Wicked Secrets (Harlequin Blaze Series #839)

Wicked Secrets (Harlequin Blaze Series #839)

by Anne Marsh

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460379233
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 04/01/2015
Series: Uniformly Hot! Series
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 366,102
File size: 281 KB

About the Author

 

New York Times bestselling author Anne Marsh writes sexy contemporary and paranormal romances because the world can always enjoy one more alpha male. She started writing romance after getting laid off from her job as a technical writer—and quickly decided happily-ever-afters trumped software manuals. She lives in Northern California with her family and six cats.

Read an Excerpt

Discovery Island came with its own resident Adonis. That particular plus had definitely not been in the travel brochures Laurel, Mia Brandt's cousin and the bride-to-be, had waved enthusiastically when proposing a four day bachelorette cruise from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas. The woman was a travel agent; she should have known the man candy would be even more of a draw than discounted cabins.

Fifty yards away from Mia's perch in the beachside bar, the hottie masterfully coaxed a boat motor to life while she stared. He might have been working in the shallow water with his back to Mia's group, but the sheer size and power of him demanded a second look, as did the effortless way he dominated his surroundings. In a firefight, she would have taken him out first, because everything about him screamed trouble.

As soon as the hostess had shown Mia to her seat, she'd spotted him at two o'clock. Cataloging her surroundings was second nature, the end result of two tours of duty in Afghanistan. After her time in the sandbox, she'd marked her exits and searched for anything out of the ordinary. Not that she recognized ordinary anymore, but she'd made it her personal goal to rediscover that quality, and she'd set herself a deadline of Christmas. With only three months remaining to accomplish her particular mission, scoping out potential dates—rather than potential hostiles—over bad margaritas had seemed an excellent step in the right direction. The normal direction.

This guy was worth a second look for many reasons, although the only threat he posed right now was to her libido. An ancient gray T-shirt stretched tightly over his shoulders as he wielded his wrench, clearly still dissatisfied with the boat's performance despite the motor's obedient purr. He'd rolled up his faded jeans, the worn denim cupping his butt in the best possible way as he bent over, fiddling with some new mechanical bit. His dark hair was buzzed short with military precision, and his forearms were a rich, sun-browned color. When he pulled a screwdriver out of the toolbox beside him, Mia's group of gals heaved a collective sigh.

Hooyah. Definitely spectacular.

"You think he's single?" One of the bridesmaids leaned into Mia, her attention firmly fixed on the hottie working the engine. Laurel had assembled a bridal party from all walks of life. In addition to Mia, she'd invited two girlfriends from college, her husband-to-be's baby sister, a gal from her office and a woman she'd met on a cruise to Jamaica. Two Jenns, an Olivia, a Lily and a Chloe. Mia's other mission was keeping the names straight.

The guy's dating status, however, wasn't the actual issue. She shifted back—she still didn't like casual touching—and plucked the veil off her head. Her cousin had brought faux bridal veils for everyone, but there was only so far Mia would go for family. Being a former aviation pilot and officer in the US Army and only six months back from her final tour, pink tulle far exceeded that distance. Far. "That's not the right question."

The bridesmaid—Mia was almost certain she was one of the Jenns—absently inhaled her margarita, her gaze never wavering from the man in the boat. "No?"

A guy like him clearly didn't know the meaning of the word no. His T-shirt rode up as he reached over the engine block, revealing a sun-darkened expanse of golden brown skin and the navy blue edge of his boxers. The straight line of his spine just begged to be traced by her fingers. Or her mouth. Her tongue…

At ease, soldier.

She'd seen gorgeous men before. Slept with them, too. Just because sailor boy was the sexiest sight she'd laid eyes on in weeks didn't give her hormones license to rampage unchecked. Her ship sailed in hours, and she wasn't looking for quick fun. She also didn't need to leave behind yet another guy who would decide he was done waiting without telling her.

Even now, she could hear her ex's voice as he explained how her last deployment was his license to cheat on her because, honestly, did she expect him to wait forever? Eighteen months hadn't qualified as forever in Mia's book, but then honesty apparently hadn't been part of her ex's vocabulary, either. She wouldn't make that mistake again, and the sailor in the boat had mistake written all over his very sexy self.

Might-be-Jenn slurped, drawing Mia's attention back to the problem at hand. "The question is—is he single right now?"

The man braced his legs as he twisted something on the engine block, and one of the other bridesmaids started fanning herself with a stack of bar napkins. Right on cue, a bikini-clad tourist hopped up onto the edge of the boat. The guy's fetching new visitor leaned in and said something to him.

