Her life changed in an instant.
And he’s the only one who could have prevented it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.
Jessica Charles shouldn’t have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica’s world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you’ve got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He’s got a past he’s running away from and a guilty conscience he can’t seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.
Disclaimer: This is a standalone romance in the McGregor Series. You might have references to other couples in this book, but you definitely DO NOT need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one!
Karina Halle is a brilliant writer and I say that after reading just one book by her, a book that definitely won’t be the last.
The Debt is a romance of understanding beyond words; it is a romance that will have your heart in your throat, and so invested in the connection between the characters that you will be unable to put down the book for the fear of losing track of what becomes the most important book of your life.
Kier MacGregor is a veteran. He has recently left the Army and now plans to open his own mechanic shop. But before he does that, he needs to find that one person, whose life he believes, he destroyed and beg for her forgiveness. And did I mention, he is SCOTTISH?
(It’s so hard to find heroes from Scotland in contemporary romances; so if you have read any, let me know okay? I want to read more about these heroes! :P)
Kier is a man tortured by his past and his decisions and his sense of responsibility and it took me like 2 words to fall in love in with him. He is the exact tortured kind of hero that I love reading about – his internalization of everything that went wrong yet none of that ever showed in his treatment of people around him. That’s the kind of mana I adore and he is the kind of hero I love unravelling and even with the whole “pain in his eyes” situation, I could totally empathize with the heroine falling for him.
Jessica Charles was a normal boring woman; she was a yoga instructor, living with her boyfriend and loved shopping. She was exactly the kind of woman we see all around us until the one fateful day that she wasn’t. What she became was a survivor a fatal shooting by an ex-soldier, the face of the shooting for she was lucky enough to survive.
Jessica, as a character was hard to swallow and I do not mean that to be a bad thing! She went through situations that not many could go through and still survive. She also has a past that she can’t get rid of, so she runs. And while it was hard to understand her thought process, I wasn’t sad about it. Because that meant that I haven’t been through something that horrific and I could only be glad about it.
As a rule, I do not like characters who do not communicate with each other – it leads to feelings of mistrust, misunderstandings and a whole lot of fights that could have been avoided if they were just open with each other.
Here, Kier has an important piece of information to tell Jessica, but somehow isn’t able to get the words out of his mouth and who could really blame him? I, for sure didn’t, even with my apprehensions. But he does is more than just communicate with her – there is soulful connection between these despite their apparent connection. It connected somewhere deep within me to see how they showed each other the kind of connection only soulmates could have and they did.
This was such a beautifully written romance amidst tragedy and loss and it was the writing that ended up being the show stealer here. Every word that was written ended up entrenched deep in my soul and I found myself thinking back on those words long after I was done with the book.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .5
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“You’re not going anywhere,” he says. “Sit. I’ll get you another drink.”
“It’s getting late,” I say feebly but I sit down anyway, my leg giving a protest of pain.
“You need something for that?” he says, noticing my wince.
“The scotch will do fine,” I tell him quickly, not wanting him to make a fuss. “But really, I should go.”
“Why?” he asks from the kitchen. I hear the top pop off the bottle, the slosh of liquid in the glass. “Where do you have to be?”
I have to think about that for a moment. He comes over and holds out the glass. “I won’t keep you here if you don’t want to be here. But if you do want to be here, you don’t need to make any excuses.”
I take the glass from him, holding it delicately in my fingers. He stands over me, a massive wall, waiting for some kind of response.
“I just…” I begin. “I…” I take a sip for bravery. Swallow. “I’m not very good at this.”
“Good at what?”
“At…this. Being with a man.”
When he doesn’t say anything to that, I look up at him. He’s got a peculiar smile on his face, his brows raised. “You call this being with a man?”
I clear my throat, feeling my cheeks grow hot. “I mean. I’ve told you before –”
“Yes, how you don’t do relationships, how you don’t do sex.”
“I never said I don’t do sex,” I remind him quickly.
His eyes never stop searching my face. “Then what is it? What are you afraid to say?”
I have the sudden urge to flee and I know it must show because he suddenly points at me and says, “Don’t you dare say you have to go again. I want you to go back to what you said, that you’re not good at this. What is this? Us? You and me? There’s nothing mystifying about you and me, Jessica. You know quite well how I feel.”
I stare at him in shock. I do? “How?”
He looks off with an air of impatience. “I invited you to dinner, you turned me down.”
“But then you said just as friends.”
“And I meant it. But there are different types of friends. It’s up to you to decide what kind we are.”
I put my drink down with a clunk. “Holy pressure.” And now it’s not just my face going hot but my entire body, flushed from head to toe.
“You’re on fire, little red,” he says, his gaze skirting over my limbs in such a hungry way I can almost feel them on my skin. “I have to say, I like this look on you. Hot and bothered.”
“Back with the innuendos again,” I comment but my voice is weak.
“No, no innuendos this time. You came looking for me tonight not because you wanted to confess but because you want something from me. What is it? What do you want from me? What do you think I can give you?”
Jesus. This is so utterly unnerving. His words slice right through me, his eyes still peeling under the layers, trying to get at something I’m not even sure of myself.
If I lie, he’ll know. I can only be honest with him.
“I want…” I take in a deep breath, my eyes breaking away. “I want…company.”
“Company?” He sounds surprised.
I nod. “That’s the truth. I’m lonely. And I’m afraid. And I’m tired of being both those things. I want to be with someone who makes me forget who I am. You make me feel fearless in a way I didn’t think possible.”
There. That’s the truth. Most of it. It hangs in the air, thickening the tension like flour to stock.
He sits down next to me, has a mouthful of Scotch. “Wow,” he says, running his hand over the beard on his jaw. “And here I was thinking you wanted my cock.”
I burst out laughing. So does he, a big wonderful bellow. The tension in the room eases up a notch.
“Sorry,” I tell him when I catch my breath. “I guess they can both mean the same thing.”
He sucks in his lip briefly, his eyes taking a lustful turn. “If you want it to.” We stare at each other for a few heavy beats. Then his focus trails back to my gaze and he says, “Why don’t you stay over?”
And there I have it. The chance to know what those full lips would feel like on mine, what his skin would taste like. I swallow hard.
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit http://www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.