope disconnected the call, waiting a few seconds longer until the young women changed their minds and went back into the club for more dancing. The breeze whipped loose a long tendril of hair that had been pinned up in a French roll all day. The long curl hooked inside the temple of her glasses and caught in her lashes, forcing her to squint until she pulled it free and tucked it back behind her ear. Good. The women were all safely inside. She’d be smart to do the same until the police arrived to take her statement.

“Staring into space like you always did.”

Hope jumped inside her pumps and whirled around to see the gray-haired man standing behind her.

“I’ve been waitin’ for you, girl.”

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Filed under 2013, Excerpt, Harlequin, Intrigue, Julie Miller, Review, Romance, September, The Precinct: Task Force

[ARC Review] FEARLESS by Tawny Weber

FEARLESS  by Tawny Weber

Publication date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Cosmo Red-Hot Reads

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Pages (ebook): 150

Back of the book

 
Promising career: check

Amazing apartment: check


The best of friends: check

Sex life: MIA

There’s just one thing missing from Gia Renyard’s life: sexual adventure. And the one man she’d like to have it with is her hot co-worker, Luke Monroe. If only company rules didn’t prohibit her from asking him out. So Gia comes up with a plan: make herself over into a fantasy seductress, follow Luke to a convention in Sin City, and have her way with him for one erotic weekend. The man will never even know who did him.

Everything is going according to plan—until Gia discovers that Luke is perfect for her outside the bedroom too. And suddenly she’s no longer content to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas…

 

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My Review: 

4.0 Star Review – FEARLESS

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Tawny.  This book includes Erotic fun, passion, laughs, heartache, betrayal and sweet revenge in this story.

If you found out your fantasy worthy crush was leaving the company would you try and get a chance to seduce him? 
Even if it meant going out of your comfort zone in order to do it?  I think most of us would.  

Gia Reynard has a job at Tri-Solutions which she likes but there is a hot guy also working there Luke Monroe, the company golden boy, that she likes but the company has a fraternization policy that prohibits relationships.  So one night when she and her three closest friends are having a gab fest she blurts out she would love to get with Luke before he leaves the company.  A plan of action is called for and the girls devise the plan. 

Gia will do a quick makeover so no one will recognize her and she will seduce Luke while he is in Las Vegas.  All goes according to plan Gia seduces Luke as “Vanna” and she gets her man.  They are both enjoying the benefits of the seduction until they both start having real feelings for each other.  Gia flees before Luke awakens.  Luke is hurting after she bailed as he thought they had something special. 

When Gia returns to work she is promoted and is now working under Luke.  Terrified that Luke will recognize her she telecommutes and finally just backs out of the project.  Luke figures out “Vanna” is really Gia and is furious until overhearing gossip about someone who was sleeping with someone else and was let go. 

Gia is escorted to Luke’s office when she realizes he knows about “Vanna” and he decides a little sweet revenge is in order.   Now if they could just make this work.

 ***ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review***

 
One of my favorite parts:

 “He’s hot enough to melt chocolate,” Gia said, imagining just that, then wishing she could lick it off his naked body afterwards. “He’s gorgeous, has a body to die for, and he’s got that sophisticated sexy vibe going. Like he takes his sex cues from books and indie films instead of watching porn with the guys from the gym.”

 

Contact Info for Tawny Weber

 
 
 

 

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About Tawny:

I love romance.

Happily ever after, hot love scenes… all the good things in life.

For a long time, I was content to explore this enticing world through books. Then, wow – I found out it can happen in real life. I met my husband, who showed me that all those wonderful, magical feelings described in the books are real. Hey, what d’ya know, fiction really IS based in reality.

