Sunday, April 30, 2017

Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire


Title:  Once Broken Faith 
Author: Seanan McGuire 
Series: October Daye #10
Publisher: DAW
Release Date: September 6, 2016



Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches. 


Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves. 



Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe. 



As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save. 



Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.







“I never do anything heroic or stupid unless I’m under someone else’s control,” I said. “I’d be a lot happier if everyone would just leave me alone to eat pizza and watch television, but you people seem to constantly need saving, so here I am.”


OMG! I thought my heart was going to break into tiny pieces.  I can't believe Seanan McGuire went there!

I have no idea where Mrs. McGuire gets her ideas about the October Daye books but she continues to show us that inspiration is not a problem for her. Her world description is flawless. Usually, I'm not a fan of details in regards to the way places or people look but in this series, I love all the details that come with the scenes descriptions. Toby is able to smell people/magic/blood as very different scents. Of course, my favorite scent is pennyroyal and musk. Sigh...

All of us who love Toby know she's not a good diplomat, she has problems with authority figures, and she can't really understand how the pure-bloods make so many crazy choices. So what happens to her? Because Toby has brought back the cure to Elf-shot, she's forced to attend the North America Conclave in the Summerlands. The conclave is full of pure-bloods trying to decide what to do about the cure. Many are against, some are in favor, and then one King is murdered. Toby as the hero of the Realm has to step up and investigate who's behind the attack. There is a chase to find the killer and nobody is safe. Also, no one can leave the conclave which makes the purebreds very disgruntled with Toby, who's just a changeling. 


She may be a nexus for chaos and disorder, but she’s not a political genius. She can barely dress herself half the time.”

There were so many wonderful things about Once Broken Faith, it's hard to pinpoint which parts were my favorite. I can assure you that I loved every scene with Tybalt. Their relationship is only getting stronger. They have love, mutual respect, and tons of chemistry. I also loved every scene where Luidaeg plays a part. The Sea Witch is to be feared yet she can be sweet and she looks out for Toby and the ones she loves. I know Luidaeg is going to play a heavy part in one of the next few books. After all, Toby will need to pay her debts. I can already tell is not going to be easy for our changeling.
It was also nice to learn more about Quentin parents, High King Aethlin and High Queen Maida.

Once Broken Faith was definitely one of my favorite books in the October Daye series which says a lot when you think this was book ten.

I can't wait for the next three books. Hurry up!!

“Hope can be cruel, but giving up is worse” 

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs


Snared by Jennifer Estep


Title: Snared 
Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #16
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: 
April 25, 2017 



If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.

Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…

Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.

My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.

A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.





Snared was a great way to pull me back into the criminal world of Ashland in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin is the assassin the Spider but she has also recently become the boss of the underworld. Although, she now knows the Circle is a group of powerful men and women who are trying to hurt her and her friends. Gin is done waiting for them to attack her. She's ready to go on the offensive. Her first mark is Daniel but when a new friend's sister goes missing and the clues point to a serial killer, Gin can't look away. She's determined to find the killer and made him pay for all his prior transgressions. 

After sixteen books, I'm pretty sure Jennifer Estep knows where things are heading. I'm positive Gin's going to be fighting several members of the Circle and in the end, I'm pretty sure she's going to be victorious. Hopefully, without losing any of the main characters. I also think I know who the big baddie is and that's going to be a shock to our poor Gin. 

I liked that this book had the serial killer vibe. I was feeling the same desperation Gin was experiencing. I knew she was running out of time in finding the girl and the culprit before it was too late. There was a lot of action and even better, someone I had come to dislike is making the transition to someone I might consider liking in the future which is great because Gin needs all the friends she can make to be able to keep fighting. 

Overall, I was engaged the whole way through. Gin keeps on maturing and accepting help when it's needed. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Pocket Books in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May


Title: The Vanishing Throne 
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #2
Publisher: Chronicle Books 
Release Date: Published June 21, 2016 



Everything she loved is gone.

Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive.

Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault.

Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life…






"You make me wish I didn’t have forever.” 

Wow! This is the right way to end a book. Lots of possibility for the next one.

So what happens in the second novel? Well, at the beginning Aileana's still trapped and tortured by Lonnrach. He seeks information and her memories are the best way to get them. In order to retrieve them, he needs to drink her blood. Luckily, this Falconer has friends and she's able to return to Edinburgh. However, this is not the Edinburgh she remembers. The world has been destroyed after the Fae attacked. Of course, Aileana blames herself and sure enough, some humans including some of her old friends think it too.

