Immaterial Defense

Once and Forever

Book 4
Off the Hook Publishing
Free sample

She’s all alone in the darkness.

He’s lighting up the stage.

But not even the brightest spotlight can reach the shadows of a broken soul. 


Declan

Every wanna-be rocker dreams of the day when crazed fans will pack their shows. But the more people worship me as some kind of musical god, the more I realize why singers are called "performers." I'm just a pretender. A fake. 

I need something real. Something to break through the revolting glamour that's bled into every part of my life. And for one perfect night, I found that in Sara. 

Then she ran. 


Sara

No sane woman would’ve ever walked away from Declan Hollis after only one night. But walking away from him was the safest move for both of us.

I've spent so much time burying my old self in the past, trying to erase the vulnerable person I used to be. I’m smarter now—men are dangerous, and relationships are doubly so. 

But the more time I spend away from him, the more I want to go back.

I may end up shattered all over again. Or maybe, just maybe, he'll be the one to help me pick up the pieces. 

 

***Immaterial Defense is a standalone contemporary romance***

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About the author

Lauren Stewart grew up reading Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, James Clavell, Piers Anthony, and Agatha Christie, which explains why she can't seem to stick to one genre at a time. 


She got to the more romantic stuff pretty late, but paranormal romance was what changed her from an obsessed reader into an obsessed reader and writer. Her writing style comes from a mash-up of all her early favorites and her new ones, women like JR Ward, Karen Marie Moning, Alice Clayton, Emma Chase, and Janet Evanovich. Wow, how much would you pay to be invited to that dinner party?

Lauren wants to make people think, cry, and giggle, not necessarily all at the same time (although it's great when it happens). In every one of her books, you'll find elements of other genres - fantasy, mystery, romance, paranormal, suspense, YA, women's literature, all with a touch of humor.


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Because what doesn't kill us should make us laugh.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Off the Hook Publishing
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Published on
Sep 25, 2018
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Pages
370
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ISBN
9781942700005
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Fiction / Romance / General
Fiction / Romance / New Adult
Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Some fairytales begin with a kiss...

 

 

Laney

 

I finally get it. And to think, it only took my heart being pried out of my chest and stomped on five separate times by men who claimed they loved me. That's got to be a record, right?

 

Let me put it as simply as I can: 

 

Fairy tales aren't real. Love is a lie. And, at least in my experience, sex never comes with a happy ending.

 

Fortunately, I still have B.O.B, and he'll never fall out of love with me. I won't walk in on him in bed with another woman either. Nope. As long as I keep supplying him with fresh batteries, B.O.B's only purpose in life is to make me happy.

 

And, damn it, I deserve to be happy. I'm a nice person. I work hard. And, most importantly, I've learned my lesson:

 

I will never, ever let a man near my heart again. 

 

 

Carson

 

My secret to happiness is to be completely upfront with what I want and, trust me, it has nothing to do with Laney's heart. Her lips? Hell yeah. A few other parts of her body? You better f*cking believe it. But her heart? Nope. Not even a little. 

 

Until it does...a lot.

 

Forget I said that. I don't have feelings for anyone. They were all ripped out of me when I was a kid.

 

This thing between Laney and me could be great. But we have to follow certain rules. We have a good time--no dates, no sleepovers, no expectations. When one of us is ready for something new or if she starts getting too attached, we move on with no hard feelings. Win-win, and everybody's happy. 

 

I came into this thinking it would be the same thing as it had always been and that she was like any other beautiful woman. 

 

It isn't. She isn't.  

 

But how do I tell her she deserves someone better, someone who can love her, someone who's not broken, if I can't seem to let her go? 

 

 

 

***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy without a cliffhanger or cheating***

 

Now Available

Virtually Impossible (Once and Forever #2)

Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after

 

 

Darker Water is a friends-with-benefits story inspired by The Frog Prince, and this is how Carson and Laney's fairy tale begins: 

 

Once upon a time there was a young woman who lived in a tall glass tower in the middle of a city. She wasn't incredibly beautiful but she was attractive, probably somewhere around the eighty-fifth percentile. She was smart, kind, honest, and good with animals.

 

But the most beautiful thing about her was her heart, for it was made of the purest of golds. Unfortunately, she wasn't very good at taking care of it, and over the years, it lost its shine. Because every time she met a prince, she believed him to be perfect--strong but gentle, brave, and caring. So, she would show him her heart and give it to him to hold, thinking he would take care of it.

