A Hero For Her – Baytown Heroes Book 3 by Maryann Jordan


A Hero For Her
Baytown Heroes Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Maryann Jordan

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The first time they met, they didn’t like each other.

The second time they met, they vowed to stay away from each other.

The third time they met…

Sometimes, the third time is the charm.

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Jared Dobson loves being on the water, his job with the Virgina Marine Police means he’s out there on patrols every day. He was recently able to purchase a fixer-upper on the water and has been working on the renovations. Now that he can actually live in the house he’s looking to rent the small efficiency apartment over the garage. He’s happy to get a call from the realtor there’s someone interested. The rent will help him get more done on the house.

On patrol the next day they spot a tent and a small boat on a small island. Camping isn’t allowed there but they couldn’t find the person so they continued their patrol until a call comes in.

An overturned rental boat left four men in the water to be rescued. The boat was rented from George Mooney, who’s had multiple problems with his rentals lately. He’s belligerent about it especially when the Sheriff comes to shut his business down. Jared gets sucker punched and really isn’t happy about it, even getting back on the water isn’t calming him. It’s while he’s in this state of mind that they meet up with the camper. It’s quite the confrontation, as Jared behaves like an idiot and she’s giving it right back to him.

Wilhelmina Schmidt works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is collecting samples from the Chesapeake Bay and for analysis. Now while she could have said that at the beginning, she was in just the right mood not to.

Jared’s in for an even bigger surprise that weekend as he breaks it off with the woman who agreed to be an occasional hookup. His new tenant witnesses the spectacle the woman makes and low and behold it’s Wilhelmina aka Billie.

These two are attracted to one another, but neither one is willing to make a move, in fact Billie does her best to avoid him. Although she does tend to find herself sort of running into him.

That all changes when Jared falls off a ladder while in the process of changing out a light fixture.

This is a favorite scene.

After positioning the ladder under the light in the dining room, he glanced back at Daisy, easily seeing her with the kitchen door open. He also noticed that he could see the garage apartment window from where he was. Hell, does everything make me think about my tenant?

Climbing up, he was determined to keep his mind on the task at hand, which was changing the light fixture. The one in place when he’d bought the house was an old rectangle fluorescent light, matching the one in the kitchen. They were ugly as hell and gave off glaring illumination. He’d already had an electrician install recessed lighting in the kitchen, but now he was ready to replace the one over the space where he’d have a dining table. Once I purchase a dining table, that is.

He managed to get one side of the light unfastened with little problem, but as with most household projects that always seemed to take more effort than it looked like it should, the other end was stuck. Refusing to climb back down the ladder, he was sure that if he leaned over just enough to reach the caught end, he could pull it the rest of the way down.

Stretching out his arm, he grasped the metal that had been painted over at one time. Pulling with force, he found the edge was firmly stuck. Finally jerking as hard as he could, the metal gave way, but he realized too late that the ladder was tipping. The light fixture dropped to the floor with a clatter, and he barely had time to throw his hand out before he landed on his shoulder with his head smacking against the wood floor.

“Shit,” he moaned as a blinding pain shot through his head as well as his shoulder. Daisy raced inside, incessantly barking as she ran circles around him lying on the floor. Her barks echoed in his head as he tried to push himself upward, immediately falling back down. Drops of blood appeared on the floor. He lifted his hand and swiped at his face, cursing again as his fingers came away covered in red.

“Daisy, shhhh,” he whispered, trying to push up again.

“Hang on! Stay still.” T

he female voice cut through the barking and the pain in his head. He tried to push upward again, now feeling hands on his arms.

“Oh shit, you’re bleeding.”

Woozy, he blinked at the sight of two women in front of him, mirror images of each other. “Billie?”

“Yeah, I have you.”

He felt hands move over his torso. “Why’re there two of you?” he slurred, wondering why two white-blonde Billies kept swimming across his vision.

“Jesus, sit still.”

Her voice was farther away, but he couldn’t see where she went with Daisy pushing her way onto his legs as he lay on the floor.

“Move, Daisy,” she ordered, reappearing.

A cloth was held against his head, and he winced. “How did you know I fell?”

“I could see you from the top of my stairs.”

Her reply made sense, but amid the pain, the fact that she must have been watching him to get over to his place so quickly made him smile.

“What the hell are you smiling about?” she asked with suspicion.

With one eye covered by the cloth pressed to his forehead, he could ascertain there was only one of her now. “You. You make me smile,” he admitted, throwing a wobbly smile her way.

“You look like a drunken sailor with a sloppy grin.” She pulled the towel away and shook her head. “Jared, this isn’t too bad, but I think you need stitches. Plus, you may have a concussion. Do you hurt anywhere else?”

“My shoulder. I landed on it.”

“I need to get you to the hospital.”

“No. I don’t want to go to the hospital. It’s just a stupid cut—”

“Well, we don’t always get what we want, do we?” she snapped. “Come on. Let’s get you up. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

He wanted to protest, but with her hands on him, the words couldn’t seem to form in his head, much less come out of his mouth. She gently pulled him upward, but his legs felt like Jell-O, and he slumped onto her. Hearing an “oomph,” he managed a mumbled, “Sorry,” as her body wavered underneath his weight.

Barely aware of what she was doing, they somehow managed to get out to her car, where she unceremoniously poured him into the passenger seat. He tried to wipe the blood away from his forehead, but the towel was turning red, so he kept the pressure applied. She was gone for a moment, then he felt the car wobble slightly as she climbed behind the wheel.

“I put Daisy inside and closed your door. I grabbed your phone, keys, and wallet from the kitchen counter.”

He was still processing what she said about Daisy when a soft touch landed on his arm, and he rolled his head to the side to see a worried crease marring her forehead. He gave voice to the first thing that popped into his mind. “You’re so pretty.”

An indelicate snort erupted as she turned away to start her car. “Okay, Romeo, just concentrate on your face for now.”

Her melodious voice made him smile. “I like listening to you.”

“Well, that’s a first for us,” she replied.

“Oh.” He hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud. She was soon on the highway, and he closed his eyes, knowing it would take almost forty minutes to make the drive.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to sleep if you have a concussion,” she said. “Talk to me.”

“Huh?”

“Talk to me. Jeez, I’ve seen you talk to others, so I know you can do it. Just pretend that you don’t hate me and talk.”

“I don’t hate you,” he muttered. “I wanted to apo… apolo… I wanted to say I was sorry.”

She glanced toward him, and he tried to smile again, thinking it might make her more amenable to his words.

“Apologize?” she asked before turning her focus back to the road.

Feeling the loss of her attention, he kept going. “Yeah, I was an ass. I’m never an ass. Well, unless I have to be. You know, like if I was in a need-to-be-an-ass need-to-be-an-ass sort of situation.” She snorted, but he pushed through. “No, really. I’m not an ass. Well, I was with you. Twice. But I didn’t mean to be.”

She remained quiet, and he continued. “But you were kind of assy, too.”

“Oh really? Please tell me how I was assy?” She made a sound close to a chuckle, so he was encouraged.

“You were all snobby about your name and then about the bay. I don’t know. I was assy. You were assy. We were both assy.”

“Christ, how hard did you hit your head?” she bit out, shaking her head.

“Hard…” he breathed, closing his eyes. He’d apologized and now just wanted to rest. He had no idea how much time had passed, but it felt like he’d barely closed his eyes when she shook his knee gently.

“We’re here, Jared. You need to wake up.” She pulled into an ER parking space, where someone pushing a wheelchair met them. She shoved his wallet into his hand before he was whisked away while she drove off. He sighed heavily, hating that she was leaving him. She’s probably got better things to do than hang out with me.

“No, man, she’s just parking her car in a regular lot,” the aide said as they wheeled him into the ER.
Maryann Jordan. A Hero for Her – Maryann Jordan (Kindle Locations 910-968). Kindle Edition.

Things change between these two as Billie takes it upon herself to check on him through the night for concussion.

Then the tables get turned and he cares for her when she gets sick.

There’s so much more going on here as well, the readings she’d been getting are high around the farms and she’s wishing she had her predecessor’s notes and readings. With her illness things fall behind and when she returns to collecting she finds quite the surprise and not a pleasant one.

I certainly didn’t see any of this coming, and I loved the way the relationship between Jared and Billie slowly progresses throughout.

I have to go back and catch up on this series since I loved this book so much!

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!

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Maryann Jordan

I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).

I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.

I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.

I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!


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Marine Protector – Triple C Ranch Book 3: Brotherhood Protectors World by Debra Parmley


Marine Protector
Triple C Ranch Book 3
Brotherhood Protectors World
By
Debra Parmley

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Phoebe “Red” Adams swore she was never going to join any kind of group again. And the tattoo on her skin and under her skin, which read “property of Z”, had to go. At the Three C’s ranch, she was determined to learn how to fight hard and how to step into a new life. She’d go to the required classes and otherwise keep to herself. The last thing she was looking for was a new man. She was too busy hiding from her violent ex and his motorcycle club, for if Z found her; she knew he would kill her.

Sergeant Tim “Timbers” Watson USMC opted not to re-enlist in order to stay home when he learned his dad had six months to live. After his father’s death, when an offer came in from the Brotherhood Protectors, he stepped up. Providing security would be a breeze compared to his time in Iraq.

Little did she know that when she met Timbers, her walls would start coming down. He wasn’t put off by Red’s attitude or the walls she’d put up. He’d take those logs down slowly and show her the difference between her controlling, violent ex and this Marine who fought for his country and his women to be independent.

As I read this book, I regret not reading these all in order. Everything makes so much more sense now.

In ‘Defensive Instructor’ we met Red and this is her story.

Phoebe ‘Red’ Adams is grateful to have been accepted to the program at the Triple C Ranch. She’s also afraid that somehow Z would find her. She’s also a loner, street wise and finds herself a bit annoyed at the group activities, and the slowness of the self-defense classes.

It’s during those classes that Tim ”Timbers” Watson notices her. He’s assisting Barrett with the classes and finds Red to be amusing. I did love the interaction between Red and Chyna while a bit rough it does inspire Chyna to do better.

Barrett also uses Red to prove a point about situational awareness with regard to distance.

Red notices Timber watching her and even though she’s attracted as well, she’s not thinking in terms of starting any sort of relationship with anyone. She got away from Z, now she just has to stay far from where he is.