"Scooped." Mia's neighbor polished off the remainder of her margarita. She didn't sound particularly forlorn. "I need another round."

It was hard to imagine needing more tequila and salt, but Mia signaled for the waiter anyhow. Her role on this cruise appeared to be that of designated party planner, probably because she wasn't any good at having fun herself, or so she suspected. Checking the waiter out visually for suspicious bulges and concealed weapons when he came over to take their order for refills was a case in point.

"Is he taken?" Bridesmaid number two—so much for keeping her vow to learn their names before the cruise ship reached international waters tomorrow—scooted closer and looked hopefully toward the water's edge.

"We could send him a drink."

"Two."

"Or bring the drinks ourselves."

"A long, slow screw against the wall." Mia zoned out during the animated discussion of drinks that followed, which was probably why she missed the right turn the conversation took somewhere between wall and Mia. Her name. Five heads swiveled her way. Hell. She must not have blacked out or had a flashback, because no one looked worried.

"What?" she asked Laurel, who was bouncing up and down in her seat. If Mia closed her eyes, she could imagine they were kids again. Laurel, who had always hated her name, had been an only child three years younger than Mia and they'd quickly become inseparable. Since her cousin lived less than a half mile away from Mia's family, there had been plenty of zipping back and forth on their bikes.

Laurel had emailed daily when Mia was deployed, sharing all the small-town news and celebrity gossip. She'd also sent care packages, which had been a mixed blessing, albeit always good for a laugh. Laurel's definition of essentials didn't match Mia's, but they'd agreed on chocolate and Cheetos. The random gag gifts in the box had been another matter, but explained why Mia's unit had the best supply of whoopee cushions in the sandbox…and why Mia was now sporting a hot pink bikini bottom with rhinestones. And a tiara.

Laurel had a devilish sense of humor and a contagious laugh. And since making Laurel happy made Mia happy, a little public humiliation in the wardrobe department was a small price to pay.

Laurel elbowed her. "He's wearing dog tags."

"And?"

"And so he's military, right? Maybe you know him."

Of course, because the number of soldiers serving Uncle Sam was so small that they were all on a first name basis. In the last six months she'd served in Afghanistan, she hadn't met every serviceman stationed at her base. Many of them, certainly, but not all of them. So the odds of her knowing the guy working on the boat were miniscule. Mia sighed. Sure, she could march over there and introduce herself, but she doubted he'd be interested in a glassful of vodka and gin. Sex, on the other hand, was a definite maybe if he was anything like the soldiers with whom she'd served. Stall.

"I doubt we've crossed paths," she said, fishing an ice cube out of her glass. If she mainlined enough sweet tea, she might not fall asleep tonight, and avoiding the nightmares ranked higher on her list of things to be desired than hot men working on boats. "Afghanistan wasn't that small."

"Go over and ask him to join us," Laurel urged.

"Why me?"

Her cousin's impish smile reminded Mia she wasn't the only person here used to giving orders.

"I'm the bride," Laurel reminded her. As if Mia could possibly forget, given the group's collective outfits. "I'm off-limits. Taken." Another round of giggles ensued. "Someone available should go."

It was true. Mia did want to be available. It was part of her whole act normal, feel normal plan. Laurel, on the other hand, was unabashedly girly. She loved glitter and pink—and her husband-to-be, Jack. Laurel was the kind of happy that made others smile. She didn't forget a promise, and she'd waited almost a year for her wedding date to make sure that Mia would be home. In turn, Mia would walk through fire for her baby cousin—and up the aisle in the satin monstrosity Laurel had chosen for the bridesmaids.

All of which made walking across the beach to the hottie on the boat a no-brainer.

Since she wasn't drinking—thank you, accidentally detonated concussion grenade—she'd nominated herself to be in charge of organizing the day's festivities—kind of like a designated tour guide instead of a designated driver. They'd hit the water for some snorkeling and devoured a lunch that had somehow morphed into the current cocktails. Next up was the zip line and ATV tour, followed by a sunset beach walk. While she couldn't guarantee the bridal party's continued good behavior, she could guarantee they slept like babies tonight. Apparently, she could also add procurer of hot men to her mental résumé.

With that thought, she stood up and pointed herself in the direction of sailor boy. If her girls wanted his company, they'd get it. Seeing them happy was a good thing. This was precisely what she'd fought for in Afghanistan, this beautiful, silly happiness. Laurel glowed whenever her fiancé's name came up. They could laugh a little too loudly, drink a little too much, and have far too much fun, unlike the very few Afghani women Mia had met during her tours.

