Review: Out of Time by Monica McCarty

Out of Time by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 31st 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A team of Navy SEALs go on a mission and disappear without a trace—they are The Lost Platoon.

With his men scattered to all corners of the globe after a disastrous secret op in Russia, Lieutenant Commander Scott Taylor is trying to find out who was responsible for leaking the information that killed half his platoon. Were it not for Natalie Andersson, the woman he’d been secretly dating in the Pentagon who’d warned him of the danger, he knows they’d all be dead. Scott is devastated when he hears that the woman he loved and hoped to marry has been killed for helping him—until he learns that Natalie was the spy who betrayed them. But when his search to clear his name brings him face-to-face with a very much alive Natalie, Scott realizes that justice and vengeance might not be as clear-cut as he thought.

Natalie Andersson, or as she was born Natalya Petrova, has put the memories of her early childhood in Russia behind her. She never dreamed that she would be at the center of an elaborate “sleeper” espionage program. Even when she learns the truth, she refuses to spy for the country of her birth, until the Russians threaten the lives of the only family she’s ever known. But Natalie is the worst spy in the history of spying, falling for her target. When her attempt at misdirection leads to irreversible consequences, she’s forced to run for her life, with her lover hot on her tail.

This book is without doubt my favorite of the Lost Platoon series. This sexy, action-packed series has been a roller coaster of a ride and wrapped up wonderfully in Out of Time. I’ve been sucked in to the suspenseful plot and hot romances, so it’s bittersweet knowing that this is the end of Navy SEAL Team Nine. But even though I hated to see it end, it was so worth the read.

It’s Lieutenant Commander Scott Taylor’s turn to get his romance, but this time it involves secret identities and betrayal. Scott had secretly been dating Natalie Andersson and been preparing to propose to her when half his team is killed and the rest had to scatter across the globe and go into hiding, including himself. If that wasn’t enough, he finds out Natalie has died in a car accident… except she hasn’t. She’s alive and well, but all his love for her died along with her fake death when he discovers that she’s double-crossing the U.S. and working for Russia and the people who killed his team. Of course, not all things are black and white, and there is much more to Natalie’s story than just betrayal.

Not only do we get Scott and Natalie’s edge-of-your-seat romance, we finally get Colt and Kate’s long-awaited HEA. They are a big reason why I loved this book so much. Monica McCarty has teased us bit by bit with this heart-wrenching divorced couple’s relationship over the past few books, and their story finally comes together in Out of Time. Colt realizes he’s messed up the best thing to ever happen to him. Kate isn’t sure she can go through a relationship with him again. The angst, the tears, the heartbreak were REAL, and I just couldn’t put their second chance romance down.

She’d made him think that he could make her happy.
But he’d never believed it—not really.
Maybe that had been the problem. But he swore if she gave him another chance he would make it his life’s mission to prove her right. He’d do whatever it took to make her happy. Colt didn’t have any right to ask for that second chance, but he was going to do it anyway.

Out of Time is jam-packed with action and suspense. Scott needs to protect Natalie from those trying to kill her, and will go to the ends of the earth to do so. Natalie has a lot of explaining and making up to do, but once we get her side of the story, we realize how tough and resilient this woman is. The heart-pounding action is the perfect compliment to the passion and intensity of their love story.

“You’re so incredible. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

I just love this group of characters so much. Even though this is the end of the Lost Platoon, I can only hope we get more romantic suspenses from Monica McCarty in the future. She mixes suspense and romance so well, it’s hard to put down. I can’t recommend this series enough for those who love this genre!


lacey


Reading Order: The Lost Platoon series

  

#1 ~ Going Dark: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Off the Grid: My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Time: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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Review: Off the Grid by Monica McCarty

Off the Grid by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 3rd 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A team of Navy SEALs go on a mission and disappear without a trace–they are The Lost Platoon.

