The world is no longer a safe place,
especially for women.
For several decades, the birth rate of females has been declining.
Militants, the government,
and private citizens alike will do anything
to find young women and force them
into unthinkable arrangements.
The Wanderers are a secret
underground society, born to provide
sanctuary for anyone who believes in
free will and democratic notions.
They have grown in numbers for many years
and have several compounds where
their citizens live in safety.
USA Today Bestselling Author
After living off the grid for all of her twenty-one years, Layla’s life has been uprooted after the murder of her parents. On the run with her nineteen-year-old sister, she’s hungry, scared, and running out of time. At her lowest moment of despair, she finally finds someone who can take them to The Wanderers.
Layla knows how to take care of herself. She can fight. She can forage for food. She has bad-ass survival skills. But she has never been this close to anyone outside of her immediate family, especially men. So many men. She’s aware of society’s inclination towards living with multiple partners, but is she ready to enter into a polyamorous relationship herself?
Jay, Gatlin, Ledger, and Nile have been living as a family unit with The Wanderers for years. When Layla shows up, they practically trip over one another in an effort to woo her. She’s young and sweet and kind and all that is good in the world. Pressuring her to choose them is strictly forbidden of course. They must be patient.
When Layla goes missing, her men will do anything to find her before she falls into the wrong hands. Losing her is not an option. They just got her. But is she really theirs?
This book opens in a not very pleasant present, as Layla and Ariel are running to avoid detection. Twenty years ago their parents Greg and Abby had been urged off the grid by their beat friend and midwife Julie Imes. At the time Abby was pregnant with Layla and in spite of her initial fears, she knew her best friend and her husband were right. They needed to leave without a trace. As botanists they could survive anywhere, they owned property way off the grid and had sort of planned for this. They raised their girls to be self-sufficient, they could protect and feed themselves and that’s what they’ve been doing since they were forced to leave their home. They’ve never been to a city and all they know is that they have to avoid capture and find their mother’s friend Julie. It’s Maya who find them and brings them to an outpost to wait for transport to the compound where they’d find Julie.
This is where Layla becomes very aware of the man protecting them until that time, Jay. After showering and getting her sister settled to rest, Layla goes back up to the cabin to explore a bit and get to know the man who has awakened something more than just curiosity.
This is just one of my favorite scenes.
Jay’s thumb stroked her hip, and she wondered if he realized it as he kept speaking. “The militant groups are worse than the Republic. They snatch women right off the streets, hold them against their will, and treat them worse than second-class citizens.”
Layla swallowed. “I suspect my parents chose to tone down their descriptions a bit, but I’ve always understood the gist. Are there other groups in this fight too?”
“Yes. Religious zealots, outlaws, and even the wealthy. In the end, it’s best to avoid all of them. Other people are living under the radar, other groups like ours who would like to preserve equal rights, but they don’t have the numbers we have, and they tend to eventually get caught.”
“What happens to them?”
Jay stared at her. “You really want to hear all this?”
“Yes. Don’t pamper me. Information is power. I may have holes in my knowledge, but if I don’t fill them, I’ll just be in more danger.”
He surprised her when he leaned closer and set his lips on her forehead, holding them there for several seconds before drawing back with a sigh. “You’re right. I hate it, hate that there’s a pure innocence about you that’s about to get destroyed, but you need to know everything.”
She nodded, breathing rapidly. The feel of his lips on her forehead lingered. “I know I seem innocent, and in many ways I am, but I’m capable of taking care of myself. I’m trained in self-defense, I know every single plant that can be eaten, and I could survive off the land for the rest of my life if I needed to. Please, Jay, fill in the holes.”
He smiled at her, staring into her eyes as if he could see things even she was unaware of. “Okay,” he whispered. He drew in a breath. “I won’t sugarcoat it. The Wanderers are very careful to remain hidden. We do everything we can to protect the women in our society. We have strength in numbers. Some other groups do not. When a group is found, the males are usually killed on the spot, and the women are brought to wherever the militants’ headquarters are.”
Layla winced, but she’d suspected as much.
“No matter who captures them, they’re considered in defiance of the law— be that the actual law under the Republic or the complete lawlessness of the militants. Either way, women are a commodity. Sold. Traded. Raped. Bred against their will. There is no easy way to say it.”
Layla fought hard to avoid reacting to the hard reality. He hadn’t said anything she hadn’t already suspected, but hearing it out loud from someone who had more up-to-date information than her parents was hard to swallow.
