Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Monday, April 02, 2007

Joanie has a Julian jones (EXCERPT)

So I heard from Joanie tonight. She's in Indonesia at Club Med on her way back to Hong Kong from Las Vegas. Yeah, rough, I know. Usually when the people I know say they're at Club Med I think they meant Club Fed and are serving time in federal prison. But Joanie actually meant Club Med.

So Joanie had a jones for Julian. Since I adore the guy myself, I thought I'd post his big return scene in Unlawful Contact. Julian for those of you who don't know belongs to Aimee C., but he's also the hero in Hard Evidence. And hard is the least of what Julian is. Oh, my. pant, pant.

So here he is....

From Chapter 6 of Unlawful Contact

The cabin door flew back on its hinges, hit the wall with a crack, the suddenness of it making Sophie scream.

“Freeze! Police!”

They’d gotten here faster than she’d imagined they would, streaming through the door with a burst of frigid air, guns drawn, a familiar face in the lead.

Relief surged through her, strong and warm. “Julian!”

Dressed head to toe in SWAT team black, his Kevlar jacket emblazoned with yellow letters that spelled “POLICE,” Julian Darcangelo swept the room with his gaze, making eye contact with her for the briefest moment as he and the rest of the team secured the cabin.

“I promise I’ll come quietly.” Sophie managed a smile, wiped the tears from her face with her free hand.

“Get medical in here!” Julian holstered his pistol and reached her in two strides, sitting beside her on the bed and pulling something from his pocket—a silver key. He uncuffed her, took her wrist in his hand, and rubbed it, his expression turning dark when he saw her bruises. “It’s going to be all right, Sophie. The paramedics are right behind us.”

Sophie sank into the hug he offered—and burst into tears.

She couldn’t say why she was crying, exactly. Her emotions were so jumbled she couldn’t sort through them. Shock. Adrenaline overwhelm. Sheer exhaustion.

Heartbreak. Rage. Grief.

She buried her face in Julian’s shoulder, unable to hold back her sobs, the weight of all that had happened crashing in on her.

“It’s going to be all right.” He held her tight, his Kevlar vest hard as steel, his voice soothing. “I’m going to stay with you till we get you to the ER. You’re not alone anymore.”

She soaked in the warmth of his friendship, felt him pull the sleeping bag more tightly around her, heard him issue a handful of orders, his voice quiet as if he were afraid of disturbing or upsetting her.

“Taylor, get out there and break trail so the band-aid boys can get through. And shut the door behind you. We need to keep her warm. Michaels, you’re stepping on evidence. Wu, you’re in charge. I’m taking myself off duty as of this moment—oh-three-twenty hours.”

And suddenly she felt silly.

She drew back, sniffed back her tears. “I-I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Sophie. None of this is your fault.” He brushed his thumb over the bruise on her cheek, a muscle clenching in his jaw. “No matter what happened, no matter what he did to you, we’re going to help you through it.”

And then she saw the situation through his eyes—her crying, the handcuffs, her bruises, her clothes lying wet and torn on the floor.

“He didn’t hurt me, Julian. I’m okay, really.”

He frowned. “Like hell you are.”

“The bruises are my fault. I tried to get away and—”

The look on his face told her he wasn’t buying it. “How long ago did he leave you here?”

“About two hours ago, I think.”

Julian passed the info on to his men, then pulled out his cell phone and typed in a quick text message. “I promised Tess I’d let her know when you were safe. She’s waiting this out with the rest of the gang at Reece and Kara’s place.”

The thought of her friends gathered together, worrying about her, made fresh tears sting her eyes. She realized that Julian was here not so much because it was his job—he was vice, not SWAT—but because she was Tessa’s best friend and he cared about her. He’d been willing to risk his life to save hers.

She swallowed her tears. “Thanks, Julian.”

He brushed her thanks aside. “I didn’t do anything. I’m ashamed to say it, but if he hadn’t called to tell us where you were, you’d still be sitting—”

The door opened, and two men stepped inside, one carrying a folded stretcher, the other what looked like a large blue tool box.

“Finally.” Julian stood and made space for the paramedics, his hand strong and reassuring on her shoulder.

The one carrying the tool box knelt beside her. “Looks like you’ve had a rough day, but we’re going to take good care of you.”

“I’m fine now, honest.”

But she was the only one who seemed to think so.

The paramedics took her vitals and told her she was still mildly hypothermic. They stuck an IV of warm fluids into the back of her hand, a process that hurt more than she thought it would. Then they lifted her onto the stretcher, covered her from head to toe with heated blankets and, with Julian’s help and that of another cop, carried her through the snow to the waiting ambulance, despite her protests that she could walk.

