Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Dangerous Passions

Title: Dangerous Passions: 12 Tales of Contemporary Sexy Hot Alpha Heroes
Authors: Dana Marton, Opal Carew, Elle James, Julie Miller, Elle Kennedy, Karen Fenech,
Linda Winstead Jones, Gennita Low, Nina Bruhns, Kylie Brant, JM Madden, Caridad Pineiro
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance
Dangerous Passions: 12 Tales of Contemporary Sexy Hot Alpha Heroes — Cops, Navy SEALs, Marines, Military, FBI Agents, Secret Agents, Police Captains, Spies, and More

A romance multi-author box set and romantic suspense collections and anthologies of action and adventure, contemporary romance, military romance, romantic thriller, and sexy romance.

11 by Kylie Brant
National Bestselling Author: Five years after escaping from The Collector Mia Deleon stops hiding and teams up with security expert Jude Bishop to track her former captor. Jude’s efforts to help Mia are complicated by the growing attraction between them. Because their race to trail the sexual sadist brings Mia ever closer to the man determined to see his collection finally complete….

Dangerous Curves by Nina Bruhns
New York Times Bestselling Author: A spec ops transporter for STORM Corps takes on drones, bad guys, and car chases on the coast of Italy—and falls for a beautiful scientist whose curves are far more dangerous than the road!

In Too Deep by Opal Carew
New York Times Bestselling Author: Angel has been deep undercover in the mob for far too long. Four years ago, she was forced to betray the only man she ever loved. He barely got away with his life, and now he hates her. Too bad they’ve been partnered to work together. As man and wife.

Seal's Embrace by Elle James
New York Times Bestselling Author: Injured Navy SEAL and the critical care nurse he’s attempting to woo join forces to stop a terrorist attack at a military hospital in Germany.

Bridger's Last Stand by Linda Winstead Jones
New York Times Bestselling Author: When a one night stand makes Frannie a witness to murder and puts her in danger, Detective Malcolm Bridger refuses to let her out of his sight until the murderer is caught.

Flash Fire by Elle Kennedy
USA Today Bestselling Author: Navy SEAL Cash McCoy knows all about danger, but when it comes to the love of his life, this alpha soldier does everything in his power to keep Jen Scott happy and safe. When the tables are turned and Jen places herself in harm’s way for her job, Cash must learn to trust the woman he loves…or lose her forever.

Into Danger by Gennita Low
New York Times Bestselling Author: Navy SEAL, Steve McMillan, has been pulled from his team to work with CIA’s Task Force Two, where he’s assigned to deal with the “world’s most glamorous assassin.” Marlena Maxwell proves to be as seductive and dangerous as her reputation as the assignment becomes a game of cross and double-cross. Into Danger is the winner of RT Book Reviews’ Best Romantic Intrigue.

Embattled Hearts by J.M. Madden
New York Times Bestselling Author: For the first time in years former Marine John Palmer has met a woman that makes him feel like the man he used to be, before his catastrophic injury. When a stalker threatens her, it’s his job to remove the threat. Why does the possibility of having his heart destroyed scare him more than taking on a killer?

Deathtrap by Dana Marton
New York Times Bestselling Author: The only woman he could ever love, has a secret he could never forgive.

Shadow of the Hawk by Julie Miller, USA Today Bestselling Author: A Marine whose soul is tortured by his mystical abilities puts his life—and heart—on the line to rescue a Plain Jane school teacher and her students from an archaeological field trip gone horribly wrong.

Imposter by Karen Fenech
USA Today Bestselling Author: Chemist Dr. Eve Collins, wrongly accused by the CIA of developing a chemical weapon, learns someone has set her up as a scapegoat. That “someone” wants her dead.

Shadow of the Hawk by Julie Miller
"You shouldn't be out here alone." His voice vibrated across the distance, a bare whisper in the encroaching night.

" Are you following me?" He advanced on her, and Sarah involuntarily backed away as he quickly closed the distance with his long strides.


She jumped back from his hoarse command. The flashlight clattered to the ground, and her hair snagged on something behind her. She reached back to free her braid from its entanglement, and Hawk lunged forward.


He grabbed her wrist and yanked her toward him. At the same instant, he reached into a pocket of his vest and pulled out a knife. Not a knife. A sword! A wicked, twelve-inch killing thing that glinted in the twilight.

He raised it above his head and swung it down with deadly force. Sarah screamed. She jerked her shoulder away from the sure blow and rammed into the brick wall of his chest. His arm trapped her there like a steel vise and lifted her clear off the ground. She pounded with her fists and kicked with her legs, pummeling for all she was worth, frantic with the knowledge that he would attack her, desperately frightened to realize how much bigger and stronger and unyielding he was than she.

"Sarah! It's over now. It's okay." Her feet touched the ground and his shoulders curved over her, blocking out the rest of the night.

