It falls on Tanner’s shoulders to take on the ranch and keep an eye on his father before he falls victim to another heart attack. But Julia doesn’t appreciate Tanner coming in or pursuing her. Even if he’s hot as hell and can make her quiver with just a look. Ousting her may give Tanner the leverage he needs to corral his father, but first he has to wrestle with his own heart.
About the Author
Heather Long is a national bestselling author who likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, and Marines. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romances as hot as her native Texas summertime.
The second beer meant he’d already decided to stay in town. He didn’t drink often, but the second one tasted even better than the first. He might as well have a third. The crowd thickened and the volume on the music rose as the group on the floor slid, stomped, and danced to a two-step. Merriment reigned, shells crunched, sawdust kicked up, and the fans overhead went to work clearing the air. In the cor- ner, a band set up their gear, and after the two-step ended, the musicians kicked it up a notch.
Whoever the group was they had talent, and as Tanner studied the newcomers, he focused on a woman who slid over to the bar and drained a glass of water while the mu sicians found their rhythm. A minute later, she glided back onto the dance floor.
For the next three songs, she traded partners. The woman could move. Tall, long-legged, and beautifully curved, she also had a gorgeous face, from her generous mouth—which pulled into an easy smile—to her sweet, dark eyes. Dark hair clung to her cheeks, and her sleeveless white top gave Tan- ner a good look at her toned arms.
He didn’t know her. She didn’t even ring a familiar bell, but she sure as hell looked fun. When she waved off a fourth man swooping in for a dance and headed to the bar, Tanner enjoyed the light, strutting cadence to her walk. Someone had taken her spot, so she sidled up to the bar next to him.
Fanning her face with one hand, she gave him a cool, quick grin, then waved at Sully. The bartender slid a glass of water over to her. “You ready for a glass of wine yet, darlin’?”
“In a bit.” She took a long drink of the water. The slender column of her throat convulsed with each swallow, and a fresh wave of lust crashed through Tanner. Damn, what he wouldn’t give to trade places with the glass.
“Put her wine on my tab, Sully,” Tanner called. The number of dance partners and lack of a ring gave him hope she was free. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“No, thank you,” the country goddess declined in a smooth, polite tone. “I’ll take care of my own drinks.”
Sully hid a smirk, but he had other customers.
“No need to be testy, ma’am.” He lifted his beer. “Just offering to buy you a drink.”
“Not being testy at all.” She turned sideways and gave him a once-over. “And you didn’t offer—you just decided to do it, sir.” The cool dismissal didn’t possess an ounce of malice or disrespect. “I simply like to pay my own way, and never accept offers from strangers.”
“Hard to make an acquaintance if you don’t.” Though he couldn’t fault her. Even the women in his unit or those he’d met on assignment at various bases around the world maintained a sense of control over their environment, both in what they would tolerate from others and what they would accept. “My apologies for overstepping. I’m Tanner, by the way.”
Offering his hand, he waited as she took a beat before wiping her palm against her jeans and then accepting the handshake. “My friends call me Jules.”
“Jules.” Was it short for Julianna? Or Julie? Something else entirely? He liked the sound of it. Maybe it was the beer mellowing him out. Maybe it was being home. Or maybe it was simply watching her, but he wanted to spend some time with Miss Jules.
“Is it all right if I call you Jules?”
“I said my friends call me Jules; you can call me ma’am.” She chuckled, then drained her glass of water and started watching the band. They’d switched to a slow song. Shaking her head, she lifted the hair from the back of her neck. From her flushed cheeks to the gleam in her dark eyes, she was stunning.
“I’d be happy to call you ma’am.” The sentence worked, and Jules returned her attention to him and her eyebrows raised. “Tell me, ma’am, may I have the next dance?”
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Working for the Department of Homeland Security, Special Agent Dallas Landry is a rare breed: an academic with an unmatched lust for adventure. He had a perfect success rate recovering stolen art and antiquities--until he came up against an intriguing menace known as Riki Maddox. She's placed his reputation on the line, and stopping her becomes his number one priority.
Now the two will cross paths once again in Australia--on a quest for the legendary Phantom Pearl, a priceless mammoth tusk carved by 15th century monks. Barely one step ahead of the Yakuza, it's a three-way race to recover the long lost treasure. One Riki is hell-bent to win. But playing games against a federal agent like Dallas will cost more than her freedom. The chase will demand she risk her life and her thirst for revenge--but it just might offer something more to live for...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adventuring is in Monica McCabe’s blood. She’s addicted to travel, National Parks, & exploring new places and mysterious locales. She’s climbed glaciers and ancient Mayan pyramids, dived shipwrecks and reef caves, camped in Sasquatch country, and drove across the USA three times. When not traveling she’s writing romantic suspense and adventure for Lyrical Press, Kensington's digital line.
