A look. A judgment. A string of words.
Bitter rivals and sworn enemies have been around
since the beginning of time.
But make no mistake, once the spark is ignited
and the fuse is lit,
the fine line between love and hate will go up in flames.
So stand back or cross over,
but be prepared to strap in for the ride.
Seven USA Today and bestselling authors are bringing you the next in the line of Hot Hunks. Enemies to Lovers, where tempers flash, messy situations erupt, and mouths and hands seek each other.
Hot Hunks Steamy Romance Collection Book 3
USA Today Bestselling Author
Lieutenant Tavor Bale knows only one thing: Delta Force. When a dangerous mission goes sideways and Tavor finds himself not only unable to perform his duties, but the Army informs him that his only option to remain in service is in an administrative position. For the first time in his life, he hasn’t a clue what to do. Instead of turning to family and friends, Tavor turns to the bottle, but those who love him won’t tolerate his self-pity and the next thing he knows, he’s at a wellness ranch in upstate New York singing feel-good songs around the campfire wondering how this is going to solve the fact the only thing he’s ever known has been ripped from him.
Paulina Hoover is no stranger to physical and emotional pain. Ten years she’d been in a car accident with her father. He didn’t survive the accident and during the first year following the incident, there were times Paulina wished she hadn’t as well. But now, she owns and operates a ranch dedicated to helping those regain their inner hope and help them find a new path. Only, she’s never met anyone quite like Tavor. His anger, hostility, and self-loathing she can deal with, but what she can’t handle is her growing affection for a man who wants nothing to do with an entirely new world of opportunities. All he sees her as the enemy and he’s determined to prove her methods of self-healing are nothing but smoke and mirrors.
This book opens with a look at the mission that left Tavor wounded. His injuries are such that he won’t be able to return to his Delta team but there are many options for him. He just doesn’t want to hear them. Instead he’s cocooned himself in his home, drinking and making decisions that aren’t really the best for him. One of which is leaving the Army when his current tour is done.
He hasn’t been going to his physical therapy or psychologist appointments which have been mandated. Since he is still considered active duty this is a big problem. His brother Ledger and his sister Serenity show up on his doorstep with an ultimatum. He goes to Jack’s Place for rehabilitation or he leaves the Army with a dishonorable discharge.
Tavor can’t do that to his father, so he reluctantly goes with his siblings to check in.
Pauline Hoover started Jack’s Place because she understands the feelings of loss, of those things held near and dear, of career especially a military one. She’s pretty sure Jack’s Place can help Tavor, but he’s going to have to put the effort into it.
She takes Tavor on a little tour, stopping in the gardens to chat with him.
This is a favorite scene.
A couple of birds flew overhead, landing on the big oak tree in the center of the garden. She sat on the bench, making room from Tavor. When she’d been a little girl, she used to love to come to this small patch in the backyard, hidden by thick brush, tall trees, and beautiful flowers, and lie in the grass, staring at the sky. She would dream about being a fighter pilot and screaming across the sky at twice the speed of sound. Being in the Navy had been all she’d ever wanted or cared about.
She had no secondary plan. She’d never thought about doing anything else, especially going to medical school, but after her accident, she had to change not only the direction of her life, but her entire mindset. It hadn’t been easy, but she did find a career path that had more than fulfilled her heart and soul. Helping others like her had become her calling and she wouldn’t change a thing.
“We always have choices and you can leave, but there are consequences to that decision.”
“A dishonorable discharge isn’t an option.”
“But death is?” Normally, she wouldn’t come in this hot and aggressive, but she could see the bottomless pit into his soul through his empty eyes. He thought, just like his buddy Drake, that his new limitations were so damning that he had nothing to live for.
“You heard me.” For effect, she took off her jacket, something she rarely did in front of people she’d just met. She’d become comfortable with the scars, but she knew how shocking they could be to a complete stranger. She set the article of clothing on the back of the bench.
She’d had a dozen or so skin grafts, but there wasn’t much the doctors could do. The burns on her arms, back, and legs would never go away. While they’d healed and didn’t look so hideous, if she were to go to a beach, people would try not to stare, but they wouldn’t be able to look away.
Tavor’s jaw slacked open. He cleared his throat. “Is that supposed to be some kind of bonding thing?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
“Did you do this with Drake?” Tavor leaned back on the bench, stretching out his legs, crossing them at the ankles.
“Not when I first met him,” she said. “And while I don’t hide what happened to me, or any of my past from the clients here at Jack’s Place, I don’t always open up about it so quickly.”
