Surrender: A Bitter Creek Novel

Surrender: A Bitter Creek Novel

by Joan Johnston

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399177767
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Series: Bitter Creek Series , #16
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 184,463
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Joan Johnston is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty historical and contemporary romance novels. She received a master of arts degree in theater from the University of Illinois and graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. She is currently a full-time writer living in Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Does your life really flash before your eyes when you know you’re going to die? Taylor Grayhawk was a great pilot, but there was nothing she could do with both engines flamed out. Her hands were shaking and a knot of fear had formed in her throat. Without the rumble of engines, the Twin Otter that had just dropped seven smoke jumpers on a raging inferno in Yellowstone National Park was eerily quiet.

She took a firmer grip on the control column as a way to keep herself—­her emotions and her mind and her body—­calm. The terrifying threat of plummeting into the fire, along with undeniable whiffs of choking black smoke in the cockpit, made it plain she didn’t have much time left to figure out a way to save herself and the single passenger left on the plane.

Taylor had just dropped the last jumper to fight the blaze that had been burning for the past two weeks, when a whirlwind of fire had engulfed the Otter. Without power, she’d been slowly, but steadily, losing altitude. She turned, with eyes she hoped didn’t reveal how frightened she was, to stare over her shoulder at the single smoke jumper remaining on the plane.

“You can still jump,” she said loud enough to be heard over the unnerving whisper of wind in the open doorway at the rear of the Otter.

“Not without you,” the jumper replied, pulling off his headset.

“I don’t have a parachute.”

“We can share mine.”

Taylor calculated the odds of getting to the ground hanging on to Brian Flynn by her fingernails—­and whatever other body parts she could wrap around him. She wasn’t a gambler by nature, and she didn’t like what she saw. Brian was wearing a yellow padded jump jacket and Kevlar-­reinforced pants, which acted like a cowboy’s chaps, to protect the firefighter’s trousers from being ripped by brush and tree limbs. She imagined herself falling—­sliding down his body—­into the scorching flames below and shivered.

“I’ll take my chances on getting the plane to the ground in one piece,” she said, turning back to the control panel to see how much lift she could manage without the engines. Not much. She searched in vain for a meadow—­any flat place, for that matter—­where she might crash-­land the plane. The only barren terrain she saw, in one of the most remote areas in the Lower 48, were steep mountain slopes leading straight down into the ferocious fire.

The spotter, who was required to be on all flights to gauge the wind, fire activity, and terrain, hadn’t shown up for this 9 p.m. flight, which took advantage of the long August daylight. So Brian, already dressed in smoke-­jumping gear, had doffed his Ram Air parachute and cage helmet in the corner of the plane, donned the spotter’s harness and helmet, and served as spotter instead. After the last smoke jumper had gone out the door, Brian had suggested that Taylor drop down to survey the fire perimeter, in order to send the latest information back to base.

It was a judgment call whether the risk was worth the reward. But this fire had been frighteningly unpredictable, and she understood Brian’s concern for the safety of his fellow smoke jumpers. It hadn’t been easy to see anything through the cloud of black smoke, so she’d slipped even lower—­and been engulfed in a sudden tornado of flame, rising hundreds of feet from the 250-­foot conifers below.

They’d been drifting downward ever since.

Brian met her gaze with worried eyes. “This plane’s headed straight into the fire,” he said from the open doorway. “We need to jump now, while there’s still time to hit a safe clearing. Get over here, Tag. Move your butt!”

The use of her nickname, which came from her initials—­Taylor Ann Grayhawk—­conjured powerful, pain­ful memories. Brian had dubbed her with it when he was a junior and she was a freshman at Jackson High.

Taylor felt her stomach shift when the plane jolted, as the right wingtip was abruptly shoved upward by a scorching gust of air. Time was running out. Her eyes were tearing from the smoke, and her chin was trembling, despite her clenched teeth. In a voice that was hoarse, but surprisingly composed, considering the desperation she felt inside, Taylor reported their position on the radio, along with the information she’d gleaned from their survey of the fire and the fact that she’d been unable to restart the engines.

“I’m putting us down in the first clearing I find,” she told the dispatcher.

“Roger,” the dispatcher replied. “Good luck.”