AUTHOR SOCIAL LINKS
EXCERPTIt took three rings before Riki decided to answer her cell phone. She should’ve left the offensive thing back in the room turned off, battery disconnected.
On ring four, she heaved a sigh and grabbed it. “I’m on vacation,” she snapped.
“Your brief e-mail said out of town,” Kai replied, “not out of touch.”
“Can’t you read between the lines?”
When a soft ocean breeze drifted beneath the bamboo and thatch roof of the pool bar, she savored the warm freshness of it. “Why are you calling?”
“The same reason you answered,” Kai said. “Work.”
She wanted to groan. “That last job you sent me on nearly killed me. Don’t I deserve one measly week in Baja to soak away the bruises?” Riki didn’t like to complain. But Russia was still frozen this time of year, and that comrade had punched like a two-ton block of ice. She ached down to the bone.
“You knew the path chosen would not be easy,” Kai replied.
The phone line crackled. Day two at a beach resort on the outer edges of cell reception, and she had barely begun to thaw out. She loved Kai Menita like the father figure he was, but more often than not, contact from him meant work. Right now, she needed a five-minute time-out. Taking this call had been a mistake.
“I never complain. Not ever. For once, though, I want to enjoy squishing my toes in the sand and devour fruity drinks with little umbrellas.” To prove it, she sucked the last of her lime daiquiri through a straw until it gurgled.
Kai made a noise of disapproval on the other end of the line. “One Russian tsar and a three-man security team is no match for a woman of your skills. I taught you better than that.”
It was true. And no one could ever claim that Riki Maddox shirked her duty. Down time was as rare as the antiquities she chased. Her life was complicated, her work demanding, but she’d just finished a brutal job that left her in dire need of a vacation.
“You also taught me the Tao of Revitalization,” Riki said with seriousness. “The importance of mental and physical balance.” She set aside her glass. “I’m not there, Kai. I could use a little time.”
“You know I freely give you what you need, yet every decision we make demands a price.”
Riki sighed. It was always like that with him. Give and take, yin and yang, the inherent duality of the natural world that proclaimed nothing was truly free. Even the smallest movement caused a ripple of energy that spread indefinitely. She understood the principal and believed in the strength of focus it brought. But right this moment, the only thing she wanted was the warmth of the sun, the sound of the ocean waves, and the simple pleasure of a few color-soaked sunsets. Kai’s phone call said she wasn’t going to get them.
“Whatever this is, it better be worth interrupting the first vacation I’ve had in forever.”
For a couple of seconds, there was nothing but silence on the other end of the line. Then, “I’ve found the plane,” Kai declared.
Riki’s breath caught on the bombshell. She shoved away from her seat at the bar and headed for the privacy of Baja Palmilla’s tropical gardens. “How? Where? Are you certain?” That was a dumb question. Kai never joked about anything. If he said he had found it, then he had.
“Phantom Pearl’s survival may prove true.” The words rang with his usual calm intensity, but there was another layer, an excitement she’d not heard before.
An empty bench under a bright pink bougainvillea arbor beckoned, and she sat down under the weight of Kai’s claim. For the most part, he’d kept the search for the downed aircraft separate from their recovery business, a scholarly pursuit that spanned years and bordered on personal obsession. She never believed he would find it. Not because he wasn’t capable of locating the impossible. He’d done that more than once. The problem was that the plane, a WWII Japanese transport aircraft, had been lost at sea during a typhoon in 1944. Everything went down, the cargo, crew, and the incomparable crown jewel of Yamashita’s treasure—Phantom Pearl—an exquisitely carved, centuries-old mammoth tusk.
“Please tell me it’s not at the bottom of the South China Sea,” she said. “You know I don’t like to scuba dive.”
“How do you feel about a crocodile-infested rainforest?”
No contest. She’d choose the heat of a mosquito-laden jungle over the liquid isolation of a world reduced to a breather and a mask. “Where is the plane?”
“Not where one might expect.” He hesitated for effect. “Queensland, Australia.”
She frowned as she gazed back at the infinity pool, at the line of palm trees reflecting on the mirror surface of the water. “That’s the wrong direction, Kai.”
Yamashita, a harsh and brutal general of the Imperial Army, had plundered all Southeast Asia to steal enough gold, jewels, art, and antiquities to fund the Japanese war effort. He had amassed the treasure horde in Singapore first, then slowly moved it across the Philippines to one-hundred seventy-two locations so secret the transporters were entombed inside. Australia might be in the right hemisphere, but too many miles lay between it and every reported, or speculated, treasure location.
