DARING THE PILOT by Jeannie Moon
What do you get when you cross a brainy geophysicist and a former army helicopter pilot? Chemistry that smolders like a volcano. Keely Anderson and Jonah Clark reconnect in their hometown of Marietta, and the longtime friends find it impossible to fight their attraction for each other. Read on for a peek into Jeannie Moon’s exciting new contemporary romance, Daring the Pilot!
Title: Daring the Pilot
Author: Jeannie Moon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Series: Men of Marietta (Continuity series, book #3 of 5)
Word Count: 328 pages
About the book
Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.
Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.
Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, the pair is hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a child is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.
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See the series on Tule’s website
Copyright © 2017 Jeannie Moon
The clunk and bang out of the engine was the only warning Keely had that her old truck was going to die.
Just up and die.
She was still at least five miles out of town, on a stretch of road that saw cars, but not as often as a person who was stuck would like. The occasional tractor-trailer sped by causing tremors all around her, leaving the smell of diesel fuel in its wake. Keely was thankful there was a nice wide shoulder.
In her mind this was a bad sign, though. She hadn’t been home for more than a few days at a time since she graduated from college six years ago. Ever since then, she jumped from one research site to another, trying to uncover the secrets that were buried in the earth.
What made the earth tick was Keely’s calling.
And now she was going to spend a year back in the place where she first learned to love nature, where she found that rocks sometimes revealed more of a story than the best books in the library.
Getting stuck had to be a bad omen of some sort.
Her truck couldn’t be dead. Refusing to accept it, she turned the key, and for a second she thought she might be in luck. The engine made a pathetic attempt to turn over, but then it clunked again, and went quiet. “Great.”
Pulling out her cell, service was spotty at best. The story of her life in this valley.
Still, she pressed the button to speed dial her mother, and hoped the call went through. “Hey, Sweetie! Are you home? I’ll be there soon.”
“Hi Mom, no. My truck died out on 89, not far from Carter’s Bridge.” She wanted to give a landmark her mother could easily identify. “I’m fine, but I can’t even get the engine to turn over. “
“I told you that truck would strand you. Thank goodness you’re not too far from home.”
Getting a new truck was on the top of her list once she settled in at home. She knew she needed one, but what she didn’t need was her mother’s ‘I-told-you-so.’ “I know, Mom. Can Dad come out?”
“I’ll call him. He had clients to see today, but I’ll let him know. I can’t wait to see you, honey.”
“Me too, Mom. Me too. “
Her mother was a worry wart and had recently been suggesting that a teaching job at the university in Bozeman would be much safer than hopping around the world. Her parents, specifically her mother, were proud of everything she’d accomplished, but at the same time, they saddled her with guilt over not taking a more traditional path. Someday, Keely knew she’d pull back from her high-octane life, but for now, her research was her passion. Tradition would have to wait.
Opening the door, she checked the road and hopped out. The cold was a shock to her system, but she had no idea why. It was mid-March in Montana, which meant cold weather. Not knowing what made her do it, she popped the hood of her truck and looked at the very dead engine. She was no mechanic, but there was a funny smell coming from the compartment, and that made her wonder if the damn thing was going to burst into flames.
Wouldn’t that be a sight?
Shaking off her desire to see the old truck go out in a blaze of glory, she closed the hood, and stepped down.
Sighing, Keely parked her behind on the front bumper, taking a long look at the foothills that surrounded her. The air was so clean here. Every breath cleared her head.
The expansive beauty was overwhelming at times. It was easy to take for granted that she was coming back to such a beautiful place. Less than fifty yards away, the Yellowstone River ambled past, its water bubbling and cold. There was still snow on the banks, a gentle reminder that the weather was still unpredictable. Further on, the dormant grass in the meadow faded into a grove of trees and then the mountains rose into the sky. A few cattle dotted the landscape, and almost immediately, a sense of calm settled over her. Home was a good idea. It was time. Keely had missed it.
Her work was all she knew, and it had her full attention all the time, but she was ready to put school behind her. A prime research job was waiting for her when she finished her dissertation, and she couldn’t wait to apply what she’d learned to make lives better. And maybe somewhere in there, she could start having an actual life.
The mountain ranges around Marietta were perfect for her final study and coming home was no hardship. She’d missed her family and her friends. Missed her grandparents. Missed her hometown. It was going to be different being back in the middle of nowhere, but in some way, she was ready for a new routine. A lot had happened while she was gone, and it was high time she gave some attention to the people who had given so much to her.
Sitting on the wide chrome bumper of the truck, she glanced at her watch before wrapping her parka tightly around her and folding her arms. It might be an hour before her father arrived. Or longer. She could call roadside assistance, but that was no guarantee of help arriving any quicker. She sighed. It really was time to buy a new truck. She couldn’t risk getting stranded in some of the more isolated spots she planned on studying. The last time she got in trouble in the mountains, she’d nearly died.
