Lexi Blake’s latest novel, Order of Protection, is perfect for fans of romantic suspense and legal drama… so much juicy, twisty, goodness! Read an excerpt and grab your copy today.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
Romantic suspense is my jam and Order of Protection by Lexi Blake has all the elements I love in spades! I enjoyed this book so much, that the night I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I found the characters to be so compelling and the romance and mystery hooked me from the very beginning. This was my first Lexi Blake book, but it won’t be my last.
Henry Garrison is in the process of trying to put his life back together. After a horrible marriage and divorce–one that ends with him in rehab–Henry returns to his childhood home on Chappaquiddick Island. But this isn’t a happy reunion. Unfortunately, Henry has to sell his family’s home in order to raise the money for his partner buy-in at his new NYC law firm. Packing up his family’s things, the barrage of memories, and his disappointment in himself start to wear on Henry, so much so, that it drives him to consider the scotch hidden in one of the closets.
In the process of clearing his mind, he meets Winnie Hughes. Win was definitely distracted by the hottie she spots as she’s taking her evening jog. Thank goodness a storm is coming and thank goodness hottie Henry allows her to take shelter in his house. Win is surprised by how candid Henry is. In their short time together, she learns that Henry is a recovering alcoholic who is wading through his demons. But Win knows all about that… she’s in recovery too, just having returned from a facility in Sweden to help manage anorexia. Henry and Win certainly have a mutual attraction, but it’s likely the unflinching candor and need for a meaningful connection that drives them together. Henry and Win come together quickly and passionately:
“I think I could hurt a woman like you if I’m not careful.”
“Then be careful with me, Henry Garrison,” she said, moving closer to him. “And I’m a big girl. I can make my own decisions and live with them. I would like to spend the night with you. It doesn’t have to last beyond tomorrow. I’m not asking to be your girlfriend. I’m asking you to help me get through the night, to help me get that nightmare out of my head, so I can feel safe for the first time in months. It’s been a long time since I felt safe.”
That he could do. She moved in close, right between his legs, and he reached up and cupped her face, holding her still as he looked into her eyes. So much fucking innocence. He didn’t care what she’d been through. She was way too young for him, but she’d said yes and he wasn’t a saint. Not even close.
“Be sure. I might want more than one night. I’m here for a few weeks. I could use this. I could use some time with you.”
…Henry wanted to connect. One of the ways he was trying was with words. He wanted dirty words to get him hot, to ensure they were on the same page.
“I want your mouth on me.” It wasn’t hard when she stopped thinking about it. What did she honestly want? Past all the niceties. Past what was polite and correct. What did she want right this second? Shouldn’t she be woman enough to ask for it? All her life she’d been taught to be polite and thoughtful and never to ask for anything because she’d been blessed with the material possessions of the world. Damn it. She needed more, and she was done pretending.
“I want you to suck on my nipples, Henry. I want you to lick them and play with them.”
“Henry, let’s go to bed.”
“When I’m done.” He switched to her other breast, licking and lavishing pleasure on her. Her body wound tight.
“Can’t you be done now?” She’d never begged for a cock before, but then she’d never felt need like she did now. He bit her, a gentle but firm lesson.
“I’ll be done when I’m ready and not a second more. You said you’ve gone to bed with boys before. Well, I believe it.”
One hand trailed down and skimmed over her underwear. “I’m not taking you until you’re ready, and while this might be nice and slick, it’s still not ready for me. Not until you’re soaking wet and can’t take a second more will I take you. I’m going to make this last all night long. Do I make myself clear?”
Her eyes nearly rolled to the back of her head as he settled in and she felt the long lick of his talented tongue. Win gripped the sheets of the bed, holding on for dear life as he took her higher and higher. He didn’t hold back. He did exactly what he’d said he would. He made a meal of her, and it was clear that Henry had been starving for a long time. Win wasn’t sure how long she lasted, lying there and letting the waves crash over her, but before she knew it, she was going over the edge in a way she never had. Her body seized, holding for a single second before releasing. She shook in the wake, and then Henry was moving over her. Even as she came down from the orgasm, she watched him shove his sweats off his hips and reach for the condom with trembling hands. He managed to roll it over his cock, and then he was shifting, moving himself between her legs.
“Tell me it’s okay.” The words sounded tortured coming from his mouth. How could he think she would turn him away? Likely because it had happened. Likely because his marriage had screwed him over in so many ways.
“Please, Henry. Please, I need you. I need more.” She expected the arrogant smirk to hit his face again, but there was nothing there but his own honest need.
“I need more, too. Take me.” He pressed against her. Win wrapped her legs around his lean waist as he filled her inch by inch. She loved the way he stretched her, the connection she could feel. Win watched him as he worked his way in. That magnificent jawline of his was tight, and his hands gripped her hips, holding her down. She tilted her pelvis up, and he groaned as she took him. All the way.
“I’m not going to last.” The low growl of his voice cut through the thunder.
