She's about to walk on the wild side . . .
While filling the display case in her bakery, the bell over the door sounds and Tessa O'Hara looks up to see the man of her dreams. Within thirty seconds he asks her out for a beer. But after four months of dating, she discovers he's an undercover DEA agent-and he's investigating her possible role in her ex-husband's drug business. For Tess, this means their relationship is over.
Brock disagrees. He's committed to his anti-drug mission, but he's fallen in love with the beautiful woman who's as sweet as her cupcakes-and he'll do anything to win her back. Standing between Tess and Brock are their own exes, one of them a drug lord who's determined to get what he wants. Now as danger threatens, can Brock break the rules he's lived by and let loose his wild side to protect the woman he loves?
About the Author
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.
Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.
And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
You can learn more at:
Read an Excerpt
By Kristen Ashley
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 Kristen Ashley
All rights reserved.
Fucking Great Actress
The door to the interrogation room opened and a man wearing slacks, a shirt, a tie, and an ill-fitting sports jacket strolled in, eyes glued to me, manila folder in his hand.
He dropped the folder on the table I was sitting at and sat across from me.
I kept my eyes on him and, like I'd been doing since I'd been led into that room what felt like hours ago (and what I didn't know actually was), I kept them away from the mirror. I'd seen enough cop shows on TV to know that that was where recording equipment and possibly other police officers were watching.
"Mrs. Heller," he said and I felt my heart skip at hearing that name.
"Ms. O'Hara," I replied and his gaze didn't leave mine.
"Sorry, ma'am?" he asked, but he wasn't sorry. I knew he wasn't sorry.
"Ms. O'Hara, my name," I answered, and he nodded, still not releasing my eyes and I didn't tear mine from his.
"You were Mrs. Heller," he stated. "Do I have that right?"
"Yes," I told him. "You have that right."
"For ten years," he went on.
I didn't reply, just lifted my chin a little, wondering what the hell was going on.
"Married to Damian Heller, is that correct?"
I wasn't sure this was good.
"Yes, I was married to Damian Heller," I agreed, then enquired, "What's this about?"
"Funny," he said quietly.
I wasn't thinking anything was funny, including him weirdly saying the word "funny."
"Funny?" I prompted.
"Funny you didn't ask that first," he observed. "Usually folks wanna know right off why they're sittin' in a room like this."
I stared at him.
Then I returned, "Well, seeing as you opened with the knowledge you didn't even know my name, I thought it important to get that straight before we got started with whatever is going on here."
I watched his eyes flare with annoyance as his mouth got tight.
"So," I pushed, "would you mind telling me why I'm here?"
"There're a few things we need to know."
I lifted my brows. "And those would be?"
"Can you tell me if you've been in contact with your husband recently?" he asked.
Damn it all to hell. Damian. God!
My ex-husband. A pain in my ass. Would I never get rid of that man?
"Yes, I can tell you that I've been in contact with my ex-husband recently," I answered.
"And what did you discuss?" he went on.
"We didn't discuss anything except me asking him repeatedly to stop contacting me," I replied.
He studied me.
Then he asked, "So was this on the phone or did you meet?"
"On the phone," I told him.
"You didn't meet?" he pushed.
He opened the folder in front of him and my eyes dropped to it. He flipped some papers over and finally he pulled out some black-and-white eight-by-tens, turned them, and slid them across the table to me.
In them were photos of me and Damian having lunch.
Okay. This was not good. Why were people taking photos of me and Damian having lunch?
And second, this was not good because I really had to consider never wearing that top again. It didn't do me any favors even in black and white.
"Would you like to amend your last answer?" he offered, and my eyes went to him.
"No," I replied, his brows went up but his head turned slightly to the side, toward the mirror.
Yep. People were watching.
"Mrs. Heller—" he started but I interrupted him.
