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SUMMARY:

First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs.

The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

The Scent of Murder

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

KYLIE LOGAN is the national bestselling author of The League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, the Button Box Mysteries, the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, and the Ethnic Eats Mysteries. The Scent of Murder is the first in a new series.

Buy Links:

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Social Links:

https://twitter.com/KylieLoganBks

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CHAPTER 1

It had rained that afternoon and the sidewalks were still wet. When the last of the evening light hit them, the slate squares reflected Jazz Ramsey’s neighborhood—streetlights, and the neon signs that flashed from the windows of the trendy pubs, and a watery rendering of St. John Cantius church, an urban Monet masterpiece, its tan brick walls and bell tower blurred. Even though it was officially spring, the wind off Lake Erie was wicked. Jazz bundled her shoulder-length brown hair into a loose ponytail and pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt, then hunched further into her North Face jacket. She stopped at a corner, waiting for the light to change, and was pleased

when Luther sat down at her side even without a command. “Good dog,” she was sure to tell him at the same time she

breathed in the combined smell of damp earth and the dis- carded bag from Taco Bell crumpled near the curb.

To Luther’s credit, he ignored whatever bits and bites of

Mexican cuisine might still be in the bag. But then, he’d been trained to follow different scents. When the light changed, he trotted along when Jazz crossed the street, his pace as brisk as hers, and the way he pricked his ears and cocked his head, she knew he sensed the exhilaration that vibrated from her hand through his leash. Luther knew it was almost time to get down to business.

Here, College Avenue started its downhill trek into the Cleveland Flats, the city’s once-booming industrial heart. These days, Clevelanders were more likely to work in health care or IT than in foundries and factories, but one hundred years ago, this was the route thousands of workers took each day from their homes in bluecollar Tremont—it was simply called the South Side then—to the fiery furnaces that pro- duced America’s steel.

“Were not going far,” Jazz assured Luther at the same time she noticed the couple who stumbled out of the Treehouse just up ahead made sure to give the massive German shepherd a wide berth. “Just over here,” she told him once they’d passed the open door to the bar and the blaring music that seeped onto the street wasnt quite so loud. “Over to the new condos.” They stopped outside a sturdy brick building nearly ninety years old with solid walls and a slate roof. By the end of sum- mer, Jazz imagined there would be gleaming glass in the win- dow frames where there was plywood now, and window boxes, too, no doubt, and cars parked outside that reflected the status-conscious success of the young professionals she’d

heard were already lined up to buy.

But not tonight.

Tonight the building was empty and dark and she had it all to herself.

It was the perfect place to put Luther through his paces.

Still hanging on to the dog’s leash with one hand, Jazz fished the key from her pocket with the other and silently thanked Ken Zelinsky, the site supervisor, who’d agreed to give her an hour’s time inside the building.

It wasn’t easy to find urban training sites for a human remains detection dog.

She swung open the door and slanted Luther a look. So what do you think?”

Luther sat, his tail thumping out a rhythm of excitement on the front stoop, and before she unhooked his leash, Jazz did a quick run-through of what she’d learned from his owner. Luther was a little over two years old, good-natured. He could be as playful as any pup, but he had a serious side, too. Like now, when he had to work.

“He’s a smart dog,” Greg Johnson had insisted when he begged Jazz to help with the final stages of Luther’s training. “He just needs some reinforcement from a really good handler. That’s you, Jazz.”

It was.

Or at least it used to be.

These days, Jazz was feeling a little rusty. She was out of practice, not in the mood. It was one of the reasons that, after hemming and hawing and finding excuse after excuse, she’d finally agreed to Greg’s request. She needed to shake herself out of her funk, and to her way of thinking, there was no better way to do that than with a dog.

She stepped into the long, narrow entryway of the build- ing with its rows of broken mailboxes along one wall, and shut the front door behind her. The eerie quiet of years of ne- glect closed around her along with the smell of dampness and decay, rotted wiring and musty tiles carried by an errant breeze. Feeling her way, she unsnapped the leash from Luther’s collar and gave him the command she’d devised for all the dogs she worked with because it was less ghoulish than saying “Find the dead guy!

“Find Henry! she told him, and she stepped back and out of Luther’s way.

Like all HRD dogs, Luther was that rare combination independent enough to go off on his own and loyal enough to owner and handler to need praise. But he didn’t know Jazz well, and smart dog that he was, he wanted to be certain. He glanced over his shoulder at her.

