Losing her father in Desert Storm has left Stephanie James a bitter soul when it comes to the military. As a college senior juggling a full course load, Steph's only goal is to graduate with honors at the end of the semester. She’s focused, determined, and a firm believer in all work and no play. Then she meets Brandon Walker at a New Year’s Eve costume party. Despite his disguise, Steph finds herself attracted to the camouflaged soldier who curls her toes with a scorching midnight kiss.
Brandon is an engineering major and ROTC student from the hills of Kentucky. Growing up as the son of a major general has given Brandon firsthand knowledge of the struggles military families sometimes face. Now that his father’s memory is fading, Brandon is even more determined to make his dad proud and graduate as an officer in the United States Army. Then he meets Stephanie, and suddenly, his focus is less on his military service and more on the pretty brunette who has stolen his heart. When he becomes aware of Steph’s resentment toward the military, he worries their relationship is doomed.
When faced with the realization that she's fallen in love with a soldier, can Steph’s wounds from the past be healed with love in her present . . . and in her future?
Release Date: June 20, 2014
Genre: New Adult/Military Romance
With a disgusted sigh, I toss my cup into an overflowing trash can before maneuvering my way through the dancers and up the stairs in search of my best friend. Bravely, I try a few of the rooms, but all are locked except for a set of open double doors at the end of the hallway.
Curious, I step inside, and I’m instantly mesmerized.
Frat houses have libraries?
This one does, complete with ceiling-high bookshelves. Laptops line one wall, and a giant multimedia screen is attached to another. While all of it is impressive, nothing excites my book-loving heart more than to see the library ladder.
Secretly, I’ve always wanted to climb one—the tall ladders that roll from one end of the shelves to the other. Ironically enough, library ladders always remind me of Beauty and the Beast. Or the love scene in Atonement.
One of those movies is G-rated. The other most definitely is not.
Suddenly nervous, I look over my shoulder before making my decision.
YOLO. Carpe Diem. Whatever.
Slipping off my shoes, I reach for the ladder and slowly begin to climb. Sadly, this is the most adventurous thing I’ve done in a long time, and I can’t stop smiling. I’ve made it to the fifth rung when I hear someone clear his throat.
I hold on tightly and manage to turn myself around without falling off. When I’m sure I’m steady, I turn and find myself looking into the eyes of a soldier. Possibly Army. Maybe Marine.
Not that it matters. I accepted long ago that my hatred for anything military related is a little unhealthy, but when the service strips a girl of the privilege of knowing her father, it sometimes makes a person bitter.
I am the epitome of bitter.
This particular solider is smiling at me, and I can’t lie, the smile is kind of beautiful. Despite that, my first instinct is to roll my eyes at his outfit. But then, I remember this is a costume party, and he probably just needed a quick and totally uncreative disguise.
“I don’t think this room is open to visitors,” he says, his tone soft and deep.
I wonder if that’s his natural speaking voice or if he’s just playing his role as a badass. The guy certainly looks like a soldier, dressed in his head-to-toe camouflage and smeared-on face paint.
“It was actually the only room that wasn’t locked, which is kind of stupid if you ask me. This is the one room in the house you guys shouldn’t want trashed. Drunken idiots could really do some damage in here.”
He grins, and my breath catches in my throat as he steps closer. I tighten my hold on the ladder, because a smile that makes a girl’s heart race isn’t the best thing when she’s trying to maintain her balance.
“I noticed you downstairs.”
Embarrassed, I glance down at my ridiculous dress. “I’m a little hard to miss in canary yellow. I’m going to kill Tessa—”
“That’s not why I noticed you.”
He’s closer now, with one hand pressed against the shelf behind me. He’s tall, but thanks to the ladder, we’re practically nose-to-nose. Normally, I would be frightened of a complete stranger invading my space, but honestly, this is the most relaxed I’ve felt all night. With his athletic build, there’s no doubt he could hurt me if he wanted, but I’m not afraid. For one thing, his breath doesn’t stink and his speech isn’t slurred. For another, he’s gazing at me with a pair of big brown eyes that make my stomach do this weird somersault-thing, and my stomach hasn’t done somersaults in a very long time.
Before I can ask why he noticed me, shouts erupt from downstairs.
“Ten, nine, eight . . .”
“Do you have someone to kiss at midnight?” he asks.
I simply shake my head. He steps closer, pinning me between his body and the bookshelf.
“You do now.”
Horns blare below, but I barely notice because in the next second, his mouth covers mine. His lips are featherlight and sweet, causing warmth to spread through my veins and settle in my heart. I sigh, causing my lips to part slightly, allowing him to deepen the kiss. One of his hands stroke my cheek as he leans in, pressing his body tighter against mine. His quiet groan vibrates through me, and I’m ready to let go of the ladder and wrap my arms around him when he suddenly pulls away.
“Wow,” he whispers.
I open my eyes, and all I can see is his smile.
“Happy New Year,” he says.
Then he’s gone, sprinting from the room before I can even formulate a coherent response.
Amazon bestselling author Sydney Logan holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Her second book, Mountain Charm, was released in 2013. She is also the author of three short stories. A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.
Please visit her website at www.sydneylogan.com.