Re-released in a second edition with new content.
Holly Lang has a hard time trusting men. Eight years ago, her husband tossed her aside and took her son away from her. Finding the little town of Bliss has given her a second chance at life, new friends, and sense of belonging. Unfortunately, Bliss also seems to have filled her days and nights with dreams of two beautiful men. She can’t stop thinking about the gentle but haunted Dr. Caleb Burke, and the exotic and dangerous Alexei Markov.
Caleb Burke isn’t your ordinary town doctor, but he’s always dedicated himself to trying to be a good man. His journey to this quirky little town was not an easy one. Some of the stops along the way left him scarred in more ways than one. But when he first sees Holly, it’s like someone threw open the blinds and let the sunlight into his life for the first time in years.
Alexei Markov is nothing like Caleb Burke. Working as a hit man for the Russian mafia, he was forced to do unspeakable things. He suffered through all the moral compromises to fulfill one simple goal, killing the man who murdered his brother. When a mission led him to Bliss, he found something more precious than vengeance. A woman named Holly Lang. Throughout months of living in witness protection, testifying against his former employers, all he could think about was finding his way back to her.
After returning to Bliss, Alexei and his strange new ally Caleb discover that they aren’t the only ones interested in Holly. Someone else is stalking her and appears to want her dead. The only way to discover the identity of the killer is for all three to face up to the secrets of their past and work together to fight for everything they have found in Bliss.
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Bliss, Colorado seems to be a quaint and quirky town where scarred people come to heal and to surround themselves with people who pass no judgment regardless of anyone’s preferences, but what Bliss also appears to draw in are those individuals looking to turn the townspeople’s, both new and old, refuge into a battlefield, causing the typical feel of the town to turn darker and more menacing, which doesn’t bode well for all involved, especially the antagonists who want nothing more than to hurt and maim their targets, not caring who they hurt along the way.
Holly Lang, Dr. Caleb Burke, and Alexei Markov are quite the threesome, not only in their intimate moments, once they figure out how to commandeer the unique situation they find themselves in, but also due to their pasts, their present wants and needs, and the fact that a Mafia hit man feels like he owes a doctor for saving his life and that repayment comes in the form of an older woman who seems more than capable of sharing her body and her heart with these two younger men.
Out of the three main characters, I was drawn to Alexei the most; there’s just something about this ‘exotic’ and ‘dangerous’ man – one who willingly plays a sinister role for vengeance, forcing him to deal with his sins in his own way and then learning to prioritize the things and people in his life, once again, finding himself at a crossroads in terms of what’s best for those closest to him and how it might conflict with the man he’s become. His broken English, his misunderstanding, and his other peculiar habits present Alexei as an authentic character and it’s his uniqueness that will have readers swoony over this skilled killer.
I really enjoyed Holly, Caleb, and Alexei’s story, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the fact that I would love for the story line to diversify a bit when it comes to the series as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is well done and it’s an enjoyable read, but, sometimes, I feel like the plotlines are too formulaic, following a similar pattern and character dynamics, and I would love to get a variety of connections and conflicts throughout the course of the Bliss series.
Despite my desire for diversification, Found in Bliss fits the series’ themes and illustrates, once again, how Bliss is a place for people to escape to in order to find themselves…find love…find some peace in a chaotic world, and this town and its inhabitants sure know how to come together in times of need and in times of celebration!
4 Poison Apples
“No.” He said the word. He said it a lot, but this time he really, really meant it. Caleb Burke watched as that big Russian stood over sweet Holly, his dark eyes promising all manner of comfort, and he knew he wasn’t ready to let her go.
Of course, he also wasn’t ready to take her.
“No?” Alexei turned to him, seeming to notice for the first time that he wasn’t alone with Holly. Moments before, the Russian had walked into the reception hall where Stefan Talbot and his new wife, Jennifer, were hosting their wedding party. He’d marched in like he owned the place and zeroed in on Holly.
