It’s all part of his sick game. A game he’s been planning for an entire decade. Now everything is perfect. A male and female have been selected. They have a history and can’t stand one another. They are the perfect victims. He doesn’t want the game to be easy. He wants to push them to the brink of insanity, to make his hunt real.
Now Lara and Noah have been captured and dumped into a massive wooded area. There’s just one rule. They have 72 hours to find a way out before the sadistic serial killer begins his hunt. And these two people who don’t trust or even like each other must rely on one another to escape–and to survive.
A nail biter from start to finish, Jewel’s new venture into romantic suspense is enthralling and will have you cheering on the hero and heroine as they fight back against a man who is pure evil. Adding a whole different element to romance, 72 HOURS is a tightly spun plot with heat between the pages.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ntnC0W
Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/72HoursAmznUK
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/72HoursAmznAU
Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/72HoursAmznCA
Praise for Bella Jewel
“Bella Jewel is a go-to author for a quick and sexy read.”
— Once Upon a Page
“A sexy, dramatic suspense that I didn’t want to put down!”
— Harlequin Junkie
“Sexy, irresistible, and lively, this story was addicting! I read it all in one sitting and I couldn’t get enough.”
— The Novel Tease
How long does it take for someone’s life to be irrevocably changed?
What circumstances must be endured in order to find one’s inner strength and fight for a future that isn’t guaranteed?
Lara and Noah must find the answers to these questions as they attempt to work through what’s happened between them and work together against a psychopath who has infiltrated their lives and made them his prey in a game that they have no choice but to play because their very lives count on it.
72 hours…3 days…4320 minutes…25,9200 seconds
That’s the timeframe Lara and Noah are up against…that’s the amount of time that stands between them and a killer whose fixation on his prey is so much more than a game of cat and mouse. Because at the end of this game – one that works according to his rules and his plans – Lara and Noah will find themselves with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, fighting for their lives with very little hope of escaping the sadistic bastard’s agenda.
Lara and Noah’s story is definitely a romantic thriller; everything occurs incredibly fast when it comes to the couple entering the game and the hours that separate them as well as the decisions they make when it comes to protecting themselves against their hunter’s agenda. And, while the dynamics of the hunt are played out well and Lara and Noah’s overwhelming emotions are clearly explored, I had a difficult time understanding exactly why they were chosen by this psycho and the reasons behind his need to hunt and kill them at all costs. Readers are privy to some of this monster’s thoughts, but I wanted a deeper look…a backstory that explained how and why he turned into a killer. I get that there may not be any real reasons behind it, but someone doesn’t set-up a game as meticulously as he did without a strong need/compulsion to do so, and as scary and demented as it might be, I wanted inside his head a bit more.
Lara is quite the complex heroine. She will definitely rub some readers the wrong way due to how she initially treats Noah and how easily she seemed to give up on her two year relationship with him without even a brief discussion of what happened. I understand her insecurities and the reasons behind her personality transformation, but the man readers are introduced to and the way Noah protects Lara despite his anger doesn’t mesh well with what she allowed herself to believe happened.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy 72 hours; I liked it…I just didn’t love it…because while I understand the need to tell a fast-paced story due to the title and the main requirements of the game, I felt like parts lacked the details I needed as a reader to truly understand what led to this deadly hunt and the depth of the relationship that Lara and Noah once shared that the killer banked on not being a factor when it came to his plans for them and the ease with which he would be successful in claiming his prey.
A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
3.5/4 Poison Apples
“Lara, can you please put my mug under the cof- fee machine and press start before you go for your run?” Rachel calls out.
“Already done,” I call softly, leaning down to lace up my shoes.
Rachel took me in after Noah and I broke up and I moved out. I do as much as I can to help her out, including making sure she’s got hot coffee every morning before I go out. She saved my ass. It’s the least I can do.
“You’re a gem.” So I’ve been told.
“I’ll be back in an hour.”
I grab my water bottle and move to the front door, checking that I’ve got my phone before heading out. The weather is warm in Orlando today, a soft breeze trickling through the trees.
After pulling my long chestnut hair into a pony- tail, I step out onto the path in front of my apart- ment and put my earbuds in, starting my usual morning jog. I move down two blocks and then cross a road to a local park. It has a path running beside it that goes into some thick forest before coming out close to downtown.
My one hour of peace each day.
I sing softly to the music, pounding harder and faster as my body warms up. Crossing the road, I move past the park and into the trees. The weather instantly cools without the warmth of the sun breaking through, and it dries up some of the sweat forming on my brow. I think about Noah and how much it hurt to see him at the bar last night, let alone with another woman.
Will it ever stop hurting?
A hand taps my shoulder and I scream, spin- ning around to see Noah standing behind me, sweat running down and soaking the front of his tank. I press a hand to my heart, studying him, then pull out my earbuds. Only he would find a way to be on his run at the same time I’m on mine. Can’t this man just leave me alone? “What are you doing here, Noah?”
