Book Blitz & Excerpt: Midsummer Man + Giveaway

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Midsummer Man, by Zelah Robers

General Release Date: 15th June 2021

Word Count: 53,250
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 207

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MYSTERY

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Book Description

 

Hostages of fate…rescued by love.

Holly Mason’s past has left her with many things—a powerful need for independence and self-reliance, enduring memories of pain and fear…and an intense dislike of alpha males.

Billionaire Sir Mac Sinclair has been wounded by the betrayal of his fiancée and overpowered by his own ultra-protective alpha-male instincts after his sister is kidnapped. He has no time for romance.

But when Mac meets Holly at the beautiful Midsummer Ball, fate intervenes. The irresistible, timeless magic of midsummer seduces them into stealing one stunning, secret night of passion together.

But one night is not enough… When danger threatens, Mac and Holly are forced back together. Can they confront the traumas of the past and learn to trust each other to overcome the dangers of the present?

Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of public sex, stalking and cult references, and references to child abuse, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Excerpt

Renwick Castle stood high on the hill above the Wyvern Valley, its tranquil beauty bestowing an elegant timelessness upon the idyllic landscape of rolling cornfields and quaint villages below. Gilded flags fluttered from crenelated battlements in the golden afternoon sun and the vibrant ruby, emerald and sapphire stained-glass windows glowed like jewels, refracting dancing rainbows onto ancient stone floors. In the courtyard of the ancient keep, the blush-pink petals of apple blossom trees, caressed from their branches by the breeze, danced on the warm summer air like confetti.

In the grand ballroom of the castle, now an extremely elegant five-star hotel, two women, Holly Mason and Melissa Turner, were working in parallel, placing perfumed rose-pink charity auction lists and donation envelopes on tables already festooned with glittering silverware and sparkling candelabras entwined with ivy and white roses.

Tonight was a night they had been working towards for months. It was the night upon which all their hopes as the trustees of the charity ‘Help the Homeless’, rested—the night when most of the funds the charity needed for the coming year would be raised. Tonight was the night of the Help the Homeless Midsummer Ball.

Holly set down yet another envelope, then glanced up as her friend Melissa cleared her throat. “So,” Melissa asked, “did you try the rose-petal bath-pourri, then?”

Holly looked at her friend curiously. Melissa had given her the lovely bath set for her birthday, with strict and rather mysterious instructions that she should use it the night before the ball. “I did,” she confirmed, “as instructed. It was absolutely fabulous. The rose petals were floating on the water and the scent was out of this world. But I still don’t understand why I had to use it last night, exactly.”

Melissa looked smug. “I knew you’d do it. I bet Simon a jasmine-scented back massage that you would.”

Holly choked back a laugh. Her recently married friend was still in the honeymoon phase of her relationship with her beloved Simon. “Why jasmine, specifically?”

“Holly! Don’t you know that jasmine is supposed to stimulate your libido?”

“Ah- no. Can’t say that I did. But really… Your libido needs stimulating?”

Melissa gave her a sheepish look. “Well, no. In all honesty, if it got any more stimulated, I’d probably die. But what a way to go!”

Holly rolled her eyes. Her friend was incorrigible. “Well, naturally I’m delighted to have earned you a jasmine-scented back rub, but you still haven’t told me why I had to use my bubble bath last night.”

They moved to another table and began distributing auction lists. “Ah, yes…that. Well, this castle has been here nearly a thousand years. And for every single one of them, it has celebrated the magic of midsummer, the longest day of the year and the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.”

“Uh-huh.”

Melissa threw out a dramatic arm. “Powerful forces are abroad on midsummer’s night. And in this castle, they are amplified—soaked into the very fabric of this building.”

“Is that right?”

“Oh, believe me. It is.”

“So, what do these powerful forces want with me, pray tell?”

Melissa looked at her triumphantly. “Well, you sprinkled rose-petals last night, didn’t you?”

“Yes—”

“Well, the legend says that if you sprinkle rose petals on Midsummer’s Eve, you’ll meet the man of your dreams the next night. And that means, you’ll meet him tonight!”

Holly put down her envelopes and looked at her friend in frank disbelief. “Really? The man of my dreams? It’s going to bring to life Jamie from Outlander, is it?”

Melissa rolled her eyes. “There are good men in the real world, too, you know.”

Holly shook her head, amused. In her considered opinion, the only good men were fictional ones. “Melissa, you know I love you,” she began, wryly, “but I don’t want a man. I like my life the way it is.”

Damn right she did. She’d worked hard to get to where she was today, and now she was reaping the rewards of her labours. Her life was safe, settled and interesting, exactly the way she liked it. The last thing she wanted was some wretched man messing it all up.

Melissa looked at her sympathetically. “Holly, I know you had that awful stalker a couple of years ago. But you can’t judge all men by one obsessive fan.”

“Of course not.”

“And I know Taylor wasn’t the best boyfriend you could have wished for. You were just unlucky he turned out to be such an absolute—”

Holly raised a hasty hand. “I know. They’re not all like him. Some of them are worse!”

“Oh, Holly, come on. That’s not fair! Look at Simon.”