You know what to do, Luther. You dont need Greg here to tell you.” She swept a hand along her side. “Find Henry!”

In fact, what Jazz hoped the dog would do was clear both the first and second floors in record time and head up to the third floor where that afternoon she’d hidden a human tooth (a donation from her mother, Claire, who, at the age of fifty- two, had decided she wanted the kind of sparkling smile she’d seen on so many models and had begun to see an orthodon- tist). Human teeth contained enough scent to attract a prop- erly trained dog’s attention. If Luther was on his game—and she hoped he was because she hated the thought of telling Greg his dog wasn’t ready for the grueling volunteer work done by dogs and handlers—he would locate the tooth, signal by bark-

ing three times, and chomp on the treat she would use as a reward while she secured the scene and made a simulated call to the cops, just as she would do if they made a real find.

“You gonna get a move on or what? she asked Luther, her voice falling flat against the pitted plaster. “Find Henry!”

In a flash of black and sable, the dog took off down the darkened hallway.

After nearly ten years training and handling cadaver dogs, Jazz knew the ropes. She couldn’t give Luther a hint about where to go or what he was looking for so she kept back, let- ting him work, refusing to influence him by her demeanor or her movements. She heard his claws scramble on the tile floor somewhere in the dark up ahead, flicked on her high-powered flashlight, and followed.

Some dogs, like pointers, are air sniffers. Some, like blood- hounds, keep their noses to the ground. No matter their breed, cadaver dogs, by virtue of their work, have to be pro- ficient at both. They are trained as trailing dogs to pick up the scent that has fallen from decomposing bodies onto the ground, and as air-scenting dogs as well, so they can detect any smell of decomposition that’s carried on the breeze. By the time she located him in a back room of what had once been a four-room working-class apartment, Luther was hard at work.

His eyes focused and every inch of his muscular body at the ready, he drew in a breath then hurried back and forth, side to side, through what had once been a kitchen, in an at- tempt to catch the strongest scent.

Not here. On the third floor.

Jazz knew better than to say it. Part of an HRD dog’s gift

was to eliminate one area so dog and handler could move on to the next. Luther was doing his job, and he was doing it well. She had to remember to compliment Greg on his training methods.

Nose to the fl or, his ears pricked, Luther cleared the kitchen and headed into the back bedrooms. Jazz kicked a piece of fallen tile out of the way, but she kept her place. She would wait quietly until the dog emerged from the back rooms and when he headed out into the hallway, she would follow.

At least that was her plan. Until Luther barked.

Once. Twice. Three times.

EntangledGraphic

About the Book

Title: Entangled

Author: J.S. Scott

Release Date: April 30, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

SUMMARY: 

Aiden Sinclair was a commercial fisherman before he suddenly came into his billionaire inheritance—not that he’s complaining. Being a Sinclair does have its perks. But things were simpler before the money. He may have been dirt poor, but he loved his job and fully intended to always come back from the sea to his girlfriend, Skye Weston, so they could move toward something more permanent. Or at least that had been the plan . . . until he returned from a two-month fishing trip to discover she had moved away and was marrying somebody else. It tore his world apart.

Now Skye’s back in town after nearly a decade. She’s a single mother and just as beautiful as ever. However, for some odd reason, she appears to hate him, when it should be Aiden who wants nothing to do with the woman who dumped him. Unfortunately, more than nine years of separation have done nothing to put a damper on their white-hot chemistry. But even if those feelings are real, Skye has been keeping secrets. The truth of the past is about to come to light, and there is so much more at stake than just Aiden’s heart.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

JSScott

J.S. “Jan” Scott is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous contemporary and paranormal romances, including the Sinclairs and the Accidental Billionaires series. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature, but romance has always been her genre of choice—so she writes what she loves to read: stories that are almost always steamy, generally feature an alpha male, and have a happily ever after, because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! Jan loves to connect with readers. Visit her website at www.authorjsscott.com.

Social Media Links

Website: http://authorjsscott.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjsscott

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJSScott

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2777016.J_S_Scott

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EXCERPT:

My heart sank as I realized there was only one seat available at the dinner table.

That’s what I get for running late.

Every chair was taken except the one next to him.

Aiden Sinclair.

The man I’d been trying to avoid ever since I’d come back to Citrus Beach, California, permanently with my daughter, Maya.

He was the thorn in my side.

