Undercover...or under the covers...?
Undercover... Undercover vice cop Russell Bridger hates his new assignment doing surveillance on the home of a suspected traitorous spy. That is, until he receives orders to cozy up to the man’s sweet, beautiful neighbor...and find a way to move in with her for the duration. But things don’t go as smoothly—or seductively—as he’d hoped when she tells him she hates cops with a passion and wants nothing to do with him, his lies, or his damn assignment.
Or under the covers...? Cops in Mary Alice Flannery’s family keep dying, and she doesn’t think she can take another shot to her heart. So when the infinitely sexy road crew guy she’s crushing on big time turns out to embody her worst nightmare, she must decide what kind of future she wants...safe and lonely, or wild and dangerous but filled with love?
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Nina Bruhns' adventurous romantic thrillers contain a unique blend of interesting characters and settings, twisty suspense and sizzling romance. To date she has published over 30 award-winning novels.
Aside from hitting #11 on the New York Times Best Seller List, other awards and honors for Ms. Bruhns's books have included two RITA nominations, three Daphne du Maurier Awards for the Year's Best Overall Mystery-Suspense Book, two Romantic Times Reviewer Award for Best Book of the Year for series romance, a National Readers Choice Award, and five Dorothy Parker Awards of Excellence, just to name a few.
Read more about Nina Bruhns and her books on her website:
Read an Excerpt
Stop in the Name of Love
By Nina Bruhns, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Nina Bruhns
All rights reserved.
Sierra Madre, California
Three years later
Mary Alice Cathryn Flannery did not make mad, passionate love to men on the hood of her car.
Didn't matter how hunky the guy from the road construction site down the street from her Sierra Madre Canyon cottage was. She had no plans to ask him out on a date when he stopped her vehicle on the way to work — or even flirt with him — and she definitely would not be having monkey sex with him on the hood of her SUV.
Which made it somewhat mortifying that he'd invaded her dreams all night, doing just that.
She, who hadn't so much as looked at a man in three years, was suddenly having erotic dreams about the muscle-bound brain trust holding up a freaking stop sign on a road crew.
She was losing it. No doubt about it.
She bent down and swooped up the shards of her favorite coffee mug, flinging them into the kitchen rubbish bin — right on top of the remains of the half dozen eggs she'd splattered across the floor a few minutes earlier.
Seriously. They should make him put on a shirt. Every single female driver had her eyes glued to that ripped, tanned, hair-sprinkled chest. The man could cause an accident.
Sure, he was handsome enough to stir any woman's blood — yeah, even hers. His body was hard and lean without an ounce to spare under those loose-hipped jeans. And the come-hither way he crooked his finger at her when he spun his sign from stop to slow, motioning her through the pitted construction site? Well, no wonder he induced snooze-button abusing dreams.
Still. It didn't matter how provocative the sight of the man's bare, muscular torso. Or how sexy the hint of spicy cologne, honest sweat, and canyon dust that drifted off that wide expanse of male flesh when he stood next to her open car window. Though granted, it was pretty darn sexy.
It was ironic, really. The first guy to get her engine going in three years, and his job was to hold up a stop sign.
Gawd. Was the universe trying to tell her something?
She yanked her flannel robe tighter over her breasts and groaned. The plastic noses of her Snoopy slippers clicked furiously on the hardwood floor as she marched to the bedroom and flung open the closet door. When she pulled a neat cotton blouse off its hanger, the top button sailed across the room, ricocheted off the vanity mirror, and landed smack in the middle of the unmade brass bed. She allowed one succinct expletive to escape.
Gritting her teeth, she glanced at the clock. With the long trail of distracted disasters this morning, she was running super late. Quickly, she shrugged on a loose, shapeless T-shirt dress over an equally shapeless sports bra — her usual garb for her job as a nursery school teacher. Frumpy? Maybe. But it was comfortable and bleachable. That's what counted.
She hurriedly ran a comb through her long red hair. Lord, it just got redder and redder every summer. Only May, and already the sun had turned it bright enough to stop traffic. With a grimace, she gave it a final swipe and wound it into a twist.
There was nothing about her appearance that would attract the attention of a certain broad-shouldered Adonis. Definitely nothing to make him pin her to the hood of a car, lift her skirt, and —
How on earth would she ever face him this morning — the raven-haired man who'd had the starring role in dreams that even now left her knees weak and her body aching?
She gave herself a stern mental shake, slipped her feet into clogs, and clattered down the hall. She grabbed the oversized canvas bag that doubled as her purse on workdays and sailed out the front door. When she reached the SUV, she squeezed her eyes shut, barely resisting the urge to lay a hand on the hood.
