My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance novel!

16065446Notorious and fearless, Lord Trevor Montgomery must confront his greatest challenge yet: marriage!

Shy, warm-hearted Miss Grace Kenwood knows she has no chance of tempting her new neighbor, Lord Trevor Montgomery. Every eligible beauty is swooning over the brooding former spy. Even though he once kissed her senseless, he can have no interest in someone like her. Yet somehow, the seductive rogue unleashes her own inner devil…

Every lady loves a hero, but Trevor has no interest in any of them— except for the refreshingly candid Grace. If he had a heart left, Grace might steal it. She insists he’s better than he thinks. He’s sure she’s absolutely wrong. Until danger threatens, and Trevor rediscovers how easy it is to be a hero…for the right lady.

The sixth novel in a sumptuous romance series by New York Times bestselling author Gaelen Foley will make you blush with delight.

Why do you need to read this book? Other than the fact that it is book #6 in a 7 book series, I think that you need to read this book for the characters. Grace deserves a doting husband. Someone who will see her for whom she is. Trevor is the perfect match for her. Of all the books of this series, I liked this one the best. I had a bit of trouble finding a copy of this book, however and I’ve read book #7 already.

My Notorious Gentleman is available from Amazon

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – the Home of the Romance Novel!

15782195Only one woman can break through his heart of stone…

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright…

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taught him to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets his eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, and earl’s illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress.

After her father’s death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstances give her little choice except to accept the lord’s indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love guides the last lost lord home.

Why do you need to read this book? I must admit I totally loved this series! This book is the last of the trilogy and the hardest story to read in some ways. In this trilogy the boys were really damaged after they escaped their uncle. Rafe had the highest walls, and Evelyn was just the woman to bring down those walls! Wonderful read – bring tissues!

Lord of Wicked Intentions is available from Amazon

 

Excerpt: (from the author’s website)

The invitation came because of a debt owed. Owed to him. All debts were owed to him, while he owed no man anything. Not his friendship, not his loyalty, not his kindness. And certainly not his hard-earned coin.

But the Earl of Wortham, a man of little worth, Rafe Easton thought snidely, did owe him a good deal of coin, which was the reason that he was allowed into the earl’s magnificent library. He wondered briefly how long it would be before it was stripped of all the former owner’s prized possessions. He had left his son with little and what remained had been quickly gambled away in Rafe’s club.

The man wanted his credit extended and so for tonight he pretended a friendship with the Rakehell Club’s owner.

Drinking fine scotch that the earl could scarce afford, Rafe lounged insolently in a chair near the fireplace while the other lords mingled about, chuckled, chatted, and downed far too much liquor. They were a randy lot. He could sense their eagerness and anticipation hovering thickly about the room.

The young earl had a sister, although he didn’t recognize her as such. No, more precisely, she was his father’s daughter, born on the wrong side of the blanket. But on his father’s deathbed, he’d given his word that he would see to her care and that was what tonight’s gathering was about.

Finding someone willing to see to her care.

Wortham swore she was a virgin, and that knowledge had some of the lords salivating while others had sent their excuses. Rafe didn’t give a whit one way or the other. He did not bother with mistresses. They tended to cling, to desire baubles, to lead a man down a merry path only to eventually grow weary of the bed in which they slept and seek another.

He didn’t do anything that even reeked of permanence because anything that hinted at forever could be snatched away, could leave him, would leave him. Even his gaming establishment—he took no pride in it. It was simply a means to coins in his pockets. It could be taken away and he could walk from it without looking back, without a measure of regret. He had nothing in his life that meant anything at all to him, that would cause him the least hurt if he should lose it. His emotions ran on a perfected even keel and he liked it that way. Every decision he made was based on cold calculations.

He was here tonight simply for the amusement of watching these lords make fools of themselves as they vied for the lady’s attentions.

He’d heard that his brothers had been invited. That was a waste of ink on paper. They were both married and so disgustingly devoted to their wives that he couldn’t see either of them straying, not even an inch. But then what did he truly know about his siblings?

