Tasha Linthrop paved a path all her own by becoming a cover model and opening her own boutique. Marcus Everly is a veteran who isn’t ashamed to put his physique in front of the camera to pay the bills while pursuing his passion of working with other veterans.
The two have been friends, dancing around their attraction to one another, and when they finally get together, it’s explosive. But can Marcus move beyond his doubts of being good enough for Tasha? Especially when another shows interest in her? Tasha will have to decide who holds her heart.
Marcus’s ragged breath across Tasha’s skin electrified her, bringing her body back to life after being dormant for what seemed too long. While one hand pressed into her back, his other pushed aside the fabric of her tank revealed beneath her off-the-shoulder sweater. His hot mouth moved down her neck and across her shoulder, licking and nipping and driving her insane.
Tasha gripped his steely arms, loving his muscles and the sheer size of him, trying to maintain balance as the world spun around her. Marcus was six feet of powerful man with delicious chocolate skin and soulful ebony eyes that always held humor.
Tonight his eyes seemed to hold a look of determination. A look that said he would have her.
The two had been acquaintances for a handful of years, both working as cover models for the same photographer, Jesse Steed. Since first meeting Marcus Everly, of course, she thought he was gorgeous. What woman wouldn’t? He was physically stunning, and his humor and intelligence were a nice change from the many self-absorbed pretty boys Tasha seemed to attract. Tasha had been modeling for Jesse for three years already when Marcus came on board. He was prior military, and now at the age of thirty-two, he continued to keep himself in fine shape. Over the course of two years, her fascination and attraction only grew stronger.
Of course, with Marcus’s heavy flirting, and Tasha’s ability to handle it as well as give it back, it was a wonder they hadn’t arrived at this point before now. They’d been circling one another more and more the past few months.
It was the start of February and they had just finished a nighttime shoot when Marcus said he’d see Tasha home. Once at the threshold of her apartment, he surprised her by backing her into her place, tearing off their coats, and kissing her senseless.
A niggling in the back of her mind wondered if this was a good idea, although she couldn’t exactly say why. But when a tempting male caused wicked excitement in your body, how could you possibly stop? Tasha yearned for his attention, for his ability to make her mindless. She wanted complete abandonment of everything but pleasure.
Audri’s a photographer’s assistant, and she secretly fantasizes about Carson, the sexy cover model they’re working with. She never expects him to feel the same way. When an impromptu photo shoot puts them in each other’s arms, they’ll learn that life can change in a flash. But with obstacles thrown in their way, like a vengeful ex and pain from the past, can they find a way to break through their barriers in order to win one another’s hearts?
Eric Wilde has always known that Piper Lane isn’t for him. She is his younger brother’s best friend…and probably more. But that hasn’t stopped Eric from wanting her. For longing for the one woman that he can’t have. Sure, he’s rich, successful—he’s built a security empire, and he’s got the world at his feet. Only he doesn’t have her.
He is the one man she needs the most.
Free-spirited Piper Lane has always considered Eric to be the enemy. He’s seemed to resent her, and the guy just flat-out makes her nervous. Every time she’s around him, she winds up doing something horribly embarrassing. But, this time…everything has changed. This time, he’s the one man she needs the most.
Something is stalking Piper.
A stranger has broken into Piper’s home twice, and she feels like someone is following her. Watching her every move. She needs a professional to help her—so enter Eric Wilde. He promises her protection, he promises to put his best investigators on her case, and he even moves her into his house. Suddenly, the guy who has always been the villain in her life…he’s now playing the role of hero.
Everything will change as the danger mounts.
And maybe Eric isn’t so bad, after all. The more time that Piper spends with him, the more she realizes that her feelings for Eric are far more complicated that she ever imagined. Desire explodes between them even as the danger deepens around her. Someone in the dark is targeting Piper, and he is determined that if he can’t possess her…then he will destroy her.
Gwenevere Solomon is the current “It” girl in Hollywood. The star of a dozen films, she seemingly has the world at her feet. Gwen’s problem? She also has one very dangerous stalker at her door. His attacks are getting bolder, and Gwen is becoming more and more afraid. Because this stalker…he knows secrets that she’s fought hard to keep buried. The kind of secrets that can destroy a woman’s life.