Once that particular dream came true, it was like Pandora’s Box opened… if I could have that dream, why not the one I’d hidden away in that quiet corner of my mind… the one about putting those stories dancing around in my head onto paper (or computer screen) and writing my own romances? It took awhile. Workshops and classes, voraciously devouring every how-to book I could buy, studying the market and finding my niche, to say nothing of my voice. Throw in those little distractions like life, children and such… but the dream started taking life.Once I joined RWA I found another form of magic. Camaraderie, support and friendships that have touched my heart. The dream is blooming. Over the years, I’ve served as President, Secretary and VP of Administration in various RWA chapters, as well as Publicity Chair, Mentorship Chair, Critique Chair, Judged and coordinated various contests and moderated a few other programs. All of this gives strength to that dream, and keeps it grounded. 2012 will see my thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth Harlequin Blaze novels in the shelves, as well as three indie Karma Cafe novellas.

I do have other dreams that I’m happily tending: my own real-life hero husband and our two children. Our Northern California home, an ode to ideas and obsessive redecorating/remodeling. Good thing my hero is handy with a saw. Gardening, scrapbooking, crafting and an incredibly supportive family round things out. Along with homeschooling our children and writing, I work from home with my Intuitive Consulting business. I would love to hear from you.

  

 

Read an Excerpt

They’d kicked off the evening with Caryn telling them all about her latest sexy hookup, in very graphic detail.

     Gia couldn’t remember the last time she’d had graphic details worth sharing.  Not like Caryn’s, which included a Thai restaurant after hours, coconut martinis and silk scarves.  But that was Caryn.  She saw something she wanted and she made it happen.  Sometimes it happened with curry.


     Or there were the impossible-to-compete with details of Jessa’s Caribbean cruise last year.  On the first day, she’d met her dream guy, spent the next five days being romanced and five nights being sexually worshiped.  Then, to top it off, she’d brought the guy home and married him.

     And Sara, well, Sara had almost too many details.  Dramatic details, sure.  But they were still details.  This month she couldn’t decide if she was in love with a guy she’d met at a club last month or her ex-girlfriend who kept calling.  Sara bounced from sexual adventure to heartache to despair and right back in lust again.

     And then there was Gia.  It wasn’t like she was the sad and lonely friend.  She’d had boyfriends.  She’d enjoyed plenty of good sex and knew her way around an orgasm.  But none of her adventures included scarves, cruises or kink.

     Not like her friends.

     Jessa was the princess.  Pretty, pampered and sweet, she’d always inspired guys to fall at her feet.

     Caryn, on the other hand, was a ball breaker.  She had a plan and worked it.  She had guys at her feet, too, but usually on a leash.

     Sara flew through life, and sex, like it was an all-night buffet and she was starving.   She never stayed still long enough for guys to even find her feet.

     And then there was Gia.  Good ole average Gia. Dependable, nice, cute.

     Not phenomenal.  Not horrible.

     Just average.

     Average sucked.

     “Gia?  What’re you craving?” Jessa asked from where she lounged on the couch, her head back on the pillow to better enjoy the moisturizing benefits of her facial mask.

     Slicking another coat of midnight crimson polish over her nails, Gia absently finished her thought aloud,  “A wild sexual adventure that includes chocolate, feathers and three dozen orgasms?”

     The room went silent.  Even the iPod, playing Rihanna in the background, seemed to quiet.

     Oh shit.  Had she said that aloud?

Gia looked up to find three sets of eyes locked on her in varying states of shock and amusement.  She winced, then carefully pushed her martini glass away..

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Filed under 2013, ARC, Cosmo Red-Hot Reads, Harlequin, Review, Romance, September, Tawny Weber

[Review] His Instant Heir by Katherine Garbera

His Instant Heir  by Katherine Garbera

Publication date: August 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Desire

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Baby Business # 1
Pages: 187

Back of the book

 
In her Baby Business trilogy, USA TODAY bestselling author Katherine Garbera starts with just one night…

Cari Chandler can’t forget Declan Montrose. Their baby is a living reminder. The baby she hasn’t told him about. The no-commitment billionaire—and her family’s sworn enemy—walked out of her life the morning after. But now he’s back…with a vengeance!

Taking over her company is the last step to victory in their families’ long feud. But Cari’s more than collateral damage to Dec. He wants—needs—to seduce her again and again. Until he finds out she’s hidden something more precious than her company. His son. And Dec intends to claim him… no matter the cost. 