I liked this book as much as I did the first one. Usually, the second book in a trilogy can have a lot of build-up in preparation to the end but The Vanishing Throne was full of action too. There were plenty of ways for things to go wrong and sure enough, they did.

In addition to the action, we get further development in regards to the MC's romance. When Aileana and Kiaran meet again, they have not seen each other for years. They both carry scars which proved what they have both endured. I hate knowing Kiaran's life is attached to Sorcha's. She's evil and she's only going to cause more trouble.

In regards to the secondary characters, I love how funny Derrick is. Also, I'm hoping for Gavin to find his true love too. Catherine has matured into a strong woman. She's always on Aileana's side which makes her a true friend.

I can't wait to read the Fallen Kingdom. I'm very interested in reading how Mrs. May is going to end it all.

Cliffhanger: Not really

4/5 Fangs



Feversong by Karen Marie Moning


Title: Feversong 
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever #9 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 17, 2017




#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning returns with the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn. As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely.


Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.



The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie Queen who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.



This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.






“Sun, moon, and stars.”


It was so exciting to dive back into the Fever world. So many great characters and of course, we get more JZB. How can I not be happy?

Feversong starts with Mac possessed by the Sinsar Dubh and what a horrible thing IT is. IT wants nothing more than power and destruction and he would do anything to make it happen. But, our Mac is feisty and she wants out too. The Sinsar Dubh knows everything about Mac and now Mac has to do the same in order to survive and save the world. It helps that she has Jada/Danny, the Nine, JZB, The Highlanders, Christian and Cruse to help her out. 

“Holy psychotic PCs, Robin, we’ve a murderous MacBook on the loose!”

There is a lot of action in Feversong. Things move fast. My favorite parts were JZB and Mac and Dancer/Danny/Rhyodan interactions. There is also a great shock and a great sadness within the story. I didn't see the first one coming but I was expecting the second one. One last thing worth mentioning is Shazam. I adore him. He is going to cause trouble and I love it.

In a way, I'm sad to see Mac and JZB's love story end but I'm excited about all the other possibilities. We have Danny and Rhyodan's story which is going to be EPIC and then we have Kasteo, Kat, Christian, Lor... and let me tell you I think Lor being angry is scary stuff. 

“I'll never be her first. But one day I'll be her last.”

If you are a fan of the series, you can't miss this installment. 

I'm just going to take a second to mention the beautiful cover. Great job by KMM and her publisher for an amazing cover. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares


Hardcover304 pages
Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0385736894 



Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.
 






It pains me that I didn't like this book because I had such high expectations for this book! I really wanted to like this book, and I did like a few parts of it, but the parts I didn't like definitely outweighed the positive aspects of this book. 

The first thing I didn't like about this book was how confusing it was. There were a lot of characters so it was hard to connect with any of them. A lot of the characters seemed so similar that I really couldn't keep track of what was happening to which person. I thought there were some interesting plot points that were brought up, but because there were so many characters with different story lines, those plot points didn't get fleshed out. I think it would have been less confusing if there were fewer POVs. I think Sasha and Ray should have been the only POVs, because that would have been easier to follow. I think this book could have been split up into multiple books so it would have been less confusing and easier to connect with the characters. 

The thing that bothered me the most in this book was the sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle sexism, stereotyping, and racism throughout the story. The most noticeable racism in this book came directly from a female character, Mattie. In the book, Mattie was considered to have gotten blessed with her looks because she had blonde hair and blue eyes. These physical characteristics made her feel superior and more attractive than her siblings who looked more "Indian" and "exotic". She loved that she had lighter skin, hair, and eyes, but still could be "unique" because of her ethnicity. That felt so wrong and just disgusting to me. That did not sit well with me at all. 

Mattie was also so petty and rude when it came to other women. Mattie didn't wear makeup, and she thought poorly of those who did. She seemed to think she was better than women who would wear makeup. I HATE IT when women bash other women for wearing makeup. It is one my biggest pet peeves. Women should be supporting other women, not bringing them down. Also, she seemed to also bash other women who didn't like what she liked??? Excuse me??? 



So, Mattie was the worst. 

Overall, there were too many negative things in this book for me to enjoy it. I wanted to like this book, and some of the storylines had potential, but I just couldn't bring myself to like this book. 

1 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. * 




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Too Hard to Forget (Romancing the Clarksons #3)
by Tessa Bailey






Title: TOO HARD TO FORGET
Author: Tessa Bailey
Series: Romancing The Clarksons, #3
On Sale: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD



The third book in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey's Romancing the Clarksons series about four siblings on a cross-country road trip, perfect for fans of Gena Showalter and Julie James!

