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Brett – Hometown Heroes Book 2 by Leigh Duncan


The Hometown Heroes Series:
A group of college friends
took part in a weekend cattle drive
on the banks of Lake Okeechobee.
Now, ten years later, they’re saving lives
and winning hearts throughout Florida.

Brett
Hometown Heroes Book 2
By
Award Winning Author
Leigh Duncan

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

The broad-shouldered Adonis standing on Stephanie Bryant’s front porch cannot fathom why the sassy beauty failed to evacuate along with the other residents of Cocoa Beach, but she has her reasons.

With a big promotion at stake, the approaching storm doesn’t figure into Stephanie’s plans any more than falling for the hunkiest cop in Florida.

But more than the landscape changes when a hurricane practically blows Florida’s newest resident into the arms of disillusioned cop Brett Lincoln. While the last thing he wants in his life is another self-centered woman, the keys to his emotional survival just might dangle from Stephanie’s perfectly sculpted nails.

Note: This classic Leigh Duncan original was first published in 2010. Given a fresh, new look for The Hometown Heroes Series, BRETT has been revised and contains brand new material.

Stephanie Bryant’s new position with Space Tech has her moving to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Now she’s aware there’s a hurricane on it’s way but according to the weather app on her phone, it’s not going to make landfall.

Truly clueless to the danger, she sets to unpacking while waiting for the installers to arrive for her phone, internet and cable. The problem is two fold. First as she moved in, her home was boarded up and the Real Estate Agent convinced her she is not in a hurricane zone and would make arrangements to have the boards taken down. Second the home is in a mandatory evacuation zone and the evacuation order had been issued.

Brett Lincoln is making a final round before the storm hits when he sees boxes in front of a house. They hadn’t been there before and there was a car in the driveway. Time for him to do his job and get the resident safely off the island.

“Cocoa Beach Police, ma’am. Are you having trouble?”

The deep, rapid-fire rumble yanked her gaze back into the blinding sun so fast the dreaded “ma’am” almost failed to register.

She squinted, trying to see his face but all she got for her trouble was another blast of light.

“Police?” Blinking, she shook her head. “I didn’t call the police.” Through watery eyes she saw his outline relax a bit, though the man standing on her front porch remained all shadows and glint.

“Sorry, ma’am. When you said ‘about time,’ I thought you might have car problems or something. Everything is under control, then? You’re on your way?”

Stephanie forced her lips into a determined smile and stuffed a growing irritation firmly behind it. Everything was all right, though it wouldn’t be if he “ma’am’d” her one more time.

“Yes, Officer, uh—I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Lincoln, ma’am. Officer Lincoln.”

Three ma’ams in a row—it was enough to make any self-respecting twenty-six-year-old cry. She was twenty-six and self-respecting, but she wasn’t going to cry, even if the eerie quiet of her new neighborhood had shredded her last nerve and left her as jumpy as two double lattes. Instead, she blinked rapidly to clear the pesky, sun-induced tears and, pulling herself erect, squared her shoulders.

“Pleased to meet you, Officer Lincoln. I’m Stephanie, Stephanie Bryant.” She tossed enough ice into her tone so Officer Lincoln would understand they were done with the “ma’am” business. When he tipped his hat, she knew she’d made her point. She spilled a little warmth back into her voice.

“I’m not sure why you’d suspect car trouble, but yes, everything is fine. It will be even finer when the installation guys show up. That’s who I was waiting for. I don’t suppose you have any pull with the telephone company, do you?”

“No, ma—uh. No, Miss Bryant. But they won’t be here today.”

That was close, but she’d give him one more chance. Muscular police officers who smelled like piney woods deserved that, even when they seemed determined to argue. Holding her smile firmly in place, she explained, “I know it’s almost five, but they promised. I’m sure they’ve just been delayed.”

“Delayed till next week, maybe.”

Officer Lincoln reached for his sunglasses. When his posture shifted just enough so the blinding sun disappeared behind his back, Stephanie wondered if the move was a deliberate attempt to make her heart stop. Peering up at a profile so chiseled it might have been carved by Michelangelo, she was pretty sure her breathing had. The man had an almost perfectly proportioned face with a straight nose and barely rounded chin that jutted forward exactly the right amount. Above a strong jawline with the late afternoon stubble of someone who shaved twice a day, tanned skin hugged impressive cheekbones. She followed them to his hairline. Despite its close cropping, the thick, dark hair wanted to curl where the heat and humidity dampened it. She felt an answering, unexpected warmth stir in her chest as, beneath wide slashes of black eyebrows, a pair of black-blue eyes studied her intently.

