USA Today Bestselling Author
Rhonda Lee Carver
Struck over the head, Monica Warren wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of who she is or what happened. The sexy man who has stayed by her side is the only person in the world she knows and she can’t help but cling to him.
Cullen Cade thinks he’s landed the easiest mission he could hope for. Find the missing woman and bring her in. Simple. Then all hell breaks loose when he saves her from a burning building, almost takes a bullet, then learns that she has no memory—not even of who she is or that she is wanted for questioning in the death of her lover. Up until this point in life, Cull has made every decision with his head, but something about the woman, and her situation, tugs at his compassion.
Against better judgement, he offers her shelter, but soon secrets start to unravel as an attraction unlike anything he’s ever felt begins to grow. He struggles to keep his heart protected and stay professional because she is a criminal…isn’t she? What choices will he make that could harm his career? Or break his heart.
An act of mistaken identity, murder, and danger closing in will leave Monica fighting for her memories and her life.
Cullen ‘Cull’ Cade thinks this assignment from his friend Deke would be simple. Find the possible witness and turn her over to Deke for questioning. It wasn’t too difficult to find the woman’s apartment and stake it out. What he didn’t expect was for it to go up in flames, right after he sees her go in.
Monica’s purse had gone flying when Sally bumped into her spilling coffee all over. In her haste to gather her belongings and be on her way she leaves her wallet. Sally decides to return it and since the woman isn’t home, and the key is in the wallet, she enters the apartment. She had just put it on the counter when she is grabbed from behind.
When she wakes in the hospital she remembers nothing except a vague recollection of the name Monica.
This is a favorite scene.
“Like a bounty hunter?” Could she be this lucky? A lawman had saved her from a burning building? “Were you in the area when the fire started?”
He sat down on the chair. “I was in the building when I smelled the smoke.” He hesitated as if he didn’t want to finish.
“Go ahead, Cull. Please tell me everything. I need to know,” she urged.
“If I had to guess, and that’s what I’m doing, I’d say the intruder climbed the fire escape and was waiting for you when you entered your apartment. I’m not sure if the gasoline was poured over everything before you entered or after. When I got in there the fire was already too hot to put out.”
“I don’t know… not sure why… but I think I remember the strong smell of gasoline.”
He nodded. “That’s good. Then that would mean the intruder poured it before.”
Seeing the concern in his eyes, she felt the dam slip some. Swallowing, she held back, knowing once the tears started they wouldn’t be stopped. Yet how could she expect to feel no emotion? What he was telling her was that someone tried to kill her and if he hadn’t been in the building, more than likely she would be dead now. And without her memory, she had no clue why this happened. To top it off, she was being discharged and had nowhere to go. With superhuman effort, she lifted her chin and choked down her tears. “Why would someone want to kill me?”
“Good question. One I’m trying to figure out.”
“And I’m no help, am I?”
“It’s not your fault.”
She blinked. “Maybe it is. What if I’m a bad person and can’t remember? I could have done something very horrible and made someone mad enough to want me dead. What would be worse than memory loss is finding out I was a horrible person.” Several expressions flickered over his face before he looked at her with complete pity. “After all, I don’t have any family or friends.”
“You remember that?”
Shaking her head, she sighed. “If I had someone who cared, wouldn’t they be here now? If someone you love or care for is missing, wouldn’t you inquire about them?”
“It’s possible your people don’t know about the fire yet.”
“Thank you for the positivity, but it’s true. I have no one.” Seeing his expression, her chest tightened. “You feel sorry for me, don’t you?” She stood. “I don’t blame you. I’m a mess. This is a crazy situation.”
“You’re not a mess.” She snapped up a brow and he grinned. “Okay, yeah, you’re a mess, but it isn’t the end of the world. You’re alive and your memory will come back. And if it doesn’t, think of it as a new beginning.”
His words didn’t help. Instead, they broke the last thread to her composure. “I feel like I’m lost in the dark.” She sniffed loudly. He stood.
“You’re really upset.”
Swiping away the moisture from her cheek, she shrugged. “I’m on a roller coaster and I want off.”
Big, comforting arms caught her and pulled her against a broad, iron-hard chest. After her moment of shock passed, she inhaled sharply, smelling his appealing scent of spice and leather. So, not only did he look good, but he smelled better.
“If you thought I was a mess before, you’re really going to think I’m a basket case now. The poor woman who can’t remember her name has no place to go, has a murderer on her tail, and she can’t stop crying.”
“I’ve seen a lot and there’s not much that catches me off guard.” He flexed his arms around her and she had no strength to step away. How could she want to? This felt nice, like finding a perfect pair of jeans.
What was wrong with her? Sure, she’d been through something traumatic, but there was something else going on that was way more upsetting than a killer on the loose. Here, in the semi-stranger’s arms, she felt such an amazing, overwhelming comfort that couldn’t be explained. Suddenly, she was a raw nerve and he was the salve. This couldn’t happen. Not now— not when she had no clue who she was, or even what she was feeling. With a sudden burst of strength, she took a step back, looking up at him with a jutted jaw. “I’ll find a place to stay. I’m sure I can find a room at a hotel. I have a feeling I’m good at making things work.”
“With five dollars to your name?”
“Oh, that.” She sighed. “Wait… how did you know that?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
Without any hesitation, he said, “I looked through your bag for some identification. You have no credit or bank cards.”
She tried to laugh but it fizzled. “It shouldn’t be too hard to find out who I am. Something more than just Monica. There must be an apartment manager at my building—”
She blinked. “That’s my last name? You spoke with the manager?”
He nodded. “You’ve lived at the address for a couple of years.”
Monica absorbed the information. “Did the manager say anything about family? Friends?”
“No,” he said abruptly.
“I’m sorry. Maybe I’m asking too many questions—”
“It’s okay. I understand.” “No ID. No credit or debit card. And clothes that barely fit. Who exactly was I?” She gulped back a sob. “Why did I have a bag packed? Was I leaving? Or returning from vacation?”
His features were masked, but his warm expression burrowed under her skin and zapped her blood. “I can help you out,” he said in a husky voice.
She gave her head a quick shake. “I can’t take your money.” Monica wasn’t even sure she could pay him back.
One corner of his mouth played with a smile. “I’m not offering money. I’m offering you a place to stay.”
Carver, Rhonda Lee. ShelteredbytheLawmanFinal (Kindle Locations 647-701).Kindle Edition.
Keeping Monica safe until she gets her memory back proves to be a bit difficult. His family is treating her like a guest instead of one of his clients. Then there is his growing attraction to her.
Lots of twists and turns in this as Monica tries to remember her life, and nothing makes sense, not to her and not to Cull. Especially the call girl part, it just doesn’t fit her personality. Plenty of sparks between these two but a lot of restraint too.
Suspense and intrigue will keep you on the edge of your seat.
5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda!
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Rhonda Lee Carver is a published book writer with a collection of print and eBooks under her wing. She is also a freelance editor. Her first book was published with Wild Rose Press in 2010.
She writes everything from contemporary to steamy to paranormal to suspense…you name it, she’s written it. Her specialty is writing men who love to get their hands dirty—hardworking, blue collar, heroes in everyday life.
When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling novels, you’ll find her with her children and husband watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, traveling to exotic places (with Bora Bora on her bucket list), doing (or trying) yoga, saving cats and dogs, and finding new ways to keep life interesting.
Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes life can be a challenge, but reading is a place where fantasy comes to life. Her motto: “Everyone deserves romance—one page at a time.“