This time, she's calling the shots.

Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he's been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy's determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she'll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.







THE ROMANCING THE CLARKSONS SERIES

TOO HOT TO HANDLE, #1
TOO WILD TO TAME, #2
TOO HARD TO FORGET, #3
TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK, #4





“I don’t know, Peggy.” He whirled on her, closing in until she was forced back onto the desk. “I had an All-American on my squad this morning and now I don’t. That’s all I know.” He pointed a finger toward the window. “I solve problems down on the field. Saving people isn’t my job.”

Saving people. God, there was such a wealth of regret and pain in those two words. But he couldn’t hear it and she couldn’t address it. Letting him know she saw right through his façade to the hurt beneath might force Elliott to close himself off. “You didn’t always limit yourself. Why are you doing it now?”

“Accepting things that can’t be changed isn’t a limitation. It’s realistic.”

“But how will you know if something can’t be changed unless you try?”

“When it comes to certain things, Peggy, trying leads to losing.” He was in her face now, the mint from his toothpaste familiar and inviting where it slid over her lips. “And I don’t lose.”

No one ever stood up this man but her, and she wouldn’t be cowed now. “No? You’re out a receiver.” She hitched herself up on his desk. “I’d call that a loss.”

The tips of his shoes met Peggy’s, his hands gripping the furniture on either side of her hips. “Who do you think you are, little girl? Coming into my office and telling me what I’ve done wrong?” His eyes were brilliant in their vexation, the attraction he was trying so hard to fight. “Where do you get the goddamn bravery?”

“The bravery is what you liked best about me,” she breathed, heat sizzling in a downward V toward her thighs. “Isn’t it?”

“No. That bravery is what almost led to my downfall.” His hands found her bottom, jerking her to the edge of the desk. “I resented it. Still do.”

“Liar,” Peggy whispered, easing her thighs wider. “You’re dying for an excuse to head for another downfall.” When her legs were as open as she could spread them, she leaned up to Elliott’s ear and let her breath shake loose. “One thrust.”

Elliott’s right hand came up out of nowhere, molding over Peggy’s mouth as his hips crowded into the notch of her legs. With a quick maneuver to recline her halfway back, Elliott’s erection found the apex of her thighs, delivering an aggressive pump against her underwear that sent a scream climbing up Peggy’s throat, only to be trapped by his hand. Knees jerking up out of reflex over the rush of sensation, an orgasm almost—almost— broke past the surface, sending her waters rippling out on all sides. Her legs wanted to hug Elliott’s waist, her voice wanted to beg for one more, one more, one more, but he shook his head, denying her, even though his gaze was hot, a low groan issuing from his harshly masculine mouth.

He leaned in and nipped the lobe of her ear. “Next time, ask for two.”




I was in the mood for a steamy romance, and this book really hit the spot! This book had romance, humor, angst, drama, and plenty of banter. I blew through this book and really enjoyed it! This was the first book I read in this series, and I do plan on going back and reading the other books in this series sometime soon!

I really liked the main character, Peggy. At first, Peggy seemed like a someone I wouldn't get along with. However, as the book progressed and Peggy opened up more, I fell in love with her character! Peggy had a lot of emotional walls put up, for good reasons, and it was nice to slowly see behind those walls. Peggy was a smart, kind, funny, and well-developed character. Elliot was a typical brooding and sexy man. He was very standoffish at first which made hard to connect with him. He came off as a jerk at times, but as time went on, I liked him more. He became more loveable as the book progressed!

At first, the romance wasn't wowing me. I think that was because I didn't really like Elliot at first. However, as the book went on, the romance got better and better. By the end of the book, I was shipping Elliot and Peggy so hard! The chemistry that Tessa developed between Elliot and Peggy was off the charts. The tug and pull of their relationship was frustrating at times, but it also was very addictive. I hated it and enjoyed it at the same time. Tessa is a master at creating steamy romances that make you swoon, smile, and fan yourself off. 




This book had more angst and religion than I was expecting. I don't have issues with either of those elements being addressed in books, but I felt like it took away from some of my enjoyment of the book since I was anticipating a lighter plot. Other than that, I thought the book was fun and fast paced! 

Overall, this was a quick and enjoyable read. I cannot wait to read more books in this series and more books by Tessa! I would recommend this book and series to anyone who is looking for a hot and steamy contemporary romance! 