They’d finally returned to England two years later than they’d promised. Tristan a few months earlier than Sebastian. Rafe’s man had been waiting and ensured they made their way to the gaming hell. Rafe had greeted their arrival with little more than a glass of whiskey. He’d provided them with rooms and food until they’d secured Sebastian’s place as duke. He’d seen little of them since.

His choice. They invited him to join them: for dinners, for sailing, for Christmas. He declined. He didn’t need them cluttering his life. He liked things exactly as they were. He was his own man, responsible to no one beyond himself.

From somewhere down a hallway, a clock began to chime the hour of nine. Conversations ceased. The lords stilled, their gazes riveted on the door. Sipping his scotch, Rafe watched through half-lowered lids as the door opened. He caught sight of a purple hem and then–

He nearly choked on the golden liquid, as he fought not to give any reaction at all.

He suddenly had an acute understanding of why Adam was so quick to fall from grace when confronted with the temptation that was Eve. Rafe had come here to watch these slobbering idiots drooling over themselves, to measure weaknesses, to discover means of exploiting them.

He’d certainly never thought to place himself among their ranks.

But how could anyone look at her and not be momentarily dazed. She was the most exquisite creature he’d ever seen. Her hair, a shade that rivaled the sun in brilliance, was piled up to reveal a long, graceful neck that sloped down to alabaster shoulders that begged for a man’s lips to make their home there. She was neither short nor tall, but somewhere roughly in the middle. He wasn’t exactly certain where her head might land against his body. The curve of his shoulder perhaps. She was not particularly voluptuous, but she contained an elegance that drew the eye and spoke of still waters that could very well drown a man if he were of a mind to go exploring within their depths.

Which he wasn’t. He was content to appreciate the surface. It told him all he needed—all he desired—to know.

Glancing around, she appeared confused, her smile uncertain, until Wortham eventually crossed the room to stand beside her without looking as though he was with her. Two people could hardly look more different. Wortham stood stiff as a poker while she was composed, but emitted a softness. She would be the sort to touch, hold, and comfort.

“Gentlemen, Miss Evelyn Chambers.”

She dipped elegantly into a flawless curtsy. “My lords.”

He’d expected her voice to be sweet, to match her smile, but it was smoky, rich, the song of decadence and wickedness. He imagined that voice in a lower pitch, whispering of naughty pleasures, curling around his ear, traveling through his blood. He imagined deep throaty laughter and sultry eyes, lost to heated passion.

“Visit with the gentlemen,” Wortham ordered.

Again she looked confused, but then she straightened her lovely shoulders and began making her way from one man to the next, a butterfly trying to determine on which petal to light—which would be sturdy enough to support her in the manner to which she was accustomed.

He caught glimpses of her face as she worked the crowd of a dozen men. A shy smile here, a bolder one there. Furrowed brow when a gentleman rested a hand on her shoulder or arm. Fluttering eyelashes as she expertly glided beyond reach without offending. He wasn’t quite certain she understood the rules of the game she was playing. Could she be that innocent?

Her mother had been the earl’s mistress. Surely she knew what her mother’s role in his life had been—to warm his bed, to bring him pleasure, to keep him satisfied.

Sometimes she seemed to have confidence, to know exactly what she was doing. Other times she seemed baffled by the conversation. Still, it was as though she were ticking off a list, speaking to each man for only a moment or two, before moving on. Never returning to a man once they were acquainted.

Come to me, he thought. Come to me. Then he shoved the wayward thoughts aside. What did he care if she didn’t notice him? He was accustomed to living in the shadows, to not being seen. The gossamer depths offered protection equal to the strongest armor. No one bothered him there unless he desired it.

He didn’t desire her, yet he couldn’t deny that he wondered what her skin might feel like against the tips of his fingers. Soft. Silky. Warm. It had been so very long since he’d been warm. Even the fire by which he sat now couldn’t thaw his frigid core. He liked it that way, preferred it.

Nothing touched him, nothing bothered him. Nothing mattered.

She matters.

No, she didn’t. She was an earl’s by-blow on the verge of becoming some man’s ornament. A very graceful ornament to be sure. An extremely lovely one. But she would be relegated to the same importance as a work of art: to be looked upon, to be touched, to bring pleasure when pleasure was sought.

