USA Today Bestselling Author
Shannon Brendel, a therapist for troubled teens, wants to find the daughter she gave up when was sixteen. She doesn’t want a relationship. She only wants to know her child is safe and has a better life. One free from her father’s dark legacy. However, when she begins the search, she will lead the evil man she feels she helped create right to her daughter’s doorstep. This is a man she’s vowed never to see again. A man who could easily pull her back into the depths of hell her father had placed her in. He is a man who is hell bent on revenge and will stop at nothing to see that Shannon, and their daughter, pay the ultimate price.
Jackson Armstrong, a private investigator will take just about any case except those involving adoption. He has his reasons. So, when his super sexy neighbor asks him to help her find the little girl she gave up years ago, he says no. That is until Shannon’s patients start mysteriously disappearing, showing up dead, and Shannon becomes the best suspect. Jackson will do whatever it takes to prove Shannon is innocent and protect her and her daughter.
But will it be enough to save them from such a dark legacy.
This book opens with a glimpse at Shannon’s past and a bit of the horror from it. We progress to the present day as Shannon is sort of celebrating the anniversary of her freedom. A sailboat at the end of her dock, a Tartan, the same boat of her nightmares causes her to drop her coffee.
Her neighbor Jackson attempts to help her not cut her feet. He bought the sailboat to celebrate his divorce. He didn’t know it would cause his neighbor to be upset. He does agree to get a visual on her friend so she knows she’s okay, but he gets upset when she asks him to find the daughter she gave up for adoption. He won’t do searches for adoption, it’s personal.
This is a favorite scene.
“Here you go.” Jackson handed her a cup. The bitter aroma filled her nose like pure, unsweetened cocoa. “Are you free for dinner tonight?”
She laughed. “I’m actually having dinner with my stepmother, but maybe we can have a drink after.”
“Are you actually agreeing to a date?” he asked with wide eyes and a big, goofy smile.
The man was too cute for his own good.
“Not a date. Just a drink with a friend. Say around nine? Right here? We can build a fire.”
“Sounds great to me.” He raised his mug.
“Can I ask you a work-related question?”
“Sure,” Jackson said.
“Do you ever take on cases for friends?”
“All the time. Why?”
She stole a peek at the sailboat. That night had changed her life in more ways than one. “I’d like to hire you.”
“For?” He set his coffee on the railing, easing closer, leaving his arms dangling at his sides.
He must have taken a ton of psychology courses because he knew exactly how to put someone at ease. Anyone would bare their soul to this man and not even know they were doing it.
She let out a puff of air. The only person she’d ever spoken to about her daughter had been Annette. Even her mother couldn’t bear to hear about it, always telling Shannon that she’d been a horrible teenager and to pray for forgiveness.
“Two things, actually. I don’t like doing this, but a… a friend of mine missed a lunch date on Friday, and I haven’t been able to reach her all weekend. She’s never done that, and I’m a little worried. Could I trouble you to just check on her or something? I don’t mind paying you.”
“I can do that,” he said, but the way he tilted his head indicated that he wasn’t buying the friend part.
Shit. She could get fired for that one.
“I’m just concerned, and I want to know she’s okay.”
“You just want me to get a visual? Or do you need me to contact her?”
Shannon looked at the sky for an answer. Deep down in the pit of her stomach, she knew that something wasn’t right with Belinda, and she couldn’t let it go. “Just a visual. Her name is Belinda Montgomery, and she—”
“Name is all I need. If I want more, I’ll call,” he said.
“No problem. And no need to pay me. Now, what’s the second?”
“This one is a little bit more detailed, and I’ll insist on compensating you for your time.” She reached for her pendant, running her finger up and down the feathered sides. Not a day went by that she didn’t wear the necklace. It drove her mother crazy, but only because of where it had come from and the fact that Shannon still had a relationship with her father’s second wife.
“If it makes you feel more comfortable, your case will be confidential. The only other person who will know the details, or your name, will be Katie, my partner.”
“I can’t say that makes me feel better. This is pretty personal and not easy for me.” But she wasn’t going to turn back now. She just needed a few deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Slow and controlled. “I want to find the child I gave up for adoption.” Her fingers trembled over the silver jewelry dangling from her neck. Her gaze darted toward the parking area, focusing on Jackson’s shiny pickup truck. A diesel. It had rumbled many a late night, loud and proud. But it always calmed her nerves, even when it woke her up.
Jackson was one of the few men who always made her feel safe.
“You want me to find the kid you gave up?” Jackson’s tone had an edge she’d only heard when he got upset with the lawn guy for ruining his rose bush. Jackson hadn’t ever yelled at the groundskeeper, but the anger lacing his words was more terrifying than any screaming match could be.
Shannon swallowed the thick lump in her throat. This was turning out to be harder than she’d thought. Her fears over being judged ran wild, and she knew that she read too much into Jackson’s attitude. “This may sound odd, but I just want to know if she’s okay. That she was placed in a good home.”
He raked a hand through his long hair. “I’m sorry. I’m going to have to say no. I don’t do adoption cases under any circumstances.” He turned his back and leaned against the deck with his arms folded across his chest.
