Shadows of His Mind
by Loree Lough
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Jase Brooks had been a 26-year-old Marine, stationed in Afghanistan when his parents were killed in a head-on collision. His anguish was compounded when, at the reading of the will, he learned they’d made him sole guardian of his 11-year-old brother. Jase gladly walked away from a promising military career to step into their shoes, a tough job made tougher by the boy’s risky behavior: Petty theft to fund the addictions that led to the birth of his son, Luke… who also became Jase’s responsibility.
Through it all, best friend Samantha (Sam) Finnigan set aside her own heartaches to stand beside him–even when he made the dangerous decision to become a professional recovery agent. It isn’t until one of the criminals he’d rounded-up escapes prison–and kidnaps Sam and Luke as part of a twisted scheme to even the score–that Jase realizes Sam is more, so much more than a friend.
Now, he faces the greatest challenge of his life: Staying alive long enough to save them, so that he can finally admit just how much she has always meant to him…
Loree Lough, a USA Today bestselling author, has published over 140 novels. This is the second novel in The Shadow Series.
Elbows on knees, he held his head in his hands. What awful thing would life throw at him next!
By now, ten month old Luke’s cries bordered on screams.
“Jesse,” he growled, “are ya deaf? Luke is bawlin’ his lungs out!”
Most days, that was enough to get his brother up, stumbling and grumbling and chanting, “Shh, Lukey, shh,” on his way to the crib.
Not this morning.
Jase crossed the hall, opened the door to the room where Jesse had slept for nearly ten years. Luke greeted him with a big, four-toothed smile and said, “Duke up, Case?”
His nephew hadn’t yet mastered his L’s and J’s, and Jase had grown fond of the boy’s nickname for him, so fond that he wasn’t looking forward to the day when Luke could finally say ‘Luke’ and ‘Jase.’
“Dah-dee s’eep?” He pointed at his father’s bed.
Jesse had always been a restless sleeper, moreso since Connie left him to raise their boy, alone. The neatly-made bed proved he hadn’t slept here last night.
He thumb-dried fat tears from the baby’s cheeks. “Where is that daddy of yours?” he wondered aloud, and lifted him from the crib.
Damp blue eyes met his, held the gaze for a moment. On the heels of a shaky sigh, Luke snuggled against Jase’s chest and whimpered, “Dah-dee.”
“Someday he’ll realize what a gift you are, li’l man.” He hoped it was true, for both their sakes … before it’s too late.
According to the Ford Thunderbird wall clock, it was nearly six in the morning. The kid was probably wet. And hungry. Jase went back to the crib, released the side rail, and gently deposited him on the matching T-bird sheets. “Let’s get you changed, and then Uncle Jase will fix you some oatmeal, okay?”
The baby grabbed his favorite toy—the stuffed monkey Jase purchased in the hospital gift shop the night Luke was born—and began gnawing on the long, once-fuzzy tail. “Got another tooth comin’ in, huh, kiddo?”
Any worries that Connie’s drug use might have caused birth defects disappeared that first night, looking into those alert, innocent eyes. He’d vowed, right then and there, to do everything in his power to make sure the kid stayed innocent. He hadn’t done a very good job, protecting Jesse from the world’s evils, but maybe with Luke, he’d get a second chance to do things right.
It hadn’t been easy, straddling the line between big brother and disciplinarian, partly because he had no idea what he was doing, and partly because Jesse fought him every step of the way. But for a while there, while working together to fix their dad’s classic Thunderbird, their brotherly bond strengthened enough to distract Jesse from bad company, drugs, and booze. He’d been clean a year when the car was finally roadworthy, and he’d driven it to daily AA meetings. Ironic, Jase thought, that the following year, Jesse met Connie at one of those meetings. Her influence had been stronger than AA’s. Stronger than Jase’s. When she announced her pregnancy, Jase had hoped that fatherhood would end Jesse’s slow, downward spiral, but the empty bed across the room said otherwise.
Downstairs, he strapped Luke into his high chair. “That oughta keep you busy,” he said, sprinkling a handful of Cheerios across the tray, “while I heat up your oatmeal.” And when I put you down for a nap, I’m gonna hunt up that father of yours …
Jase has taken a lot on his shoulders throughout his life – serving his country, raising his brother, and now helping to care for his nephew. He can carry it all but it definitely helps to have help. Sam has had feelings for Jase forever, so helping him when he needs it isn’t a hardship. She just wished that sometimes he could see her as more than friends. Trouble at home, followed by danger from Jase’s job, has him realizing how much Sam really means to him … if it isn’t too late.
I enjoyed the characters and the plot definitely kept my interest. The story isn’t very long so it moved pretty quickly and unfortunately I felt like some stuff was left out or glossed over. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the book but it did keep it from being as smooth as maybe it could have been. Overall, though, a fast, satisfying, and occasionally exciting read.
With more than 14M copies of her books in circulation, USA Today bestselling/award-winning author Loree Lough has 125 books in print (contracts for 6 more), 7 book-to-movie options, 68 short stories and 2,500+ published articles. She and her real-life hero split their time between a home in Baltimore’s suburbs and a cabin in the Alleghenies. She loves interacting with readers and answers every letter personally.
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