She glanced around, appearing to be lost within a room that should have been familiar to her. Then her gaze fell on him, and his body tightened with such swiftness that for a heartbeat he felt lightheaded, dizzy. He should look away, tell her with an averted glance that she was nothing to him, that he had no interest in her, and yet he seemed incapable of doing anything other than watching as she hesitantly strolled toward him.

Finally, she was standing before him, her small gloved hands folded tightly in front of her. With her this near to him, he could see clearly now that her eyes were the most beautiful blue. No, more than blue. Violet. He’d never seen the like. He imagined them smoldering with heated passion, darkening, gazing at him in wonder as he delivered pleasure such as she’d never experienced. An easy task if she had indeed never known a man’s touch.

But just as he had no use for mistresses, so he had none for virgins. He had not been innocent in a good long while, not since the night his brothers had left him at the workhouse. He had no interest in innocence. It was a weakness, a condition to be exploited, a quick path to ruin. It held no appeal.

She held no appeal.

He re-thought the words in an attempt to convince himself of their truth. But as her eyes bore into his, he was left with the realization that she was not only innocent, but very, very dangerous. A silly thought. He could destroy her with a look, a word, a caustic laugh. And in destroying her, the tiny bit of soul that remained to him would wither and die.

It was an unsettling realization, one he didn’t much like.

He watched her delicate throat work as she swallowed, her bosom rise with the intake of a long breath as though she were shoring up her courage.

“I don’t believe we’ve spoken,” she finally said.

“No.”

“May I inquire regarding your name? The other gentlemen were kind enough to introduce themselves.”

“But then I am not kind.”

Two tiny pleats appeared between her brows. “Why would you say something like that?”

“Because I am honest, at least.”

“But surely you have a name. Is it a secret? You steal children from their beds? Rumpelstiltskin perhaps? I would be hard-pressed to see you as Prince Charming.”

Fairytales. She’d been brought up on fairytales, and she seemed to have no awareness that she was swimming through a sea of ogres.

“Come. It can’t be that horrible of a name. I’d like to call you something.”

He considered suggesting Beelzebub, something to unsettle her, send her scurrying away, but for reasons he couldn’t fathom, he simply said, “Rafe.”

“Rafe,” she repeated in her smoky voice and a fierce longing fissured through him with an almost painful pricking. “Is that your title?”

“No.”

“Are you titled?”

Perhaps she wasn’t as innocent as he’d surmised. She wanted to ensure that she was well cared for, was going to be particular about whose bed she warmed. He supposed he couldn’t hold that against her. She was on the hunt for a man to please, one who would serve as her protector. She had a right to be particular.

“No,” he finally answered.

“I see you’re a man of few words.” She gnawed on her lower lip which served to plump it up and darken its red hue. He wondered how often she’d been kissed. Had she ever let a man press his mouth to hers? Had a man ever touched her skin, trailed his fingers along her high cheekbones, folded his rough hand around her neck, and brought her in close? “What are your interests?”

“None that would amuse you.”

“You might be surprised.”

“I doubt it. I’m a rather good judge of character.”

“A quick judge it would seem. I’m left with the impression that you don’t think very highly of me.”

He slid his gaze over her, admiring the curves, the dips, and swells. He couldn’t deny that she was a fine piece, but she would require a certain … gentleness and care, neither of which was in his repertoire of behavior. “I haven’t decided.”

“Unfortunately, I have, I’m afraid. I don’t believe we’d be well suited. I hope you won’t take offense.”

“I would have to give a care what you thought to be offended. I don’t.”

She opened her mouth–

“Evelyn, you’re done here,” Wortham said as he grabbed her arm and began madly ushering her toward the door.

Almost tripping over her small feet encased in satin slippers, she appeared to be attempting to shake off the earl. She was gazing over her bared shoulder at Rafe as though she was determined to have the final word, but she was no match for Wortham’s strength as they both disappeared through the open doorway. It was some minutes before Wortham returned. Rafe was surprised Miss Chambers didn’t barge in behind him. No doubt he’d dissuaded her, convinced her to lay low so as not to discourage any of the lords from having an interest in her.

