Harlequin Desire
ISBN: 0373731647

Major Hank Renshaw knows almost everything there is to know about Gabrielle Ballard. Except for what it's like to touch her. Because Gabrielle is his best friend's fiancée. Or she was. Until his buddy died in battle—right after making Hank promise to find her…
So now Hank's in New Orleans. In Gabrielle's apartment. Watching her nurse her infant son. It's not honor that draws him to her. It's not duty that makes him stay. It's need he's feeling, plain and simple—the desire to take the woman he's always wanted and finally make her his own.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Mardi Gras
"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Let the good times roll!

The cheer bounced around inside Hank Renshaw, Jr.'s, head as he pushed through the crowd lining the road to watch the Mardi Gras parade. His mood was anything but party-worthy.
He needed to deliver a message on behalf of his friend who'd been killed in action ten months ago. Tracking down his best bud's girlfriend added twenty-ton weights to Hank's already heavy soul.

Determination powered him forward, one step at a time, through the throng of partiers decked out in jester hats, masks and beads. Lampposts blazed through the dark. The parade inched past, a jazz band blasting a Louis Armstrong number while necklaces, doubloons and even lacy panties rained over the mini-mob.
Not surprising to see underwear fly. In years past, he'd driven down from Bossier City to New Orleans for Mardi Gras festivities. This town partied through the weekend leading all the way into Fat Tuesday. If former experiences were anything to judge by, the night would only get rowdier as the alcohol flowed. Before long, folks would start asking for beads the traditional way.
By hiking up their shirts.
A grandma waved her hands in the air, keeping her blouse in place for now as she shouted at a float with a krewe king riding a mechanical alligator, "Throw me something, mister!"
"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" the king shouted back in thickly accented Cajun French.
Hank sidestepped around a glowing lamppost. He spoke French and Spanish fluently, passable German and a hint of Chamorro from the time his dad had been stationed in Guam. He'd always sworn he wouldn't follow in the old man's aviator footsteps. While his dad was a pilot, Hank was a navigator. But in the end, he'd even chosen the same aircraft his dad had—the B-52. He couldn't dodge the family legacy any more than his two sisters had. Renshaws joined the air force. Period. They'd served for generations, even though their cumulative investment portfolio now popped into the billions.
And he would give away every damn cent if he could bring back his friend.

Chest tight with grief, Hank looked up at the wrought-iron street number on the restaurant in front of him. Less than a block to go until he reached Gabrielle Ballard's garret apartment, which was located above an antiques shop. He plunged back into the kaleidoscope of Mardi Gras purple, gold and green.
And then, in the smallest shift of the crowd, he saw her in the hazy glow of a store's porch lights. Or rather, he saw her back as she made her way to her apartment. She didn't appear to be here for the parade. Just on her way home, walking ahead of him with a floral sling full of groceries and a canvas sack.
Hurrying to catch her, he didn't question how he'd identified her. He knew Gabrielle without even seeing her face. What a freaking sappy reality, but hell, the truth hurt. He recognized the elegant curve of her neck, the swish of her blond hair along her shoulders.
Even with a loose sweater hiding her body, there was no mistaking the glide of her long legs. The woman made denim look highend. She had a Euro-chic style that hinted at her dual citizenship. Her U.S. Army father had married a German woman, then finished out his career at American bases overseas. Gabrielle had come to New Orleans for her graduate studies.
Yeah, he knew everything about Gabrielle Ballard, from her history to the curve of her hips. He'd wanted her every day for a torturous year before he and Kevin had shipped out. The only relief? Since she lived in South Louisiana, while he and his friend were stationed in Northern Louisiana, Gabrielle had only crossed his path a couple of times a month.
Regardless, the brotherhood code put a wall between him and Gabrielle that Hank couldn't scale. She was his best friend's fiancée, Kevin's girl. At least, she had been. Until Kevin died ten months ago. Two gunshots from a sniper at a checkpoint, and his friend was gone. That didn't make Gabrielle available, but it did make her Hank's obligation.

