Keeper: A Dark Captive Romance

Keeper: A Dark Captive Romance

by Robin Lovett

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Overview

Keeper: A Dark Captive Romance by Robin Lovett

Some men aren’t meant to be found. They weren’t made to get close to. Their homes are off-limits. Touching them is forbidden. Because breaking into the fortress of a man like that can obliterate him.

I always hunt the truth. Ever since my sister disappeared years ago, my insatiable need for answers is never satisfied. It’s what I want most of all. More than men. More than sex. Being a journalist is the only thing that’s been able to get me though each day. To help me survive.

Finding Chase Vandershall will be my biggest challenge yet. They say he’s unreachable. That a man who goes that high up into the mountains doesn’t want to be found. But the hard part isn’t getting to him. It’s making sure I stay sane. Stay away from the power of his eyes and the strength in his hands. Remember who I am and what I came for…even as my desire for my captor swallows me whole.

**

I want this Layla woman gone.

Only a desperate person would seek me out. And only a person with a death wish would actually make it. But this woman—this smoldering, sexy as hell woman—is unlike anyone I’ve ever met, even before I holed myself up on top of this cold, lonely mountain.

She’s learning things about me I don’t want her to know. Things that if the rest of society knew, would put me in prison and leave me there to rot. And even though she’s forced her way into my solitary fortress, I can’t let her expose me. Can’t let her tell the world the dark details of my past she’s uncovered.

But the longer I keep her here, the more I don’t want to let her go. And the more I don’t want to let her go, the more she destroys me.

"Stranger by Robin Lovett is a dark and intriguing story about the lengths one will go to find love. A page turner from the very beginning, this story makes you question, in the best of ways, what a romance is. A five star read!" - USA Today bestselling author Jenika Snow on Stranger

“Wowza! I just couldn’t put this down." - The Jeep Diva on Stranger

"Stranger quite boldly goes where many romances don’t go...about the blurred boundaries between depravity, pleasure and despair, and how freedom...can be found in the most unexpected places." - Unstuck Pages on Stranger

The Dark Romance Trilogy by Robin Lovett is a series of scorching, intense anti-hero standalone novels that can be read separately or in this order:

Book 1: Stranger, A Dark Stalker Romance
Book 2: Deceiver, A Dark Revenge Romance
Book 3: Keeper, A Dark Captive Romance

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250133533
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Series: Dark Romance Trilogy , #3
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 250
Sales rank: 243,535
File size: 976 KB

About the Author

Robin Lovett enjoys writing romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs, housework, and personal demons. Reading romance has always been her addiction of choice. When not writing or reading with her cat, she’s busy embracing untamable curly hair or adventuring into the outdoors with her husband. She loves chatting about life and romance on Twitter and Facebook, so don't be shy!

Robin is the author of the Dark Romance Trilogy (Stranger, Deceiver, Keeper).


Robin Lovett is the author of Stranger. She enjoys writing romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs, housework, and personal demons. Reading romance has always been her addiction of choice. When not writing or reading with her cat, she’s busy embracing untamable curly hair or adventuring into the outdoors with her husband. She loves chatting about life and romance on Twitter and Facebook, so don't be shy!

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I should turn back. The road is near impassable, its surface studded with rocks like spikes from hell. The bridge is washed out.

But I won't turn back.

I can't.

The thing in me that craves information like a ravenous beast starved to be fed will not let go. It's raw with a need for the truth so fierce it will only be satisfied with the whole story — even though it's not my story.

It feels like my story.

It may as well be my story, as likely as I am to ever find my own.

My gaze tracks across the rapid flowing creek to the dirt road on the other side. Up and up, two thousand feet up it goes, above the tree line to the top of the mountain pass. There's nothing and no one out here. I left civilization fifteen miles ago for a lawless land of endless pine forest and aspen grove, ruled over by jagged peaks so towering, the sun will disappear behind them in an hour, though it's mid-afternoon.

There's one law out here: the law of nature.

I shouldn't be here. But even if I turn around now, I'll barely make it to town before dark.

If I keep driving, I could find nothing and be stuck spending the night alone in the wilderness in my truck.

But going by the "no trespassing" sign three miles back, something is out here — besides the bears and the rocks. Maybe the something I'm looking for — the someone.

Him. The missing man. The one who could solve all the missing pieces of the puzzle.

