DEFIANT BACKCOVER COPY:
When love turns deadly, the beloved play dead.
Western Maryland farm girl Kate Fallon wanted more than horse pastures. Now a trial lawyer in the affluent Annapolis law arena and married to multi-millionaire Jack Reynolds, also the U. S. Attorney of Maryland, she’s got it all—at least everyone thinks so.
Behind closed doors, Jack is as cruel as he is intelligent, as controlling as he is handsome. When his tirades turn physical, Kate must fight for her life. But her efforts to leave him will take her down a rabbit hole to secrets she doesn’t fully understand, and that Jack will kill to suppress.
Two years later, Kate’s keeping secrets of her own. Living as Charlie Robertson, a take-no-crap general contractor, she’s secure most days knowing her nightmare is right where she left him—two thousand miles due east under FBI scrutiny. Wielding a nail gun instead of a briefcase suits her, as does the small mining town of Creede, Colorado. With its scenic views and open spaces, life is simple and so are her rules: Lock all doors, check for signs she’s been followed, and don’t get involved romantically ever again.
Unfortunately, retired Navy SEAL and tourist Nick Foster didn’t get the memo. Mysterious, sexy, and powerfully attracted to Charlie, Nick typically likes things easy. Only “easy” isn’t in Charlie’s vocabulary, and neither is trust. Worst part is, she’s right not to trust him, and yet he can’t help falling for her. But love won’t save either one of them if she discovers his true identity or doesn’t give him what he came for. His boss won’t tolerate failure.
Nick tensed his jaw. “You seem to care for Ben.”
“Absolutely. If he hadn’t given me that chance, I never would have realized my full potential. I love Ben.”
She was in love with Ben Sterling—a hard slap in the face. Nick’s fingers tightened on his beer.
She peered into his eyes, her pretty face folding into a pout. “Why so quiet?”
“Nothing. So you and Ben are a hot item?” His tone was sharp—angry.
Charlie sputtered with laughter, beer spritzing Nick. He jumped out of his chair, his own beer spilling in the process.
“Oh, Nick, I’m so sorry. Here, let me dry you off.” She stood and reached over with a napkin and dabbed his face. Losing her balance, she listed.
Within seconds, Nick found his ass resting on the wooden planks of the front porch with Charlie in his lap, laughing hysterically. He laughed with her. Holding her tight to his chest, he looked down
into her eyes. “You’re cut off.” He glanced at their bodies, in particular his ass resting on the hard decking. “This is funny to you?” He tried to keep a straight face.
Charlie wiped the back of her hand across her mouth, still holding on to her bottle of Corona. “No. You, you’re what’s so funny. Ben and I are not an item. What I said is true. I do love him, but not in the way you’re thinking. He’s given me a beautiful home, allowed me to fulfill my dreams of becoming a builder. I needed a job.” She sobered slightly.
“Then why was he kissing you the other night at the club?” he whispered, like it was a secret.
Charlie cocked her head and laughed again. “Oh, you saw that. Where were you? I don’t remember seeing you inside the club.”
“Well, I was there.”
“Oh my, do your eyes always bore down on a woman when you’re jealous?”
“I’m not jealous.” He dumped her on the floor, stood up, and walked away.
Still laughing, Charlie rose and followed him. Grabbing him by the arm, she turned him toward her. “Yes you are,” she said and searched his eyes. “I may be a little tipsy, but I know jealousy when I see it. For your information, that was Ben’s doing, not mine. In the three years since I’ve known the man, he’s been more like an older brother. We tell each other what to do or where to get off. But he’s decided there’s more. He’s a great kisser, I won’t deny it.”
She smiled and took a swig of her beer. “But that’s as far as it goes, for me, anyway,” she said with a sigh as she fell into him.
Nick wrapped his arms around her and pulled her snug against him. He peered down into her face, flushed from alcohol. She was right—she was tipsy, but completely aware of what she was doing. He slid his hand up her back and pulled at the band holding her hair neatly against her neck. Her hair cascaded past her shoulders. He ran his hands through the waves of auburn highlighted by the moonlight. Grabbing tightly to a mass of flowing hair, he pulled her head back, exposing the delicate curve of her neck. Moaning, he nestled his head into the crook where her neck and shoulder merged, fluttering wet, warm kisses as he made his way up her throat until he came to her lips, slightly parted. He touched his mouth to hers, tentative at first. Her lips were soft and driving him slowly insane. The taste, a combination of beer and her damn cherry ChapStick, had him deepen the kiss.
She urgently returned the favor, suckling and nipping his bottom lip, sending shudders through his body.
Reaching back, he fumbled for the doorknob. Grasping the handle he swung it wide. Finding himself stumbling backward, he steadied himself against the wall inside the cabin. He drew a deep breath when she raked her fingernails up his shirt.
“Charlie,” he whispered in an attempt to free his lips. “Slow down, sweetheart.
I’m not going anywhere.”
“Nick,” she whimpered against his parted lips. “Don’t stop.”
Headstrong horse rescue director Bren Ryan has been a red-headed streak of trouble for more than one man in Clear Spring. She’s grown up needling local “kill buyer” Wes Connelly, and since the sheriff ruled her husband’s sudden death an accident, Bren’s been investigating things herself. She’s certain Tom was murdered, and she’s hell-bent on cornering his killer the only way she knows how—by tempting him to do it again. And she’s the bait.
Rafe Langston came to Maryland looking for land and a fresh start. Or so he says. The sexy cowboy isn’t generous with details, but Bren couldn’t care less—until he buys half her farm at auction and moves into her childhood home. Suddenly, the last man she should befriend becomes her only ally in solving her husband’s murder.
Soon their cozy stakeouts sizzle with unexpected desire neither one can ignore, threatening his mysterious plans and her promise to never fall in love again—especially with a handsome stranger whose secrets could shatter what family she has left.
P. J. O’Dwyer is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and an active member of Romance Writers of America. When asked where she gets her story ideas, she laughs ruefully and says, “It helps being married to a cop.” She lives in Maryland with her family. Visit her website at www.pjodwyer.com or www.blacksirenbooks.com.
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