Thursday, February 21, 2019

For the Love of a Dog


I’m not certain I’ve ever shared why I wrote THE MARINE’S LASTDEFENSE. My cousin’s son shared with me that the only thing that saved his sanity after serving in Iraq was his dog. He had severe PTSD with night terrors. The stroking of his dog calmed him and helped him through his transition back into society. I also had a fan tell me a story of a woman who married Marines hoping they would get killed in action (that’s horrible, right?). But if they didn’t die, she’d divorce them and have a guaranteed income from the government (some rules just don’t make sense).

Anyway… Originally, the dog in the book was a mutt named BEAR. My daughter was at Baylor (Go BEARS!) and knew her next dog would be named Bear. It sounded cool. Then my physically challenged rescue died suddenly. Dallas had seizures we thought were under control with medication. But at eight months, she had a massive seizure that led to what a stroke (we assume). I love all my dogs, but Dallas was special and deserved to be a character in a book. Along with the gratitude to those rescuers who look past physical handicaps and love the dog.

It would have been very easy for the Hickory Creek Animal Shelter to euthanize a small puppy that was blind in one eye, too small, and had a skin/fur impediment caused from the trauma to her body. But they didn’t. When they showed her to me…I was in love with her fearlessness and curiosity. She was perfect for Jake, my lost Marine. But it did make it very hard to write the book while I was crying and mourning.


This Excerpt from THE MARINE’S LAST DEFENSE is when Jake first meets Dallas:

