Tag Archive: Montlake


About the Book

Title: Layla

Author: Colleen Hoover

Release Date: December 8, 2020

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover Introduces a Scene from her New Paranormal Romance Layla!

This month bestselling author Colleen Hoover released her very first paranormal romance, Layla. Today Colleen shares one of her very favorite parts of the book and introduces the scene. Colleen, take it away!

“Leeds and Layla have just met about an hour before this scene takes place. I wouldn’t say they experienced insta-love, but it was definitely an immediate attraction. Leeds is lonely and withdrawn from life, while Layla is the opposite. She’s over the top and fun and everything Leeds isn’t. He’s a musician who has never released any of his own music due to insecurities and doubt. But Layla lights a fire in him and uncovers the confidence about his music that he keeps buried.”  

Excerpt from Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla leans in and I expect her to kiss me, but instead she whispers, “Play me something,” against my mouth. Then she moves to the couch and lies down. “Play something worthy of that piano,” she says.

She crosses her legs at her ankles and lets one of her arms dangle off the couch. She runs her finger against the hardwood floor while she waits for me to start playing, but I can’t stop staring at her. I’m not sure there’s another woman on this planet who could make me want to stare at her without blinking until my eyes dry up, but she’s looking at me expectantly.

“What if you don’t like my music?” I ask. “Will you still let me kiss you?”

She smiles gently. “Does the song mean something to you?”

“I wrote it using pieces of my soul.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about,” she says quietly.

I spin around on the bench and place my fingers on the keys. I hesitate for a moment before playing the song. I’ve never performed it for anyone before. The only person I’ve ever wanted to sing it for is my father, and he’s no longer alive. His death is the reason I wrote this in the first place.

I’ve never been nervous while playing Garrett’s songs onstage, but this feels different. This is personal, and despite the fact that there’s only one person in the audience right now, it feels like the most intense audience I’ve ever performed for.

I fill my lungs with air and slowly release it as I begin to play.

That night I stopped believing in heaven

I can’t believe in a god that cruel

Can you?

That night I stopped praying on my knees

But I don’t pray standing either

Do you?

That night I closed the door and closed the window

I’ve been sitting in the dark

Are you?

That night I learned happiness is a fairy tale

A thousand pages read aloud

By you

That night I stopped believing in God

You were ours, he didn’t care, he

Took you

So that night I stopped . . .

I stopped . . .

I just

Stopped.

That night I stopped.

I stopped.

I just stopped.

That night I stopped.

I . . .

When I’m finished playing the song, I fold my hands in my lap. I’m a little hesitant to turn around and look at her. The whole room got quiet after I played the last note. So quiet—it feels like all the sound was sucked out of the house. I can’t even hear her breathing.

I close the cover to the piano and then slowly spin around on the bench. She’s wiping her eyes, staring up at the ceiling.

“Wow,” she whispers. “I wasn’t expecting that. I feel like you just stomped on my chest.”

That’s how I’ve felt since I first laid eyes on her tonight.

“I like how it ends,” she says. She sits up on the couch and tucks her legs beneath her. “You just stop in the middle of the sentence. It’s so perfect. So powerful.”

I wasn’t sure if she’d realize the intentional ending, but the fact that she does makes me all the more enamored of her.

***

Author Biography

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the bestselling women’s fiction novel It Ends with Us and the bestselling psychological thriller Verity. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Hoover and her family founded the Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service that offers signed novels donated by authors. All profits go to various charities each month to help those in need. Hoover lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.colleenhoover.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/colleenhoover

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5430144.Colleen_Hoover

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I have read every book of Susan Stoker, and not once but multiple times! From her Badge Of Honor series to Delta Force Heroes series to Seal Of Protection series to Ace Security series, and now the Silverstone series. Plots may be simple and very realistic, but there’s just this charm in her narration that draws me to her books time and again. 

“Trusting Skylar” tows the line in the new series of Silverstone. A cautious and caring school teacher Skylar gets a tow for her car by a former military operative Carson Rhodes aka Bull, sparking an attraction that both would like to explore. And explore they would, as the entire Silverstone family accepts Skylar as its member. But the fact remains that Skylar is innocent to the evil in the world, and Bull fears the aftermath of exposing her to Silverstone and what he really stand for. Trusting Skylar with his truth is Bull’s only option for a future together, and Skylar will have to have rely on her love for Carson to overcome her fears. 

I just love Susan Stoker and her works. Her writing is intense, her characters charismatic, her plots entertaining and her narration are tight and emotionally charged to keep the readers engrossed and enthralled. 

