“Ashenden tells a powerful story of two tormented souls finding each other in this good, fast read with rough, graphic, and enjoyable sex. A winning start of a very interesting series.”– Booklist
“Ashenden’s efforts to fill in Jack’s tragic backstory make him an attractive alpha hero.” – Publishers Weekly
To find the people lost in the shadows, you need the men who live in them. The former soldiers of 11th Hour are unaffiliated, unacknowledged, and definitely illegal. They protect the innocent, destroy the guilty—and capture hearts along the way in Jackie Ashenden’s powerhouse new romantic suspense series.
Rugged, skilled, and hard-bodied, Jack King’s whole life was the Marines until an injury left him discharged from active duty. But he finds a new purpose when he’s recruited by a special unit that employs ex-military to do very special jobs. Yet he’s not impressed when his first assignment is babysitting the pretty, perfect daughter of a politician—especially when she’s far from the angel she appears to be . . .
An excerpt from Raw Power by Jackie Ashenden
Callie came to a dead stop.
The guy she’d seen on the dance floor of the club, the scarred man who’d made her heart miss a beat, was standing at the table talking to the others.
Oh shit. What the hell was he doing up here?
Sylvia—at least Callie thought that was her name—turned and pointed toward the bar, and the man lifted his head and looked in her direction, that intense dark green gaze slamming into her once again.
The margarita glass suddenly felt slippery in her fingers and it was all she could do not to drop it. Her heartbeat, which had settled down nicely, began to pick up speed again, getting faster and faster as the man began to head in her direction, pinning her with that mesmerizing stare, moving with that strange hitching walk that was nevertheless as predatory as any panther’s.
Something cold settled down inside her, at the same time as something hot ignited. And it confused her. She didn’t know what to do, whether to drop her glass and run like hell, or stand her ground and fight.
Jesus. Who was he? And more important, why was he coming after her?
All the people she’d been sitting with were staring in her direction, watching, and it was the cold thing inside that nearly won out, that almost made her drop her glass and run like hell.
Then again, where would she run to? There was only one way off the balcony area and that was down the stairs. The stairs that he was currently blocking. There was no way out. She was trapped.
A quiver went through her.
No, she wouldn’t panic. There wasn’t any reason to. No one knew where she was and she didn’t recognize him as one of her father’s men. Why he was here and why he was coming after her was anyone’s guess, but she could handle it.
She’d handled her father. She could handle Mr. Scary Green Eyes.
Sucking in a breath, she decided to keep up the drunk act for a little extra protection, giving him a grin as he approached and wobbling on her sky-high silver stiletto sandals for effect. “Well hello, tall, scarred, and handsome,” she slurred. “You lookin’ for me?”
He came to a stop right in front of her, hands in the pockets of his jeans, and even though she was wearing heels, she still had to tip her head back to look at him. Dear God, he was tall. And . . . big. And she really needed to stop staring.
It was just that those scars were as mesmerizing close up as they had been at a distance when she’d stared down at him from the balcony. And the glitter of his deeply set eyes from beneath thick black lashes she would have killed for herself made every thought in her head abruptly feel slippery and hard to pin down.
In fact, her own physical reaction was almost shocking. Because there was no good reason for her fascination, no good reason at all. She usually found physically big men like him intimidating. They reminded her of her father’s security and of her father himself, of the way they towered over her, using their height to make her feel small and weak. Using their arrogance to threaten her and keep her in line.
The devil in her always wanted to push them, to fight them, an urge she had to constantly suppress because if she ever wanted to eventually escape the prison her life had become she had to appear small and weak, toe the line and not draw attention. So that one day her father’s constant vigilance would relax and she could finally leave, disappear, and never come back.
The man stared at her silently for a beat, and she had the oddest thought that what she was feeling right now, the weird quiver in her stomach, wasn’t intimidation. It was something else. Something that made that devil in her rouse and want to push, to fight. See what would happen if she did.
But you know what happens.
Pain. Anguish. Her mother clutching her wrist, accusation in her eyes . . .
“You Callie Hawthorne?” His voice was deep, interrupting her thoughts, and there was roughness to each word that made inexplicable goose bumps rise all over her body.
And she was just in the middle of processing that when she suddenly realized something: He’d used her name.
Shock pulsed down her spine, her palms sweaty, her pulse starting to rocket. How did he know who she was? Had her father somehow tracked her down? Oh God, because if he had, if he knew what she was doing, he’d take away that from her too. The way he took away everything she enjoyed doing, everything she loved. And if she didn’t have music . . .
Stop fucking panicking.
Callie gritted her teeth, forcing away the shock and the fear. No, she wasn’t going to panic. She refused. Music was the only passion she had left and she wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from her. Including her goddamned father.
She licked her lips and fluttered her eyelashes, keeping up the drunken, flirtatious front. “Well, I guess that depends on who’s asking?”
The man’s mouth, scarred on one side, beautifully shaped on the other, twisted in what looked like a barely concealed sneer. “You should know that already, sweetheart. I’m the new bodyguard you’ve apparently been dodging all night.”
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About Jackie Ashenden
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, two kids and two cats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband. Jackie also writes the dark, sexy contemporary Nine Circles romance series for St. Martin’s Press. Visit her at jackieashenden.com.