NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
A diehard romantic looking to start over in a small town.
Dr. Nina Gomez might be an astrophysicist and a scientist down to her bones, but she also believes in true love and happily ever after—and won’t settle for anything less. After a rocky end to her first semester teaching at the University of Montana, she’s looking forward to a new school year and a fresh start in the small town of Rifle Creek. When she meets her roommate’s work partner, a sexy, hard-edged detective, Nina is immediately intrigued. However, it’s soon clear they’re like oil and water. But when she’s confronted by the painful past event she wanted to forget, she faces an even greater danger. A predator is bent on silencing her forever, and Nina’s only hope of survival is the unattainable man who’s captured her heart.
A cynical cop determined to guard his heart.
Tate Baldwin has dedicated his life to serving and protecting, first in the military, and now as a detective in Rifle Creek. Badly burned by his last relationship, he isn’t looking to get involved with anyone, especially a brilliant college professor who seems to have her head in the clouds. Yet even Tate can’t deny the attraction between them that soon grows into something more. And when a secret from her past triggers a lethal threat, Tate will risk everything to stand between her and the monster who wants her dead.
Tate is former Military and now a Detective with the Rocky Creek Sheriff’s department. Originally from Canada where his sister still lives, he is tasked with bringing his niece Rylee to college in Missoula. He really was having a hard time with it, and it touched my heart, especially as he talks to his sister Tala as he heads home. It’s during that call which was hands free with his truck’s technology, when a car veered out to run the red light and he’s hit from behind.
Nina’s car was behind those involved and when she sees the car that hit the truck stopped partway into the intersection. She pulls over to check on them. This is her first meeting with Tate, he takes charge and together they help the woman in the car. Unfortunately neither introduces themselves.
A fate happens, Tate is invited to dinner at his partner Avery’s home. She wants him to help her friend move around some stuff in the suite she’s renting out. Turns out the friend is Nina and as they dine and get her set up he finds himself a little more than attracted to her.
This is one of my favorite scenes.
It felt wrong to just let her go, turn away from her and head for his truck. He sat behind the wheel while she drove off with Avery, both of them laughing at something as they did.
Tate felt strangely empty inside all of a sudden. Alone.
He turned out of the parking lot and started for home, in the opposite direction of Avery’s place. In his rearview he watched Nina’s taillights disappear around the corner behind him, a sense of urgency growing inside him.
He hit the brakes without thinking, stopping there in the middle of the street. Seconds passed, the sense of urgency expanding in his chest until it ached.
“No, dammit,” he muttered, and cranked the wheel around.
He turned the truck and drove after Nina. He had no plan, wasn’t even sure what the fuck he was doing or going to say, just that he couldn’t let her go out with some asshole who didn’t deserve her time.
She was already out of her vehicle and around the corner of the house just as he pulled up in front. If Avery saw him parked there, she’d wonder why he was here, but he didn’t care.
He got out and strode along the brick path that led around back to Nina’s suite. Without giving himself time to second-guess what he was doing, he rapped on her door.
She pulled it open moments later, a startled smile on her face. “Hey.”
Damn, she was pretty. He felt less cold inside just seeing her. “Hi.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Did you…want to talk to me about something?”
“Yes,” he said, unable to keep the irritation from his voice.
“Okay.” She looked at him expectantly.
“Don’t go out with that guy again.”
Her face went blank with surprise. “What? Why not?”
“Because he’s not gonna give you what you’re looking for, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” He couldn’t stand the thought of someone so kind and full of joy getting her heart bruised.
Her face softened, her eyes filling with a tenderness he wanted to drink in. “You’re worried about me.”
“Yeah, I’m worried.” Frustration pulsed through him. “I know you won’t think so, but romance is overrated. And besides, you even said you’re not attracted to the guy.”
Her expression cooled. “I said that might grow with time.”
He shook his head sharply. “It won’t.”
She folded her arms, annoying him more with the way it pushed her breasts up and together. Making it harder to keep his eyes on her face. “No? And you’re an expert on these things, even though you haven’t dated in what, a year?”
Touché. Maybe he deserved that. His face heated. “I’m just saying, you should be more realistic.”