As Taylor surveyed the violent landscape, she figured it was going to take more than luck to survive. It was going to take a miracle. She didn’t see an area large enough to allow her to land without going in nose first. If the crash didn’t kill them, they would burn to death in the converging fire.

She knew her thoughts should be focused on wind currents and lift and drag. What consumed her instead was her greatest regret: What would my life be like now, if I hadn’t broken up with Brian Flynn in high school?

Taylor had memories of the few autumn months she’d secretly dated Brian that were hard to forget. Laughter. Loving. Sharing and bonding. He’d seemed almost as perceptive of her feelings as her fraternal twin, which was saying something, because her life and Vick’s had been wrapped, one around the other, like clinging vines.

It was easy to blame the tensions between their feuding families for driving them apart. Vick had been appalled when she discovered Taylor was dating one of “those awful Flynn boys” and demanded she stop seeing Brian. But ultimately, the decision had been hers. She was the one who’d given up on the possibility of loving and being loved. She was the one who’d walked away.

After college, Brian had become a firefighter and married someone else. She’d become a corporate jet pilot who flew CEOs to meetings around the country and found time during the summer to drop smoke jumpers from a twin-­engine Otter. She’d been engaged three times, but she’d never married.

Since Brian’s divorce a year ago, they were both single. During that year she’d done nothing to engage his interest, nothing to reignite the secret romance-­of-­a-­lifetime that had been snuffed out thirteen years ago, like a campfire you were done with.

She’d often thought about approaching Brian once she learned he was free. But she’d waited too late. Very likely, they were going to die in the next few minutes.

But if we live through this . . .


She focused her gaze on the tall, broad-­shouldered man who’d been forbidden fruit when she was a teenager.

“I’m not leaving without you,” Brian said from the doorway. “Get your beautiful ass over here!”

When their eyes met, she felt the past flooding back. All the things she should have done . . . and hadn’t. All the things she shouldn’t have done . . . and had.

The hope of a future with Brian almost had her rising. But there was too much water under the bridge. Or water over the dam. She’d been disappointed too many times by too many men. Some people were lovable, and some were not. She was just one of those people who wasn’t destined to find a man who could love her. She no longer believed in the myth of “happily ever after.” Her life was liable to end in an altogether more gruesome way.

“You should jump,” she said turning back to search through the thick black smoke for the grassy clearing she knew had to be there somewhere.

A moment later she felt a strong hand grip her arm, yanking her out of her seat.

“I am not, by God, going to take the blame for leaving you behind, you stubborn brat!”

The plane shimmied again, and the wings tipped sideways.

“Let me go!” She reached back in an attempt to right the plane, but he pulled her inexorably toward the door, which was starting to tilt upward at an angle that might keep them both from escaping.

Taylor jerked free, her heart thundering in her chest, and grabbed the control column, bringing the plane back to level flight. Panting, breathless, her eyes locked with Brian’s. “Just go! Someone has to keep the plane steady so you can get out the door.”

“I’m not going without you, Tag. Get that into your head. So you can either join me in getting out of this plane, or we can both go down with it in flames.”