Investigative reporter Brittany Blake may have stumbled upon the story of a lifetime in her search for her missing brother. When he seemingly disappears overnight, she refuses to accept the Navy’s less-than-satisfying explanation. She begins her own investigation, which leads her to top-secret SEAL teams, covert ops, and a possible cover up…

John Donovan is having trouble biding his time, waiting for his Commanding Officer to figure out who set up their platoon. John’s best friend and BUD/S partner, Brandon Blake, was one of the many lives tragically lost in the attack against his team. When Brandon’s sister, Brittany, tracks John down, looking for answers, he realizes that she may be their best bet–or bait–for finding out who is targeting SEAL Team Nine.

The Lost Platoon series is the kind of romantic suspense that I LIVE for. I am utterly addicted to the action, the steam, and the chemistry between the main characters. I put off reading Off the Grid until the third book released so I could binge them back to back, and boy am I glad I made this decision. I was in romantic suspense heaven continuing this fantastic series. Off the Grid is the middle child of the series, though it doesn’t have the middle book syndrome. There is so much that happens, both in terms of the romance(s) and overall plot arc, so if you enjoyed Going Dark, you’re definitely going to want to read this follow-up!

Brittany Blake is an investigative reporter who knows something has happened to her missing brother. The U.S. military gave excuses for the missing men in SEAL Team Nine, but Brittany is determined to uncover the truth. The first step to doing so? Connecting with her brother’s best friend and fellow SEAL, John Donovan… the man who broke her heart years ago.

John Donovan and the rest of the surviving SEAL Team Nine men are off the grid. They can’t let either the U.S. or Russia know that they are the sole survivors of a Russian attack, as they were never supposed to be on Russian soil. But their secrecy is in jeopardy when John’s dead best friend’s sister starts nosing her way to the truth. John is tasked with distracting and eventually stopping Brittany from her investigation. But he can’t help the connection that he’s always felt for her, that flares up just as strongly now as it did five years ago.

She laughed, totally impervious to any suggestiveness. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Five years ago she used to blush when he said things like that to her.

I enjoyed Brittany and John’s characters, though at times they did seem immature. John is known as the funny guy in his team, and I loved the light-heartedness he brought to the book. He’s also a bit of a player, and I wanted Brittany to make him work just a bit harder to win her over, but I can’t blame the girl for falling so easily into his arms. A six foot plus, 200+ pound alpha-male that is allll muscle? I wouldn’t say no either.

He almost didn’t recognize himself. Brittany had turned him into some kind of less evolved, possessive, jealous version of John Donovan.

In addition to John and Brittany, we also get more of Kate and Colt’s story that we initially learned about in Going Dark. I’ll admit, a big part of why I wanted to continue the series was to get Kate and Colt’s (hopefully) happy ending, and in Off the Grid, we definitely see them heading in the HEA direction, though it’s not quite there yet. As far as second chance romance goes, this one is spectacular. All the angst and all the heartache!

Off the Grid is a fantastic installment in the Lost Platoon series, but trust me, it only gets better from here. The suspense is well done – it kept me guessing who did what. Brittany and John’s relationship starts off fast in bed, but the slower development of feelings is worth the read. As far as military romances/romantic suspenses go, this one is SO good.


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: The Lost Platoon series

  

#1 ~ Going Dark: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Off the Grid: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Time: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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ARC Review: Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward

Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 7th 2019
Links: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes an unforgettable story of passion and vengeance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

When Ahmare’s brother is abducted, there is nothing she won’t do to get him back safely. She is unprepared, however, for the lengths she will have to go to save his life. Paired with a dangerous but enticing prisoner, she embarks on an odyssey into another world.

Duran, betrayed by his father, imprisoned in a dungeon for decades, has survived only because of his thirst for vengeance. He has been biding his time to escape and is shocked to find an unlikely and temporary freedom in the form of a determined young female.

