Get into Bed with Isobel Rey (Author Interview)

substitute

She’s driven by his desire…
It took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and strike out on her own. When she lands a job at a glamorous sports agency, she thinks she finally has it made. But shy, blonde and beautiful, Alexia is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich men and ambitious women that is waiting for her. Most of all, she is totally unprepared for her dazzling but damaged new boss, Nathan Fallon.

Keira: It takes a lot of strength to walk away from domestic abuse. How does Alexia, in your book Substitute, gain her courage to do just that?

Isobel Rey: The kind of bullying that Alexia experiences is not obvious and overt, it’s the kind of drip, drip low grade bullying that builds gradually and erodes a woman’s confidence.  It’s insidious and creeps on her.    She gets the courage to leave when she realises how far she’s fallen, how he’s got into her head and under her skin to undermine her.    She looks at the closed door,  determined to sear the image in her mind to reinforce her decision to leave.    The decision to leave in these circumstances is often made after a small incident, it’s not the incident itself which prompts the action, but the cumulative effect of the bullying.   Something snaps in her head, and she knows she has to go.

Keira: Glamorous and sports? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Unless we’re talking about figure skating… are we?

Isobel: Well actually, having been around the world of sports promotion I can say that it is most definitely a glamorous world.   The world of Premiere League Soccer sees players who are paid millions, drive eye-wateringly expensive cars and sign multi-million pound sponsorship deals.    The world of tennis, Formula One racing, Soccer and now even Golf attract huge money, with the accompanying glamorous women and money hungry agents.  It’s a high octane world of partying, champagne and bed-hopping.

Keira: So what’s office politics like in Substitute and does it differ from normal life?

Isobel: The office politics in Substitute is typical of the type of business that attracts big money in any capital city in the world.   Any workplace where the stakes are high and naked ambition rubs up against huge egos is going to look like this.   I’ve worked in these workplaces!

Keira: Tell us about Nathan Fallon, her new boss? How is he damaged?

Isobel: Nathan is a soldier, an officer.   So many veterans suffer quietly with Post Dramatic Stress Syndrome because they don’t talk about their experiences.     In order to operate in the theatre of war, like Iraq or Afghanistan, they have to put some of their emotions away in a box in order to survive some of the horrors they see or the violence they are forced to commit to survive.     Nothing can prepare you for killing other human beings, not even in battle. They also suffer from a condition called Hyper-Vigilance, having been in threatening situations for 24 hours a day.     They then come home and find it difficult to reconnect with loved ones or new relationships.   Some cope better than others.  But Nathan has been rejected by the woman he thought would be there for him.    The thought of her kept him going during the fighting, but he feels a deep sense of betrayal when he comes home.  He’s an officer and a gentleman and has a huge sense of honour, loyalty and integrity.    He finds it very difficult to let that go.

Keira: Did your advertising experience help in the writing or publishing of this novel?

Isobel: Yes it did.    The world of advertising brings you into contact with all types of industries, including sports promotion.    I witnessed this world first hand, and let me tell you it’s no exaggeration!

Keira: How do you define love?

Isobel: Love is about complete trust and acceptance.    If you find the right person, they will be the best company in the world, and the one person you want to talk to first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.   They allow you to fly like a kite,   but they anchor you, so you don’t get blown off course.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After? What’s required?

Isobel: A great happily ever after has to be realistic.   There’s no guarantee that the prince will love the princess in 5 years when the kids are screaming and the nannies have handed in their notice.    But if the two people involved are grounded enough to understand each other and want to accept everything about the other person then that happy ending is believable.

Keira: Any advice you’d give your younger self now that your first book is published?

Isobel: The personal advice I would give myself is never worry what other people think of you, the only people that count will accept you as you are.    And I’d give myself some professional advice as a writer – spend more time observing people and what makes them tick.

Keira: What are your favorite writing rituals that help put you in the writing mood?

Isobel: I like to take the weekend off and go to the coast, and sit in cafes by the beach with my laptop and headphones.   Listening to great music by the ocean really lets me switch off and get writing.

Keira: What’s up for you next?

Isobel: This is my first book in this genre, and I was encouraged to write it because of the types of world I get a window into from my job.    The book has been so well received that I think the next book will focus on a different world.      Haven’t decided which one yet!