The chance for these two to get to know each other better comes when Red’s appointment at a tattoo shop comes up. She’s getting the tattoo of ‘Property of Z’ redesigned. Red finds herself telling Timber the circumstances under which she fled the MC and he has her draw the MC patch for him to share with the other Brotherhood Protectors. MC’s have their own network so she might not be as save as she seems.

This is a favorite scene.

At the tattoo parlor, Timbers checked the perimeter then escorted her in. With her drawing of the MC’s patch folded in his pocket, he was ready to show the guys, but as of right now, he was the only one who knew to watch for them. Despite what the counselors had told Red, there was always a chance this guy would find her.

Property of. Some guys took that kind of shit seriously. And it all boiled down to how bad Z wanted her back.

Timbers was taking no chances.

Z could put other clubs onto finding Red if he wanted her bad enough. It might be hard to tell which clubs were looking.

Before she sat down in the chair, she unfastened her pants and dropped them. Timbers drank in the sight of her standing in a loose t-shirt and black bikini panties. The tattoo was in black against her left hip.

The tattoo artist said, “This one is gonna hurt.”

“Dead would hurt a whole lot worse,” she said, her voice even.

Timbers could have corrected her. There were things that hurt a whole lot worse than death. Especially if Z got hold of her again and wanted to torture her, to cause pain. He sounded like the kind of guy who would.

Watching her, Timbers tried to stay professional and not get aroused by the sight of her, but the actions of dropping her pants and then bending to step out of them, leaving her in nothing but little black panties covering that round ass, and those long legs that could wrap around a man had him rock hard. He shifted and tried to get his mind on something other than sliding those panties off and sliding into her.

Hell. I’m supposed to be her protector, not be distracted by thoughts of fucking her.

He walked to the front door to keep watch and redirected his thoughts to Z and the gang, running through possible scenarios in the event any of them showed up. Seeing no sign of a threat, he removed the paper she’d drawn on. He strode to a counter, unfolded the picture and pressed it out flat. Then, using his phone, he took a picture of it.

Technology was great. He’d have this to all the guys in a matter of minutes.

An hour into the tattoo, the artist stopped and peered closely at Red. “Do you need a break?”

“No, don’t stop. Keep going.”

The artist reached behind him, and then handed her a cherry lollipop with a chocolate chewy center. “Here.”

“What’s this for?”

“Suck on it. It’ll put sugar in your system. You look like you’re about to pass out.”

“I wasn’t,” she bit out, her chin rising.

The artist raised an eyebrow. “Your eyes rolled back in your head, I could see it in the mirror. That’s why I stopped.”

“I’m fine. Can we just get on with it?”

“Sure.”

She closed her pretty green eyes, wrapped her mouth around that lollipop and the artist started again.

Badass. That’s what she is. With a high tolerance for pain. Maybe she likes it. Some women did. Which type is she? The kind who toughs it out to prove herself, or the kind who gets off on it? Lots of bikers and their women are into S& M.

Timbers moved toward the front windows again, away from the sight of her sucking on that lollipop with her eyes closed and looked out. Just the normal traffic on the street, no motorcycles or cars full of men headed toward the shop.

Hours later, when Red looked down at the finished tattoo, the black Z was now the body of a phoenix-like creature, rising out of the ocean, its body black and rising, behind it a red and gold fire masking “Property of” in such a skillful way the original tattoo was gone.

Thank God it’s gone. Gone forever.
Debra Parmley. Marine Protector – Debra Parmley (Kindle Locations 875-908). Kindle Edition.

Timbers and Red both get in trouble for her drinking at dinner out. The rules changed to be clearer.

We also see the confrontation with Chyna’s ex from Red’s POV, she thought it was Z coming for her.

In this book Red completes the program and has a job at Give a Whistle a bar nearby. She’s happy to be close to Timbers so they can explore a relationship.

Things heat up rather quickly in more ways than one and I couldn’t put this book down.

5 Contented Purrs for Debra!

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Debra Parmley

Debra Parmley writes military romantic suspense, contemporary romance, western historical romance, holiday romance, fairy tale romance, and 1920’s romance. She has 28 romance books out. She also writes fantasy, young adult, and children’s books as Debra Bishop. A Gemini, she thrives on writing more than one genre.

She lives in a motorhome full-time with her husband as they travel the U.S. and shares her adventures on her Beautiful Day Traveler blog. Debra has sold travel, walked the plank of a pirate ship off the coast of Grand Cayman, swum with dolphins in Moorea, and set foot in 13 countries. Debra is the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis which raises funds for the local domestic abuse shelter. She was the host of Book Lights on Blog Talk Radio and interviews cover models on Cover Model Corner. Debra believes that “Every day we are alive is a beautiful day. “

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Fighting For Kora – Team Falco Book 4: Brotherhood Protectors World


Fighting For Kora
Team Falco Book 4
Brotherhood Protectors World
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dianna L. Rowley

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Hired by the Brotherhood Protection Agency to protect Kora Garrison at all costs, Seth Falco took the job with less enthusiasm when he realized who he was to protect. He believed the women was his father’s former lover, and because of his own feelings toward her, it was hard to get into the groove of being Kora’s protector.

Kora Garrison had been out of work for several months, and with a renewed sense of purpose, she was at the top of her game when she returned. It took only a few hours to realize that someone was out to get her, and when she learned that Seth Falco was to protect her, she agreed, but withheld her judgement in his abilities to do the job.

Whenever something happened to Kora, Seth wasn’t there, and he began to doubt his own abilities as a protector. The only way to keep her safe, was to have her with him all the time. Would that work? Or would Kora’s stalker continue to thwart him at every turn to hurt Kora? Was the stalker’s revenge against Kora too much for Seth?

Seth is the next of his siblings to get assignment from the Brotherhood Protectors. A letter that arrived around the time of the fire set to cover up Esme’s father’s murder is a threat to another firefighter.

Kora Garrison is both nervous and excited to get back to work. She has all the necessary paperwork and just has to pass the fitness physical to start her shift. Fortunately, they have set up a challenge for today so everyone can be recertified.

Seth is in charge of that with others watching during his and his brother’s tests. Before they get to announce the final results, they get called out to a wildfire. It’s after that things radically change for Kora.

Seth learns the truth about Kora’s relationship with his father after he gets slapped for a comment he makes, not that he deserved said explanation. However, Kora does finally agree to move into his house for protection.

Mistakes are made and things happen that make Kora even more confused about why she’s being targeted.

This is a favorite scene.

“We have time, I was going to suggest this before you stormed out this morning, but do you want to swing by and feed the cats?”

“Can we?” Kora’s entire face lit with hope, and Seth couldn’t resist her expression, nor her, so he leaned in and gently kissed her.

“Yes,” he said against her lips as they broke apart. “Let me tell the others we’ll break off and go to your apartment. We should be about ten minutes behind them.” Kora nodded and settled back behind the wheel of her truck and watched Seth as he walked up to each of his brothers and told them what they would be doing. As he walked by her, he leaned in, kissed her again, then headed to his own truck. In two minutes, they convoyed the rest of the way into town, and Kora broke off to go to her apartment, with Seth close on her heels. She didn’t know if she was grateful or not when Trent drove around and tooted the horn when he gave them the thumbs-up sign that it was clear of any unwanted visitors. Kora parked in her usual spot, hopped out, and waited for Seth as he parked beside her. When she said it was okay to park there, he looked around before joining her, then together they went into the building.

“Why the stairs?” Seth asked as he stood outside her apartment door and waited for her to use her key. He looked down then grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the door.

“What the hell?”

“Someone broke in,” he said as he pulled his phone, then pointed to the doorknob.

“Son of a bitch,” Kora sighed, and stayed back to listen to Seth talk to dispatch about the break-in. He hung up and looked at her. “Call Troy and tell him we’ll be a few minutes late.” She nodded and did as instructed. They only had ten minutes to wait before they turned and saw Sparrow and two other officers step off the elevator. They only stepped back and pointed to the door, but Kora held out her keys to the other woman and shrugged.

“I don’t know whether you’ll need these or not, but I do remember locking it the day of my attack, because I was going directly to the station after I fed the cats. That’s why I’m here now.”

“Okay, stand back,” Sparrow said as she pulled her gun, then nodded to the two other officers. Seth and Kora watched as she used her foot and Kora gripped Seth’s hand so hard that he winced when the door swung open. They exchanged worried looks and waited as the deputies disappeared into the apartment. Ten minutes later Sparrow came to the door.

“Don’t touch anything, but come in and tell me if anything is missing.” She stepped back and Kora stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the destruction of her apartment. All the cushions on the living room furniture were cut, the stuffing was all over the living room. With Seth at her back, they continued toward the kitchen. The cupboard doors were open, some ripped off their hinges, and all her food was thrown about, even the food in the refrigerator, or what little was left.

Walking down the hall, toward the bedroom, she paused in the hall and only looked into the bathroom. It seemed like all her shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and body washes were smeared over the walls and floor. She looked at the mirror and stared in horror when she saw the words written on the mirror, “You’re a dead bitch!”

In the bedroom she saw her clothes strewn about, both what she’d kept in the drawers and the closets. The bed and bedding were in tatters, and so were the clothes. She stared back at Seth in shock. “Why is he after me? I don’t even know who the fuck this guy is.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it,” Sparrow said as she laid her hand over her forearm. “I’ve called for the forensic team to come in and see if they can recover prints. When you get off work, come to the station for elimination of your own.”

“You’ll want mine too,” Seth said. “I was here to help Kora pack a bag before going to my place.”

“Okay, but it’ll take time, come in after your shift.”

“Thanks, Sparrow.” Kora looked around, then asked, “Can I see if he did any damage to the cat food?”

“Would you even trust it if it isn’t damaged?” she asked and Kora sighed heavily.

“No, I guess I wouldn’t. I’m going to go out and see the cats, then I’ll leave to go to the station.”

“Okay, again, I’ll find you if I need anything from you.”

They nodded and Seth, with his jaw clamped tight, escorted her out of the apartment, down to the back alley, and watched as she shook his supporting hand off and began to pace. He let her have her anger, and looked around.

“What the fuck is that?” he asked in shock and pointed. Kora whipped around to see what he was talking about, and followed his finger. She laughed and quickly bent down to one knee to hold out her hand.