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My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – His Instant Heir (Baby Business # 1 series)

I recommend this book.

I enjoyed this book by Katherine.  This book includes drama, passion, laughs, heartache, and betrayal.


Cari Chandler and Declan “Dec” Montrose had a one-night stand 18 months ago which resulted in a baby boy named DJ “Declan Junior”.  Cari decided not to tell Declan when she found out she was pregnant as he ran out on her after that one night and never contacted her. 

Dec was sent in by his cousins to get rid of the Chandlers and dismantle there company as they are the enemy of the Montrose from a long ago feud between the grandfathers of the two families. 

Dec has not stopped wanting Cari since he left her in the hotel so many months ago.  He decides he will have her and they can be together for the next 6 weeks that he is there. 

When Cari tells Dec he has a son things change.  He realizes that he wants his son and Cari too.  Now he must figure out how he can have them and also do what his cousins want him to do also.

Will he be able to make the right decision?  Will he have any family left in the end after he makes that choice?

You can feel the chemistry between the two throughout the book. 
You also feel Dec’s conflict as he is being pulled by family in a different direction then he wants to go with Cari.
 


 
Look forward to the next book in this series.


Coming Soon

Contact Info for Katherine Garbera

 

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About Katherine:

USA Today best-selling author with more than 3 million books in print, Katherine Garbera is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood outside day-dreaming and making up stories to amuse her younger sisters.  Growing up on the edge of the Green Swamp with an orange grove for a playground fed her creative juices.

Katherine’s first published novel THE BACHELOR NEXT DOOR, sold to Silhouette Desire in 1996. The book immediately set the bar for the titles to follow since the editors selected her as a Woman to Watch.  Katherine hasn’t let them or her readers down, publishing more than 50 books since then.

She has broadened her writing skills to include writing for Harlequin Blaze, Harlequin NASCAR and the short-lived but much acclaimed Silhouette Bombshell (a series which featured strong heroines who both got the guy and saved the day).  She’s a two time winner of the prestigious Maggie Award for Excellence and multiple RT Bookclub award nominee.

Garbera started making up stories for her own benefit when she was on a competitive swim team in high school.  Though she went to State and usually medaled at swim meets, Katherine says her heart wasn’t in swimming but rather in the stories she created as she swam laps at practice.

She worked for The Walt Disney World Company for 15 years and did everything from being a hostess on It’s a Small World, to saving swimmers at the Grand Floridian Resort, to touring around VIPs such as Jack Valenti at the Disney-MGM Studios and being a production page on the New Mickey Mouse Club–yes, it might be possible that Britney, Justine and Christina owe her a nod of thanks for keeping all those kids who had to go to the bathroom from interrupting their performances.

In 2005 with the publication of BODY HEAT, Katherine made the jump to single-title romantic suspense  The nine books she wrote for Kensington Brava were known for their tight suspense, complex emotions and sultry sexuality. 

2007 saw the launch of her highly acclaimed mercenary series THE SAVAGE SEVEN.  THE PIRATE caught the attention of the editors at Cosmo and it was selected as a Red Hot Read in 2010. The story is ripped from the headlines and features a group of pirates who attack a tanker off the coast of Somalia.

Her books have been featured in magazines such as REDBOOK (11/98) and have even been displayed on the large JumboTron in Times Square, and excerpted in COSMO (7/10).

Writing is the chief focus of her time after her family and the only thing she likes more than working on her own books is reading other authors.  She is a frequent speaker at conferences and loves the opportunity to talk about writing with anyone who’ll listen.

Read an Excerpt

Cari Chandler paused in the doorway of the conference room. On the far wall was a portrait of her grandfather looking very young and very determined. Since he’d never been a “happy” man, she hardly noticed that he wasn’t smiling. He certainly wouldn’t be convivial at this moment when the grandson of his most-hated enemy was in his stronghold.

