NY Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal
Love is the best defense in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s explosive Mountain Mercenaries novel.
Gorgeous women don’t just stumble onto Ronan Cross’s remote property. But this one—vulnerable, victimized, and needing the kind of help only Ronan can offer—tells a story that makes his blood boil almost as hot as his need to protect her.
Since her father’s death, Chloe Harris has become a prisoner. Her own brother, a flesh peddler and low-level player in the Denver Mafia, is forcing her to sell her body for an endgame Chloe never saw coming: control over a vast fortune. Her only way out is to run—straight into the arms of the one hard-bodied man she can trust.
Defending Chloe could rain punishment down on the Mountain Mercenaries. Her brother has Mob connections and the local police in his pocket. But Ronan still has an edge—the unshakable loyalty of his deadly teammates. As well as an unquenchable thirst for retribution…and Chloe.
One of the things I like about Susan’s books is she gives just enough lead in to hook you for the next book in the series. In ‘Defending Allye’ we met Chloe when she showed up at Ro’s garage and asks to use his phone. Now we get the whole story.
Since her father’s death, things have gone downhill for Chloe and she’s living under her brother’s thumb now. A situation she is trying to get out of without getting herself killed.
Ro can’t stop thinking about the woman who showed up out of nowhere at his garage and asked to use the phone. He keeps seeing the large bruise on her back. He had given her his card, but he didn’t think she was going to call him. He put the team on finding information on her, which leads to the discovery her brother owns a strip bar. Then the planning begins.
This is a favorite scene when Ro sees her working there.
The amount of flesh on display did nothing for Ro. He enjoyed the female form as much as any heterosexual male, but he wasn’t there for pleasure. He dreaded finding Chloe, but at the same time hoped he’d see her tonight. The clothes she’d been wearing two weeks ago were the only reason he thought she might be there. He couldn’t imagine why else she’d been wearing the skimpy outfit she’d had on.
He eyed the waitress who was returning with their order. When she leaned over the table to set down the drinks, her tits threatened to pop out of the bikini top she was almost wearing.
When she was done, she put the tray under an arm and leaned on the table with her hands. The position was provocative and sexual and would’ve been extremely hot—if not for the stressed look on her face. “Are you boys new here?”
“Sure thing, beautiful,” Arrow replied for the group.
“Welcome to BJ’s. Where your pleasure is my pleasure,” she said in an almost bored tone. “Anything you need, all you have to do is ask. Feel free to walk around, and know that all the servers accept tips, just as the dancers do. We have private rooms in the back, where you can get to know any of the women better. If you’re interested, just talk to the object of your affection. She’ll let you know the price for what you want.”
She looked over her shoulder then, and Ro couldn’t help but follow her line of vision.
He stiffened when he saw Chloe following a man out of the guarded hallway.
She was looking at the ground and shuffling along behind the man as if embarrassed, rubbing her bare arms and frowning.
Ro shifted in his seat, ready to get up and rush over to her, but Gray put a hand on his arm, halting him.
The waitress looked back at them and straightened. “Your regular waitress should be here soon to see if you need anything else, but I’m available for hire in a back room if you’re so inclined.” And with that parting shot, she winked, then turned and headed straight for Chloe.
“What. The. Fuck?” Arrow bit out. “Did she just tell us that we could have any woman here for a price?”
“Sounded like it to me,” Gray said.
Ro didn’t respond, instead keeping his eye on Chloe. The waitress walked up to her and bent her head to have a short conversation. Chloe nodded and went to the bar to pick up a tray. When she turned her back, Ro glanced at what she was wearing. Compared to most of the servers, it was downright nunlike. But that made her all the more intriguing, and he saw several men ogling her arse as she turned to face the bar. She was still showing way too much skin for Ro’s taste . . . and her own, as well, it seemed. Her heels were a modest three or so inches, whereas the other women were wearing anywhere from four to six. With the added inches, Ro estimated she’d be just about the same height as he was. Chloe had on a short skirt that came to the middle of her thighs. She wore a corset top, which made her waist look small but her tits look way too large for her frame. They were sitting high on her chest and definitely on display. Her shoulders were hunched, as if she was trying to hide herself from the men leering at her, but it was no use. There was no hiding the abundance of flesh that had been pushed up on her chest.