"My name, sir, is Ms. O'Hara. Actually, it's Tess because no one calls me Ms. O'Hara. And I'll explain those photos and my answer," I stated, then went on before he could speak. "You asked if I'd been in contact with my ex-husband recently. I have on several occasions, as he calls me frequently. Sometimes I pick up and tell him to stop calling me. Sometimes I don't. I was married to Damian for ten years. He dislikes being ignored and he's not skilled with catching hints. He responds better to direct communication, although this endeavor unfortunately takes time because he doesn't respond well if that communication happens to be something he doesn't want to hear. Those photos"—I lifted a hand out of my lap and gestured to the photos on the table before dropping it back to my lap—"were taken of me having lunch with Damian what I believe was at least six months ago. That is not, in my definition, recent. If your definition of recent is different, I apologize that I didn't give you the answer you expected, but even so, I still gave you one that was honest."
He didn't hesitate after I spoke before he asked, "Can you tell me what you discussed during this not-recent lunch?"
"Can you tell me why I'm here?" I returned.
"I prefer to ask the questions Ms. O'Hara."
I stared at him then I pulled in a breath before I answered, "Damian wanted to discuss reconciliation."
"He wants you back," he stated.
"That is what reconciliation means," I informed him and his mouth got tight again.
Then he observed, "I would assume from your asking him not to contact you via the phone that you declined this reconciliation."
"You would assume correctly."
"And that was it? That's all you discussed?"
"No, he asked about our dog, who I got custody of in the divorce and who has since died. I told him he died. Other than that, yes. Pretty much. That's all that we discussed."
"Sir, it was six months ago and at that time I hadn't seen him in person in over four years. His contacting me at all was a surprise and not a good one. His reason for wanting to meet was a surprise too and definitely not a good one. I'm sorry I didn't take note of everything we discussed but the reason for the meeting kind of rooted itself in my brain, forcing out everything else."
"You hadn't seen him in over four years," he noted.
"Yes, that's what I said," I confirmed.
"So, if you didn't wish to reconcile, why did you agree to lunch?"
I pulled in a breath and I stated, "I forgot."
He stared at me.
Then he repeated my words in a question. "You forgot?"
"I forgot how Damian is. When he contacted me and told me his father wasn't well and that he wanted to meet me for lunch, I forgot that Damian is, well ..." I threw out a hand. "Damian. Or maybe I didn't forget. Maybe I blocked it out, considering I spent those years trying to block out everything about Damian. But I know how close he is to his father. I was close to his father, though I haven't seen him in over four years either. So I felt badly he wasn't well and I wanted to know what was happening. Damian refused to tell me any details over the phone so I met him. Then I discovered nothing was wrong with his father and Damian used that to lure me to lunch."
He stared at me again, likely letting the news that my ex-husband was that big of an asshole sink in before he changed tactics. "It was you who filed for divorce."
They'd looked into me.
Good God. They'd looked into me.
What was happening?
"Yes," I confirmed, thinking that with whatever was happening, honesty was definitely the best policy, so I kept with it.
I nodded and added verbally, "Yes."
"Repeated," he stated.
"You've obviously read the court documents so you know that's also a yes. But, yes, I'll confirm that Damian cheated on me repeatedly."
"Yes, Ms. O'Hara, I have read the court documents and the sheer number of them indicate that the papers you filed were contested. He fought the divorce. It went before a judge."
"Yes, he did."
"He didn't wish for your marriage to be dissolved."
"No, he didn't."
"But it was."
I sighed, then said, "Yes, it was."
"And you walked away with nothing except money enough for your legal fees. Did I read that right?"
It was at this point I was beginning to get scared. That was to say I was beginning to get scared in addition to the scared I already was, which was layered on top of the massive freak-out created by my home being invaded by what appeared to be about three teams of multiagency SWAT (because some had the word POLICE on their vests, some had FBI, and some had DEA), pulled out of my bed, and hauled to the Police Station to be questioned.
Therefore, my bravado melted and it came out as a whisper when I asked, "Please, can you tell me what's going on?"
