Gun Shy by Lili St. Germain


* A standalone Psychological Thriller from USA TODAY Bestselling author Lili St. Germain*

GUN SHY

There are two thousand people living in Gun Creek, Nevada.
Only one of them knows what really happened that night.


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HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

In the middle of a fierce snowstorm in Gun Creek, Nevada, a teenage girl disappears without a trace.

The second girl in nine years.

Identical cases. Identical conditions. Only last time, the girl was found. Dead, floating face-down in the creek that feeds the town’s water supply.

The killer was never found.

As the small town mobilizes and searches for newly vanished Jennifer Thomas, one suspect comes to the fore. But did he do it? Or is there something else at play? Something nobody could have anticipated?

For Jennifer’s friend Cassie Carlino, the worst is yet to come. As she pins MISSING posters to store windows and joins the search, she begins to suspect that Jennifer’s disappearance might be much closer to her than she could have ever imagined.

CASSIE

The center of town is teeming with reporters when we arrive. The mood is somber, self-conscious, even. Can an entire town be collectively self-conscious? They’re shy, that’s for sure. We don’t get a whole lot of visitors in Gun Creek. Certainly not ones who stick microphones in your face and blast you with questions while you’re still half-asleep.

Damon parks the patrol car right across the front doors of the police station, his face drawn and tense. It must be a fucking nightmare, being in charge of an entire town like this. Especially when something like this happens.

I can only imagine how bad things are going to get at home if they don’t find this girl soon.

“These people are fucking vultures,” he mutters, and I make a noise signaling my agreement. He gets out, opening my door for me.

I muster up a plastic smile as Damon holds out my purse, the strap dangling on his outstretched finger.

“Thanks,” I say, taking the bag and slinging it over my shoulder. I put my oversized dollar-store sunglasses on my face, the day already too bright for me to bear.

“You okay?” Damon asks.

“Always,” I reply, walking away from him before he can say anything else. I should ask him if he’s okay, but that would mean pretending that I care.

I have something important that I need, something immediate.

I’m an asshole because I know I should care about the fact that a girl I’ve grown up with is missing, but I have more pressing personal matters.

I need to take care of myself, first. I head for the diner, fifty feet away, already late for my shift. I push past reporters, hanging eagerly at the doors they’re forbidden to cross. They have to hover outside in the snow for their pound of flesh, their soundbites, their newsworthy quotes from Jennifer’s distraught friends and family. I see Casey Mulligan, a girl I went to school with, twirling a strand of long blonde hair around her finger as she musters up a couple of fat tears for a news camera, and it strikes me, just like last time, that the people who get the most attention in this world are the ones who least deserve it.

Still, I’m glad it’s not me. Last thing I want is a camera in my face. I slip by, unassisted, unseen, an invisible girl with a hollow spot inside me. I notice the crates of milk that get delivered to Dana’s every morning are still stacked out front and I grab one as I approach, throwing my purse on top and bracing my stomach muscles to carry the thirty-odd pounds worth of liquid weight. One of our regulars holds the door open for me and I smile in thanks, lugging the milk crate through the diner and toward the cold storage out back.

I’m making my way down the main entrance, past rows of tables and customers talking feverishly about Jennifer, my arms full of milk bottles when it happens.

I see him. Him.

I stop.

My arms stop functioning. I drop everything; the milk crate, my purse, my practiced neutral expression. The purse wafts to the floor, the milk bottles hurtle down with an unceremonious crash, and blue plastic lids burst off and go skittering in every direction.

I sink to my knees, in shock. People are looking at me, but I don’t pay attention to them. I’m too busy fixated on the green-eyed ghost standing in front of me. The splinters in my knees sting like fire-ant bites, and I curl my legs to the side, coming to a sitting position.

“Shit!” Leo says, dropping his backpack to the ground and crouching in front of me. “Cass. Cassie. Are you okay?”

My entire body is alight, little pinpricks along my skin that make me dizzy. The feeling spreads like wildfire, across my chest and through my limbs until I’m overwhelmed and frozen on the spot, sitting on my ass in the middle of the diner, voices and whispers all around.

I watch in fascination as milk spreads in a puddle in front of me, like spilled blood. It rushes at me like a miniature tsunami as a painful buzz begins in my head.

“You’re gonna pass out,” Leo says, his words sounding far away as he reaches out a hand to help me up. “Jesus, Cassie, you’re white as a sheet.”

I hold my hand out, the conviction in my reach laughable, and it’s like that moment of electricity that people talk about. I can feel it build in my fingertips, that arc of some invisible thing that wants to join with his invisible thing, but then a hand wraps around my wrist and yanks my arm away before I can make contact with the boy — no, with the man — I thought was still in prison.