“You go see if you can find that ghost,” his partner had ordered when they’d arrived. He’d leaned his head against the headrest and shut his eyes. “I’m going to keep the heater running on these old bones, partner. You love the cold, don’t cha, partner?
“Sure, Owens. I could stay out here all freakin’ day.” Okay, maybe his reply had been a slight exaggeration. Then again, he hadn’t actually replied, just mumbled after he’d left the car. He would continue to accept the late shifts, practical jokes and crank calls, just like he had this morning.
“I’m a freakin’ machine.” No one could break down the machine at work.
The ghost was probably a drunk trying to get out of the snowfall, but it had to be checked out. What if the call was just a staged joke? Could Owens have arranged for a “ghost” to be at the spillway?
It was the perfect setup. Someone could pop out of the bushes, try to surprise him and he might even lose his footing. “I will not fall and have that humiliation blasted across the internet. I’ll never hear the end of it.” Those guys knew he’d be the one out here verifying ghosts don’t exist. And he wouldn’t put it past any of them to have cooked up this entire charade.
As long as they dished it out, he’d take it. The cold, searching for a ghost, whatever, he’d keep at the job. He wanted the job. He had nothing else but the job. He wouldn’t let it slip through his fingers like the rest of his life.
An early-morning search of the underbrush around White Rock Lake beat picking up Friday-night drunks from Deep Ellum any night of the week. Homicide detectives wore civilian clothes, a definite improvement from the street cops. Man, he was glad to be out of a uniform. Any uniform.
His years as a Marine M.P. didn’t seem to make a difference to his coworkers. Maybe they thought he was more qualified to deal with drunks than legitimate homicides. If they only knew what he wanted to forget.
The beam from the flashlight reflected off a pair of red eyes. The animal didn’t bolt. Jake took a step closer to the fence and heard the low whine of a dog.
A black Labrador was under the brush on the other side of the six-foot security fence. Located just below a large yellow-and-orange danger sign, warning that the lake’s spillway was nearby.
The leash must have tangled around a limb, pinning the dog to the cold February ground. The pup yelped, whining louder, visibly shaking from the cold. He dropped back to the ground, obviously tired from his struggle for freedom.
“Hang on, now. How’d you get over there?” Just to his right the section of fence was raised off the ground, easy enough for a dog or person to crawl under.
Jake clicked off the light and dropped it in his pocket. Going over the icy fence was a lot cleaner than crawling under like the dog had. He shook the chain-link fence, verifying it could hold his weight, and scaled it in a few seconds, landing on the spillway side with both feet firm, in the melting snow.
“So you’re the ghost those drunks reported?” He knelt and offered his hand for the Lab to sniff. It quickly licked his fingers. “You’re friendly enough. What are you caught on?”
The stubborn dog refused to budge even with encouragement and a gentle tug on his collar. His young bark did some tugging of its own on Jake's heart, earning a smile from a jaded soldier. He hadn’t thought he had one left.
He pushed farther into the bushes, conceding that the only way to get the dog loose was to get wet himself. The poor mutt shivered hard enough to knock his tags together. Jake could relate, having been there a time or two.
Working his tall frame closer, his slacks were soaked as the slush seeped through the cloth. The snow that dropped on the back of his neck quickly melted from his body heat and dampened his skin. He slipped his hand around the dog collar and tugged again, receiving a louder howl and whimper.
“Are you hurt, boy? Is that why can’t move? All right, then. I might as well send my coat to the cleaners, too.” He stretched onto his belly, sliding forward until he could reach the hind quarters of the dog, which had gone completely still. “What’s wrong besides me calling you a boy when you’re clearly a girl?”
Nothing felt out of place or broken. The pup’s whine was consistent. The harder he pulled her toward freedom, the more the dog pressed backward.
The leash was caught on something or the pup was injured. He pulled hard and he still couldn’t get the leash free. Blindly he followed the leather to an icy death grip of fingers, causing him to instantly retreat. His jerky reaction scared the dog, causing her to struggle harder in the dark.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. Take it easy and I’ll get you out of here.” Jake kept a firm grip on the collar, snagged the flashlight from his pocket and flipped the switch to take a closer look at the body.
The glassy look of the dead took him back to Afghanistan. He’d experienced that look more than once in his military career. Male or female, it always twisted his gut.
Then it hit him…the smell of death. Faint, most likely because of the cold, but there wafting into his brain and triggering more memories that he wanted to forget. Once experienced, he could never forget.
The call hadn’t been a prank. The woman’s coat was covered in white. She’d been there all night. He’d flattened the crime scene getting to the dang dog, which wouldn’t or couldn’t leave her side.
“Hold on there, girl. I’m not going to hurt you. Give me a second here.” He couldn’t remove the leash from the body. So he’d have to disconnect the dog.
Expensive leash with a word etched into the wet leather. “Dallas? That your name or just a souvenir?” He kept a grip on the Lab with his left hand and unsnapped the leash from the dog harness with his right.
He crooned, attempting to calm the shivering mass of fur. He peeled his jacket off in the cramped space, the sharp broken twigs poking him with every shrug. He draped Dallas and shoved his coat under the dog’s legs. He took one last look into a frozen face. There was something about her, or the situation.
Something he couldn’t put a name to. Or maybe just a habit he’d started with the first investigation he’d had as a military cop. He didn’t want to make the vow. He had a clean slate but couldn’t stop the words, “Whoever did this won’t get away. And I’ll take care of your pup, ma’am. That’s a promise.”
Unable to move, Dallas didn’t struggle much covered in his jacket. Jake pulled her free, shimmying under the fence instead of scaling it, dragging the pup under after. Then he sat on a fallen tree, holding Dallas in his lap. He began to feel the cold as the wind whipped through the secluded jogging path that viewed the spillway overlook and hit his wet clothes.
Dallas made a unique noise halfway between a howl and whine.
“It’ll be okay, girl. We’ll find you another owner before too long.” He stroked the pup’s head and she quieted just a bit. Her tags indicated a rabies vaccination and that she’d been chipped, but they’d need animal control to access the information.
Jake tried his radio. Nothing. He took his cell from its carrier on his hip. Nothing. He moved up the hill until he had reception and dialed.
“Dallas 911. What’s your emergency?”
“This is Detective Jake Craig, badge 5942. I have an expired subject. Bus required at Garland and Winstead parking lot WTR 114 marker.”
“An ambulance has been dispatched to your location. Do you need me to connect you to homicide?” the dispatcher asked.
“Thanks, but we’re already here.”
“Understood Detective Craig.”
Protocol required him to ask for the ambulance, but he knew it wasn’t necessary. The woman frozen to the ground a couple of feet away was dead and had been most of the night. He’d seen the dead before. Many times over and under too many circumstances to remember them all. He didn’t want to remember.
Life was easier when he didn’t.
The pup tipped her soggy face up at him, and then rested on his thigh. Jake looked around the crushed crime scene as he dialed his partner’s cell. “I don’t know about you, Dallas, but it’s going to be a helluva long day.”