“This is the cat I’ve been feeding.” She looked up at him with a grin and stared in shocked surprise when the cat came right up to her and began rubbing itself all over her. It had been months that she had been trying to get him to come to her, now it was like he didn’t want to leave her. She was able to pet him, then she stood, and told the cat goodbye. It wasn’t good enough for the cat because he followed her and actually jumped into her truck when she opened the door.

“Guess it’s going to the station with us,” Seth said with a chuckle. “Hey, if he, she, it wants to protect you, who are we to deny it? We’ll deal with Troy once we get there. You go directly to the station, I’ll stop by and get some supplies. We really need to clock in, so the others can leave from their shift.”

“Thanks Seth,” Kora leaned up on her toes and kissed him, then climbed into the front of her truck. She didn’t know why she said it, but she turned to the cat, and said, “He’s the good guy, you can trust him.” She giggled when the cat put its paws on the back of the seat, stood on his hind legs and stared at Seth as they left the apartment building.
Rowley, Deanna L.; Protectors World, Brotherhood. Fighting for Kora: Brotherhood Protectors World (Team Falco Book 4). Kindle Locations (1773-1815). Twisted Page Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.

While the relationship between Kora and Seth seemed unlikely at the start, as they get to know each other things do heat up between them.

I couldn’t put this book down, every page added something to the investigation and there are plenty of twists.

5 Contented Purrs for Deanna!

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From a young age, Deanna has always had her nose in a book. At times she’d be reading three or four at once. She has also been known to read while riding on the back of a motorcycle. Turning her love of reading into writing has been an exciting journey for her. One she hopes will last for a long, long time.

If Deanna isn’t reading, she can be found snuggling with her two feline fur-babies. She can also be found making quilts, baking, or spending time with her grandchildren. She’s pretty much in her writing cave most of the year.

From late spring to early fall, once the snow has melted, and the rains have stopped, Deanna and her boyfriend of twelve years can be found at the local dirt track watching her favorite drivers win their races.

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Fighting for Tessa – Team Falco Book 3: Brotherhood Protectors World by Stacy Wilk


Fighting for Tessa
Team Falco Book 3
Brotherhood Protectors World
By
Stacey Wilk

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Tessa Callahan, a professional violinist, ran away to avoid the consequences of her bad decision. Except even the beautiful Colorado Rockies can’t mend the pieces of her broken heart. It’s going to take so much more…

Heath Falco, a wildland firefighter and new bodyguard, has loved only one woman. He destroyed any chance of a life with her. When he’s asked to save Tessa from a wildfire, of course he goes and with no illusions that things between them will change.

Tessa and Heath are forced to escape the deadly blaze on foot with the fire in fast pursuit, promising to devour everything in its path. But the fire isn’t their only enemy. The mountain and its inhabitants don’t play fair with anyone, including Heath—the extreme outdoorsman. They are alone against the elements and in desperate need of assistance. Only, no one is coming to help.

Tessa and Heath must put their tattered past behind them and work together to survive. Or lose it all to the fire.

For six months Tessa has been living in a cabin at the top of Gray Peak trying to forget or at least come to terms with losing Heath Falco, the love of her life. The thing is she didn’t know at the time that’s what he was. She’s been giving violin lessons and when we meet her a woman has come with her daughter to see if Tessa would teach her. Tessa is leery because she appears to be from a group called Revision Public an anti-government group, and not all of them are good people. She does agree to teach Jayne after a conversation with Colleen, she just wished Jayne’s father Dirk approved.

Heath Falco is about to celebrate twelve years of sobriety by going on a camping trip alone. It was going to be a hiking off trail trip and he’s really looking forward to it. His brother Troy stops by as he’s leaving and asks to stay in bunkhouse while he’s gone. Staying in the main house with Seth and his other brother’s while renovations are being done to his has him craving some privacy with Esme. Before they both go their separate ways two things happen, first Troy asks if he’s spoken to Tessa, and second he gets an urgent text from his boss Jake to stop by the office.

Heath gets the surprise of his life when he sees Oz Callahan with Jake. Tessa’s father is not someone he wants to see, and the feeling is mutual. However, Tessa is unreachable in the cabin and a massive wildfire is heading her way. Heath is the only one Oz knows who can get Tessa off the mountain safely.

When Heath gets to Tessa she of course gives him an argument that continues as they head down the mountain.

This is a favorite scene.

“You told me to get my stuff out of the apartment before you got back. Tessa, I can’t do this now. We need to get to the bottom of the mountain. We’re coming up on the area where the fire is growing.” He turned off the air conditioner and closed the vents. They didn’t need the smoke from the fire coming inside the truck.

“I’m not done talking about this.”

“Well, I am.”

“Typical Heath Falco. When the emotions get high, he runs for cover. Who would believe a man brave enough to run into danger was also the same man afraid of his feelings and my feelings for that matter?”

He turned to look at her. “I am not the unfeeling man you make me out to be. I just choose to keep my emotions close. I can’t get emotional on the job. Now, it’s a habit. You don’t get to decide when I let them out. You aren’t in control of everything even though you have to be right down to how the mail gets sorted. And another thing—”

“Heath, watch out.” Tessa let loose a scream and held her hands up as if to protect herself.

Time barely slowed down. His foot jammed the brake. The tires squealed in response. The back of the truck fishtailed. He tried to swerve out of the way, but he wasn’t fast enough. The hood collided into a moose, stopping the truck dead.

The crunch of metal vibrated in his fillings. Glass cracked but did not shatter. The seat belt pushed him back, keeping him from kissing the airbag. If they hadn’t been arguing, he would’ve seen the moose in time.

“Oh my God. Oh my God.” Tessa’s arms flailed. She patted herself down. Her eyes were as wide as the moose’s.

His ears rung. He struggled to take a full breath, but he didn’t think he was hurt. His chest only heaved from the scare. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. I think so. Where did that thing come from?”

The moose stared at them as if it were bored. If they had been in a mid-sized car, that moose would have been in Tessa’s lap. Because his truck was jacked up, they must’ve hit it right above the legs. Animals knew when something was wrong. They sensed it. They moved to a safer place. Sometimes Sometimes they could go back to their habitats; other times the fires had ravaged the land too much.

Thankfully, they hadn’t knocked the animal over. The moose, however, had crushed the right corner of the truck and cracked the windshield pretty good, but at least he and Tessa were unharmed.

“It’s moving because its habitat is on fire.” The fire was still below them, but the smoke was settling in around them, dirtying the air. It was just thick enough to be a nuisance.

They would’ve made it to the bottom of the mountain in the truck. Even if the flames were to the side of them, they had a shot to reach safety. But not without the truck. They couldn’t chance following the road on foot. The walk would take too long. They would end up walking right into the fire.

“The door won’t open.” Tessa tugged on the handle, but the door wouldn’t budge.

“Climb over to my side.” He slid out. His legs wobbled for a second. The one-ton moose lumbered on in the direction it was headed without a look back. Thanks, pal.

Tessa held out her hand, and he helped her from the truck’s cab. She pressed her face against his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist, gripping him tightly. He held her close. She was in shock. She would not have clung to him for any other reason.

“I need to check for cell service,” he said into her hair.

She gripped him tighter. “We could’ve died.”

“But we didn’t.” He eased back to look down at her. “We do need to get out of here, though. I can call one of my brothers to help. One of them might be nearby.” He had no idea where any of them were or who was on assignment. But he was certain, if any of them could help, they would come.

“Your brothers? Aren’t they scattered all over the place?”

“It’s a long story. I’ll explain it later.” He doubted he would ever explain how Troy had talked them all into joining the Brotherhood Protectors and helping out in the Fool’s Gold fire department when needed. Or how his dad had died two months ago, leaving a lot of unresolved issues for him still.

He pulled his phone out of the pocket of his pants. “No service.”

He typed up a group text to his brothers and sent it anyway. If the phone grabbed a signal at any point, the text would go, and they would come. It was a simple survival technique he taught to any rookie hikers he met. He was always surprised at how many of them hadn’t thought of it.

“What do we do now?” Tessa pulled the collar of her shirt over her mouth and nose.

“We have to go back up the mountain and come down the north side where the fire is less likely to burn.” South and west facing slopes had drier fuels, giving the fire too much to chew on.

“Back up? But you said we can’t be near the top. Doesn’t fire burn that way?” She clenched his shirt, twisting it in her hands.

He untangled her grip before she tore a huge hole in his shirt and held her one hand with both of his. “You are right about fire making its way uphill. But we can’t walk into it either. I want to climb until we can come down on the side that’s less likely to burn. It’s not a guarantee, Tessa. I don’t want you to panic.”

“Can we stay here until help comes?”

“No one is coming.” He needed her to understand they were the only two people who could save themselves now. Without cell service or his two-way, which the moose had also crushed, he couldn’t reach anyone. And even if he could get a hold of his brother Marcus and ask him to fly his chopper in, they would still have to climb higher for Marcus to reach them.

“If we can climb, then we can go back to the cabin. Of course we can.” She shook her head. “You’re just being overprotective like you always are. Remember the time I said I had to park in a parking garage for that concert? In that city… I forget the name. Anyway, when I sent you the text, you said you wish you had given me mace to carry because the parking garage had been blocks away from the venue.” She tilted her head back and released a strangled laugh.

He cupped her face. “Look at me. Take a deep breath. We’re going to be just fine. I promise you. This time isn’t like your night at the concert. You have to trust me.” He couldn’t let her panic. She was on the verge. He sucked in a loud breath. Thankfully, she did the same.

“So, you’re saying we have to hike up the mountain through the trees and shrubs, off the trail, until we somehow get high enough, and then come back down the other side.”

“That’s about the long and short of it.” He grabbed his hiking pack from the back of the truck. He was grateful for the tools in this pack just in case things went sideways. Better they were prepared.

He worried that Tessa wasn’t dressed properly. She only had on a pair of thin wide-legged pants and a crop top. He grabbed the sweatshirt she had in the front seat. He recognized the emblem from his hotshot team in the corner. His sweatshirt. That realization shouldn’t make him feel good when they were in a ton of trouble, but it did. He held it out to her. Her useless little sneakers would have to do. At least her feet were covered. He’d seen hikers get stuck in the mountain due to weather changes, wearing only flip-flops. Nothing good ever came of that.

