NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal
Freak. Witch. Ugly. Abomination.
Having grown up with a port-wine birthmark on her face and neck, Quinn Dixon’s heard them all. Her own mother couldn’t bear to touch her, let alone strangers. Years of stares and insults from everyone from classmates to foster families have made her understandably reluctant to trust. So when John comes along, of course he couldn’t be interested in more than a brief affair. He’ll get sick of all the gawking and whispers soon enough and leave her…just like everyone else.
John “Driftwood” Trettle was captivated by Quinn the moment they met. After months of skirting around their attraction, one pivotal evening finds John seizing the reins and refusing to be denied a chance to prove he’s worthy of Quinn’s time, her trust, and her love. To show her he’ll have her back, always, and defend her against anyone cruel or stupid enough to hurt his woman.
But he can’t protect against an unknown threat. Even if it wears a familiar face…
** Shelter for Quinn is the 13th book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.
Once again Susan Stoker takes on a topic that some may find difficult. This book is about lifelong bullying, how it has affected Quinn, and also about the people that perpetrate this sort of thing.
I’ve loved Quinn since we met her in Sophie’s book, the fact that she hides her port wine birthmark has tugged at my heartstrings from that moment.
John aka Driftwood has been trying to get Quinn to go out with him since he first met her. He sees her for who she is, a beautiful person inside and out. Her green eyes remind him of emeralds so he calls her Emmy. As this book opens, John has declared them dating and has taken Quinn to his place to recuperate from the girl’s night out.
While Quinn has agreed to this, she is surprised to find herself in John’s home in bed alone with him on the floor next to the bed.
This is a favorite scene.
John hadn’t taken advantage of her drunken state. She was still fully dressed. He’d simply put her to bed and presumably watched over her as she slept to make sure she was all right. A lot of men would’ve put her on the couch, or at least slept in their own bed next to her, but not John.
Snippets of conversations she’d had with her girlfriends over the last couple months came back. How she’d declared if she ever found a man who treated her like her friends’ men treated them, she’d latch on to him and never let go. But she’d been so scared of giving John a chance, of opening herself up to more than friendship.
Watching him immediately go after the men who were making fun of her last night, and watching him sleep now—on the floor by her side—made something inside Quinn snap into place.
Maybe she’d been an idiot. John wasn’t the kind of man to lead her on. He wasn’t out for a one-night stand.
Settling back down on her side, Quinn propped her head on her hand and kept her eyes on John. She didn’t look around. Didn’t check out his bedroom. She could only stare at the man below her.
It was probably ten minutes or so later when he began to stir. Quinn didn’t move, curious as to what he’d do when he woke up. He sighed, then inhaled deeply through his nose. He stretched, and she saw his forehead wrinkle in what she could only guess was confusion at the hard floor beneath him.
His eyes opened, and the first thing he did was look up at the bed.
Quinn didn’t flinch when he met her gaze.
The thing was, when John looked at her, he looked at her. His gaze didn’t drop to the red birthmark on her face and neck. He didn’t look away nervously. He stared into her eyes and held her gaze.
“Morning, Emmy,” he said with a deep rumble.
That was another thing. He’d started calling her Emmy because he’d said her eyes twinkled like emeralds. How could she not like that? “Morning,” she replied.
“Sleep well?” he asked as he sat up slowly.
“Better than you, probably,” she said honestly. “The floor couldn’t have been comfortable.”
“I’ve slept in worse places,” was his nonchalant reply.
“Why didn’t you put me on the couch?” she asked. “I would’ve been perfectly comfortable there.”
He stood then. Unfolding from the floor and moving like a sleek panther, he sat on the mattress next to her hip.
Quinn rolled over onto her back to prevent herself from falling into him.
“Because I wanted you here,” John said without a trace of guile. “I don’t know if you remember what I said last night, but you agreed to be my girlfriend.”
Quinn knew he hadn’t exactly asked, but went with it anyway. “I remember.”
He smiled. “And my girlfriend does not sleep on the couch,” he said firmly.
“Why didn’t you sleep next to me?” she asked.
“I may be an overbearing ass sometimes, and push you to do things you might not be comfortable with, but I’d never do something that intimate without making sure you were okay with it first.”
It was a good answer. “I would’ve been okay with it,” she told him.
“Noted.” He brushed a lock of her chestnut hair off her forehead. “Hungry?”
Quinn thought about it and, despite all that she’d drank the night before, found that she was. Nodding, she said, “I could eat.”
“Great. Feel free to take a shower, although I don’t have any fancy shampoo or conditioner that you’re probably used to. You can borrow one of my T-shirts, but you’ll have to wear your jeans again. Nothing I have here will fit you. Is that okay?”
Sitting up, Quinn tilted her head at him. “And if it’s not?
John shrugged. “Then I’ll go over to your apartment and grab something for you. Or I can take you home right now and we can eat breakfast at your apartment, or we can go out. Or you could decide to go back to bed when you get home. It’s Saturday and you’re not working today, so you might have plans.”
It was Saturday, but she didn’t have plans. Quinn spent most weekends holed up in her apartment. She didn’t like going out in public if she didn’t have to. Thanks to the stares and comments she’d heard over the years, it was simpler to not put herself in the kinds of situations that would be uncomfortable for everyone around her. “I don’t have plans,” she told him. “And I’d love to shower here.”
John smiled. “Perfect.” Then he simply sat there and stared at her for the longest time.
Stoker, Susan. Shelter for Quinn (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 13) (pp. 2-5). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.
From a creepy neighbor to adjusting to a man who defends her at every turn is quite a challenge for Quinn. All the women are so very happy for the two of them, even as they aren’t as sure about Taco’s new girlfriend. I wanted to smack her more than once.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this story and I was sniffling more than once. This is a page turning read you won’t want to miss.
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.