The Complete Series

Book Cover: Hauberk Protection: The Complete Series Bundle
Editions:ePub: $ 8.99
ISBN: 978-0-9959429-4-3
Pages: 850
Kindle: $ 8.99
ISBN: 978-0-9959429-4-3
Pages: 850

All six Hauberk stories will soon be available in one digital bundle.

From FIRST NIGHT a spicy short story of how security specialist Jodi Tyler and her boss Mark Rodriguez started their no-strings affair.

PRIVATE PROPERTY introduces Sam Watson, the owner of the HAUBERK PROTECTION Group as he helps his best friend Mark see the light about his relationship with Jodi.

Sam is the center of PERSONAL PROTECTION when his team at Hauberk Protection try to protect him from a stalker. By assigning him his own bodyguard--kick ass Rosalinda Ramos.

DELIBERATE DECEPTIONS has Sam's second-in-command Chad facing down his ex-wife Lauren as they avoid a killer out to get revenge.

HIDDEN HEAT follows Sam's assistant Sandy as she explores Troy McPherson's dual career-personality as both a good guy and an assassin.

And PERFECT PROPOSAL returns to Sam attempting to propose to Rosie. Except things don't go exactly as he'd hoped. Naturally.

 

Excerpt:

Thirty minutes later, a rhythmic noise had her peeking around the door. Wearing only a pair of shorts, Sam was working out on a rowing machine. His shoulder muscles rippled and his thighs bulged as he hauled on the pulley. Rosie stood in the doorway, entranced by a bead of sweat as it rolled down his forehead and slid down his neck.

The play of his muscles as he worked out made her imagine his chest flexing as he positioned himself over her, his arms planted either side of her head. She’d dig her fingers into those broad shoulders, feel his strength as he held himself above her. When he drove into her, she’d wrap her legs about his, feel the power of his thighs flexing as he whipped her into an orgasmic frenzy.

He’s your boss, her conscience hissed. She fled to the safety of the living room, wondering if she was fleeing Sam, or the strength of her desire.

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You’re just horny, she reminded herself. It’s been almost a year since you’ve been with a guy and now you’ve got the man of your dreams at your fingertips. You’ve been on a starvation diet and he’s a delicious hunk of cherry chocolate cheesecake.

Forty minutes later the sounds changed and the whir of the treadmill started, followed by a regular thumping that gradually sped up as his feet pounded on the belt. An hour more had passed when she heard the shower turn on in his bathroom.

She found herself prowling along the floor-to-ceiling windows like a panther trapped in a cage. He’d be naked, those four showerheads in his expansive bathroom were pounding his back with steady pulses of hot water. Water that would cascade over his chest, sluice down his belly and over his cock. A cock she wanted to—STOP IT!

When the water shut off, she turned her back to the room and pretended to focus on the lights of the city. But once he stepped into the room, the lights faded and all she could see was the reflection of Sam. Wearing only a pair of navy sweats and a towel wrapped around his neck, he prowled across the room to stand directly behind her. The broad expanse of his chest was still visible in his reflection for the top of her head barely cleared the base of his sternum.

“The view is beautiful, isn’t it?” he said softly. Except he wasn’t looking at the panorama of the city, he was looking at her reflection.

“Y-yes.” It took every ounce of her willpower to continue facing the windows, not to turn into the chest that formed a wall at her back, not to touch the scar down the middle of his chest, or the star-shaped bullet wound just to the left and ask him about it. She’d once asked, but no one, not even Chad, would tell her about the story of who’d put it there. She closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe slowly.

Closing her eyes only made her awareness of him worse. It let her focus on the warmth that flowed from him, enveloping her in a comforting blanket. While he hadn’t put on any more of that wonderful cologne he wore, she was aware of a scent underneath the smell of the soap he’d used. Every man she ever met from now on would be compared to the man standing directly behind her.

Her breath left her in a whoosh when he placed his hands lightly on her shoulders.

“You look like you’ve had a tough day, Ms. Ramos. You need to relax.”

Heck he didn’t even have to touch her, his voice alone could melt her bones and turn her into a puddle of goo at his feet. When his fingers massaged her shoulders, she couldn’t help but lean into his touch.

“That’s it, Rosie. Just relax.”

Her breasts felt heavier, warmer, the fabric of her blouse tightened over her nipples longing to be touched by the fingers that caressed her neck.

And then her cellphone rang, a unique ring she’d assigned to Chad’s number. Crap! How had she forgotten that she was not only Sam’s employee but his bodyguard?

Employee, not lover. Remember his type. Tall, lithe and beautiful. And if she added the news clippings and photos of his last girlfriend to the equation, rich.

She straightened her shoulders as she removed her Berry then, without looking at Sam’s reflection, took a half step sideways and fled to the kitchen.

 

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Reviews:on RT Book Reviews:

(On HIDDEN HEAT) ...almost too hot to touch

Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

HIDDEN HEAT: Nominated as “Best Romantic Suspense of 2012” by the reviewers at The Romance Studio for their annual Cupid and Psyche Awards (CAPA)

(On HIDDEN HEAT) The sexuality, sensuality, passion and suspense blend together perfectly into a wonderfully engaging and entertaining story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Miranda on Joyfully Reviewed wrote:

DELIBERATE DECEPTIONS is wrought with heady emotions and explosive sex…a gorgeous love story that will break your heart and mend it all over again… a stand-out in the contemporary erotic genre.

Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

Nominated as “Best Contemporary Romance of 2011″ by the reviewers of The Romance Studio”

(On DELIBERATE DECEPTIONS) Once again author Leah Braemel infuses her pleasurably sensual love stories with compelling characters, depth of emotion, delights of passion and the joy of love that equals a treat for the reader.

Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

(On PRIVATE PROPERTY) …a wickedly delicious and daring story taken directly from most women’s fantasies…a raw sensuality that holds the reader captive from the first page..a luscious, fast paced adventure that is sure to please readers who enjoy an edgy and intense erotic romance…a refreshingly touching twist to the menage theme…

NOMINATED AS BEST EROTIC ROMANCE, and Leah for BEST EROTIC ROMANCE AUTHOR by the Romance Studio reviewers for the Cupid and Psyche Romance Awards

Lea on Blackraven's Reviews wrote:

Recommended Read! If you read Private Property when it was first released, it is time for a re-read. If you somehow missed this book, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.


Available August 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9959429-4-3

Length: 850 pages

Nominated as Best Contemporary Romance by The Romance Studio reviewers
Nominated as Best Contemporary Romance by The Romance Studio reviewers

Nominated for Best Contemporary Romance of 2011 by the reviewers of The Romance Studio

Nominated for Best Erotic Contemporary Romance 2009

Book Cover: Red Hot Holiday Anthology

I’ll be home for Christmas…to fulfill all your dreams.

This holiday, a Mountie is determined to get her man. A widow finds a fireman who ignites her passions again. And two men unsure of their commitment discover a happily ever after—and a blindfold—under their tree. No matter your desires, this collection of three shorts is bound to treat you to all the joys of the season.

Stories also available for purchase separately.

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Publisher: Carina Press
Editors:
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Reviews:Annie on Under The Covers Book Blog wrote:

“All of the stories in this anthology have very sexy sex scenes, but I think this story really upped up the ante.”


Book Cover: Unashamed

Contractor Max Moretti knows that once he turns over the keys on his latest project, he and his business partner Noah McNaughton will have to say goodbye to shy but sexy house flipper, Hayley O’Connell. Something neither he nor Noah are ready for. When Max overhears Hayley discussing a ménage fantasy, Max wonders if she’s the woman they’ve always wanted. With Noah’s help, Max constructs a plan to see if their attraction is mutual.

Being sandwiched between the two sexy construction workers introduces Hayley to pleasure she’d never known before, but watching the two men care for each other quickly becomes an addiction. An addiction that both intrigues and overwhelms her.

One passion-filled night turns into two, and Max and Noah find themselves faced with a bigger challenge than revealing their sexy secrets to Hayley—convincing her that forever is better with three.

Excerpt:

Not only would it get her used to the idea of both of them touching her, but it would give him the freedom to take his time going down on her. Man, did he want to taste that sweetness between her thighs.

Max wrapped an arm around Hayley’s waist, his skin dark against the porcelain of hers. She twisted her head to look at him—there was an almost visible connection between them that Noah wanted to be part of. Love in Max’s eyes, and friendship and trust in Hayley’s.

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Hayley twisted in Max’s arms, draped her arms around his neck, the length of her spine curving like a ballerina’s, her breasts pressing against Max’s chest, the two of them unaware of anything else, of him. Max caught Hayley’s mouth with his… Her soft sigh spoke of need and desire as her eyes fluttered closed. Max cupped her breast, his thumb teasing her nipple that peaked with the attention until she moaned and arched up. Only then did he capture one nipple between his teeth, tugging slightly, earning a sharp intake of breath.

Her eyes still closed, Hayley’s head fell back, the pins in her hair sparkling under the overhead lights.

Max was hard angles, muscles covered in tanned skin, made darker from the dark hair, especially over his chest, the cut of muscle sloping over his hips, the heavy erection bobbing from a nest at his groin were all angular compared to Hayley’s curves, from the plump breasts to the slope from her waist to her hip.

They were a living Vermeer, a study of light and dark, of smooth and hard, of beauty both masculine and feminine.

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UNASHAMED was originally part of the Hunks, Hammers and Happily Ever Afters bundle.  I have expanded the story and had it re-edited to make sure you get the best book I can give you. I’m also going to be releasing it in print which will also include a bonus story! Look for more details coming soon.

 

Get a sneak peek at some of the inspiration I used for the settings and characters in Unashamed on Pinterest.

Best Canadian Erotic Romance Stories

Book Cover: Northern Heat

Featuring some of the best examples of Canadian erotic romance, this anthology includes writers such as Sharon Page (USA Today bestselling author) and Kayla Perrin (USA Today and Essence bestselling author, and one of the inaugural authors of the Harlequin Spice line).

These delightful stories show the broad range of eroticism and romance in stories that publishers label as “erotic romance”. Some focus on the burgeoning romance between a couple, whereas others focus more on the erotic situation that hints at a romance to build in the future. Yet others are simply a celebration of sexual intimacy. In all, however, the characters are challenged by some aspect of their sexual desire for each other.

NORTHERN HEAT, will be available for purchase both in Canada and the United States as a paperback only, February 2013.

Published:
Publisher: Quarry Press
Genres:
Tags:
Excerpt:

"I love you, Haley.” The fierceness in his voice staggered her, humbled her.

“I love you too, Max.” She wrapped her arms around his waist. When he did the same, she leaned against him. “Now, what’s this surprise you promised me?”

His gaze flickered away for a second, then returned, the whiskey brown of his eyes serious. “Do you remember the Truth or Dare game we played at the Jack and Jill shower for Greg and whatserface?”

“Of course I do.” She’d stared right at him when one of Tracey’s bridesmaids’ friends had challenged her to confess her number one sexual fantasy would be to make love to Max and another man at the same time, though she’d specifically stated she wanted to be blindfolded so she would never know the identity of the second man.

