I love my Uncharted SEALs series. All have rugged, alpha heroes. All have strong heroines. Humor. Action. All the ingredients that make the stories fun for me to write, and hopefully, fun for you as well.
With Uncharted SEALs, I experimented a bit. For the first time, I did sequels with the same characters—for the simple reason I couldn’t say goodbye to them. I wanted to see inside their Happy Ever Afters. Through Her Eyes and Between a SEAL and a Hard Place share the same main characters, as do Dream of Me and Heart of a SEAL. Big Sky SEAL gave birth to my Montana Bounty Hunters, introducing Jamie and Reaper, who as a result of their work in Big Sky earned their own satellite office of MBH.
A fun theme I used in two of the stories was a cruise ship. Both Before We Kiss and Hard SEAL to Love are set on the same ship, and have the same supporting characters. You’ll meet the old guys in the scene below. Hope you enjoy it!
Click on the covers to learn more!
Win your choice of one of my Uncharted SEALs stories! There will be 3 winners! All you have to do to enter is answer me this…
If you could go anywhere in the world, what would be your cruise destination?
Before We Kiss
Navy SEAL, William “Wiley” Coyote, should have known his “piece of cake” assignment would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
A general’s daughter, Poppy Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a man made famous for defeating insurgent forces. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, and the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq—not from the physical wounds that had claimed his two legs—he’d taken his own life. His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances. Her mission in life is to see that no veteran of war would ever feel so alone, so hopeless he’d choose her dead fiancé’s path. Which was why, despite the current threats against her father, she was on this cruise, assessing the ship’s ability to accommodate the soldiers rather than sending a surrogate.
However, the first threat doesn’t come from terrorists with an axe to grind. Mexican banditos stop her tour bus heading toward Mayan ruins to shake down the passengers for their money and belongings. When one snaps a picture of her, he soon figures out there’s a much bigger payday. She knows she’s going to be kidnapped, but she didn’t know someone was on that same tour bus who had her back.
Wiley’s unconventional takedown of her would-be kidnappers exposes the fact her father didn’t honor her wishes to fly under the radar. And now that the cat’s out of the bag, Wiley’s made it clear he’s moving into her suite for the rest of their time at sea to keep her out of harm’s way.
Excerpt from Before We Kiss…
William “Wiley” Coyote should have known the “piece of cake” assignment his team leader, Deke Warrick, offered him would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz. He was due a vacation, and he’d envisioned slipping into a chaise on the cruise ship’s deck while his target sunbathed nearby. Something his team leader had warned him might not be in the cards. After all, Deke’d had a similar, simple assignment when he’d been tasked with protecting a girl. And look what it had gotten his buddy. Shot at. Then married. Happily, it seemed.
Not that Wiley had marriage on his mind. No, sir. Not him. Everything he owned was stuffed into a duffle bag. He lived in hotel rooms, tents, and, now, a cruise boat cabin. No, he had nothing to offer a bride. Marriage wasn’t something in his cards. And certainly not to some celebutante who couldn’t keep her picture off multiple social media sites on a daily basis. That sort of exposure, even by association, would be deadly in his line of business.
He’d listened intently when Deke outlined his assignment, determined to keep this job all business, despite the photos that had spilled from the envelope during his initial briefing.
“Every time she steps out of her suite, the room attendant will buzz you. You keep on her tail, but not close enough she notices. Her daddy said she’d raise hell if she knew he’d hired security after she refused a special detail.” At that point, Deke had grinned. “I think he’s a little afraid of her.”
Wiley hadn’t smiled. Instead, he’d grunted. General Shackleford wasn’t any lightweight desk-jockey. He’d seen his share of action.
The ship had barely left the Port of Miami before Wiley understood. The woman never stopped moving. Or talking. Sometimes loudly, if she didn’t like what she heard. If he could have worn earplugs, possibly his first impressions of her would have been very different.
Poppy Shackleford was a pretty little thing. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lightly tanned, curves in all the right places. And maybe five-foot-two in her espadrille sandals. He’d had a girlfriend charge two pairs to his credit card years ago, so he knew darn well what they were and how much the cork-heeled things cost. Although he could appreciate the sexy curves the three-inch heels gave her toned calves, he wasn’t risking getting any closer. So far, he’d managed to operate under the radar. He had no doubts she’d know exactly what he was there to do if she got one good look at him. Nothing escaped her attention. Not the too-steep ramps leading onto the ship when they’d embarked. Nor the undercooked steak she’d been served last night in the dining room.
He’d begun to think she was deaf because she talked so loudly, but then he’d realized her complaints were on behalf of her fellow passengers, and this cruise had been billed as senior-themed. Most of the thousand passengers on board were over seventy. The dinner conversation surrounding him last night consisted of tracking blood sugar levels as his companions pricked their fingertips and fed droplets of blood into their readers. Afterwards, their conversation drifted to the best fiber to promote healthy bowels and where the captain would store their bodies if they happened to pass during the night.
“No kidding?” Deke had said after Wiley’s status update early that morning.
Wiley’s jaw ground shut at the snickering no hand over a receiver could muffle. “The Countess cruise line’s security seems pretty tight. Someone is always nearby, although they’re better at blending in than I am.”