He didn't tell me what was going on. Instead, he queried, "Did you ever regret that, Ms. O'Hara?"
"What?" I asked.
"Accepting nothing from your husband but your legal fees, did you ever regret that?"
I shook my head. "No, I ... no. I didn't. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted—"
I blinked at him. "What?"
"Ten years with him, multiple infidelities, he made six figures and you lived a very nice life. You could have cleaned up. But you took the dog and took off. Didn't you think he owed you? Didn't you think you should have part of the life you built together?"
I shook my head again. "No, I wanted a fresh start. I just wanted to ... go," I answered. "Is something ... has something happened to Damian?"
He didn't answer my question. Instead, he remarked, "Ten years is a long time. That's a lot to invest in a life, a marriage, a home just to walk away with nothing but the dog. Seems strange you wouldn't lay claim to something. The wedding china. The dining room set. You didn't even take a car."
"Damian paid for the cars," I said quietly.
"And you wanted nothing to do with him," he noted. "Nothing to remind you of him. Am I right?"
I nodded, staring at him, trying to read his face, but he wasn't giving me anything.
"Lotta women, they wouldn't feel like you. Lotta women, kind of money he made, kind of lifestyle they were used to, they'd feel something different," he observed.
"I'm not a lot of women," I told him.
"No, seems to me you definitely aren't. Leaving all that behind, taking nothing but the dog. Seems to me it wasn't so much leaving him as running away. Were you running away from your husband, Ms. O'Hara?"
I felt my chest compress like a hundred-pound weight had settled on it.
"No," I breathed out on a wheeze. This the first lie I'd uttered since he came in and his eyes sharpened on my face.
He knew I was lying.
"Clearly, we had someone taking photos of you at that lunch. This did not go well. We know this. You didn't finish your lunch, Ms. O'Hara. You left early, looking agitated. Hurried. Like you were running away. He tell you something at lunch that would make you wanna run away?"
"I didn't run away," I denied. My second lie, I did. "I just didn't ... when he told me that he'd lied about his father and he wanted to reconcile and I knew I didn't, I didn't think there was any reason to stay."
He sat back in his chair and threw out an arm. "Ten years together, he screwed around on you, that's tough but you married him, spent ten years with him. Time had passed. Time heals wounds. It wasn't cool he lied about his dad but he went out of his way to get you. You couldn't shoot the breeze over salads? Talk about old times?"
"Please tell me what's going on," I begged softly.
"I'd like to understand why you left your husband and why you left that lunch in such a hurry."
"I told you and so did the court papers. He cheated on me and I didn't want to have lunch when I learned the theme," I reminded him.
He leaned toward me and said softly, "I don't believe you."
Something had happened to Damian.
"Something's happened to Damian," I whispered, and he smiled.
I didn't like that smile mainly because it wasn't the kind of smile you liked.
"Now, why would you think that?"
I threw up my hands and lost a bit more control.
"I don't know. Because we're talking about him in an interrogation room in the middle of the night, maybe?"
"You know someone who would want to hurt Damian Heller?" he asked.
"No," I told him, the truth.
"Sure about that?" he asked.
I nodded. "Yes, I am."
"No one?" he pushed.
I shook my head. "No one."
"Why'd you want a fresh start, Ms. O'Hara?"
"My husband was cheating—"
"Why'd you want a fresh start?"
"Like I said, he was unfaith—"
He banged his hand on the table, so, wound up and freaked out, my body involuntarily jumped in shock at the sudden movement and loud noise and he clipped angrily, "Why'd you want a fresh start?"
"Because he raped me!" I shrieked.
It just came out, those four words. They just came right out of my mouth, even surprising me.
The first time I said them to anyone.
He shot back in his chair blinking and I heard a loud crash outside the room so my head jerked toward the wall.
My heart was beating fast and my chest was moving deeply with my heavy breathing as I stared at my pale face in the mirror.
And I stared for a long time at my pale face in the mirror.
