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Shielding Kalee – SEALs of Protection Legacy Book 6 By Susan Stoker


Securing Kalee
SEALs of Protection Legacy Book 6
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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After her capture by rebels in the mountains of Timor-Leste, Kalee Solberg doesn’t think she’ll live to see her father, friends, or hometown again. What started as an adventure with the Peace Corp until she figured out what to do with her life has turned into a waking nightmare, every day a struggle to survive. Beaten into submission, Kalee guesses she’s been presumed dead by now. And she has been…by everyone but one man.

A childhood filled with abuse and neglect has turned Forest “Phantom” Dalton into the kind of man who finishes what he starts. The failed mission to rescue Kalee Solberg is no exception. After discovering she’s still alive, that he and his SEAL team left her to a fate worse than death, Phantom will stop at nothing to bring her home, with or without permission…no matter the cost to his career.

Neither Phantom nor Kalee could ever guess another, equally grave threat awaits them back home.

NOTE:
Securing Kalee is the 6th and final book in the SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

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Ever since the team left Timor-Leste with Piper and the girls, I was waiting for Phantom to remember what he had seen. When he was injured in Avery’s rescue and remembered, I cried my eyes out. I thought they would all go get Kalee. Apparently that wasn’t what the government had in mind when Tex supplied the information of Kaylee’s whereabouts.

Without a doubt Forest ‘Phantom’ Dalton, wasn’t going to sit around waiting. Tex had given him all the information he needed to get Kalee back home where she belongs.

I held my breath as I read, Phantom truly is one. The way he got Kalee out was perfectly executed, but the after brought me to tears.

This is a favorite scene and the first one that made me cry.

Suddenly anxious to clean every inch of herself, to rid her body of the dirt that clung to her like a parasite, she reached for the used bar of soap sitting on a ledge nearby.

Not caring that others had used it—it was amazing how things that would’ve grossed her out a year ago didn’t even faze her now—Kalee quickly rubbed her hands together and worked up some foam. Then she ran her hands over her body, cleansing all the unwanted touches away. She felt almost giddy.

The dirty bubbles swirled at her feet before they disappeared down the drain.

But then the enjoyment and high of being free faded suddenly, and the realization of just what she’d escaped pressed down on her. Of what she’d endured. Of what she’d been made to do.

Tears formed in her eyes again. She hadn’t cried in forever, and here she was crying for the second time in minutes. It was as if getting clean washed away the armor she’d donned to protect her heart and mind from the hell she was living in, leaving her vulnerable and unable to function.

Kalee’s knees went weak, and she fell to the floor, not even feeling the pain from her knees hitting the tile. The hot water rained down on her back as she bent, her arms around her stomach, her forehead resting on the floor.

She sobbed. The unfairness of her situation hitting her all at once. She couldn’t breathe, images of what she’d seen and done flashing through her brain, sickening her.

One second she was lost in her memories, and the next the water above her turned off and she felt a towel drape across her back. She should’ve freaked out when she felt hands turning her. Lifting her. But deep down inside, she knew it was Phantom. He wouldn’t hurt her. Not like the others had.

She found herself sitting on Phantom’s lap, her face buried in his chest. His beard tickled her cheek.

After a few minutes, she barely registered the sensation of her body being lifted. Clinging to him, Kalee let her mind shut down. She couldn’t take any more. Not one thing. Everything was overwhelming. Her skin, which had felt so clean a second ago, now tingled and burned with the heat of the water. The dirt flaking from her body had opened a wound so deep, she wasn’t sure it would ever heal.

“I’ve got you, precious. That’s it, let it out. You’re safe now.”

She heard his words, but they didn’t really penetrate. Kalee felt him push open the door to the bathroom and stride toward his room. The cold air felt good against her overheated skin, and she didn’t even care at the moment that she was probably flashing anyone who might happen to come down the hall.

Phantom leaned over and sat her on something soft, but she refused to let go of him. The tears wouldn’t stop either. They coursed down her face as if someone had turned on a faucet inside her.

Phantom didn’t seem to have any plans to make her let go. She felt him shifting them until she was under a sheet, and he was sitting on top of it. He readjusted the towel over her shoulders, and she snuggled into his side as he leaned against the headboard of the small bed in his room.

Squeezing her eyes shut didn’t stop her tears. Nor did it stop the images running through her brain as if they were a movie on fast forward.

The bodies of the little girls she’d gotten to know at the orphanage.

The leering expression of the first man to rape her as she fought him with all her might, to no avail.

The screams of villagers as the rebels swooped into their small towns, shooting everyone who moved.

The drunken laughter of the rebels as they celebrated the day’s haul with beer and food, making sure she didn’t get any.

The pictures went on and on in her head. Taunting her with all she’d had to endure.

How long she sobbed on Phantom, Kalee had no idea. All she knew was that with his arms around her, the nightmares couldn’t pull her under. She was watching everything that had happened to her over the last months, but Phantom was there to make sure she didn’t get sucked back in.

When she finally realized where she was again, and that she wasn’t a captive anymore, Phantom was slowly rocking her back and forth. She was still naked, but at the moment it didn’t matter. She was being touched. More than that, she was clinging to Phantom as if she’d fly away if she let go.

But she wasn’t embarrassed. Mostly because of Phantom. He wasn’t telling her to hush. Wasn’t begging her to stop crying, as she figured most badass Navy SEALs probably would. Instead, he was murmuring for her to let it out. To cry as long as she needed to. To cleanse her soul…that nothing she did was her fault.

Feeling exhausted, Kalee tried to lift her head. Tried to get her muscles to obey, to let go of the man under her. But Phantom simply tightened his hold.

“Close your eyes, Kalee. Rest.”

But they needed to go. He’d said they had to get to the embassy and catch a flight.

As if he could read her mind, Phantom said, “We’ve got time. I’ve got you. Sleep. Just for a bit. I’ll wake you when we need to go. You’re safe, Kalee.”
Stoker, Susan. Securing Kalee (SEAL of Protection: Legacy Book 6). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (470-511).Kindle Edition.

Phantom didn’t take her straight back to California, he knew she need to acclimate first. A beach house in Hawaii, becomes a place of healing for Kalee. She has an inner strength that just needed some prodding. Phantom was the perfect person to bring her through.

Their relationship is a slow simmer and we learn much about the grumpy Phantom. He knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that when he returns to California he would be facing an Admiral’s Mast for disobeying a direct order.

We meet a new SEAL team in this one. Mustang, Midas, Aleck, Pid and Slate become pivotal in proving to Rocco that Phantom truly was in Hawaii and not Timor-Leste. Of course he’s already been there and returned with Kalee.

I loved every interaction between Phantom and Kalee as well as those with the Hawaii team. The love, the emotional support and so much more flew off the pages of this story of survival.

I laughed, cried and cheered as this story unfolds, there are than a few surprises, some good, some bad. Just don’t start reading at bedtime…there will be no sleep if you do.

I can’t wait to read the books Susan has planned for the Hawaii Team and of course the one coming soon for Commander North.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Coming Soon!

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Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.


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Shielding Kinley – Delta Team 2 Book 2 By Susan Stoker


Shielding Kinley
Delta Team 2 Book 2
By
NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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When Kinley Taylor witnesses what was possibly the last few minutes of a young girl’s life while in Paris, she realizes exactly how alone she is in the world. The only person she has to turn to for help is the one man who she feels is completely out of her league.

Gage “Lefty” Haskins liked the personal assistant the first time he met her. And after spending an afternoon in Paris with her, he likes her even more. But when she shows up in Texas, on the run, and desperately in need of help, he’s determined to keep her safe.

But the person after Kinley is patient, and determined to get to her no matter who is protecting her.

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Gabe met Kinley first in Africa when her boss sent her for coffee and she ended up in trouble. They connected and although she agreed to keep in touch once home ghosted him.

Now Gabe’s in Paris and although his team is guarding another diplomat, he knows Kinley is there. He wants to know what happened and comes up with a plan to share the sights of Paris with her and have that conversation.

Kinley is surprised at the trouble Gabe went through to have time with her and does her best to explain what happened. They wandered around Paris’ sites and when they get to Notre Dame, Gabe calls his mother. I loved this, because his mother is obsessed with the Cathedral he wanted her to see it. It’s Kinley who actually gives her the tour though.

