Review + Excerpt: Better When He’s Brave (#3, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

Intense, action-packed, thrilling and sexy as hell.
I love this series, and each book gets more exciting!

5stars

Synopsis

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover’s third novel in her sexy, thrilling Welcome to the Point series, a woman’s search for repentance leads her to the one man from her past she can’t forget as they join forces to save their city—and the explosive love neither can live without.

Titus King has always seen his world in black and white. There is a firm right and wrong in his mind, which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray.

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and walking the straight and narrow seems far less important now. The difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town. This girl might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point but he can’t walk away because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about the threat trying to destroy The Point. She knows how ruthless, how vicious, and how cruel this new danger can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. Reeve knows that she has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.

My Review

Since our first intro into the deadly streets of The Point, when we met Shane Baxter, we also came across Titus King. He’s a cop, a protector… a man whose black and white view of the world was constantly threatened with a criminal brother and ever-escalating situations in his city. You got a sense of how hard he worked to stay on the straight and narrow… to make something of himself. But when The Point viciously comes under attack, rules are thrown asunder as his determination toughens. He’s determined to figure out who is behind the strikes in order to put a final stop to it.

Jumping right in, the prologue is intense, intense, intense. It sets the tone for the consuming tension in the novel. There’s so much intrigue and suspense to keep you entrenched.

“I would die in this shithole at the hands of these murders and miscreants, and no matter how much they threw at me, how much they tried to destroy the vessel it was housed in, my bravery, my calling to keep the world safe from people like this, would never be extinguished. I would never cave, never bow down and never let a guy like [him] win.”

But when Reeve Black and Titus King collide, the heat is turned way up.

The criminal and the cop.

The bad girl and the good guy.

There’s a fiery connection between them both, but Reeve has made many mistakes… mistakes that have affected Titus, Bax and Dovie.

“She was beautiful but she was also deadly. She was just as hard as this place we came from, and I had enough of the city hammering against my foundation, as it was.”

But antagonism burns into a desire that sets the pages ablaze, as Titus begins to understand Reeve and the reasons for what she’s done. Before too long, love finds a way to bind this improbable pair together.

And yes, as much as Reeve and Titus were an unlikely match, they were also, perfect for each other. The Point is their home, they’ve grown up knowing the ins and out of it, and they must work side by side to free themselves of their attacker, but also from their pasts.

“She was going to be my downfall. She was going to be my corruption and my vice. She was going to be my addiction and my compulsion and I was still going to fall headlong into her knowing the landing was going to be rough for both of us.”

I fell in love with The Point series immediately. There’s something about exploring anti-heroes and criminals, and all the shades of grey that color the worlds of these people. Titus is particularly fascinating as he wars with himself, always trying to do the right thing and protect those he loves. Jay Crownover always does an amazing job of mixing it up with sexiness, suspense, emotion and romance. You get a little bit of everything in a story that keeps you captive from beginning to end.

“There is no regret, Reeve, and there is no choice. Right or wrong you are it for me. You get all the parts of me. You make me feel like I can just be me, not a cop, not a big brother, not a hero, not a savior… just a man. A man that has his good and bad parts.”

Next up is Nassir’s book, and you best be ready for the emotional volatility and edge of the baddest of them all.

Excerpt

The car finally skidded to a stop in a shower of gravel and dust. The headlights illuminated the drop-off in front of us. The moon was high in the sky, forcing its way through smog and clouds to shine silver. It was the same color as Titus’s eyes when he was turned on, when he was buried deep inside of me.

“I haven’t had my parents in my life for a long time, so I shouldn’t feel like I lost them. But I do.”

“I felt that way when I locked Bax up. I knew he wouldn’t understand that I had to do my job, and when he got out, the first time I saw him he punched me in the face. He hated me.” He turned off the car and reached out a finger to twist a piece of my long hair around it.

“Don’t let Roark win. Once everything is settled, go back to them and make them understand.”

I turned to look at him. He was fierce in the shadowy light. He was what heroes were supposed to look like no matter the path he had taken to become one.

“I don’t even know if I understand. At the time it felt like my only choice. Now I’m not so sure.” I leaned across the space separating us and brushed my knuckles across his still-bristly cheek. He was almost in full beard mode and it looked so good on him. “Lately the only thing I understand is you, Titus.”