Closed-off. And the tension that filled the air nearly choked her. The therapist in her wanted to ask probing questions to tackle the problem at hand. To figure out why adoption cases were a trigger for him. But she reminded herself that he wasn’t her client, and this was about her finding her daughter and getting some closure for her past.
“Why not?” she asked. The thumping of her heart roared in her head. “I would think you’d get a lot of cases like this in your line of work.” She didn’t care what his issues were, only why he didn’t want to do her a favor.
Or at the very least, take her money.
“And I always turn them away. It’s nothing personal—”
“Like hell.” She took him by the shoulder and yanked until his body twisted. She caught his gaze and gasped at the judgment staring back at her. “This is very personal to me, and you’re not only saying no— which, okay, you have that right— but you’re also condemning me and my decision, and that’s not fair. You don’t know my history. Or anything about why I might have been completely incapable of raising a child at sixteen.”
He let out a long breath, nodding as if he understood. But he didn’t. How could he? “Please understand, I’m not judging what you did. I do, however, have a problem with what you’re asking me to do.”
“I think you owe me the reason why, at least,” she said under her breath. For years, she’d let her mother pretend that Shannon had never had a baby. She allowed the shame her mother felt to become hers. Not anymore. And she’d be damned if she would let Jackson— or anyone for that matter— make her feel shitty for one of the most difficult decisions she’d ever had to make.
“Do you want the truth?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder, his dark orbs conveying a resolve that could only mask a crushing pain. She saw it every day in the eyes of the patients she treated.
The same look stared back at her every morning.
And today, she could see it cut deep into Jackson’s psychological make-up. Her pulse steadied as she braced herself for his explanation. “I expect nothing less from you,” she said.
“You might not like what I have to say.”
“I don’t like what you’ve said so far, so I don’t think you’re going to make it worse. At least maybe I’ll understand and respect your decision.”
“I don’t think it’s right for birth parents to insert themselves into the lives of the children they gave up. Maybe if it were the other way around, and the child wanted to know… But even then, I’d still decline the case. I’ve seen what it can do to families.”
“But you’ll spy on a woman because her husband thinks she’s cheating.” She smoothed her hands down her slacks. “You’re right. I will,” he said with a steely tone. “I’m not the only private investigator in town. I can recommend someone who will do an excellent job. In the meantime, I’m still happy to check in on your friend.” He downed his coffee in one gulp. “I’ll text you contact information for a buddy of mine. I send him a lot of cases like this. He’s good, and he’ll be discreet. I’m really sorry, but it would be like asking you to perform brain surgery just because you have a PhD. It’s not your specialty.”
She opened her mouth and snapped it shut three times. His specialty was finding people. Said so right on his business card that he’d given her when they first met. She had half a mind to call him on his bullshit, but the sudden screeching of tires spinning on the pavement of the road above caught her attention.
A van nearly missed a vehicle at a standstill at the top of their driveway.
“Stupid place to park a car.” Jackson flipped his mug, tossing the last few drops of the liquid to the grass. “Do you happen to know the owner of that vehicle?”
She stared at a light blue sedan. “I don’t think so.” She shook her head. “But the first cabin on the hill isn’t rented this year, that I know of. Maybe it’s someone looking into it.”
“Third morning in a row that I’ve noticed. But it’s never there before I go to bed at night.”
“Do you think it’s something we should be worried about?” she asked.
“I’m probably being paranoid. I should really get going.” He tipped his hat.
“I’ll see you tonight at nine.”
“I know you’ve got plans with family, so take your time. We can do drinks another night.”
“Are you canceling on me because I had a baby when I was a young girl and gave her up?” She drew her lips into a tight line, breathing in through her nose and exhaling with purpose. It wouldn’t be the first time a man had taken offense to her choice.
Or maybe it was because she’d had sex at such a young age. Imagine if he knew the truth. That would blow his mind into a million tiny pieces.
“It’s not that. I just think with it being the anniversary of your father’s death and being around your family, it might be best if we do it another night.”
“I don’t need you to think for me.” She shoved the mug at his chest. “Thanks for the coffee.” She turned on her heel and stomped into her house, slamming the door.
She didn’t need Jackson to find her daughter.
She didn’t need him to have a drink with her.
Hell, she didn’t need him one damn bit.
Her phone buzzed.
She glanced at her mother’s name flashing across the screen. “Sorry, Mom, I’m not dealing with your drama today.”
Jen Talty. Dark Legacy: The Legacy Series (Kindle Locations 347-351). Jupiter Press.
Now Jackson already has a case open on Belinda and things aren’t lining up with the interviews they’ve done. They’ve managed to talk their client into filing a missing persons report in the hopes it will open more doors.
It’s when Belinda’s found and they find some connections that don’t quite make sense that things get very interesting.
Between her mother, and having a couple patients die, Shannon is feeling out of sorts. On the bright side, Jackson takes her adoption case and they also start a relationship. One that gets pretty steamy quickly.
There’s a lot of twists and turns in this one and I love Jackson and Shannon.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
Coming Soon Legacy of Lies!
Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.