“Thank you.” She cradled the shirt to her chest. He wanted to comment about it being his, but he clamped his lips over the stupid words about to tumble out of his mouth.

“Stay here a second.” He didn’t like wasting time, but he wanted her to have some kind of trekking pole. The terrain would be uneven and difficult to maneuver. She wasn’t a hiker. Her stamina would fade quickly, and he had no idea how far they would have to go or hard it would be.

He found a branch that would do the job for her and one for him. He didn’t really need it since they weren’t dealing with ice, but she would argue less with him if he had one too.

“Here. Use this. It will help you with balance on the uneven ground. And if one of us rolls an ankle, we’ll be glad we have them.”

“Please don’t say one of us is going to get hurt.”

Okay, stupid thing to say. He should know better. “Sorry. It’s a hard truth. Anything can happen out here. We need to be prepared.” He pulled out a map from his pack. He carried a few maps with him just for this sort of thing. Like he had just said, better to be prepared.

“What are you looking for?” She leaned around him to see what he was doing. A hint of vanilla scent caught him off guard. Her scent always followed in her wake. He had asked her once to put it on a t-shirt of hers that he carried in his work pack. He never told anyone that so no one on his team would make fun of him for wanting a piece of her close to him. It was his good luck charm.

“I’m looking for the lowest angle of the mountain’s slope. Without a trail, I would prefer we don’t walk off a cliff’s edge. Let’s get moving.
Wilk, Stacey; Protectors World, Brotherhood. Fighting for Tessa: Brotherhood Protectors World (Team Falco Book 3). Kindle Locations (618-682). Twisted Page Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Without the truck, Heath has to figure out the best way to get down the mountain and away from the fire.

This will not be easy and there are a few unexpected and dangerous surprises along the way.

With suspense, danger, forgiveness, and some sizzle I couldn’t put this book down.

5 Contented Purrs for Stacey!

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  Stacy Wilk

From an early age, Stacey Wilk told tales as a way to escape. At six she wrote short stories in composition notebooks, at twelve she wrote a novel on a typewriter, in high school biology she wrote rock star romances in her binder instead of paying attention.

But it wasn’t until many years later, inspired by her children and a looming birthday, that she finally took her story-telling seriously. And published her first novel in 2013. Since then, she’s gone on to publish fourteen more so women everywhere could fall in love and find an escape of their own.

She isn’t done telling stories. Not by a long shot. If you want to read her emotional and honest books about family, romance, and second chances, visit her website.

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Sail Away – Emerald City Book 2 by Jen Talty


Sail Away
Emerald City Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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He spent a lifetime as a thrill-seeker,
but nothing got his blood pumping like her.

Darcie Bowie spent the last year of her life putting the pieces of her shattered heart back together while trying to get her family off her back about her chosen career in the yachting industry. The last thing she needs is for her ex-boyfriend to show up as a surprise guest.

Reid Carson is going on this charter for one reason and one reason only: to take back his company. He never expected to see the woman he let slip through his fingers nearly a year before. Nor could he anticipate the deadly game of deception and betrayal that will put him and Darcie right in the line of fire.

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Darcie is looking forward to taking the last part of her exam. This has been her goal for a long time. It was put on the wayside while she got over a broken heart. After this charter she is planning on taking the week to study. Unfortunately, her boss takes on an additional charter and the guests are not ones Darcie is ready to see. At least she has the time to see her family for her parent’s anniversary before that. A single night turn around is the pits, but she has a good crew and knows they’ll get the job done.

She didn’t expect to run into said guests on the way to her car. Reid Carson looks as good as ever and her heart, well she still loves him. He just can’t accept her chosen career goal. His business partner Preston is another story entirely, he never liked her nor she him.

Reid knew Darcie was living on a sailboat here at the marina, seeing her was a surprise though. He still loves her and realizes he made a big mistake breaking up with her. He needs to apologize and maybe get another chance with her, but first he needs to figure out what’s going on with the company.

After an initial greeting where Reid and Preston were having a drink, Reid finds himself waiting for her return by her boat.

This is a favorite scene.

It took a fair amount of pizzazz to impress Reid, and Darcie had done it in spades.

“Stalking me?” Her sweet voice rolled through his ears and slid down his throat, coating his stomach with the most decadent flavor. Who knew sound could be so tasty?

“Not you, the boat. I saw you get off here, and with the name and all, I assumed she was yours.”

“That’s a lot of dangerous surmising for a man who likes facts and nothing but the facts.”

“I’m also a man who likes to live on the edge, so this is me being wild and out of control.” He shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the post. The last time he’d seen her had been a random meeting in New Orleans that hadn’t gone well at all.

At least, what he remembered of it. Honestly, it had been an encounter he’d prefer to forget.

She laughed. “I bought her a few months ago. When I’m not on a charter, I live on her.”

“I was surprised to see you, and even more shocked you’re running charters out of Seattle and not some exotic port. It’s not like you to be in a mundane city such as this one.”

“I wanted to be close to home for a bit.” She waggled her index finger under his nose. “And don’t you go knocking my hometown, or I’ll start picking on your Southern drawl, Mr. Texas.”

“You always loved when I got all cowboy on you and did the two-step.” He looped his fingers into his belt buckle and did a little kick with his feet.

She laughed, shaking her head.

He couldn’t help but wonder if she was lying about wanting to be close to home, or if the family had put the pressure on. While she was tight with her siblings, she struggled with being overwhelmed by anyone encroaching on her space.

Something he could relate to.

When he’d last seen her, she’d been in New Orleans with her brother, visiting an old friend.

It looked more like a pity vacation, and she’d looked like shit.

Not that he’d looked any better. He had gone to Bourbon Street with one thing in mind: to get shitfaced every night and try to forget that Darcie ever existed. He’d thought he’d been hallucinating when she rounded the corner. He’d actually poked her in the center of the chest to see if she were real.

Jagar hadn’t liked that.

Her friend, Asher, liked it even less.

Reid rubbed his jaw. “The last time I saw you, I said some things I shouldn’t have.”

“I’m surprised you even remember that day.”

“A lot of it’s still fuzzy, and that is both embarrassing and sucky as well as a bit of a saving grace at times.” He let out a sarcastic chuckle. “But I owe you, your brother, and his friend a huge apology.”

“Yeah. You do,” she said. “And for more than just being a jerk in New Orleans. Your list of transgressions is long.”

“I guess I walked into that one,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “We both made mistakes in our relationship.”

“Some of us made more than others.”

“Wow. You’re just not letting go of any of it, are you?” He tossed his hands to his sides, slapping his thighs.

“Sorry. You’re the last person I expected to see. You kind of ruined my plans this week with this charter.”

“What plans? Did you have a hot date? Are you seeing someone? In a long-term, committed relationship?”

“Wow. And what if I am?”

“Are you?” he asked.

“No. But I did have plans.”

“Doing what, exactly? Because isn’t being on charter what you live for?” He groaned. “Sorry. Old habits die hard.”

“I guess they do,” she said. “I’m taking the written portion of my captain’s test next week. I wanted to use this time to study. You ruined that for me,” she said.

“I’m shocked you haven’t already taken it. You wanted to be a captain by now when we were together.”

“Another thing you fucked up for me.”

“How am I responsible for you not taking your test?”

“You’re not.” She huffed. “Other than it took me a little while to get my head on straight after we broke up.”

“I can relate to that,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll ace it. You’ll make a great captain.” He desperately wanted to pull her into his arms, hold her close to his chest and kiss her sweet, tender lips. Letting her go had been the dumbest thing he’d ever done.

No. Telling her to leave her career had been.

“You didn’t have that much faith in me when we were a couple.” She wrapped one arm around her middle and brought her thumb to her mouth. She swayed back and forth.

That always drove him mad with desire. “Yes, I did.”

“Really? Because near the end of our relationship, I seem to remember you telling me that my job was a waste of time and energy.”

“I didn’t mean it.”

“Then you shouldn’t have said it.”
Jen Talty. Sail Away – Jen Talty (Kindle Locations 687-729). Kindle Edition.

That conversation almost led them to bed but common sense prevailed. At least for the moment.

Darcie enlists her brother Jared’s aid and he has better ways of finding out what Reid wants to know. Of course Jager is also going to get all protective of his sister with regard to Reid.

Once the charter leaves things get even more interesting. Not only in the information Reid finds but also with regard to Darcie. Let’s just say these two sizzle off the pages.

I couldn’t put this book down as the pieces come together.

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!

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Jen Talty

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.


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Kismet – Serendipity Book 2 by Carly Phillips


Kismet
Serendipity Book 2
By
NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
Carly Phillips

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Time has changed the girl he left behind—
and the sexy woman won’t fall into his bed so easily.

Lissa Gardelli’s journalism career is about to take a big leap forward, thanks to scoring an interview with Wall Street wonder, Trevor Dane. There’s just one hurdle: keeping her identity a secret until she gets in the door.

Trevor Dane has arrived—corner office, seven-figure income, and women at the snap of his fingers. A profile piece in the News Journal is just icing on the cake. Until he lays eyes on his interviewer, the high school sweetheart who’s haunted his dreams for ten long years.

The sparks between them still burn, and business quickly ignites into pleasure. But Lissa is keeping one last secret…one that could either solidify their reunion, or drive them apart—for good.

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Lissa is both excited and nervous to begin her series of articles for the News Journal. Her first story is Trevor Dane, the thing is they have history and she’s not sure how he’ll react to her.

Trevor didn’t take seeing her well at all, but after his initial shock he actually spoke with her and learned about her just as she was learning about him. He was surprised when she paled at the thought of shopping for formal dresses for two of their evenings together. He calls his mother to find out all about Lissa’s marriage and divorce. Now he needs to apologize and maybe just maybe he’ll get a second chance, with her.

This is a favorite scene.

Lissa felt her face flush hot with embarrassment and awkwardness. “So you found out all about my life and realized I couldn’t really afford a new wardrobe for the weekend. You felt sorry for me and sent these clothes over?” Her voice rose along with her mortification.

“Hey, that’s not it.” He sat down beside her, close enough so their legs were touching. “It’s more like I got a shocking lesson in making assumptions.”

She swallowed hard. “You thought I lived well off the Banks money.”

“Well, I assumed that if the guy was doing the right thing by marrying you after he—” He caught himself before saying knocked you up. “After he got you pregnant, then he would treat you right after he split up with you, too.”