It was true. Her friend really had found one of those mythical creatures—a good man. Mild-mannered, gentle and fathoms deep in love with his adorable wife, Simon was a gentleman of the first order. But a man like that would never want a woman as hard as she was, with a background like hers. “Okay, okay. I know. Granted, your Simon is lovely, and I’m sure there are other wonderful men out there—but not for me. I’m not in the market for any midsummer magic.”

For a moment, a wispy cloud drifted over the sun and the room shadowed. Holly set down another auction list with careful precision. “Anyway, I’m too busy. I’m up to my neck in work.”

“Work won’t keep you warm at night. You won’t get to the end of your life and wish you’d done more work.”

Holly looked drily at her friend. “I won’t get to the end of my life and wish I’d done more men, either.”

“Oh, honestly, Holly—”

At that moment, Melissa’s phone beeped, signalling a text message. Melissa glanced at the screen and a delighted smile spread over her face.

“It’s Sadika. You’ll never guess who she’s just sold a last-minute ticket to?”

“Who?”

“Sir Mac Sinclair!”

Holly raised her eyebrows. Sir Mac Sinclair was known to practically anyone with a pulse in the UK, even her, and she was no follower of the lives of the rich and famous. As the billionaire owner of one of the most prestigious building companies in the country, he was lauded for successfully and sympathetically restoring some of Britain’s most valuable and beloved historic buildings. As a qualified architect, he had also created some new structures which, with their fluid, sensuous silhouettes and environmentally friendly designs, were now considered modern classics. But he was also infamous for his obsessive need for privacy. He rarely appeared in public and declined all television interviews, which made it all the more surprising that he was coming to such a high-profile event.

Not only that, but tickets for the ball had sold out months ago, and he must have paid through the nose to get hold of one at the last minute. Sadika, who was responsible for selling tickets and organising the seating plan, must be tearing her hair out trying to slot him in at one of the tables.

Holly scowled. Although she was pleased that the charity had received more money, she hated the fact that the rich could have it all their own way, could casually buy into an event at the last minute without a by-your-leave.

“Well, great. That should get us some more publicity. Hopefully, he’ll spend a fortune and we’ll all be happy.”

“True.” Melissa’s voice filled with excitement. “But more than that, this guy is hot. I mean, seriously hot. Oh, he’d be perfect for you!”

“Oh, right. Because I’m so hot myself.”

“You are!” Melissa clapped her hands together, her eyes speculative. “You’d make the most amazing couple—”

“Oh, don’t do me any favours. The last thing I need is some arrogant megalomaniac billionaire who loves nothing more than his own reflection!”

Melissa’s face softened. “Give in, Holly. It’s fate. You’ve sprinkled the rose petals, so you might as well accept it. True love’s a comin’ for you.”

Holly shook her head. “No. No way. You know what the difference between true love and herpes is, right?”

“No…”

“Herpes lasts forever.”

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About the Author

Zelah Roberts

Zelah Roberts grew up in a beautiful leafy market town in North East England. She spent a happy childhood exploring the surrounding woods and moorlands, and visiting ancient priories, abbeys, and roman ruins with her history-buff parents. These inspired her imagination, and many notebooks were filled with action-packed tales of adventure and romance.

An avid reader with eclectic tastes, her teenage years were spent navigating the magical worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth by way of Earthsea. As she grew older, her tastes expanded to take in thrillers and romance, and a degree in English introduced her to the great classics of literature.

After many jobs ranging from traffic warden to project manager, Zelah now divides her time between writing and teaching English and creative writing. When she is not lost in daydreams about her new book, she also loves spending time with her family, travelling and visiting the theatre and cinema.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a FREE eBook from the author!

Zelah Roberts Midsummer Man Giveaway

ZELAH ROBERTS IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 29th June 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Taking Chances in Cedarwood + Giveaway

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Taking Chances in Cedarwood, by Megan Slayer

Word Count: 41,902
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 172

GENRES:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

He found his freedom…in Cedarwood.

Cain Ables is the it actor in Hollywood. Everyone wants to work with him, his movies make money and he’s handsome—but all that glitters isn’t gold. He’s lonely. Growing up in the glare of the spotlight with the stage parents from hell and being protected from any scandal—and real life—has left him empty. Cain wants freedom and experience. He also wants to come out. The man who plays by the rules is about to break them all.

Andrew Meadows isn’t looking for love. He’s at the farmers’ market to sell the fruit and vegetables he’s grown. When Cain shows up at his stall, he’s captivated. The more they talk, the more he likes Cain, but Cain’s got baggage—and he’s not out yet. Yet something about Cain makes Andrew want to take a chance on romance…and forever.

Will the farmer and actor find the love they both deserve, or will the glare of the spotlight ruin their future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of homophobia, and controlling, emotionally and financially abusive parenting.

Excerpt

“This is the script that’s going to catapult me into the next level?” Cain Ables stared at his agent, Dixon Nell. “You’re sure?” Cain read through the script again. He’d always wanted to do an LGBTQ movie and stretch his acting abilities. He also wanted to finally come out and admit he was gay. Jesus. No one wanted their boy wonder to be gay. He had to be approachable and make people desire him. According to his agent and parents, no one would want him if he wasn’t perfect.

