Friday, July 31, 2015

Lone Rider

With: B.J. Daniels

Giveaway Alert!

LONE RIDER

A cowgirl at heart, Bo Hamilton does her best thinking in wide-open spaces. So when money goes missing from the family foundation, Bo rides into the Crazy Mountains to figure things out. But a killer hiding among the sawtooth ridges takes her captive and isn’t planning on ever letting her go.

Bo’s disappearance gets folks thinking she’s the guilty one who’s run off with the money, but Jace Calder would bet his ranch that she’s innocent. Not that he has any reason to trust the beautiful, spoiled senator’s daughter. Still, Jace is going after Bo and bringing her home to face the truth. But in the wild, rugged Crazy Mountains, he finds Bo at the mercy of a suspected murderer. Jace is her only hope, and he’s about to find out what they’re both made of.


Praise for B.J. Daniels 

B.J. Daniels writes the best western suspense. I love her Montana setting, a state I fell madly in love with the moment I stepped onto its soil. Ms. Daniels’ male characters are real men, strong and protective, with plenty of love to give to the right women.” –Romance Junkies
  
…Daniels’ new Montana Hamiltons series will draw readers in with its genuine characters, multiple storylines and intense conflict set against the beautiful Montana landscape" –RT Book Reviews

B.J. Daniels has done it again! Just when I think her books couldn’t get any better, she obliterates all my expectations. A true storyteller in every sense of the word.”
–Cocktails and Books
  
B.J. Daniels will absolutely move to the top of your list of must-read authors.”
–Fresh Fiction 

About the Author:
BJ Daniels, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist and author of 37 published short stories. That first book, Odd Man Out, received a four and a half star review from Romantic Times magazine and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue for that year. Since then she has won numerous awards including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and numerous nominations and awards for best book. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two springer spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America.

Giveaway:
A copy of LONE RIDER will be given to one person leaving a comment or email entry.


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST July 31st. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. US residents only.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When Art Imitates Death...


Congratulations to "Joan V.", the winner in Shelley's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!


In my latest romantic thriller, THE BLIND, a serial bomber uses bombs and live models to recreate masterful art that lives and with the flip of a switch...dies. A pretty dark and twisted soul, no? Which means this book needed a hefty dose of light. Enter art.

Bombers destroy. Artists create. I loved the juxtaposition, so throughout the book,  I showcased art in its many different forms: classical art, photography, children’s finger painting, graffiti, even tattoos. Hands-down my favorite art scenes were those featuring tattoos. My heroine, an FBI bombs and weapons specialist, rightly points out, “Tattoos are very much like bombs...a way of shouting to the world, ‘Look at me and see my message!’”

While I don’t have a tattoo, this book got me thinking about getting one. On Twitter the other day, I saw a fairy tattoo made out of a semi-colon. Loved it! So simple and symbolic. I also love the idea of a single word...perhaps JOY or PEACE.

What about you? Do you have a tattoo or a secret yearning to get a one? Tell us in the comment section below.


THE BLIND 
(Apostles Series, Book #3)

As part of the FBI's elite Apostles team, bomb and weapons specialist Evie Jimenez knows playing it safe is not an option. Especially when tracking a serial killer like the Angel Bomber. He calls himself an artist—using women as his canvas and state-of-the-art explosives as his brush. His art lives and breathes . . . and with the flick of a switch . . . dies. 

As the clock ticks down to his next strike, Evie faces an altogether different challenge: billionaire philanthropist and art expert Jack Elliott, who's made it clear he doesn't care for Evie's wild-card tactics.

Jack never imagined the instant heat for the Apostles' defiant weapons expert would explode his cool and cautious world—and make him long to protect this woman. But as Evie and Jack get closer to the killer's endgame, they will learn that safety and control are all illusions. For their quarry has set his sight on Evie for his final masterpiece...

Amazon
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Book Depository
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EXCERPT

Her fingers froze just above the skin peeking out above his right hip. She stepped back  and blinked. “You have a tattoo.”

He pulled her to him, his lips sliding along her neck. “Yes.”

“When did you get it? Why?”

“Discuss later,” he said against the hollow of her throat.

She pushed him away. “Discuss now.”

His breath came out in ragged puffs. “This is another power struggle, isn’t it?”

“Probably.”

Jack eased back but kept his hands around her hips. “I got it in New York.”