“Yeah?” She studied him a moment, her physicist brain performing calculations about him and coming up with her own answers. Probably that he was being an overbearing asshole. “Well, you’re lonely and don’t even realize it.”
He faltered, becoming flustered as her words hit home. Okay, yeah, maybe he was a bit lonely. But that wasn’t the point here. Stopping her from making a mistake, from getting hurt, was.
“This isn’t about me. And sorry to break it to you, but life isn’t a fairy-tale. There’s way more important things in a relationship than flowers and romantic gestures.”
She cocked an eyebrow at him, the gesture somehow condescending. Almost like she was giving him enough rope to hang himself. “Like what?”
His frustration hit critical mass, her challenge triggering something territorial in him. “Like this,” he answered, stepping forward to wrap a hand around her nape and covering those tempting lips with his own.
She stiffened for a split second, her hands flying up to the front of his shoulders. But she didn’t stop him or push him away, so Tate didn’t let go. Instead he wrapped his free arm around her back, hauling her in close.
The feel of her softness pressed against him lit his blood on fire. He slanted his mouth across hers, captured her tiny gasp on his tongue as he drank her in, his entire body going hard as he tasted her.
Nina moaned softly, her hands curling into his shoulders. The kiss had started out dominant and forceful, but now it slowed and softened. Becoming something more than he’d intended, shocking him with its brutal honesty. The raw need it exposed.
He drew back, stunned that she’d broken his control so easily. Nina gazed up at him uncertainly, her big brown eyes searching his.
Shit. He hadn’t meant to kiss her. He just hadn’t been able to stop himself from touching her, tasting her, driven by the primal need to wipe the thought of any other guy out of her pretty head.
What the hell had he done?
His jaw tightened. “Just…don’t go out with that guy.” He started to turn away.
She laughed. He stopped dead, whipping around to stare at her. He was dead serious, thinking of her best interest, and she’d laughed.
She folded her arms, and he had to wrench his focus up to her face. “You don’t get a say in who I can and can’t go out with.”
The reprimand hit home, making him wince inside. Fuck, he was acting like a damn caveman. If any guy had spoken to Tala or Rylee like he just had, Tate would be tempted to punch him in the face. “I know,” he bit out. “But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
She softened, gazing at him equal parts amusement and sympathy. “Say I consider canceling my date on Friday. What’s in it for me?”
His mind had stopped functioning. She’d short-circuited his fucking brain. “Sorry?”
“You gonna take me out instead?”
The idea was a lot more appealing than he wanted it to be. “Maybe I will.”
Her eyes sparkled with silent laughter. “So you’re a closet romantic after all.”
What? No. He opened his mouth to refute it, but that soft look in her eyes and his actions made denying it pointless. He huffed out a quiet chuckle. “Cancel your date. I’ll pick you up Friday after your last class.”
She nodded once. “All right. I’m looking forward to it.”
Damn, he was too, God help him. “Okay. Good night.”
“Good night.” She shot him one last smile that warmed him all the way to his bones before shutting the door.
Tate walked back to his truck in a sort of daze, still not sure what had just happened. Was this a bad idea?
Yeah. It was definitely a bad idea.
He wasn’t the kind of romantic she was looking for, but damned if she didn’t suddenly have him wanting to put aside his cynical views and make the effort for her.
Cross, Kaylea. Lethal Edge. Kaylea Cross Inc. Kindle Locations (1130-1186). Kindle Edition.
I love the way Tate isn’t intimidated by Nina’s degrees and is truly interested in her for who she is. Nina is a PhD Astrophysicist teaching at the same college his niece is attending, and she manages to present her love of the stars to him in a unique way.
That isn’t all there is to this story as a serial rapist hits close to home. An investigation that Tate was on originally but no longer now that he’s with Rock Creek’s department.
I love Tate’s neighbor, he reminds me of Wilson from the old Tim Allen show. Always peeking over the fence. We also meet Mason and his dog Ric as they come to town to investigate the possibilities of a nearby property.
Plenty of suspense, tears, laughter, some sizzling heat and not just one romance as this tale unfolds. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Kaylea!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards and has been nominated for both the Daphne du Maurier and the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and family.