It's finally here!
Experience has taught single mother Rachel Madison that the only person she can truly rely on is herself. But what she wants most in the world—to give her son the life she never had growing up—means she must put her faith in a man who once walked out on her.
Retired from the service, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Colten Taylor makes a detour to Phoenix to bury his brother. Nobody is more surprised than he is to see Rachel waiting for him at the airport. He regrets the morning he walked away from her, but coming from an abusive home taught Colt to put limits on all his relationships—especially this one.
So when he discovers he has a son, Colt knows this is a chance to prove to himself he’s not a chip off the old block. Turning his life around doesn’t come naturally, though. Then a drug dealer crops up from his brother’s dark past, threatening their son and forcing Colt and Rachel to face their demons … and each other.
Advance Reader Praise (found on Goodreads):
Great read! J.M. Stewart has done a remarkable job with this one! Rachel and Colt have a past, one that she knows everything about, yet he is left in the dark for six years. Anger at him caused Rachel to hold back. When Colt's time in the Army is over, he heads home. These two reunite and it's tense at first. But the sparks that were there never left after all of this time. When Colt finds out the secret Rachel has been hiding, he can either run again, or stay and face it. The emotions are written so that you feel them along with the characters. There is action in this one as well. I recommend Her Soldier's Touch!
NOTE: Every Sunday for the last month, I've been sharing 8 sentences from the opening. This picks up directly from where I left off last week....
She shifted from one foot to the other. Her smile wobbled again only to brighten seconds later as she clasped her hands in front of her. “Heard you were retiring, and I thought someone should meet you at the airport.”
Her statement and her over bright grin rang all kinds of false. He’d taken the coward’s way out the night they spent together and snuck out the next morning while she slept. By all rights, Rachel ought to be pissed at him, not standing in front of him like the Welcome Wagon.
He raised a brow. “And you figured it ought to be you?”
Her happy façade cracked, and Rachel jerked her head to the right, glaring at something on the other side of the long room. “I told him this was a bad idea.”
Suspicion itched at the edges of his consciousness. So he was right. She wasn’t the Welcome Wagon.
Colt narrowed his gaze on her. “He who?”
“Jake called me.” She sighed and turned to look at him, the stiff set of her shoulders softening. “He said he was supposed to pick you up, but something came up. He said no soldier wants to arrive home without someone to meet him and could I possibly do it. Said he’d owe me big if I could. I couldn’t say no.”
Colt resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Ramirez. Figures.”
Jake Ramirez had been his best friend for as long as he could remember. Colt couldn’t remember a time when Jake hadn’t lived down the street. Jake’s mother had practically adopted him and his younger brother, Paul.
Rachel was right about one thing—coming back from a stint with nobody to meet him at the airport, having to watch his buddies meet their wives and girlfriends, could be damn lonely. But he’d spent twenty years in the United States Army, had been stationed all over the world and had gotten off a plane alone at least a thousand times. He was used to it, and Jake knew it. So, the question was, why was Rachel really here?
For now, though, he’d play her game. “I called Jake a week ago and asked him to bring my truck to the airport. I’m going to assume it isn’t waiting for me in the parking lot.”
She smiled. Again. This one wobbled, too. And her fluttering hands trembled as she alternated between clasping them together and running them down her skirt. “Nope. ’Fraid you’re stuck with my Camry.”
For a moment, he could only stare and process. He’d come back to Phoenix for two reasons: to bury Paul and to get out from beneath the weight of his father’s house in Moon Valley.
And to tell Rachel about Paul. Clearly, Jake had taken it upon himself to create the moment, but Colt wanted time. A few hours to figure out how to tell her and to prepare himself for the reaction that would follow.
He hadn’t had time yet to fully comprehend his brother’s death. It wouldn’t be real until he saw the body at the funeral home, which was where he was headed as soon as he could pick up his truck. He wanted to see Paul one last time and he needed to make sure everything was set for the funeral. He hadn’t quite figured out how to deal with Paul’s death. The last of his blood was gone. Every single member of his family had been sent to an early, tragic grave. He was well and truly alone.
Somehow, he had to open Pandora’s Box tonight and deal with the ramifications. Once again Paul had left him with a mess to clean up. He’d have to do it all while trying to keep up the boundaries with her, the one woman who’d gotten under his skin. Yet, looking at her, at those gorgeous green eyes, all he could see was the morning he left her, and the deep well of regret that had built up over the years returned full force.
“Go ahead. Let me have it. I know you’re dying to.”