Soldier of Fortune by Shelley Munro

The charter flight from Jordan to Iraq was a short hop but plenty long enough for Joanna “Mac” McGregor to second-guess her decision to take up a contract in the security sector with Chesterton UK. The wheels of the plane hit the runway, a solid thump before the pilot applied the brakes. Tension seeped into hands holding a fantasy paperback, turning her knuckles white.

It wasn’t just her. Even the guys at the back of the plane—the ones who had bantered their way through the entire journey and tried to tempt her into joining the Mile High Club—fell silent. Mac stared out the window. She’d seen the stark reality of Baghdad firsthand when the plane circled the runway to land—the endless sand giving way to the greener city.

Checkpoints. Security forces. Burned-out vehicles, buildings damaged by both allies’ and insurgents’ bombs.

Too late to change her mind and return to New Zealand now.

She’d gone through the lengthy interview process, answered all the questions about why a woman would want to undertake such a dangerous assignment and finally signed on the dotted line. After all, not much call for her skill set in an office and she couldn’t earn this sort of money doing anything else. Icy determination to succeed curled through her gut, squared her shoulders.

Mac disembarked with the rest of the security force, a few intrepid reporters and a camera crew, the initial blast of heat when she walked down the stairs sucking her lungs dry. Sweat broke out over her body and her shirt soon clung to her clammy skin. Something she’d become used to quickly. After formalities, she waited with the other recruits—the new ones and the others who had signed on for a second or third tour.

Like her, they were in it for the money, some for the adrenaline rush. Some of them would return home to family and friends. Some would die. Time would tell which camp she fell into.

The only route into the city, dubbed Route Irish by the Americans, was the most dangerous stretch of road in the world. Despite the fences on both sides of the road, there were dangerous overpasses and numerous car bombs planted to snare the unwary. From the briefing, Mac knew they’d attempt to drive straight through any situation, be it bullets or bombs. Stopping wasn’t an option.

Five minutes later, they pulled out in convoy, protected by security forces from New Zealand and the United Kingdom, their driver pausing to wait while a United States military convoy crossed the road ahead of them. Overhead Mac watched two Black Hawk helicopters drawing fire, diverting it from the road. The entire time their car remained in radio contact with others from the convoy. The drivers and guards constantly assessed risk, on the lookout for threats.

Mac stared out the window, gut jumping because she knew danger lurked around every corner. Signs at the checkpoint authorizing lethal force brought home the reality of her situation. If she found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, she would die. No one left to look after her father then. She scowled at the thought and shoved it away.

Their convoy drove past the International zone, patrolled by the US military, the only part of the city considered relatively safe. They didn’t stop, their destination the less-secure area where many security forces and their clients lived.

The Red zone—her home for the next six months.

Mac climbed from the rear of the armored vehicle, grabbed her gear and followed the other recruits into the main barrack-like building. All the domestic comforts, Mac thought, taking in the mismatched furniture, the clean but scuffed linoleum floor and the poster of a busty blonde hanging drunkenly on the far wall. She dumped her bags at her feet.

A tall, dark-haired man prowled through a doorway on her right and headed to the front of the room, his piercing blue eyes taking in the new arrivals. Mac’s breath caught the instant she glimpsed his face, hurled back to the past.


Shock drop-kicked her square in the gut. Why wasn’t he at home in New Zealand? Only her military training kept her face impassive, the astonished gasp trapped inside her throat. Her training did nothing to halt the images flooding her mind, the memories of hard muscles beneath her questing fingers and the way it had felt each time his cock plunged between her legs. Damn, Louie had lied to her.

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Never Before Posted Excerpt

Cupid's Arrow was my first book published with Whiskey Creek Press and was on their best sellers list for two consecutive months. Here's a never before posted excerpt.

Whiskey Creek Press

Emma watched Mike slowly approach the dugout and immediately began looking around for something to use on his eye. Spying a cooler, she opened it and grabbed a handful of crushed ice before it dawned on her she didn’t have anything to put it in. She looked around for Amanda’s bag, realizing she’d probably have something in there she could use. Finding it beneath the bench, she sat down and opened it with one hand, digging through the contents for the first item of clothing she saw. However, when she held it up, her mouth dropped.

