Title: Determined Hearts
Author: Diana Stout
Hawk Hunter, a half-Shoshone Indian, left New York at the height of his book-cover modeling career without anyone knowing why.
Wildlife photojournalist Jennifer Frost has discovered he's re-establishing eagles in the Snake River Valley in Idaho, his ancestral homeland, and she's determined to get his story not realizing there is bad blood between her boss and Hawk. Her reward? A promotion denied to her thus far.
Stuck with Jennifer on his mountain for two weeks, Hawk is determined any story remains on the mountain. Just before her arrival, Hawk spotted poachers in the valley. It’s just a matter of time . . .
Will they betray each other? Or will their new-found feelings for each other determine a future that neither had planned?
"Danger, drama, and sizzling romance...[Determined Hearts] kept me turning pages until the end." – Amazon reader.
The sound of footsteps on loose gravel grabbed Jennifer’s attention. She turned toward the sound. He looked pretty much the same now as he did at the height of his career, only now he looked stronger, more confident, a man at home in his environment.
His had been a career many sought but few achieved. It was easy to see why he'd been a popular, much-sought-after model for the romance book covers. No one since Hawk had been as famous. The Magnificent Hawk he had been called. And he was. Magnificent.
The frown on his face, however, ruined the otherwise perfect picture.
Through her research, she'd seen hundreds of other pictures of the former male model, but only one picture—the one reproduced in the tabloid—had captured the real man. Now a respected naturalist, in his own element, it had been a picture of a man as raw as the environment in which he worked. She hadn't forgotten the way his eyes had blazed at the camera. It was the same look he gave her now and it chilled her to the bone.
Far taller than her own five-feet seven-inches, he had wide shoulders and a lean muscular frame that held not an ounce of superfluous fat. But, there was one quality the photo didn't reveal.
It surrounded him. Goose bumps popped out on her arms. At first, the sensation reminded her of a feather tickling her skin. She decided, though, that it had to be the cool air. It wasn't until her lungs finally expelled air that she realized she'd been holding her breath.
He said nothing, his expression dark and foreboding. He moved toward her, his gaze never leaving hers. As the gap between them closed, Jennifer saw the lines around his eyes. Laugh lines on most people. She couldn't imagine this man laughing much at all. He appeared too stern. His black brows hooded his eyes and high cheekbones emphasized his Shoshone Indian heritage. Not until he stood before her, with only a foot of space separating them, did she feel fear. He towered over her like a ponderosa pine, his chest hard and formidable, his chin square and firm, his mouth an angry slash, and coal black eyes searing to her soul. She felt something else too, but couldn't put a name to the feeling that made her want to know this man.
Fear wasn't an uncommon emotion to her, not in her line of work—she encountered a variety of wild animals whenever she ventured into the wilderness and always managed to avoid confrontation. But, this was a different type of animal. This man lived with nature, finely tuned senses made him cunning and dangerous—a force one normally tried to avoid. She sensed passion would naturally accompany this man's actions. Any action. How she knew that, she didn't know. Just an instinct she had. And she'd learned, when out in the wilderness, to always trust her intuition. The one time she hadn't, she'd ended up with eighteen stitches in her calf. She thought she'd been out of reach of the cougar. Intuition told her to climb higher in the tree. She didn't and the cougar had jumped, catching her jeans. Luckily, only one nail had caught her skin. The scar was nearly invisible but she'd learned her lesson; now she listened to that inner voice she called intuition. And at the moment it was screaming, this man has the potential to hurt you. All her senses went on alert.
She'd much rather face a grizzly bear than deal with someone who could hurt her. It had taken her years to rise above her vulnerability, her easy trust.
Regardless of what her intuition told her, she didn't have the option of avoiding him. She would, however, listen carefully to her inner voice and proceed with caution.
She licked her lips, swallowed nervously, but stood firm. Despite the scary feeling that chilled her, she was extremely curious about him. She had done her research before leaving New York and discovered he was a complex man, an enigma, and that intrigued her even more. The more she had dug, the more she realized little was known about the man. Nowhere had she been able to find answers to her questions. It was almost as if he had been born the day he appeared in New York. Up until that time, he had no past.
Despite his hard look that probably sent most people running, she remained rooted to the spot. He was just a man after all. Keep telling yourself that, Jennifer, and you might be convinced. Who was she fooling? He was more than just a man. There was something powerful and magnetic about him; and yet, she felt as if she was in the middle of a maelstrom—something dark and potentially disastrous. If she had any sense, she'd turn tail and run.
When it came to her career, though, nothing swayed her except her grim determination that no one would stop her from getting what she wanted.
"Who the hell are you?" he asked, his voice low and rumbly. Captivated by the sound of his voice—smooth and almost caressing despite his anger—she didn't answer. She wanted to hear more.
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An award-winning writer in multiple genres, Diana Stout, MFA, PhD is a screenwriter, author, blogger, and former English professor. She has published magazine articles, short stories, poetry, served both as a newspaper and magazine columnist, had two short plays produced in New York, and optioned a screenplay. She has served as a reviewer for academic journals, textbook publishers, and as a contest judge for multiple writing organizations: both children and adult, in fiction and nonfiction, and Hollywood screenwriting organizations. She has published books both traditionally and as an indie publisher. Today, she writes full-time through her production company, Sharpened Pencils Productions, LLC. When not writing, she enjoys books, movies, lunching with friends and family, and jigsaw puzzles.
Social Media Links:
Website - Sharpened Pencils Productions: http://sharpenedpencilsproductions.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Diana-Stout/e/B01DAWQP7Q
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/writerDianaStout
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