“Did he hurt you?” Damon’s voice in my ear breaks my dream-like state. I open my mouth to say something and decide against it, swallowing air instead. I shake my head.

“How’d you get on the ground?” Damon asks, shaking me a little.

“She fell down,” Leo says, his arm no longer outstretched. He takes a step away from me, and Jesus, it hurts. He looks anguished. “She dropped the milk and she fell down.” I can’t stop looking at him. I can’t bear to look at him.

The milk has reached me. It seeps across my right knee, curled underneath me; the backs of my thighs, my palms. It’s ice cold, and I can feel myself shaking.

Damon is crouched next to me, his hand on my cheek, diverting my attention to him.

“Are you all right, Cassie?” he asks, helping me to my feet, his tone gathering more urgency with each question I don’t answer. Amanda is picking up the milk bottles beside us, piling them high in her arms as I continue to stare at Leo.

He’s… different. He has tattoos now. He looks exactly the same but entirely reconstructed. He’s eight years older, I realize. A third of his life, gone. A third of mine. It feels like it’s been forever. It feels like it’s been no time at all.

Deputy Chris appears, looking between me and Leo with uncertainty. Why didn’t anyone tell me? How the hell did Leo just materialize from thin air in the Grill?

“Cassie,” Damon snaps, and I know he means business.

I nod. “I’m fine. I’m okay.” I think of where I was going before I saw fucking Leo. Pills. Purge. “I need a minute.”

“I’ll take you home,” Damon says, his hand on the small of my back as he starts to guide me toward the front doors. I panic, pushing him away.

“You have a missing girl to find,” I say quickly. “I’m fine, really. I just need some aspirin.” And a fucking gun, so I can put myself out of my misery.

“I’ll walk you there,” Damon says, ever the hero. If they only knew, I think to myself, as Amanda opens the staff room door and ushers us inside.

“Give us a minute,” Damon says, giving Amanda a concerned look. She nods, closing the door and waiting out in the hallway as Damon closes the blinds and twists the lock on the door.

“Didn’t think he’d have the balls to show his face in public,” Damon says, and that’s when I understand.

I feel the blood drain from my cheeks as I realize. He knew. He knew Leo would be here today. I ask him with my eyes, searching, imploring. His expression tells me everything.

“You could have warned me,” I whisper.

His eyes narrow. “I considered it. Figured it was better you didn’t know in advance.” He pauses. “Didn’t expect you to fall to your knees in front of him.”

“Fuck you,” I seethe.

Damon’s jaw twitches. “I’m sorry,” he offers, almost as if he’s suggesting an apology rather than delivering one.

I reach for the lock, twisting it and cracking the door open. The temporary quiet we’ve had is pierced by the excited noise of a diner who’s just witnessed the tragic reunion of two star-crossed lovers, or maybe they’re all just gossiping about the missing girl.

“Jennifer,” I hiss at Damon. One word. It works. He shakes his head, his blue eyes fucking burning with anger, but he leaves.

Holy shit. As soon as he’s gone, I close the door again. I don’t bother locking it — who’s going to find me in here? Leo’s long gone if he’s got any sense, and as much as I don’t care about anything, the thought of Amanda having to mop up the milk I spilled makes me so fucking guilty I can barely breathe.

Pills. Purge. Yes.

I go into the staff bathroom, a small tiled square off the main staff room, and start to throw up as soon as the door is closed. I don’t even need to stick my finger down my throat — I’m so full of adrenaline from seeing Leo, I just open my mouth and everything comes out. It’s the kind of vomit that gets in your nose and burns behind your eyes and makes you cry with the way it chokes you.

When I’ve emptied my stomach and I stop gagging, I clean myself up, my head feeling like it might split in two. I’m so hot I think I might burst into flames. I take off my cardigan, my fingers clumsy and damp, and use it to wipe my face.

Pills. Yes. I go back out to the staff room, seeking whatever pharmaceutical bliss I can rummage up from my staff locker. I didn’t switch the overhead lights on when I first came in, and the windowless cave is dim, the only illumination coming from the slightly ajar bathroom door and the fluorescent strips that line its ceiling.

The staff room is empty. Except… it’s not.

Leo. He’s here. Somehow, the only person here with me is the one person I shouldn’t be anywhere near.

He looks at me with eyes that have seen violence since I last gazed into them. I know because I recognize the hardness inside his soul; it matches mine.

My face is a blank canvas, but inside I’m screaming.