“You know what they say about someone who assumes things,” she muttered.

To her surprise, he laughed. “Yep. And an ass certainly describes how I acted today. So maybe the clothes were an apology, too.”

Lissa didn’t know what to do with this kinder, gentler Trevor, and part of her wondered if that wasn’t his intention. To keep her off balance, guessing, unsure of herself during the time she was with him. To her dismay, she realized she didn’t know him all that well anymore.

“I’m sorry things have been so hard for you.”

She forced a smile. “I managed.” She’d also put herself in the position of having to marry Brad, but it didn’t seem smart to get into the specifics of their past right now. “Thank you, though.”

“You’re welcome.”

“And thank you for these.” She swept her hand toward the bags surrounding them on the bed.

“That was my pleasure.” His smile warmed her straight down to her toes.

She was trying really hard not to think about the fact that they were sitting in a hotel room alone on a king-sized bed, but it wasn’t easy. Trevor’s pants-clad thigh touched her bare one, and she could swear she felt the heat of his skin through the material. When she inhaled, he smelled deliciously male and need rose quickly.

It had been so long since she’d had a man’s arms around her, a man who made her feel good and wanted. Unlike her ex, Lissa had remained faithful in her marriage, and her one short relationship afterward had left her cold and wondering whether she’d ever feel real desire again.

Well, now she knew. She ought to be surprised that it was Trevor who’d awakened her long-dormant hormones, but she wasn’t. Not really.

Lissa pulled in a deep breath and forced herself to continue the conversation. For all she knew, she was the only one feeling the heat, and she didn’t want him to think she’d misinterpret a kind gesture for anything more. She knew how he felt about her.

His first unguarded reaction had shown his true emotions, and though he was trying to be nice now, she knew the resentment still lurked below the surface. She couldn’t let herself think anything else was at play, or she’d be risking her heart. She was sure Trevor’s was locked up tight, at least to her.

“How did you know my size?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I asked my secretary to guess. Some of the things will have to be returned.”

She nodded. “I look forward to trying them on.”

“I look forward to seeing you in them.” His gorgeous eyes sparkled at the thought.

“What time should I be ready tonight?”

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

Lissa shook her head. “I’ll meet you there.”

This wasn’t a date; it was business. She couldn’t let him play the gentleman and go through the motions. It would only make her want things she’d never have.

He scowled. “I don’t mind picking you up.”

“There’s no need for you to treat me like a date. I’m a journalist writing your story,” she felt compelled to remind him. Or maybe she needed to say it out loud for herself. “The Waldorf, correct?”

He nodded, but she could see from the stiffness in his shoulders he wasn’t happy with her suggestion.

“Great,” she said, rising from the bed. “I’ll see you there.”

He rose and stood way too close. “You’ll see me, all right,” he murmured too enigmatically for her liking. Reaching out, he placed his fingers beneath her chin until she looked directly into his eyes. “We have a lot to catch up on.”

He tipped his head, and her stomach did a nervous roll as his lips came closer to hers. A yearning the likes of which she’d never felt before rose up to greet him. But instead of touching his mouth to hers, he placed a kiss on her cheek, his touch too short to make any promises yet too long to mean nothing.

He stared at her for a long while afterward as if studying her.

She curled her hands into fists at her sides, her heart pounding, her body responding in ways she’d long forgotten. Her breasts grew full, her nipples peaked, and dampness pooled between her thighs.

“See you later,” he said in a deep voice, gruffer than before.

“Bye,” she whispered, unable to form a coherent thought. And though he hadn’t really kissed her or touched her at all, heat licked at her from the inside out.

Oh boy, was she in trouble.
Carly Phillips. Kismet-Carly-Phillips (Kindle Locations 278-320). Kindle Edition.

The charity fundraiser becomes the catalyst of a possible new start for Trevor and Lissa but they still have much to work out. Trever especially has to realize that Lissa has a daughter by someone else and he’d have to accept both of them. They’re a package deal.

I love the way this story progresses. There’s laughter, tears, romance and plenty of sizzle!

5 Contented Purrs for Carly!

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Coming soon!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Carly Phillips

Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.

Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.


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Code Name: Ares – K19 Allied Intelligence Team One Book 1 by Heather Slade


Code Name: Ares
K19 Allied Intelligence Team One Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Slade

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A man of honor.
A man of war.
Ares will battle for his country
and for those he loves.

They don’t call me “Ares” for nothing. I fight like hell for what I believe in, and I believe in fighting for what’s right. I will take down any enemy who threatens the good of our country—or any country. Human lives are at risk and I’ll be damned if I sit by and watch anyone hurt another.

When I encounter Margeaux, I know immediately she’s far from my “Nemesis.” Together, we’re going to destroy the enemy—we’re going to win this war. And when we do, nothing will keep us apart.

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When Kellen “Money” McTiernan took over the CIA one of the first ones fired was Philip ‘Ares’ Kappas, guilt by association. He was also immediately snatched up by K19. Now he’s going to be part of the UN Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Henri “Baissier” Marchand the French Ambassador to the UN is in charge and would be Ares boss.

His counterpart from MI6 is Margeaux ‘Nemesis’ Jordan. It’s their first meeting that had me giggling and really sets the tone of the relationship right from the beginning.

This is a favorite scene.

Thank God I still “officially” worked for K19. Somehow, we’d managed to cut through the typical bureaucratic red tape and got shit done. Something that wasn’t as true for my coalition counterparts.

In the last several weeks— in my official capacity as the US task force’s commanding officer for the UN Coalition Against Human Trafficking— I’d assembled a team of some of the best agents I’d ever worked with.

“You’re really stickin’ it to ol’ Money,” said Doc, laughing. “You’ll be happy to hear I got a call from him.”

“Why would that make me happy?”

“Because he’s pissed you poached Tank, Blackjack, and Atticus.”

“None of them worked for him.”

Doc laughed again. Harder. “You’re right, but now, he’s in hot water with the NRO since the UN told them he was the one who recommended not just you but your whole team. And since the Security Council trumps the NSA and NRO, at least officially, they couldn’t say no to letting them go.”

Doc was right, hearing McTiernan was getting bitched at was the icing on the cake for me. The real prize, though, was the combined capabilities of the guys I’d be working with.

“You’re doing good work, Ares. You’re the right man for the job.”

“I appreciate you saying so, Doc.”

“Listen, I also got a call from Z Alexander.”

“I heard the UK team suffered a tough one last night.”

“I made a recommendation to Marchand that this would be a good opportunity for the US and UK task forces to launch their first joint investigation,” said Merrigan.

Henri “Baissier” Marchand was the French ambassador to the United Nations and the man I reported to in my role as a coalition CO. “Did he agree?” “What do you think? Doc said with a grin.

Two days later, I flew into London Heathrow Airport. The following morning, I had a meeting scheduled at the SIS Building at Vauxhall Cross at zero nine hundred. As a former special agent in charge, then as a deputy director, I’d visited the chief of MI6’ s office more than once. Z Alexander was a stand-up guy, one who, like Doc and Merrigan, I respected very much. More, I enjoyed working with him.

The door to his office was open when I approached, and I heard a woman’s voice.

“He’s ridiculous. I mean, have you seen him? He’s a walking, talking cover model for a romance book,” said the woman I guessed was the UK task force CO, whom Z and I were scheduled to meet with.

I didn’t wait to hear his response. Instead, I stalked into his office despite the protests of his secretary, ordering me to stop.

Comments like the woman’s were something I’d heard most of my life, coupled with things like “Greek god” and “Adonis.” Worse was the comparison to the model whose likeness had been used for the Marvel comic book character Ares. True, it had been the fodder used when I was given my code name. However, the initial sketches had been drawn for the release of an issue that came out twenty years before I was born.

I cleared my throat, which was unnecessary for Z, who watched me walk in and didn’t bother masking his amusement at my hearing what the woman I’d be working with had to say about me.

“Good morning,” I said, taking a seat in the empty chair before it was offered. “You must be Margeaux.” I looked her up and down, letting my gaze linger too long on her ample cleavage.

While my intention had been to make her feel as ill at ease as her inappropriate comments made me, the stirring I felt in my groin was as surprising as it was unwelcome.

She folded her arms, covering her breasts, and raised her chin. Her eyes bored into mine when I finally looked up at her face. “Point taken,” she muttered.

I smirked. Good on her for not pretending she hadn’t classified me as a piece of meat, as they say.

Z cleared his throat like I had when I walked in.

“Hello, Ares,” he said. “Welcome back to SIS.” I shook his extended hand. “May I present Margeaux Jordan, code name Nemesis.”

I nodded in appreciation. The Greek goddess so named was the personification of divine retribution, punishment, and justice. How fitting. “Officer Jordan,” I said, extending my hand. “Philip Kappas.”

“Ares,” she said, shaking it. “God of war.”

“Nemesis,” I heard Z admonish under his breath. He motioned for me to retake my seat before sitting as well.

“Nem will brief you on the events of two nights ago, which resulted in our request for coalition assistance.” He turned to my counterpart. “As I’m sure you’re aware, Ares was responsible for taking down one of the largest trafficking rings in US history. Our investigation will benefit greatly from his expertise.”

I didn’t look directly at the woman; however, from the corner of my eye, I saw the ghost of a bristle. I would’ve had the same reaction if I were in her position. She was MI5’ s leading expert on this type of crime. It was the reason she’d been tapped as a task force leader in the same way I’d been.

“Shall we?” I asked, motioning for her to stand.

“Are we not doing the briefing here?” she asked Z.

“I’d intended to. However, another matter has come up, requiring my attention.”

“Understood.” She got up and walked out, not bothering to see if I followed.

“You owe me one for this,” I said over my shoulder, following her as Z’s chuckles faded the farther away I got.
Heather Slade. Code Name: Ares (Kindle Locations 77-123). K19 Allied Intelligence Team One Book One.

Ares seems to have a problem with stepping on Nem’s toes, making suggestions that are approved before he discusses them with her. The biggest one is working remotely, from an estate outside of London belonging to one Nem’s team Cayman’s family.

Wren and Wilde Wittaker also join this team as they attempt to find the origins of two shipping containers that had 124 fatalities within. Nem’s team takes lead on this while Ares’ team assists with finding Luisa Reeve and getting the others with her safe.