“All right, gentlemen,” Wortham said, rubbing his hands together. “Does anyone wish to bid on her?”

So that was how he was going to handle the matter, Rafe mused. He’d wondered. He didn’t know why the manner in which Wortham was proceeding caused a chill in his bones. The girl meant nothing to him. It might prove interesting to see what sort of value the other lords placed on her. Especially if he could determine a way to use that knowledge to his advantage.

“I say, Wortham,” Lord Ekroth sneered, “I’ll give you five hundred quid for her, but I’ve a mind to examine her first and ensure she is a virgin as you claim.”

A round of raucous laughter accompanied the ribald suggestion.

“By all means. Each of you may examine her.”

“Excellent. I’ll go first shall I?” He and Wortham headed for the door.

Rafe envisioned Ekroth’s pudgy, sausage-like fingers traveling over her silky thighs, ripping at her undergarments, shoving into–

“I’m taking her.” Rafe could hardly countenance the words that came out of his mouth with such authority that Ekroth and Wortham stumbled in their tracks while the other lords gaped at him. Obviously, he’d imbibed a bit more than he’d thought, but it didn’t matter now. The challenge had been spoken and he never recanted his statements.

Standing, he tugged on his black brocade waistcoat that suddenly felt far too tight. “If any of you touch her, I shall separate from you the particular part that touched her. Wortham has assured us that she is pure. I don’t want her soiled by your sweaty hands or anything else. Have I made myself clear?”

“But you were only here to watch, to ascertain—” Wortham cut off his sentence and stepped nearer, lowering his voice, “—to ascertain my ability to cover my debt.”

“When have I ever confided my plans in you?”

“Then you’ll pay me the five hundred quid that Ekroth was willing to pony up?”

“I’ll allow you to continue to breathe. We’ll call it even, shall we?”

“But the terms of this meeting were that she would go to the highest bidder.”

“What value do you place on your life? Do you think anyone here can match it?” He waited a heartbeat. “I thought not.”

He downed what remained of his scotch before striding to the desk, lords leaping out of his way. If he were not a stranger to laughter, he might have at least chuckled at their antics. He found a scrap of paper, dipped a pen in the inkwell, and scratched out the address of his residence. Placing a blotter on it to keep it in place, he turned and headed toward the door. “My address. Have her there at four tomorrow. Good evening, gentlemen. It’s been a pleasure.”

Crazy in Love by Kristin Miller

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

20941980Historical inn owner Rachael McCoy has one simple rule: Don’t date guests. Ever.

After having her heart broken by a string of sweet-talking visitors, Rachael has learned her lesson. But when dangerously sexy rock star Cole Turner rolls into town and rents every room in her hotel, she starts to rethink her rule. Cole’s a rumored playboy with a sordid past, yet his touch is sinfully sweet…

Rock star and self-proclaimed sex god Cole Turner lives by a simple decree: There are no rules in love or rock and roll.

One week after botching his performance in Houston, Cole needs a quiet place to regain focus. All he wants to do is lay low and nail his two-concert show outside of Blue Lake, though a hot and heavy fling with the seductive innkeeper wouldn’t hurt. But the stubborn little vixen denies his advances, and the more he gets to know her, the more he’s determined to make her his.

As desire flames into something more intense, will the two unlikely lovers be able to bridge a gap to happy ever after?

Why do you need to read this book? I totally fell in love with this love story! Cole is a dreamy hero and I was totally smitten by the conversion Cole from bad boy to lover boy :)

Crazy in Love is available from Amazon

Curveball (Philadelphia Patriots Book 4) by V.K. Sykes

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

17902008Taylor Page has never wanted anything but a career in major league baseball. Through talent and guts, she’s finally landed a position as Assistant General Manager of the Philadelphia Patriots. But she wants the ultimate prize—General Manager. The only problem is that most men in baseball still don’t take a woman exec seriously, especially a thirty-year old blonde with no on-field experience. She needs to do something big to convince her bosses she has what it takes to run a team.

Veteran Pittsburgh outfielder Ryan Locke’s career is in jeopardy when a suddenly unreliable throwing arm comes on top of rehab from a major injury. He’s had a solid run but he’s not a star with a mega-contract. A single parent with a troubled daughter and an alcoholic mother to provide for, retirement is out of the question. Ryan’s best hope is for a trade to an American League team as a designated hitter, allowing him several more years of play.

