A woman he cannot have, a man who is only a dream…
When guardian Marcus Dagotto, discovers the Gods have gifted him with a mate, he is pissed. He has no room for love and even less for a human who has no idea he exists.
Cassandra Jensen, has a shattered heart and has given up on men. Only one man can set her body on fire, but he is a fantasy that haunts her sleep.
Two worlds, one desire.
When the two collide, fate will rip them apart and test their resolve. Will darkness and evil prevail? Or, will love conquer all?
This is the first book I’ve read by Valerie Twombly and I must say, she has some amazing talent. The Guardian, Marcus, is sexy and Cassie is a sweetie.
The book opens with Marcus being forced to kill his mate, Eliza. She’d been turned evil by Drayos.
He also ended up having to kill another person he loved very much. I felt so bad for him!!
We come back to present day. Cassandra(Cassie) keeps having some amazing sex dreams about an unknown stranger.
It always started the same, with her lying in bed naked, sleeping. A man slipped in beside her and caressed her arm. He started at the shoulder and ended at her fingertips. His lips brushed a light kiss on hers then another until he suckled her lower lip. His tongue flicked out and demanded entrance, and she submitted, parted her lips, allowing their tongues to caress each other. The kiss deepened, became desperate until he pulled away and left her gasping for air.
He traced his tongue down her neck and stopped at her shoulder, giving a playful nip before he proceeded to her left breast. Warm lips wrapped around her pink bud, pulled until it hardened. She arched her back.
“Don’t stop,” she whimpered. He never listened; instead, his tongue glided down her belly until he reached her pelvic bone.
Silver eyes flashed at her, and he smiled. “Cassie, my love, I will worship your body until you beg me to stop.” Stop? No, she’d never ask him to stop.
WHO THE HELL WOULD!!??? Umm hello!!?? Tongue…Pelvic Bone…Worship… yeah…enough said!
We eventually learn that dream man, is actually Marcus. OMG THE TONGUE COMES TO LIFE!!!
Ok, I’m going to stop thinking about his tongue for a bit and get down to the nitty gritty. If you’ve never read anything by Lara Adrian or Sherrilyn Kenyon, then you will absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! If you have, you will be able to tell those two authors are Valerie Twombly’s favorites within the first couple chapters.
First off, let me explain. No there was absolutely no plagiarism what so ever. None, zilch, nada. Anyone who says so is a damn liar. If I wasn’t such an obsessed fan with those two author’s series, I probably wouldn’t have noticed some of the similarities. But I am and I did. It was very subtle, but I caught it. Is this in whole a bad thing? No. Those two authors are famous for a reason and when you love someone’s work, it can easily become an ingredient into your own recipe. It however was somewhat disappointing for a couple reasons.
One, I want something different then those ladies. It’s why I read other paranormal authors.
Two…and this is the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT!!! Valerie Twombly is so fucking(yes, I must say that to express the violent strength in this next statement.) SOOO fucking talented and I hated seeing her short change herself and that talent. HER story kept me glued, the hints of her favorites(and my favorites) did not. This was Valerie’s story to tell….not those other two authors…and I want Valerie’s yummy recipe, that only she knows the secret ingredients to, that only SHE can create.
That being said, her writing is amazing and I was able to see that come to life later in the book. I could literally see her confidence grow. I loved “Eternal Flame” and the story. Marcus and Cassie were hot and so were all the other Guardians. Valerie Twombly has one hell of a formula to create a great series. As long as she stays true to herself and trusts and believes in her natural gift.
Oh…and I have to say this one word…because lately I have been seeing a LOT of people saying they want to see more of this in paranormal books….
Valerie Twombly brings us DRAGONS!! Finally someone who is thinking outside the box…and dammit…she better stay out there!
Tears stung Marcus’s cheeks when he raised his sword. “I am so sorry, love. I have failed you. It should be I who dies this day.”
Eliza’s cocoa eyes looked at him but didn’t see him. Dead inside, her soul was lost. She would never again be the woman he loved.
He sucked in a breath and flexed his arms, the sword swung, slicing across her neck. The blade tore through sinew and bone and sent her head rolling across the stone floor. Reality nearly sent him to his knees, but there wasn’t time to mourn the death of his mate. The fighting outside echoed in his ears, the demons were strong and put up one hell of a fight.
Marcus advanced down the corridor of the abandoned castle. The scene played out the same in every direction. Blood bathed the floors, and his brethren’s heartsick screams echoed off the walls as they killed their mates.
A demon jumped out from behind a door. Its claws tearing the flesh on his arm. He wielded his sword and sent another head flying across the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a Draki dispatching another demon. The shifter, a friend who also searched for his mate. Not even the dragons were immune to Drayos and his fucking misery.
The dragon turned his head. “Be careful, my friend. My brethren will soon be setting this place on fire.” Caleb’s cerulean body shimmered as he shifted back to human form.
“Have you found your mate yet?” Marcus asked as he searched the adjoining room. Empty.
“Not yet, you?”
He stepped beside his friend. “I killed her.”
Caleb laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my friend. Drayos will die this day for what he has done.”
Marcus nodded and moved forward in his search for the demon Drayos. He opened up the psychic path leading to his prince. Aidyn.
Marcus, did you find my sister?
He closed his eyes, so many hearts broken today. She is dead, I am sorry, my lord.