Since the late ’70s the Chandlers and the Montroses had been feuding and trying to cut each other out of the video-game market. Her grandfather had won that long-ago skirmish by making a deal with a Japanese company, cutting Thomas Montrose out, but none of that mattered today as the Montrose heirs and their Playtone Games had just delivered the feudending blow with their hostile takeover of Infinity Games. And leaving Cari and her sisters, Emma and Jessi, to pick up the wreckage and try to forge some sort of deal that would save their jobs and their legacy.

But Cari as COO was the one who’d been chosen to deal with Declan Montrose. It made sense, since operations were her area, but the secret she’d been harboring for too long suddenly felt like it had a choke hold on her, and she wished she’d confided in her sisters so that maybe she wouldn’t have to deal with Dec today.

The conference table was long and made of dark wood, and the chairs positioned around it were leather. She focused on the details of the room instead of the man she saw standing by the window. He hadn’t changed much in the eighteen months since she’d last seen him.

From the back she could see his reddish-brown hair was a little longer than it had been before, but was still thick and curly where it hit his collar. His shoulders were still as broad, tapering to a narrow waist and that whipcord-lean frame that she’d remembered pressed against her as he’d held her. A shiver of sensual awareness coursed through her.

Don’t. Don’t think of any of that, she warned herself. Focus on the takeover. One problem at a time.

“Dec.” She called his name. Her voice sounded strong, which pleased her since inside she was quaking. “I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

“I’m sure it’s a pleasant surprise,” he said with a sardonic grin as he left the window and walked over to stand not more than six inches from her.

The familiar smell of his spicy, outdoorsy aftershave surrounded her, and she closed her eyes as she remembered how strongly the scent had lingered on his skin right at the base of his neck. Then she forced herself to get it together, crossing her arms over her chest and remembering he was here for business. The knock at the door provided her with the distraction she needed. “Come in,” she called.

Ally, her assistant, entered with two Infinity Games logo mugs, handing one to Dec and giving the other to Cari. Cari walked around to the head of the table, already feeling more in control now that Dec was on the other side of it from her. She was aware of Ally asking if Dec needed anything in his coffee and him answering he took it black, and then Ally was gone.

“Please sit down,” she invited, gesturing to the chair across from hers.

“I don’t remember you being so formal,” he said as he pulled out a chair and took his seat.

She ignored that remark. Really, what could she say? From the moment she’d first seen him she’d been attracted to him. Even after she’d learned he was a Mon-trose and technically her family’s enemy, she’d still wanted him.

“I assume you’re here to talk about moving assets around in my company,” she said.

He nodded. “I’ll be spending the next six weeks doing an assessment of the assets in the company and on this campus here. I understand you have three different gaming divisions?”

Wow. She should have been prepared for it, but he’d just completely shut off his emotions and switched to business. She wanted to be able to do the same, but she’d never been that good at hiding what she felt. Cyborg, she’d heard him called. He lived up to that moniker today.

He looked over at her and she realized she was just staring at him. This wasn’t going to work. She’d call Emma, her oldest sister and the chief executive officer of Infinity, as soon as he left and tell her that she or Jessi would have to work with Dec. Though to be fair, as chief marketing officer, Jessi wasn’t really the one who should be handling Dec.

“Cari?”

“Sorry. Yes, they all report to me—online, console and mobile.”

“I will need to set up meetings with everyone in the company. The way this will work is that each person will be assessed and rated, and then I will give a presentation to our combined board of directors with my recommendations.”

“No problem. Emma mentioned you wanted to talk to the staff. Do you think you’ll just be here one or two days a week?” she asked, mentally crossing her fingers.

“No. I want to set up an office so I can be here in the thick of things,” he said, leaning forward. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“Not at all,” she said with the only smile she could muster. She’d rather not see him ever again, but that wasn’t going to happen and she was mature so she could deal with it. She knew her smile must have looked forced when he laughed.

“You were never good at hiding your feelings,” he said.

She shook her head. Though his statement was true, it wasn’t something that he could know from personal experience. They’d had a one-night stand, not a relationship. “Don’t say it like that. You don’t know me at all. We only had one date and one night together.”

“I think I got a fairly good impression of you,” he said.

