Series: Linear Tactical Series #1
Author: Janie Crouch
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 25, 2018
He’d protect her from any threat…
But what if the biggest threat is him?
Doctor Anne Nichols is back in Oak Creek, Wyoming, only because she has no other options. Here, she was always the shy, stuttering girl, invisible to everyone.
Except Zac Mackay. The very reason she left in the first place.
Zac’s years in Special Forces taught him survival skills, and he’s created a company—Linear Tactical—to teach those skills to others, so they never have to live in fear.
Then why is Annie, the last person he’d ever want to hurt, afraid of him?
Zac’s determined to wipe the fear from the eyes of the woman who has never been far from his mind. And fix the mistakes—his mistakes—that put that look there in the first place.
But a predator has set his sights on Annie. And now survival skills will become much more than lessons…
GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39100494-cyclone
I love a good military/bodyguard type romance! I was so excited to get to read this book. Strong alpha men are a super fun read and escape for me. This book is the first in a a new series by Janie Crouch, and this is the first time I'm reading anything by Ms. Crouch.
We get to see Zac and Anne meet up after a long time apart, and have a chance to explore a romantic relationship. They'd been friends in high school and college, but a situation changed the course of their lives. Now they're back in the same town and have to figure out how to interact and right old wrongs. It was a blast to read, not a standard girl falls for sexy ex-military man.
Anne faces some hurdles coming back to her hometown. She'd done some growing up out of state, but those who knew her in high school don't know of her changes and try to pigeonhole her. And she lets herself fall back into old routines. I was rooting for her to step up and take charge of her actions and attitudes and make positive changes. Zac is a man with a plan, but he's got some mistakes and holes in his past that are wreaking havoc on his current desires. He knew Anne before, she was his wife's best friend, and he wants to see her be the amazing and strong woman she is, but something he did in the past is killing their chances.
Oh, poor Anne. She was stuck in the friend zone for so long, with her high school crush as her best friend's man. Even as a high school kid Zac had the looks and attitude to get the girls to fall for him. His years of service didn't diminish that. And he finally sees Anne for the sexy woman so they hit it off, despite Anne's social missteps. Zac's good looks and sexy talk draw her in and keep things hot! But Anne makes him work for it, and it all works so well for the book and plot.
I got drawn into this book so quickly! There were subtle mysteries that you needed to keep reading to solve and there was no putting the book down once I started! I loved the way the author showed us all the pertinent backstory, but not in a standard prelude or even memory setting, they were woven into the storyline in an utterly natural and fascinating way.
Another thing I loved was the delightful way the secondary characters were woven into the story. I can't wait to read following books and delve deeper into the lives of this new book family I've gained. If you love romance with a heaping side of mystery, crime, and drama...you'll love this book!
“Her bra was itchy, her skirt too short, and it felt like everyone in the entire town was staring while they danced. Anne ignored it all-the staring was actually easier to ignore than the lacy red bra Wavy and Riley had sworn was necessary.”
“I hope you'll give me a chance to show you the all good.”
Plot = 5/5
Characters = 5/5
Heat = 5/5
Writing Style = 5/5
Overall Rating = 5/5
“I was here a couple of years ago, but only for a day or two,” Anne told Zac, looking away. She had booked a room out of Oak Creek both times she’d dared come back. The thought of staying at The Mayor’s Inn had been too painful. She couldn’t even look at that hotel without feeling sick to her stomach.
And she’d avoided everyone—particularly Zac—as much as possible. Just in case his words about not coming back were still true. She tried to swallow the panic that threatened to overwhelm her. Maybe he still felt that way now, even though he hadn’t said anything at the hospital.
“There.” He pointed at her. “That look that just came into your eyes. I saw it at the hospital. It’s like you’re afraid of me, Annie.” He took a step closer and she instinctively one back. One of his eyebrows shot up, letting her know she’d proved his point. “Do you think I’m going to hurt you?”
“No.” Not physically. She’d never worried that he’d hurt her that way, despite having five inches and probably fifty pounds—all muscle—on her.
But he was right. She couldn’t continue living in Oak Creek with them ignoring everything that had happened that night. What had been said. What had been done. Maybe she would’ve tried to, and to avoid Zac forever, if he hadn’t ended up in her ER.
But the truth was, there weren’t enough bushes in this town for her to jump into. She was going to run into Zac. A lot.
Sometimes all you could do was face the past.
She pulled a breath in. “I’m not scared of you. I mean, I know you would never hurt me physically. For crying out loud, you wrecked your motorcycle rather than hit a dog.” She’d meant for her laugh to seem breezy, but it just sounded stilted. “But yeah, I mean, we can’t pretend like that night never happened. The stuff we did. Stuff you...we said.”
His eyes narrowed. “That night we spent together after Becky died.”
“Yeah. That night.” As if they’d had another. “The bottom line is, I can’t leave here, Zac. No matter what you said then, or even if you feel the same way now.”
He shook his head, brows furrowing. “I don’t expect you to leave. You’re obviously a respected doctor, more than competent. Why would you think I wanted you to leave?”
Some of the tension she’d been carrying since his arrival in the ER began to ease. He was right. Something said in grief and anger six years ago didn’t necessarily hold true all this time later. She was silly for thinking it did. “Okay, well, it’s good to know you don’t feel the same as you did back then.”
He took a single predatory step closer, and she tensed again. “I said something that night to make you think you needed to leave?”
She stared at him, her mouth flopping open like some sort of fish. “You don’t remember what you said?”
Those words would be engrained in her memory forever.
Get out and don’t come back.
He rubbed his forehead. “That whole night is fuzzy for me.”
I can’t even bear to look at you. You just betrayed the only person in this town who ever wanted you here.
Tossing her naked into the hallway before flinging her clothes at her.
“What do you remember?” She forced the words past a throat that seemed to have dried up.
His hand moved to the back of his neck. “Honestly, not much at all. It’s sort of a blur.”
She retreated a step from him again. That night had been the most important night of her life. The best. The worst. It had changed the very fabric of her being.
And it was sort of a blur for him.
USA TODAY bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense. She is a winner and/or finalist of multiple romance literary awards including the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the RITA© Award by the Romance Writers of America.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband's job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she's not listening to the voices in her head—and even when she is—she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/crouchcrew
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