Battling against deadly forces and facing unforeseen peril, the pair are in a race to save Ahmare’s brother. As time runs out, and the unthinkable looms, even true love may not be enough to carry them through.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is one of those must-read PNR series that everyone knows, reads, and loves, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like this world of vampires and alpha-males, both of which I can never get tired of if J.R. Ward writes it. Some of my favorite bookish heroes have come from this series (RHAGE!) and for that I will forever be grateful to the Warden.

In Prisoner of Night, we get a little break from the BDB boys and are introduced to two new main characters: Duran, whose father sold him into imprisonment for twenty years, and Ahmare, who will risk anything to save her brother’s life. These two have one common enemy, Chalen, who is Duran’s tormentor and holds Ahmare’s brother hostage. They must band together in order to free themselves of Chalen, even while having their own agendas. There’s an immediate connection between them, but they try to ignore it to reach their end goal.

Ahmare kind of made him want to stick around.
Even though that was crazy talk.

While I can’t say that I loved this novella, it was a nice addition to the BDB world. It doesn’t add anything to the main storyline, but we do get to discover new characters that maybe we’ll see in the future again. And not only do we get Ahmare and Duran’s romance, we get a bonus love story in this novella too, though I wish both were fleshed out just a bit more. Now, I’m dying for the next actual BDB book, The Savior, which is Murhder’s book! I can’t wait to see what J.R. Ward has in store for us in his book!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Black Dagger Brotherhood series

    
    
    
   

#1 ~ Dark Lover: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Lover Eternal: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Lover Awakened: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Lover Revealed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Lover Unbound: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Lover Enshrined: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Lover Avenged: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ Lover Mine: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ Lover Unleashed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#10 ~ Lover Reborn: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#11 ~ Lover at Last: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#12 ~ The King: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#13 ~ The Shadows: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#14 ~ The Beast: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15 ~ The Chosen: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15.5 ~ Dearest Ivie: EbookGoodreads
#16 ~ The Thief: EbookHardcover • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#16.5 ~ Prisoner of Night: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#17 ~ The Savior: EbookHardcoverAudibleGoodreads (April 2, 2019)

Don’t miss the spinoff series.

Reading Order: Black Dagger Legacy series

  

#1 ~ Blood Kiss: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Blood Vow: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Blood Fury: My Review • Ebook • HardcoverAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Blood Truth: EbookGoodreads (Aug. 13, 2019)


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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: January 7th 2019
Add to Goodreads

From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist…

They say your first kiss should be earned.

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.

Mine were broken before we left church.

They say your heart only beats for one man.

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.

I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.

One kiss.
Two men.
Three lives.
Entwined together.

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

Buy Links:
Amazon US • Amazon UKAmazon CAAmazon AU
PaperbackAudible

review button

The Kiss Thief is my first read of 2019 and it’s already going on my favorites list for the year! TKT is deliciously hot, intense, and angsty, which is exactly what I expect from L.J. Shen. She blew me away with this arranged marriage romance, which a filthy, crude older hero and a younger heroine who finds independence and empowerment within herself. The story reminded me a bit of Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (one of my all time favorite romances) in terms of the forced marriage and the hero’s pride, but it’s different from it as well. There’s a bit of mafia, politics, and even gardening in this fantastic read, which I highly recommend everyone try. TKT had me hooked and I never wanted it to let me go.

I sucked in a breath, realizing for the first time what we were.
A story of a Nemesis and a Villain with no chance at a happy ending.
Where the prince doesn’t save the princess.
He tortures her.
And the beauty doesn’t sleep.
She’s stuck.
In a nightmare.

Nineteen-year-old Francesca Rossi is the beloved daughter of a powerful mafia man of The Outfit, and she’s always known how her future would be spelled out: to marry Angelo Bandini, the love of her life and heir to another powerful mafia family. But the future that she’s always thought was set in stone is turned upside down when her father arranges her instead to marry Senator Wolfe Keaton, a powerful political man who holds all the cards. Francesca refuses to make things easy for her fiancé, as she knows Angelo is the one meant for her… even when Wolfe is the one who awakens her mind and body.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket.