A ghost from her past can save her.
Gwen needs protection, and she needs that protection now. So enter her new leading her man…Simon Forrest. Tall, dark, and ever-so deadly, Simon is the lover she left behind. Or rather, the lover who left her behind. He went off and became a SEAL, saving the world and riding one adrenaline high after the other. But he’s back now, and as part of Wilde Securities, he’s supposed to offer the best, most discreet protection service in the business. He’ll pretend to be her lover so the press won’t realize her life is going to hell, and Simon will stop her stalker.
He can keep his hands off her…and keep her shielded at the same time.
Simon never got over Gwen, and the fact that she’s been filling the big screen with her gorgeous self? Yeah, it’s just made her even more tempting…and put her even further out of his reach. Simon was never good enough for Gwen, and he knew it. But this time, he can help her. He can catch the stalker, unmask the jerk, and keep Gwen shining in her spotlight. Easy as pie. Or, it should be.
Except…Simon might not be able to stop himself from falling for her all over again.
Because when the cameras stop watching, that’s when the real action begins…GUARDING GWEN, a sexy romantic suspense from New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Eden.
Author’s Note: Love sexy suspense and second chance romance? Then GUARDING GWEN is for you. A stand-alone romance with no cliff-hangers, this title features one red-hot, alpha hero and a strong, funny heroine who has plenty of secrets hiding in her past.
Intelligence analyst Charity Masters is raising her niece after the death of her brother. If that isn’t enough to up-end her world, she’s pulled into a government project involving shifters, and a handsome distraction in the form of tempting hawk shifter, Mason. Although her strong personality has kept men at a distance, will she allow Mason close enough to appreciate the woman inside?
As clan leader of his Native American tribe, Mason Wegi wants to ensure their relationship with the government remains beneficial but well-contained. While focusing on a project involving human and shifter DNA experimentation, not only will he have to safeguard his people, but that of the alluring and willful beauty, Charity.
Will two people from different worlds come together for their happily-ever-after?
“Are you all right?”
Charity gasped as she reacted on instinct, rolling once again and springing up, preparing for…
Always priding herself for being prepared for the unknown, Charity certainly wasn’t prepared to come face to face with a gorgeous man on a trail in Sierra Vista. As she straightened to her full height of five feet ten inches, the man still towered above her by at least half a foot. With her back to the sun, she could see his features clearly, and what she saw nearly stole her breath.
Raven hair framed his lean face, falling well below his shoulders. Topaz eyes shined brightly as his brow knitted with worry, even while his luscious mouth hinted at a smile causing his tanned skin to crinkle at the corners. Muscled arms relaxed at his sides. A rusty orange t-shirt covered his chest, stretched across clearly defined shoulders and pecs. Gray athletic pants encased his legs and he wore running shoes dusty from the dirt, looking like they got good use.
Charity blinked several times while trying to clear the haze in her head as she met his stare. “I’m fine now, thank you.”
While the man scanned her body, he asked, “Did you take a tumble? Are you sure you’re all right?”
Charity looked down at the dust and debris on her clothing, and tried to swipe herself clean. Her white tank top and red running shorts weren’t any worse for wear, but a few scrapes on her left leg got her attention. She removed the bandana around her head, allowing her long blonde hair to fall free and curtain around her as she bent forward to wipe at the cuts. When she peered up at the man again, she saw his concentrated gaze continuing to scan her.
“Are you sure you don’t need medical attention?” he asked, his voice gruff.
Charity straightened. “No, really, thank you. I nearly had a close encounter with a rattlesnake but was saved by a hawk. It was, uh, well it all happened rather quickly, stunning me. I’m not far from home, so I’ll be fine.”
“If you’re sure.”
The tenor of his voice and the note of care had her warming, and not from the overhead sun. Once again she mentally shook herself as she finger-combed her hair and twisted it back up, securing it with her bandana. When she met the stranger’s gaze, his eyes snapped from her chest to her eyes, and she swore she saw a blush sweep over his cheeks.
When the man cleared his throat, he offered an introduction. “I’m Mason, Mason Wegi.” The sound of his name was like putting a ‘W’ in front of egg and adding ‘ee’. “I was just out for a run myself. I certainly didn’t expect to come across a fair maiden in distress. Not that I’m complaining.”
