AlannaWhen Hearts Dare Book 2

Some loves are forged by destiny

A high-spirited young woman, intent on shedding a fiancé handpicked by her social climbing Boston parents, embarks on a blazing love affair with an enigmatic lone wolf whose quest to find his mother’s killer threatens their love—and their lives.

ISBN-13: 9781420135305

Available from Kensington Publishing

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Praise for Alanna and an excerpt

“Gripped me from the opening page…kept me reading long into the night.” New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas

RT Book Reviews

“In Bittner’s previous novel, readers met the dangerous, enigmatic Wolf. This is his dramatic story: a tale of murder, revenge and salvation. From the gripping prologue onward, the story draws readers into a complex romance and murder mystery until they are hooked. Bittner writes novels that pay homage to the 1980’s classics, but here she crafts a sexually charged tale that modern readers and longtime fans will enjoy.”– RT Book Reviews

Excerpt

At the sight of Wolf sitting very still in his chair, boldly staring at her, a buzz raced along Alanna’s skin, then slipped inside and warmed her. There was pure sin in his startling blue eyes. The moment hung suspended between them, and then expanded as his feral gaze held hers, until finally, she tucked a smile into one corner of her mouth and looked at her plate. That her mother was aware of the silent communion between her daughter and this stranger held little significance.

Stranger? Not to Alanna. He went by the name of Wolf, and he was a legend in these parts. No one knew much about him other than that he roamed the West as a relentless tracker of lost persons. She’d seen him enter the hotel two days before wearing dusty buckskins and a gun belt slung low on lean hips. His disheveled hair grazed his fringed shirt and a full beard obscured his face. There appeared to be not an ounce of fat on his broad-shouldered frame. Hard to recognize that man as being the same person who now sat across the room dressed in tailored clothing that rivaled any worn in London or Paris. Sun-streaked hair, clubbed at his nape with a black ribbon, shone tawny gold beneath the gas-lit chandeliers. Clean-shaven now, his chiseled face could pass for a work of art.

Two days ago hadn’t been the first time she’d seen him. A few months prior, he’d charged into the elegant Morgan Hotel after weeks on the trail, dragging a woman by the hand and cradling a rosy-cheeked babe in one arm. A fascinating man, he’d captivated Alanna on the spot. Or had she merely fallen for the romantic notion that he’d made a daring rescue of the woman by his side? She’d heard that the woman had been captured by Indians and ended up giving birth to a son while surrounded by wolves…

“Stop staring,” her mother spat. “Not only are you being utterly rude, but have you forgotten you are soon to be married?”

Oh, wouldn’t she like to forget that unfortunate fact. “I’d rather slit my wrists with a butter knife than marry Jonathan.”

Her mother’s jaw twitched and her lips thinned. “Don’t start that again, Alanna, or I’ll have your father correct your manners.”

Alanna settled her mouth into a faux smile. “My father who sits here and ignores us entirely?” She leaned over and patted her father’s plump hand. “Isn’t that right, Father?”

He glanced up from the folded newspaper beside his plate, fork in midair. “Huh? Oh. Yes. Yes. Correct. Correct.” He went back to reading and eating.

She pursed her lips against a real smile. “See, Mother? Not an inkling.”

She glanced up, just as Wolf stood, dropped his serviette on the table, and turned on his heel. He moved toward the exit with a fluid grace, his muscled hips rolling seductively, his long legs stretching out in a slow, purposeful glide. Something less than virtuous heated Alanna’s insides. Oh, why did a man like him have to live in this part of the world and not in hers?

As if he’d heard her thoughts, he paused at the doorway and made a swift turn of his shoulders. He settled a blue-fire gaze on her, scorching every nerve in her body.

Her mother gasped. “Ignore that awful man at once!”

Alanna paid her mother no heed.

Mr. Malone,” her mother hissed. “Would you please rid yourself of that dratted newspaper and have a word with your daughter about indecently gawking at a perfect stranger?”

Her father glanced up. Wolf had disappeared. “What does it matter? We’re gone in two days.” He turned to Alanna. “And I have heard every word, Alanna Mary Malone.” The soft Irish lilt infusing his words thickened, revealing his repressed anger. “There will be a wedding and that’s all there is to it. You so much as breathe in a way that ruins our chances of entering the upper ranks of society and you will lose everything you hold dear.”

She straightened her spine against his ire. “Well, since I don’t give a fig about finances and material things, that wouldn’t be much of a loss, now, would it, Father?”

“Watch your tongue. You know quite well what I mean, so do not pretend otherwise.”

Alanna wiped all expression from her face, but beneath the table, her hands twisted her serviette as if it were her fiancé’s neck. “I have yet to walk down the aisle with the man you sold my soul to, so do beware.”