Originally published: 07/01/05
They’re the good guys fighting the bad guys. They’ll get the job done–if the price is right and so is the cause. Meet three sexy men who individually are READY, WILLING, and ABLE to go the distance–and together, are unstoppable. . .
As a writer, Lise Barton is used to coming up with wild scenarios for her characters, but the one that’s playing out for her right now is no fiction–it’s frighteningly real. Someone is stalking her, someone who knows where she lives and what she does. Someone who has even threatened her family–her brother, his wife, and their precious baby girl. Lise isn’t about to let someone hurt them, so she packs up and leaves Texas for the anonymity of Seattle. And then the threats start again…
Joshua Watt’s mission is simple: Go to Seattle and bring Lise home for Thanksgiving or he’ll never hear the end of it from his sister. It’s not like “Aunt Lise” to stay away from their adorable niece, and Joshua’s pretty sure he’s the reason for it. He’s spent months trying to forget the taste of her lips, the feel of her soft hair in his fingers. Yeah, okay, he wants her–badly–but family comes first. But the minute he sees the fear in Lise’s eyes, his survival instincts kick in. The former Army Ranger isn’t about to let some creep terrorize an innocent woman–not on his watch. He’s going to do what it takes to protect Lise and try to keep his personal feelings out of it. Because if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that sex and work don’t mix. Not ever. So far. . .
“With an engrossing plot and characters who explore sides of themselves hidden from the world, Monroe’s exciting romance is a great read.” – Maria Hatton, Booklist
“Monroe introduces her mercenary trilogy with an action-packed sizzler.” 4.5 Stars – Romantic Times Bookclub
“Lucy Monroe excels at creating alpha bad boys and authentic erotic romance.” – Michelle Buonfiglio, WNBC.com
“Lucy Monroe writes a thrilling tale of suspense..”. – Helen Slifer, Writers Unlimited
“Ready is a combustible mix of suspense, danger, and sexual tension that will leave you breathless. “- A Reader Review
“A strong ardent romantic suspense thriller starring two courageous heroes and a couple of testosterone hunks. “- The Best Reviews (Harriet Klausner)
“There is nothing and I mean absolutely NOTHING that I didn’t love about this story. 5 Stars and Recommended Read”- FAR
“Lucy Monroe has penned another tale sure to go on the keeper shelf and keep readers coming back to read it again and again.” 5 Stars – The Romance Studio
“Be Ready not to be able to put this book down!” 4 Stars – We Write Romance Reviews
“An excellent combination of steam and suspense, READY easily earned a spot on my keeper shelf.” – Blue Ribbon Reviews
“I love all books that are military oriented, the men and women whose values and dedication are inspiring, which in Lucy Monroe’s Ready, she does an outstanding job with her characters and a gripping plot.” – Road to Romance
“A hard book to put down…I certainly can’t wait to read the next books in this trilogy”. – Cataromance Reviews
“I love how I can visualize the scenes in her book.” – The Best Reviews (Barb Hicks)
“I just wanted to tell you that I finished READY and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a sexy yet sensitive guy Joshua was! I love those hunky protectors :-)” ~ Catherine Spangler, Paranormal Romance Author
“Naughty and nice! Lucy Monroe is an up and comer to watch!” ~ Susan Andersen, NYT bestselling author of Hot & Bothered
“Thank you for writing those alpha males that I love so much, and the strong heroines who match them perfectly!” –Lori Foster, NYT Bestselling Author of Jamie
“Okay, Lucy – I’m sorry I missed your chat last night, but I had a very good reason!! I was reading “Ready”! What a great book! I absolutely loved Joshua and his mountain hideaway… what a treat to spend an evening reading such a fun book.” ~ Janice Maynard
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was lucky enough to get an ARC of “Ready” from you at RT, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it. <snip> You definitely didn’t disappoint with his story! 🙂 The chemistry between Joshua and Lise was unbelievable. Some of the scenes between the two of them were so hot they made my toes curl! 🙂 And as strange as this might sound, the way you wrote about Lise and her books made me want to check out a Lise Barton book. <snip> I can’t wait to share this with my patrons when it comes out in July. I just know they will love it!” – The Library Diva
