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Trusting Taylor – Silverstone Book 2 by Susan Stoker

Trusting Taylor
Silverstone Book 2
NY Times, Wall Street Journal &
USA Today Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker


Former military man turned government assassin Kellan “Eagle” Trowbridge isn’t looking for love. He’d rather keep his head down at his cover job as an employee of Silverstone Towing. That all changes, however, when he meets Taylor Cardin.

Beautiful, smart, and witty Taylor instantly falls for the mysterious tow truck driver, who comforts her both in the aftermath of the car crash she sees firsthand and when the police dismiss her as a credible witness because of her prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Eagle, on the other hand, can remember every person he’s ever met—and the two counterparts forge an immediate connection. But someone else is just as intrigued by Taylor’s unique condition as Eagle is…and his intentions are downright deadly.

Soon, Eagle and Taylor are too caught up in each other to see the danger that’s approaching. But as time runs out, they’ll discover their love isn’t the only thing fighting to survive.

Kellan ‘Eagle’ Trowbridge met Taylor Cardin under interesting circumstances. She’d witnessed an altercation in the grocery store parking lot and while she’d given what information she could, she wouldn’t be able to identify anyone later. She has a rare condition Prosopagnosia, she can’t remember faces, not even her own. Unlike the other witnesses she was off to the side waiting to be let go. Once they told her she could go all she wanted to do was get her shopping done fast. She hated it.

This is just one of my favorite scenes.

Instead of telling her what was on his list, he showed her. With Archer away, the employees took turns cooking, and they’d made a list of things for him to buy so they could put together meals. It was a hot mess, with ingredients scribbled in no particular order on the notepad kept on the refrigerator. Most of the time when he shopped, he just started at the top and worked his way down, having to backtrack several times throughout the store to get stuff from an aisle he’d already been down. It was a pain in the ass, and part of the reason he hated the chore.

“What is this?” Taylor asked, squinting at his list.

“Everything I need to buy,” Eagle replied, telling her something she obviously already knew. “The employees at the station write down what they want, and I shop.”

“Holy crap, this is awful,” she told him. “No wonder you hate shopping.”

Eagle couldn’t help it—he laughed. “I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Okay, first things first, we need to put some order to this,” Taylor said, grabbing her cart and heading for an empty part of the produce section, out of the way of the other shoppers. She reached into her purse and rummaged around for a moment before pulling out a pen and a receipt.

“This isn’t ideal, but it’ll have to do,” she mumbled. Then she propped his list on top of her purse, which was sitting in the child seat of the cart, and bent over the receipt. She’d turned it over and was writing on the blank back side.

“Okay, you’ve got muffin mix down twice, but they didn’t say what kind, so I think you should get blueberry and cinnamon raisin. If they don’t like it, tough, they should’ve specified. Eggs are on here three times, so maybe if you get two dozen, that should be good enough for a week. And if it’s too much, they’ll keep until next time. Fresh fruit? What kind? Jeez, they need to be more specific. No wonder you hate this; no one tells you exactly what they want, so they’re setting you up to fail. Fine . . . how about apples, peaches, and grapes? If they want something else, they’ll have to be more specific next time. Ground hamburger, chicken breasts, and shrimp . . . that’s easy enough.”

Eagle observed Taylor as she completely took over his list. She was scribbling furiously on the back of the receipt, and he couldn’t help but smile as she continually mumbled under her breath while she wrote. It was as if the rest of the world ceased to exist. It was cute as fuck—but it also concerned him as well.

“Taylor?” a voice called out, making her jerk in surprise.

Eagle turned and saw a middle-aged woman coming toward them, smiling brightly.

“I thought that was you. How are you? It’s been forever since I’ve seen you!” the woman enthused.

Glancing at Taylor, Eagle saw that she hadn’t been lying about her condition . . . not that he’d thought she had. She had absolutely no idea who the woman standing near them was—the woman who was waiting to be acknowledged.

It truly dawned on him for the first time how frustrating and difficult not recognizing anyone might be.

Plastering a smile on his face, he stepped forward and held out a hand to the woman. “I’m Eagle, a friend of Taylor’s. I don’t think we’ve met?”

And just as he knew she would, the woman turned her attention to him. “Oh, hi. I’m Wanda Wright.”

“Nice to meet you. How do you know Taylor?” Eagle asked as he shook her hand.

“We used to live in the same apartment complex,” the chatty woman volunteered. “I moved out last year to another complex closer to my son’s. His wife left him and their two kids, and I wanted to be closer to help out.”

“How are Gail and Bobby doing?” Taylor asked softly from behind him.

Eagle dropped the woman’s hand and took a step back.

“Oh, they’re doing great!” Wanda gushed. “They’re flourishing in school and are growing like weeds.”

“And your son? He’s okay?” Taylor asked.

“He had a hard time of it for a while, but I think he’s finally realized the bitch he married did him a favor by leaving. The divorce went through, and he got full custody . . . not that she contested it at all. She was more concerned with her new twenty-year-old boyfriend to want to deal with kids. Her loss. And how’re things going with you?”

Eagle tuned out the conversation and concentrated on observing Taylor. As soon as Wanda had approached, she’d tensed, her fingers curling into her palms. But she looked relaxed now. The two women talked about some of Taylor’s neighbors and commiserated about the woes of apartment living.

“I’ve taken up enough of your time,” Wanda said after a while. “It was great to see you again. I was happy to move closer to my grandbabies, but I was sorry to say goodbye to you.”

“I’m glad things are working out for you,” Taylor told her.

Wanda smiled huge and said her goodbyes.

After Wanda had pushed her cart away, Taylor turned to Eagle.

“Thank you.”

“For what?” Eagle asked, playing dumb.

Taylor frowned. “You know what. I had no idea who that was, and you seamlessly stepped in and made her introduce herself.”

Eagle looked into her dark-brown eyes and said, “You don’t know me, and like you said, you have no reason to trust me. But you absolutely can. I’m going to prove it.”

She didn’t say anything, but didn’t drop her gaze either.
Stoker, Susan. Trusting Taylor (Silverstone). Kindle Locations (250-296). Montlake. Kindle Edition.

Now that they’ve bonded over the grocery store, Eagle is more than a little determined to have this awesome woman meet the rest of the crew. He’s certain she could use some friends that won’t judge her.

Then there’s that guy who’s watching Taylor for an entirely different and scary reason. We get glimpses of him throughout and dang this is nail-biting. All of that while Eagle and Taylor get closer and more into their relationship.

I truly love the way Susan takes on difficult, sometimes rare conditions with compassion and understanding. I know you won’t be able to put this book down.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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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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Falling for the Delta – A Duet by Susan Stoker and Riley Edwards

Falling for the Delta
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker
USA Today Bestselling Author
Riley Edwards


When Delta operatives Dash and Magic officially meet Holly and Stella—the women they’ve had their eyes on—it’s hardly a conventional moment, but the fireworks are undeniable. Both men fall hard, fast, and deep, each planning a Valentine’s Day their women will never forget. And they don’t…but for reasons no one saw coming.

These interconnected but separate stories were originally published in a Valentine’s Day Anthology. They have been expanded and now include an epilogue for each story as well as extra content!

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This is my favorite scene. It’s in both books and had me laughing out loud so I’m putting it first.

“Stella!” Holly snapped, trying to get her best friend’s attention. But Stella was far too focused on climbing the stupid tree next to her neighbor’s balcony.

Stella and Holly had clicked the first time they’d met at their job on Fort Hood Army base in Texas. They’d both just been hired and had been going through new employee orientation. One of the presenters had said something stupid, Holly couldn’t remember what it was now, but when Stella had turned to her and opened both eyes wide as if to say, “Oh my God, was that a stupid thing to say,” Holly knew she was someone she wanted to get to know better.

And now, five years later, they were closer than ever—even if at first glance they seemed to be complete opposites. Holly was short whereas Stella was tall. Holly had dark hair, Stella light. Holly was more reserved, while Stella was outgoing and not afraid to try new things…like climb a tree to get onto her neighbor’s balcony so she could climb over the railing and break into her own apartment.

And not just any neighbor either. The hot-as-hell Delta force operative she’d been crushing on for ages. The day he’d moved in, Stella had texted Holly and given her a blow by blow of what was happening. As hard as Stella had worked to try to finagle a way to run into him by “accident,” their schedules just seemed too different to have a more casual passing-in-the-parking-lot kind of interaction.