This is a favorite scene.

Knowing she’d probably be up, even as early as it was in California, he clicked on his mom’s number and put it on speaker. As it rang, he felt Kinley staring at him. He met her gaze as his mom answered.

“Hey, son. Everything all right?”

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m in Paris,” he said without preamble.

“Paris?” his mom breathed. “Please tell me you’re getting to do a bit of sightseeing.”

Lefty chuckled. “As a matter of fact, I am, which is why I’m calling. I’m going to FaceTime you, that all right?”

“Of course. It’s not like I’m standing here naked and decided I might as well answer the phone when my only child calls.”

Lefty chuckled, and he loved the giggle that escaped Kinley’s mouth. He clicked on the button that would let his mom see him.

“Hey, baby,” his mom said softly when she saw his face.

“Hey, Mom,” Lefty said. “You look great.”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Always the flatterer,” she accused.

“You know I never lie,” he said. “Before I get to why I called, I have someone for you to meet.”

“Gage, no,” Kinley whispered, but he ignored her.

“Mom, I’d like you to meet Kinley Taylor. Kinley, this is my mom, Molly.”

“Hello, Kinley,” his mom said as Lefty pulled Kinley into his side so her face would be on the screen with his. “I love your hair! The black color looks positively radiant in the sun.”

“Um…thanks. I washed it this morning,” Kinley said, and Lefty felt her stiffen as if she was embarrassed over what she’d just blurted out.

But his mom didn’t miss a beat. “Good for you. I swear I’m addicted to that dry shampoo stuff. Kaden, my husband, has to force me to get in the shower some days.”

Lefty felt Kinley relax next to him. “I haven’t tried it. Does it really work?”

“Oh, honey,” his mom said. “Yes. It’s amazing! I’ll have Gage give me your email, and I’ll send you names of the ones that I’ve found work best. They aren’t all made equally, you know.”

“Thanks,” Kinley said.

“Anyway, Mom, I wanted to call because we’re standing in front of Notre Dame right now,” Lefty said.

“You aren’t!” his mom exclaimed.

Lefty chuckled. “Would I call you from Paris and lie about something like that?”

“Not if you wanted to live to see tomorrow,” his mom retorted. “Lemme see! I get to see your ugly mug all the time. I’ve never seen Notre Dame in person.”

“Just for that, I don’t think I should show you,” he teased. He turned to Kinley. “My mom loves Notre Dame. As long as I can remember, she’s been in love with this building. There were times I thought she loved it more than me when I was growing up. For her birthday one year, I managed to get a buddy who was coming here on assignment to pick up a street artist’s drawing of the cathedral. I thought my mom was gonna die when she opened it.”

“Shut up,” his mom complained. Lefty kept teasing, drawing out the moment for his mom. “She’d planned to come to Paris with Dad one year, but she had to have an emergency appendectomy and they missed it.”

“Gage,” his mom threatened. “Turn the damn phone around or I swear I’ll tell Kinley about the time you peed your pants while you were waiting in line at Disney to see Mickey Mouse.”

“I was four,” he told Kinley with a wink. “And Mickey was my hero. Of course I peed my pants.”

“Gage!” Molly Haskins whined.

Before he could put his mom out of her misery, Kinley took the phone and turned the camera around, pointing it at the iconic building. “From this angle, you can hardly tell there was a fire,” Kinley told his mom. “Look, the stained glass is almost perfect still.”

Then, as if she gave tours of Notre Dame all her life, Kinley proceeded to give his mother the thrill of a lifetime by walking around and showing her every little thing.

Lefty didn’t mind in the least. He loved that his mom and Kinley were bonding over the building. He’d always thought his mother’s obsession with Notre Dame was a little odd, but seeing her love for it being nurtured by Kinley was a gift.

“And look, you don’t see this in any of the pictures of the chapel,” Kinley said, pointing the phone toward their feet. They were standing in the square in front of the church, looking down at a compass engraved into the stone. “Point zéro des routes de France,” Kinley said, then translated, “point zero of French roads. This exact spot indicates where all distances to and from Paris are measured.”

He heard his mom sigh in contentment. “Thank you for the tour,” she told Kinley after she’d brought the phone back up to look into the camera. “You have no idea what this has meant to me. I’m gonna get there someday, but seeing it today, and hearing you tell me all about it, was special.”

Lefty saw Kinley had no idea how to respond, so he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his side, reaching out and taking the phone from her. “Anything you want to know about anything, Kinley can probably tell you,” he told his mom. “She’s super smart.”

“What I want to know is when my boy is going to find the time to come visit his parents,” Molly quipped.

Lefty chuckled. “Hopefully soon, Mom.”
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Kinley (Delta Team Two Book 2) (pp. 39-42). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

It’s what Kinley sees on her last night in Paris that causes all kinds of trouble for her. Fired from her job, nearly pushed onto the tracks of the metro, she makes the decision to run. Unfortunately her phone was in the box that was crushed by the train, so now she can’t contact Gabe.

Gabe was sure she ghosted him again, until they return from their mission and Gillian tells him she was there. Unfortunately Gillian hasn’t heard from her in days and is now worried. When the guys find her she’s burning up with a fever. All this is just the beginning.

This book is full of painful memories for Kinley, and Gabe, with the help of his team, is determined to help her do the right thing for that girl in Paris.

There’s fun, laughter, and so many tears as this story unfolds. That Susan bases what Kinley goes through on a real life story makes it even more poignant.

I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Coming Soon!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Defending Raven – Mountain Mercenaries Book 7 By Susan Stoker


Defending Raven
Mountain Mercenaries Book 7
By
NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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A missing woman leads the alpha heroes on their boldest mission yet in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s searing Mountain Mercenaries novel.

It’s been ten years since Rex’s wife, Raven, disappeared from a Vegas casino. Never losing hope, he even formed the Mountain Mercenaries to help find her—and other missing wives, sisters, and children. Now Rex and his fearless team are following a lead to Lima, Peru, where the rescue operation is greater than they imagined.

A day at a time. That’s been Raven’s motto for a decade. Once held captive by an elusive sex trafficker, she has an indomitable will to survive. But Raven’s not ready to leave Peru. She can’t. Not yet. Because her liberation from the barrios comes with devastating consequences. One wrong move and all hope will be lost to an unimaginable hell.

For the Mountain Mercenaries, the stakes have been raised. The threats are escalating. But Rex hasn’t searched this long, risked so much, and come this far to lose Raven all over again.

Once again Susan Stoker had me up all night reading although I can probably put some of the blame on Amazon for the book showing up on my kindle just as I was heading to bed.

The entire team and Zara are headed back to Peru. Zara is going to help Daniela set up a real clinic and also act as a translator for the team. She also knows the Barrio like the back of her hand so navigating it will be much easier.

One of the most poignant moments in this book is when Dave first lays eyes on Mags, his Raven. It is also one of my favorite scenes.

Mags looked back at Dave . . . and once again couldn’t breathe. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her. It was as if he was drinking her in. But instead of his gaze comforting her, she felt exposed. Naked. She felt as if he could see straight through her to her deepest, darkest secrets. Things she’d never speak of. Not to him or to anyone. They were her shame to carry.

Zara was acting as a translator, but Mags couldn’t even hear what she was saying with the rushing sound in her ears.

Dave didn’t get off his knees. He stayed on the floor, looking at her intently. Mags knew if she had to endure it for one more second, she’d go stark raving mad.

“Raven,” Dave said softly. “I wanted to believe Zara. Wanted to believe that the woman she knew as Mags was really you . . . but I also didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. I’ve been disappointed so many times, I knew I couldn’t handle it again. But it’s you. It’s really you.”

Mags stared at him without blinking.

“Can I . . . Are you all right?”

She wanted to snort at that. Was she all right? No, of course she wasn’t.

“It’s a lot to process, Dave,” Arrow said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You need to give her some time.”

“I can’t leave,” Dave said, his voice breaking. “I just found her. I can’t go!”

Mags stiffened. He couldn’t stay. She had to make him understand. “I don’t want you here,” she said in as hard a voice as she could muster. Unfortunately, it came out more like a plea than a demand from the in-charge woman she’d had to become over the years.