Customer Reviews

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Surrender: A Bitter Creek Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
nku More than 1 year ago
Surrender by Joan Johnston .... What can I say first... I loved the book... Thanks to #NetGalley for letting me preview it... Brian and Taylor (Tag) have a great story..Their fathers have been feuding all their lives...they fell in love in high school..she broke it off ... She is a pilot he is a smoke jumper...their plane is going down...From this point on the what they go through to survive and the angst... Feels... I laughed I cried and did it again...I could hardly put the book down...I can't wait for more Aiden and Leah and we still have Vick...
Anonymous 4 months ago
Joan Johnston does it again! In Surrender, we learn about Brian Flynn and Taylor Grayhawk. This story has endless highs and lows - ranging from high school heartbreak and that nasty Grayhawk/Flynn feud to whether Taylor and Brian will survive having to jump out of Taylor’s broke-down plane in the middle of a raging wildfire. I have been looking forward to reading their story, and it did not disappoint. I laughed, cried, worried for their safety and their love story, and even wanted to throw the book at the wall in frustration. We learn so much more about each character, including a glimpse of what is happening with Taylor’s twin Victoria and the ongoing love affair between Taylor’s oldest sister Leah and Brian’s oldest brother Aiden. I cannot wait to read the next installment to find out if their happily ever afters come true.
Kasey Riley 8 months ago
This book opened with high suspense that keeps you turning the pages. I liked the way some of the chapters jumped to those searching for the lost couple and covered some dramatic issues they were experiencing. This expanded the story beyond Taylor and Brian from there onward. To those who experience family dramas, this book will ring true. To those who know anything about the wilderness and survival, it will feel a little extreme, but also ring true. I enjoyed the extremes simply because I couldn't wait to see how the author would resolve them. The characters came alive and you could picture them. More importantly, none acted "out of character", keeping the reader entertained throughout the entire story. The family drama was well handled, but a little "overdone" for my tastes. The book flowed well and the editing felt inspired. I appreciate the skill that went into both the writing and devising of the plot and the wonderful lack of obvious mistakes in editing and proofing. Well done to all involved.
17939996 More than 1 year ago
This is an exciting and action packed story that draws you in from the very start. The story line is engaging and full of danger, suspense, adventure, drama, twist, betrayal, emotional struggles, romance and tension. The characters are well defined and captivating. Taylor and Brian have chemistry and a bitter past. This is a second chance romance that has family tension, secrets, and unresolved issues. I found this book very entertaining and it kept my attention until the very end. It is well written and I highly recommend.
JennieF More than 1 year ago
ARC for honest review with no compensation received by Netgalley This was my first book by Joan Johnston and will not be my last! When feuding between powerful families, the Flynns and Grayhawks comes to play you find many sub plots, that has adventure, suspense, secrets, second chance romance, and a raging wildfire to bring out the best and worst in people and hopes for some happy endings and new beginnings!! Can Taylor and Brian help bring peace to the feuding families or will it all go up in smoke??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! Didn't want to put it down. Joan Johnston at her best!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! Didn't want to put it down. Joan Johnston at her best!!
DebsIN More than 1 year ago
I am partial to smoke jumpers and this one did not disappoint. Brian and Taylor's journey had so many great elements to their story, that as a reader, I was completely engrossed from page one. The survival, trauma, and hopelessness they went through while working together to survive made this one a real page turner. Brian and Taylor's story leaves the reader with many emotions as Joan Johnston tells a story that is heartfelt and with so much depth. I read late into the night to see Brian and Taylor get their HEA, and look forward to reading more of the Flynn and Grayhawk rivalry in the 'Bitter Creek' series! I would like to thank NetGalley and Dell for gifting me "Surrender". My opinion is my own. This is mine. 5 Stars!
GwenL More than 1 year ago
SURRENDER is the first Joan Johnston title I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. Taylor Grayhawk and Brian Flynn have a history, which is always fun. When they fall into a deadly situation, their long-simmering passion explodes. But life isn’t easy as they work their way toward HEA. The feud between their fathers, King Grayhawk and Angus Flynn, which has complicated their lives forever, isn’t helped by other hurdles thrown their way. I won’t spoil anything by mentioning what those are, but rest assured they do add plenty of tension. SURRENDER is the third book in a series called King’s Brats, which focus on Grayhawk’s daughters, nearly all of whom end up attracted to sons of Flynn. The action from earlier titles seems to be happening simultaneously because there are references to three other Grayhawk-Flynn couples in this book, two of which are further along in their relationships. Adding in the tension in these other relationships kept this book moving quickly. Johnston has been compared to Susan Mallery and Linda Lael Miller and I have to agree. If you enjoy their books, you’ll love this and other titles from Johnston.
Cali-Jewel More than 1 year ago