“You don’t have to.” She was perfectly satisfied. Her body still hummed with the orgasm he’d given her before. She reached up, putting her hands on his arms, completing the circle their bodies formed. Dirty words. He liked dirty words. Somehow he made them not so dirty at all. “Fuck me, Henry. You promised to fuck me hard, and I’m going to hold you to it.”
“I knew you would be trouble the minute I saw you,” he said with a chuckle. “Well, I wouldn’t want to let a lady down.”
He pulled back and slammed in. He held her close, finding a rhythm she caught in an instant. He fucked her over and over. This was what he’d meant. There was no other word for it, but it wasn’t nasty. It was connection. It was primal and pure. She gave up all thought and let instinct take over. She found herself rising again, her body ready and primed for another fall.
For two weeks, they live in their bubble together and it’s fun and romantic. But when the time comes for Henry to sell the house, they part ways, him back to NYC, and Win to Duke to begin grad school. Even though Win tries to keep in touch via text, Henry doesn’t respond. Sure he misses Win… but his life is so messy and a relationship with him would be difficult, maybe even snuffing out Win’s optimism.
Unfortunately, Win comes catapulting back into Henry’s life in the most unexpected way. Win is really Taylor Winston-Hughes, billionaire heiress, socialite, and former reality TV star. And she has just been accused of killing her best friend, Brie Westerhave, in cold blood. DAMN. At first, Henry is incensed. Winnie, if that’s her real name, lied to him that whole time. After barely making it out of a marriage to a fame-hungry Hollywood starlet (his ex-wife), Henry isn’t trying to get involved with someone else who will drag him into that life. Nope! Henry will just represent Ms. Winston-Hughes in this high-profile case that’s sure to bring in the money and acclaim his new firm needs. However, Win *is* innocent. That celebrity life nearly killed her and she’s truly left it behind. She so wants to convince Henry that what they have together is real and worth fighting for. But first, Win has to survive the the investigation into Brie’s death and clear her name. This becomes even more urgent when the person who really killed Brie might now be after Win, too.
I adore Win! I love her spirit. Given everything she’s been through with losing her parents as a baby, dealing with anorexia, as well as the fallout from her celebrity, it would be easy for Win to give in to her dark place. But she pushes forward and strives everyday to recognize her worth, irrespective of her money and beauty. Win is a genuinely kind and generous person who wants to help make the world a better place.
This is likely what draws Henry to Win, because he’s in desperate need of that sort of optimism and hope, too. Henry is a brilliant lawyer, and when he’s not being resentful of Winnie, he does a really good job of poking holes the the police’s timeline and searching out evidence that would exonerate Win. Henry repeatedly makes an ass of himself, as he tries to put up walls to keep Win out. It’s a survival mechanism. But Win has no intention of hurting him:
He’d opened himself up to her and she’d lied. “We didn’t merely have sex, Win. We spent two whole weeks together. We sat and talked. We really talked.”
“Yes, we did. And I didn’t lie to you about anything I said during those talks. I didn’t lie to you when we walked on the beach together. I didn’t lie when we went to bed. It was all me.”
He couldn’t accept it. “I told you pretty much everything about myself. You might have mentioned a few facts about your life.”
“Like my plans for the future? Because we went over those incessantly. You helped me make sure I had the classes I needed. Not a lie. Like the fact that I love soap operas and romance novels, and everyone makes fun of me for reading and watching them? You sat there and watched me do both. Not lies. Like the fact that I am so scared I’ll get back to that place where I can’t see myself in the mirror without wondering how long it’s going to be before I fade away? I told you that in the middle of the night and you held me and made me feel better. I wasn’t lying. Those things are the real me.”
She was willfully missing the point. “I’m talking about your family. I’m talking about your money and lifestyle. I’m talking about your history and the fact that you were on a reality show.”
“But those things aren’t really me.” She said the words quietly, as though she didn’t expect him to believe her. “They might be facts about me, but it’s all trivia. You got to know the real me. I got to know the real you. You’re more than a lawyer. You’re more than how and where you were born.”
“You should have told me.”
“I don’t understand why you lied to me.”
“I lied because I’m just like all the rest, Henry. I’m selfish and wanton, and I don’t think of anyone but myself. I lied because I thought sleeping with you would make an excellent story for me to sell to the tabloids because I can’t get enough attention from them. I lied because I could and I wanted to and I’ll do it again to the next precious, naive man who comes along.”
She spat out the words with a bile he wouldn’t have considered her capable of. “So you should feel good about dumping me. Your instincts were all correct. You’re good. I’m bad. That’s the way the world is, so consider yourself safe.”
“I simply want to know. I want to understand.” He wasn’t sure why he couldn’t seem to move on without a reasonable explanation “Why?”
“Because I wanted those two weeks to be real.”
Order of Protection also has great secondary characters and lays down an awesome foundation to explore their stories later in the Courting Justice series. Henry’s partners, David Cormack (ex-NFL star turned lawyer), Noah Lawless (young attorney, hacker-gone-good, and part of a billionaire tech firm/family), and Margarita Reyes (the Lawless family’s corporate lawyer, now taking a dip in criminal law), are an awesome support and integral to helping Win and saving Henry from himself.