She was shocked when tears formed in Dave’s eyes and spilled over his cheeks. He didn’t reach up to wipe them away, simply continued to stare at her.

“Ten years,” he said softly. “Ten years, twenty-two days, four hours, and thirty-six minutes. That’s how long you’ve been missing. And I’ve been searching for you for every single second of that time. I’ve prayed to hear your voice again . . . and the reality is so much better than my dreams.”

His words both soothed a hurt she didn’t know she’d harbored and stung like a thousand bees. Dave had obviously suffered. The man she used to know never would’ve cried. Especially not in front of others. She couldn’t talk through the lump in her own throat.

“You should go. Just for tonight,” Zara said. “Mags needs time to process everything.”

Dave opened his mouth to protest, but Gray spoke before he could.

“That sounds like a good idea. We can come back tomorrow.”

“You’re not staying here,” Meat told Zara.

“I’ll be fine,” she told him gently.

“No.”

Mags approved of Zara’s man. He was protective and obviously concerned about her safety. As much as Zara was a product of the barrio, it wasn’t safe. Not even for her.

“Maybe they can all come to the motel with us?” she asked.

“If we’re gone too long, Ruben or someone else might take over our house,” Maria said.

Zara’s shoulders drooped. “Yeah.”

“We’ll come back first thing in the morning, and we’ll bring food,” Meat reassured both Zara and the other women. “If there’s anything else you can think of that you need, we’ll go shopping again tomorrow and get it for you. We need to visit Daniela as well.”

The women all agreed, and Mags knew they were anxious to go through the bags of supplies the men had brought them and talk about exactly what was happening.

“I don’t want to go,” Dave argued.

Meat put his hand on Dave’s shoulder and squeezed. “She needs time,” he said quietly.

No one said anything for a long moment.

Then, from his position on his knees in the doorway, Dave said, “I love you, Raven.”

Mags braced herself to look at him again.

“I love you. I know enough about what happens to young women who get taken without their consent to know your life has been hell. But I’ve found you—and I’m going to do whatever it takes to prove you’re now safe. That my love for you hasn’t stopped simply because you’ve been gone.”

“People change,” she said softly. “I’m not the woman you once knew.”

“And I’m not the same person you married,” Dave countered. “I’m harder. More stubborn. A hell of a lot less trusting. But one thing will never change, and that’s how much you mean to me, and how much I love you.”

“I don’t love you anymore,” Mags lied.

Dave didn’t even flinch. “You will.”

Frustration rose within her. She needed him gone. Why wasn’t he getting mad? Leaving? She had too much to lose if he didn’t go. “My life is here in Peru,” she said as sternly as she could manage. “I’m not leaving.”

Dave eyed her for a long moment, and Mags refused to squirm under his scrutiny. Then he slowly stood, and Mags forced herself to stand her ground and not cower from the intensity of his gaze. The tears had dried up, and a very determined man stood in front of her now.

“I didn’t tell your parents that I was coming to Peru. They’ve had their hopes raised too many times and dashed just as many. And my parents have suffered right along with me. But they don’t matter. No one matters but you. My life is wherever you are,” Dave said without a trace of irritation or insecurity. “If I have to move to Lima in order to be with you, I will.”

At any other time, Mags would’ve thrown herself at her man and begged him to take her away from the barrio. From Lima. From Peru. But she couldn’t.

She was in hell. This was like being offered everything her heart desired, but she knew if she dared reach for it, she could lose something else she loved just as dearly.
Stoker, Susan. Defending Raven (Mountain Mercenaries) (pp. 39-43). Kindle Edition.

Like everything else in life this gets far more complicated than just talking to Mags and bringing her home.

The bullies in the Barrio learn a few lessons from this dedicated team, lessons that start making life for the residents a bit better. The horror of del Rio’s mindset had me both cringing and crying as Susan takes a horrific part of human trafficking and intertwines it with a love story for the ages.

So much suspense as Dave breaks down the walls Raven has erected to maintain her sanity. Her reason for needing to stay in Lima, while shocking to Dave only cements his determination to bring her home.

Some laughter, lots of tears, and an ending you won’t soon forget.

This is the last book in this series and I will miss these characters. Thank you, Susan it’s been a wild ride.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Securing Avery – SEALs of Protection Legacy Book 5 By Susan Stoker


Securing Avery
SEALs of Protection Legacy Book 5
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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Navy Nurse Avery Nelson never dreamed she’d be taken hostage during her deployment in Afghanistan. She’s assisting local women with healthcare, not fighting in a war. But digging her way out of her would-be grave turns out to be the battle of her life. She’s not the type to simply lay down and die, or sit around crying, waiting for someone to save her…though Avery can’t deny it’s a massive relief when the very SEAL she’s been flirting with for months comes to her rescue.

Cole “Rex” Kingston has saved his fair share of women over his time as a SEAL, but no mission has ever seemed as important as the one to find Avery Nelson. Digging the woman out of the rubble of a mountainside in Afghanistan hammers home to them both just how short life is, and they waste no time acting on their attraction, getting closer as Cole helps Avery deal with the aftermath of her ordeal.

But someone isn’t happy that Avery didn’t die in the mountains…and they’ll do anything to make sure she doesn’t live long enough to talk about what she might’ve heard and seen while deployed.

NOTE:
** Securing Avery is the 5th book in the SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

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These books always have strong women and damn Avery is so much more than that. From the very beginning she’s fighting to live, digging her way out stone by stone after being left to die. Her one regret, not encouraging Cole ‘Rex’ Kingston to ask her out, something she would do something about if she manages to get free of this mess.

Rex has been hanging at the hospital where Avery works as much as he can get away with. He finally was going to ask her out but she was being deployed. When his team is sent to rescue drivers and a woman taken when a convoy of weapons is hijacked he finds out the woman is Avery. Nothing will stop him from finding her and he knows his team will have his back.

When they do find her some very interesting things happen.

This is one of them and a favorite scene.

“If you can keep me from falling over, I’m ready to get out of here,” she stated.

Rex stepped closer and wrapped an arm around her waist. “Is this okay?” he asked, not wanting to contribute to any horrible memories she might have of what had been done to her while a captive.

She nodded and wrapped her own arm around him, keeping her head down and grabbing onto his shirt with surprising strength. “Yeah. Look, we’re the perfect height to win a three-legged race,” she quipped.

Rex snorted. It wasn’t quite a laugh, he couldn’t bring himself to laugh at a time like this, but he agreed with her assessment. They fit together perfectly. He walked them over to the hole where he’d entered the cave.

She was squinting and doing her best to look through the hole, toward the bright sunshine outside, but it was obvious it was causing her pain.

“Hang on,” he told her, then raised his head and yelled, “Phantom?”

“Right here,” his friend said.

“I need your sunglasses.” Without a word of question, a hand thrust a pair of sunglasses down the hole. Rex grabbed them and turned to Avery. “Here, these will help until your eyes can adjust.” Then he slipped them onto her face, brushing her hair behind her ears in the process.

He heard her sigh in relief. “Thank you, you have no idea how…” Her voice trailed off when she finally looked at his face.

“What?”

“Cole?” she whispered.

Rex did chuckle this time; he couldn’t help it. “Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone call me that. How’d you know my name?”

She shrugged. “I may or may not have asked around,” she admitted freely.

“You can call me Rex,” he said, flattered beyond belief that she’d wanted to find out more about him. He knew she wouldn’t have learned anything but the basics. Because of his top-secret clearance and the secrecy surrounding the SEALs, anything said about him would’ve been general knowledge.

“Thanks, but I think I like Cole better. I can’t believe you’re here,” she said quietly. He couldn’t see her eyes behind the dark lenses of the sunglasses, but he could feel her gaze boring into him nonetheless.

“Wanna go out sometime?” she blurted.

Rex knew his mouth was hanging open, but he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.

“I mean…” She began to falter at his obvious astonishment. “I just…I made a promise to myself that if I got out of this hole in the mountain, I’d go after what I wanted.”

“And what you wanted was me?” Rex couldn’t help but ask.

He saw her cheeks pinken, and it was a welcome sight. She was way too pale for his peace of mind.

She shrugged. “Yeah.”