She unlatched his belt and tugged down the waistband of his trousers, exposing an elongated four-pointed star. “What is it?”

“A compass. To remind me that I am the master of my fate and captain of my soul.”

She traced the tip of the star. “I’ve heard that before.”

“From the poem ‘Invictus.’ My brooding seventeen-year-old self loved it.”

She ran her index finger along his waistband. “And you chose to tuck it away and not share your message with the world.”

“It was a message for one.” His entire body stilled for a handful of endless seconds before he unfastened the button of his dress pants, the fabric falling and exposing the full tattoo.

BIO:
Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and novels for teens. Her debut romantic thriller, The Broken, was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014, and the second book in the Apostles Series, The Bruied, was nominated for a 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original. An avid foodie and former restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her online at www.shelleycoriell.com and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

KEEP IN TOUCH!
Shelley’s Newsletter: http://www.shelleycoriell.com/newsletter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShelleyCoriell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyCoriellAuthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sscoriell/

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment below and enter the Rafflecopter to win signed copies of the entire Apostles Series: THE BROKEN, THE BURIED, or THE BLIND!


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                Be sure to check out the JRS SHOWCASE for additional giveaways!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Technology: A Lifeline Even in Fiction


Giveaway Alert!

It’s hard to imagine a world without technology when it has been such an integral part of our lives since the 1980s. Computers and cell phones have become the glue that holds families together, particularly when they are scattered around the world. It’s the lifeline to friends across long distances and well, let’s face it, even across the same room (Admit it. You’ve done that).

In our most recent release, Roaming Pleasure, a Countermeasure Bit of Life, technology is front and center as Trevor and Cassandra experience their first time apart since they exchanged wedding vows. Even though they are separated by miles of ocean, they have comfort in knowing that they can text, talk, or see each other any given moment of the day, that they are just a simple keystroke away.

What if you didn’t have the luxury of technology? Close your eyes. Imagine that you can’t access the internet and your cell phone has died. To some that would make no difference, to others it would sever a critical line of communication.  That’s what happens to us each time our Wi-Fi goes down or cell phone powers off. Either way, if the technology we have today disappeared, the ease and spontaneity with which we now communicate with our families and friends wouldn’t exist.

For Trevor and Cassandra, their separation would have taken a different turn. They wouldn’t have had instant messaging, video conferencing via computer, or phone calls at their fingertips. Their desire to stay connected with each other throughout the day would have been limited to an appointed time when they could contact each other through a landline. It would still have been special and they would probably have made it work their own unique way, but it wouldn’t have held the impact that the unexpected series of texts Cassandra received from Trevor had at that very moment when he needed to express them.

As much as we may have become slaves to technology, its positive aspects still outweigh the negative. Technology has linked people from the farthest corners of the world, allowed for love to flourish between couples who wouldn’t have met otherwise. And allowed for writers to collaborate in their writing like Chris and me.

Whether you embrace technology’s full potential or use just bits of it, it is here to stay and exciting times lie ahead. Who knows, maybe in the next ten years holographic projections will allow us to virtually visit with friends and family. Allow us to attend meetings across the world and maybe even allow us to be with those closest to our hearts when separated for short periods of time.

Hmm… I think I just heard the wheels in Trevor’s head begin to turn. I can only imagine the future surprises that he may have in store for Cassandra and the rest of us.

How about you? Do you use technology to stay in contact with family and friends?

Don’t forget to check out the next novel in our romantic suspense series, Alternate Connection, (Countermeasure Series, Book 3) available for pre-order on all retailers.

CIA operative Nathan Nelson has built his life on secrets. Secrets about events that have shaped him into the man he has become. Events that taught him to keep his shields up. He has kept them buried in the past and nobody—not even Cassandra Bauer, the woman he claimed to love—knows of them. Now, those secrets have come barreling down on him at the worst of times.

Foreign Service Specialist Rachael Moore's personal crusade puts her in the crosshairs of very dangerous people. She would risk everything to achieve her goal even if it means exposing her battered heart and deeply concealed dreams to a man who doesn't know the meaning of love.

Unbeknownst to both, their reconnection may not only bridge the chasm between the two of them, but shed light on a puzzling mystery. Their perilous journey becomes a race for their lives, leading them into a conspiracy rooted deeper than the tangled emotions between them.