 

What she hadn't yet realized was that there was a curse put on her...at some time...by someone. And the curse was this: The moment the woman gave her heart away and kissed the prince--believing it to be true love--the prince would begin to change. Sometimes slowly, other times quickly. But he always turned into a frog. And although the frog would give her heart back to her, each time it was a little more worn, a little less brilliant.

 

But the woman didn't give up trying to find a prince who would remain a prince, knowing that somewhere out there was someone who could heal her heart and break the curse by remaining a prince after she kissed him.

 

Then one day, she finally understood the curse's power. No one could heal her, she would never find a prince, and the curse would never be broken.

 

And so, clutching what was left of her heart, she gave up her search.

Can you call it an office romance if we've never actually met?


 

Sara has a kick-ass life. She has loyal friends, works from home, and sets her own hours as a virtual assistant. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that Sara doesn't actually exist. 

 

She's just a borrowed name I use when I'm hiding behind my computer screen. But pretending to be someone else is the only way I can earn enough to make up for the mistake I made and the lives I ruined. 

 

If I hadn't typed my new boss' name into that search engine, none of this would be happening. I wouldn't want to know anything about his personal life, and I would do a quick change of the subject if he ever asked about mine. I could do my job without worrying if all those outside-of-normal-business-hours texts and chats seem like two sarcastic people talking or like two sarcastic people flirting. 

 

I would've kept imagining Hayden looked the same way I pictured all my other clients--late fifties/early sixties, a little soft around the middle, and a lot more forehead than hair. I couldn't have been more wrong. Seriously, how many VPs look like they go model underwear after leaving the office? 

 

Damn it, if I'd never found out what an amazing man Hayden is, I wouldn't want to cry every time he calls me Sara. 

 

But hey, that's life, right? And nobody's life is perfect.

 

 

Actually...

 

 

My life is pretty damn perfect. I'm married to a beautiful woman, live in a luxury apartment, and am prepped to take over the multi-billion-dollar company my father built. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that all of it is a lie.

 

My wife is madly in love with someone else, my career is meaningless, and I forgot how to live, let alone be happy. 

 

But when I hired a new assistant online, it finally occurred to me that life wasn't meant to be endured. It was meant to be lived. Without Sara, I never would've known what it feels like to be happy or to want someone this badly.

 

It's unimaginably stupid to fall for someone at work, but I can't seem to stop it from happening. Sara's the best assistant I've ever had, the most interesting person I've ever spoken with, and the most beautiful woman I've ever known.

 

I'd give up everything I have to be with her, and I still have no idea what she looks like. That has to change. I've never felt like this about anyone, and I'm out of patience. I need to be in a room with her, to touch her to see if she's real. 

 

Unfortunately, the only way to get what I want is for a lot of good people to lose everything they have.

 

 

***There is no cheating in this novel. Hayden is far too noble a man to hurt and disrespect a woman like that. Trust me, you'll understand when you read the book.***

 

***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy (no cliffhanger)***

 

Now Available...

Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) - Get a look into Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after and be there for Hayden and Andi's island wedding!

 

Virtually Impossible is Hayden and Andi's story, and this is how their fairytale begins:

 

Once upon a time there was a woman who made the mistake of trusting the wrong man. And that mistake led to another. And another and another, each more damaging than the last. But the woman was as ignorant of her mistakes as she was of the damage they caused. Until she was punished for them.

 

Around the same time, but in a totally separate part of the city, lived a noble man and his beautiful wife. Though their castle was the envy of all, its empty halls echoed of loneliness and regret. For the man had lived his entire life asleep, and both of them remained silent of who they truly were and what they truly wanted.

 

And then one day, the woman entered the man's life and forced him to awaken...


New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Rowe delivers another winner when small-town matchmakers decide a billionaire is the perfect man for a sassy single mom who is too busy for love. 


"This is one of my favorite Romance books EVER!" ~Amazon Reader Review


When single-mom Clare Gray delivers her famous cupcakes to the general store on her way to work, she meets a sexy, out-of-town businessman who is in need of lodging...and match-making locals decide her available-for-rent spare room is the perfect solution.  


After becoming a widowed single mom at eighteen, Clare traded her dreams of love to focus on raising her daughter. The last thing she wants is for a man to invade her life, even if he is deliciously tempting and wonderful with her daughter. But when late-night cupcake baking turns intimate, suddenly her heart is at risk once again.


High-powered executive Griffin Friesé is in town on a personal mission, and he has no time for love. But when he moves into Clare's farmhouse, he soon finds that life doesn't always give you want you want…but it might give you exactly what you need. Gradually, Clare's smile, her passion for life, and her small-town loyalty awaken something inside him, something that makes him yearn for a life, a love, and a family he's never had. 