Alexei looked the same as he had months before, but it was easy to tell he’d changed. There was a relaxed set to his shoulders he hadn’t had the last time he was in Bliss. But then the last time Alexei Markov had been in Bliss, it had been as a member of the Russian mob.
“Get your hands off her.”
“My hands are entirely to myself.” And Alexei still had trouble with English.
“Caleb, what’s wrong?” Holly asked, her face turning to him. Wide green eyes stared up at him in confusion. She was so gorgeous. Every time she looked at him, he felt it straight in his gut. And his cock. Damn it. He had to turn away from her.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off the Russian. It was nothing less than the truth, though he had selfish reasons for pointing it out. “You’re supposed to be in witness protection.”
Alexei shrugged, his eyes going back to Holly as though her presence was a magnet he couldn’t avoid. “I told you. The trials are over. All the men who worked with Pushkin have been put in proper jails. I finish my testimony last week. I am here today. I am free man.”
Free? After everything he’d done? Alexei Markov had blown into town eight months before as a mobster. Just because he’d turned state’s witness and saved Jennifer Waters and Callie Hollister-Wright didn’t give him a free pass. He tried not to think about the fact that the Russian had saved Holly, too. Alexei had thrown his own body over hers, taking the bullet that would have ended her life. It didn’t erase the crimes he’d committed before. “You killed a bunch of people, and they let you go free?”
“He only killed them to save me, Caleb. And Stef got a couple, too. No one’s talking about putting him in jail.” Holly was already reaching for the Russian’s hands, her face turning upward in greeting. “I’m so happy for you, Alexei. I’m happy they let you come back to Bliss.”
A cloud crossed Alexei’s face telling Caleb everything he needed to know.
“They didn’t let you come back, did they?” Caleb asked. “You’re on the run.”
“No running. I take taxi and then train and then bus. Bus drop off at the Trading Post. It was closed, but Ms. Teeny was kind enough to leave note on door telling me about the wedding.” After his quick explanation, Alexei turned back to Holly. “You look like beautiful doll.”
Caleb grabbed at his tie, loosening it. The damn thing was a noose around his neck. Why had he come to this thing? He should have done what he always did. He should have stayed at home until someone needed him. He should have barricaded himself in his office and stared at medical books until his eyes wouldn’t stay open one second more and he was forced to fall into that hell he called sleep. Yeah, that would have made for a great night. But no, he’d gotten on this monkey suit and headed to the Feed Store Church to attend a wedding, all because he’d wanted to watch Holly walk down the aisle. He’d wanted to see her in a beautiful dress and imagine for one second that she was walking toward him and he was normal. That he was twenty-two again, marrying the right woman this time with his whole life ahead of him.
Not once in that daydream had he included a second man in the scenario, though given where he lived, he should have known that would happen whether he liked it or not.
“Thanks,” Holly said to Alexei, her face lighting up.
Caleb flushed. He hadn’t told her she was beautiful. He’d nodded at her. Why couldn’t he talk to her? He’d been good at this once. He’d gone to parties and balls. Why couldn’t he talk to one small-town waitress?
Because she was the one, but he was too fucked up to deal with it.
“You do look really pretty.” He forced the words out of his mouth. He didn’t say the ones that were locked inside. She didn’t look pretty. She was beautiful. Inside and out. Holly Lang practically glowed in his mind. With auburn hair that curled and caressed her porcelain shoulders, Holly was a vision of everything feminine. She stirred his cock and his mind. He thought about her all the time.
Yeah. He wasn’t going to say any of that.
Holly turned toward him, a vibrant smile on her lips. When she smiled that sunshine-goddess, center-of-his-whole-fucking-world smile, he always thought he would turn into a puddle of goo at her feet. Yeah. That would be really sexy, Burke.
“Tell her more, Caleb. You do well.” Alexei was smiling at him like he was a toddler who’d finally managed to walk.
What the hell was that about?
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.