He was the only part of moving home after almost a decade away that I hated.

He was dangerous.

And I never let myself forget that for even a moment.

I sighed in resignation as I looked around the enormous table—like I was suddenly going to see another vacant place.

Not going to happen. My timing and my luck had never been all that good, so why should that change now?

“Come sit next to Aiden, Skye,” my best friend, Jade Sinclair, requested from her spot next to her billionaire fiancé, Eli Stone.

Jade and Eli were the reason I was here. The only reason. We were two weeks away from their wedding ceremony, and this was an impromptu get-together for everyone involved in planning the festivities or included in the wedding party. Eli’s home in Citrus Beach had been the logical place to meet up since his house was bigger than Jade’s.

Honestly, almost everyone here had the last name of Sinclair except for Jade’s fiancé, Eli’s mother, and Jade’s twin sister, Brooke, since she was wedded to Liam Sullivan now, and … me.

I was still Skye Weston, even though I’d been married and divorced. I’d changed my name back to my maiden name soon after my ex-husband had been put in prison for life.

I looked around the table again, amazed that one family could take up so much space. I was the only child of a mother who had been a single parent, so the Sinclair family was so different from my own.

I’d been an only child, a lonely kid.

Even now, my daughter was really all I had.

How could a family this size not take up a lot of room? Jade had four brothers, and a twin sister. Her half-siblings, cousins, and a bunch of other family hadn’t even shown up yet from the East Coast, and the large dining room was full.

I started making my way slowly down the table reluctantly after I shot a fake smile at Jade. I didn’t want her to know that sitting next to Aiden would be torture for me.

“Sorry I’m late,” I said in a voice loud enough to carry to my best friend. “I got hung up at the restaurant.”

When wasn’t I delayed by work at the Weston Café? I’d put every available moment and penny I had into getting the little diner I’d inherited from my deceased mother to turn a profit.

The only thing more important than work was my daughter, Maya.

I finally sat my ass down, and smiled at Seth, another one of Jade’s older brothers, who was sitting on my left.

I completely avoided looking to my right since I was determined to ignore Aiden.

“How are you doing, Skye?” Seth queried politely.

“I’m good,” I lied.

I’d be doing a lot better if I wasn’t forced into sitting next to Aiden.

Getting_Hot_with_the_Scot_Tour_Banner

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The first in a new series, a journalist focused on her career and a sexy Scottish comedian turn a one night stand into forever. Cassie Crow leaves for vacation with two goals: fill up her empty charm bracelet and have a one night stand. For once, she wants to have fun instead of obsessively checking her work email. And kissing a man in a castle who’s dressed as a Scottish Highlander is the perfect solution.

Except when that man turns out to be Logan Reid, the host of a popular sketch show—and Cassie has just been roped into his latest prank. She wants nothing to do with his antics, but that was a really great kiss, and one night together couldn’t hurt.

It’s clear that one night isn’t enough and when Logan’s show brings him closer to Cassie, they decide to give dating a try. Can the woman who’s focused solely on her career and the man who refuses to take life seriously make it work?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melonie Johnson_author photo

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. They went on to live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250193094

Author website: https://meloniejohnson.com/

Author Twitter: @MelonieJohnson

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meloniejohnson/

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelonieWrites/

SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

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SNEAK PEEK:

Would you look at that? The man is wearing a kilt.
Note to self: Cassie Crow—be careful what you wish for.
The man groaned again and raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sunlight now cutting across the hidden alcove.
“Are you all right?”
“I will be fine once ye douse that blasted light.” He squinted up at her. “Be ye a new chambermaid?”
Chambermaid? She eyed the wide sleeves and open neck of the old-fashioned piratey shirt he wore. “Not sure what kind of weird-ass stuff you’re into buddy, but I don’t
do RPG.”
“Weird . . . ass?” His dark red brows drew together as he shaped his mouth around the letters. “Are pee gee?”
“Role playing games. You know, like cosplay or whatever.” She pointed at him. “Look, you’re the one wearing that get-up and talking like a reject from Macbeth.”
He narrowed his eyes at her finger. “Be ye a witch?”
“What did you call me?”