It figured that today of all days, when Stella had locked herself out, Stella’s apartment manager was out of town and her friend had already borrowed the extra key she’d given to Holly for situations exactly like this one. A key that was currently locked inside her apartment, along with the one Stella had forgotten.

But like usual, Stella wasn’t going to let a little thing like not having a key slow her down. Stella swore the door to her balcony was unlocked and all it would take to get inside was her getting up there.

On one hand, they were both thrilled it was an unseasonably warm day for Texas in January. Stella had on shorts, as it was a weekend and she took every opportunity to wear casual clothes when they didn’t have to work. But on the other hand, shorts weren’t exactly great for tree-climbing.

“We have a problem,” Holly told Stella as she stood under her, attempting to balance with her friend on her shoulders. Holly had no idea what Stella thought she was going to do if she actually fell. There was no way she could actually catch her, but just staring up at her felt wrong. So after Stella actually got hold of the branch, Holly hovered under her like a nervous mother.

But they definitely had another problem at the moment. More than Stella’s shirt getting snagged on a branch and her flashing the entire neighborhood when she’d first attempted to shimmy up the tree.

“We don’t have a problem,” Stella grunted as she did her best to reach upward toward the thicker branch above her head. She had her legs and arms wrapped around the lower branch like a monkey. She hung there for a moment, then exclaimed, “I almost have it!”

“I told you to give me your spare key back,” Holly complained.

“Whoop-whoop, I got it!” Stella crowed.

Deep laughter sounded from behind Holly, and she turned to look again at the two men she’d seen approaching. She’d tried to warn Stella that they were no longer alone, but as usual, her friend was completely focused on the task at hand and oblivious to what was going on around her.

“Girl, you need a throat lozenge,” Stella said, apparently thinking the men’s laughter came from Holly, as she began to shimmy hand over hand across the branch that led right to her neighbor’s balcony.

“Abort mission!” Holly said.

“Are you crazy? I’m almost there!”

Holly gave up trying to warn her friend. How Holly always seemed to find herself in embarrassing situations like this when she was around Stella, she didn’t know.

When the two men laughed again, Stella finally turned to look down. She froze mid-swing and hung from the tree branch halfway to her goal. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she hissed.

“I told you we had a problem,” Holly insisted.

Stella began to mumble under her breath, something about the scrapes she’d gotten on her knees and tearing her shirt, but all of Holly’s attention was on the two men.

Figured it was none other than the sexy neighbor and his equally gorgeous friend. Why couldn’t it have been the maintenance man—the guy with the huge paunch and who smelled like bacon all the time?

Holly hadn’t really admitted to Stella that she was interested in her neighbor’s friend. If she had, her friend would’ve been relentless in trying to set them up. For some reason, Stella felt it was her goal in life to get Holly a boyfriend.

So Holly had admired the other man from afar. It seemed as if she saw him all over post too. They apparently liked to eat lunch at the same place in the PX, a small sub kiosk inside the lobby of the post exchange building. She’d smiled at him a few times but had never worked up the nerve to actually talk to him.

And now, here he was, laughing at them.

“Are you open to suggestions?” Stella’s neighbor asked, but Holly couldn’t take her eyes off his friend. He was tall, but not too tall. Muscular, of course. Had brown hair that was longer than most soldiers were allowed, most likely because he was a special forces operative. His hazel eyes were locked on hers, which made Holly’s heart speed up until she was afraid she was going to have a heart attack.

Her attention was jerked back to Stella when she screeched. But her neighbor stepped forward and caught her friend before she hit the ground. It was like a scene from one of the romance books she loved to read.

“Gotcha,” he said in a deep, rumbly voice. “You’re bleeding,” he added.

“Yeah, that happened when she said she knew how to climb a tree. Obviously, she’s not very good at it,” Holly explained helpfully. It felt better when she concentrated on her friend and tried to ignore the handsome man now standing next to her.

“Let’s get you upstairs and get your knees cleaned up,” Stella’s neighbor said.

“She’s locked out,” Holly blurted. Stella turned and gave her a shut-up face. In return, Holly widened her eyes and gave her a small headshake.

Both men chuckled once more.

“Come on, Lucy and Ethel, we’ll go to my place then and get you cleaned up.”
Stoker, Susan; Edwards, Riley. Falling for the Delta. Kindle Locations (59-110). Kindle Edition.

From this point the books go off to the individual and intertwining stories.

Dash & Holly
Susan Stoker

Instead Dash leads Holly off, and assures her Stella is in good hands and safe. Then proceeds to inform her she’s safe as well and she could a text of his license plate to Stella for good measure.

As these two start getting to know each other, they stay in the car in the parking lot of her apartment complex. This leads to an interesting encounter with law enforcement.

However, they find they have much in common. Holly is not only beautiful, she’s intelligent and has almost as high a security clearance as he has, maybe even higher.

Meeting for lunch at the PX becomes a staple as these two get closer. Then one of these lunches isn’t calm and fun at all.

Plenty of romance, a bit of action and a touch of heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

Magic & Stella
Riley Edwards

Magic was more than a little amused at Stella’s antics in the tree outside his apartment. He takes Stella to his apartment, more than a little curious as to how she was planning on getting into her locked apartment from his balcony. He has a lot to say on the subject as he’s cleaning her scrapes.

He wasn’t quite prepared for her to identify him as Delta, and even more surprised to learn she’d been in on OPSEC briefings. He’s also very relieved to find she’s a civilian contractor and not military. It makes life easier.

They too enjoy the ritual of lunch at the PX together, until that one fateful day.

Lot’s of laughter, romance, some action and a touch of sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Riley!

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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Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.

Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.

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Shielding Devyn – Delta Force Two Book 6 by Susan Stoker

Shielding Devyn
Delta Team 2 Book 6
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker


When Devyn Groves needed a place to go, to get away, she headed for Texas, to the town her Delta Force special forces brother lived. She never thought she’d stay, she just needed a safe refuge for a while. But then she met one of her brother’s teammates.

Troy “Lucky” Schmidt fell for Devyn the moment he met her. But she was skittish, and seemingly not interested in any kind of relationship. But he slowly wore her down and convinced her to take a chance on him.

But when the reason she fled her hometown shows up unexpectedly, Lucky has a feeling the woman he loves more than anything is ready to bolt once more. But when danger strikes out of nowhere, Lucky, and the rest of his Delta team, have to band together to find one of their own.

Shielding Devyn is the 6th book in the Delta Team Two Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

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Devyn Groves is Grover’s sister, she moved to Texas to be near her brother when things closer to home became unbearable for her. She won’t tell anyone what’s wrong and Grover’s really worried about her even with her assurances she’s not sick again.

Troy ‘Lucky’ Schmidt is one of Grover’s teammates, and he wants to date Devyn. He wants to be the one to break down the walls she’s built around her. He seems to be making some headway but she still won’t confide in him knowing he wouldn’t keep secrets from her brother. Grover offers advice of getting a pet to assist him in winning Devyn over and Lucky does more than give it a thought. He goes to the shelter and adopts a dog and a cat that had bonded but the staff couldn’t get them acclimated and they had been on the kill list for the end of the week.

This is a favorite scene when Lucky calls Devyn after realizing he can’t take his new pets into the store to get food and stuff.

He clicked on the Bluetooth in his car and selected Devyn’s number. Grover had told him that Devyn had the day off today.


Everything about Devyn appealed to Lucky. Even her husky voice. “Hey. It’s Lucky.”

“What’s up?”

“I need your help. But I want to make things really clear from the start—your brother told me to do this as a way to manipulate you. To give me a way to spend more time with you and to make sure you’re all right. But that’s not what this is,” Lucky said.

Devyn chuckled nervously. “Oooookay. That sounds ominous.”

“I just didn’t want Grover to say something later and have you misconstrue it. I mean, I don’t think it’s a secret that I want to spend time with you. That I like you a hell of a lot. But I didn’t do this as a way to force you to hang with me. I want you to want that because you like me back.”

“You’re making me very nervous,” Devyn said. “But I appreciate your honesty. And while we’re being honest, I like hanging out with you already, you don’t have to come up with fancy excuses.”

“I appreciate that,” Lucky said, although he was afraid to ask if she liked hanging out with him as a friend of her brother’s, or if the possibility for more existed. He was too much of a chicken at the moment to even go there.

“So…what do you need me to help you with?” she asked.

“I kind of adopted a dog and a cat, and I have nothing for them. No food, no litter box, no beds. And I need it all. But I don’t want to leave them alone in my townhouse while I go out, and I can’t bring them into a store with me. I was hoping maybe you wouldn’t mind picking up some stuff and bringing it to my place? And when you get there—if they’re okay with it—maybe taking a peek at them to check them over? Health-wise.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone for a long moment.

