Alexa Wolving has just one rule: never give a guy a second chance. That works just fine in the safe life she's built. In the charming town of Willowdale, her day job as a librarian balances perfectly with her evening job as a black belt instructor. But when she attracts the attention of a stalker, Alexa's carefully built world begins to crumble.
Drew Cosimo knows he broke Alexa's heart five years ago when he took his first Ranger assignment and disappeared from her life. Now that he's out of the army, he's moving back home to Willowdale. He's not looking for a fight, but making peace would be easier if Alexa hadn't told the entire town he was a money-grubbing jerk. Despite the tension between them, Drew is quick to offer his protection when a stalker forces Alexa from her home.
As the stalker's attacks escalate, Alexa and Drew are forced to face their painful past and the simmering attraction between them. They must fight to save each other before everything they care about goes up in flames.
|Publisher:||Red Adept Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Lily has a black belt in Chung Do Kwan Tai Kwon Do, and she has also trained in everything from judo to broadswords. She lives in North Carolina, where she tries to divide her free time between the mountains and the sea. She shares her home with a very patient and loving husband and their teenage daughter.
Read an Excerpt
Storm of Attraction
A Willowdale Novel
By Lily Black
Red Adept Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Lily Black
All rights reserved.
If only all of life's problems could be solved by kicking butts or hiding in a book. Alexa was good at both of those. Or she usually was. Today, it would take some deep breaths to feel confident in anything.
She usually loved working two jobs and felt her two "selves" balanced each other out. She shifted from mild-mannered librarian by day to high-kicking black belt instructor by night. But sometimes, coming from a fiasco at her day job — like double-shifting for a sick coworker then spilling the books for the library sale all over the parking lot — could make punching a second time card challenging. Thankfully, it was Friday, and she was on her way to a meeting for all black belt instructors at Crouching Tiger. So she could brighten her day and that of all the other black belts with one quick stop for an icy treat. Black belt buddies plus Crazy Pops equaled win, because the people at Crouching Tiger were like her family, and together they could handle anything.
The gourmet Popsicles were made right there in Willowdale and were a huge favorite with all the locals. Rumor had it that Phyllis, the owner and grande dame who ran Crazy Pops Gourmet Popsicles, enchanted each and every pop so that wishing on the stick would grant the wisher whatever their heart most desired. Of course it was nonsense, but Alexa had found that if she was having a rotten day, she could always trust a quick stop at Crazy Pops to turn her day around.
The door of Crazy Pops Gourmet Popsicles chimed as she pulled it open. She enjoyed how the heels of her black boots thumped on the floor and the way her skirt swirled around her legs as she strode to the counter. No sense in making a bad day worse by being a mouse about it. She smiled at the girl running the register. Alexa managed the older teen programs at the library, and the girl often attended. "Hello, Mandy. What's the special today?"
"You're in luck!" Mandy answered, giving Alexa a big smile. "Today, we have two specials — the spiced pumpkin Ms. Phyllis has brought back for fall, and we also have just a few key lime pops!"
Alexa's stomach dropped into her boots then rolled over and puked. She knew of only one person who had the kind of pull needed to persuade Ms. Phyllis to make key lime pops — her spring treat — in October. But maybe she was wrong. She was having a bad day for luck, and yes, it was Friday, but at least it wasn't the thirteenth. "Key Lime? That's unusual. Any special reason that one's available today?"
Mandy giggled. "Oh, I'd call him a special reason, all right." She tossed her purple hair back and glanced toward Ms. Phyllis's office at the back of the store. Her tone was filled with pride. "Drew Cosimo is putting in a big order. He plans to serve hundreds of Crazy Pops at the grand opening of his new —" She stopped mid-sentence, her mouth still open as her brain finally registered whom she was bragging to.
It took a real effort of will, but Alexa kept her smile firmly fixed in place. "At the grand opening of his new mixed martial arts school? That's a great idea. Bravo to Ms. Phyllis for being able to snag an order like that."
Mandy just stared at her. The poor girl was only sixteen, and as her purple-streaked hair and sweet round face testified, she was far from having all of life's challenges worked out. She snapped her jaw shut. "You'll still order here? You'll still buy your Crazy Pops from us?"