Will their collaboration shatter the tenuous link woven in the past or forge a bond they never expected could exist in the future?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
CHRIS ALMEIDA and CECILIA AUBREY


Writing had touched Chris Almeida’s and Cecilia Aubrey’s lives in different ways through the years, but never took flight until 2010, when Chris and Cecilia met and began roleplaying online as a hobby. It was through playing fictional characters in a sort of improv written theater that writing took a central position in their lives. The transition from roleplaying to novel writing was smooth, and they attribute the ease of writing realistic characters to their ability to live the scenes through role-play.


Chris and Cecilia have since chosen to release all their titles independently. They have several short stories and two novels published under their own label, √Čire Publishing, and are vocal supporters of independent publishing done right. They’re currently working on the next novel in their series. Through all the chaos and laughter, they still hold true to their roots, bringing their favorite role-play characters and stories to life.
Be sure to connect with them online!

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You can find updated information about the authors and the upcoming books at:


You can see their book trailers on YouTube
GIVEAWAY
Leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter drawing for a signed copy of any book in the series, reader’s choice.

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Be sure to check out the JRS SHOWCASE for additional giveaways!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

SEAL's Code

Congratulations to "Taurus", the winner in Sharon's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

SEAL’s Code is my first Native American SEAL story. Woven into the story are some gems of historical research I did on the Dine peoples and the land of the Four Corners. Danny Begay hears singing, and the voice of his Navajo Code Talker grandfather who has just passed away at the beginning of the book.

His head is a busy place. He’s thinking about Luci Tohe, a Dine teacher on the res. As he comes back to his Navajo roots, he learns that what he was running away from as a younger man will save him and his family in the end.

This isn’t a paranormal romance, but there definitely are some spiritual and mystical elements here. Both characters are running away from something. Luci is stuck on the res, trying to protect her little sister. Danny is yanked back to the res at the death of his famous and heroic Grandfather, a WWII Code Talker. They bisect at the right place and time as they’re headed in different directions, but their collision is strong enough to pull them back together when it is most important.

I once explained what love is to a group of high school students. “You go streaking off, like a comet in the sky, until you hit something.” And that’s exactly what happens to Danny and Luci. Their relationship isn’t planned, but they soon learn one cannot live without the other. Everything that came before was the perfect prelude to the magic and glory they’d find in their HEA.

I’m a hopeless romantic. I like my heroes and heroines to fall and fall hard. I like love to be unexpected and moving.

Enjoy this Sound Cloud excerpt which showcases the warm, loving, buttery voice of my world class narrator, J.D. Hart.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win an audio book of your choice from my backlist, let me know if you think two people madly in love can hear each other’s thoughts? Has this ever happened to you? Do you wish the heroes and heroines you read to be able to do so?

Seal’s Code by Sharon Hamilton
After successfully completing the grueling training and being awarded his Trident, Navy SEAL Danny Begay goes back to the res and becomes embroiled in dangerous intrigue and a race to save the girl he now knows he was destined to protect for all eternity.  Fans of Kaylea Cross and Cristin Harber will be enthralled with this new installment in the Bad Boys of Seal Team 3 by NYT bestselling author Sharon Hamilton.

Title: SEAL’s Code
Author: Sharon Hamilton
Series: Bad Boys of Seal Team 3, book 3 (SEAL Brotherhood)
Genre: Military Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: AL Publishing
Print Length: 300 pages
Format: Paperback and Digital
AISN: B00WYKH05C
ISBN: TBD
Cover Design: Kim Killion

Synopsis:
Danny Begay has tried to drive out the voices of his ancestors, but his Navajo roots will not die. Summoned back to Arizona to visit his dying grandfather, a former Navajo Code Talker, he knows he has disappointed his hero grandfather. He buries himself one more time in the arms of a stranger before going back to Northern California. 

Luci Tohe teaches at a reservation school, safeguarding the health of her ailing mother and little sister’s future, her own life on hold. She doesn’t expect the young Dine warrior she meets to be anything but a distraction from her loneliness. 


Danny decides to join the Navy, as a SEAL, becoming the man he knew he was destined to be. Before deployment, he goes back to visit the girl he cannot get out of his mind. A dangerous human trafficking element threatens Luci and her family. Danny vows to protect them all.


Excerpt from SEAL’s Code:
“You’re new,” she said to the mirror.