He lifted one of his dark eyebrows at me and asked, “What is it that you understand about me, Reeve?”

“That you make everything better. You make me better, and I might never be good enough for you, but you make me feel like I can get close.”

One of his hands slid down to my wrist and the next thing I knew he was guiding me over the console and the emergency brake so that I was straddled across him with my back to the steering wheel. I hadn’t been in a car like this with a boy since I was a teenager. I kind of liked it. More than kind of.

“You make everything better too, Reeve, and there is no good enough because this with you is the best there has ever been.” And then his mouth was on mine and I didn’t get a chance to tell him we had left this behind and were now firmly venturing into more. Knowing that Titus was flawed, that he had made some questionable choices on his road to becoming the man he was today, made me love him even more. Where he was from was even uglier than where I was from, and that was beautiful to me. So was the way he was pulling on my clothes and kissing me along my throat.

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Make sure to stop by USA Today’s HEA blog,
where I have another exclusive excerpt for you to read!!!

Reading Order and Links
About Jay

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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Cover Reveal: Better When He’s Brave (#3, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

better when he's bold cover

Titus!!!! Feast your eyes on my new favorite hot cop! We’re back in the dark and dangerous, blood-covered streets of the Point, and Bax’s brother Titus is doing his part to keep his city safe. I love love love this cover and the book is even better! I can’t wait until you guys read Titus’ story in Better When He’s Brave. It’s brutal and sexy and it’s coming August 11th!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes ✦

Synopsis

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover’s third novel in her sexy, thrilling Welcome to the Point series, a woman’s search for repentance leads her to the one man from her past she can’t forget as they join forces to save their city—and the explosive love neither can live without.

Titus King sees the world in black and white. Right and wrong. Which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray.

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and the difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town, and she might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about how ruthless this new threat to destroy The Point can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. She has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.

Reading Order and Links

Reviews: Better When He’s Bad | Better When He’s Bold

Connect with Jay

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Review: Better When He’s Bold (#2, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

An intense, sexy as hell, suspenseful page turner.

5stars

Synopsis

better when he's bold coverSome men are just better when they’re bold.

Welcome to the Point…

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has to be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them.

Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like the Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen her best friend’s brother for what he is–too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous to touch. Basking in Race’s golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’d eventually get burned.

When she starts receiving threatening texts and someone tries to take her out in parking lot, the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?

My Review

The Point has a new ruler, and it’s golden boy Race Hartman that dons the tattered crown. He’s running the streets now and it’s anything but easy as debts continue to be collected in blood. Race battles much on the inside and outside as he strives to carry out a plan that could change things for those that call The Point home. Luckily for him, he’s got the baddest of the bad at his side. He’s got Bax, who is notorious for being the most dangerous guy around. On the other side, he’s got Nassir, who is the dirtiest, get-it-done-by-any-means-possible guy.  The Point is in for a new world order with these three at the helm as bullets, blood and secrets reign.

Brysen Carter has had a crush on Race Hartman for a long time. The golden boy with the green eyes. The new kingpin of a broken kingdom. Race was bad, unpredictable… a complication she needed to stay away from despite the near-irresistible desire she felt every time she saw him. So she was mean. Guarded. Did everything she could to push him away.

Meanwhile, Race had more problems than he knew what to do with. Even his sharp, intelligent, problem-solving mind couldn’t fix everything he faced. And yet, a problem like Brysen was the best kind of challenge. He was fueled by her hard-to-get game, but he also sensed there was more to her story.

“We had never really been friends, didn’t know each other beyond the powerful attraction that seemed to pull us together, but the more bits and pieces of him I uncovered, the more I realized he was so much like me. His life looked one way, but underneath the surface there was so much more, so many other things going on.”

After Race swoops in to help her during a bad situation, Brysen begins to soften. Race is willing to help her, becoming someone she could trust. Before to long, her defenses fall and they become each other’s safe haven. But Brysen couldn’t forget who Race was… what he did every day. Could she really be with someone who ruined so many lives?

“In a place like this, there aren’t very many good people running around. That means there are a lot of bad things happening under the surface and a lot of bad people doing those things. I’m not a bad guy, Brysen, but I’m not a good guy either.”

As Brysen and Race battle turmoil inside, everything around them spins out of control. Someone is after Brysen and someone is looking to dethrone Race. The violence is escalating and there are no answers to who is behind it. Race, who is driven by his ability to fix things, to protect those he loves, begins to unravel and it’s Brysen who must come to terms with her emotions if she’s to help him.