Alexa laughed, the sound only a little rueful. "Where else would I buy them, Mandy? You guys are the only ones!" Mandy didn't look reassured, so Alexa spoke in a rush. "Never mind. Of course I'll still pick up my pops. Let's see ... I know Master Hays likes the cookies and cream, and of course we'll need a couple of brownie pops." As she carried on giving her order, Alexa acted cool, calm, and at ease. But inside, her emotions were swirling like a tropical storm well on its way to hurricane status.
Drew was there, right at that moment! She had to hurry and get out of there, and she needed to appear totally calm as she did it. No way was he going to see her running away. It was bad enough that their little rivalry was front-page news, so much so that apparently Mandy thought she would march off in a huff just because Ms. Phyllis was filling an order for Drew.
"I think that will be it." Alexa had ordered enough pops to feed a small army of black belt instructors. "Can I get the pops wrapped up so they won't melt on the way to the dojo?"
Mandy made one last scribble on her order pad. "Sure, let me grab an insulated bag, and we'll get you all set." Her purple hair disappeared behind the counter as she rummaged around.
Alexa was left looking straight through the open door into the small back room. Ms. Phyllis was seated at a table with her planner and an order book open in front of her. Sitting across from her, with his long legs stretched out and a charming smile showing off his dimple, was Drew Cosimo.
He was just as handsome as ever, damn him. Broad shoulders tapered to a lean torso, giving him an air of easy grace, like a warrior prince who'd stepped straight out of the latest swoon-worthy movie. He'd inherited his granddad's dark Italian looks, so it was no wonder she'd fallen hard when he walked into her life five years ago. Tall, dark, and handsome, Drew was every college girl's fantasy. Even knowing what he was, she couldn't help letting her eyes linger on the way his firm, masculine jaw was softened by the gentle smile on his lips.
A memory of those lips fluttered in the back of her mind, but she squashed it instantly. Too bad she couldn't squash the blush as easily.
As if feeling her eyes on him, Drew stirred and glanced toward Alexa.
She gasped and snatched up the flavor chart to hide her face. Mother of Pearl, this was embarrassing. Had he seen her face? And what did she think she was doing, hiding behind a Crazy Pops menu like a lovesick schoolgirl? The Freudians would have a field day with that.
She took a long breath — the force of which made the menu flutter — and let it out slowly. She had a master's degree, and moreover, she had a black belt — second dan — and was an instructor at a martial arts school. In no way was she some fainting female who went into a deep dip just because a dreamy former flame glanced her way. They lived in the same town, so she would just have to get used to run-ins.
Still, another deep breath or two wouldn't hurt. Maybe that would give Drew time to forget she was there.
"Umm," Mandy said from behind Alexa's menu shield. "That's twelve dollars?"
"Right." Alexa shifted the menu to the right just a bit so it still shielded her view into the back room. She spoke quickly, the words tumbling over each other as she pulled out her credit card and passed it to Mandy. "Great menu! Some of these custard flavors look really delicious. I'm going to have to try this lemon-lavender. It sounds heavenly!"
"Would you like me to go ask Ms. Phyllis if she has any in the big freezer?"
"No!" Alexa softened her tone. "No, not today. I've got a meeting at the dojo that I need to get to, but perhaps another time."
In the back office, a chair scraped across the floor, but Alexa kept the menu firmly in place so she wouldn't see — or be seen by — Drew.
Mandy scanned the card, opened the till and closed it, then started printing the receipt. The paper stalled as the machine struggled to feed it properly.
The voices in the back office grew louder. Any minute, they were going to be finished and walk out to the front of the store.
Alexa snatched the bag of pops from the counter. "Don't worry about a receipt," she said in what she hoped was a pleasant voice. "And thanks again!"
Mandy's reply was lost in the dinging of the bell as Alexa escaped out the front of the shop. She stepped quickly around the corner to a little brick-lined lane that led to the parking lot behind the shops, and ducked out of view beside a giant potted plant. She wasn't so much hiding as she was, well, staying out of sight ... safe from Drew's perceptive eyes.
She laid her head against the wall behind her and took comfort from the sun-warmed bricks. Leaving without the receipt meant she would be treating the whole staff of Crouching Tiger to ice pops since the rule was no receipt, no refund. But maybe twelve dollars was a bargain if it meant avoiding Drew.
Alexa's lips quirked, and she breathed a laugh. It was a good thing Drew had no idea how desperate she was to avoid him. A cool-headed businessman like him would surely find a way to exploit her distaste. How much would she have to pay him to leave Willowdale entirely? More than she could afford on her small-town librarian's salary, that was certain. Besides, he had enough money, if the fancy, ultra-modern mixed martial arts school and training retreat he was opening was any indication.
