Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Showcase - Slow Ride by Lori Foster Road to Love #2

Today I'm excited to be showcasing fave Lori Foster's number 2 in her Road To Love series, Slow Ride.

ISBN-13: 9781335504944
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: 3-12-2019
Length: 384pp
Road to Love #2
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible


You can’t put the brakes on love…

Ronnie Ashford needs a distraction. In the morning, she has to offer arrogant, conventional Jack Crews a job and convince him not to take it. She doesn’t need anyone’s help, thank you very much. But tonight is all about the tall, sexy stranger who just walked in the bar—and all the delicious trouble they could get into together. Too bad just as things are heating up between them, he whispers the three little words that destroy everything: “I’m Jack Crews.”

Jack is determined to connect with fiery Ronnie—in bed and out of it—but her terms are clear. If he takes the job, helping her acquire prized artifacts for her mysterious bosses, anything between them is strictly off-limits. Somehow he has to convince a woman who’s never felt like she belonged that she’s found her place—with him. And with the danger sparking hotter than the fire between them, it’s going to be one unforgettable trip…

Read an excerpt:

RONNIE WOULDNT HAVE walked into Freddie’s, a dinky little honky-tonk bar in Red Oaks, Ohio, if she’d known a local’s birthday party was underway. But hey, she needed a distraction and this seemed to be the only one available.
Seated on a stool, she lifted her beer to the loud toast made by a fellow in dusty overalls. Something about the birthday boy supplying corn to an upcoming festival. Ronnie wasn’t sure. Small-town vibes usually eluded her.
And this town was smaller than most.
The main street began with farms that melded into small tidy houses lining each side, along with a few establishments, and abruptly ended with Freddie’s.
God willing, she wouldn’t have to be here long. Her employers had recently decided that she needed a professional courier to help acquire their purchases. Even though Ronnie was more than capable on her own.
Worse, the man they wanted to hire was, by all accounts, a super-slick, suit-wearing choirboy—and she wanted nothing to do with 
him. Tomorrow she would present the offer as directed, but with any luck he’d turn it down—and then she could get back to work.
Until then, she needed to shake off the tension, or at the very least find a diversion from her thoughts. Thus her visit to this dive.
“Come on in,” someone shouted. “There’s still plenty of room.”
Ronnie glanced up to see the newcomer—and was instantly hooked. Well, well, well.
This customer stood better than six feet tall. Messy light brown hair contrasted with heavily lashed, dark eyes. Two different paint colors splattered his T-shirt, and his faded jeans hung loose and low.
Hello, distraction.
She’d hoped a beer would take the edge off, but perhaps there was a better way to help her sleep tonight.
Swiveling to face him, Ronnie smiled. This was what she needed. He was what she needed. Her heart beat faster just thinking of the possibilities.
Allowing her gaze to skim down his body, she lingered in key, tantalizing places.
Straight shoulders.
Trim waist.
Delicious biceps.

Down to a flat stomach, narrow hips, and...a nice bulge in his softly worn jeans. Whoa.
A curl of heat teased through her system. Yes, she had a definite type, favoring rugged, rough men. Real men.
This one fit the bill to perfection.
Her gaze shifted to his hand. She noted the lack of a wedding band, but then a lot of guys didn’t wear them. She never, ever got involved—even for one night—with men already in relationships.
Now, how to proceed?
When she looked back up to his face, she found him standing still, arms loose at his sides, feet slightly braced apart...staring at her with a very slight smile on his sexy mouth.
Terrific. They had a mutual attraction going on.
Playing coy, Ronnie slid her gaze away and faced the bar again, forearms folded on the counter. Awareness sizzled as she sensed his casual approach.
“Drinking alone?”
Mmm, that deep voice. So far, everything about him stirred her.
He kept a slight distance, not invading her space but still making his interest apparent.
Rubbing her thumb along the neck of the bottle, she glanced up at him. “Not if you join me.”