Action packed, engaging, exciting and emotional thrill ride of a second chance romance I could not put down. This romantic adventure has it all, adventure, danger, secrets, bitter rivalries, family feuds and betrayal..... Taylor and Brian are thrown together to fight a fighting a raging wildfire and are plunged into danger when their plane goes down and Brian is attacked. The struggle to survive gives them the opportunity and time (but not much time) to hash out what really happened all those years ago. Loved every emotional and heart pounding twist and turn. Highly entertaining reading experience.
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
This is book 11 in the Bitter Creek series and it features Brian and Taylor. Both Brian and Taylor are extremely stubborn. They each want to do things on their own timeline. Even almost dying doesn’t ease their stubbornness. The chemistry is sizzling but not always acted on for one reason or another. They love each other but as you’ll find with each couple in this series, love isn’t always enough. BRAVO! Another hit in a fabulous series. I think what I love most about this author’s writing is even during the heart of the story line with the main characters, she still manages to fill us in on the happenings of the entire rest of the family. I can’t wait for the next one.
paytonpuppy More than 1 year ago
I finished “Surrender” by Joan Johnston in one sitting. I could not stop reading as the action was so intense. Taylor Grayhawk is flying her plane and dropping firefighters down to the forest fire. The fire has now taken out the plane’s engines and there is no safe place to land. Taylor and Brian Flynn are forced to parachute from her plane into the only small, clear area that is not on fire. This is the third book in the Bitter Creek King's Brats series. The trials that Taylor and Brian go through to survive, not only the fire, but his injury is “edge of the seat” thrilling. The intense attraction between the two former lovers adds to the excitement. You could read this third book in the series without having read the two previous books as Ms. Johnston provides enough back story about the family. As the other characters are added, during their hunt for Taylor and Brian, you will understand enough of the family dynamics (although I am sure you will want to get copies of the first two books, Sinful and Shameless). I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to give an honest review. (by paytonpuppy)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this next installment of Joan Johnston’s “Bitter Creek, King’s Brats” series. Pilot Taylor Grayhawk has just flown a group of smoke jumpers into a raging forest fire in Yellowstone when a tornado of fire causes the engines to flame out. She’s left on board with Brian Flynn. The Flynns and Grayhawks have been embroiled in a bitter feud for many years. Taylor and Brian must survive the desperate situation and struggle to reclaim the lives they left behind, or will long buried feelings change their feelings for each other and what is important. I have read all of Joan Johnston’s books since I first read “Frontier Woman”. This book is another example.
Ruza65 More than 1 year ago
Taylor Grayhawk is a pilot, who flies smoke jumpers during the summer months. Brian Flynn, is a firefighter who happens to be a smoke jumper and a spotter for smoke jumpers. Brian suits up to be a spotter for the current flight out, and it's him and Taylor together when trouble arises. They tandem jump to safety, but are not safe. Surrounded by fire they are tested in all ways possible, and come to terms with their past as they fall in love again. Will their love survive being rescued, and everything the rescue unfolds? I could not put this book down, literally. I was drawn into finding out if Taylor and Brian would survive, and then how they would overcome their personal issues in order to find their HEA. Joan keeps you in suspense as you read this beautiful second chance romance. I received a Advanced Reader Copy from NetGallery for an honest review.
judyrudy More than 1 year ago
Surrender by Joan Johnston is the eleventh book in the Bitter Creek series and the third in her King’s Brats series. I’ve read Ms. Johnston for years and I don’t know how I missed the King’s Brats series. From the moment I opened the first pages I was gripped to the storyline. The first several chapters were so intense I couldn’t put the book down. I felt every struggle Brian and Taylor endured until they were rescued and then I felt the pain as Brian struggled to regain his life and the career he loved before taking that last jump out of the plane. I’m a sucker for second chance stories and I absolutely loved watching these two characters reconnect. I also enjoyed reading about the interweaving of the family and how they dealt with their family feud. I highly recommend reading Surrender. It is definitely a standalone read as I wasn’t confused by past storylines. Now, I need to go back and read the first two stories in the series. I received an advanced copy from Netgalley which I voluntarily chose to read. This is my true and honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The beginning is action-packed and suspenseful. Throw in a romance between a stubborn couple with a past and feuding families and you wonder how this could ever end in a happily ever after. I liked the 'side' story too involving the couple's brother and sister and can't wait for the next book to hopefully see that resolved.
BarbaraVW More than 1 year ago
I received a free book and voluntarily chose to review it. It has been a long time since I have read any of this authors books. I find that she still writes an excellent book and will look for more of her books. I needed some tissues and you may need some, too. I enjoyed that things were so realistic that I could just see them in my mind. A very interesting romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read!