Apparently, being gay wasn’t perfect.

What the fuck did anyone else know? He was gay and very imperfect.

“You’re going to work with Liam Blackwell,” Dixon said. “He’s a good guy and careful with his costars. He won’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable doing. Just say the word and he won’t kiss you or anything without your being okay. You know him, remember? You met at the celebrity baseball game last year.”

“I remember.” Cain closed the script. “How do you know I won’t want him to kiss me?”

“Please.” Dixon rolled his eyes. “You’re being a maverick by stepping out of your comfort zone. This role will have award nods all over it. You need to do this.”

“But?” He both loved and hated his agent. Dixon could act like he cared one thousand percent for Cain and his career, then he could turn on him and be so scathing. Cain never knew which side of Dixon he’d get.

“But you’re not gay. You’re the it guy in Hollywood. This is going to be a big risk, but it’ll be worth it when you get the statuette.” Dixon grasped Cain by the shoulders. “You’re getting older, and while you can age in Hollywood, you can’t be the pretty boy all your life. You’ll have to age with the roles. You’ll have to mature.”

Cain knew that. He wasn’t stupid. In his thirty years, he’d played so many roles that he swore the business had to be tired of him. He curled the script in his hands. For someone who disappeared into characters, he’d damn near lost his true self along the way. He stared at Dixon again. “What if I am gay?”

Dixon burst out laughing. “You’re not gay. Confused, maybe, and intrigued by this role, but you’re not gay.” He shook his head and continued laughing. “God, if you were really gay, you’d have come out by now and you’d be chasing Penn. That kid will fuck anything who asks.”

Cain glared at Dixon as he walked away. What an asshole. I’d be chasing Penn. Who does Dixon think he is? Dixon knew lots about the business, but nothing about dating or relationships. He certainly knew nothing about Cain. Penn wasn’t Cain’s type. Too pushy and way too young.

“Hey.” Penn strutted up to Cain. “I hear you’re working with Liam Blackwell and going to Cedarwood to make a movie.” He rubbed his hands together. “There’s not much to do in Cedarwood. It’s small, boring, dull…” His eyes flashed. “You could always take an assistant or two with you. I’ll bet Lucia would go along. She wants more exposure.”

He shook his head. Penn was not his type. He’d kept his preferences to himself, but honed them over the years. He wanted a man with muscles, a forthright attitude, who wasn’t afraid of manual labor and looked good in a baseball cap. Penn wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he had to wear a T-shirt and jeans for a living. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.” Penn grinned. His green eyes glittered and the smattering of hairs on his chin belied his age. He rested his hands on his narrow hips. “Interested? I’m game to go to Cedarwood. I bet we could have a great time. I’d keep my mouth shut.”

His stomach churned. Is Penn coming on to me? He hadn’t come out yet and was already being propositioned. Penn would keep quiet for a hefty price. “No thanks.”

“You’re sure?” Penn rubbed Cain’s thigh. “You don’t know what you want until you can’t have it.”

“I’m okay.” He left the chair and squeezed the script in his hand. He’d agreed to do the movie and agreed to film in Cedarwood. Maybe it was time to head out to Ohio and find himself. He knew damn well he was gay, but he had to decide what he wanted out of life. Did he want to come out? Could he live his life in the closet?

He massaged his forehead and continued walking away from Penn. In some ways, the man was attractive. He also offered an interesting proposition—he could be the first lover Cain wanted without having strings…unless he counted the financial ones. Penn would attempt to bleed him dry. If he wasn’t begging for money, he’d take him to court or wring him out in the tabloids.

His stomach churned harder. In the last year, Cain had fought the twisting ache in his belly and the fear he’d be found out. He was gay. No question. He’d dated starlets and had been with women, but he’d rather be looking at their dates or admiring another certain actor’s ass.

He was supposed to be the guy every woman wanted to fuck and the man the guys wanted to hang out with—attainable, even if he wasn’t going to be anywhere near most of his fans. His parents made sure he stayed as isolated as possible. Maybe that was his problem. He needed to get out from under their thumb. He’d been under it for long enough.

The limo waited at the side door of the offices. The driver opened the door for him and ensured Cain was ensconced in the back seat. The scent of rich leather swirled around Cain, and the darkened windows of the vehicle ensured no one would see him. He could move around without anyone knowing he was there. A ghost of himself.

He unrolled the script and read through the first three pages again. Two men, quiet romance, small town and everyone rooting for them. He needed to do this movie. If he did, he’d get to go on location. His parents wouldn’t follow him to Ohio. They detested anywhere that wasn’t Beverly Hills. He’d go to Ohio, read, relax and be a human being. Yeah, he’d do this movie. He’d do the hell out of it. If he happened to grow as a person or found a lover, then even better. First, he had to get the fuck out of California and be on his own.

The vehicle lurched and swerved, then stopped. He had no idea how long he’d been in the back or where he was, but he assumed the driver had taken him home. He might be a big celebrity and wanted by millions, but he had little free will.

The door opened and a valet gestured to him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Ables.”

“Hello.” He didn’t recognize this valet. “Where’s Green?”