“Devyn? Are you still there?”

“I’m here. You kind of adopted a dog and a cat?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Lucky sighed. “Grover suggested that it would help me get in your good graces, but honestly, I’ve been thinking about getting a pet for a while. I grew up with animals, and with everyone getting married and having babies, we’ve all been hanging out a lot less outside of work. And I’m not afraid to say it—my place is lonely. So I thought I’d get a cat. Except, then we walked by a kennel with a dog and a cat. A bonded pair. They were scheduled to be euthanized later this week. I couldn’t leave them.”

“Holy shit, Lucky’s a total softie,” Devyn murmured.

“Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone,” he joked.

Then he sobered. “They’re scared to death, Dev. Skittish as hell. It’s breaking my heart to think about why they’re so scared of people. I got them to trust me at the shelter, but I have a feeling they’ll be completely freaked out when I get them home. I just…I need help.”

“I can be there in forty minutes or so,” Devyn said without hesitation. “Do you have their records? Did the shelter give them any medical care?”

“Yeah. They’ve both been spayed, so they’re both female. They’ve got mats in their fur, and I think they’re both underweight, but the shelter gave them all the required shots…rabies, parvo, kennel cough, that sort of thing.”

“Okay, that’s good. You know I’m not a vet, right?” she asked.

“I know, but you’re a damn good vet tech. I realize I need to bring them in for a complete workover, but I can’t do that when they’re so scared. They need time to relax. To see that they’re safe with me. That I won’t hurt them. And shoving them back into this crate and hauling them off to be poked and prodded isn’t going to do a damn thing to make them trust me.”

“You’re…This is a side of you I haven’t seen before,” Devyn admitted.

“What, a Delta Force Operative can’t be concerned about two helpless animals?” Lucky asked, a little snappier than he probably should’ve.

“It’s not that. It’s just…most people wouldn’t care this much about a stray dog and cat.”

“I’ve seen a lot of shit on missions—animals being abused in the worst ways—and I haven’t been able to do a damn thing about it. But I could do something for Angel and Whiskers.”

“Do you have a preference for food or anything else?” Devyn asked in a tone Lucky couldn’t interpret.

He mentally kicked himself for talking about abused animals. “No. Although neither are really young, so don’t get kitten or puppy food. Oh, and I’m thinking a pink collar for Angel; she seems as if she’d like that. Don’t get retractable leashes, those are dangerous as hell. And get Whiskers a harness so she can go on walks with us. I have a feeling she won’t be happy if I take Angel for a walk and she doesn’t get to come too. And the dog bed should be really fuzzy. Big enough for a thirty-pound dog and ten-pound cat, because they’re inseparable. They don’t weigh that much right now, but I’m sure I’ll overfeed them when they give me the pathetic dog and cat eyes. Oh, and toys! Get some harder ones Angel can chew on, and some of the stuffed ones. We’ll have to see if she destroys them to get to the squeaker inside or not. And catnip stuff for Whiskers—”

Devyn burst out laughing.

“What?” Lucky asked.

“Nothing. So you want me to get half the store then?”

Lucky chuckled. “I’m being ridiculous, I know. But you didn’t see them, Dev. They need pampering more than anyone I’ve seen in a very long time. You’re gonna fall in love the second you meet them.”

“I’m sure I will,” Devyn said quietly. “Okay, I’m out of here. I’ll be at your place as soon as I can. I’m not sure how much stuff will fit in my Mini Cooper though. Do you need a crate?”

“Yeah, I think I do. They’ll feel safer in there. I need to bring the one the shelter gave me back to them. It’ll be a place they can hide in if they need to. I’m thinking a plastic one. Medium. I can call Grover or one of the other guys to pick it up if it won’t fit in your car. You really do need something bigger, Dev.”

“Nope. I love my Mini. It’s old, but it runs great and it’s not boring, like a sedan would be. I’ll see what I can do about the crate. I agree with you that if Angel and Whiskers are already skittish, having a crate for them is a good idea.”

“Thanks for helping me out,” Lucky said.

“Of course. See you soon.”

Lucky clicked off the phone at the same time he pulled into the parking space in front of his townhouse. He lived in an end unit in a row with five others. His neighbors were mostly military families, and he’d never had any issues with anyone. He had no idea if Angel was a barker, but he hoped not for his neighbors’ sakes. So far he hadn’t heard the dog make a sound, so he hoped that boded well for his future relationships with his neighbors.

“We’re home,” he told his passengers. “I know this is all very scary, but I promise your lives will be smooth sailing from here on out.”
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Devyn (Delta Team Two Book 6) Kindle Locations (374-429). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

This certainly is an major ice breaker for these two and eventually they reach a compromise on what’s bothering her. Unfortunately the problem shows up in Texas and brings some trouble with it.

I love this story, the new pets and all the guys. There’s fun, laughter, tears, some OMG and some sizzle as well. You should also know that Susan is driving us crazy with peeks of Sierra at the end of all these books.

I can’t wait for the next book in this series, which still isn’t Sierra’s LOL.

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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A New Series!!! Finding Elodie – SEAL Team Hawaii Book 1 by Susan Stoker

Finding Elodie
SEAL Team Hawaii Book 1
NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker


Renowned chef Elodie Winters’ dream job, private chef to a powerful family in New York, quickly becomes a nightmare when her employer turns out to be the head of a notorious mob family. Now on the run, she thinks she’s finally safe, having landed in the middle of the Arabian Sea, cook on the Asaka Express cargo ship. When the ship is taken by pirates, she can’t believe her bad luck…but it’s about to take a turn for the better.

Scott “Mustang” Webber is pulled from his current mission, along with the rest of his SEAL team, to prevent an act of piracy in the Middle East. They’re all surprised when the first person to radio for help is a woman. He soon senses “Rachel Walters” is hiding something, and offers his help. He’s both shocked and pleased when she actually comes looking for him in Hawaii months later. He’d felt a connection with her on that cargo ship…one he’s looking forward to exploring further.

Keeping Elodie safe in Hawaii turns out to be easy…until it isn’t. Long days in paradise have a way of making one complacent. Now Mustang is working against the clock and the elements themselves, as he faces his greatest mission ever—finding Elodie.

Finding Elodie is the 1st book in the SEAL Team Hawaii Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

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When Elodie Winters ran from her situation in New York she never expected to be in the situation she was now. She changed her name to Rachel Walters, became the chief cook on a large cargo ship and the last thing she expected was for it to be boarded by pirates. Sure it was a possibility but it had been many years since such a thing had happened. When the Captain made the announcement she headed to the galley with her emergency radio. Using the radio she got an answer from the USS Paul Hamilton.

Admiral Light answers her and the SEAL team from Hawaii is with him. They were already in the gulf when the distress call went out but they had no information other than they were being boarded and needed immediate assistance. Hearing from ‘Rachel’ was their first break. She gave them the little information she knew and the channel to the bridge that had been opened.

Mustang ‘Scott’ and his team Midas, Aleck, Pid, Jag, and Slate would be the first to board the ship. After securing the bridge they head floor by floor, until they find one of the pirates and ‘Rachel’.

This is a favorite scene.

When a radio suddenly crackled and one of his fellow pirates began speaking, Elodie nearly leaped out of her skin. She jolted badly and almost dropped the knife she was holding, which would’ve been a disaster.

The man on the other end of the radio sounded agitated, and Elodie wished she knew what he was saying. The man next door swore…at least, that’s what she thought he was doing.

Then he yelled, “If anyone is here, you come out now. I won’t kill!”

Elodie didn’t dare move a muscle.

“If you hide, you die!”

She still didn’t move. Elodie wondered briefly who the man suspected was down here before he suddenly shot off a volley of rounds from his rifle. She jerked and gasped. Luckily, the sound of the shots was slightly muted, since the pirate was shooting in the pantry behind a closed door.

“That was warning!” the man yelled again.

Nothing about him shooting his weapon made her want to come out of hiding.

Then he muttered something under his breath before speaking on his radio once more.

He was still speaking when the door to the officers’ mess opened.

If Elodie hadn’t turned her head at the exact right moment, she wouldn’t have seen the two sets of legs entering the room. A sliver of illumination from the pirate’s flashlight, flickering through the pantry window, momentarily highlighted the figures. The door shut without a sound, and she almost threw up with fear when she lost sight of the men.