“I just wanted to tell you that i just love your books. I read all your Modern Romance books and now I’m starting to read the rest of your books. So far I’ve read The Real Deal, Come Up And See Me Sometime and Ready. I just loved them all. I finished reading Ready and i just had to tell you how much i enjoyed it. Can’t wait to get my copy of willing. I live in Israel so it’s hard for me to get all your books but in the last few weeks I ordered a lot of them online and I can’t wait to get them all- I’m sure I’ll enjoy any book by you. Thanks for all the great books you write.” ~ Moran
“Hi Lucy: Just wanted to tell you that I loved “Ready” and am heading out to get “Willing” next. You are one FANTASTIC author. Keep up the good work!!!!!” ~ Karen 🙂
“I just wanted to say that I just read my first book by you, Ready. I read it completely in about 5 hours and could not put it down. Needless to say, I will be reading everything I can get my hands on with your name on it. I love to read and you just reminded me why.” ~ Laura M
“I Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I loved reading “Ready”. This is my first book of yours, I’m excited to get started locating your backlist! Below I posted the little review I did–I sent this to Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble. When I love a good book, I gotta shout it to the world, lol. Thanks for writing such a wonderful story!” ~ Tami To read her review, click here.
“Lucy, I wanted to tell you I just finished reading your book Ready. I loved it! It was great, but I want to find out about Nitro and Josie. Also, is Hotwire going to get to know Joshua’s other sister. Please, tell me you are going to write another story. I loved the whole idea of your book. Just wanted to tell you!” ~ Jan
“OMG Ms. Monroe. I did this not that long ago and asked you were excerpts available. I have since then bought your much talked about book, Ready. I went out on a whim and said, “I’m going to do it,” and I did. That was the most AWESOME read I have read in a long time and so steamy. You have skyrocketed into the number one position in my list of authors. I am going to be telling peple about you for a LONG time.” ~ Qua
“I just finished Ready by Lucy! It was absolutely fabulous and hot!” ~ Jodi
“I just read Ready it was my first time reading one of your books and I’ve been hooked since last Wednesday after that I had to run out and get Come Up and See Me Sometime and The Real Deal. Can’t wait for your next book.” ~ Christle
“I loved Ready and very much look forward to reading the other two in the series.” ~ Susan Z
“I just love your books!!! My favorite one was READY. I was wondering if you’ll be making sequels. I’d love to read about the other guys. Thanks.” ~ Neri
“Hi Lucy, I am about 3/4 thru “Ready”, and I am thrilled. This is the first time I’ve read one of your books. I am so excited about Ready, that I am dying to know when the next of this trilogy will be available. I absolutely LOVE Lise and Joshua. HOT!!” ~ Kathy P
“Hi. I just read “Ready,” and I LOVED IT! It was so good. My favorite kind of romantic suspense has hot sex, steamy romance and danger! You had it all.” ~ Teri
“I loved your new book “Ready”. I understand that it is a trilogy – when are books 2 and 3 anticipated? Great characters! Thank you for giving readers like me a chance to escape these difficulty times we live in.” ~ Rena
“Just had to let you know I just read Ready and I was blown away!! That book is awesome!! I totally fell in love with Joshua! Now, if only real men like that existed! You made me want to believe in love and happy ever after. I loved the book so much I am currently re-reading it!! I will continue to enjoy your books and keep searching for “my” Joshua! Thank you!” ~ Donna
Love ALL YOUR BOOKS. Just finished “READY” can’t wait until your next book. Write fast please. – Marcia
“Lucy I won READY from your contest at Romance Junkies and I have to say I LOVED this book! I adored Joshua and Lise! I can’t wait to read about Nitro and Hotwire! I’m going to have to track down your other books while I’m impatiently waiting for their stories! Thanks for a great read.” ~ KarenB
“I just had to write you a note and let you know I absolutely loved READY. <snip> I can’t wait for the upcoming stories in the rest of the series. I even recommended it to a friend who loves RS herself. Keep up the great writing!” ~ Patti