Buy: Substitute

Review: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue ReturnsHero: Victor Cale just recently learned of his wife’s whereabouts after she abandoned him and said their marriage was a mistake. She left him to face the consequences of the crime she and her family colluded to and executed so effortlessly under his nose. He plans to confront her and seek justice for all the injuries they and she inflicted on him through their perjury. His broken heart is at the top of that list.

Heroine: Isa Cale, hiding under an assumed name, Sofe Franke, is angry and frightened when her husband shows up in Edinburgh ten years after he deserted her. Why is he there? Why now? What does he want? Does he know of their child? Does he want to trick her or force her into illegal activities again? Well, he’s about to find out that Isa is not the timid little mouse he married. She’s got teeth and she’s willing to do what it takes to protect her daughter.

Review: It’s clear from the beginning that the hero and heroine are laboring under a big misunderstanding. A decade spent apart and a series of lies has torn their fledging marriage into two and two hearts are grieving for the loss of a love they both thought was true. Their double-speak when they first meet again is quite entertaining. Victor’s reaction to Isa’s feelings, about the pet name he gave her, is particularly heart-wrenching. He did not realize he’d been so misunderstood! He’s quick to come up with an alternative. Both are unique to the heroine and I love that. What great about this novel is that Sabrina Jeffries knits both hearts, both characters, slowly back together. Trust is a big issue for them both and it’s a delight to see them work through the fabrications and make amends for back judgments in the past. It’s also nice to know that even while they trust, they did both still have doubts and had to fight to overcome them time and again. It made for a realistic read. I also enjoyed that the story took place outside of the usual London setting. Not a book to be missed!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men)

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Review: Sweet Madness (Veiled Seduction, Book 3) by Heather Snow

sweet madnessReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The year is 1817 and then it jumps to 1820.

Gabriel Devereaux is watching Lady Penelope Bridgeman dance with her husband. He seems to be envious of what she and her husband have. Then Heather jumps ahead when we see that something may have happened to Gabe.

Heather covers a subject that you rarely see in a fiction book – especially a romance. As I read Gabe’s story, I start to compare what our soldiers of today must be going through. But we don’t seem to think that our soldiers in the past must have gone through the same thing. It must have taken a lot of research in order to be historically accurate.

We also get to see how people of that time period treated people that were different – it’s not something that they would be able to get away with today. And that is a blessing. It also makes me wonder what Lady Penelope would think of the medical help the soldiers receive today.

There’s a carriage scene that I just loved. It appeared to be a bit of role reversal. Penelope seemed to be the one with the strong compassionate personality and Gabe seemed to be the vulnerable one.

Heather gives you a sex fix if that is what you look for in your historical romances, but it’s not the main focus of the story. And then she gives us the perfect ending – she never disappoints her readers. You will also want to make sure to read the “Author’s Note”. I’m looking forward to seeing if there is a book four

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Sweet Madness

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Heroes I Like to Read Are Not Pampered

until there was youGuest blog by Jessica Scott, author of Until There Was You

Thanks so much for having me here at Love Romance Passion.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the kind of romance novels I like to read. And not so much the novel themselves but the heroes. And while there is a hero for every woman’s fantasy, the simple truth is there are ver few that actually appeal to me.

I’ve figured out over the years that I don’t like pampered heroes. I want a man with rough hands. A man who has been forged in fire and steel. I loved Victoria Dahl’s Sherrif Hale (The Wicked West) when he says “you want a rough American’s hands on you.” That’s sexy, IMHO.

There’s a fine line, though, between a rough man and an abusive man and that’s another thing that I love about romance heroes. They tend to complete the heroine, to help build her up to reach her full potential. There’s no holding back, there’s no locking in a cage (well maybe there is but it’s all for the eventual release *cough* at the end). But the true happily ever after comes when the hero and heroine reach their full potential -with their partner.

I think the heroes that appeal to me most are those who are rough, damaged men who need to heal both something in themselves and someone who can help them heal. In my next book Until There Was You, the hero and heroine are both army captains and both are seriously damaged from their past. And it’s only together that they find their full potential to face the current trials. But what’s neat is how pampered and privileged Claire thinks Evan is and what she discovers is the exact opposite.