“You mean you didn’t pack any Hawaiian shirts?”
“Don’t own one,” he’d gritted out.
“How are you keeping from blowing your cover?”
Wiley grunted. “I haven’t shaved, and I have on my cowboy hat and boots.”
“So you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”
“She won’t expect a security detail to blend in quite like I do.”
Deke grunted. “Just remember you have people positioned around the ship. Channel two if you need them.”
Which would be great if his assignment was actually aboard the ship. The farther into the jungle their tour bus drove, the deeper his concern grew. They were on an excursion to view Mayan ruins. Anywhere along their route would be a great place for an ambush. The two security people provided by the cruise line to accompany his target were in good shape, but he could tell neither was armed. Conventional weapons were impossible to smuggle aboard the ship, and the weapons kept under lock and key aboard the vessel wouldn’t have been permitted for this little jaunt.
And why were they out here? If he remembered right, the pyramids weren’t exactly wheelchair-friendly. But he knew Poppy was thorough, that she took her tour coordinator job seriously. No stone would be left unturned. No tour unvetted, personally, by her.
He’d read the dossier Charter Group had put together. Poppy Shackleford, daughter of Lieutenant General Randall Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a famous man. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq, although not from the physical wounds that had claimed both his legs. Frank Sutton, who’d been despondent over the loss, had killed himself.
His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances, whether supporting wounded vets with additional therapies the VA was slow or unable to provide, or seeking the latest in prosthetics and mobility devices. And the organization provided mentorship, one wounded soldier to another, to ensure no veteran of war would feel so alone, so hopeless, they’d choose Frank Sutton’s path.
Wiley understood and admired her for not simply crying then moving on, but embracing a cause that might help others. However, today he wished she wasn’t quite so determined to make it impossible for him to protect her. Not that she had a clue he was there. If she’d glanced toward the back of the air-conditioned bus, all she might have noted was one dark head amid a sea of white, gray, and blue.
The fellow seated next to him gave another narrow-eyed, flinty glance.
Wiley aimed a frown his way, hoping the old guy would mind his own business. The man was burly, surprisingly muscled for an old dude.
He leaned sideways in his seat and whispered, “Name’s Joseph Olinsky, but you can call me Joe. I’m a Marine.” He nodded toward the head of the bus where Poppy stood beside the tour guide, asking questions. “She someone important?”
Not as invisible as I thought. Wiley blinked. “No, sir. I think she’s just another passenger. A noisy one.”
Shaking his head, Joe grunted. “She has a detail. That guy with a clipboard ain’t a cruise director. I’d say he’s ex-Navy, probably a SEAL. Has a trident tattoo on his upper arm. Saw it when he was stowing her backpack into the overhead.”
Knowing there was no use convincing Joe he was just a guy on a trip to see a pyramid, Wiley gave him another look. He recognized the type—his dad had been the same steady, patriotic sort. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Maybe he did need backup, should shit go sideways. “You’re right,” he murmured. “The cruise line provided her security.”
“What about you?” his gray-haired companion asked.
“Name’s Wiley, and I was Navy.”
“A SEAL,” he said, nodding. “Can’t hide that look. Everyone else, besides her, has been taking a nap. Not you. You’ve been watching the road ahead. Expect trouble?”
“Not expecting, but prepared.”
Joe nodded. “Don’t get along as well as I used to,” he said, patting his right knee. “But I can be another set of eyes. And I do know who she is, son. She’s the daughter of that general ISIS wants taken out. They had his face and his daughter’s plastered all over Facebook faster than Homeland and the FBI could take down the pages.”
Wiley almost smiled at how in tune the old guy was. “Nothing much gets past you, does it?”
Joe lifted his chin toward two older gentlemen seated across the aisle from them.
Wiley glanced over to find both old codgers staring back.
“We were in the same division, the 3rd, during Vietnam. We’re all that’s left of our company. Try to take a trip every couple of years. Went to Nam five years back. There were eight of us then.”
Wiley nodded his understanding.
“That’s Morty,” he said, pointing at the thin one with a round belly. “The other one’s Sly.”
Sly gave him a grin that displayed unnaturally white teeth.
Wiley gave both men a nod then turned his attention back to the front of the bus.
“She know you’re tailing her?”
How had the old guys figured out he was there for Poppy? He remembered how the old men had jostled him, cutting him from the rest of the group when they’d boarded the bus. He’d thought it unintentional, but now knew they’d meant to be seated beside him. Admiring their cunning, he shook his head. “She doesn’t know. Not yet, anyway.”
“Need a better cover,” Joe said, eyeing his boots and the scruff on his chin. “Could tell folks you’re my grandson.”
Wiley chuckled. Sounded like a better plan than the one he’d started with. “Just don’t get in the way. If things go down…”
“You could use another set of eyes—between the three of us, we might just make one good pair.” Joe tilted his head toward his buddies.
This time, Wiley laughed.
Joe grinned and gave a slow nod to his companions, who settled back in their seats and now directed their attention to the job at hand—and the woman wearing the pretty blue dress at the front of the bus.