“Your assumption would be true had the general been the only one to steal the Pearl,” Kai stated with a hint of satisfaction.
Riki stood as his meaning sank in. “Are you saying someone actually had the balls to steal it from a monster like Yamashita?”
Kai gave a soft laugh. “Denki was a Japanese intelligence officer of high regard. But he, and his balls, folded under the temptation of impossible wealth. He made it as far as the Solomon Islands before getting caught.”
Static interrupted the connection again, so Riki aimed toward the beach to find a clearer signal. “What happened to him?”
“Yamashita sent his enforcers.” Bad news for the traitor.
“You know they do not suffer betrayal. Not then, not now.”
She knew, but the risk didn’t stop her thirst for vengeance. “Go on.”
“Denki was executed at Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal. They loaded Phantom Pearl onto a C-47, a long-range, military freighter aircraft. Advanced for the time. Records indicate the cargo held military dignitaries, a sealed war chest of classified documents, and enough yen to cover a month’s payroll.”
“They were flying it back where? Japan?”
“Singapore, but they never made it. It was April sixteenth, 1944.”
He said the date like it was significant. “Okay, what happened April sixteenth?”
“A sudden and unexpected storm hit New Guinea. The weather so severe they called it Black Sunday due to overwhelming loss of aircraft.”
This was beginning to get interesting. “So the plane leaves the Solomon Islands and heads west toward Singapore, hits the typhoon over New Guinea, and gets blown off course only to crash land in Queensland.”
“You are beginning to understand,” Kai said. “Shall I go on? Or do you wish to get back to your pursuit of leisure?”
She rolled her eyes at Kai’s attempt at humor. He knew full well she’d been hooked. She ignored his question and asked one of her own. “What makes you believe the plane was blown so far off course?”
“I have a contact in Cairns. He researched old Queensland Civil Defense briefings and found mention of a plane crash in the Far North mountains of Cape York Peninsula. It’s rugged, remote, and lower elevations are covered in rainforest. The date matches, and the location is within fuel capacity of the C-47.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s our plane,” Riki replied. “It was war time. There were hundreds of US and Japanese air fleet in the area. It could be any one of them. Besides, Japan wouldn’t abandon their dignitaries or Phantom Pearl.”
“The Australian Defense briefing stated there would be no rescue. The country’s resources were allocated to recovery efforts after the destructive typhoon, not spent in search of a small enemy plane deep in the wilderness.”
“That explains Australia,” Riki stated. “What about Japan?”
“They were busy fighting a war. By the time they could piece together a team, the unthinkable happened—Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dealing with the overwhelming devastation of an atomic bomb took precedence over finding one piece of lost treasure, no matter how valuable. The story of Phantom Pearl eventually faded into the pages of history.”
Riki paced the beach, absently watching the sun fall below the horizon. “Since you’ve called, I assume you want me to investigate?”
“It is your choice, Reika.”
On a normal day, she’d scold him for using her proper name. Today she didn’t utter a word, just closed her eyes against the deepening blue of a cloudless Baja sky. She inhaled a calming breath and focused on birdsong to center her thoughts. She quickly identified the Cactus Wren, but it was the soothing ku-koo-ah of Shearwaters as they glided over the Gulf of California that gave her the clarity she sought.
“It may help you to know,” Kai’s voice interrupted, “that the plane’s passengers are still on Japan’s missing soldiers list. The C-47 continues to be classified as lost, and not a single trace of the Pearl has ever been mentioned since Guadalcanal.”
She didn’t need convincing. If it was important to Kai, she would do whatever was needed. She could vacation later.
“Why haven’t treasure hunters considered Australia before?”
“Perhaps they have,” he said. “The more significant concern is… Why is Ken Cho mounting an expedition to Cooktown, a small coastal village near the edge of the range?”
An icy chill snaked down Riki’s spine. He was wrong—the most significant question was why hadn’t he opened with that piece of intel? Any move against Ken Cho and the Yakuza was an automatic in for her. She despised everything they represented. Extortion, drugs, money laundering.
Publicly, they had the support of the Imperial family for their role in reclaiming Yamashita’s treasure. Didn’t matter that Japan had stolen it to begin with. Privately, they commanded a sizeable finder’s fee for every piece of art or antiquity they scavenged and brought back. They were coldblooded, ruthless, and eliminated anything or anyone who got in their way. Phantom Pearl would be an irresistible prize. Kai wanted it. The Yakuza wanted it. She was going to get it.
“What about Homeland Security?” Riki asked.
“They are not on my inform list,” he scoffed.