“Then why are you?”
“Because what I see in you is exactly what I saw in my father right before he died.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.” Tavor tilted his head. “But what does that have to do with me or your burns?”
She traced a finger up one of the more veiny parts of her arm. It was never easy to discuss what happened, but if her story could help him, or anyone, then she was happy to share. “My dad had just picked me up from the airport. It was Christmastime and I had a couple of weeks before I had to return to the Naval Academy.”
“You were in the Navy?” His eyes grew wide.
“Not for very long.” She twirled her hair between her finger and thumb, staring at two chipmunks fighting over an acorn. “I was halfway through my junior year and I had no desire to come home for the holidays. My father and I were at odds. He’d been drinking a lot and he was constantly putting me and my career path down.”
“What do you mean?” Tavor shifted, resting his arm on the back of the bench.
“I wanted to be a fighter pilot and he didn’t think I had what it would take, but it wasn’t really about that. His body was failing him as he’d gotten older and being a rescue swimmer wasn’t something he could do anymore, but it was all he had.”
“That’s a tough job.”
She nodded. “The Navy pulled him from his station and he felt demoralized and he struggled with my success.”
“He was jealous? Of his own child?” Tavor gave her shoulder a slight squeeze.
“His entire world was changing. My mom had died a few years before that from cancer and he was depressed for a variety of reasons. Back then, I had no desire to be a doctor. I was focused on my education and a woman in the seat of a fighter jet isn’t an easy career choice.”
“Nope. I hate to admit it, but being a woman in the military still has its pitfalls, and that’s really too bad.”
“I appreciate that.” She nodded. “Anyway. My dad was stationed in Jacksonville back then. He picked me up at the airport and we immediately got into a fight. He actually told me I should pursue something different and that he would even support me leaving the Academy. I was so angry because my dreams had once been his too and I didn’t understand what was going on with him.” She turned, catching Tavor’s gaze. “He pulled off the highway, heading toward the house he rented in the middle of nowhere. He looked at me and told me that what I was doing wasn’t worth it. Then he pressed his foot on the gas pedal and wrapped his car around a tree at a hundred miles an hour.”
“Jesus. With you in the passenger seat?”
“The next thing I remember was waking up a few weeks later with about forty percent of my body covered in burns. My back and both my legs were broken. All the doctors thought I was lucky to be alive. I didn’t agree with them. I thought my father was the lucky one considering he died instantly.”
“That’s rough.” Tavor ran a hand across his shaven face. “So, that’s why you became a shrink.”
She laughed. “No. I did that for me. I didn’t die for him.” She jutted her chin toward a rock strategically placed to the far right of the gardens. “I made that memorial for him the day I decided ending my life might stop the pain and solve what I thought my problems were, but it wouldn’t prove to my dad, or anyone, that we all have purpose, even when it’s not what we thought.”
“I’m sorry about what happened to you, but I don’t want to die. I just want out of the Army, and then I’ll figure out what’s next.”
“Really?” Feeling a bit too exposed, she slipped on her coat. “Because it seems to me you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
He jumped to his feet. “You don’t know anything about me or my life. Just because your military career never even got started, or you suffered life-altering injuries, doesn’t give us common ground.”
“Maybe not. But your death wish does.”
“I don’t want to die. I wouldn’t do that to my family.” He ran a hand across his head. “And to be totally frank with you, I’m only here to save my father the shame of having a son who left the military with anything but honors. So, I’ll do what you ask of me and I’ll even do it with a smile on my face, but you and me, we’re not friends.” He waved his finger. “I’m truly sorry about what your father did. That’s horrific. But I’m not your father and I’m not Drake. Now, if you don’t mind. I would like to go to my room.”
Jen Talty. Tempting Tavor: Enemies to Loves: Hot Hunks Steamy Romance Collection (Kindle Locations 467-520). Jupiter Press.
While Tavor doesn’t think that chat helped, it certainly has him thinking, as does his first group session.
More surprising is the conversation he overhears while visiting the horses. He really didn’t like Gill, his therapist for group, but what he hears in the discussion with Pauline disturbs him. Gill is harassing Pauline and apparently they were once a couple.
I love the build up in this book, both of Gill’s obsession and the relationship between Pauline and Tavor. We meet all of Tavor’s sibling in this book as well as things come to a head.
Lots of intrigue, revelations and a relationship that sizzles right from the start.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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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.