“You should know, I was kicking my own ass for chickening out and not asking you out for coffee before you were deployed,” Rex told her honestly.

They smiled at each other for a long, quiet moment before Avery swayed.

And just like that, Rex recalled where they were and what the hell they were doing.
Stoker, Susan. Securing Avery (SEAL of Protection: Legacy Book 5) (pp. 26-28). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

So many hold your breath moments, and Avery takes no crap from anyone. Rex and his team and a few of those Delta guys are awesome. The fact that Phantom remembers the thing he couldn’t and many more OMG moments, add to the suspense. There were times I had tears running down my face even as I laughed out loud.

I really wish I had the will power to not start reading these books when they hit my kindle, I couldn’t put this book aside and now I need a nap or three.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.


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Shielding Gillian – Delta Team Two Book 1 by Susan Stoker


Shielding Gillian
Delta Team Two Book 1
By
NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal
Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

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As an event planner, Gillian Romano’s an expert at rolling with the punches and solving unexpected problems. But her flight getting hijacked while returning from a job is definitely out of her skill set. Passengers are being murdered, and when she’s chosen by the terrorists to be their mouthpiece, even more innocent lives rest on Gillian’s shoulders. Only the calm, reassuring voice on the other end of the line keeps her sane, forging a bond with a stranger she’s never seen but trusts with her life.

Walker “Trigger” Nelson and his Delta Force team have spent years training for close-quarter hostage rescue. When they get called to South America to attempt to save an airplane full of hostages, he doesn’t expect to meet a woman who rocks his world in the middle of the op. Gillian’s cool head and bravery in the face of certain terror—and possible death—blows him away. Any outcome that doesn’t include Gillian leaving that plane alive and well is not an option.

After their safe return to Texas, both Trigger and Gillian are excited to find out if their instant chemistry can survive the real world. Neither realizing that someone isn’t happy with the outcome of the hijacking, and is watching, waiting, for a second chance to strike.

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As Ghost and his team start stepping back, it’s time for another team to take the limelight, this book introduces us to the men of Delta Team 2.

We jump right in with a hijacked plane and a passenger told to be their spokesperson or die.

Gillian is really wishing she hadn’t taken that extra day to relax after the event she planned was over. Now she’s on a hijacked plane and scared out of her mind, but knows she has to get through to the authorities the seriousness of the demands.

She’s relieved when the original person is replaced with someone else, and American, military. She just has to hold on and give these men what they need to succeed at this rescue.

Trigger Walker and his team get valuable information from Gillian, but things go sideways but they succeed.

This is a favorite scene.

“I don’t know, and right now I don’t care. All I care about is that they’re dead and you’re not,” Walker said.

“I think they were going to take me with them,” she whispered. “Thank you for making sure that didn’t happen.”

“No way in hell was I going to let them do that,” Walker told her. Then he slowly pulled her into him once again.

Gillian rested her cheek on his chest. He was taller than she was, but they still fit together perfectly. She knew she needed a shower, and she had Alberto’s blood in her hair and on her clothes, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. All she could focus on was the man holding her.

She’d never felt for anyone the way she felt about Walker at this moment.

She was well aware it was because she’d almost died. She was shaking with the adrenaline still coursing through her veins. But some distant, stubborn part of her whispered that this was real. That Walker felt something for her, and not just because he was doing his job.

“We need to get gone,” one of his friends said gently from next to them. For a second, Gillian gripped Walker tighter, then she took a deep breath and picked her head up off his chest. He didn’t immediately loosen his hold. They stared at each other for a long moment before he reluctantly—at least, she thought it was reluctantly—dropped his arms.
Gillian swayed, and Walker immediately reached out and steadied her with a hand on her biceps. She flinched, and he frowned.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt after all? Let me see.”

“I’m okay,” Gillian reassured him. “That’s just the same place those assholes assholes liked to grab me and haul me around. It’s just bruises. They’ll heal.”

She thought he mumbled something about how he should’ve killed them slowly, but then he brought his hand up to her face. His thumb rubbed her cheek, and she watched him taking her in slowly. His gaze flicked from the top of her head to her eyes, then her cheeks, and finally her mouth.

She couldn’t help but wipe her tongue over her suddenly dry lips, and she loved that his pupils seemed to dilate at seeing the movement.

“What happens now?” she asked quietly.

“The US government has chartered a flight to get you and the other Americans back home as quickly as possible. Venezuela is not a country you want to spend any more time in than necessary right now. Much of the government is corrupt and it’s dangerous as hell.”

“Yeah, I think I found that out the hard way,” Gillian quipped.

His lips quirked up into a smile, but he quickly got serious again. “I’m sure you’ll be interviewed about what happened. You should see a doctor to make sure you’re all right physically, as well.”

“I will,” she told him. “What should I say about you and your friends?”

“What do you mean?” he asked with a frown.

“I just…I guess I assumed you’d want your role in what happened here to be downplayed.”

“Why would you think that?” Walker asked.

Feeling awkward, like maybe she’d misread the entire situation, Gillian said, “You said you were stationed in Texas, which means you’re in the military. And since it’s just you guys, and not a whole platoon of men, I’m also guessing you’re special forces of some kind? And because of the relationship between the US and Venezuela, I’m further assuming what you did today should be downplayed.”

When no one said anything, Gillian looked down at her feet. “Or I’m just a girl who reads too much. Never mind, forget I said anything.”

She felt a finger under her chin and looked up into Walker’s eyes. “I knew you were a smart cookie. I’m sure the people who interview you will know who we are and what our role was, so you can be honest with them. But once you’re home…yeah, it would be good if you didn’t talk about us with the media or anyone else.”

“What about my best friends? Ann, Wendy, Clarissa, and I tell each other everything. We’re more like sisters than friends. I can keep most of the details secret, but they’ll know I’m lying if I don’t tell them something.”

“Use your best judgement,” Walker said.

“I like her,” one of his friends said from behind them.

“Me too,” someone else chimed in.

She saw Walker shake his head in bemusement at his friends, but he didn’t take his eyes from hers. He leaned forward and said softly, “You’re amazing, Gillian Romano. I’m in awe of your strength.”

Then he straightened and took a step away from her.

Gillian shivered, even though it wasn’t close to being cold.

She heard yelling, and turned her head to see at least a dozen men headed toward them wearing camouflage uniforms. She looked back at Walker and saw a mask had fallen across his features. He was back in business mode.

“Will I see you again?” she blurted. When he didn’t immediately respond, she awkwardly said, “I mean, I live in Austin, and I’m assuming you’re stationed at Fort Hood because, you know…it’s Army, and really big.”

She couldn’t interpret the look on his face, but she was relieved to see his expression change. Get softer.

“Go with the Venezuelan officials,” he urged. “Be safe, Di. You never know who might just show up on your doorstep someday.”
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Gillian (Delta Team Two Book 1) . Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (862-902). Kindle Edition.

Now back home, Trigger is confronted first by Lucky but Grover, Doc, Brain, Oz and Lefty also put their two cents in about his attitude. He’s constantly thinking about Gillian and it shows.

It’s Brain who gives him the perfect excuse to go see her, but he almost totally screws that up too.

Now you know Susan isn’t going to let Gillian off that easy and everything starts ramping up from here, and I do mean everything.

Plenty of suspense, lots of romance and some sizzle and this one kept me guessing until the end.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Defending Zara – Mountain Mercenaries Book 6 By Susan Stoker


Defending Zara
Mountain Mercenaries Book 6
By
NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal
Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

For a Mountain Mercenary and a desperate woman,
love becomes a dangerous refuge
in New York Times bestselling author
Susan Stoker’s novel of
heart-gripping suspense.

Mountain Mercenary Hunter “Meat” Snow has a mission: eliminate the human traffickers scouring the barrios of Lima for vulnerable prey. But it’s Meat who’s taken down. Separated from his team and beaten within an inch of his life, he’s left for dead. When he wakes, it’s to the intimate care of a beautiful stranger who knows all about survival.

Zara Layne was a child when a brutal murder left her orphaned and abandoned in Peru. Ever since, she’s fended for herself on the streets, outrunning its predators. Trusting men is not in Zara’s blood…until it warms to the exhilarating touch of the wounded hero who promises deliverance. As each other’s rescuers, they return to Colorado for a new normal.