Suddenly, the bus shuddered and slowed. Cries arose from those seated near the front.
“Fat’s in the fire now,” Morty said, pointing forward.
Wiley cussed. A pickup was parked sideways in the middle of the road. He began to rise, but then he noted the four men standing in front of the truck. All dark, but with features that were clearly Mestizo. So, bandits rather than terrorists. He settled back in his seat. He’d let this play out a bit before he gave himself away. As long as no one was hurt, he’d keep his cover.
We’re still on grandma watch here. Her respirations are slowing, and she’s only woken up a couple of times the past day or so. My sister, Elle James, and her dd arrived yesterday to provide much-needed relief. We’ll likely be holed up in grandma’s room, tending to her while we try to sprint through some pages today. Anything to keep our minds engaged elsewhere.
Do you have big things planned for today? I have a suggestion! Read the excerpt below from Baby, It’s You, and tell me you’re not tempted to find a SEAL book-boyfriend to spend your day with!
Comment for a chance to win one of my Uncharted SEALs stories!
Click on a cover to explore the series!
Baby, It’s You
Carter Vance, Jr. stands at the fork in the road. Wounded in action, the Navy SEAL has a decision to make: whether to find work with a spec ops unit, or return to his family ranch in Texas and repair his fractured relationship with his dying father and the woman he wronged. Complicating the decision is his reignited attraction to Melanie Schaeffer and his confusion over his feelings for his dead brother’s little girl, whom Melanie has raised since his brother’s and her sister’s deaths by a terrorist’s bomb.
Read an excerpt…
The morning that would change Melanie Schaeffer’s life forever began quietly enough. The whoosh of a curtain opening sounded a moment before sunlight spilled across her bed. Melanie rolled to her back to see the maid picking up clothing Melanie had left draped over a chair the night before.
A blush crept into her cheeks. She didn’t think she’d ever grow accustomed to having someone else handle her intimate items. “You don’t have to do that,” Melanie said as she pushed another pillow behind her head. “I can clean up after myself.”
The maid gave her a cheerful smile. “It’s my job. And I wouldn’t have woken you at all, but you did say you wanted to get used to the time change…”
Yes, there was that. After two days, she still felt a little muzzy-headed. The nine hours’ difference in time zones from Austin to this little city bordering Asia and the Middle East took some getting used to. Melanie rubbed her eyes and blinked, focusing on the sun peeking through the arched window and the view of the lovely, lush garden beyond it. Bushes exploding with large cabbage roses and tall, fruit-laden palms nearly obscured the ten-foot wall surrounding the estate nestled in the diplomats’ sector. Read the rest of this entry »
Christmas is almost here! And so much is happening in my world, I’m having a hard time catching my breath.
Some of you may remember that, last year, my family was dealing with my then 97-year-old grandma who had fallen and broken her back. After spending time in rehab, she was moved home, and our family pitched in to give her round-the-clock care. Well, this year is a new crisis. Beginning about two weeks ago, her health is failing, and despite the doctor’s best efforts, and ours, she’s declining. I suppose it’s to be expected at 98, and she’s ready for it. Still, we’re all very saddened, and we’re back in “pitch-in” mode.
My dd is her nighttime care-giver now. My SIL just started a new job with the sheriff’s office and works nights. So, guess what my job is? Yeah, I’m the kids’ nighttime babysitter. They are running me ragged, and my working hours have been slashed. We’re all tired and squeezed. No complaints though. Grandma and the kids come first.
So, here’s hoping your holidays are more joyous and restful than mine!
Noah hopes buying the classic ’68 Camaro from a fellow firefighter’s widow will ease some of the grief weighing down his heart. When a noise under the hood sends him looking for a mechanic, he finds so much more. Big and burly Hoyt grabs Noah’s attention right off, and not just because of his bad-boy biker looks and ice-blue eyes. The fact Hoyt is a Dom and a member at Club LaForge certainly interests Noah.
Hoyt never thought he’d feel that rush with a man again after his partner died, but his body certainly reacts to meeting Noah. LaForge seems like the perfect place to meet and work off some energy and explore this sudden flood of desire. The heat between them starts to burn through their emotional barriers, whether the men are ready to make a deeper connection or not.
Read an Excerpt
Noah stopped before the sign at the intersection. One right turn and one block’s drive, and he’d be at the fire house.
His fingers tightened on the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the Camaro. He still didn’t think of it as his Camaro. No one at the station would either. It was Danny Truitt’s car.
And the only reason Noah was driving it now was because Danny was dead.
“Huh.” Noah rubbed the pain over his heart. It was funny, but even thinking those words still had the power to make his chest tighten. Which made driving his buddy’s car feel somehow disloyal. Read the rest of this entry »
On a whim, romance author DiDi Devereaux decides to travel to remote Louisiana bayou country to take possession of a house she inherited from a reclusive relative. But before she reaches her destination, she drives her car into a ditch to avoid a large animal that leaps into her path. Rescue comes in the form of a sexy sheriff, whose gruff demeanor seems to hide a feral attraction. As DiDi settles into her new home she finds herself torn between her attraction to the sheriff and the raw, handsome bad boy whose offer to help her renovate her home is a little too convenient and tempting.
