Hour of Need
Scarlet Falls; Book 1
Published: December 9th 2014
Published by: Montlake Romance
While fighting in Afghanistan, Major Grant Barrett receives devastating news: his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered in Scarlet Falls, the sleepy suburb of Grant’s youth. Emotionally scarred from war, the career soldier returns home on emergency leave to temporarily care for his orphaned nephew and niece. But when someone tries to kidnap the kids and their teenage babysitter, Grant knows it’s not a random act…and neither were the murders.
Already devastated by her neighbors’ violent deaths, Ellie Ross is shattered by the attempted abduction of her teenage daughter so she desperately turns to Grant for help. As they navigate a deadly search for the truth, they struggle with growing feelings for each other and Grant’s impending return to deployment.
But time is running out. The killer is growing bolder by the hour, and Ellie and Grant must find him before the children become his next victims.
“Nan!” Ellie squinted into the darkness. Beyond her shotgun-wielding grandmother, the man standing in her neighbor’s driveway looked familiar. But her eyes hadn’t adjusted to the lack of light, and he was standing in the shadow of his open trunk. “You cannot point a gun at someone.”
“Well, he was skulking around the house in the dark. He looked like he was going to break in.” Nan tapped a white athletic shoe on the pavement. Frenzied barking emanated from their house. “A girl can’t be too careful. Lots of crime around here lately.”
“He parked in the driveway, Nan. That’s hardly criminal behavior.” Ellie gently liberated the gun from her grandmother and let the muzzle tip toward the ground. “That barking is going to wake Julia. Would you please go inside and make the dog stop?”
Then Ellie would try to convince the man not to call the police—or a psychiatric ward—on her grandmother.
Nan gave her a pointed look, but she complied, walking toward their house.
The stranger closed the trunk and faced her, and she recognized Lee’s brother. “Grant?”
At six foot four, his broad shoulders and wide chest filled out his brown leather jacket. “Hello, Ellie.”
Sadness crept up the back of her throat. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you.” He cleared his throat.
“I apologize for my grandmother,” she said. “She’s tired of reporters and photographers. Plus, there have been other people who actually were skulking around the place in the dark looking for a way to break in. We called the police a few times. They said once the media releases the victims’ names, it isn’t uncommon for criminals to target the house. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“I don’t have a key. I was hoping there was an unlocked window or door. No such luck.”
“I have one. Let’s go inside, and I’ll get it for you.”
“I was just thinking about knocking on your door.” He sounded grateful. “Don’t know why I didn’t do it right away.”
“I imagine you have a lot on your mind.” Now that the crisis had passed, she shivered hard. She hadn’t taken time to put on a jacket when she saw her grandmother—
with her gun—stalking the man out front. But now Ellie’s Spackle-smeared T-shirt and jeans were no match for the night air.
They crossed the wide, snow-crusted front yards and stomped up her steps. The porch light shone across his face. He had the same blond hair and blue eyes as Lee but the resemblance stopped there. Tall and thin, Lee had had a Gregory-Peck-as-Atticus-Finch way about him. He’d been unassuming and scholarly. Larger and more muscular, Grant was a dominant physical presence, one that she felt along every square inch of her exposed skin. Even if she hadn’t known he was a soldier, she would have guessed it from the hardness of his body, readiness in his stance, and wariness in his eye. Despite the grief etched on his face, she was transfixed for a moment. Ten months in the desert had sharpened his Scandinavian features and given him a harder look. Handsome before, his masculinity had amplified tenfold. His posture and body were leaner, edgier, poised to react.
He caught her staring. The slightest smile turned up the corner of his mouth, and a blush heated her face.