“Being with guys like us… It’s like being in love with a loaded weapon and you’re the safety.”

I love Race as a character. He’s a really complex guy. He’s not a natural for the streets, but it’s become the only home he’s ever known. He doesn’t like being the bad guy, but he knows he has to do what’s needs to be done or things can get a whole lot worse. He’s got a plan for making The Point a little better, a little more manageable, and a little safer for those he cares about, but he’s afraid of losing himself in the process.

“I would hold on to her with everything I had and I would make sure she stayed just the way she was. I would never take the little things for granted, and just as tightly as I planned on holding on to her, I was going to hold on to this dark and dangerous place that was my home. They were both mine, and I would give up anything and everything to keep them.”

This was an intense book, and although the story is primarily plot driven, the character development is rich and you really want to learn more about each person in the novel. People like Booker and Nassir and Titus… I just can’t wait to experience their story. And in typical Jay Crownover style, it’s also super sexy. She always does an amazing job at creating that believable, hot-as-hell chemistry between her characters.

There are so many reasons to read this book, this series, but one of them is that Jay Crownover is really pushing the boundaries of the New Adult space, giving us stories that are edgier, grittier, more intense and twisty than those we’ve seen. For those of you that feel like New Adult has run its course, Jay’s books are the perfect example of how the category continues to evolve in a fresh, contemporary way. Next up is Detective Titus King, Bax’s brother, and I anxiously await diving into his story in Better When He’s Brave.

“I thought we weren’t a good bet, but now I would go double or nothing on us any day.”

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Reading Order and Links

Each book can be read as a standalone.

better when he's bad better when he's bold cover

Reading Order: Better When He’s Bad | Better When He’s Bold | Better When He’s Brave

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Exclusive Excerpts + Signed Giveaway: Better When He’s Bold by Jay Crownover & Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle

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Today, I shared a dual interview with bestselling authors Jay Crownover and Karina Halle on my Love In Suspense column on USA Today (see it here), where they talk about their latest projects: Better When He’s Bold and Dirty Deeds. Now, I’m thrilled to exclusively share these never-before-seen excerpts from both of these amazing books! Plus I have a giveaway for a signed copy of each, which you can enter at the bottom of the post!

Better When He’s Bold

better when he's bold coverSome men are just better when they’re bold.

Welcome to the Point…

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has to be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them.

Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like the Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen her best friend’s brother for what he is–too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous to touch. Basking in Race’s golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’d eventually get burned.

When she starts receiving threatening texts and someone tries to take her out in parking lot, the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?

Excerpt

I hurt everywhere. Every single spot on my body that had suffered a blow from heavy hands, every part of my body that had been used to defend myself, just ached all the way down to my bones. I felt battered and bruised everywhere, from the inside out.

The only place that didn’t hurt or ache was the spot on my chest where Brysen’s head was resting. In sleep, her ear was pressed to the thump of my heart and her hand was curled around my waist. She was like the cool side of the pillow. Like frost on a windowpane, soothing all the bumps and bruises. Where I should be burning up with all of her sexy and honeyed nakedness pressed up against me, instead I felt like she was a refreshing breeze cutting through the smog and pollution that typically flooded my lungs. Her white-blond hair felt like raw silk where it rubbed against my skin, and with zero effort she had my eager body stirring under the covers.

Since she stayed the night, let me have at her without question while I tried to work out all the dark shit in my head, I thought the least I could do was pull the bed out and let her sleep in semicomfort. Not that I let her get that much shut-eye. There was something unique about her. Something about the way she was when she was with me that made me want to get into her, take her apart, see everything she was working with and put my hands on all of it. She was like the best puzzle, the hardest problem I had ever tried to figure out, and it made me like her more than I already did.

I was just thinking about the best way to wake her up, wondering if she would freak out if I skipped all the preamble and just put my mouth between her legs. So far she had surprised me. She seemed down with whatever I wanted to do to her, do with her, but considering we had just scratched the surface of all the ways I wanted to mess her up, I still didn’t know how far she was willing to let me go or where her hard boundaries were. I don’t think I had any particular boundaries where she was concerned, and that made my blood thick and my dick hard.