Nothing in Bayou Noir is what it seems. When strange things begin to happen, her natural curiosity leads her into danger…
DiDi hit SAVE and shut down her computer. Her newest story was beginning to pull together—or at least, the characters were coming alive. The external plot of her novel hadn’t yet gelled, because she hadn’t discovered what secrets the sheriff and the bad boy hid.
But the characters were now fully fleshed—the two men appealing to her heroine in ways DiDi understood all too well. The question she still struggled with was which man her heroine would ultimately choose. The thought made her smile.
DiDi closed the computer lid. Of course, Sheriff Breaux and Bobby Sonnier were the models for her two heroes. All the while she’d described her heroine’s first meeting with the men, she’d described her own feelings, and how her curiosity and body had both been aroused. Which man did she, DiDi, prefer? Funny, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d thought a man so disturbingly attractive. But in this remote location, within a single hour, she’d met two.
She stretched her arms above her head and glanced at her watch—two o’clock AM. Since she was a night owl by habit, she didn’t worry. However, the room was warm. The AC chugged along, but didn’t seem to cool very well. Upon returning to the room, she’d changed to cutoffs and a tank top, but the fabric stuck to her skin. Maybe drinking something ice-cold would cool her enough to rest comfortably. She slipped the pass key into her back pocket, tucked a couple of dollar bills into the front one, and let herself out of her room.
Outside, she breathed in the thick, humid air. The night was quiet except for the distant, blended hum of insects and frogs. Maybe it was the cloying heat, but she felt restless and aroused. Her thoughts swirled with the erotic fantasies she’d been spinning into a story.
A woman caught between two men.
On the outside, one wore a white hat, the other dressed like he’d just dragged himself out of bed. But inside, both souls were painted with the same darkness.
The soda machine stood next to the office, so she walked barefoot along the sidewalk, slid her money into the slot, and hit the button for a Coke. The machine shuddered, but nothing dropped into the well at the bottom.
“Damn.” She hit the button again. Nothing. Cursing, she bent and stuck her arm up into the opening, found the bottom of her can lodged at an odd angle, and rattled it until it dropped into her hand.
When she straightened, she held the can away and opened the tab, letting it spray outward.
The can was icy cold, and she drank down several gulps before turning back to her room.
DiDi drew up short. A car had parked in front of her room. A sleek Caprice with the township’s emblem and blue lights on the top. Sheriff Breaux stood with his arms crossed over his chest, watching her.
Had he seen her wrestle with the coke, her butt in the air? Would she ever catch a break with the guy?
DiDi made herself straighten her shoulders and sauntered toward the large man. Did he always wear that expression—so dark and intense, so watchful? She caught the way his narrowed glance scanned her bare legs and feet, and she shivered.
She’d take his frown over a smile from another man any day—the gesture did things to her. Challenged her. Made her tingle in all the right places. “Evenin’, Sheriff,” she drawled, walking closer.
“Miz Devereaux,” he said, nodding.
“DiDi,” she replied, curving her lips. “I thought we were getting friendly.”
His expression didn’t soften. “It’s late. Doesn’t a city girl like you know it’s not safe to be alone outside after dark?”
“Tell me,” she said softly, teasingly as she leaned against her room’s door. “This is a small town. What should I fear? And is the danger sporting four legs or two?”
His features stilled. He stepped closer and looked down his nose.
A move like he was trying to intimidate. She didn’t know why, but his stance aroused her.
“Bayou Noir is a quiet town,” he said, his voice dead even, “but you’re a beautiful woman. More temptation than man or beast might be able to resist.”
DiDi blinked, all bluster gone. Heat soaked the crotch of her panties. He thinks I’m hard to resist? “Looks like I don’t have a thing to fear with you here, Sheriff.”
His lips crimped in irritation, and he shook his head. “Told you before, Mason,” he bit out. “Seein’ as how we’re friendly now.”
Two could play this game of chicken. She stepped close enough she could smell him. “What if I like sheriff? I like a man being in charge.”
His nostrils flared. His eyelids fell. “Careful, chère…”
“Am I really that hard to resist?” DiDi lifted her chin.
He didn’t answer, but his gaze fell to her mouth.
DiDi knew she’d roll her eyes if a character in her book licked her lips at a time like this, but she couldn’t resist the tease. She stroked her bottom lip, wetting it and watching Mason’s eyes narrow further, homing in on the simple little motion.
“You like playin’ with fire?” he muttered, his voice guttural.
“I’m not playin’.”
His eyes were shadowed, a touch sinister and frightening.
She couldn’t have said why, but she wanted to rattle him. Answer his challenge with one of her own. DiDi leaned into Mason, pressing the hand not holding the soda against his chest and rising on her toes. When her mouth approached, she saw his lips part.
But he held still, watching her with that dark, steady gaze.
She placed her lips against his and rubbed, and then did it again when he still didn’t move. Pulling back, she gave him a slight glare. His expression hadn’t changed, but that didn’t defeat her. No way could she be this hot if he wasn’t returning some of the heat.
Plus, he hadn’t warned her away with a word or a gesture, hadn’t moved back either. Not exactly a no.