Not with fear. With longing. And shame. I want the boy who destroyed everything to pick me up and take me into the bathroom and put his hands all over me. I want him to erase every trace of the last decade. Under my shirt, my nipples stiffen, and shame pools in my belly.

I shouldn’t want to be anywhere near this boy after what he did, but I do.

“I’m sorry,” Leo says. His voice. Oh, God. I don’t remember his voice being that fucking beautiful. It’s deep and full and if it were a food, it’d be honey. He’s not a boy anymore. He’s a man now. A stranger.

His face falls as he gestures to my stomach, concerned. “You have blood on your shirt,” he says, pointing from a safe distance. “Did you cut yourself when you fell?” He looks remorseful. Like he thinks the blood on my shirt is his fault.

My heart sinks. I shake my head tightly, tears springing to my eyes.

“Not my blood,” I say, my voice coming out like a squeak. Leo looks confused.

“The dog,” I stammer. “Rox. She — she—”

“I saw her yesterday,” Leo says, his eyes wide as he looks from my eyes to the blood on my shirt. I didn’t even realize it was there. I’d been wearing my sweater until I took it off just now.

“She’s dead,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

Leo takes a step back. Something passes over his face, a darkness, a fleeting suspicion. “How?” he asks.

I don’t know how to answer that. So I don’t. I push past him and start walking to the kitchen, as fast as I can, because I don’t have an answer for him. My shoulder burns from where I grazed his arm on the way out of the staff room. He might have ruined my life, destroyed my family, taken my future in one careless night — but Leo Bentley still makes me burn like hellfire.

 

Lili writes dark, delicious romance full of love, lust and revenge. Her USA Today Bestselling Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the young woman who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a trilogy that explores the beginnings of the club, published through HarperCollins.

Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, excellent coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Instagram.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.

Connect with Lili

Twitter / Facebook / Website / Instagram / Pinterest / BookBub


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Taking Avery by D.H Sidebottom & Ker Dukey

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Title: Taking Avery

Co Written By: D.H Sidebottom & Ker Dukey

Release Date: September 20th

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When a reckless act upsets the balance between two MC clubs, everyone is fair game in the war that erupts.
Avery belongs to Lilith’s Army now, after being taken against her will, but she isn’t just anyone, she’s a Cutter’s MC Princess, and they don’t take kindly to people taking what’s theirs.

As Avery’s life starts to spiral out of control, she finds that her only hope of survival is to put her trust in the man she doesn’t trust at all. The only man that can bring destruction to not only both clubs, but also to her heart.

When the fallout reaches beyond just the two clubs, the consequences bring death, devastation, and chaos for everyone.
The dynamics of both clubs change forever in the wake that follows. Fate isn’t done teaching Avery that life isn’t always better with the devil you know sometimes it’s with the devil you don’t.

 

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Meet Author D.H Sidebottom

Author of The Heart of Stone, Room 103 and The Blue Butterfly series’. D H Sidebottom is a full-time mum/author. She lives in Derbyshire, England with her partner, children, and two dogs. She is an avid reader and her tastes range from horror to erotic. She loves to help new authors get into the ‘scene’. She loves rock music and tattooed guys and has a weakness for coffee, wine, and bacon.

Stay connected with D.H Sidebottom

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Meet Author Ker Dukey

 

I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bedtime stories with my sisters. I wanted to be an actress growing up so I could live many roles but I learned early on that my mind was too active… I would want to change the script.I would watch films and think of ways they could have improved the story if they took another direction so I thought it best that I tell my own.

My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made of light, some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I’m a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

You can find me on Facebook where I love interacting with my readers.

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Scandalous by L.J. Shen

SCANDALOUS, the highly anticipated Standalone in The Sinners of Saint Series by LJ Shen IS NOW AVAILABLE!!

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Scandalous by L.J. Shen
(Sinners of Saint Book 4)

Publishing Date: September 29th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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They call him The Mute for a reason.

Hard, cold and calculated, he rarely speaks.

When he does, it’s with disdain.

When he does, his words aren’t meant for me.

When he does, my stomach flips and my world tilts on its axis.

He is thirty-three.

I am eighteen.

He’s a single dad and my father’s business partner.

I’m just a kid to him and his enemy’s daughter.

He’s emotionally unavailable.

And I am…feeling. Feeling things I shouldn’t feel for him.

Trent Rexroth is going to break my heart. The writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s inked on my soul.

And yet, I can’t stay away.

A scandal is the last thing my family needs. But a scandal is what we’re going to give them.

And oh, what a beautiful chaos it will be.

