Category Archives: Delilah Devlin

Knight Edition, Book 5 in the Night Fall series is here!

I’m up to my ears in work right now, but wanted to pop into to tell you about my new sexy paranormal story…

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“…an action packed, fast paced, scorching, erotic thriller. With delicious love scenes, wry humor and non-stop thrills, [Knight Edition] is a guaranteed page turner that’ll delight the reader.” ~ 5 Drops of Blood, Vampire-Erotica.net

“…an extraordinary read by an extraordinary author.” ~ 5 Cups, Coffee Time Romance

Sidney Coffey, Seattle’s “News at Nine” girl, uncovers the scoop of a lifetime and her ticket into serious journalism. The only problem is–without proof–no one’s going to believe the victims of recent gang killings are in fact “undead” and vampires!

With her gut telling her there’s an even bigger story lurking beneath the surface, she decides to beard a reclusive vampire master in his den for an interview. But meeting the master only complicates things. For a woman with a voracious sexual appetite, the tall, dark and gloomy vamp proves an irresistible challenge.

When a reporter trespasses on his estate, Navarro is at first amused then annoyed that the little baggage is close to putting together the pieces of a dangerous plot involving an old enemy and a group of murdered geneticists. To keep her safe, Navarro issues an invitation he won’t let her refuse.

Free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers! Find it here!

Hotter With A Pole is here!

Well, it’s here! My first m/m romance. I hope you love it because I had a blast writing it!

And if you read HWAP, please think about posting a review to let other readers know whether it’s worth their time and cash. Reviews do matter!

Hotter with a Pole

When your heart is stuck in the wrong gear, a quick fix isn’t going to cut it.

When Noah buys a classic ’68 Camaro from a fellow firefighter’s widow, he hopes it will ease some of the grief crushing his heart. But the grinding noise under the car’s hood sends him straight to a mechanic. Something about the burly, imposing Hoyt sparks Noah’s interest, and it’s not just Hoyt’s ice-blue eyes and bad-boy biker looks. It’s the mutual interest they have—Club LaForge.

After losing his partner to cancer a year ago, Hoyt never thought he’d feel the same kind of rush with another man. But his reaction to Noah throbs deep in his body like the rumble of his Harley.

LaForge seems like the perfect place to meet and work off some sorrow, to feel alive again. But the flood of desire quickly gets hot enough to melt their emotional barriers into unexpected connections.

Connections Hoyt isn’t sure he’s ready for…especially since history has a scary way of repeating itself.
Product Warnings

Warning: Get your motor running for a Harley-riding hunk of muscle who doesn’t give a damn about the rules of being a Dom, and a firefighter who can take the heat. Buy a case of your favorite coolant. You’re gonna need it.

Samhain Publishing | Nook |  Kindle | Kobo | iBooks

Read a long excerpt here

The Vikings have landed!

This anthology was a pure labor of love. I adore Vikings. Read the introduction I wrote for the book below, and you’ll know why.

Congratulations to all the contributing authors! Thanks for trusting me with your stories!

Readers, I hope you enjoy it. There’s variety in settings and characters—despite the fact every story has a Viking hero! I think you’ll be surprised! And if you have time after reading it, we’d really appreciate your taking the time to review it and tell a friend about it—anything to help us get the word out. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

For now, you will only see it on Amazon. You lucky Kindle Unlimited subscribers can purchase it for free; and for the rest of you, for a very limited time (get your copy now!), the price is $0.99! A print version of this book is coming very soon!

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Buy at Amazon

Vikings. Fierce warriors who terrified all in their path as they raided and marauded, enslaved and murdered during Europe’s Dark Ages.

But these rough men from a rugged land were also sailors, explorers, craftsmen, and highly sought after mercenaries.

Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance will transport you to the realm of fantasy where such fearsome and loyal men are relentless potent lovers. Whether the lady of the keep demands a few stolen hours of pleasure with a captured Viking warrior or the handsome Northman is the one seducing his captive, you will find plenty of lusty adventures in settings as far-flung as Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Byzantium, Moorish Spain and the New World.

Let your fantasies run wild to a time when men wearing bearskin shirts and shining iron helms could capture a fierce maiden’s heart!