I get out of the truck, and a chill far colder than usual for October blows through the air. I grab the paper map from the cab of my truck, the one the gas station attendant convinced me to buy when I learned there'd be no cell service up here.

The creek in front of me flows more like the Colorado River, the sky-blue water rushes by too fast to see the bottom. There has to be a way across it. Otherwise the road on the other side wouldn't be so gouged out.

I can't give up now.

I sit on a boulder at the edge and study the flow of the water — the way it breaks around the rocks and swirls in pools.

I have secrets to learn. The best kind — the ones that keep me from having to solve my own.

*
Someone stops a truck at the creek crossing, and I squint through the binoculars. My first reaction is territorial annoyance. Good thing I brought my shotgun. He'll get the same treatment all the others get: one warning shot to get the hell back to where he came from.

But then he gets out of the truck.

Or ... she.

My second reaction is a bit foreign — a roiling anger, one based solely on the fact that she's a woman — here — alone.

"Oh, that's gonna be fun," Keegan says beside me. "It's a woman, right?"

"Yes." We stare from the treeless ridge line into the valley below

He chuckles. "You could scare her away." He leans closer and whispers, "Or you could seduce her. Get her to come home with you. No one would know but me."

I elbow him in the ribs. He grunts and backs off.

It's a joke he shouldn't make. He knows I would never do that, but he also knows the instinct is there.

Living up here, away from people, away from the norms of what civilized behavior looks like, it plays with the senses. It awakens things that living around people deadens. But up here, urbanity is something of a past life. The only currency of value is the need to survive.

And a need for other things.

The things a person misses while being alone for days and weeks at a time.

Even from here, through magnified lenses, her curves are visible. The long stride of her leg, the determined set to her shoulders, the fall of her hair over her neck — my mouth goes dry.

A carnal urge, more forceful than mere attraction, storms through my veins.

Keegan grabs for the binoculars in my hands. "Give me those. I want to see."

I growl and shove him away.

His eyes widen. "It's like that, is it?" He shakes his head. "Careful, Chase."

"She needs to go back to town. Now." I look again, unable to resist the desire to watch her.

She must be up here for a reason, a wrong reason. No casual tourist ventures this far into the backcountry alone unless she's looking for something.

If she knew anything, she'd know that people are the most dangerous predators in this wilderness. But there's no way she knows that.

She should not be here.

It doesn't matter though. "She can't make it across the creek. She'll turn around." She examines the water of Hell's Creek then gets back in the truck, but rather than backing up, she drives forward. "Shit."

"What?"

"She's driving into the water."

Keegan moves closer to me. "Turn around, damn it." He voices the same worry I have. The creek will eat her alive.

If she swerves downstream her truck will hit a pool no truck can survive and do a somersault through the water. But by some luck, she swerves upstream, missing the obstacle, and though she has to gun it and bottoms out on the bank, she clears the water.

"Did she make it?" Keegan asks.

"Yeah." Which isn't really a relief. It's a whole different set of problems.

"At least you don't have to retrieve a body."

I glare at his smug face.

He points at the clouds. "I have to get home before that comes." A storm is brewing above us, the scent of snow sharp on the cool air.

By nightfall, there'll be a whiteout too thick to see your own feet. By sunrise, a coat of snow will blanket the gray-cragged peaks, and the aspens that haven't shed their leaves will be creaking in angst.

"You've got a serious problem on your hands." He rubs in that it's my problem. His house is down the south side of the pass. She's not heading for his place. She's heading for mine.

She would venture up here today.

If she'd waited until tomorrow, there'd have been no getting over the pass in the snow. Now though, if she doesn't turn around before it starts, even in her fancy four-by-four, she'll be stuck up here for days, a week. Or if it's like last year, where storm after storm pounded the castle peaks through the fall, her truck will be snowbound for months.

She's now my responsibility.

Keegan shoulders his pack. "Maybe she'll prove to be good company."

I stare at the ground. "Not if I can help it."

He scoffs. "By the time you get down there and turn her around, there's no way she'll make it out before the storm comes."

"Not my problem."

"Good luck with that." His voice oozes sarcasm. "I'll see you day after tomorrow on the ridge?"

"Yeah." Same as we always do, day after every storm. But I've got bigger problems right now.

"Chase." He barks for my attention. "Don't forget to watch the storm and not just her."

I pass him a who-the-hell-do-you-think-I am look.

His shoulders shake with humor, and he heads down the ridge.

I look back to my new problem. She's coming closer. My only option is to hike down there and scare her into turning back.