With another groan, he lurched forward. Oh God, what if he was hurt? For all she knew he was a member of some historic castle tour who got lost in a back passageway and hit his head. She leaned down to inspect him for bruises. He threw a hand out, palm up, warding her off. 
“Back away, sorceress,” he hissed.
“Seriously?” She slapped his hand out of the way.
“Here, let me help you out of there.” Cassie tugged gently on his shoulder. The voluminous shirt was loose, but she could feel—and appreciate—the thick spread muscle
beneath the soft fabric. Just my luck, I finally run into a hot Highlander, and he’s delusional.
The man waved off her assistance and struggled to his feet, shaking a wild tousle of thick, red hair out of his eyes.

Cassie never fancied herself to be a ginger girl, but it worked on him . . . or maybe that was the kilt talking. She eyed the swath of plaid fabric wrapped around his hips and wondered, like any female in her position would, what might or might not be under there. Reluctantly, she raised her gaze and caught him scrutinizing her in return.
“What be these strange breeks ye wear?” he asked, moving in a circle around her.
Cassie swore she could feel the weight of each of his eyeballs resting on her denim-clad backside. Fair enough. After a prolonged moment, she glanced over her shoulder.
“Get a good look?”
“Aye.” He swallowed. “’Tis most unseemly, lass.” He shook his head, gaze still glued to her ass.

“They’re called jeans.” She pivoted to face him. “Are you for real?”
He met her gaze, his answer falling from his lips in a deep, rich brogue with trilling r’s that curled her toes, “Aye, lass, I’m real.”
Cassie’s heart hiccupped. Of course he’s real. Unless those shots were stronger than I thought. “Were you at the whisky tasting?”
“Whisky?” His green-gold eyes lit with interest. “Do ye have whisky for me, then? I could use a wee dram. Be a good lass and fetch it for me.”

“Ha! I think you’ve had enough, mister. Is that how you ended up stuck in there?” Even as she said this, Cassie doubted it. She didn’t smell a hint of alcohol on him, though she did pick up other pleasant smells. Mint and clove and man and . . . Stop being ridiculous.
His broad shoulders lifted and dropped. “I dinna ken.”
“How long were you in there?”

Another shrug.Cassie dragged her attention away from the wide curve of his shoulders and leaned past him, inspecting the dark, narrow space behind the bookshelf. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her back, panic edging his voice. “Nay, lass. Doona be going in there.”

“Why not?” She inched forward and tried to get a better look.
“It canna be safe.” He tugged on her wrist again, his fingers warm and firm.
Tiny butterflies danced along the path where his skin touched hers. She brushed away the tingling sensation and slipped out of his grip, careful not to snag her bracelet.
“Well, you were in there, and you appear to have managed.”
“Are ye daft, wench? I was trapped!”
She sniffed, not sure she liked being referred to as a wench, and frowned up at him.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”He closed his eyes and slumped against the shelf. “I canna recall anything afore the moment I woke to find my-self crammed within yonder wall.” He blinked and focused intently on her. “The moment I found you, lass.”Cassie decided she liked being called lass much better than wench, especially when he was looking at her like that. Gazes locked, her other senses sharpened, heightening her awareness of his body and its proximity to hers.

She cleared her throat. “Hm. I think it’d be more accurate to say I’m the one who found you.”

Telling herself she was only searching for injuries, she reached up and tentatively
skimmed her palms along his temples, her fingers trailing his scalp.

“Looking for devil’s horns?” The man cocked one wicked brow at her as he raised his arms to mirror her movements, running his hands over her head and shoulders before brushing his palms down her back.

“Ye’ve naught got any fairy wings, so I’d say we’re even. In fact,” he whispered against her hair, standing so close the low burr of his voice became a purr in her own chest, “ye feel perfect to me.”

Like the migrating monarchs her dad studied, the butterflies made a return trip, enveloping her in a fluttery haze. She shivered. Whether it was the Scot or the scotch or both, Cassie didn’t care. He was here and she was here, and damn it all, it was about time she skipped to the good stuff. With a forceful mental click, Cassie turned off her brain tilted her chin up, and caught his mouth with hers. He made a low sound in the back of his throat, of protest or surprise, she wasn’t sure. But then his hands settled at her waist, and he returned the kiss. His mouth was somehow soft and hard at the same time, and when he slipped his tongue between her lips, she felt more light headed than if she’d downed every shot of whisky that had been on that tasting list.

Cassie rolled her tongue against his, savoring the delicious contact. He met her thrust for thrust, deepening the kiss until she was swept away on a tidal wave of desire. This. This is what I’ve been waiting for. She clung to him, hands gripping his shoulders, swimming in sensation, drowning in it.

