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Embattled Hearts

January 2nd, 2017
Author: JM Madden    Series: Lost and Found #1

John Palmer hasn’t felt like a real man since he was injured during combat in Iraq. Though not content with his new life, he is mostly adapting, just like the other vets at the Lost ‘N’ Found Investigative Service. When Shannon Murphy is hired on as the new office manager, life suddenly gets a lot more interesting. Before long, John finds himself wondering if he could ever be the kind of man Shannon needs.

Shannon Murphy wasn’t really looking for love when she hired on at LNF, but finds herself hopelessly attracted to the sex-on-wheels former Marine, John Palmer. The man is grumpy and nearly impossible to work with, but his brand of masculinity appeals to her on a basic level. Soon Shannon is wondering just what it would take for John to want her the way she wants him.

When an old enemy tries to settle a vendetta against Shannon, John insists on protecting her. He moves into her house, fanning the spark of attraction into a blaze. But the danger continues to escalate. Will the connection that they’ve found survive when they’re thrust into a fight for their lives?

This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
My Review

After reading all the books on the main ‘LNF’ guys, I feel like John is my favorite. He’s my first hero I’ve ever experienced that is wheel chair ridden due to his injuries while he was in Iraq. He was a bit of a grump an a hard ass as Shannon liked to call him. I don’t know wh, but his character just stuck with me throughout the series.

“This isn’t going to cause problems with a boyfriend or anything, is it?” Shannon looked at him in surprise. Not because of the question itself, but because of the hesitancy she thought she heard in his voice. She turned her concentration back to beating the eggs. “No, no boyfriend.” “Do you date? Any chance this could be another boyfriend doing these things?” Shaking her head from side to side, she told him, “Nope.” Pouring the onions and other ingredients in the pan, she tried not to let her hands shake. John asking about her dating life was a little strange, because she had been imagining dating him for so long. “You do date, though?” She nodded her head, still not looking at him. “Of course I date.” “Why don’t you have a boyfriend, then?” he asked finally. Pouring the eggs into the pan, she paused, then turned to look at him directly. Her heart was almost pounding out of her chest as she debated what to tell him. From the first moment she’d seen him, backlit by the sunlight from the office window, she wanted to know more about him. Six freaking months she’d been mooning after an impossible need. What the hell. “I’m pretty picky in who I date, and I’m waiting for the right guy to ask me.”
She felt a tug on her scalp, and looked back to find John running a thick curl through his fingertips. “Can I ask you a question?” “You can,” she told him with a smile, “but I may not answer it.” John grinned at her as she parroted back to him. “Is this your natural color?” “Muddy brown, you mean? Yes, it is.” “It’s not muddy,” he told her firmly. “In the firelight it looks about ten different colors. None of them mud-colored.” “Thank you,” she said finally. He tugged the loose curl out straight and let it fall, then pulled it out again. Finally, he tunneled his fingers in against her scalp, and Shannon could not help but groan. Nerve endings on her head leapt to attention. “That feels really good,” she told him, and tipped her head to rest completely against the couch. For several long minutes, he ran his fingers over and under and through her hair. “I have to warn you,” she told him finally, “that if you don’t quit, I’ll be asleep in no time.”

John feels like he isn’t a real man since he lost the use of his legs in combat. He is alike the other LNF guys, feeling like others can’t look past his injuries, that all they see is his chair. But out heroine Shannon is different. Ever since she started working at LNF six months ago, she has been drawn to him. Him being in his wheel chair doesn’t bother her at all since her brother is in one due to an accident he suffered years ago.

John’s somber dark eyes regarded her quietly. “Good morning,” he rumbled. Damn, Shannon thought, his voice was even sexier with that rasp in it. She tried to summon up a smile. “Good morning. Uh, how did I get here?” “You fell asleep, and rather than let you crumple on the floor, I brought you up here with me.” Blood crept into her cheeks. “Oh. Sorry ’bout that.” Shannon started to peel back the blanket to sit up, but John tugged her back down. “Don’t leave just yet. You’re very warm. And don’t be sorry. I enjoyed every minute of it. I actually slept very good with you, which is surprising.” Shannon eased back down onto his shoulder and pulled the blanket up to her chin. A heavy hand resettled at her waist. “You don’t normally sleep well?” “No. Dreams wake me up a lot, like last night.”