I will kill Drayos with my bare hands.
Aidyn had already lost his brother and father in this battle. His pain ripped through Marcus. No doubt the other guardians felt it. It was a blessing and a curse to be connected to each other.
He tried to pinpoint the prince’s position, but something blocked him. Aidyn, where are you? Do not engage Drayos. The prince would die as well if he tried to kill the Demon Overlord. Aidyn was far too young; his two hundred years were no match against a thousand-year-old demon.
He took our women, used them to carry his spawn. He has killed everyone I love.
Tired muscles carried Marcus up a flight of stairs. He stormed from room to room, kicking in locked doors only to find them empty. I know my lord, and he will pay, but it is not wise for you to confront him. He knew Aidyn wouldn’t listen. Perhaps the gods would help.
“Zarek!” Marcus summoned the god, nothing. No surprise. After all, the gods could have stepped in and saved the women, but they had all been left to fate. Fuck fate, he was sick to death of it.
The sound of clashing swords filtered in from the hallway. He flashed into the room, not caring what he stumbled across. His vision filled with Aidyn and Drayos, they were face to face.
Drayos had morphed into a full demon and stood at least three feet taller than Aidyn. Blood seeped from the wounds that covered the demons blackened skin.
Marcus tried to run toward them but found himself behind an invisible barrier. “What the fuck?”
He balled his hands and banged on the wall. “Aidyn!” The prince ignored him. He was stuck, helpless as he watched the events unfold in front of him. Thoughts of telling Daria, his queen, she had lost her entire family in this battle sat like arsenic in his stomach. He pressed his palms against his prison. Aidyn, my friend, I can’t bear another loss today.
The air behind him shifted, a cool breeze lifted his hair. He moved his gaze over his shoulder and found Zarek towering over him in a Scottish kilt rather than his beloved Egyptian shendyt. His raven hair held a beaded braid on one side. So this is why he ignores us? He is busy playing dress-up with the goddess Quadira.
“Get me out of here!” he demanded.
“You will not interfere, my son.”
Marcus growled; his fangs elongated; he wanted blood. Yes, he would take the blood of his god if it ended the pain and suffering of his brethren. “You would let the prince die?” He tried to lunge toward Zarek but found his feet pinned to the floor. You are our creator, we your warriors. Why would you do this to us?
Zarek gave him a leveled gaze. “What makes you think the prince will die this day?”
He looked back toward the fight. Aidyn had lost his sword; a small dagger was clutched in his hand. Both the demon and the vampire bore bloody wounds.
He turned back to Zarek. “The prince is too young to fight one as strong as Drayos.” Marcus dropped to his knees, he would beg the god if he had to.
“Send me in his place…please.” He was three hundred years older than Aidyn and could defeat the demon. “We have lost so much today.” Death haunted him like a fucking plague. He was a healer, but today, he healed no one. The anguished cries of his brethren still echoed in his ears. They had slain their mates then turned on each other to end their misery. Marcus would like to end his suffering as well, but he would continue on; his skills were needed.
Zarek laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my son, for all the pain you will encounter this day. However, today must shape the future.” With those words, he vanished.
The future? Aidyn was their future, the line that tied them all together. They all hoped the prince would persuade the gods to find a cure for the curse Drayos had placed upon them.
The curse would devour them, creating an imbalance that would darken their souls. When Zarek created his vampires, he used light and dark, good and evil. The light fueled the guardian of humanity, the darkness the warrior. A perfect balance, but once Drayos’s curse took full effect, the light would fade, the darkness turning them into pure evil, destined to destroy everything in their path. Not even the humans they guarded would be safe.
He jumped to his feet but found the shield still erected around him. Aidyn’s body lie still on the floor, and Drayos stood over him, sword poised for the fatal blow.
He beat on the invisible wall. “Aidyn!” He sucked in a breath, his heart trapped in a vice that squeezed the life out of him. He could do nothing but watch his prince die. A tear slid down his cheek for the death of his mate, his brethren and now his prince, his best friend. I am no guardian. I am a failure. I have failed them all.
Drayos swung his sword. Everything moved in slow motion as Marcus waited for the blade to connect with Aidyn’s neck.
Lightning sizzled from the sky and sent debris flying in different directions. The room crumbled around them as the earth shook. Drayos’s head rolled across the floor. Marcus sensed the shield that encased him drop, and he rushed forward to where Aidyn stood.
“What the hell just happened? Are you alright?” Marcus asked.
“I am not exactly sure. I think I caused the lightning.”
“You?” He looked over the prince, his pants torn and his shirt missing. Dust from the debris covered his bleeding wounds. There was something different about the prince. He seemed stronger. Marcus noticed the dark marking on Aidyn’s chest and reached out to wipe away the gray dirt so he could get a better look. “Sweet deity!” He jumped back.
“What?” Aidyn looked at his chest. His jaw dropped. “I never felt it.”
Like many of the other guardians, Aidyn had been given his mark. An indication of his position and abilities. Marcus bore the Ankh, a pair of angel wings spread out over the top. The ancient symbol meant life or living. A healer, able to repair the sick or injured with his energy.
The naked skin over Aidyn’s left breast bore the mark chosen by the gods. The eye of Ra, the symbol of protection and power, sat atop a pyramid encased by a blazing sun. This could only mean…
His thoughts interrupted by the almost unrecognizable voice. Father?