HideAndSeekGraphic

Title: Hide and Seek

Author: Mary Burton

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

SUMMARY:

Special Agent Macy Crow is a survivor. After a vicious hit-and-run nearly kills her, she gets right back to work, and now she’s gunning for a spot on the FBI’s elite profiling team. As an audition, she offers to investigate the recently discovered bones of Tobi Turner, a high school girl who disappeared fifteen years ago.

While investigating with local sheriff Mike Nevada, a former colleague and onetime lover, Macy discovers a link between Tobi’s case and several others that occurred around the same time as her disappearance. As Macy interviews victims and examines old cases, she uncovers a sinister picture of a stalker who graduated to sexual assault—and then murder.

Macy and Nevada race to put this monster behind bars before he can come out of hiding. But the murderer’s had years to hone his skills, and soon Macy herself becomes a target. She’s no stranger to pain and terror, but will Macy’s first profiling case be her last?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

MaryBurton

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton is the highly praised author of twenty-six romance and suspense novels and five novellas. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.maryburton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryburtonfanpage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryBurtonBooks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15020.Mary_Burton

 

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PROFILING FBI PROFILER MACY CROW:

Special Agent Macy Crow is 33-years-old and is an accomplished FBI Agent.  She’s worked a series of high profile cases across the United States and isn’t afraid to take chances. When her father was murdered, she headed to Texas to investigate the crime. Following clues left behind by her father, she was closing in on the killer when she became the victim of a hit and run accident.

Most would have died from the injuries Macy sustained or would have been permanently disabled. However, Macy channeled her extreme ability to focus into her recovery. Though her fit muscles have softened during her recovery, she is regaining strength each day and is now laser-focused on returning to the  FBI as a field agent. Before her accident, she had shoulder length blond hair but the brain surgeons who saved her life cut off all her hair. She now proudly sports a pixie cut.

When Macy returned to Texas, she learned a startling fact about herself. She has an identical twin—medical examiner Dr. Faith McIntyre. Though adopted by different families, the sisters already have a strong connection.  

HideAndSeek

Macy’s adoptive parents split when she was two and she moved from Texas to Alexandria, Virginia located outside of Washington, D.C. Over the years she remained close with her father and spent many summers with him helping repair old cars on his auto salvage lot. In Alexandria, she and her mother lived in a large apartment complex. When she was young, a neighborhood girl was murdered. That tragedy had a very profound affect on Macy, who discovered she wasn’t afraid of the police and FBI agents swarming the apartment complex. Instead, she was fascinated by their work and not only watched law enforcement in action but also walked the actual crime scene herself in search of clues.

Macy has never been married and has no children. For a long time, she considered herself married to her job and it wasn’t until she met FBI Special Agent Mike Nevada that she reconsidered her single status. However, her accident cut short their romance. Nevada is now the sheriff in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah Valley. He understands Macy’s need to reclaim the FBI job she has always loved so much. In the last year, he has never forgotten her and is committed to helping regain her old life. When the two are paired on a cold case murder investigation in Nevada’s district, they become an unstoppable team.

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EXCERPT:

Vivid blue sky, white clouds, and golden fall leaves blanketed the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains and created a picture-perfect day in the valley. In Macy’s book, the beauty was wasted. If she had God’s ear, today would have been cold, overcast, and damp. Save the pretty days until she caught this killer.

As she drove south down I-81, Macy mentally replayed her ten minutes of regional research. In the last couple of decades, the Shenandoah Valley’s population had ballooned thanks to a growing university, its proximity to Washington, DC, and a thriving tourism trade peddling vineyards, Civil War battlefields, and railroad museums. Filling in the economic gaps were warehouse distribution centers, chain hotels, and strip malls.

The voice of Macy’s GPS cut through AC/DC’s Back in Black blasting from her playlist and instructed her to take the upcoming exit toward Deep Run. As she rolled onto Route 250, a sign for her go-to fast-food eatery gave her an excuse to stretch her legs before driving the remaining ten miles to the crime scene.

Parking, she gingerly rose up out of the car. Her leg hurt. Stretches weren’t optional any more. She grabbed her ankle and pulled until the bunched muscles in her thigh released. After a quick walk around the lot, she made a beeline for the restaurant bathroom.

She glanced into the mirror as she washed her hands. Even after five months, she still didn’t recognize the woman with the short hair and thin face.

