NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
All he wants is to be left alone
Jake Cogburn lost his leg, his career, his brotherhood and his will to live when he stepped on that IED in Afghanistan. Back in his home state of Colorado, he’s determined to bury himself as deeply as he can in a bottle of Jack Daniels until the pain in his leg and his heart is so numb he can no longer feel.
No man left behind
Hank Patterson refuses to let his buddy, Jake, slowly kill himself with alcohol. Hank’s plan to expand the Brotherhood Protectors into Colorado will only work if he can hire the best men for the job. He wants Jake and sends fellow Coloradan, Kujo, to pull Jake out of an alcohol induced haze and back onto his feet to work for the team. Hank’s contact has a place they can set up operations while flying under the radar—a flailing dude ranch, run by a former Marine Gunnery sergeant and his feisty daughter.
Rucker Tate is as unconventional as the name her father gave her upon her birth. After her mother died when Rucker was only a baby, she was left in the capable hands of her taciturn Marine father to be raised tough and ready to accept any challenge. Including adopting a Military Working Dog with only three legs. Retraining the dog to live in a civilian world is practically a fulltime job. She’s up for it, until she witnesses a meeting she shouldn’t have seen and is thrown into the path of a killer who wants to wipe her memory, by erasing her from existence.
Jake’s first assignment as a Brotherhood Protector is to stick to the rebellious daughter of the owner of a dude ranch and make certain she doesn’t fall victim to the person gunning. Meanwhile, Rucker fights to keep from falling victim to the love blossoming in her heart over the young Navy SEAL who dogs her every footstep. Even her German Shepherd likes the SEAL better than Rucker. And worse…she finds herself falling for the cranky, one-legged frogman. Her challenge is to live long enough to see where these feelings take her.
Hank Patterson knows his friend and former SEAL Jake Cogburn is going through a rough time. He’s not going to lose his friend to alcohol and he has just the plan to help him.
The Brotherhood Protectors are expanding and Hank wants one of the new offices to be in Colorado. He thinks he’s found the perfect place a Lost Valley Ranch is a struggling Dude Ranch run by former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Tate and his daughter Rucker Juliet aka RJ. He enlists Kujo who is from Colorado to entice Jake to accept the position of running the new office.
It takes just a bit of persuation to get Jake to accompany him to the ranch but Kujo managed it just fine with a mention or two of Hank.
Gunny had let his daughter know about the two men coming to possibly rent space on the ranch. She was looking forward to meeting them and understand exactly what kind of business they were looking to run from there. Unfortunately getting cleaned up from chores took longer than she anticipated and she had to work the bar.
When the waitress JoJo startles her she breaks a bottle of Tequila, this leads into my favorite scene as she cleans up.
When she started for the back rooms, Striker rose from where he’d been sleeping on a padded dog bed behind the bar. “No, Striker,” she said. “Stay.”
The Malinois whimpered.
“I’ll be right back.” She didn’t want the dog to cross over the tequila mess and broken glass. His paws could be cut in the process. “Stay,” she repeated and left him behind the bar while she headed for the back rooms.
In the supply closet, she found the broom, dustpan and mop bucket but no mop. Then she remembered she’d left it out on the back porch to dry the night before.
RJ stepped through the rear door and reached for the mop. Darkness had settled over the bar and ranch. The single yellow light glowing over the back porch lit her way. A sound startled her and made her turn toward the large trash container.
A shadowy form shifted back and forth in the darkness. After a second, RJ recognized it as two men in a scuffle. Nothing unusual for a Saturday night in the mountains. But she didn’t want it to reflect badly on the Watering Hole or the Lost Valley Ranch when Gunny was attempting to sell the new guys on renting a quiet place in the country.
Punches flew between them, one guy staggering backward to hit the steel corner of the trash bin with a resounding thud. Then he slid to the ground. The other guy approached him with his arm cocked, his hand balled into a fist. He was going to hit the man while he was obviously down.
“Hey!” RJ called out as she flew off the porch and raced toward the last man standing. “Leave him alone!”
The guy spun and faced her, a ski mask covering his face.
The cold hand of dread clenched around RJ’s chest. This wasn’t a typical barfight. A guy wearing a ski mask had something to hide.
Anger surged through RJ, and she lost her grip on caution. Charging forward, she reached for the man’s ski mask.
Before he could knock her hand away, she sank her fingers into the black knit threads and tugged it free of his head.
At the same time, a fist came out and crashed into her temple, knocking her backward.
RJ lost her balance and fell flat on her back, her hard landing knocking the wind from her lungs.
Shocked by the fall, she couldn’t move for several seconds and could only see the stars swirling around her head.
A dark shadow fell over her, and her attacker reached down, grabbed the ski mask from her hands and slipped it over his head and face. Then he smashed his palm over RJ’s mouth and nose, leaned his body over hers and trapped her arms and legs with his weight.
RJ, already breathless from her fall, couldn’t draw in air. She fought with all her might, but the man was heavier and had the advantage.