Were these more pirates? If so, why weren’t they calling out to their friend? She was confused, but didn’t dare make a move, much less breathe. She couldn’t see what was happening, but she could faintly hear the fabric of their pants as the two figures walked past the table, and her hiding spot.

The pirate in the galley seemed to be arguing with someone on the radio now. He sounded upset and pissed off. Then he stopped talking—and the sound of something large being thrown against the wall made Elodie jump in surprise yet again.

Apparently, while the pirate was throwing his temper tantrum, whoever had entered the officers’ mess had opened the door to the pantry. The sound of gunshots made a small whimper escape her lips. The shots were much louder, since the weapon was fired in the same room where she was hiding. Now she could hear little but the ringing in her ears. Elodie strained to hear what was going on, and for several seconds heard nothing but her own heart racing.

“Tango down in the galley.”

With the ringing and her heartbeat, Elodie wasn’t sure she was hearing correctly.

That sounded like English. Non-accented English. And she was pretty sure her fellow Asaka Express employees wouldn’t use a word like “tango” to describe the pirates. She also didn’t think they’d be slinking around like these two men were.

She’d waited what seemed like forever for Scott and his team to arrive—and it sounded like they finally had.

It had been a couple hours since she’d been in contact with Scott, which she understood. He was busy planning a way to get onboard, and he couldn’t exactly take the time to reassure her every other minute. But each time he’d reached out, it had made her feel so much better. Less alone.

“We need to find Rachel,” one of the men said. She knew it was Scott because she recognized his voice.

“Maybe we should leave her where she is,” the other man said.

“No. She would’ve heard the shots and is probably freaking out,” Scott argued.

The last thing she wanted to do was get shot, so Elodie knew better than to pop up out of her hiding spot and surprise the men, but she definitely didn’t want to stay where she was either.

“I’m here,” she said softly, hoping she didn’t startle them badly enough that they’d turn around and start shooting.

But she should’ve known they were too professional to do something like that.


Elodie winced at hearing the name from his lips.

She wanted to tell him that wasn’t her name…but she couldn’t. She’d changed her name in the first place because Elodie was too unique. It wouldn’t be hard for Paul to find her if she’d kept it. But the drawback was that she sometimes forgot to respond when someone called her Rachel.

“It’s me,” she said.

“Where are you?” Scott asked.

“Lying on the chairs, under the table.”

She heard more than saw movement on the other side of the table.

“Damn, that’s smart,” the other man said. “You fit perfectly up there, and in this darkness, even if someone looked they probably wouldn’t see you.”

“How are you seeing me then?” Elodie blurted. She hadn’t been blinded with a beam from a flashlight.

“Night-vision goggles,” Scott said.

Elodie jerked because his voice sounded from right next to her.

“Easy. How can I help you get out from under there?” he asked.

“I got it,” she told him, amazed that she hadn’t heard him come over to the side of the table. She kept her voice down as she climbed off the chairs. “I had to improvise. I snuck out of the pantry in the other hall to use the bathroom and when I came out, that guy was in the galley. I literally had nowhere to hide other than under here.”

She crawled out from under the table and stood, using the table as a crutch. Her legs felt shaky from the adrenaline dump.

“Careful with that knife,” Scott told her.

Elodie hadn’t even remembered she was holding the thing. Now, she realized her fingers hurt from grasping it so tightly. She looked up, toward where she’d heard Scott’s voice, and was frustrated when she couldn’t see him. The flashlight the pirate had been holding was lying on the floor in the room next door, but it didn’t give her enough light to see either of the men.

“Are they all dead?” she asked, proud when her voice only shook a little. It was surreal that she was talking about killing people so nonchalantly, but she supposed she could be forgiven, given the circumstances.

“No,” Scott said, dashing her hopes that they could get in touch with the others onboard and have the electricity turned back on.

“This is the first pirate we’ve run across,” the other man said.

“Which one are you?” Elodie blurted. He chuckled. “I’m Midas.”


Just then, the radio the pirate had been using cackled to life, and a man began speaking urgently in whatever language the pirates used.

“Shit,” Scott muttered.

Elodie felt a rush of air as he moved away from her.

“I don’t suppose you’re a language savant and can understand what they’re saying, are you?” Midas asked. She’d already told him and the other guys on the team that she couldn’t understand the pirates, but she appreciated that he was trying to lighten the mood. “Sorry, no,” she told him. “But right before you got here, he was talking to his friends and none of them sounded happy. He threw something big and it broke.”

“Yeah, I think it was a jar of spaghetti sauce,” Midas said, seemingly unconcerned.

She heard more sounds in the other room, but didn’t dare move from her spot next to the table. Then Scott was back. She wasn’t sure how she knew he was there, but she did.

Then he spoke, confirming his location. “Okay, we have to continue clearing the ship. You need to go up to the bridge—”

Elodie didn’t let him continue. “No!” she said frantically.

“Yes,” he countered.

“I’m staying with you,” she insisted.

“We’ve cleared the floors above this one. It’s safe for you to go back up to the bridge. Two other members of my team are up there, they’ll keep you safe.”

Elodie was shaking her head. She knew she was being completely irrational, but the thought of being alone even for the short trip to the bridge was terrifying. “You don’t know where the other pirates are. You said yourself that you’re clearing the ship. And I think they somehow know, if that conversation I overheard was any indication.”

The radio Scott had taken off the dead pirate came to life again. “Djama?” A few more words were said after that. It was obvious his friends were trying to get in contact with him. “They’re going to come looking for him,” Elodie said. “And if I go up to the bridge, I could run into them. And you don’t have time to escort me up there. They could be hurting or killing my friends. And if they find me, they’re not going to hesitate to kill me either. The safest place on this ship at the moment is with you guys, so that’s where I want to stay.”
Stoker, Susan. Finding Elodie (SEAL Team Hawaii Book 1) (Kindle Locations. 633-701). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Mustang felt an instant connection to ‘Rachel’ even though he’s sure that’s not her real name. So much so that before they leave the ship he gives her his phone number. Telling her to come to Hawaii and call him if she needs anything. Unfortunately she loses that number. But she does go to Honolulu in the hopes of finding him.

That they run into each other at all is quite the twist and as this tale continues the romance, fun, and the intrigue will keep you turning the pages.

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

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 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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Securing Jane – 1001 Dark Nights/SEAL of Protection Legacy Book 6.5 by Susan Stoker

Securing Jane
1001 Dark Nights
SEAL of Protection Legacy Book 6.5
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker


Over the years, Storm North has witnessed two teams of Navy SEALs under his command find true love. He doesn’t expect the same for himself. He’s too old. Too jaded. Too set in his ways. Until a woman who’s been right in front of him for years manages to impress Storm in a way very few women—or men—ever have.

Jane Hamilton knows it’s ridiculous to have a crush on the charismatic and handsome admiral. She’s the divorced mother of a twenty-six-year-old daughter. Too old for crushes. Too old for a lot of things. There’s no chance she’ll ever catch the eye of a man like Storm North.

Until someone delivers a bomb to the base.

As the civilian contractor in charge of the mail room, Jane finds herself in the direct line of fire, enduring a series of events that leads to a budding relationship with the very man she’s been longing for. She couldn’t be happier, and Storm feels the same.

The only one unhappy, in fact, is the thwarted bomber. Unhappy enough to do something drastic. Now Storm and Jane have to work together to save innocent sailors—and themselves—from an explosive situation threatening their happily ever after.

**Securing Jane is the 7th and final book in the SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series and a part of the 1001 Dark Nights collection. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Admiral Storm North has always been heads down and on top of everything his SEAL teams are doing or going to be doing. The thing is he hasn’t really done anything for himself. Today however he’s about to wake up and notice someone he should have long ago.

Jane has been working in the mail room on base since her Navy husband left her and her child twenty years ago. She’s worked her way up to manager but still delivers mail in the building herself. She’s been crushing on Storm since his office moved into her building and delivering his mail is always a bright spot in her day. She doesn’t delude herself that he’ll ever notice her, but that doesn’t stop the fantasy.

This is a favorite scene.

In the near decade that she’d been living on her own, Jane had felt as if she’d been learning who she was as a woman.

At first she’d been Jake’s girlfriend. Then his Navy wife. Then she was the woman who’d been dumped and a single mother. She’d struggled for so long and so hard that she still felt as if she was finding herself. Which was somewhat silly after half a century, but there it was. And she wanted to find love again. Find a man who would support her as much as she supported him. Wanted someone to laugh with…and do all the naughty things she’d been fantasizing about for years and years.

But Storm North wasn’t that man.

Jane knew it, but that didn’t mean she could stop fantasizing about him.