Nevada was in for a rude awakening.

She wiped her face with a paper towel. “Macy Crow, you’re above ground and headed in the right direction. That’s what counts.”

At the counter, she ordered a supersize bucket of fries and a large soda. It wasn’t that she loved the food—okay, maybe she did love the fries—but the chain restaurant’s predictability and sameness was comforting after so many life changes.

A few fries later, she was in her car and backing out of her space when her phone rang. Nevada’s number appeared. She cleared her throat and sat a little taller.

“Agent Macy Crow,” she said.

“Ramsey tells me you’re on your way. Where are you?”

He was direct, rarely charming, and she always knew where she stood with him. “Fifteen minutes from the barn.”

“I’m here now.”

The transition back into a working relationship appeared effortless. Whatever they had was over and done. No hard feelings.

“See you soon,” she said.

En route on the interstate, she ate her fries and drained her soda. There were no guarantees on when the next meal would be.

The last few miles took her down smaller roads until she spotted the driveway marked by stacked stones. Gravel crunched under her tires as she passed a freshly cleared field. Over the rise of a hill, she saw the old barn encircled by yellow crime scene tape.

When she had been researching the area, slogans such as “Best Quality of Life” and “Raise Your Family in Deep Run” popped up on her computer screen. As she had read about the area, she had kept glancing toward her open case file filled with images of Tobi Turner’s scattered bones. Recent pictures had captured the barn surrounded by dozens of state and local law enforcement vehicles crammed side by side in the grassy field.

Now as Macy parked, she noted that all the vehicles were gone expect for a lone black SUV. She grabbed her Glock from the glove box, holstered it, and stepped out of her car. Her worn hiking boots sloshed in the damp muddy soil. She tugged on an FBI windbreaker and draped her FBI credentials around her neck. As a stiff breeze blew a lingering chill and autumn scents, she checked her pockets for latex gloves, sunglasses, a small pocketknife, and pendant light.

Edginess and excitement fused as she strode toward the stretch of yellow tape and searched for Nevada. She ducked under the tape and stepped inside the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT ONE TOUGH COWBOY:

One Tough Cowboy_cover

First in a brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick about one man’s pursuit of justice—and unbridled desire. 

LAW AND ORDER. For as long as Samantha can remember, Hunter—a man as strong as steel, with a heart of gold—has been her hero. It came as no surprise to Samantha when she found out that the ranch-hardened cowboy who always protected her from bullies went on to become the town’s sheriff. What does surprise her is how incredibly hot he still is. And how much she still wants him…

PRIDE AND PASSION 

And, lo and behold, Hunter still has feelings for Samantha. The long-smoldering heat of their innocent flirtation has grown into a full-raging fire. But when tragedy strikes, and their small-town community is shattered, Hunter vows to do everything he can to keep his childhood sweetheart safe. But can Samantha trust that Hunter has her best interests at heart…and that, after all these years, his love is true? 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lora Leigh

 

#1 New York Times bestseller Lora Leigh is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.

Veronica Chadwick started storytelling when she was a little girl. She was first published in 2004. She lives in Tennessee with three cats, a very spoiled Shih Tzu and two grand dogs. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with friends, reading or badly playing video games.

 

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250309488

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Author website: https://loraleigh.com/

 

Author Twitter: @LoraLeigh_1

 

                                @RoniChadwick

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loraleighauthor/

SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

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EXCERPT:

He hadn’t changed much. He seemed bigger, his shoulders broader. His signature thick, black hair was cut in a shorter style. As he got closer, Samantha noticed his face had changed quite a bit. Any boyish softness he’d once had was all gone and had been replaced with hard planes and angles, except for his full, well-defined lips. There were fine laugh lines fanning out from the corners of his steel gray eyes. Those eyes were more intense, hard. The easy laughter that lit them when he was younger seemed to be gone.

“Ms. Bell.” He nodded in greeting to the diminutive lady.

“Good of you to come by, Sheriff. Little Samantha is handlin’ all this by herself.” She winked and patted his arm. “She could use a little help, Im thinkin.

Samantha wanted to walk away. She also wanted to throw her arms around Hunter and hold on for dear life. Not just because he still made her heart pound, but because he was a part of her life she thought she’d lost. She wanted to hold on to a stable, warm part of her past where she was happy and safe. Seeing him again brought those memories and emotions all rushing back. “Hey, Sam.” The smooth, deep bass of his voice was

quiet and soothing.