Received an ARC from Montlake Romance, Amazon Digital Services LLC, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Up, close and personal with the author herself……and the new book in the wings…

About the Novel

Title: If You Must Know

Author: Jamie Beck

Release Date: June 1, 2020

Publisher: Montlake

IfYouMustKnowGraphic

Summary

Sisters Amanda Foster and Erin Turner have little in common except the childhood bedroom they once shared and the certainty each feels that her way of life is best. Amanda follows the rules—at the school where she works; in her community; and as a picture-perfect daughter, wife, and mother-to-be. Erin follows her heart—in love and otherwise—living a bohemian lifestyle on a shoestring budget and honoring her late father’s memory with a passion for music and her fledgling bath-products business.

The sisters are content leading separate but happy lives in their hometown of Potomac Point until everything is upended by lies that force them to confront unsettling truths about their family, themselves, and each other. For sisters as different as these two, building trust doesn’t come easily—especially with one secret still between them—but it may be the only way to save their family.

Author Biography

JamieBeck

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah and dancing around the kitchen while cooking. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family. Fans can get exclusive excerpts, inside scoops, and be eligible for birthday gift drawings by subscribing to her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/b7k7G5. She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks.

Social Media

Website – https://jamiebeck.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/writerjamiebeck

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8020971.Jamie_Beck

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******

Q&A with Bestselling Author Jamie Beck

How do you describe your newest novel If You Must Know?

This book is a “beach book” in the best sense. It’s not angsty, yet it has a page-turning plot and a bunch of interesting, relatable characters. I think it’s entertaining and heartfelt at the same time, which is exactly what many enjoy reading while on vacation.

What inspired the novel?

The external plot came to me as a result of the influence of two people in my life. My dear friend’s husband is a forensic accountant, so some of his stories about how people hide money and flee their families provided one point of inspiration. The second is my mother’s best friend who, in her seventies, sold her house and bought a boat, which she and her husband live on full-time. The impetus for the oil-and-water sisters was to provide myself an opportunity to explore the sibling-rivalry dynamic.

Tell us about the two main characters in the story—sisters Amanda and Erin.

Amanda is the middle child. She’s diligent, earnest, hard-working, and generous. She wants the people she loves to be happy and feel her love. Her weakness is a deep-seated insecurity—a sense that she is not interesting enough to be lovable. This leads her to overlook when she is being taken for granted because her need to be pleasing is omnipresent.

Erin is the baby of the family and her late-father’s pet. She is outgoing, fun-loving, and views her average intelligence as a blessing (rather than lamenting that her siblings are smarter). She is willful and has her own way of moving through the world. The big weakness she has is her impulsiveness, whether with jobs or relationships. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she’s looking to mature and create a more stable life for herself.

What kind of relationship do the sisters have?

I think they share a typical relationship insofar as their differences cause many misunderstandings and instill in each a sense of being judged by the other, and yet they do care about and love each other, too. They simply do not know how to be true friends and trust the other—at least not at the outset of this tale.

This book focused on the main female characters growing and learning about themselves. What prompted this ‘women’s fiction’ approach to the story?

Partly market forces and partly my own need to stretch. At 53, it was becoming more difficult to write a 20-something woman facing the challenges of dating. The shift to women’s fiction allows me to write late-30 and early 40-something characters, which comes more naturally to me. I also enjoy exploring family and friendship dynamics, and absolutely love having endless options for story arcs (as opposed to having to follow a traditional romance arc).

What does your new Potomac Point series have in common with your previous books?

All my books to date have focused on critical relationships and some type of redemption theme. I find damaged people to be very interesting and believe that there is good in most everyone, so I prefer to populate my stories with flawed people who must confront their inner demons in order to be happy. My new books will also focus on relationships and redemption, but the non-romantic relationships (or even the relationship with one’s self) will be more central.

********

IfYouMustKnow

Excerpt

I rolled onto my side with a groan, coming face-to-face with one of my favorite family photos. We’d taken our annual family summer trip to Hilton Head—the one real splurge my dad had made sure we enjoyed every year. We had a tradition of having lunch at a little open-air cabana bar and restaurant called Coco’s on the Beach.

Between the deck and the volleyball court in the sand stood a tall pole with colorful arrow-shaped signs pointing in different directions. Each one was painted with the name of a different city somewhere on the globe, along with the mileage to get there. We’d dream about all the places we might go, and after high school I’d had the chance to see many. In this picture, our whole family is standing around that sign, smiling at the camera. My dad has his hand on my shoulder, and if you look closely, you can see Amanda holding my hand. I must’ve been only five or six—young enough that she hadn’t given up trying to be my second mother. At the time, I’d felt smothered by her attention, but looking back, I’d also felt loved.