She cleared her throat. “So The Wanderers are a society that maintains equal rights…”
“But there are still far too many men and not enough women.” “Yes.” He bit into his bottom lip as he watched her as if waiting for her to draw her own conclusions.
She wanted verbal confirmation though. “Do your men… share?”
He inhaled slowly and tipped his head back to stare at the overhang as if it pained him to answer her. When he lowered his gaze to hers, he nodded. “Usually. Not mandatory. Nothing is mandatory among my people. We have free will, but it is growing increasingly customary for polyamorous relationships to form. Family units with several men and one woman.”
She searched his gaze again, wondering what he was thinking and why he’d hesitated. “Do you belong to a family unit like that?”
He shook his head, seeming to pull himself together. “Not at the moment.” He drew in a breath. “Let me rephrase that. I do live in a family unit with three other men. We do not have a woman living with us.”
She stared at him. “Because you don’t want one?”
He licked his lips. “We just haven’t met the right woman yet.”
“Oh.” For some reason, she was relieved to know that. She wasn’t even sure what part. That he wasn’t married? That he didn’t currently have a woman? That he’d made a point of telling her?
She most definitely shouldn’t care one way or the other. He lived with three other men. That meant any relationship with him would not be one-on-one. She wasn’t sure how long it might be before she would be ready to enter into any kind of relationship even with one man. But four?
She reached for his face, cupping his cheek, feeling the warmth of his skin against her palm. “You’re a good man, aren’t you?”
He chuckled. “How many men have you met?” She scrunched up her nose before answering. “Just one.”
“Uh-huh,” she admitted.
He groaned as he pulled her closer, flattening her against his chest again. His huge hand splayed on her back. “I should make you go inside, head down to the bunker,” he murmured with no conviction.
“But you won’t,” she pointed out as she flattened her hand on his abs. She tipped her head back again. “Please. Let me stay. I like being in your arms.” She was playing with fire.
“The guys are going to kill me when they get here,” he muttered under his breath.
“The ones you mentioned to Maya? Why?”
Jay slid a hand to her hair and stroked through the locks, tucking it behind her ear. “Every inch of you is soft, even your hair,” he whispered.
She enjoyed the way he threaded his fingers in her drying locks, but she tipped her head back again anyway. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Jay sighed. “The three men coming tonight are my partners. Mile, Ledger, and Gatlin.” He stopped talking.
“Why will they be mad?”
“Perhaps mad isn’t the right word. Jealous might be more accurate. Jealous that I got to spend the day with a beautiful woman who didn’t mind being held while they were traveling.”
She slowly grinned. “I think I’m flattered.” She shrugged. “So, you usually share women and they aren’t here.”
“Yeah. That must sound ridiculous to you.”
She shook her head. “No. I may not know much about the current norms, but I’m not a prude. I’m not judgmental. My parents ensured the two of us were open-minded.”
“That may be, but if they left society over two decades ago, I’m sure they hadn’t seen many polyamorous arrangements yet.”
“True, but we weren’t so isolated that I had no clue. It doesn’t take a botanist to figure out that women would eventually live in multiple arrangements.”
He chuckled. “A botanist?”
She shrugged. “My parents used to say that. They told us the original phrase was rocket scientist.”
Jay continued to laugh.
Bold and curious and very attracted to Jay, Layla decided to take a huge leap. “How mad would your partners be if I also kissed you?”
He stiffened, his eyes going wide.
She winced, shoving away from him to put some space between them, her gaze jerking to a spot on the porch, mortified to have said that out loud. “Sorry. That was…”
He grabbed her before she could pull out of reach, hauling her back closer and tipping her chin up with one of his fingers. “Don’t be sorry. You just caught me off-guard.”
Becca Jameson. Sanctuary: The Wanderers, Book One (Kindle Locations 427-485). Becca Jameson Publishing.
Jay and his partners, Mile, Ledger, and Gatlin are the ones to escort them to the compound. For Layla though it was getting to know the rest of Jay’s family unit.
There are many things for Layla and Ariel to adjust to and learn, but they rise to the task.
So many dangers in the world around them, there is action, suspense, romance and sizzle in this first of series. I hope there isn’t much of a wait for the next one.
5 Contented Purrs for Becca!
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Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 100 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters Series, her Fight Club series, and her Club Zodiac series. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and Goldendoodle. Two grown kids pop in every once in a while too! She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.
During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, running errands, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!
…where Alphas dominate…