Friday, December 3, 2021

Read an Excerpt from When A Man Loves A Woman by Taylor Lee



“Dynamite Finale to the Bestselling Sexy Romantic Suspense Blonde Barracuda Series. A DOUBLE WOW! Lexie and Jake without a doubt are sexiest special agents ever. A roller coaster of a ride. Disgraceful villains, a riveting plot with so many twists and turns, your head will spin. Romantic Suspense at its best!”
~SMT Reviews

“They call her the Blonde Barracuda. The press loves her, the politicians fear her, and the mob is out to get her! Once again Lexie is in full crusader mode. Now they are closer than they ever have been to taking down the evil men – and women -- behind the infamous San Francisco massage parlors.”

“The full cast is here. Loving hard, living hard with an ending that I guarantee you won’t forget. Try adding hot romance with the sexiest couple ever plus non-stop action and you have a book you won’t be able to put down!”

~Action Junkie

Love Kaylea Cross's heart pounding romantic military thrillers? Sylvia Day’s and Maya Banks red hot sexy heroes, feisty heroines and high adrenaline action? Fern Michael’s compelling characters? Grab When A Man Loves a Woman and prepare to be addicted.


Chapter 1


 Lexie glanced at her text message and stifled a gasp.  Jake would never interrupt her practice with one of her private students unless it was an emergency. The message was compelling--and frightening.

“We need you.  Now! We’re all here, in the conference room.  Hurry, Lexie. Come now.”

Lexie apologized to Chin Ho, her premier student who was testing for his second black belt next week, this time in Hapkido.

“I’m sorry, Chin Ho.  Jake needs me immediately.  I’ll be back if I can but in the meantime Ming can work you through the final forms.”

 Lexie turned to her assistant who was watching them practice, her eyes glazed with awe. Lexie smiled at the chagrin on Ming’s face. Chin Ho was so talented it would be all Ming could do to keep up with the rigorous practice. This would truly be an example of the student teaching the teacher.  It was also the heart of martial arts.  Lexie often learned as much from her students as they did from her.

Rushing from the dojo, Lexie shoved down the anxiety that was making it difficult for her to breathe. She was conscious of the effect her fear might have on her unborn child.  God, she chided herself. She was getting as paranoid about the baby as Jake.  He jumped up and went for one of his two dozen pregnancy guides if Lexie so much as belched wrong. But even she admitted that stress was not good for the baby… although at seven months along, she was well past the critical first trimester. But stress was what she felt as she wound her way down the long hallway to the conference room.    

Lexie didn’t have to remind herself that her fear was well-founded. In the business they were in, an emergency meeting of the team could mean only one thing—a crisis.  In the past that meant that something was wrong, often terribly wrong.  When she saw Peter Kim at the table along with Tiffany, Brady, and of course Jake, her chest tightened further. She forced herself to suck in shallow gulps of air.

It was unusual for Peter to attend a strategy session.  The Korean NIS agent had spent the past five months in a challenging rehab program after saving Lexie’s life by stopping three bullets that were meant for her instead. If he’d not thrown himself over her body she would have been killed.  For nearly six weeks until he finally regained consciousness, only Lexie and Mia Jhang, his Korean brain surgeon, gave the gravely ill man a fighting chance to live.  Lexie had refused to accept his death as inevitable.  Peter not only had saved her, he’d saved her unborn child.  No, Peter had to live.  Lexie had decreed it.

Lexie forced herself to take a deep breath.  Peter’s presence and the expressions on the rest of the team’s faces indicated this was a serious meeting.

Hearing Lexie’s footsteps, Jake jumped from his chair. When he saw her face tight with resigned fear he kicked himself.  Damn, he should have gone to the dojo and brought her back with him.  Fuck, his urgent message must have frightened her. Why wouldn’t it?  The last time the team was sitting at this conference table waiting for her was when the three young Korean prostitutes had been murdered.  But not before they’d been doused with hydrochloric acid, ensuring a hideously cruel death. It was a favorite torture of the Korean mafia, particularly the human trafficking branch run by Young-soo, a true monster of a man.

Jake was at the door in seconds, throwing a comforting arm around Lexie’s shoulders.

“God, I’m sorry, Lexie.  I should’ve come to the dojo myself.  I didn’t mean to frighten you.  You’re not going to believe this, but for once, we are here to celebrate, not to grieve.”

Jake felt Lexie’s sigh of relief before he heard it. God, he hoped her anxiousness hadn’t hurt the baby.  Imagining the response from the team, he bit back a concerned papa question. He’d become their sure-fire running joke.  His excessive caution and, yeah, he admitted, his occasionally inappropriate terror that something might hurt the miracle growing inside of his beautiful woman, was hilariously funny to the rest of the team. He’d led men through years of dangerous missions in his special op days and still carried a minimum of five weapons on his person--for good reason. If Lexie, the woman he loved more than life, and the child she was carrying, were facing a band of haji terrorists, he’d know exactly what to do. In his heart, Jake was convinced that pregnancy was fraught with just as much danger. Damn, if his smart-assed team had read as many baby books as he had, they’d know the million and one things that could go wrong.   

“Here, darlin’.  Sit here beside me.” Jake pulled out Lexie’s chair and eased her into it. He encompassed the group with his gaze.

“I insisted that we wait for you, Lexie, before Peter tells us his news. I’ll tell you all in advance, though. We have had important meetings in this room.  But none will surpass the discussion we are about to begin.”

 At the frowns and clear surprise on the others’ faces, Jake turned to Peter.

“Okay, Councilman, triple agent extraordinaire, spill it.  Tell these good people what you’ve already told me.”