“Miss Bryant, why are you here?” he asked. “Haven’t you been listening to the weather reports?”

Abruptly, the urge to trail her fingers along his cheek’s sandpaper stubble disappeared. Stephanie remembered to breathe. She also remembered to cross her arms and take a step back while pondering the seriously flawed nature of the male species. This one might look like a Greek god, but he wasn’t listening to her any better than Adonis had listened to Aphrodite. She tried again.

“I just moved in, Officer. I don’t have television or cable service because I’m waiting for the installers to show up. And they’re late.”

“I understand that. But they won’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.”

Officer Lincoln glanced over his shoulder at the street. “Are those your packing boxes at the curb?”

“Why? Are you on box patrol?”

She had meant the question as a joke, but Officer Lincoln continued to stare down from his impressive height without even the trace of a smile.

“They can’t stay there. You’ll have to move them inside.”

Stephanie ground her teeth. She had tried to be polite. She had tried to be understanding. She had even tried humor, and look where that had gotten her. It was time to put her foot down.

“Officer Lincoln, I read the brochures. Tomorrow is recycling day. I don’t understand the problem.”

The man drew a folded handkerchief from his back pocket and took his time polishing the lenses of spotless sunglasses.

“Emergency Management has issued an evacuation order for all the barrier islands,” he said. His voice dropped impossibly lower. “That includes Cocoa Beach. You need to get out of here. In fact, you have less than two hours to cross the causeway before it closes, so I’d suggest you get moving.”

Stephanie bit her lip to keep from telling Officer Lincoln exactly where he was wrong. This morning the weatherman had said the storm would turn. She had it on good authority that hurricanes never came ashore in Cocoa Beach. Besides, even if Officer Lincoln was correct, the evacuation order was for the barrier islands, and she wasn’t on a—

Her heart thudded all the way to her feet as she remembered the maps the real estate agent had provided. Several long fingers of land hugged the Florida coast the way fringe dangled from her pink pashmina. Cocoa Beach sat on one of them. “Barrier island?” she mouthed. Images of hurricane-ravaged coastal towns flooded her thoughts. She reached for something to brace herself with, her hands finding and clutching the doorframe. Officer Lincoln’s lips kept moving, but a sound of rushing water and roaring wind filled her head. She couldn’t hear a word he said.

“No,” she whispered. This couldn’t be happening.

Brett stared in disbelief as the compact powder keg in front of him started to smoke. Within seconds there would be an explosion that might take hours to clean up. He didn’t have hours. Hurricane Arlene would be on top of them by then. Her one-hundred-and-fifty-mile-an-hour winds could push seven-foot waves clear across Cocoa Beach, and he did not want to get caught in the storm surge.

As protests spiraled upward and a pair of the bluest eyes he’d ever seen widened impossibly, Brett rapidly reviewed his options. Given enough time, he could talk her down. He had the negotiating skills. Problem was, neither of them had the time.

An unexpected shake might jar her to her senses, but that was almost guaranteed to land him in the middle of litigation. Having seen lawyers in action, he’d rather face hurricanes.

That left option number three, another plan sure to land him in trouble. Was she worth it? One quick appraising glance—and more experience than he liked to admit—told Brett all he needed to know.

Hair did not bounce and shimmer the way her glossy, black curls did unless their owner spent considerable time and money in expensive beauty salons. If his last girlfriend was any indication, a complexion so flawless and cheeks such a rosy pink required serious expenditures at the cosmetic counter. Brett took note of the woman’s narrow shoulders above lush round breasts. Her tiny waist flared into hips with barely enough meat on them for a man to grasp. He recognized the snug fit of layered Lands’ End T-shirts when he saw them, and those strategically frayed capris fit too well to be from Wal-Mart. Expensive clothes to wear on moving day.

He continued his downward assessment, traveling a short distance of thigh to the place where muscular calves tapered into elegant ankles. The woman had good bone structure, he’d give her that, but he knew maintaining such a perfectly proportioned figure meant hours on treadmills and Nautilus machines. The baby-doll-pink toenails in their unscuffed sandals made him grimace.

No doubt about it, she was one of the “me, me” girls. The kind that got his back up, the kind he’d sworn off after his last long-term relationship had self-destructed.