“Hush, Sophie.” Julian looked down at her, his expression stern. “This is the part of the adventure where you quit being tough and let other people take care of you.”

In short order, she found herself inside the brightly lit ambulance, Julian beside her, a body-length heating pad beneath her, a ton of blankets on top of her, warm oxygen flowing through a mask into her lungs. It was as if someone had given her a sedative. She couldn’t keep her eyes open.

“Why… am I suddenly… so sleepy?”

“Your body has been fighting to normalize your temp for hours,” one of the paramedics told her. “Together with everything else you’ve been through today, I’d say you’re exhausted.”

Sophie barely heard him, her eyes drifting shut, her thoughts shifting to Hunt. He was out there somewhere. Out in the cold. Alone. What if they shot him? What if he froze to death?

She willed her eyes to open, sought out Julian. “He’s still out there.”

But Julian misunderstood. He leaned down, gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “He’s not going to hurt you again, Sophie. We’re going to find him. I promise.”

Before she could explain, she was asleep.

# # #

Cocooned in warmth, she slept as the ambulance wound its way silently down the canyon, the occasional bit of conversation reaching her, Julian speaking in hushed tones with the paramedics. Some part of her realized they were talking about her, but she couldn’t summon the strength to open her eyes or respond.

“—looks like he hit her across the cheek with a crow bar.”

“—think he raped her?”

“—a man his age in prison for six years…”

“—pretty woman, alone and helpless, would be tempting.”

“—put him in solitary for the next hundred years.”

“—shoot him first.”

It was the siren that finally woke her, startling her from her sleep.

“It’s okay, Sophie.” Julian still held her hand. “We’re trying to get past your colleagues into the hospital parking lot.”

Her colleagues?

“You think they’d show a little more respect for one of their own,” said the driver. “CNN. MSNBC. Fox. Geee-zus!”

A media feeding frenzy.

You’re news, Alton. How do you feel about that?

She felt pretty cruddy, actually.

“Let’s see if I can’t give her some privacy.” Julian pulled out his radio. “Eight-twenty-five.”

A voice crackled back. “Eight-twenty-five, go ahead.”

“Eight-twenty-five, I need a unit on each side of the ambulance to create a barricade and block the windows.”

Sophie listened, fighting to clear the cobwebs from her brain, as Julian spoke in police code, using his position as one of the city’s top cops to shield her. Touched by his thoughtfulness, she gave his hand a squeeze. “Thanks.”

“Figured you didn’t feel much like giving interviews right now.”

The ambulance rolled to a stop. The door at Sophie’s feet opened, cold air rushing in. And suddenly she was moving, the gurney sliding feet-first out the door.

She gasped, grabbed the rail, the sensation more than a little strange as the paramedics pulled her over the edge and the wheels beneath her dropped to the ground with a loud clunk.

“Easy, Sophie.” Julian leaned over the gurney and placed a hand on each side of her face, blocking her from view. “We’re almost inside.”

How unreal it all seemed. The blazing fluorescent lights of the ambulance bay. The bright white flashes from a hundred clicking cameras. The burst of shouted questions.

“What’s her condition?”

“Is it true the perpetrator called in her location himself?”

“Is Marc Hunter in police custody?”

The question jolted her, made her pulse jump.

Had they caught him?

Then she realized it was only a question. It didn’t mean anything. The reporter was just fishing for information.

You’re not worried about him, are you, Alton?

Yes, she was. Despite everything he’d done, she was.

Be careful, Hunt.

Even as the words formed in her mind, she drifted off again.


Ronlyn said...

Now THAT is a rescue! :)
I just read this aloud to my DH who stopped me when Sophie kept protesting that she was ok and he says that that sounds like me to a T. LOL. He predicted that if Sophie had her own car available she'd try to insist on driving herself to the hospital. (cheap shot at me driving myself to the ER after a car accident and was a bit more damaging than I thought it was.) :P Oh well.
I love it. Julian is a wonderful knight in shining armor.
I need to know more about Hunt though.....;)

Debbie H said...

rNow I really do need the book! Feb is too long (moaning). Thank you for another excerpt. Julian is such a knight in shining armor, I just love him! Hunt will prove himself to be a sweetheart too, I just know it!

Guess what I'm holding? Ronlyn knows. My granddaughter! Mom called and asked if I would watch her since she was exhausted. Well, duh! I get to keep her all night. I've been fighting grandpa over who gets to hold her. LOL We also got the news we were approved for a home loan, so house huting we go and my surgery date is set for July 30th. Will be the hospital 3-4 days. I will have to get some books to read while I'm in there.