Pushing the mail cart down the hallway, Jane felt her heart rate increase as she got closer to Storm’s office. It was silly. Ridiculous. But she felt as if she was in middle school again, about to see the boy she had a massive crush on.

But Storm was no boy, that was for sure.

She entered his administrative assistant’s office and smiled at the man sitting behind the desk.

“Good morning,” she said cheerily.

“Hi, Jane,” the young man replied with a smile.

“Go on in. He’s not in a meeting.”

“Thanks,” Jane told him, hoping she didn’t look as excited as she felt. She didn’t get to see Storm every day, since he was a very busy man, and whenever she did, it made her morning.

She picked up the small packet and three letters that had arrived for him and headed into his office. She knocked briefly and when she heard him call, “Come in,” pushed open the door.

Storm was sitting behind his desk in his digitized blue battle dress uniform. She could see a bit of gray at his temples, but otherwise she’d have no idea he was in his late forties. He looked as if he could take on the young Navy SEALs he commanded any day of the week…and win.

“Good morning,” Jane said softly.

Storm looked up. “Hi, Jane. How are you today?”

“I’m good. You?”

“Not so bad, now that the Admiral’s Mast for one of my best SEALs is over and done with.”

Jane knew what he was referring to. They might work on a huge naval base, but people talked, and word got around quickly. A SEAL named Phantom had disobeyed orders to go on leave and instead had gone to Timor-Leste to rescue a young woman. She wasn’t completely sure of all the details, but what she did know made her romantic heart go pitter-patter.

“I’m sure that was difficult,” she said diplomatically.

Storm smiled, and Jane’s knees went a little weak.

“That’s one word for it. So…are you doing okay? I didn’t see you yesterday.”

She wanted to read into that statement, feeling giddy that he’d even noticed that she wasn’t there but instead shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m fine. I woke up with a migraine and took a sick day. I’ve got a ton of time saved up and figured I might as well use it.”

“Good for you,” Storm said. “I mean, being a hard worker is one thing, but never taking leave, sick, or vacation isn’t healthy.”

“When’s the last time you took leave?” The question popped out before Jane could call it back.

“Touché,” Storm said with an even wider smile. “I swear anytime I think about taking some time off, the shit hits the fan around here… Oh, sorry. I sometimes forget how to talk in polite company.”

Jane chuckled. “Nothing you can say will surprise or offend me,” she told him. “I’ve worked around here long enough to hear just about every swear word invented. Not to mention hearing them from my daughter when she was a teenager.”

“You have a daughter?” Storm asked with a tilt of his head. “You don’t look old enough to be the mother of a teenager.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. I’m plenty old. She’s twenty-six, and she gave me every one of these wrinkles on my face.”

“Seriously…you look amazing. Your husband’s a lucky man.”

Was Storm flirting with her? Trying to figure out if she was married or not? Jane barely stopped herself from doing a stupid little girly dance right there in front of him. “He was lucky,” she told him. Then added, “But he decided twenty years ago to throw me away for some young flunky. His mistake.”

Storm’s hazel eyes were fixed on her face, and Jane suddenly felt flustered. She’d dreamed of having his undivided attention for years, but now that she had it, she wasn’t sure what to do.

“How long have you been working here?” he asked.

“Twenty years. I got the job right after he walked out.”

Storm nodded. “I, for one, am grateful. I appreciate what you do. I’ve never had to worry about my mail getting lost, and anytime I’ve had an issue, it’s been resolved quickly. You’ve trained your employees well.”

That was one of the best compliments Jane had ever gotten. She wished he’d complimented her on something more personal, but she’d settle for him noticing that she was a good employee. She took great pride in running a tight ship. A lot of people didn’t realize how intricate and complicated dealing with the mail could be. From packages with incomplete addresses that they had to figure out, misdelivered items, postage due…and then there was all the internal correspondence that went back and forth across the base. She and her employees were kept very busy. “Thanks,” she replied with a small smile.

“That all for me this morning?” he asked with a nod toward the mail in her hand.

“Oh! Yes, sorry,” Jane said, stepping forward and putting the envelopes and packet on his desk.

“No problem,” Storm said. “So your head’s feeling better today?” he asked.

For a second, Jane was so flustered she had no idea what he was talking about, then remembered. “Oh, yeah. Thanks. I don’t get migraines a lot, but when I do, they tend to knock me off my feet. But other than a slight twinge today, I feel fine.”

“Good. Then I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

Beaming, Jane nodded. “Right. Have a good day, Sir, and try not to scare newbie sailors too badly.”

“It’s Storm…and I’m making no promises.”

Jane knew she probably looked like a big dork with the huge smile on her face, but she couldn’t help it.

She gave him a little finger wave and backed out of his office. When she’d cleared his door, she spun, said goodbye to his admin, and pushed her mail cart out into the hallway. She stopped outside the door and leaned against the wall, closing her eyes and sighing in contentment.

Every time she talked to Storm, she felt happy, but today was markedly different. He’d seemed more…engaged. He’d asked her about her personal life, asked for her to call him by his first name…and when he’d smiled at her, she’d gone weak in the knees.

Taking a deep breath, she continued down the hall to the next office, feeling happier than she’d felt in a very long time.
Stoker, Susan. Securing Jane: A SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series Novella (Kindle Locations 307-357). 1001 Dark Nights Press. Kindle Edition.

For the first time Jane and Storm had a conversation and he’s now decided to get to know her more everyday and then ask her out. Of course that’s when all hell breaks lose with a code black in the mail room.

Storm wasn’t about to leave the building without knowing if Jane was okay. Finding out she was locked in waiting decontamination, he wasn’t waiting. Pulling rank he entered the room determining the ‘bomb’ contained CS gas aka tear gas/pepper spray. This is where I fell in love with Storm.

While NCIS and Admiral Creasy work to determine who would send him the package, Storm and Jane’s relationship takes a leap forward. Through the suspense, intrigue, and danger, Storm and Jane manage to date and they start heating up the pages quickly. Although Jane isn’t going to be spared any of Susan’s antics when it comes to her heroines. I also love the fact they’re an older couple and it truly is a wonderful love story.

A perfect, page-turning end to the SEAL of Protection Legacy Series.

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 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 Riley – Delta Team Two Book 5 by Susan Stoker

Shielding Riley
Delta Team Two Book 5
NY Times, Wall Street Journal &
USA Today Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker


Winter Blog Blurb

Porter “Oz” Reed knows as well as anyone the damage words can do. So while he’s not looking for a relationship, he has no problem standing outside his apartment looking intimidating as his sweet neighbor finally kicks her verbally abusive ex to the curb. Just in case. But it’s Oz who’s punched in the gut when, at that precise moment, his ten-year-old nephew Logan is dropped on his doorstep.

After finally ditching her ex, Riley Rogers is ready for a break from men. But her plan to stay single takes an immediate hit when Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome from next door comes knocking, panicked at the prospect of caring for a nephew he never even knew existed. Riley’s only too happy to help. After all, Porter had her back when she needed him. And she feels a kinship with Logan…whose story hits a little too close to Riley’s own.

As they team up to make Logan feel safe in his new environment, Riley and Oz quickly fall hard for the boy, and each other. But they’ve barely adapted to their altered lives when Logan shares a secret that changes everything—again.

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Winter Blog Review

At the end of Shielding Aspen we saw when Riley kicked out Miles and Child Protection Agency brought his nephew Logan to Oz’s door. Oz was making sure Riley was okay after Miles left, when his life changed forever.
It’s been hours and conversation with Logan was stilted and uncomfortable, but now the boy was sleeping and Oz is panicking. He has next to nothing in his pantry and definitely no breakfast foods. He hears the TV in Riley’s apartment and hopes she’ll have ideas as he leaves Logan’s bedroom door open and the apartment’s while he knocks on her door.

This is just one of my favorite scenes.

Tiptoeing to the door so she could look through the peephole to see who was knocking at this hour of the night, Riley was shocked to see her neighbor, the gorgeous Porter Reed, standing on the other side. He looked agitated and kept glancing back down the hall toward his apartment.

Without thought, Riley took the chain off and unlocked the deadbolt before opening the door.

“What’s wrong?” she asked without preamble.

“I… What do boys eat for breakfast?” Porter blurted.

Riley blinked. “What?”

“I…uh…you saw that I just got custody of my nephew. He’s sleeping—I’ve got the bedroom door open, and the one to the apartment, so I haven’t left him alone—but I got to thinking about the morning, and he didn’t want anything to eat tonight, but I have no idea what he’s going to want for breakfast in the morning.”