“Hey, Hunter.” His name left her lips with more composure than she felt.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral, but I wanted to come by to extend my condolences, and to see how you’re doin’.” He stepped closer and rubbed her bare

one tough cowboy 19

upper arm. “You holdin’ up okay?” His hand, a bit rough and callused from real work, was warm, reassuring.

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m okay, Hunter, thank you.” She cleared her throat. “Everyone brought food. The dining room table is overflowing. Help yourself.”

He followed her through the living room to the din- ing room. She turned and almost jumped back. He was standing inches away, looking down at her. His brows furrowed, his gaze sharply assessing her. He smelled in- credible, and he stood so close she could feel the heat from his body.

She opened her mouth to say something but forgot what she wanted to say. She must look completely ignorant gaping up at him like that.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Sympathy and con- cern shadowed his expression, softening the harsher lines of his face.

“It’s been a long day. I’m fine, really.” She was a bas- ket case, and not just because of her aunt’s death.

Hunter gave her a gentle smile and pulled out a chair. “No doubt. Sit and talk to me for a while. I haven’t seen you in what? Ten years?”

Samantha welcomed the chance to get off her feet and get away from the crowd for a bit. “Yeah, about ten years, I think.”

He pulled out the chair beside her, turned it toward her, and sat, staring at her solemnly. “I’m real sorry about Dottie.”

“Me too.” She looked into his eyes, assessing whether she could or should continue. “I really didn’t get enough time with her. I’ll always regret that.”

20 Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick

Hunter shook his head. “Sam, you know Dottie thought the world of you. She knew you loved her and she loved you.”

Had she? Samantha couldn’t help but question the observation. School, her career, and far too many emotions had seemed to always get in the way of returning to Deerhaven.

“Yes, I know, but I look around at these people and think of how some of them probably knew her even better than I did, her own niece.” Samantha frowned and gestured toward a blue-haired woman sitting on the couch sobbing, clutching another woman’s hand. “Mrs. Holt is devastated.”

She obviously had not talked to her aunt on the phone enough either, because Dottie had never mentioned the other woman.

A small smile touched Hunter’s far-too-sensual lips as he lowered his head and leaned closer. “Sam, Irene Holt never even met Dottie. She attends any and all fu- nerals and wails and carries on like that at every one of ’em.” Amusement touching his gaze.

Samantha looked at him incredulously until he raised his hand and said, “Hand to God. Every one of ’em.”

“Wow.” No wonder her aunt Dottie had never mentioned the other woman.

“Yep.” Hunter’s smile broadened. “As for the rest of them, they’re just being neighborly or nosy. Most of ’em still remember your family and you. You were pretty hard to forget . . . Pixie Pest.” His brows lifted playfully. Teasingly.

Samantha narrowed her eyes. “Ugh. That nickname.

I don’t know which is worse, that or Sami Jo.”

one tough cowboy 21

She protested it. Just as she always had. That flare of warmth she felt whenever it passed his lips was still there, though.

“You earned it.”

“Psh, whatever.” She’d actually worked at it at the time.

Hunter chuckled and she nearly sighed. Lord, she’d missed his laugh, his smile, even the way he’d tease her. She’d missed him.

“Aw, you know I was always fond of you, Pixie. You were a great kid, even if you were a pest that was constantly following me around and giving my girlfriends hell.”

She had been such a tomboy with wild, young girl fantasies of being swept off her feet by the cutest boy in Deerhaven, or the whole wide world, for that matter. He’d called her his Pixie Pest whenever he’d seen her and tugged at her long, tangled hair.

“I’m not a kid anymore.” She held his gaze and couldn’t imagine how she’d gotten so bold.

Hunter’s gaze traveled over her body, a single black brow arching slowly in acknowledgment. “I’ve noticed. I’m trying really hard to remember what a pain in the ass you used to be.”

Samantha lifted a brow. “I can still be a pain in the ass.”

“I bet you can.” The look in his eyes was making her feel way too hot, way too needy.

She didn’t want to go there. Not now. After Tom Novak, the very last thing she needed was another relation- ship. Besides all that, she was here to get answers, not to get laid.

Clearing her throat again, she changed the subject to the one on which she had to keep her focus. “Hunter, what really happened to Aunt Dottie?”

                                                                          ********************

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