This is a very emotional book, between the deaths, recoveries, and a very convoluted investigative path, I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the growing romance between Nem and Ares in spite of the fact they both fight it tooth and nail.

I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

Coming Soon!
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Heather Slade

USA Today and Amazon Top 15 Bestselling Author Heather Slade writes shamelessly sexy, edge-of-your seat romantic suspense.

She gave herself the gift of writing a book for her own birthday one year. Forty-plus books later (and counting), she’s having the time of her life. The women Slade writes are self-confident, strong, with wills of their own, and hearts as big as the Colorado sky. The men are sublimely sexy, seductive alphas who rise to the challenge of capturing the sweet soul of a woman whose heart they’ll hold in the palm of their hand forever. Add in a couple of neck-snapping twists and turns, a page-turning mystery, and a swoon-worthy HEA, and you’ll be holding one of her books in your hands.


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Fighting for Charli – Team Falco Book 2: Brotherhood Protectors World by Leanne Tyler


Fighting for Charli
Team Falco Book 2
Brotherhood Protectors Colorado
By
Leanne Tyler

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Five brothers fighting for justice, fighting to save lives. After years of military service, can they overcome their deceased father’s shortcomings and become a family?

Firefighter Marcus Falco is efficient at his job, but is a disaster at keeping Charli Jackson safe. Her grandmother’s death in a helicopter crash lays heavy on his mind and Charli is still in danger.

Charli doesn’t believe she needs a Brotherhood Protector, even if it is hot, ex-Marine Marcus whom she’s had her eyes on ever since he rolled into town with his firefighter brothers and she began renovating their ranch.

Someone is out to harm her. She doesn’t know who but they are also hurting the people she loves. Can they stop him before he goes too far?

Team Falco is a five-book series in the Brotherhood Protector World and while they each standalone I think you get more out of them if read in order.

We met the Falco brothers in ‘Fighting for Esme’ that book was Troy’s story.

In the prologue of this book we meet Charli, Melanie and their grandmother as Marcus is sending out Maydays and trying to land the malfunctioning helicopter.

It’s a couple weeks later and Marcus still feels guilty that Charli’s grandmother died, and going over the helicopter with a fine-tooth comb to figure out what happened. He’s always kept it in prime condition and is truly baffled as to what happened. He’s been avoiding Charli. Not today though, she’s here to confront him with the fact her grandmother died prior to the crash and he’s not to blame.

This is a favorite scene.

Damn, but she had him dead to rights, and he felt even worse for not going to the funeral now. But it had just been too soon for him after burying his own dad. He still had flashbacks from his mother’s funeral from when he was a child.

“I figured I was the last person you’d want to see there, especially since I caused both you and Melanie to get injured when we went down, and I walked away without a scratch.”

“You assumed wrong.” Charli stepped away from her motorcycle and came toward him with one hand shoved in the front jean pocket. The gravel crunched under each step of her scuffed-up boots. She looked good in her snug fitting jeans, leather jacket, now hooked on two fingers over her shoulder and her long, dark hair pulled away from her face with a red bandana.

She smelled like cocoa butter as if she’d been sunbathing before she came out to see him. The closer she got to him the stronger the scent of her assaulted his nostrils. Damn, if she didn’t have him all tied up in knots whenever he saw her. It was all he could do to keep his mind on the present and not thinking about taking her off to his bed. He’d taken a few women to hotel beds, their beds, but he’d never felt the need to take a woman to his bed. He trampled down the thought because the last thing he wanted was to be like his father. He wasn’t a womanizer. And he definitely didn’t see Charli as a conquest the way he knew that Shawn Falco would have in his younger days. Instead, he’d prefer moving slower, getting to know her, but it wasn’t happening because he was having trouble making his move.

Troy snickered from the side of the shed where he pretended to be working on something, but Marcus knew his brother had only stuck around to see if he finally asked the woman out or not. But it was hard to do so when you felt responsible for the death of her grandmother.

And now she was calling him a coward and telling him how he wasn’t to blame.

In his book, this wasn’t exactly the best time to make that move.

“Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” Charli demanded.

He sucked in a breath and looked her in the eye. “I’m glad you don’t hold me responsible for her death. I’ve been all over my chopper, and I can’t find a reason for it to have gone down as it did. Troy and Trent have looked at it too.”

“Yeah. It’s a mystery,” Troy said, finally coming out of the shed. “All we found was a can of smoke, you know the kind that would have fogged up the windshield to make you believe there was engine problems, but even that would have had to have been triggered to go off in flight. It wouldn’t have caused the bird to go down the way it did.”

Charli furrowed her brow and frowned. “That sounds like someone was tampering with your helicopter.”

“It does, but we couldn’t find evidence of it,” Marcus said. “Besides, who would have gotten to it all the way out here? Or even knew I had it? It isn’t like I’ve flown it around town since I arrived. The trip to your place was my first flight.”

“Had you seen anyone suspicious around your place that day, Charli?” Troy asked.

She shook her head, but stopped. Then chuckled. “Depends on how you define suspicious. My cousin Bart dropped by that morning. We hadn’t seen him in years. Not since uncle Coy and aunt Sue moved their family to California when we were thirteen. His arrival shocked Gran to no end. Like she was scared he was there. I never saw her like that before, and it sure didn’t do her heart condition any good either, but he was long gone before Marcus arrived.”

“What did he want?” Marcus asked without thinking. He didn’t like what he was hearing, but too late he realized he had no right asking. “Sorry. Don’t mean to be nosy. But it sounds like this wasn’t a welcome visit from him.”

“It wasn’t. He was passing through Colorado and stopped by because he wanted me to draw up some plans for a new development he’s starting. It’s a renovation really. He’d heard I was an architect now and had taken over our grandfather’s business. I told him I’d think about it and get back to him. Then he left because he had to get back on the road, or he’d be late for an appointment down in Tucson.”

“If he was worried about being late, why’d he come all the way into Fool’s Gold when he’d just have to make the forty-minute trek back into Colorado Springs to hit the interstate again?” Troy asked.

“Beats me.” Charli shrugged. “But it made it easy for him to show up for the funeral a few days later. And he sure stuck around for the reading of the will. Not that it did him much good.”

“Why’s that?” Marcus asked.

“Gran didn’t leave him a dime. He was so furious he stormed out of the lawyer’s office claiming we hadn’t heard the last of him.”

“Did you know ahead of time?” Troy asked.

“No. Neither Melanie nor I had a clue she’d left him out of her will. His parents weren’t too happy, either. She left them out as well. Said they’d taken up bad habits and turned their backs on their upbringing when they moved to California, and Bart was the result of it.” She paused and let out a little sigh. “And ended it with they got what they deserved.”

Troy whistled. “Tough cookie. I never imagined she was that rough on her family from meeting her.”

“Neither did I, and I lived with her,” Charli said. “Melanie and my parents tried to smooth things over with Coy and Sue, but they were inconsolable. Coy’s an attorney, so he’s threatened to challenge the will. We’ll see if he goes through with it. Of course, the executor has assured my father and Melanie’s dad that the will is ironclad. That our grandparents had it drawn up before my grandfather passed. I just hope he’s right. I’d hate to think this would tear our family apart.”

“I’m sure it will turn out just the way the executor said,” Marcus assured her. “Don’t worry yourself over the way Bart and his parents reacted. Just be glad you have an extended family as you do.”

“Marcus is right. We never had aunts and uncles growing up. Our granddad died in a house fire when Trent and I were small before Marcus was even born.”

“Even my mom died when I was young,” Marcus said.

“Don’t you all have different mothers?” Charli asked.

Troy nodded. “That’s right. My mom died in the housefire trying to get granddad out. Trent, Seth, and I were from the first marriage.”

“And I am from the second,” Marcus said.

“Then Heath?” Charli ran a hand up the nape of her neck, lifting her long dark hair off it, before letting it fall back in place.

“He’s our half-brother from another mother,” Marcus and Troy said in unison, then smiled at one another.

“I see. But isn’t he closer to Seth’s age?” she asked.

“True,” Heath said, joining them. “What’s going on?”

“We’re talking about my chopper going down and explaining to Charli our family lineage and how we have one another, but no cousins.”

“Oh yeah. That’s spot on,” Heath said. “And that wasn’t always a sure thing. I was the outsider at first, and the troubled one. But somehow the bloodline has won out, and we’re here for one another.”

“That’s good since you all have chosen to live here at Paradise together,” Charli said. “Melanie is the sister I never had, and she feels the same about me. Bart was like our brother until he moved away, and now he’s a stranger.”

“That must be tough,” Troy said.

“It was when he moved away. Now, not so much,” she replied.

“Trent sent me out to invite Charli into the house for some lemonade. He said it was too hot out here to be standing around talking without refreshment.” Heath waggled his brows. “And to see if you’d like to stay for lunch? We’re putting together some sandwiches, nothing fancy.”

Charli shook her head. “I’ve seen the way you boys eat. Those sandwiches are more like a feast in themselves.”

“Well they have to be to feed a bunch of growing boys like us,” Heath said. “We work hard and we play even harder.”

They laughed at his humor as the four of them started walking across the open yard to the house. They hadn’t gotten about ten feet when a loud cracking sound made them stop and look at one another.

“What the—” Marcus began to say when an explosion blew the shed to kingdom come, the impact wave from it knocking the four of them to the ground a few feet or so away from where they stood.
Tyler, Leanne; Protectors World, Brotherhood. Fighting for Charli: Brotherhood Protectors World. Kindle Locations (145-208). Twisted Page Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.

As you can see this book starts off with a bang and it jsut keeps getting better and better.

Too many accidents to be a coincidence, has Marcus not only investigating but also acting as Charli’s bodyguard. That role becomes even more difficult as the attraction between these two heats up the pages.

There is plenty of suspense and intrigue as this story unfolds. Not to mention the sizzle between Marcus and Charli.

I am going to have explore more of Leanne’s books.

5 Contented Purrs for Leanne!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Leanne Tyler

Award-winning author Leanne Tyler writes sweet and somewhat sensual romances whether historical, contemporary, or romantic suspense. Her newest series the Chicago Protection Task Force is part of the Elle James’ Brotherhood Protectors World. Other series includes her popular The Good Luck series–a collection of short contemporary romantic comedy romances set in East Tennessee. In addition to her contemporary novels, she writes American historical novels set prior to and during the Civil War.