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While their friends had hooted around him, Max had briefly raised his eyebrows but other than that his expression had given nothing away. Nor had he seemed embarrassed or concerned when she’d questioned him later. Had he changed his mind?

“Wait here.” Max disappeared into the bedroom. When he returned, he tossed something black toward her.

She snatched it handily from the air, and ran the silky fabric through her fingers. “This is the scarf I wore the night we met.”

“Tonight it’ll be your blindfold.”

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Reviews:Chrissy on Romance Junkies wrote:

“… deliciously naughty fun”


NORTHERN HEAT is only available as a paperback.


If you want your Canadian bookstore or library to order it for their shelves, tell them they can order it from Fitzhenry and Whiteside. If you’re in the States and want to order it at your local Barnes & Noble store, or your library, tell them they can get it through SCB Distributors. And of course it will be available (as a paperback only) through both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.  It will also be available from Chapters/Indigo, Costco and your favorite bookstore.

Book Cover: I Need You for Christmas

Ryan Porter is a sculptor, and beneath his callused hands, even the most rigid metals bend to his will. So, too, does his girlfriend Megan—a confident, strong woman who delights in submitting to Ryan’s dominance in the bedroom.

Megan is a Mountie, and she’s spent the past few years in the arctic following her career dreams. Family obligations kept Ryan at home, but their love survived the distance thanks to several hot visits. A Mountie always gets her man, and Megan is bound and determined to keep Ryan.

Now Megan’s with Ryan for the holidays…but how long will this visit last? She’s always been willing to do anything Ryan desires, but will he finally tell her that all he needs for Christmas is her?

Published:
Publisher: Carina Press
Editors:
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Excerpt:

Copyright © 2012 Leah Braemel

“There’s the beautiful Mountie who always gets her man.”

That voice! That sexy, half-mocking, gorgeous, friendly voice. Megan Sullivan searched the crowd waiting outside the baggage claim area for its owner. His long legs clad in trademark denim, Ryan Porter stood in the middle of the concourse, his mouth pulled up on one side in the grin that caused her knees to wobble every single time.

Pulling her biggest suitcase behind her and wrestling with the carry-on she’d balanced on top of it, she battled her way through the throng and hurried toward him.

Once she rounded the barrier, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her off the ground in a full-body hug. “Hey, you. I’ve missed you.”

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Ignoring the amused spectators, Ryan lowered his head to capture her mouth with his. Pure male confidence, shouting to the world, “Yeah, she’s mine,” came through loud and clear from the hard press of his lips to the way his hands kneaded her ass.

When he finally pulled away, both of them breathless, Meg left her arms hooked around his neck, loving the feel of his body against hers. Her clit pulsed, needing to be touched by his long callused fingers. Her pussy heated and her nipples ached in anticipation of his mouth on them.

“That wasn’t an I’ve-missed-you kiss.” It had been a full-blown I-want-inside-you kiss.

“No, it wasn’t just an I’ve-missed-you kiss,” he corrected.

She rested her forehead against his chest, the long-seated loneliness that had plagued her up north finally leaching away. “I thought you were supposed to be in Montreal until tomorrow.”

“Are you kidding? And waste even one day with you?”

Meg’s breath stuttered when he cupped her head and kissed her again, this time softer, sweeter, showing none of the blatant possessiveness of the first kiss. This one whispered of need and desire. “I love you, Meg.”

“I love you too.” She loved the way he kissed, the way he felt against her, the way he made her feel feminine instead of the hard-ass bitch she’d been called far too often on the job. She loved the way he smelled of sawdust and… She leaned in and sniffed him deeper. “Why do you smell like roses?”

“Because Amy’s into her nesting phase.” His grimace and fake shudder made her laugh. “She’s making homemade soaps and shampoos, claiming they’ll be safer for the baby. So naturally she’s using us as her guinea pigs. Her latest batch is some hippy-dippy rose petal shampoo so me and Derek and Noah all smell girly-girl. I tell ya, pregnant women are seriously dangerous to us guys.” He dipped his head to whisper in her ear, his russet hair tickling her nose. “I’ll pay you to convince her to make something more manly.”

“You mean like new car scent or burnt motor oil?”

“Yeah, now you’re talking.” He rounded his free hand as if there were a basketball in front of his stomach. The laughter made his amber eyes almost glow though others might have blamed it on the bright sunshine streaming through the glass roof. “Wait’ll you see her. She’s out to here. Derek won’t let her get behind the wheel anymore, she’s gotten so big.”

“I can’t wait to see her again.” Amy had been her roommate in college and they’d become fast friends. When Amy had started dating Derek, Megan had found herself on a double date with Derek’s older brother Ryan. Though she’d expected to be bored when she’d learned Ryan was an artist, she’d been fascinated by his energy. After spending the night debating movies (he preferred art house movies where she loved action) and music (they both loved the same groups), he’d asked her for another date. Three months later, he’d asked her to move in with him.

Until a car accident had changed all their plans.

Ryan stroked the backs of his knuckles along her jaw. “You should be exhausted from your flight yet you’re even more beautiful than the last time I saw you.”

“I slept on the plane, and it’s not hard to look better considering I was just coming off a double shift last time.” Sexy was a tough look to achieve in her standard uniform. But it was only after he’d left that she’d seen her reflection and grimaced. Her hair had been sticking up on end, and she’d had a grease stain on her cheek from changing the tire on an old woman’s car. Definitely not the memory she’d wanted to leave him with, not when he’d been on his way to New York to meet his agent at some swanky gallery in Manhattan. Manhattan, where he’d been surrounded by women with carefully coiffed hair, pouty collagen-injected lips and mile-high legs made even sexier by stilettos she’d never manage to walk in without falling on her ass.

“I mean it, Meg. After all the delays, the changes in your schedule, the sixteen-hour layover waiting for the weather to clear up, you’re beautiful.”

“Thanks.” He looked pretty damned good himself, but then he always did. In addition to staying fit, he’d let his hair grow longer so now the russet waves flowed over his shoulders. It suited him. She reached up and stroked his jaw. “Why did you shave your goatee?”

“Amy and Sophie double-teamed me before I left for Montreal. They said I should shave it since the press was going to be at the gallery opening.” He leaned down and rubbed his clean-shaven jaw over her cheek. “Do you like it?”

“You look good.” Except she’d liked his goatee, especially when he was between her thighs, his tongue working its magic, the bristle of his facial adding an extra— Stop thinking about how great it would be if he fucked you in the front seat of his truck. About how he’d feel when you straddled him and lowered yourself onto his thick cock. How his fingers would dig into your hips, lifting and lowering you, as his mouth sucked your nipples, rasping his teeth over them. Her pussy tightened as she imagined him pounding into her, hitting all the right spots until her muscles tightened around him, clenching, spasming

Crap, that really wasn’t something to dwell on until they were somewhere private. At the rate her pussy was tingling in anticipation, drenching her panties, she might not wait for anywhere more private than a dark corner of the parking garage.

Ryan lifted the strap of her duffel from her shoulder and hoisted it over his own. “Pack much? What did you do? Bring everything you owned?”

“What? Is it too heavy for you, big guy?” She hid her grin. Wait until he learned she’d done exactly that.

Despite her protests, he wheeled her suitcase behind them down the long concourse toward the ramp to the parking garage. They chatted about the weather, the flight, all the usual humdrum stuff, but an electricity hummed between them, the little zing deep in her soul that tingled whenever he was near.


 

*HARLEQUIN COVER ART: Cover Art Copyright© 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

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Reviews:Jeriha on Coffee Time Romance wrote:

“This is not just another erotic hot Christmas story, but much much more…A must read…”  ~Jeriha, Coffee Time Romance

Sarah on Feeling Fictional wrote:

“…The ultimate feel good Christmas story…"

Annie on Under the Covers Book Blog wrote:

“All of the stories in this anthology have very sexy sex scenes, but I think this story really upped up the ante.” ~ Under the Covers Book Blog


 

 


Part of the Carina Press ™  2012 Red Hot Holiday Anthology, edited by Angela James.

If you like “hearing” your books, Audible has the entire anthology as an audio book.


More Reviews

reviewertoppick2Top Pick Review – Leah Braemel has the talent to bring her characters alive and her settings real… a big story that felt at least twice as long as it is.” ~Terri, Night Owl Romance

“a hot and passionate updating of the O Henry story, Gift of the Magi.” ~ Nancy G, My Odd Little World

One of the “Top 5 Favorite Holiday novellas” ~ Lit 4 Ladies

“…Definite red hot read!” Modokker Book Picks

“…without a doubt my favorite book of the anthology” ~Read Your Writes Book Reviews

“…steamy BDSM sex scenes, some serious pantie melters! It was also really sweet, I liked the characters and I felt their chemistry straight away. It was a really nice & easy read, I would really recommend it…” ~ Book Protagonist Book Reviews

“a wonderful addition to the anthology….the best novella in the anthology in terms of smoking hot sexy times.” ~ The Bookpushers

“This story was sweet, and hot…Terrific story. Escape Rating for I Need You for Christmas: B+” ~Reading Reality

“…beautifully written…Truth be told, I cannot wait to read this book again.” ~ Alyson, SnifferWalk Books

Book Cover: No Accounting for Cowboys
Part of the The Grady Legacy series:

Jake Grady loves Bull’s Hollow ranch and all the challenges and hard work it entails. But the past year hasn’t been easy—his father’s good name has been tarnished, and new financial problems are threatening to destroy everything the Gradys have built. Performing live under a stage name has become his escape, a way of blowing off some serious steam.

Accountant Paige Reynolds found Jake’s guitar-playing alter ego intriguing, but her connection with the real Jake sends her attraction into overdrive. When she’s summoned to make order out of the chaotic paper trail at Bull’s Hollow, he sets her world a-rocking—both in bed and out. But Paige has a plan; she’s determined to create her own path for the future, but is soon left scrambling for firmer ground.

Good news about Jake’s potential singing career is followed by the revelation of another family secret, one that has him questioning whether he belongs at Bull’s Hollow at all. But leaving the ranch would mean leaving his family…and Paige. How much is he willing to give up for a real shot at fame?

Published:
Publisher: Carina Press
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Excerpt:

Copyright © 2014 Leah Braemel

“We’ve got a special treat for y’all tonight,” the guitarist continued. “My good friend and buddy JT Larson has agreed to sing with us. But it seems that JT is a little shy and needs some encouragement.”

Larson? It couldn’t be the guy from Bull’s Hollow, could it? No, Reba had said his name was Gabe Larson, not JT. A spotlight trained on the guy at the bar Paige had been ogling earlier. He waved off Cam’s attention, though he didn’t look bothered. “Your fans ain’t here to hear me sing.”

“If you don’t get your butt up here right now, JT, I’ll tell everyone how you and I met. And how I saved your sorry ass.”

JT folded his arms across his muscular chest. “You’re never gonna let me live that down, are ya?”

