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SPOTLIGHT ~ Survive the Night (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit) by Katie Ruggle

 

“Vivid and charming.” — CHARLAINE HARRIS, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


BLURB

He’s always been a haven:

For the lost. The sick. The injured.

But when a hunted woman takes shelter in his arms, this gentle giant swears he’ll do more than heal her battered spirit—he’ll defend her with his life.

K9 Officer Otto Gunnersen always had a soft spot for anyone in need. As Monroe’s very own Dr. Doolittle, he dedicates himself to rehabilitating the injured souls that cross his path—but for all his big heart, he’s never been in love.

Until he meets Sarah Clifton’s haunted eyes. Until he realizes he’ll do anything to save her.

All Sarah wants is to escape a life caught between ambitious crime families, but there’s no outrunning her past. Her power-mad brother would hunt her to the ends of the earth…but he’d never expect Sarah to fight back. With Otto and the whole of Monroe, Colorado by her side, Sarah’s finally ready to face whatever comes her way.

It’s time to take a stand.

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EXCERPT

As she walked through the aisles, Sarah knew she was beaming like an idiot. She couldn’t help it. This place was amazing. It was part farm-supply, part hardware store, part department store. According to Jules, it was one of the few businesses in Monroe that stayed open all year round. Most of the shops and services closed for the winter.

They cut through a car-part aisle. Rounding the corner, Sarah sucked in a sharp breath.

“What?” Jules grabbed her arm and yanked her back into the aisle they’d just left. Grace followed, her expression concerned. “Is it someone you know? Do we need to go out the back?”

“No,” Sarah said hastily, embarrassed by her overreaction. “Sorry. I just saw…” Otto. The name rang in her head, but she didn’t want to admit that she remembered it. She hadn’t shared the details of her eventful morning walk three days earlier. Since Grace and Jules weren’t aware of the garage-roof conversation, Sarah knowing Otto’s name after so brief an introduction seemed like evidence of her budding, illogical crush. Her cheeks got hot, but she tried very hard to ignore that she was blushing—and the reason for her red face. “I just saw that cop I met last week. It was dumb. I just overreacted.”

“Otto?” Grace asked, and Sarah nodded, feeling her face heat even more at the sound of his name. Seriously, something was wrong with her. “Oh, he’s harmless. Really. I mean, so are Hugh and Theo, but they just come off a little more…harshly?” Grace gave Jules a help me look before turning back to Sarah. “You don’t need to be afraid of any of the cops here. We just didn’t want to overwhelm you by introducing you to all of them. They can be…” She looked at Jules again.

“Intimidating,” Jules supplied helpfully, and Grace nodded. “Otto really is the easiest to get along with of all three of them. You’ll love him once you get to know him.” Sarah tried not to grimace at the phrasing. She couldn’t admit that was why she was so nervous around Otto. The big cop was already in her thoughts much too often, and they’d exchanged just a few words. If she got to know him, she had a feeling she’d be in serious trouble.

Linking arms with Sarah, Grace started to lead her out of the aisle. Even though she was freaking out at the thought of talking with Otto again, Sarah tried to hide it. Her feet wanted to drag, but she forced her body to cooperate. She’d only known Grace and Jules a week, and they’d been nicer to her than anyone she’d ever known before. She didn’t want to admit her weird issues to them…not yet, at least.

“Otto!” Jules forged ahead, waving as she hurried over to the cop. He gave her a small smile before looking past her. When his gaze locked on Sarah, his expression stilled.

What does that mean? Why is he looking at me like that? she asked herself frantically. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an answer. Her previous life had kept her isolated, her social interactions limited to employees and business associates of first her father and then her brother. Sarah wasn’t sure how to read the big, blond cop, but she guessed that the frozen look was not a good sign.

He didn’t look away as they approached. Sarah couldn’t hold his gaze and dropped her eyes to the floor. It was impossible not to look at him, though, and she kept darting furtive glances in his direction. His hair was nearly white blond, cut short in a no-nonsense style. He wasn’t just a Viking lumberjack; he was like a Viking and a lumberjack had a baby, and that baby grew up to serve in the army and then become a Monroe police officer.

“Milk replacer? What orphans are you feeding now?” Jules asked, breaking what was turning into another awkward silence.

He finally looked away from Sarah to focus on Jules. “Puppies. Curtis Trammel’s shepherd was hit by a car.”

“He brought them to you?” Before he answered, Grace spoke again. “Of course he did. You’re the Dr. Doolittle around here, after all.”