“Really?” she asked. She told herself to let it go and just concentrate on the business end of things, but that was going to be impossible. “Then why’d you leave me alone in that hotel room?”

He leaned back in his chair and took a long swallow of his coffee before standing up to pace around the room to her side of the table. He leaned back against the table and stared down at her, and she was tempted to stand up so he wasn’t towering over her. But she didn’t want him to think he intimated her.

“I’m not really a man for attachments,” he said at last. “And though you think I don’t know you, Cari Chandler, I’d have to be a blind fool not to see that you care too much.”

She wanted to deny it, but the truth was she was the bleeding heart of the Chandler family. She volunteered, donated time and money to charities and causes and she’d fallen for more than one sob story at work. Emma had been furious at first, until she realized it made their employees loyal because they felt that the executive management cared.

“I wasn’t going to cling to you and profess undying love, Dec,” she said. She barely knew him after one sex-filled night. She might have been interested in seeing him again and getting to know him better, but she’d learned all she needed to know when he’d left her. “It was only one night.”

“It was a fabulous night, Cari,” he said, putting his hand on the back of her chair and spinning her around to face him. “Maybe I should remind you of how good we are together.”

She pushed the chair back, standing up. It was time for her to take control of this meeting. “Not necessary. While I remember the details of the night, it’s really the morning after that stuck with me.”

“That’s why I left,” he said in that wry way of his. “I’m not good at dealing with the aftermath.”

“Aftermath?” she asked.

“You know, the emotional stuff women usually bring up,” he said. “The clingy things.”

She shook her head. It was clear that a one-night stand was all that Dec intended for her to be. With her secret looming in her mind, she knew she had to say something about their night together, but for now she wasn’t going to. She would focus on the business and try to figure out a way to save her family’s legacy from being dismantled and destroyed.

Though she had to admit hearing Dec talk made her sad because she wanted better for herself. She had wanted to hear him say he wished he hadn’t left and that he’d thought of her every day… Probably what he would term emotionally clingy stuff.

“Disappointed?” he asked.

“I guess I know why an eligible billionaire like you is still single,” she said, trying not to be disenchanted that he was exactly like she’d thought he was. She’d hoped she’d just caught him on a bad day.

“Maybe the right girl just hasn’t tried hard enough to change me,” he said with a cocky half grin.

“Oh, you don’t seem like the sort of man who can be changed,” she said.

“Touche. I’m happy with my life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to appreciate a woman like you when our paths cross.”

She wanted to stay angry with him, but he was honest and she couldn’t fault him there. Even though she’d hoped for longer with Dec, she’d known from the moment they’d gone to dinner that all he wanted was an affair.

“I think I’d have more luck changing the direction of the Santa Ana winds,” she said.

“Have dinner with me and we can find out,” he said.

“Would you be willing to discuss Playtone Games being a silent partner in Infinity?”

He laughed. “Not happening.”

“Then neither is dinner.” No matter how much he cajoled she needed distance and a chance to really think before she just jumped back into something foolish with him.

“We have to work together, so I don’t think us spending time together outside the office would be wise,” she said at last. She used to be more impulsive, but wasn’t anymore. Her one-night stand with this man had reminded her there were consequences for acting without thinking.

“The Cari I know doesn’t make decisions with only her head.”

“I’ve changed,” she said bluntly. Maybe if she hadn’t fallen for his smooth-talking ways and blunt sexuality. What?

“I like it,” he said slickly.

Cari knew she had to face facts that the man she’d had a one-night stand with was back in town. And it was becoming abundantly clear that a corporate takeover was the least of her problems. She was going to have to tell him about her son…his son.

Their son.

And she had no idea how to do that.

Cari had changed. That was easy to see even for a guy who’d spent only one night in her company. Dec knew things between them had always seemed complicated. Never more so than now. Their families were hated enemies of each other and his cousin, Keller Montrose, the CEO of Playtone Games, wasn’t going to be happy unless Infinity was completely broken apart so that nothing of Gregory Chandler’s legacy remained.