Angling a hand backwards, she set the soda on the windowsill and reached up to clutch his shoulders, pushed her chest against his, snuggling closer, and kissed him again.
His hands curled gently around her waist.
Her heart sped up, her body melted. She pressed her lips harder.
However, Mason pushed her away…but his fingers didn’t let her go.
Rather than reach for him again, DiDi curved her fingers into her palms. She’d never thrown herself at a man like that, without an ounce of encouragement. Feeling like a fool, she pushed at his hands. “Don’t worry,” she said, unable to hold his steady stare now that she’d humiliated herself. “I promise I won’t attack you again.”
“What?” she snapped, lifting her face, hoping to salvage her pride.
“Dammit.” His lips slammed on top of hers. His hands let go of her waist and glided around her back, pulling her against him. And then he was walking her backward, pushing her against her door while he devoured her mouth.
DiDi thought she’d been ready for his kiss. Ready for whatever he’d bring, but under the onslaught, her head swam, her knees weakened. She locked her fingers behind his neck.
Scents intensified—the smell of thick, green forest, the exhaust of his car, his aftershave, the unique smell of his masculine musk.
Sounds—an indistinct hum before—returned, becoming louder. Crickets chirped, frogs croaked. The wind sifted through the trees, rustling leaves and creaking branches. And his heartbeat grew loud enough, insistent enough, her own matched its beat.
And God, the lush, wet thrill of that kiss! His mouth was hard, his tongue sinfully fluid, sliding along hers then tangling and twisting until she had to suck on it to keep him still and savor the sensual connection.
DiDi felt as though she drowned in a perfect moment, falling deeply into lust, her body shivering and bending toward him.
Mason broke the kiss. His gaze raked her face; his jaw tightened. “Better get inside an’ lock that door, chère.”
“And if I don’t want to?” she asked breathlessly, looking deep into his dark eyes.
“Gimme your key.”
Relief made her knees shake. He’s coming inside. She dug into her pocket for the key card and handed it over. He swiped the key and pulled down the latch next to her hip. Then he tossed the key toward the bed behind her and grasped her waist.
DiDi began to reach up to enfold him in her arms—
Scowling, Mason pushed her backward and closed the door in her face.
“Fuck,” she whispered. That had never happened before.
UPDATE: The winner (selected by a random number generator) of the free download of Laying Down the Law is…Jen M!
* * * * *
Happy New Year!
Yeah, getting tired of hearing that already? I still can’t believe it’s 2015. Or that it marks the 15th anniversary of the start of my writing career. In January 2000, as part of my new century resolutions, I decided it was time to become the person I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. My sister, Elle James, and I entered the fray together, and thankfully, we’ve both succeeded and we’re both still writing! So there is magic in making those big dream kind of resolutions!
One of this year’s resolutions is to continue what I think is something you all enjoy—hosting new and popular authors on my blog so that you have a chance to meet them and see the fabulous stories they are bringing you. Also, I will give you plenty of encouragement to come back again and again, to this blog, by not only offering great guests, but also frequent chances to win some great prizes.
And if you don’t want to miss those opportunities to score a prize or meet a new author, be sure to subscribe to my blog. Scroll down this page, looking to the left-hand column until you see, “Subscribe to Blog via Email.” It’s as easy as that!
If you post a comment today, you’ll be entered to win a free copy of the story below!
Oh, and one last thing before I share a fun excerpt from my favorite Triple Horn Brandnovella—I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon, filled with goodies you won’t want to miss. So, if you’re not already signed up, here’s the link: Newsletter Signup.
Laying Down the Law
“With amazing suspense, and hot, dominant lovin’ this cowboy and his high school sweetheart take the reader on an amazing emotional journey. Mixed with a bit of humor, sizzling bedroom scenes, and cowboys that steal your heart, Ms. Devlin has created a beyond 5 Book worthy start of an incredible new series. I am absolutely dying to know what happens in the next Triplehorn story!… Once again, thank you, Ms. Devlin, for stealing my heart with complex and witty characters, hot sex and riveting suspense!”
5/5 Books, Reviews by Molly
Seeking sanctuary could be the hottest mistake she ever made.
The TripleHorn Brand, Book 1
A lifetime ago, Zuri Prescott kicked the dirt off her boots and ditched her small-time small town for the glam city life—and lived to regret it. When she’s framed for a bank job, she lights out for home, seeking refuge with her old high school sweetheart while she figures out her next steps. Only she discovers that the boy she left behind is the last man she should trust.
Sheriff Colt Triplehorn knows trouble when he sees it, especially when it comes in the form of a familiar trespasser, caught naked between an angry bull and her underwear. Sure she’s up to her usual no good, he grants her sanctuary at his ranch—the better to keep an eye on her, and purge her from his system once and for all.
Reconnection is sweet and hot, but the heat can’t hide the truth. When Colt inevitably finds out what Zuri’s running from, it’s too late to put the fire out, and he’s got a career-compromising choice on his hands. Follow the letter of the law, or follow his heart.