She was way curvier than their previous server; her corset didn’t quite cover her belly, and a tiny pooch was on display as she made her way reluctantly to their table. Every step made the skirt she was wearing ride up her curvy thighs, until she was almost flashing them by the time she arrived.
She looked uncomfortable and miserable, and Ro wanted to throw his arms around her to shield her from the stares and lust of the men in the room and spirit her away.
Forcing himself to stay seated, he waited to see what she would say or do when she came up to their table. He was eager to see if she’d pretend to not know him, or if she’d acknowledge that they’d met before.
She walked up and stopped where their previous waitress had stood. But she held the tray in front of her, as if shielding herself from their gazes, and kept her eyes on the floor.
“Welcome to BJ’s. Where your pleasure is my pleasure,” she said in a shaky voice. “I hope you’re enjoying your drinks. Anything you need, all you have to do is ask.
There are private rooms in the back, and it would be my pleasure to show you the excellent hospitality BJ’s is known for . . . if that’s your desire.”
She waited, and Ro swore she was holding her breath. He was furious that she and the other waitress were basically whoring themselves out, but he didn’t act on that anger. Now wasn’t the time or the place.
“Chloe?” he asked quietly, wanting to reach for her, but not wanting to upset her any more than she was already.
At the sound of her name, her eyes came up for the first time and met his, flaring wide. He could barely see them in the dim atmosphere of the club, but he thought they were a dark brown. She obviously wasn’t wearing the purple contacts she’d had in when he’d first met her. She had heavy makeup on her face, and her straight black hair was swept back into a messy bun at the nape of her neck.
She opened her mouth to speak, but abruptly closed it.
“Don’t panic,” Ro told her quickly. “Me and my friends are here to see if you need help. If not, if you’re cool, then we are too. But if you don’t want to be here and need assistance, all you have to do is say the word, and I’ll make sure you’re safe.”
She continued to stare at him with eyes as big as saucers. He saw she was gripping the tray so hard her knuckles were turning white. She looked away from him to Gray and Arrow, then her eyes came back to him. “Why?” she asked.
“Because in my world, no one hurts a woman. She doesn’t have a fist-size bruise on her back, and she definitely doesn’t wander around Black Forest without a purse or a way to call for help, wearing clothes too small and heels too high.”
She flinched at that and took a deep breath. “I . . . I can’t . . . I don’t know . . .”
“Stop panicking,” Gray ordered, and her eyes swung to him. “First things first. Are you okay? Are you safe?”
Chloe licked her lips and looked to the side, but neither nodded nor shook her head.
“Okay, that answers that. Is it just your brother who’s watching you?” Gray asked.
They got a little head shake at that. “When do you get off work?” Arrow asked.
Ro looked at his watch. It was one thirty. She still had another hour and a half to go. “Do you have to go in the back room with anyone who asks?”
She nodded her head.
Ro leaned forward and ordered, “Look at me, love.”
She looked at him, and he was stunned at the hope and fear he saw in her eyes. It made him want to take her in his arms and lead her out of there without another word. But he knew they’d never make it to the door. Not if she was being watched by more than her brother. “You tell anyone who asks that I’ve already paid for your next session in a private room.”
Stoker, Susan. Defending Chloe (Mountain Mercenaries Book 2) (pp. 31-34). Montlake Romance. Kindle Edition.
Now Ro would rather have just walked out with her, but that wasn’t happening. The process of getting Chloe to safety becomes far more complicated.
I loved all the twists and turns in this book as the team uncovers the facts. Ro has a long way to go to establish trust with Chloe and that journey is as convoluted as the investigation.
The tease for the next book was awesome and I really can’t wait for it to come out.
Emotional, intense, romantic and action packed. Don’t miss this book!
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.