Her lips moved rapidly in a heart-shaped face so perfect it kicked his temperature up a notch. The woman was physically attractive, no sense denying it. But could he ignore her looks long enough to reach a simple conclusion? He could, and he would. If his words were wasted on her, he’d save his breath.

Grasping Miss Stephanie Bryant by the shoulders, he tumbled her forward while slipping his free hand around to his back. In one fluid move, he loosed a pair of handcuffs from his belt and snapped silver around a slim, white wrist.

The petite figure before him immediately immediately stilled and Brett looked down. He had sworn her eyes couldn’t get any wider. He was wrong about that.
Duncan, Leigh. Brett (The Hometown Heroes Series Book 2). Gardenia Street Publishing. Kindle Locations (210-280). Kindle Edition.

Not a very auspicious beginning to a relationship but one that had me commiserating with Brett, the woman really didn’t get it.

Helping a neighbor at the storm shelter, helping employees at her new office, and wondering if she’s made the right choices are all part and parcel of this book.

Plenty of problems, lots of solutions, decisions, laughs, romance and questions as this book progresses from the storm to every day life in Florida.

Glimpses of Brett’s other friends, on which this series is based, has me wanting the next book.

5 Contented Purrs for Leigh!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Author Leigh Duncan. (Photo by Chris Kridler)

Leigh Duncan is the award-winning author of more than two dozen novels, novellas and short stories. Her first full-length book, The Officer’s Girl, was released by Harlequin American Romance in 2010. Leigh went on to write seven more books for Harlequin, including the highly acclaimed Glades County Cowboys series, before she began writing the more complex, heart-warming and emotional stories that have resonated with her readers. An Amazon best-selling author and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, Leigh lives on Central Florida’s East Coast where she writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance with a dash of Southern sass.

Leigh loves to stay in touch with readers through social media. Links below.

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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page

Luke – The Hometown Heroes Book 1 by Leigh Duncan


The Hometown Heroes Series:
A group of college friends
took part in a weekend cattle drive
on the banks of Lake Okeechobee.
Now, ten years later, they’re saving lives
and winning hearts throughout Florida.

Luke
The Hometown Heroes Book 1
By
Award Winning Author
Leigh Duncan

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Fourth-generation cattleman Luke Parker looks into his childless future and wonders what will become of the ranch he’s worked so hard to preserve.

Sarah Magarity’s job with the Department of Children and Family Services has exposed her to the worst side of parenting. So much so that the altruistic redhead doubts she’ll ever have children of her own.

The solution to both their problems might be a five-year-old boy abandoned on DCF’s doorstep just days before Christmas, but only if the cowboy can convince a jaded social worker that he’s good father material on a two-week cattle drive through Florida’s version of the Old West.

I find many new authors through sales on their books especially the ones that are free for a limited time. The second book in this series was free but I’m trying real hard to start series from the beginning so I bought Luke too. I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s the holidays and Social Worker Sarah Magarity is getting ready to shut down the office and start her two week vacation. First she is cleaning up from the holiday party they sponsored for clients. With the sound of the door opening everything changed. Sarah is about to break a few rules as she listens to the woman who brought the child in.

As she perused the paperwork she wonders if it’s possible that the father listed on the birth certificate is the same Luke Parker she had an altercation with over two boys sent on a cattle drive.

In an effort to keep the child out of an inappropriate group home, she agrees to Luke taking him on the Cattle Drive but only if she goes along.

This is a favorite scene.

The chiseled edge of his jaw firmed. “We have a roundup starting tomorrow, New Year’s Day. He can come along.”

He glanced through the open doorway toward Jimmy. The way Luke nodded, Sarah thought the rancher might be talking more to himself than to her. “He can sit in the cook wagon with Doris, my foreman’s wife. At night, he can bunk in with me and the ranch hands.”

Sarah’s breath caught in her throat. “You can’t take a little boy on a cattle drive. It’s too dangerous.”

“Oh, it’s not a real roundup. It’s more of a camping trip.” Luke paused. “On horseback.” Another pause. “With cows.” A grin worked its way across his mouth.

The smile ignited the same slow burn that had warmed Sarah’s midsection back when she thought Luke and his pals from college might be able to give a couple of her older charges a fresh start. She caught herself staring at Luke’s lips and bit her own. For Jimmy’s sake, she had to ignore the man’s mesmerizing good looks because taking a five-year-old on a trek into the wilderness just didn’t make sense.