Product Warnings: When a sheriff captures the girl who got away, expect revenge so hot it leaves brands on two lonely hearts…
Zuri looked up, her hands pulling the belt tighter around her waist, grateful that this time she was covered neck to mid-calf. Still, she was hyper-aware she was naked underneath it and only one knot away from making another big mistake.
“You find everything you needed?” he asked, his tone impersonal.
Oddly, she thought she might actually prefer that ragged edge of anger he’d blistered her with by the river. “Yes, thanks.” She dropped the ties and smoothed her hands down her sides, nervous beneath his unblinking stare. “I don’t suppose you have anything I might wear, besides this robe, that is.” She flushed at how awkward this felt, how ridiculous her situation was. A closet full of clothes hung waiting for her six hundred miles away.
“You’re pretty skinny. I might have some sweatpants and a T-shirt, but you’ll have to cinch in the pants at the waist to keep ’em from fallin’ off.”
Skinny? Once he’d likened her slender frame to a filly’s, and she’d taken it as the highest compliment. She lifted her chin. “That’d be fine.”
She jerked when he strode for her, but he edged around the bed, headed to his dresser and pulled out a pair of gray sweat pants and a navy tee. He tossed both on the bed, and then stood with his hands fisted on his hips.
Zuri bit back a complaint, wishing he’d quit hovering because he was keeping her on edge. But when he didn’t budge, she dragged her feet to the bed, scooped up the wash-softened cotton and turned toward the bathroom.
“Uh uh,” he said, tsking softly. “My house. My clothes. My rules.”
She glanced over her shoulder, not knowing if she’d heard him right, but that same hard challenge he’d issued when he’d demanded the kiss was stamped all over his granite features.
She knew she ought to ignore him and lock herself into the bathroom to dress and gather her scattered wits, but the underlying tension riding the edge of his jaw excited her.
Colt had never been this dominating…except when they had sex. She’d loved it then. Her body seemed to crave it now. Heat bloomed again, winding around her core. A delicious little thrill accelerated her heartbeats.
Without a saying a word, she walked back to the bed and tossed down the clothing. Then keeping her gaze glued to his, she slowly untied the belt and let the robe fall open. With a sexy shrug, she let it slide off her shoulders and pool behind her on the floor.
Colt blinked first. His gaze trailed downward. His throat worked around a tense swallow, and Zuri couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. He might think he was in charge, but she knew better. Colt liked what he saw.
His quickening breaths were the first clue. The curving of his fists the second. When he opened his stance, just a few inches, she nearly crowed.
Reaching for the cotton pants, she wished she had something sexier to slide inside, then wondered if she’d lost her good sense to think that way. She had enough problems on her plate. But how could she dress and prevent him seeing what this was doing to her? Bending and opening her legs to step into the sweatpants made her feel vulnerable, exposed in a way that just standing there naked hadn’t. “I don’t understand you, or why you’re doin’ this.”
“You don’t know me.”
“I guess that’s true. It’s been a long time.”
“You didn’t know me then.”
She pulled the pants upward, over the curve of her bottom, feeling a little less off-center now that her lower half was hidden from his view. The waist of the pants settled on her hips and she rolled the band to gather up the excess fabric. “Guess that’ll have to do,” she muttered.
As she dragged the T-shirt over her head, she reminded herself why she was here. Definitely not to play games with her ex-boyfriend. She needed a safe place to stay. And she needed to keep Colt clueless until she had a chance to find her car and get rid of the damning evidence before the police found it. Her story might sound a little more believable then.
When she’d pulled the fabric down, fully covering her body, only then did she raise her glance to Colt’s again.
His brows pulled together. “Gonna tell me what’s going on? Why you’re here?”
“I’m a little hungry,” she said, knowing her attempt to stall was completely transparent. “I don’t suppose I could eat first?”
Colt dropped his fists and stepped closer, forcing her chin higher to hold his steady gaze. “If you’re in trouble…”
What? He’d help? She didn’t think so. Colt appeared to be the same inflexible cowboy. He’d always judged a person’s actions as either black or white, right or wrong. No interesting muddying of the colors accepted. She’d forgotten that about him.
She pondered telling him part of the tale, but worried he’d use what he learned to play with her some more. He seemed to like that fact he held the reins.
Zuri licked her lips. “I need a place to stay. Just for a little while.”
His gray eyes, once so warm and open, narrowed. A muscle flexed alongside his jaw.
She waited him out, knowing he wasn’t satisfied with her response. The longer the moment stretched between them, the more uncomfortable she grew. Still holding his steady gaze, she shifted her bare feet, supremely conscious of the fact she wasn’t wearing a stitch of underwear and that his clothing, while freshly laundered, still carried the hint of his unique scent. She was at his mercy. Completely.
Colt inhaled deeply, and then issued a soft, masculine grunt. He reached down and closed his hand around hers, then tugged her closer to the bed. He sat on the edge, staring at their hands before he looked up. “If you stay…you’ll sleep here,” he said, his voice tense and ragged.
Zuri wet her lips with her tongue because her mouth had suddenly gone dry. What he proposed sounded both so…wrong, yet incredibly tempting. She couldn’t get words past her tightening throat. If she could have, she didn’t know whether she would have told him to go to hell or given him a breathless yes. Instead, she squeezed his fingers.