His deep voice and relaxed cadence curled around Paige like a warm cloak. What was it about this guy that set something aflutter deep inside her?

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“Nope.” Cam gestured to the crowd. “Come on, y’all, let’s convince JT here that he can’t weasel out of singing for us. I promise, you’re in for a treat when he gets his lazy ass up here.”

He lifted an arm and began a chant of “JT—JT—JT” that was picked up in one corner and swirled around the room until the glasses hanging over the bar rattled.

Though she couldn’t hear what he said, Paige could read his lips well enough to know he swore at his friend. The singer grinned in response and waved his arms, revving up the chants even louder.

Caught up in the room’s energy, Paige clapped as she chanted “JT” along with them.

The room exploded when JT finally hopped off his stool and sauntered to the stage. He picked up the guitar by the empty stool. Before he sat down he leaned in to the microphone. Paige caught her breath at his sexy bad-boy smile. “Well, now, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Cam barked a laugh and winked to the crowd. “Don’t let him fool you, ladies.”

JT strummed a few chords on the guitar, then frowned and adjusted one of the tuning keys. After a few more tweaks, he nodded to himself and looked up again, his gaze roving over the crowd as if searching for someone.

purestdelightaward10-300x300Paige’s breath stuttered in her throat when their gazes met. One dark brow lifted, and his lips tilted up as his gaze raked over her. Her body reacted with a familiar tingle at his slow perusal. At least from that far away, there was no way in hell he could know how her heart raced. She smoothed her hands over her hips, wishing she could ease some of the ache settling there as he launched into Zac Brown’s “Keep Me In Mind.”

JT sure could sing. His rugged good looks—all broody, with that hard-working cowboy image—didn’t hurt either. All that was missing was a dusty cowboy hat.

When the song finished, hoots and hollers erupted around her, a pair of girls in the booth behind her whistling so loud Paige wanted to cover her ears. Once the applause died down, Cam whispered something to JT and grinned.

It may have been Paige’s imagination but she could have sworn JT’s shoulders relaxed. He took a deep breath and strummed a few notes as he settled in to another song, this one quieter. A few bars in, Cam blended his voice in harmony, not overpowering JTs.

This is what she’d wanted. Time to kick back, to unwind. Not worry about what tomorrow would bring. Just to exist, here and now. To have fun.

Forty-five minutes later, JT cleared his throat and downed the last half of the water in the bottle set by his stool. “Last one for me in this set.”

Ignoring the sounds of disappointment around him, he strummed the guitar and locked his gaze with hers once more. He launched into Blake Shelton’s “Who are You When I’m Not Looking.” As he sang, the lights on the rest of the band faded, until he alone was illuminated. Unsure if it was his singing or the lyrics that moved her, the hairs on the back of Paige’s neck raised, spread down her spine and along her arms. The clank and clatter of the other patrons faded away until it was just him, her and the music. As if he sang to her. For her.

His voice grew husky as he sang about wanting to get to know her better, about how she kept herself hidden. Fear that he might actually be able to see inside her welled along with the music.

What was he doing playing at a small bar like Slick’s instead of somewhere like Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth? He was too good for Joshua Falls, damn it.

By the time his last note hung in the air, the entire bar had fallen silent, caught in his spell. Applause thundered around her, many of the bar’s patrons on their feet. Paige’s palms burned as she joined them.

“Did I tell you JT could sing or didn’t I?” Cam shouted into the mike. “Hang around folks, because we’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

JTs shoulders hunched again as people reached out to shake his hand.

“Aw, he’s shy,” one of the girls behind her cooed.

Or didn’t like his personal space encroached, Paige silently added. Especially the way several of the women grabbed his ass. If a guy did that to her, she’d be slapping his face.

“Thanks, ladies, I’m glad you enjoyed my singing.” He wrangled himself free of yet another enthusiastic fan. “But me and my lady friend would appreciate a little space until I have to be back up for the next set.”

Paige’s eyes widened when he slid into the seat opposite her. “Hey, darlin’, thanks for saving me a seat.”

Daggers shot her way from at least four different women.

Once they retreated, he grinned, his mouth pulling up higher at one side in a crooked smile. He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Thanks for not feedin’ me to the lions.”

“How do you know I’m not their leader with even bigger claws and teeth?”

“I don’t. But then I’ve always liked to live life on the wild side.” His expression grew guarded when one of the girls from the booth behind them shoved a paper at him, demanding an autograph. Which he signed. “There you go, darlin’.”

The moment he handed it back, another woman slid into her place, and another. Though he smiled when they each insisted on having a picture taken with him, Paige wondered if any of his fans noticed there was no laughter in his eyes.

Once they left him alone, he sat back in the shadows of the booth. “Don’t worry, if your friend comes back, I’ll move.”

“That was my aunt, not my friend, and don’t worry, she’s gone.” Huh. He’d seen Reba. Which meant he’d been checking her out too. “Were you watching me, JT?”

“Hard to miss someone as pretty as you, darlin’.” He tilted his head to one side, his slate gray eyes considering her, and held out his hand. “It’s Jake, by the way. Only Cam calls me JT.”

“I’m Paige.” She shook his hand, the calluses rough against her skin, not just at the fingertips from long hours of guitar practice, but on his palms as well. As she’d guessed, this was a man used to manual labor. And to taking charge, from the way he continued to hold her hand.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Paige. As I said, I’m obliged.”

Oh wow, a true old-fashioned cowboy right down to the manners. If she ever met his momma, she’d have to thank the woman for raising him right. And his daddy for raising a strong man.

A waitress—not the one who had waited on her earlier—slid up to the booth. She touched her bottle blond hair and simpered as if Paige were invisible, tugged at the overly tight Slick’s Swamp Box tee, then smoothed her name tag proclaiming her to be Holly in an obvious attempt to draw his attention to the bounty that threatened to overflow the scooped neckline. As if anyone could miss her double Ds. “Can I get you anything, hon? A beer? Bourbon? Jack and coke?”

Jake barely gave the waitress a cursory glance. “A Shiner Bock would be great.” He gestured to Paige’s almost empty glass. “You need a refill?”

The bill she’d asked for almost an hour ago? “It doesn’t matter.” Paige gestured to Holly’s retreating form. “She’s left already.”

“Sorry. We’ll catch her when she comes back with my beer.”

Her fingers itched to stroke the silky russet locks brushing his shoulders. She’d always had a thing for guys with longer hair. Not to mention the prickle of crew cuts never felt right compared to the brush of long locks when they lowered their heads between her thighs. “So if the J stands for Jake, what does the T stand for?”

He grinned, amusement and heat filling his eyes. “Trouble.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Lace on Blackraven's Reviews wrote:

Recommended Read…a sexy read that sizzled off the pages…well penned with twists and turns that added intrigue to a strong cast of characters. There’s family, love, hope, endings, and new beginnings, everything that will have anyone with a romantic heart cheering in the end.

Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:

Impossible to put down; No Accounting For Cowboys was filled with twists, turns, and secrets new and old making it another fine offering from author Leah Braemel.

Jo on Romance Junkies wrote:

…pulled at my heartstrings from the first page to the last…an emotional read that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next…Come join the drama, you’ll be glad you did.”


More from the reviewers:

Top Pick! …an absolutely must read story ~ Terri, Night Owl Reviews

“…. full of twists and turns that weave together to create a truly awesome story…The developing relationship between Jake and Paige is really romantic, sweet and HOT”.~ Erica, Blending Perspectives

“… I could not put it down…The character development is amazing and the plot took so many interesting twists and turns that I could not help but be drawn in, waiting to read what would happen next.  I literally cried through some of the scenes, then some parts in this book made me laugh.  It made me really feel something for all of the characters, and my emotions were a complete roller coaster throughout the entire book. This book delivered everything you want in a romance.  I would highly recommend this book…” ~Kim, Cocktails and Books

“… I loved it!  If you love emotion this book has it in spades!” ~ Vamps, Thongs and Hockeystyxx

5 AH-MAZING STARS for No Accounting for Cowboys~ BookieNookie Reviews

Book Cover: Slow Ride Home

Losing his father was hard enough, but now Ben Grady must face the fact that he and his brother may not be sole owners of their beloved ranch. To protect his family’s legacy, he’s forced to rely on the legal prowess of the woman who stars in his erotic fantasies: Allie O’Keefe. Ben’s never forgotten the illicit encounter they shared fifteen years ago—or forgiven himself for letting her go.

Allie thought she’d moved beyond the scandal that cost her Ben in the past. But working so closely with the seductive rancher arouses the wild child within the cautious woman she’s become. Though she tries to keep business and pleasure separate, Allie soon gives in to temptation, and discovers Ben’s sensual skills surpass even her X-rated memories…

Allie has every intention of leaving Bull’s Hollow forever after her investigation is complete. But there are a few complications. Not the least of which is that while saving the ranch, Allie’s lost her heart.

Published:
Publisher: Carina Press
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Copyright © 2013 by Leah Braemel

If someone had told Allie O’Keefe fifteen years ago that she’d set even one toe on Bull’s Hollow Ranch again, she’d have cussed them out. After she’d decked them. Which explained why Allie jammed her foot on the brake when she reached the ranch’s wrought-iron gate. Or maybe she stopped because of the man talking to a group of ranch hands in front of the ranch’s trailer office. It wasn’t just his weathered brown Stetson that stood out from the standard baseball caps the others wore. After a casual glance in her direction, he resumed talking.

Even from this far away she could tell who he was—Ben Grady, the first man she’d ever loved. Just as he had back in high school, he still managed to set butterflies fluttering in her stomach, although right now they felt more like boulders tumbling in a spin dryer.

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Ben Grady was the quintessential cowboy, from the way he stood with his thumbs hooked through a belt loop, leaving his fingers to drum on the worn leather of his chaps, right down to his dust-covered boots. He could step back in the 1800s and live in the Wild West with no problems. The only thing missing was the six-shooter at his hip.

He hasn’t seen you yet. You could still turn around. Plead with her boss once again to have someone else assigned to the case. Although all her previous attempts had earned her was a “suck it up, buttercup” comment from her boss.

Two of his men strutted over to ATVs parked neatly in a row by the bar while the other took the reins of the bay horse. Finally freed of whatever responsibility had been keeping his attention, Ben faced her.

One look at that straight nose and angular jaw and bam, her body softened.

Not good, not good, not good, she repeated. You’re not eighteen years old anymore. And you didn’t do anything wrong.

Right. She could do this.

Taking a shaky breath, she parked her car beside the mud-crusted white pickup, its dual rear wheels dwarfing her small sedan. Tucking her case beneath her arm, she picked her way across the gravel-strewn yard. She really shouldn’t have worn her heels today, but her pride wanted to show off that she’d traded in her work boots for kick-ass stilettos that stopped traffic. Her not-so-subtle see what you missed out on statement. Which would be lost if she twisted her ankle.

His gaze locked on her, Ben leaned against the stair railing in his oh-so-casual way. When they’d dated, she’d loved how he’d stop to watch her approach. Now she felt like a gazelle being stalked by a lion. No, not such a proud animal. The Gradys were scavengers. Vultures, ready to pick the flesh from the bones of anyone who got in their way.

