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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dare To Run by Jen McLaughlin (Review & Excerpt)

Title: Dare To Run
Series: The Sons of Steel Row #1
Author: Jen McLaughlin
Release Date: February 2, 2016 - Signet
Format: Print Galley
Pages: 316

She knows what he’s like on Boston’s mean streets. Now she’s going to find out if he’s got some heart.

Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he’s ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission—even if he is one of the boss’s top men. Plus someone’s placed a hit on him. And then there’s that feisty little bartender who’s going to cause him even more trouble.

Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies’ man like Lucas—even if she can’t keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she’s forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are for getting hurt in more ways than one.


I'd read a bunch of books by Jen McLaughlin under her pen name, Diane Alberts, but this is my first one under this name. Can I just say that I really loved this book?  Lucas and Heidi were an awesome couple, and they helped make every page exciting.


So Lucas is out of prison and back home, working for the Sons of Steel Row. He's known as quite the badass.  He won't hesitate to do anything, including putting you down if you step out of line.  I like Lucas, he is definitely a character I can find myself attracted to on many levels.  He likes to say over and over how he isn't the good guy, but he clearly is. It isn't long before he finds out that not everyone is glad he is home, and that is definitely an interesting plot twist.

Heidi is another character I'm immensely drawn to.  She was a foster kid and now she owns the Patriot bar.  Luck so happens that it is across the street from Lucas' apartment, so she is suddenly seeing this man a lot more than she bargained for.  As for her, she is very smart.  I love that she isn't this moody pile of emotions.  I mean, she is very keen on what her emotions are, but when a situation arises where another woman might feel insecure and feel the need to cling, she recognizes the bullheaded behavior Lucas is putting forth for what it is.

Lucas and Heidi have a bit of hate/love relationship.  They flirt and act like they don't want to be right in each other's faces, but secretly love it.  And when he comes to her name like a knight in shining armor, you really see sparks start to fly with them.  Add that in with the excitement of the gang, and the mystery of who wants Lucas gone, and this shapes up to be one hell of a book.

This book had plenty of twists and turns and exciting red hot heat to keep me glued to the pages every step of the way.  I just really loved it!  McLaughlin's writing grabbed me right from page one, and held my attention the entire way through.  I absolutely love this dangerous world within Boston that she has created. Jen McLaughlin started The Sons Of Steel Row series off on a high point, and I can't wait to see what comes up next for these guys.


I tightened my hands on my knees, fighting the impulse to cross the room and take the rest of her clothes off. I knew why she’d taken her shirt off. Through the open bathroom door, I’d seen the horror on her face when she saw the blood on the fabric. But, damn it, she was wearing only a sheer black bra and a pair of tiny shorts that looked as if they’d been painted on.
It was enough to tempt a saint, and I was no fucking saint.
My mind might know why she was half-naked, but my body hadn’t gotten the memo. It hadn’t even been in the same damn office as my brain at the time of delivery.
I knew she had to be shaken up from what those pricks in the alley had wanted to do, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her hair cascaded down her back, inexplicably curling at the ends. Those blue eyes I’d been fantasizing about didn’t have the same sparkle in them that they’d had earlier, and that pissed me off.
Those little assholes had stolen her sparkle.
She watched me, her dimples currently hidden. Her large breasts were clearly visible through the fabric of her bra, and she didn’t even bother to try to hide her rosy nipples from me. Her hard rosy nipples, which were practically begging for my mouth.
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, she was trying to kill me.
Her waist tapered in, and her generous hips flared out. Hips that were meant for a man’s hands to hold while he was making her scream out his name.
No, not a man.This man: me. Only me.The shorts clung to the curves of her ass and her upper
thighs, leaving the rest of her legs bare all the way down to her blue Converse sneakers. And she was in my apartment. Staring at me.
“Heidi . . .”
She fidgeted with her hands in front of herself. “Okay, in retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. But I couldn’t wear that shirt for another second. You know?”
Something twisted hard in my chest at her choked words. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was my heart. But I knew I didn’t have one anymore. I had a hunch that her admission hadn’t come easily to her. It wouldn’t have come easily to me, either.
She and I were a lot alike.
Standing up, I crossed the room and cupped her cheeks, brushing a thumb over her split lip. The gesture was tender and way too gentle for me, but I couldn’t help it. Not when she looked so scared and uncertain. “It’s okay, darlin’. I’ll get you a shirt.”
“Thank you,” she said, still not looking away from me.
Reluctantly, I let her go and walked into my bedroom. Grabbing my favorite shirt, I handed it to her, balled up in my fist. “Here.”
She took it, a small smile lighting up her pale face. “Blue. Of course.”
“Yeah.” I cocked a brow. “And?”“You like blue,” she said.I did, but I couldn’t remember telling her that. “Put it on.” “Oh. Right.” She slipped it over her head. After she had her arms through the holes, she hugged it close and whispered, “Thank you, Lucas.”
It was the first time she’d willingly used my name. I liked the way it sounded on her lips. All soft and sweet and seductive. But the way she looked at me, with her sparkling blue eyes, made my stomach clench tight and roll into one big knot. “Don’t look at me like that.”
She blinked her blue eyes at me. “Like what?”


“Like I’m your hero or something.” I tugged on my hair and glanced away. “It’s not like I saved you out of the goodness of my heart. I don’t have one anymore. I’m not that guy. I’m the type of guy that attacks people in alleys—not the other way around.”


Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin Random House. Under her pen name, Diane Alberts, she is also a USA TODAY bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, hit the New York Times, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and three cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

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Previous Posts on Fictional Candy
Guest Post - Jen Mclaughlin - Out Of Line
Review - Diane Alberts - Take Me
Review - Diane Alberts - Play Me
Review - Diane Alberts - Try Me
Quotetastic - Diane Alberts - Play Me

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