If you haven’t read The Marine’s Last Defense…I hope you’ll give it a try.

Here’s what someone thought

"Marines Last Defense grabs you on the first page and the action never lets up. Oh man- this is a great story brimming with page-turning excitement. The further into it I got – the faster I wanted to read. I loved the steadily building attraction between the characters as they tried to clear her name and deal with the killer who was on their trail. The book is fast-paced action at its best. The author brings very gripping tension to her stories and this one heads the list. The emotions, the fear, the action, the hope these two people experience is enthralling and you will be rooting for them. Clear your schedule for a while because once you pick up this story- you will not put it down.” ~Deanna



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USA Today Bestselling author ANGI MORGAN writes Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. Her work is a multiple contest finalist and Publishers Weekly best-seller. She drags her dogs –and husband– around Texas for research road trips so she can write off her camera. They now have a map with highlighted roads they’ve traveled. Every detour somehow makes it into a book.


Website   Facebook   FB Fan Page   Twitter @AngiMorganAuthr     
Check out A Picture A Day, my newsletter or follow me on BookBub

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DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
by leaving a comment for the $5.00 gift card.

Giveaway on JRS ends at midnight February 22nd.  Contestants enter drawing by leaving a comment on Just Romantic Suspense. Don’t forget to check back to see who won!


Do you like reading excerpts?


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Strong Heroines Who Believe In Themselves



Congratulations to "Trish J.", the winner in Margo's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize!

FEELING FIERCE – The words were emblazoned in pink and silver block letters on the little girl’s size tee shirt in the store. No question. That shirt was just made for my young granddaughter. This was one purchase I was not going to pass up. Especially when, frugal shopper that I am, I noticed the Buy One Get One Half Off sign across the top of the display. Perfect.

Several bright pink tee shirts on a nearby rack emblazoned in more silver block letters declared AWESOME STARTS HERE. Perfect times two.

Strength and self-esteem are two virtues I worked hard to instill in both my daughters. Now the time had come to help instill those same attributes in my granddaughter as well. These two tee shirts would help me do that.

Strength and self esteem are two virtues I work to instill in my fictional heroines as well. The women in my books aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves, especially when wronged. And to give the men lucky enough to be part of their lives, a run for their money in proving themselves worthy to love.

Like Jenny Reynolds of Book 1, ON THE SURFACE when Brad Collins, police officer turned bounty hunter posing as a handyman, reveals his true identity and motive.

Excerpt:

“You couldn’t be honest with me?”

Her words snapped him back to the here and now. “I was going to

“What? Reveal as much to me as I did to you?” Chin to chest, her voice broke, yet she went on anyway. “When, Brad? When? After you” Her head jerked up. A fiery gaze latched onto his. “Oh, wait. I’m sorry. That probably isn’t your real name. Aside from a couple of things I’d like to call you, Brad is the only name I know you by.”

Then there’s Sydney from Brothers In Blue Book 2, ON THE FORCE when undercover officer Vince Miller comes clean about his true identity as well.

Excerpt:

“It would have compromised the assignment.”

After she finished the sentence for him, he nodded. “Exactly. The feds were involved. I couldn’t do anything but keep quiet. Those guys don’t take kindly to having civilians interfere in their operations.”

“Interfere? Really?” Her tone deepened to one of disbelief. “And after the feds left the case?”

He took a moment to swallow. “We…you and I…never seemed to have the time.”
“That is so lame, Vince. In all the alone time we did spend together the past couple of weeks.” A fast breath huffed out of her. “You couldn’t take five minutes?”

“Five minutes wasn’t going to cut it. We’ve been at this a lot longer right now, and nothing’s been resolved.”