I grabbed my phone and called my sister, but it went to voice mail. A heaviness pressed on me, but I couldn’t tell if it was from looking at that picture of our family that would never again be whole or from the fact that I’d disappointed my mom and sister today.

They loved me in their way even if they couldn’t love and accept me as I am. My dad had, though, and to honor his memory and wishes for our family, I couldn’t continue to drift out of their lives as I’d been doing.

After the beep, I said, “Hey, it’s moi. Surprise! My plans have changed and I’ve got a little time. If you get this message, let me know where you are and I’ll try to catch up.”

I hit “End,” my feet restlessly kicking the foot of my bed. The small bedroom seemed claustrophobic, but I didn’t want to talk to Max. Not that I could avoid him in here, either, where his dirty laundry, sandals, and other items lay about. Rather than take a match to it all, I decided to organize some of his things to help with his packing. Hauling myself off the bed, I then went to the armoire to get to the vintage albums my dad had left me in his will.

Some were fairly valuable, like the Beatles collection box set from 1982, valued at roughly a thousand bucks. Or the Led Zeppelin first pressing with the turquoise label, which should net around eight hundred or so dollars. U2’s Joshua Tree collection box set from 1987—maybe worth six or seven hundred. Then there were others worth less than one hundred dollars. But each one had infinite sentimental value.

Every song resurrected a specific memory of time spent with my father playing cards, washing cars, grilling hot dogs … anything. Whatever he’d wanted to do, I’d done with him, and he’d always chosen the perfect background soundtrack for every activity. Those stolen moments had also been a great way to escape my mom’s endless lectures and demands. She’d never yelled at me for skipping out on chores or being messy when I’d been spending that time with him. Probably because he wouldn’t let her.

At present, my restlessness matched the mood of a typical Bob Seger song, so I grabbed Beautiful Loser and slipped the record from its sleeve, resisting the urge to hug it as if it were my dad. I set it on the old turntable he’d also left me. As the few first drumbeats clangored, my heart kicked an extra beat or two—partly happy, partly sad. I glanced toward the bedroom door, picturing Max on the sofa, and then got to work.

It didn’t matter where life led me next. I had faith because my own personal angel was looking out for me now.

Que será, será.

**********

Lauren Layne starts off a new scandalous series!!!!! Check out her interview and an excerpt she shares…….courtesy Montlake

YoursInScandalGraphic

Interview with Lauren Layne:

Tell us about your new series.

The series features three men who are named “Man of the Year” (think: People’s Sexiest Man Alive) and the unexpected ramifications that come with that! Yours in Scandal kicks off the series with a young, wealthy mayor of NYC who falls for his political rival’s daughter.

Why was it important for you to start your series with Addie and Robert?

The real answer? There’s is the book listed first in the contract 😉 In truth I’m equally excited about all three books in the series, and could have happily jumped in anywhere! That said, writing a politician was a unique and fun challenge for me (I tend to write a lot of businessmen!) so a new take on my “hot guy in a suit” was a fun creative challenge!

Even though she is still young, your heroine Addie has lived quite a life. Where did her teenage rebellious streak come from?

The first thing I always do when I get a new story idea is to figure out where the conflict is—I have to make sure these two people, however attracted, can’t get together (easily) by chapter three. When I decided to take on a hero who’s a mayor, I took a step back to think which woman would be most off-limits to him. One with a bit of scandal was the obvious answer, since the spouses of politicians are usually held to the same exacting standards (if not more so) than the politician him/herself! From there, I dug into Addie’s character and her scandal-laden past. 

Do you have anything in common with your heroine?

Honestly? No 🙂 Other than being a little mouthy during puberty, I was a pretty easy kid and teenager, and skipped the rebellious phase, at least according to my parents! I sort of skipped the whole rebellious phase growing up no underage drinking, no missed curfews, I’ve never even gotten a ticket. Though, I think perhaps I was saving up all my rebellious urges for my mid-twenties, where I seemed to chafe really hard at being managed in the corporate world, and quit my practical, well-paying job rather spontaneously and irresponsibly with almost no safety net, and dove headfirst into being a full-time writer. And I suppose, for that matter, I’ve made some rebellious choices as an author (quitting Facebook, not doing ARCs on my self-pub title, etc). So, I guess I change my answer! Yeah, I have a little in common with Addie after all!

