When former Special Forces soldier Finn Bollinger is asked to help with a deadly government mission, he’s up for the task. His job teaching survival skills to civilians at Linear Tactical keeps him sharp, and he can still handle himself in the field.
But the Army damn well didn’t teach Finn how to handle Charlotte Devereux. She’s back and she’s all sorts of bad news.
Charlotte can’t change the past. Can’t change the choices she made or the fact that they cost her everything. All she can do is endure the fallout. Even if that means putting her future in the hands of Finn, the man who has every right to want to destroy her.
And can in so many more ways than he thinks.
When the undercover mission goes impossibly wrong, they’ll all have to depend on Charlotte’s strength in order to survive. But everyone has a breaking point…
Walking wildfire Sam Owens gets Lillian hot in all the right ways, but there’s more to the software CEO than just a pretty face. And a great body. And… Oh, right. He’s the enemy, according to the contract she signed with his rival. So when they secretly meet up for movies at The Electric, Lillian can’t get too involved with Sam. She could lose her job. Her reputation. And her heart. Sam is in love with his company, his image, his video games, and his ability to avoid commitment–at least until he levels up with attorney Lillian Walker. With her love of campy horror flicks and a body that makes him want to howl like a cartoon wolf, Sam’s found his leading lady. Too bad getting close to Lillian means tangling with her boss, a supervillain in the making. In the nights leading up to Christmas, movies at The Electric mean more than just mutant toads and cannibal fruitcakes. Between shenanigans with old flames and an arch nemesis out to destroy any future they might have, Sam and Lillian learn the hard way that falling in love isn’t as easy as it looks on screen. When the past gets in the way of a perfect “the end,” there’s really only one solution–if werewolf Santas can bring them together, zombie ex-girlfriends can keep them together. After all, anything’s possible at The Electric.
Swooooshhhh and thunk.
Lillian had wounded his pride like an arrow in an ogre’s soft underbelly. She’d called him a cover boy. Like he was in a boy band, and not the CEO of Origin, the best software and tech development company in the country. Scratch that—world. And despite that fact, she had yet to flirt with or flatter him…
Hold up. Intimately?
Where had they met? Where had they intimately met? He’d remember touching a body like that…
When he looked at Lillian, hot cocoa came to mind. Not helpful in the slightest, except for the affirmation he was probably in the midst of a coronary and his brain starved of oxygen.
“Riiiiight. Yeah, we met at that…uh, that—”
“Don’t panic. I was joking. It wasn’t intimate at all. It was six months ago, and we only shook hands,” she reassured him.
It didn’t help. Sam couldn’t even remember where they’d shook hands. He pressed his lips together and felt his eyes bug out like Panic Pete. Lillian groaned melodramatically and then laughed.
“I’m on Preston Lavery’s legal team. You gave a terrific speech at the cloud development symposium in New York City. Preston introduced us afterward.”
White hot rage coursed through Sam. The mere mention of Preston Lavery was as good as a cold shower. He slid his hand below the tabletop and hid his clenched fist, pressing it down into the vinyl seat.
“Well, that explains why Rik didn’t elaborate on you any more than he did. You’re the enemy.”
Wooza. I know that I’ve recommended the last couple of books that I’ve read, but this one is definitely high on the keeper shelf for me. It has everything that I love about a romance. Older characters, nerdiness, small town, a villain to truly hate, and a very satisfying ending. That said, there were some things that bugged me and I’m hoping that in the next book they are answered. And yes, its part of the overall plot arc of the series.
Here’s the good stuff about the book. Sam and Lillian. They are some of the more mature characters that I’ve read in a long time. In fact, Sam is actually younger than Lillian and both of them are past 35. *swoon* I really connecting with Lillian on a deeper level. I was in my late 30’s when I finally fell in love and had to decide what was more important. Love or a job? It’s not an easy decision considering that is how everyone around you looks at you. It’s rather annoying but once you get to know Lillian, you will understand. Sam is just a man-child projecting an image that he THINKS most people want to see. When they finally bring down their walls, they finally figure out what is most important. Their romance is funny, emotional, realistic, intelligent and charming.
These two were such an awesome couple. They had me at the moment they met. Now, of course, Rik was there and I never connected with him and I really wanted someone to slap him…hard. I didn’t like him as a lawyer, a person and I couldn’t believe the relationship between he and Lillian back in the day. But enough about him and his issues. This is Lillian and Sam’s book and Ms. Hughes makes sure that the focus is on them and no one else. The secondary characters are not intrusive but at th,e same time the only two that I really liked are Ravi and Tessa. I’d love to read more about them in future.
Here’s what I need a bit more closure on: Preston, the villain. Yes, we get something about the relationship between Sam and Preston but the bombshell at the end by Rik needs to be explored. I would just love for Lillian to go no hold barred on him and then finally, he would realize that his father can’t bail him out. But I’ve said too much. You just need to read this book.
Overall, this is just about my favorite book of the year. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jenn Hughes writes romance with a heavy dose of humor. A lifelong love of all things sci-fi, combined with her day job in marketing, IT, and graphic design, infuses her writing with tech-centric and geeky references.