“You couldn’t even try?” Tears moved up to tinge her voice. Even as she clamped her mouth shut, her chin continued to tremble.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to. Didn’t think about it a lot.” He lifted an arm toward her then, thinking better of it, let it drop. “You were always so busy with your new job.”

“Seriously? You not being able to tell me the truth was my fault?

Jenny and Sydney are two heroines in my latest series Brothers In Blue, four heroes who met at the police academy to become life-long friends. Books 3 and 4, On The Make and On The Move, will have their own feisty heroines for their heroes to deal with.

To serve and protect was never more personal



99 cent SPECIAL PRICE!
ON THE SURFACE is just 99 cents now through February 22nd at all major e-book venues. I’d love for you to give it a try.


He sought vengeance only to discover love.

Blurb: Wrongly convicted ex-con and recent parolee Jenny Reynolds wants to forget her tarnished past and focus on a brighter future. One that begins with a return to the small tourist town where she grew up. The restoration of her family’s once proud Rest Easy Bed and Breakfast is the only thing on her mind. Fleeing an ex who refuses to let her go, what she doesn’t need to complicate her already problematic life is another man. Enter handsome handyman Brad, a man who seems to care as much about restoring the B and B as she does. A man who soon becomes ready, willing and able to steal her heart. A man, as it turns out, with more than a few secrets of his own. A dropout from law enforcement, the real Brad Collins will use anyone and anything to fulfill a personal vendetta. When two pasts collide and danger threatens, their budding love for each other may be the first casualty.

Then if you like that one, Book 2 ON THE FORCE is now available too.

Losing her job and reputation is nothing compared to the prospect of losing her life

Blurb: Top notch CFO Sydney Raines is devastated when her coveted job working for a high-profile conglomerate is yanked out from under her. Determined to restore a mangled reputation, she finds her second chance when the owner of an upscale art gallery hires her as his personal assistant. Straight arrow cop Vince Miller is assigned to crack an international art theft ring. Working undercover, he never counted on meeting Sydney Raines, let alone falling in love with her. Then an unexpected twist in the case reveals the identity of a serial killer, along with the shattering realization that Sydney could be the psycho’s next victim.

Giveaway:
Reader’s Choice Giveaway: I’m pleased to offer one commenter a format of choice, e-book or print copy, of Brothers In Blue Book 2, ON THE FORCE  (Print book available in the US only.)

Please visit me at these locations as well.

FaceBook     Twitter     Goodreads     Amazon Author Page

Bio: Award winning author Margo Hoornstra writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, always providing that happily ever after for her characters. A big city girl turned country woman, Margo enjoys hiking and walking around the wide-open spaces near her home, especially in the fall, hates to cook and loves to read.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST February 20th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@justromanticsuspense.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Researching Columbia

With: Kat Martin

Sometimes what you think is going to be a great idea for a novel turns out to be a whole lot of work!  That’s what happens when you realize the idea you are now in the middle of isn’t going to work the way you thought it would.

In THE CONSPIRACY, I got the idea for a book that started in Texas, moved to the Caribbean, and ended up in Venezuela.  With all the trouble country is having, I thought it would be a great setting for a Romantic Thriller. 

Unfortunately, after I was well into the book and started doing the necessary research for that segment of the story, I realized the geography I needed and the rural setting didn’t exist in Venezuela. 

I spent days digging around in South America, looking for a rainforest that could be reasonably reached from the Caribbean island of Aruba.  Nothing worked. 

Finally, I realized there actually was spot that exactly fit the image in my head.  (This happens to writers all the time.  No one knows why.) The spot was in Colombia, a place I had no desire to write about, but fit the story exactly. 

So I went to work researching a remote area of Columbia accessible from Aruba. 

Chase Garrett, the hero of THE CONSPIRACY, with the help of Harper Winston, the woman who hires him to find her missing brother, wind up in extreme danger in the  Columbian tropical forest.  It’s a very unusual place that required hours of research, but in the end, it was worth it.
I had my work cut out for me, finding which animals, reptiles, and birds lived in the area.  Reading about the customs of the indigenous tribes, and the politic.  Rebel armies inhabit the forest and they don’t like intruders. 

