Noah Samuels hates stuck-up, prim people like Jessica. He's more the blunt, straightforward type. But to advance up the ranks at McCormack Security, he has to take the high-profile assignment. After a near miss on his first day on the job, Noah realizes that the stalker isn't just hype cooked up to sell booksthe threat is real.
As the stalker escalates from letters to letter bombs, Noah sees a vulnerable side of Jessica that rouses more than just his protective instincts. But can she let down her guard long enough to trust Noah before it's too late?
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Fist cracked against jaw with bone-crunching accuracy. Noah Samuels ducked as his next assailant tried to knock his head from his shoulders. Breathing calmly, he brought his knee up. Noah made contact with a muscled midriff, heard the "oomph" as his opponent doubled over and kneed the man in the face. Raising his arm to block a blow from the side, Noah twisted his shoulders and jabbed the second assailant in the chest, then coiled his fist and punched the face. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. He relaxed his muscles, controlled his breathing, waiting for the next attack. He knew a fleeting moment of anticipation before he realized his opponents weren't getting up.
"C'mon, Ryker, you can do better than that," he growled. Noah had a whole lot of pent-up energy and aggression, and he was only just getting started.
Mal Ryker held up a hand in surrender as he shook his head. "I'm out, man. Go hurt someone else." Mal rolled over to his knees, groaning.
"Are you beating up my newbies, Noah?" A sardonic drawl echoed across the gym, and Noah bit back his frustration as he turned to greet his boss and friend, Reese McCormack.
"Are you hiring sissies, now, Reese?" he shot back. He unclenched his fists. He fought the frustration gripping his body. Taking it out on his boss wouldn't do him a lick of good. He'd learned that lesson the hard way, hence the training assignment. Sweat dripped off his chin and down his neck. The air conditioning hummed, creating cool drafts across his heated body. The groans of the McCormack Security Agency trainees in the background didn't cover Reese's snort.
"They were fine in the interviews." Reese glanced at his new staff with pity. Four men were sprawled about on the edges of the mat in various stages of consciousness, and Mal Ryker crawled over to join them before collapsing again.
Noah waited for Reese to join him on the middle of the sparring mat. His boss made regular visits to the gym, but he rarely interrupted a training session. Noah's jaw tightened. He should know. He'd been on the training roster for four months now. Training? More like babysitting, with these rookies. He chafed at his enforced recuperation. He wanted to get back in the field, be of some use, somewhere. He waited.
"So, how's your arm?" Reese asked, lifting his chin to indicate the scar on Noah's left biceps.
"Fine," Noah lied. It throbbed. He'd have to rub in some liniment after the training session. A massage wouldn't go astray, but it would also be a display of weakness for the other staff at the McCormack Security Agency. The massage would have to wait. He wanted to give the impression of being fighting fit. He shot a derisive glance at his trainees. Shouldn't be too hard.
Reese cocked an eyebrow. "No twinges? No pain? How's your range of movement?"
"Fine," Noah lied again, and waited.
Reese didn't disappoint. He let fly with a flurry of kicks and punches, trying to exploit the weakness. Noah blocked each one, a smile tweaking his lips as he finally found a worthy sparring partner.
For the next few minutes only the sound of flesh hitting flesh was heard in the gym, interrupted by the occasional grunt. Noah deftly dodged and blocked most of Reese's blows as they moved across the mat. He even landed a couple of hits on his boss. That felt good. Neither of them pulled their punches.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Review: I really like this romantic suspense series from Shannon Curtis. Book #1 was Viper's Kiss (you can see my review of it HERE), but this book as the second book in the series, works perfectly well as a stand-alone book. On the surface, Jessica and Noah have nothing in common, but they actually are more alike than it would seem. Noah came from money/society and abandoned that world. Jessica did not come from money/society, but has learned to fit in there. They both are very protective of their place in the world because of the hurt they have suffered to get there. As a result, they are often times judging each other more harshly than warranted. Jessica grew up on a farm where she was allowed total freedom. When her parents died suddenly, she was thrown into her Aunt's high society world where she was shunned because she didn't know how to behave. Obviously, that hurt...a lot, and she started her etiquette business as a way to help keep other people from suffering that same humiliation. Her entire goal in life is to make sure that people feel comfortable in any surrounding. In other words...she is an incredibly nice person who doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. To have a stalker who is threatening and vicious about their very personal attacks is a huge blow to Jessica's mental well-balance. Noah grew up in polite society, but withdrew from that world when a woman and his father betrayed him. He didn't realize it at the time, but the woman was very shallow. She was all about her image and ways to improve it and he was incredibly hurt because of that. When he is assigned to Jessica, he immediately sees her as another society doll only out there to improve her own personal status. It takes a while for him to see past that pre-conceived notion about her. His attitude adjustment happened slowly over the course of the novel and I liked that gradual change. This is an action packed novel with a lot of high suspense. I had some suspicions fairly early on about who the stalker was, but Shannon wound the story around very well so that it truly could have been anyone in a handful of suspects. There is another character in the story, Drew, who is another agent brought in to help Noah. I LOVED what his character added to the story especially in the few chapters where the story was being told from his point of view....so funny. I am really hoping we get his story soon. He's going to have a fun story when he falls because he is SUCH a player! This was a great book and I look forward to more from this series!
## I really enjoyed this book. The story was good and the characters interesting. It had intrigue, suspense and even some humor. The only thing I didn't like was that the hero called the heroine Miss Prissy throughout the story. Not very endearing I'm afraid. And a little more sex would've been nice. But a great read nonetheless. I think I'll back track now and read Luke's story.