Her invitation warmed those dark brown eyes. He settled on the stool beside her, turning slightly so that his thigh touched hers.
And just that, such a light touch, sent excitement coiling through her. As he ordered a cola and pulled-pork sandwich, she studied his profile: the masculine nose, sensual mouth, strong jaw, and high cheekbones. Oh, those darker-than-sin eyes and lush lashes...
His gaze cut her way. “Have you eaten?”
She lifted the beer. “Moved on to dessert.” No, she wasn’t a heavy drinker, but he wouldn’t know that. Let him think what he wanted. She didn’t care.
“New to the area?” he asked.
“Just passing through.” Somehow she’d make that true. But what if he was a local? In the off chance Slick took the job tomorrow, she’d be in and around the area a lot—meaning she shouldn’t complicate things with neighbors. She sipped her beer again, gauging how she’d ask, then settled on, “You work here as a painter?”
His mouth curled a little more. “No.”
“Ah, somewhere else, then.” Relieved, she let out a tense breath. “That’s good.”
He started to say something but asked instead, “Good because...?”
Ronnie waved a hand. “I don’t want to start anything with the locals.”
One brow cocked up. Eyes direct, he asked, “But you want to start something with me?”
She liked his confidence, the bold way he asked that, and she liked how he held her gaze. Why hedge? It was already getting late and the beer wasn’t doing it for her. She dreaded the idea of sleeping alone. That was true for most nights, but as it sometimes happened, tonight was worse.
Tonight, memories plagued her. Horrid memories. She always fought them off the best she could, but some nights—like tonight—they wormed their way in. Company, along with extracurricular activity, would make them easier to deal with.
So she turned, sliding her knee along the inside of his and saying with suggestion, “I do. Something that could last the night?” Then she clarified, “Only through the night. What do you think?”
His attention roved over her, from her short pale hair in styled disarray, to the front of her sweater where her less than stellar boobs wouldn’t impress a single soul, down her waist to her legs to her ankle boots. Those sinful eyes slowly rose back to her face. “There’s a hotel a few miles down the road.”
She knew that, because she’d rented a room there. “Perfect.” Tipping up the beer, she finished it off and started to stand.
He grinned. “Mind if I eat first? It’s been a long day.”

Well. Well, hell. Here she was ready to rush out the door and he wanted to eat first?
Plopping her behind back on the plastic-covered stool and resting her elbows behind her on the bar, she waited as the steaming sandwich with a side of chips was set before him.
“You could get it to go,” she suggested. “Eat it on the way, maybe?”
For an answer, he picked it up and took a big bite.
What. A. Jerk. Did she need a diversion this badly?
Her heart ached as she accepted the truth that, sadly, yes, she did.
She crossed her legs and swung a foot. “If I have to wait, you damn well better be worth it.”
Nonchalance personified, he nodded. “I’ll do my best.”
Ronnie sighed out her frustration. She had the feeling his best would be pretty damn good.

JACK COULDNT REMEMBER the last time he’d been this attracted to a woman...or when he’d had so much fun teasing her. The little beauty next to him was all but steaming, and still she wanted him.
A real boost to the ego.

And he wasn’t at his best. He’d gotten a day off at the office, but he’d worked all morning on the yard, done a few roof repairs, and then painted two rooms. Hunger had driven him to Freddie’s without showering, shaving, or changing into clean clothes first. Not his usual style.
Judging by her style, his present state of “worked all day on a rehab house” suited her. He cast another glance over at her and forced himself not to gulp his food. Petite women didn’t usually turn him on, but God love her, she did.
She had this edgy style with platinum hair cut short in the back but long in the front. The wispy bangs nearly hung in her eyes—soft gray eyes lined with kohl—until she ran her slender fingers through it, pushing it to the side. When she turned her head, it fell forward. No matter how it lay, she looked sexy as hell.
The pale blue sweater hugged her upper body, but not as tightly as those jeans hugged her trim little ass and crazy long legs. For a woman so small, she was put together really fine.
And she wanted him.
For tonight.
She wasn’t local and probably wouldn’t be around here again. Even knowing it was better that way, he couldn’t deny the twinge of disappointment. He had a feeling he was going to enjoy her. A lot.
Suddenly she asked, “You’re not involved, are you?”

“Romantically?” He took another massive bite. Freddie’s had amazing sandwiches.
“Romantically, sexually, whatever. I don’t want to step on any toes.”
He swallowed. “Uninvolved on all counts.” But he thought to ask, “You?” because he didn’t trespass either.
“Free and clear.” She fidgeted, toying with a dangling silver earring in her right ear. In her left she had a stud. Three fingers on her left hand sported silver rings, along with her thumb on her right.
He watched her survey the bar, not with any real interest but just to track the movement of the party.
She had amazing skin. Peachy. Smooth. Natural skin, he thought, despite the loud eye makeup. Her brows were a medium brown, not that he needed to notice that to know she’d bleached her hair. Altogether, she gave off a confident, distinctive, sexy vibe.
He liked it. “What’s your name?”
She immediately shook her head. “No names.” Bringing her attention back to him, she scowled. “Hurry up already.”
“What’s the rush?”
Tucking in her chin, she gave him a killing glare. “Look, if you’re not interested—”