“Reassigned, sir.” The valet closed the limo door. “Your mother requests your presence.”

“Thanks.” He patted the valet on the arm. The guy was only doing his job. Cain’s mother and father insisted on orchestrating his life as much as possible. He knew damn well why—if he stopped working or fell out of favor, they’d lose their funding. He’d kept the family afloat nearly his entire life.

He strode through the house to the massive living room. The opulence and expense of the place suffocated him. Everywhere he looked, he recognized something bought with the money he’d made over his career. His parents hadn’t worked for a damn thing.

His mother lounged on the expansive couch. She had pillows around her and a magazine on her lap. She flipped through the pages. “You’re home.”

“I am.” He didn’t sit. Not now. He couldn’t relax. “Reading anything important?”

“You’re featured in this magazine.” She held up the periodical. “I see you’re with Aidyn Malachi. Good. She’s up-and-coming. You need to be seen with someone fresh.”

“I do.” Someone who isn’t a starlet.

“You look like you’re upset.” His father stood by the bar. He sipped a brandy and crossed his ankles. “Something on your mind?”

He shored up his courage. He had no plan to get to Cedarwood. No money of his own. Fuck it. He’d figure something out. Rami had always been good for a favor. He’d call his best friend to get him to the airport. “I’m leaving.”

“You are?” His father laughed. “Christ. You have no idea how to live on your own. Where in the fuck do you think you’re going? You can’t handle life without us guiding you.”

His father was such a stereotype—elbow-bending closet drunk pretending to be macho and perfect, all while he’d lost control. His wife had cheated on him multiple times. He’d cheated on her, too, and Cain swore he had a sibling somewhere he knew nothing about. The odds were in his favor for the assumption to be true. Cain gritted his teeth. “I’m being called out for a movie and need to go on location. Plain and simple. I don’t need a babysitter. Remember? I’m thirty years old. I can handle my life.” Maybe, but maybe not. He’d never actually lived on his own. He’d been given spending money and the catering trucks made sure he was fed.

“You’re not going.” His mother didn’t look up from the magazine. “You aren’t ready.” She pointed to an image of Cain tangled up with Aidyn in a bed. Both looked disheveled and sated after sex. “This is what you should be doing. Marry her. Or fake it. The public needs more of these pictures.”

He rolled his eyes. The photoshoot had been a gigantic disaster. Aidyn had cried half the time, wanting her actual boyfriend, and the photographer had pushed him and Aidyn to look more in love than they’d ever be. No one wanted to see fake pictures.

“If you’re going, then you’ll have your full treatment of servants and the corps. I won’t have you making an ass of yourself.” His father slashed his hand through the air. “You’re not a child, no, but you’re not smart enough to be on your own. You can memorize lines and channel characters, but anyone can do that.”

He groaned. If I pack a small bag, I could take one of the sports cars and drive there, right? Nah. His parents probably had trackers on the cars. He nodded to hide his frustration. “I suppose you’re right.” He turned on his heel and headed up to his bedroom.

Wouldn’t his fellow actors laugh? He still lived with his parents in the house he’d bought for them when he’d made his first television show at age five. He couldn’t bring a lover home—male or female. What would he say? Mom, Dad? I need you to go so I can fuck this lovely person. Right.

Cain shoved his wallet, license, some money he’d squirreled away over the last year, two changes of clothes, an extra pair of shoes and the stuffed cat he’d had since he was a baby into a knapsack. If he was going to blow up his home life, he refused to leave the last vestige of his childhood in the hands of his parents. The stuffed cat might look like hell and have almost no fur left, but he gave Cain more comfort than anyone. He swept his gaze around his room. Even his bedroom had no personality. It could be the room of any celebrity—perfect decor, nothing to denote that he lived there and nothing out of place.

The churning in his stomach increased. If he didn’t get the fuck out of the house and away from his life for a while, he’d have a huge-ass ulcer. The stress of living a life he didn’t want had gotten to him. The doctor on the set of Victor’s Rules had urged him to get some rest. Why not do it now?

He deserved to live the life he wanted.

Cain hurried down the back steps clutching his bag. The valet from before stood by the doors leading to the garage.

“Sir?” He opened the door for Cain. “Going out?”

“To Aidyn’s.” Cain winked. “You know.”

“I used to.” The man smiled. “Shall I let your mother in on this?”

“Please do. I’ll be over there for a few days.” He winked again and elbowed the valet. “We don’t plan on coming up for air in that time.” God, he was laying it on thick.

“Yes, sir.” The valet dispatched a driver, then disappeared into the main portion of the house.

Cain slipped into the back seat of the limo and waited until the car moved. His heart hammered. He was doing it—leaving the nest. He’d lied, of course, but that didn’t matter. Fuck it. His hands shook and he held the bag tight. He’d never acted out before, never tried to be something he wasn’t or push anyone. He’d fallen right into line because it had been required of him.

The driver dropped him off at Aidyn’s hotel. Instead of expecting the car to wait on him, Cain waved him home. “Get some rest. God knows I won’t be.” He grinned. “I’ll call for you.”

The driver nodded once and left.