The Captive by Lizzie Ashworth – A captive turns captor when the lady of an English keep commands a few stolen hours of pleasure with a captured Viking warrior

Ásgeirr and the Tree of Life by Mina Murray – Danger and desire collide when a wounded Viking warrior washes ashore on a remote Irish island

A Varangian Guest by Melissa Fuchs – When her brother returns to Constantinople in the company of a warrior from the far north, a widow finds herself drawn to him with irresistible desire

How to Train Your Skjaldmaer by Delilah Devlin – A Viking jarl tricked into marrying a shieldmaiden sets out to tame his fiery bride

The Viking’s Prize by Emma Jay – Treachery and desire greet a Viking warrior who travels to the coast of Newfoundland to broker peace with the indigenous tribes

There for the Taking by Nym Nix – A captive is seduced by her Viking captor as he couples with an amorous shieldmaiden whilst she is left to watch

Sweet Silk by Megan Mitcham – A Viking returns to Persia years after saving a merchant from certain death to retrieve the child-bride awarded him–yet never claimed

Little Warrior by Evey Brett – A woman braves a pair of daunting shieldmaidens and her father’s wrath in order to take her sister’s place as bride to a Viking warrior

Protecting Her by Regina Kammer – A Byzantine noblewoman seeking refuge in a monastery loses her heart to an invader when Constantinople is sacked by the Rus

Enslaved by Elle James – A conquering Viking vows to tame his sassy Celtic slave–if she doesn’t kill him first

The Oak and the Ale by Beatrix Ellroy – A businesswoman trying to secure trade routes for her family instead finds love with a crippled warrior

New Words by Teresa Noelle Roberts – An Andalusian Arab poet learns that her new Northman husband is more than just a handsome barbarian

The Needle and the Strap by Bibi Rizer – A young man hasn’t lived up to the Viking standards of his brave and ruthless kinsmen–until he rescues a wild and wicked shieldmaiden from a burning ship

From my introduction…

My step-grandfather’s name was Olaf. Now, before you start picturing a cuddly snowman with a carrot nose, picture instead a man of medium height, light brown hair, and pale eyes–pale blind eyes. Grandpa began going blind in his early twenties. By the time I came along, he lived completely in the dark.

Not that blindness ever stopped him. He rarely walked with a cane. He climbed tall ladders to re-shingle the roof, clean the gutters, or prune trees. But the thing I remember most about him was his keen mind and wicked-sharp sense of humor. His parents migrated from Norway, and he spoke the language and visited cousins back home. He built a workshop in the garage and set up a micro-brewery where he and his friends would gather, and laughter was everywhere.

When I was a child, I attributed my blonde hair and blue eyes to him, but sadly realized very early on that was impossible. Because of him, I never accepted the stereotypical view of Vikings as base, marauding warriors. They were artists, poets, farmers, traders, adventurers, and yes, fearsome warriors.

In this volume, I’ve collected stories written by some amazing writers who’ve captured the breadth of the Viking experience–settlers in a brave new world, raiders and traders who travelled from northern Europe to Africa and Byzantium in wooden boats, soldiers whose superior might made them feared and sought after. More, they gave me stories about the men who remained in their cold, rugged land and the strong women who matched their courage and will.

And I can well imagine my grandfather aboard one of those Viking ships, his face turned to the wind as it caught the sail and carried him to the edge of the known world. Despite the racy content, I think he’d be tickled about this book. So Grandpa, this one’s for you.

Delilah Devlin
Editor

Don’t miss this great deal!

TrulyMadl_600yJust thought I’d share a pretty new cover—and tell you about the great deal going on right now.

The second book in the Night Fall series will be released toward the end of this week. Love vampires? Love sexy threesomes? Like a little suspense with bite? Well, you’ll love Truly, Madly…Deadly!

SmBitten_600But before the book releases, I want to be sure you’ve read the Book #1 — Sm{B}itten! So, I made sure you have no excuses left for why you haven’t read Sm{B}itten—I entered it into Kindle Unlimited, so it’s FREE to KU subscribers, and just $0.99 for everyone else!

