NY Times, USA Today and
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
Dubbed the “American Princess” after her rescue from months in the hands of ISIS, soldier and firefighter Penelope Turner has struggled silently since her return to Texas. The media, the danger of her job, the pressure of knowing lives are in her hands…all of it and more has combined to slowly fill Penelope with seething guilt and doubt. Missing memories from her moment of capture cause even more angst. Is she responsible for the deaths of her Army patrol unit? And without knowing what happened, how can she be trusted by her fellow firefighters—or trust them in return?
Worse…how can she ever be worthy of the man who believes in her most?
It took seeing Penelope in the hands of terrorists—in viral videos seen around the world—for Tucker “Moose” Jacobs to realize just how much he loved his fellow firefighter. He died waiting for her rescue, then died all over again when Penelope abruptly left Texas, trying to outrun her past. Now that she’s returned, the kid gloves are off. Moose is a patient man, but even he has his limits. He loves Penelope, and he knows it’s past time for her to face her fears, and remember she has an entire tribe of friends who not only have her back, but need Pen to have theirs, as well.
In the end, Penelope will have to trust Moose, her friends, and most of all herself, if she’s going to make peace with her past…and have any kind of future.
** Shelter for Penelope is the 15th and final book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings. Penelope’s story started in Protecting the Future, and over the years, she’s struggled with her inner demons. Read on to see her finally get her HEA.
The first thing you need to do before you start reading, is grab a full box of tissues, you will need them.
At the end of Shelter for Koren, Penelope has left her resignation on the Chief’s desk and left, not only the station but San Antonio. Fortunately she has on the tracker Tex sent her when she returned home. He’s sort of guiding her in her travels with her donkey Smokey keeping them safe and directing her to some pretty awesome veterans and active service friends.
She’s called Moose giving him updates on her travels, but hasn’t said anything about coming home, at least not until her latest phone call.
This is a favorite scene.
“Taco proposed to Koren, and she said yes. They haven’t chosen a date yet though.”
He wasn’t sure if he should tell her the next thing. But he’d promised he’d never lie to her, and not letting her know felt like a lie of omission. “And…Sophie’s pregnant. She and Chief just got back from visiting his mom on the reservation. They wanted to tell her first. I guess they had a blessing ceremony, and his mom was super excited. She’s got about six more months to go.”
When Penelope didn’t say anything, Moose asked, “Pen? You still there?”
“I’m missing everything,” she whispered.
“Then come home,” Moose pleaded. He’d promised he wouldn’t, but the words just popped out. “Together, we can work through whatever has you so scared.”
“I can’t,” Penelope told him.
“But you are coming home at some point, right?” Moose asked.
“I haven’t decided.”
Moose felt his heart break right in half at her words.
He’d had his suspicions that he’d lost the woman he loved, but until now, she’d never come right out and said that she might not come back to him. And it hurt.
She was shutting him out. Him and her brother and all the rest of her friends.
Feeling the tell-tale sign of tears forming behind his eyes, Moose stumbled backward until his legs came into contact with his bed and he sat down, hard. It was his turn to have nothing to say. The silence over the phone line was heavy and fraught with tension.
“All I ever want is for you to be happy,” Moose started, doing his damnedest to not let his voice crack. “When you were here and suffering, I did all I could to be there for you. I defended your need to keep Smokey, and I let him stay in my barn, and then my house when the barn was torched. After you left, I defended your need and right for some space to the guys. When you missed the birth of Blythe’s daughter, I reassured her that you’d be back, that you were trying to get your head on straight after everything that had happened to you.
“And I’ll have your back no matter what, Pen. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love you.”
Moose heard her take a deep breath, but he kept going. “I’ve loved you forever. I’d bend over backward to keep you safe. To do what you need to live your life the way you need to live it. But I need you to want that too. To want to stand by my side. To have my back. I get that you’re struggling, I do, and I wish there was something I could do to help you. But I can’t if you don’t let me in.
“If you don’t come back to San Antonio, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over loving you. You’re it for me. I feel that down to the marrow of my bones. I love the woman you are today, the woman you were yesterday, and the woman you’re going to be in the future. I don’t give a fuck if you have PTSD or if you can’t ever be a firefighter again. You can stay home and raise miniature donkeys if that makes you happy. All I want is to be by your side while you do it.
“But if moving away from everyone who loves you exactly how you are, who supports you unconditionally, is what you need to be happy…so be it. Please thank the men who were able to get you out of hell for me, and tell them they have my undying gratitude. Don’t forget to shoot Blythe a text to congratulate her on her marriage, and maybe Sophie too, for being pregnant. Stay safe…and know that I love you.”
“Thanks for calling,” he interrupted her, not able to listen to her try to let him down gently.
He’d never come right out and told her he’d loved her before, but he couldn’t keep the words in anymore. Not if she was deciding whether or not to come back to Texas. He wasn’t about to play fair, not when it came to the woman he loved. He was almost forty; if Penelope didn’t come home to him, he’d never get married. Never have a family. She was it for him. He knew that with no uncertainty.
“I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay, Moose. Later.”
Moose clicked off the phone and squeezed it so tightly in his fist he knew it was only a matter of seconds before it broke. He threw the phone onto his nightstand and bent over so his elbows were resting on his knees.
Stoker, Susan. Shelter for Penelope (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15) . Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (149-180). Kindle Edition.
I started crying when Pen says she doesn’t know if she’s going back to Texas and sniffled most of the way through this book.
It’s not until she’s with Wolf, Caroline and the team that brought her home, that she starts to realize she’s running away and not dealing with anything.
Her return to Texas is fraught with emotion and new experiences with Moose beside her the whole time. He is unfailing in his love and support.
I loved the way everyone stands with her whether or not she wants them there. My heart broke with her painful memories as she deals with her PTSD and trust issues.
A very emotional and beautiful end to this wonderful series. Thank you for the journey Susan.
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.