Come to me, son.
Aidyn touched his shoulder. “I am fine, let us go help your father.”
Together they flashed to the position his father communicated. When Marcus arrived, his father was on his knees holding the bloody, headless body of his wife, Marcus’s mother. His sword lay beside him covered in blood. He knew what had happened. His mother’s belly heavy with child. Drayos’s demon spawn had been growing inside her, and like the other women, her soul had been darkened. There was no cure, Marcus had tried to heal Eliza, but it had proved fruitless. Like him, his father had taken the head of the woman he loved.
“Father.” He knelt next to the frail man and placed his arm around his shoulder, pulling him tight to his side. “I am so very sorry.” Tears welled in his eyes, he refused them escape. He would remain strong for the man beside him.
His father looked at him, his eyes rimmed red. “You will do the honorable thing.”
Marcus closed his eyes, again. He would have to mourn later. “Yes,” he whispered. How much more destruction could he take before he crumbled? Somewhere, he would find the strength needed to end his father’s misery and begin his own.
“Take care of your sister.” It was the last command his father would ever give him.
“I will. I love you.” He kissed the man on the cheek then stood, his sword flashed through the smoke-filled sky and sliced through his father’s neck.
Marcus dropped to his knees, the heartache so severe he nearly passed out. His lungs contracted as he screamed to the heavens. Another failure, so many broken hearts he was unable to heal. Why couldn’t he heal the broken hearts?
Strong arms circled him from behind and held him tight. “I have you, my friend,” Aidyn whispered.
Caleb is dark, hot, and commanding in human form. As a dragon, he’s a force to be reckoned with. When he witnesses the slave Lileta being beaten by his Overlord Odage, he nearly comes unglued. Without understanding why, he asks to take the slave as his own, but soon realizes his longing is more than an attraction to a beautiful woman. In a sick twist of fate, the gods have given him a demon as his mate—one he can never touch unless he wishes his own death. His only choice is to grant her freedom.
Lileta wanted to kill Caleb, but when she is freed by this tempting male, her anger turns to a desire that can only prove fatal. Even if she could claim him as her own, her dark past makes her unworthy of his love.
When their paths continue to intertwine, spiraling them to the brink of passion, can they resist the yearnings burning within them, or will they submit to their fatal desire?
This is the second book in the Guardians Series and I have to say, I was prepared to have similar critiques as I did a few months ago on the first book. In my “Eternal Flame” review, I had said, towards the conclusion of my review:
“Valerie Twombly has one hell of a formula to create a great series. As long as she stays true to herself and trusts and believes in her natural gift.”
I am happy to say, not only did Valerie Twombly stay true to herself and believe in her natural gift, but she also added some extra spices to her amazing formula. This book kept me riveted from the first word, to the last and had me whimpering at the end, wanting MORE!!!
I love how both Caleb and Lileta have the dark and the light within themselves. At first they seem like polar opposites and both are questioning why the Gods would mate them with each other, but as the story unfolds, you find out exactly why.
Caleb started out in a dark place and he came into the light, where Lileta starts out in the light and goes to the dark side. They end up being each other’s lights, when they are lost in the dark. I LOVE that! It’s the epitome of True Love.
Although I loved Caleb and Lileta as a couple, I have to confess….I couldn’t help but wish somehow, she could also be Lucan’s mate. I kept hoping as I turned the pages, that somehow the Gods would throw a threesome wrench in there or something. It was mentioned that Lileta’s darker side, AKA Furia, was like a separate being, so I was hoping that separate being would somehow be the other half to Lucan. I’m not giving up hope on that outcome yet, although the chances are slim.
I gather from the story line, that Seth’s book will be next, but I personally would much rather read Lucan’s story. Something about him touched me, more so then any of the other characters. It wasn’t his story, but yet he stood out so much. Maybe it’s my desire to be the light to his dark, but I will anxiously be awaiting his story and will be having high hopes he finds someone worthy of him if it’s not Furia.
There are so many twists and turns in this book. It kept me glued to my seat and enthralled with the story. It may seem silly, but I can’t help but say, I am so proud of Valerie Twombly. She has truly came into her own with this book and officially stepped into my list of favorite authors/favorite series. She has taken the paranormal to a whole new and unique level with the dragons and the guardians. She’s made her own imprint in the paranormal world and set a standard that others will attempt to achieve. I can NOT wait to see what else she has in store for her characters and for us readers!!
5 PERFECT STARS!!!
Odage stood under the full moon; the desert wind blew through his hair and grains of sand danced past his boots. Finally, he’d found the other half of the amulet of Tobor.
“I am extremely pleased, Odage. You have done well and will be rewarded. However, you know this journey has only begun,” a sinister voice echoed through the night air.
“Yes, My Lord. I’m aware of what is to come next.” Odage sneered. He knew the dark demon wanted the amulet. The harmless stone tucked in his curled fingers would somehow open Hell’s Gate when combined with the blood of a guardian’s mate. His master would then be set free to rain terror on the earth’s occupants.
“Good. Then you will start preparations. I am most anxious to leave this realm.”