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About L.J. Shen

L.J. Shen resides in sunny California with her husband, son, chubby cat and wild, wild dreams.

Her passion is to write badass stories, sushi, UFC and her awesome family and friends (not in this order, though. Obviously, sushi comes before writing. Oh, and also the family part.)

She spend the first half of her twenties traveling the world and is now paying all the fun with extra shifts in front of her MacBook. Feel free to contact her on her Facebook page. She loves to hear from her readers.

Stay up to date with LJ Shen by signing up for her Newsletter

The Queen by Skye Warren

The Queen by Skye Warren

The Masterpiece Duet – Book #2

Publication Date: September 19
Genres:Dark RomanceErotic Romance

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I have one chance at a new life. A college education. A future outside of Tanglewood’s dark walls. For a breathless moment it seems like I might actually escape.

Then I get a phone call from home.

Damon Scott is my own personal dragon, the fight I’ve always lost, the secret hope of my heart. And he needs my help right now. Only my mind can solve the puzzle. Only my presence can keep him sane as the city fights against him.

Only my heart can unlock a man with such a tragic past.

This is my final gamble, with everything at stake. One last game to win a future for both of us.

And a love strong enough to break the city apart.

The Queen is the final novel in the bestsellingMasterpiece duet, about a game of lies and loyalty, of betrayal and power, and ascension to the city’s throne.

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Excerpt

I flinch, glad he can’t see me across two thousand miles. Even working in the kitchens most nights only covers my food, my textbooks. Not the tuition bill. “You’re the one who wanted him to work for you. You’re the one who made him the stake in our last game.”

“And you’re the one who lost,” he says lightly.

“Do you know where he is?”

“Of course. Like you said, he works for me. I would be a careless employer if I let my men go wandering off, gambling and racking up debt and questioning their loyalty to me.”

A shiver runs through me. “Then where is he?”

“He’s a grown-up, Penny. Like you are now. He’s responsible for himself. You only need to worry about your studies. I’m sure Algebraic Topology is taking up plenty of your focus.”

It’s one of my courses this semester. How does he know that?

“Stop playing with me.”

“Why should I?” he says with a soft laugh. “It’s so much fun.”

Frustration stings my eyes, hot and damp. I look up at the wide-open sky, willing myself not to cry. There are a million stars visible here, most of the land owned by Smith College or one of the other campuses. So much land, so much pride. There aren’t buildings climbing on top of other buildings, as if they might sink into the concrete ground if they don’t. There aren’t glass towers reaching to an endless black sky.

“I’m never coming back,” I say abruptly.

His laugh falls silent. “I know.”

“I hate it there. I hate Tanglewood and being powerless. And most of all I hate you.”

The last part is a lie, because I don’t hate him. I’m drawn to him; I’m repelled by him. It’s far too complex a relationship, an equation I’ve never been able to write. It makes me wonder if I’m lying about the other parts—if maybe some twisted part of me misses home.

If some twisted part of me misses being powerless, too.

“Ah, Penny,” he says, sounding infinitely weary. “I hate you too.”

The words shock me, but the hurt inside shocks me more. He shouldn’t be able to wound me. Three years away from home, growing up, growing strong. It should have been enough armor to protect against anything he could say to me. But the arrow sinks deep, proving that I’ll never be able to escape him.

“What did I do to you?” I ask, quiet, in a voice like I’m six years old again. Like I’m speaking to the wild boy I found by the lake, one I lured into my trailer like a wolf.

He answers the same way, a surly teenage boy, fierce and vulnerable at once. “You made me care. You made me want, when I needed to leave. You made me feel, when I would have preferred to die. You brought me back to life.”

And I condemned him to torture. That’s what happened when he sacrificed himself so that I could stay safe. Two children with so few choices. “I’m sorry,” I whisper.

“Don’t worry. I got my revenge, after all.”

My blood runs cold, almost subzero at the words. There’s only one person left in my sad little family. One person he could hurt. “Did you hurt him?”

“By giving him a job when he couldn’t hold one down? By paying him enough that his daughter could escape the city, could go to a fancy college instead of becoming a corner-store whore? Yes, I’ve been horrible to him. A monster.”

“Then why isn’t he answering his phone?”

In the pause I can picture him in a three-piece suit, reclining in one of his ridiculously expensive leather chairs. Some amber liquid in a crystal-cut glass. “Don’t come back,” he says, his voice grim. “You made it out of here. Let that be enough.”

A soft click ends the connection, leaving me bereft.

And more worried than before.