I’d love to hear from you. Have you read Sm{B}itten? Are you excited for Truly, Madly…Deadly? Are you ready for a fast-paced, paranormal series?

4 Reasons to Get Warlord’s Destiny Now…

I love lists. So here’s one for you—

4 Reasons to Get Warlord’s Destiny Now…

1) Do you love your warriors tall, well-muscled and with stamina to spare? Duh, right? Do you love a heroine with grit who’s not society’s notion of what’s perfect and beautiful? Someone you can relate to? Do you love it when a strong woman brings a proud warrior to his knees? Then you will love the hero and heroine of this book!

2) Do you love off-world, futuristic fantasy and medieval knights tales? How about a book that is both? Yeah, I was supposed to write a futuristic tale, but my hero kept insisting he was more Ragnar Lodbrok than Luke Skywalker. And since Ragnar is sexy as hell, I let my Lord Tetrik transform into my version of the perfect erotic romance hero…

3) Do you love a good orgy? I saw your eyes bug at that one. Six participants with all those sexy moving parts? For me, this was the most challenging scene in the book. How do you keep it fun and sexy and not confusing? If you’re curious, you have to get this book!

4) Right now, the price for this 21,000-word novella is just $0.99! Kindle Unlimited customers have a little longer to enjoy a great deal—they can get it for free for the next three months. But if you aren’t a KU subscriber, that $0.99 price isn’t going to last long! Grab your copy now!

And just a side note: If you enjoy the story, how about leaving a review? Somewhere. Or tell a friend. I appreciate everything you do! ~DD

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“…In Delilah Devlin’s WARLORD’S DESTINY, a strong man is brought to his knees by an equally strong woman. Interesting, attractive personalities make this read especially powerful.”  ~Nominee for Best Paranormal Erotic Novel of 2005 by Romantic Times BookClub Magazine! TOP PICK! 4 1/2 Stars, RT BOOKreviews 
“Watching these two grow is both amusing and touching… I found Warlord’s Destiny to be a very well-written novel, and ultimately a very entertaining story to read.” ~Book Review Network

Mora has no illusions she’s anything other than the sacrificial lamb to ensure peace between her peace-loving planet and the warlike world that demands a royal union with one of their own. However, when she meets the rugged warlord who will be her husband, Mora decides in that moment to win his heart–she’ll settle for nothing less.

When Lord Tetrik suspects his wife harbors tender feelings, he wonders if he can be the husband she desires. After all, love for a woman is a frivolous thing–and not a warlord’s destiny.

Warning: Readers should beware. Wedding customs on other planets do not resemble tender newlywed customs on Earth! Expect a smidge of voyeurism and a 6-person ménage. And yes, a Kronaki warlord’s bed is built large enough for just such an event!

Purchase at Amazon  

So, that’s what Kronaki warriors look like!

Every story ever whispered about the fearsome warriors came rushing back to set Mora’s body trembling. How they fought like ravaging beasts, cutting bloody swaths through Graktilian mercenaries during the war. How they lived in rough, stone fortresses made of blocks carved from their frozen mountains. How they fostered their children to rival clans so they would be raised without gentleness.

How they fucked with such fury their women’s screams echoed throughout their valleys.

Mora felt a tremor rumble beneath the polished, marble floor of the great hall, so explosive was the swell of conversation that arose at the warriors’ arrival.

They were seven, dressed in furs and leather, armed with bows slung across their shoulders and scabbards at their sides.

She couldn’t drag her gaze from the man at the head of their formation, striding toward her—her husband in name, if not yet by deed. Although she had never seen him before this day, she knew it must be him, for he looked the fiercest, the strongest—only one such as he would be chosen to rule from amongst their ranks.

He was from a race of barbarians, seemingly as proud of their reputation for brutal warfare as their orgiastic sexuality. The latter, Mora could well believe for the man stalking her now looked every inch a sensual marauder.

A shiver of awe bit the base of her spine and trembled upward until the fine hairs on the back of her neck stood erect.

Taller by a head than any Mellusian, his broad shoulders nearly blocked out the sight of the two heralds dogging his steps as they attempted to halt him. He seemed not the slightest bit interested in following protocol by waiting for his name to be addressed to the assemblage. As if anyone attending the ceremony hadn’t already guessed who he was.