For me, one of the most interesting parts of this book is learning about how Win grew up and how she was also surrounded by those who sought to use her, even her friends and family, who claimed to have her best interests at heart, like Brie, as well as Win’s Uncle Bellamy and Cousin Trevor. This is actually what makes the big reveal so juicy.
I feel like I’m pretty good at predicting plot lines, so if there’s a story that surprises me? I love it even more. And the twist at the end of Order of Protection… as soon as it came together, I audibly gasped and physically flailed. SO GOOD!
Order of Protection is MUSTREAD for fans of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and legal drama.
Thanks to our friends at Berkley, we have an excerpt to share! Give it a read and then download Order of Protection today!
Henry glanced up at the clock. Two thirty p.m. Somehow he’d expected Win to show up bright and early this morning. He’d woken up and made a pot of coffee, and he’d gone over all the ways he would explain to her that this was a bad idea. Because it was still a bad idea.
Alicia might have given in to Noah and Drew Lawless’s blackmail, but she would be back at some point. Then there was the fact that he dealt with unsavory clients on a daily basis. He took on high-profile cases and often got dragged through the mud along with the client.
There were plenty of people out there who hated him. Loathed him and despised the very fact that he existed and cheered if he failed. He was used to it. Sweet little Win was not and would be horrified.
So he was going to tell her how amazing their night together was and then turn her down gently.
Except she hadn’t shown up and that bugged the hell out of him.
She’d been the one to claim she would be here despite the fact that he’d told her not to come. She’d told him she didn’t care what he thought.
It was perverse, but if he’d had her number, he might have called and said a few things about setting expectations and then not meeting them.
He started another pot of coffee. This was completely foolish. She’d put some distance between the two of them and realized how little they had in common. At least one of them had some sense.
The scent of French roast hit the air and he realized he was procrastinating. He was putting off the moment when he had to step back into the city and face the music. He would have to work his ass off to find anyone who wanted to hire a lawyer with his tarnished reputation. It didn’t matter that his addiction issues had never cost a client a dime. The perception would be there, and perception was over half the battle in life.
He should pack up tonight and leave it all to the agent. It’s what he should have done yesterday, but he’d enjoyed spending time with David, showing him places on the island and telling him stories.
It was time to go home now. Time to forget about pretending to be someone he couldn’t afford to be anymore. Time to put away thoughts of quiet and peace and get back to being the Monster of Manhattan. That was the only way he was going to survive.
The Monster of Manhattan didn’t give in to urges. He plowed through all problems with a single-minded, ruthless intent. The Monster didn’t need attention, though he tended to get it. Attention didn’t matter to the Monster. Money mattered. Power mattered.
He would get them both back.
The Monster certainly didn’t need some do-gooder in his bed. He would select a woman, rationally discuss his needs with her, and pay her for her services, whether they be as a plus-one to gatherings or as a body in bed. That was how he would view it. Transactional.
Transactional was safe.
So he was going to stop being such a whiny asshole and be grateful that Win had some sense.
A knock broke through the quiet of the house.
He practically ran for the door.
He opened it and there was Win, standing in the soft light of the afternoon, her hair up in a ponytail. She was wearing denim shorts and a blousy, feminine shirt. She had a bag of groceries in one hand and what looked like a duffel in the other.
“I know you said I shouldn’t come back, but you’re wrong and I’m going to give you all my reasons why.”
He didn’t care. She was here. He walked straight up to her and cupped that pretty face in his hands and kissed her for all he was worth.
Fuck transactional. He wanted something real for once in his damn life.
When he came back up, he was rewarded with a soft look in her eyes, her lips curving into a small smile.
“No arguing with me?”
He did have some problems they should discuss. “You’re late.”
Her smile went brilliant. “I had some things to clear up. I thought if you didn’t mind, I might stay with you for a few nights.”
He took the bag of groceries out of her hand and led her inside. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”
“This is way easier than I thought it would be,” she admitted. “Have you had lunch? I could whip up some sandwiches and we could have a picnic.”
He stashed the grocery bag in the fridge. She set down her duffel, and that made it much easier to scoop her up and into his arms. “I know exactly what I want for lunch.”
Her eyes went wide, but she didn’t struggle at all. Her arms went around his shoulders as he carried her to the big bedroom.
It had been cozy in his old room, but he needed more space if she was going to live here with him for a few weeks.
He stopped at the edge of the big bed he’d had brought in after he’d inherited the place. It was the only room he’d redone, with the thought of spending long weekends with his friends up here. He never had managed the time, but now he was happy he’d spent the cash to do it because he could share it with her.
The last few weeks of being Henry before going back to the real world.
He set her down on the bed and pulled his shirt over his head. He wasn’t playing around this time. That was for later. It had been entirely too long since he’d had her.
He needed her.
He knew it was something he should question, even be slightly afraid of, but he didn’t care in the moment. All that mattered was she was here and he could put off any thoughts of letting her go for a few days. He could sink into her.
She was his reward for every crappy thing he’d been through in the last couple of years.