But when Meat disappears, Zara discovers how ruthless the past can be. With the help of the loyal Mercenaries, she’s drawing on her own skills of endurance to find him. And for Zara, there’s no danger great enough to come between her and the man she loves.

Zara has been masquerading as a boy since she realized it was safer than being a girl in Lima’s barrios. It’s been fifteen years since she witnessed her parents murder and long ago she gave up on ever being found and embraced her fate, concentrating only on surviving.

The Mountain Mercenaries were on a mission in Lima, they had intel on kidnapped children and were set to rescue them and put a few kinks in that branch of human traffickers. Unfortunately things went sideways and Black and Meat were severely beaten.

Zara was with the group Mags ran that tried to help the women and children and saw the guys get taken down. Unfortunately they were only able to get one of the men away.

Zara took him to Daniela a doctor who helped them when necessary, she does patch him up a bit under protest but Meat realizing his situation does behave.

This is a favorite scene.

Zara froze. She wasn’t ready to talk about herself. Hell, she never talked about herself. It was safer that way. But she didn’t want to get up and walk away either. For some reason, she felt comfortable with Meat.

It made no sense, really. But then again . . . she was tired. Tired of constantly looking behind her. Of having to scrounge for food. Of trying to stay under the radar. She was way too practical to live her life wondering “what if,” but at the moment, talking to Meat, she felt her guard lowering.

She still wasn’t going to talk about herself. Not yet. She’d only known this man for hours. But she could put his mind at ease. “I went back to the barrio and found out about your friends today.”

His eyes widened and he sat up straighter. He leaned toward her eagerly. “Yeah?”

Zara nodded. “Mags said that right after I left with you, the Americans came and got the man you’d been with.”

Meat sighed in relief. “Thank God! Did you get a chance to tell them I was all right?”

Zara bit her lip and shook her head.

Meat frowned.

At his expression, she found herself wanting to explain. “The Special Forces Brigade members are still with them. We can’t risk talking to the Americans. It would bring attention to ourselves. Bad attention.” Zara wasn’t sure Meat understood. “The best thing is to not be seen,” she said. “If they see us, they’ll start asking questions, and we won’t be able to help others like we do now.”

Meat looked at her for a long moment before he finally nodded. “I understand.”

“Mags said she would try to get a note to them. But hopefully you will be healed enough to leave soon, and it won’t be necessary.”

“I wondered where you had gone today,” Meat said. “I hadn’t expected you to do that for me.”

“You were worried about them.”

“I was. But still. How far did you have to travel to get back to the barrio where you found me?”

She hesitated. The last thing she wanted was to get Daniela in trouble, or for Meat to get too curious. The less he knew, the better.

Before she could think of a good answer, he spoke.

“Never mind. I’m learning that there’re a lot of things I’m better off not knowing, right?”

Zara nodded.

“Have I thanked you yet?” Meat asked.

Zara looked at him with what she knew was probably another shocked expression.

“I guess I haven’t. It’s obvious you know this area much better than I do. Black and I weren’t expecting to be jumped like we were. I appreciate you and your friends stepping in to help us, especially considering the amount of danger it obviously put you in.”

Zara licked her lips and said nothing.

“You haven’t asked what we were doing there.”

She already knew about the boys they’d found, but shrugged anyway.

“My friends and I are part of a somewhat secret group. We’re called the Mountain Mercenaries. We’ve made it our mission to rescue women and children from those who would do them harm. The wife of our leader, Rex, disappeared years ago, and he suspects she was kidnapped into the sex trade. He’s never stopped looking for her. In the meantime, he’s dedicated dedicated his life to helping others like her, who are taken from their homes and families.

“We were working with the government on a human-trafficking sting. We were told there were several boys on the verge of being sold into the kind of life no child should ever know exists. Our intel was good . . . but when we got here, things got all fucked up. We should’ve pulled out of the mission immediately, but decided to go ahead with it. That was our mistake.”

Zara stared at Meat. She and the others had already deduced the Americans were there to try to save the children, but they hadn’t known anything about their motives. They’d wondered why a group from the United States would care about what happened to a bunch of poor barrio kids. And it was obvious that Meat did care. He cared about a bunch of children he’d never met.

For just a moment, Zara wondered what her life could’ve been like if Meat and his friends had been around when she’d needed them.

But the second she had the thought, she dismissed it. She didn’t know how old Meat was, but fifteen years ago, he probably wasn’t in the same line of work he was in now.
Stoker, Susan. Defending Zara (Mountain Mercenaries) (pp. 29-31). Kindle Edition.

Slowly Meat gains Zara’s trust and she tells him her story when he says that his group is from Colorado. Ironically that’s where she was originally from as well. In that moment Meat knew he wasn’t going to leave this country without her.

Oh the many surprises this book has in store for you! I couldn’t put it down which also means I got very little sleep.

Full of suspense, family drama, romance and just enough sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Securing Zoey – SEALs of Protection Legacy Book 4 by Susan Stoker


Securing Zoey
SEALs of Protection: Legacy Book 4
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

After an unstable childhood, Zoey Knight landed in Juneau, Alaska, during high school, and has never left. Now in her early thirties, she lives a quiet life that includes part-time caretaker for a beloved father figure. Despite the stability, she occasionally wishes for more adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when a plane she’s in goes down in a remote stretch of wilderness—and the only other passenger is a man she’s crushed on for years.

Life as a SEAL doesn’t allow for much spare time, but Mark “Bubba” Wright still regrets not trying harder to visit his pop. Now it’s too late, and the guilt is heavy when he heads to Alaska for the reading of his father’s will. The only bright spot is finding a girl he knew in high school on the same tiny plane. The same woman, it turns out, who’s been taking care of his pop…a girl he crushed on in high school.

Struggling to survive in the Alaska back country isn’t the kind of second chance either envisioned, but relying on each other makes Zoey and Bubba’s rekindled attraction hotter than ever. Funny how puzzling out who might want them dead can bring a couple closer together…

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Mark ‘Bubba’ Wright’s father has died unexpectedly and he is heading home to Alaska filled with grief and guilt. At the airport he is surprised to see a woman sharing the flight with him.

It turns out he knows her, Zoey Knight had been in school with him and his twin Malcolm actually had dated her a couple of times. More than that it was Zoey who took care of his Dad, kept him company, listened to his stories, really an overall companion and friend. That kept her busy during the winter months, as her job at one of the tourist shops was part-time and only during cruise ship season.

They took off as scheduled, but then the unthinkable happens. An emergency landing on a lake, then instead of actually fixing the plane the pilot takes off again. Leaving Mark and Zoey stranded in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

This is a favorite scene.

“I should’ve been paying attention. I know better. But I was tired, and I let my guard down. It won’t happen again.”

“Mark, this isn’t your fault. How could we know this would happen?”

Much like it had in the airport, hearing his given name on her lips made him feel…odd. He couldn’t put his finger on why, though, so he simply ignored it. “Well, we both know my pop had plenty of money. So I’m guessing someone didn’t want us to make it back to Juneau for the reading of the will.”

“That’s stupid,” Zoey said. “I mean, making us disappear isn’t going to automatically make the money go to someone else…is it?”

Bubba shrugged. “I have no idea. I don’t know what was in Pop’s will or how he worded it. If he set up a trust, it’s possible if I was indisposed—or dead—it would go to someone else.”

Zoey’s eyes got big. “Who do you think is behind this?”

“That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?” he asked. “And something I should be asking you. You spent a lot more time with Pop than I did. Who do you think would want to get rid of us?”

“Us? I’m nobody. I wasn’t even related to Colin. Why would anyone include me in their scheme?”

“Another good question,” Bubba told her, glad she’d stopped crying. “And maybe you just had the bad luck of sharing a plane with me. But as far as you being a nobody, that’s definitely not true. I hadn’t seen Pop in forever, but I know that you’ve been by his side for over a decade. You were very important to him, and since he included you in his will, you definitely weren’t a nobody to him, either.”

Zoey stared at him in silence, and Bubba couldn’t read what she was thinking.

Eventually, she closed her eyes and sighed. “So someone wanted us both dead, or at least out of the picture so we couldn’t claim your dad’s inheritance? It’s a stupid plan.”

