- N. N. Light
Capturing the Queen by @SarahRSWriter is a Mystery/Suspense pick #romanticsuspense #giveaway
Title: Capturing the Queen (Book 2 in the Damaged Heroes series)
Author: Sarah Andre
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Restoration artist Sean Quinn is perfectly content spending his downtime devouring classical literature, while keeping his OCD and fourth-degree black belt under wraps. But when his FBI agent brother coerces him into investigating stolen artifacts, Sean becomes the target of a ruthless smuggling ring that funds terrorists. Gretch Allen, a beautiful man-magnet, hides a world of hurt under her icy exterior. When Sean rescues her from a stalker, she discovers her co-worker has an alpha-hot fire burning beneath his geeky exterior. As barriers between them begin crumbling, however, she accidentally places herself in much more extremist danger. Unable to stop the unraveling events from turning deadly, Sean must conjure his inner hero to save his city and capture the heart of the queen.
Even in the blinding afternoon sun, Sean recognized Gretch’s willowy figure and spikey platinum hair like he would a Bernini masterpiece. She jaywalked across the wide street, her long-legged stride and confident poise a smoke-and-mirrors trick hiding her prickly temperament. Okay, that wasn’t accurate. She defined bold majesty, like some mythological warrior goddess. She took what she wanted, said what was on her mind, and didn’t suffer gawking fools. He’d fallen hard for her fearlessness, her determination to live life on her terms, but he’d quickly learned to worship her from afar. Any verbal encounter meant matching her acerbic wit to the point of a WWE smackdown. He’d reigned as champion until last night, across the bar’s dance floor. He hadn’t been able to shut down the pathetic pining fast enough.
Sean set his cup of teacup down before the tremor in his fingers outed him further.
This café was the perfect place to finally show her he was dateable. Hi, have a seat. Can I buy you a coffee? He steadied his erratic breathing as if facing down a martial arts opponent.
Hi, have a seat. Can I buy you a coffee?
At ten feet away, her gaze landed on him. Her stride stalled. His introverted instinct was to pretend he didn’t see her, but one did not not notice Gretch. Sean forced his hand into an indifferent wave.
She scanned the populated tables once more and halted at his. The perfect spring day morphed into air so oppressive he had to breathe through his mouth. His heart thudded like a conga drum. Here goes. “Hi—”
“You do realize you’re taking up an entire table for four.”
The invitation died on his lips. His sarcastic alter ego awoke like Godzilla. “Is this your charm-school way of asking to sit with me?”
“Hell, no. I can’t tolerate men today.”
“I see.” He ignored the insecure side of him that was paralyzed by her ire. She’d said men so this wasn’t about him. “Allow me to vacate, so that you, a single, can occupy the table for four.”
Her lips pursed. Not like his logic had stumped her, more like she’d expected her brushoff to be met with laughter and a second, cajoling invitation to sit with him. His breath streamed out. Why couldn’t he instinctively know how to act before everything became a social gaffe?
He kicked the opposite chair out with his foot. “Have a seat.”
“How gallant.” Gretch folded into it sideways, hooking a slim leg over the arm. He’d never seen her in jeans, and impossibly, they emphasized her coltish legs more than miniskirts. Her stilettos were a shiny, Ferrari red and sharply tapered at the toe.
She seemed oblivious to the men around her, but their voracious glances emboldened him.
“They don’t have wait service out here,” he said without stuttering, drooling, or his voice cracking. “Can I get you a coffee? Pastry?”
“No. Thank you.” She tapped long, red-with-silver-glitter nails on the table. “Any more caffeine and I’ll turn into a comic book supervillain.”
And this is where he got stuck. Should he cite stats on caffeine and its effects on the human body? He could expound for hours. What would his brothers do with that cute supervillain remark? They’d say something cute and goofy back. Do it!
“You, uh—smell like cayenne pepper.” He chugged his decaffeinated tea. Seriously, it’d be so great to choke and die on the spot.
She arched a brow. “Why aren’t you cleaning the Wickham art? You told Hannah you’d finish this weekend.”
“I worked all day. I’ll wrap up tomorrow.” He frowned at the third degree. It wasn’t like she was his boss. “Why are you here?” So much for serendipity.
Gretch nodded at the D’Angelo Café sign with royal indifference. “The Grand Opening was written up in the Tribune.” She kicked her leg around and sat up. Her heel struck the pavement with a sharp click. “Why were you at Teenie’s Martinis last night?”
He swallowed convulsively. Answer with protective snark, or open up honestly? He placed the cup on the table, turning it in microscopic increments until the café logo faced him squarely. “I overheard you tell Hannah where you were going. Thought I’d check it out. Buy you a drink.”
“Then why didn’t you?”
He paused. He’d braced for: “I’d have to be awfully drunk to accept a drink from you.” Now what? “So…you’d have a drink with me?”
She examined her nails instead of answering. Sean glanced at the bustling square, the long shadows easing toward them. He retraced the logo, his knee jiggling. He should’ve chosen snark because whatever came out of her mouth next would wound deep.
“You’re a nice guy,” she said in that kind tone his brothers’ girlfriends used. He braced for The Adjectives. Weird. Strange. Peculiar… “I was so sure I couldn’t tolerate any man this afternoon without going ballistic, but you’re…different.”
Hope rose. Different wasn’t bad! “Maybe we can—”
A faint smile appeared on her face, and his vocal chords seized. Hope swan-dived off Kilimanjaro, the free fall stealing his oxygen.
“You’d never survive me, Sean.”
The nerd panicking within wholeheartedly believed her. The fourth-degree black belt took exception. “You hardly know me.”
“I date a certain kind of guy.” She reached over and twisted his cup so the logo slanted at an unacceptable sixty-two degree angle. Immediately his skin crawled with the need to right it, but she’d stuck her chin in her hand and waited, that faint smile still in place, like a cat watching a cornered mouse.
He folded his arms. “What insurmountable feat does it take to be that guy?” His jiggling knee made the table quake.
Gretch laughed, and the throaty sound washed over him, almost capturing his attention from the cup that needed turning. Desperately.
“It’d take a miracle.” She rose gracefully. “See you at work.”
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This Beauty-and-the-Geek, office enemies romance is filled with humor, snark and a twisting suspense based on ripped-from-the-headlines topics.
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Runs August 9 – August 18, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on August 19, 2022.
Sarah Andre is a 2017 RITA® finalist, which is Romance Writers of America highest award of distinction. She lives in serene Southwest FL with her husband and two naughty Pomeranians. When she’s not writing, Sarah is either reading novels or coloring. Yes, you read that right. She’s all over those coloring books for adults.
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Author FB: https://www.facebook.com/SarahAndreNovels