When Taylor needs to find a replacement for an injured first baseman, she comes up with an innovative but risky idea: convince her boss to make a trade for Ryan Locke, and then convince the still talented slugger to play first base for the Patriots. With Ryan dead-set against that plan and both their careers on the line, neither Taylor nor Ryan can afford the explosive physical attraction between them. But despite Taylor’s best efforts to resist Ryan’s campaign of seduction, she’s not sure she’s got to willpower to keep from playing along.

Why do you need to read this book? This was a great story of a strong woman holding her own in a man’s world. I loved the character of Taylor!

Curveball can be purchased at Amazon

Excerpt:

While Ryan paid the bill for their drinks, Taylor slipped out into the hallway, too jittery to wait in the lounge. And though it was unlikely that anyone from the party downstairs would come up and stumble across them, she loathed risking even the slightest chance.

The part of her brain not completely swamped by the need to be in Ryan’s arms was knocking hard on the inside of her skull, telling her to run, not walk to the nearest elevator and flee the hotel.  But with all the will in the world, she couldn’t.  As she watched Ryan through the glass doors of the bar, taking in his easy and unconscious masculine grace as he exchanged a few words with the waitress, she knew she wanted him as much as she’d ever wanted anything in life—including her job with the Patriots.  Nothing had ever come close to that before, and the idea that a potential relationship with Ryan did come that close filled her with reckless exhilaration.

It also scared the pants off of her. Well, her panties were definitely coming off tonight, but not as the result of fear.

She retreated down the hallway and lurked by the door leading to the stairwell.  Taylor knew she was acting like a crazy person, but since Ryan’s room was only two floors down there was no point in risking an elevator run-in with someone they knew.  She wished she wasn’t such a coward, but just saying yes to this and then actually following through was using up her current store of courage, and then some.

Command Performance by SaraJane Stone

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

storeitemSubject: Chief Warrant Officer Hunter Cross

Mission: Keep Margaret Barlow distracted…using any means necessary!

Ranger Hunter Cross is the army poster child—excitement, danger and no strings in sight. And he’s been in town exactly three hours before a curvy blonde named Maggie flashes him a look that says “You belong in my bed.” It’s a night of wicked satisfaction. And it’s a night they can never repeat….

All Professor Maggie Barlow wanted was orgasm—or three—from the dead-sexy Ranger. Having him as her official army liaison while she works on her new book? That wasn’t in the plan. Especially when she learns that Hunter has orders to “control” her. Little does the army know that when it comes to their deliciously naughty nighttime activities, Hunter is at Maggie’s complete command….

 

Why do you need to read this book? Another Blaze book…they are short, hot and easily read in a couple of hours. Command Performance was super hot and well worth the read!

 

Command Performance can be purchased: Amazon

Excerpt:

“Goodbye, control,” Maggie muttered, her hands trembling with a mix of excitement and nerves. “Hello, fantasy.”

She stepped into the car show refreshment tent and paused, her fingers playing with the clasp on her purse. Fans blasted, but she still feared she might break into a sweat. And wouldn’t that be attractive?

She forced her fingers to still. Sexy women, the ones who left men desperate to touch, possessed confidence, not anxiety. If she kept playing with that clasp, her bag might fall open and expose the box of ribbed-for-her-pleasure protection Olivia had given her in the car. Turning red with embarrassment wouldn’t help her confidence.

Why shouldn’t she feel confident? She was a careeroriented author and professor. And she knew she looked good tonight. She had big breasts and a trim waist—both of which were on display thanks to the backless green shirt Olivia had chosen. Wearing it meant Maggie had been forced to leave her bra at home.

She glanced down at the full D-cups pressing at the front of her shirt as if screaming to the room look at me! Had anyone noticed? Had one of these men caught sight of her and said, “Wow! I bet she would look great topless and bent over the hood of my car”? She scanned the tent and spotted a couple of men staring at her, their eyes never drifting above her chest.

“The shirt. It’s working,” Maggie murmured to her best friend.