There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.
She saw him in her dreams . . .
It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.
She was his buddy’s sister . . .
Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son . . . and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?
“Hon, if I put another thing on top of that pile, you’re not going to be able to see where you’re going.”
Undaunted, Naomi Luther dropped her shoulders. The subtle move lowered the boxes stacked in her arms about half an inch. She was a pro. For the past five years, she’d owned Perfect Fit, a personal-shopping business. She had this.
“Lookee,” Naomi said. “If you take that last box out of the bag, there’s enough room to slide it right on top of the others. And I’ll be able to hold it all down with my chin.”
The older woman behind the counter, Patsy Crouch, looked skeptical. “One false move and the whole shebang will come crashing down.”
“I’ll be fine,” Naomi reassured her with a jovial grin. “Go ahead. Stock it to me.”
“You are so funny,” Patsy laughed. “It’s amazing the way you’ve bounced back after—”
“Gotta keep my spirits up for Hunter.” She polished her smile, brightening its sheen. Hoping to head Patsy off at the pass. This Christmas mustbe a happy one. Which granted, was hard to pull off when everyone in town kept recounting her family’s sorrows.
“How are things with Robert?” Patsy asked.
Naomi pressed her lips together. She didn’t want to get into her love life. Or lack there of. “Robert and I are….”
What was her situation with her long-distance boyfriend? She wished she knew. When Robert took the job in Denver, they’d had an understanding. Robert would get his life and career in Colorado established and then she would join him and they’d get married. It wasn’t an official engagement. Nothing formal. He’d not asked for her hand in marriage. But she’d planned on marrying him since she was a junior in high school. She had a hope chest, and a wedding idea book stuffed with dreams.
But since last Christmas, everything had changed. And Naomi was no longer quite sure where she and Robert stood. She hadn’t seen him in four months. They texted, but it was not daily. They’d both been so busy. Shocked, she realized they hadn’t even talked on the phone in over a month.
“It’s complicated,” she said as much to herself as to Patsy. “All my focus is on Hunter right now. It has to be.”
“Does that mean he’s free to date other people?”
That pulled her up short. She hadn’t really thought about it. Robert hadn’t mentioned wanting to see other people. Was he seeing other people?
“How about you?”
Naomi made a dismissive sound. “If I had time for dating I could fly to Denver every few weeks and reconnect with Robert..”
“Robert’s not coming around to the idea of you adopting Hunter, is he?” Patsy looked at her over the rim of the reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. “That’s the real issue.”
Patsy made a good point, but she wasn’t going to discuss that. She and her parents had decided as a family that Naomi should be the one to adopt Hunter since her mother’s health was fragile and her parents were both over sixty. Robert hadn’t understood, and asked why her parents were trying to “saddle” her with her dead brother’s baby.
They’d had a huge fight over it. He didn’t get that adopting Hunter had been heridea, not her folks. In fact, they’d tried to dissuade her, telling her they didn’t want her to give up her life to raise her brother’s child. But Hunter was everything to her.
Her relationship with Robert had not been the same since, even though he’d apologized, and they’d smoothed things over.
On the surface, anyway.
“I’m sure everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” Patsy took the box out of the shopping bag she’d just put it in.
“Hopefully..” Naomi felt unsettled by Patsy’s questions because she didn’t know the answers, and she hated not being in control.
“How’s your mother?” Patsy’s voice lowered, knitting a sympathetic tone.
Naomi flinched at the pity, but kept the smile pasted on her face. Nothing was gonna get her down. The family had been steeped in sorrow long enough. Being happy didn’t mean they still didn’t grieve their losses. But if she’d learned anything, it was that life was short and you had to make the most of it.
And hey, in high school, she hadn’t been a cheerleader for nothing. Rah, Rah Twilight Titans.
“I know this is a rough time of year for your family. The holidays—”
“We’re fine.” Her smile stiffened, but she kept her voice loose. A flag flapping in the breeze. Oh, say can you see, life is good, good, good. “We’re doing great. Honest.”
“You’ve all suffered a huge loss.” Patsy added the box to the leaning Tower of Pisa in Naomi’s arms. “It’s okay to grieve. I—”
“Could you open the door for me, please? Thank you.” Naomi locked her elbows to help brace the load. Mashed her chin against the top package. Squelched the sad feelings rising up inside her.