Maybe not, but they’d interfered with missions before. Kai well knew it. “Stop messing with me. Is the Cultural Division aware of the movement?”
The question was more about a specific agent, but she refused to acknowledge that curiosity to Kai.
“Dallas Landry is in Singapore, if that is what you are asking.”
Dammit. It was. And for good reason. When it came to near misses, Landry had gotten closer than anyone else, even Cho. Her ill-advised fascination with the agent was an inconvenience she’d rather keep to herself.
“How much time do I have?” Riki asked.
“If you leave now, perhaps a three-day head start.”
Not much considering one full day would be spent in flight. Fourteen hours from Los Angeles to Brisbane, another two or three to Cairns, and an unknown stint to reach Cooktown. That didn’t allow much time for setting a plan in motion, but she’d worked with less.
“I’ll head home for LA tonight,” Riki said, “and catch the first flight to Brisbane.”
“I’ve already made the arrangements,” Kai replied. “A custom carrier for the artifact will be waiting at the airline counter.”
Of course it would. He knew exactly what her reaction would be. “It better be first class.”
“I’ve never let you down yet, Reika.”
“Please, Kai,” she begged for the hundredth time. “Stop calling me that. I’m not a delicate flower, or lovely petal, or whatever nonsense it’s supposed to mean.”
“It is your name,” he said simply.
“Not anymore.” Not in a long time. Not since the day of her father’s funeral, and hatred had become her guiding force.
From New York Times Bestselling author Kristen Ashley, comes the third and final book in her The Magdalene series—THE TIME IN BETWEEN—releasing August 29, 2017! Don’t miss the beautiful cover below, and pre-order your copy today!
Today we have our stop for The Red Lily by Juliette Cross! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!
The Red Lily by Juliette Cross
Release Date: 6/19/17
Genre: Paranormal Romance
About The Red LilyWhen Red falls for the Big Bad Wolf… The Black Lily resistance needs a larger army if they are to defeat the vampire monarchy. In order to do so, former lieutenant and traitor to the vampire Crown, Nikolai must seek help from the red-hooded temptress he needs to avoid at all costs. The secret he carries could prove dangerous for her if she gets too close…even though keeping her close—very close—is the only thing on his mind. Sienna will do anything for the Black Lily, and when Nikolai asks for her assistance to gain the trust of the commonwealth, it’s the last thing she wants to do. The thought of leaving her woods and her wolves behind is terrifying…not to mention the danger being with Nikolai poses.
Juliette Cross is quickly becoming one of the premier names
in the paranormal/fantasy romance genre. Her books deliver a mega punch of
action, adventure, and heart pounding romantic tensions that make her books
The Red Lily is no exception. Sienna is a warrior in red who
has been tucked away in her mystical forest. She has been called to duty by the
Black Lily and needs a bodyguard— one all too willing to provide his services.
Nikolai, a former Lieutenant of the vampire monarchy, is a wanted man, yet
he’ll risk it all to keep the lovely Sienna safe.
“I’d rather take you away to some safe place and hide
from the world so there is no one but you and me. I’d rather let the world bleed
than put you in danger’s path one more day.”
Sienna and Nikolai create a calm in the storm for one
another, and the way Cross weaves her words within this story is breathtaking. She
makes this another stepping stone in her quest for storytelling perfection.
“The wind gusted through the trees. The leaves rustled,
and a layer of snow drifted in a swirl across the road, sparkling like faerie
dust. The night was silent and lovely. The world seemed at peace. But Sienna
felt the coming storm, whirling in her breast and building for the dark days
ahead. For now, she would try to savor this time with Nikolai. Heaven only knew
what fate had in store for them around the bend.”
So, come. Join the magical journey of the Vampire Blood
series. Revel in the feel of a magical world with a nod to the fairytales of
old and immerse yourself in its wonder. You’ll thank me.
Get Your Copy Today!
About Juliette CrossJuliette lives in lush, moss-laden Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. Multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance, she loves reading and writing brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.
Connect with Juliette:
Enter Juliette’s Giveaway:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Don’t miss this amazing new novel and grab your copy today!
Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.
Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.
The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.