Again, Bubba chuckled. That definitely wasn’t what he thought she’d say. “I agree. Because if we are declared dead, whatever Pop left us will go to our heirs.”

“But it still leaves us with the question of who wants us dead,” Zoey said.

Bubba nodded. “Yes. But we have bigger things to deal with at the moment.”

Zoey looked around them. She hadn’t pulled out of his grasp. Bubba saw that she had a fleece-lined shirt tied around her waist, and he moved his hands down to tug at the knot.

“What are you—”

Before she could finish her question, he moved behind her and helped her shrug on the shirt. The temperature was in the lower sixties right now, but he was glad she had the extra layer because it would get quite chilly at night.

“Thank you,” she said when he walked back around her.

“We aren’t going to die out here,” he said in a sure, serious tone.

Zoey tilted her head up to look him in the eyes. “You don’t know that.”

“I do. Whoever was behind this messed up.”

She raised an eyebrow at him.

Bubba felt his lips curling upward again. God, she was adorable. “Their first mistake was thinking dropping us off in the middle of nowhere was going to get rid of us.”

“I hate to break it to you, Superman, but we have no food. No transportation. No way of contacting anyone. No shelter.” Zoey looked around comically. “And I don’t see any Ubers lining up to take us home.”

“Oh, ye of little faith,” he chided. “On a scale of one to ten, how comfortable are you with the outdoors?”

She frowned and wrinkled her nose. “Maybe a four. Four and a half,” she said.

Bubba beamed. “Perfect.”

“Perfect? Has anyone ever told you that you’re insane?”

“My teammates, actually,” he told her, straight-faced. “If you had said zero or one, then things might’ve been a little more difficult, but I can work with a four.”

Zoey shook her head and rolled her eyes, making Bubba suddenly want to grab ahold of her head and kiss the look of exasperation off her face. He didn’t have time to examine that reaction before she was talking again.

“Seriously, you’re crazy. I mean, I live in Juneau, so of course I’m somewhat familiar with the outdoors. You know as well as I do that we all like to be outside as much as possible in the summer because it’s so miserable, cold, and dark in the winters.”

“I do know that. What about exercise?”

“What about it?” she asked.

“Do you do it?”

Zoey sighed again, and her gaze slipped away from his. “If you’re asking if I’m secretly a triathlete or something, you’re going to be disappointed.”

Bubba didn’t like that he’d embarrassed her. He put a finger on her chin and gently turned her face back to his. “I have a feeling nothing you do could disappoint me.”

When she rolled her eyes again, Bubba internally sighed in relief. He liked her subtle snarkiness.

“To answer your question, I don’t work out regularly. I don’t like the gym, I feel too self-conscious there, working out next to the super-buff men and women who frequent the one in Juneau. But I also don’t have a car, so I walk a lot. The house I was renting from your dad was a few blocks from his own, so when I went over to help him, I walked. When I had to go into town, I rode my bike.”

Bubba nodded in satisfaction. “That’s great.” At her look of disbelief, he went on. “Seriously. Walking in Juneau isn’t exactly easy. Maybe you forgot that I lived there too. Dad’s house is at the top of that huge hill, and I know from firsthand experience that it’s not easy walking up there. And if you biked into town, you had to go up and down several hills. That will help a lot out here.”

Zoey bit her lip and looked around. “Mark, we’re in the middle of nowhere. We don’t even know what direction Anchorage is in. How in the world do you think we’re going to get there? We can’t walk. We were in the air for an hour!”

Bubba could hear her working herself into a frenzy, so he reached into one of the pockets of his cargo pants and pulled something out. He held it in his palm so she could see, and said, “We won’t have to walk all the way. Eventually we’ll run into someone. And I’ve got this.”

Zoey looked down at his hand, then back up at his face. “You have a compass?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Why not?” he asked flippantly. When she didn’t smile, he got serious. “It’s been beaten into my head to be prepared for just about anything. I might not have my duffle, but I promise that we aren’t going to starve or freeze.”

She swallowed hard. “Do you think we’re really alone out here? What if whoever planned this hid someone out here to make sure we didn’t make it out alive?”

Bubba had already thought about that. “Honestly? I hope like hell they did.”

Her eyes rounded, and she stared at him as if he’d suddenly grown three heads. “What? Why?”

“Because I could capture them and make them tell me who the hell’s behind this. They’d probably have supplies I could pilfer, as well. Maybe even a satellite phone.”

“You sound so sure of yourself,” Zoey said after a beat.

“That’s because I am. Zoey, I’m a Navy SEAL.”

“I know.”

He shook his head. “But I don’t think you really understand what that means.”
Stoker, Susan. Securing Zoey (SEAL of Protection: Legacy Book 4). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (427-486). Kindle Edition.

Even though Mark is sure his team would come after him when he doesn’t call to check in, it’s a long and sometimes treacherous hike heading in a direction they hope will lead to civilization.

I loved the conversations, the way Mark keeps her warm and teaches her things for survival out there. The chemistry between these two is obvious but neither act upon it as they trek day to day overcoming obstacles.

Full of intrigue, suspense, romance, some sizzle and so much more!

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

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.


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Defending Everly – Mountain Mercenaries Book 5 by Susan Stoker


Defending Everly
Mountain Mercenaries Book 5
By
NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal
Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

As tough as Everly Adams may be, the Colorado Springs SWAT officer is near a breaking point. Her fifteen-year-old half sister, Elise, has disappeared from Los Angeles without a trace, and the window to find her is closing fast. Committed to the search is Mountain Mercenary Kannon “Ball” Black. He and Everly already have a history—of rubbing each other the wrong way.

Still, Everly has to admit the man is heart-stopping. His brash alpha swagger takes her breath away. And most importantly, as a former Coast Guard first responder, Ball has what it takes to bring Elise home.

Nobody’s buying the LAPD’s “runaway” theory. And the fear that Elise is the victim of a human trafficking ring is a gut-punch that Everly and Ball can’t ignore. If only the trail were that clear cut. Because the one they’re following is more insidious and intimately dark than they could have imagined.

Now as the bond between Everly and Ball grows stronger, so does the heat. And as the stakes rise, so does the danger.

Kannon ‘Ball’ Black has more than a few issues being partnered with a woman. He had a woman trainee in the Coast Guard and another had ripped his heart out.

Even though Everly is a trained SWAT officer, she beside herself with worry. Her fifteen year old sister Elise has gone missing and she turns to the Mountain Mercenaries for help finding her. She overheard Ball’s comments about a woman being involved in the case and wasn’t exactly happy he was the one assigned.

As they work to find her sister Ball finds his opinion changing as he realizes how really wrong he’s been.

This is a favorite scene.

Ball watched through the glass as her gait changed from the no-nonsense “cop walk” to a more seductive swagger. Her hips were lush, and the way the jeans hugged her ass should be illegal.

Shaking his head and smiling to himself, Ball turned to have a look around the outside of the building—and ran right into someone standing way too close to him.

The man immediately kneed him in the groin, and Ball folded in half, excruciating pain pulsing through his body.

Taking advantage of his momentary incapacitation, the man grabbed an arm and forced him around to the side of the building.

Ball struggled to get his wits about him. The asshole who’d kneed him pushed hard, and Ball fell to his knees in the gravel parking area. He was immediately on his feet again, but not before two other men grabbed him by the arms and held him between them.

Ball was taller than the three men, but waves of pain were still shooting from between his legs, and the man who’d attacked him first was able to get in two punches before Ball came to his senses. In a way, the hits to his face helped redirect the pain he was feeling away from his balls to his head.

Using some of the moves he’d learned in the Coast Guard, as well as those his fellow Mountain Mercenaries had taught him, Ball fought back.

But after a minute, he was dismayed to realize he was still losing the fight. Three against one wasn’t exactly fair, but the men didn’t care. They hadn’t demanded anything of him, and Ball had no idea why they’d targeted him.

Until one of the men who’d been waiting around the corner of the store said, “Knock him out already so we can get the girl!”

Fuck that. They weren’t getting their hands on Everly.

“Fuck that!” a feminine voice said from nearby, and before Ball could warn her away, Everly was in the thick of things.

