Metal Blonde Books
AUGUST 29, 2016
Her life changed in an instant.
And he's the only one who could have prevented it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.
Jessica Charles shouldn't have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica's world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you've got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He's got a past he's running away from and a guilty conscience he can't seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.
“It’s getting late,” I say feebly but I sit down anyway, my leg giving a protest of pain.
“You need something for that?” he says, noticing my wince.
“The scotch will do fine,” I tell him quickly, not wanting him to make a fuss. “But really, I should go.”
“Why?” he asks from the kitchen. I hear the top pop off the bottle, the slosh of liquid in the glass. “Where do you have to be?”
I have to think about that for a moment. He comes over and holds out the glass. “I won’t keep you here if you don’t want to be here. But if you do want to be here, you don’t need to make any excuses.”
I take the glass from him, holding it delicately in my fingers. He stands over me, a massive wall, waiting for some kind of response.
“I just…” I begin. “I…” I take a sip for bravery. Swallow. “I’m not very good at this.”
“Good at what?”
“At…this. Being with a man.”
When he doesn’t say anything to that, I look up at him. He’s got a peculiar smile on his face, his brows raised. “You call this being with a man?”
I clear my throat, feeling my cheeks grow hot. “I mean. I’ve told you before –”
“Yes, how you don’t do relationships, how you don’t do sex.”
“I never said I don’t do sex,” I remind him quickly.
His eyes never stop searching my face. “Then what is it? What are you afraid to say?”
I have the sudden urge to flee and I know it must show because he suddenly points at me and says, “Don’t you dare say you have to go again. I want you to go back to what you said, that you’re not good at this. What is this? Us? You and me? There’s nothing mystifying about you and me, Jessica. You know quite well how I feel.”
I stare at him in shock. I do? “How?”
He looks off with an air of impatience. “I invited you to dinner, you turned me down.”
“But then you said just as friends.”
“And I meant it. But there are different types of friends. It’s up to you to decide what kind we are.”
I put my drink down with a clunk. “Holy pressure.” And now it’s not just my face going hot but my entire body, flushed from head to toe.
“You’re on fire, little red,” he says, his gaze skirting over my limbs in such a hungry way I can almost feel them on my skin. “I have to say, I like this look on you. Hot and bothered.”
“Back with the innuendos again,” I comment but my voice is weak.
“No, no innuendos this time. You came looking for me tonight not because you wanted to confess but because you want something from me. What is it? What do you want from me? What do you think I can give you?”
Jesus. This is so utterly unnerving. His words slice right through me, his eyes still peeling under the layers, trying to get at something I’m not even sure of myself.
If I lie, he’ll know. I can only be honest with him.
“I want…” I take in a deep breath, my eyes breaking away. “I want…company.”
“Company?” He sounds surprised.
I nod. “That’s the truth. I’m lonely. And I’m afraid. And I’m tired of being both those things. I want to be with someone who makes me forget who I am. You make me feel fearless in a way I didn’t think possible.”
There. That’s the truth. Most of it. It hangs in the air, thickening the tension like flour to stock.
He sits down next to me, has a mouthful of Scotch. “Wow,” he says, running his hand over the beard on his jaw. “And here I was thinking you wanted my cock.”
I burst out laughing. So does he, a big wonderful bellow. The tension in the room eases up a notch.
“Sorry,” I tell him when I catch my breath. “I guess they can both mean the same thing.”
He sucks in his lip briefly, his eyes taking a lustful turn. “If you want it to.” We stare at each other for a few heavy beats. Then his focus trails back to my gaze and he says, “Why don’t you stay over?”
And there I have it. The chance to know what those full lips would feel like on mine, what his skin would taste like. I swallow hard.
About the author
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK. Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.
5 Highland Stars
Imagine you go about your day, thinking nothing about the things you usually do. You go to work, go for a beer, you think shopping is what you want to do right now and all of sudden your life changes. In the blink of an eye you are thrown into chaos. This is what happens to Jessica in Karina Halle's new installement of her MacGregor men.
Jessica is the victim of a terrorist attack. Not a terrorist from abroad but one of her own. A terrorist who used to fight for the country she lives in, yet something must have shifted, because he just goes ahead and shoots people in the middle of London's Oxford Street. Jessica survives the attack but is left with a mangled leg and a huge case of survivors guilt. The survivor in her knows that she needs help so she finds a support group of people who live with PTSD. After one of her meetings she goes to a pub where she meets Keir MacGregor. The attraction is instant but she has no business to burden somebody with her messed up life.
Keir has been living with guilt too. He is the reason why Jesscia was shot. His only thought surrounding the attack on Oxford Street is "if only I had said something...". He wants to make it up to the beauty he doesn't exactly meet by chance. The more often he sees her, though, the deeper he falls for her brave heart and her strength. There is only one problem...how can he tell her that he is guilty for her to be shot in the first place?
Karina Halle gives us again two completely damaged and flawed souls who both have to face their own demons to receive absolution. They don't realize that they have to forgive themselves before they can gain it from somebody else. Jessica is incredibly strong and her way to healing is hard and stony. Keir is the person who holds her hand along the way but doesn't let her pity herself too much and gets her out of her head if things get too intense. He is sweet, careful and tender with her, her wellbeing and feelings are always put above his own. I loved this about him. He treats her with reverence, as if she were a delicate flower, yet he knows that she has immense strength.
Each of them is brave in their own way and while Keir thinks he is bound to lose his girl if he reveals his role in her tragedy he still does everything to soften the blow and doesn't give up to help Jessica heal and find a footing in life again.
This story is about forgiving yourself, even if there is nothing to forgive. The slow burn between Keir and Jessica was all kinds of sweet and sexy. The development of their relationship was absolutely plausible, their way to salvation emotional and intense.
Karina Halle's MacGregor men are always alpha but also always swoonworthy and sweet. I have read all of them (except Brigs, I'm sorry Karina, but he'll follow soon) and each and everytime I was swept off my feet by them. Not only is Ms. Halle a master of character driven stories she also has an incredible talent for making the Scottish landscape appear in your mind with her vivid description. I am pretty sure that this is not the last we've heard about them and I am looking forward to the next book in this series.