“Of course, My Lord.” Odage shoved the amulet in his pocket and headed toward Caleb’s tent. He wondered how the slave Lileta fared with his second-in-command. He’d been surprised when Caleb had asked for the slave himself. Odage planned to kill her for her betrayal but decided Caleb deserved a gift so had agreed. He grinned, knowing the other Draki could be as brutal as he was. She might die yet.
When he reached the tent, he flung open the door and entered. Caleb sat at the table gnawing on a chicken bone. Odage’s gaze moved across the room where Lileta was handcuffed to the bed. Her tight pink T-shirt showed every curve, causing his desire to stir. She pinned him with a death glare. It really was a shame their species were incompatible. She was a beautiful female, with flowing raven hair, golden eyes, and hips that would fit nicely in his grip. Fortunately for her, the gods saw fit to make her species, the Kothar Demon, poisonous to a dragon.
Caleb rose. “My liege, how may I assist you?”
“Sit; finish your meal.”
Caleb took his seat. “May I offer you something? Wine?”
“Yes, a glass of wine is in order.” Odage waited while Caleb got up and procured another glass, filled it halfway with the red liquid then handed it to him. He raised it. “A toast.” Caleb extended his glass. “To finding the amulet.” Odage pulled the red stone from his pocket and placed it on the table.
“My liege, this is wonderful news. I know how long you’ve been searching for it.” He leaned in closer. “What happens next? Do you sell it to the highest bidder?”
Odage smirked. “Perhaps.” He would keep his master’s plans close to his chest, not even Caleb would be entrusted with the information. “But first, we must rid ourselves of the vampires. Prepare to burn down Vandeldor if you must.”
Caleb tipped his head. “Wouldn’t it be wise to find their queen’s murderer? I’d be honored to clear your name.”
Odage narrowed his gaze. “Fuck them. They dare accuse me, Queen Daria’s closest ally, of killing her? You know as well as I that they will never stop hunting me. Even if they were successful in catching me, they wouldn’t stop there. They will massacre our race.”
“Perhaps, but we are stronger than they are.”
“Yes, but I fear they have the gods on their side.”
Caleb furrowed his brows then nodded. “As you wish then. I will devise a plan to take them out.”
“Good, I knew I could count on you.” He raised his glass again. “To the death of our enemies.”
* * * *
Lileta had listened to the conversation between Caleb and Odage until she thought she would vomit. She despised them both and, if given a chance, would rid the world of their stench. When Odage had finally exited their domicile, her body relaxed slightly. She recalled Caleb’s earlier actions and was dumbfounded by them. Why had he rescued her from the sure death Odage would have meted out?
The Draki leader had tied her to a post and whipped her. It was her punishment for freeing the guardian Marcus, who he’d held prisoner. When she thought he would end her life, Caleb had stepped forward. It wasn’t until later she learned he had requested her for himself. So here she was, in his tent, cuffed to his bed.
She gazed at the Draki while he finished sucking the meat off a drumstick. If circumstances were different, she would find the man downright sexy. His tousled dark blond hair and eyes that went from brown to green, depending on his mood, lent a sense of mystery to the dragon. Even his scent made her skin tight. Leather with a tinge of spice tossed in for good measure. When the goddess Qadira created the dragons, she had really outdone herself.
There had been a time when the Draki were allies with the guardians. Something happened in the years that she’d been gone to change that. The animosity between the species sickened her. Bile sat at the back of her throat, but she forced it down. It didn’t matter how attractive this man was. They could never be. She was a Kothar Demon and he a dragon. Everything about her was poison to his species.
Her chin lifted. “What do you intend to do with me?”
He looked up from the chunk of meat still left on his plate. His gaze studied her and filled with lust. She was accustomed to the reaction. Men found her species irresistible. It was why she’d been taken as a teen so many years ago and sold into slavery. She despised all those who’d used her.
“Whatever I fucking wish.” He went back to his meal.
“You know Odage lies to you.”
His lip curled into a snarl, and he tossed the bone to the floor. “I could kill you for that comment.”
Her nostrils flared. “Do it. You don’t frighten me, I welcome death,” she lied.
She would give anything to see her family one last time and tell them all how much she loved them. She would die with honor, but if ever the chance presented itself, she would fight.
Her body was tired, the only thing that kept her going were the other women. The humans Odage used to birth his spawn. She’d already lost Veronica, the first slave brought to her to care for. The woman had died in childbirth. She needed to find a way to save the others and prayed to the gods every day that Baal and Marcus would come.
“I think I’d rather watch you suffer than take the easy way out.”
She curled her lip. “Odage killed Daria. He so much as admitted it and has no intention of selling that amulet. He bargains with the spawn of Hell, and only the gods know what they’re planning.”
Before she could exhale, he was in front of her, his fingers wrapped around her throat.
“Why did you save me, dragon?” she whispered, watching his eyes swirl. The green flecks came together and made the most beautiful emerald. He released his grip and grabbed a lock of her hair. Letting it slide through his fingers, he brought it to his nose. She held her breath and tried to steady her heartbeat.
Why does he affect me like this? I despise him.
She wanted to touch him in the most intimate way.
“I must protect you,” he whispered.
“What?” He must be deranged. Why in the hell would he want to protect me? There had to be an ulterior motive.
He let go of her hair, his eyes transformed back to brown, he reached for the handcuff and unlocked it. “We will be leaving here at dawn. Get some rest. Take the bed and don’t even think of trying to escape.” He stood and walked toward the exit. “I’ll sleep outside,” he announced before he disappeared out the door.