His chest muffled her screams. Through her daze of panic she heard low-pitched reassurances crooning in her ear. The arm that had cinched her to him still held her just as tightly but he splayed his fingers and stroked up and down the side of her rib cage, soothing her like a frightened animal.

As the hazy grip of panic began to clear, she realized that she felt no pain. He hadn't stabbed her after all.

"What?" She gasped, gathering her composure as much as her breath. "Why?"

Her senses returned and she remembered the knife. The big knife. She angled her head back because she could move no further and slapped at his shoulder. "What are you doing with a weapon like that here? It's stupid and dangerous—"

"That's better. I'd rather see you spitting mad than afraid." She wanted to stay angry with him. She wanted to vent her frustrations, but his unexpected teasing undid her. She stopped her tirade and noticed his mouth, mere inches from hers.


She caught her breath at the sheer masculine beauty of it. Straight white teeth framed by firm, thin lips. They were close enough that she could feel his warm breath fanning across her face. She inhaled the soapy, clean, masculine scent of him, tinged by the faint pungency of the insect salve he, too, wore.

Sarah's stomach flip-flopped. An unusual heat sparked there and curled lower as a whole new set of sensations vibrated through her, every bit as powerful as her anger, but much more pleasurable. His chest was so hard, his hold unbreakable yet so gentle, his mouth so tempting.

She stared at that temptation and discovered she couldn't speak. Her throat tightened with a customary clench of shyness. She damned her cursed inability to voice her desires. She wanted to savor the rush of adrenaline coursing through her. She wanted to channel it in a way a woman and man could share together. She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted him to want to kiss her. And yet she knew he wouldn't. All she could do was lecture him. All he could do was put up with her.

"You were backing into a web." As if sensing her clouded ability to speak, Hawk took over the duties for her. Grateful for the change of topic that doused both her desire and her embarrassment, she relaxed and followed the inclination of his head.

He twisted his right wrist and lifted his knife to eye level. Skewered at the end was a brown, hairy spider the size of two Ping-Pong balls stuck together.

"Spider! Big spider!" she shrieked.

She spun and buried her face in his shoulder. As hard as she had hit him before, she now clutched him tightly, clinging to fistfuls of his shirt and vest. She felt his arm flinch as he flicked the horrid creature into the jungle and wiped the blade clean on his pant leg.

He shifted his stance and wrapped both arms around her, catching her more fully in his embrace. He tugged at her braid, picking out the sticky white residue that had caught her hair. He bent his head and cooed into her ear, calming her with whispers in a language she didn't understand. The ups and downs of the day caught up with her and she sagged against him, weary with emotional fatigue, grateful for his gentle, steadying strength.

"That's it, honey. You're gonna be all right. You'll beat this like you beat those bureaucrats back home."

Embattled Hearts by JM Madden
The business was doing great, but he couldn’t help but be resentful that he was not part of the detectives out on the street. Looking down at his worthless legs, he was once again swamped with anger. As a Marine, it had been standard practice to run for five or ten miles a day. Now he was lucky if he could get his thigh to twitch on command. It was historic if he could get a hard-on.

Although, he thought with a slight smile, it was happening more and more often when Shannon was in the room.

The first time he’d met her, more than six months ago now, she and Mrs. Harrison had been kneeling on the floor going through files. Shannon had straightened and arched her back to work out the kinks. She’d been wearing a cute little pink outfit thing that clung to her lush curves, but she’d kicked off her high heels. The lust that had fired through his veins caught him totally off guard. For the first time in six years, he’d gotten excited looking at woman’s ass. Her legs were bare beneath the skirt. He sat stunned, soaking up her subtle beauty and the exhilaration of being turned on.

The women hadn’t seen him yet, so he cataloged everything he could about Shannon Murphy. Mrs. Harrison had said Shannon was extremely intelligent and would be a wonderful office manager, but she had not told them how exceedingly beautiful Shannon was, with her petite little shape and curly, dark chocolate-colored hair laying gently on her shoulders. Shannon was a good bit smaller than the older woman beside her, but curvy, and had a husky laugh that gave him chills. His own lips curled up in shared humor, even though he had no idea what she laughed at. Without conscious thought, he pushed his chair forward to get their attention.

Mrs. Harrison noticed him first, and pushed herself to her feet, then urged Shannon to join her. John barely heard the introduction as his eyes took in the details of her face. In honest fact, she was not classically beautiful. Actually, “cute” would more likely be applied to her mobile features and wide-set hazel eyes. Her broad smile started with up-tilted lips on one side, then spread to encompass her whole mouth.

He held out his hand and was entranced as she pumped energetically. Without blinking, he watched for any hint that the chair or his disability bothered her, but she seemed almost oblivious to the fact that he could not stand up to shake her hand. For the first time in longer than he could remember, he had met a person that not by word or deed made him feel like less than a man.