3. 5 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. * 








Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans, and laptop, and drove cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend, and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love. 




FOLLOW FOREVER ONLINE








Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Katie Ruggle’s Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue

Have you missed Katie Ruggle’s Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue crew?

Well you’re in luck because Katie just released a FREE epilogue novella, After the End, that features all of your favorites! You can download it for free at most online retailers.

You can also enter in to win an autographed set of the Search & Rescue series plus an advance reader copy of Run to Ground, the first book in Katie’s new Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series!

And there’s a sneak peek of the upcoming release Run to Ground below, enjoy!






"Vivid and charming."—CHARLAINE HARRIS, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series

For fans of sexy, brooding ice divers
Motorcycle Club bad boys turned firefighters
Tall, dark, and silent wilderness guides
And cops with hearts of gold… 
The end is just the beginning.

What happens after happily ever after? Now that the murderer has been caught and the arsonist is behind bars, the town of Simpson, Colorado has returned to its sleepy, picturesque former glory. Yet for the heroes of Search & Rescue, work is never done…

…especially not if the extraordinary women if their lives have anything to say about it.

Told in alternating chapters focusing on four unforgettable romances, this slice-of-life novella catches up with fan favorites from Katie Ruggle’s Search & Rescue series—proving once and for all that the end is just the beginning.

After the End is the fun and heart-warming epilogue novella to the exciting Search & Rescue series by Katie Ruggle.












First in Katie Ruggle's thrilling new Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series.
He lost his mentor.
He lost his K9 partner.
He almost lost his will to live.
But when a killer obsessed with revenge targets a beautiful woman on the run, Theo and his new K9 companion will do whatever it takes to save Jules before they lose their last chance at a happily ever after
...

Theodore Bosco, grieving the death of his partner, is reluctantly fascinated by secretive newcomer Jules. Although his instincts scream that he should avoid her, he can't seem to stay away. It doesn't help that Theo's new K9 companion, Viggy, has fallen head over paws with Jules's rambunctious family. 

Or that when he's with Jules, Theo finally knows peace.

When Jules kidnapped her siblings, whisking them away from abuse to the quiet anonymity of the Colorado Rockies, she never expected to catch the eye-or the heart-of a cop. All it would take is one wrong move and she'll lose everything. Yet as Jules attempts to fight her growing attraction to the brooding K9 officer, another deadly threat lurks much closer to home. Someone's gunning for Theo and Viggy, and they're willing to take out anything...or anyone...who gets in the way of revenge.




Chapter 1

The new waitress was hot. Squirrelly, but hot.

Theo always got to the diner early for the K9 unit’s breakfast and informal roll call. Those fifteen minutes before Otto and Hugh showed up usually were, if not exactly peaceful, at least a break from having to hide the mess he’d become. This morning, though, he was distracted by the way the dark-haired stranger kept trying not to stare at him. Since she didn’t seem to be bothered by anyone else in the diner, Theo assumed his uniform was making her nervous—and her nerves were putting him on edge. He’d caught himself watching her four times already, and he’d only been in the diner for five minutes.

A mug thumped on the table in front of him, and Theo turned his frown toward Megan. They had a morning ritual: He scowled. She aggressively delivered his food and coffee. Neither said a word.
This morning, as Megan was turning away, Theo was almost tempted to break the silence. He caught himself before a question about the new server popped out of his mouth. Stopping the words just in time, he snatched up his coffee and took a drink, burning his tongue in the process. He set down the mug with enough force to make the coffee almost slosh over the rim. Shit.

Before Theo could stop himself, his gaze searched out the new waitress again. She was delivering two plates of food to a table across the diner. By the look of concentration on her face and the exaggerated care she was taking, Theo assumed she was new to waiting tables. She was definitely new to Monroe, Colorado. If she’d been around, he would’ve noticed her. There was no doubt about that.

As she turned away from the table, smiling, their gazes caught for a second before she ducked her head and hurried toward the kitchen. He knew he shouldn’t take it personally. Theo had the feeling she would have had the same response to any cop.

“Who’s that?” Otto dropped onto the bench next to him.

Tearing away his gaze, Theo gave his fellow K9 officer a flat stare. “Move.”

“No.” Otto stretched out his legs until his lumberjack-sized boots bumped the opposite bench. “I always sit here.”

Just for the past two months. Theo didn’t want to say that, though. That might’ve led to talking about what had happened two months ago, and he really didn’t want to discuss it. Still, he couldn’t let it drop. “I’m not one of your wounded strays.”

