hero series

All the books in Jena's Hero series are connected but each is complete in itself. 

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Book 1

 Gold Medal Hero

What’s an Olympic gold medallist to do when he’s lost his will to compete?

Connor Freeman knows what it’s like to win the biggest prize in his sport. Now home from the Olympics, he’s busy touring the country talking to groups about his experiences and boosting the sport’s profile. The trouble is, he’s worn out, with zero enthusiasm. With training starting again in only a few days, he’s almost out of time as well. Time to find a solution.

Enter journalist Bailey Stoddart. Desperate to keep her job, she needs to impress her boss with a high-profile article, and who better to interview than the darling of the national rowing squad? But is it safe accepting Connor’s solution of spending a weekend away together, with his bad-boy reputation?

As love begins to grow between them, a past mistake threatens to tear them apart. Can gorgeous Bailey really be the solution Connor craves, or will her goals destroy his forever?

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Excerpt

On a higher area of track Connor stopped and pointed at the view. “Another suspension bridge.”

After joining him at the railing, Bailey looked in the same direction. "So it is."

 “Should I carry you over my shoulder so you can’t see?" He pulled her into his side. “Or carry you in both arms like a sling? Or stand you on my shoes, facing me as we walk across together? Whichever way you pick, Macho Man here will keep you safe.”

Safe is not a synonym for blind, so I’ll walk across by myself as I did last time, thank you very much.”

“Why go alone when you could have company? No fun in that.”

“You forget; I’m not looking for fun.”

“Going first or last?”

“Last, so I can watch you.”

So he started off, walking normally until he reached the middle. There, he stopped, looked down at the river and gave an almighty shiver. When he checked that Bailey watched, the cheeky woman lowered her camera.

“Disobeying orders, huh?” he shouted, advancing on her in a mock-threatening manner. “Come on! I’ll teach you to behave!” Grabbing her hand, he hauled her towards the middle of the bridge where he stopped, released his support, and turned her to face upstream, at the ice floes. How would she cope now?

Cope? Oh, yes. No scaredy-cat behaviour this time. No sound like a yelp or scream came from her, no terrified action like a grab of the side wire, and no plea for help. Not even a shiver.

Instead, the crazy woman planted her feet astride, raised her camera, and snapped. Only after taking several photos did she look up at him, laughing.

So the joke was on him. Well, good on her.

Still chuckling, she sank to the ground on the other side. Wisps of hair stuck to her damp forehead and her cap sat askew. Intuitively, he squeezed her hand. Like a magic genii, she’d answered his first wish and woken his dormant interest in rowing. If only he could keep her, but persuading her to move to Sherdon and continue giving him good vibes could be a bigger challenge than winning that Olympic gold medal.

***

Book 2   Unlikely Hero 

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Rowing coach Jeff Nicholls is trying to come to terms with a marriage breakup and the loss of access to his stepdaughter.

Teacher Lauren Whitby is trying to cope with her father’s deteriorating health and her family’s antagonism.

Their problems pull them into a relationship that’s a welcome distraction - until a devastating family secret is revealed.

Will it strengthen their friendship, or tear them apart?

Excerpt

Back at his place, he set up the coffee machine. “Why can’t you do what you want without worrying about spending time with your dad? Sounds like he’s got you tied into some sort of contract.”

“No, nothing like that.” Lauren leaned against the counter. “I moved back home to be near him. My choice.”

“But why live at home?” From the cupboard, he selected two cups and placed them carefully beside the machine. “Why not get a place of your own in town? Then you could visit whenever you want rather than ride this guilt trip—”

“It’s not a guilt trip.” She stepped sideways to allow him access to the cutlery drawer. “More a case of wanting to be there for him and I’ll stay, at least until I know his future.”

Jeff’s brows pulled together as he faced her. “His future?”

“He’s...” She sucked in a breath and tried to turn away but he gripped her shoulders, keeping her in place so she glanced sideways instead. “Not very well.”

Gentle hands slid down her arms, ending in a squeeze that brought tears to her eyes. “Go on, because there’s more, isn’t there?” His voice had changed, softened, wrapping around her like a gentle breeze.

Blast. She should never have mentioned the subject and so far today, had even managed to forget. Why had it surfaced now? “The doctor suspects a brain tumor,” she forced out, but the lump in her throat made the last word so difficult to pronounce, anyone would think she was the one with the damn problem.

Jeff’s hands dropped as he stepped back. “Se-ri-ous-ly?”