Cain ducked into the hotel. He’d never stayed at this particular building and hoped no one would recognize him without his Cain Ables celebrity persona in place. He was just Cain Ables, regular guy.

He headed through the lobby to the side entrance. An attendant smiled at him. “May I help you, sir?”

“I’d like a taxi to the airport.” Holy fuck. He was doing this. “Please?”

“Sure.” The attendant waved down one of the drivers. “May I help you with anything else?”

“No, thank you.” He shook hands with the man and settled into the back seat of the taxi. As the car sped toward the airport, Cain sighed. He’d really escaped. His parents would be thrilled when they found out he was at the hotel with a woman. He was being the bad-boy actor everyone expected.

Except he wasn’t bad and he wasn’t with a woman. Fear and doubt crept into his brain. Part of him wasn’t sure he could get away with his act of transgression. The rest of him couldn’t wait to get to Ohio and be a nobody.

Time to be myself.

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About the Author

Megan Slayer

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

Giveaway

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Megan Slayer’s Taking Chances in Cedarwood Giveaway

MEGAN SLAYER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND YOUR FREE MEGAN SLAYER ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 29th June 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Supernova + Giveaway

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Supernova, by Desiree Holt

Book 3 in the Galaxy series

Word Count: 73,058
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 270

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

He couldn’t forget her.

In a supernova, a star implodes when it exceeds its magnificence. That’s Mallory Kane’s situation right now, and only Galaxy can get her to safety.

She has haunted John ‘Rocket’ Hardin’s dreams ever since their hot celebration of her rescue five years ago. Now her sister, Senator Alicia Kane, books a flight to nowhere on Galaxy’s plane because Mallory is again caught in a hot spot and needs help.

Trapped in the clutches of the Santa Marita cartel, she has no way off the island except for Rocket and Galaxy. The mission turns out to be more complicated than the last one. The vicious leader General Felix Barrera is determined to find Mallory and kill her, meaning Galaxy will need a lot of ingenuity to get her out of there.

The moment Rocket and Mallory reconnect, the passion between them is stronger than they expected. Now Galaxy has to sneak her off the island, which includes a four-hour trek through a jungle and barely escaping death at the top of a very steep cliff.

If she and Rocket can survive all that, how can they not give in to the passion that flares hotter than ever?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, death and murder. There are mention of drug trafficking, and of women being drugged and raped.

Excerpt

Fuck, it was hot.

John ‘Rocket’ Hardin thought that in the mountains it should at least be cooler, especially out of the sun in this little cave. But no, the heat invaded the space and made it into a warm, wet towel. He was sweaty and streaked with dirt that had blown against him as they’d climbed the rocky trails. He used the tail of his shirt to wipe as much off his face as he could, but only a shower was going to attack this mess.

He’d been fucking pissed off when his SEAL team had been told they were being sent to rescue a writer from the Taliban. Ten years in the service and he had to waste his time because some wacky writer thought it would be great to hang out with terrorists and interview them. And, oh, yeah, write books. Stupid idiot.

But they’d executed the extraction just as night had begun to fall, hoping to take advantage of the cover of darkness. But it hadn’t been cloudy or overcast, damn it, the stars bright in the sky and the moon like a big spotlight. The team had done its best to stay concealed, but without help from nature, someone had discovered their captive was gone before the SEALs were fully away. Rocket had broken off with Mallory, radioed Command to let them know and taken off with her in the mountains so their enemies wouldn’t find her. She hadn’t complained, just followed him, despite what she’d been through already and the harshness of the landscape.

Getting them out of that terrorist camp hadn’t been a picnic, for sure, but his team was experienced and it had almost gone off without a hitch. But then things had gotten very hairy. His stated job was to get Mallory to safety above all else. He hated splitting from the rest of his team, but he had his marching orders. Their job was containment so he and Mallory could get the fuck out of there. The orders had come straight from their commanding officer.

She was a trooper, he’d give her that, moving at his direction until they were far enough away from the camp and could find a place to hide. Using his satellite radio, he’d informed Command where they were and had been told to wait for extraction. Once the chopper arrived and landed on the plateau near their cave, they’d be out of there. And he’d probably never see her again.

Damn!

He glanced over at her and saw she was in almost the same condition he was. Her hair was wild, and she’d managed to push it behind her ears. But her skin looked like his, sweaty and streaked with dirt, not to mention the bruises on her wrists from the rope that had tied them.

He’d been shocked at his reaction when he’d first seen her in the hut where she was being held. In jeans and a T-shirt, hair wild and mussed, hands tied behind her back and smears of dirt on her cheeks and arms, she was still the sexiest woman he recalled ever laying eyes on.

But danger, it seemed, was an aphrodisiac, ramping up everything in his system well past the boiling point. This place was certainly as uninviting as any he’d ever been in, as far as sex was concerned. Despite that, he was so horny his dick hurt and his brain was filling with very un-SEAL-like thoughts. Mallory Kane was every man’s wet dream, with her lush, toned body, her curly auburn hair and green eyes that blazed like emeralds.

Maybe it was the aftereffect of all that tension. Maybe it was a need to reaffirm life after escaping from a lethal situation. Or maybe he felt that she needed something to erase the after-effects of her captivity.