He’d filled out from the rangy teenager she’d known. He’d always been strong, but his muscles were more defined, the light cotton shirt tight across his chest and wide shoulders. His biceps bulged as he gripped the stair railing, hinting at the strength to lift and haul both hay bales and stray calves.

Ben tipped his hat up with one finger and shot her a lazy grin that melted her a little inside. His gaze swept down her body, blazing a path even hotter than the sun, then returned to meet hers. The lines at the corners of his sky-blue eyes gave him a distinguished air.

“You’re early. I wasn’t expecting you for another half hour.”

His voice still had the low roughness that had driven her crazy, especially when they were lying skin-to-skin. Damn it, she’d gotten over him, so why was the ache in her chest back? She took a deep breath but the anguish didn’t ease.

Clutching her case tight under her arm, she stopped in front of him and shielded her eyes from the morning sun. “Hello, Ben.”

His eyes widened in shock. “Allie? What are you doing here?”

Her breath rushed out at the realization he hadn’t recognized her. If there’d been even a hint of friendliness to his voice, she might not have snapped, “I’m here to save your ass.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:

“Slow Ride Home is one of those rare romance books that while you get romance and hot and oh so steamy sex, you get a complete story that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.”

Terri on Night Owl Romance wrote:

5 Star-Top Pick Review  “The characters were absolutely perfect complete with imperfections and quirks…the romance couldn’t have been better…came together with passion and emotion.”

Lace on Blackraven's Reviews wrote:

Recommended Read – ” a plot twisting, heat sinker read…simply brilliant… I melted over the sweet hand holding just as much as I did those hot bedrooms/anywhere scenes…I want more”

E and MinnChica joint review on The Book Pushers wrote:

“Ben came across as the kind of stand up, loving and attentive hero that every woman loves!…super sweet, and incredibly sexy…I look forward to seeing this series continue” ~Joint review by E and MinnChica on The Book Pushers


More from reviewers of SLOW RIDE HOME:

USATodayRec

Slow Ride Home kept me enthralled. I became completely invested in Ben and Allie’s story and am looking forward to No Accounting for Cowboys, book two in The Grady Legacy series ~ Lea Franczak, USA TODAY

“This series opener has it all.  From the hint of mystery to the almost erotic romance, this series is one to look out for.” ~ Becca, BS Book Reviewers 

“…delicious battle of emotions, past feelings and twists and turns…”  ~Emily, Afternoon Bookery Emily also did a video review that you can view here

“SLOW RIDE HOME is the perfect read to heat up a cold winter night.” ~The Book Girl

“…strong and interesting characters…I loved it. Leah’s attention to detail and her emotion filled tale give this a 4 and a half moon rating from me.” ~ Kim Rocha, Book Obsessed Chicks

Book Cover: Perfect Proposal
Editions:Trade Paperback: $ 9.99
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 212
ePub: $ 0.99

Sometimes the best laid plans go every which way but the one you want…

Sam Watson wants to propose to the love of his life, Rosie Ramos, but all his previous attempts have been thwarted. Every. Single. Time. This time he’s determined that nothing, and no one, will get in his way. No interruptions. No exceptions. Not from work, not by family busybodies, not even if the roses crucial to his plans are lost. Nothing will stop him.

If only someone had let Rosie in on his plans…

Warning: Contains misguided intentions, a hunky hero with more than just a ring burning a hole in his pocket, and a spitfire girlfriend who counters with her own proposal. The romance may be sweet but the sex is explicitly hot, hot, hot.

Published:
Publisher: Somerlane Publishing
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Excerpt:

Copyright © 2012 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved

You must be 18 years of age or older to read this.

Sunlight glinted off the solitaire diamond engagement ring and fractured into a thousand rainbows that danced over the walls and ceiling. Heedless of the display, Sam Watson juggled the hotel phone between his ear and shoulder. “What do you mean, the roses haven’t arrived? I ordered them last month.”

“We’re looking into the situation now, Mr. Watson,” the concierge responded. “We’re working with the florist to locate them and they’ll be in your room by the time you return tonight.”

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, mentally running through his checklist. What else could go wrong? “You understand I want everything to be perfect tonight, right? It’s not just about the roses. I want the champagne chilling in the ice bucket, the music cued up, candles ready to be lit. It’s gotta be perfect, you hear me?”

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Unlike the last three times he’d planned to propose, only to have his plans go awry. Rosie deserved perfect and if it killed him, he’d give her the perfect memory. The perfect proposal.

“Yes, sir. I’ll personally ensure everything is exactly as you’ve requested, even if I have to go out and purchase the roses myself.”

“Make sure they’re red roses. Not pink. Not white. Red.” To match his favorite shade of her lipstick.

“Yes, sir. All I need from you now is an approximate time you’ll be returning so we can be set up and out of your way.”

Now there was a problem. Every member of the Ramos family could talk the ears off a concrete elephant. A regular dinner generally lasted two hours—a birthday dinner might last until dawn. The way his luck was running lately, he hedged his bet. “Set it up before six.” Dinner shouldn’t be cooked and eaten before then, he doubted. “That way we won’t walk in on your staff and ruin the surprise. And call me if you can’t get the damned roses.”

After another assurance from the concierge that all would be done according to plan, he hung up the phone. Good thing too, because at some point during the call the shower had shut off. He closed the small blue box and slipped it back into his coat pocket moments before Rosie emerged. As it did every time she walked into a room, his whole body went on alert, needing to claim her.

A drop of water slid from the tip of one dark curl and over the curve of her breast before disappearing into the towel she’d tucked into her cleavage. Damned lucky towel.

Some of their clients had thought her natural sensuality, along with petite stature, made her less effective as a bodyguard. At least until he explained that those qualities made her less likely to scare the bejesus out of a client’s kids or pass undetected by anyone expecting to see a six-foot-six behemoth like himself. After that, he’d have Rosie give them a demonstration by taking him down with a quick-and-dirty leg sweep, or show them the results of her last shooting competition.

A second, then a third droplet followed the path of the first. He skimmed a finger over her skin, tracing the path the water droplets had taken to the edge of the towel.

“Well, were you?”

“Was I what?” Was the towel slipping? If it wasn’t, it should. A slight tug should be enough to—

The single finger tilting his chin until he met her eyes made him focus, as did the impatient tapping of her tiny foot. “Saa-am…”

Uh-oh, she was getting that tone in her voice. She’d said something, but damned if he knew what. “Sorry. I got distracted. What did you ask?”

She clamped a hand across her bosom, which only served to press the soft mounds until a hint of cinnamon nipple peeked over the terry. With her free hand she made a V with her fingers and aimed them at her face in an unspoken “eyes up here, buddy” command.

After a brief internal struggle he managed to wrench his gaze back to her face. Her narrowed eyes told him she knew exactly what had distracted him.

“I asked—”she enunciated every syllable, drawing his gaze to her lips, still swollen from their earlier kisses, “—if you were talking to me while I was in the shower.”

Shoot, he’d figured between her singing and the running water she wouldn’t hear him talking. “Nope. I was—”Keep your eyes up, Watson, stop thinking about getting her naked, “—checking in with Chad.”

“I know it’s a blow to your ego, but Chad doesn’t need you to micromanage things. He’s perfectly capable of running the office himself. And you took a couple of days off to relax.” She poked her index finger into the middle of his chest. “So relax already.”

“Hey, he contacted me first.” He didn’t have to mention that his second-in-command had reached him by text message, which is how he’d replied. “It’s not my fault the guy’s OCD about details.” Which was what made Chad so good at his job.

Her expression softened. “I worry about you, Sam. You’ve been working so hard lately. You deserve this vacation. Chad can handle any issues that come up back in D.C.”

“I know, but—“

“No buts. Now promise me you won’t be checking your email or texting him all day. Give yourself some time for fun.”

The scent of her shampoo—a light fragrance of ginger and some other spice—filled his lungs. Damn, she smelled good enough to eat. A quick check over his shoulder at the hotel room clock showed he had time to do a little taste test of the smorgasbord known as Rosalinda Ramos. Taste test, hell! Count him in for a whole sit-down dinner with her laid out as the main meal. He gave in to temptation and tugged at the terry tucked into her cleavage. “Well, lookie here, your towel’s come loose.”

Damned if she didn’t thwart him by pressing her whole body against him to hold it in place. “I know I said you should have fun but we’re due at my parents’ in less than an hour. We don’t have time for sex right now.”

He raised his eyebrows and drew himself up to his full six foot six to stare down at her. “There’s always time for sex.”

She slapped at his chest with little heat. “I still have to dry my hair—”

With her tight curls, drying meant using a boatload of hair products to help keep her hair straight and tame, which took her at least forty-five minutes.

“—and do my make-up.”

Shoot, he could have waited an hour or more to get dressed up in this monkey suit. At least he could loosen his tie while he waited. And maybe his fly. He always got a hard-on watching her apply her makeup—especially her lipstick, while he imagined the particular shade on her lips as they closed around his cock the way they had earlier.

“Then I have to get dressed.” The conviction in her voice faded as she nuzzled her face against his chest.

Yeah, they were definitely going to be late, thanks to the erection painfully constrained by his briefs.

“We can blame traffic if we’re late.” He slipped his hands beneath the terrycloth and palmed her bare ass. Drowning in Rosie’s sensuality, he gave in and allowed his carnal side to take over.

Rosie gasped when he lifted her until they were nose-to-nose, her bare feet dangling a foot off the floor. Though she teased him about lugging her around like she was a suitcase, she found his penchant for picking her up as though she weighed nothing incredibly romantic.

With a shake of her head in mock dismay, she locked her hands around his neck and hooked her legs around his hips. “You’re incorrigible, you payaso.”

“Even a clown would get hard watching you parade around in nothin’ but a towel, Rosebud.” As proof of the truth of his statement, he pressed his erect cloth-covered shaft against her mound.

She should have anticipated this when he’d ogled her cleavage instead of listening to her. Oh heck, she’d seen the look he’d given her when she’d headed into the shower, and quite frankly she’d been surprised he hadn’t joined her. The fact that they’d already made love before breakfast never slowed Sam Watson down.

“Have I told you I love you this morning?” he asked.

He had. Numerous times, in English, Spanish, French and what she thought might be German—once he’d discovered she got turned on by foreign languages, he’d exploited her weakness without a qualm.

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Reviews:Dawn on Day Dreaming Book Reviews wrote:

… all the twists, turns, spills, and misunderstandings just make for all the more fun and anticipation in this story. So…if you’re a fan of the Hauberk Protection series this is a must read! And, if you haven’t read this series—Get To It—you’re missing out! Lots of danger, lust, excitement, and super-hot sex.


For readers of the series: Perfect Proposal is a follow-up, an epilogue if you want to call it that, to Personal Protection. I loved Sam and Rosie so much I wanted them to finally have their HEA, but I didn’t want to divert attention from the heroes and heroines in the other books to revisit them. Which all means that you won’t have to have read Perfect Proposal to understand Hidden Heat or any future stories.