The worst part about it all was how embarrassing it was — knowing that everyone was watching their little drama unfold, waiting to see what they would do. Usually, everyone had to read the papers from nearby Raleigh if they wanted to hear about intrigue and broken hearts. The drama between Alexa and Drew was the biggest news their small town had boasted since the big ice storm three years before. She was lucky no one had thought to pop popcorn and pull up a chair.
Of course, she only had herself to blame. She hadn't been discreet over the years, because she never believed Drew would come back. Had she been shortsighted and stupid? Yes. Was that something she could fix now? Not so much. Besides, everything she'd said was true.
However, hiding would not help matters, especially if anyone happened by and wanted to know what had her in a tizzy.
Alexa took a deep breath, glanced right and left, then stepped away from the wall. She walked through the sunny lane to the parking lot. She would simply focus on the present and avoid the trap of what should have been or what might have happened. Today was an easy place to begin. It was a lovely, sunshiny Friday. The air was crisp, with an extra tang to it — like fall's signature wine. The little lane passing from Main Street to the parking lot was an example of all she loved about Willowdale. What could have been a dingy alley was instead a quaint brick garden, complete with giant brass pots overflowing with flowers. How could anyone remain sad in such a setting? A great oak stood tall, spreading its arms out over the parking lot — the crimson of its leaves looked like hundreds of tiny flames flickering against the blue sky.
It had been a while since she'd really looked at that oak, but she'd always loved it. A memory burst into Alexa's mind, sweeping her soul back in time.
It had been late spring, and the leaves on the great oak were a fresh green, while daffodils nodded around its trunk. The night was beautiful, with a fresh breeze and a moon that was almost full. Gibbous, she thought it was called. She'd just finished her junior year in college, and Drew was a newly graduated Ranger. He was on leave, visiting his granddad, who also happened to be the dean of her college. They had only been dating a few days at that point, but their connection was wonderfully intense. Alexa felt special, chosen. She secretly started to wonder what it would be like to someday marry Drew Cosimo, and she enjoyed a delicious tingle at the thought. Never in her life had she fallen for someone the way she tumbled for Drew during that three-week whirlwind romance.
On that lovely evening in the spring, they went to a movie at the little Cineplex at the end of Main. When the movie ended, they took their time walking back to his car. Alexa showed him her favorite haunts and hiding places as a child. When he tried to climb the oak in the dark, he slipped and just barely caught himself from falling. She laughed at him, a Ranger who almost fell on his butt. And he kissed her. Their first kiss was unlike anything she'd experienced before, or since.
Drew certainly knew how to kiss ... and that wasn't all he knew. She hadn't been a virgin when they met, but in his hands, she felt like one. The way Drew made love had left her feeling breathless and aware of the world in a new way, as if her senses had been fused with the cosmic connections of the universe and working at perfection.
"Are you wondering where you put your spare tire?" Drew's resonant tenor voice asked from behind her. "Or just searching for patience?"
With a jolt, Alexa came back to reality. Her heart rate zoomed. She turned quickly to face him and took a step back. "What?"
"Your tire." Drew patiently gestured at the driver's side rear tire on her car. "You've got a flat."
Alexa shook her head to clear it then ducked down beside the tire. Why did she always have to blush? Oh, peaches, what if he guessed what she'd been thinking? Of course, she was assuming he even remembered that tree and their first kiss. She shouldn't be too quick to believe their time together had meant anything to him. Heat burned behind her eyes, but thankfully, it was mostlyfrom embarrassment.
Focus, Alexa. Her eyes went to the tire in front of her, and what she saw sobered her up better than an ice cube down the back. It was definitely flat ... super flat. Worse, she could just make out a jagged slit in the sidewall. A sick unease settled in her stomach. This tire hadn't gone flat on its own — someone had helped it.
She stood and ignored Drew while she made a quick scan of the nearby cars in the parking lot. No other cars had been messed with. No other tires looked flat. The parking lot was empty, with no likely tire-slashing culprits nearby. It would have been nice if she'd seen some punk teens who might have slashed tires as a prank or college students acting out a misguided initiation. With a sigh, she looked back at the tire, trying to remember who might have been in the parking lot when she had come out of the shop. Had anyone been hanging around? She'd been too caught up in her silly emotions to notice.