Whatever it was, he wanted her more than he wanted to breathe. And wasn’t that just a damn shock for someone with his discipline? This was no place for sex to intrude. Life was not fucking fair. At all. But maybe after…

Business first, asshole.

Now they sat side by side, leaning against the wall of the cave, Mallory pulling herself together.

“Thank you,” she told him when her breathing finally evened out.

Her voice was soft and rich, almost musical, even with the stress she was going through. He thought he could listen to it every day. The only problem was it went straight to his dick, which was doing its best to break the zipper of his camos.

“You’re welcome.” He slid a glance at her and grinned. “All in a day’s work.”

“Those must be some days, then.”

“It’s part of our motto,” he said. “The only easy day was yesterday.”

She snorted. “If this is an example, then you guys deserve a ton of awards for what you do. I didn’t think I would leave there with my head still attached.”

“You should try and get a little rest,” he told her. “It will be a while until the helo gets here. I radioed that we were secure here.”

“Rest?” Her laugh had a tinge of hysteria. “I almost rested permanently. I am just so grateful that you came to rescue me. I know those people were going to kill me. And soon.”

Rocket studied her for a moment. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” She shrugged. “You saved my life, so I guess you can ask me anything.”

“So, just out of curiosity, you had to have known how dangerous this whole thing was. I mean, you might as well have committed suicide. What made you set this up to begin with?”

When she didn’t answer at once, he glanced over at her. She was frowning.

“Is that question a problem?” Rocket pushed.

“No. Not a problem. I just…” She swallowed. “I guess I was just focused on getting the story and writing the book. The last one I did was very successful and I have a great contract for this one.”

“But that’s not all of it, is it?” he asked.

“The main part.”

He waited, but when she didn’t say any more, his curiosity got the better of him.

“Is it so exciting that you’re willing to risk your life for it?” When she didn’t answer, he turned sightly and reached over to cup her chin. “Mallory?”

She sighed. “It’s a long story that you wouldn’t be interested in. But it’s a way to prove myself and I really don’t want to discuss it now. Okay? Please?”

“Sure.” He could understand that, it that didn’t kill his curiosity by a long shot.

“But…” She nibbled her lower lip. “I do want you to know I realize that I owe you my life.”

She raised her eyes to his, a whirlpool of emotions swirling there. Okay. There was more than just following a story here and writing a book. But how did he find out what it was? She was the first woman to pierce the emotional shell he kept himself locked in and he wanted to know more about her. No, he wanted to know all about her.

“And this may be inappropriate, but I’m doing it anyway, because I really want to thank you for what you did.” She knelt beside him, cradled his face in her hands and pressed her mouth to his.

Holy shit! His dick tried again to escape the pressure of his fly and he was sure his temperature went up. It shocked him, because he’d sure had enough sex in his life to be able to control his reactions when he needed to.

He was not prepared for this. He was supposed to be rescuing and protecting her, not thinking about sex. He thrust his fingers into her disheveled hair to hold her head in place, pressed his lips against hers and, when they parted slightly, thrust his tongue inside. She tasted like ten kinds of sin. When he licked the inner surfaces of her mouth, she brushed her tongue against his and before he realized what he was doing, he slipped his hands around to the front and cupped her breasts, gently squeezing them. He felt a tear in the fabric of one cup and anger gripped him. Did the barbaric terrorists molest her?

“It’s okay,” she whispered against his lips, as if she knew what he was thinking. “They didn’t rape me. I swear. Just tried to demoralize me. Break my spirit. But it didn’t work.”

“Good. I can see that.”

“But I need to get it all out of my mind. You can see that, right?”

Oh, yeah. And it might be against the rules, but he was all on board with this. “I just don’t want you to think I expect—”

She moved until she was straddling him, her hot center pressing hard against his aching dick. “I don’t just want this. I need this, to celebrate the fact I’m still alive.”

At some point he’d get the details of what happened out of her, but not now. Right now, he could tell what she wanted was to wipe the worst of it out of her mind, and he was glad to help her. They had another hour at least before the helicopter coming to extract them would be here and he intended to make good use of every single minute. He had never done anything like this before. Business was always…all business. But there was such electricity between them. And they’d just come through a harrowing situation and needed reaffirmation of life.

“If you’re sure, then, damn it, yes. I want this, too.”

He took her mouth in another kiss, moving his hands to lightly pinch her nipples. She moaned, sliding her hands beneath his shirt and dragging her fingernails across his back. Heat filled his body. Jesus! Although he sure never had trouble responding to a woman, he didn’t ever remember reacting this way before. Or this fast.

Rocket eased her T-shirt up so he could touch the smooth skin of her abdomen. Before he could even think about it, he had unfastened her bra and pushed it up so he could palm her bare breasts. Rubbing his thumbs over the taut nipples made them bead beneath his touch. The temptation was too much for him, so he pushed her top even higher, bent his head just enough and took one of those nipples into his mouth. When he sucked it hard, she moaned and leaned into him.