So many thoughts swirled in her mind. Their past, her impossibly complicated present. It sounded so simple. She’d sleep beside him. Make love with him. Maybe she’d even find out that her memories of their being together were painted in rosy hues because she’d been younger, and he’d been her first.
Perhaps in exchange he’d give her clothes and money so that she could make a graceful exit.
Zuri crowded closer to his knees, tilting her chin.
Colt’s lips curved slightly at the corners, and although his gaze remained narrow, he scooted back.
She climbed over his lap, facing him, her thighs sliding over the outside of his, not saying a word, following her instincts although they’d led her down treacherous paths before. She slipped her hand alongside his neck, felt the heavy thrum of his pulse and bent down, her mouth hovering above his. “Think you can keep this uncomplicated, cowboy?”
A deep, throaty groan seeped between his lips, and she leaned into him, settling over the ridge throbbing beneath the placket of his jeans. She could do this. She could take what she wanted from him without losing her heart again. It was just sex. Just an arrangement for shelter, for time.
She had no illusions that she’d be sought by the law and soon. Her job would report her missing. The police would check her apartment and her background. But Detective David Satterly might want her involvement kept under wraps until he’d gotten to her…that might work to her advantage.
As Colt’s arms closed around her back, he lowered himself to the bed and brought her with him.
Sighing, she let her worries slide away. For now, she’d enjoy this little interlude. Accept the pleasure she knew he could deliver. She was older, had learned a few things about how to keep a relationship light. It was just sex.
But then he slid his hand beneath her shirt and scraped his callused palm upward to close around her bare breast. The sandpaper rasp of his thumb across her nipple lit a spark.
Their kiss turned instantly carnal, tongues stroking deeply, lips latching desperately together. Their bodies ground together, frustrated by the clothing separating them.
A knock sounded at the door.
“Ignore it,” she whispered.
Colt sighed. “Can’t. Gabe’ll just barge in. Have to explain it to him first.”
She sat, still straddling his hips. He slid his hand slowly from under her shirt and she climbed off. She turned her back to the door as Colt’s footsteps tapped across the bare wood.
Behind her, the brothers’ voices whispered too low to make out the words, but the rapidity of their exchange, short-bulleted bursts, told her Gabe wasn’t happy with her being here.
Keeping her back to them, she glanced into the dresser mirror and ran her fingers through her damp, tousled hair. Then her gaze fell on the jumbled items resting in a wooden tray. Keys, change. Silver gleamed. She stepped closer and plucked up a metal badge, Sheriff etched on its surface.
Zuri’s hand closed around it and the sharp edges dug into her skin. The one man she’d thought she might seek refuge with was the last she could trust with her secrets.
Saturday’s here! And I’m letting myself slack off a bit today. Sure, I’ll write my NaNo words, but I’m not going to do much more. I’m definitely not going to sit in front of the computer all day. A certain 9-year-old wants a special day, which to her mind includes popcorn, a movie, and me spending the night. Should be fun!
I’m featuring Tarzan & Janine today. It’s a very funny story, co-written by my sister, Elle James, and myself. We’d written the first draft eons ago, but real life intruded and we let it languish. Our mother insisted we resurrect it. She’d been waiting years for us to finish the darn thing. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the excerpt!
I’ll post the winner of today’s contest Monday morning!
Post a comment and you’ll be entered to win a free download of this book!
See what happens when a secret billionaire and an aspiring actress get a little wild in Texas!
A man with a soft spot for women…
Closet Texas millionaire, Tanner Peschke has three months to prove he can make a profit at the family used car dealership or he will lose his job, disappoint his father and break his promise to his dying mother. The root of his problem is women. He can’t resist them—any of them. All it takes is the scent of delicate perfume or a misty-eyed gaze from an elderly woman with a sob story, and he becomes silly putty in the hands of his feminine customers. Until, with a stroke of luck and a buck of a mechanical bull, he hires Janine Davis to star with him in the dealership’s live TV ads.
A woman who won’t let a handsome cowboy get in the way of her dream…
Determined to make a name for herself, Janine needs to pay the bills between acting jobs. The offer to do a series of commercials for Peschke Motors is a chance to get her face “out there”. Recognizing a player when she sees one, Janine agrees to co-star with her handsome employer fully intending to keep their relationship strictly professional. First break she gets, she’s heading to Hollywood.
Their jungle-themed commercials take a crazy twist, and Tanner finds himself falling…from a sales banner while chasing a monkey. But more importantly, he’s falling for Janine. She’s just the one woman to tame this cowboy’s wild heart. Convincing her to stay with him might be harder than catching a mischievous monkey.
After the first commercial Tanner and Janine shoot, they’re local a sensation. Customers and news crews crowd the car showroom, and Barbara Stockton, a cougar who reneged on a deal with Tanner and fired Janine shows up just when Tanner thinks he’s got things under control…
Barbara let go of Tanner’s arm, a smile curling her blood-red lips. “I want to offer her a job.”
Tanner’s stomach completed a full gainer and he blurted out, “I’m sorry, but she’s working for me through the summer.”
The beauty maven’s professionally arched brows rose. “Do you have a contract?”
