Lauryn Michaels is the author of contemporary romance novels edged with mystery and suspense. Her debut novel, Bound to the Past, is the first book in the Starville Series.
Reading has always been an essential part of Laurynʼs life, and sheʼs been an avid reader of romance since the age of thirteen, when she began sneaking her mother's novels. She started writing her first stories that same year―and can now confess that many of them were written in class and even during homework time!
Lauryn currently lives in Italy with her husband, their five-year-old son, and their two canine babies. When sheʼs not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, playing the piano, and spending lazy evenings watching movies with her family.
Lauryn loves hearing from her readers, so feel free to drop her an Email or contact her on Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads |Twitter.
Bound to the Past (Starville, #1)
by Lauryn Michaels
Published August 8th 2014
After a terrible motorcycle accident causes Jack Turner total memory loss, discovering what has happened in his past becomes crucial to him. What is he doing back in Starville, the small Texas town he left behind many years before? And has he really murdered his adoptive father, as everyone seems to believe?In a world full of doubts and misgivings, Jackʼs only certainty is Sara.
Novelist Sara Milano has been struggling with writer's block and blames it on her boring existence. The night she rescues mysterious Jack Turner on the road, however, she knows everything is about to change. Convinced of Jack's innocence and determined to use his turbulent story as an inspiration for her new novel, Sara decides to help him through his journey of discovering the truth.As Starville's hostility toward Jack turns into hatred, unveiling the real killer's identity becomes a matter of life or death.
*** Authorʼs Note: “BOUND TO THE PAST” IS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL. The other books in the series need not be read to enjoy it. ***
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
For many readers, including myself, what goes on in a writer's mind and life during the completion of a novel is a fascinating puzzle, hence my interest in Bound to the Past, where Lauryn Michaels focuses on an author afflicted with writer's block. Although the author-y stuff is still mostly a big question mark to me, the storyline and accompanying mystery made themselves just as fascinating in this intriguing stand-alone novel in the Starville series.
Sara Milano is a relative newcomer to the tiny town of Starville, the perfect place for her to do both her day job as an English Literature teacher and her secret one as a steamy romance author. Under pressure because of an approaching deadline, she finally makes a breakthrough with an unforeseen incident: she rescues a victim of a hit-and-run. She is hard pressed to answer a few questions, though. How much of what she is writing is her imagination and how much is an autobiography? Is what she is feeling for Jack real or brought about by her book?
Jack is every romance novel's dream. He's dark, brooding, and hot, with one complication. The accident left him with amnesia and he can't remember why he's back in a town where everyone apparently hates him enough to end his life. Neither can he understand why he's accused of murdering his adoptive father when he was the only one who showed any care.
Almost the whole citizenry of Starville falls suspect when Jack is alternately taunted, heckled, and attacked. No one has any proof to tie him to the murder and nobody wants to prove otherwise. It's up to him and Sara to get to the bottom of all the hate.
This beautifully written novel has just the right balance of romance, mystery, and light comedy. I especially like that while there is a sexual tension and an erotic tug between the two main characters, it's simply a part of the story and not the main basis for it. More emphasis is placed on the workings of the citizens of a small town and a concerted witch hunt centered on one man who's still being treated as guilty despite his vindication from the accusations hurled on him. And, it's a refreshing twist that the hero is the one being threatened and looking to the heroine for help and protection.
While these two certainly were h-o-t, the ones that stole the scenes for me were the menagerie of animals, especially Lancelot, Sara's dog. Those puppy eyes would get me every time! And I want to read more about what's brewing between Nicky and Brent, despite the teaser that Grace and Carson's story is coming out next. I'm sure, though, that's a tearjerker right there!
Jack and Sara prove that no one is Bound to the Past, no matter what other people may say or do. Every choice is yours to make and no past doings can control your future's outcome. It's a beautiful lesson I hope Lauryn Michaels will touch on in the next installment.
“Oh, no. No, no, no!” …Not a flat tire! Not this late at night, and not on such a remote road! Before she finished that thought, the car started to swerve and thump. Great. Just great. Sara had no choice but to pull off on the side of the road and get out of the car to assess the situation. Yep, it was definitely a flat tire.
A grunt slipped from her lips. For a moment, she debated calling her friend Brent for help but pushed that thought away. He had better things to do than rushing to her help every time she was in trouble. Besides, it was time she learned to do things by herself. Changing a tire couldnʼt be too hard, right? If other people did it, so could she. She only hoped the dull light from the few working street lamps would be enough for her to see, because the last thing she needed was to have to hold a flashlight
while attempting to change her first tire.
Sara had just opened the trunk and grabbed the jack when she heard the loud rumble of an engine. She turned around with a relieved smile―but it faded as soon as she saw the huge, dark motorcycle approaching. She didnʼt know anyone who owned one like that in Starville.
“Awesome,” she mumbled. The only person coming by had to be a complete stranger. Her heart immediately sped at the implications of that thought. It was late at night, the road was dark, and she was about to be all alone with a stranger.
Whatever, silly. This was Starville. People here knew and helped each other. Yet she couldnʼt help sucking in a harsh breath as the motorcycle slowed down. If anything, she was still holding the jack. Probably not the most perfect weapon, but itʼd sure come in handy if this guy was coming with the wrong idea in mind.
“Need help?” the strangerʼs deep voice asked curtly as he killed the engine.
Squinting her eyes to focus them in the dim light, Sara swallowed hard. Screw the help; she could change the darn tire herself. “No, thank you. Iʼm sure I can”—the man slid off the bike and walked
toward her—“manage,” she finished in a gasp as he stepped into the light.