Her vision, already compromised by her fall, blurred further, the gray turning to black around the edges until her strength waned and fight seeped out of her limbs. With no air to recharge her brain and muscles, she went limp, fading into a black abyss.
Suddenly, the weight jerked off her.
In the darkness, as if from far away, she heard scuffling and several thumping sounds and grunts.
RJ could do nothing. Her hearing seemed to return, but she wasn’t really there. It was as if she’d left her body and hovered over the scene in a haze of gloom.
Footsteps crunched in the gravel, and someone was speaking.
“Hey, lady,” a deep resonant voice called out as if at the end of a long tunnel.
RJ couldn’t answer, couldn’t move, couldn’t open her eyes.
Then something soft and warm covered her lips. Fuzz tickled the skin on her cheek. If she could feel that, she wasn’t dead, was she?
Air filled her mouth and pushed down her throat into her lungs. It left as quickly as it came but more followed. Two, three, four times, air pushed into her.
The haze of darkness drifted away. Soft, yellow light peeked between her eyelids.
People were talking. A little closer this time.
“What the hell?” a man’s familiar voice sounded near her. “RJ? RJ, baby?”
Gunny. She thought she spoke it, but no sound came from her mouth. Her lips were still covered, and air was being forced into her lungs.
As the fog cleared in her mind, her body took over. Tingling began in her fingers and toes and spread up her arms and legs. Then her lungs engaged, and she gasped.
“There you are,” that deep resonant voice sounded, warm breath feathering across her cheek.
RJ’s eyes fluttered open, and she stared up at the dark silhouette of a man with a heavy beard and dark eyes.
“RJ? Oh, baby, are you okay?” her father called out.
“I…think…so,” she said, suddenly aware of hands on her arms. Warm, large hands.
When she tried to sit up, those hands held her back. “Lie still. We don’t know if you have other injuries we can’t see.”
“Injuries?” RJ said, her mind returning function but not with memories intact. “Why….what…?” She stared at the man holding her arms. “Who are you?”
“Jake,” he said. “And you are?”
“Rucker Juliet Tate,” she whispered automatically. “You can call me RJ.”
He gave her a hint of a smile. “RJ. Nice to meet you.” Then he turned to address someone nearby. “Kujo, did you check the other guy?”
Another unfamiliar voice answered. “Too late for him. He’s dead.”
Gunny’s face appeared beside Jake’s. “Thank goodness you were here, or my baby girl would be the same.” His hand touched Jake’s shoulder as he stared into RJ’s eyes. “What happened?”
RJ lay on the hard ground, gravel digging into her back, and shook her head. “I’m not sure.”
“I just put in a call to 911,” the other man said. “An ambulance is on its way.”
RJ moved her arms and legs, one by one, checking for any abnormalities. When she found none, she tried again to sit up.
Jake’s hands held her down. “You could have a spinal injury. Moving could make it worse.”
She frowned. “Let me up. I’m okay. I don’t need an ambulance.” She reached up and shoved his hands aside.
Jake pushed to his feet, favoring one leg. He swayed a bit before he straightened and held out a hand to her. “If you’re sure…”
She didn’t want to accept his help, but still didn’t feel completely in control of her own body. Laying her hand in his, she let him help her to her feet.
Jake pulled with enough force, she came off the ground and pitched forward into his chest.
His arms rose around her, his hands finding her hips, steadying her against him.
He took an awkward step backward, again, favoring his left leg.
RJ stood with her hands pressed to his chest, feeling the hard muscles beneath her fingertips, glad for his strength when she felt like a bowl of limp noodles.
Since he and his friend were with Gunny, they had to be the men who’d come to check out Lost Valley Ranch as a potential business location.
And she’d just made a great first impression by failing to keep a customer alive and getting knocked out herself.
Not that he was a stellar representative of a businessman. He wore a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, and his hair needed to be cut and his beard trimmed.
All that didn’t matter. The man had saved her life. Her lips tingled from where his had been, forcing air into her lungs.
She looked past the thick beard, the unkempt hair and the rocker T-shirt, up into Jake’s dark eyes. They held shadows of their own. Shadows that made RJ wonder at their cause.
She shook herself, bringing her mind back to what really mattered. She owed this man her life. “Thank you for saving me.”
James, Elle. SEAL SALVATION (Brotherhood Protectors Colorado Book 1). Kindle Locations (420-483). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
With RJ attacked the possibility she could be a target comes to the fore. Of course she wants no part of a bodyguard but both Jake and her father insist on it.
I also love her retired MWD a three-legged Belgian Malinois named Striker, so protective and loving. He also finds a kinship with Jake which I thought was cute.
There’s plenty of suspense as Kujo and Jake try to figure out why the real estate agent was murdered especially since it occurred where the new office of the Brotherhood Protectors would be.
Jake finds himself in this book as he protects RJ, of course he didn’t expect to fall for RJ in the process.
With suspense, action, and a simmer to sizzle relationship, I couldn’t put this book down.
I really need to catch up on this series now.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!
Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.