Title: HARD JUSTICE
Author: April Hunt
Series: Alpha Security, #3
On Sale: August 29, 2017
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD
As the first female operative at Alpha Security, Charlotte “Charlie” Sparks has her work cut out for her. Sure, she can wrestle a man to the ground and hit a target at 200 yards with the best of them. But sometimes, being surrounded by all that testosterone can drive a woman to distraction—especially when that distraction is six-and-a-half feet of cocky, confident, Alpha-trained muscle.
Ex-SEAL commander Vince Franklin has been on some of the most dangerous missions in the world. But pretending to be Charlie’s fiancé on their latest assignment in Miami is his toughest challenge yet. Vince and Charlie are like oil and water; they just don’t mix. And when their fake romance generates some all-too-real heat, Vince learns that Charlie is more than just arm candy. She’s the real deal—and she’s ready for some serious action.
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Vince slipped out of the truck just as she swung open her door. A group of college-aged boys turned the corner, one of whom immediately latched his lurid gaze onto Charlie’s toned legs.
“Hot damn, baby.” The kid whistled. His gaze flickered to Vince. “Why don’t you ditch the geriatric and come party with us?”
“Unless you want this geriatric to rip those lips off your face, keep walking,” Vince growled.
The kid and his friends laughed but kept going. At some point during the exchange, the pimply faced valet attendant extended his hand to Charlie.
“I got her. You get these.” Vince’s bark made the teen jump.
“Yes, sir.” The valet caught the keys Vince tossed his way and hustled over to the driver’s side.
Every inch of Charlie’s body brushed along Vince’s as he plucked her off her seat and set her back on her feet. The hair on his arms lifted as if he’d touched pure electricity, and in a way, he had. Charlie. A live wire. Jolting. Heat-inducing.
Her teeth trapped her bottom lip in a sexy nibble. Vince couldn’t help but glance down to her mouth, seeing that he wasn’t the only one overtaken by a sudden burst of awareness.
“If I’d been the one to offer my hand to you, you would’ve taken a hunk of flesh out of it with your teeth,” Vince half-joked.
She smoothed the front of his shirt, a coy smile dancing on her lips. “Not a hunk. Maybe just a little nibble.”
Sucking in a groan, Vince wrapped an arm around her waist and guided her away from the truck as another large group of college-aged kids stumbled past.
Charlie let out a strangled noise.
“What?” Vince looked at her, confused.
She bit the corner of her mouth, obviously trying to withhold laughter. “You and the look of excruciating pain plastered all over your face. You can’t tell me you’ve never prowled the bars looking for a good time.”
Vince steered them toward the entrance of the club’s outdoor patio. “Yeah, a million fucking years ago. And I didn’t have to prowl for anything. Good times always came to me.”
This time Charlie snorted with her chuckle, and the sound of it made his lips twitch. It was goddamned cute, though he would never admit it aloud and risk a punch to his kidneys.
“It’s a wonder headquarters hasn’t blown up from testosterone toxicity,” Charlie murmured as they stepped to the end of the club’s red-roped line.
The bouncer manning the entrance took a lazy-eyed stroll over Charlie’s body. “You two together?”
Vince cocked a glance to his arm, still wrapped snugly around her waist. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s too damn bad. But you both can go on in. And if your lady’s interested, there’s a bar-dancing competition sometime within the hour.” He eyed Charlie’s legs. “You’re a shoe-in for first fucking prize, sweetheart.”
Vince would’ve loved nothing more than to swipe the smirk off the bastard’s face, but Charlie intervened, threading her fingers through his, and thanked the man for the invite. The people in line grumbled their protests as the bouncer opened the gate and let them onto the club’s patio.
Miami Heat lured in a who’s who of the rich, famous, and privileged. Whereas the indoor section of the club catered to the couples dancing to the loud, theatrical pound of the music, the outdoor patio was a pool party on ’roids.
White Christmas lights wrapped every palm tree and, and as if Miami wasn’t hot enough, bamboo torches lit up the patio’s perimeter. Humidity didn’t seem to be keeping people away, because the line wrapped around the circular bar was three people deep, and growing.
“Don’t people have anything better to do than spend their money on overpriced booze?” Vince asked, inspecting the sea of drunk people.