“Just finished reading Ready. Great book. Is there going to be a book about Josie and Nitro.” ~ Thanks, Ivana
“Lucy I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed READY. I knew by the end of the 1st chapter that it was going on my keeper shelf. You have outdone yourself this time. What a GREAT story!!!!! I just can hardly wait for Willing. Keep up the great work.” ~ Marsha
“I sincerely think this is you’re very best! I’m almost through and I loved every moment in this book. It’s incredible! Not just the “hot sex”, it’s a grand story.” ~ Marilyn
“I just finished READY. I loved it!! When can we expect Nitro and Hotwire’s story? I can’t wait to read them too!!” ~ Darcey
“Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you I loved your book “Ready”. I am always looking for new authors to read and I can tell you now that you are going to be one of my favorites. Thanks for taking me away and entertaining me with your books.” ~ Connie
“Just finished Ready! Awesome! Am now eagerly awaiting the next one in the trilogy (Willing?)! I love your
writing! Keep ’em coming!” ~ Donna
“I just finished reading your new book Ready. I loved it!!!!! Thanks for being such a great writer. I cannot wait for the next one in the series to come out.” ~ Diane
“I finished reading Ready and I really enjoyed it. Can’t wait until the next one is out.” ~ Lori B
“I just finished your new book READY this weekend. I wanted you to know it was GREAT. Are you going to write Nitro and Hotwire’s stories? I really hope so. Thanks for your wonderful stories and happy writing.” – Suzanne
“Just finished ‘Ready’ and had to take a cool shower to COOL Down. Awesome book. Love stories that are hot, steamy, full of emotion, mysterious, and have a strong hero and heroine. Since I work in a bookstore you can be sure I will recommend it to all my romantic suspense customers. Looking forward to Josie and Daniel’s story in 1/06.” ~ Betsy
“I just finished ‘Ready’ last night and I think some steam was coming of some of those pages it was so hot. So, just thought I would say great job and I am looking forward to reading ‘Willing’.” ~ Sharon
“Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you I LOVE your book ‘Ready’. I can’t put it down, I can’t wait for the other two books to come out. You make the characters come to life, and I like that you make them with a soft side to them and not all hard and uncaring. I like a little mystery in combine with romance in an well written book. Keep up the good work and I’m counting the months until ‘Willing’ & ‘And Able’ come out. Thank You for the great escape from reality for a little while.” ~ Michele
“Hi Lucy, I just wanted to let you know how MUCH I loved Ready. Lordy it was hot…. I just adored Joshua, pity you cant cast a spell and make him come to life. LOL <snip spoilers> Can’t wait for Hotwire and Nitro’s stories.” ~ Judy
Joshua stopped in front of the door to Lise’s apartment.
He had not planned to fly into SeaTac before going to Texas, but he’d had no choice. His baby sister’s emotional well being depended on him talking some sense into Lise Barton.
Bella was a wreck because Lise had called to cancel her visit for Thanksgiving. His sister believed she was the reason her new sister-in-law had moved to Seattle and refused to come home for the holidays. Bella had spouted some baloney about being afraid she’d displaced the other woman since she married Lise’s brother, Jake.
According to his sister, Lise had said she had a cold that she didn’t want to expose the baby to. That had sounded reasonable, but then Bella told him that Lise had said she wouldn’t be able to make Christmas either because of an unexpected deadline.
Bella was sure the excuses were phony. She said that Lise planned her deadlines out a year in advance. He didn’t know about that, but the sexy, but shy author of kick-butt women’s fiction would not put work ahead of an important family event. That much he knew. He was still reeling inside from the shock she’d moved across country from them. She was too attached to Jake, Bella and the baby for the move to make any sense.
When Bella had let slip that Lise had cancelled her arrival after discovering he was going to be at the ranch for the holidays, he’d known what the real problem was. Lise didn’t want to see him again.
He was here to fix that.
