Wolf Angel, the fourth book in my Warrior Wolves series, released on August 7th. I had particular fun writing the story of Shawn McMannus and Jessica Fairheart because I delved a little deeper into the world of gods and goddesses. While the book has a contemporary feel—and takes place in the woods of Vermont as most of my books do—a thread of fantasy runs through it. My hope is to take you on a journey that feels as if it could actually happen.
You know… if werewolves were real. (I keep hoping!)
One thing I really love about writing this series is the number of people who have said to me, “I never read about werewolves, but I love these books!” So if you’re one of these people who think werewolves aren’t for you, maybe give my Warrior Wolves a try. I mean, they’re hot. They’re big. They don’t shed much, and they love their women enough to go to Hell and back for them. These are wolves you should meet, no?
If you want to start from the first book, Wolf Kiss, it’s only $0.99 in ebook everywhere.
Wolf Angel Blurb:
Warrior Shawn McMannus only knows the fighting life. Whether it’s on the battlefield in Ireland of the past or in the ring as part of an underground fight club in present-day New Hampshire, he delivers a pounding to his opponents. Until his brother persuades him to try another way in the werewolf-friendly woods of Vermont. The pull of the pack is strong even if becoming a werewolf hadn’t been Shawn’s choice. Leaving the only lass to ever have cared for him, however, was his choice.
Sculptor Jessica Fairheart can’t understand why Shawn left. She’d saved his life after a horrible accident, helped him recover from the loss of his leg, and loved him more than she’d ever loved anyone else. None of that had stopped him from walking out on her though. He probably would have ended up leaving anyway… if he had found out what she was. Better to live without love and keep her secrets.
When Shawn’s brother contacts Jessica, she can’t resist going to Vermont to see Shawn. Maybe she can’t deny her feelings. Maybe she just wants answers. Maybe she wants another chance, but does Shawn?
Only an angel can tame this wolf fighter… if he wants to be tamed at all.
Wolf Angel Chapter One excerpt:
Living in Maine for the past four years, Jessica Fairheart was still amazed at how many trees populated New England. Arizona, where she was born and raised—where she married a jackass and nearly ruined her life—was so different with the rust-colored peaks of the Big Horn, Gila, and Superstition Mountains and the prickly heights of the saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert.
Not that she missed Arizona. She didn’t. Not at all. Getting out of there had been the best move she’d ever made. Did she look over her shoulder every now and again? Sure. Was she living the life she wanted? Mostly. Had she moved on?
That was a tricky one. Her business, Fairheart Designs, was booming. Her hands could hardly keep up with all the online orders for bowls, vases, and pitchers among other practical pieces of pottery people requested. The more whimsical side of the business was taking off too with more and more orders for conversation-piece sculptures. This week alone she’d made two mermaid statues, a dragon, and three unicorns. She loved her work. Turning lumps of clay into something beautiful made her feel as if she were channeling all her Navajo ancestors and pouring their spirits into each piece. Pottery connected her to her true essence.
Even if she had problems connecting to actual people around her.
That’s to be expected. She had to remind herself of that. Her experiences had turned her into the person she was—or what was left of that person anyway.
Sighing, Jessica shook her head as she sped along the winding, tree-lined highway in her SUV. “What am I doing?” Driving from Maine to Vermont to see a man who quite possibly didn’t want to see her was a stupid idea.
But she couldn’t stop herself from going. And how much did that piss her off?
From the moment she’d inexplicably felt Shawn McMannus get hit by that train she’d been traveling on, she couldn’t get the man out of her head. She’d tried. Oh, hell, she’d tried, but he’d gotten stuck there. Even worse, he’d gotten stuck in her damn heart—a place she’d closed down for business after her last involvement with a man. Men weren’t to be trusted. She’d learned that lesson for the first time when she was just a girl of sixteen.
Here she was though, traveling at speeds well above the posted limit to get to where Shawn was said to be. His brother, Kole, had contacted her and invited her to come to some town named Canville in Vermont. He’d said he and Shawn had recently reconnected and although Shawn wasn’t giving out much information, Kole had a feeling she was “important” to his brother.
Had Shawn used that word to describe her? Or was Kole trying to fill in the blanks? No one knew better than Jessica how closed off Shawn could be. In the time he’d stayed with her as he recovered from losing his leg in the train accident, he hadn’t said much.