God, I hadn't really looked in the mirror for ages. Not really. Not for years.
Was that what I looked like?
"Ms. O'Hara," he called, his voice different, quiet, weirdly gentle, but I kept staring at my pale face in the mirror, stunned by what I saw. "Tess," he whispered and my head turned, my eyes sliding to his. "Your husband raped you?" he asked softly.
"I know it sounds funny," I found my lips whispering. "He was my husband but it happened." I held his eyes and kept whispering. "It happened."
"It doesn't sound funny," he whispered back. "Not the least bit funny."
I held his eyes and said nothing.
"You ran away," he stated.
"Yes," I whispered.
I ran away. Fuck yes, I ran away.
"Had he hurt you before?"
I nodded. "He was changing. Something was happening." I hesitated, then repeated, "He was changing."
"What was happening?"
I shook my head. "I don't know. I tried to talk ... we had ... we fought. He would get ..." I paused. "Suddenly, it never happened before, but suddenly when we fought it would get physical so I stopped trying to talk."
"He fought the divorce."
"Damian doesn't like losing hold on what he thinks is his."
He studied me with eyes now as gentle as his voice.
Then he said quietly, "But he left you alone for four and a half years."
"Yes, he left me alone," I whispered.
"Then he wanted you back."
"Did he explain why he approached you after all this time?"
I shook my head but said, "He said he was ... he said ..." I pulled in a deep breath, then told him, "He said he loved me, missed me, messed up, and wanted to make it up to me."
"And since that lunch, he's been contacting you regularly in an effort to do that?"
His head tipped slightly to the side. "And after what he'd done to you, you took his calls? You had lunch with him?"
Suddenly, needing to know, needing to know since I'd told him something I'd never told anyone before, I asked, "What's your name?"
"Sorry, I'm Agent Calhoun."
"Well, Agent Calhoun, the answer to your question is yes. I took his calls and I had lunch with him. Damian is who he is and I know who he is. I didn't want him showing up at my house. I didn't want him sending presents and flowers. I didn't want him anywhere near me. He thought, throughout the whole time we were getting divorced, that I'd come back. He told me so and he worked at it. Only when I saw it through did he leave me alone. Whatever this is, whatever he wants from me, I had to see it through until it sank in with him that I wasn't coming back and he left me alone. So, I was seeing it through."
He studied me again and then he remarked, "That took a lot of courage."
"He raped me, Agent Calhoun. He hit me, but he didn't kill me. As long as I'm breathing, I've got fight in me and luckily I'm breathing."
It was at that he whispered, "You aren't like a lot of women."
"Yes, I am," I whispered back. "I'm like all women. You see this, but inside there's something else that I won't let you or him see, but it's the mess he left me. But that's mine. No one gets to it. Everything you get and he gets is a show. One thing you learn really quickly and really well when that kind of thing happens to you is to be a fucking great actress. You don't have a choice in that because a man like that does something like that to you, you lose having choices. The only choice you have is what role you intend to play. I picked my role and that ... that, Agent Calhoun, is what you see."
I watched him draw in a breath but he didn't respond.
So I asked, "Now, will you tell me what's going on?"
He held my eyes as he finally answered.
"Tonight, we swept up your ex-husband's entire operation. He's the top narcotics distributor in Denver, with ties direct to Colombia."
Excerpted from Wild Man by Kristen Ashley. Copyright © 2013 Kristen Ashley. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
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
I really like this author and have read many of her books. This one was definitely my least favorite. I think i skipped about 75 pages and skimmed another 25. Save yourself the $ - pass on this one and read any other in the series. I could not figure out what Tess saw in Brock or her best friend Martha. And I couldn't figure out what was so attractive abiut Tess. She had no backbone at all.