Drew shifted closer, seeming to notice her shift in emotions. He waved a hand in a reassuring gesture. "Don't worry, we'll have this changed in no time. Let me run your pops back into the shop so they won't melt. You can clear out the trunk so we can reach the spare."
"I don't —" Alexa stopped herself. She didn't want his help, but she also couldn't quite bring herself to tell him to leave. She'd taught enough self-defense classes to know that this tire problem could be a setup for somethingmore sinister.
She scanned the surrounding cars again. The parking lot looked empty, but what would she do if the person who'd slashed her tire came back to use the knife on her? She couldn't exactly watch her back while changing a tire.
"Come on, Alexa," Drew said. "Surely, you're not going to change this tire by yourself just to spite me? Plus, you're wearing a skirt. Why don't you pretend I'm someone from the library you chatted with in Crazy Pops?"
He held out his hand for the bag. She faced him, ready to tell him no, but his magnetism pulled at her and momentarily sucked the words away. She hated the way her heart tripped over and jolted into a dash as a cocktail of emotions ran through her. First was the inexplicable thrill of pleasure at his closeness. Second was anger at herself, loathing really, for feeling attracted to him despite it all. But that was his gift. He was a real walking, breathing manifestation of the playboy allure. And he was just as likely to settle down and devote himself to one girl.
Drew slipped the bag of Crazy Pops from Alexa's fingers.
She grasped after it, but he was already walking quickly toward the back door of Crazy Pops.
Alexa ground her teeth but let him go. The last thing his ego needed was for her to chase after him. Taking the pops inside was a small thing, and she really didn't want them to melt.
"No way is he changing my tire, though," Alexa muttered. She popped her trunk and started pulling out the thousand and one things that lived in her car — cases of bottled water, a sparring uniform from Crouching Tiger, a bo staff, and a box of donated books that she'd already spilled once. She really needed to evaluate them for the library book sale and get them out of her trunk. Everything came out and made a messy pile in the empty parking space beside her car. But Alexa's mind wasn't on her revealing pile of junk; it was on the flat tire.
Why couldn't it be the work of some young vandal, passing through and slashing tires as he went? Sure, that was a long shot, but it was possible, even in Willowdale. Or she might have driven over a sharp branch that had punctured the tire shortly before she parked. Possible, but another explanation was evenmore likely.
Excerpted from Storm of Attraction by Lily Black. Copyright © 2016 Lily Black. Excerpted by permission of Red Adept 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
Alexa Wolving has a carefully constructed life as a librarian and her evening job at a dojo as a black belt instructor. She tried love once and now is content with her life…until she realizes that she has a stalker. Drew Cosimo, her first love, has returned to Willowdale from the military sand hopes to have a second chance with Alexa. Will she give him a second chance? When Drew realizes that Alexa has a stalker and the stalker is getting more and more bold, he knows that no matter what he will be there to protect her. Alexa is a strong woman, but accepts Drew’s offer when she must leave her home while they make plans for her safety. Will the police and Drew be able to keep her safe? A wonderful, action packed mystery as Drew and Alexa fight their renewed attraction and the stalker. Danger can be a lot closer than they think. Ms. Black has written a wonderful debut novel, full of suspense and romance, and I look forward to the next in the series. I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to give an honest review. (by paytonpuppy)
This is the first book in Ms. Black’s Willowdale Series a suspenseful romance. This is a great start to an upcoming series. I hope we get to see some of the other characters in Willowdale advance into the spotlight. Alexa is a great character. I loved her spunk and independence. She tries very hard to live with her one rule. A rule that has serious consequences and was made out of fright. But she maintained that rule for years. Now she has a stalker after her and she can’t tell if she loves Drew or hates him. She does at times seem immature especially the talking about Drew when arrived back in town, her attitude towards him and her reaction to his actions throughout the story. Drew the ex-ranger, super tough guy who left Alexa years ago after his leave was up, hasn’t had a solid relationship since. He volunteers to protect her after she is attacked by a stalker. Drew has a strong idea of what he wants but he has to figure out how to get it. I liked him, he is definitely hero material. The suspense part of the story was good, but I thought that we could have a had a couple of more possible suspects to keep us guessing but at least the reasoning was discussed so we could connect the dots. I would have also preferred a little more mystery. I liked how it was wrapped up but it honestly didn’t make a lot of sense. Rangers are supposed to be one of our elite forces. Overall, it was a good story once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Yep, finished it a 1 am. As I said before I am looking forward to the next installment in the Willowdale series. So, keep writing Ms. Black. My rating is 4 stars, I recommend Storm of Attraction by Lily Black, for those of you who like a little mystery with your romance. This is a Guest Review for Baroness' Book Trove. Thank you for the opportunity to review this book for your site. ~Jen If you would like to see other reviews like this one, check out BaronessBookTrove.com. This book was given to the Baroness Book Trove for an honest review.