Charlie lifted her brow. “In Miami? No. It’s all about twenty-dollar drinks and lots and lots of skin. You’re such a people person, Navy. It’s a wonder you don’t have an entire entourage surrounding you all hours of the day.”
“And you’re such the sparkling social gem, huh?” Vince said dryly. A pair of overly bronzed women skirted past, outrageously wearing less than Charlie. “I wasn’t the one who nearly made the pizza delivery boy cry because he mistakenly left behind my order of fried mushrooms.”
“No, but now I’m sure that Christopher will never forget them again. That’s the difference between us. I don’t see any point in hiding my displeasure, where you take the whole brooding in silence thing and turn it into an art form.”
“Some things can’t be changed by making a scene.”
Charlie turned toward him, the side of her breast brushing against his chest. “No, but sometimes it can make you feel a lot bloody better. Unleash the beast, Navy. Or at the very least, loosen the reins. You may be surprised at what happens.”
When he’d been with the SEAL teams, Vince wouldn’t have hesitated to let off a little steam—and without prompting. But both time and experience had taught him the error of his ways. He’d learned it at the end of his Navy career, had it drilled into his head working for bail enforcement, and now with Alpha, it had become almost second nature—except when Charlie was in close proximity. Then all those lessons flew out of his fucking head.
“You want to make ourselves visible?” Vince slipped his hand over her hip and veered her toward the dance floor. “Hope you can dance in those stilts.”
Vince and Charlie have been dancing around each other for the better part of a year since he joined the Alpha Security team. The former SEAL definitely likes what he sees, but Charlie is no pushover and he values his man parts so he has to proceed with caution. Charlie is a valued member of the team, but as the only female operative, she feels like she has to work twice as hard to prove herself. Vince has been both a welcome and unwelcome distraction since he joined Alpha; she loves to look at him and the more she gets to know him the more she likes the man beneath the fine external package too. But that kind of distraction could destroy her credibility and the wall she has built around her heart, and she is not sure she is ready for that.
When her past makes an unwelcome reappearance in her present, she reluctantly agrees to help the Department of Homeland Security locate a group of missing girls who are being kidnapped from her former hometown of Miami. Their circumstances hit way too close to home, a fact that only Alpha’s man in charge Stone is aware of. When Stone orders her to take Vince with her to Miami or forget about taking the case altogether, she is left with no choice but to allow the hulking source of her fantasies to accompany her under the guise of being her fiance.
Charlie’s exit from Miami 12 years ago was not a friendly one when it comes to her blood relations and the last thing she wants is to give her crime boss uncle any reason to re-enter her life but if it means saving those girls from a horrifying fate then she is willing to take the chance. Vince only knows the basics of her past, and for a man who blames himself for the loss of his best friend and teammate on a mission overseas that still haunts him, having an incomplete picture is not an option. Charlie is unwilling to share, so he sets Alpha operative Logan to the task of digging into Charlie’s background in the hopes that being prepared can save both their butts when the time arrives.
Hard Justice has a little bit of something for everyone with twists and turns, family secrets, suspense, heat, a little humor and some emotional turbulence- oh and did I mention an undercover trip to a sex club? Forced proximity brings the UST between Vince and Charlie to the boiling point, and although they try to delude themselves into thinking they can just have a little fun to get each other out of their systems, it doesn’t take long before they both realize the last year has been a build up to a whole lot more. Now Vince just has to find a way to let go of the demons of his past and Charlie has to finally decide to trust someone with her whole heart.
I loved Charlie’s snark and wit despite her tendency to get bent out of shape over perceived slights a bit too easily, and Vince was a perfect mix of sexy alpha protector with a touch of vulnerability to keep him human. All in all, this was a really enjoyable read and my favorite of the series so far!
THE ALPHA SECURITY SERIES
HARD JUSTICE, #3
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
April blames her incurable chocolate addiction on growing up in rural Pennsylvania, way too close to America’s chocolate capital, Hershey. She now lives in Virginia with her college sweetheart husband, two young children, and a cat who thinks she’s a human-dog hybrid. On those rare occasions she’s not donning the cape of her children’s personal chauffer, April’s either planning, plotting, or writing about her next alpha hero and the woman he never knew he needed, but now can’t live without.
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