Your hero Robert is fantastic! He is smart, successful and just earned the title ‘Man of the Year’. What made you fall in love with him?

He really is great, isn’t he? 🙂  I actually knew from the start that Robert was going to be a pretty stand-up guy. I wanted to steer as away from the cliche, corrupt politician as possible, and show that it’s absolutely possible for people to be in public office simply because they want to do good, not because they’re power hungry. I think what I love most about him is how he never wavers in wanting best for Addie and the people around him, even if it hurts him personally. He’s a really unselfish guy, and that is so, so appealing to me! 

Would you say that there are similarities that all of your heroes share?

I’d say they’re all pretty quick with a comeback. Whether they’re the charming playboys or the more reserved, Mr. Darcy types they’ve got a bit of a sharp, clever tongue! Also, the vast majority tend to be wealthy and suit-wearing. I’ve got a few exceptions, but I think there’s something so sexy about a buttoned-up guy in a suit coming undone over a woman, so I tend to come back to that again and again!

Some of the best moments in Yours In Scandal happen when your heroine and hero are around their trusted friends. Are any of the secondary characters we meet destined to get their own happily-ever-afters?

No plans for any spinoffs with those characters! Not because I don’t love them, but because the writing schedule’s pretty jam-packed! 

                                                                            ***

YoursInScandal

 

About the Book

Title: Yours In Scandal

Author: Lauren Layne

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart?

Author Biography

LaurenLayne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Hot Asset, Hard Sell, and Huge Deal in her 21 Wall Street series, as well as her Central Park Pact series. Her books have sold more than a million copies in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City. For the latest updates, be sure to check out her website at www.laurenlayne.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://laurenlayne.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenlayneauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6969772.Lauren_Layne

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EXCERPT:

“I just need to be sure . . . am I going crazy? I am, right? Our girl’s not seriously telling us she had dinner with the mayor,” Rosalie said, turning to Jane. 

“You’re not the crazy one—she is,” Jane said, emphatically pointing at Adeline. 

Adeline nibbled on the corner of a chip. “It’s really not the big deal you two are making it out to be. It was just dinner. Pizza.” 

“That’s even worse!” Jane said shrilly. “It’s so intimate.” 

Adeline glanced over at her calmer friend. “Please tell her there’s nothing intimate about Italian sausage.” She winced as she caught herself. “Yeah, I heard it.” 

“It is a little out of character,” Rosalie said slowly. “You haven’t exactly made it a secret how you feel about men these days. To say nothing of your thoughts on elected officials.” 

“I didn’t sleep with the guy, we just had pizza.” 

“I’d actually be less concerned if you’d slept with him,” Rosalie admitted. 

“Agreed,” Jane said, smacking the table. “A sexy fling with the Man of the Year is one thing. A cozy dinner at his place is just . . .” She threw her hands up. “I can’t. I literally can’t process it.” 

“You don’t have to process anything,” Adeline said, dunking the chip into the salsa and stuffing the whole thing in her mouth. “It was a one-time thing. The party’s next weekend, and then I’ll probably never see him again.” 

“What if he wants you to be his forever event planner?” 

“He won’t. His regular planner’s one of the best in the city, and I’m sure she’ll be back from maternity leave by the time he needs to hire someone again.” 

“Is his regular event planner hot and single?” Jane pointed out. 

“She’s married.” 

“Exactly. Much less susceptible to his sexy face than single you.” 

Adeline sighed and looked again to the perpetually calm Rosalie. “Make it stop.” 

“Just promise you’ll warn us if you start to fall for the guy,” her friend said, fiddling with her chip. “Much as I love the idea of you landing the hottest guy in the city, I also know just how tricky that would be for you.” 

“Tricky is an understatement given he’s likely running against The Bastard in the next election,” she said, knowing that both of her lifelong friends knew she was referring to the father she’d all but disowned. 

Adeline hadn’t known Rosalie as long as she’d known Jane, but they still went all the way back to high school. Adeline had been the loose cannon, Jane the genius, and Rosalie had been, well . . . perfect. 

“You know,” Adeline said, looking thoughtfully at Rosalie over the top of her margarita. “I actually thought about setting you and the mayor up.” 

“Wait, what?” Rosalie’s eyes went wide. 

“You said yourself he was hot,” Adeline pointed out. “You’re also beautiful, well spoken, polished. You never look bad in a photograph, and you never say the wrong thing. I literally can’t think of a more perfect future First Lady of New York.” 