And this pretty blonde woman standing before him was going to be nothing more than collateral damage.

Dec had never been able to see her as his hated enemy. From the first moment he’d laid eyes on her he’d wanted to know more about her—and not so he could figure out how to use that information to take over her company.

Being adopted, Dec never truly felt like a real Mon-trose and was always striving to prove he was as loyal as both Kell and their other cousin, Allan McKinney.

Being back in California, conveniently with Cari, seemed his chance to do his job and continue to prove his worth to the Montrose family, as well as hopefully reconnect with the woman he hadn’t been able to forget. With her thick blond hair that fell in smooth waves past her shoulders and her pretty cornflower-blue eyes, she’d haunted him. He couldn’t forget the way she’d looked up at him as he’d held her in his arms.

Now that he had the chance to get a proper look at her, he could see the year and a half they’d been apart had added a quiet confidence to her. He started at her tiny feet in those pretty brown two-inch heels and moved upward. Her ankles were still trim, but her calves seemed more muscular. The hem of her skirt kept him from seeing any more of her legs but her hips seemed fuller…more pronounced. Her waist was still impossibly small, he noted, as the button on her jacket flaunted. Her breasts—whoa, they were a lot larger. She’d been slim and small but she was much—

“Eyes up here, buddy,” she said, pointing to her baby blues.

He shrugged and then smiled at her. “I can see that you have changed a lot in the past year. Your figure is much fuller than before, but I like that.”

He walked toward her with a long, languid stride and she backed up until there was nowhere for her to go. She put her hand up to stop him, keeping him an arm’s length away. He stood there, staring down into her eyes, and had to admit there was something different about her. It was in her eyes. She watched him more closely than she had before.

She looked tired and he thought, well, duh, Playtone had finally gotten the upper hand on Infinity Games and she was more than likely worried about her job.

He backed away from her. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to come on too strong. I’m sure losing your company to us was a shock.”

“That’s a bit of an understatement.”

He smiled at the way she said it. “I’m a little jetlagged still.”

“Jet-lagged? I wasn’t aware that there was a time zone between the Infinity Games campus and the Play-tone offices,” she said.

She gave up nothing. And he wondered how he could have missed this side to Cari eighteen months ago. But then he’d been in full-on lust and it was safe to say his brain hadn’t been controlling him.

“I’ve been in Australia for a little over a year managing our takeover of Kanga Games.”

“You let them keep their corporate identity,” she said.

“They didn’t screw our grandfather over.”

“My sisters and I didn’t either. We’ve always dealt with you and your cousins fairly.”

“I’m afraid that doesn’t matter when it comes to revenge,” he said.

“Surely profit matters.”

“It does.”

She nodded and moved back to her chair. He sat down and so did she. She steepled her fingers together and he noticed she wore a ring on her right hand now that she hadn’t before. It was a platinum band of hearts with a row of diamonds in the center. It seemed the kind of ring a lover would have given her. Was she involved with someone now?

Maybe that was where her new confidence stemmed from. She had a lover now. Well, he could be happy for her. Even though he regretted that he might not ever get to kiss her again.

“When did you get back from Australia?” she asked as she toyed with the ring. Those little gestures seemed to indicate her nervousness, though the rest of her body language didn’t support that.

“Saturday, but I’m still adjusting. And seeing you again surprised me,” he admitted, reaching for his briefcase, which he’d stowed next to his chair, and putting it on the table. He had his computer and the files he’d already started studying on the takeover.

“How did it surprise you? I knew you’d be here this morning,” she said. “Didn’t you know it would be me?”

“Yes, Emma informed me via email,” he said. He wasn’t about to tell her that he’d never expected to react so strongly to her presence. Not now. He’d thought since they’d slept together all the chemistry would be gone…but he’d been wrong.

The mystery of her body had been revealed to him. There wasn’t an inch of it he didn’t remember, though he realized now, with the flesh-and-blood woman standing before him, that those memories were a pale imitation of the real thing. 

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Filed under 2013, August, Baby Business, Desire, Harlequin, Katherine Garbera, Review, Romance