Wolfe has an agenda: to take down The Outfit, starting with Francesca’s father. He’s determined to exact his revenge, and that includes taking Francesca as his wife and collateral damage. He expects a good, subservient girl of a wife, but instead gets a woman who grows and learns to stand up for herself and doesn’t take his shit lying down. Wolfe is cruel and ruthless at times, but it’s in these moments we get to see Francesca shine with her strength and independence. And it’s obvious that no one brings him to his knees like Francesca.

“It is you that I love. It is you whom I want. It is you whom makes living a spectacular thing I want to experience, rather than participate in reluctantly, every day.”

I always say I hate the asshole heroes, but man, there is just something about L.J. Shen’s heroes that I cannot resist. Maybe it’s their passion. Maybe it’s their growing obsession for their heroines. It most definitely has to do with the epic groveling Leigh makes her heroes do to win the heroines’ hearts. I adored Francesca, and while it took me a bit to warm up to Wolfe (when I say he’s a jerk, I mean he’s a JERK), I eventually fell in love with him as well. I was addicted to their romance, their push and pull, their passion. If you’re worried about the love triangle aspect, you don’t need to. It is very clear who the hero is (if my review hasn’t already said it). And if you love angst, age gaps, and arranged marriages, you definitely need TKT in your life.


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s an excerpt from The Kiss Thief! ❤

excerpt button

“Are you sure you’re on my card?” I turned to the man with a polite yet distant smile. I was still disoriented from the exchange with Angelo when the stranger pulled me against his hard body and pressed a possessive hand lower than socially acceptable on my back, a second from groping my butt.

“Answer me,” I hissed.

“My bid on your card was the highest,” he replied dryly.

“The bids are undisclosed. You don’t know how much other people have paid,” I kept my lips pursed to keep myself from yelling.

“I know it’s nowhere near the realm of what this dance is worth.”

Un-freaking-believable.

We began to waltz around the room as other couples were not only spinning and mingling but also stealing envious glances at us. Naked, raw ogles that told me that whomever the blonde he’d come to the masquerade with was, she wasn’t his wife. And that I might have been all the rage in The Outfit, but the rude man was in high demand, too.

I was stiff and cold in his arms, but he didn’t seem to notice—or mind. He knew how to waltz better than most men, but he was technical, and lacked warmth and Angelo’s playfulness.

“Nemesis.” He took me by surprise, his rapacious gaze stripping me bare. “Distributing glee and dealing misery. Seems at odds with the submissive girl who entertained Bishop and his horsey wife at the table.”

I choked on my own saliva. Did he just call the governor’s wife horsey? And me submissive? I looked away, ignoring the addictive scent of his cologne, and the way his marble body felt against mine.

“Nemesis is my spirit animal. She was the one to lure Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection and died of vanity. Pride is a terrible illness.” I flashed him a taunting smirk.

“Some of us could use catching it.” He bared his straight white teeth.

“Arrogance is a disease. Compassion is the cure. Most gods didn’t like Nemesis, but that’s because she had a backbone.”

“Do you?” He arched a dark eyebrow.

“Do I…?” I blinked, the courteous grin on my face crumpling. He was even ruder when we were alone.

“Have a backbone,” he provided. He stared at me so boldly and intimately, it felt like he breathed fire into my soul. I wanted to step out of his touch and jump into a pool full of ice.

“Of course, I do,” I responded, my spine stiffening. “What’s with the manners? Were you raised by wild coyotes?”

“Give me an example,” he said, ignoring my quip. I was beginning to draw away from him, but he jerked me back into his arms. The glitzy ballroom distorted into a backdrop, and even though I was starting to notice that the man behind the demi-mask was unusually beautiful, the ugliness of his behavior was the only thing that stood out.

I am a warrior and a lady…and a sane person who can deal with this horrid man.