He was a stranger, all right. Probably the most dangerous-looking one sheʼd ever seen. He was tall. Very tall. So much so that she had to tilt her head all the way back to look at his face, seeing as he towered over her five four by nearly a foot. Everything about him was dark, from the jeans he was wearing to the charcoal T-shirt and black leather jacket. Even his short hair and the faint stubble on his jaw were dark―not to mention his expression. But his eyes… Holy crap! They had to be the only bright thing about him. In fact, sheʼd never seen such a startling, intense shade of green before. And never had she thought that so much pain could be contained in a single pair of eyes. They looked…lost. Tormented.
Sara took a deep breath. She could have sworn this man had leaped straight out of one of her novels. Which wasnʼt necessarily a good thing.
Without a word, her dark knight walked to the car and crouched in front of the tire. Sara forced herself out of her stunned stupor. “I, uh, have a flat.” Duh.
He turned his head and gave her a long, piercing stare that made her squirm with unease. Then he stood, took off his leather jacket, and tossed it carelessly at the bike. “Got a spare?”
“I think itʼs in the trunk. But, look, you donʼt have to help…” Too late. He was already removing the spare tire and tools from the trunk.
Oookay. Sara stepped closer and passed him the jack, her nerves so tense that she almost dropped it in the process. “Thank you so much. I was going to change it myself, but I’ve never done it before, and thereʼs no telling how long it would have taken,” she said, trying to make conversation. For no reason, apparently, since he flat-out ignored her.
She watched him as he jacked up the car, fascinated by the play of muscles rippling in his arms and down his back. Oh, boy. She cleared her throat. “Iʼve never seen you ʼround here before. Are you new in town?”
His eyes darted to hers as he removed the flat tire and set it aside. “Kinda.”
Kinda? Sara frowned. While he did speak with a slight drawl, it wasnʼt pronounced enough to determine whether it might be from Texas. Not to mention he spoke too little. “Are you going to stay in Starville for a while?”
“Not sure yet.”
Hmm. Maybe he was on a business trip? Sara glanced at his motorcycle, then back at him. He definitely didnʼt strike her as a businessman. Perhaps he was here to visit a friend? Or a girlfriend? Her frown deepened as she tried to picture him with someone she knew in town. “My name is Sara, by the way. Sara Milano. I live a couple of miles from here.”
He shot her another brief look, then stood all of a sudden. Sara stared at him but didnʼt realize heʼd finished changing the tire until he placed the tools and the flat back into the trunk. He closed it with a slam and turned around, wiping his hands on the legs of his jeans. Her gaze followed the action in a daze. “I, um, have wipes in my purse, if you want.”
Of course. Dark knights didnʼt care for sanitary wipes. And she should probably stop calling him that and ask what his name was. “Thank you so much again for your help, Mr.―”
Sara suppressed an eye roll as he walked past her. Seriously? Now he was just being weird. Maybe he was running from the law and didnʼt want her to know his name. Then again, she doubted an outlaw would stop to help a damsel in distress. Oddly enough, though, his clipped answers and brush-off attitude only made her want to know more about him. He…drew her. The mystery writer in her was totally intrigued by his enigmatic persona.
She followed him quietly to his motorcycle, which she now noticed was a black-and-silver Harley Davidson. He was already putting his jacket back on. “Iʼm going to town for ice cream. Would you like to join me?” she blurted as he straddled the bike. “Itʼs the least I can do to thank you.”
Her offer must have surprised him, because his gaze snapped back to hers, and he raised an eyebrow. Sara was pretty sure she even saw a glint of amusement flash in his eyes. Evidently, dark knights didnʼt care for ice cream, either.
“I could buy you a drink somewhere, if you prefer,” she tried again. Yeah, a drink sounded better. He looked like a whiskey kind of guy―something dark and strong.
This time a ghost of a smile played at the right corner of his mouth, lifting it ever so slightly and revealing a dimple that caused a funny flutter in her stomach. Lord help her, she was a sucker for dimples!
“Maybe another time.”
Sara sighed, trying to hide her disappointment as he backed up the motorcycle and started the engine. “All right, then. Thanks again.” It was the story of her life. Every good-looking man who crossed her path ended up bolting faster than she could say good-bye. With a little wave, she started walking back to her car.
She stilled. Her pulse zinged in response to the gravelly tone in which he said her name. And that slow, sexy drawl of his! She took another deep breath before turning around. “Yes?”
“Get that tire fixed as soon as you can. Itʼs not safe driving on a spare.”
“Oh.” Wow. That was the longest sentence he’d uttered since he’d arrived, and it wasnʼt even close to what Sara wished heʼd said. And to think that for a moment sheʼd hoped he might have changed his mind and decided to accept her invitation. Talk about dumb. “Iʼll do it first thing in the morning. Thank you.”
He nodded, then rode away just as mysteriously as heʼd arrived.
And she didnʼt even know his name.
When was the last time someone had offered him ice cream? He didnʼt even remember. Probably as long ago as the last time someone had looked at him the way that pretty girl had, as if he were a decent human being. And, God, heʼd been tempted to go with her. To forget, at least for a little while, who he was.
He shook his head hard, crushing that thought. He had no time for this crap. He had enough on his plate already. He was back.
Back in Texas. Back in Starville, the one place heʼd sworn never to see again. But, hell, now that he was so close to getting what heʼd been working so hard for, he was excited to be here.
Heʼd been waiting for this day for so long―planning it, craving it―and he was determined not to let anything or anyone distract him from his objective. Finally, he would have his revenge on the people heʼd learned to loathe with his entire being during the last ten years.
His jaw instinctively clenched. His fists tightened on the handgrips as the motorcycleʼs speed increased. Blood pounded through his veins with anticipation. Oh, yeah, revenge was going to taste so sweet. Heʼd make sure of that. Only then would he finally be free to move on with his life and put this damn town behind him forever.
And this time, he would not look back.