He didn’t know if she’d object or smack him, but he yanked off the shirt and the bra and tossed them to the side. Then he went after her breasts with a vengeance, licking and sucking and squeezing. Mallory threw her head back, more little moans drifting from her mouth, the sound of them heating him up even more. He didn’t even stop to think about what he was doing, or the trouble he could get into because of it. He knew he wanted this woman and that hunger was driving him forward.

Mallory arched up to him, her nails scraping his back, the sensation shooting straight to his cock and his balls. He was afraid he’d come just from sucking her breasts and miss the best part of the fun. He lifted his mouth and slid it to the hollow of her throat, where he swirled the tip of his tongue before dusting kisses along her neck.

Realizing at last that they were in a somewhat uncomfortable position, he lifted Mallory and moved her body so she was straddling him. She sat pressing against him so his cock was nestled right at the vee of her thighs, at the heat of her sex. He was sure she could feel how hard and thick his dick had become. He had to restrain himself from ripping her clothes off and plunging into her fast and quick. But that wasn’t him. It was bad enough that he was probably breaking a million rules. He needed to treat her with respect. She was a strong woman who had survived an ordeal that would have destroyed a lot of people. He might never see her again—although he pushed that aside—but he wasn’t going to go at her like a rutting pig, either, despite how he’d started out. And he wanted to make sure she knew that.

He lifted his head, cradled her face in his palms and looked directly into her eyes.

“Before we go any further, I don’t want you to feel you have to do this,” he told her. “You’ve been through an ordeal and I want to respect that. The fact that I want you, bad, shouldn’t come into consideration.”

She smiled and raked her fingers through her hair, and her disheveled look only made her appear sweeter and sexier.

“I don’t do anything I don’t want to,” she told him, her breathing accelerated. “And I want this, too.” Her lips curved in a very sexy smile. “What better way to celebrate the fact that I’m alive and not with my head rolling on the floor in some barbarian’s camp? And who better to celebrate with than the man who rescued me?” She gave him a tiny smile. “I do want this, Rocket. And it’s not an obligation for saving me. Okay?”

She grabbed his head and pressed her lips to his, sliding her tongue into his mouth.

Holy shit! Even her kisses were off the charts.

“Okay. Good to know.” He cupped her chin. “We’ve got most of an hour before the helo gets here. I think I know a good way to pass the time, right?”

“Yes.” She wriggled against his cock. “I want this. With you.”

He locked his gaze with hers for a long moment, but he felt a little better about this now. “Good. I want this, too.”

The time for talking was over. Rocket set Mallory aside so he could strip off his fatigues and lay them on the floor to give her as much protection from the dirt as possible. He thought about leaving his boxer briefs on, then figured, what for?

When he turned around, Mallory had kicked off her shoes and stripped off her jeans. She looked at him as she eased her bikini panties down her legs, giving a sexy wiggle. Was it possible for him to get any harder? If he did, his dick might just break off. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her toned legs, her nicely rounded butt and the trimmed patch of auburn hair that covered her sex. His mouth watered as he imagined her sweet taste.

They were lying on the floor, naked bodies pressed together, the heat of her sex scorching him, when his brain kicked into gear.

Shit!

“Mallory?”

“I thought we were done talking.” She wriggled beneath him.

“Yeah, well, I have to tell you this.”

She frowned up at him. “A confession? Now?”

“Uh-huh. I, uh, don’t have any condoms with me.”

She burst out laughing. “I already figured that. You’re on a mission, not a night out. No sweat. I’m on birth control.”

“And I’m clean,” he assured her. “I get tested regularly.”

He didn’t want to tell her it was a leftover from his days as an extreme horndog. He waited for her to say something, but instead she pulled his head down to hers and licked his lips. Her tongue was like a hot flame, scorching him clear to his balls. He held her head in place as he licked every inch of her mouth before trailing his tongue along her chin and down her neck. He pressed the tip of his tongue against the hollow of her throat, feeling the strong beat of her pulse, before moving down the smooth skin between her breasts. He loved the feel of them against his hands as he palmed them and rolled the nipples between thumb and forefinger.

Mallory moaned, a soft, sensuous sound as he trailed his mouth down over the slight curve of her stomach until he reached that gorgeous thatch of auburn hair. He slid his arms beneath her thighs so he could place them over his shoulders and used his thumbs to separate the plump lips of her sex. The pink bud of her clit peeped out at him and he couldn’t resist stroking it with his tongue.

Mallory shivered and lifted her hips, raising herself closer to his mouth. Shit, she tasted like the sweetest sin, a flavor that he had a feeling he could become totally addicted to. He traced the delicate skin on either side of her clit with slow licks, stopping to nibble that little bud every few seconds. Each time he did, she made such a delicious sound that his hunger spiked even more, and she tried to lift herself to his mouth. The painful ache in his dick and his balls told him he was closer than he would have liked. He wanted to make sure she got her orgasm before he lost all control.

Nudging her thighs farther apart, he slid two fingers into her soaked channel, humming his satisfaction as her inner walls tightened around them. Her eyes were closed and her face flushed with pleasure, obvious even in the dim light of the cave. The little sounds she made aroused him even more. When he added a third finger, she planted her feet on either side of him and pushed herself into his touch.