"Hey there, Mary Alice!"
Her eyes sprang open and she spotted her neighbor, Charlie Watson, waving to her. His huge contemporary home towered over her miniature craftsman cottage. Charlie stood on the edge of his beloved water lily pond pulling out dead leaves and fussing with the buds and blooms, as he did every morning before leaving for work. For a bachelor, the man was a bit obsessive about his water lilies. Of course, she didn't blame him. She was the same way about her treasured roses.
"Looks like it's going to be another hot one," he called over in a friendly voice.
She looked up at the sky, barely seeing it. She smiled and waved back. "Nice breeze, though."
Charlie was a good neighbor — always keeping a protective eye out for her. His frequent parties were first class, if somewhat disorderly. And it was fun teasing him about his silly water lilies. He actually thought they were prettier than her roses.
With another wave, she turned back to her car. And frowned. There was a folded piece of paper fluttering under the windshield wiper. She pulled it out then gave a small gasp as she noticed the time on her watch. She'd barely make it to school before the kids got there at eight-thirty. Even worse than keeping the kids and parents waiting, she'd be forced to endure one of her boss Lucinda's lectures on the virtues of punctuality.
Cramming the paper hastily into her pocket, she slid into the car, adjusted the seat-back straight up, and reversed out of the driveway, praying the stupid road construction wouldn't delay her. Maybe they — meaning he — would be taking the day off.
The way her day was going? She should be so lucky.CHAPTER 2
Another fucking day in paradise.
Bridger leaned his butt on the treads of a big yellow construction Caterpillar, stuck his grimy stop sign up in the air, and caught sight of a familiar blue SUV as it approached. The corner of his mouth twitched upward as the attractive female driver looked everywhere but at him.
Ah, the lovely Miss Flannery. Finally.
He straightened a bit and deliberately flexed the muscles in his sign arm. Oh, yeah. She was peeking. She just didn't want to admit it.
Cute. Most of the women driving by made no secret they were ogling him. He grinned. He felt so objectified.
When Chief Trujillo had told him last week he'd been loaned out to the FBI to serve on the Charlie Watson joint task force, Bridge had protested long and loud. The feebs were so damn stuffy. Rule-followers. They wore suits to work. Then insult was added to injury when his assignment turned out to be this lame undercover stakeout gig in the sleepiest damn 'burb in the entire San Gabriel Valley, spending eight hours a day playing traffic cop along a dusty road-construction detour in the quaint and trendy Sierra Madre Canyon. Just to keep an eye on their suspect Charlie Watson's house ... on the off chance he took his treasonous activities home with him. Which, so far, he hadn't. Naturally.
Okay, okay. There were a hell of a lot worse ways of spending one's day than basking in the warm California sunshine with your T-shirt hanging out of the back pocket of your jeans, watching the ladies gawk at your bare chest. And Bridge had done most all of those worse things. Being in Pasadena Police Department's Special Investigations Section — i.e. the vice squad — pretty much guaranteed there would be blood, drugs, prostitutes, gunplay, or all of the above, as part of your day. And Bridge loved every minute of it.
He was pretty sure the chief had put the feebs up to choosing him for this plum assignment. Bridge was on Trujillo's shit list because, although he had made the promotion list three years in a row now, he steadfastly refused to give up his wild and woolly job in SIS for a lieutenant's badge and a desk. Hells no. Bridge liked his life exactly as it was. Exciting, never the same, no ties, and no responsibilities beyond himself and the job he loved. Well, and his dad, of course. But Dad was Dad, and quite capable of taking care of himself.
Still, Bridge had to admit the gig had its upsides, FBI or no. Beat the hell out of sweltering in a sardine can on wheels sucking down hot coffee just to stay awake, which is what he normally did on stakeout duty.
Okay. Maybe the chief wasn't as pissed at him as he'd thought....
The blue SUV crunched to a halt several yards in front of him and Ms. Flannery made a big show of fussing with something on the seat beside her.
Bridge pushed himself off the big Cat, tucked his sign under his arm, and sauntered up to her car. According to her file, she wasn't much younger than he was, but she came across that way. There were freckles sprinkled on her nose, and yesterday there'd been a little smudge of green paint on her cheek when she came home.
Not that he had any interest in cute. Absolutely not his speed.
Even so, a strand of long, reddish-gold hair had fallen out of her ugly bun, and he had to make a conscious effort not to reach over and tuck it back in.
Or maybe tug out a little more.
Once he'd recognized her as Charlie Watson's neighbor, he'd made sure he stopped her car at the front of the line so he could begin flirting with her, casually starting up an acquaintance that might be useful to him in the stakeout.