“I’m interested.” Jack shrugged. “I’m also hungry after working all day. Will five more minutes hurt?”
She seemed to be debating it, then with a deliberately flippant attitude, she said, “Whatever,” and slipped off the barstool.
For a second, Jack thought she was leaving and he had to fight the urge to catch her arm, to dissuade her, to...convince her to stay.
Since when did he have to convince women? Not for years.
When she merely dug some change from her pocket, he relaxed. Sort of. But he did eat a little faster.
“The jukebox work?”
Jack nodded, swallowed. “But it’s all country music.”
“Of course it is.” Wending her way around the crowds until she finally reached the old-fashioned jukebox, she studied the songs, slipped in the change, and smiled as music joined the din of conversation.
Jack studied her body as she started back toward him, the graceful way she moved while still being very aware of the press of bodies around her. She touched no one as she slipped this way and that, not even a brush of arms. Her sweater barely met the waistband of her jeans, and twice he got a glimpse of her smooth, pale stomach.
Fuck the food. He’d had enough.
Standing, he put some money on the bar and waited for her. If he wasn’t careful, he’d get half hard just imagining what was to come.

Right before she reached him, someone said, “Hey, Jack. The house is looking good.”
He gave an offhand “thanks,” not even sure who’d said it. Everyone around here knew him, his brother, and his mother, and they were all friendly.
She stopped, her made-up eyes flaring. “Jack?”
He didn’t have a problem with names, so he held out a hand. “Jack Crews. Feel like sharing now?”
Instead she slapped his hand away and surged forward in one big step, going on her tiptoes to glare up into his face. “You’re supposed to be slick.”
“I am?” This close, he could see her individual lashes and he detected the faint perfume of flowers—an odd contrast to her sharp appeal.
“Yes!” Dropping back, she gestured at him. “You are not supposed to be messy or rugged.”
With no idea what was going on, Jack folded his arms and leaned back on the bar. “Is it against the rules if I’m all of the above?”
She appeared to be sawing her teeth together. “Thanks for nothing.” Turning on her heel, she started out the door.
What the hell? Jack bolted after her, following her through the door and out to the walkway. “Where are you going?”
To the tune of furious stomping, she said, “The hotel.”

Were they still on, then? Unsure, he offered, “I have a truck.”
Yeah, that was plain enough.
He easily caught up to walk beside her. “So...that’s it? You changed your mind and I won’t see you again?”
She muttered something low and mean.
Jack leaned closer. “What?”
Halting, she stared down at her feet a moment, and when she raised her face, she looked almost calm again. “I’ll see you tomorrow as a matter of fact.” Her smile could wound. “At your office.”
Jack still didn’t get it.
“We have an appointment first thing.”
“I have an appointment with Ron Ashford.”
She held out her arms. “That would be me. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to forget about this. Tonight, I mean. That we might have...” Lips compressing, she shook her head. “Just forget it.” And with that she continued on her way, her behind swishing, her legs eating up the pavement.
Very slowly, Jack smiled. Forget about it? Like hell.
And damn it, now he was getting hard.

OF COURSE SHE hadn’t slept. It had turned into one of those nights, the nights where demons visited and her skin itched while her thoughts traveled back in time to moments better forgotten. As if. Some things burned into the brain, branded there forever.
Sex usually helped and had the added benefit of giving her a warm body to snuggle against. Not being alone meant she wasn’t as vulnerable, even if the person with her was a stranger.
But after the mix-up with Jack Crews, she didn’t feel like searching out new game.
She probably could have found an agreeable man. After all, when it came to sex, most men were absurdly easy.
The problem was that after her high expectations for Jack, no one else would have measured up. A man like him would be a hard act to follow.
Now she was bleary-eyed, grouchy—and running twenty minutes late. Ronnie locked her jaw as she stared up the stone steps to the business. No one had told her she’d have to climb. She shook her fist at the imposing steps, put one foot forward—and someone beeped.
She swiveled around to see a superhunk in a red Mustang smiling at her. Oh, wow. Now if only she’d met him last night—
Through the driver’s side window, he asked, “You going up to Mustang Transport?”
Ronnie nodded. “Who had the bright idea to build it up there? And why isn’t there a sign warning people? What if I was old, or physically challenged in some way?”
His grin widened. A lethal grin that made her tingle almost as much as Jack had. “If you drive on around the bend, you’ll see a road that leads you right up to the door.”
She propped her hands on her hips. “Well, a sign saying so would be nice.”
“Yeah, that’s what my wife said, too.”
His wife? Ugh. She dropped her hands. “She’d be right. Thanks for the tip.”
Ronnie turned away, heading for her Chevy hatchback. Next to the Mustang, it looked pretty drab.
“I could drive you up,” he offered. “I’m headed there myself.”
She stalled with her back still to him. Her shoulders might’ve cringed a little. He’s in a Mustang. Heading to Mustang Transport.
Well, hell.
With a huff she faced him. “You’re the brother, aren’t you?”
With a grin that’d do wicked things to a woman’s imagination, he confessed, “Guilty.”
I just bet you are. She looked at her car, then his. “If I rode with you—”
“I’ll show you where to go, then bring you back when you’re ready. No biggie.” He surprised her by getting out and circling around to the passenger side, where he opened the door and then waited for her.
Presuming she’d do as he asked.
Why not? Ronnie strode forward with a purpose—then paused again when she saw a gigantic dog sitting in the small back seat, eyeing her. “Uh...”
“Howler’s friendly.”
Since the dog’s tongue was already out, lapping toward her in anticipation of giving her a wet lick, she believed him. “I love animals.” She got into the seat, turning sideways to coo at the big dog.
His tail wagged so hard that it hit the seat with a loud thumping drumbeat.
Ronnie laughed. “Well, aren’t you a sweetheart.” She stroked his head, around his long ears and neck. “Is he smiling at me?”
The brother got back behind the wheel. “Probably. He digs the chicks.”
“Chicks?” she repeated, her tone soft with warning.
Not that he took heed. He put the car back in gear and drove forward. “I’m Brodie, by the way.”
Honest to God, she just didn’t have the energy this morning to spar with a guy like him. “Jack’s brother.”