Due to some eerie incidents happening that make Shannon feel unsafe due to a problem that happened to her 10 years ago, John decides to watch her house closely to make sure all is fine which eventually results in him staying with her for protection. With them being in close quarters with one another, their feelings start to grow and once this happens, you start to see a different side to John, a more softer, caring side which was hidden under his hardness and cursing like a sailor man. As things progress further, John is worried that not everything works correctly with him below the belt and he is embarrassed that he might fail in that department with Shannon due to the severity on his paralysis, but she reassures him that everything will be fine – an it was.

“Shannon, I don’t want you to be…disappointed.” He could feel his face burn with humiliation, and was thankful it was fairly dark in the bedroom. “Things don’t always happen the way I expect them to, if they happen at all.” She sighed beside him, and propped herself up on her elbow. There was just enough illumination from the outside street light he could see the curve of her cheek as she smiled. “John, like I told you before, we can do as much or as little as you want. There’s no pressure, other than what you’re putting on yourself. I love being with you. If lying beside me is what you’re comfortable with, that’s what we’ll do.”
Shannon woke to a light stroke on her cheek. John sat in front of her. The light from the dying fire highlighted his frowning face. “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier.” She yawned hugely and stretched on the couch. “And I’m sorry I handed you your underwear. That was my mistake. It’ll never happen again.” He glared at her, but she could see his dark eyes dancing with humor. “Smart-ass.” “Hard-ass.” He barked out a laugh and grinned at her. She sat up on the edge of the couch and pushed her hair away from her face. John reached out and tugged at a curl, as if he couldn’t help himself. “Why did you snap at me like that? It hurt.” He dropped his hand to his lap and winced. “I feel like I let you down, with everything. I guess I’m feeling defensive. Useless, to be blunt.”

Of course when their relationship gets to the good part, the bad guys appears. I will say, I didn’t expect the bad guys to be who they were, a bit of a small shock/twist if I must say, but they don’t last long as this is a romance, which means a happy ending is always promised.

John froze for a moment, stunned that she would even care. He folded her hand into his own and tugged, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Slipping one arm under her knees, he swung her into his lap. She curled into him as if she belonged there. He fought to maintain some kind of emotional distance. There was a bad guy out there messing with her, and he needed to keep his cool. The problem was, he’d never meant anything to anybody. He’d been a buddy and friend to the guys, but he’d never been involved with a woman the same way. As she tightened her arms around his neck, emotion clutched at his throat.

I loved their interactions with one another and how he often pulled Shannon down onto his lap, to hold and cuddle her. I feel like Shannon brought out the best in John, which was deeply hidden away due to his life experiences. She was just great for him and he for her.

“What’s wrong?” Now that he was on the spot, John floundered for what to say. He wasn’t a bare-your-heart kind of guy. “I don’t like people.” She raised her delicate brows but didn’t say anything. “In general I have no tolerance for them. They piss me off and drive me to cuss. Most of them don’t have the sense to find their way out of a paper sack. None of this applies, of course, to other Marines.” One side of her mouth lifted in a smile. “And it doesn’t apply to you. You’re the first person I’ve ever been with who doesn’t make me want to shoot somebody out of boredom. You have spunk and heart and you’re sexy as hell, and you don’t mind my shit. And lady,” he said with a sigh, “I come with a lot of shit. I have a lot of baggage, and though I don’t mean to spew it on you, I know I will. I’ll tell you I’m sorry now and every day for the rest of my life.” He reached out and tugged her to lie across his lap. “But I’ll also tell you I love you every day, which I do. I do not fucking deserve you. I know that. I’ve not done anything in this life to be given a gift like you. But I will cherish you, and honor you, as much as I possibly can. You make me feel like a man, and I cannot tell you how much I need that.” Her pretty hazel eyes welled with tears then dripped down her cheeks. He felt his own throat tighten as he brushed her tears away with his rough thumbs. She cupped his jaw in her hand and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. “Okay.” He pulled back in surprise. “Just ‘okay’?” She nodded. “You didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. I know you have baggage, I know you’re going to be a pain in my ass, but I love you more than I ever dreamed possible. You’re abrasive and harsh, but you cuddle a kitten like you were meant to do it. You cuddle me like you were meant to do it. And you’ll cuddle our kids the same way. You make my body sing and my heart race. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, too.” There was no way he couldn’t not kiss her then. As he cupped her head in his hand, he marveled that he’d been given this piece of heaven.

I really enjoyed this book, it makes me want to read more about veteran’s, people with disabilities that they over come to find that happy ending they deserve.

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