“Trust me. My family’s been doing this for four generations. I wasn’t much older than Jimmy when I went on my first one. The sunshine and fresh air will do the boy good.”

“No. No. No.” Sarah was already shaking her head. “I know all about your cattle drives, remember? Chris and Tom told me everything.”

“Those two boys were hooligans who put other people in danger.”

“That’s not the story I heard.”

She’d spent six months helping his fraternity sponsor two foster kids on the Circle P’s annual cattle drive. The paperwork alone had been monumental, to say nothing of the hours she’d spent in meetings with Luke and his friends. The theory went that a couple of weeks on horseback would help two of her most troubled charges turn their lives around. But that plan ended when Luke had practically hog-tied the boys and dragged them back into town after only two days.

“I heard all about the bottles that were passed around the campfire every night. You stuck two kids who’d never ridden before on horses and expected them to know what to do. They got lost and no one came to find them. There wasn’t enough food—”

Luke’s deep chuckles filled the space between them. “Doris would flat have a fit if she heard that.”

Sarah’s heart stuttered. Heaven help her, the man’s smile seemed to out-shine the sun. She wrenched her gaze from his face and forced herself to stare at a spot over his shoulder.

“Look,” he continued. “We all had high hopes for Alpha Rho’s involvement with foster kids. No one’s any sorrier than I am that it didn’t work out. Exceptin’ maybe my friend Dan—he was a foster kid himself, you know. Anyways, I know we had some problems with those two you sent us, but none of that matters. What does matter is that I run a clean camp. Yes, my guests are free to bring their own liquor, but we see that everyone’s well supervised. It’s a family affair. Good, clean fun. We even have a couple of folks from Minnesota on this next ride. They’re bringing their teenage daughter along.”

Had the boys lied?

Sarah mulled the likelihood that she’d misjudged the rancher. Okay, the teens had been a bit on the wild side, but wasn’t that the whole point? To expose them to a different environment in the hope that they’d make better choices in their lives?

That still didn’t mean taking a five-year-old on a cattle drive was a good idea. Things would be different if Luke had just admitted he was Jimmy’s father. The man’s insistence that he wasn’t changed the landscape. DCF rules would never permit a foster dad to take a child on a long trek through the wilderness, and she’d be fired if she approved it. But until the blood tests came back proving Millie had told the truth and Luke was wrong, she had no choice. She had to give this reluctant father a chance to get to know his son. “All right, you can take him on your roundup with one condition.” She paused long enough to give Luke a meaningful look that made it clear the stipulation was not up for negotiation. “I’m coming with him.”

Surprise flickered across Luke’s face. Amusement glinted in the eyes that slowly traveled over her. “Do you even know how to ride a horse?”

His frank appraisal made her nervous, and Sarah crossed her arms. “Yes.” She pushed her shoulders back, her chest out. “I’ll have you know I rode dressage in college.” Her part-time job at the Equestrian Center had meant more time mucking stalls than exercising the stock, but that was something Luke didn’t need to know.

“Okay, then. I’ll have my foreman, Seth, email you a list of supplies you’ll need to bring.” With another glance into the common area, his voice dropped. “Don’t worry about the kid. I’ll take care of whatever he needs. Just make sure you’re both at the Circle P by noon tomorrow. We’ll mount up and be on the trail by one. Now let’s go see about that blood test.” And without another word Luke Parker slipped his cowboy hat on his head and strode out of her office.
Duncan, Leigh. Luke (The Hometown Heroes Series Book 1). Gardenia Street Publishing. Kindle Locations (369-407). Kindle Edition.

While Luke is sure Jimmy isn’t his son he is determined to see the boy has a good time on the roundup. He also finds himself more than a little attracted to Sarah.

I love the way this plays out, there’s lots of emotion, some tears, some angst and just the right amount of heat.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Leigh!

Click the Cover for Buy Links

Author Leigh Duncan. (Photo by Chris Kridler)

Leigh Duncan is the award-winning author of more than two dozen novels, novellas and short stories. Her first full-length book, The Officer’s Girl, was released by Harlequin American Romance in 2010. Leigh went on to write seven more books for Harlequin, including the highly acclaimed Glades County Cowboys series, before she began writing the more complex, heart-warming and emotional stories that have resonated with her readers. An Amazon best-selling author and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, Leigh lives on Central Florida’s East Coast where she writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance with a dash of Southern sass.

Leigh loves to stay in touch with readers through social media. Links below.

newsletter - for blog

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page