None of that, Missy.
“How far to your van?” Patsy asked.
“It’s in the shop. Transmission overhaul. It’ll be out of commission all week.” But she wasn’t letting the inconvenience get her down.
“So how are you getting all this home?”
“Jana’s swinging around to pick me up at the curb.”
“You sure you don’t need help getting the packages into Jana’s Jeep?” Patsy folded the empty bag emblazoned with a teal peacock and stuck it back inside the drawer.
“Juggling packages is all part of the Christmas fun, right?”
Patsy hustled across the old wooden floor to open the door, moving fast for a woman in her late sixties. “Do mind your step, hon, and watch out for the workmen setting up Dickens.”
During the first weekend in December, tourists flocked to Twilight. Looking for fun at the annual Dickens on the Square festival. Normally, Naomi loved this time of year. But after last year’s tragedies…
Stop. No unwanted thoughts. Come hell or high water, this was going to be the best Christmas ever. No excuses.
With the packages blocking her view, Naomi inched down the stairs of the Teal Peacock. Workmen were stringing electrical cords and wiring. Two crewmembers carried neon orange sawhorses. They were using them to block off the cross streets.
Dang it. Now, Jana wouldn’t be able to drive through that way and pick her up. She’d have to wait on the curb with her unwieldy load while Jana circled around to the back of the building.
No worries, no worries. Smile. Life is good. Yes, her arms were screaming at her to put down the packages, but she could ignore the burn for a little longer.
Hurry, Jana, hurry.
It was okay. Achy arms weren’t going to kill her, and it wasn’t as if she didn’t have a loving community to help. Things were so much better than they were a year ago. She counted her blessings. She was healthy. Her business was turning a profit. She had parents who loved her. She lived in the best small town in Texas.
And she had the sweetest little boy who was about to become her son. Who could ask for anything more?
Lori Wilde is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers’ Weekly bestselling author of 85 works of romantic fiction. She’s a three time Romance Writers’ of America RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Readers’ Choice Award. She has won numerous other awards as well. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, with more than four million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her breakout novel, The First Love Cookie Club, has been optioned for a TV movie.
Lori is a registered nurse with a BSN from Texas Christian University. She holds a certificate in forensics, and is also a certified yoga instructor.
A fifth generation Texan, Lori lives with her husband, Bill, in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World; where they run Epiphany Orchards, a writing/creativity retreat for the care and enrichment of the artistic soul.
Lazarus super soldier Jett is the perfect predator. He’s faster, stronger, and far deadlier than a normal man—because he isn’t normal. Brought back from the dead, Jett is supposed to be little more than a machine. His heart should be ice cold, but it’s not. His heart beats fast and hard for the one woman he should never be able to possess, Savannah Jacobs.
He’s the hero she didn’t expect.
When Savannah is kidnapped, she doesn’t think she’ll escape her captors. Then mysterious Jett breaks in and takes out all of the men in the room—the masked men who’d yanked her right off a busy public street—and Jett barely breaks a sweat in the fight. Jett is tall, dark, and as sexy as every sin that Savannah can imagine. When he takes her to safety, desire explodes between them. Savannah falls fast and hard for Jett…then he walks away.
But he broke her heart.
Jett knows he can’t have Savannah. A woman as perfect and sweet as Savannah can’t possibly stay in the nightmare that is his world. He gives her up—the hardest thing he’s ever had to do—and disappears from her life. But then Jett learns that he’s been set-up. Savannah was kidnapped as part of a dark plan to throw her and Jett together, and, now, Savannah is in more danger than ever before. She’s pregnant with his child—the first woman to conceive the child of a Lazarus test subject—and Jett’s enemies will stop at nothing to get her and the baby she carries.
And she can’t ever forgive him.
Jett has to protect Savannah—and the baby. His problem? Savannah hates him, and she knows nothing about the secrets he carries. He has to earn back her trust, he has to fight for the woman who owns his heart…and he also has to reveal the painful truth about himself to her. Jett is a dead man walking. A soldier without a soul.
HOLD ON TIGHT…the Lazarus soldiers are back, and they are ready to raise some hell.