Otto made a noncommittal sound that heated Theo’s simmering anger another few degrees. Before he could rip into Otto, Hugh slid into the opposite side of the booth.

“Hey.” Hugh greeted them with his standard, easygoing grin. “Who’s the new waitress?”

“You’re not going to squeeze onto this bench, too?” Theo asked with thick sarcasm.

Hugh gave Theo a too-earnest look. “Did you want me to sit with you two? Because I can. It’ll be cozy.”

Several smart-assed retorts hovered on Theo’s tongue, but he swallowed them down. All that would do was convince Hugh to move to Theo’s and Otto’s side of the table, and they’d be uncomfortable and awkward all through breakfast. Behind Hugh’s placid exterior was a mile-high wall of stubbornness.

Theo stayed silent.

With a slight smirk, Hugh settled back on his side of the table. “Anything fun and exciting happen last night?”

“Eh,” Otto said with a lift of one shoulder. “Carson Byers got picked up again.”
Hugh frowned. “That’s not fun. Or exciting. In fact, that’s something that happens almost every shift. What was it this time?”

“Trespass.”

“He was drunk and thought the Andersons’ house was his again?”

“The Daggs’ place this time.”

“Wait. Isn’t that on the other side of town?”

“Yep.”

“Dumbass.”

“Yep.”

Only half listening, Theo let the other men’s conversation wash over him. His gaze wandered to find the new server again. She was topping off the coffee mugs of the customers sitting at the counter as she listened to something Megan was telling her.
“I ran into Sherry at the gas station last night.”

Otto’s too-casual statement jerked Theo’s attention back to their conversation.

Rubbing the back of his head, Hugh asked, “How’s she doing?”

“Not good. But what do you expect when her dad—”

“Let me out.” Theo cut off the rest of Otto’s words, glaring at him until the other man slid out of the booth. As Theo stalked from the table, there was only silence behind him—a heavy, suffocating silence. He didn’t have a destination in mind except away, but his feet carried him toward the new server as if they had a mind of their own.

The woman watched him, her blue eyes getting wider and wider, until he stopped in front of her. They stared at each other for several moments. She was even prettier and looked even more scared up close. There were dark shadows smudged beneath her eyes, and her face had a drawn, tight look. Her throat moved as she swallowed, and her eyes darted to the side. Theo tensed, his cop instincts urging him to chase her if she ran.

When she ran.

“Theo,” Megan barked as she passed, “go sit down. You’re being creepy.”

He shot her a frown, but most of his attention was still on the new server. “What’s your name?”

She swallowed again and tried to force a smile, but it quickly fell away. “Jules. Um…for Julie.” Even in those few words, her Southern drawl was obvious.

“Last name?”

“Uh…Jackson.” Her gaze jumped toward the door.

“Where are you from?” He couldn’t stop asking questions. It was partly his ingrained curiosity, and partly a personal interest he couldn’t seem to smother.

“Arkansas.”

Theo called bullshit on that. While she’d said her last name too slowly, this had come too fast, like he’d asked her a quiz question that she’d studied for. He could see the tension vibrating through her, her body projecting the urge to flee. What was she running from? An abusive husband? The consequences of a crime she’d committed? “What brings you to Colorado?”

“It’s…a nice state?” Her eyes squeezed closed for a second, as if she was mentally reprimanding herself.

Every glance at the door, every stifled flinch, every half-assed response just made Theo more suspicious. “You move here by yourself?”

“I…um…” Her hunted gaze fixed on Megan’s back, but the other server was occupied helping a little boy get ketchup out of a recalcitrant bottle and didn’t see her silent plea. “I should get back to work.”

“Wait.” Without thinking, he reached for her arm.

“Theo.” Hugh stood right behind him, and Theo’s jaw tightened as his hand dropped to his side. Why did they feel a need to watch him like he was an unstable bomb? “Food’ll be here soon.”

Theo didn’t want to return to the table, didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to talk about Sherry or anything else. What he did want was to find out more about the new, pretty, squirrelly waitress whose name may—but more likely may not—be Julie Jackson.

Jules.

He was tempted to send Hugh back to the table without him, but what was the point? All she would do was keep lying…badly. Later, in the squad car, he’d run her name, although “Julie Jackson” from Arkansas would produce enough hits to keep him busy for months.

He’d give it time. They were at the diner every morning. He’d have plenty of opportunities to try to get information.

Assuming she didn’t skip town first.

Ignoring his screaming instincts—his curiosity—his interest—he gave a short, reluctant nod and returned to the table. He could wait.

Still, it was hard not looking back.



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