I was running my hand down her side, thinking she felt like all the luxury and finer things I had long since left behind, when my chance to seduce her awake was blown by my phone screaming at me from the floor where it was tangled in my pants. I was used to the damn thing going off at all hours of the day and night. People wanted to give me money or take my money all the time and they never paid attention to a clock. What I wasn’t used to was my mother calling me—ever. That was a ring tone I hadn’t heard in months and months, including the time I had the life nearly beaten out of me by Novak’s thugs and I ended up in the hospital. She had firmly joined the Race-is-a-worthless-piece-of-shit bandwagon as soon as my father had declared me persona non grata at the Hartman castle. She had no clue what kind of man my father really was and saw no issue with believing him and whatever lies he told to justify disowning me and taking away every penny I had to my name.

Brysen muttered something and her eyes fluttered open to look at me. I saw her take a second to take stock, realize where she was, then she stacked her hands under her chin and looked out at me from under a tangle of pale hair.

“Are you going to answer it?”

I hadn’t, and now it was ringing again.

“I don’t really want to.” She was naked and draped across me, my face hurt, and my dick was hard. There were a hundred and one other things I could think of that I would rather do than answer that phone.

“Work?”

I sighed and shifted so I could snatch the phone up off the floor. She rolled to the side and took the single blanket I had thrown over us at some point in the night with her. She looked so sweet all rumpled and thoroughly sexed up but so out of place in the hollow and empty loft. She pushed her hair off of her face and watched me with careful eyes.

“I wish it was work.” I swiped a finger across the screen of the phone and moved to the edge of the bed. Only my past could instantly deflate the erection Brysen and her sexy, chilly blondness had inspired.

“Been a while, Mom.”

There was no masking the bitterness and anger in my tone and I saw Brysen look at me with concern. I sighed again as she climbed off the other side of the bed, taking the blanket with her as she went toward the bathroom.

“Race …” My mother was crying, hysterical even, and I thought I should try to care.

“What do you want?” I sounded like an asshole but I couldn’t help it. I reached for my discarded jeans.

“I need you to meet me down at the police station.”

I paused. “Why?”

She made a hiccuping noise and then a sound like that of a dying animal. “You father has been arrested.”

Reading Order and Links

better when he's bad better when he's bold cover

Each can be read as a standalone. Click on image to purchase from Amazon U.S.

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Dirty Deeds

dirty deeds coverFrom The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author of The Pact and Sins & Needles, comes the next standalone novel in the darkly romantic suspense Dirty Angels Trilogy – DIRTY DEEDS.

As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She’s also had more than her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn’t had is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love.

At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence.

What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot sex and mindless passion, has led to something more.

Something deadly.

Because Derek isn’t the type of man to fall in love. He’s not a man who sticks around.

And he’s definitely not in Mexico on vacation.

Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest bidder.

Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever worlds they have created for themselves.

The highest bidder can destroy everything.

Excerpt

Once we were in the back of the cab, she was sitting with her thigh flush against mine. I was somewhat dressed up – dark jeans, white and blue pinstriped dress shirt – and yet I could feel her heat through my clothing. That and her smell and the way her hair fell across her face, highlighting the coy glimpses of her eyes and smile, was driving me borderline insane. Though we made small chat throughout the ride, my mind was elsewhere, concentrating on keeping that well-earned control I had. I had to focus on the task at hand, which of course was her. But not in that way. I needed in deep, for her own safety and my own sanity.

It took a long time to finally get to the restaurant, located in the old town of Puerto Vallarta, despite the driver cutting everyone off along the way. You either drove aggressively around here or you didn’t drive at all.

“Thank you,” she said to me as I took her arm and helped her out of the cab. When she straightened up she looked at the place and made an impressed face. “Wow. You know, I’ve never been here before and I’ve lived in PV for a long time.”

“First time for everything then.”

I picked the place because it looked a bit different from the tourist traps in the downtown area. There wasn’t much to the outside except for a tall stone fence topped with strangling vines and flowers that bloomed like white and magenta cotton balls. But on the other side of the cast-iron gate was a different story.

I helped her over there, even though she was walking so much better now on her cast, and a waiter opened it up, giving us a hearty welcome to Coconut Joes. I gave him the reservation name and he led us through tables with ivory-lace tablecloths, past a clear blue pool with koi fish and a waterfall, under dramatic palm fronds, and all the way to a table in the back corner with a lit candle on it. The place wasn’t anything too outrageous or stuffy but it was just classy enough.

