Can love break through their firewalls?
I'm delighted to host author Jennifer Wilck, who recently released the second book in her Scarred Hearts series. I highly recommend reading the excerpt. Swoon! I can hardly wait to read the rest!
Thank you so much, Anastasia, for hosting me today. I am so excited to share my latest contemporary romance with you. Unlock My Heart is a standalone romance but is the second book in my Scarred Hearts series. And it combines two of my favorite things—wounded heroes and brilliant heroines.
Ted, the hero, is the billionaire founder and CEO of his computer security firm, Sentec. He’s hard of hearing and goes to great lengths to keep people from treating him any differently than anyone else. So of course, the first time Abby, my heroine meets him, she stares at his hearing aids! That’s only one of several reasons why he doesn’t want to hire her—the second reason being that she’s gorgeous and he’s lusting after her—but since she’s by far the most qualified for the job, she joins his company anyway. Despite the rocky start, he recognizes her talent, enjoys her company, and loves how she accepts his hearing loss.
Abby, the heroine, has risen above her poverty-stricken childhood by learning computer coding and is now one of the best in her field. She values her independence—especially her financial independence—more than anything and doesn’t want to depend on a man for anything. Especially when that man is her boss and could crush her career. But the longer she’s around Ted, and the more she gets to know him, the easier it is to fall for him.
I love writing wounded heroes because it gives me a chance to show their vulnerable side. That vulnerability adds dimension, while also giving them motivation for the things they do—both good and bad. And it gives me a chance to explore the psychology behind the behavior, which I think is fascinating.
Brilliant heroines are a no-brainer (ha!). I can’t stand the “stupid female” trope and want to smack some of these characters when I read about the idiotic things they do. That’s not the kind of heroine I want to read or to write. Love is important, but it shouldn’t be what makes the character. It might polish her. It might add to her happiness. But I want her to be complete without a man.
I hope you enjoy reading about Ted and Abby in Unlock My Heart. If you’re interested in the rest of the series, you can also read A Reckless Heart, as well. Please let me know how you like them!
They walked with care up the icy steps, Ted taking Abby’s arm. His concern for her touched her. Desire flared. At the top of the steps, she leaned against one of the gray stone columns and caught her breath, but he joined her, arms on either side of her, his body shielding her from the few brave tourists who entered or left. This close to him, his eyelashes provided a dark outline to his eyes, his cheeks were ruddy from the cold, and his minty breath warmed her face. Out of reflex, she curled her hands around his hard biceps. His jeans brushed against hers, an invisible string tangled between the two of them, pulled her toward him. The air crackled.
She blinked. His lips were parted, pale, and looked like silk. She wondered what they’d feel like against hers, her neck, her...with a huge effort, she dragged her gaze away from his lips.
His neck enticed her more. The skin was a bit rough, and right below his Adam’s apple was the hollow she wanted to touch. More than anything, right now, she wanted to touch it. She lifted her hand off his arm and stopped in midair as he swallowed. Was he as turned on right now as she was?
His pupils dilated until they were outlined in electric blue. He tipped toward her, his nose brushed against hers, and he paused.
He was going to kiss her.
One of his hands moved to her cheek, stroked it, and sent shivers down her neck. He brushed a strand of escaped hair and hooked it behind her ear. She whimpered at the touch of his fingertip on her earlobe and turned her face into his hand. Cupping her neck, he drew her closer to him, angling his face as he brought his lips toward hers...
“Oh, excuse me.” Someone knocked into them, waving an apology as they continued down the stairs.
He pulled away, and she rested her head against the stone pillar, gulping great amounts of cold air.
“What are we doing here?” Ted jammed his hands into his pockets.
There were many ways to answer his question, and they all depended on her bravery. “It’s supposed to be a beautiful building. I thought we’d go inside where it’s quiet and explore.”
He stared at her for several beats of her heart. She couldn’t read his expression. Did he not understand her? Did he wish she’d talked about their almost kiss? Did he admire the stonework behind her?
Without a sound, he took her hand in his and led her into the library. His stride was longer than hers, and she raced to keep pace with him. They’d never held hands while they walked, and all the while she jogged next to him she thought about his palm touching hers. It was maybe thirty degrees outside, yet his bare hand warmed hers.
And the other parts of her he’d light on fire with his touch.
He pulled her through the main lobby, up the stairs, and to the left, giving her no time to admire anything. They raced along the long hallway and stopped outside of one of the rooms. It was empty. He opened the door and pulled her inside. Finding an out-of-the-way nook, he led her over and leaned her against the wall.
Determination and desire burned as he lowered his mouth and claimed her lips for his own. One hand cradled the back of her head, the other rested on her waist. He pulled her closer. Finally. His mouth was soft and firm and sure. She whimpered against his lips, and he pulled away.
“Did you say something?”
She bit her lip. “Don’t stop.”
His nostrils flared, and he covered her mouth again with his own, tasting, nipping, licking, until she parted her lips, and he thrust his tongue into her mouth. He was minty and warm, and she was going to turn into a puddle. She moaned. Relief and desire mingled together, filled her with a need strong enough her knees wobbled. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she held on, stroked the soft skin below his ear, and ran her hands through his hair. His body against hers formed a wall of solid muscle. She was safe and warm.
When he pulled away, hours or days could have passed. Foreheads touching, they both panted and neither one let go.
“Wow,” she said.
Ted pulled back, took his finger, and pressed it against her mouth. He pulled her against him and wrapped his arms around her. They were like bands of steel, and she burrowed into him.
“Don’t talk,” he whispered. “I don’t want to hear you say this won’t work. I want to hold you against my heart. Feel how hard it beats? That’s you. I’ve wanted you for so long.”
Her eyes prickled at the emotion in his voice, and she gripped him tighter. It wouldn’t work. She couldn’t be this lucky, but she’d never felt this way, and she’d denied her attraction for so long... She would give anything to try. When she thought she could control her voice, she tapped him on the back. With a sigh, he pulled away.
“I won’t say it,” she said. He closed his eyes as her hand touched him, and he kept them closed until she reached his jaw. “I want you too.”
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
Jennifer Wilck is an award-winning contemporary romance author for readers who are passionate about love, laughter, and happily ever after. Known for writing both Jewish and non-Jewish romances, her books feature damaged heroes, sassy and independent heroines, witty banter and hot chemistry. Jennifer’s ability to transport the reader into the scene, create characters the reader will fall in love with, and evoke a roller coaster of emotions, will hook you from the first page. You can find her books at all major online retailers in a variety of formats.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
For Love is as strong as Death,
longing as fierce as Sheol.
Its arrows are arrows of fire,
flames of the divine.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor rivers sweep it away.
Were one to offer all the wealth of his house for love,
he would be utterly despised.
--Song of Solomon 8: 6-7
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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