Leanne lives in East Tennessee with her young-adult son and three-year-old Yorkie, Willie.

She invites readers to step into her world and enjoy the passion.

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Fighting for Esme – Team Falco Book 1: Brotherhood Protectors World by Jen Talty


Fighting For Esme
Team Falco Book 1
Brotherhood Protectors Colorado
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Family isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be—but when you find a family that you choose—they are worth fighting for. Troy Falco fought for his country, and he fought to bring his family—his brothers—together at Paradise Ranch. Now he has a new fight as acting Fire Chief for the Fool’s Gold Fire Department and an Agent of the Colorado Brotherhood Protectors. His first assignment is to help Esme Jade investigate the fire that took the life of his predecessor and her father. There is nothing simple about the case, and the more they dig, the more it becomes apparent Esme could be next. Troy will do whatever it takes—because his job requires it—but his heart demands it.

Troy Falco and his brothers have just buried their father. Emotion isn’t really a factor here as they really never got along with him. As they are leaving the gravesite, Hank and Jake are waiting by their car. They need them in Fool’s Gold as soon as they can get there. A three-alarm fire has injured eight firefighters and their Chief died in the fire.

They purchased Paradise Ranch in Fool’s Gold where they can all live at the same place for the first time. Their job with the Brotherhood Protectors, are flexible enough they can all take shifts at the firehouse.

Esme Henri is one of the best fire and arson investigators in Colorado. In spite of the personal aspect she has been assigned to this fire scene. Her co-worker Colby would be kept up to date in case they find she needs to be pulled from the case.

Troy was being announced as interim Chief and he would name his brother Seth Captain, with Heath, Trent (his Twin) and Marcus taking spots on the roster.

As we learn more about the brothers Falco, the investigation gets underway. Not much is done that first day and Troy also has to start reviewing Billy Rocha’s file. He was on the scene but he’s under suspension for insubordination. Esme also drops off some of her father’s files to him on her way home.

Troy had no idea he’d be called to her father’s home later that night because of a break-in.

This is a favorite scene.

“I don’t know enough about what’s going on to make that call and that’s troublesome for so many reasons,” Troy admitted. “Keeping things hush-hush for the time being works for me, but I need to get a good look at everything. Hell, I’ve barely been in Henri’s office I’ve been so busy with other things.”

“I’ve got your back,” Stone said. “So does Sparrow. Anything you need, just let us know.”

“Thanks,” Troy said. “Does Esme know how long the interloper was here?”

“About twenty minutes,” Stone said. “She glanced at her watch before she got up to check on a noise. She was unconscious for approximately eighteen minutes.”

“A doctor should see her.”

“I’m fine,” Esme’s voice rang out loud and clear. She stepped into the family room wearing jeans and a white T-shirt. Her long blond hair flowed softly over her shoulders.

“You have a concussion. The question is, how bad?” Troy swallowed as he stared into her beautiful blue eyes. He leaned against the wall near the front door.

“That’s what I told her, but she’s about as stubborn as I am.” Sparrow entered the room and joined her husband, wrapping her arm around his waist. “We couldn’t find anything missing, but we don’t know what he had in his office either. Whoever was here went through all the files, dumped them out, and left.”

“What about the rest of the house?” Troy inched closer to Esme, trying to get a look at the back of her head. A trickle of blood clung to her hair.

“I did a walk-through and it doesn’t appear they went anywhere other than his office,” Stone said.

“Whatever they wanted, they thought it would be there.” Esme glanced up at him and crinkled her nose. “The question is, what?”

“And is it related to that house fire,” Troy added. “You need ice on that.” He peered over the top of her head, examining it to ensure she didn’t need stitches, but the wound wasn’t that bad. However, she did have a nice-sized nice-sized bump.

“I’m fine. Really. You can stop being an old maid.” Esme narrowed her stare.

He ignored the jab. “What about a police presence during the night?”

“I’ve already called the deputy on tonight and they will be driving by often, but I don’t have the manpower to put someone on the house twenty-four seven,” Sparrow said.

“That should be fine.” Esme winced when she touched the back of her head.

“I’ll spend the night.” Troy almost regretted the words the second they left his tongue.

“The hell you will.” Esme glared.

“Sweetheart, I think this is our cue to leave.” Stone took Sparrow’s hand and guided her to the front door. “Call us if you need anything. Day or night.”

“Take your buddy with you,” Esme said.

“Nope. He belongs to you right now.” Stone laughed. “And that’s an order.”

Troy did the honor of walking Stone and Sparrow to the door, locking it after they left. He turned and took one step before pausing.

“You’re not staying here tonight.” Esme folded her arms and cocked her head. “I don’t need a babysitter.”

“I’m your bodyguard and while my team was first brought in for this case, I wasn’t supposed to be with you twenty-four seven, and it still won’t be possible with me as acting fire chief, but this changes things.”

“I don’t need you staying over.”

“Jake Cogburn feels differently.” He pulled out his cell and handed it to her with the text message he’d received when he’d arrived. “I’m under direct orders to stay put for the evening. Now, you don’t want to get me in trouble with my new boss, do you?”

She stared at the phone for a long moment and sighed. “Fine. But only because everyone at your organization has always been a friend to my dad— and to me— and I could use a hand cleaning up the mess in my dad’s office, but not tonight. I’m too tired.”

“I wouldn’t mind going through his office, if you don’t mind.”

“Knock yourself out.”

He followed her down the hallway, which was lined with pictures of her when she’d been younger. Images of her playing soccer. A few of her during her days as a young firefighter. A police officer.

It appeared she was the pride and joy of her dad.

His heart squeezed.

His old man didn’t have pictures of his kids. Hell, he could barely tell them apart, especially him and Trent, which was hysterical given the fact they weren’t identical.

Esme grieved a great man who loved her dearly.

Troy grieved the idea of a father who didn’t care enough to even come to his wedding— that never happened. He paused at the end of the hallway and ran his fingers over the last picture of Esme and her dad.

“That was taken three months ago,” Esme whispered. She stood so close he could feel her breath tickle his skin. “We’d gone out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. I was hoping to talk him into letting me fix him up on a date. He lost his wife a while back and he seemed so lonely, but he said he wasn’t ready yet.”

“You had a special relationship with your dad.”

“He was my world,” she said. “Three weeks ago, I noticed he started pulling away from me, but I didn’t have a good handle on it and now I’m wondering if maybe it could be related to his death.”

“What do you mean?” Troy turned, resting his hands on her shoulders, rolling his thumbs gingerly, doing his best to soak in whatever pain of hers that he could.

“It started when he wouldn’t call me back right away. Or answer my texts as quickly. We both got busy with work and after his wife died, he often got withdrawn, so I gave him space. However, as I go back and examine his last weeks, something was off. I should have known.” Tears filled her sweet, sensitive eyes.

Troy considered himself a good judge of character and while he believed every word that came from Esme’s mouth, he also knew that she was withholding something important.

“Oh no. Don’t do this to yourself.” He ran his hands up and down her arms. “Hindsight, while in some cases can be a good thing, other times it’s dangerous and only fucks with our minds.”

“You sound like Sparrow.”

“She’s a smart woman,” Troy said, wiping away a tear that dribbled down her cheek. “I’m going to help you figure all this out, but you have to promise me you’re not going to keep second-guessing your actions leading up to your father’s death. You did nothing wrong and while I didn’t know your dad, I bet he was the kind of man who would hate you blaming yourself.”

“You’re right about that.” She inhaled sharply.

He leaned in and gently brushed his lips across hers in a warm kiss. He didn’t let them linger too long. He didn’t want to give her the wrong impression, even though that’s exactly what he wanted. He had to keep things professional, but he also wanted to be compassionate.

“Thank you for understanding.” She took a step back.

“One thing I’d like for you to do by morning is to get me a list of people who might have a vendetta against your dad.”

“I already started working on it.”

“Good,” he said.

“I’m going to turn in. Your room is up the stairs, second door on the left,” she said. “I’m right across the hall.”

“Good night, Esme.” He watched as she made her way toward the staircase. She turned and smiled before disappearing.

Damn.

He had to get his head on straight. He headed for her father’s office. He needed a distraction from his inappropriate thoughts. Hopefully, he’d be able to find some direction in a case that had not one single lead. Worse, technically, her father’s death wasn’t currently considered anything other than a tragic accident.

Something his gut knew wasn’t true.

Now all he had to do was find the facts to back it up.
Jen Talty. Fighting for Esme – Jen Talty (Kindle Locations 843-908). Kindle Edition.

Esme and Troy are determined to leave no stone unturned and that includes interviewing her arsonist mother.

There’s also more going on in the background of this book as Billy keeps hounding Troy to reinstate him.

So many twists and a direction I didn’t see coming at all. Troy has to come to terms with his feelings toward Esme as she does with him. These two do seem to sizzle off the pages.

I am already reading the next Team Falco book. There is a total of Five Team Falco books each by a different and new to me author.

5 Contented Purrs for Jenn!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Jen Talty

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.


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Charmed Nights – The Witches of Hollow Cove Book 3 by Kim Richardson


Charmed Nights
The Witches of Hollow Cove Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Kim Richardson

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

They took my Merlin license away.

To get it back, I must complete the witch trials. Okay, so I have to pass a few magical trials. No big deal. Right? Wrong.

The trials are treacherous, ominous, and deadly. I’m not prepared for such brutal, magical tests, but I can’t stop. Stopping means failure, and too many people are counting on me.

But then the worst happens. While I’m trying to focus on the trials, the local baker in Hollow Cove is poisoned and killed. And someone I care about is blamed.

As the clues start to fit together, I realize I have to wade through a pack of lies to find the truth—and to find the real killer.

But first, I’ll need to survive the witch trials.

Although these books can be read as standalones, you will really get more out of them by reading in order.

At the end of the last book, Tessa’s Merlin license has been revoked and she’s been ordered to take the trials. As this book opens, Tessa is nervous and hopes she really is ready for what’s to come. After all it’s been years since her aunts have done the trials.

When she arrives via the ley lines, she still has to walk a bit. She follows the buses arriving and hangs back for a bit. It appears it’s more of an introduction first. With Greta whom she met at the Night Festival, presiding. All was going well except for Tessa muttering under her breath which Greta unfortunately hears. Now everyone in that auditorium is her enemy and rooting for her to fail.