Otto gave an uncomfortable half shrug, but Sarah had stopped pretending not to stare at him. He was a Viking lumberjack cop who bottle-fed orphaned puppies? If he’d spent years trying to think of the most effective punch to the ovaries, he couldn’t have come up with a better plan.

“Juju!” Ty called from across the store. “We’re going to get these guns, okay?”

“What? What guns? No, not okay.” Jules immediately charged toward the sporting goods section.

Grace grinned. Following after a stressed-looking Jules, she said over her shoulder, “This should be good. They probably want to mount them on their homemade drone.”

The two women disappeared around the corner of an aisle, and the realization hit Sarah—she and Otto were alone. Together. Sure, they weren’t really alone, since it was a public place with several people, including children, nearby, but…still. Alone. Together. Again. Her scalp prickled with sweat.

She tried desperately to think of something to talk about, but her mind was blank. There wasn’t a nearby herd of elk to supply a handy topic of conversation. It had been the same every time they’d met. Otto seemed to be a huge walking magnet, wiping her brain’s hard drive whenever he got near. “Um…how many puppies?”

He just stared at her, and uncertainty started to set in. Her question had made sense, hadn’t it? Maybe she should’ve clarified. But Sarah was afraid that, if she spoke again, she’d rush into a waterfall of babbly explanation, and that would just make her seem even more unbalanced.

“Your mouth…” He trailed off, his eyes fixed on her lips.

“My mouth…?” she echoed, and then horror hit her. There had to be something on her mouth. They had all just eaten lunch at the VFW-turned-diner where Jules worked. Was there something green and slimy in her teeth? Did she have residual barbeque sauce on her face? If so, she was going to kill Jules, Grace, and every last one of the kids for not telling her before she came face-to-face with a lumberjack Viking puppy rescuer. Sarah wiped frantically at her lips, feeling her cheeks heat. “What about my mouth?”

“It’s pretty.” His tanned face flushed to the color of brick. Abruptly, he turned and walked away.

Sarah went still, her hand still over her lips. There was a strange feeling in her stomach. It wasn’t the anxious dread she was used to, though. This was more of a hopeful fluttering, a funny little squeeze of happiness. Dropping her hand to her side, she smiled at Otto’s broad, quickly departing back.

He thinks I’m pretty.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When she’s not writing, KATIE RUGGLE rides horses, shoots guns, and trains her three dogs. A police academy graduate, Katie readily admits she’s a forensics nerd. While she still misses her off-grid home in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in a 150-year-old Minnesota farmhouse near her family.

You can connect with Katie at
KatieRuggle.comwww.facebook.com/katierugglebooks, or on Twitter @KatieRuggle



 

SPOTLIGHT ~ On The Chase (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit) by Katie Ruggle

“Vivid and charming.”
—CHARLAINE HARRIS, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


Blurb:


Injured in the line of duty,

His orders are simple:

Stay alive.

But when a frightened woman bursts into his life, Hugh and his K9 companion have no choice but to risk everything to keep her safe.

The sole witness to a horrific crime, Kaylee Ramay flees to the Colorado Rockies to start a new life. There she becomes Grace, a dog kennel employee desperately trying to avoid attention—especially from dangerously attractive K9 Officer Hugh Murdoch.

Because Hugh is tall, dark…and nothing but trouble.

Hugh is anxious to get back in the field after an act of heroism left him warming the bench. Until then, he and his K9 partner Lexi spend their hours teasing the town’s mysterious newcomer. But when their simmering attraction is nearly cut short by a sniper’s bullet, Hugh’s mystery woman must come clean about the secrets she keeps…

Or both of them will pay the price.

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Excerpt:

Grace crossed her arms over her chest in an attempt to create a barrier between them. It didn’t help; Hugh was still much too close for comfort. She scrambled to catch the thread of their conversation. “Well, stop being informed.”

Even before he grinned, she knew that hadn’t made any sense.

“About me. Stop informing yourself about me.” That was even worse. Struggling to find her usual composure, Grace shifted back a step. That gave him the advantage, but she couldn’t think with him so near. Stupid Hugh with his stupid, muscly body was distracting her.

“Sorry, Grace.” His grin took on a shark-like cast. “I’m not planning on stopping. You’re a puzzle, and I don’t like things to go…unsolved.”

The last of her equanimity disappeared, evaporated with the knowledge that he wasn’t going to quit investigating her. Beneath her anger and the anxiety about what he’d discover, there was a hard kernel of disappointment. She didn’t want to be interesting to Hugh because she was some sort of unsolved puzzle. Despite herself, she wanted him to be interested because she was fascinating to him.