Olivia stood half a step behind her, blocking the exit as if she feared Maggie might bolt at any moment. “Of course it is. Now all you have to do is walk to the bar and order a drink.”

Maggie nodded, squared her shoulders and wobbled to the bar, silently cursing Olivia for insisting she wear the four-inch heels. Her feet ached for her sensible, everyday flats. But she needed the height advantage. Without the stilettos, all five foot three inches of her would be lost in the sea of towering males.

And there were definitely Men here. Capital M. At the tables, on the folding chairs, leaning against the makeshift bar—muscular, don’t-mess-with-me Men. The type of guys she’d always admired from a distance, as if they were part of a display with a little sign that read Look, But Don’t Touch.

Tonight she wanted to touch.

Some wore uniforms, but most were dressed in civilian clothes. Still, their military-issue haircuts gave them away. They might be wearing jeans and T-shirts, but they were soldiers. Not that this was surprising. It made sense that a car show near a military academy would be overrun with soldiers and cadets. Most men liked cars. The guys in this tent probably spent 50 percent of their free time rebuilding their engines.

Not Maggie. She’d never even changed a flat tire. Not once.

Her nerves kicked into gear again. Her fingers drummed against her thighs as she picked her way through the crowd. She fought to quiet them and focus. She was on a mission. And it had nothing to do with car parts and everything to do with hard-bodied males.

When they reached the temporary wooden counter, Maggie signaled the bartender. “Vodka tonic, please.”

Olivia raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything before adding a glass of white wine to the order.

Their drinks arrived and Maggie took a long sip from hers. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d ordered hard liquor. She rarely drank the stuff, always afraid she might have inherited her father’s love of booze, and when she did have a drink, she generally preferred a glass or two of wine, or a beer on a hot summer afternoon. One sip of vodka and she was feeling warm and a little tipsy, which was surprisingly pleasant. It even dulled her desire to drive back down to Manhattan and hurl something at her ex. A few more of these and she might have the guts to follow through with Olivia’s crazy plan.

“Liv, you do realize most of these guys are soldiers. Probably half either teach at or attend West Point.” Maggie noticed she’d downed half her drink. “What if I end up having to deal with one of them while researching my book?”

“Relax, you won’t.” Olivia shook her head. “Anyway, I thought the men you were interviewing were based in Tennessee.”

“They are, but the generals are in town.”

Olivia reached over and patted her hand. “I promise I’ll make sure he’s not a general.”

“But I could never date a soldier.”

“It’s only for one night,” Olivia reminded her. “Why should you care what he does for a living if you’re not planning on seeing him beyond tonight? Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a mechanic. This is a car show.”

Maggie drained the rest of her drink. “What if I pick a guy and he turns me down?” Her nerves—and the vodka—sent her stomach into somersaults. “What if I make a complete fool of myself? It’s not like I have a lot of experience with men.”

“Look at me.” Olivia leaned closer. “You can do this. Now. Tonight. If you don’t, then duty, responsibility, your need to be the best at your job—it will smother you.”

Maggie held on to the bar with one hand as Olivia’s words sank in. Her sense of duty had started smothering her years ago when her father began drinking. This was her chance to escape. If she didn’t act now, she might lose the part of herself that craved orgasms. The part of herself that wished she’d told her fiance she wanted wild sex on his desk and so much more.

“You’re right,” Maggie said softly.

Olivia smiled and signaled the bartender for a second round. “Now, look around. See anything you like?”

Feeling the vodka pulsing through her, Maggie boldly scanned the refreshment tent. What was she looking for? Muscles. The kind that came from the hard work required to transform a man into a soldier or from lifting engine parts. But four out of five guys in here looked like they could bench-press her one-handed. And thanks to her breasts, she wasn’t one of those hundred-pounds-soaking-wet women.

She took a second look and mentally eliminated about half of them. Too young. She wanted a man who knew things about sex. She wanted an orgasm that left her breathless, boneless and begging for more.