Check out this excerpt, where Evan & Claire are talking about their experiences on the last deployment.

Kneeling next to the fireplace, Claire stacked a few pieces of kindling on top of newspaper and waited until they were crackling and snapping before she added a small log. All the while, she felt Evan’s gaze on her back. The warmth of it slid beneath her skin, sidling up to her heart and nestling close.

She shifted and sighed, settling on the floor near the fire and wrapping her arms around her knees. The awkwardness between them had to balance out sometime. They could not go the rest of this mission alternating between fighting and not speaking to each other and kissing at really awkward moments.

Evan moved to sit on the floor in front of the fire and said nothing for a long moment. The space between them was warmer now, heated by more than the flames in front of them.

“What’s going on in that brain of yours?” she asked quietly.

It was tempting, so tempting, to inch across the floor and sit near him. Such a simple gesture, but one that would hold too much significance. She watched as he searched for a way to put whatever was eating at him into words.

He’d long ago convinced her that he was nowhere near as intoxicated as she’d originally thought. Either he hadn’t had as much to drink as Reza or he’d processed it out of his system faster. One thing was clear: the man sitting on the floor of her suite was sober.

His next words, much more so.

“Today when we were at the shoot house, I started thinking about our mission out in Hamamiyat.” He looked up at her, his eyes glittering darkly.

“You mean the mission where you pissed your pants?” she said, dancing around a memory. It was one of the few times they’d actually worked together without ripping each other’s heads off.

“I have it on good authority that I was not the only one who pissed my pants that day.” Some of the tension went out of his shoulders then. His mouth relaxed. Just a little, but it was enough to take the edge off.

Not enough to keep Claire from being drawn to him, inexplicably, by a force she could not explain. He was everything that was tormented, sensual, male.

“I never figured that training for combat would never be the same again after doing it for real,” she said quietly. She turned away from the want pounding inside her, ignoring the sensual warmth from the man sitting so close to her. Heat engulfed her, wrapped around her.

Made her blood sing with arousal and unsatisfied desire.

“Yeah. It makes a difference when you know that someday, the fake blood will be real.” Evan scoffed quietly. He paused. “I think the only one who didn’t nearly shit himself after that house blew up was Reza.”

The memory of that town, of that battle stirred a maelstrom of emotions inside her. Twisted and tormented. “I think he got drunk when we got back to base after that mission,” she admitted softly. “I couldn’t find him for half a day, and when I did . . .”

Evan studied her quietly for a moment. “You didn’t turn him in.”

“Why would I?” A shadow fell across her heart. A memory of having her life uprooted and destroyed all because she’d finally told someone about the extent of her father’s drinking. She pinned him with a thoughtful look and a wry smile. “I look after people I care about.” She stared into the fire, lost in a maze of tangled memories.

Evan inched closer to her. He boxed her in between the wall and the fire and the heat from his body, and she fought the brief panic that gripped her heart. “What were you thinking about just then?” he whispered, sitting far too close.

Panic edged up, cloying and grasping and making it difficult for her to breathe. Cool air kissed her skin as his fingers gathered the weight of her hair from her neck.

She tipped her chin, arching her neck in subtle invitation. “This is a bad idea,” she whispered.

“Probably.” He nipped her ear hard enough that pleasure spiked with pain shot through her body to the vee between her thighs. “Do you want me to stop?”

“Only if you want to die,” she murmured. He shifted, and in a single moment pulled her against him, so that she was cradled between his thighs. His chest pressed to her back, his arousal grazing her backside.

His breath was hot on her neck, his deep voice rumbling through his body and into hers. “I have a confession.”

“Hmm?” Sensation slithered through her body, twisting and writhing with the lingering strain from the day.

He traced the edge of her ear with the tip of his tongue, sending fire sparking through her veins. “It’s been a really long time for me.”

She smiled, resting her head back against his shoulder. He slipped his hands over her belly, stroking her gently. “A warrior monk. I knew it.”

His laugh rumbled through his body, shaking her gently. “Not exactly.” He pressed his lips to her temple. “But I want to do this right.”

“I was right. A perfectionist.” She smiled and shifted closer. “I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about. You don’t exactly have a lot of competition.”