The research made THE CONSPIRACY one of the most challenging books I’ve written, but hopefully its one of my most interesting.  I hope you’ll look for THE CONSPIRACY, the first of my Maximum Security series, and that you enjoy.  

Until next time, very best wishes and happy reading, Kat     

THE CONSPIRACY

Harper Winston’s brother has disappeared. Pursuing his dream of sailing the Caribbean, Michael hasn’t responded to texts or emails in days. When even the Coast Guard can’t find him, Harper is forced to take desperate measures. Which means going to Chase Garrett, once her brother’s best friend, now the only man she can trust…or so she hopes.
As the successful owner of Maximum Security, Chase has learned to trust his gut. He knows Harper’s father is mixed up in a deadly business, and suspects there’s more to Michael’s disappearance than meets the eye. Getting involved again with the Winstons goes against everything he stands for, yet old loyalties die hard, and as the case draws him closer to Harper and deeper into the Winstons’ snarled crime family, he is forced to put everything on the line to keep Harper safe…and both of them alive.

Excerpt:
Chapter One
Dallas, Texas
She knew who he was. The only man at the gala in a black tuxedo and shiny black alligator cowboy boots. Chase Garrett. The man she intended to hire to help her find her missing brother.
Harper Winston had known Chase since the day her father had thrown an obnoxiously extravagant party in honor of her sixteenth birthday.
Chase had attended with her older brother, Michael. She had spotted Chase in a swimsuit standing next to the pool, tall, with a lean, hard-muscled body, whiskey-brown eyes and thick, dark blond hair. In the sun it had gleamed like pirate’s gold.
Aside from the close-trimmed beard along a jaw that had hardened with maturity, Chase hadn’t changed. He still had the perfectly symmetrical features of a movie star combined with a toughness that appealed to a legion of women.
Now that she was thirty, Chase thirty-five, Harper still found him ridiculously attractive, though he’d never given her more than a passing glance.
He didn’t notice her tonight, though she wore an elegant strapless black gown that hugged her slender curves and set off the pale blond hair she wore long and slightly turned under. She glanced over to where he stood next to a stunning brunette, a successful lawyer in Dallas, the typical sort of woman Chase dated. Self-made career women, professors, bankers, stockbrokers. Not someone like her, the daughter of a wealthy Texas businessman, a woman who had attended Sarah Lawrence along with a bevy of other rich socialites from around the country.
It didn’t matter that she was nothing like they were. That she hadn’t the least interest in society. Her interests lay in the business world, in Elemental Chic, the company she had started, a line of affordable, stylish and well-made casual clothing and accessories.
She wasn’t cut out for teaching or social work, she had discovered during a year of volunteer work in South America, an adventure she had undertaken mostly because her father disapproved.
Harvard Business School was where she was meant to be, she had grudgingly conceded. As her father had insisted and was eager to pay for—business being one of the few interests she and Knox Winston, a self-made multimillionaire, had in common.
Unlike her father, Chase Garrett came from big money, which he disdained, though he and his two brothers had inherited a not-so-small fortune from Bass Garrett, Chase’s dad.
Harper lifted a champagne flute off a passing waiter’s tray and took a sip. Chase might not notice her tonight, but he was the reason she was there. She hadn’t seen him in years, but when she had read in the newspaper that he would be attending the gala, she’d seized the opportunity. She wanted to see the man he had become, the man she would be facing tomorrow morning.
It didn’t matter what he thought of her as a woman. She needed his professional assistance. Her brother was in trouble. She knew it deep in her soul. Mikey had disappeared, and Chase was among the few people she trusted to help her find him.
Chase owned Maximum Security, a firm that specialized in private investigation, bail enforcement, personal protection, business and residential security. She had done her homework, knew he had offices in Phoenix and San Diego as well as here in Dallas. Chase was wildly successful, his reputation impeccable.
No matter his opinion of her, he had once been a close friend of her brother’s, a man Michael trusted completely. She needed Chase’s help, and she was determined to convince him.
She wouldn’t give up until she did.

