FROM NEW YORK TIMES AND #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR J. KENNER comes the highly anticipated fourth novel in the fast-paced series including Release Me, Claim Me, and Complete Me. This sexy, emotionally charged romance continues the story of Damien Stark, the powerful multimillionaire who’s never had to take “no” for an answer, and his beloved wife Nikki Fairchild Stark, the Southern belle who only says “yes” on her own terms.
It’s a new chapter in the life of Nikki and Damien Stark …
Though shadows still haunt us, and ghosts from our past continue to threaten our happiness, my life with Damien is nothing short of perfection. He is my heart and my soul. My past and my future. He is the man who holds me together, and his love fuels my days and enchants my nights.
But when tragedy and challenge from both inside and outside the sanctity of our marriage begin to chip away at our happiness, I am forced to realize that even a perfect life can begin to crack. And if Damien and I are going to win this new battle, it will take all of our strength and love …
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I look out the window at the beautifully manicured yards that line the wide street down which I am traveling in the sumptuous luxury of a classic Rolls Royce Phantom. A car so sleek and magical that I can’t help but feel like a princess in a royal coach.
The road is shaded by parallel rows of massive oaks, their branches arcing over the street toward their counterparts to form a leafy canopy. Morning light fights its way between the leaves, creating golden beams in which dust sparkles and dances as if to a celebratory melody, adding to the illusion that we are moving through a fairy tale world.
All in all, it’s a picture-perfect moment.
Except it’s not. Not really. Or at least not to me.
Because as far as I’m concerned, this is no children’s story.
This is Dallas. This is the neighborhood where I grew up. And that means that this isn’t a fairy tale. It’s a nightmare.
The branches aren’t stunning—they’re grasping. Reaching out to snare me. To hold me tight. To trap me.
The canopy doesn’t mark a royal corridor leading to a castle. It leads to a cell. And it’s not The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies that fills the air. It is a requiem for the dead.
The world outside the car is lined with traps, and if I’m not careful, I’ll be sucked in. Destroyed by the darkness that hides behind the false facades of these stately houses. Surrounded not by a bright children’s tale, but by a horror movie, lured in by the promise of beauty and then trapped forever and slowly destroyed, ripped to pieces by the monsters in the dark.
Breathe, I tell myself. You can do this. You just have to remember to breathe.
Damien’s voice startles me back to reality, and I jerk upright, calling upon perfect posture to ward off the ghosts of my memories.
His tone is soft, profoundly gentle, but when I glance toward him, I see that his eyes have dipped to my lap.
For a moment, I’m confused, then I realize that I’ve inched up my skirt, and my fingertip is slowly tracing the violent scar that mars my inner thigh. A souvenir of the deep, ugly wound that I inflicted upon myself a decade ago when I was desperate to find a way to release all the pent-up anger and fear and pain that swirled inside me like a phalanx of demons.
I yank my hand away, then turn to look out the window, feeling oddly, stupidly ashamed.
He says nothing, but the car moves to the curb and then rolls to a stop. A moment later, Damien’s fingers twine with mine. I hold tight, drawing strength, and when I shift to look at him more directly, I see worry etched in the hard angles of that perfect face and reflected in those exceptional, dual-colored eyes.
Worry, yes. But it is the rest of what I see that takes my breath away. Understanding. Support. Respect.
Most of all, I see a love so fierce it has the power to melt me, and I revel in its power to soothe.
He is the biggest miracle of my life, and there are moments when I still can’t believe that he is mine.
Damien Stark. My husband, my lover, my best friend. A man who commands an empire with a firm, controlling hand. Who takes orders from no one, and yet today is playing chauffeur so that he can stand beside me while I confront my past.
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.