“Don’t stop,” she begged.

He gave a low, throaty chuckle. “Don’t worry. I have no intention of stopping.”

As he increased the pressure, he curled his fingers slightly so that with each glide, he scraped lightly against her sweet spot. She pushed against his hand harder and harder, riding it, her little moans making him impossibly more aroused.

Her orgasm rolled through her, tightening her body, her inner walls fucking his fingers. He thrust again, pinched her clit…and she came, making those delicious tiny sounds as her liquid coated his hand.

At last the shivers subsided, the groans of pleasure became softer and her body relaxed slightly. But he was almost at the breaking point, drinking in the sight of Mallory lying naked and flushed on the floor. He was so aroused by this time that he had to grit his teeth and reach for control.

Then he was on his knees between her thighs, lifting her legs to rest on his shoulders so her hips were raised. She was open to him and he could not wait another minute. With his fingers wrapped around his throbbing dick, he positioned the head at the opening of her sex, drew in a breath and thrust forward. Her hot, wet flesh gripped him like a vise, the electricity of it shooting straight to his balls.

Oh, sweet Jesus!

He didn’t remember the last time he’d fucked where his cock was bare. The sweet feel of her skin and her liquid sent him into overdrive. He closed his eyes for a moment to gather himself. Then, with his palms beneath the cheeks of her incredible ass, he began the familiar rhythm. It didn’t matter that they were in this cave, his clothes spread out as a shield on the dirt floor, or that the light was so dim he couldn’t see every inch of her the way he wanted to. All that mattered was that this delicious, hot woman was here and he was having the best sex of his life with her.

She grabbed his forearms, digging in her nails as she moved with him. They fell into a rhythm as if they’d been doing this forever, as if their bodies were used to it. Every one of his nerves was on fire. In, out, back, forth…he wanted to make it good for her, but his control was snapping.

“I can’t last much longer,” he gasped, “although I’m trying, babe. I really am.”

“I’m almost—almost—yes!”

He felt the surge of her second orgasm and the clenching of her walls just as he exploded. Their bodies throbbed together, spasming, her tight sex pulsing around his shaft. On and on it went, beyond anything he expected, until finally the last tremor faded. He managed to lower her legs to the ground and fell forward, catching himself on his elbows. He studied her face, seeing the satisfied glow and the look in her eyes. His heart was still beating erratically and hers matched the rhythm.

For a long time, they just lay there like that, staring at each other as if exchanging silent conversation. Then he lowered his mouth to hers and indulged in a deep, deep kiss. And when the last of the tension finally left both their bodies, he eased his cock from her grasp and sat back on his heels. Fishing in the pocket of his pants, he pulled out the bandana he used to wipe sweat from his face and cleaned both of them.

“We’ll both need a good shower after this.” He chuckled, but then his face sobered. “Mallory, I—”

She reached up a hand to touch his lips with her fingers. “Don’t. Do not say a word. Don’t ruin it. Please.”

“But I should—”

“No.” She shook her head. “It was special and let’s keep it that way.”

Rocket had no idea where the conversation would have gone from there, but at that moment his radio squawked. “Rocketman here.”

“Helo is four clicks away,” came the voice from the command center. “Get ready. How copy?”

“Good copy.” He clicked off and looked at Mallory. “Time to get ready.”

They dressed in silence, brushing off as much dirt from their bodies and their clothes as they could. Before they left the cave, he pulled her into his arms for one last kiss, as tender as it was erotic.

“Just so you know,” he told her when he lifted his mouth from hers, “I’m never going to forget this, Mallory.”

“Me neither, Rocket.” She brushed her lips against his. “By the way, where did your call sign come from?”

He grinned. “We’ll save that for another time. Because I’m sure, no matter how long it takes, there will be one.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

“And now we’d better get out there so the helo can see us.”

He checked the immediate area outside the cave before motioning her forward. Just as she stepped outside, Rocket heard the sound of the rotors and the helo lowered to the plateau just outside the cave. Rocket grabbed Mallory’s hand and they ran for the door one of the men inside was just sliding open. Rocket boosted her inside before grabbing for the hands that hauled him up.

Then they were airborne.

As the chopper cut through the night, Rocket quietly studied Mallory. Was she glowing or was that his imagination? Could the others in the helo look at her—or him—and guess what had taken place? As he studied her, as casually as possible, she glanced over at him and their gazes locked. For one moment, heat flashed, then she looked away. He’d broken protocol with her, but he couldn’t find it in himself to regret it. What the hell, anyway. He’d never see her again, and that actually saddened him.

When they finally reached the field camp and Mallory was helped down out of the helo, two men came running forward to hurry her off. Rocket watched, and at the last minute before being hustled into a car, she turned and waved.

Then she was gone, and for a long moment, Rocket wondered if the whole thing had even happened at all.

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About the Author

Desiree Holt

A multi-published, award winning, Amazon and USA Today best-selling author, Desiree Holt has produced more than 200 titles and won many awards. She has received an EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and many others including Author After Dark’s Author of the Year. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The London Daily Mail. She lives in Florida with her cats who insist they help her write her books, and is addicted to football.

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