Draping an arm across the bottom of her open window, he looked in at her and smiled. "Mornin', ma'am."
"Oh!" A pair of sunglasses flew from her hand onto the vehicle's floor.
He pushed his hard-hat up with a forefinger and peered down at the shades, his gaze lingering for a moment on her fine, shapely legs. Instinctively, his gaze was drawn to the ring finger of her left hand resting nervously on the steering wheel — even though her background check had already told him what he'd find. Nada.
Okay, so maybe she had piqued his interest. Just a little.
He gave her a slow, easy grin. "Sorry to delay you, ma'am. Just have to radio ahead and make sure none of the trucks are heading this way."
She smiled back uncertainly. "Um. Sure."
Damn, she was sweet.
Straightening, he folded his arms across the edge of her car roof, deliberately letting her get up-close and personal with his chest. In his imagination, he could see her cheeks flood with rosy color, as they had morning and afternoon for the past three days, every time he spoke with her.
He chuckled. He hadn't thought women actually blushed anymore. Judging by her increasingly flustered reaction to him, his campaign to attract her attention was working.
Stifling a grin, he spoke into his walkie-talkie. "Deke, we got anything coming our way?"
The radio squawked back, "You're clear, Bridge."
"Thanks, bro." He bent back into her window. Yep, her cheeks were red as sweet, ripe strawberries, so real he could even smell them. This assignment was definitely growing on him. "Okay, ma'am. You're all set."
Stepping back, he spun his sign from stop to slow, and as a parting shot, he gave her a wink.
Her eyes widened and her foot hit the accelerator, sending the SUV forward with a lurch. After the hard-bitten, burnt-out females he normally encountered as a cop, and the fast, glitzy women he usually dated, this woman was like a breath of fresh air.
Yes, ma'am. Fresh, sweet, strawberry-scented air.CHAPTER 3
Somehow, Mary Alice managed to make it through her day at the Sierra Bonita Parent Co-op Nursery School. It was a quarter to four, and the sixteen three-year-olds in her Toddler Group had all been picked up. One thing about being a nursery school teacher, the curriculum wasn't all that demanding. If the parents working in her class thought she was unusually absentminded today, they hadn't said anything.
How could she possibly explain that she was distracted because her sleep had been plagued the whole night by dreams of a sweaty, half-naked, midnight-haired construction worker doing unspeakable things to her on the hood of her car? Not to mention fretting over the way he'd flirted with her this morning. As if he'd known about her dreams.
Of course, that was ridiculous. How could he? Aside from which, he could flirt all he wanted, and it wouldn't do him any good. Finding a man was one of the very last items on her Master Plan for a Perfect Life. There were at least a dozen things she wanted to check off the list before she even considered that one.
"Mary Alice Cathryn! What are you doing?"
She glanced at the container of perfectly good red paint she was pouring down the sink, then looked up horrified into the face of her best friend, Nancy, who taught the Pre-K Group of four-year-olds, then back to the sink ... and groaned.
"Don't you dare tell the dragon lady."
Nancy smirked. "Won't have to. Lucinda measures them at night."
Mary Alice snickered then looked around quickly. "Shh!"
Nancy regarded her, amusement in her eyes. "And what has Miss Frugality so rattled today that she's dumping out school supplies?"
Setting her mouth in a line, Mary Alice shook her head. No way was she going to tell Nancy the truth. "I, um ... got a letter from the Pasadena Heritage Rose Society yesterday. They've set my interview for Thursday."
Well, that much was true, at least.
"Mac, that's terrific! I know how much it means to you, getting into the Society."
Roses were a big deal in Pasadena, and it was a real honor to be a member.
"Well, it's the only way my roses will be officially recognized and registered. I feel I owe that much to old Mrs. Trent. She nurtured them for seventy years before selling that cottage to me last year."
Nancy smiled sagaciously. "And I'm sure nearly completing one more item on your five-year Master Plan makes you very happy."
Mary Alice put the lid on the paint with a snap. It was an old discussion, and she didn't feel like once again debating the merits of setting sensible life goals versus randomly falling in love with any guy who came along and drifting into an uncertain future. Especially after a disturbing night of sexy car-hood dreams that just might sway her way of thinking. She really did miss —
"Yes. It does feel good to cross another accomplishment off my list," she affirmed proudly. Lots of people made resolutions, but few actually met them.
"You really are determined to keep your ridiculous timetable on track, aren't you?"
She set her jaw and placed the paint on a shelf. She knew Nancy wasn't being critical. They just had very different philosophies on life and love.