Oh my!

She glanced up just as Mike stepped into the dugout and held her breath with embarrassment on discovering it was definitely not Amanda’s bag she was rifling through. Their eyes locked, well, his one good eye to hers, and a flush spread across Emma’s face that produced a full-fledged grin on his. His gaze lowered to take in what she was holding in her hand. Her confidence to handle the situation lagged considerably by the amusement swimming in his eyes.

“I, ah, usually know a woman a little longer before letting her, ah, handle my underwear,” he had the nerve to say, crossing his arms. He was thoroughly enjoying her dilemma.

Emma was speechless, drowning in the deep water of Mike’s eyes. Not only had she been caught going through someone’s bag, but it turned out to be his. She glanced at the underwear in question, her eyes nearly popping out of their sockets when a foiled condom packet fell out, landing on her lap. She dropped the boxers as if she’d grabbed a snake, ignoring the condom, too mortified to move. She knew she should say something but the words stuck in her throat. The ice melting in her hand reminded her of what she’d been doing, enabling her to finally act with some amount of normalcy.

Trying for a smile, she was barely able to lift her voice above a whisper. “I, ah, thought this was Amanda’s bag; she has one that’s very similar. I saw you get hit in the eye and was looking for something to put this ice in.” Mike surprised her by reaching forward. The closer he got the further she shrank back. But he only snatched the condom off her lap and tossed it back in his bag, his jaw tight as though trying to hold back a laugh.

“Is that for me?”

Debbie Wallace

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A beautiful bride, a handsome groom, and a private cruise. What could possibly go wrong--how about a hurricane, one stranded yacht, a few useless, scantily clad bridesmaids and an equal number of horny groomsmen?

In the midst of it all, maid of honor, Gillian Marlboro, wonders if Jamie Foster could be not only the groom’s best man, but also the man for her. Would the universe be so cruel as to hand her the perfect man and then let them both perish on an island that provides no fresh water and only Mother Nature’s aphrodisiacs for sustenance?

EXCERPT (PG13 Contemporary Romance)

His glance dropped to her chest. “I should have woken you sooner.”

Her gaze followed and she gasped. She moved one strap to expose a definite white stripe surrounded by angry, red skin. Her fingertips brushed against her chest and she winced as even that slight touch stung like sandpaper.

“You’re not terribly burned yet, but it’s getting there. I think you should get out of the sun. Or at least put on some stronger sunscreen and a T-shirt.”

“Julie is going to kill me.” The heat radiated off her burn. She looked up at him panicked. “Our dresses for the wedding are strapless.”

Eyes still on the obvious strap lines, he frowned. “Come with me. We’ll take care of it.”

“How?” Instinctively trusting him, she took his extended hand and let him help her out of the chaise. “Where are we going?”

“To the galley.”

“The galley? Why?”

“I’m betting there’s something in there that will cool that burn. Don’t worry. We’ll get that color evened out before the wedding.”

She followed him all the way down the narrow stairs to the yacht’s cooking facilities. Sadly, the galley was nicer than her kitchen at home.

Jamie opened and perused the contents of the beverage fridge before reaching in and coming out with a glass bottle. “This will do.”

She frowned at the beverage in his hand. “Iced tea? Am I supposed to drink it?”

His surprisingly sexy laugh had her staring at his lips.

“No. Black tea applied topically is good for a slight sunburn and the cold liquid will cool your skin. The heat can still do damage even after you’ve gotten out of the sun, so you have to lower the temperature of the skin as soon as possible.” He soaked a kitchen towel with the iced tea and held it clumsily in front of her chest. “Um, maybe you better apply this yourself.”

Suppressing a smile at his obvious shyness, she took the towel and laid it over her hot exposed flesh. It felt cooler immediately. “Wow. How do you know about this stuff?”

“I know a lot of things.” Jamie shrugged.