“What do you eat?” Riley asked.

“Um…a protein shake, usually,” he said sheepishly.

Riley couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose in disgust.

“I know. I figured he wouldn’t want that, but I don’t know what he would want.”

“Do you want to come in?” Riley asked.

“Thanks, but I can’t. I need to watch my apartment and listen in case Logan wakes up.”

That’s right, he’d said that, but Riley was completely thrown by him showing up at her door and asking such an easy question. “Right, sorry. Um…let’s see…cereal, Pop-Tarts, pancakes, maybe scrambled eggs, granola bars…he looks like he’s probably not all that picky.”

But instead of her words making her neighbor feel better, they seemed to stress him out all the more.

“Shit,” he said under his breath. “I don’t have any of that. Not even eggs. I need to go to the store—fuck, I can’t go to the store with him in the apartment! I can’t leave him alone. Should I wake him up and take him with me? I really don’t want to. I’m not sure the kid even likes me. He’d probably like me less if I woke him up in the middle of the night to go to the freaking store. Damn it.”

Riley’s heart melted for the man. It was obvious he wanted to do the right thing for his nephew, but had no idea what that was at the moment. “Wait here,” she ordered.

She hadn’t meant to sound so abrupt, but instead of getting upset with her—or telling her to shut the fuck up and not tell him what to do, which is what Miles would’ve said—he merely nodded. His lips were pressed together in agitation and his forehead was furrowed with stress lines.

Riley left her door standing open and she walked quickly back inside her apartment. She headed for the kitchen and grabbed one of the reusable grocery bags she kept handy for trips to the store. Opening her pantry, she filled the bag halfway with odds and ends that she thought a kid might enjoy. Luckily, Riley wasn’t a health nut, so she had plenty to choose from.

Then she opened her fridge and threw in the carton of eggs, which had six left, a half-eaten container of cream cheese and the half-gallon jug of milk, which had just enough left in it for a bowl of cereal. She grabbed the package of bagels from her counter, and the three-fourths-full box of Froot Loops.

At the last minute, she threw in two bananas and three apples. The bag was overflowing by the time she was done, and Riley worried that she might’ve gone overboard, but decided the man and boy next door needed this food more than she did, and she wanted them to have plenty of options.

She rushed back to her door, hoping Porter hadn’t left. He was still there, standing with his back against the wall across from her apartment. He didn’t look any less stressed; if anything, he looked more concerned.

“Here,” she said, holding the bag out to him.

But instead of reaching for it, Porter just stared at it in confusion. “What’s that?”

“Breakfast stuff,” she said. “It’s all been opened, sorry, but I had several things that I’m sure your nephew will eat. You can find out in the morning what he prefers. I threw in some granola bars—the soft kind, the hard ones are disgusting—eggs, bagels, cream cheese, cereal, cheese sticks, some fruit, and peanut butter, just in case nothing else appeals to him. All kids eat PB&J sandwiches, I think. There’s also some other junk in there—don’t judge, I have a sweet tooth.”

“I can’t take that,” Porter said, still not reaching for the bag.

“Why not?”

“Because, it’s your food.”

“Porter, it’s fine. I’m not wasting away, as you can probably see.”

He frowned at that. “There’s nothing wrong with your size,” he told her.

Riley wanted to bask in his approval, which was ridiculous, but she couldn’t remember the last time Miles had complimented her. “Uh-huh. Anyway, I’ve got plenty of food. This should tide you over until you can talk to your nephew and find out what he likes to eat. I’m assuming you’re going to get him enrolled in school, and you’ll need to figure out if he wants to eat the school lunches or if he wants to pack his own, so you’ll need lunch food as well. And dinner stuff. Chicken fingers, hamburgers, pasta, that sort of thing. Most kids eat a ton, so I’m sure this won’t last long.”

The more she spoke, the more the rattled look in Porter’s eyes increased. Riley realized she was freaking him out.

Taking a chance, she stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. “Porter?”

He blinked. Then said, “No one calls me that.”

“Oh, um…sorry.”

“No, it’s fine. How did you even know that was my name?”

“Your mail was delivered to my mailbox once. I’m sorry, I can call you by your nickname…Oz, right?”

“I kinda like you calling me Porter,” he admitted.

“Okay,” Riley said. She couldn’t be imagining an attraction between them…could she? Now wasn’t the time or the place, but she couldn’t help liking how his entire attention was on her when she spoke. He wasn’t looking down at a phone, wasn’t checking out her boobs, wasn’t looking past her at her TV, which was on low inside her apartment.

His eyes flicked down to the bag she was still holding then back up to her face. “I really shouldn’t take your food.”

“It’s fine,” Riley insisted, holding the bag out once more.

“I feel horrible about it.”

“Don’t. It’ll give me a reason to get out of my apartment tomorrow,” Riley said. “I’m only sorry I don’t have any doughnuts or cinnamon rolls. I’m sure your nephew would love those.”

“Logan. His name is Logan. And he’s ten.”

Riley smiled and breathed out a sigh of relief when Porter reached for the bag of food she’d collected.

“I’m really sorry for bothering you. I panicked,” Porter admitted a little sheepishly.

“It’s okay. I’m glad you did. I work from home, so I’m pretty much always here. If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to come over. I can also give you my number so you can text if you want.
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Riley (Delta Team Two Book 5). Kindle Locations.(215-267). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

To say Oz was a bit overwhelmed at first is an understatement, but he quickly got it together and with Riley getting him off the bus and hanging with him after school things fell into an easy pattern.

We get to see even more how the guys on the team are more like family with gatherings and including Logan in things when they can. Trigger and Gillian readily agree to be part of his family care plan while deployed and guardian if something should happen to him. All the others agreed to be backup. That right there is awesome!

The first deployment was rough on all of them and Gillian actually brought Logan to Riley so he could stay at Oz’s. Logan’s having problems and he’s also got a secret he’s not sharing.

Of course you know Riley’s ex is gonna show up again, boy does he.

Riley and Oz have an unusual courtship but they truly bond as friends then into a sizzling relationship.

Laughter, oh so many tears, with surprises both good and bad that combine into this page-turning read.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Winter Blog About Author

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 Jayme – Delta Force Two Book 4 by Susan Stoker

Shielding Jayme
Delta Force Two Book 4
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker


Winter Blog Blurb

After a decade of hard work and dedication, Jayme Caldwell’s dreams of a Seattle bakery are whisked out from under her. She’s licking her wounds in Killeen, Texas, living with her memaw, Winnie, while contemplating her future. Of course, Memaw knows exactly the kind of future her granddaughter needs…and it starts with a handsome young man she tricks into having dinner with Jayme. She’d be upset…if the man wasn’t something straight out of any red-blooded woman’s fantasies.

Rocket Long never suspected the sweet little old lady he’d befriended at the grocery store would turn out to be a conniving matchmaker, cleverly setting him up with her beloved granddaughter. But once he lays eyes on Jayme, Rocket can’t be too upset. Especially when, at forty, he’d already given up on finding “the one.” Suddenly, the love and family he’d all but given up on could be his for the taking.

But life is precious. And short. And happiness can be snatched away in the space of a breath. All things Rocket may discover the hard way…before he even gets his ring on Jayme’s finger.

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Rocket Long met Winnie Morrison at the grocery store. He helped her with her packages and as a result they’ve become friends. Now Winnie has an ulterior motive when she invites him to dinner, her granddaughter Jayme is staying with her and she believes they would be perfect together.

Jayme doesn’t really suspect anything when her Memaw asks her to change for dinner. However, when she returns downstairs and Winnie is talking to a man she doesn’t know, she knows something is up. Then when Winnie says she forgot about bingo when Jayme has made an amazing dinner and desert, all bets are off.

I kind of felt sorry for Rocket being stuck in the middle of all that.

This is a favorite scene.

Not bothering to put on makeup— she was drawing a line there— Jayme turned and headed for the stairs once more. She needed to check on the stuffed shells and stir the dressing. The smell of freshly baked cookies permeated the air, making Jayme smile as she headed for the kitchen.

Stopping in her tracks at the edge of the small room, Jayme blinked in confusion.

Her memaw was in the kitchen— along with a man Jayme had never seen before.

“Oh, here she is!” Memaw said brightly. “Come in and meet Rocket, love.”

Rocket? Jayme was immediately confused, but she stepped forward politely.

“This is Rocket Long. I met him at the grocery store, and he was kind enough to help me to my car with all my parcels. He works on the Army base here as a helicopter mechanic. He’s stopped by a few times to see how I’m getting along.”

