Hard As Stone (Passion in Paradise: The Men of the McKinnon Sisters #2)
Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the beautiful town of Paradise is the perfect place to raise a family, have dinner at the local diner…and chase a ruthless killer.
Jacob Stone is an undercover DEA Agent dead-set on getting vengeance for his sister’s death. When his sources tell him that the drug dealer he’s been searching for will soon be setting up a distribution center in the seemingly innocent town of Paradise, he moves in for the kill.
What Jake wasn’t counting on, however, was falling in love with gorgeous Harmony McKinnon – the ex-wife of the man he was determined to eliminate.
Harmony McKinnon never believed she’d find love again….not after the horrors she lived through with her ex-husband. When she meets secretive Jacob Stone and soon falls in love, she never expected that her life would be in danger again…or that the man she’d come to trust would betray her.
Can Jake make Harmony understand his motives? Can Harmony trust him in spite of the past? Will they have their happily ever after?
Not everything is as it seems in the sleepy, little town of Paradise, Tennessee!
Hard as Stone is the second book in the Passion in Paradise: The Men of the McKinnon Sisters Series, but is a stand-alone novel (165,000 words) that can be easily read without reading the first book.
These McKinnon sisters and their men tend to grow on you. Even when you don’t expect them to.
I have to admit that there were times when I thought that Jake came on just a little too strong and there were also times when I felt like the story was just a little too corny. The funny part was that it worked.
Harmony’s story was totally different than Faith’s. For one, she had a child to consider in everything that she did. For another, she was traumatized by her ex-husband. Faith had to overcome betrayal and forgive the man she loved. Harmony had to heal both physically and mentally enough to open up to someone other than family. No small feat as readers discover exactly what she endured at the hands of her ex. This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Harmony’s terror isn’t glossed over and neither is her sister’s. It’s hard to read, but it’s also an important part of the story.
Jake had a lot to overcome himself and on the surface this relationship was doomed from the start. It was based on deception and that was one thing that Harmony couldn’t tolerate. Needless to say he had his work cut out for him.
Hard as Stone was full of danger, suspense, a little bit of mystery and more than one surprising revelation that changes everyone’s perspective. I like it when a story takes me by surprise.
As the old adage goes, ‘Love conquers all,’ especially when it’s backed by a family as strong as this one. They are truly a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to get to know them all a little bit better.
It’s not hard to figure out where the rest of the series is headed. Patience is next and there is a sneak peek of her story at the end of Hard as Stone. Let’s just say I fell really, really sorry for poor Abel. 😉
Hard As Stone Excerpt
Stepping between her spread legs, Jake held her squirming body still as he fought not to laugh at her theatrics. “Calm down and settle,” he ordered against her temple, holding her firmly against him.
“I could have gotten on board with the pink carpet. I might even have been able to wrap my mind around a puppy. Maybe!” she railed, smacking his arm as she spat each sentence. “But dropping the bomb that you want me and my daughter to move in with you just takes the cake!” Jerking her gaze to him as she heard a low chuckle escape his mouth, she shook her head furiously. “Are you laughin’ at me? Trust me, I don’t find any of this funny, Jake!”
“I’m not laughin’ at you, darlin’. I’m just a little amused at our situation. See, I thought I’d been real clear from the outset about what I wanted. Are you honestly gonna tell me that this is a surprise, babe?” he asked, capturing her frantic eyes with his and holding them. “Look me in the eye and tell me that you didn’t realize that I was in this for the long haul. I told you weeks ago that I was staying in Paradise because of you, Harmony. And in the last month, I’ve gotten as wrapped up in Heaven as I am in her momma. Where the fuck did you think this was going?”
“I don’t know!” Harmony exploded in a burst of temper. Seriously, this is not the conversation she’d seen happening tonight. “Tonight, I’d hoped that it was leading to the bedroom, but I hadn’t thought too far beyond that.” Really, she’d just finally worked up the courage to get intimate with a man again after years of celibacy, and now he wanted more?
“Oh, the bedroom is definitely our destination for the evening, sweetheart,” he agreed with a slow, wicked grin. “But a night stolen here and there isn’t gonna satisfy me, Harmony. I’m a selfish bastard. I want everything you’ve got to give me. Your beautiful body is only part of that. Oh, it’s a gorgeous part, but I want the heart and mind, too. ”
“Jesus, Jake,” Harmony muttered weakly, her head falling against his shoulder as she sagged against him. “It’s all or nothing with you, isn’t it?”
“Told ya, baby. I’m a selfish bastard,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around her. “The good news is that I’m your selfish bastard. Yours and Heaven’s. And I’ll do whatever I need to do to keep you both safe and protected and to make sure you never doubt that you’re both loved and wanted.”
“I don’t know anything about you,” she whispered into his neck as her heart did a tap dance in her chest. What Zeke had said earlier in the day resonated in her brain. None of them really knew anything about Jake. She didn’t know if he’d ever been married or if he had any allergies or if he slept on the right or left side of the bed, for God’s sake. How the hell could she even consider living with a man she knew next to nothing about? How could that ever work between them?
He tilted his head for a second, then said, “No, I’ve never been married, I don’t have any allergies that I know about, and I sleep on whichever side is closest to the door.”
Closing her eyes, Harmony grimaced and burrowed her face against the space between his neck and shoulder. His familiar woodsy scent mixed with sweat and man comforted her, relaxing a little of the tension that had taken up residence in her back. “I said all that out loud?” she asked in a tiny voice.
“You did,” he acknowledged against her ear. “And to answer your last question, this thing will work between us because I refuse to accept otherwise. We’ll find our way a day at a time, darlin’, but we will find it.”
Sarah O’Rourke is the alter ego of two best friends who bonded over their passion for romantic fiction and erotica. Born and raised in the southern United States, one lives near Louisville, Kentucky, while the other resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Formerly an accountant and a chemist, they are now overworked, stay-at-home moms who adore their children, their husbands…and writing about love in every way possible.
Currently focusing on their Passion in Paradise series, they love to write wildly intense romantica stories that have multiple characters, but each book focuses on one specific couple that will ALWAYS have a happy ending…eventually! The Passion in Paradise series follows the lives of four sisters, who love and infuriate each other – and the men who love them! Each book is a stand-alone and does NOT require the reader to have read the prior books.