“This dazzling first installment of Leigh’s breathtaking new Scarlet Falls series will have readers hooked in an instant. Leigh faithfully delivers animated characters, chills, thrills, and a plot that quickens the pulse all in one shot. Suspense fans will find their senses awakened with this military story set in an unforgettable small town, and lovers of romance will swoon as soon as they rapidly connect with Grant and Ellie. A real show-stopper.” —RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars
Though this is the first book of Leigh’s new romantic suspense series, Scarlet Falls, the author pleasantly surprises by not leaving a passel of loose ends to set up the sequel. Rather, the ensemble is effectively introduced without excessive back story, the multi-layered mystery is neatly organized (a bit more foreshadowing, perhaps?) and the final scenes are tidily done. Too, the antagonists are deviously and devilishly busy, creating a suspenseful sense of ever-present danger. Well-written, energetically paced entertainment.” —The Crime Book Beat
Barb’s Review for Hour of Need
Originally posted 3/2/15
Minutes to Kill
Scarlet Falls; Book 2
Published: June 30, 2015
Published by: Montlake Romance
After corporate attorney Hannah Barrett tries—and fails—to stop a kidnapping in Vegas, she can’t shake the haunting image of the terrified young girl she couldn’t save. She tells herself that a visit to her hometown in Scarlet Falls could be a welcome distraction. But soon, Hannah realizes the kidnappers have all the info they need to track her every move. And when chilling e-mails about the victim appear in her inbox, it’s frighteningly clear what happened in Vegas has followed her home.
Eight months after a terrible family tragedy, Hannah turns to Detective Brody McNamara once again. Brody is eager to help, though he’s embroiled in the investigation of a brutal murder. But the closer they work together, the stronger their feelings grow…and the more they stand to lose when two seemingly unrelated, but equally deadly, cases collide.
Minutes to Kill is the pulse-racing second novel in bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s Scarlet Falls series.
“Hannah, you did your best,” Brody said.
“It wasn’t good enough.” Hannah pulled out of his grip and turned away. She went to the window and stared out into the yard. Two robins hopped across the back lawn. One shoved its beak into the damp grass and ripped a worm from the turf. Its body flailed until the bird ate it in two gulps. A shudder rippled from Hannah’s torso to her bare feet. The pretty scene faded, and she pictured Jewel being yanked from the rental car, her arms pinwheeling, small fists landing useless blows on her attacker’s shoulders, the girl’s terror palpable even to a stunned Hannah.
She rubbed her arms. “Do you think those e-mails are really from her? That she’s reaching out for help?” If she was, her time was running out.
“Why would she contact you and not the police?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense.” Hannah covered her mouth with a fist. “But it feels like I’m letting her down all over again.”
“Do you do this all the time?”
“Do what?” She glanced over her shoulder.
Brody’s arms were crossed over his chest, and his gaze had sharpened. “Not allow yourself to be human. Try to shoulder the weight of things that aren’t your fault.”
She turned back to the yard. The robin moved on, its hunger not sated by one slender earthworm. Predators never stopped hunting.
“Some things are out of your control.” The harsh edge to Brody’s voice made her want to ask him what terrible event from his past had been out of his control. Who or what had put the pain in his eyes?
“I know that. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.” There would be more girls at risk, Hannah knew, all because she hadn’t seen that SUV coming.
“I’m glad you’re all right.”
“You’re not going to lecture me on putting myself at risk?”
“Maybe later.” Brody smiled. “You are what you are. Sometimes all that ferocity is a little scary, but I wouldn’t change anything about you.”
“With the perfect mixture of suspense and romance, Leigh will keep you flipping the pages.” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Minutes to Kill hooked me from the opening scene… Melinda knows how to write an intriguing story line and she’s brilliant at pacing and writing action scenes.” – USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Jaynes
“This gripping Las Vegas tale is worth the gamble to stay up all night racing to the mind-blowing ending.”—RT Book Reviews
About the Author:
Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. Her bestselling books have been nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award three times.
Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate. She’s dabbled in Arnis stick fighting, studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and taught women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two kids, two rescue dogs and two shelter cats who clearly run the show. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination. Find out more about Melinda by visiting melindaleighauthor.com.