Semper Paratus. Always ready.
HIS LAST DEFENSE
Released March 21, 2017
Years ago, Coast Guard rescue swimmer Dylan Holt left Kodiak, Alaska, with his heart in pieces. He thought Nolee Arnauyq and her mouthwatering curves were behind him—until he's sent to rescue the crew of a capsizing boat…including Nolee. And Dylan is definitely not ready for the too-familiar way his body aches at seeing her again.
Nolee's always gone after what she wanted, and to hell with the risks. Now she's a rookie ship captain taking on the deadly waters of the Bering Sea. But out on these treacherous waters, there's no way to avoid the sizzling sexual tension between them—or the dangerous pull of emotions that could leave both their hearts lost at sea…
Dylan whirled at the soft voice behind him.
In the twilight, her skin glowed iridescent and smooth. Her eyes sparkled as bright as the growing starlight. And her lips. Suddenly he couldn’t drag his eyes off their full shape. When her tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip, he nearly groaned out loud.
How he wanted her. Loved her, too, he realized.
But would it be enough?
For either of them?
Tomorrow, he reported back to base and resumed his military life. The old thrill of unknown adventures fizzled flat in his skull. For the first time in years, he wanted to plant himself in one spot. With one person.
He didn’t want to let her go yet, damn it.
“I’m not ready for our time together to end,” he said, settling his hands on her waist.
She went still and he found himself holding his breath, warring emotions erupting with what he wanted to hear and what he was afraid she would say.
“I’m not, either,” she admitted finally, the lapels of her jacket parting as she lifted her hands to rest on his chest.
The clean scent of open ocean drifted up from her skin, light and delicate. “In fact, I have some ideas…”
Thank You, God. Relief kicked through him with surprising force.
He caught her hand in his and nearly yanked her off her feet as he hustled her back to the now-empty pilothouse.
“So do I.” His voice had deepened and grown rough, edgy with the primal, animalistic need she aroused in him.
Control, Holt, he ordered himself.
Tonight had to be memorable. Savored. One neither of them would ever forget.
She disappeared toward her stateroom while he grabbed the bottle of champagne he’d stashed in the fridge the last time they’d been in port, along with a couple of mismatched jelly glasses, then raced up the stairs two at a time.
He jerked to a halt at her doorway and blinked.
Nolee lounged on her bed. She’d shed her raingear and the white tank top and fitted jeans she wore revealed lush curves. Anticipation churned inside Dylan. The sight of her was enough to make a grown man weep in appreciation.
With her dark hair tumbling helter-skelter around her smooth shoulders, her glowing face makeup-free, her lips natural and full, she was beautiful and sexy without even trying. It did him in.
Then he looked into her eyes and his body hardened to instant attention at the heat simmering in their chocolate brown depths. She didn’t need to put much effort into seducing him—she could accomplish the task with a mere look. A lone touch. A single word. A fleeting smile.
Need, sharp and edgy, scraped through him, overwhelming him with the desire to yank her into his arms and spend the next several hours blocking out the last few stressful weeks, specifically the last few stressful hours.
All he wanted to do was drown in her tonight.
Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes red-hot novels for Harlequin Blaze and small-town romances for Harlequin Heartwarming. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who’s typically immersed in three different books at a time, all in different genres. She also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking, Christmas (no need to specify—she loves every bit of it), and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete. Learn more about her at her website.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Romantic dreamer and complete dork.
Can you tell us a little about your book?
This is a high-stakes, action-packed second-chance romance that takes place on Alaska’s most deadly waters: The Bering Sea. Nolee Arnauyq is a crab fishing boat captain who’s determined to make her own way in a man's world after growing up dependent on others' charity. She doesn't want to be rescued, least of all by the ex that broke her heart, USCG rescue swimmer Dylan Holt who plucks her from her sinking vessel after he's been assigned back to his old hometown in Alaska. Out on the most dangerous waters in the world, where a tumble overboard will stop your heart in five seconds, Dylan's greatest worry is his returning feelings for Nolee, a woman who's never left his heart or thoughts, no matter how far he's traveled for his coast guard work. He plans to transfer stateside as soon as possible, and leave the stifling hometown that holds bad memories, but Nolee's proving to be one sizzling temptation his body, and heart, can't resist.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
I’m addicted to Discovery Channel’s hit show THE DEADLIEST CATCH! I knew I wanted to set a book in this extreme setting but needed the right, high-octane story. When I saw an episode where a USCG Air and Sea Rescue team rescues a crab fishing crew from a sinking vessel, I imagined the ultimate sexy alpha hero- a fearless rescue swimmer daring and determined enough to fling himself into most dangerous waters in the world to save others. Of course, then I needed a heroine strong enough to go toe-to-toe with such a tough guy and who better than a headstrong, fearless crab fishing boat captain whose staked her claim in this testosterone-charged world. I wanted them to be second-chance lovers with lots to lose by risking their hearts with each other again. Putting them on a boat together in a life-and-death adventure, where they can’t resist their sizzling chemistry, made this one of my favorite sexy romances to write of all time.