After Mary Alice's fiancé Jack's death three years ago, her father's murder a month later — and her favorite uncle being gunned down when she was a child — she had made a choice to create a fulfilling life for herself without the presence of a man in it. Loving the men in her life always seemed to bring her profound loss and heartache in the end, leaving her broken and grieving when their lives were ripped away much too soon.
But with time, the pain had dulled and her common sense had prevailed. Losing her fiancé, father, and uncle had been horrible, but she realized it shouldn't make her reject the idea of falling in love altogether. The men in her family had all been police officers. Therefore, she just needed to avoid relationships with men who were cops, or in equally risky professions.
When she was ready for marriage and family, that is.
Which she wasn't. Not yet. It had only been three years since she lost Jack ... and there were too many things left on her Master List to do before she could even consider falling in love and settling down.
Nancy didn't agree with her decision to forego love in favor of other priorities. But then, Nancy was a diehard optimist and an incurable romantic.
"It feels good to have order in my life and accomplish the goals I've set for myself," Mary Alice said, firmly deflecting the melancholy that threatened, sending it down to the far corners of her heart. She did want to have a husband and kids someday. Someday. "What's so bad about that?"
Nancy gave her a sad smile. "Nothing, sweetie. Unless it takes over and makes you push aside everything else. Such as falling in love, or even just having a little fun once in a while."
"I have lots of fun," Mary Alice protested. "With my students, in my garden, with Mom." She lifted her chin when Nancy rolled her eyes, but couldn't help a wry smile. "All right, maybe not with Mom. But what about Charlie's parties? I always go to those."
Nancy made a face. "Yeah. I suppose you could meet someone there. Though, if his friends are anything like him ... God. Those stupid water lilies."
Mary Alice grinned, and noticed for the first time that Nancy had changed into a fancy dress. She poked a finger at it. "Hey! Speaking of parties, what are you up to today?"
Excerpted from Stop in the Name of Love by Nina Bruhns, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2015 Nina Bruhns. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice read. I recommend it. Sweet suspenseful abd sometimes steamy. Wish there had been more love scenes, but that is my only complaint. Worth the read.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review... Endearing, spicy, and unexpected. Mary Alice has been through a lot of loss and she does not need to lose anymore so she has put herself into a bubble of safety. She teaches her little nursery school children and is kind to her neighbors and friends. Leave it to a construction worker to mess up her world. He is very attractive and he has become the main event in her dreams. Bridger works undercover for the local police department and his assignment on the local construction crew has been interesting. He has enjoyed trying to get friendly with Mary Alice. Her next door neighbor is their mark. Bridge doesn't know Mary's history and doesn't know the can of worms he is about to open when he is asked to move into her cottage. Mary is convinced it is her civic duty to assist the police department and lets Bridge move in. Her life and libido take a hit.
*ARC received from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review* Mary Alice comes from a family of cops. She has experienced real tragedy in her life when she lost first her uncle, then her fiance, and finally her father to the job. Bridge, after watching his own mother's suffering as the wife of a cop has decided that happy ever after with a wife and kids isn't for him. When they meet while Bridge is undercover, they are drawn to each other with a need they've never known before. Sexual tension, sweet and sexy romance, and danger are all part of this story. I loved Bridge and Mary Alice and I completely enjoyed this book.
I loved this book! Fast paced romantic suspense at its best - it has everything: a hot undercover cop and frightened and demure preschool teacher that cannot stand to be around cops. Through necessity of circumstance, they are forced together and what follows is a wonderful story that had me turning pages just as quickly as possible. Add in some very hot sex scenes that might be the sexiest I've ever read without being coarse or crude and you have a winning combination. While this is the first book I've read by this author, it will not be the last. I've added her to my must read authors' list. This one is a must read for romantic suspense fans.
An excellent read. I definitely would consider this more a romance than a romantic suspense. While it does have a suspense element to it and the ending of the book is exciting, there's not a lot of suspense or action in the middle of the story. It's a good opposites attract story Mary Alice is a pre-school teacher living a very conservative, protected life. Bridger is an undercover cop and works his way into her life to keep an eye on her neighbor. While they are very different there is still a spark of awareness and the more time they spend together the hotter the flame. One problem! She doesn't really know who or what he is and when she finds out all bets will be off. This is a very good read that I would definitely recommend.
The conflicting emotions between the two main characters is central to the plot line of Nina Bruhns' Stop in the Name of Love. The chaotic aura of their relationship although interesting makes the story hard to follow. The personal struggles of Mary Alice also gives you insight into her as an individual character. All the things that make Russell off limits for her are what she likes most about him. I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Stop in the Name of Love is dark, hot and although a little puzzling it proves to be a good read.