She rubbed her wrist, her brow creased in confusion. She had no intention of escaping, knowing as long as she wore the silver bands he’d find her. No, her only way out was to be rescued, or for Caleb to set her free. She laughed; he wasn’t likely to let her go. She pulled the covers back and crawled into bed, exhausted from trying to heal the wounds Odage had inflicted.
1 ecopy of winner’s choice of Eternal Flame or Fatal Desire.
As a child, Valerie would often get into trouble for peeking at her mother’s favorite TV show, Dark Shadows. She can still hear her mother saying “It will give you nightmares.” She was right of course, but that did not stop Valerie from watching. As an adult, her love of the fanged creatures never waned. She would watch any vampire movie she could find.
Being a true romantic, Valerie was thrilled when she discovered the genre of paranormal romance. Her first read was one of Lara Adrian’s, Midnight Breed Series and from there she was hooked.
Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby and her two German shepherd dogs, in Northern IL.
Book one in the Men of Passion Series: A contemporary erotic series about the passions and devotion of five men to the one woman who loves them all…
Kayla Saradon is a beautiful, respected psychiatrist who her friends claim has discovered the fountain of youth. Kayla wonders what her friends would say if they knew her secret is the polyandry lifestyle she shares with her four, studly “husbands” — each skilled in his own sexual specialty?
Then PI, Trey Sean Cameron, who is secretly investigating her lifestyle, explodes into her life. The ex-Army Special Forces operative raises emotions Kayla can neither control nor contain. Can Trey — a demanding and possessive lover — ever share in her lifestyle? If not, how far will she go to keep him?
Aubrey Keaton has never
had a supportive family. Luckily, she has Camden…
Her childhood friend. Her
savior. Her boyfriend.
Even after Camden leaves
their hometown to chase his dream to be a musician, Aubrey can’t imagine her life without Camden and
Before starting a job search
for her own dream job, Aubrey decides to visit Camden in California for a month. But when she arrives,
something unexpected happens…she meets Jax Carmichael, the lead singer in Camden’s
Jax Carmichael doesn’t
have time for a relationship…much less love.
Even if Aubrey is
irresistible, she’s a complication he doesn’t want or need. He has spent the last few years building
Chasing Ruin, and the band is on the verge of being signed. Pursuing Aubrey could destroy his band, and
he’s worked too hard to be successful without his family’s money, or connections, to let that
Aubrey feels an attraction
to Jax like something she’s never experienced before.
Confused, she tries to
resist, but when her relationship with Cam begins to unravel, she realizes that Jax might just be the one
thing she needs.
Contemporary western romance with hot cowboys, a dash of suspense, and a lot of southern humor. The perfect recipe for Trouble. Available on Amazon.com
Watch a video trailer for the Texas Trouble Series by Becky McGraw
My Kind of Trouble (#1, Texas Trouble)
Cassie Bellamy swore she’d never go back to her hometown when she left Bowie, Texas ten years prior. In that time she’d all but forgotten about the man who sent her running to Phoenix in the first place, bad boy Luke Matthews. She had built a new life in Arizona, which included a successful real estate business, and a new fiancé. The last thing she needed was to dredge up old memories by seeing him again. But her daddy was hurt and needed her help at the ranch. Her plan was to get her daddy on his feet as quickly as possible, and avoid Luke Matthews like the plague.
That plan went to hell fast when, on a nostalgic whim, she decided to drive her old pickup back to Bowie, instead of her BMW. Bessie gave up the ghost five miles outside of Bowie, and the one person she wanted to avoid became her knight in brown khaki. Cassie knew right then she was in big trouble. The reformed bad boy was the Sheriff of Bowie now, and not only was he still hotter than the Texas sun, his anger toward her was too.
Luke Matthews had worked damned hard to change the way people of Bowie thought of him. He was no longer known as the bad boy son of the town’s drunk, they called him Sheriff now. For ten years, Luke had been living on the right side of the law. Although he was discreet about it, he also played hard to forget about the woman who’d given him the determination to better himself by leaving him ten years prior without a word.
His strategy had worked perfectly, until he came across a beat up pickup on the side of the road and decided to play good Samaritan. That charitable act led him to the uncharitable owner of the illegally long legs sticking out from under the hood. Cassie Bellamy was back in town and the beautiful blonde was just as sassy and stubborn as she always had been.
At first he’s pissed, but then realizes he’s just been presented with the prime opportunity to finally settle his mind and move on. Luke is determined before he sees her beautiful backside on the way out of town, he will have his answers, even if it takes hog-tying her to get them.
“Crotchety old filly is like a drill sergeant. Bosses me around something terrible,” he grumbled and forked a piece of scrambled egg into his mouth. “Kinda like those sponge baths though,” he said around the egg and chuckled.
He would, she thought, and chuckled herself. “She sounds like just what you need, old man. Otherwise, you’d be running all over her.”
“You’re one to talk little girl. That wimpy ex-fiancé of yours still in jail?”
“As far as I know. Between your trespassing charge and mine for stalking, James will either have to drop the charges against Luke, or spend more time than him in jail. I’m going to get a restraining order against him, once I get back to Phoen–” she realized what she had been about to say and stopped.