Now that he wasn’t fighting three men at one time, it wasn’t long before Ball had knocked one of the assholes unconscious.

He turned to assist Everly—and instead could only stare. The man who’d kicked him in the groin was moaning in pain on the ground, and she had the other guy in a headlock. She was shorter than he was by two or three inches, and yet he was still bent backward, totally under her control.

A man wearing khakis, a polo with the name of the gas station on it, and a ball cap ran around the corner. “The cops are on their way . . . Holy shit!”

Ball had to give it to the young man. He collected himself and said, “I’ve got some rope in the back!” He then turned and ran around the corner, presumably to get the rope so they could secure the punks who’d attacked them.

Ball couldn’t help himself. He walked up to the first man—who was now on his hands and knees, looking like he was thinking about getting up—and kicked him in the balls, just as the man had done to him.

The man fell to his side, crying out with pain.

Satisfied, Ball turned to Everly. She’d effectively cut off the guy’s oxygen enough to knock him out and was lowering him to the gravel.

So many feelings and thoughts were running through his mind in that moment.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

Ball nodded but didn’t say anything.

Her eyes narrowed. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” he said, after a beat. “Thank you.”

Everly nodded, and then turned to make sure the men she’d incapacitated weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Stoker, Susan. Defending Everly (Mountain Mercenaries) (pp. 57-59). Kindle Edition.

In the center of this is Elise who was kidnapped, a teenager wanting a bit more freedom but her life is just a bit different because she is deaf. However not so much that she doesn’t feel the same things as any other teen.

Now this book sent me through a wave of several different emotions. From laughter at Everly’s Grandmother’s antics, to various versions of tears. Then there is the slow steady relationship that grows between Everly and Ball. There’s also a bond that is forming with Ball and Elise.

I couldn’t put this book down as this story unfolds. Full of love, tears, laughter, angst and so much more!

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Coming Soon!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Shelter for Penelope – Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15 by Susan Stoker


Shelter for Penelope
Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15
By
NY Times, USA Today and
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

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Dubbed the “American Princess” after her rescue from months in the hands of ISIS, soldier and firefighter Penelope Turner has struggled silently since her return to Texas. The media, the danger of her job, the pressure of knowing lives are in her hands…all of it and more has combined to slowly fill Penelope with seething guilt and doubt. Missing memories from her moment of capture cause even more angst. Is she responsible for the deaths of her Army patrol unit? And without knowing what happened, how can she be trusted by her fellow firefighters—or trust them in return?

Worse…how can she ever be worthy of the man who believes in her most?

It took seeing Penelope in the hands of terrorists—in viral videos seen around the world—for Tucker “Moose” Jacobs to realize just how much he loved his fellow firefighter. He died waiting for her rescue, then died all over again when Penelope abruptly left Texas, trying to outrun her past. Now that she’s returned, the kid gloves are off. Moose is a patient man, but even he has his limits. He loves Penelope, and he knows it’s past time for her to face her fears, and remember she has an entire tribe of friends who not only have her back, but need Pen to have theirs, as well.

In the end, Penelope will have to trust Moose, her friends, and most of all herself, if she’s going to make peace with her past…and have any kind of future.

** Shelter for Penelope is the 15th and final book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings. Penelope’s story started in Protecting the Future, and over the years, she’s struggled with her inner demons. Read on to see her finally get her HEA.

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The first thing you need to do before you start reading, is  grab a full box of tissues, you will need them.

At the end of Shelter for Koren, Penelope has left her resignation on the Chief’s desk and left, not only the station but San Antonio. Fortunately she has on the tracker Tex sent her when she returned home. He’s sort of guiding her in her travels with her donkey Smokey keeping them safe and directing her to some pretty awesome veterans and active service friends.

She’s called Moose giving him updates on her travels, but hasn’t said anything about coming home, at least not until her latest phone call.

This is a favorite scene.

“Taco proposed to Koren, and she said yes. They haven’t chosen a date yet though.”

He wasn’t sure if he should tell her the next thing. But he’d promised he’d never lie to her, and not letting her know felt like a lie of omission. “And…Sophie’s pregnant. She and Chief just got back from visiting his mom on the reservation. They wanted to tell her first. I guess they had a blessing ceremony, and his mom was super excited. She’s got about six more months to go.”

When Penelope didn’t say anything, Moose asked, “Pen? You still there?”

“I’m missing everything,” she whispered.

“Then come home,” Moose pleaded. He’d promised he wouldn’t, but the words just popped out. “Together, we can work through whatever has you so scared.”

“I can’t,” Penelope told him.

“But you are coming home at some point, right?” Moose asked.

“I haven’t decided.”

Moose felt his heart break right in half at her words.

He’d had his suspicions that he’d lost the woman he loved, but until now, she’d never come right out and said that she might not come back to him. And it hurt.

She was shutting him out. Him and her brother and all the rest of her friends.

Feeling the tell-tale sign of tears forming behind his eyes, Moose stumbled backward until his legs came into contact with his bed and he sat down, hard. It was his turn to have nothing to say. The silence over the phone line was heavy and fraught with tension.

“Moose?”

“All I ever want is for you to be happy,” Moose started, doing his damnedest to not let his voice crack. “When you were here and suffering, I did all I could to be there for you. I defended your need to keep Smokey, and I let him stay in my barn, and then my house when the barn was torched. After you left, I defended your need and right for some space to the guys. When you missed the birth of Blythe’s daughter, I reassured her that you’d be back, that you were trying to get your head on straight after everything that had happened to you.

“And I’ll have your back no matter what, Pen. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love you.”

Moose heard her take a deep breath, but he kept going. “I’ve loved you forever. I’d bend over backward to keep you safe. To do what you need to live your life the way you need to live it. But I need you to want that too. To want to stand by my side. To have my back. I get that you’re struggling, I do, and I wish there was something I could do to help you. But I can’t if you don’t let me in.

“If you don’t come back to San Antonio, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over loving you. You’re it for me. I feel that down to the marrow of my bones. I love the woman you are today, the woman you were yesterday, and the woman you’re going to be in the future. I don’t give a fuck if you have PTSD or if you can’t ever be a firefighter again. You can stay home and raise miniature donkeys if that makes you happy. All I want is to be by your side while you do it.

“But if moving away from everyone who loves you exactly how you are, who supports you unconditionally, is what you need to be happy…so be it. Please thank the men who were able to get you out of hell for me, and tell them they have my undying gratitude. Don’t forget to shoot Blythe a text to congratulate her on her marriage, and maybe Sophie too, for being pregnant. Stay safe…and know that I love you.”

“Moose—”

“Thanks for calling,” he interrupted her, not able to listen to her try to let him down gently.

He’d never come right out and told her he’d loved her before, but he couldn’t keep the words in anymore. Not if she was deciding whether or not to come back to Texas. He wasn’t about to play fair, not when it came to the woman he loved. He was almost forty; if Penelope didn’t come home to him, he’d never get married. Never have a family. She was it for him. He knew that with no uncertainty.

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, Moose. Later.”

Moose clicked off the phone and squeezed it so tightly in his fist he knew it was only a matter of seconds before it broke. He threw the phone onto his nightstand and bent over so his elbows were resting on his knees.
Stoker, Susan. Shelter for Penelope (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15) . Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (149-180). Kindle Edition.

I started crying when Pen says she doesn’t know if she’s going back to Texas and sniffled most of the way through this book.

It’s not until she’s with Wolf, Caroline and the team that brought her home, that she starts to realize she’s running away and not dealing with anything.

Her return to Texas is fraught with emotion and new experiences with Moose beside her the whole time. He is unfailing in his love and support.

I loved the way everyone stands with her whether or not she wants them there. My heart broke with her painful memories as she deals with her PTSD and trust issues.

A very emotional and beautiful end to this wonderful series. Thank you for the journey Susan.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.

She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.


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Claiming Sarah – Ace Security Book 5 by Susan Stoker


Claiming Sarah
Ace Security Book 5
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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All defenses are down in the fifth Ace Security novel from New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker.