PERFECT PROPOSAL is included in the print copy of DELIBERATE DECEPTIONS.

 

Book Cover: Hidden Heat

The masks we wear can hide our deepest desires…or reveal them.

Wedding rings, babies, commitment? No thank you. Working for a company that’s wall-to-wall, testosterone-fueled alpha males, Sandy Hallquist is in her element. By day, she’s the picture of calm, cool efficiency. Off hours, her inner adrenaline junkie is off the chain.

His whole professional life has been all about being invisible, but nothing about Troy MacPherson is real, not even his name. It’s the only way he can manage Hauberk’s international offices while hiding his other career: assassin. But in one moment of weakness, Troy’s carefully constructed mask begins to crack. Cracks that reveal his yearning for things he can never have. Family. Stability. Love.

Too bad they’re the last things on Sandy’s must-have list. By the time she realizes the heat between them will last a lifetime, his next mission could make him disappear from her life.

Permanently.

Published:
Publisher: Somerlane Publishing
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Excerpt:

Copyright © 2012 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved

He parked beside a Jaguar XK in the Hauberk parking lot and walked to the company’s main entrance. Once he’d passed through the security doors, he headed to the weapons’ room.

He’d just opened his locker when Sam Watson, owner of both Hauberk and the Jag, filled the doorway from the indoor range, his own pistol in his hand. “Good work liaising with the feds about Harris.”

“Thanks. You can call Chad and tell him it’s safe to come back now.”

Sam opened his locker and grabbed his cleaning kit, then straddled the bench and broke down his Glock. “Are you gonna tell me what went down?”

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“Nothing to tell. I handed over the transponder Lauren’s people had given her and the Homeland Security grunts used it to lure Harris into their nets.” For a brief—very brief—moment, he considered telling Sam the whole deal. About the existence of the Brigade, and Sam’s good buddy Cooper Davis’s involvement in it. Everything. Except he understood the need for secrecy. Especially if he wanted to be part of the group nailing the head of the terrorist group who had kidnapped his agents in Colombia. He owed Scott that much.

“Were you in on the takedown?”

Uncomfortable with the question, Troy turned to his locker, choosing between his four favorite pistols. He lifted the Heckler and Koch P2000 as well as his favorite Sig Sauer, trying to decide between them. “Only on the fringes. You know they don’t let civilians into their investigations.”

Sam accepted the lie at face value, or gave the appearance of accepting it. “So you plannin’ on sticking around once Chad’s back in D.C.?”

“For a while. Got a couple things I need to do before I head back to London.”

Screw it, he’d shoot both. He grabbed some ammo and headed to the range. If anything did go wrong with today’s mission, at least this way he’d have a reason for a positive GSR test. Not that anything had gone wrong, so there’d be no need for him to be swabbed for gunshot residue. For the next half hour, he fired his gun until he was satisfied with the near-perfect formation of holes in the silhouette’s head and heart. He flipped off his protective earmuffs and hit the switch to bring the target to him. His hearing no longer muffled, his senses screamed there was someone behind him. Right behind.

“Nice shootin’, Tex,” a bright female voice said from behind him.

He whirled, his weapon raised, his finger milliseconds from pulling the trigger when he recognized the speaker. His heart pounding, he lowered his weapon. “Jesus, Sandy. You shouldn’t sneak up on me like that.”

The sexuality, sensuality, passion and suspense blend together perfectly into a wonderfully engaging and entertaining story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. ~  Shannon, The Romance Studio

“I’ve been standing here watching you for a few minutes now.” She pulled off her own earmuffs with one hand, dislodging strands of blonde hair from its French braid. As incongruous as they should have been, the bright orange headset she’d donned on entering the firing range complemented her dark blue sweater. The combination of blonde hair and blue eyes gave her an almost doll-like look from far away. Up close she had a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose as if some fairy had sprinkled her with cinnamon. He’d often wondered if she tasted like cinnamon too. “You should have been aware I was here. I could have had a knife and slit your throat and you wouldn’t have been able to stop me.”

Although she thought she was teasing, she was right. But only about how he should have been aware she’d been behind him; he’d argue the part about him not being able to stop her.

Exhaling, he shoved his gun in his shoulder holster. “Don’t do it again. You wouldn’t want to stick me with a load of paperwork if I’d killed you, would you?”

“Not to mention cleaning up all that blood and trying to hide my body would be a real bitch of a job.” Her light tone lowered his blood pressure. Thank God she had a sense of humor and wasn’t the type of woman to run screaming in fear.

“I leave the cleanup for others.” He wondered if she knew he wasn’t joking.

“Good plan. But aren’t you supposed to warn your suspect before shooting?”

He exhaled as he released the cartridge and replaced it with a fresh one. “That’s only in the movies. Same way the bad guy always takes the time to reveal his plan, giving the good guy time to figure a way out. In real life, you shoot first. Is there a reason why you’re standing here, plotting my demise?”

“Scott’s psychiatric report just arrived.” She held up the brown, legal-sized envelope. “I figured you’d want to see it right away.”

It didn’t surprise him that she’d brought it straight to him instead of leaving it in his office. He lifted his hand to take the folder then dropped it. Did he really want to confirm his suspicion that Scott had fooled everyone else about being better, even the shrink? “I think I’ll hit the showers and get changed first. Why don’t you put it on my desk for now?”

Sandy brushed her bangs out of her eyes. After a breath or two, she nodded once. “You betcha.”

“Thanks.” He watched her walk away, her long legs swinging giving her ass a nice hitch. After this morning’s hit, his body craved release. Pity she was Sam’s assistant and therefore relegated to the hands-off list.

Once she reached the inner door of the airlock, she turned around. “Hey, Troy? Scott’s going to be all right, isn’t he?”

Good question.

Three hours later, the sealed manila envelope still sat unopened on top of Troy’s inbox. Unable to stand it any longer, Sandy stood in the doorway to Troy’s office while violins and some other stringed instrument softly played on the stereo he’d plugged his iPod into. Maybe he found it relaxing; it would put her to sleep listening to it all day.

“Be right with you, Sandy. Take a seat.” He motioned to his guest chairs with a casual wave of his hand, not taking his eyes from his laptop’s screen.

She perched on the chair, using the time to surreptitiously watch him from beneath lowered lashes. Not that he’d ever notice her watching him. Even now she doubted he was aware of her, he was so involved in whatever document he was composing. But whenever he was in the office, she’d always noticed him. When he was there. For Troy McPherson, the D.C. office was more of a pit stop, one of a half-dozen international Hauberk offices he hopscotched between.

Runnels created by his fingers through his thick dark curls betrayed his frustration with whatever problem his agents posed. Her fingers itched to smooth the wayward curls that had sprung up at his crown. If he saw them he’d head straight to the barber for another awful buzz cut like he’d had in the spring.

Instead of the black tracksuit he’d worn in the shooting range, he’d changed into an expensive designer suit, though he’d carelessly discarded his jacket on the chair beside her. A hint of chest hair peeked from the V in his shirt where he’d loosened his tie and undone the top two buttons. He’d rolled up his sleeves, his muscular forearms hinting at the power barely contained by the shirt. Drawn to the fingers stabbing impatiently at the keyboard, her body heated as her imagination provided images of them removing her clothes, touching her private places.

His scowl deepening, he hit the enter key before shoving his keyboard tray under his desk. “So what’s up?”

My libido, she wanted to answer. Damn, it hadn’t been that long since she’d had a lover, though he’d been almost as uninventive as her ex-fiancé Glen had been, but something about Troy told her he’d never let her be bored. Instead she tapped the envelope. “You haven’t read this yet.”

“Been busy. I’ll get to it.”

“Sam wants an update.” She pushed the envelope across the desk. Okay, so Sam hadn’t asked about it, but he would soon enough.

Troy wielded his letter opener like a surgical instrument and slid the report onto the desk. To her surprise, he glanced up at her and waited before looking at it. Shoot. He expected her to leave.

“You know Sam will give it to me to file so I’ll see it later anyway.”

“It’s not that.”

So he was afraid to open it. “I thought he was getting better. He seems happier.”

Troy angled the envelope until the report slid out. He skimmed the contents, flipped back to the front page and read it again, slower this time, then held it out to her. “Here. See for yourself.”

His fingers brushed hers as she took the report. Strong, callused, with a hint of roughness that would feel good on her skin, touching her everywhere. Pity he’d never given her any indication he was attracted to her. If he did, she would be all over him like snow on a Minnesota field in January.

She flicked through the psychiatrist’s recommendation that Scott was well enough to be placed back on active duty. “He’ll be glad to get back into the field. He’s been grumbling for months about being on restricted duty.”

“Yeah. I guess.” Troy tugged his shirt collar.

“You don’t think he’s ready, do you?”

“I didn’t say that.” Tug. Tug.

“You don’t have to.”

He huffed in exasperation. “What are you talking about?”

She settled back into the chair, tucking one foot beneath her. “Whenever you don’t agree with something, you tug at your collar.”

“I do?” He pulled his hand away from his neck and stared at it as if it didn’t belong to him. “Any other tells I should know about?”

“If you’re impatient or annoyed with something, you fiddle with your watch band. If you’re worried, then you rub the pad of your index finger over your thumb nail.”

“Remind me never to play poker with you. You’d bankrupt me in short order. Or better yet, I should bring you to my next poker night and introduce you to a couple of my friends with big wallets I’d love to take from them.”

That he would never invite her, that none of the guys ever thought to invite her to any of their parties or events stung. Boys’ club didn’t begin to describe the clique mentality of the Hauberk operatives. Either you were an agent or you were invisible. “Name the time and place and I’ll be there.”

Shooting him a bright smile that she didn’t feel inside, she hurried back to her desk.

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Reviews:on RT Book Reviews:

...almost too hot to touch

Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

Nominated as “Best Romantic Suspense of 2012” by the reviewers at The Romance Studio for their annual Cupid and Psyche Awards (CAPA)

The sexuality, sensuality, passion and suspense blend together perfectly into a wonderfully engaging and entertaining story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Chrissy on Romance Junkies wrote:

…a powerful and fun story full of all the emotion, sensuality and suspense that I’ve come to really enjoy in Ms. Braemel’s writing ~Chrissy, Romance Junkies

Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:

…a very complex and suspenseful story...

Miranda on Joyfully Reviewed wrote:

…Hidden Heat is plump with sexual tension and thrilling drama…another exciting couple and edge of your seat plotting…an excellent, dark, and gritty plot ~Miranda, Joyfully Reviewed

Terri on Night Owl Reviews wrote:

TOP PICK REVIEW: …fabulous complex characters…The setting is so realistic that it’s almost impossible to believe that this isn’t real…hot men full of action…wish there were more to read.


capa2012_bigNominated as “Best Romantic Suspense of 2012

by the reviewers at The Romance Studio for their annual Cupid and Psyche Awards (CAPA)


HIDDEN HEAT was originally published by Samhain Publishing in digital May 1, 2012, print April 2, 2013. While the cover has been changed, the contents are essentially the same.

