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New Release Review and Giveaway: STEALING HIS HEART by Diane Alberts (Shilling Agency #2)

A steamy new Brazen featuring Christine’s (heroine from FALLING FOR THE GROOMSMAN, reviewed here) little brother!



A sexy category romance from Entangled publishing’s Brazen imprint…

Shillings Agency employee Jake Forsythe is not happy to discover that the thief who he has to track down is none other than his ex-partner from his past. Now he’s forced to blackmail her into submission…or throw her in jail.

Tara Harris steals from the rich and corrupted, returning objects to their rightful owners one case at a time. When Jake shows up in her life, at first, she’s thrilled. But then when she finds out that she has to help the man she stole from or go to jail…it’s the choice between two evils.

These two can’t deny the burning passion between them, but when push comes to shove, they’ll have to lay their hearts and their lives on the line.



A quick, steamy second-chance romance read!

Jake and Tara were friends through thick and thin–and unfortunately for both, there was a lot of “thin” in the early years. Both lost their parents young–Tara was fortunate to move in with a loving grandmother, but Jake ended up with an abusive foster father. Still, they had each other to get them through everything…until Jake wigged out just as they were about to “seal the deal” at the age of eighteen. He joined the Marines soon after, and hadn’t been in contact with his childhood friend since.

Fast forward in time–Jake’s no longer a part of the war on terror, having come close to losing his leg and nearly dying from an IED. Now he’s a security expert with the Shillings Agency and keeping himself emotionally distant from everyone after his fiancee dumped him. Tara’s acting as a “recovery specialist”–a Robin Hood of sorts–stealing back items that were originally taken from her clients by wealthy sleezeballs with more money than morals. Unknown to her, Tara’s last big job had her blowing through Jake’s security system like it was nonexistent, and their client is not a happy camper–so Jake sets a trap for Tara, demanding to know how she got in in exchange for her freedom. If she refuses to help, he’ll send her off to jail without a backward look.

“Nice try, Tara.” He rested his chin on the top of her head. He was pressed so tightly against her that she could feel every inch of his body…even the parts she’d tried so hard to forget about. “I knew who you were before you stepped on that porch.”

She lowered her lids and took a shaky breath. Her traitorous heart sped when his arms flexed around her, and she’d swear he pushed his hips against her even though he hadn’t moved. “Can’t blame a girl for trying, can you? It’s been years since I last saw you.”

She refused to mention what they’d been doing the last time they’d seen each other. It was better left unsaid.

“I suppose it has been, but you’re pretty damn memorable. I mean, you’ve grown up and all…” He lifted his head off of hers, and she could sense him looking down at her. “But you still look the same to me. If I let go, will you behave yourself?”

“Do I ever?” she asked lightly.

“That doesn’t exactly make me want to let go of you,” he said without a trace of amusement in his voice. If anything, he sounded annoyed. “Will you be good, or not? What’s it gonna be?”

She didn’t move. “It’s been a while since I had a man pressing me up against a wall. I’m cool like this if you are. Feel free to move around a bit, too, if you’d like. Could be fun—for old times’ sake.”

Instead of the laugh she expected out of him, he sighed. Man, the Marines had stolen his sense of humor. A couple of tours probably did that to a guy. “I’m serious. Will you remain where you are?”

“Fine. I’ll be good,” she promised.

“All right.” He let go of her instantly, stepping back enough to allow her breathing room. “It’s been a while.”

“Yeah.” She closed her eyes for a second, steeling herself for the way she’d feel when they locked eyes once more. All grown up and ready to take on the world. “Too long. You should’ve called.”

Her whole body throbbed with excitement and desire now that he was back here with her—which wasn’t fair. Last time she’d seen him, before he’d made her come and run off before she’d been able to return the favor, he’d promised to write to her. She’d promised to behave. Turned out they sucked at keeping promises.

Especially him.

“I know.” He cleared his throat. “Life’s been busy.”

She turned around to face him, but splayed her hands against the wall on either side of her hips as she did a quick once-over of the man she’d once been crazy about.

Holy. Crap. He was hotter than she’d dreamed.

Like, much hotter than he’d been back when he was a scrawny eighteen-year-old leaving for war. Back when they shared their almost-night together. He’d just been starting to become the man he was today. And that man? He oozed confidence and raw, dirty sex.

Really, really dirty sexy.

She swallowed hard, her heart quickening. He had a few lines around his brows and mouth, probably from squinting in the desert sun, but his moss-green eyes spoke of things he’d seen that she would never begin to understand. Without a doubt, he’d gotten hotter.

More dangerous.

She ran her gaze down his body, taking all of him in. His biceps were huge and rock-hard, and she’d bet he sported a six-pack under that shirt of his, too. “You were busy for eight years?”

The witty back-and-forth conversation–especially from Tara–was one of my favorite parts of the book. It had me laughing out loud more than once while reading. The sex scenes were hot, and the glimpses into their backstories,both shared and separate, were heartbreaking. All good things.

The technical stuff–Tara having to reveal how she got past Jake’s system–was a weaker part of the plot. She just didn’t seem at all convincing as she tried to put Jake and Cooper (his boss) off, pretending she didn’t remember how she’d gotten in. (Seriously, the girl remembered conversations that were a decade old word for word, but didn’t remember how she got into her last job?) The method that the two men used to get the information out of her was amazingly transparent–again, a woman with her smarts should have been able to see through it in a second. Fortunately, the story’s strengths–Tara and Jake renewing their relationship in all its snarky, steamy glory–more than make up for what the other parts of the plot lack.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.



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Author Information

Diane Alberts is a multi-published, bestselling contemporary romance author with Entangled Publishing. She also writes New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling new adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. She’s hit the Top 100 lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble numerous times with numerous titles. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author.  Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.


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