Gabrielle angled sideways, adjusting the sling holding her groceries and the canvas sack, to wedge through a cluster of college-aged students in front of the iron gate closing off the outdoor stairs to her apartment. A plastic cup in one guy's hand sloshed foamy beer down her arm. She jumped back sharply, slamming into another drunken reveler. Gabrielle stepped forward, only to have the guy with the cup block her path again. She held her floral sack closer, fear stamped on her face.
Instincts still honed from battle shifted into high gear, telling Hank things were escalating in a damn dangerous way. He scowled, shoving forward faster without taking his eyes off her for even a second. The street lamp spotlighted her, her golden hair a shining beacon in the chaos. She pressed herself into a garden nook, but the sidewalk was packed; the noise of the floats so intense that calls for help wouldn't be heard.
Hank closed the last two steps between him and the mess unfolding in front of him. He clamped his hand down firmly on the beer-swilling bastard's shoulder.
"Let the lady pass."
"What the hell?" The drunken jerk stumbled backward, bloodshot eyes unfocused.
Gabrielle's gaze zipped to Hank. She gasped. Her emerald-green eyes went wide with recognition as she stared at him. And yeah, he felt an all too familiar snap of awareness inside him every time she crossed his path, the same draw that had tugged him the first time he saw her at a squadron formal.
One look at her then, in the ice-blue dress, and every cell in his body had shouted, "Mine!" Seconds later, Kevin had joined them, introducing her as the love of his life. Still, those cells in Hank kept on staking their claim on her.
The guy shrugged off Hank's hand, alcohol all but oozing from his pores into the night air. "Mind your own business, pal."
"Afraid I can't do that." Hank slid his arm around Ga-brielle's waist, steeling himself for the soft feel of her against his side. "She's with me, and it's time for you to find another spot to watch the parade."
The guy's eyes focused long enough to skim over Hank's leather flight jacket and apparently decide taking on a trained military guy might not be a wise move. He raised his hands, a glowing neon necklace peeking from the collar of his long-sleeved college tee. "Didn't know you had prior claim, Major. Sorry."
Major? God, it seemed as if yesterday he was a lieutenant, just joining a crew. Okay. He sure felt ancient these days even though he was only thirty-three. "No harm, no foul, as long as you walk away now."
"Can do." The guy nodded, turning back to his pals. "Let's bounce, dudes."
Hank watched until the crowd swallowed the drunken trio, his guard still high as he scanned the hyped-up masses.
"Hank?" Gabrielle called to him. "How did you find me?"
The sound of her voice speaking his name wrapped around him like a silken bond. Nothing had changed. He was still totally hooked on her. Bad enough before when she and Kevin had been engaged. But now, one glance at her made memories of his dying friend roil in his gut again.
He needed to check on Gabrielle as he'd promised Kevin he would, pass along his friend's final words, then punch out of her life for good.
"You still live at the same address. Finding you wasn't detective work," he said, guiding her toward the iron gateway blocking her outside stairway. His eyes roved over the familiar little garden and wrought-iron table he'd seen for the first time when he'd driven down with Kevin two years ago. Determined to gain control of his feelings, he'd accompanied his bud on a weekend trip to the Big Easy. Pure torture from start to finish. "Let's go to your place so we can talk."
"What are you doing here? I didn't know you'd returned to the States." Her light German accent gave her an exotic appeal.
As if she needed anything else to knock him off balance. Good God, he was a thirty-three-year-old combat veteran, and she had him feeling like a high schooler who'd just seen the new hot chick in class.
He took in her glinting green eyes, her high cheekbones and delicate chin that gave her face a heartlike appearance. A green canvas purse hung from one shoulder, her floral shopping sack slung over her head, resting on her other hip. The strap stretched across her chest, between her breasts.
Breasts that were fuller than he remembered.
Better haul his eyes back upward, pronto. "I'm here for you."
The rest could wait until they got inside. He pulled her closer, her grocery sling shifting between them heavily. What the hell did she have in there?
He slipped a finger under the strap. "Let me carry that for you."
"No, thank you." She covered the sack protectively with both hands, curving around the smooth bulge. Smooth? Maybe not groceries, after all. But what? Her sack wriggled.
He looked at the bag again, realization blasting through him. Holy crap. Not a satchel at all. He'd seen his sister Darcy wear one almost exactly like it when her son and daughter were newborns. No question, Gabrielle wore an infant sling.
And given the little foot kicking free, she had a baby on board.
As far back as she could remember, Gabrielle had dreamed of being a mom. Her baby dolls had always been the best dressed, well fed and healthiest in her neighborhood.
Little had she known then how very different her first real stint at motherhood would play out. No daddy for her child. A sick baby.
And now an unsettling blast from the past had arrived in the form of Hank Renshaw. Standing in front of her, tall and broad-shouldered, he blocked out the rest of the world. He wore his leather flight jacket in the unseasonably cool night, looking as tall, dark and studly as any movie poster hero.

is a USA Today bestseller writing steamy romances for Harlequin Desire, as well as military romantic suspense for Berkley and Sourcebooks.  A RITA Award winner, she has over two million books in print in more than 20 countries. Catherine resides in Florida with her Air Force aviator husband and their four children. FMI, she can be found online at her

ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading? 
CATHY: I remember having The Gingerbread Man read to me. My mother says I could read the newspaper by kindergarten.  As for what I remembering reading on my own, I have vivid childhood memories of reading The Encyclopedia Brown series, Nancy Drew.
ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
CATHY: Scooby Doo!
ANGI: Awe…there are so many of us who love this adorable big Dane! I’ve said many times he’s my all-time favorite. 

ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
CATHY: Beauty and the Beast.
ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
CATHY: Any Cajun music!  Think Mardi Gras in New Orleans – let the good times roll! 
ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
CATHY: I read anywhere, anytime I can find a free minute.  I keep my Kindle with me all the time. 

ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
CATHY: I adore the sound of the ocean, lucky for me since I live at the beach.  I also have a noise machine (set to ocean sounds) for nighttime when I travel.  
ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
CATHY: I mentioned Beauty and the Beast above, but I also loved Rapunzel – and the movie TANGLED rocks! 
ANGI: Doesn't it? LOVE the logical story they laid down for Rapunzel. It's terrific!
ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
CATHY: I have lots of favorites, but a couple that come to mind at the moment - THE QUIET MAN with John Wayne and HIGHLANDER. 
ANGI: What is your biggest vice?
CATHY: Jelly beans, cinnamon red hots, M&Ms (candy!) 
ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: It’s DESIRE week and we’re celebrating our teammate CAT SCHIELD’S release of Unfinished Business. So I’m going to play off her title and see if you’ve got any… “Unfinished Business.” Is there a character you’ve never given a story that just has to be shared?
CATHY’S GOTTA ANSWER: How fun – and coincidental – that you asked this!  HONORABLE INTENTIONS features a hero readers have asked to see for years. Hank Renshaw, Jr. is the stepbrother of the Desire heroes in “The Landis Brothers” series.  Hank Jr.’s sisters were the heroines in PRIVATE MANEUVERS (Silhouette Intimate Moments) and A SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS (HQN). Hank Jr.’s father was the hero in HOLIDAY HEROES (Silhouette Romantic Suspense.  Readers can also look for another such long awaited character in my November novella which features an all-grown-up Shelby Dawson.  Her father was the hero in UNDER SIEGE (Silhouette Intimate Moments.)  All of the backlist books I’ve mentioned have been reissued in e-book.

Catherine@catherinemann.com   Website   Facebook  Twitter   

UNDER FIRE, Sourcebooks, May 2012
“Dog Tags” in LOVE BITES, HQN, June 2012
GUARDIAN, Berkley, September 2012
“Home for Christmas” in RESCUING CHRISTMAS, HQN, Nov 2012

PREVIOUS RELEASES (for a complete list, check out Catherine’s website)
HOT ZONE               PROTECTOR
Sourcebooks                Berkley
December 2011           March 2012

One commenter will be chosen at random to win a three pack: HONORABLE INTENTIONS (Desire), HOT ZONE (Sourcebooks) and PROTECTOR (Berkley).
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join us while we continue our DESIRE WEEK celebration with HEIDI BETTS & BRENDA JACKSON. ~Angi
I have a sweet tooth, no question!  Already I’ve found marshmallow Peeps landing in my shopping buggy a bit too often. What treats tempt you?


  1. I picked up something new at Safeway yesterday: Peepsters, by Peeps. It's "Rich Dark Chocolate Surrounding Smooth Marshmallow Flavored Creme" - absolutely luscious and I'll have to go back for another bag!
    Congrats on the new book. It sounds like heart-wrenching. Will I need a box of tissues when I read it?

  2. Awesome covers for Cover Me, Hot Zone, and Under Fire! Loved the interview. (I love Scooby Doo too!)

  3. Welcome, Catherine, and thanks for participating in DESIRE WEEK. Sounds like another terrific book.

    My sweet tooth is super tempted by two things: Sunburnt Lemon Pie (oooohhhh my goodness) and Amaretto Ice Cream with white chocolate chips on a waffle cone (yum). BOTH can't stay in the house so I'm safer than picking up Peeps in the store.


  4. Chocolate tempts me and also the icing of cakes. Sometimes I think I enjoy the icing more than the cake itself lol. With chocolate I like it to be mixed with nuts. The crunch makes it tasty.

    The heroes of your books sounds great and the kind I like to read: strong and brave.


  5. Hi Winnie! Chocolate covered Peeps?! OMG! Yum!!!! And as for your question, this book may be a two hanky read, but of course it has a happy ending. ;)

  6. Hey there, Barb! My favorite Scooby Doo moment was when Mark McGrath sang in the movie version - SO cool!!

  7. Hey there, Angi! Thank YOU for having me here. :)

    And I agree - white chocolate tipped waffle cones ROCK!

  8. Hi Na! Thank you so much for the cheers for the Honorable Intentions hero Hank! I love a man of honor. :)

  9. My favorite thing is from Gerturde Hawk and they are called Sweetie Pies. Sooooo good (and soooo bad lol) they are chocolate,caramel,and pecans!!!!