About Kat Martin:
Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date she has over 13 million copies of her books in print in seventeen countries, including Sweden, France, Russia, Spain, Japan, Argentina, Poland, and Greece. Kat and her husband, author Larry Jay Martin, live on their ranch outside Missoula, Montana, and spend winters at their beach house in California. Kat invites you to visit her website at www.KatMartin.com.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

To hear or not to hear


Congratulations to "Janet K.", the winner in Maureen's giveaway. 

When I was a kid our local radio station used to produce a scary story every Wednesday night at 11:00pm. I would sneak my radio under the covers, lower the volume, and press it up against my ear so my parents couldn't hear. I was already an avid reader at this point, but hearing the story took on such a different feel. With Halloween approaching the radio station announced that they were going to have a contest. You could send in your scary story and they would pick one to read on the radio. I hopped into action, crafting a marvelous haunted house tale that I quickly mailed in. At the ripe old age of eleven I experienced my first rejection letter. :) 

When I listened to my first audiobook the fascination with those nighttime radio shows came back to me. The pleasure of the tale was there, but it was also the magical inflections that made the story come to life. Similarly, I would experience this with my uncle who would come over every Sunday and tune into the Giants football game on the radio. I would say, "But the game is on TV," to which he startled me by replying, "There is something romantic about listening to a sporting event on the radio." 

Later in life, I understood what he was saying. One of the definitions for romance is, "a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life." That is what he was getting from the audio broadcast. Mystery and remoteness. That, and the fact that he enjoyed the announcer's commentating.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself enjoying just listening to something instead of seeing it with your eyes? Does anyone even listen to local radio stations anymore? Do you like podcasts?

This week my romantic suspense novel, SHADOW released as an audiobook. The talented narrator, Brandy Skelly took us across the pond, and it was much less expensive than buying an airline ticket! :) Listen to it FREE with a 30-day Audible trial!


SHADOW

From USA Today best-selling author Maureen A. Miller comes this romantic thriller that spans the Atlantic. 

Sophie Diem's boss has skipped town, abandoning their counseling firm and taking her investment money with him. As she seeks to rebuild her professional career, she is distressed by the appearance of a stranger. The man keeps to the shadows, but he is definitely stalking her.  

In an attempt to flee him, she accepts a job offer...in London. Surely, crossing the Atlantic would be enough to deter her shadow. 

Glenn Barber is a desperate man. He sorely wants answers. The man who can supply them has gone missing, though. Now, all Glenn can do is go after the next best thing: the man's former employee, Sophie Diem. 

Sophie is shocked to spot her shadow in London. What she learns is that Glenn, the shadow, is not a stalker but rather her only protection. 


As her attraction to Glenn grows, together, they conspire to locate her former boss and stop him before he can harm others.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Appeal of the Friends-To-Lovers Trope


Congratulations to "Trude V.", the winner in Jacki's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize!


What is your favorite romance trope? Secret baby? Marriage of convenience? Fish out of water? One of my favorites is friends-to-lovers. It’s one of the tropes that inspired the romance between Sophie Dean and Finn Jenkins in my new military romantic suspense, Mission: Impossible to Surrender (release date 2.21.19).

Sophie and Finn have been friends for years, but the rock-n-roll bad girl and the disciplined Navy SEAL seemed ill suited as a love match. Years later, Sophie’s still nursing a secret crush and Finn can no longer deny that he has feelings for her.

So what now? How does an author get her characters from friends to lovers?

You’ll have to read the book to find out how it happens for Sophie and Finn, but here were some of the strategies I used:

·      Give them a common cause
·      Add a little competition for the girl’s affections
·      Let the hero do what he does best and be himself
·      Put everything they value most at risk

I loved writing Sophie and Finn’s story and helping these two friends find true love and their happy ever after while battling threats and confronting danger. The greater the risk, the sweeter the rewards, especially when that reward is a sexy military hero!

