Friday, July 15, 2016

**SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY** Trouble Walks In by Sara Humphreys

He could be the man to rescue her

Big city K-9 cop Ronan McGuire loves women, loves his dog, loves his job—but when old flame Maddy Morgan moves into his jurisdiction, he can’t think about anyone else. Ronan knows she’s way out of his league, but he’s determined to help Maddy live life to the fullest.

In more ways than one

With tragedy in her past, Maddy has immersed herself in work and swiftly made a name for herself in the hot New York City real estate market. She’s looking for safety, not love, but Ronan McGuire is as persistent as he is sexy, and his crooked smile is hard to resist. But all other concerns are wiped away when Maddy goes missing and Ronan and his bloodhound K-9 partner are tasked with finding her and bringing her home.


Standing beside a lamppost, brimming with confidence and with his K9 partner by his side, was none other than Ronan McGuire. Dressed in his dark blue NYPD uniform, he looked every bit the ruggedly handsome hero that he was. His cap obscured her view of his thick ebony hair, but those pale bluish-green eyes peered at her from beneath a furrowed brow. His tall, broad-shouldered frame was covered from head to toe against the bitter air, and the bulletproof vest he wore only served to accentuate his size.

How was it that Ronan managed to look devastatingly gorgeous in a standard issue uniform? She’d seen plenty of other cops in this city but not one of them hummed with masculine sexuality the way Ronan did. He reeked of calm control and steely strength. On the surface he was cool and steady, but beneath was a distinctly powerful energy. She knew, without a doubt, he could burst into action in a split second.

The guys brushing past her on Park Avenue, the ones dressed in thousand dollar suits, didn’t look half as sexy as Ronan did in his uniform.

I bet he looks pretty good out of it, too.

Bowser, an enormous bloodhound who seemed to delight in startling Maddy whenever possible, barked loudly. She flinched as Ronan’s constant companion interrupted her naughty train of thought, and her face heated. How long had she been standing there staring at him? Based on the slight smirk curving Ronan’s lips, it was longer than she’d like to admit.

“Hey,” she said, trying to collect herself. Maddy crossed the sidewalk to greet him, but kept a healthy distance. “What are you doing here? Did you just happen to be in the neighborhood? Because if I’m not mistaken, this isn’t your usual haunting ground.”

“This is most definitely not my neighborhood. Too rich for my blood,” Ronan scoffed. He gathered Bowser’s leash, wrapping it around his hand before he pushed himself off the post and inched closer. “Our shift starts in a couple of hours. We came to check on you.”

Her gaze flicked briefly to Bowser. He was staring at her, as usual. She had never met an animal as tuned into people as he was. But then, he was a search and rescue K9—tuning in was part of his job.

“Me?” Maddy stilled. “I’m fine, really,” she said in a shakier voice than she expected.

Even she didn’t believe it. Nope. Not okay.

“Your co-worker was murdered and you just attended her funeral.” Ronan leaned in and lowered his voice. “Don’t give me that. There’s not a damn fine thing about this whole crappy situation.”

Something in Maddy’s chest crumbled a little at the tenderness in his voice. How long had it been since someone expressed concern for her well-being? It felt like forever. Still, she suspected there was more to it than that.

“You’ve seen things like this before,” Maddy whispered. “Does it ever get any easier?”

“No,” he said quietly. Bowser whined and licked Ronan’s hand in a sweet, almost reassuring gesture. “Sucks every time. Nothing easy about it.”

Ronan and Bowser had been part of searches that ended badly. He’d obviously been affected by those experiences and somehow, knowing that he’d remained unjaded by the cruelty of his job, made him even more attractive.

Bowser, who was sitting dutifully at Ronan’s feet, let out a low whine and snuffled loudly. Sometimes Maddy was convinced that dog was more human than half the people in this city.

“No…I don’t imagine there would be.” Maddy adjusted the purse slung over her shoulder, trying to squash a fresh swell of emotion. She pulled her leather gloves from her pocket and tugged them on while avoiding his inquisitive stare. “I mean, it’s sad. It’s beyond sad, the whole situation is horrible but—”

“What are you doing now?” he asked abruptly. “Everyone else is gone. Since you’re still here, I’m figuring that you opted not to go on to the burial. And knowing you, that means you’re going back to work.”

Maddy opened her mouth to argue with him but snapped it shut. He’d hit the nail on the head. Ronan’s lopsided grin widened.

“I—I have work to do,” she sputtered.

“Really?” He tilted his head and narrowed those beautiful eyes. They looked more blue today than green.

“Yes, really.”

“Because if I had to guess, I’d say you were gonna go back to that fancy office of yours and stare at your computer or surf the Internet. Maybe play some Solitaire or Candy Crush?”

Why, oh why, did he have to be so damn observant?

Maddy wasn’t sure if it was comforting or irritating to have someone see her so clearly. Maybe it was both? She had started to get used to the anonymity of this city, and the sense of disconnection from other people. She’d left Old Brookfield to give herself distance from Rick’s memory and the well-meaning, but meddlesome, members of her small community.

No one here knew her past, or even cared enough to ask. Her life in Manhattan had been strictly business, which made her feel safely cocooned, sheltered away from painful memories. She remained insulated from having to dig past surface pleasantries. Ronan wasn’t like that. He was a cop, and his desire to find the truth was evident in everything he did.

“Well, smarty pants,” Maddy folded her arms over her breasts, suddenly feeling exposed. “For your information, I don’t play Candy Crush.”

“Farm Saga?” He asked playfully.

“No,” Maddy said through a bubble of laughter. She swatted him on the arm and tried not to smile while avoiding his gaze. “I don’t do any of that stuff.”