And here I thought it was another swirly, sucky scene...hehe which this is just as good because take charge Julian is yummy too...

Hi, Ronlyn. Sorry to hear about that car accident! I can't believe you drove to the hospital. Tough chick. And your DH is right. Sophie probably would. Though her car was there. It was just undrivable, pretty much.

So you want to know more about Hunt? Like what?LOL!

February IS far away, Debbie. Cool that you have the grandbaby tonight! I hope you and DH have fun being awake all night. Start brewing the coffee. LOL! And, yes, I hope you will love Hunt, too. I'm in love with him right now. :-)

Glad you're approved for your loan. And I'm so glad your surgery is AFTER Dallas so that I can meet you in person.

Hi, Charina! No sucky-swirly this time. I wish I could write second books about each of my couples. More Reece and Kara. More Julian and Tess. Good to see you!

Joanie said...

Hey there, I managed to read the first excerpt you sent me...the ahem, 'deflowering' scene.

As I write this my 'deflowerer" is asleep next to me! I am on to the next ones on the blog...I can't wait.

Aims and I always like the same things...friends, characters, cookies! great minds think alike ah?

I love Julian...and I took a photo of my DH that I think might be good enough to share with you..actually I might post it on my blog.

Take care hon, J xx

P.S. and now I am pissed on all this inclusive alcohol at Club Med, this word verification hurts even more than usual.

Ronlyn said...

LOL...I want to know just about everything about Hunt. :) I have to admit, he's captured my imagination...where I'm having loads of fun with him. *G*

As for driving myself to the hospital...yeah, that was more fueled by adrenaline and shock than being tough I think. Although, it also stems from my pre-DH mentality of not asking for help and trying to do it all. *rolling my eyes*

I should add that this photo above is my mental image of Julian. Dark, stubbled, leather jacket, dangerous.

Joanie, I wish I were pissed, too. And near the water. I'm dying to read your blog about your airport experience with Julian. I hope you enjoyed the excerpts.

So, Ronlyn... here are some details about Hunt.

Age: 30
Height: 6-feet-four
Hair: dark brown, a bit wavy
Eyes: dark green
Scars: One near his right nipple, and one on his back — both from prison fights.
Markings: Tattoo of Army eagle crest on right bicep, Celtic band on his left.

Convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder for the shooting death of a fellow DEA agent. Sentenced to life without parole. Has served six years of that sentence at Colorado State Pen by the time the story opens.

Ronlyn said...

oooo....just whetting (or is it wetting?) *G* my appitite. YUM.

Now, you do realize that by Feb 2008 my body buddy (who we've decided to name Alexander James!!) will be 7 months old? On the outside?! How will I EVER endure the wait? *G*

So, question that's been rattling around in my brain since the prologue....did he ever write to Sophie?

Wow! That puts it in perspective, Ronlyn. And I LOVE the name. My oldest is named Alec — I was inclined toward Alexander, but he was so tiny when he was born.

Um, NO, he didn't write to Sophie. They lost track of each other though he did follow her articles in the newspaper. She was away at J-school (journalism school) when he got out of the Army and went into DEA and got busted and sent to prison.

When she came back and got a job at the Denver Indy, he was behind bars and part of him didn't want her to know what had become of him. So she had no idea. And she doesn't recognize him when they meet (that original excerpt from March 14.)

Libby Loo said...

Excuse me while I get CPR...

WOW. You're killing me, PC! Between the excerpt and the vital stats on Hunt, I'm going to twist up in a ball and suffocate. :) But it will be a satisfying death, I'm sure. pant, pant

Debbie, if you read this, I have to tell you what my dad did when I had my first baby. He snuck into the OB ward at like 5am to see us just so he could claim the bragging rights of holding his grandbaby first. My mom was NOT happy! Those babies are so precious!

tammy said...

That is such a great excerpt.
Thank You! I can't wait till Feb.
I was cruising the back way home yesterday,blasting Nickelback and
Savin'Me came on and all I could think was Marc and Sophie.Certian songs just fit the momenet or remind you of places people or events.Woke up to snow this morning and slippery roads. Where is spring?
Happy Easter All!!!

aho! said...

Please... you DON'T suck, even if your leg fell off! ALL of your books are perfect and supurb!~ And YOU are amazing and beautiful, strong and full of creativity, wisdom and HUMOR. Thank you for your compassion and passion -- and your writing is magnifico! We are all blessed to have you in our lives. You have touched so many, many lives. Look how far you have come my sister! I am amazed at the work that you and Creator fuse together as one. You are a true inspiration!

love and hugs --> and remember the wind in your hair blesses you daily <--

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