Deliberate Deceptions, book 3 of the Hauberk Protection series
Editions:Trade Paperback - First Edition: $ 9.99
ISBN: 978-0-9959429-1-2
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 200
ePub: $ 2.99
ISBN: 978-0-9959429-1-2

She’s guarding his body. He’s guarding his heart.

Hostage negotiator Lauren Miller is used to staring danger in the face. Now a vengeful former team member is targeting her and anyone she cares about, including her ex-husband. Although hiding them both in the same remote safehouse is risky, the plan could provide her with the perfect opportunity to make amends with the one man who has her heart.

Building Hauberk Protection into a success is the only thing that’s kept Chad sane since his marriage ended. He loved Lauren more than life itself and losing her left a hole that haunts him still. When he unexpectedly finds himself trapped with her, Chad can think of only one up-side—he can finally learn why she walked away without an explanation.

Except the heat that burns between them is turning their defenses to ash. As their passion rekindles, Lauren struggles to keep her focus. Especially when she learns that Chad wasn’t the only one being deceived. And those deliberate deceptions put both their lives in jeopardy.

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Copyright © 2011 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Lauren stepped from the Brigade’s jet onto the tarmac, glad to be standing on firm earth after being in the air for almost ten hours. The smog-shrouded Washington Monument across the Potomac drew her attention, a calming beacon saluting her return. Would its people be as welcoming?

A sleek, black stretch limo sat with its engine running less than thirty feet away. The driver got out, his windbreaker unbuttoned to allow easy access to the weapon he always wore. After a quick check of the area, he opened the back door, allowing the devil himself to step out.

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Cooper Davis straightened his French cuffs and smoothed his perfectly pressed Armani suit before nodding to his driver. Anyone meeting him for the first time might buy his cover as an unassuming businessman, intent only on making a killing on Wall Street; she knew better. He strolled across the pavement with confidence and nonchalance, as if he were about to greet an old lover. Something he’d once suggested. To this day she hadn’t decided if it had been a test or a sincere proposition.

She turned her face when he bent down to kiss her so his lips brushed her cheek. One dark eyebrow quirked up at her evasion. “Welcome back, Lauren.”

“I’m done, Cooper. I want out.” Saying the words both soothed the jumbled thoughts in her brain while setting free the butterflies in her stomach.

“I figured you’d say that.” He gestured toward the Humvee. “Let’s sit inside while we discuss your future, shall we?”

She followed him to the limo, taking a seat facing him so she could read his facial expressions. As soon as the door closed behind them, sealing them into Cooper’s bulletproof, soundproof world, he leaned forward. “There’s a problem you should know about before you start planning on retiring.”

Problem to Cooper could mean anything from a paperwork snafu to the start of the next world war. From the way every cell in her body went on alert, it was probably more the latter than the former. “I was right, wasn’t I? Someone in the Brigade was behind those attacks.”

“Yes.” He stared out the window, his eyes narrowed. “Frank Harris.”

She sucked in her breath. Of all the Brigade’s operatives, Harris was both their best marksman and their best tracker. He was also currently the most unstable.

“From what we can gather, he discovered it was you who filed the complaint. He’s declared war on you, Lauren.”

“I need to leave then. Find a bolt hole. New York. L.A. San Francisco. Somewhere I can get lost in a crowd.”

Cooper nodded slowly. “It might work. But it’s also possible that Harris will try to get at you through people you care about, Lauren. What’ll you do then?”

People she cared about? She’d long been estranged from her only sister and her mother had died a decade ago. Which left… “Chad?”

“It’s a distinct possibility.”

No. It couldn’t be. Hadn’t she screwed up Chad’s life enough without making him the target of a vengeful ex-CIA operative? “But we’re divorced. We’ve been divorced for almost seven years now.”

“Harris was there when you and Thalia had that blow-up a couple months ago. He knows you didn’t want the divorce, and he knows you still love Chad. It’s possible he’ll use Chad as a way to control you or hurt you.”

“I never said I love Chad.” She’d never admitted it in words but… She thought back, desperate to remember exactly what had been said that day. Was the fight itself enough to tell Harris—and everyone else who’d overheard—how she felt?

“Maybe not in so many words that day, but you did discuss it with Doc Brewer at your last assessment, didn’t you?”

“Those files are private.” Her eyes widened at his implication. “Harris read them?”

He nodded. “We just discovered someone accessed them last month. We can only assume it was Harris.”

“You’ve read them too,” she whispered.

“I’m in charge of the unit, Lauren. I read everyone’s reports. But I didn’t need a report to tell me you still had strong feelings for Chad.” He chuckled darkly. “Luckily for you, the way you insisted on not being stationed back here in the States led everyone else to assume it was out of hatred for Chad, not love.”

“I didn’t want to come back because I wanted to avoid Thalia.” Not to mention avoiding the park where she used to take Emily for walks. The hospital where she was born. The Mall where Chad had proposed on the steps of the Lincoln Monument. The condo they had worked so hard to buy that had later become their prison thanks to the media frenzy after Chad had defied Bureau protocol.

“I didn’t know what Thalia had done until you two had that fight, Lauren,” Cooper said quietly. “If I had, I would have said something sooner.”

“Do you know what she did?” She blew out her breath in a slow stream, forcing her shoulders down.

“I know that she was the one who recommended you to Sir Ian when he was running the Brigade and arranged for you to stay out of the country. And I know she hired the solicitor in London so it would look to Chad as if you were seeking the divorce, not him.” He tilted his head as he observed her. “Am I right in assuming she’s the one who recommended you stay at Tranquil Pastures?”

“Yes. Damn it, I should have flown back here and talked to him face-to-face instead of believing her or that damned lawyer. I had no idea she hated me that much.”

“It’s not that she hated you, it’s that she loves her brother over everything else. And why wouldn’t you believe her? What reason would you have had to suspect she was lying when she told you Chad was with someone else, that they were living together?”

Not to mention how he’d never replied to any of the letters she’d sent him that first year or the ones from Dr. Maudsley either. Had Thalia found some way to prevent Chad from getting them? Did it matter anymore?

She closed her eyes in an effort to calm the maelstrom raging inside. At her anger at Thalia for interfering. Her disgust at not discovering the deception for all these years burned with glowing embers of long-simmering resentment. Her rage against Harris burned brightly, its flames licking hungrily at her patience

“Maybe she wasn’t lying. Maybe she just saw the inevitable. We were already in counseling. Neither of us handled Emily’s death well. With Chad facing the inquiry and all that press…he was better off without having me distracting him.” She settled back in her seat.

She’d mourned the loss of her marriage as much as she’d mourned her daughter.

“So you’re not interested in resolving any issues between you and Chad? Seeing if there’s still a chance of having a relationship with him?”

God, don’t give her hope. It would only be torn from her the way it had been before. She couldn’t take losing Chad again. “Just how would we do that after all this time?”

Cooper laid out his plans quickly and succinctly, hope rising in her soul with each step he revealed. The hopes mingled with the thought that he was crazy. Or brilliant. Maybe both. His plan would keep her safe, as well as Chad. Plus, it would let her finally see Chad again, to find out if he hated her for being so weak that she’d walked away when he’d needed her most. No, not walked. She’d run away with her tail tucked between her legs. Cooper was right—she needed to see Chad face-to-face one last time. If for no other reason, to apologize. And explain.

Icy fingers of fear doused the flames. What if Cooper’s plan didn’t work?

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Miranda on Joyfully Reviewed wrote:

Deliberate Deceptions is wrought with heady emotions and explosive sex…a gorgeous love story that will break your heart and mend it all over again… a stand-out in the contemporary erotic genre.

Dawn on daydrmzzz blog wrote:

GREAT LOVE STORY…Great sex and lots of emotion…

Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:

...it made me teary eyed…has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book.

Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

Nominated as “Best Contemporary Romance of 2011″ by the reviewers of The Romance Studio”

Once again author Leah Braemel infuses her pleasurably sensual love stories with compelling characters, depth of emotion, delights of passion and the joy of love that equals a treat for the reader.


The 2017 print version of DELIBERATE DECEPTIONS contains a bonus story, the first time-ever-in-print PERFECT PROPOSAL!


Nominated for Best Contemporary Romance of 2011 by the reviewers of The Romance Studio

 


This book was originally published in 2011 by Samhain Publishing. The 2017 version has been re-edited and given a new cover, but remains substantially the same.

Book Cover: Personal Protection
Editions:Trade Paperback - Second Edition: $ 12.99
ISBN: 978-0-9879304-7-7
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 331

Despite owning a security business, Sam Watson refuses protection for himself, even after receiving threats from a stalker. His second-in-command, however, isn’t willing to take no for an answer, and assigns Sam a security detail headed by none other than Rosalinda Ramos—Sam’s secret object of lust. As an employee, she’s strictly hands-off. Though, working so closely together, Sam isn’t sure how long he can resist.

A female in a male-dominated industry, Rosie has enough on her plate just proving her worth, so she keeps her attraction to Sam firmly in check. Until she learns he co-owns an exclusive club. While investigating the club as a possible source of the threat, Rosie discovers her own interest in certain sexual proclivities. Before long, it’s all bets off, and all hands-on, for Sam and Rosie.

But the couple will soon discover the real threat to Sam is much, much closer to home…and something from which Rosie may not be able to save him.

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Copyright © 2009 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved — a Somerlane Publishing publication

Thirty minutes later, a rhythmic noise had her peeking around the door. Wearing only a pair of shorts, Sam was working out on a rowing machine. His shoulder muscles rippled and his thighs bulged as he hauled on the pulley. Rosie stood in the doorway, entranced by a bead of sweat as it rolled down his forehead and slid down his neck.

The play of his muscles as he worked out made her imagine his chest flexing as he positioned himself over her, his arms planted either side of her head. She’d dig her fingers into those broad shoulders, feel his strength as he held himself above her. When he drove into her, she’d wrap her legs about his, feel the power of his thighs flexing as he whipped her into an orgasmic frenzy.

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He’s your boss, her conscience hissed. She fled to the safety of the living room, wondering if she was fleeing Sam, or the strength of her desire.

You’re just horny, she reminded herself. It’s been almost a year since you’ve been with a guy and now you’ve got the man of your dreams at your fingertips. You’ve been on a starvation diet and he’s a delicious hunk of cherry chocolate cheesecake.

Forty minutes later the sounds changed and the whir of the treadmill started, followed by a regular thumping that gradually sped up as his feet pounded on the belt. An hour more had passed when she heard the shower turn on in his bathroom.

She found herself prowling along the floor-to-ceiling windows like a panther trapped in a cage. He’d be naked, those four showerheads in his expansive bathroom were pounding his back with steady pulses of hot water. Water that would cascade over his chest, sluice down his belly and over his cock. A cock she wanted to—STOP IT!