He hadn’t needed to. The way he’d looked at her, the way he’d touched her, the way he’d made love to her…
Jessica shivered a little thinking about Shawn’s big, strong hands on her body. For a man of such few words, how had he managed to make her feel so… important? Yeah, that was the right word.
Or at least she’d thought it was. Until she’d awakened one morning, called out Shawn’s name after not finding him beside her in bed, and realized he was gone.
She’d never felt so empty, so lost, so angry at herself for falling in love with another man who wasn’t capable of respecting her. She deserved more than this, didn’t she? She wasn’t getting caught up in crazy romantic notions that couldn’t survive in the real world, was she?
No. Real love existed and she wanted it despite her awful luck with men. Despite her experiences as a teenager and as a young wife. Despite Shawn leaving without an explanation or a goodbye.
And why the hell did she want that real love to be with Shawn?
Jessica slapped her hands on the steering wheel and let out a frustrated grumble. Reaching over, she turned up the radio and sang along with Taylor Swift in her angriest voice, which made her laugh despite her scattered emotions at the moment. Why hadn’t she brought any death metal with her? Probably because she didn’t listen to death metal music.
But Shawn did.
Her lips tugged up at the corners. She remembered catching him singing in the shower to something with a ton of spit and vinegar in the lyrics. He hadn’t known all the words, but hearing him sing had been so damn hot. His voice was slightly gritty and totally sexy. She hadn’t been able to stop herself from stripping down and joining him in the shower.
He’d been startled by her sudden appearance and she’d had to grab him around the waist to stop him from falling over. Standing on one leg in the shower had to have been a challenge, but he’d quickly regained his balance with a hand on the safety bar she’d had installed in there.
Because accepting help wasn’t one of Shawn’s superpowers.
Jessica had figured that out pretty damn fast. You’d think a man who’d lost his leg when a train had literally plowed into him and ripped it off would take all the help that was offered. But not Shawn. He had a fighter’s spirit—one that said back off at every turn. One that had somehow allowed him to survive such a horrible accident.
She still couldn’t shake off the feeling that had coursed through her as he’d been hit while she’d been on that very train heading from Maine to New York.
She also hadn’t unraveled the mystery of how she had known they’d hit him. How could someone who had been sitting, earbuds deep in her ears and her mind singularly focused on the next vase design, have sensed that the train had smacked into a man she didn’t even know?
The whole thing creeped her out, but she was unusual. No way around that fact.
She’d taken responsibility for Shawn McMannus. When she’d finally convinced the railroad personnel to stop the train and at least look at the tracks, everyone had been absolutely horrified at the bleeding, unconscious man lying broken across the rails. She’d been the one to call 911. She’d been the one to ride in the ambulance with Shawn. She’d been the one to go through his wallet and give the hospital the information it needed to treat him. She’d been the one who was there when he’d awakened.
She’d been the one to get mesmerized by his gray-blue eyes.
Shawn had been disoriented when the effects of the anesthesia had worn off after the surgery to tidy up what remained of his left leg. The doctor had said the trauma of the accident and a concussion were to blame, but it had appeared to be more than that to Jessica. When he’d been released from the hospital and she’d taken him to her home, he’d been super uneasy sitting in her SUV. Once she’d gotten him inside her house, things like the microwave and the television had dumbfounded him. He’d looked around as if it were the first time he’d ever seen anything. She’d chalked it up to his ordeal as the doctor had suggested, but something about his reactions didn’t add up in her head.
And traveling to Vermont to see him now didn’t add up either. Seriously.
“Take ramp right,” the lovely male British voice of her GPS commanded.
“You got it, Nigel.” This may have been a stupid idea, but she was nearly to the address Kole had given her. More stupid to turn back at this point. “I may as well see where this all leads.” At the very least, she had to make sure Shawn was all right. Then maybe she could move on.
Hoping her open mindedness would see her through encountering Shawn again, she navigated the rest of the way and after twenty minutes of driving, she arrived at a cozy bed and breakfast. The sign out front said Deer Creek Inn.
This was the place all right. Kole had told her to continue past the main inn and follow the narrow dirt road into the woods. Sure enough, a charming white cottage revealed itself just as Kole had said it would.