Looking up at the tall man standing beside her grandmother, Jayme had to force herself not to turn tail and run.

He was absolutely gorgeous.

At least a foot taller than her, the man had black hair with a bit of gray at the temples and a sexy five o’clock shadow. His lips were full and currently quirked upward in a small smile. He had a square jaw, brown eyes the color of semi-sweet chocolate… and he smelled delicious. Like citrus. She assumed it was either his shampoo or his soap. Whatever it was, it made her want to bury her nose in the crook of his neck.

“Um… hi,” Jayme said a little shyly, feeling intimidated by the good-looking man.

“And this is my granddaughter, Jayme Caldwell. She just moved here from Seattle. She’s an amazing baker. Just wait until you taste her pastries. They’re to die for.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Rocket said with a nod in her direction.

Jayme gave him a small smile, feeling immensely uncomfortable. She was great with strangers when she was working, not hesitating to offer suggestions as to what treat to try and explaining the ingredients in the delicacies she made, but socially, she’d always been awkward. Never knowing what to say or do around people she’d just met.

Memaw’s phone trilled with the chime she’d downloaded for her text messages. Looking at her phone, she frowned. “Oh, dear,” she said.

“What, what’s wrong?” Jayme asked, concerned.

“Nothing. I just forgot that I said I’d go with Maude to bingo tonight. She’s here now to pick me up. I’m so sorry, love. Rocket, you’ll stay and keep my granddaughter company, won’t you? She made this big meal and it shouldn’t go to waste.”

Jayme’s face flamed. Darn it. She knew her memaw’d had something up her sleeve. Asking her to change into her sundress, to fix a grand meal for them tonight. She’d totally set this up! There was no way she’d forgotten about bingo with her friend. Winnie had a mind like a steel trap. She might be old, but her mind was as sharp as ever.

“Well, I—”

“She worked on dinner all afternoon,” Winnie said, not letting Rocket graciously get out of the meal. “I’ll be back by nine or ten. Don’t wait up!”

Then she put a hand on Jayme’s arm and stood on tiptoe to kiss her on the cheek. “Have fun,” she whispered, winked, then turned and headed for the front door without a backward glance.

Jayme pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. She turned to the man still standing in her memaw’s kitchen, looking out of place and completely dwarfing his surroundings. He smiled at her, and Jayme almost melted right there. The man was way too good-looking for her own good.

“You don’t have to stay,” she assured him. “If you’re hungry, I can package some food up for you, but as someone who’s been on the receiving end of Memaw’s machinations too many times to count, I know how it feels to be blindsided by her.”

“Is your cooking as good as Winnie claims?” Rocket asked.

Jayme wasn’t conceited. Didn’t like to brag. But she knew she was a good cook and baker. She shrugged and simply said, “Yes.”

“Then if you aren’t too uncomfortable to eat with a stranger, I’d love to stay.”
Susan Stoker. ’Tis The Season For Romance. Shielding Jayme. (Kindle Locations 7087-7120).

As they get to know each other over dinner things just click and Rocket asks for a date.

I loved the way these two get to know each other, it’s a slow but ever building relationship. Rocket encourages Jayme to open her own bakery after not only tasting her baked goods himself but also bring some for his team.

Once again Susan takes us on a journey of overcoming obstacles and making dreams come true. With that simmer to sizzle romance I love!

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 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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A New Series! Trusting Skylar – Silverstone Book 1 By Susan Stoker

From bestselling author Susan Stoker
comes a sizzling new series
about four former military operatives
who rid the world of the worst of humanity
while fighting to protect
the best part of their lives:
the women they love.

Trusting Skylar
Silverstone Book 1
NY Times, Wall Street Journal &
USA Today Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker


Winter Blog Blurb

From bestselling author Susan Stoker comes a sizzling new series about four former military operatives who rid the world of the worst of humanity while fighting to protect the best part of their lives: the women they love.

Former military operative Carson “Bull” Rhodes hasn’t dated seriously since he and his teammates left the army. Since then he’s opened Silverstone Towing—which is a front for his other job: hired killer. When kindergarten teacher Skylar Reid calls for help while stranded on the side of the interstate, the attraction is instant. The problem is Bull’s career has jaded him. Skylar’s innocent, and he wants to keep her that way.

Cautious by nature, Skylar never expected to fall in love with her tow truck driver. Even so, once Bull reveals what he really does for a living, she’s not sure she can handle it. When Skylar faces threats that have nothing to do with Bull’s job but are just as deadly, the stakes are higher than ever.

With the help of the Silverstone team, Bull will use everything he’s learned over the years to bring the woman he loves home—because the alternative is unthinkable.

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Four Delta’s essentially forced out because of a judgement made on the scene of an assignment, given the opportunity to continue what they’re good at, serving their country. Under the now very profitable guise of a towing company, Silverstone Towing, these men continue to take out the top most wanted.

Now there’s an interesting twist for one of the guys, Carson ‘Bull’ Rhodes meets a woman on a tow call. He immediately goes into protective mode, from helping her select the right place to take her car to seeing she gets home okay.

A kindergarten teacher, Skylar Reid is a little flustered by the situation with her car. She seems a little naïve to Bull and for some reason Bull can’t help but educate her just a bit. There’s a definite attraction between them that puzzles both of them.

He talks her out of taking her car to a place known to cheat people and take it to Stanley’s Automotive instead. That way she’ll have a car while hers is being fixed. On the drive he talks to her about the children in her class and if she has favorites. One in particular he takes notes of asking the father’s name. Before she can’t ask him more about his curiosity they arrive at Stan’s.

This is a favorite scene.

After ten minutes of paperwork and teasing from Stan, Skylar followed him back outside to see her car sitting in a parking spot in front of the garage. She’d left her keys in the ignition and assumed Carson had moved it.

“I said I was gonna give you a choice as to the loaner you wanted, but I changed my mind,” Stan said, holding out a key ring to her. “You’re takin’ the Volvo.”

Skylar didn’t much care which car she drove as long as it got her to school and home in one piece. But when she saw the car in question, she couldn’t help but wince. The white older-model car looked like it had seen better days. The paint was peeling, and there was rust around the edges. It looked like a hunk of junk, but she’d never tell Stan that.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” Carson told her, obviously seeing her dismay. “It looks like a piece of shit, but I can guarantee she purrs like a kitten. If any of his loaners broke down, Stan would take it personally.”

“I’m sure it’s fine,” Skylar said politely.

Both Stan and Carson chuckled.

“She just got a new engine a few months ago,” Stan reassured her. “She was a complete overhaul. You’ll never drive anything as smooth as her, I promise. But considering you live at Southpoint, you couldn’t exactly pull in there with a Mercedes. It would draw too much attention. Nobody’ll take a second look at this piece of crap. They won’t try to steal it, because they’ll assume it won’t run well. Go on, get in and start ’er up. You’ll see.”

Skylar conceded his point, though she wasn’t exactly convinced the car wouldn’t fall apart around her. But when Carson held out his hand for the bouquet of flowers, she didn’t have much of a choice. Smiling at Stan, she climbed behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition. When the engine turned over, she looked up in surprise.

Once again, both men chuckled.

“Told ya,” Stan said.

“It’s so quiet!” Skylar exclaimed.

“Yup. She’ll get you where you need to go safely. She’s got no flash, but you don’t need any more attention on you than you’ve got already.”

Frowning, Skylar asked, “What does that mean?”

Instead of answering her, Stan turned to Carson. “She serious?”

Carson nodded. “Yup.”

“Damn. All right, I’ve got your digits. I’ll give you a call after I get under the hood of your car tomorrow,” Stan told her.

Skylar saw a look pass between the men that she couldn’t interpret. She had a feeling there were a lot of things going over her head, but she wasn’t about to ask. She’d always been kind of clueless when it came to innuendos, so she let it go.

“Sounds good,” she told Stan. “And I really appreciate you coming out tonight to meet us.”

“Of course. Bull’s a good man. One of the best. If you see Terrell, tell him you saw me and I said to be good,” Stan said. Then he turned and headed back for his shop. He locked the front door and went around the corner, probably to where he’d parked his own vehicle.

“You good?” Carson asked as he handed her the flowers he’d been carrying around. He’d also grabbed her messenger bag and gave that to her too.

Skylar looked up at him after putting the bouquet and bag on the seat next to her, feeling at a disadvantage since he was so tall and she was sitting in the car.

As if he could read her mind, Carson squatted beside her door so they were more or less eye to eye.