 

When the water shut off, she turned her back to the room and pretended to focus on the lights of the city. But once he stepped into the room, the lights faded and all she could see was the reflection of Sam. Wearing only a pair of navy sweats and a towel wrapped around his neck, he prowled across the room to stand directly behind her. The broad expanse of his chest was still visible in his reflection for the top of her head barely cleared the base of his sternum.

“The view is beautiful, isn’t it?” he said softly. Except he wasn’t looking at the panorama of the city, he was looking at her reflection.

“Y-yes.” It took every ounce of her willpower to continue facing the windows, not to turn into the chest that formed a wall at her back, not to touch the scar down the middle of his chest, or the star-shaped bullet wound just to the left and ask him about it. She’d once asked, but no one, not even Chad, would tell her about the story of who’d put it there. She closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe slowly.

Closing her eyes only made her awareness of him worse. It let her focus on the warmth that flowed from him, enveloping her in a comforting blanket. While he hadn’t put on any more of that wonderful cologne he wore, she was aware of a scent underneath the smell of the soap he’d used. Every man she ever met from now on would be compared to the man standing directly behind her.

Her breath left her in a whoosh when he placed his hands lightly on her shoulders.

“You look like you’ve had a tough day, Ms. Ramos. You need to relax.”

Heck he didn’t even have to touch her, his voice alone could melt her bones and turn her into a puddle of goo at his feet. When his fingers massaged her shoulders, she couldn’t help but lean into his touch.

“That’s it, Rosie. Just relax.”

Her breasts felt heavier, warmer, the fabric of her blouse tightened over her nipples longing to be touched by the fingers that caressed her neck.

And then her cellphone rang, a unique ring she’d assigned to Chad’s number. Crap! How had she forgotten that she was not only Sam’s employee but his bodyguard?

Employee, not lover. Remember his type. Tall, lithe and beautiful. And if she added the news clippings and photos of his last girlfriend to the equation, rich.

She straightened her shoulders as she removed her Berry then, without looking at Sam’s reflection, took a half step sideways and fled to the kitchen.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

…a vibrantly refreshing story that sizzles with a burning sensuality

Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:

“The action, dialog, characters, and plot were all so well written that I found myself completely immersed.”

Fern on Long and Short of It Reviews wrote:

“This is a story that has it all–incredible characters that are not only well developed, but absolutely hilarious, an intriguing whodunit plot that will keep you guessing, and a whole lot of mind blowing sex…”


Personal Protection was originally released in 2009 by Samhain Publishing. While some of the technology has been updated in the new version, and it has been proofread and minor changes made, the bulk of the new version remains the same.

Book Cover: Private Property

Security specialist Jodi Tyler has a great job and a great relationship with her boss, Mark Rodriguez—in the office and in the bedroom. Their casual arrangement is all she wants, and she’d thought it was all Mark wanted too. Right up until she’s busted while testing the security of a Lake Arlington mansion. To her surprise, and with the help of the mansion’s owner, Sam Watson, Jodi’s no-strings affair with Mark is about to become a little more…binding.

Sharing Jodi with his best friend Sam was supposed to be fun. But as the intimate evening progresses, certain feelings come to light, feelings Mark didn’t know he had.  Feelings he doesn’t know what to do about. But Sam does. And he knows exactly what to do about them.

By evening’s end, the decisions Mark is forced to make will change everyone’s lives. He will either disappoint them all—or claim Jodi as his own private property.

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Copyright © 2009 Leah Braemel
Somerlane Publishing
All rights reserved

A deep reverberating thrum filled Jodi Tyler’s chest and stroked the back of her throat with its raw promise of latent power. The unmistakable growl of a Harley. The sound bounced off the highwalled estate hugging the shores of Lake Arlington, then abruptly stopped.

She lifted the night vision binoculars and peered through the tinted windows of the surveillance van. Nothing. Deciding there was no threat from the road, she swiveled her chair back to the monitors. Her fingers flicked the switches controlling the surveillance cameras aimed at the estate. Images flashed across the monitor in rapid succession. They all showed the same thing. Nothing.

So where had the motorcycle gone?

“Must’ve turned off,” she muttered to herself. She grabbed the black T-shirt she’d discarded earlier and blotted the sweat trickling down her neck.

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Maybe the pimply teenager three doors up drove a Harley. More likely his mid-life-crisis-aged father, she thought, wiping the perspiration pooled between her breasts. Being stuck in a stifling black van in Dallas during a heat wave was not her idea of excitement. Especially on her birthday. Which Mark had forgotten.

Or ignored.

After hinting for weeks about how she wanted to spend the night, starting with a romantic dinner at their favorite restaurant, after teasing him about the sexy negligee she’d bought, even after that stupid list of all the sexual fantasies she’d written for him, he’d still gone ahead and arranged for her to penetrate the estate tonight. Tonight!

“If he expects me to be in any sort of romantic mood when I get home, he’s got rocks in his head.” She plopped down in the chair with a huff. “He can sleep in his own bed tonight. Alone.”

She switched the monitor back to the camera aimed at the Lexus parked in front of the five-car garage. If the assistant kept to her regular schedule—and that woman was punctual to a fault—the car would soon be cruising up the drive. Which meant Jodi’d be out of this Easy-Bake Oven and into the air-conditioned estate to finish this assignment. Then she could go home and shower. Alone.

An insidious thought slithered into her mind, puncturing her self-confidence with an icy-cold needle. That’s what he’s planned all along—he’s trying to dump you without actually having to say anything.

No, she thought, shaking her head. Mark doesn’t play games like that.

How do you know? the voice whispered. Why else would he arrange for the estate to be penetrated today of all days? He’s easing his way out of the affair by pissing you off, hoping you’ll dump him first. And don’t forget how he insisted either one of you could walk away at any point.

She leaned back in the chair, her arms folded across her chest. Easing out of a relationship had to be better than being dumped by text message the way Todd had done. “Let’s just be friends.”

Friends, my ass.

Would it hurt less than it had when she’d found another woman’s bra under Danny’s bed and been forced to endure his long, stumbling explanation? “She’s softer, less demanding, you know?”

Yeah, she knew.

Permanent scars etched her heart after Jace’s less-than-flattering comments about her lack of femininity when she’d graduated from the police academy. More fool her, she’d actually quit the force trying to please that asshole and he’d still dumped her.

Maybe Mark’s way of easing out of a relationship was better. Maybe it would hurt less. She rubbed the heel of her hand over the ache in her heart. Who was she kidding? Despite agreeing with Mark that the affair wouldn’t be long term, she’d fallen in love with him anyway. If he was breaking up with her, she was soon going to feel like her skin had been stripped off layer by layer.

When a branch snapped behind the van, interrupting her pity fest, she grabbed her gun from the console and headed to the driver’s seat. There was no way she was going to sit here as a witless target.

“Jodi? Open up, babe, it’s me,” Mark whispered through the back panel.

Excitement flared in her chest at the sound of his voice. When she realized her heart was racing just from hearing his voice, she silently cursed herself for acting like a bookworm with a serious crush on the quarterback.

“Jodi?” Mark said, a little louder this time. “You okay in there?”

She thumbed on the safety of the Glock and, after taking a deep breath, opened the door. A glance around showed no sign of his Humvee—he must have parked it farther down the road and walked up.

“You could have phoned to say you were coming in. I might have shot you.” In the groin.

The van dipped when he stepped up into it. His six-foot-two-inch frame filling the narrow confines, he gently closed the door so it wouldn’t give away their position. The dragon tattoo on his biceps flexed as he placed a knapsack on the console beside the surveillance equipment. Muscles rippled beneath the Celada Security logo emblazoned across the chest of his black T-shirt. Muscles she’d felt flex beneath her palms the night before.

Her fingers itched to run themselves through the thick crop of black hair in his Marine high-and-tight. Normally she didn’t go for guys with short hair, but that glistening four-inch-wide pelt reminded her of a mink coat she wanted wrapped around her body. Between her legs.

Get over that desire real fast, she told her fingers. “You’re late.”

“Got stuck at the lawyers’. There—” He stopped as his eyes adjusted to the gloom, reminding her of what she was—or rather, wasn’t—wearing.

Every cell in her body went on high alert, trembled with need and expectation as if he’d touched her wherever he looked.

His grin widened and his chocolate brown eyes glinted. “Is a sports bra and thong the latest fashion for surveillance?”

Jodi flipped him the bird while she searched for the T-shirt she’d discarded.

“It was hot. I stripped down. So bite me,” she said, though without the rancor she’d intended.

“Anything you say, babe.” He pulled her against him and nipped at her earlobe. “But I fully approve of your outfit. Think I should make it part of the dress code.”

“Yeah, that’ll go over real well.” She attempted to maintain her anger. And failed. “Everyone’s been dying to see Hector’s fat ass in a thong.”

When his hands cupped her breasts, Jodi melted into his touch. Magic fingers, she thought, as his thumbs brushed her taut nipples. Was this the last time he’d touch her like this? Or was it just her insecurity making her paranoid?

“Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?” he said, his breath hot on her neck.

The citrus fragrance of his aftershave, and the lack of his usual dark five-o’clock shadow told her he’d recently shaved. His fresh scent reminded her how grungy she felt having been cooped up in over one hundred degree heat all day. It took a charming—or incredibly obtuse—man to tell a woman whose hair clung in damp strands to her neck and probably smelled like the inside of a stable that she was beautiful.

Surely a man planning on dumping her wouldn’t be acting like this. Or was he overcompensating?

“The assistant leave yet?” His tongue brushed over her earlobe, sending a shiver down her spine.

“Um…” She struggled to think under the onslaught of sensation. His tongue trailed down her neck, teeth nipped at that spot that made her need him inside her. What was it about him that made her knees turn to jelly and her insides to liquid heat?

“Babe? Did Ms. Janssen leave?”

She barely heard him repeat the question when his hand released her breast and moved lower. She forced one eye open and peered over his shoulder at the monitor, verifying the car hadn’t moved.

“No, not yet. If she keeps to her usual schedule she should leave in ten minutes. I thought I heard an engine a few moments ago. You see anything on the way in?”

“Nope.” He turned her away from the monitor and pushed aside the thin strip of her thong. His fingers—those broad, callused, talented fingers—stroked her vulva, sending streaks of pleasure deep inside.

She struggled to maintain focus the way he could. “Must have been… Oh, Mark, yes, right there.”

Her legs opened wider under his murmured instructions, while her hands fumbled with the zipper in his blue jeans. Fingers were all very well, but when there was a cock willing and eager to penetrate her—and from the rock-hard erection beneath her palm, he was more than ready—there was no contest. She heard the rustle of canvas when he reached behind her, and she wondered what was in the knapsack that he needed at this precise moment.

“Got a present for you.” His mouth covered hers, swallowing her squeak of surprise when something hard and cold touched her labia and pressed inward. “Something to keep you on your toes.”

A moan left her when the object started vibrating inside her. He had to be kidding!

She reached down to remove the vibrating egg, only to have her wrist circled by his fingers, pulling her hand away.

“Oh no you don’t. Leave it in until I take it out myself.” An intense look filled his dark eyes, replacing the earlier amusement. He stepped back, all business, and picked up her black twill pants. “Better put these on. The assistant will be leaving soon. Don’t forget you have to get through the gate right after she leaves.”