Behind her, he stiffened and she winced—she’d revealed far too much. “Bad lovers, or not enough lovers?”

The warmth of his body drew her closer, urging her into the promise of his embrace. She played her palms over his thighs, feeling the hard muscles beneath the soft fabric of his jeans. “Does it matter?” she whispered.

“Not really.” His breath was hot on her cheek, his mouth nibbling over the tiny curve of her jaw. “But . . .”

Her breath caught in her throat as he sucked gently on the skin beneath her ear, his big body wrapping around her. Too close. She inched away slightly.

“Answer me something?” he asked, his voice soft. “Why do you always back away when I touch you?”

“Evan, this isn’t a good time to go all amateur psychiatrist on me,“ she whispered, losing some of the fight to maintain control.

She felt his lips curl against her ear and an unexpected laugh rumbled deep in his chest. “Ever tried naked psychiatry?”

Her blood warmed, burning through the bad memories to the good that she did not deserve and could not hold on to, no matter how tightly she squeezed. The lingering edge of arousal pumped through her veins, slower now, but still potent.

Evan was here. And tonight, she understood him a little better. Understood that losing his sister when he was little more than a child had shaped the man he was. He’d shown her the scarred, damaged man beneath his uniform. She admired the hell out of that man.

He would not see the same thing if he looked closely at her jaded past. No matter how much her blood pumped in her ears, no matter how much the heat pooled between her thighs, she wanted her own past to stay buried.

UNTIL THERE WAS YOU

He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.

You can preorder Until There Was You wherever ebooks are sold!

LRP GIVEAWAY: I’ll pick a winner today to receive a digital eARC of Until There Was You. Enter by leaving a comment!

ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE OF A KINDLE FIRE OR A NOOK COLOR! HOW TO ENTER: To enter the contest, forward your email receipt of purchase of UNTIL THERE WAS YOU to “contest@jessicascott.net” . Entries must be received by OCTOBER 7, 11:59pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy: Until There Was You

jessica scottBIO: Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats, three dogs and two escape-artists hamsters, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She has commanded two companies, served in Germany, Korea, Fort Hood and Iraq, and been lucky not to get fired. She is a terrible cook and an even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

You can find her online at:

Get into Bed with Julie Ann Walker (Author Interview)

Keira: What inspired Hell on Wheels and the Black Knights Series?

Julie Ann Walker:  I first knew I wanted to write military romance after I began volunteering at the USO.  Interacting with soldiers, bearing witness to their courage and valor, instilled in me a deep desire to honor them by writing their stories.  But I also knew my series needed a hook.  So I thought to myself, “How can I make a military man even sexier?”  The answer?  Give him a leather jacket and put him on the back of a tricked-out Harley.  Just like that, Black Knights Inc. was born…

Keira: What do you love best about Military romances and why?

JW:  Are you kidding me?  The men in uniform!  ;-)  Of course, when you add in heroism, patriotism, loyalty, honor, sacrifice… the list goes on and on… what you wind up with is a hero too yummy to be denied.  So the better question is, why NOT military romances?

Keira: Why did Nate “Ghost” Weller choose to be a marine?

JW:  We never learn the reason behind his choice in the story.  But in my head, he was born with a natural talent for marksmanship.  And because he was raised a patriot, it was a foregone conclusion he’d put his god-given ability to use working for the government.  Since there’s no better venue to hone and showcase a innate aptitude for sharpshooting than in Marine  Scout Sniper school, it’s almost like the Marines chose him…

Keira: Do you own a Harley like the men of Black Knights Inc.?

JW:  I wish!  And someday I hope to.  But for now, I look and dream and draw sketches of my fantasy bike.  Bad sketches.  Really, really bad sketches.  I’d show you one here, but then I’d never be able to show my face in public!

Keira: Unrequited love – your thoughts? Nate experiences this with Ali, whom he’s loved half his life.

JW:  Oh, I think unrequited love in stories is fantastic.  There’s a romance there, a yearning that’s simply delicious.  Now, when it comes to real life?  Eh, not so much… LOL!

Keira: Ali Morgan has a stalker – besides finding a hot hero to help you out what’s the first thing a girl should do when confronted with a situation like that?