I lift my pack and adjust the shotgun strap over my back. Good thing I brought it. I want to leave no doubt in her mind that she doesn't belong in the wild, especially not with me around. I cannot be found by anyone, and the risk that she's looking for me is one I can't take.

CHAPTER 2

The road only gets worse. I swear at each obstacle, a chorus on repeat.

But my excitement peaks. A man who isolates himself in a wilderness like this, it's something out of The Shining. He must have secrets beyond secrets, running from something that I have to know.

I have suspicions — evidence pointing to a brutal crime he may be guilty of.

Rather than scaring me, it excites me, feeds my mischievous need to learn everything there is to know about him.

The world is a better place when I know everyone's secrets.

The road switchbacks up the mountain, the drop over the side dizzying. The trees thin, exposing the view over the cliff. Soon there'll be no more trees, nothing but rock.

I don't see him until it's almost too late.

He stands in the center of the road.

A man.

But not just a man. An apparition, toting a shotgun. He almost blends in with the trees, a figure who belongs in the wild as much as the rocks belong in the ground.

I slam on the brakes and stare at the man — rugged, in hard-washed jeans, his chest harnessed by pack straps, his arms tight with aggression.

His eyes a warning: You don't belong here. Leave — now.

My heart thuds and races my pulse in my ears.

His dark hair, long and tousled over his ears. His cheeks thickly stubbled. His thick brow slants, shadowing his eyes, dark eyes. As dark as ...

Blake's.

Just like Blake's. Penny's brother.

It's him.

The man I'm looking for.

Excitement pounds through my sternum. Despite his threatening presence, I can't help smiling.

The Vandershall in him shines through his gaze. But the sternness of his mouth is different. His lips set on the verge of a territorial snarl — he's restraining himself from baring his teeth like fangs and scaring me away. I'm on his land.

If we were somewhere civilized, if there were anyone within miles of us, I would run. But there's no one.

It's me and him. Alone.

And he's the one I'm looking for.

With my heart speeding in apprehension and pounding with anticipation, I get out of the truck. He makes no move, he just follows me with his gaze. Derisive. Threatening.

I ease closer to him one step at a time, testing him like a wild animal, to see how close he'll let me get.

I'm surprised, though I shouldn't be, to find that his raw masculinity, his unfettered display of aggression, is a serious fucking turn-on. It's so hot there might as well be steam rising off his body.

His voice comes sharp and rumbles low. "Turn around."

I fist my hands to hide my shaking fingers. "I made it up here. I'm not turning back now."

"You're trespassing."

"I'm here to see you."

He lowers his chin, and his snarl breaks free. "No, you're not."

"I know who you are."

"I'm no one," he whispers, his voice a raw rasp.

There's a defensiveness in his tone, a worry, suggesting that if I do know who he is that's a big problem for him. He's rooted himself in an anonymous existence where he thought no one could find him.

I'm his worst nightmare. And I like that — that I could be a threat to him. It gives me a boost of power.

I take another step toward him. "You're Chase Vandershall."

He takes his gun from his shoulder, pumps it and points it in the air. It's for show. He won't actually shoot it.

BOOM!

It goes off and echoes through the valley, the sound bouncing off the mountains. I cover my ears by instinct. But instead of the agitation he intends, I'm exhilarated. He's so territorial — this is going to be fun.

"Get out of here," he repeats, his voice bleak.

"You can't make me," I taunt with a smile.

Unbelievably, he pumps his gun again and aims at my truck. "Yes, I can."

"You wouldn't." I can't fathom this guy. He wouldn't actually shoot at me.

For answer, he shoots and blows a hole in my fender.

That looses fear in me. If he blew the tire ...

He puts the gun up, and I run to see. But somehow, he shot it without blowing the tire.

"I didn't hit it," he growls. "Because I want you out of here."

I strut back to him, putting on my fearless as thick as I can. "I'm not leaving."

"Do you have a death wish?" He aims his gun at the windshield. "Get in your truck, or I'll blow through the glass. You don't need that to get out of here, but it'll be a hell of a drive back to town. Not to mention the rental fees."

I stiffen, not scared but annoyed. He's right. To lose my windshield would be a pain in the ass. "How do you know it's a rental?"

"I saw how you drive. Now go back where you came from."

I search for an excuse. I will not let him win this. "There's no way to turn around on this road."

