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Full Contact (Shelter Valley Stories) by [Quinn, Tara Taylor]
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About the Author

The author of more than 50 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with more than six million copies sold. Known for delivering deeply emotional and psychologically compelling novels, Ms. Quinn won the 2008 Reader’s Choice Award, is a four time finalist for the RWA Rita Award, a finalist for the Reviewer’s Choice Award, the Bookseller’s Best Award, and has appeared often on local and national TV including CBS Sunday Morning.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"You sure you don't want me to come in with you?" Shelley asked.

"I'm sure." Ellen Moore's voice, infused with confidence and cheer for the sake of five–year–old Josh climbing out of the backseat of her sister's car, sounded strong and healthy to her.

Because she was strong and healthy. She could do this. no big deal. thousands of women all over the country shared parenting with divorced spouses.

Though maybe not all of them had their younger sisters driving them to the airport for the month–long parental switch.

Martha Moore Marks, the girls' mother, had been adamant about Ellen not making the trip alone. That was fine with Ellen. Her sister Shelley wanted Ellen's opinion on an outfit she was considering for an upcoming vocal performance with the Phoenix Symphony, so they could take care of that while they were in the city. Then the sisters were treating themselves to lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant in Fountain Hills—a quaint Phoenix suburb—before heading home to Shelter Valley.

"I want to wear my backpack." The solemn voice of her son grabbed Ellen's attention. And heart. "I don't want Daddy to think I'm a baby or something."

"He's not going to think that, bud," she said, resisting the urge to run her fingers through her little guy's dark, silky hair. At home, especially when he was sleepy, he'd let her get away with it, but not here. Not now.

Instead, she helped him secure the straps of the new full–size backpack he'd specifically requested for the trip. The canvas bag—loaded down with his electronic handheld game console; extra discs; dried fruit snacks; animal cookies; cheese crackers; his Cars insulated water bottle filled with juice; two of his favorite nighttime storybooks, both starring Cars characters; and the stuffed Woody doll she'd bought him for Christmas the year before—replaced the smaller plastic one that had been suitable when he'd been going to preschool and day care.

He was starting kindergarten a couple of days after he returned from visiting his father.

"Remember, put Woody under the covers with you at night," she told him as Shelley popped the trunk on her Chevy sedan. Ellen hauled out the first of two big suitcases, pulling up the roller bar.

"No one will know he's there," she said, dropping the second bag next to her and closing the trunk while her sister picked Josh right up off the ground with the force of her goodbye hug.

"You be a good boy and have fun, okay?" Shelley said, nose to nose with Josh.

Josh, arms wrapped tightly around Shelley's neck, rubbed noses with his aunt. "I get to go fishing in the Colorado River," the little boy said.

"I know, pal. And you better call me if you catch anything." Shelley let Josh's thin body slide to the ground.

"I will."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

Shelley nodded at Ellen, climbed behind the wheel and drove off to the call lot where she could wait until Ellen was ready to be picked up.

With a roller bar in each hand, and Josh's hand next to hers on one handle, Ellen pulled the bags to the curbside check–in station. Josh didn't need a special–needs tag because, while he was checking in alone, he wouldn't be flying alone.

Then they were in the terminal, Josh's hand in hers whether he liked it or not, and Ellen swore to herself that the smile would stay pasted on her lips if it killed her.

It wouldn't kill her. She was a survivor.

The squeeze of her son's fingers around her own made her own angst seem selfish and petty.

"You're going to have a blast," she promised him.

"Why can't Daddy and I have a blast right here?"

"Because he doesn't live here. His job is in Colorado. And he has a room all ready for you in his new house and you're going to love it."

The terminal was bustling, with as many families as businesspeople hurrying around them in spite of the fact that it was a Monday morning.

"Then why can't you come?"

"Because my job is here. Besides, Jaime is there and is looking forward to hanging out with you. You like Jaime, remember?" The beautiful model her ex–husband Aaron had chosen as a replacement for his damaged wife loved Josh and had taken off the entire month of August to care for him.

As far as Ellen was concerned, Josh was all that mattered. "Yeah."

She couldn't really blame Aaron for choosing someone who oozed feminine perfection and sexuality. He'd been far too young to handle the emotional and physical backlash that had consumed Ellen after her attack. Too young to handle her physical rejection of him.

She would have opted out, too, if she'd had that choice.

Aaron had needed to get out of Shelter Valley, to start a new life away from the tragedy, and Ellen couldn't imagine ever leaving Shelter Valley. There was no future in that kind of standoff.