A smile tugged at the corner of Peter’s mouth threatening to chase away his usual intense demeanor. If a grin didn’t betray him, the fact that Peter’s eyes were twinkling sent the unspoken message loud and clear. He had big news, and for once it was good news.

 “Jake’s right.  It is unusual for us to meet under these circumstances.  What I have to say wouldn’t excite most people, but for you my dear friends and comrades who work on the seamy side of human excesses--particularly the ugly ones--I do have auspicious news.”

Resting his elbows on the table and steepling his fingers before him, Peter regarded them solemnly.

“I had a call from my NIS handler.”

Lexie startled. It was unusual for Peter to casually mentioning his association with the Korean equivalent of the CIA. While it was a well-known fact around the table, Peter’s double and triple spook connections were well hidden beneath his businessman’s careful façade.  He’d recently added another layer of deception when he engineered a spot on the San Francisco City Council, becoming the representative of the hardcore district that featured the infamous prostitution business.

For three years Lexie had led a fearsome crusade against the flagrant exploitation of young foreign women brought to San Francisco against their will.  With the help of the people around the table, she’d gone after the politicians and government agencies that in her mind were allowing the travesty to thrive unchecked.  In return for her dogged persistence she’d earned the moniker The Blonde Barracuda.  The only people more annoyed by her confrontational actions than the politicians were the mob.  The politicians merely wanted to placate her.  The mob was determined to kill her.

Lexie stared at Peter, willing him to have good news. He didn’t disappoint. He returned her penetrating gaze and spilled out a chain of words that would change their lives forever.

“My contact indicated that a Mr. Pak Jangsu, an important Korean businessman, is in the United States, to be specific, in San Francisco.  He came to UCSF Medical Center ostensibly for a heart transplant. Mr. Pak Jangsu is an import/export financier and is well regarded in the Korean and international elite business community.  His connections and wealth make him important in political circles as well.”

Peter paused, studying the faces around the table. Lexie was confident that the eager expressions on her friends’ faces were reflected on hers. 

“Mr. Pak Jangsu’s visit to UCSF Medical Center is not unusual or noteworthy except that his particular ailment could have been addressed in any of the hospitals in the U. S. that treat heart transplant surgery as a routine procedure. Indeed, the Seoul National University Hospital and Sung-Ae Hospital in Seoul handle as many transplant patients as the premier hospitals in the United States. Hence my question: Why did Mr. Pak Jangsu choose to come here?”

Lexie tightened her grip on Jake’s hand and was gratified by his responding squeeze. In her gut she knew what Peter was about to say, but she refused to articulate it even to herself for fear it might not be true. 

Peter stared directly at Lexie. His grin broke through. He could no longer hide his excitement.

“Not to put too fine a point on it, he came to our fair city because of you, Lexie.  And a close second and third reason is none other than Jake Gardner, followed by our red-headed firebrand, Major Anderson.”

Peter winked at Tiffany whose excitement was as obvious as Lexie’s.

Lexie couldn’t hold back.

“Please, Peter.  I can hardly breathe. Tell me it’s true. He is here?”

Peter nodded and pressed his lips together. Taking his time, he spoke carefully.

“Mr. Pak Jangsu has an unusual birthmark. It’s been described as a club by some, a truncheon by others.  In the underground community it is known as the mark of the dokkebi which translates as ‘demon’ or ‘monster.’  To us in the ‘community’ it confirms that one of the most evil men alive on the planet is here—in San Francisco.”

Lexie allowed herself to say the abhorrent name.

“Young-soo?  Young-soo is here.”

Peter nodded, holding her gaze.

“Yes, Lexie, he is.  Without a doubt the man who is more responsible than any one person for the hideous human trafficking enterprise that exploits young Korean women is here. Indeed, at the moment Young-soo aka Pak Jangsu is at UCSF Medical Center resting comfortably from his journey.”

At the excited murmurs from around the table, Peter held up a cautionary hand.

“His surgery is a blatant ruse to mask his real intentions. My sources tell me that he is intent on avenging his son’s death.  His targets are the individuals he rightly considers responsible for Ji-Hun’s death.”

He glanced around the table and let his gaze land on Lexie.

“You, my dear, are the prize, the one person who in Young-soo’s mind must die.  That you are carrying an unborn child makes his revengeful intent all the sweeter.”

Peter acknowledged Jake’s low growl with a grim nod then caught Tiffany’s eye.

“And you, Major, as the individual who put the kill shot in Ji-Hun’s brain, are a close second. I don’t have to tell any of you Young-soo’s view of women.  The countless thousands who’ve been injured or killed at his orders are the stuff of legends.  The fact that he prefers to hideously disfigure his victims prior to killing them only speaks to the level of his depravity and the danger to you both.”

Glancing at Jake and Brady, Peter added.

“It’s not only these two beautiful women who brought Young-soo to San Francisco.  You, Jake, and you, Brady, are as much on his kill list as Lexie and Tiffany.”

            Peter’s smile widened.

            “I trust you’ll forgive my lack of modesty, but it brings me great pleasure to further report that he considers me the number one traitor to his ‘righteous cause.’ Apparently he has special plans for me. Breaching his barricades took me five years of patient, dangerous undercover work. While it is troublesome that my cover was blown, I take comfort in the fact that I was able to get as close to Young-soo as I did. Next to his son’s death and the crippling of his hideous enterprise at our hands, in Young-soo’s mind, my ‘duplicity’ is the most egregious betrayal. Knowing the ingenuity of Kkangpae torture, I can only imagine what he has in mind for me—and frankly for all of you. Because I was able to get as close to him as I was, I am one of a very small circle who knows of his birthmark.  That knowledge will be his undoing.  Confirmation that the man we kill is truly Young-soo.”



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