"Back down to the last U-bend. There's a bare spot big enough for even you to turn back in." The insult is overt. He thinks I'm a city chick who can't drive.

I cross my arms. He's about to find out that gun or no, he can't get rid of me. "Why don't you get in the truck, and I'll drive us to your place. We can talk there."

"What part of shooting out your windshield don't you understand!" he shouts, his grip tightening on his gun.

A slice of nerves cuts through my determination. "You can't be serious."

He takes aim. "Get in your fucking truck!"

I hadn't counted on this. Stubborn yes, evasive maybe, but not violent. "You haven't even asked who I am."

He pumps the gun. "I don't give a shit who you are."

"I'm Layla. Penny and Blake sent me." It comes out frustrated and tight, a futile attempt to negotiate with a deranged person.

It doesn't work.

He pulls the trigger and shoots off the side view mirror of my truck.

I stare at him and his brutal expression, and something breaks through my excitement. My theory about him. I could be right.

He could be guilty of murder.

And if he is, my life is in danger, and I need to get away from him. Now.

I put up my hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I'm going." I scramble into my truck and put it in reverse — hands shaking with adrenaline. I back down the mountain road and focus hard to keep from driving off it.

I spot the turn-around and back into it, but before I pull around the bend, I look up one more time.

He's gone.

As though he was never there.

If it weren't for the mirror dangling off my passenger side door, I'd think I imagined him.

He could be in the woods, watching me. Probably is, hidden between the trees or behind a boulder, blending in with the environment that is him.

I don't care how badly I need his secrets, how badly the journalist in me craves answers, how badly I need to escape my own problems. It's not worth the risk of getting shot by a maniac.

*
The snow begins to fall, the sun going down. I'm relieved to make it back to the cabin in time for both.

I wasted three shells on that woman, Layla.

Too bad I have nothing to show for it.

It's like I spent half my day stalking prey, and given the perfect shot, I didn't take it.

But I did it, I got rid of her. Despite the enticement that she was in her tenacity, her stubbornness, her unwavering self-possession, I let her go.

Seeing her standing there unafraid, shamelessly obstinate, unabashedly aggressive, I wondered if she could be scared by anything. It excited me — so much that I was disappointed when she relented and turned around. Which is the opposite of how it should be. It's good she's gone. Good for me. Good for her.

Telling that to my body, however, which is screaming about how long it's been since I've been with a woman — it doesn't help.

I prop my pack and my gun next to the woodpile. Smoke still tendrils from the chimney. My banked fire didn't go out, but I'll need enough wood to get through the night if the storm is as bad as I think it's going to be. And the wood has to be split small enough to fit in the woodstove.

I pull the axe free and set the first log upright on the block. The first swing I take is a relief. I prop up the next piece of wood, and the second swing provokes me. I swing again and I fall into my tranquil place, the rhythm of my arms, the slice of the axe, predictable and right.

This is where I'm meant to be, what I'm meant to do. Alone. Solitary. Not with some strange woman.

But Layla knew my name.

My swing falters and the blade glances off the log. It teeters and falls, throwing off my rhythm.

She couldn't possibly know me. Except she found me, she's hunting me. There are a few reasons someone could be after me. All of them dangerous. To me and her.

I pause and lean against the axe. Damn it. In all my careful planning to leave no trace of my whereabouts, I missed something. I left a trail somehow. For her to have found it, however she did — her determination would have to be fierce. Which it obviously was.

Though not fierce enough to stand up to my gun.

I almost wish I hadn't scared her away — almost wish I had let her come here just to see what she would've done. Just to see what she wanted from me.

But no.

I set another log on the block. I live out here, isolated from the world, for a reason. No one knows me. No one needs to know me, no one wants to know me, and no one should know me. I am anonymous and the world is a better place for it.

By right — by any moral code this universe prescribes to — I shouldn't exist.

I did what I needed to do. I got rid of her. There's no reason for me to be disappointed.