“You know Jack?”
“Not really, but I have a meeting with him this morning.”
His brows climbed up. “You’re Ron Ashford?”
“Guilty,” she said, mocking him. “Ronnie to my friends.”
“So why does the appointment calendar say Ron?”
Shrugging, she explained, “I use Ron for business contracts, so bozos don’t dismiss me out of hand just because I’m female. Mostly I go by Ronnie.”
Not in the least insulted by her bozo comment, he asked, “Not Veronica, huh?”
Some of her warmth iced over, but she hopefully hid it with a smile. “Well, Veronica is my given name.”
“Used only by family?”
She gave a stiff nod. Family...and reporters.
That sexy grin of his returned. “Jack is going to be surprised.”
No, he wouldn’t, since he’d met her last night, but she saw no reason to clue in the ape. Already he’d turned the bend and drove up a road that circled around behind the business. Off to the side, Ronnie saw a looping track, then thick woods. The position of the business put them atop a rise overlooking the small town and guaranteed privacy from the rest of their neighbors.
She liked it.

n the light of day. She imagined at night it’d only feel dark, isolated, and creepy.
“Here we are.” Brodie pulled right up to a door and turned off the purring engine. “I’m running late, so that means you are, too.”
“Had a rough morning?” she asked him.
“More like a late night. Not that I’m complaining.” He grinned with meaning. “You?”
“Late night, yes. Not so lucky with the reason why.”
“Ah, too bad.” He gave her a commiserating look. “Since it wassomething else, is there a way I can help?”
She almost choked. If you weren’t married, then yes, you could help. But no, actually he couldn’t. He was also Jack’s brother, and he worked at the business.
His brows lifted. “Is your silence a yes or a no?”
“No—but thank you.”
He nodded but didn’t pry beyond that. “There should be coffee inside,” he said, as if that’d make everything better. He started around to her door.
To do the gentlemanly thing? Ronnie gave the dog one last stroke and stepped out on her own. She would not start this meeting as the “little helpless lady.”
Brodie didn’t comment, he just pulled her seat forward and unfastened the dog. Howler unfolded himself from the car, long limbs 
going everywhere as he gained the ground and then stretched.
“How in the world does he even fit?” she asked, eyeing the small seat in back.
From some distance away, a deep voice said, “He considers it cozy.”
It was a voice she recognized.
Slowly, Ronnie straightened and looked toward the office. There stood Jack, arms crossed over his chest, one shoulder propped against the glass entry door, his dark gaze direct and oddly suspicious.
Today he’d dressed closer to what she’d expected, in black slacks and a button-down striped shirt—but he wasn’t too buttoned up, not with the collar open and the sleeves rolled to his elbows. Though a cool morning breeze played with his hair, it remained neat, and she could see from here that he was freshly shaved.
God help her, he looked even more devastating.
Resisting the urge to fuss with her hair, Ronnie rounded the car and started toward him. “Sorry I’m late. No one told me to drive around past the sign to enter.”
Jack’s gaze didn’t waver. “I see you met Brodie.”
Why was he almost growling? She wasn’t that late.
Moving up beside her, Brodie asked, “You two know each other?”
She said, “Not really.”
At the same time, Jack replied, “You could say that.”
Alarm shot through her. Narrowing her eyes in warning, Ronnie turned to Brodie. “I ran into him last night. Very briefly.”
“Yeah?” Brodie looked more curious by the second. “Where was that?”
“Freddie’s,” Jack explained.
“Ah.” After his gaze bounced back and forth between them a few times, Brodie grinned. “Am I missing something?”
“As a matter of fact—”
“No,” she interrupted, “you’re not.” Then with more vinegar, she asked, “Will we have this meeting in the yard, then?”
Without a word, Jack pressed the door open with one hand and waited for her to enter. He didn’t leave her much room to get around him, and because she thought he did that deliberately, she got irate.
Her being irate was never a good thing. Couple it with lack of sleep and unrequited lust for his very fine body...
Pasting on a fake smile, Ronnie said, “Why, thank you,” as she moved past him. Very closely. Close enough that the side of her body brushed all the way across the front of his.
She felt him go still, heard his inhalation—and then the dog nearly plowed her over as he shoved in past her. Ronnie tripped forward 
but righted herself quickly.
“Sorry,” Brodie said, still sounding amused. “Howler isn’t the patient sort.”
Jack still stood at the door, staring at her.
She stared back, trying to look smug so he wouldn’t know how he affected her.
They both answered Brodie with an affirmative, and finally Jack stepped forward. “Through here.” Pressing open an inner door, he waited as if in expectation.
“Thanks.” This time she passed with plenty of space between them. Her heart could only take so much.
He closed the door and went behind a desk. “Have a seat, Ms. Ashford.”
If he wanted a belated business tone, fine, she could handle that. It would probably make things easier for her. She crossed her legs and sat back in her seat. “Thank you, Mr. Crews.”
Then he blew it by saying, “Your hair is different today.”
Yeah, it was. Without any sleep to motivate her she’d only finger-combed it after her shower and let it dry naturally, meaning it hung in chunky layers to the side. “My hair is always different, depending on my mood.”
Sitting forward, he folded his arms on the desk. “You look tired.”