“How about coffee?” He offered his arm and jutted his head toward the corner. “You do that, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Maddy said slowly. She flicked her gaze to his elbow and sighed dramatically. “You aren’t gonna quit until I agree to go, are you?”

“Nope.” His grin widened. “After all these years you should know how persistent we McGuire boys are. Carolyn and Charles didn’t raise any quitters.”

“I can see that.”

“C’mon and I won’t even try to pretend it’s a date,” Ronan prodded. He wobbled his elbow at her. “Don’t make me look bad in front of Bowser.”

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for that,” she said dramatically. “Coffee it is.”

Maddy slipped her arm through his and shivered, the warmth of his body seeping through the layers of wool. Her gut reaction was to snuggle deeper against him and his rock hard body but she resisted, straightening her back. She couldn’t afford to dip beneath the surface and touch the raw emotions lingering there. It would get her nowhere—she refused to be reduced to a weepy woman in the middle of the street. If Ronan noticed her subtle shift away from him, he didn’t comment on it.

They walked in silence, arm in arm, with the bloodhound trotting dutifully at Ronan’s side. They approached a Starbucks but instead of crossing Fifty-sixth Street, Ronan led her straight toward one of the street vendors.

“It’ll have to be coffee and a walk.” He jutted a thumb at his partner. “Starbucks isn’t big on having dogs in their establishments. Besides, our squad car is parked around the corner. How about coffee and a ride home?”

“That’s fine by me.” Maddy sucked in a deep breath of cold air. “Sitting in a crowded coffee shop with half the population on their laptops doesn’t sound appealing. But a walk sounds great.”

“I thought you’d say that.” He nudged her gently and smirked. “But don’t worry, I know you’re not a cheap date.”

“It’s not a date. It’s coffee.” Maddy kept her tone light. “We’ve already been through this, McGuire. I’m not dating anyone, so don’t take it personally.”

“Can’t blame a guy for trying.”

They stopped by the truck and she slipped her arm from his before quickly shoving her hands in the pockets of her coat. The cold air slithered under her clothes with surprising speed as the warmth of his body against hers became a memory. Ronan made quick work of ordering up their coffee, and to her surprise knew exactly how she took it.

“I know it’s not that fancy French stuff you like but it’ll do in a pinch.”

“Impressive,” Maddy said, taking the steaming cup from his hand. “You nailed it.”

“I pay attention.” Ronan sliced a sidelong glance at her while he handed money to the guy in the truck. “We’ve been going for a run followed by coffee almost every week for months. What kind of a cop would I be if I couldn’t even remember how you take your coffee?”

“You love being right, don’t you?” She tilted her chin, daring him to deny it.

“Yes.” Ronan inched closer, cradling his cup in one hand and Bowser’s leash in the other. Confident and in total control, as always. “But especially when it comes to you.”

She was about to ask him what exactly he meant by that, but Bowser started walking toward the corner. They strolled side by side but she kept her eyes on the pedestrians ahead of them. If she looked at him, he might see right through her and get a peek at the conflicting swirl of emotions currently running through her.

“Okay, explain, please.” Maddy shivered again, but not from the cold. “Why do you want to be right when it comes to me?”

“Because you’re this big bad business woman who acts like she’s got it all under control.”

“And I don’t?” She let out a short laugh. “Gee, thanks.”

“That’s not what I said, and definitely not what I meant.”

They stopped at the corner and Maddy was about to cross but he grabbed her arm, pulling her back just as a car blew through the light. If it hadn’t been for Ronan, she would have gotten clipped.

“Shit,” Maddy hissed. “Damn taxi drivers.”

She turned her eyes to his and his grip on her tightened, almost imperceptibly. Maddy’s heart thundered in her chest—was it from the near miss with the cab, or the feel of Ronan’s fingers curled around her bicep?

“I like surprising you,” he said quietly. Bowser made a snuffling sound and sat between them but Ronan didn’t take his eyes off hers. “How am I doing so far?”

“Today?” Maddy asked quietly. “Well, to be honest, you shocked the hell out of me by showing up at the church. Why did you come?”

“Are you serious?” His brows furrowed and a deep line formed between them. “I thought that would be obvious.”

“Not to me.” Maddy shook her head slowly and studied him, clutching the cardboard coffee cup with both hands.

“I figured it would be a tough day for you.” His mouth set in a tight line before he completed the thought she could practically see floating over his head. “Going to the funeral couldn’t have been easy and I thought you could use a friend. I didn’t think you’d want to be alone.”

“I didn’t,” she whispered. “Thank you.”

The wind blew over them and sent her hair flying into her eyes. It was perfect timing, the tears that welled up easy enough to explain away. Maddy tugged the strands of hair aside and nodded before turning her attention out to the passing cars.

“See, Bowser?” Ronan scratched the bloodhound’s head, which elicited a loud bark from the dog. “Right again.”

Maddy burst out laughing in spite of the surge of emotion, and swiped discreetly at her eyes. “No one likes a know it all, McGuire.”

“Maybe not,” he said with a wide grin. “But I still surprised you. Come on, the light changed. Let’s cross before another taxi tries to run you over.”

As they made their way to the safety of the other side, Maddy had a feeling that there would be more surprises where Ronan was concerned.

That was the part that frightened her. 

About Sara Humphreys

Sara Humphreys is the award-winning author of two paranormal romance series. The McGuire Brothers series is her first foray into contemporary romance, and the first in the series is anRT Book Reviews Top Pick. A public speaker and public speaker trainer, Sara lives with her husband and four sons in Bronxville, New York.


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