He could feel her breathing, imagined what her flesh would feel like if he smoothed his fingers down her thigh. “Actually, I’m not here at all.”

She turned on the stool, grabbing her beer, and took a sip while she examined him. She was still smiling when she was done.

“You look pretty f'in’ here, Dine kind. But then maybe I’m a ghost too and maybe I see dead people.”

That deserved his attention, so he allowed his body to turn, facing her, knees touching hers. Through the stiff denim of his jeans he could feel her body vibrate like the inner workings of an expensive Swiss timepiece.

“Chester Tso is my grandfather. I believe he will die tonight.” He watched it sink in. She bit her lip just below the slight scar that slashed her upper lip, probably from an old injury. It made her look dangerous and sexy as hell. A slight worry line creased her right eye with just a touch of a twitch.

She turned back to the counter, staring down as if examining the head on her beer allowing her unpolished nail of her left forefinger to dip into the sudsy froth and draw a figure eight. 

“Then it sucks to be you.”

He had to agree with her. It sucked he’d never made much of himself, and now Grandfather was dying, knowing that. He wasn’t sure there was any potential for any spiritual growth anytime soon, either. That sucked too.

That left only one option for this evening. To get drunk. Maybe get her so drunk she’d go back with him to the motel. He glanced around the room and didn’t see any white boys so figured he’d have a chance with her. With any luck, neither one would remember a thing in the morning. He’d get the call Grandfather was gone. He could pay his respects, stay for the ceremony and then get his butt out of Arizona and back to Northern California. Forget this sandy hell hole for as long as the drink lasted.

“So why are you here?” he started. “Cheaper to drink at home, and a whole lot less dangerous. The drive is what I meant.” He was surprised these words came out of his mouth.

She answered the mirror again. “I know what you meant, Dine kind. I teach at the school.”

“Ah. First choice or last choice?” He knew it was a risk to ask it but he couldn’t help himself.

She almost spit her beer out. “Gawd, it must be true. That old fart gave you some of those visions.”

He turned and tilted his head, wondering what she meant. She addressed him this time by angling slightly so her knees wouldn’t touch his again. Her face in partial profile was masked. She was trying to hide something. “I’m not a do-gooder. Not one of those. I get to hide in plain sight. But I do carry a gun.”

“Running from something.”

“Nope.” She licked her lips, her tongue lingering there a little long, her eyes again focused down on the counter. “I am the sole breadwinner, and protector of my little tribe. My mother and my little sister.”

“Except you drink too much.” He knew she’d not like that comment.

“As do you. I can smell an alcoholic a mile away.” Then she gave him the sultry look he was waiting for. “I seem to be drawn to them, like a string of bad pennies, little babbling storytellers. Can’t help it. My nature, I guess.”

Well, she already had said twice as many words as he normally liked in a woman, and hadn’t given him nearly enough “looks”, but he was game.

“Humor me. What makes you drawn to me?”

Her full focus on his face almost made him blush. Her power and nature were strong. Her soul deep. She did not possess the need to smile from nervousness, or to hide the spirit that ran wild inside her. For him, right here and right now, she allowed him to absorb and be warmed by it. Her dark eyes and unlined forehead honestly peered back at him. “I like your jet black hair Dine man. The dark of your eyes all the way through. The black eyes of the tribal kind. But you weren’t raised here, so maybe you got away, maybe not. In any case, I gotta hurry if I’m going to meet you because I think tomorrow you’ll be gone.”

About Sharon Hamilton:

NYT and USA/Today and Amazon Top 100 Bestselling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance.

A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place. When she’s not writing, you will find her in the garden, getting verra verra dirty.

 You can find her online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google + | Tsu | YouTube

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST July 26th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

Friday, July 24, 2015

HELL OR HIGH WATER


Giveaway Alert!

Hi everyone!  My name is Julie Ann Walker and I'm tickled pink to be here today talking about my BRAND SPANKING NEW romantic suspense series, Deep Six!  It revolves around six newly retired Navy SEALs who just can't seem to shake their past and the Navy SEAL motto that "the only easy day was yesterday."  Set in the Florida Keys, the series is filled with sun, sand, danger, intrigue, adventure, and plenty of half-dressed alpha hotties.  LOL!  Sound like a good time?  I guarantee it is!  And I guarantee you're going to fall in love with these six men.