“Again, wow,” Alana said as I helped her into seat. I was starting to like being her nurse. She looked around, her cheeks glowing beautifully in the candlelight. “This is something.”

“Something good?” I asked as the server poured us bottled water.

“More than good,” she said. “The guys I dated never brought me places like this.”

Something pinched in my chest. “Oh? They take you to McDonalds?”

She gave me a look. “Most of the men I dated were pilots. They would take me somewhere really snobby and expensive to try and seem better than they were.” She took a polite sip of her water and straightened her napkin on her lap. Every day, her pain seemed to be easing, her movements becoming more fluid. “Then the next night they would take some other stupid flight attendant to the same place.”

As much as I felt an unjustified hit of jealousy, she was giving me some information, something I could work with.

“So I guess there’s a lot of drama in the workplace, huh?” I said casually, eying the waiter who was approaching us with menus in hand. In the background “Morena de Mi Corazon” started to play from the speakers. “Spurned lovers and revenge in the air,” I added.

She laughed. “No, not really. It was my fault. Rookie mistake to date a pilot…even though I did more than a few times.” She looked away, embarrassed. “Most guys I date are a mistake but no one seems to get hurt.”

So that probably ruled out the whole spurned lover angle. Not that I thought an ex-lover could or would attempt to have her taken out and for that amount of money. Love made people do crazy fucking things but that would have been a first in my books. Besides, if she did have an obsessed ex-boyfriend then I was sure I’d find out about him sooner or later.

The waiter came by and told us the specials. I ordered for the both of us – seared Ahi – because I’d never done that before, not even with Carmen, and made sure he kept the bottles of wine coming.

She was about three glasses of wine in, giggly and eating her fish with gusto when I started pressing her.

“So do you have any siblings?”

The smile seemed to vanish right off her face. There. I had something there. No matter what her answer was, I hit a nail.

“I have a twin sister and a brother,” she answered simply.

“Oh? And where do they live? What do they do?”

She relaxed her jaw a bit and took a bite of her rice. “My sister, Marguerite, she lives in New York. Goes to film school.”

Hmmm. That placed her out of range and a student at that.

“And your brother?”

“He lives around here.”

“In Puerto Vallarta?”

She shot me a wary look. “Around here. But he’s an asshole and I’d rather not talk about him.”

I raised my brow. “An asshole? What makes you say that?”

“I just do,” she said stubbornly. Then she sighed. “He just is. Every family has a…what do you say, black sheep. Right? Well, that’s him.”

“What’s his name?”

She bit her lip and said, “Juan.”

I didn’t know her well enough to tell if she was lying or not. I’m not sure why she would lie about her own brother.

I pressed it further. “What does he do?”

“He’s in importing and exporting. Trade with America. That sort of thing.”

Well, we all knew what that meant down here. Running drugs, like everyone else. Still, that gave me something to go on. Of course the name Juan didn’t help me much.

“What’s his last name, his surnames?” I asked, knowing that sometimes the men in Mexico took on their mother’s maiden names as well as their father’s.

“Bardem,” she said without hesitation. “Why all the questions?”

I shrugged and leaned back in my seat. “Just want to know more about you.”

Her brows knitted together as she eyed me suspiciously. “Maybe so, but you’re asking with this look on your face, like you’re all David Caruso.”

“David Caruso?”

“CSI Miami. It’s still my favorite, I don’t care for the other ones.”

“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but I don’t have the hair to be David Caruso, nor do I have the sunglasses and quippy one-liners.”

She took a sip of her wine but couldn’t hide her smile. Good, she was back to trusting me again. I wanted to ask her about her parents but I thought that would be pushing my luck. Whoever they were to her though, they were either dead or out of the picture. They had never come to see her in the hospital and the truth about her brother and sister explained why they hadn’t either.

What the hell have you done, Alana? I asked in my head as I stared at her across the table, the light illuminating her in an angelic way. Why would anyone pay me two hundred thousand dollars to have you killed?

And how the hell would I ever know the answers to those questions without incriminating myself?

Reading Order and Links

dirty angels cover dirty deeds cover

Each can be read as a standalone. Click on image to purchase from Amazon U.S.

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Connect with Jay Crownover: Website | Facebook | Twitter
 Connect with Karina Halle: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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