He knocked, glad to see she at least had a peephole in her door. Her secure building had been so easy to get into, he was embarrassed for the agency that installed the security measures and the so-called guard at the front desk in the lobby.
A crash came from inside the apartment. Then silence. He knocked again, louder this time.
Again there was no response.
He called out her name, but absolutely no sound came from the apartment.
Had she fallen and hurt herself? She wasn’t always completely aware and he’d seen her walk straight into a wall when her eyes were hazy with a certain look she got.
His fist against the door made it shake within its frame.
He surveyed the locks on the door. They were too basic to be of any real use at keeping out the criminal element. He didn’t even hesitate.
He had the door open faster than if he’d had a key.
A slight whoosh of air to his left sent him into immediate battle ready mode. Reflexes honed by six years in the Army Rangers and a decade spent as a mercenary took over. He swung toward the faint sound, his hand coming up to block the blow.
He grabbed the poker before it connected with his head and had his assailant in a headlock before he realized it was Lise.
He tossed the cast-iron poker aside and spun her to face him, her dark blonde hair flying around her face. “What the hell are you trying to do?”
Big hazel eyes stared back at him with a glazed look he’d come to know all too well in his profession.
Her breath came in shallow pants and her sweatshirt clad arms were trembling.
What the hell was going on?
“Why didn’t you answer the door?”
Her mouth moved, but nothing came out.
He shook her gently. “Speak, Lise.”
Her eyes blinked and then filled with tears.
“Damn it.” He hauled her against him and wrapped his arms around her.
He’d really frightened her when he forced his way into her apartment. He hadn’t considered that possibility when he picked her locks. He should have.
She was a small town Texas girl living in the big city.
Obviously, she hadn’t acclimated well.
Her body shook against him and he felt like a real heel.
“I didn’t mean to scare you, little one.”
Lise’s fingers were digging into his shirt, holding the denim so tight, he’d lose the shirt before he lost her grip. She pressed her face into his chest as if she was literally burrowing into him.
“Joshua?” It was the first recognizable sound she’d made in over a minute.
“What are you doing here?”
“You told Bella you weren’t going to Texas for Thanksgiving.
Lise shuddered. “No. I’m not going.”
She didn’t sound like she had a cold. Her usually soft voice was strained, but not in a way that could be misinterpreted as being caused by a scratchy throat.
He rubbed her back.
It just seemed like the right thing to do.
She responded by relaxing her hold on his shirt just the tiniest bit. He kept it up, talking to her in the same tone of voice he’d used to calm the little boy he’d liberated on his last mission. He used similar words too, telling her it was all right, that he wouldn’t let anything happen to her, that she was going to be okay.
It took almost as long as it had taken him with the boy before she relaxed enough to step away from him. When she did and he got his first good look at her face, he winced.
He’d seen snow with more color than her skin, except the purple bruises under her eyes. Her bow-shaped mouth trembled.
“Lise, you don’t belong in Seattle.”
“H-how…” She blinked, made a visible effort to gather herself in and her quivering lips formed words. “How do you figure that?”
“It’s pretty damn obvious to me you aren’t settling into city living. You get an unexpected visitor and you’re practically crawling out of your skin.”
She shook her head and laughed hollowly. “Trust me, moving back to Texas won’t help.”
“My problems travel with me.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
She didn’t answer, but this time he didn’t wait around for a reply. He propelled her gently toward the bedroom. “You can tell me about it on the plane. Get your stuff together. We’ve got an eight o’clock flight.”
“No.” She twisted from his guiding hand and stopped, wrapping her arms around herself covering the Dallas Cowboys logo on her sweatshirt.
“I can’t go, Joshua.” Her southern drawl was very pronounced and her voice was on the ragged edge of hysterical.
She swallowed and looked away from him, her body stiff with stress.
“I don’t want my family hurt because of me.” Her eyes were both pleading and wild. “If I go to Texas right now it could put them all at risk, even little Genevieve.”
He bit back an ugly word. “Explain.”
“I’m being stalked.”