Can a single mom find the love and family she always wanted with a man afraid to open his heart?  


"What do I wish for?" Clare looked up at the stars, at the way they lit up the sky. "That's what I wish for." She gestured to the expanse of twinkling darkness. "A love so huge and so powerful, that it sweeps across everything. It's always there. It's fuller than a heart can hold, so it spills out into the world and fills everything around it with more love. It's there when I fall asleep. It's there when I wake up." She met Griffin's gaze. "It's there every time I breathe in, every time I breathe out, and with every beat of my heart."


"Heartwarming doesn't even begin to describe this romance! Wow!" ~Vickie R. (Amazon Review)


"I can't say enough good things about this book. I couldn't stop reading once I started." ~Carla E. (Amazon Review)


"A testament to Stephanie Rowe's skill and talent, one that deserves applause... phenomenal... superbly developed." ~Bex 'N' Books


Books in the Birch Crossing series: 

Unexpectedly Mine

Accidentally Mine

Unintentionally Mine

Irresistibly Mine 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Rowe is "contemporary romance at its best" (Bex 'N' Books). She is a 2018 winner and five-time nominee of the RITA® award, the highest award in romance fiction. As the successful author of more than fifty books, Stephanie touched the hearts of readers all over the world. 


"Absolutely loved it." ~Maria R (GooglePlay Review)


NOTE: Unexpectedly Mine was originally published under the title No Knight Needed as part of the Ever After series.

A New York Times bestseller!

The Mount Trilogy continues with Defiant Queen... 


I’m his entertainment. His toy. Payment on a debt.

I tell myself I hate him, but every time he walks into the room, my body betrays me. How can I want him and fear him in the same moment?

They told me he’d mess with my head. Make it go to war with my body.

But I didn’t realize it would be complete anarchy.

I should’ve known better. When Mount’s involved, there are no rules.

I will not surrender. I will not show weakness. I’ll stand my ground and make it out of this bargain with my heart and soul intact.

But he has other plans . . .


Defiant Queen is the second book of the Mount Trilogy and should be read after Ruthless King. Mount and Keira's story concludes in Sinful Empire. 



Reading order:

Ruthless King

Defiant Queen

Sinful Empire

***



"So hot and explosive, I recommend having the fire department on standby." -New York Times bestselling author Laurelin Paige



"Meghan takes us a sexy and gritty non-stop journey that kept my heart in my throat and my body primed! Lachlan Mount is the king and he is mine!"— T Gephart, USA Today bestselling author.



‘This is one book hangover I never want to wake from.’ ~Harper Sloan, New York Times bestselling author




"This is my new favorite series EVER!" – Candi Kane, Dirty Laundry Review



"This right here...THIS is the type of romance that I LIVE FOR! Brutally beautiful and one of the SEXIEST reads of the year! Meghan March is CONQUERING this genre!" ~Shayna Renee, Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads




___

Topics:

New Orleans, French Quarter, anti-hero, anti-hero romance, alpha hero, alpha bad boy, dominant alpha male, dominant alpha male hero, protection, famous, male, bodyguard, criminal, criminal underground, dirty billionaire, millionaire, rich, hidden, forbidden romance, hidden identity, brothers best friend, bayou, swamp, military romance.

***This novel is intended for adults only. It includes lots of cursing, descriptive sex, biting sarcasm, and dark themes. HYDE was inspired by Stevenson's novella but is not a retelling, in part because he and this author have very different definitions of 'bad boy'.

Honesty is impossible when you don't know the truth to begin with.

Mitchell Turner is everything women want most in a man--he's charismatic, successful, and undeniably gorgeous. But he's not a man--he's a monster. By venting his rage 24/7, Mitch keeps people out of the danger zone that surrounds him. But, after the most incredible night of his life, he realizes that might not be possible. Except the woman he wakes up with claims she doesn't remember any of it. And that kind of thing can make a guy insecure.

Eden Colfax is kind, loyal, honest to a fault, and cavity-inducing sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn't lie, doesn't curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers' beds...until the day she does. Then the flashbacks start--places she's never been, people she's never met, blood she's never spilled. And the only person with any answers is a man she never wants to see again.

What they don't know is that someone is manipulating them, determined to find out exactly what they're capable of. And when the truth leaves them nothing to hold onto, they will be forced into a partnership neither expected. Or wanted.

But in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can't even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on earth you should be falling for.


The other novels in this trilogy are now available:
Jekyll, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book II)
Strange Case, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book III)

--For lovers of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series—
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