“Not at all,” she lied with credible conviction. “I slept like a baby.”
That dark, sensual gaze flicked over her, taking in her loose black sweater, then her jeans, and finally her boots.
His eyes met hers and he growled softly, “I didn’t.”
Damn, those two gruff words nearly melted her. Had he lain awake thinking of her, of what they might have done?
She knew she had.
Brodie shouldered open the door, three cups of coffee balanced in his hands. “Howler already a-t-e and now he’s sleeping, so we should have a few minutes.”
Jack took two cups from him and handed one to Ronnie. “Cream or sugar?”
“Black is fine.” She glanced at Brodie. “You spelled that...why?”
“Because the dog is alert to anything that has to do with e-a-t-i-n-g. And his hearing is damn good.” He drew a long sip and sighed. “At least he doesn’t like coffee.”
“Hmm.” Ronnie wasn’t sure if he was teasing or not. “So if I mentioned, say, a snack—”
The sound of claws scrambling on the floor came ahead of the big dog and a second later he skidded in, ears up, alert, his gaze darting to each of them expectantly.
Jack blew out a breath, opened a drawer, and pulled out a dog treat. He tossed it over Ronnie’s head and into the hallway, but the dog moved so fast that he caught it.
Brodie said to Jack, “She’s the type that has to test it, huh?”
And Jack, as if he knew her type, replied, “Apparently so.”
Dazed by how fast that had all happened, Ronnie glared at both men. “Don’t you—?”
“Shh,” Brodie said, lowering his voice. “Of course we f-e-e-d him. You can see he’s healthy. But to his mind, it’s never enough.”
“That’s ridiculous—”
“It’s a long story,” Jack explained. “I’ll tell you all about it another time.”
She didn’t intend to be with him long enough to hear a story. Though, damn it, now she was curious.
“The short version is that the dog was mistreated before Brodie got him, and now he’s a little spoiled.”
“Just a little,” Brodie agreed.
This wasn’t going at all as Ronnie had planned. She’d wanted to come in, state the parameters of the job, convince Jack he didn’t want it, and then be on her way, confident of the fact that she’d spared herself.
She hadn’t counted on meeting Jack in a different setting first, but she had.
She hadn’t counted on wanting him, but boy, she did.
She definitely hadn’t counted on liking them both, but as each second passed, that’s what happened.
“Well, hell.”

Book 1 available now

About the author:
Lori Foster is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author with books from a variety of publishers, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martin's, Harlequin and Silhouette. Lori has been a recipient of the prestigious RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy, and for Contemporary Romance. For more about Lori, visit her Web site at