“I really like Angelo Bandini.” I dropped my voice, slicing my gaze from his eyes and toward the table where Angelo’s family had been seated. My father was sitting a few seats away, staring at us coldly, surrounded by Made Men who chatted away.

“And see, in my family, we have a tradition dating back ten generations. Prior to her wedding, a Rossi bride is to open a wooden chest—carved and made by a witch who lived in my ancestors’ Italian village—and read three notes written to her by the last Rossi girl to marry. It’s kind of a good luck charm mixed with a talisman and a bit of fortunetelling. I stole the chest tonight and opened one of the notes, all so I could rush fate. It said that tonight I was going to be kissed by the love of my life, and well…” I drew my lower lip into my mouth and sucked it, peering under my eyelashes at Angelo’s empty seat. The man stared at me stoically, as though I was a foreign film he couldn’t understand. “I’m going to kiss him tonight.”

“That’s your backbone?”

“When I have an ambition, I go for it.”

A conceited frown crinkled his mask, as if to say I was a complete and utter moron. I looked him straight in the eye. My father taught me that the best way to deal with men like him was to confront, not run. Because, this man? He’d chase.

about the author button

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • InstragramGoodreads


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Spotlight Tour // Excerpt & Giveaway: The One You Fight For by Roni Loren

Roni Loren’s latest release, The One You Fight For, is here! This is book four in her The Ones Who Got Away series. Make sure to check out the excerpt and tour giveaway below!

The One You Fight For by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 1st 2019
Add to Goodreads

How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life’s work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan…

Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother’s horrific actions. After losing everything—his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity—he’s changed his name, his look, and he’s finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy…
How do you find your happy ending?

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback
Barnes & NobleiTunes • IndieBound • BAMGoogle Play

Now here’s an excerpt from The One You Fight For! ❤

excerpt button

Lucas was waiting for her when she stepped inside the main part of the gym. The skylights flashed with the lightning outside, and the rain battered the roof, making it sound like they were inside a huge barrel. Lucas had changed into different clothes—a snug, black T-shirt and a pair of gray track pants. She worked hard not to stare.

Definitely failed.

Lucas smiled, clipboard in hand. “All ready to go?”

She shrugged. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

He didn’t seem deterred by her lack of enthusiasm as he looked down at the clipboard. “All right. Let’s walk or jog a few laps around the track to get warmed up and then we’ll try The Wall.”

He said the last two words as if they were capitalized and should be followed by of Doom.

“Wait, hold up.” Taryn lifted a finger and pointed to the giant curved wall off to the left behind Lucas. “Surely you don’t mean that wall over there.”

He glanced over his shoulder. “The very one.”

“You’ve got jokes, Lucas.”

He gave her an amused glance. “No jokes. You’re trying that wall tonight.”

Yeah, and ice-skating in hell would follow that event. “You’re nuts.”

“Maybe.” He grinned and set aside his clipboard. “I said you’re safe with me. I never said I’d be easy on you.” He clapped his hands. “Now get moving, songbird.”

“Songbird?”

“Yep.” He started running in place. “A talented singer. But also a lady who’s doing a lot of crowing right now.”

She lifted a brow, affronted. “Did you just call me a crow? Don’t make me throw my shoe at you again.”

He jogged away. “You’ll have to catch me first.”

Well, that did it. She hadn’t been a runner in a long time, but that old competitive spirit from track fired up at the challenge. She jogged after him toward the narrow indoor track and poked him in the arm when she caught up. “I’m out of practice, but not slow.”

“Getting cocky already, songbird,” he said, keeping pace with her.

She picked up her speed a little to pass him and put her arms out to flap them like wings. “Caw-caw.”

His deep laugh was a balm to the nerves she’d felt coming in here tonight. This wasn’t so bad. Lucas was easy to be around, and it actually felt good to be moving. She jogged ahead but didn’t push it too hard, still wary of what had happened at the race, and soon Lucas caught up and kept a steady pace with her.