Sarah Butler isn’t flattered. She’s angry and unnerved. She’s been getting intimate gifts from a man she barely knows. Nothing threatening yet, but there’s just a weird vibe she can’t ignore. Her recourse is Ace Security. Their solution: self-defense lessons at Rock Hard Gym with a personal, hands-on instructor. One look at the bearded, tattooed, green-eyed alpha is enough to take Sarah’s breath away.

Cole Johnson is definitely the man for the job. He’s eager to train her. Eager to get closer. And when it comes to Sarah’s instincts, Cole knows she’s not imagining things. He’s also not imagining the intense attraction between them—and his desire to protect her is growing. But so are Sarah’s fears, the worst of which come true when she disappears.

Enlisting the help of Ace Security, Cole will stop at nothing to find the love of his life…before she vanishes forever.

Sarah has a problem and folks think she’s just overreacting. A former patient’s son is sending her gifts and ‘love’ letters, even though she’s told him to stop. The police just told her to be careful, but there’s nothing they could do as there were no obvious threats.

Frustrated she went to Ace Security, only to find they are very expensive. they did however recommend getting self-defense classes at Rock Hard Gym.

Cole almost blows this first meeting thanks to the receptionist not closing his office door, but he manages to salvage the relationship.

This is a favorite scene.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter if an ex-husband or boyfriend was harassing her, or a perfect stranger. She could end up just as dead no matter who was making her life hell.

Sarah swallowed hard. “I just . . . I need to be able to protect myself . . .just in case.”

Cole waited for her to go on, but when she simply sat on his couch, silent, he realized she was done talking. That was all she was going to give him. If it had been anyone else, he probably would’ve been relieved and finished up quickly by scheduling a time for their first lesson.

But this time, Cole pushed for more. “Who’s harassing you, Sarah?”

She stared at him for a long moment, and Cole did his best to try to make himself look as nonthreatening as possible, which was kind of a joke, considering his tattoos and muscles.

Finally, she took a deep breath. “It’s stupid.”

“If someone has done something to make you feel like you need to take self-defense classes, it’s not stupid.”

“You aren’t going to think it’s anything to be nervous about.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that,” Cole told her, even more worried now. He had a feeling if she was downplaying the threat against her, it was probably way worse than he’d imagined.

“It’s just that . . . I’ve been to the cops, and the guy I talked to flat out told me there was nothing he could do, and that I was likely imagining danger where there wasn’t any. Even my coworkers think I’m crazy.”

Cole leaned forward. He wanted to cover her hands with his own in comfort, but settled for doing what he could to reassure her with words. “If that little voice in your head is telling you that you’re in danger, then you are. There’ve been plenty of times in my life when I’ve sensed something was off or wrong, and have been proven right. But regardless, whether you’re imagining things or not, that’s not my place to say. If you want to learn how to protect yourself to feel less vulnerable, then I can teach you the skills to do just that. It’s not a matter of me believing you or not. But with that said . . . you can trust me, Sarah. If you tell me you’re in danger, then I’ll one hundred percent believe you.”

“Why?”

Her question was blunt and to the point, and she looked right into his eyes as she asked. “Because my best friend was stalked for over a decade by a man who others thought was perfectly normal. Because I’ve seen case after case Ace Security has taken on where men have sworn up and down that their ex-wives or girlfriends were batshit crazy, and the police didn’t believe them . . . and in the end, they were proven correct when they were attacked by the same women authorities deemed ‘normal’ and ‘docile.’

“Because most importantly, when I look at you, I can tell you’re at the end of your rope and you need help. Let me help you, Sarah.”

She didn’t cry. Didn’t wring her hands. She simply began to talk.

“I met Owen Montrone six months ago. His mother was in the hospital where I work and was very sick. I was nice to them both, as I am to everyone. Owen is . . . slow.”

“What do you mean? Mentally handicapped?” Cole asked.

“Not really. I mean, I’m not sure. I think he just has a really low IQ. His mom told me he was in special classes throughout his school years, and he’s lived with her for his entire life. Anyway, he seemed lonely in the hospital. A little lost. I went to lunch in the cafeteria with him once, after his mom pleaded with me to spend some time with him. A few weeks later, I heard his mother died. Not long after that, I started getting letters from Owen.

“I wasn’t sure how he got my address, until I mentioned it at work. The receptionist said she’d given it to him when he’d called one day. He’d told her he wanted to thank me for all the help I’d given his mom, and she thought it was sweet. She was reprimanded, but by then it was too late. After the letters, the gifts started arriving. And I’ve sometimes seen him around . . . in the same places I shop and eat out. I’ve asked him to please stop, but he hasn’t.”

“What kind of gifts?” Cole asked.

“Flowers. Candy. Stuffed animals. You name it.”

Cole’s brow wrinkled. “Anything blatantly threatening?”

“No.”

The word was said with a hint of hostility, and Cole understood why the police had basically patted her on the head and sent her on her way.“And the letters?”

“They’re rambling, but there’s nothing sexual or otherwise hostile in them. Nothing that the police decided was in any way a threat. He just talks about his day and how I make him smile and stuff like that. The cops told me it sounds like he has a crush on me and is probably harmless.” Her knuckles turned white as she clenched her hands together in her lap. “But they’re wrong,” she said quietly. “Don’t ask me how I know. It’s a weird vibe I get when I see he’s sent something, but I know they’re wrong.”

“I believe you,” Cole said.

Her eyes met his, and he couldn’t miss the hope he saw there.

“Even though all he’s done is give me presents and notes?”

“You asked him to stop, and he didn’t. He sounds like he’s obsessed,” Cole told her. “He can go from being nice to enraged that you haven’t returned his affections in a heartbeat.”

Sarah nodded.

“No means no. That goes for someone asking for a date, not just for sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl saying no. You told him that you weren’t interested in dating. That you wanted him to stop with the gifts, and he hasn’t. I’d be more concerned if you weren’t worried about this guy.”

Her shoulders sagged in relief. “So you’ll help me figure out what to do if he ever decides the notes and gifts aren’t enough?”

“Absolutely. I’ll do everything I can to help you, and that includes getting Ace Security involved if it comes to that.”

“I hadn’t realized the costs involved,” Sarah said. “I think that’s why Logan contacted you in the first place.”

Cole leaned even closer, and satisfaction crept through him when she didn’t back away. “I know Logan and his brothers, and believe me when I tell you that, once they hear what the cops told you and the facts of your case, money won’t be a factor.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Cole nodded, then stood and walked to his desk. He rummaged around for a minute before pulling out his appointment book and holding it up triumphantly.

“You know, there are these new things that came out a few years ago called computers. You can even keep your schedule on them so you don’t get overbooked.”

Cole blinked at her teasing, then beamed. He much preferred this side of her to the scared, defeated woman he’d first met. “Really? Maybe you can walk me through how they work sometime.”

Still smiling, Sarah just shook her head at him.

“My partner should be back next week, so I’ll have a lot more free time. How does next Monday sound to start your lessons?”

“Good. I work until five, though.”

“That’s fine. Maybe six thirty, to give you time to grab dinner before you get here?”

Sarah shook her head. “If it’s okay, I’d rather do it right after work. Before it gets dark.”

Cole didn’t like the implications, but kept his mouth shut . . . for now.

“Okay, I’ll pencil you in for five thirty. If you’re early, that’s cool, and if work runs over and you get here a little after, it’s okay too. Sarah?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for giving me a second chance. I’m usually not so harsh.”

“It’s okay,” she said quietly. “You aren’t nearly as mean as most people I come into contact with.”

With that bombshell, Sarah stood. “I’ll see you next week.”

“Next week,” Cole echoed. He followed her out of his office and watched as she smiled and nodded at Carrie and disappeared out the front door.

His mind already wandered over the things he wanted to know about her. Which hospital she worked at and what she did there, why people were mean to her . . . why she felt the need to always be so nice.

By the time he realized he should’ve walked her to her car, it was too late.

Shaking his head at his stupidity, Cole vowed to do better.
Stoker, Susan. Claiming Sarah (Ace Security) (pp. 10-14). Kindle Edition.

As Owen’s gifts continue and get weirder, Ace Security tries to find him to no avail.

Talk about edge of your seat, the building tension was incredible. Cole and Sarah get to know each other and things heat up in more ways than one.

I couldn’t put this book down, the story wouldn’t allow it.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.

She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.

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