Her daddy’s eyes narrowed. There was dead silence between them for a minute or two, then he asked in a low even voice, “So you’re going back?”
Cassie looked down at her hands. “Yeah, for now. I’ve got a lot of loose ends to tie up with the business, and I need to really think about where I want to live and what I want to do. I made a snap decision to stay in Bowie because I was excited about the horse breeding thing…”
“You can still do that. I have plenty of money, Cassie Bee, more than I could ever spend before I kick the bucket.”
Cassie looked back at him, and emotion clogged her throat. She cleared it then said, “I know Daddy, but if I do it, I want to do it on my own. It will mean more that way. But I’m not sure yet if that’s what I want or not.” Carl’s eyes misted, and Cassie reassured him, even though she knew it wasn’t going to happen, “I still might do it Daddy, there’s just a lot I need to deal with before I can make a decision. A lot I need to work out.”
“You tell Luke?”
“No, I didn’t…and I’m not. He wouldn’t let me go. The time I’ve spent with him these past few weeks has been great. I realize I love him, haven’t ever stopped. But I don’t see things working out between us. We don’t make each other stronger.”
Carl threw his fork down on the tray and spat, “That’s horseshit, girl. You two were made for each other, and it’s a crying ass shame you can’t see it. That boy loves you, and he’ll take care of you. You could do a helluva lot worse than him, that’s for sure.”
“See that’s the thing Daddy—I don’t want him to take care of me. I’ve been taking care of myself for ten years. And if I stay he’ll try to do that. All that’s done so far is get him into trouble. His life was solid until I came back. Even Cole said so. I think the best thing I can do for both of us is go back to Phoenix. For now, anyway.”
“You’ve got some strange notions about love, honey.” Carl shook his head and picked up his fork again. Staring down at his plate, he continued, “Your mama was the love of my life, and we argued every day. It didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. Love’s hard work…not for the faint of heart.”
Cassie just listened, even though she wanted to argue that she knew it was hard work, and she didn’t mind working hard, as long as she knew the end result would be worth it. In their case, she and Luke would just wind up hurting each other again.
He stuck his fork into a piece of cantaloupe and waved it at her. “You’re one of the strongest women I know, Cassie Bee…and you could work it out with Luke, if you’d just stick around and try.” His eyes pleaded with her to change her mind.
Not happening. “Since I’ve been back in Bowie, I’ve gotten thrown from a horse, almost raped, broken my ankle and cracked my skull. My crazy ex stalked me. And Luke, bless his heart, has tried to save me from it all. For his trouble, he’s been antagonized by me, risked everything he has to buy a herd of cattle he has no use for, and he’s had to beat the shit out of the cowhand for trying to rape me. He has been thrown in jail once, almost twice. Now, he’s arguing with his best friend over me. I’m just no good for him, and Bowie isn’t good for me.”
That got a chuckle out of her dad, but he sobered quickly. “None of that has anything to do with the price of tea in China—or love, girl. If Luke was there for you through all that, and you were there for him, that’s what love is. Life ain’t easy, you have to take the fleas with the dog.”
“Well, I’m taking my flea circus and heading back to Phoenix for a while, daddy.”
He looked up at her and asked quietly, “Why did you run away after graduation, Cassie Bee?”
Cassie looked down at her hands again. It was time to finally give her daddy the truth. “Because of Luke,” she said and cleared her throat. “It know now it was a misunderstanding, but Luke was supposed to meet me at the lake that night. When he didn’t show up, I went looking for him and found him tangled up with Becca Harvey, and thought he was cheating on me.”
“Did you talk to him before you left? Ask him about it?”
“No…I was too hurt.”
“So you just got your ass over the dashboard and left him dangling on the limb to head to Phoenix.”
Cassie looked up at him and swallowed hard. “Yeah, I guess I did. But he didn’t come after me either.”
“You’re wrong there. He came over here right after you left that night, looking like he could chew nails. He grabbed me by the collar and yelled at me trying to get me to tell him where you were. I thought he was gonna cry when I told him you left, but I didn’t know where you were heading.”
Her daddy had never mentioned that to her before, and a wave a guilt surged up to strangle her. “I didn’t know.”
“So now you’re doing it again. Leaving him dangling without talking to him and heading off to Phoenix to run away and hide, because you decided that was best.”
Was she doing that? Repeating history by being a coward and running away instead of confronting Luke? Her conscience whispered, hell yes you are. “Okay, Daddy you’ve made a point. I’ll call Luke and talk to him.”
Widowed Phoenix Detective, Sabrina Roberts, is burned out. She hopes the chance to stand in a friend’s wedding in a small Texas town will give her the break she so desperately needs. Once there she finds that and a lot more when she meets sexy, but chauvanistic, Sheriff Cole Jackson.
Double The Trouble (#3, Texas Trouble)
Identical Twin, Professional Rodeo Roper Karlie Upton is on the run from an abusive ex. She runs to a friends ranch in a small Texas town and the first person she meets is the tall, dark and disgrunted Chief Deputy in the town, Gabe Kelley.
Looking For Trouble (#4, Texas Trouble)
Aspiring Country Singer, Jess Sparks, hits the lottery from a one-night stand. Her prize is her daughter Angel. A gig in a small town brings her face to face with the man who fathered Angel. If she can get past the fear of losing her precious Angel, can she find love and a father for her with sexy bull rider Wade Roberts?