“I want you to stay at the level of effort where you can talk but it’s a bit of a challenge to hold a conversation,” he said, his feet pounding the track next to her. “And never be afraid to ask for a break. I’ll push you because that’s what you’re coming here for, but I need to be able to trust you to tell me when it’s too much.”

“I’ll tell you,” she promised. “I’m not known for keeping my mouth shut.”

“Good. Now let’s sweat.”

Half an hour later, Taryn was warm from the inside out and dripping with sweat. Lucas looked like he was barely glistening. She hated him a little in that moment.

He handed her a bottle of water and a towel and then took a towel for himself. He wrapped it around his neck and nodded at her. “That was good work. Feeling okay?”

“I’m feeling out of shape.” She took a long sip of the water. “But okay.”

“Out of practice. That’s all,” he said, his tone reassuring. “But that’s why you’re here. Today will be the worst day. The only place to go from this point is up.”

“Right.”

“And by up, I mean up that wall.” He cocked his head toward the ridiculous obstacle.

She dried her face with the towel and groaned. “Still with the wall?”

“I keep promises,” he said, a wicked gleam in his eye. “You and I have a date with that wall.”

“I thought you didn’t date,” she teased.

“I make an exception for Wally. We’re in a steady relationship. And we’re about to invite you in.”

“That sounds dirty.” She tossed the towel aside and set her water bottle on the floor next to it. “And is it a requirement for all trainers to be sadists? Do they screen for that? Because I feel like you’re enjoying this a little too much.”

A dimple appeared in his left cheek. “Yes, it’s the third class in trainer school…How to Make Your Clients Hate You Before They Love You.”

“Uh-huh. Gotta be honest. Not loving you so much right now.”

“You’re not supposed to.” He turned. “Let’s get started.”

She frowned, his tone sounding different from the playful one he’d been using, but she followed him to the obstacle course area anyway.

Taryn put her hands on her hips and stared at the giant curved wall in front of her. The thing had to be twelve feet tall, and the rope she was supposed to capture near the top seemed to be miles away. It might as well have been hanging off the side of a ten-story building. “Shouldn’t I have, like, a skateboard or something to get up this thing? A rocket booster?”

Lucas picked up his clipboard from where he’d set it down before their run and then dug around in a gym bag near his feet. He handed her a set of kneepads. “Nope. But don’t freak out. Day one, I just need to see where you are so I can track your progress. It’s a benchmark. I expect you to suck at this one.”

“Well gee, thanks, Coach,” she said as she strapped on the knee pads. “Good speech. Very motivating. You should do a TED talk.”

He smirked, blue eyes crinkling. “Would you rather I lie to you?”

She groaned and bounced on her toes, trying to rev herself up like she used to do before a race. “No, but a little positivity wouldn’t hurt.”

“Okay.” He swung his arm out. “The mat at the bottom is soft, and you’re wearing knee pads so it probably won’t hurt that much when you fall.”

She gave him a droll look. “Are you supposed to want to hit your trainer?”

He set the clipboard aside and crossed his arms over that broad chest, looking like a Greek god with a mean streak. “You should take off the sweatshirt. The bulk is going to make it even harder to build momentum.”

“Right.” She wet her lips and, after a moment of panicked hesitation, nervously tugged off the shirt. When she dropped it to the side, leaving her in what amounted to a skintight tank top and leggings, she felt more than a little exposed and the cold air was probably making things even more visible, but she tried to keep her expression neutral. This was a gym. These were gym clothes. Lucas’s gaze darted down her body and then quickly shifted to a spot over her shoulder.

He cleared his throat. “I’m ready when you are.”

Reading Order: The Ones Who Got Away series

 

#1 ~ The Ones Who Got Away: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The One You Can’t Forget: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ The One You Fight For: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ The One For You: Ebook • Goodreads (Dec. 31, 2019)

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Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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