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I didn’t want her to be scared of anything ever again. Things at home had been rocky, rougher than class-five rapids in winter, but I was paddling for my life and prepared to ride it out. I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go. I saw Poppy the day she walked through my shop and I started to feel how sore my hands and my heart were from holding on. Her head was down, focused on the tips of her shoes. Her shoulders were hunched over and her long hair hid her face. She was skinny, so skinny, nothing but skin and bones. She was nothing that I should have noticed, not because she was clearly doing everything in her power to be invisible, but because I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could do to salvage it. But I did notice her and I couldn’t look away once I did. She was obviously terrified, clearly out of her element and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t her unease that called to me…it was her loneliness. I could feel it filling up the space that separated us. Stretching, growing, expanding until it was all I was breathing in and exhaling back out. It was bitter on my tongue and heavy across my skin because I knew the feeling well. I lived with it pressing me down and pushing me forward every minute of every day. The reason I was so set on the way things had to be, the reason I was singlemindedly set on settling down and building a life with the girl that was slipping through my fingers was because I never again wanted to be as alone as this girl was. I didn’t want to be left and forgotten. I’d barely survived it the first time. I did my best to sell her a car that was as beautiful as she was…a classic with clean lines and a flawless finish. She picked something practical and boring but that was ultimately safe and reliable. I understood her choice but it grated and annoyed me long after she left the shop. When she wasn’t standing in front of me, she should have been easy to forget; after all, everything in front of me, everything I had been working for and toward, was falling down in front of my eyes. My world was collapsing in on itself and everything I thought I was so goddamn sure about turned out to be nothing more than lies and illusions. In the middle of all of it, I couldn’t forget her sad eyes and shivering, shaking form. Her loneliness clung to me, unshakable and unforgettable. I didn’t think I would see her again and against my better judgment I often found myself wondering how she was doing and if she had gotten a handle on all the things that seemed to be crushing her under their inescapable weight. I was wrong about seeing her again, just like I was wrong about thinking that doing everything in my life differently from how my mother had lived hers would ensure my happiness and a future built on an unshakeable foundation. I was wrong about hard work and sacrifice being enough. I was wrong about holding on when what I was holding on to desperately wanted me to let go. All I was left with was bleeding palms, rope burns around my heart and scars on my soul. The next time I saw Poppy Cruz it was my loneliness that was filling up the space, suffocating me, choking me, making me forget to handle her with care. I was nothing more than a vast, open wound. One that was raw, aching, throbbing, and leaking my heart and shattered emotions out everywhere. I felt like I’d lost everything, like my entire life had been nothing but a waste of time, nothing more than building blocks knocked over with the swipe of a careless hand. The girl I loved didn’t love me back, my future was ultimately nothing more than a fuzzy, fractured blur. I couldn’t see anything clearly other than waste and ruin. But I saw her. And I saw that I scared her. It was the last thing I wanted to do but my loneliness was just as big and just as consuming as hers was. It spread out, hungry and angry, looking to consume anyone that might try and challenge its reign. I tried to pull myself together, apologized because I knew our paths would cross again now that she lived next door to my best friend. I didn’t want to be another man that she was terrified of. I locked the loneliness down, wrestled it into submission, and tried to quiet down the wild inside of me that was howling, screaming at the loss of its mate. I wanted to be nothing more than gnashing teeth and tearing claws but I swallowed those instincts and allowed myself to be like a kicked puppy that just wanted to whimper and cry. Poppy had been through more than I could imagine. She was the one I couldn’t look away from, but even then, she managed to slip past me and disappear. She looked like honey but she moved like a ghost. I memorized everything about her even though she hardly let me see her face. I wasn’t supposed to be looking at anything other than how to salvage the mess my life was in, but she was all I could see.
When I pick up a book by Jay Crownover, I know a few things. Her men are hard and gritty. Her girls are women with a sense of self and know what they want. I know her books are filled with an abrasive kind of love. The kind that leaves scars on me, the reader, with a lingering fascination into a darker kind of world where love will remain even if it comes with a few scuff marks.
Salvaged is such a departure from all the books preceding it. It took me by surprise. When an author goes over a perceived comfort zone and into a new type of romantic territory it’s a scary thing. I was doing a double take to make sure this was a Crownover book. All I can say after reading is… Kudos! Kudos for branching out, kudos for taking a risk and inviting in a muse you haven’t had before.
The softness and beauty of Hudson and Poppy are both a relief and much needed salve on the burning past each has endured and lived until now. Nothing compares to the abuse heaped upon Poppy and I could not think of a more perfect man to welcome her into the life she has always deserved. Again, this is so unexpectedly perfect and feels so incredibly fresh in the Saints of Denver Series… it exactly what was needed.
Please don’t skip the introduction before diving in. Much insight and personal thought is shared and I think it lends itself to the overall feel of the book. I am enamored and humbled that I was given the opportunity to read Salvaged before release and I hope that you get the same surprised yet content fulfillment that I did.
I loved every moment of it, even when it was hard. Thanks for moving out of your comfort zone Jay Crownover, and I hope you continue to do so. Brilliance happens when you do.
About Jay Crownover