It was a good book, the whole Alpha male this is hot, but she is so incredibly pathetic, I wish she would have more of a backbone. I know she went through some stuff, but it was hard to read how she just does whatever the heck he wants and falls all over him after he is a huge jerk. I'm not incredibly impressed with this one as I was with Gwen and Tyra's stories.
no plot or character development
Completely Unexpected!!! Brock Lucas where did he come from? While I remember clearly the role this character played in Mystery Man; I never would have anticipated book two to follow his story. This was such a shocking discovery that I wondered if Ashley would be a mistake. After having finished I can say no uncertainty that this was NO MISTAKE. This was one just as wonderful as every other Ashley title I have had the pleasure of reading. Brock and Tess had a relationship that was purely intense love and attraction. Most of Kristen Ashley's novels are surrounded by a story that offers intensity, but also will have a risk and danger factor. Don't underestimate Brock and Tess have their share of trials in this book, but not one moment was the relationship hanging in the balance. This couple was a unit from the start of the relationship on. I found this to be a very variation from her typical story, and loved seeing her spread her wings with this change up. Every time I know that I have an Ashley book in waiting it is like a grueling test to my will power to finish anything else. I love this author with every fiber of my being. Her stories are powerful and mesmerizing. Her stories are the type that can ruin readers for other authors. Once you have experience her thrilling reads it will impossible to ever forget her. Thank you Kristen for another wonderful read, and I hope for many more years of following your amazing stories! Now I must go, now I must see where the future lies for Tack and Mitch..~BookWhisperer Reviewer JO~
Save your coins, trust me.
HORRIBLE! First and last book I will read by this author. The female character is cheated on, raped and abused by her husband, so she divorces him and moves on with her life. He is also a criminal. He tries to contact her so the government thinks she is complicit in his actions, so they send in Jake/Lucas who seduces her, lies to her, knows she is innocent but allows her to be arrested anyway. When she finds out he lied, she dumps him and moves on. However, he is indignant and outraged that she will not listen to him, so he shows back up and verbally and emotionally abuses her and SHE TAKES IT. Also, when she won't look at him he demands "Eyes" and she immediately looks at him. This is only in the first 3 chapters, so this book was immediately thrown into my fireplace. Also, the "F" word is used in every connotation on every single page within the first 3 chapters. I am not sure how this is even a romance novel. Abuse is not romance. Domination is not romance. I was quite disgusted with this author and book.
Kinda gay. Not to mention, a little racist. I mean it's great there is characters of color, but they are all portrayed stereotypically. All of them being sassy and over the top, not that that's necissarily a bad thing, but not all black women are that way,with their "aw lawdy" and "giiirrrl". The book is supposed to take in denver, not the south.
It started out strong.... then lost the fizzle! I was disappointed with this book because I'd read Mystery Man and loved it! But I felt that this story dragged on and on and on and on. I loved the plot, being investigated by and undercover agent! It was really good at first but once they got over the first hurdle, everything was peachy. And once another problem arose, 3 pages later, problem solved then everything was peachy again until another problem comes about just to be solved a few pages later. It wasn't by any means a horrible book, I loved Tess and Brock's relationship but overall the story line wasn't what I expected. Also, and this is a big issue for me but throughout the book, it constantly skipped a month here, 2 months there, another month here... I can't stand that it seems very sloppy and choppy to me. Could have been better but for 4 bucks, I've read worse.
I just can't give a 4 star...I don't think I ever will. I don't care if the editing isn't great, KA IS great !! I am so entertained by her stories !!
Wonderful characters who make their way through the daily difficulties of life. Love how all the great people from all the author's series work so well together. No way you can read just one book! You need them all.
Loved it, as i have all her books. Adventure, suspense, love, sex, the whole package. I started with the Chaos series which led to this series. Very well written and i would highly recommend these books! FYI, these books can all be read as stand slories, they do not leave you hanging, which has been the sleezy trend with books offered as e-readers in the last couple of years. The characters do intertwine somewhat in the books, which draw you in sparking your curiosity to read another. Which is appreciated. Now i'm going to get petty.....the book covers are hot - essential to the vibe of the books. Therefore, I must ssy, I cannot stand the current cover for this book.....I'm just missing the "sexy" on this one. All I see is an average, dare I sat it, unattractive profile - not the visual I would expect for the main character. Maybe it's just me, sorry, petty I know Buy the book!