“You really are a nerd.”

He rolled his eyes. “Thanks.”

“No. I meant it as a compliment. Really.” Gillian tilted her head, sizing him up again now that they were out of the glare of the sun. His glasses had changed to clear, and she could see blue eyes a girl could get lost in. “I happen to like your geekiness. A lot.”

“Really?” He smiled. “So you have a geek fetish, do you? Where were you during my lonely youth?”

She’d been trapped in geekdom herself, the studious introvert hidden in her gorgeous and talented sister’s shadow. Gillian shrugged. “I’m here now.”

“Yes, you are.” His throat worked as he swallowed hard. He glanced nervously at the case of champagne in the glass-front refrigerator, before he looked back at her. “Ah, you know, you should also drink a lot of fluids today, and not champagne either. Water. And take some ibuprofen.”

“Maybe you should stick close by and keep reminding me about that throughout the day. Drinking the water, I mean.” She moved a step closer, took the now hot cloth off her chest and dropped it on the countertop.

“I’d be happy to remind you.” He nodded and the action brought his head down a bit until his face hovered just above hers.

Perhaps it was a combination of the sun and the glass of champagne in her empty stomach, or how she hadn’t been on a date in ages. Either way, Gillian’s libido went from deep hibernation mode to burning up. Then again, maybe it wasn’t the sun, the alcohol or her lack of a sex life at all. Maybe it was Jamie. His concern for her. The way he had no clue how cute he was. How he’d bothered to RSVP, by phone no less instead of email. The way he made her heart pound.

Desire fluttered low in her stomach. “Would you think I was a total slut if I kissed you right now?”

He drew in a sharp breath. “No. Not at all.”

Read an alternate excerpt or get the eBook available now at

Sapphire Blue Publishing

All Romance eBooks

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Copyright © 2009 Cat Johnson

All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. Publication

When country boys meet a city girl, everyone is in for a wild ride.

Studs in Spurs, Book 1

Slade Bower and Mustang Jackson are living the high life on the professional bull-riding circuit. The prize money is big, the bulls are rank and the women are willing. But something is missing.

For Slade, waking up in a different city with a different woman each morning is holding less and less appeal. Even Mustang’s creative attempts to shake things up don’t help. Then along comes a big-city author who’s like nothing they’ve ever encountered. Something about her makes Slade sit up and take notice—and Mustang is always up for anything.

Romance writer Jenna Block has a problem—her agent thinks a cowboy book will jump-start her career. A born New Yorker, Jenna doesn’t do cowboys, not on paper, and definitely not in real life. Luckily for her there are two cowboys ready, willing and able to take her out of her comfort zone in every way that counts…and some ways she hadn’t counted on.

Warning: This story contains two hot cowboys, one very lucky woman, hot ménage sex and lots of bull.

EXCERPT (rated G)

Evaluating that night’s possibilities, Mustang’s gaze swept the females in the stands until it landed on one woman who made him stop dead in his perusal.

He jumped up onto the rail of the chute and hissed to Slade, “Second section, fourth row back, reddish-brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, black turtleneck.”

In the process of tugging the rope that stretched beneath the bull and winding it once around his gloved hand, Slade frowned up at Mustang from the animal’s back. “I’m in the middle of taking my wrap and you’re pointing out some woman to me? In a turtleneck, no less? Since when are you interested in women whose chest isn’t hanging out?”

“This woman’s different, Slade. I can tell.” The bull hopped once in the chute and Mustang quickly reached over and grabbed the back of Slade’s vest, steadying him on the animal’s back.

“Dammit, Mustang, quit distracting me.” Slade settled himself again and then gave a nod. The cowboy on the ground swung the gate open to release both bull and rider into the arena.

“Talk to you more when you get off,” Mustang called after him.

As Mustang watched his friend disappear into a cloud of dust, Chase Reese hopped up onto the rail next to him.

“Slade’s amazing. It’s like he’s glued onto that bull. I wish I could do that. I went two for ten last series.” The kid had been favored for Rookie of the Year until he’d hit a dry streak.