The sun beating down on the beach certainly upped the temperature to Afghanistan-like levels. Moving out without her flip-flops had been a mistake because the sand was scorching hot. As soon as Mia got close, speeding up her incoming to an undignified trot as the soles of her feet cooked, the visiting bikini babe slid off the edge of the boat, landing in the water with a little splash. Sailor boy didn't look up. Not because he didn't notice the other woman's departure—something about the way he held himself warned her he was aware of everyone and everything around him—but because polite clearly wasn't part of his daily repertoire.

Fine. She wasn't all that civilized herself.

The blonde made a face, her ponytail bobbing as she started hoofing it along the beach. "Good luck with that one," she muttered as she passed Mia.

Oookay. Maybe this was mission impossible. Still, she'd never failed when she'd been out in the field, and all her gals wanted was intel. She padded into the water, grateful for the cool soaking into her burning soles. The little things mattered so much more now.

"I'm not interested." Sailor boy didn't look up from the motor when she approached, a look of fierce concentration creasing his forehead. Having worked on more than one Apache helicopter during her two tours of duty, she knew the repair work wasn't rocket science.

She also knew the mechanic and…holy hotness.

Mentally, she ran through every curse word she'd learned. Tag Johnson hadn't changed much in five years. He'd acquired a few more fine lines around the corners of his eyes, possibly from laughing. Or from squinting into the sun since rescue swimmers spent plenty of time out at sea. The white scar on his forearm was as new as the lines, but otherwise he was just as gorgeous and every bit as annoying as he'd been the night she'd picked him up at the Star Bar in San Diego. He was also still out of her league, a military bad boy who was strong, silent, deadly…and always headed out the door.

For a brief second, she considered retreating. Unfortunately, the bridal party was watching her intently, clearly hoping she was about to score on their behalf. Disappointing them would be a shame.

"Funny," she drawled. "You could have fooled me."

Tag's head turned slowly toward her. Mia had hoped for drama. Possibly even his butt planting in the ocean from the surprise of her reappearance. No such luck.

"Sergeant Dominatrix," he drawled back.

"Do You even remember my name?" Mia Brandt smiled at him, baring her teeth. If looks could kill, he'd be a dead man twice over.

Sergeant Dominatrix. Dredging up her old nickname hadn't been nice, but she'd startled him, and the words had slipped out. Okay, metaphorically speaking, she'd knocked him on his ass, because if he'd been making a list of the people he least expected to meet on Discovery Island, she would have topped said list. The last time he'd seen her had been when she'd marched out the door of his hotel room with a mouthy At ease, soldier. He'd been naked. She, on the other hand, had been sporting full dress uniform.

"I remember." His people-naming skills had never been good, but Mia was unforgettable.

"Prove it." She moved silently through the shallow water toward his boat. Those three feet felt like eternity.

"You don't prefer Sergeant Dominatrix to Mia?" he asked innocently.

She treated him to a repeat of the death glare, which he deserved, because it was his fault she was saddled with the nickname, even if she didn't know it. He had no intention of confessing the truth, either. He wasn't stupid.

"Would you?" she asked.

Absolutely not. He'd never been good at taking orders. Mia, on the other hand, excelled at giving them. Their relationship had been doomed from the start. Sweet Jesus, but she hadn't needed him for anything but his guy parts. At the three-drink mark of his Star Bar visit, that had been need enough for him.

"Touché. So…are you visiting?" See? He could be polite.

She pointed to a group of women behind her, the same group that had been mainlining cocktails and whooping it up while he worked. Funny. He wouldn't have pegged her for a drinker. Mia liked being in charge far too much to give it up.

Of course, weddings were crazy-making. He had first-hand proof of that. His business partner and best friend was tying the knot in a few months, and his fiancée had pointed out that people made allowances for weddings all the time. At the time, she'd been trying to persuade him to host some kind of stag party. This bridal party wore veils and bikinis, an unusual beach getup meriting a second glance. Or six.

Tag had never considered himself a marrying man, but multiple pink-and-white swimsuit bottoms with bridesmaid tattooed on the butt in rhinestones had him rethinking his position. Fast. The bride wore white, of course, and she was off-limits. The beach bar was the kind of place where the stools were chunks of wood and the glasses sported paper umbrellas and cherries. The waiters encouraged the customers to wiggle their toes in the sand and served the kind of drinks that made his stomach curdle. Mia's ladies must have come in from the cruise ship currently moored in Discovery Island's harbor, as half of them were toting Fiesta Cruise bags stuffed to the gills with beach towels and girly stuff.

