Shamed # 1
By: Laura Marie Altom
Releasing September 16th, 2014
Laura Marie Altom’s heart-stirring new romance will have you believing in the power of love—and passion—to heal even the most wounded souls.
Never again. Fleeing her hometown to escape an abusive marriage, Ella Patton swears she has surrendered to a man for the last time. But while living under a new name, she meets a kind, handsome stranger who seems different—and will be moving on soon, making Ella reckless enough to break her rules. With a kiss, the stranger opens the door to desires Ella believed she would never know. Then he makes an unexpected proposal.
A dot-com billionaire from humble beginnings, Liam Stone is a man whose past has made him compassionate yet guarded—much like the beautiful, secretive woman he stumbles upon in a remote Southern town. Though he intends only a dalliance, when the time comes to return home to San Francisco, Liam cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind. But when he tries to entice her to join him, he finds the tables turning dizzingly fast. Suddenly a little seduction becomes a huge battle for one thing: control.
I looked at him and those serene, smiling eyes and for the first time in forever, felt the tiniest glimpse of the girl I used to be. Why? What was it about this stranger that made me want to at least try rejoining the world?
“Please?” His gentle coax nudged me back to reality.
I set his condiment on the table, then cautiously backed a safe distance away. “Sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing?” He broke the safety seal. Used those big hands of his to squeeze twin dusty-gold lines on either side of his dog. In the process, a chunk of hair kept falling over his left eye. Grinning up at me, he blew it out of the way. He had no idea of how sexy his unattractiveness truly was. And those eyes. How easily I could lose myself in that verdant green.
Then reality crashed down around me and I remembered to answer his question. “I don’t know.” Only, I did know why I’d apologized. The psych books I’d checked out of the library told me all about how naive I’d been, ignoring all the classic signs of being in an abusive relationship. Too bad identifying issues doesn’t necessarily change them.
“Ma’am? I need two slices of pepperoni, three cherry ICEEs and a coffee.” It was Halloween, and a frazzled mom approached the counter with two rowdy kids. One wore a Spiderman costume and the other the Incredible Hulk. Hulk couldn’t have been much older than three, which was why his growls were cute as opposed to annoying.
“Sure,” I said to my customer. To this guy I didn’t know, but strangely wanted to, I waved goodbye. “Duty calls.”
He nodded. “I understand. Thanks again for the mustard.”
The middle and elementary schools down the road must have let out, as an hour passed with a steady line of costume-wearing kids. Somewhere during a sticky flood of ICEEs and nachos and more Pepsis than I could count, my stranger left. And for some unfathomable reason, that made me sad.
Laura Marie Altom is the author of more than forty books in three different genres. Now that her kids are in college, Laura spends her days writing and chasing after a menagerie of pets: a mini long-haired dachshund named Cocoa, a Yorkie named Daisy, a mutt named Sweet Pea, and Domino—a black-and-white stealth cat she rarely sees. She’s happily married to her college sweetheart (go Hogs!), and when night falls, Laura steals a few romantic moments for herself with her own hunky cover stud.
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