“Well, it’s under revision…” Revision, hell. Tanner hadn’t even considered a contract. He’d never hired an actress before Janine. What kind of contract did actresses need?
Barbara’s fingernail scraped across Tanner’s shoulder in a long, slow slide. Her lips puffed out all sultry-like, reminding Tanner of when he’d been inside her hotel suite being sized up as the next meat course on her table. “I feel badly about firing her last weekend, and I want to make it up to her.”
Tanner stepped away from the woman, his eyes narrowing. “She’s not interested.”
“Why don’t we let her decide?” Barbara insisted.
“I promise you, Janine is not interested.” Tanner held back his anger and panic. Janine was turning out to be a gold mine, and he didn’t want anyone else staking a claim on her…talents. Read the rest of this entry »
NaNo Day 1:
LR—409 words—and finished draft!
The annual NaNoWriMo challenge starts today! 50,000 words in one month, which breaks down into 1,666 words a day, I think. I’ve done this four times. I’ve succeeded three of those four. At the end of every day, I’ll be back here posting my wordcount totals for the day, just to keep me honest. If anyone wants to “friend” me on the NaNo site, my handle is DelilahDevlin.
* * * * *
If you post a comment today, you’ll be in the running
for a free download of this book!
This book was a labor of love. I worked with two writers I admire, Kim Kaye Terry and Vivi Anna, to create a trilogy of stories that were tightly interwoven. In my story, I got to travel into the Greek Underworld with a gargoyle and wrote great sex with Hades. What greater adventure could a writer hope for?
“…STONE’S EMBRACE is a wonderfully descriptive story…The mix of Greek mythology with Christian elements is intriguing and adds to the subtle layering of eroticism and exoticism…this story is fantastic and a super-hot read!”
~5 Angels, Fallen Angels Reviews
“…The sex in the book was off the charts hot!…It was a wonderfully different story with a strong characters and a fun plot that left this reviewer breathless!”
~5 Stars, Just Erotic Romances
Lust trapped them in darkness…only love can free them…
Petra Pedersen has lived as a recluse all her life thanks to a genetic double whammy—a strange deformity and a shameful power inherited from the father she will never know. The power to incite lust in men and women with just a touch.
Exploring the garden of the mansion she’s just inherited, she comes across a fascinating stone gargoyle whose raw, passionate expression draws her to caress its broad chest. Her imagination follows her fluttering fingers. As she closes her eyes and gives herself up to the arousal, something shifts beneath her touch.
Long ago, failure to stop a demon battle trapped Octavius in a prison of stone. Freed by the woman’s incendiary touch, he doesn’t hesitate to unleash his pent-up rage and desire in a blistering fury. Yet once the haze of lust clears, he discovers he isn’t really free after all.
They are both trapped in another realm where he must choose between his last chance for redemption or returning Petra home…
Warning: Sex with inanimate objects, lusty m/m/f ménages with gods…it’s all good when the reward is freedom.
The letter had arrived only a week ago accompanied by a bank draft to cover the expense of her journey. Petra Pedersen’s father was dead and his house was to be divided among three sisters.
Sisters Petra hadn’t known about but was intensely curious to meet. Would they share more than a father’s claim on a birth certificate?
Her mother had spilled what little she did know about Jean-Paul’s past in an effort to dissuade her from coming. Beatrice had been aware of the first child, Dominique, who’d been born to a witch. It was her birth that had instigated Jean-Paul’s flight to Europe because, until that moment, he hadn’t believed the curse a Haitian priest had put on him when he’d refused to impregnate the priest’s disfigured daughter. Jean-Paul was cursed to father only females and each girl would bear the priest’s mark.
The evidence clear in his first daughter’s dark, mutated gaze had frightened him.
Determined to break the curse, he’d traveled, seeking a healer’s magic. He’d found her mother.
Beatrice hadn’t been able to resist the handsome stranger’s allure. She’d been raised in a good Christian in a small village. Magic didn’t exist except in fairytales. Never mind she’d been born with her own magical gift. A healer in a long line of healers, she’d assumed the gift came from God.
When her own daughter was born, despite the evidence of her daughter’s deformity staring back at her every day of her life, she’d still believed Petra’s gifts would be like her own. Jean-Paul had known better, fleeing shortly after the birth.
But her mother had clung to her belief—until she’d taken Petra along to tutor her as she plied her craft, laying on hands to heal. She’d been horrified to discover that Jean-Paul’s curse had changed her gift from something good into something dark and twisted.
Petra had been sheltered ever since. Kept away from others to prevent a chance touch—worn a contact to hide her evil eye. But the whispers surrounding her hadn’t stopped.
Women in their village eyed Petra as though she were a demon come to steal their men. The men’s gazes followed her everywhere she went as they wondered whether the stories were true—if her touch could enflame a man beyond control. They didn’t seem to fear the curse, and instead, sought excuses to rub up against her in the market or at church.
Her touch incited men to lose their minds to lust. To rape. Inevitably, she and her mother had been forced to move and start again. She’d donned gloves to prevent accidental touches.
Now, she stared down at her hands and wondered if her sisters would be immune and whether they’d inherited a different sort of curse.