His Marine training taught him that failure is never an option regardless of circumstances. That certainly applies to Chad’s need to stop Lost and Found’s deranged client from using the information he gathered to stalk and abuse his ex. Falling in love with the broken woman and her sweet daughter in the middle of rescuing them is definitely not the best timing. But it’s also inevitable. In Book 3 of this heart-warming military romance series, Chad will discover that protecting Lora is a much easier task than proving he’s the one man she can finally trust with her heart.
Weeks of no incriminating evidence should have clued him in sooner about who was the real victim. Now Chad Lowell is wracked with guilt after the woman he’s assigned to investigate is attacked by her abusive ex-husband right under his nose. Lora and her little girl are in incredible danger, and he vows to protect them at all costs, whether the angry and hurt woman wants him to or not. His Marine training makes the protecting part easy, but nothing he does seems to make Lora want to take a chance on him or his love.
Lora O’Neil left a life of abuse to make a new start for herself and her daughter. When her ex hires Lost and Found Investigative Service to track her down, she’s left reeling both physically and emotionally. The private detective that had been watching her for the past couple of months did finally come to her rescue, but does that mean she should now trust him to help her turn their lives around? The sexy former Marine makes her body feel things she thought she’d never feel for a man again, but she just can’t imagine what it would take for her to heal enough to ever say yes.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
I really like Chad. He was a good ‘ol southern boy with charms. He is like everyone, wishing he could find someone to love him – battle wounds and all. He is missing part of one leg slightly below the knee, left side of his torso is badly scared, and his left hand is mangled beyond much use which that is what every woman sees when they look at him until he meets Lora and her little girl Mercy. They meet in an usual manner as Lora’s ex husband hired Chad to watch Lora, trying to prove her an unfit mother when one night Lora is attacked by her ex husband, Chad steps in and rescues her. Lora is leery and uncertain of Chad as she has trouble trusting others, especial men due to abuse she was subjected to at the hands of her violent ex husband. Decided that is best to have Lora and Mercy go into hiding for a while in hopes to throw her ex off, Chad and a few of the LNF guys takes them to Texas – to Chad’s family ranch.
For the first time in a long time, he wished a woman would look at him and smile, just because he belonged to her. Chad swallowed, his throat working, as the realization took root in his gut. No, he didn’t want ‘a woman’ to look at him that way; he wanted Lora to look at him that way.
He watched her reenter the room and close the door softly behind her. Massaging her tears into his fingers, he wished he knew how to proceed. On the one hand he wanted everything resolved, with Lora and Mercy safe. But on the other hand, he wanted the current set-up to continue. Being this close to Lora and her daughter was teaching him how alone he’d been for a long time. He would love to bring them into the family permanently.
It doesn’t take Chad long to develop feelings for Lora, but she is still unsure about him. Slowly Chad gets her used to him by being around her 24/7, practically invading her ‘personal space cushion’ – he would linger behind her so when she’d have to turn, she couldn’t avoid brushing him, when he’d hand her things, he’d make sure their fingers would brush, and he would rest his hand on her shoulders at times hoping that she would drop the protected veil around her and let him in. Mercy also warmed up to him rather quickly due to his charm and his witty playful personality.
But Chad seemed to be on a mission to drive her crazy. Where before he’d given her plenty of room to do everything, her personal space cushion had slowly started to shrink. Now he walked by her close enough that she could feel the heat of his body. Sometimes he lingered behind her until she had to turn. When he handed her things, he made sure to brush her fingers. Twice now he’d rested a broad hand on her shoulder for a few seconds. Slowly but surely he was getting her used to him. And it was killing her. Lora found herself waiting for those tiny touches, and worse, needing them. When he walked up behind her she quivered, praying he would close the distance between them. But she felt like a hypocrite. Other men put her on edge, but Chad made her aware.
“Do you like my mom?” Mercy’s little voice chirped at his shoulder. Chad forced himself to ease back slowly as he looked at the little girl. Her eyes were bright with curiosity. “I like your mother very much. Is that okay?” She nodded her head up and down like a little bobble-head. “I told ‘ansom you liked her.” Grinning, he tugged on a chunk of her hair. “You think you’re a smarty-pants, huh?” She took off at a run, giggling.
Eventually the inevitable happens, Lora stars to really trust Chad and decides to let him in. He was so kind and patient with her, tell her he wouldn’t rush her, that he was a patient man and that he was in it for the long haul. Then when you think everything is going grand, Lora’s ex shows up, finally finding their hiding place, by secretly tracking her with a hidden tracking device that was tucked away in Mercy’s stuffed toy bear. Some serious things go down, which results in a couple people getting hurt, but the LNF guys step in, prevail and save the day.
“Mom, I want something.” Lora grinned at her daughter, knowing that at some point she would have to curb the ‘I-wants’, but not just yet. “What’s that, honey?” “I want Chad to stay here with us. All the time.” Chad went still beside her, but when she looked up, he was grinning at Mercy. He glanced at her, brows raised, to check her response. Lora sucked in a breath, knowing that she was on uncharted, sandy ground. In her deepest heart, she wanted the same thing, but did she dare say it? As she looked into the gentle reassurance in his expression, she knew it would just take a tiny leap of courage. “Chad, would you like to stay here with us?” Lora forgot how to breathe as she waited for some kind of response. Chad seemed to be dragging out the anticipation though. After several long seconds, he nodded his head. But he held up a cautioning finger. “I would love to be a kept man, but it kind of goes three ways.” Moving from the couch, he went down on one knee in front of Mercy, sitting on the floor. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny gold ring. “Mercy O’Neil, will you marry me and be my awesome daughter? To have and to hold, in muddy times and clean? And help me keep your mother happy and safe?” Mercy nodded her head as hard as she could, laughing and crying at the same time. She flung her arms around Chad’s neck and sobbed. Lora’s eyes were leaking as well, so overcome with love that he had thought to include Mercy. But then he turned his damp eyes to her and she was rocked with the deep-in-her-heart knowledge of what was coming next. Levering to his feet, still holding Mercy against him, he circled the table to kneel in front of her. Then he reached into that pocket again and pulled out a shining white gold solitaire ring. His eyes incredibly kind, he held it out. “Lora O’Neil, would you do me the honor of wearing my ring? I promise to protect you and love you as long as I’m allowed, in whatever way I’m allowed, and I promise to always have Starlight mints at the ready.” Lora wept with fear and joy and laughter, knowing that she would never find another man like him. Nodding, she held her shaking hand out and allowed him to slip the ring onto her finger. Then she whipped her arms around his neck, and the three of them rocked back and forth. He pulled back enough to capture her lips with his own, sealing the love between them. “No rush,” he murmured in her ear. “We’ll take it a day at a time. Just know that I love you with all my heart.” “And I love you,” she whispered. “More than I ever dared dream I could.”
“I’m sorry. It just pisses me off to no end that a guy would do this to a woman. I’m a Texas boy. Our women are treated with the respect they deserve. I want to take your ex out and beat the shit out of him, then hang him by his balls for the vultures to eat.”
In the end, I am glad that Chad found someone to accept him as he is and not cringe with disgust due to his injuries. I think everyone deserves happiness, especially him. His personality was the shining point for me. He was just so darn charming and witty, how could you not like a good ‘ol Texas boy who knows how to treat a lady right? I defiantly enjoyed reading Chad and Lora’s story.