He’d also eschewed the fine wedding tunic Mora’s mother had personally designed—an embroidered silk affair that would have stretched absurdly across his bulging chest and arms.

No, he wore a vest of gray animal pelts that parted at the front, no doubt to tempt a woman’s gaze to ogle his obscenely muscled chest and follow the dark arrow of hair down his hewn abdomen. The black leather that encased his legs, strained over thickly corded thighs and the alarming swell of his manhood.

Mora’s heart tripped, and then fluttered like the wings of an aradil.

Her mouth dry, she forced her gaze upward to look at his face, but found no comfort there.

Lord Tetrik of Kronak—his name was as harsh as the angles of his square jaw and the sharp blade of his nose. His hair was dark like a moonless sky and worn like the old warriors in the paintings in History Hall—hanging past his shoulders with small braids on either side of his inflexible face. But his eyes frightened her most of all—chips of blue ice froze her in place as his gaze found hers across the noisy hall.

He would have to know she was his bride. She wore her wealth and importance in the weighty jewels studding her hair and gown and encircling her neck. She saw fury in that first glance. Had he already guessed he’d been cheated of the true prize? That her rich adornment was a ruse?

Her mother moaned behind her. “His ambassador said he was too busy to attend such an insignificant event. You should have worn the pink gown!” her mother hissed.

“It was covered in dirt, mother,” Mora whispered, keeping her gaze pinned on the man walking straight toward her. “It’s too late now, anyway. The ceremony is over.”

“He may still repudiate you. Oh, what were you thinking, digging in the garden on your wedding day?”

“I wanted a tuber rose to take with me to my new home.”

“As if a rose will grow in their rocky soil,” her mother said, her voice becoming thin and breathy the closer the warrior drew.

Mora hoped her mother didn’t choose this moment to faint. She suspected the Kronaki leader would scorn a woman frightened by the mere sight of him.

“That green makes your cheeks sallow,” her mother lamented, working herself into a high state of agitation. “You look as though you’re attending your own funeral.”

Mora couldn’t resist delivering a little dig. “Am I not? What do you think he’ll do once he finds himself wed to the wrong sister?”

“You should have worn the pink! It would have shown you to advantage.” She sounded on the verge of tears.

Her mother’s diatribe wore on Mora’s nerves. “Mother, it doesn’t matter if I wear the pink or the green, I’m no beauty. He will know. And by the look of that scowl he wears, he already does.”

“May the Goddess save us!”

“Hush, Hespha!” Her father finally intervened. “You frighten our daughter.”

Only that wasn’t quite true. Her mother’s words had the opposite effect, reminding Mora that by rights, her older sister should have been the one sacrificed to honor The Promise. But her sister had been deemed too delicate and hidden away when the day came to repay the decade-old debt owed the Kronaki. “She’d never survive the rigors of life on that harsh planet,” her father had said.

Her mother had been only too eager to agree to the substitution. Her delicate, slender little flower wouldn’t be surrendered to the barbarian. Instead, Mora stood in her place. She was anything but delicate—a fact that had pained and embarrassed her parents to no end all her life.

A flush of anger heated Mora’s cheeks. Try as she might, she couldn’t suppress the primitive emotion. Her parents thought so little of her they were willing to marry her to a beast. A black-haired beast that grew more enormous and intimidating as he approached the dais upon which most of the members of the Mellusian royal family stood.

Mora straightened her shoulders. Jewels and a fine gown would not deceive the man. She was dull quartz against the bright, blonde diamonds glittering inside the hall.

He stopped in front of the dais. The room fell silent while all in the assemblage strained to hear what he might say. His cold gaze raked her from head to toe. Even standing on the raised platform, she had to tilt her head to meet his glance.

Panic had her body tightening. Mora raised her chin another notch, unwilling to let him see her fear.

He lifted one dark brow, and his gaze swept her face, lingering over her lips. “What is your name?”