Trouble In Dixie (#5, Texas Trouble)
Left high and dry by her roping partner and twin sister, cowgirl Katie Upton hires on at the Rockin’ R horse ranch as a cutting horse trainer. Her new boss, sexy single-father, Tommy Tucker both tempts and frustrates her. His daughter Dixie is a little hellion, who needs supervision that he’s not giving her, and is always in trouble. Like someone else she knew. Her wild ass twin sister.
Asking For Trouble (#6, Texas Trouble)
Country Fiddler Jazzie Ramos’ life is in upheaval. Her best friend has just gotten married, and her younger brother is in a heap of trouble. She is determined to save him, and finds help from handsome Texas Ranger Beau Bowman. Beau is determined to help keep her safe, but he’s more determined to stay single.
Chasing Trouble (#7, Texas Trouble)
Texas Wildcatter Oilman Chase Rhodes never gets the girl. He is tired of women either wanting friendship or sex from him, but nothing more. He’s looking for a woman who thinks he’s a keeper, and after meeting her thinks that woman just might be ER Doc Jenny Anderson, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse.
Here Comes Trouble (#8, Texas Trouble)
After his divorce, attorney Joel Rhodes is into sampling flavors not relationships. And he’s finished with the law. He buys a dude ranch and hires flavor number one, nurse Terri Cassidy, to be his medic for the ranch. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s bitten off more than he bargained for by hiring the petite brunette.
Worth The Trouble (#9, Texas Trouble)
Injured firefighter and spec ops paramedic Ethan Cassidy thinks his life is over when he goes to his sister’s ranch to recouperate from an accident on the job. He meets country beautiful female ranch hand Roxanne Baker, who insists on helping him recuperate from his injuries, and suddenly he seems to think life might be worth living after all.
Royal Trouble (#10, Texas Trouble)
Former Miss Texas, beauty queen Leigh Ann Baker knows she has more value than marrying some rich old man. She leaves her ovrebearing mother to go to her sister Roxanne for help, and meets sexy vet Wes Jepson. Single father, veterinarian Wes Jepson needs an assistant, but his friend’s sister, prissy Leigh Ann Baker, is a far cry from what he needs. Not only is she incompetent, she stirs up a hornet’s nest a local ranch known for underhanded dealings.
Trouble With The Law (#11, Texas Trouble)
Former detective Trace Rooks knows his father was behind sending him to prison. When he gets out early by making a deal with the feds, Trace is determined to take Senator Rooks down. After he deals with his father, he plans to take down the other person responsible. Veronica Winters, the beautiful, but treacherous attorney who represented him during his trial. His plans are delayed though, when he gets thrown in jail again for trying to help a scatter-brained beauty queen before she gets killed in the operation at the ranch. When Ronnie Winters shows up at the jail offering her help, he wants none of it. But he can’t resist getting his pound of flesh from her just a little earlier than he anticipated.
You want answers, Veronica?” Trace ground out, his eyes hard and dark. His arm shot across the table, and she flinched. He laughed and grabbed her pen then leaned back and dropped it under the table. Lowering hisvoice, he leaned forward again to growl, “Let me tell you what I want, then you decide if you still want those answers.” He drummed his fingers on the table.
Tingles of alarm coursed through Veronica traveling with the excitement already buzzing along her nerve endings. Something wasn’t right here. TraceRooks wasn’t right. Three years in prison had warped him, changed himinto a man she didn’t know. One who scared her a little. And that was saying a lot. Because men didn’t scare her—ever. She was the one who scared them.
Veronica stiffened her shoulders, and her spine to sit up straighter in her chair. She was The Shark Lady, the best damned criminal lawyer in Amarillo, and he better damn well remember who he was talking to.
Trace shoved his chair up under the table, and the sound grated through her. He slouched in the chair, and drummed his fingers on the tableagain. “What I want, Red, is for you to get under that table,and pick up that pen,” he drawled, his eyes glittering with purpose. Thescar on his cheek deepened when his mouth twisted into a travesty of asmile. “While you’re under there, I want you to unzip my pants and suck my dick. If you do a good enough job of it, I’ll give you your answers.”
Ronnie snorted, and leaned back in her chair crossing her arms over her chest. “Dream on, big boy.”
He was out of his mind if he thought she was going to do that. Her eyes involuntarily traveled to the camera mounted in the corner. Not that the camera mattered, there was no way she was going to do what he wanted even if there wasn’t a camera. But the thought of it made her wet. The possibility of getting caught, the probability of getting away with something so daring.
“I’m not dreaming,” he said smoothly. “You’re the one who came here to get answers from me. That’s the only way you’re going to get them,Veronica. I haven’t had sex in three years because of you. You owe it to me. Bet mine doesn’t taste any different than Leland’s did.”
Three years? Trace Rooks had only served two years, and had been out of prison for six months. Before he went to prison, Trace Rooks didn’t have trouble finding a willing woman. She couldn’t believe getting laid wasn’t near the top of his priority list when he got out of prison. While she worked on his case, Veronica knew of at least two women he was with when he was out of jail pending court hearings. One of them had even been in the courtroom, bawling hysterically when he was sentenced.
Either one of those women would probably do just what he asked. Veronica wasn’t those women. And she absolutely was not getting under that table to suck Trace Rooks off.