“Oooh, I see that!” Jane said, pivoting in her chair to stare at Rosalie. 

Adeline gave Jane an exasperated expression. “You were just warning me off of the guy.” 

“Warning you off, yes. But Rosalie . . .” 

Adeline tried to ignore the sting. It wasn’t as if Jane were saying anything Adeline herself hadn’t thought. Even if she were inclined to pursue the mayor, and she wasn’t, she knew that she was the last thing someone like him needed. Her past alone made her an inconceivable choice for him, and even if she could keep her past mistakes under wraps, she would never be the right woman for him. She may have mastered the bun and the blazers, but she was still the woman who collected adventurous lingerie and loved tequila. 

“The guy’s definitely attractive,” Rosalie said. “But I don’t know that I want one of Adeline’s rejects,” she said with a smile intended to annoy Adeline. 

“I wouldn’t let that stop me,” Jane said, fanning herself. “If it weren’t for Dan . . . . Too bad I love that man so damn much. Seriously, Rosalie, let Adeline fix you up, so I can live vicariously.” 

“Hello,” Rosalie said, staring at the admittedly, occasionally tone-deaf Jane. “Are you not seeing what I’m seeing?” She pointed at Adeline. 

Jane glanced over and narrowed her eyes. 

“Ever since she came back from New Mexico with her hair brown, she’s been like this buttoned-up ice woman. But when she talks about him . . .” Rosalie made an unrecognizable hissing, clicking noise. 

“What was that?” Jane asked. 

“Fire igniting,” Rosalie explained. “Whatever, so sound effects and act-outs aren’t my strong suit. The point is—” 

“If I sound fiery when I talk about the mayor, it’s only because he’s a control freak and pain in the ass,” Adeline interjected. “The man doesn’t know how to delegate, is hell-bent on carrying on his father’s legacy without ever checking in with himself, and . . .” 

Adeline’s thoughts scattered a little as she realized she wasn’t being entirety fair to the mayor. Yes, he was obsessed with his image, as a man in his position had to be. But he could also be funny and irreverent. He could also be spontaneous and casual. 

He’d proven that yesterday, first with the tour of his home, then the invitation of dinner. Even the way he ate pizza was appealing, somehow both buttoned-up precise and outright relishing, all at the same time. 

“We need more margaritas.”

                                                                              ***

Opposites Attract: When Cole Claims Sarah 

In Claiming Sarah, Cole Johnson is co-owner of one of his town’s most popular gyms. He’s extremely busy since his partner, Felicity, is out of town. He makes an appointment to meet with Sarah Butler, to arrange for some self defense training for her, but he almost loses his chance when she overhears him telling his secretary he’s too busy and to give her an excuse as to why he can’t meet her. The couple (obviously) works out that awkward first meeting and Sarah begins learning how to defend herself from a creepy man who keeps giving her inappropriate presents. Of course the more time Cole spends with Sarah, the more he likes her and they end up dating. When she disappears it’s up to Cole, and Ace Security, to put together the clues to find her before it’s too late.

Cole Johnson is a man who’s used to plowing through his day and when he needs or wants something, he simply gets it. Sarah Butler is more reserved. As a kid who didn’t feel wanted until she was finally adopted she was used to being in the background. Cole and Sarah compliment each other perfectly. Cole is able to ferret out what Sarah wants and needs and he delivers. And in return Sarah keeps Cole grounded. She smooths out his jagged edges.

I think that’s how good relationships work, at least in my books. The Hero is there to protect and shield his woman from anyone or anything that might want to hurt her, and she’s there to keep him grounded and to support him. It seems to just work.

About the Book

ClaimingSarahGraphic

Title: Claiming Sarah

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

Sarah Butler isn’t flattered. She’s angry and unnerved. She’s been getting intimate gifts from a man she barely knows. Nothing threatening yet, but there’s just a weird vibe she can’t ignore. Her recourse is Ace Security. Their solution: self-defense lessons at Rock Hard Gym with a personal, hands-on instructor. One look at the bearded, tattooed, green-eyed alpha is enough to take Sarah’s breath away.

Cole Johnson is definitely the man for the job. He’s eager to train her. Eager to get closer. And when it comes to Sarah’s instincts, Cole knows she’s not imagining things. He’s also not imagining the intense attraction between them—and his desire to protect her is growing. But so are Sarah’s fears, the worst of which come true when she disappears.