A tiny, dumb part of her wished that he was as attracted to her as she was to him.

When she realized she was just staring at him, thinking silly, useless thoughts, Grace abruptly turned and walked—well, stomped—toward her car. She was parked on the other side of the building, and she cursed herself for not picking one of the front spots instead. If she had, she’d already be inside, away from Hugh’s looming presence. Having her car sitting exposed, for anyone to see if they drove past, bothered her, though, so she tended to pick the most hidden spots she could find. It didn’t matter that the car wasn’t registered to her real name. Maybe she was being paranoid, but she just didn’t want to take any chances. One screwup, and she would be dead.

She turned the corner. Although she couldn’t hear footsteps behind her, she knew he was there, and close. Shooting him a narrowed-eyed look over her shoulder, she snapped, “Don’t you have something better to do than follow me?”

“Not really.” Although his words were light, the usual humor wasn’t there. Instead, he met her gaze with an intensity that made her whip her head around so she was facing forward again. Jokey Hugh was one thing, but smoldering Hugh could be a serious problem.

“Grace.” He caught her hand, bringing her to a halt. Although her feet stopped moving, almost of their own accord, she kept her gaze focused on her car. “Grace, look at me.”

She couldn’t do it. If she looked at him, she wouldn’t be able to think. It wasn’t good that the man who had the drive to discover her secret made her incapable of rational thought. A tug at her hand made her realize that she was stuck. Until she met his eyes, Hugh was going to stay there.

I can do this. She’d faced worse than Hugh over the past two weeks.

Setting her jaw, she turned around. Her gaze traveled up his solid chest, over his serious face, and locked on to his gaze.

“Why are you running away from me?” he asked, sounding completely sincere. “You can trust me.”

Unable to look away, she just pressed her lips together. She couldn’t trust anyone. Martin Jovanovic’s reach was too extensive. She’d made that mistake already, and it had left her hunted and crouching by a dumpster.

“I can help you.” He tugged her closer, and her traitor body gave in to his pull. His head tipped down, and air from his words brushed her cheek. Her breath left her in a shuddering rush as her eyes closed. He felt so safe, so solid, so strong…

“What’s your name?” he asked softly, directly in her ear. “Your real name?”

With a frustrated sound, she jerked her hand away. He was playing her, using her attraction to him to get the information he wanted. “You are such an ass!” She started to stomp away, but Hugh caught her again, around the waist that time. He pulled her tightly against him, her back pressing against his front.

“It would make things a lot easier for both of us if you’d just tell me the truth.” The rasp in his voice and the way his breath brushed her ear distracted her, tempting her to sink into the heat and strength of him—but then the meaning of his words hit her.

Clenching her teeth to hold back a frustrated scream, she yanked out of his grip and spun around. “I am not your puzzle to solve,” she gritted out, poking him in the chest with each word. “I’m not one of your suspects. You do not get to interrogate me.”

He caught her jabbing finger in a firm but gentle grip. Their eyes met, and his were hot and shockingly hungry. “You’re so beautiful when you’re yelling at me.”

Her mouth fell open, but she couldn’t say anything else. Was he serious this time, or had that just been another way to distract her, to disarm her? “Quit trying to butter me up. It’s not going to make me tell you anything.”

“I mean it.” His expression was completely earnest. There wasn’t a hint of laughter to be seen.

She stared at him, fury and anxiety and desire all swirling together in a molten mixture that burned her from the inside. This man was going to be the death of her. “You are so…”

“I’m so…what?” His gaze dropped to her mouth. “Hot?” The lilt of humor had returned to his voice.

“Arrrgh!” She started to turn away, fully prepared to stomp to her car, after which she would perhaps run him over several times, but his fingers closed around her arm, tugging her back around. Grace opened her mouth, ready to tell him off, but then her gaze collided with his. All amusement had been erased from his expression. The heat, the hunger burning in his eyes erased all thoughts of their latest argument and lit an answering inferno inside her.

Then his lips were on hers, and Grace was lost.



About the Author

When she’s not writing, KATIE RUGGLE rides horses, shoots guns, and trains her three dogs. A police academy graduate, Katie readily admits she’s a forensics nerd. While she still misses her off-grid home in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in a 150-year-old Minnesota farmhouse near her family.

You can connect with Katie at KatieRuggle.comwww.facebook.com/katierugglebooks, or on Twitter @KatieRuggle


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