“I recently moved into an apartment in the area and was jogging when I saw you. I see you still enjoy running?”
“Why did you move into this area?” He shrugs. “I liked it.”
This is too much. “Why now?”
“For a while I was traveling for work. I volun- teered to train some other recruits. Considering you wouldn’t talk to me, I needed a distraction.” He shrugs again. “Now I have a little time on my hands and it felt like time to relocate.”
I take a step back, my mind reeling. “I want to finish my run,” I say. “And you’re going to leave me alone.”
“Lara, come on,” he sighs. “Let’s talk about this.”
I take a drink from my bottle, ignoring his pleading. My eyes focus on anything but him.
“Are you seriously still doing this?” he grunts. “I’ve been tryin’ to call you for months with little success. You ignored me without a word and you’re really not going to give me five minutes to explain?” “Explain what?” I ask, crossing my arms. “The fact that I walked in and found you with a woman
on your lap in your office?”
He jerks, and his face grows tight with frustra- tion. “You read it wrong.”
“I can’t imagine how,” I mumble.
He uses the back of his hand to wipe the sweat from his brow. It takes all my inner strength not to stare at his big, muscled form. Mostly to avoid remembering how good it felt to be tucked into his arms, how secure and safe he could make me feel. He just had that way. He made me feel like nothing in the world could ever touch me when I was in his arms. And then he took that all away in one moment. The only feeling of safety I had left was gone in an instant.
“Is Noah in?” I smile to the young girl sitting at the front desk of the firehouse.
“Yeah, he’s in his office.” “Mind if I go through?” “No, go for it.”
I walk down the hall, heading toward Noah’s office. I thought I’d bring him lunch, spend some time with him. Things have been rough in the last few months, and he’s been by my side through it all. He’s seen me at my worst and picked me up when I fell. After Nan died, I have felt like noth- ing is enough, like I’m not enough. I feel like I’m not being the girlfriend he deserves. He deserves me to try, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying.
I open the door and step in, opening my mouth to greet him when I see her. She’s on his lap, long blond hair flowing around her back, pretty as can be. The kind of woman that looks like his per- fect fit. She’s kissing him. Their mouths, connected, touching—it’s all I see before my vision blurs, tears clouding it. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I stumble back, gasping for air.
How could he do this to me?
I already know how. Because I’m an emotional, broken woman who got her nanna killed because she couldn’t control her loud mouth. Then I be- came this weak, pathetic mess who spends most days crying and trying to figure out who I should be and who I am now. Of course he’s with another woman. Why the hell wouldn’t he be? This is ex- actly what I deserve.
I turn and leave, but not before I hear Noah call out my name.
I run, tears flowing down my cheeks. “Lara!” he calls. “Lara, wait!”
He catches me at the door, hand curling around my upper arm. He spins me around but I shove at his chest, causing him to stumble backward.
“Don’t touch me!” I scream. “Don’t touch me.” “Lara, it isn’t—”
“Get away from me.”
I turn and keep going, darting straight across the road. I reach the park and drop to my knees, sobbing with agony, and pain, and regret. Maybe this is my karma. Maybe this is the universe’s way of punishing me for what happened with my nanna. Or maybe, just maybe, Noah is better off without me.
Of course he is. I’m worth nothing.
“Lara, fuck, how could you throw it all away? We were together over two years.”
His question brings me back to the present. “Se- riously?” I ask, eyes wide with shock. “You think I’m the one who threw it away?”
God, if only he knew how much it meant to me. I wanted to marry this man, to have kids with him, to be with him for the rest of my life. Walk- ing in and seeing him with another woman ripped my heart out. It sent my whole world crashing down. Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure in my life. How he could think it meant nothing is beyond me. He was the one who hurt me.
He grunts. “Yet you won’t talk to me, you just broke it off and ran.”
I flinch. “It was what I had to do.”
He shakes his head, jaw tight. “God, you’re a pain in the ass.”
That hurts. He’s acting as if all this is my fault, when it was he who cheated on me.
“I don’t need to listen to this, Noah. I don’t deserve it.”
“That’s just the thing,” he yells. “You’re not lis- tening. You’re refusing to listen.”
The familiar sting of anger bubbles in my chest, but I push it down. Be calm. Don’t react. It isn’t worth getting upset over. “I don’t want to hear your excuses.”
He makes a frustrated noise in his throat.
I shake my head. I can’t listen to any more of this. I can’t take any more of this. “I have to go.” I turn my back to him and start walking away.
“Fuck, Lara,” he barks. “Let me talk to you.”
I pick up into a jog and disappear out the other side of the trees, but not before I hear his angry curse. I run until I’m out of breath, but I could swear he’s still behind me. I stop and turn every now and then, glancing into the trees, but nobody is there. Yet it feels as though someone is. He’s probably following me—he’s protective like that, always wanting to know I’m safe. He doesn’t need to worry anymore—I’m no longer his burden.