Take Leo "The Lion" Anderson.  With his sun-streaked, sandy blond hair and perpetual tan -- not to mention those hazel eyes and beard stubble -- he's sure to win your heart.  And that's before you get to his no-bullshit, take-command-of-any-situation attitude and the fact that he's trying to fulfill his father's dying wish.

Then there's Brando "Bran" Pallidino.  A native New Jerseyan, Bran grew up on the mean streets of Newark.  He's rough.  He's tough.  And his Italian-American heritage means he comes complete with soulful brown eyes, a face that belongs on billboards, and a love for good food and good wine.  (That last part means his beer-loving teammates give him a lot of grief. *wink*)

You won't be able to resist Mason "Monet" McCarthy.  As a boy from Beantown, Mason learned to use the F-bomb in really colorful ways.  He's big.  He's burly.  He's not the kind of guy you'd like to meet in a dark alley.  Yet his thick black hair and crystal blue eyes soften what would otherwise be an entirely intimidating appearance.

Who doesn't love a country boy?  Dalton "Doc" Simmons was born and raised in Montana.  He's a lean, mean, fighting machine, with a face that's all angles as if it's been carved down to its barest essentials by a hot, stinging prairie wind.  Doc has a tragic past.  And he's fighting to come to terms with it.

Next up is Ray "Wolf" Roanhorse.  Wolf's Cherokee heritage makes him strikingly handsome, with a blade of a nose, high cheekbones, flashing black eyes, and a lush, beautifully-shaped mouth.  Born into poverty on a reservation in Oklahoma, Wolf has more than himself to worry about.  He has his whole family depending on him.  But if anyone can shoulder that burden, it's Wolf.

And last but certainly not least, we have Spiro "Romeo" Delgado.  Romeo likes to play up that whole Latin-lover thing.  And with his swarthy skin, precisely trimmed goatee, and honed physique, he does a pretty good job of it.  But that's just what's on the surface.  Underneath it all, Romeo is desperately trying to make up for the mistakes of his past.

See?  What did I tell you?  You love them already, don't you?  Read on for a bonus scene from HELL OR HIGH WATER where you get to meet all of the Deep Six heroes!


HELL OR HIGH WATER Bonus Scene

Family isn’t only determined by blood, but by those who stand by you, fightin’ for you. By those you stand beside and fight for…

That was the thought that drifted through Leo “The Lion” Anderson’s head when he looked around the warped wooden table at his men. Correction—the minute those five wild-ass SEALs snapped their final salute to the Navy and followed him to the Florida Keys to join him on his quest for high seas adventure and the hunt for untold riches, they stopped being his men. But they would never stop being his family. If they all lived for a hundred years, the bonds of the blood, sweat, and tears they’d shed together would never come unbound. They were too strong, forged in the fiery crucible of too many wars and missions to count.

“Yo, man!” Brando “Bran” Pallidino leaned close to be heard above the twanging voice and guitar licks of the singer on the stage. The six of them had spent the day in Key West, gathering supplies and finishing up some repairs on Wayfarer I—the leaking, rusty salvage boat Leo had inherited from his father. And now they were enjoying beers and dinner at Schooner Wharf bar, the open-air establishment that saw more than its fair share of revelers, crusty sea captains, and miscreants who’d come to the end of the road in a bid to fall off the map completely. “That brunette in the yellow bikini top and flowery skirt over by the taps keeps giving you come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.”

Leo glanced at the woman and sure enough. Slam! Her gaze collided with his and there was a definite suggestion glowing in her big, dark eyes. “I think she wants you to poke her hontas,” Bran concluded.

Leo scowled at his best friend as a subtle breeze drifted in from the water, mixing the smells of fish and marine fuel with the sweeter aromas of boat drinks and barley hops that continuously flowed from behind the bar. “How long have you been keeping that little gem in your pocket?” he asked Bran.

“Came up with it just this minute.” Bran grinned, wiggling his eyebrows. “My mind,” he continued, “is as nimble and as fertile as a…”

Leo held up a hand. “Don’t finish that analogy. I can already guess what your mind is as nimble and as fertile as.”