She’s barely made it back when Iris texts her there’s been a death and to meet everyone at the bakery. The Merlins would be in charge since Marcus has been gone for two months now. He had to leave town on the day he and Tessa were supposed have their first date. The unsettling thing is she hasn’t heard from him either.

Once they all arrive they find Bernard Thompson the baker dead on the floor, from just looking he appears to have died from natural causes. However, Ruth spies a vial that had contained a potion she made for him and now she’s convinced she did something wrong and killed him.

To top it off, the Hollow Cove Security Agency has sent a new Chief. Apparently, they couldn’t leave Marcus’ position open any longer. Tessa really doesn’t like the new chief and she’s only had a brief encounter with the woman.

Unfortunately, Ruth has confessed and to Tessa’s dismay has cuffed her with partial blocking cuffs. This allows Ruth to go about her daily business but not use any magic. Her court date is set for December 7, and in the meantime, Tessa still has to do the trials.

While Tessa knew she had a lot to overcome with the trials she never expected to be sabotaged right from the beginning. Apparently, everyone got an email changing the time of the written part to 7AM, except her. It’s nowhere in her email and it didn’t matter because there are no makeups for these tests. Worse still the second part of the test she had to fight herself. That was interesting until it was a low blow and the fake Tessa became her Aunt Ruth. Needless to say the Merlin Marina won that round by failing Tessa.

Returning home, Ronin and Iris are waiting to celebrate her victory, instead Tessa’s determined to find Marcus so he can make things right. When she finds him it’s really pretty funny that she interrupts Marcus’ cousin thinking it was him.

This is a favorite scene.

I stood there on the landing, not remembering why I was here or why I should be angry with him.

A new smile hovered about Marcus as he watched me. I was going to clobber him. Only, I started to shiver, so much so, that my lips were beginning to harden like frozen sausages as my teeth clattered. Guess my rush of adrenaline was over, now that I knew it wasn’t Marcus with Rodeo Barbie.

“You’re freezing.” Marcus reached out and touched my right cheek with his hand. It was warm, and I didn’t pull away.

“Mmmm, hmmm.” The soft touch of his hand on my skin sent my blood humming. I didn’t move.

Marcus moved his hand from my cheek and rubbed my arms with both hands. “Come. Let’s get you warmed up. Carol makes an amazing vegan chili.”

I didn’t come here to swoon over Marcus and some chili, but I was about to go all Frosty the Snow Witch if I didn’t get into a warm place in the next few seconds. A few minutes in a warm place with a hot meal wouldn’t do any harm. Besides, I couldn’t feel my lips anymore.

I let Marcus lead me down the stairs and towards that bigger log cabin. Once inside, I was hit by a rush of heat, like I’d just stepped into a sauna. The air was thick with the scent of chicken soup, chili, and burning wood. A large stone fireplace rose at the end of the room, a blazing fire roaring in it. A rocking chair, with a figure sitting in it, squeaked as it moved.

The place wasn’t a huge space, but it was dressed like a restaurant or pub. A dozen small round tables with chairs were placed around the room. Two men sat at the closest table to us, and a woman and a man sat at the table near a window. They all looked up when we entered, their faces hard as they looked me over. But their gazes turned away as soon as they saw Marcus with me. What was that about?

I was still shivering, so Marcus put his hand on my lower back and steered me gently with him over to a bar-like counter made of polished wood.

He pulled a stool out for me. “Here. Sit. I’ll get you something to eat.”

I did what I was told, too cold to do anything else, and watched as Marcus moved down the bar and addressed an older lady whose wrinkled face stretched into a large grin at the sight of him.

Her hair was long and white, pulled back into a long braid, and she wore an apron over her plaid shirt. Her skin was tanned leather, covered in fine seams and wrinkles. She patted Marcus’s hand, poured him a fresh cup of coffee, and disappeared through a door behind the bar.

“Here’s some coffee. The chili is on the way,” said Marcus as he placed the steaming cup on the bar in front of me, pulled out the stool next to mine, and sat.

I peeled off my mittens and wrapped my ice-cold fingers around the cup. The skin on my fingers burned as they touched the ceramic, but it felt nice all the same. Bringing the mug to my lips, I took a sip. Then another. And another. The bitter taste of coffee was divine, and I moaned as the hot liquid poured down my throat.

I instantly felt better.

Once my lips thawed, I asked, “What is this place?” I set the mug on the counter with my fingers still wrapped around it.

“It’s a shifter colony,” answered Marcus, his eyes still holding some of that laughter from before.

“It is?”

“Silverback gorillas,” he said.

I flicked my gaze behind him to the couple sitting near the window. They were both watching me with identical frowns. “Is everyone here a shifter?”

“Yes. Wereapes,” replied Marcus, and I moved my gaze back to him. “Most of them don’t trust outsiders… non-shifters.”

“So, Anthony is a wereape too, then?”

“Yes,” said Marcus, his unwavering stare piercing. “And my cousin.” He unzipped his jacket and dropped it on the empty stool next to him. Muscles bulged from under his snug black shirt, and I found myself unable to look away because part of me wanted to rip it off just to see what was underneath.

I breathed through my nose, trying to shut him out. He hadn’t even tried to reach out to me in three months. It stung. But it was the truth. I was tired of hating him and wanting him. That was a full-time job on its own. Enough was enough.

“I had no idea there were shifter colonies like this one,” I said, reeling in my feelings. “And you have family here, but you live in Hollow Cove?”

“My family’s from the city. But some wereapes prefer to live away from the modern world. They prefer wide, open spaces, surrounded by nature. They don’t want to have to deal with humans… or other paranormals.”

“Like me.” I nodded. “Well, it is really pretty here. Must be spectacular in the summer.”

Marcus shifted on his stool, our thighs touching as he moved closer. “I’m glad to see you.” His mesmerizing gray eyes had me feeling all kinds of things I shouldn’t be feeling right now—like hot flashes.

I raised a brow. I wanted to say so many things to him right now, things I had been thinking about for the past three months. I opened my mouth to reply, just as the older lady came to the bar.

“Here you go, hon,” she said, all smiles as she set down a bowl of steaming and intoxicating-smelling vegan chili.

“Thank you,” I answered, sticking my nose above the bowl and taking a sniff. “Smells divine.”

The older lady laughed. It was infectious, and I found myself laughing and relaxing for the first time since I came to this freezing campsite. I took a spoon and scooped a large portion of the chili into my mouth.

“Wow,” I said, my mouth full. “This is good. You should package it up and sell this stuff.” I put another spoonful of chili into my mouth.

“Thanks, Carol,” said Marcus, as he and she then shared some secret glances.

Carol leaned her elbows on the bar. “This one came to fetch you. Didn’t she? Hmmm. Must have walked for over an hour to be frozen like that,” she speculated with a smile on her wrinkled face. “She’s still young and in good, childbearing years.”

I spit the chili from my mouth. “I’m sorry. What?”

Carol huffed a laugh and disappeared back into the kitchen area behind the bar.

“Tessa, why did you come here?” Marcus’s question pulled my attention back to him. He dipped his head and stared into my eyes.

I watched him for a long moment, trying to stifle the bubble of betrayal and anger that threatened to pop. I failed.

“Why didn’t you ever call me back?” I accused, my heart beating a little quicker, and I hated that. Hated that I’d let my emotions be the boss of me right now, but I couldn’t help it.

“I couldn’t,” he answered casually, like it was a normal thing, like commenting on the amount of sugar he used in his coffee. “Cell phones don’t work here up in the mountains. And there are no phones. No landlines. I would have called you if I could.” Marcus leaned back. “I never thought I’d still be here, to be honest. Things got… crazy.”

“Does it have anything to do with the pile of burning rubble outside?”

“It does,” he answered. “Here, the wereapes are led by an alpha. Like a chief. The alpha is the strongest and takes care of his or her colony, their family.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Too many alphas.”

“So little time,” I laughed. “Sorry. Bad joke.”

Marcus considered me a moment. “A younger male is challenging the alpha wereape. Another male. They’ve been at it for three months.”

“Does it usually take this long?”

“No. Usually, the older alpha submits to the younger alpha. But Stan is a stubborn old brute. He doesn’t want to submit. He thinks he can continue to be the alpha, but his body isn’t like it used to be.”

I swallowed more chili. “Who’s stronger?”

“It’s hard to tell. Both are massive. But there can only be one alpha per clan.”

“Right.”

We stared at each other, and the tiny space between us felt too hot.

I pulled my gaze away before I did something stupid—like jump him right there on the bar. Yeah, I needed help.

“You still haven’t told me why you came,” prodded Marcus as our eyes met again. His lips curved in the smile of a man liking what he saw. “I wish I could say you came because you missed me,” he continued, “but your eyes say something else.”

How perceptive. “It’s Ruth,” I said, my voice tight. “I came here to fetch you because of Ruth.”

Marcus’s eyebrows knitted in the middle. “Ruth? Has something happened to her? Is she okay?”

I shook my head, my insides twisting with dread. “Not really. She’s been—”

The door to the inn burst open. A big, burly man with the biggest arms I’d ever seen came rushing in. He looked like an action figure.

“They’re at it again,” said the stranger, his focus on Marcus as he came up to the bar. “You’ve got to do something. They’re going to kill each other.”

Fun times.
Richardson, Kim. Charmed Nights (The Witches of Hollow Cove Book 3) Kindle Locations (1297-1364). FablePrint. Kindle Edition.

With the Alpha problem solved and Marcus takes off via car while Tessa jumps the ley line home. Marcus was unable to anything to help Ruth since Aldira is the one who arrested her and made the court date. He was really trying to be supportive and investigating on his own to help clear Ruth.

Tessa second trial comes, and for this one Silas who has runes tattooed all over him is in charge. The test, get to the center of the labyrinth. I’m just going to say Silas cheats and Tessa is awesome.

There are so many twists in this book, with Adira as chief, then Tessa and Marcus’ relationship. Not to mention Ruth’s depression and everyone feeling helpless.

I am very much enjoying this series and I am working my way through all the available books.

5 Contented Purrs for Kim!

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Kim Richardson

Kim Richardson is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of urban fantasy, fantasy, and young adult books. She lives in the eastern part of Canada with her husband, two dogs and a very old cat. Kim’s books are available in print editions, and translations are available in over 7 languages.

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