Semper Paratus. Always ready.
Years ago, Coast Guard rescue swimmer Dylan Holt left Kodiak, Alaska, with his heart in pieces. He thought Nolee Arnauyq and her mouthwatering curves were behind him—until he's sent to rescue the crew of a capsizing boat…including Nolee. And Dylan is definitely not ready for the too-familiar way his body aches at seeing her again.
Nolee's always gone after what she wanted, and to hell with the risks. Now she's a rookie ship captain taking on the deadly waters of the Bering Sea. But out on these treacherous waters, there's no way to avoid the sizzling sexual tension between them—or the dangerous pull of emotions that could leave both their hearts lost at sea…
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Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes red-hot novels for Harlequin Blaze and small-town romances for Harlequin Heartwarming. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile.
She enjoys returning to her teaching roots when speaking at regional and national writing conferences and interacting with other writers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in English and has continued to learn and grow professionally through her work with YA co-author, fellow romance author, friend and sister-in-law, Joanne Rock.
When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who’s typically immersed in three different books at a time, all in different genres. She also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking, Christmas (no need to specify—she loves every bit of it), and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete.
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Back in the wheelhouse, Nolee snatched up her radio, her eyes meeting Stu’s. “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. This is the vessel Pacific Sun. We’re taking on water.”
White noise crackled through the speaker. “Roger. Pacific Sun, this is United States Coast Guard, Kodiak,
Alaska, communication station. Over.”
She relayed rapid-fire specifics. “The seas are pounding us,” she concluded, her voice hoarse.
“Not sure how long before we capsize.”
Speaking the words made it all the more real. She’d never been seasick a day in her life, but right now, she knew a whole lot about heartsick.
“Roger that. Jayhawk is on the way with ETA of twelve minutes. Swimmer and pumps will be deployed.”
Bittersweet relief washed through her as she left Stu at the helm and joined the bucket line. On one hand, she didn’t want to be rescued. Never had. But on her life’s balance sheet, the US Coast Guard owed her big-time for the life-gutting sacrifice she’d made to them nine years ago when she’d given up the person who mattered most to her. They could damn well pay up with some help today.
She passed heavy pails among her crew, fighting a losing battle against water that wouldn’t stop coming. Half the buckets spilled or sloshed most of their contents before making it over the rail, the deck pitching so fiercely below their feet they could barely maintain balance. She worked fiercely, doggedly, and thought she’d weep with relief when she finally glimpsed orange as the Jayhawk passed over the ship. Keeping her head down, she continued to pass slippery, frigid buckets until Tyler pointed out that the rescue swimmer was on his way down.
She stared up at the dangling rescue swimmer descending onto her bucking deck. The mountain-sized man, clad in a bright orange suit, unhooked himself and strode her way, his step sure and nimble despite the heaving boat.
She blinked, suddenly feeling more off-balance than ever, fooled into thinking she knew him. It was just the outfit. Just that cursed Coast Guard swagger. Yet there was something about the broad-shouldered shape, the assured step and the bone-deep confidence visible in the green eyes behind his clear mask as he drew closer.
It couldn’t be.
He’d sworn never to come back to Alaska, had left without a goodbye. Her legs and arms went slack, and for a second she thought she might smack the ground.
The worst mistake of her life flipped up his visor. Spoke. “Hello, Nolee.”
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