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Wicked Secrets 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
carol223CS More than 1 year ago
Anne Marsh's Wicked Secrets Discovery Island….a place for fun in the sun?? But Tag Johnson has made this his place to be as a Rescue Recovery swimmer with his friends who run a dive shop on the Island. Tag has one more mission to complete before he fully can retired from the Navy. Tag is a strong character with a weakness for collecting stray animals that get rescued. Mia Brandt is a retired military pilot who is slowly becoming adjusted to the civilian way of life. Only Mia has a problem with Post Traumatic Stress as the after-effects of an IED blast when she was serving . She has nightmares, flashbacks when she hears loud or sudden noises, fear of heights and overpowering headaches. Mia is on a cruise stop at the island with her cousin’s bridal party. Unexpectedly Tag and Mia cross paths. They both remember an one night stand that happened four years prior between them. Then one of Mia’s headaches causes her to miss re-boarding the cruise ship. She is stranded on Discovery Island in just a bikini and shirt. What will happen to her now? The author weaves the past and present together effortlessly for the reader to be able to follow. The characters are real and well developed. I loved the chemistry the main characters shared. Their shenanigans provided out loud laughter at times. Enjoyable book you will want to read. Thank you to the author for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of Wicked Secrets for an honest review. This is the first book that I have read from this series. Can't wait to go back and experience it from the start. With this story Anne Marsh has created a treasure. Wicked Secrets can make you laugh so hard you want to cry. It can also fill you unexpected emotion. Mia is a former military pilot on a cruise celebrating a cousin's impeding nuptials. She unexpected crosses paths with a one night stand from four years ago. Tag is a Navy rescue swimmer who has never forgotten Mia. When Mia misses her boat and is stranded Tag sees his chance. This hot, entertaining and at time emotional read will leave you begging for more.
ButtonsMom2003 More than 1 year ago
Oh my! This is my favorite of the “Wicked” books. The blurb for the book is accurate. The chemistry between Mia and Tag is scorching hot. They both think they’re just having 6 weeks of fun and games because Tag has to return to duty. Mia had a bad experience with a romance that went bad while she was deployed so she isn’t interested in anything serious with Tag. As time goes on their pretend engagement starts to feel like something more – to both of them. Tag is a sucker for strays and has a menagerie to prove it. Who couldn’t help but love a hot hero who loves animals? And Mia is a strong, capable heroine who’s suffering the after-effects of an IED blast while she was deployed. There are plenty of hot, sexy times in this book. If you’ve read the other “Wicked” books by Anne Marsh you won’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t read them, not to worry, this book stands alone and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything if you read this one first. I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
onlyminordetails More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts: It's no doubt when I pick up these lovely books, I'm almost always hooked from the beginning. Give me a fake engagement and, well, you know me, I'm gonna be going absolutely nuts. And this one was a really sweet book! Mia and Tag have a teeny bit of a rocky start when they run into each other after all these years. When Tag finds Mia stranded on the beach, he brings her back to his place and they rekindle what they had that one night. One thing leads to another and soon there's a little fibbing about the two of them being engaged. Mia goes along with it to help Tag out, but he seems to feel like it could be something more. Wicked Secrets was a wickedly sweet book. Both Mia and Tag are strong people, but they've been through a lot since they first met, including an incident that happened when Mia was deployed. I loved how Anne Marsh made these characters real--Mia with her PTSD and Tag with his soft spot for animals. I'm absolutely picking up more from this series! My Rating: Very Good
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
This is a story that will make you laugh and cry. Mia is a retired pilot suffering from PTSD. Tag is the guy she had a one night stand with a few years ago when she was getting ready to ship out again for another tour overseas. Tag loves to rescues anything: people  stranded at sea, women, and most definitely, animals.When she is left behind after the cruise ship sails without her, Tag offers her a place to stay and a place to work. Wonderful story, emotional and was a quick read.
green____ More than 1 year ago
Wickedly Good! Lovers meet again 5 years later! During an island stop on a cruise, Mia meets up with Tag again. Things are a bit odd between them at first... then she accidentally gets left behind by the cruise ship. It is Tag to the rescue. As the book goes on, you get to see a softer side of Tag. Enjoyed seeing how these two deal with each other and what is going on in their lives. Can they work things out and find a future together? This was definitely a hot read! Loved the characters and how their story came about. Looking forward to more from this author! *Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
