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Free Fall

Rocky Mountain Smokejumpers, Book 3

by

She wants him as her fake fiancé. He wants her as his mate. Will their pretend engagement end in disaster?

Jaguar shifter Esteban “Steve” Lopez is a smokejumper, an elite firefighter who risks his life parachuting into rugged terrain to fight dangerous wildfires. When his grandmother pleads for help in fending off his rapacious older brother Aarón, who is plotting to take over the family business by having her declared incompetent, Steve vows to save her. But good lawyers are expensive, and being a firefighting hero doesn’t pay nearly as well as corporate raiding. If he’s going to save his beloved abuelita, Steve needs an infusion of cash. Fast.

Enter successful entrepreneur and fellow jaguar shifter Maggie Ornelas. The dark-haired pastry chef is fearless and fiercely independent. She’s spent her life successfully dodging her family’s matchmaking efforts…until her heroism during a harrowing rescue from a raging forest fire makes the national news, and draws unwelcome attention from her clan elders.

Ambushed by her parents and the clan matriarch at the grand opening of her newest top-tier bakery in Denver, Maggie’s handed an ultimatum: either repay her clan’s big business loan, or agree to an arranged mating to Aarón Lopez, the heir to a rival jaguar shifter clan—and someone Maggie loathes.

All seems lost until a knight in a yellow firefighter’s shirt steps up save her with a white lie about being her boyfriend. Even better, smokejumper Steve Lopez is Aarón’s younger brother, so her parents instantly approve of him. Maggie offers Steve a bargain he can’t refuse—if he’s willing to pretend to be her fiancé until she can scrape together the loan repayment, she’ll pay for the lawyer his grandmother desperately needs.

Things get complicated when Steve realizes that Maggie’s his fated mate, and that he wants to claim her for real. Meanwhile, she’s fighting her growing feelings for her fake fiancé because she’s afraid that yielding to love—and her clan’s wish to unite the Ornelas and Lopez jaguar shifter clans–will force her to sacrifice everything she’s worked for.

Will their fake engagement be the perfect solution to both their problems…or an utter catastrophe? This Bearpaw Ridge Firefighters spin-off romance features plenty of drama, a helping of steamy goodness, a dash of humor, and an HEA with no cheating.

Let us entice you with a short preview of Free Fall!

"Thanks again for changing your mind about helping me," Maggie said, once they'd been seated in the dining room and were waiting for their drinks and food.

"I should be the one thanking you. This is really going to help me." Steve grinned at her. "Now that I'm a little richer, maybe I'll treat you to dinner tonight," he teased.

To his disappointment, Maggie didn't return his smile, Instead, she looked away and busied herself with tucking her phone back into her purse.

When she looked up again, she was all business. "So, let's talk about the rules for this, uh, arrangement of ours."

"Okay," he said, sitting back. "I've gotta know the rules before I can break them, right?" he added flirtatiously.

Her expression froze. "Not funny. It's really serious…to me, anyway. If I can't convince my family that the two of us are for real, then there's a good chance I'll lose everything I've worked for so far."

Damn. Instead of making her smile, he'd worried her.

"Right, sorry," he said quickly. "I promise I'll take this seriously." 

She drew in a long breath. "I just need a few months of breathing space. Then I can tell them that things didn't work out between us and that we broke up. Once I've had the chance to get Cacao Denver profitable, if they call in that loan, I'll be able to repay it without killing my business."

"Gotcha," Steve told her. Then, because he couldn't help himself, he added recklessly, "Whatever you need me to do for you, just ask. I want to help you in whatever way I can, and not just because of the money."

She relaxed a little. "Thank you. As for what I'll need you to do: once we get to Bearpaw Ridge, we're going to have to hold hands, smile a lot at each other, flirt, kiss, all that stuff, whenever we're in public. But only in public. I want to be totally clear: I'm not going to date you, and I'm not going to sleep with you."

He blinked. Challenge accepted, he thought.

Out loud he said, "Okay. I can do that."

"And you can't tell anyone, especially Thor or any of your other smokejumper friends, about our deal," she added.

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