“Personally,” Doc said from Leo’s opposite side, twirling the ever-present toothpick in his mouth in a wide circle, “I would have gone with, ‘I think she wants you to engage her in a little gland-to-gland combat.’” Dalton “Doc” Simmons had one of those tough Midwestern faces. But right now it was split in a gleeful grin that made him look almost boyish. It was damn good to see Doc smiling. For too many years he hadn’t.

“She wants you to rock her casbah!” Spiro “Romeo” Delgado piped up from across the table, never one to miss an opportunity to toss in his two bits.

“Churn her butter,” Ray “Wolf” Roanhorse added after plunking his Budweiser bottle down on the table. He turned and slow-winked at the bird in the yellow bikini. Leo watched the brunette’s eyes widen, her head cocking like a cat considering a canary. With his Cherokee heritage, Wolf was the embodiment of the original American warrior. His visage equally fierce and—according to the lady at the hardware store this morning—beautiful. She’d breathed the word while staring all googly-eyed at Wolf.

“And you?” Leo turned to the last remaining man at the table. “What ridiculous euphemism have you come up with tonight?”

Mason “Monet” McCarthy was as big as a mountain, and just as silent. Usually. But even he couldn’t resist joining in. “She wants you to rumble in her jungle,” he said. His south Boston accent making it sound more like rahmble inna jahngle.

And that’s the thing about family, Leo thought with a shake of his head as he slid on his aviator sunglasses despite the fact that the sun had slipped beneath the western horizon. One minute they’re standin’ with you against the world. The next minute they’re bustin’ your balls.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Especially since the good-natured ribbing, immature as it might be, was proof positive they were all slowly crawling out from under the thick blanket of mourning that had descended over them, heavy as a death shroud when—

“Yo, man,” Bran interrupted his thoughts. “You better stake your claim. If you don’t, Wolf’s gonna stake his.”

“He’s welcome to it,” Leo said, leaning back in his chair and picking at the label on his Budweiser with the edge of his thumbnail. “’Cause I’m takin’ a pass on this one.”
Bran groaned and took a long slug of his beer.

“What?” Leo demanded, frowning. “What’s that uuuugh for?”

“Just that I coulda guessed as much.” Bran shrugged a shoulder, his holey tank-top accentuating the strength and sinew of his bare arms. According to Bran, if the sun’s out, the guns are out. Bran’s unending supply of tank tops had become a running joke between all of them. Leo’s balls weren’t the only ones that received a regular busting. Every man’s in the group were fair game.

“And why would you have guessed as much?” he raised a brow.

Bran leveled him with a look that called into question the validity of his IQ tests. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“No,” Leo shook his head, feeling his temper flicker to life. What the hell was Bran getting at? Luckily—or unluckily?—he didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“It’s just that this seems to be your new modus operandus,” Bran said.

“What does?”

“Eschewing the soft ministration and willing company of bar bunnies,” Doc interjected.

Leo scowled over at him, then swung his gaze around to each man at the table. They all wore the same expression of agreement.

Okay, and this is one of those times I wish these assholes weren’t my family. Because he could certainly do without them being all up in his goddamn business.

“First off,” he said in his own defense, “after all that runnin’ around today, I’m too tired to sweat, much less do anything else. Secondly, when you start talkin’ bar bunnies, I only have one thought.”

“What’s that?” Wolf asked, only giving him half his attention. The other half was securely focused on Miss Yellow Bikini Top who, having quickly picked up the disinterest Leo was laying down, was now giving Wolf all her come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.

“Hippety hoppety herpes is on its way,” Leo said, his lips twitching when Wolf blanched and swung around to attempt to fry his eyebrows off with a look.

“You really know how to spoil it for those of us not currently hung up on…” Wolf trailed to a stop.

The hair on Leo’s head tried to crawl off his scalp. Wolf didn’t need to finish. Leo knew where he was heading. “I’m not hung up on anyone,” he insisted, disgusted to realize he was trying to convince himself more than the guys. An image of Special Agent Olivia Mortier flashed before his eyes. Black hair. Blue eyes. A slightly crooked front tooth that never failed to make his dick twitch. There was just something about that tooth. That tiny imperfection amidst so much beauty only seemed to enhance her appeal. Maybe because it made her real. A real, live, hot-blooded woman with a mind like a steel trap, a wit that was as sharp as a tack and—

Damn. Maybe he was hung up on her. The wall he’d built up in his mind, the one that was supposed to keep memories of her at bay, was proving frustratingly weak.

