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"Juliet is a rare gem of a character. She rebelled against her family and their high society ways to become a tough as nails bounty hunter with a passion for high heels, skanky clothes, books and antiques. I revel in a character like this because she is smart, funny, snarky, and just a little bit slutty, and she makes no apologies for who she is. I could only wish to be like that."
"Ms. Woodhull's humor avoided slapstick and had me laughing almost every page. When Juliet finally handles her commitment issues and quits running from Ragnar, I wanted to cheer. Ragnar and Juliet definitely deserves the JERR Silver Star Award. It's delightful! This book definitely goes in my re-read stack to keep me warm this winter!"
"I enjoyed this one so much, I read it in one sitting... For lots of fun, some ridiculous situations and even sillier characters, a whole lotta love-making, and a darn good story, I wholeheartedly recommend Ragnar and Juliet by Lucy Woodhull. Read it and you'll be glad you did!"
RAGNAR AND JULIET, a romantic comedy space opera, is a lesson in why bounty hunting hot men can be terrible for a girl's health, but glorious for her everything else.
Bounty hunting is usually so easy. Flash a little cleavage, mix a roofie cocktail, and Juliet has her man right where she wants him: out cold, ready to be swapped for cash. Her passions are freedom, trashy clothes, and pie -- not necessarily in that order.
Hunky alien ship captain Ragnar doesn't deserve torture at the hands of the psychotic king who hired Juliet; he liberated one of William the Nefarious' illegal concubines. Juliet can't ignore such a noble act. She doesn't trust men, but this one, with the kindest smile she's ever seen, picks away at her resolve to stay aloof and clothed. He's just so... nice! Crazy she can deal with; sincerity is terrifying.
Before she gives in to her irrational urge to get a timeshare with him (and his cute tail), they're caught by the bad guys. Ragnar disappears and abandons her to her disgusting captors -- so much for togetherness. Perhaps he's not such a saint. Even worse, Nefarious William has nominated her for Concubine of the Evening. This dubious honor does not thrill her, and only a few hours remain before the king's mind control drugs obliterate her free will.
Sexual slavery might not be fatal, but Juliet would rather die. Of course, the third option (run away to a beach and hump Ragnar silly) is best, if they can live that long.
Ragnar and Juliet
Boun-ty (n): a reward offered to find a troublemaking man--often not worth it
Time to play 'Bag That Hot Alien,' Juliet's favorite game. Whether 'bag' meant 'turn him in for bounty' or 'sex him up, then turn him in for bounty' would depend on the talent and swimsuit portions of the competition.
Heat radiated off her mark from across the bar. Not too bad, she thought, sipping whiskey. She didn't bother to disguise her ardent study; she wanted him to notice.
Big, very big. Two hundred pounds of long, lean muscle, she guessed. And probably human, or something similar. Shaggy black hair over a rather handsome face, at least from back here. She glanced at the picture of him on her iPaidALotForThisGadget. Yup, that was him. Ragnar Manscape, the man she'd been hired to bag, drag, and return to King William (the Nefarious). Apparently, Ragnar was a bad, bad, boy and had royally pissed off the king. William wasn't the forgiving sort, hence his self-given moniker of "the Nefarious."
Juliet swept aside the four untouched cocktails sent to her from various pox-ridden barflies and threw her shoulders back, the thrill of the hunt coursing through her veins. She'd done this a hundred times before. The best bounty hunter in ten galaxies, she always got her man. Or sentient creature. Or whatever. She polished off the last of her drink, the icy alcohol shivering down her throat and into her empty stomach.
After adjusting her best assets higher in her push-up bra, she took a deep breath, imbued with perhaps too much confidence. She fluffed her hair and sauntered across the dim bar, red liquor signs flashing at her from all sides, illuminating her path. For a dive bar, this place slumped grungier than most. A group of 'musicians' huddled in a corner making a cacophony. Hard to hear over the din of chatter, but the jarring music could be felt as surely as the smell of the place could be seen.
Manscape sat tipped back in his rickety wooden chair, long legs planted on the table. His worn black boots had kicked many an ass by the look of them. She pushed his feet aside and plunked her trunk junk on the table. Startled, he stood and whipped a gun out of nowhere, pointing it straight between her eyes. "Buy me a drink," she purred in the Collective's language, trying not to flinch at the muzzle inches from her face.
Juliet's blood heated at the sight of him this close--not exactly handsome, no, but rugged in an I-eat-folksingers-for-breakfast kind of way. The only indication he wasn't human was the presence of a smattering of orange spots near his temples. They were disarmingly cute in such a rugged setting. His nose had perhaps been broken one too many times, his chin needed a good razor, his mouth set crooked and hard, but all in all: dead sexy. Too bad. More like dead meat once the Nefarious was finished with him.
Juliet needed to work fast--she'd be dead meat if she didn't deliver him within the next twenty-four hours. It had taken a week to track him to this hellhole planet at the corner of Nowhere and Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.
A pair of amazing cerulean eyes fluttered over her, narrowing on one: her crotch, almost peeking from under the shortest skirt she owned, two: her chest, spilling out of a leather vest, and three: her crotch again. A gratifying once over--she didn't shop at Sluts-R-Us for nothing.
"Buy me a drink," she was forced to repeat with a toss of her hair. Maybe he didn't understand her? Really, by this point most men had melted into quivering pools of hormone all over her painful, yet alluring, spike-heel boots.
He smiled, revealing a good set of almost-straight teeth. A wave of pure desire flowed through Juliet's chest, settling in the general area of her illicit miniskirt. She was a sucker for a charming grin from an inconvenient man.
Not lowering his weapon, he said, "You came over here. You're buying, Blondie."