Here’s an excerpt from Mission: Impossible to Surrender:

Finn Jenkins punched numbers into his cell phone as he walked away. Unlike the men Sophie hung with, Finn paid little attention to his appearance as evident by his disheveled hair, frayed jeans, faded black t-shirt, and scuffed boots. No designer jeans calculated to look worn and torn or expensive wind-blown tussled haircuts held in place by product. Why should Finn go to fashionable lengths when he had the confident, male swagger nailed down? He was a walking version of sex on a stick, and didn’t everyone woman know it? And Sophie had years of watching women pant and beg for that overloaded testosterone.

Familiar with the way he held himself, knowing every gesture of the wild boy she grew up with from the tilt of his head when he was concentrating, to the way his pale eyes lit up when he grinned after one of his practical jokes, or the way he ground his teeth when frustrated—she detected a change.

Something was off in his usual sexy saunter. He was leaning heavily to his left side. His alpha-assertive stride was gone. Had he been injured on his last mission? Knowing the pig-headed man, he’d never admit to being injured or anything that might resemble a weakness, never even admit to being human.

“You look upset, Sophie, what did he say to you?” Alex Hardy, a rock star who wasn’t used to being ignored, startled her out of her absorption with Finn. “I don’t take that kind of shit from my security. Remember, he works for your father. You don’t have to do what he says.”

By the way Finn clenched his phone and his jaw thrust forward, he was giving the IT guy a hard time. This was her fault. She wanted to make Finn laugh, find a way back to their close teasing relationship before her kidnapping, before Finn became tense, on the edge around her. “He didn’t say anything to upset me. He’s just doing his job. And he’s an old friend, so it’s different than your guys.”

“Friend? Are you kidding? The guy’s got the hots for you.”

Sophie jerked back. No way! Finn never showed interest in her. Sophie grew up watching the parade of women pursue Finn and had seen how he let the really blatant ones catch him.

Finn was the reason she went through her bad-boy phase. She always wanted to know what she was missing by the sensual promises in Finn’s seductive smile, the way his body angled toward the woman in his possessive, domineering way. She wanted to be the focus of all that hot male attention.

“No. Never.” Sophie shook her head. “If anything, Finn’s always been in love with my sister.” Finn had to be hurting with the loss of Jordan to another man, not just any other man, but a friend Finn had served with.

“Sophie, trust me. The territorial vibes were strong and clear. Finn doesn’t want me dating you.”

“No, he’s protective. Always been that way.” It had been tense between them after the abduction, but she thought it was her and her hyper-awareness of every little thing around her. Knowing how protective and how committed Finn was, he was trying to come to grips that he somehow failed her. And since Finn blamed himself for her abduction, he’s gone off the charts to Attila the Hun protector mode. Like the abduction was his fault. Like it was anyone’s fault but evil men.

Sophie looked back at Finn who was watching her and Hardy. She smiled, not sure what had just happened. Always ready for a quick comeback, all she could do was stare when Finn had told her in that low warm rumble that she didn’t know everything about him. His look, his eyes had been filled with promise, sensual promise of long nights…

She was making the whole episode weird. This was Finn, her childhood best friend.

Giveaway:
Are you a fan of the friends-to-lovers trope? Comment and tell me why for a chance to win an advance reader copy of Mission: Impossible to Surrender.

Love military romantic suspense? Read Mission: Impossible to Resist, book 1 in my Impossible Mission series featuring Sophie’s older sister, Jordan, and Delta Operator Aiden Foster, who becomes her temporary bodyguard.

*****

About Jacki Delecki

Jacki Delecki is a bestselling romantic suspense writer. Delecki’s Grayce Walters Series, which chronicles the adventures of a Seattle animal acupuncturist, was an editor’s selection by USA Today. Delecki’s Romantic Regency The Code Breaker Series hit number one on Amazon. For more information, visit http://www.JackiDelecki.com.


To learn more about Jacki and her books and to be the first to hear about giveaways join her newsletter found on her website. Follow her on FB at Jacki Delecki; Twitter @jackidelecki.

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2D7yoFt

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST February 8th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@justromanticsuspense.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

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