Coupled with the concern on his face, his tone implied genuine sympathy. If only he’d come close again except this time, give her a hug. Didn't anyone understand she needed a cuddle? Bailey and Gemma had both been too busy lately to oblige. “Seriously.”

“And you’re worried.”

“Course I’m worried!” She swiped away the moisture pooling in her eyes. “You would you be too if it was your dad, the one who always made you feel...special, when you were growing up. Even if I’d done something wrong he always found a way to point it out without actually telling me off. He just...always seemed to understand.” A shiver began at her shoulders and traveled down to her toes. Blast. Hadn’t meant to reveal so much.

“Cancer?” A cup of coffee slid across the counter towards her.

She dragged it closer, lifted it, and carried it into the dining room, then plonked onto a chair. “Specialist appointment tomorrow.” Her fingers wrapped around the cup’s warmth. “We’ll know more then. I... I can’t wait to find out, but at the same time, don’t wanna know.” With a shake of her head, she lifted the cup and sipped. “Just don’t want to know.”

“At least that explains why you moved back home.” Gently, he squeezed her shoulder. “The real reason, I mean.”

The combination of physical support and Jeff’s soft voice was so relaxing, the words tumbled out by themselves. “At first, we had no idea what his problem was but I wanted to be around when he found out. Dad and I have always been close and I figured if he got worse, I could help Mum look after him.” She shuddered. “Maybe.” More coffee slid down her throat, warming her. “And... And anyway, I wanted to be around in case any nasty surprises crop up. I don’t...really, really, don’t want to be fobbed off by anyone if the news is bad, or risk it being delayed because someone doesn’t know how to tell me.” She lowered the empty cup to the table. “I want to be there. To hear it first-hand.” 

When she stood, he pulled her towards him and wrapped her in an embrace that was so unexpected, the breath whooshed out of her.

What comfort there was in that hug! Her body relaxed into him, her arms stretched around him and she held tight. Not even Bailey had offered an embrace when she first heard the news but something had been worrying her that day. And Gemma, when she heard about Dad, had been in a rush to visit her parents so her brief squeeze had given little reassurance. As for Mom, she never offered hugs; at least, not to this daughter. So Jeff’s embrace...well, it felt extra special.

“Why did you let me go on last night, criticizing you for living with your parents?”

Lifting her head, she stepped back. “Why would I offload my problems to a stranger? Besides, it was a party, though you didn’t seem to agree with that definition.”

He rubbed his chin as if still getting used to the beard. “Yesterday, I was in a bad space. Today, not so much.” A cheeky grin flashed across his face. “You can tell me anything today.”

“I believe I’ve told you all that’s necessary.”

“Necessary.” He gave a slow nod, and she knew.

He’d figured it out already, that there was more.

“Well, thanks for coming today. You’ve given me the inspiration I need to get started on this work.” He planted a kiss on her cheek.

Wow. “Glad I could help.”

A finger under her chin lifted her head, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Tomorrow, after you’ve heard the specialist’s verdict, you’ll need to talk to someone. So how about coming for dinner. Say, six-thirty?”

“Oh, but...I should stay home.”

“Tell them I need your opinion on the progress here.”

But she shook her head. “I can’t do that to him. Thanks anyway.” She turned to leave, paused, and turned back. “He goes to bed pretty early. I could come later. Eight?”

“I’ll give you desert.” His grin was so endearing, she chuckled, reached up, and planted a return kiss on his cheek.

But as she walked to her car she couldn’t help hearing Jeff’s whistling of the first few lines from ‘Kiss Me Quick’, an Elvis Presley song that had been a favorite of Dad’s before pain and worry dominated his life. She’d have to be careful with this good-looking guy. No point risking her plans for the future.

***

Book  3    Soldier Hero

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A traumatized soldier.

A former army nurse.

She’s the last person he wants near.

PTSD sufferer Vaughan Stoddart is hiding out in a rehab center after serving in Afghanistan – until his sister asks him to give her away at her wedding. Guilt-ridden for ignoring her, he visits to check on this new fiancé.

Formerly an army nurse in Afghanistan, visiting Englishwoman Dani recognizes Vaughan’s symptoms and due to their common background, a friendship soon develops. But when she accidentally reveals a secret that impacts his own life, he spirals into despair.

With his trust in her broken, how will they find the happy-ever-after they both deserve?

Excerpt

Dani’s gaze met Vaughan’s guarded one and she laughed, stepped closer, and nudged his arm against hers. “Now, why don’t you tell me your dream for the next stage of your life? Promise I won’t judge, or criticize, your decision.”