He knew! “Mora. I am Mora,” she said, surprised the words escaped her tight throat. Would he reject her? Strangely, she wasn’t certain she’d feel relief if he deemed her unfit. Humiliation at his hands would be the harder emotion to swallow.

His gaze cut to her father, and he nodded once. “It is done.”

Sizzling Shorts — Free from Kindle Unlimited!

What’s this all about? Amazon has a new program called Kindle Unlimited. It’s like Netflix for books. You pay one price, $9.99 for a subscription, and then you can download as many books as you can read that month. I thought and thought about how I could leverage this program and have some fun. I had this slew of short stories, some of which readers had no idea about. So, here you go! And more are coming!

There will be a new story every Friday through the beginning of April!

Second time around is “Sweeter Than Honey”

There’s a lovely thing that authors know about called a “backlist.” When we publish a new book, it’s automatically on the backlist of things available for readers to find. And after you’ve been around a while, there could be a lot of books on that list—even ones so old readers don’t remember them. Like a fine piece of furniture, a writer can dust off an older title, give it a fresh coat of polish, and send it out into the world again.

I have a book coming on February 10th that’s up for pre-order now! It’s a historical western set in Two Mule, Texas—and yes, to those of you who pay attention, it’s a prequel book to the Lone Star Lovers series. I love this story. It was one of my first print books ever. It has tons of humor and sweaty sex. This one’s all dusted off, polished and ready for a second chance at life. And isn’t this the prettiest cover ever?

Sweeter Than Honey

Something’s on the rise in Two Mule, Texas. And it ain’t just the temperature.

1880, West Texas

Honey Cafferty lives a happy, if precarious, existence as a traveling saleswoman. She sells her elixirs and potions while searching for the one thing she hasn’t been able to brew from the back of her colorful wagon—a sense of belonging. She arrives in Two Mule, Texas, with her Elixir of Love, a potion that improves a man’s libido but might just get her run out of town.

Sheriff Joe Tanner is protective of his little town. Downright hostile toward anyone who might take advantage of the fine folk under his protection. Any snake-oil salesman who rolls into town better just keep right on rolling.

Honey isn’t what Joe expected, from her vibrant red hair and cat-green eyes to her curvy mouth and hips. And when the men of the town begin to plead exhaustion—and place the blame squarely on her sweet-smelling shoulders—Joe has no choice but to launch an investigation. A very, very deep investigation…

Warning: Contains a sheriff who prides himself on keeping his town running as smooth as a well-greased wagon wheel, and a wandering saleswoman who’s more than a bump (and grind) in his road.

Pre-order at Samhain
Read an excerpt

 

Burnin’ Up Memphis is out!

Well, Burnin’ up Memphis is available on all sites now! I can hardly wait to hear from you. I hope you love it. I hope you love my guys. I have an inkling where I’ll go next, but it’s always nice to hear which fella struck your fancy.

The only thing I have left to say is this: If you love the book, please let someone else know it. You can tell a friend or post a review. The only way I can stay a success and writing full-time is through your continued support. I’m very appreciative of everyone you do.

Enjoy! DD

Burnin' Up Memphis

She’s the one fire he may not be able to control.

Firehouse 69, Book 1

When a roof collapse kills his best friend and his girlfriend clears out his apartment and leaves, firefighter John Cooper knows he shouldn’t sit alone in his empty apartment. But when he accepts an invitation to Club LaForge, his feet get colder with every step he takes inside.

The sights, sounds and smells of the BDSM club make him sweat, and not because he’s turned off. Yet he can’t bring himself to admit—to himself, or to his luscious guide, Moira—that this lifestyle might just be what he needs.

An experienced BDSM trainer, Moira senses that Coop is not only a Dom in the making, but exactly what she’s been looking for. A man to be her lover and her Dom. The only problem is, Coop isn’t looking for anything complicated.

Moira’s willing to start slow and easy, but even once there’s enough trust to bring Coop into her world—and to her Dom—she’s still worried he’ll look for the nearest exit.

Warning: Do you smell smoke? Don’t worry, it’s just a hot and sexy firefighter getting down and dirty. Contains BDSM scenes, ropes, floggers, some spanking, some sharing, and some five-alarm sex.