She’d had a few conversations with Kole over the past two weeks and already liked him. Much more personable than Shawn was, Kole had made her feel as if he truly wanted her to come to Vermont.
At least one brother wants to see me.
She couldn’t say the same of Shawn, but she’d find out for sure in mere moments. Her palms were slick against the steering wheel and she loosened her grip. A fluttery feeling spread out in her chest and down to her stomach.
“Get it together, Jessica.” She shook her shoulders and stretched her neck back and forward, side to side. How could one man cause this physical reaction in her? And was she nervous or excited?
Dammit. She couldn’t tell.
The only way to find out was to get her butt out of the SUV and walk up to the front door of that cute little cottage.
“You can do this.”
Grabbing her purse, she got out of the SUV and smoothed her hands over her long black hair that she’d straightened. In a rare talkative moment, Shawn had said he liked the feel of her hair between his fingers. She’d like to say she hadn’t styled her hair with him in mind this morning, but that would be a total lie. Pathetic how much she wanted him to take one look at her, scoop her up into his muscled arms, and ravage her mouth.
She missed his kiss.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked toward the cottage but stopped when the bright red front door suddenly ripped open and a man came barreling out—a man with a shaved head, black stubble, and crystal blue eyes. A man built very much like Shawn.
He skidded to a halt after vaulting down the three front steps. “Jessica?”
“Yes. Are you Kole?” Her fingers closed around the straps of her purse, choking the life out of them.
“Aye. I am.”
She shivered over hearing the same Irish accent that Shawn had. The one that had ratcheted up the sex appeal to dangerous levels.
A woman with black hair like Jessica’s only wavier appeared on the small front porch behind Kole.
“Oh, you’re here.” She hopped down the stairs and stepped around Kole. “Hi, I’m Emma. It’s so nice to meet you, Jessica.” She extended her hand.
After quickly swiping her palm along her denim-covered thigh, Jessica shook Emma’s hand. “Hello.
Nice to meet you too.” She couldn’t stop her gaze from going back to the cottage’s still open front door.
Emma chuckled. “Shawn’s not here.” She may as well have said, We don’t have any oxygen here.
Jessica’s shoulders slumped.
“I wish he were.” Kole’s lips pursed, his jaw clenched.
“Where is he?” No sense in trying to hide her desperation. That cat was out of the bag and running wild.
“Jail.” Emma folded her arms across her chest.
Jail? Shawn had always seemed as if a bit of danger simmered under his skin, but what could he have done to land in jail?
“He’s been fighting,” Kole said, “as a… career.” He shook his head. “I tried to talk him out of it.”
“We all did,” Emma added. She slipped her arms around Kole’s waist. “But you McMannus men have thick skulls.”
Kole’s lips turned up on the left side—a smile Jessica had seen on Shawn as well. One that made her want to see the man all the more. She wanted to slap some sense into herself but knew it wouldn’t help.
“It’s a good thing we have thick skulls, Beauty. We wouldn’t have made it this far without them.” A look passed between them that said there was much more to that statement than Jessica knew.
“Who’s he fighting?” she asked. “I don’t understand.” She could definitely picture Shawn beating the crap out of someone though. All those muscles would love being used in that way. She should probably be disgusted that Shawn was fighting—so caveman—but she was aroused instead. The mental movie playing in her head right now was downright erotic.
“He’s fighting other men who have also decided this was their only occupation choice.” Kole ran a hand over his shaved head and puffed out a breath. “There was a police raid at the steelyard where they fight though. I’ve got to go bail him out so I can kick his ass.” He made a move to walk around Jessica, but Emma pulled him back.
“I’ve got an idea,” Emma said, a sly smile on her lips. “Why don’t we let Jessica get him?”
“Me?” Jessica’s voice was a squeak.
Kole slowly grinned then nodded. “Aye. You.” He turned to Emma and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “You are brilliant, Beauty.”
“Don’t you forget it.” Emma kissed him back then looked at Jessica, who was still reeling from the suggestion of her going to get Shawn. She’d been semi-prepared to see him at this cottage, but even that had made her nervous as hell.
Although, if the first time she saw him again was when he was contained in a jail cell, he couldn’t suddenly disappear on her, could he?
“Tell me how to get to the police station.”
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