His eyes narrowed and a smug smile kicked up the corner of his firm mouth. “You asked me back then why Leland wanted me in jail. What if I told you?” he asked with a lifted brow. “Would you suck my dick for that information? How far would you go, Veronica? Would you swallow when I come in your mouth too?” Trace sucked a breath in through his teeth and moved one of his hands under the table. “God, I’m hard just thinking about it.”
Her eyes focused on his mouth. Firm, full lips that spewed his venom, issued his dirty challenges. “Stop being vulgar, Trace. You’re just trying to shock me. Just talk to me. I’m trying to help you here.”
“Help me, help you. Isn’t that what you told me when you said I should accept that bogus plea deal, Red?”
“I was trying to help. Taking that deal was in your best interest,” she said leaning back in her chair again. She glanced under the table and the pen taunted her.
Trace laughed harshly. “You helped me right into three years in prison. Now I’m going to help you get your answers, right after you give me a blowjob.”
She snorted, and lifted a brow. “Keep screwing with me and I’ll get under that table and bite your dick off,” she threatened.
He leaned forward on his elbows, and met her eyes directly. “You bite me and when I get out, I’ll tie you up and spank your ass until you beg me to fuck you.” Trace wasn’t kidding. His dark eyes were focused on her, and he didn’t blink, not once. A dull throb started at the apex of her thighs, and she uncrossed her legs to press her knees together.
This was ridiculous. Ronnie didn’t like kinky sex, had never had a partner who was into it either. Why was she getting so turned on then by his naughty suggestions?
She shook her head to clear it. This wasn’t getting her anywhere. She also realized she wasn’t getting anywhere with Trace Rooks, and considering his mood, she wasn’t going to. Veronica scraped her chair back, then reached down for her briefcase.
The black pen near his foot taunted her again. He used the toe of his boot to slowly shove it to one side, then the other, and she felt his gaze hot on the side of her face. Back and forth, he moved it, teasing her. But he said nothing.
There was no way she could leave that pen there. It was a very expensive Mont Blanc. A pen she had been given by her attorney father when she graduated from law school. A memoir of the only time in her life he’d ever told her he was proud of her. So what if he’d only said it on the card that came with the pen, and he was a thousand miles away in Northern California handling a big case at the time. He had finally said it.
“Do it, Red,” Trace urged in a low growl, as he edged the pen with his toe again.
She dropped to her knees beside her briefcase and crawled under the table. She saw Trace’s hand resting on his crotch. He stroked himself, and she saw the hard ridge of his large penis outlined under his jeans. Her mouth watered, as she contemplated doing what he asked.
She had always been curious what the big draw was with him. Why women were always after him. Policewomen and attorneys alike, even the female criminals fell prey to his charms. Hell, she’d even heard he’d done a judge and a female senator, while he was a detective. He must be one hell of a lover is all she could come up with. Curiosity about him is what had her so hot and bothered when she was representing him.
Trace unzipped his jeans, and she saw his thick erection straining at the top of his tight white underwear. She bit back a groan, as her hand closed around the ink pen. His foot landed on top of her hand to trap it.
“You know you want to do it, Veronica. You’ve wanted to do it for years. Since you first met me,” he suggested softly. “Now’s your chance, Red. To get your answers and satisfy your curiosity.” His sexy, tempting voice sent a chill down her spine.
Carrie Collins has been trying to hold it together for three years, since her husband Sean was killed in the line of duty during an undercover drug operation gone bad. If that and the mountain of bills she was left with weren’t bad enough, her son becomes mixed up with the wrong crowd at school. Carrie feels like a failure as a mother, and does the only thing she can think of to fix things, she goes back to her parent’s ranch.
Her dead husband’s best friend, the man accused, but later exonerated of, Sean’s murder shows up at the ranch with his new wife and offers her a break from the kids and the craziness of her life. Carrie is reluctant to accept, but he won’t take no for an answer. She goes to the R & R Ranch, but doesn’t find relaxation there. What she finds is a tall, charismatic ex-rodeo cowboy who not only ties her emotions in more knots than his lasso, he wakes up her dormant libido.
Carrie fights the attraction, because the last thing she needs is a man like Dylan Thomas in her life, a tumbleweed kind of guy who tells her in no uncertain terms he isn’t looking for a relationship. She knows her kids deserve better and so does she. Her kids aren’t there though, and the temporary fantasy he represents becomes too much to resist.
Dylan Thomas wants nothing more than to return to competitive bull riding after an almost career-ending injury landed him at the R & R Ranch teaching rich greenhorns to ride bulls. A year and a half of catering to those wealthy snobs has him bored and restless, until a curvy brunette convinces him it might not be so bad to hang around for a little while longer.
Carrie Collins takes hard to get to an olympic-class level though, and it takes everything in Dylan’s bag of tricks to get close to her. When things finally heat up between them, he finds out there are a couple of things she hasn’t told him about. Like the two kids she has who show up at the ranch, and the job she has accepted there.
His temporary fling with the cute ranch guest suddenly gets a lot more complicated and permanent. Especially when former associates of her son turn up at the ranch demanding money she doesn’t have. Dylan knows then he’s borrowed a helluva lot of trouble he didn’t need in his life by getting involved with her, but when the opportunity to leave presents itself, how can he leave her in danger?