What gave you the most trouble with this story?
My biggest challenge was the painstaking research I undertook to ensure that I created an authentic experience for the readers in the unique world of crab fishing on Alaska’s Bering Sea. In addition to watching lots of THE DEADLIEST CATCH episodes and videos of USCG Air and Sea rescues, I fact checked with USCG Commander Bill Friday, a Jayhawk pilot who was stationed for several years in Kodiak, Alaska and one of THE DEADLIEST CATCH’S captain's THE TIME BANDIT'S Jonathan Hillstrand. He provided the kind of insider details that helped me convey an unforgettably sexy romance set on treacherous waters.
Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
My cell phone! I’d feel lost if I couldn’t connect to my family and friends via social media, email and texts. The downside is that it’s also next to me as I write and even though I mute it, and turn it upside down, I still find myself checking it way too much.
Name three things on your desk right now.
Since my “desk” is really an easy chair where I write with my laptop, the following three things are on it: a can of lemon-flavored seltzer water wedged between me and the arm rest, Post-It notes stuck to the edges of my laptop reminding me of appointments, changes to make to my MS, reminders for contests and grocery lists, and my puppy, Zoey, who takes her job as “author assistant” very seriously by laying at the end of my chair, her head resting on my ankle, as I write.
Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? ;)
Nolee Arnauyq has a white father, who abandoned her before she was born, and an Inuit mother who struggled to provide for them due to her serious health issues. Growing up dependent on others' charity has made Nolee fiercely independent and determined to make her way in the world- even in a man's world- like becoming a crab fishing boat captain. This high risk job also comes with huge rewards and she's willing to gamble all, even her life, to never be dependent on anyone else again, and to provide for her mother. It surprised me just how easy it was to insert a female character into such a macho world. The crew men accept her as their leader and look up to her because she's good at her job and keeps them safe while pulling lots of crab to fatten their bank accounts. She can also transform from tough as nails captain to an irresistible temptress when she decides to make the most of her time with her ex, gorgeous USCG rescue swimmer Dylan Holt. If stranded on a deserted isle, the one thing she’d need to have with her would be a fishing pole since she’s an expert fisherman and could feed herself with it.
Dylan Holt grew up in Kodiak Alaska. He’s the youngest son of a father he could never please, especially when he refused to join the family business to join the Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer. He’s tough, fearless and gorgeous with a sense of humor that’s disarming and so sexy. He’s also loyal and passionate and he’s never forgotten his first love, Nolee Arnauyq, who crushed his heart years ago. He vowed never to return to Alaska, but can’t avoid confronting his past when he rescues Nolee off her sinking crab fishing vessel when he’s transferred to the USCG Kodiak Air Station. Dylan is a talented swimmer and exceptional athlete. If he were stranded on a deserted isle, he’d need to have his swim gear (snorkel, mask and fins) so that he could deep dive for crab and other fish to feed himself, and possibly swim to safety. If anyone could cross an ocean in fins- it’d be Dylan.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Military and law enforcement heroes are the ultimate sexy alpha male romantic hero. They’re strong, commanding, passionate, fearless and are smoking hot in those uniforms! I love personal courage and conviction and plan to write many more books featuring them. I’m drawn to stories with lots of edgy action and am currently working on a high-stakes suspense series set in a Dallas male strip club that will feature under cover law enforcement. Book One- Dangerous Moves- will be released with Kensington Press in 2018.
For updates about my new releases and giveaways, follow my Amazon author page at http://amzn.to/1NSRVrT , follow me on Goodreads on http://www.goodreads.com/karenrockauthor or drop by my website at http://www.karenrock.com