But he’d looked at her askance and stepped away so she gulped and faced the displays again. She knew that look. Seen it on Seth’s face enough times to know its meaning—keep away. Many PTSD victims struggled to believe in themselves and that one look of Vaughan’s only added to the proof that he suffered the same condition as her brother.

Now Vaughan picked up a leaflet and opened it as he answered. “Wish I knew. I hate being idle, and of course it’s the worst time of year to be looking for anything that’s acceptable and familiar.” Dismissing the leaflet, he threw it down on the table and walked away, talking as he went. “At this stage I’d take on anything, provided it involved physical outside work.”

“You need to keep busy, the more physical the better, and you need fresh air,” she summarized as she stepped in front of him to stress her support. “To eliminate the memories?”

As if shocked by her understanding, his head gave a small jerk of acknowledgment before he turned to the next board.

Following that admission, the only topic of conversation concerned the displays, but something had shifted between them—something intangible that eased the tension.

Without any time constraints, they dawdled past the next exhibits, studying each in turn and pointing out items of interest, but nothing seemed to draw Vaughan’s particular interest until she presented him with a T-shirt from the shop.

“For me?”

“Your size, isn’t it? I saw your bag when you arrived at Bailey’s. Figured you can’t have many clothes and I’m guessing, not many respectable ones.”

“True enough. Well, thanks.” He seemed blown away by the gesture, and unsure how to respond.

“You’re welcome.” She flicked back her sleeve to check her watch. “Cripes. We spent nearly three hours in there.”

“With half of it in the shop,” he pointed out, flashing a rare smile.

Wow. Gorgeous! One side of his lips had stretched upwards before the other side, softening his normally serious appearance. “Not as long as you spent studying the horticultural displays,” she protested.

“Are you complaining?”

“Not at all. Just stating the facts. I enjoyed everything I saw. Did you?”

Interesting is the word I'd use.” Yet his slight nod suggested approval.

She could hardly expect more from her quiet companion but when his palm touched her back and pushed her gently towards the exit, a frizzle of pleasure coursed through her. 

***

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Book 4   Reluctant  Hero

When roading engineer Selena returns home to fill a short term job contract, she has just one goal—to concentrate on her career. A social life is not important—until she meets barman Harry. His easy-going attitude is a welcome change from her serious job.

When she comes up against the mayor in a battle over an intersection design, it’s just as well Harry’s on her side—or is he?

When his loyalty is put to the test, can he change enough to prove his love as the hero she needs, or will he cave under pressure and allow her to walk away?

Excerpt

Harry swiped a cloth across the wooden counter as raucous laughter erupted from a nearby table. Good. Happy drinkers meant a busy night at Lakeview Bar.

When the heavy door clanged shut again, he looked up and flashed a smile at two of his favorite customers. Always good to know these seniors remained fit and healthy. If it weren’t for guys like them and all the others who kept him amused in this place of misfits, he’d be chomping at the bit to be with his own mates. But characters like Bert ’n’ Ernie made this Sunday job more like fun than work while he chipped away at paying off the loan on his truck.

Plus the added bonus of giving him an excuse to keep away from Dad one day a week.

As the new arrivals approached the bar, he flipped the tops off a couple of bottles of light ale. “Good to see you again tonight, fellas. Running tabs again?” He passed the drinks across, just as the door opened to another blast of frosty air. This time, a young woman stood inside, surveying her new surroundings as if searching for her mates.

Wow! Harry’s lips stretched into a smile that extended right across his face in spite of his attempts to hold back, while around the room, conversations hushed. Stopped.

And a wolf whistle pierced the silence.

What the…? Some stupid guy with a cave-man mentality must think he’d staked his claim. Again, Harry swiped his cloth across the bar, but instead of throwing the smelly rag in the sink, he biffed it underneath so he could watch the woman’s reaction.

Some would be proud. Some, offended. Others, embarrassed, but he’d never before seen a woman who showed no response at all.

Still, almost every guy in the room had watched. As if disappointed, they turned back to their mates and resumed their rowdy behavior. Even eighty-something Ernie who’d now taken his usual place at the end of the bar murmured, “Nice.”

Beside him, Bert’s grin portrayed his approval. “Ah, the gods have smiled on us.”

Smiled on them? Harry flashed another encouraging grin at the young woman. Attractive, she was, with even features and light brown curls that snuggled into her neck. Young, too—well, younger than his twenty-seven years at least—but her age wasn’t the only thing that kept him looking. Everything about her appealed, but who was she?

***

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Jena Petrie

Author of Sweet Contemporary Romances that pull at the heartstrings