“I know the plan.” She tugged on her pants, doing her best to ignore the overwhelming need the device was creating. “Do you seriously expect me to break into the house and crack a safe with this damned thing vibrating inside me?”

He flashed a six-megawatt grin. “Yup, I do.”

Jodi stuck her tongue out at him. Okay, it was childish, but she hated that he’d got her so hot and bothered and then wouldn’t let her come. Until she noticed the bulge in his pants. Proving that despite Mark’s business-like demeanor, he was just as horny.

“We’ve got a few minutes before Ms. Janssen leaves.” She trailed a finger down his chest, slid her hand between them and rubbed his erection, intent on torturing him and silencing her insecurities. “You must be aching as bad as I am. No use both of us being unfulfilled all night.”

His grin fading, Mark flipped a switch on the remote. The vibrations ceased within her, leaving her with a completely unsatisfied pussy. Damn it, she needed to finish what he’d started.

“Look, babe, I know you wanted to celebrate, but the owner insisted it be today. And since you’re our best at infiltration…” He tucked the remote into his shirt pocket then lifted her hands in his.

At least he’d remembered her birthday.

When he pressed his lips against her knuckles, her insecurity crawled back under its rock. Hopefully forever.

“I’d still rather have you inside me than this vibrator.”

He chuckled and kissed her fingers again. “I know. So would I. But we don’t have time.”

“So why are you insisting I keep it in?”

He let her hands drop and cradled her head to his shoulder briefly. “Just for fun. Besides, you’re always practicing cracking those safes wearing headphones, listening to loud music and street sounds. So think of my present as just another distraction, something to add to the challenge.”

She relented. A little. There were worse ways to be distracted—like having firecrackers or guns aimed at you—both of which had been done to her in the past. His professionalism had attracted her to him in the first place; it wasn’t right that she snark about it now, she supposed. Besides, what could be more exciting than breaking into a house, knowing you could get caught, a vibrator your lover had placed deep inside arousing every fiber of your being? By night’s end, she’d be so horny, so desperate for him, he could fuck her in the middle of Dealey Plaza at high noon and she wouldn’t deny him.

She bent over to pick up her T-shirt, making sure Mark had a really good look at her butt. Might as well give him something to think about while she was away.

“You got the letter I’m supposed to leave in the safe?” The shirt muffled her voice as she pulled it over her head.

He held up a sealed envelope. “Right here.”

She grabbed the envelope and shoved it in her pocket. “You sure the owner hasn’t upgraded the system? Or tipped the current security company off?”

“Nah, I have his word that if you crack the safe tonight, I’ll have a signature on a contract at our lunch tomorrow. And then I can concentrate on the merger.” Mark perched on the edge of the console and folded his arms. A smug look on his face told her he expected her to encounter no problems.

Yet for all his confidence in her, the envelope weighed a ton in her pocket. “Mark, are you sure you want to sell out? You’ve worked so hard making Celada the top security firm in Texas—you can’t just hand over the reins to some stranger, even if he was your old college buddy. You love running your own company too much to see it gobbled up by Hauberk Security.”

He grabbed her hand and tugged until she stood between his legs. “It’s just a merger, babe, not a complete takeover. I’ve told you I’ll continue to run ops this side of the Mississippi, and Sam will manage everything to the east from D.C. We’ll both have to agree on any major decision, each with an equal say.”

“And if you can’t agree?”

“It’ll work out. Trust me.” His hand cupped her buttock and squeezed as he glanced at the monitor behind her. “Time to move, babe. Ms. Janssen is driving toward the gate.”
He couldn’t have staged a better way to avoid the subject if he’d planned it.

After pulling on a pair of surgical gloves, Jodi picked up the two-way headset and tucked it around her ear. “Give me a sound check, will you?”

Mark flipped on the microphone to the radio, and whispered something in Spanish.

Shivers flared down her spine and sent a bolt of heat into her core. “One of these days I’m going to take Spanish lessons. What did you say this time?”

“I promised to tie your hands behind your back and make you get on your knees. Then I said I’m going to put my dick in your mouth until I spew come down your throat.”

Grabbing the back-door latch, Jodi pressed her knees together as her pussy clamped around the egg lodged high inside. “If you’d let Javier do this job the way I’d suggested, I’d be on my knees in a heartbeat. But since you didn’t, I guess you’ll have to keep dreaming.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” He winked and tossed her a black knit cap. “Forget something?”

With a muttered curse about wool caps and Texas heat, Jodi tucked her hair beneath the cap’s edges. Once Mark had flicked off the van’s dome light, she eased the door open. As she squeezed through the narrow opening, branches scraped against the door’s paint job and tugged at her thin black cotton shirt.

Headlights slanted up the curving driveway, backlighting the ornate wrought-iron gates that creaked as they swung open.

“Right on time. Someone needs to teach you there’s safety in unpredictability, lady,” she murmured.

The sleek dark blue Lexus drove through the gates and turned right.

“Show time, babe,” Mark said over the headset.

Heart thumping, Jodi slid in through the gates as the motor whirred, jumping only slightly when the gate clicked shut behind her.

Keeping to the shadows cast by the half-moon, Jodi crept down the long driveway toward the sprawling three-story Tudor mansion. She skirted the massive garage, then followed the path around back and stopped by the first French door. Whatever security expert designed the current system hadn’t insisted that a deadbolt be installed on this one. Or the installers had missed it. And that was the reason she—no, she reminded herself, Mark’s company—was going to prove they were the best security firm in Texas.

She pulled out the thin strip of plastic she had tucked in the pouch on her belt and shoved it between the jamb and the latch. Seconds later, she straightened and opened door.
As she’d expected, a red light flashed in the security panel beside the door. She punched in the number she’d memorized and breathed a sigh of relief when the light turned a steady green. They hadn’t changed the security code since she’d reconnoitered. Another point for her report.

“I’m in,” she whispered, knowing Mark was listening in the van. She wiped the sweat from the back of her neck, angling her head to catch the cool breeze rushing through the air-conditioning vent.

“You never told me how you got the security code,” she heard Mark say in the earpiece as she headed through the empty room toward the center hallway.

“I have my secrets,” she taunted. That weekend she’d bribed to call in sick so she could fill in had paid off—even if it meant she’d had to scrub toilets. The work hadn’t really been hard—the new owner had only furnished four rooms so far, so there’d not been much to clean.

A smile tugging at her lips, Jodi paused at the door to the office, ensuring it was empty. Moonlight streamed between the heavy curtains that flanked the French doors and across the floor in a rectangular pattern, slanting up the bookcases lining the walls. The red power light on the cordless phone reflected in the brass base of the banker’s lamp on the desk. Assured she was alone, she walked confidently toward the desk.

“The safe’s in the floor behind the desk,” Mark reminded her. “Figure you’ve got less than an hour to crack the safe, leave the envelope and get out before the next patrol cruises by.”

She rolled her eyes. Cruise was right—that’s all the minimum-wage cop wannabees currently providing security did for their visual inspection. Her van had been parked in the area for a week now and they hadn’t slowed down enough to read her license plate or check why she was there.

She pushed the leather office chair aside and knelt on the hardwood floor, inhaling a whiff of lemon furniture polish. The very same polish she’d applied on the weekend. Reaching beneath the desk, her fingers found the latch that would free the panel hiding the safe. Her breath left her with a whoosh when she heard the audible click.

“Got it!” she whispered, pumping her fist in the air. Now the real fun began.

Still on her knees, she reached down and swung open the square section of floor concealing the safe. A chuckle escaped her. She’d never bothered to tell Mark that during her stint as a replacement maid, she’d been assigned to dust this room. Or that she’d discovered the safe’s combination on the flip side of the leather blotter.

“Hey, Mark, start the timer—I’ll bet I can have this baby cracked in under three minutes.”

Mark’s low chuckle reverberated in her ear. “Two. Loser gets tied up and spanked.”
Jodi’s butt tightened. Spanking usually meant Mark was in the mood for ass play. Maybe she should deliberately take four minutes. No, she thought with wicked delight as she glanced at her latex covered fingers, it was time Mark got a taste of his own medicine.

“Then drop your pants, big boy, and show me your sweet ass, ’cause you’re going to get a whoopin’ tonight.”

Clenching her penlight between her teeth, she leaned over the dial of the old-fashioned safe. Then jumped when the egg started to vibrate deep inside her.
Sonuvabitch. She stopped herself from screeching. She’d completely forgotten the damned thing. Her nipples hardened into swollen buds rubbing against her cotton T-shirt while her pussy throbbed in time with the vibrations.

No way was she going to let Mark win this bet. Ignoring the vibrator as best she could, she carefully turned the dial clockwise to the first number. Heard the click as the mechanism released. One-and-a-half-turns counterclockwise. Another click. Clockwise again. Click. Grinning, she checked her watch.

“Mark, your ass is going to be sore tomorrow,” she whispered.

A quick tug on the handle opened the safe. Her penlight’s thin beam of light illuminated a thick rope of gold with a massive ruby pendant resting upon a black velvet-covered board. A set of dangly earrings that matched the pendant and several diamond-encrusted bracelets winked back at her. A fortune in easily fenced gems and the idiot had left the combination to the safe where anyone could find it.

Shaking her head at the owner’s stupidity, she pulled out the envelope. Then froze when the sliver of light from the French door lengthened, slid beneath the desk and over the safe.

She peered beneath the knee space under the desk. The moonlight outlined the shape of a dark figure shutting the doors.

“Under two minutes, Mark, I win,” she announced as she crawled from beneath the desk. She straightened and smiled, expecting Mark to flash that sexy smile of his. She was so ready to fuck him, to have him ram his cock deep into her.

But her smile froze when the intruder took a step into the room and the moonlight gleamed off his head. His shaved head.

Not Mark.

“Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Shannon on The Romance Studio wrote:

…a wickedly delicious and daring story taken directly from most women’s fantasies…a raw sensuality that holds the reader captive from the first page..a luscious, fast paced adventure that is sure to please readers who enjoy an edgy and intense erotic romance…a refreshingly touching twist to the menage theme…

NOMINATED AS BEST EROTIC ROMANCE, and Leah for BEST EROTIC ROMANCE AUTHOR by the Romance Studio reviewers for the Cupid and Psyche Romance Awards

Chrissy on Romance Junkies wrote:

Leah Braemel’s PRIVATE PROPERTY delves into all of one woman’s naughty fantasies and promises to leave readers hot and sweaty. … All of these characters will touch your heart in one way or another. …

Lea on Blackraven's Reviews wrote:

Recommended Read! If you read Private Property when it was first released, it is time for a re-read. If you somehow missed this book, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.


  Nominated for Best Erotic Contemporary Romance 2009

by the reviewers of The Romance Studio


This book was originally published in 2009 by Samhain Publishing, but has been given a new cover and re-released in 2016 by Somerlane Publishing.  Other than some minor editing to update the technology, the contents remain unchanged.