Once I began reading, I just couldn't stop. Alexa was a strong female lead, and while she could seriously kick some booty if need be (and it definitely "need be" at some point in this book), it was nice to see her considering other options, like giving a particular blast from her past another chance even though she is staunchly against do overs when it comes to relationships. Hey, I'm not saying she's going to make it easy or that she actually succumbs to those feelings still sizzling away after all these years, but even the moment's thought she gives it is a triumph when considering her past. Drew, on the other hand, could fulfill all your military man dreams in the blink of an eye...too bad he's stubbornly hung up on the only girl that really got beneath his skin. Why too bad? Because, as I said, she's not going to make it easy, nor does he really deserve it to be with the exit strategy he employed the last time they were in each other's lives. Guess it's a good thing fate (and a crazy butt stalker! Eeek!) is pushing them together (and testing their limits of self control) despite the imminent danger they are BOTH in.... Image result for excited In the end, it was a thrilling rush of a read that while filled with heart stopping action, danger, and suspense, still held enough battles of the heart to keep a romance fan's hopes alive and well. **copy received for review
STORM OF ATTRACTION is a suspenseful romance on the lighter side with some fun characters set in a small town. Those who enjoy reading in this genre may enjoy this one. Let me start with what I did like... I liked the characters, both the two main ones as well as some of the side characters. They were interesting and easily pulled me into the story. I also liked the small-town setting. There was a slight underlying feel of tension, both on the suspense side and on the romance side, the whole way through the book. Then there were a few things that didn't work for me... I was a little thrown by Alexa's vehemence towards Drew. It was really strong for her supposedly dating him years previously. It also made her come off as a little unhinged. I would have liked the issues with the stalker to be a little more mysterious and the characters to slowly come to conclusions instead of things almost just being stated and the reader having to accept that. The suspense could have been worked through the story better. On that note, the ending didn't work for me. For being who Drew is and who Alexa is... Yeah. Things wouldn't have played out as they did. In the end, was it what I wished for? Parts of this were great! The romantic tension and the banter was really sweet, but other areas of the story needed more development. Content: Innuendo, descriptive making out, references to love scenes, some mild language. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, which did not require a review nor affect it in any way.
Alexa is living her life and looking forward versus keeping her memories in the past when Drew returns to town and wants to make peace. These two must fight for their future against a stalker . Enjoyed this book from a new to me author. Good action and enjoyed the characters. Ebook from Netgalley and publishers with thanks. Opinions are entirely my own.
3.5 Stars Alexa Wolving has one dating rule .... never give a guy a second chance. She has seen other women fall into that trap .. one was almost killed ... and she is just not going there. When Drew Cosimo shows up in town, she's torn between anger and protecting her heart from ever being hurt again. They dated 5 years ago and she really, really thought they had a future. But then Drew made a mistake, and being young and stupid, he walked away from Alexa without telling her why. Meanwhile, she's attracted the attention of a stalker... and the stalker is escalating. First there were the gifts and cards and then he took out her frustration on her 3 cats. Thankfully, they were okay but now she's scared. Scared enough to accept Drew's help. He was a Ranger and he's also a brown belt. He promises to protect Alexa with his very life. Despite the tension between them, they will have to put to rest the bad feelings from before in order to save themselves from someone hell bent on killing them. Less than 200 pages, this is a quick read. As in most Romantic Suspense, the characters are almost too good to be true. Drew is one ... he's the man all women would like to have in their lives. Alexa is a strong woman ... has a black belt. And though she seems fragile a few times, she's not afraid to physically fight if she has to. There's the standard girlfriend who cheers her on. It's not terribly suspenseful as I had the stalker identified early on. But it was enough to keep me reading. Many thanks to the author / Red Adept Publishing, LLC Netgalley for the digital copy of this book. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.