“If that’s what you have to tell yourself, cabron,” Romeo said.

Leo sat there, a muscle twitching in his jaw. He refused to respond for nearly thirty seconds. He knew it was thirty seconds because he calculated that for every two seconds that passed he came up with a new way to assassinate the men at the table. He’d totaled out at fifteen.

“You should see your face,” Doc said, the salty sea breeze causing the ends of his shaggy hair to riot. “You look like someone shoved a cactus up your ass.”

“And yo, man,” Bran slung an arm around his shoulders, “there’s no reason to get all hot under the collar.”

“The only reason my collar is hot is ’cause your sweaty arm is around it,” Leo grumbled, shrugging off Bran’s brotherly embrace and taking a hasty swig of beer. Thoughts of Olivia always made him feel punchy. Talking about her, even obliquely, made him feel…something. It was like if horny and confused got together with uncomfortable and had a threesome his current emotional state would be the unholy offspring of the encounter.

“I was born on a farm where we used lots of fertilizer,” Doc said, seemingly apropos of nothing.

Leo turned to him. “And that’s relevant to this because…?” He made a rolling motion with his hand.

“Because it means I know bullshit when I smell it.”

Bran grabbed his belly, crowing like the idiot he was. “You shoulda known better than to ask, bro.”

Leo was considering the most painful way to wipe the grin from Bran’s face when Mason said, “You all need to back off and leave him the hell alone.” The man rarely spoke, but when he did his sentences were littered with F-bombs. Mason once told them that was the Southie way. The F-word could be used as every part of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs…

“Of course you’re the one to jump to his defense when it comes to rebuffing the babes,” Bran scoffed.

“Now what the hell’s that supposed to mean?” Mason demanded, the vein running up the center of his forehead beginning to pulse.

“How long has it been since—”

Leo figured he better cut Bran off before he went any further. Number one, because Leo could see the bull’s eye was about to slide off his chest and attach itself to Mason’s. And since Mason had come to his rescue…well, then turn about was fair play. And number two, because Leo knew just how much talk of Mason’s past—and the effect Mason’s past was still having on his present—bothered him. “Gentleman,” he said, “I think it’s best of we table this topic of conversation.”

To his great delight, right at that moment their waitress appeared with a tray laden with chicken wings and conch fritters, two of Key West’s official delicacies. “And speakin’ of tables, wait ’til you see what’s about to be laid on ours.”

With a flourish the waitress unloaded the tray. She’d barely stepped back before the feeding frenzy began. As the flavor of buffalo sauce mixed with hops and barley on Leo’s tongue, he once again looked around at the five men who’d been with him through thick and thin. The five men who’d bugged out of the Navy with him after they all made that soul-shaking promise to a dying brother to start living life.

Ones that weren’t filled with death and destruction. These meatheads might be a constant pain in Leo’s ass, but they also happened to be a constant comfort and an unending source of entertainment.

Like family, his mind circled back to its original topic. And it gave him a sense of peace. A sense of contentment. A sense of…urgency. Because they were all depending on him to come through with the big score. He felt the weight of that responsibility as surely as an anchor chain around his shoulders. They’d all made that promise, and now it was up to him to help them make good on it.

Letting his gaze skim out over the marina, he watched as the boats bobbed gently with the tide. Their metal fittings caught the rays of the full moon and glinted as sweetly as the treasure Leo and the guys were ready to start hunting. The Santa Cristina, that legendary ghost galleon, the holy grail of sunken Spanish shipwrecks…she was out there. Somewhere.

And come hell or high water, we’re goin’ to find her…

Hell or High Water
Author: Julie Ann Walker
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Deep Six, Book #1

Only two things could make former Navy SEAL Leo Anderson return to the world of weapons and warfare. First, a capsule of chemical weapons lost on the ocean floor, and second, a plea for assistance from the one woman he can't seem to forget-CIA Agent Olivia Mortier.

Now, working together to race against the clock and a deadly terrorist faction, Leo and Olivia must find the missing capsule, all the while battling the intense desire burning between them. If they can survive, can their growing attraction become more than just a momentary flare?

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Author Biography
Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning romantic suspense. She has won the Book Buyers Best Award, been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. Her latest release was named a Top Ten Romance of 2014 by Booklist. Her books have been described as "alpha, edgy, and downright hot." Most days you can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.

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