JW:  First and foremost, you have to admit there’s a problem and seek help from the professionals.  Unfortunately, in Ali’s case, that doesn’t work.  She tries to explain to the local police that there’s a man following her, but because she has no proof, and because she’s never actually SEEN the man, they discount her statement – which is why she’s left with no recourse but to turn to Nate for help.

Keira: Does Ali know who is stalker her or why they might be doing it?

JW:  Ali has no clue who is following her or why, but she suspects it has something to do with her older brother, Grigg’s, activities.  Because though Grigg tried to convince her he’d quit the Marines and was nothing more than a simple motorcycle mechanic, things never quite added up.  So when the mysterious man starts ghosting her every move, she assumes it MUST have something to do with him.  After all, she’s just a simple kindergarten teacher… who’d want to follow her around?

Keira: Why does the trope brother’s friend – friend’s sister work?

JW:  I think it works because so many of us grew up with siblings and experienced that whole unspoken “hands-off” policy.  And any time you have wants and desires that conflict with familial bonds, it creates a scrumptious setting for tons of angst.  And I, for one, love my romance novels filled with angst!

Keira: Who is your favorite romance novel hero or heroine and why?

JW:  I love Rhett Butler.  I’ve read GONE WITH THE WIND at least a dozen times, and every time I find something new to admire in him.  He’s dark and complicated, but at the same time tender-hearted and genuine.  How can a girl not fall in love with such an intriguing, multi-faceted man?

Keira: What’s next for the Black Knights?

JW:  I’m currently finishing the fourth book, tentatively titled RUNNING ON EMPTY.  It’s the story of Richard “Rock” Babineaux, ace interrogator and sexy-as-sin, slow-talking Cajun.  Because of a job gone wrong, he’s been listed as a rogue operator and is forced to go on the lam in the jungles of Costa Rica.  Vanessa Cordero, Black Knights Inc.s’ sexy communications specialist, ferrets out his hiding spot and is determined to bring him back into the fold in order to help  him clear his name.  Unfortunately, she’s followed into the jungle and what happens next will keep you on the edge of your seat.  As always, bullets fly, passions explode, and secrets are revealed.  I can’t wait for readers get their hands on this book!

HellOnWheels

HELL ON WHEELS BY JULIE ANN WALKER – IN STORES AUGUST 2012

Black Knights Inc.—Behind the facade of their tricked–out motorcycle shop is an elite special ops team assigned the jobs too hot for anyone else to handle.

Hold On Tight…

Ex–Marine Nate “Ghost” Weller is an expert at keeping his cool—and his distance—which makes him one hell of a sniper. It’s also how he keeps his feelings for Ali Morgan in check. Sweet, sexy Ali has always revved his engine, but she’s his best friend’s baby sister…and totally off limits.

Rough Road Ahead…

Ali’s never seen anything sexier than Nate Weller straddling his custom Harley—or the flash of danger in his eyes when she tells him she’s in trouble. First something happened to her brother, and now she’s become the target of a nasty international organization. With Nate, her life is in the most capable hands possible—but her heart is another story altogether.

Buy: Hell on Wheels: Black Knights Inc.

JulieAnnWalker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deep in the heart of the Windy City, three things can be found at Julie Ann Walker’s fingertips: a keyboard, a carafe of coffee, and a sleepy yellow Labrador retriever.  They, along with her ever-patient husband, keep her grounded as her imagination flies high. Look for the next two books in her fast-paced series: In Rides Trouble (September 2012) and Rev It Up (October 2012). For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Twitter, @JAWalkerAuthor and Facebook, www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor.

GIVEAWAY: I have 1 copy of Hell on Wheels. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by asking Julie a question or leaving a comment! Last chance to enter: September 1, 2012.

Review: The Officer Says “I Do” by Jeanette Murray

officer says i doHero: Structure. Duty. Routine. Soldier.

Captain Timothy O’Shay unwinds more than he plans to while on pre-deployment in Vegas. When a gorgeous woman eyes him across a dealer’s table he cashes out and asks her to marry him. The only question remains will he remember it in the morning?

Heroine: Chaos. Heart. Fate. Free-spirit.