Her gaze landed on a green polo, tight but not too tight. And those biceps? They shouted touch me. Her eyes drifted over his shoulders to his face, framed by straight brown hair. She’d always liked brown hair. Staring at his profile—he was deep in conversation with an equally handsome but not quite as sexy man across the table—she could see his mouth curving upward in a half smile. Those lips. He had the type of mouth that begged a woman to say kiss me lower down, please.

Maggie clutched her drink and drew her gaze away from his face. Twelve months of unfulfilling sex had driven her mad if she was thinking about his lips kissing her therebefore she’d even said a word to the guy. She blinked and took in the rest of him. She could see the endless length of his legs stretched out beneath the table.

Her body tingled as she drank in the sight of him. With a long, sculpted body like that he must know how to do things, deliciously sinful, wild things that previously only existed in her fantasies. He turned and looked right at her, and then smiled. She tightened her grip on her nearly empty drink. Those eyes. That mouth. She’d bet her inheritance that man knew ten ways to give a woman the best orgasm of her life. If he looked at her like that much longer, she might come right here. Her thighs tightened at the thought. This man would say yes. He wouldn’t turn her down. Not after that look.

Maggie blinked and turned to the bartender. “Cancel the vodka tonic. Just water, please.”

The liquor had made her bold, maybe even a little reckless, but if she wished to remember every detail about tonight, she needed water. “Do you remember George Clooney when he was young? When he was on ER?”

“Oh, yeah.” Olivia took her wine from the bartender. “He was on the show when we first started watching it in high school.”

“Green polo, blue jeans at eight o’clock.”

Olivia raised an eyebrow. “He’s not your usual type.”

“He has George Clooney’s eyes. Bedroom eyes.” Maggie reached for her water and drained half the glass. “Tonight, he’s my type.”

Chief Warrant Officer Hunter Cross knew a come-on look when he saw one. A look that said, I want you naked in my bed. Tonight.

He leaned back on his rickety wooden folding chair and let a slow smile spread across his face, a move he’d perfected at sixteen to get the captain of the debate team into the backseat of his mother’s car. He’d always had a thing for supersmart girls. Of course, he’d moved beyond sex in the backseat since high school, but not much.Commitment was a dirty word in his mind, and long-term made him shudder. Not even the woman at the bar with her soft shoulder-length curls or touch-me breasts would tempt him to change his mind.

Across the room, the blonde pursed her lips, unsure if she should proceed with their unspoken dance. That expression. It was a mix of bold and innocent, an intoxicating combination that went right to his crotch. He let his eyelids lower slightly.

“I know that look isn’t for me,” Riley, his friend and former team leader, said from across the table.

“The blonde at the bar. She just gave me a green light.”

Riley chuckled. “You’ve been in town for less than three hours and you’ve already found a woman.”

“Hey, I’ve been laid up in a hospital for two months.” Before that, he’d been in Afghanistan. He would have left unscathed if his team hadn’t been ordered to rescue three female aid workers traveling to a remote clinic. And thanks to a teammate’s mistake, he’d taken a bullet in the process.

“How’s your arm?” Riley asked, his expression serious.

“Fine.” Hunter rolled his shoulder. It still ached. Nothing the blonde couldn’t fix.

“Logan feels awful about how it all went down.”

Hunter started to say it wasn’t Logan’s fault, but stopped. They both knew it was. His friend and teammate had been distracted after losing his young wife to cancer before they shipped out, and as a result he’d messed up—and Hunter had been shot.

“Any thoughts about getting out? Resigning your commission?” Riley asked.

“Hell, no.”

“I heard one of those private security companies offered you a job,” Riley said quietly.

“Yeah, but you know me. I live for being a Ranger. Hell, I’m hoping they’ll give me your old job.” With Riley bowing out as head of their team, Hunter was in line for the job he’d always dreamed of and a pay hike. A small one. “I could sure use the extra cash.”

“Trust me, the pay bump is so small you’ll barely notice. It’s nothing compared to what those private companies pay.” Riley pulled out his wallet. “But I can help you out tonight. The beers are on me. I need to be getting home.”

“Curfew?”

“I like to be in bed with my wife before she falls asleep,”

Riley replied with a smile. “If you ever settle down, you’ll understand.”

“I think I’d take another bullet before relinquishing my freedom.”