Buy it now! Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Samhain | Kobo | iTunes

Meet Sergei Gun…

I have a book coming out September 2d. If you haven’t read the first book, you might want to do so now—both books in this series are great fun. Mystery, suspense, murky bayous, hot sunny Mexican getaways, ex-SEAL operatives, and women in need of their brand of care and protection….

Her Only Desire

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Sultry Summer Nights, Book 1

The moment Tilly Floret sees the sleek Bentley driving down Main Street, she knows trouble has arrived in her sleepy little town. A mysterious job posting keeps appearing at the diner where she works, and she can’t resist applying. No matter that the entire town of Bayou Vert is whispering about the wealthy, powerful man behind it all and his scandalous return home. The moment his ice-blue eyes meet hers, he ignites an all-consuming desire she never imagined possible, one she can’t deny.

Ex-navy SEAL Boone Benoit never thought he’d set foot in Louisiana again. As soon as Tilly starts her new job in his pleasure club, he senses a kindred soul. One who has carefully guarded secrets of her own-and a simmering hunger for the taboo rites of mastery and submission. The only difference is she doesn’t yet know it. Now as Boone tutors Tilly in the tantalizing world of leather and lace, she will shed her every inhibition and surrender to him, body and soul.

Buy at:  Amazon | Barnes & NobleBooks-A-Million

His Every Fantasy

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Sultry Summer Nights, Book 2

The last thing ex-SEAL Sergei Gun needs is a complication. As part of a powerful black-ops company, he’s led an extraction team into the Mexican jungle to rescue two men who have been kidnapped. Everything has gone according to plan until Serge discovers a third hostage-an exquisitely beautiful woman with a secret haunting her stormy gray eyes…a woman who refuses to make this rescue easy. With no choice but to bring her back to the compound deep in the sultry, steamy Louisiana bayou, Serge vows to protect her, body and soul…

Kara Nichols never imagined that she’d capture the interest of a powerful man like Serge. Yet from the moment they met, she’s fantasized about his strong hands caressing her naked skin, his musky scent lingering on her sheets. What began as a simple rescue mission ignites into a passionate affair. As Serge teaches her the tantalizing art of surrender, Kara finds herself more than willing to shed every last one of her inhibitions and submit to him fully. But the dark, dangerous forces that captured Kara aren’t ready to let her go so easily…

Buy at: Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

Meet Sergei Gun…

He’d been here before.

A makeshift tent city on a lonely stretch of Iraqi desert with a shamal wind kicking up fine, wheat-flour sand into a blinding storm.

Tar-paper shacks nestled in a rock-strewn valley in the Hindu Kush mountains under fat snowflakes whipping into a blizzard.

And just like those times, this ramshackle camp hidden in the middle of a Yucatán jungle was surrounded. About to be destroyed. The men guarding the perimeter, smoking cigarettes and bragging about their latest sexual conquests, were already dead. They just didn’t know it. Continue reading Meet Sergei Gun…

Good Things in Small Packages…

I published a short story on Amazon the other day. If you like science fiction/futuristic stories set on Mars, check it out. And if you like the story a lot and want to see more in a possible series of Martian tales, let me know…

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Here’s an excerpt…

The transport arrived amid a whirl of dust kicked up from the barren yard beside the house. The gritty air nearly obscured the moon, Phobos, as it made the first of several orbits for the day. The aircraft hovered, framed by the uneven curves of the asteroid, then set down with a thud that shuddered the fiber-board planks of her front porch, vertical engines stalling then shutting off altogether. Slowly, the dust settled.

She’d been sweeping, preparing the cabin for the transport’s arrival. As with every element of the company’s schedule, the ship arrived precisely on time. Although she was prepared, a flutter of anticipation tickled her belly. She set aside the broom, wiped her palms against the sides of her sturdy blue work pants, and descended the stairs, eager to meet the shipment.

A man dressed in a gray company coverall climbed out of the cockpit and strode toward her.

Mary’s heart skipped a beat when she realized she hadn’t had a face-to-face conversation with another human being in a very long time. She pasted on a smile. “Welcome.”

His sharp gaze swept her little cabin, the golden fields beyond it, then finally rested on her. “You Mary Bledsoe?”