“I’m good,” she told him. “Thank you for coming.”

“Of course.” He paused, then said, “I’m going to follow you home. Not because I’m being creepy, but because I want to make sure you get there all right.”

“Stan’s loaner car isn’t as good as he claimed?” she asked.

“No, it’s not that. That car would get you all the way to California and back without any issues whatsoever. I just want to make sure you get home all right. It’s getting late and . . .”

“And you don’t like where I live,” Skylar finished for him.

He merely shrugged.

“It’s not that late,” she protested. “It’s only like nine.”

“Even so,” Carson said. “Nothing I say is going to change your mind, is it?” she asked.

Carson didn’t even break a smile. “If you told me it honestly made you uncomfortable and you didn’t want me to follow you, I’d respect that. But I swear that I only have your best interests in mind.”

“It’s okay if you follow me,” Skylar told him.

His lips twitched.

“But I’ve made it a rule not to let strays stay if they follow me home,” she joked.

The twitch turned into a real smile, and her heart swelled.

“What would you say if I asked if you’d like to go out for coffee or lunch sometime?” he asked.

Skylar stilled. She couldn’t believe this beautiful man was asking her out. Some people might assume he asked out every woman he picked up for a tow, but she had a feeling he was acting out of character. And when she paused a bit too long before answering, she knew for sure that he didn’t do this kind of thing all the time. A mask seemed to fall over his face, as if he wasn’t feeling anything at all. As if her answer wouldn’t faze him one way or another.

Hating that blank mask more than she wanted to admit, especially after making him smile and laugh several times that night, her hand landed on his forearm. He’d braced it on his knee, and it tightened at her touch.

“I’d like that. But I’m not free until the weekend . . . because, you know . . . teacher.”

“You don’t get time off for lunch at school?”

“I do, but I usually eat with the kids. It gives me time to catch up with former students, or if any of my kids needs some extra affection, that’s a great time to give it without being distracted by lessons or other classroom stuff that takes my attention during regular class time.”

He didn’t say anything for a long moment.

“Carson?” she asked tentatively. “Is that okay? I’m not blowing you off.”

“I know you aren’t,” he told her. “I bet you’re an amazing teacher. Your students are extremely lucky to have you.”

Skylar knew she was blushing once more. “I don’t know about that.”

“I do,” he said firmly. “And if you’re free this Saturday, I’d love to take you to lunch.”

Saturday. That was three days from now. Skylar wasn’t sure she could wait that long. But she forced herself to smile sedately. “Sounds good.”
Stoker, Susan. Trusting Skylar (Silverstone). Kindle Locations (856-905). Montlake. Kindle Edition.

This is the beginning of a relationship that Bull is so afraid isn’t going to last once she knows everything about him. After all, he along with his partners are essentially assassins for hire. What woman could possibly put up with that?

I fell in love with all the Silverstone men and the way they interact with Skylar and her students is priceless. Bull’s doubts and hesitation and that simmer to sizzle I love between him and Skylar.

There’s a lot that Susan covers in this book including the lack of funds that cause teachers to buy extra thing to augment their classrooms. While I am familiar with some Susan’s writing tactic’s, the twist in this story surprised me.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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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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Shielding Aspen – Delta Team Two Book 3 by Susan Stoker

Shielding Aspen
Delta Team Two Book 3
NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker



Desperate to ditch her ex once and for all, when Aspen Mesmer asks a complete stranger to kiss her, she never expects to feel an immediate connection. Despite already dealing with one soldier she can’t shake, Aspen would be a fool to ignore the intense chemistry she shares with the Delta Force operative. Even better, he shows her the respect few others offer in her male-dominated profession. It’s clear she’ll never have the camaraderie she craves with her own platoon, but maybe…just maybe…she’ll find it with Kane and his team.

Kane “Brain” Temple isn’t the kind of man most women look at twice, so when Aspen makes her interest clear after their impulsive, explosive kiss, he’s thrilled. As a combat medic attached to a Ranger team, Aspen is pretty impressive in her own right. She might be one of the few women who can not only handle Brain’s frequent deployments, but understand exactly how dangerous his missions can be. Bonus: she’s not turned off by his nerdy tendencies. It’s as if Aspen was made just for him.

Her ex disagrees. He’s not handling Aspen’s rejection well, or her deepening relationship with Brain. Being thrown over for a Delta is humiliating, and he’ll do anything to make her regret it.



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Aspen is dealing with her ex Derek when Brain walks into the bar to meet up with his teammates. She totally surprises him by throwing her arms around him and in a whisper offers him twenty bucks to kiss her. He does but in a way that surprises them both, and totally pisses off Derek. Brain brings her over to his team as Derek leaves, and then to his delight she fits right in. A combat medic she can identify with not only the women in this group but also the men. The men were considerably impressed with her, knowing the kind of training she’s gone through all while taking care of her team and herself.

A favorite scene is at the end of this evening.

“Grover’s not exactly subtle,” Brain told her.

Aspen chuckled. “No, he’s not. But he means well.”

“He does.” Brain mentally smacked himself in the forehead. This wasn’t exactly how he’d wanted their first one-on-one conversation to go. No matter what Grover had said, Brain wasn’t a “ladies’ man.” He wasn’t “cool.” He was the brain. The smart guy. The one everyone turned to when they had a mystery that needed solving.

He was thirty years old, and he hadn’t even lost his virginity until he was twenty-four. He’d been out of his depth, socially; going to college so young meant most of the women avoided him like the plague. It wasn’t until he’d joined the Army and had gotten some independence that he’d managed to figure out how to fit in with men his own age a little better.

“I’m embarrassed that I didn’t ask earlier, but you and your friends…you aren’t Rangers, are you? Because if you are, I totally put my foot in my mouth earlier.”

Brain quickly shook his head. “No, we aren’t Rangers.”

“Thank God,” she breathed.

Brain continued before thinking. “We’re Delta.”

Aspen went completely still and stared at him with wide eyes. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“Nope. And I know you know this, but please don’t share that with anyone.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t. No way. And…oh, shit, I’m such a dork.”

“No, you aren’t,” Brain told her immediately. She was anything but a dork.

“I am! You were going on and on about how hard Ranger training is, and I know you guys have been through much worse.”

“It’s not a competition,” Brain told her.

She tilted her head as she studied him.

“What?” Brain asked.

“You aren’t like most men in special forces I’ve met. Neither are your friends, for that matter.”

“In what way?”

Aspen shrugged. “It’s just that…you’re so down-to-earth.”

“You’ve been hanging around those asshole Rangers too long,” Brain retorted.

She grinned. “They’re not all assholes.”

“Derek is,” Brain told her.

Her grin widened. “True. Thank you for helping me earlier. I’m usually not so forward, but—”

“But he was being a dick, and you were desperate,” Brain finished for her.

“Maybe not desperate,” Aspen countered. Then she dipped her head and raised her eyes shyly. “Maybe I took one look at you and liked what I saw, and figured I could kill two birds with one stone.”

It took a minute for her words to sink in, and when they did, Brain was shocked.
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Aspen (Delta Team Two Book 3) (Kindle Locations. 178-203). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Aspen and Brain continue to start a relationship as both of them have training that is ramping up for possible deployment.

Brain gets to see her at her worst when it appears her team’s lead enters a bit of competition with Derek’s team. Pushing harder and harder and ignoring basic health and safety of their teams. Only made worse when her team doesn’t have her back.

It’s quite the shift when Aspen is the one who has to leave a get together because she is being deployed. It gives Brain and his team a startling and personal example of how it is for wives and girlfriends. He also understands how Trigger and Lefty must feel when their team gets deployed.

Things don’t improve in Aspen’s deployment if anything they get worse. Derek doesn’t take the news that the Delta’s would be coming in to assist in finding the threat he’s looking for. His actions once the Delta team arrives put things in a whole new light as things go a bit FUBAR. It becomes quite the turning point for this book.

I loved the interaction with Annie and Ghost’s team at a base family event. Aspen definitely gets a look at how a team is supposed to work and it helps Annie understand some things as well.

All the things that Aspen goes through makes this book a bit different from the others in Susan’s series. Having Aspen not only in the military but attached to Rangers puts her in a unique position. One that enables Susan to put the spotlight on how misogynic the Army and Special forces can be. Mind you not everyone is that way but it is still an issue.

There’s fun, laughter and tears as well as some ups and downs for Brain and Aspen and there’s also hints at the future books in this series. I truly can’t wait for the next one!

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

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



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.

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!

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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