“Someday you’re going to eat those words. When the right woman comes along, you’re going to fall so hard you’ll give up everything to be with her. Everything.”

“Did they brainwash you when you made those vows?” Hunter joked. Riley didn’t know he’d already sacrificed everything he had for his sister. He had nothing left to provide for a wife and family of his own.

Riley laughed.

“Listen, I think it’s great what you’ve got,” Hunter said. “But I’m committed to the army. I’m dying to get back to active duty. Married life? It’s not for me.”

“If you say so.” Riley set a twenty on the table and stood. “Think you can catch a cab back to the hotel if things don’t work out with your green-light girl?”

That’s no girl, Hunter thought. She has “woman with needs” written all over her. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll find my way to bed.”

Riley slipped his wallet into his back pocket. “If you end up sticking around the area for a while, give me a call and I’ll drive down for another drink.”

“Will do. But next time I pick the venue. Not that I didn’t enjoy picking out replacement parts for your wife’s truck.”

Riley patted him on the shoulder, his good one. “Deal.”

Hunter’s gaze shifted to the cash on the table as his friend headed toward the exit. In the past, he’d have insisted on paying for his own beer. But right now, his cash flow situation was pretty dismal. If he hadn’t been ordered to fly up here when he’d been released from the physical therapy center, he would be crashing on one of his teammates’ couches until they were deployed again. With his sister back in rehab and all the bills coming to him, he could barely afford the beer in his hand.

Hunter took a long sip. In his book, family came first. Always. His sister was the only family he had left. He refused to lose her to a meth overdose.

“Mind if I join you?”

The soft words yanked Hunter away from his thoughts. The woman from the bar stood with one hand on the chair next to his, her blue eyes wide and uncertain. Her other hand maintained a death grip on her glass. Nerves, he guessed. She might be playing the part of the brazen blonde tonight, but he’d bet his next paycheck that casting come-hither looks at strangers wasn’t a habit.

Hunter smiled and stood to pull a chair out for her. “Please.” He extended his hand. “Hunter Cross. And you are?”

“Maggie.” She shook his hand and then slipped into the chair. He’d noticed the smooth expanse of skin exposed by her backless shirt when she’d been at the bar, but seeing her up close made him want to touch, to run his hand over the place where her bra line should be, but wasn’t. He moved back to his chair to admire the view from the front. Little Miss Maggie’s taut nipples strained against the thin fabric.

God help him, he loved breasts. And full braless breasts? They drove him wild.

The woman who now stood beside him looked as if she’d gotten lost on her way home from a cruise ship. “Three questions and then I’ll leave you two alone.”

Little Miss Maggie’s friend had rushed over to “help.”

Great. But he didn’t try to send her back to her ship. He merely nodded, prepared to face the interrogation. “Okay.”

“Are you married?” she demanded.

“Fair question.” He didn’t take his eyes off her face. He could understand a friend looking out for her own. “No, ma’am.”

“Are you a soldier?”

Hunter hesitated. He knew lots of women picked up soldiers. As a rule, he tried to steer clear of them. Women on the hunt for a hero wanted commitment no matter how much they pretended otherwise. Marriage might be perfect for Riley, but the last thing Hunter needed was another person to support.

He glanced at Maggie. The brazen blonde who’d approached him sat biting her lower lip, her brow furrowed as if she was trying to decide whether she should punch her friend or turn tail and run. He lowered his gaze to her chest. Hunter wanted her to stay. Badly.

“Yes, ma’am.” He met the friend’s challenging gaze.

“Army.”

His interrogator frowned and turned to Miss Maggie. “He’s not a mechanic.”

A mechanic? Seriously? He’d never heard of women trying to pick up mechanics. Maybe New York ladies were more practical. Why snag a soldier when you could have someone around to fix your car?

But he couldn’t let Miss Maggie walk away because he didn’t take apart engines for a living. He smiled. “I’m not. But I know how to change a tire.”

“Great,” Maggie said, her brow relaxing.

“Are you a general?” her friend demanded.

He let out a bark of laughter. A general? What the hell?

Sure, some women went after navy SEALs. Maybe some even wanted army rangers. But autoworkers and generals? “No, ma’am.”