Bridger's Last Stand by Linda Winstead Jones
The music came to an end, and they stopped moving. Bridger didn’t let her go right away, but held her hand and kept a steadying arm around her. “Maybe we shouldn’t blow up the jukebox after all,” he whispered.

Another selection soon took the place of the slow love song, and the spell was broken. Harsh sounds filled the bar, and Frannie jerked her head around to look at the jukebox. “That’s it,” she said, forgetting Reese and her lost job. Bridger’s arms fell away. “What?” He faced the jukebox with her, his entire body alert as he faced an unseen threat.

“That’s the noise my car’s making.” A man with a reverberating deep voice was repeating a short phrase, quick, choppy and harsh, the sound vibrating through tinny speakers. It sounded just like the engine of her ancient Buick.

Bridger relaxed visibly and led her back to the bar. “I don’t know a lot about cars, but I’d say that’s at least a five-hundred-dollar noise.”

“That’s what I was afraid of.”

They reclaimed their stools, side by side. The place was uncomfortably empty without the chattering women they’d listened to all evening. Frannie played with what was left of her drink. 

It was melted, unappetizing, and she’d had her limit, anyway. But she didn’t want to leave. What did she have waiting for her at home? She loved her little house, but there was nothing—no one—waiting for her there. There were just messages from her mother and a little harsh reality, and she was in no mood to face either at the moment.

An old man, the last of the night’s crowd but for Bridger and Frannie, tossed a bill onto the table and weaved his way to the door, waving over his shoulder to Benny.

“He’s not going to drive, is he?” Frannie asked as she watched the man stumble, check the floor for a nonexistent hazard, and move on.

“No,” Bridger answered. “I’ve seen him around. He lives around the corner in that old department store they converted into apartments a couple years back.”

“Last call,” Benny said cheerfully, and they twirled around to face him as he placed two fresh drinks on the bar. “This round’s on me.”

The jukebox was silent at last. Benny was turning the chairs up on the tables that were scattered throughout the room, preparing to sweep up and close for the night.

Frannie didn’t want to go home. She played with the drink before her, stabbing at the frozen concoction with her straw and drinking nothing, delaying the inevitable. Bridger was gloomy again, as miserable as he had been when she’d first arrived and seen him sitting there staring into his drink. Maybe he didn’t want to go home, either.

They hadn’t talked about the shooting since he’d told her what happened, but it had to be on his mind. He’d saved lives today, but he’d also taken one. That couldn’t be easy. She glanced again at the gun he wore.

She liked Bridger too much. It wasn’t just that he was pleasant to talk to, or that he was a great dancer. He had a kind soul, and she’d known it after talking to him for five minutes. She sat beside a kind soul in a six-foot-plus body, a guardian angel with a gun strapped to his belt, a man who could love a woman and protect her from anything.

Two drinks and she was hallucinating. “Good night, Detective Bridger,” she said, a false brightness in her voice as she slid from the bar stool and put those ideas out of her mind. “Thanks for commiserating with me.”

He mumbled something that sounded like “any time,” but she couldn’t be sure.

“Good-night, Benny,” she said without looking back. “I’m going to make a pit stop and then I’m headed for home.”

She really didn’t want to go home, back to the house that was small and yet too big for one person, back to the messages from her mother that she would eventually have to answer, back to the reality that she didn’t have a job anymore. She was at a crossroads, and she didn’t know where to go from here.

When she came out of the rest room, she was surprised to find Bridger waiting for her. He was leaning against the wall by the pay phone with his head down and his hands in his pockets. 

As the ladies’ room door swung closed, he lifted his head.

When his eyes latched on to hers her heart skipped a beat. Malcolm Bridger had cop’s eyes: eyes that had seen too much and never missed anything. How could eyes like that be anything but lonely?

“I can’t let you drive home,” he said softly.

“I walked,” she said quickly. “I wanted to show that good-for-nothing car of mine that I didn’t need it. My house isn’t too far. I don’t think it took me twenty minutes to get here.” Of course, it had started raining on her when she’d been halfway to Rick’s. Maybe walking hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

“I’ll drive you,” he said, never moving from the spot where he’d planted his feet. She had the impression it was a statement, not an offer.

She was treading on very dangerous ground, and she knew it. She should play it safe, brush him off, call a cab, maybe laugh at him for good measure. Frannie Vaughn did not make a habit of picking up strangers in bars. She was a good girl, a cautious woman. Her mother had taught her well, by bad example if not design.

So why did she have the overwhelming desire to walk into Detective Bridger’s arms and ask him to hold her tight?

Why did she want to bury her face against his chest and breathe deeply once again? 

Loneliness, certainly. Lust, maybe. She wasn’t particularly well acquainted with the latter.