WendyBookWhore More than 1 year ago
This is a book which falls into 2 different series by this author but I read it as a stand alone. I wanted to read this based on the description after the cover drew me in. The premise of a romance with a survival situation sounded too hard to pass up. And I am so glad I got the chance to read this one. This novel starts with the H, Brian, and h, Taylor escaping a plane crash. They are miles from help and with no way to contact the outside world. The two are truly in a survival situation. The pair come from families with a long standing vendetta between the two. That hostility is part of the reason these former high school sweethearts have long since been separated. While fighting to survive, those long abandoned feelings surface and things really heat up between the two. But with one of them injured and both fighting to live, what will happen to Brian and Taylor? If they are somehow rescued, what would happen to all those feelings and all that passion when family interferes. This book was a great and fast paced read. The characters were believable and easy to relate to. The story had plenty of romance and angst in just the right combination to keep me turning the pages. The side characters were also engaging making me want to read all the stories before and those which will come after. I definitely recommend reading this one.
Sheila Lee More than 1 year ago
I will not restate the plot nor reveal any spoilers in this review. It has been years since I have read Joan Johnston and I am asking myself why it has taken me so long to pick up another one of her books. Surrender is a novel that has everything I expect in a great book. There are family dramas, suspense, romance and of course, a HEA ending. Joan Johnston has given her readers a glimpse into the lives of smoke jumpers and the challenges they face during a fire. It is also about reconnecting with previous love interests and overcoming significant challenges. This author delivers a book that you will find difficult to put down. A 5 star read!
ThreesmomDC More than 1 year ago
I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. After reading, Brian and Tag's story and learning about some of the other characters in the King Brats series, I am ashamed to say that I have not read the other books before this one, BUT I plan to rectify that error ASAP. I want to learn more about the two fathers and why they are enemies; more about the pranks between their offspring when they were teenagers; and especially more about the romances that have and are blossoming between said offspring now that they are adults. Take Tag and Brian, who were young lovers and adversaries 15 years ago, and now find themselves thrown together in a dangerous situation from which they must survive. Brian, a smoke jumper, and Tag, the plane pilot, are first thrown into and must survive a wildfire and then the "sparks" that have been revived between them. They must not only overcome their own obstacles, but those of their families, especially the ongoing feud between their fathers. Ms. Johnston has done a wonderful job of developing these characters and I am grateful for this opportunity to be introduced to them and find an new series to fall in love to. I look forward to the next book and Vic's story.
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
Surrender by Joan Johnston is a nail-biter. Ms. Johnston has delivered a book that is well-written and packed with suspense. Taylor is a pilot that takes on the job of dropping smokejumpers when they need her. Brian is a smoke jumper. Their families have been feuding for years. Brian and Taylor escape her plane together when her engines go out. Their story is full of drama, action, humor, sizzle and did I mention suspense. This is definitely one of those books you can't put down once you start it. I loved this book from the first page to the last and look forward to my next book by Joan Johnston. Surrender is part of the Bitter Creek Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Dokken More than 1 year ago
Loved this continued series of the King’s Brats, Surrender. The anticipation of the rescue and survival of Taylor and Brian’s romance kept me up late into the night reading the entire story. I have read (some twice) pretty much every book written by Joan Johnston, and enjoyed every one. I am looking forward to the next book, Sullivan’s Promise in this series of family drama between two strong families.
gdsnv More than 1 year ago
Surrender starts with a terrifying accident: Taylor Grayhawk and Brian Flynn go down in a flaming plane crash and what follows is a harrowing story. The story is about the crash, yes, but it is really all about Taylor and Brian as they have a history from long ago. The “history” between them deals with their feuding families and a short dating history from their teenage years. I won’t recap the story; you should read it for yourself. I will tell you that both Taylor and Brian fought their attraction, again, and again, and sometimes it was heartbreaking. Other times, I wanted to shake ‘em up a bit and have them grow spines to stand up to each other and their families. The story of their struggles is truthful and real and that’s what makes the story, at least in my opinion. And their siblings? They make these two look like angels! Great story that kept me reading until I was finished. I freely read and reviewed this book through NetGalley.
DJernigan More than 1 year ago
Couldn’t wait for this one! Loved it! Surrender is the latest installment of the King’s Brats series it is the story of Taylor and Brian, dealing with a devastating forest fire and their personal obstacles. I loved the cave scenes and the way they supported each other, Joan Johnston is a master storyteller. Can’t wait for the next installment of the King’s Brats series, Sullivan’s Promise