    Love all of Catherin's books. I was wondering if there will be any more books in the series Wingman Warriors? Thanks for the great giveaway :)

  10. Hi Catherine,
    Great interview and I love M&Ms too and you made me hungry for some jelly beans. My favorite sweet though is Hershy Kisses, I have loved them since I was a kid.

  11. OMG all this talk about chocolate will have my digging through my cabinets soon! Unfortunately, the only chocolate in the house at the moment are Nestle morsels -- I finished off all the m&m's the other night. :)

    I enjoyed the excerpt from your book, Catherine! I've been to New Orleans a couple of times and your description of Mardis Gras had me reliving my time on Bourbon Street. I look forward to reading the rest of Hank and Gabriella's story ...

  12. Great teaser opening! Peeps, oh my. I had one just this weekend and then discovered they have chocolate-covered Peeps. I'm limited to ONE!
    Otherwise, I'm a "dark chocolate with orange" fan...yum. And can't resist Tom & Jerry cartoons ;)

    Good to see wonderful things happening for you.


  13. I do enjoy all sweets but I think M & M s are my favorite. With Easter coming I buy chocolate but then I eat it too.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  14. Those PEEPS sound so good, I am not that into PEEPS but I would reconsider with all the chochlate. My husband and son love PEEPS when they are stale, go figure

  15. I also have a sweet tooth, M@M's and chocolate bar, dove,hersey. love your interview and to learn more things about my favorite author! Happy Easter to you!carolefiore@yahoo.com

  16. Peeps!! My hubby loves peeps, I eat them when the start going stale. My favorite is white-chocolate truffles. Did you hear that they're now saying chocolate in moderation can help a person lose weight? It sounded good to me. Congrats on your upcoming release next month!!

  17. Let's just say if it is chocolate or covered with chocolate I'll love it!!! I've tried to stay away from the candy aisle since the Easter candy is out but not having much luck....At the moment I have some chocolate covered peanut butter Easter eggs.

  18. Peeps are always good... I love anything with caramel, nuts, white chocolate, fudge... Gummies are the best too... :)

    Congrats on your new release.... Your new book sounds terrific!

    maybe31 at yahoo.com

  19. I enjoy caramilk bars- chocolate filled with caramel.

  20. Hi Catherine,

    At Easter time, Sees Candy's Decorated Eggs are my favorite. I love the Rocky Road egg with Marshmallows, and walnuts surrounded with yummy Sees chocolate.

    I have read many of your Desires. Now I need to read your Hot Zone books.

  21. Wow, this sounds awesome! Congratulations on the new release. And yay, another Highlander fan! As for treats, I love English Mars bars. They are my absolute favorite and every once in a while my English relatives will send me a package! I also love peanut M& Ms, especially when I'm writing.

  22. Oh, Honorable Intentions sounds really sweet. Added it to the TBR list.

    I am tempted by M&Ms. The whole idea of just taking a few is appealing, but you know it never stops there LOL

  23. Anything chocolate, preferably Godiva or Ghiradelli.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Very nice interview and excerpt. The book sounds good.


  26. If there's two things I love together it's Harlequin Blaze and warm chocolate chip cookies. I do adore Peeps but there's nothing like the ooey gooey goodness of warm semi-sweet chocolate.

  27. Well I meant Harlequin Desire, but I do love the Blaze editions too.

  28. Reading all these notes made my sweet tooth fire to life... so many great choices... M&Ms are dangerous to keep around my house! Too tempting!! And anything with caramel is a hit.

    Thanks bunches to all of you who checked out the blog and commented!!! I'll be picking up extra candy next Monday when everything goes on clearance. ;)

  29. Thanks again for "getting lost" with us, Cathy!
    Had to stop by Marble Slab yesterday to take care of that white chocolate/waffle cone/amaretto/cinnamon ice cream problem I have.


  30. Hey Cathy! My fave isn't even chocolate it's JAX cheeseies! I have loved them for years! Now with the high blood pressure issue I have to be careful of all that salt . So, I buy them New Year's, Superbowl, once in the summer, and again around Halloween. It doesn't help that our new store in town carries it! As a kid my sweet tooth went out to circus peanut marshmallows. Now a day's it's been Hostess !!! On a normal day tho it's usually peanutbutter filled M&M's! Pam J-H

  31. Cake, fresh cake with real icing. Its the hardest thing for me to resist.

    Congrats on the new book. Looking forward to reading it.

    You've won the TRIPLE SHOT Backlist of Catherine's books.

    Since you left your email, I'll be sending you & Catherine a notification.

    Thanks everybody for helping us celebrate Cat's DESIRE release this month!