11 by Kylie Brant
“Mia?”  He pushed open the door, took a step inside the small space.  The flimsy shower stall’s curtain was closed.  His hand rose midway in the air to open it.  Then he heard a slight sound behind him and immediately realized his mistake.  Cool steel kissed the side of his throat.

“I had a little time to think while you were gone.  And I decided that you owe me some answers.”

“Not bad.”  Jude’s tone, damn him, held a tinge of amusement.  “I wouldn’t have guessed you were that fast.  You opened the window, and hid inside it, right?  Behind the shade?”

“I’m the one with the questions, remember?”  Mia increased the pressure against his throat. He wasn’t taking her seriously, but he should.  There had been a few others in recent years that had underestimated her, to their regret.  Right now she was half convinced he’d sold her information to Four and the demon that had enslaved them both.  Paranoia was running high, warring with reason. 

“I’m not fond of knives.”  The humor had vanished from his voice.  “Normal enough reaction, after someone tried to peel my face off with one.”  With the speed of a striking snake his hand came up to clamp her wrist, while he pivoted toward her.  Anticipating his move she pulled away, kicking his half bent knee while he was turning and danced out of reach.

“Nice move.”  The compliment was delivered with almost clinical detachment.  “You shouldn’t attempt to use a knife in close proximity with someone so much taller.  It’s too easy to be overpowered, and you’re limited by your shorter reach.”

“Am I?”  Her tone was derisive, her gazed fixed on his.  “And yet here I am, still armed.”

“Only because I’m more interested in eating than in hurting you.”  He started for the door. Stopped when she deliberately stepped in his way.

“As I said, you have some explaining to do.”

He spread his arms.  “You want to slice me up?  Go ahead.  Aim for a major artery.  Any other place and you risk the chance that I just take it away and use it on you.”  A moment ticked by.  She didn’t move.  “No?  Then I’m going back into the hall to get the food I left out there.  We can eat while we talk.”

She let him go because she didn’t doubt that he’d return.  Either because he didn’t take her seriously, or because he was that confident of his own defensive abilities.  Probably both.  Still wary, Mia lowered the knife to her side but didn’t put it away.  She wasn’t without defensive moves of her own.

He reentered the room, stopping to relock it before striding to the bed, paper bags in his hands.  She watched as he removed boxes from the bags, spreading them across the bed before he rummaged for plates, chopsticks, napkins and plastic silverware.  He knelt in front of the bed and nonchalantly filled a plate, as if used to having an armed woman standing near him, only degrees away from doing him harm.  Given his personality, maybe it was a common occurrence.

“There’s no way Four found me without help.”  Her stomach growled, a reminder that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  But she made no move toward the food.  “I was too careful.”

Jude sat on his haunches, plate balanced in one hand while he expertly wielded chopsticks with the other.  “You must have screwed up.  Left a trail.”

The accusation had her fingers curling more tightly around the hilt of the knife.  “Or you sold my information to her.”

He paused, the chopsticks midway to his lips.  “Why would I do that?”

Mia jerked a shoulder.  “The same reason people do anything.  Money.  Greed.  Sex.  Power. Pick one.”

“None of the above.”  He continued eating, working around the different dishes he’d served on the plate.   “You got complacent.  It happens when people are on the run for too long.  You must have let something slip to the wrong person.  Made a phone call that could be traced.  Left a cyber trail."

She could have told him that complacency and carelessness set in only when people began feeling safe.  Mia doubted she’d ever experience that particular emotion again.  “Seems a lot of work when all she’d have to do is go to you.  If you didn’t sell the information outright—and I’m not convinced you didn’t—maybe she hacked your computer files.”

He laughed at that, seeming genuinely amused.  “Not a chance.  And if she had she wouldn’t have found the information she was looking for there.  You think I leave evidence that I provide services that some narrowly focused on the law might consider illegal?”

He had a way of setting her teeth on edge.  “You’ll forgive me if that, coupled with your professed skepticism about my past doesn’t fill me with confidence.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t believe you.  Exactly.  I’m reserving judgment for the time being.  Forget about that.  All that matters right now is that I've found a fisherman who has agreed to get us to the Philippines.  With any luck we can be back in the States in a few days."  He finished eating, then disposed of the garbage before stretching out on the sagging bed.  “We have hours before we meet the boat.  Don’t forget to close and lock the window.”

Mia gaped at him, vaguely insulted.  He was sleeping?  With an armed pissed off suspicious woman in the room?   “You do appear to enjoy living dangerously.” 

“If you were going to use that knife on me, you’d have done it already.”  He didn’t bother opening his eyes.  “And whatever doubts you might have, I’m your best chance of getting out of the country.”

Her fingers tightened around the hilt of the knife, but doubt filtered through her. Mia didn't trust any man, but she distrusted Jude less than most. He didn't have to like her. Or believe her. She just needed him to get her out of the country alive.

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