Something is happening in Tanglewood, something bad enough for my father not to call, something horrible enough that even Damon Scott has warned me away. I look up at the infinite stars, but they’re dimmer than before. The whole world muted. It wasn’t a new life that I found so far from home. It was a long dream, and now I’m painfully awake.

Masterpiece Duet other books:

The Prince (Masterpiece Duet #0.5)

A Prologue

 

Amazon US

Penny doesn’t dream about a prince coming to save her from the trailer park. She knows better than that.

And the boy she finds hiding in the woods out back is too wild and dangerous to trust. But he may be her only chance at survival.

The King by [Warren, Skye]

Amazon US

The highest stakes…

My father gambles every night, falling deeper and deeper into debt. When he hits the bottom, he places a new bet: his daughter. I’m his entry bet to the biggest underground poker game.

Every kind of danger circles the velvet-covered table, but only one man makes me tremble.

A trailer park princess.

The son of a criminal king.

We don’t belong together, but I’m caught in a twisted game.

His eyes meet mine with dark promise. And when he puts down his cards, I know I’m going to lose more than my body. I’m going to lose everything.

 

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About the Author

 Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.

Stalk Skye

                               

King of Code by CD Reiss

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From New York Times Bestselling author, CD Reiss, comes a sexy tale of secrets, intrigue, betrayal, and a love worth crossing a continent for.

King of Code by CD Reiss

Publication Date: September 18th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Taylor Harden is a man on the edge.

The edge of fame. The edge of untold wealth.

The edge of utter humiliation.

He built an unhackable system, and in front of everyone, it’s hacked.

His reputation goes from king to goat in a split second. Boom. Like that.

Some dude in Barrington, USA (AKA Nowhere) has locked down Taylor’s code, and if he doesn’t get it back, he’s going to be wearing a monkey suit for the rest of his life.

Except, this guy? This hacker from Nowhere? He’s not a guy.

Harper Watson’s all woman. And she has a plan for Taylor, his code, and his body.

KING OF CODE AN RELEASE BLITZ

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About the Author

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CD Reiss is a New York Times bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up she’s at the well hauling buckets.

Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

She’s frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood.

If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.

Connect with CD Reiss

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Pretty Broken Dolls by Ker Dukey and K. Webster

Pretty Broken Dolls by Ker Dukey & K. Webster

Pretty Little Dolls – Book #4

Publication Date: TBD
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance

Betrayal and rage, a festering sting.
Monster vs Master. Who will be king?

Damaged and desperate, a solution they must find,
To bring back the dolly who is one of a kind.

Disloyalty and failure will not be forgiven.
Seeking revenge, the monster is driven.

Hungry for his affection, our master has waited.
These broken dollies lives have already been fated.

The storm is upon us, the chaos raining down,
Now that the big players have come to town.

Who will come out breathing with their prize by their side?
And who will be collateral damage along for the ride?

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 

About K. Webster

 

K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.

Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

About Ker Dukey

 

My books all tend to be darker romance, edge of you seat, angst filled reads. My advice to my readers when starting one of my titles…prepare for the unexpected.

I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bed time stories with my sisters growing up. My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made from light; some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I’m a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

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Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Juliette Poe

Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Juliette Poe

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Things in Whynot, NC have gone to the dogs, and that’s just the way the town’s only veterinarian, Laken Mancinkus, likes it. No matter if she’s up when the rooster crows, or working until the cows come home, Laken never leaves an animal in need. So when a gorgeous Yankee comes begging for help herding some wily goats, Laken is up to the task.

Jake McDaniel is looking for a tax break, and what better way than to take up…farming? This ex-football player turned businessman turned unwitting goat farmer is up to his knees in goat drama. Runaway goats, dehydrated goats, and a baby goat that wants no one other than him, Jake needs more help than he cares to admit. Good thing the sexy veterinarian is right there to coach him on how to be a farmer. The only problem is, Laken’s not looking for anything more than a good time, while Jake is looking for his forever girl.

Will the baby goat, and Laken, be enough to get Jake to stay? Or will he take his tax break and hoof it back to Chicago? One thing is for certain…what happens on the farm doesn’t always stay on the farm.

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About the Author

Juliette Poe is the sweet and swoony alter ego of New York Times Best Selling author, Sawyer Bennett.

A fun-loving southern girl, Juliette knows the allure of sweet tea, small towns, and long summer nights, that some of the best dates end sitting on the front porch swing, and that family is top priority. She brings love in the south to life in her debut series, Sex & Sweet Tea.

When Juliette isn’t delivering the sweetest kind of romance, she’s teaching her southern belle daughter the fine art of fishing, the importance of wearing Chucks, and the endless possibilities of a vivid imagination.

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