In the distance, she heard a car coming her way. Probably a pick-up truck, based on the sound. It was a steady hum, but then something changed. The truck was slowing down. She took a deep breath, but then froze when she heard the telltale sound of tires kicking up gravel. The driver cut the engine. A door slammed. Footsteps.
Keely cursed herself for not following rule one of being stranded on the highway: Stay in the car. Why hadn’t she stayed in her truck? She knew better. The headlines flashed before her eyes.
Clueless Graduate Student Murdered on Side of the Road.
It would be a brutal end. She just knew it.
With her hands over her heart, Keely thought about how her poor parents would react when they heard she’d gone missing. They were strong people, and they’d gotten her through so much, losing a child would devastate them. She took deep breaths and steeled her spine waiting for the end to come.
She shrunk down against the grill and listened. The footsteps drew closer. “Hey, do you need…” The voice was deep and soft, like a warm summer day in the hills. “Science Girl?”
Keely’s eyes flew open. Only one person called her Science Girl.
One very big, bad, and gorgeous person.
Sure enough, when she turned her head she saw the man who had occupied her daydreams and fantasies since the day she left Marietta. “Jonah? I… wow.”
She’d been home a half dozen times in the last five years, but they’d never crossed paths. If they had, she’d have known Jonah Clark, the cute boy who’d been her brother’s best friend was an even more gorgeous man. And built. Mother of God, the man was built.
“What are you doing out here?” He folded his arms and widened his stance.
“I’m on my way home and my truck broke down. I was just enjoying the view.”
He scowled, his brow furrowing between his deep blue eyes. “You should be enjoying the view from inside your locked truck.”
“Still bossy, I see,” she teased.
“Some things don’t change,” he replied flatly, gently nudging her out of the way.
“I’m just… waiting… for… my dad. What are you doing?”
“Move,” he mumbled, as he bumped her with his hip. “I’ll take a look.”
And just like that, he was rescuing her again. And while younger Keely would have swooned, and let him do what he wanted, older Keely was a little more hesitant. But before she could say a word, Jonah had flipped up the hood of her truck, jumped on the pitted chrome bumper, and grumbled.
“Do you ever have this serviced?”
“Yes. I had the oil changed not too long ago. This is silly. My dad is coming…”
“Uh huh.” He was tugging on something and grumbling. “Call him and tell him not to bother. I think I see the problem. You need to be towed.”
“What are you talking about? I’m sure it’s not that serious.”
“Yeah, it is. Your engine is done.” Reaching into his back pocket after he hopped down, he pulled out a rag and wiped his hands. “Your dad doesn’t need to come out here. I’ll bring you home. Let’s get your things.”
“That’s not necessary.” Keely pushed her glasses up her nose and took him in. He was bigger—broader—than the last time she saw him, if that were possible. His angular jaw was rough with stubble, and his eyes were a stormy blue. Something was different, though. Jonah had always been more serious than her brother, but he had a sweetness to him that made all that brawn totally irresistible. He was steady and mature, but it was his innate kindness that made him so special. He did his best to hide it from people, but he couldn’t hide it from her. Even now, couched in seriousness, there was no way to hide he was a good man.
“Jonah, I can wait for my father.”
She was all revved up and ready to argue, because gorgeous or not, she didn’t like to be told what to do. But something stopped her. Something in the way he made her take a breath, and fold like a lawn chair. She was weak.
“Fine.” She threw up her hands. “This is under protest.”
“Whatever. Where are your things?” He really was bossy and stubborn. But there was no use fighting it. She gave up the information.
“My duffle is behind the passenger seat, and there are four large plastic totes with my equipment secured in the back.”
“Four? I thought you science types traveled light. You know, more room for your microscopes.” From the corner of her eye she could see his wry grin. No way was she going to give him the satisfaction of a snarky response.
“Not this time.”
Pulling her cell from her pocket, Keely pressed the button for her mother.
She felt so much of the old Jonah in their exchange. He was concerned. Kind. He wanted to help. But something had changed. He was more somber, and there was a very dangerous edge. Something in his eyes told her Jonah Clark had a story, and Keely intended to find out what it was.
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About the author
Bestselling contemporary romance author Jeannie Moon, has always been a romantic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. Married to her high school sweetheart, she has three kids, three lovable dogs and resides on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy. Visit Jeannie’s website at www.jeanniemoon.com
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Jeannie Moon’s Daring the Pilot is the third in the Men of Marietta series. With this latest visit back to Marietta, we get a brother’s best friend/best friend’s little sister romance. I enjoyed the set up with Jonah coming to Keely’s rescue.
Moon has a way with characters that will stay with you long after the book is finished. I loved the chemistry and couldn’t wait to see what was going to develop with these two that had a shared past.
As I read each book in the Men of Marietta series, I can’t help but want that next one.