With one hussy-red manicured finger she pushed the gun barrel away. "Don't call me Blondie and I will."
Those dangerous baby blues crinkled at the corners. "Then what do I call you?"
"We're not dealing in last names tonight?"
Juliet wiggled off the table and thumped into a chair. "Is this what you consider sexy banter? Does it sound better once I have a cocktail?"
He laughed--a big, rich chuckle that echoed through his broad chest. Manscape sat down and appraised her again, slowly, his gaze like a warm, welcoming bath. "I like you, Just Juliet."
She couldn't help but return the smile; she was a sucker for a hearty laugh. He put two fingers to his lips and whistled. A waitress instantly appeared, giggling all over him, her tentacles reaching around his shoulders to caress his chocolate-colored leather jacket and the impressive set of shoulders contained therein.
"Whiskey," he said, his eyebrows rising. One of her members slid around his neck and turned from yellow to fuchsia. The waitress tittered again, un-snaked herself, and sauntered away, ogling over her shoulder at him all the way to the bar.
"You have quite an effect on women." Juliet swung her legs out and crossed them for his benefit. "Do you think you can make me turn colors?"
"I'd like to try."
Juliet laughed and sought out his gaze, holding it, squeezing it. Seduction was ninety percent hot, throbbing looks. The other ten percent was boobs. She wasn't the most gorgeous girl alive, but possessed a body to kill for and wit enough to destroy even the toughest prey. Would a man like Manscape suspect an aggressive lady of being up to no good? Nah, not if the waitress were any indication of his affect on beings of the female persuasion. Juliet leaned in and whispered, "What color would I turn?"
He sat forward. The captainey scent of his skin--booze and machinery--breezed through her nostrils, intoxicating as the whiskey bouncing in her belly. "What color do you want to turn?"
"I asked you first."
"I asked you second."
Juliet leaned back and exaggerated a sigh. He just failed the Q&A portion of the Mr. Man of the Evening Competition. "Boy, you really do suck at flirting. What's your name anyway?"
His eyes narrowed, but he smiled. Easygoing. She was a sucker for easygoing. "Ragnar Manscape, captain of the Bobo, fastest ship in the galaxy."
She snorted. "Bobo? Your ship is named Bobo? Is your first mate a clown named Rainbow?"
"Well, that's not very nice. I bought it a long time ago and let my little sister name it. It's in honor of her favorite blanket, Bobo. It was either that or 'Pink Unicorn.'" His geeky little grin caused her stomach to drop straight into her damp panties. She licked her lips. He watched her mouth, deliberately. Okay, so maybe he wasn't the smoothest operator ever, but he just soared ahead in the Mr. Congeniality sweepstakes.
Two semi-clean glasses slammed onto the table, jarring Juliet out of her reverie, which involved Ragnar, a bullwhip, and a jar of peanut butter. "Hmph." Apparently, the waitress was unhappy at Juliet's close proximity to her favorite customer. Lady Tentacles slopped amber liquid into the two glasses and plunked the bottle down before huffing away.
Juliet cleared her throat and wondered what he'd done to earn King William's ire. He didn't give off a killer/rapist/generally-evil-dude vibe. No crazy eyes. And she knew crazy eyes. "What shall we drink to?"
Ragnar picked up one glass and handed it to her, then grabbed his own in two long fingers. "To new adventures."
Juliet threw her head back to shoot the whiskey. It seared a path down her already over-heated body. He followed suit. She poured two more double shots and scooted his glass over the table. "We can't stop at just one."
"Are you trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me?"
"Yes." And she wasn't lying. All the judges (her eyes, her pulse, her tingling nether bits) agreed that he was a winner. Her plan adjusted accordingly. She would one: talk him onto her ship; two: have hot, sweaty, illegal-on-most-planets sex with him; three: repeat step two; and four: deliver him for bounty.
"Good." Ragnar dragged her into his lap, her bottom settling nicely onto his hard thighs. One almost-rough hand swept a curl out of her lip gloss just before his mouth fell to hers. Juliet groaned at the warm, whiskey taste of the delectable velvet lips moving over hers, slow and perfect and talented. Damn, she loved her job. She cradled the back of his head, fingers running through his soft, thick hair. Grabbing a handful, she pulled hard, eliciting a grunt from him. His tongue flicked the inside of her lips, creating an ache deep between her legs.
"Let's get outta here." If they didn't, the greasy patrons of this bar would be getting quite a show in a minute or two.
"Uh-huh," he agreed. He stood, sweeping her out of the chair and jarring her onto the ground. Pain shot from her too-high heels through her shinbones.
"Ow. Take it easy, muscles."
"Sorry. What are you, anyway?"
She bit her lip in an adorable manner. "I could go in so many directions with that question..."
He proceeded to ostentatiously cross his arms and shake his head. "You're human, aren't you?"
"Why do you say it like that? Human. With that air of what a pain in the ass."
"You said it, not me."
She peered up at him, a full head taller than she. He must be six-three--a foot taller than her, maybe? Big enough to do serious damage. But she'd handled her share of big ones before. Heh, heh... big ones.
"What are you smiling about?"
"Shouldn't I be smiling? Is that a human thing to do?"
With a grunt (of disgust, of desire, of gas? Who knew?), Ragnar grabbed her hand and headed for the exit. She threw some money in the direction of the table to pay for the drinks.
Stumbling behind him on those damn heels, Juliet spied--ye gods--a long, orange tail waving behind him! She sucked in a breath as the tip, pointed like the devil's, breezed across her belly then curved under her skirt. "Stop that!" She batted it away as Ragnar paused and glanced over his shoulder with a wide grin.
"It has a mind of its own." He chuckled and took off again, dragging her behind him.
"Does that line work on most women?"