Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂
It’s no secret that Linda Winfree is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. Lori introduced me to her books years ago, shortly after she published her debut novel, and I’ve been gobbling up her books ever since. She hasn’t released a book since 2009, so you can imagine my elation when it was announced she going to release two more books in her Hearts of the South series this year.
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Their life was a fairy tale—until it all came tumbling down.
Hearts of the South, Book 10
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Amy Bennett isn’t sure when her own Prince Charming went AWOL from their marriage, but she’s certain of one thing. She wants him back. She and Rob had it all: law-enforcement careers they loved and each other. Yet somehow he’s wound up sleeping on the couch and emotionally beyond her reach.
Rob is trying to put the pieces back together, but battling his own demons while starting over in a small-town sheriff’s department is pushing him—and his marriage—to the breaking point.
His very first missing person’s case threatens to end anything but happily ever after for the families involved. Then a young man goes missing too, and the pressure has Rob reaching for the nearest lifeline. The one that’s dangling by the barest of threads—his wife.
And though Amy’s grip is strong, her love may not be enough to keep Rob from slipping away.
Warning: Contains a husband who’s holding too much in, and a wife who’ll do anything to get him to let go, even meet him halfway on their last piece of common ground—in bed. Also: cop bonding between cops who talk like cops.
Fans of the series should recognize some of the key players in this scene. If you haven’t read her before, you really must.
Here, Rob, a new deputy in Chandler County gets pulled into his supervisors office because he almost got into a fight with another cop out on a call. He held himself in check, but just barely.
“Have a seat.” Calvert closed the office door behind them, and the muted noise from dispatch and the squad room died away. Rob sat, back ramrod straight, in one of the chairs angled in front of the desk. Calvert crossed to sit at his desk. “You want to tell me what happened out there?”
Rob shrugged. The words locked up in his throat.
Calvert’s brows winged upward. “You got nothing to say?”
Silence descended. The clock ticked. Rob stared at his knuckles, lifted his gaze to the photos gracing the corner of Calvert’s desk. Wedding shot, another one with his wife and son, a third of his little boy in an orange life vest, Lake Blackshear sparkling behind him.
No way this guy would ever understand how having everything fall out from under you made you want to take that first swing, and a second, and a third… Even if he hadn’t taken a swing at Jake, his desire to do so had been obvious. Damn it, he didn’t need to look unstable.
“You’ve got to give me something here.” Calvert lifted his fingers, a come-on-man gesture. “I appreciate your not beating the shit out of Stringham under provocation, but I need some reassurance that I’m doing the right thing if I put you back in that car with Troy Lee. Give me a reason not to tell you to the hit the road.”
Hell. His marriage and his career in one twenty-four-hour period. He rested his head in his hands, dug his fingers into his skull.
“Bennett, come on. Talk to me. I might get it.” When Rob lifted his head, Calvert watched him with a rueful grin. “Hell, I physically attacked the local head of the GBI a few years back.”
“Yeah.” Calvert rubbed at his jaw.
“It’s complicated, but made perfect sense at the time. Now, what has you wound so tight?”
Rob fingered the nick on his wedding ring. “He’s…he was one of my oldest friends.”
“I caught him making a pass at my wife last night.” Rob rolled his shoulders, trying to relieve the tension there. “I guess he wasn’t the buddy I thought he was.”
“That…explains a lot.” Calvert leaned back in his chair. “So what about the next time Stringham pushes your buttons?”
“The same as today. He can push all he wants, but I’m not breaking. He’s not worth it.” He couldn’t lose this job, couldn’t lose everything at this point. Rob leaned forward, attention locked on Calvert’s unreadable expression. “I’m not the kind of agent, the kind of cop, that loses control. I have never lost it, with a suspect or in any situation, and I didn’t lose it today. It’s not the kind of cop I am.”
He glanced away, his gaze lingering on Calvert’s FBI award hanging on the wall, and blew out a disgusted breath. “It’s not the kind of man I am, either.”
“Well.” Calvert’s quiet voice held a hint of satisfaction. “Now that’s what I needed to hear.”
“So I’m not fired?”
“No, you’re not fired.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You are getting some extended time riding with Troy Lee before we turn you loose.” Calvert rested his elbow on the chair arm, a finger at his temple. “Having some backup might be a good idea for a while.”
Calvert cleared his throat. “It’s important that you have an outlet, Bennett. Someone to talk to, a way to let the anger and frustration out.”
He swallowed. “I’ll talk to someone.”
Hell if he knew who, though. He had a few college buddies left, but in the past few months, they’d all drifted away. Honestly, Jake had been the last one. His dad was gone, and if he were here, he wouldn’t get it, any of it, his failures as a husband and a cop. And not like he could turn to either Amy or Jake any longer.
“Even as much as he talks, I understand Troy Lee can be a good listener. He’s smart too.” Calvert rubbed a hand over his jaw once again. “Considering you two will spend a lot of time in that car together… All I’m saying is talking to him might be a place to start, if there’s no one else.”
Rob nodded. He waited for Calvert to tell him he was done for the day, to go home and try again tomorrow.
The older man leaned back in his chair. “You think you can compartmentalize this enough to do the rest of the day?”
What the hell? He was getting another chance? A smile, the first real one of the day, pulled at his mouth. “Yes, sir.”
“All right.” Calvert pushed up from the desk and crossed to open the door. “Get back to work.”
When Rob emerged into the hall, he found Troy Lee and Chris waiting, lounging against the wall with assumed nonchalance. Troy Lee straightened immediately, hands spread in inquiry. “Well?”
Rob glanced back at the door that had shut softly behind him. “He told me to get back to work.”
Troy Lee’s mouth dropped and he closed it with a snap. “You’re kidding.”
“No.” Rob shrugged. He still couldn’t fathom it. Shoot, if he’d seen himself as wound up as he’d been earlier, he’d have sent himself home.
Chris whistled, long and low. He and Troy Lee exchanged a look, and Troy Lee chuckled. “Son of a bitch, he’s mellowed. Well, hell, let’s get back to work then.”
As they moved down the hall toward the side exit, Troy Lee clapped Rob’s shoulder. “Dude, I’m buying you a beer tonight.”
Rob frowned. “Why?”
Chris laughed and pushed the door open. “Because if anyone deserved an ass-beating, it’s Stringham. Don’t know many guys who wouldn’t have obliged him.”
Troy Lee settled his campaign hat on his head. “What was that about anyway?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Great. We have four more hours on shift. You can tell me all about it.”
You guys. This book was so good. I just loved it. I’m so freaking glad she’s writing again.
Hearts of the South Series
Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of April’s features.
Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know what other books you’re excited for this year!
How does an English teacher end up plotting murders? She uses her experiences as a cop’s wife to become a writer of romantic suspense! Linda Winfree lives in a quintessential small Georgia town with her husband and grand-dog Poe. By day, she teaches English/Language Arts and is an all-round education nerd; by night she pens sultry books full of murder and mayhem.
To learn more about Linda and her books, visit www.lindawinfreewrites.com, follow her on Twitter @lwinfreewrites, or connect with her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/lindawinfreewrites. You can also contact Linda via email at email@example.com.