Skye McDermott was supposed to be on a girl’s night out in Vegas with work buddies, but when they attach themselves to two marines, she can’t help but notice the third. To her utter amazement he pops the question after one steamy kiss and she says yes. A girl doesn’t argue against fate.

Review: Opposites attract they say, add in some alcohol and you’ve got a romantic comedy of two unlikely people marrying at the drop of a hat. I only wish the blind run to the altar wasn’t marred by Tim acting completely out of character. I think it would have been hotter if he decided she was the girl for him and took the bull by the horns. It isn’t sexy when he wakes and thinks he had a drunk one-night stand and sneaks out of the hotel room. What a jackass maneuver from a guy supposedly responsible and honorable who respects women.

This book appealed to me because of the quickie wedding and then working the marriage out after the fact. I love marriage of convenience plots. This one was feel good, but not remarkable. Lots of hints about Madison, Tim’s sister, and his best friend.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: The Officer Says “I Do”

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Top Ten Reasons Why I Love a Good Military Romance

officer says i doGuest blog by Jeanette Murray, author of The Officer Says “I Do”

My first paperback, The Officer Says “I Do” released on July 3rd. And I couldn’t be more excited. One of the comments I get most though is people mentioning the hottie on the front cover…and asking if I know him! (I do not.) Then the next question is about why I chose to write military romance. Part of me says…because I live it! But not everything about the military lifestyle is glamorous. So there’s gotta be a better reason…

How about ten of them?

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love A Good Military Romance…

10. The level of honor in being willing to lay their lives on the line for the core values of a nation is massively hot.

9. The sound of dog tags clinking together when the shirts come off is definitely spine-tingling.

8. The sound of 100 pairs of boots hitting the pavement in complete unison during parade formation makes me shiver.

7. There’s a physical fitness requirement…which leads to hunkiness.

6. I like a clean-cut man. High-and-tight-oorah.

5. As a tall gal (5’10”) and strong myself, I politically incorrectly want a man stronger than me…since I think that’s delicious.

4. The idea that a man can run a 10K with a 70 pound pack, scale walls, shoot a gun, kick some ass with martial arts and then come home and snuggle with me in bed…that’s sexy.

3. Camo face paint is even sexier in person.

2. Battle buddies. The friendships forged through training and

1. The few. The proud. How can you not love a guy like that?

So to review: Hot. Sexy. Spine-tingling. Shiver-producing. Hunky. Oorah. Delicious. Niiiiice.

Can’t pass it up. Every time, I’m sucked in. So naturally, I had to write about it! How about a short excerpt to prove my point? Let’s see just how irresistible this Marine is to our heroine from The Officer Says “I Do”, Skye!

Excerpt: “Sorry, I know you’re his wife and all, but you seem like you can’t breathe, so I’m gonna take first dibs.”

“First dibs on—” Skye started to ask, but Madison was already gone. Out the door, down the sidewalk, and launching herself at Tim. He stumbled back once and caught her, spinning in a circle while her legs dangled.

Well, no time like the present. Skye took one more look at her outfit—one of the most sensible things she owned that wasn’t a work uniform—and headed out the door. But she stopped on the sidewalk, feeling like an intruder in a private family moment.

You’re a part of that family now too.

But she wasn’t. Not really. Not yet.

Soon.

She took one deep breath, prayed her knees would hold her up, and walked up behind Madison, who was still clinging to her brother with a desperation that spoke of her love for him.

His hat had flown off at the sisterly attack, and she could see his face clearly now. And then her lungs compressed again, like a vise in her chest. This was the man she had married. And every single reason for why she had agreed flooded her again. Still handsome, still serious. But at the same time, happy. Happy to see his sister again. Then his eyes blinked open, and she saw a flash of something in them when he noticed her.

The urge to pace the cement walkway was strong, so instead she locked her knees and waited for the moment with Madison to pass. Finally, Madison peeled herself off of Tim and stepped back, wiping tears from her eyes. She gave a sheepish look to Skye.

“Sorry. I know he was only gone a week but… you know. It was supposed to be longer.”

At the weepy look in the otherwise-strong woman’s eye, Skye felt a little misty herself. But when she caught sight of Tim staring at her, the mushy emotion faded into something much more like panic.