KA's 2nd best book ever! Serve me up a strong, protective, funny cop with cupcakes on the side. I want Slim for my very own book boyfriend. He's maddening, a typical male, and so darn sexy! Tess is funny with her obsession with cupcakes and frosting, and I am sure not as nice as she is - doing his laundry and taking care of everyone while she runs a business! But I liked her anyway.
Not good, especially compared to the first book in the series. The story line was very slow. The sex scenes were mediocre along with the lead characters. Little to no drama doesn't make a very enjoyable book.
Opposites attract. Extreme ends of the spectrum...and KA works it! I see by some reviews that not everyone was into the book and its good to give honest opinions, for others may agree. BUT, I want to make sure I get to drop my two cents: Her characters are never one in the same. There is no repetitiveness in her story-lines, no repeated phrases, that I see time and time again in SO many authors. That's what deters me from continuing to read books from certain authors. KA is not one of those. I am always eager to read her books (and re-read). Not every author fits every reader. This book (could be) construed as a little over the edge of reality...but you are reading a fictional book, are you not? Give 'er a go. What have you got to lose? This book DOES contain all of the necessary staples an romance novel should have: hot alpha maverick male, hot chick, major dramas, hawt scenes, happy ending.
Okay two stars because even though I disliked the heroine I couldnt put it down . But I agree with the other reviewers , even if a heroine is sweet it doesnt need she just lays down and lets the hero walk all over her. This heroine had no backbone , he betrays her and yes of course there are "reasons" but then he walks in and she melts and says okay for the love of god . I cant take weak heriones , I dont need heroines that are rude or crude no just a little back bone please !!
Another very good book by Kristen Ashley! I enjoyed this book and had to read it in one sitting (couldn't put it down). The only bone I have to pick with this story was Tess not letting her ex-father-in-law into her new family. It wasn't his fault his son was an #%@#*#, and he loved her like she was his own daughter, and he missed her so much that I think she should have included him in her new family circle!!!! I highly reccommend this book! Very good!
I enjoyed this book more than Mystery Man. Better and tighter plot while still developing the characters. At some points I was really touched. I wish however that these Alpha male characters did not need to use disgusting language to their ladies. Must be generational?
Such an excellent read! I totally enjoyed it! This was such a detailed story with great characters and a nice build. I loved Tess and her development. Really coming into her own and being a strong woman who is just inherently good and fights when she needs too. I thought she was wonderful. And Brock. Oh goodness. New book boyfriend! Loved him. So sweet, caring, and protective. The perfect kind of alpha male that is not overbearing but the right mix of in charge, loving, and sexy. I loved them together and how there relationship developed. There was a nice amount of heat but it wasn't overly done. They definitely had a good connection. ;-) There were bits of drama mixed in thanks to people in both their pasts but until the end, it was just mild drama but it created a nice suspense element. This was an emotional story that really focused on them and their relationship and it was wonderful. Loved all the secondary characters involved that I've met in other Kirsten Ashley stories and how they were worked into this story as well as some new characters. I love the ladies when they all get together, Elvira is a personal favorite of mine. There were bits of humor thorough that I loved. I liked all the different dynamics and relationships happening. It was just a well rounded story. That being said, I enjoyed Tess and Brocks story but the front half felt a bit long to me. I liked it but I was ready for a bit more action. I thought this was another great KA story. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I would totally recommend this and look forward Law Man, the next book in this series as well as her other works.
Wild man is my favorite so far. I like the way Tess didn't play games. This book made me laugh out loud. Easy to read and a lot of fun.
I enjoyed the book so much I just couldn't put it down. I'm reading another of Kristen Ashley's books and loving it too.