He likely wondered how someone of her stature had managed to pass the physical tests to qualify for farming. She stiffened her spine to add a few centimeters to her small, wiry frame and met his gaze with her usual calm, chilly stare. “I am.” She bit back a sarcastic, Who else do you think I could be? Every one of the thousand colonists had been handpicked and transported by the company—they had a monopoly on Martian transportation and industry.

His mouth twitched, but he kept his gaze steady. “I have your shipment, and I’ll need your signature on the bill of lading.”

She nodded. “I’ll need to inspect.” She’d received notice of the contents of the shipment via the comm-console situated in the cabin’s main room shortly after claiming her homestead.

Although the fields had been pre-planted and her new home fully furnished, there were still some items, especially the perishables, that needed stocking: replacement blades for the combine sheltered in the barn, pallets of foodstuffs, clothing, and fuel packs…and her mate.

Trying not to appear overeager to see him, she waited as the transport commander’s crew scurried to let down the rear ramp and roll out the pallets. With well-trained efficiency, they stacked them beside the porch. She counted the pallets with their quick-wrapped goods, scanned her gaze over the identifying labels, signed for delivery, then shoved her hands into her pockets to hide the fact they were beginning to shake.

The commander’s mouth firmed into a straight line. “Did you receive training in the use of the B-Mod collar?”

He knew she had. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be here, already in possession of a land grant. She gave a curt nod. “Yes. I also signed saying I knew there were no guarantees for my safety or his willingness to work. If we don’t suit, if he proves stubborn, then I’ll return him.”

“Just don’t get too attached, ma’am. You have enough on your hands without coddling one of these rejects.”

The brusque quality of his voice surprised her. Was he truly worried? Should she be more concerned? Her hands drew into fists inside her pants pockets.

But then he extended the chain with the controller for the prisoner’s behavior modification collar, a thin ID tag with a recessed button on one side. She slipped it over her head and followed him to the side of the transport. The guard inside the vehicle opened the door. The prisoner scooted on the seat toward the edge, hands still in manacles, then slid to the ground beside her.

Heart rate rising, she gazed up into a face set in grim lines. Blue eyes, cold as ice, sparked with some deep emotion as he stared back.

He was larger than she had expected. Surprisingly so. Prisoners built like this one were generally shipped to company loading docks or to the dome’s arena. He was dressed as she was in sturdy denim pants and long-sleeved shirt. She studied his broad chest and wide shoulders. He was built like a gladiator; his arms and thighs were deeply muscled. “You’re sure he’s mine?” she asked, turning toward the commander who’d fished a key from his pocket to unlock the prisoner’s handcuffs.

The pilot’s grunt and the flinty glare he gave the prisoner said he too had some reservations. “His collar matches the invoice. Guess they thought you might need the extra muscle.”

Anger flashed at his comment. She’d had enough of men thinking she wasn’t up to the rigors of Martian prairie life. Her hand still gripped the B-Mod chip. She slipped it slowly away, remembering her training. Show no fear. As long as she had the chip, she had control.

Without glancing at the metal torque hugging the base of his neck, because she didn’t want to betray her sudden case of nerves, she lifted her chin and cleared her expression.

“Do you have a name?” An inane question. She winced inwardly.

One side of his mouth quirked. That flash of movement might have been her imagination because he gave her a stony stare.

“Colm O’Riordan.”

The commander cleared his throat.

“Ma’am,” the prisoner amended with a drawl.

Heat crept up her neck, but she ignored the blush threatening to suffuse her face. Turning back to the commander, she offered her hand.

His grip was strong, the look he gave her doubtful. “Good luck to you, Mary.”

Not a professional form of address, but no one had called her by her first name, alone, for a very long time. For that small gift, she gave him a warm smile. “Thanks for everything. We’ll be fine here.”

A duffel was tossed from the transport by one of the guards. The bag was small. Likely only a couple changes of clothing for the prisoner. She jerked her chin toward it, knowing she was still being observed by the crew. “Bring it,” she said, making her tone curt. She turned, walking toward the cabin, wondering if the lock on her new mate’s door would actually hold the man.