How would he react? Would he give her a hug like his sister? Would he give her a kiss? A handshake? For some stupid reason, how he greeted her seemed like it would set the tone for what was to come.

Apparently the tone was… nothing.

He stared at her, his gaze neither welcoming nor condemning. He shifted his weight forward, then back on his heels again. It was like he couldn’t figure out how to respond, what the right thing to say was. The right thing to do.

That makes two of us.

Madison shifted beside Tim, and Skye realized the two of them were staring at each other like a high noon showdown. Okay, so this would be awkward. But what did she expect—him to sweep her off her feet and cart her off to Aruba for a honeymoon?

“Welcome home, I guess. I didn’t realize when you said you were deploying that you meant so soon.”

He shrugged and bent to pick up a long, olive green bag. “That’s the way it works.”

Madison picked up a thick briefcase-shaped box and headed for the front door. Relishing the ability to have something to do with her hands, Skye grabbed a knapsack and slung it over her shoulder, following Madison. She barely made it through the front door before a large hand touched her neck while reaching for the strap. The brush of rough fingertips made her shiver.

“I’ll take that.” Tim slid the pack off her shoulders and dropped the entire bundle on the tile floor by the door. “I’m just going to leave it here for now.”

The three stood in the foyer, a heavy silence settling around them. Nobody seemed to look at anyone else. Should she go? Was this a time for him and his sister to talk? It was their house, anyway. But there was so much she needed to tell him, it was practically bursting out of her. She tamped down the urge to yell out her reason for coming, get it over with like ripping a bandage off.

Definitely not the right impression.

Tim cleared his throat and gave Madison a pointed glance. “Dwayne mentioned drinks at the O Club with Jeremy. Maybe you wanna go check that out, squirt.”

Madison rolled her eyes and laughed. “Subtle. Very subtle. But you’re right. Drinks with those two sounds perfect.” She picked up a purse sitting on the entry table and stood on her tiptoes to give him another kiss on the cheek. “Good to have you back, bro, even for a little while.” Before she closed the door behind her, she called out, “Don’t call me squirt.”

Tim’s chuckle rumbled through the nearly-empty room. Then he turned toward her, and the amusement evaporated into an intense hunger. Something she could relate to.

She was hungry for him too.

Buy: The Officer Says “I Do”

Review: Under Fire by Catherine Mann

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Major Liam McCabe is on his last assignment before he retires as a pararescueman. Rachel Flores is seen breaking into Liam’s car. She needs his help and explains her concerns. And then the intrigue begins.

You can see the connection between Liam and Rachel right away. We then find out that they knew each other 6 months prior. And even on the run it doesn’t stop them from connecting physically. But Liam doesn’t have the best track record where women are concerned. It will be interesting to see if Rachel can change that.

As you read Catherine’s story, she has Liam and Rachel share their past. It lets us know how their past has shaped what they are today. As they get to know each other a little better, they’re watching a John Wayne movie. And I find it interesting that it sounds like one of my favorites – how cool is that.

We also have a mystery to solve. One big word that pops up quite often is the word “trust”. What does Rachel know and can Liam keep her safe? Can Rachel trust Liam? Can we trust that love will conquer all? We can certainly trust that Catherine will give us a very exciting story. You will not want to put the book down.

If you have followed the series, Wade and Sunny are friends of Liam’s. Plus Wade and Liam work for the same team. You can find Wade and Sunny’s story in the first book of the “Elite Force Series”. Their book was titled “Cover Me” and came out in July 2011.

Our secondary characters are Catriona and Brandon. Catriona owns the doggy day care where Rachel keeps her dogs. Brandon is a man trying to deal with PTSD and a friend of Rachel’s. Brandon is partially responsible for all the mystery and intrigue that are following Liam and Rachel. On top of developing a relationship between the main characters, Catherine takes the time to develop a relationship between Cat and Brandon.

There isn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. I felt like a fish. Catherine hooked me in right at the very beginning and over the course of each chapter, she slowly reeled me in until I was fully hooked and sad to see that the story was over. I will be very interested to see what she has in store for Jose “Cuervo” in book four of the series. Make sure to watch for it next Spring.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Under Fire (Elite Force: That Others May Live)

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