Enlisting the help of Ace Security, Cole will stop at nothing to find the love of his life . . . before she vanishes forever.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Claiming Felicity, Claiming Bailey, Claiming Grace, and Claiming Alexis in the Ace Security series. A lover of alpha heroes, Susan is also the author of the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes series. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. She is a true believer in happily ever after and enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her at www.stokeraces.com.

Buy Linkhttps://amzn.to/2NPoUTv

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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***

Excerpt: 

“Do you ask out every woman you train at your gym? It just seems . . . fast.”

Cole stared at her for a long moment, and when he frowned, Sarah felt as if she’d somehow disappointed him.

“No, I don’t ask out every woman I train. Not even close. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked anyone out. And believe me, Sarah, I’m looking at you—and I like what I see. A lot. You’ve got an air of innocence about you that I find fascinating. You’ve had a tough life, but haven’t let it harden you. I respect you, and I . . . I’d like to get to know you better.”

She bit her lip and took a deep breath, but didn’t immediately protest, so he went on. “I have a feeling simply being around you will make me a better person.”

Sarah shook her head. “Don’t do that. Don’t put me on a pedestal. I’m not some paragon walking around sprinkling glitter throughout the world.”

Cole laughed. Threw his head back and laughed as if she’d said the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Sarah tugged on her hand again, somewhat offended, but he still refused to let go.

When he got himself under control, he said, “I know you’re not perfect. You’re too trusting. You see the good in everyone, even when there isn’t any there. You probably neglect your own health in order to do something good for someone else.”

“You make me sound like an idiot,” Sarah grumbled, despite being secretly kind of flattered.

“You’re not an idiot. You’re refreshing. And I’m not. I’ve got more than my share of flaws that I’m sure you’ll discover sooner rather than later. But as I said, if you let me get to know you, go out on a few dates with me, I’m hoping you’ll find that you like me back . . . just a little.”

Sarah frowned. “I already like you, Cole, but I don’t understand you. You don’t know anything about me. I could totally be lying to you right now, and you just bought my lies hook, line, and sinker.”

He smiled again. “You’re not lying.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m an expert at reading body language. I’ve been around some bad people in my life, angel. You are who you say you are. What you see is what you get.”

Sarah licked her lips nervously, and his gaze immediately followed the movement.

Cole persisted. “Say you’ll go out with me, Sarah.”

“I thought I was here to figure out how to defend myself.”

“You are. And we’ll get to that. Agreeing to go out with me in no way affects whether or not I’ll teach you some basic moves that will allow you to get away from someone and get to safety.”

“But if I say no, things could get weird.”

“Then say yes,” Cole cajoled. “I swear you’ve got nothing to fear from me. I’ll even get references if that will make you feel safer.”

“It’s not that. I think I feel safer with you than anyone I’ve ever been around . . .” She

hesitated.

“But?”

“I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’ll decide I’m annoying. Too much work or something. I work odd hours, weird shifts. And I looked you up online. I know about your friend and what happened to her. And about the Andersons. The last thing I want is my stalker getting upset when he sees us together—because he will—and taking out any anger on you and your friends.”

“Breathe, angel. Take a breath. Nothing is going to happen to them.”

“You can’t control people, Cole,” Sarah pressed. “They’re unpredictable.”

“Fine. Then we’ll meet with Logan, Blake, Nathan, and Ryder, and make sure they know everything about this Owen guy. We’ll let them investigate and figure out what will make him back off. In the meantime, we’ll hang out at my place. Or here. Or your house. We won’t shove our relationship down Owen’s throat. We’ll be discreet. How’s that sound?”

Sarah could only gape at him. “How’d we go from me wanting some tips on protecting myself to having Ace Security investigating Owen and you and me hanging out at each other’s houses?”

He smiled at her again, but didn’t answer her question.

She took a deep breath and gave him the only answer she could. “Okay.”

He beamed. “Okay,” he said quietly. Then he finally let go of her hand and stood, before immediately reaching the same hand down to her again. “Time for your first lesson.”

Automatically, she reached up and let him help her off the floor. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. A kiss to seal the deal. A hug. A discussion about when and where their first date would be. But so far, Cole hadn’t done anything the way she expected him to.

“First lesson for today will be how to get a guy to let go of your hand if he’s been holding on too long and you’re uncomfortable.”

Sarah knew he was referring to her feeble attempts to pull her hand out of his, and blushed. But he was right, this was something she should know. It would come in handy at the hospital too, just in case one of the patients or family members got a little too familiar, as they’d done in the past.

Concentrating on his instruction, she did her best to put her nerves about dating Cole behind her.

***

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