When not reading and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and gardening at her home in North Carolina. You might also find her gaming, repairing computers and electronics, experimenting with mixed media art, or finishing furniture.
“I was here a couple of years ago, but only for a day or two,” Anne told Zac, looking away. She had booked a room out of Oak Creek both times she’d dared come back. The thought of staying at The Mayor’s Inn had been too painful. She couldn’t even look at that hotel without feeling sick to her stomach.
And she’d avoided everyone—particularly Zac—as much as possible. Just in case his words about not coming back were still true. She tried to swallow the panic that threatened to overwhelm her. Maybe he still felt that way now, even though he hadn’t said anything at the hospital.
“There.” He pointed at her. “That look that just came into your eyes. I saw it at the hospital. It’s like you’re afraid of me, Annie.” He took a step closer and she instinctively one back. One of his eyebrows shot up, letting her know she’d proved his point. “Do you think I’m going to hurt you?”
“No.” Not physically. She’d never worried that he’d hurt her that way, despite having five inches and probably fifty pounds—all muscle—on her.
But he was right. She couldn’t continue living in Oak Creek with them ignoring everything that had happened that night. What had been said. What had been done. Maybe she would’ve tried to, and to avoid Zac forever, if he hadn’t ended up in her ER.
But the truth was, there weren’t enough bushes in this town for her to jump into. She was going to run into Zac. A lot.
Sometimes all you could do was face the past.
She pulled a breath in. “I’m not scared of you. I mean, I know you would never hurt me physically. For crying out loud, you wrecked your motorcycle rather than hit a dog.” She’d meant for her laugh to seem breezy, but it just sounded stilted. “But yeah, I mean, we can’t pretend like that night never happened. The stuff we did. Stuff you…we said.”
His eyes narrowed. “That night we spent together after Becky died.”
“Yeah. That night.” As if they’d had another. “The bottom line is, I can’t leave here, Zac. No matter what you said then, or even if you feel the same way now.”
He shook his head, brows furrowing. “I don’t expect you to leave. You’re obviously a respected doctor, more than competent. Why would you think I wanted you to leave?”
Some of the tension she’d been carrying since his arrival in the ER began to ease. He was right. Something said in grief and anger six years ago didn’t necessarily hold true all this time later. She was silly for thinking it did. “Okay, well, it’s good to know you don’t feel the same as you did back then.”
He took a single predatory step closer, and she tensed again. “I said something that night to make you think you needed to leave?”
She stared at him, her mouth flopping open like some sort of fish. “You don’t remember what you said?”
Those words would be engrained in her memory forever.
Get out and don’t come back.
He rubbed his forehead. “That whole night is fuzzy for me.”
I can’t even bear to look at you. You just betrayed the only person in this town who ever wanted you here.
Tossing her naked into the hallway before flinging her clothes at her.
“What do you remember?” She forced the words past a throat that seemed to have dried up.
His hand moved to the back of his neck. “Honestly, not much at all. It’s sort of a blur.”
She retreated a step from him again. That night had been the most important night of her life. The best. The worst. It had changed the very fabric of her being.
And it was sort of a blur for him.
A few things. One, I love a good romantic suspense. I’m a Harlequin Intrigue Whore. Yes, I admit it. I think I’ve read just about all the books in the line from BJ Daniels and Julie Miller. I will admit that I’m new to Ms. Crouch and her writing. I know, considering that I worship at the altar of Harlequin Intrigue, I’m having to backtrack and read her backlist. So the chance to read a new series from her, I jumped at the chance. Why can’t ALL the books be out NOW? Like seriously. Do I have to wait until the end of October for Finn’s book? I cry BS. *pouting* And yes, I’m going to throw a small temper tantrum and normally, I don’t do that, like ever. But this series has introduced me to some extraordinary men and a town full of characters that I instantly fell in love with.
Zac is such a sweetheart. Truly he is. I know that the above excerpt doesn’t like you know that but I felt his pain all those years from the death of his wife and son. I won’t go into the why of that but it plays a huge part in the romance between Zac and Anne. This is an excellent second chance at love blended with just the right amount of suspense. Ms. Crouch has just a deft hand when it comes to the suspense element. She knows her stuff and how much a reader wants. In fact, in some respects, the suspense element takes a back seat to the romance in this one.
I really want to talk about Anne and Zac when they were teenagers but that would totally spoil the book for you. But let me just tell you that I really think these two were destined for each other even back then; they just didn’t know it. That is what makes this such a great second romance. After reading the excerpt, I’m sure that you are completely confused but let me tell you it just gets better once hear the whole story. It is heartbreaking to say the least. At least, Zac realizes the mistake and tries to make it up to her.
What endeared me to these characters are that Zac and Anne no matter happened that night 6 years ago, they were grown up about it and moved on from it. They lived in the now, not the past. And also, the guys, Adien, Finn, and Dorian are just plain fantastic. And Riley, Wally, and even Mia. Again, this town and all the characters are just plain awesome! This is six book series and I can’t wait to read about the other guys. I just don’t like to wait. And with this series, I could binge read this in a weekend. And I will when all of the books finally come out.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head—and even when she is—she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.