But it doesn't stop the ache from lingering.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Keeper"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Robin Lovett.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Keeper: A Dark Captive Romance 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
BookReview4you More than 1 year ago
'Keeper' by Robin Lovett is book Three in The "Dark" series. This is the story of Chase and Layla. I have read the other books and I do think you can make this a standalone book if you choose to do so. But with that said I really think you would enjoy the book more if you do read all the books. It's been a great Dark Romance Series from the start. Layla is looking to get Chase's story on what happened a few years back..to get the answers that they need. Layla is also a friend of Chase's half-sister. To get to Chase she had to go into the mountains where few go. Chase has isolated himself into the mountains and likes it that way. Him and a neighbor make sure to scare off any people or tourist who try to come up their mountain. When he see Layla trying to make it up he first feels a protective desire for her but knows he needs to scare her off. But she isn't going anywhere she tells him. It was fun watching these to come together and the story-line drama was good too. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read.
BookReview4you More than 1 year ago
'Keeper' by Robin Lovett is book Three in The "Dark" series. This is the story of Chase and Layla. I have read the other books and I do think you can make this a standalone book if you choose to do so. But with that said I really think you would enjoy the book more if you do read all the books. It's been a great Dark Romance Series from the start. Layla is looking to get Chase's story on what happened a few years back..to get the answers that they need. Layla is also a friend of Chase's half-sister. To get to Chase she had to go into the mountains where few go. Chase has isolated himself into the mountains and likes it that way. Him and a neighbor make sure to scare off any people or tourist who try to come up their mountain. When he see Layla trying to make it up he first feels a protective desire for her but knows he needs to scare her off. But she isn't going anywhere she tells him. It was fun watching these to come together and the story-line drama was good too. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read.
TammyS32 More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from beginning to end. The story is fast paced with loads of suspense and drama. Chase and Layla are great characters and their chemistry is amazing. I loved it!
sweetpotato101 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars! Grizzly, growly mountain men. Forced proximity in snowstorm conditions. Ratcheting, raw desires with a possessive bent. All of these things made Keeper a thrilling conclusion to Robin Lovett’s Dark series. And oh, how decadent it was! Layla's inquisitive nature has her wanting answers. She's writing a book on the story of the Vandershall's and for the full inner look, she needs the missing link. Chase--the Vandershall's unknown, mysterious half-brother. But the man who greets her is holding a shotgun, and the last thing he wants is company. Chase doesn’t need someone as persistent as Layla barging into his business and uncovering his secrets. But as the days pass and the snowstorm crescendos, Chase finds that he just might want to keep her after all. I’m a sucker for having two strangers with mysterious pasts battle it out under intense conditions. A remote cabin in the woods, a snowstorm trapping them together? I simply couldn't pass this read up. There’s this earthy sexual undertone I’ve come to expect in Lovett’s books that I was so happy to see here, but there's also so much to learn and uncover. It all just worked so beautifully here. Let’s start with Chase. I have a secret, dark space hidden away for a reclusive mountain man! Chase is this survivalist man living high in the mountains, and he’s rugged and closed off. While he can't stand Layla's constant questions and determined grin, there's something about having her in his space—in his lair, almost—that has this darker desires bubbling to the surface. *fans face* Layla is more than a match for the reticent Chase! She’s got a reporter’s soul for sure, and she can’t let Chase’s secrets—or her book on the Vandershall’s—go. But she's also hiding too, and I loved how everything came about. Because of how stubborn both of these characters are, it’s this constant snarling (Chase) and circling (both) around each other. A ticking time bomb that’s set to go off that kept me flipping the pages like mad. I got sucked in but good. And as soon as one secret is uncovered, another secret takes it’s place. There’s also beautiful language and imagery in here. Being so isolated, but having this world’s eye view. Keeper just has the best of both worlds. It’s as soft and romantic as it is hard and lusty. The combination is intoxicating in this story and really keeps with the theme of the previous books in the Dark series. Pushing the envelope, taking us down to our base selves, and seeing what’s there. But also confronting the truth—your inner truth. I think I would have liked an Epilogue to tie things over, but that’s really the only thing I thought was missing. Keeper can be read as a standalone, but for full enjoyment I recommend reading the series in it’s entirety. Lovett is a new name in darker romance that will continue to be on my auto-read list. And as a last plea for us curious and desperate souls...*sobs* KEEGAN! Please, we NEED Keegan's story! *shivers* Don't miss this sublime series.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
This is a very intriguing story and one I enjoyed very much. Layla is searching for Chase Vandershall and determined to find out his story. Why does he stay hidden away. Why doesn't he want to get to know his half siblings?? When she stumbles her way to his doorstep he's not exactly happy to see her but he can't leave her out in the cold to freeze. The last thing Chase wants is a nosy writer on his mountain but what can he do? These two dance around for a while but why start something that can never be finished. Can they resist each other in the secluded cabin? Will truths come out or will Chase keep everything buried?? Definitely a book I recommend.