Guest Blog by P.J. O’Dwyer, author of Relentless, the first book in the Fallon Sisters Trilogy
Bren Ryan has a tendency to ignore convention and good sense when fueled by passion to see justice served. Only some opponents are more formidable than others. It’s not until she finds her husband caught up in the pulley system, the rope wrapped around his neck, his body dangling outside the hayloft, that she realizes her actions of retribution may have cost her everything.
Headstrong horse rescue director Bren Ryan has been a red-headed streak of trouble for more than one man in Clear Spring, Maryland. 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.
Excerpt from Relentless
(Scene set up: Chapter 7 – Bren has only loved one man, and she married him—until death do us part. But her feelings for Rafe come at her too fast to define. The one she can pinpoint with accuracy is friendship, and for that to happen she has to like the man. And she does—too much.)
Bren peeked into the family room, and her heart warmed. Rafe was on his side on the floor, his long, muscled legs clad in faded jeans. But it was the boyish grin lining his face that drew her to him as he contemplated his next move. Finn sat poised with his counter. Aiden sat in the recliner, his face aglow with his laptop—Facebook, another creation she could live without.
Finn slapped his cheeks with both hands and then squeezed them, his lips resembling a goldfish as Rafe jumped several of his checkers.
“King me,” Rafe said.
“You beat me,” Finn whined.
“Remind me next time to teach you my secret.” He tousled Finn’s fair head, stood up, and stretched. He smiled at her, and she went all gooey inside.
“Hi, Mom.” Finn beamed up at her.
“Hi, sweetie.” Then to Rafe, “Hey.”
He grinned and started toward her. “Okay if I stay for dinner?” He glanced back at Aiden, who watched them over his computer screen, before giving her his full attention. “We need to talk.”
He brushed her arm with his long fingers and slid his hand down to hers and held it.
Bren blushed. “What are you—”
“Outside.” He pulled her toward the front door.
She tried to pull her hand away. Aiden and Finn were watching them intently. Bren peered over her shoulder at her boys before Rafe tugged her around the corner wall. “You two need to wash up,” she called back to them. “Dinner’s almost ready.”
Rafe opened the door and then held the screen door for her, her hand tightly clamped in his.
“Let—” She snapped her mouth shut when the boys came charging by to use the bathroom. She stepped out onto the porch, yanked her hand away, and wrapped her arms around herself. “What the hell’s wrong with you? You’re going to give them the wrong impression.”
“Too late.” Rafe leaned along the railing.
Bren moved toward him and narrowed in. “What are you talking about?”
“Aiden saw me bring you home last night.”
“You were wearing my shirt.”
“Oh.” Bren dropped into the rocking chair in front of him. “That’s bad.”
She leaned over and peered up at him. “What’d you tell him?”
“I sure as hell couldn’t tell him the truth.” Those green eyes twinkled, and he gave her a wicked smile.
Bren stood up and moved toward him, outrage quickly tempting her tongue. “You didn’t?”
Rafe shrugged and grabbed her hand.
She wanted to do as she’d done before, but the warmth of his hand and that damn thumb of his brushing her knuckles made it hard to concentrate.
“Don’t be mad, doll face.”
Bren ripped her hand from his grasp. “Stop calling me that.”
“Makes you mad,” he said.
Rafe enjoyed setting her off. In some twisted way, he liked looking for reasons to spar with her.
“Tell me what I need to know.”
“I’m officially your boyfriend.”
Bren’s hand flew to her mouth, and she began to laugh. “Seriously. Rafe Langston couldn’t come up with a better lie?”
“He caught me off guard.”
“How do you propose we go about dating?”
“Look, just be nice to me. Sit down next to me at dinner.”
She could do that. But she wasn’t holding his hand. Or . . . She tingled inside again when she thought back to last night when he was getting ready to kiss her. “We’re not—”
“Hell no. I like blondes. Remember?”
Bren raised her hand to punch him.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her close. “Be nice, darlin’. This is a good thing. You want to stake out Connelly’s place. You’re not going without me. Now we have an excuse why we’re spending time together.”
He had her within inches of him. His arm slipping around her waist, he leaned in against her ear and whispered, “They’re watching.”
“You need to do a better job fooling your boys, otherwise Aiden’s going to question what’s really going on with his mother.”
Bren cautiously threaded her arms around Rafe’s neck and whispered back in his ear, “Get cute, and I’ll nail you where it counts.”
The roughened stubble along his jaw rubbed up against her cheek. “I’m countin’ on it, darlin’.”
That Texas drawl had her legs wanting to fold like an unsteady card table. She only hoped their little charade wouldn’t topple like a house of cards, because the longer she allowed herself to be tangled up with this cattle rancher who had decided Bren Ryan was his charity case, the more she was beginning to like having him around.
And that couldn’t happen.
Relentless centers round a very controversial topic—horse slaughter. As a writer, I believe we are entrusted to educate as well as entertain. Relentless gave me the opportunity to do both due to the gracious nature of horse rescuers who took a call from a stranger, listened and agreed with enthusiasm to read Bren’s story, and offer their insight and knowledge.
As a way to thank them for their kindness, and because their fight has become my own, I am donating 5% to horse rescue for every book sold in the trilogy and any other future works.
The only catch—you must purchase the books through my website at www.pjodwyer.com. There is a list of rescues to choose from, including most states in the U.S., a fair amount of provinces in Canada, and a few in the UK to include Ireland, as well as, Australia and New Zealand.
GIVEAWAY: Please leave a comment for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Relentless. Last day to enter: April 13, 2012.
Thank you Love Romance Passion for inviting me! It was a pleasure visiting.
AUTHOR BIO P. J. O’Dwyer is an award-winning author of romantic suspense. When asked where she gets her ideas for her stories, she laughs ruefully and says, “It helps being married to a cop.” Actually, she admits, “Every day I find a wealth of possible stories and plots in the most unsuspecting places—my daily life.” She lives in Maryland with her family.
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