That’s because you look at the ground.” Mustang followed Slade’s progress while the bull spun around to the left without deviation, from one end of the arena to the other.

The eight-second buzzer sounded and Slade released the rope wrapped around his hand. He jumped off the bull, hit the ground with his shoulder and then rolled to avoid a hoof to the ribcage before the bullfighters redirected the charging animal away from him.

“I do what?”

Seeing his friend was safe, Mustang took the time to answer Chase’s question. Damn, had he ever been this young? The kid probably didn’t even have to shave once a week.

“You’re looking down at the ground while you ride. If you look there, you’re gonna end up there. It’s a fact. Now, ’scuse me. I gotta talk to Slade.”

Leaving the kid with an amazed expression on his face, as if he’d just been handed all the secrets of the universe, Mustang jumped down to go meet Slade behind the chutes.

“Hey, man. Good ride. That bull was one hell of a spinner, huh?”

Slade laughed and pulled the tape from around his wrist where it held the glove on his riding hand firmly in place. “Hell yeah. They weren’t kidding when they said he came out of the spinner pen. Felt like I was on a ride at the county fair.”

“Now we’re both done riding for the night, we have to formulate a plan,” Mustang began.

“For what?”

“To reel in that woman I told you about.”

Slade dismissed that with a wave of his hand. “Just do whatever it is you usually do.”

Mustang shook his head. “The usual isn’t going to work on her.”

Slade sighed. “Where did you say she’s sitting?”

Ha! Slade had given in and was actually showing some interest. Smiling, Mustang narrowed his eyes and easily found her again in the stands. She was writing feverishly while trying to watch the rider in the arena at the same time. He tilted his head toward the section directly behind them. “Far end of the fourth row.”

“What the hell is she doing?” Slade frowned as he watched her.

“Hell if I know, but I think she’s taking notes. See what I mean? This woman is special. She isn’t going to just fall into our bed.”

Her hair wasn’t huge, she wasn’t made up like a showgirl and her clothes showed curves but not an inch of skin. She was different, which was what had drawn Mustang’s attention to her in the first place.

Since Slade had been in his strange funk lately, Mustang figured he’d try something unusual. Hell, even the two eighteen-year-olds going at each other in front of them barely got a rise out of his friend. Mustang was running out of ideas, but this woman… She was pretty much the opposite of their usual conquest and that might be exactly what they needed. It was worth a shot to cheer Slade up. Besides, never opposed to trying new things, he could use a bit of a change himself once in a while.

“Mustang, she’s probably a damned reporter. That’s all I need, to be featured in some exposé. I can see the headline now. ‘Slade Bower, third-ranking bull rider in the world, propositions reporter for a threesome with former Rookie of the Year, Mustang Jackson.’ That will go over real well with the fans in the Bible Belt.” Slade scowled at Mustang. “Pick someone else. How about the one bouncing up and down over there? She’s about to pop right out of that top. You might want to keep an eye on her.”

Mustang glanced her way. “Yeah, I saw her already. I’m set on the other one.”

Laughing, Slade shook his head. “Good luck ’cause I can just about see the stick up her ass from here. That one is wound tight, but you go for it, man, and I’ll enjoy watching you get shot down.”

Mustang raised a brow. “Is that a challenge, my friend?”

Slade let out a short laugh. “No, it’s the truth.”

“Well, I think you’re wrong. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones that are the wildest once you get them naked.”

“And you think you can get her naked?”

Mustang nodded. “Yup. I do.”

“Well, I’d like to see that.”

Grinning, Mustang slapped his friend on the back. “Don’t worry. You’ll be there too.”

Slade shook his head. “Maybe, and that is a big maybe, you might be able to get that woman naked, with enough alcohol and bull, but no frigging way will she agree to both of us. Never in a million years.”

Feeling cocky and never one to resist a challenge, Mustang crossed his arms and dug in his heels. “We’ll see. You willing to make a bet on that?”




(Studs in Spurs, Book 2)

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