Mia Brandt, former military pilot, is on a cruise with her bride-to-be cousin and the other bridesmaids.  They have a layover on Discovery Island.  She runs into Tag Johnson, Navy rescue swimmer, who she had a one night stand with four years ago.  Now she needs his help.  While having issues related to zip lining and her PTSD, Mia misses the cruise ships departure.  Sick and without clothes or money, Tag offers her a bed at his house.  He's shipping out in six weeks for his last deployment and wants to spend that time with Mia while she figures out what she's going to do with the rest of her life.  When the six weeks is over will either of them be able to deal with their individual issues and move on together or will they go their separate ways? Another FABULOUS Uniformly Hot! book.  I love how Anne Marsh wasn't afraid to write about a woman who returns from the war with her own issues of PTSD.  I also love how Tag knew exactly what to do to help Mia and was so gentle with her without showing pity towards her.  A sensitive subject that this author has dealt with brilliantly.  I can't wait for more! Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review** Mia Brandt is a former military pilot who, because of PTSD, is now a civilian and is on a four-day bachelorette cruise with her cousin. While on a stopover on an island, in order to try to be "normal" she's encouraged to go hit on a hot guy the rest of the bridal party spots. Turns out the hot guy is Tag Johnson, a Navy rescue swimmer she once had a one night stand with years before. When Tag sees who's interrupting him, he humors her and joins them for a little while. When an unforeseen incident causes Mia miss the ship, she is forced to take Tag up on his offer to help her out. Neither Mia nor Tag are the type to form relationships, but when the explosive heat that had them hooking up the first time proves to still be there, they might just be slowly changing their minds. I really loved this book. I don't read too many contemporary or military books but when I started this book, I found it hard to put it down. I felt that Mia was written in an accurate portrayal of a dominant woman and what she would have had to deal with in the military. I especially liked the scenes that showed she was still suffering from PTSD. Some authors will reference it as a plot point, but then it mysteriously seems to go away. Tag was absolutely lovable. He's one that just can't help rescuing those in need. His attachment to the 4 legged rescues is very sweet.
cutiephinphin More than 1 year ago
Mia who was an ex Military Pilot is now retired and trying to get used to civilian life. As part of her cousin's bridal party, they went off on a cruise for some girlie fun. They did a stopover at Discovery Island. When the girls spotted a hot guy working on a boat, they dared Mia to invite him over for drinks. Not one to refuse a dare, Mia approaches the guy and hears his voice, she knew straightaway that he was Tag Johnson, a navy rescuer swimmer with whom she had a hot night with several years ago. Tag Johnson has not forgotten about Mia especially not after the night they had. And as if they were given a second chance, Mia missed the boat which was to bring her back to the cruise ship and with nothing on her except her phone, she ended up taking Tag's offer to stay with him while she gets her stuffs sorted out. Because of the nature of their jobs and after her last boyfriend, Mia swore that she isn't marriage or relationship material and so does Tag with his next mission in 6 weeks. However, both are still feeling the strong attraction and maybe they can be satisfied with whatever they can get from each other within these 6 weeks. This is my first book by this author and I definitely did enjoy this book. It's not just about the romance between Mia and Tag but it's also about healing and working through the issues that each of them have. And I love that no matter how tough one can be physically, there will still be moments of vulnerability and it's shown here as real as it can be. This book is actually part of a series but it can definitely be read as a standalone which I did and I will be checking the other books out. I was gifted an advance copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
ArizonaJo More than 1 year ago
Wicked Secrets by Anne Marsh is the final book in her Navy Rescue Swimmer Trilogy and it was a perfect ending to this series. Mia Brandt is now a retired military pilot and slowly becoming accustomed to civilian life once again. She was smart, funny and independent. I enjoyed her attitude toward life and the cruise that she was on at the beginning of the book. Tag Johnson was a typical Alpha male with such a sweet soft spot. He was definitely swoon worthy and smart. His new life on the island with his friends was exactly what he needed when he left the Navy. This story moved along smoothly and the dialogue between Mia and Tag was comfortable and relatable. The one night stand that they had enjoyed four years ago still burns bright in their memories and the sparks fly immediately when they meet up again. I enjoyed seeing the characters from the previous two books again. They really contributed to moving this story along and gave some insights into Tag. This was defintely a hot, sexy and totally entertaining read. I was given an ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.