Josh's grasp did not loosen even a little bit as they approached the bustling rotunda where they'd arranged to meet Aaron. There was less than an hour's turnaround between his arriving flight and his departing one with Josh. Aaron and Ellen had both decided whisking Josh off quickly was the best plan.

She was searching the crowd for the familiar dark hair of her ex when Josh stopped suddenly.

"What's up?" she asked, gazing into his solemn face.

"I don't want to go."

"But you miss your daddy, Josh. You say so a lot."

"I know."

"You're going to have such a great time with him. You always do."

"But he always comed here."

"Came here. You're older now, bud. And Daddy wants to have time with you in his house, too. He bought you your own bed and it has Cars sheets and everything."

Josh stared at her then his lower lip started to tremble.

Kneeling in front of her son, Ellen held him by the shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. "Josh? What's going on?"

His eyes filled with tears. "I don't want to leave you here by yourself. You'll be sad."

"Ah, buddy, I'm going to miss you for sure. Remember the list we went over last night? The one on the refrigerator?"

He nodded.

"Those are all the things I'm going to be doing after work while you're gone. And that list is so big, I won't have a chance to get too sad."

He didn't look convinced.

"Name some of them for me," Ellen said. "What am I going to be doing today after work?"

"Going running. Every day."

"And then what?"

"You're going to help Sophie make the nursery in their new house."

He'd paid attention—and hopefully had pictures in his head of her busy and happy.

"What else was on the list?"

"Babysitting for Aunt Caro and Uncle John when they're in Kentucky at their farm. Do I ever get to go to their farm like you said?"

"I'm house–sitting," Ellen corrected him. "They're taking the kids with them." Caroline had moved to Shelter Valley, alone and pregnant, at a time when Ellen had been lost as well, and the two, though more than ten years apart in age, had formed a bond that Ellen cherished. "And yes, we'll go to Kentucky. Maybe next summer."

Which gave her another year to work up the desire to leave Shelter Valley for a few weeks.

Ellen took a seat on a bench with a clear view of the entrances to the A boarding gates, pulling Josh, backpack and all, in between her legs, keeping her arms linked loosely around him.

"And you're going to put junk in jars," he said.

"Canning tomatoes and peaches and corn and green beans to send to the food pantry in Phoenix," she said, knowing he probably wouldn't remember that part. A group of older ladies from the three churches in Shelter Valley met every year for the service project. They had lost a couple of members of their group during the past year and needed extra hands. Ellen was good in the kitchen—and eager to learn how to can.

Aaron still hadn't appeared. Josh was shifting weight from one foot to the other and picking at a thread from the flowered embroidery on the front of Ellen's T–shirt.

"What else?" she asked. "What am I going to be doing for you?"

"Painting my room."

"Painting what in your room?"

He grinned. "Trains."

"That's right. What colors?"

"The engine is black, of course."

"Of course."

"And the caboose is red so the trains coming behind it will see it."


"And blue for my favorite color."

"And purple for mine."

"And—" Josh stopped when Ellen stood. "Daddy's coming," she said.

Please, heart, don't make it difficult for me to breathe. Don't let me need anything from Aaron Hana–ran. With her son's hand in hers, she approached the man she'd once vowed to love, honor and cherish—and sleep with—until death did them part.

"Hey, sport!" Aaron's grin was huge as he sped up the last few steps and scooped his son into his arms, hugging him tight. "I've missed you."

"I missed you, too," Josh said.

Ellen stared at those little arms clutching his father's neck. Josh needed this time with Aaron. He needed his father.

Then, with their son perched on his hip, Aaron's eyebrows drew together in concern as he looked at her. "How you doing, El?"

"Fine! Great!" The smile she gave him was genuine. "It's good to see you."

"You, too."

Then they stood there with nothing to say. There had been no big angry outbursts between them, no hatred or resentment or bitterness. Just a sadness that had infiltrated every breath they took together.

"I better get him through security." Aaron's comment fill...

Product Details

  • File Size: 414 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0373717261
  • Publisher: Harlequin Superromance (August 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055PRQQQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,971 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tara Taylor Quinn never fails to surprise me with her innovative and engaging stories.

Tara Taylor Quinn never fails to surprise me with her innovative and engaging stories.

Ellen lives in small town Arizona, where everybody is seriously involved in everybody else's business. She loves it there, but since being raped seven years earlier has been living in a situation where everyone overprotects her. The stifling attitudes of the town are not helping her, and her marriage has fallen apart because of the problem she has with being touched.
Medical massage therapist Jay is in town to track down his family. Nobody wants him there - he doesn't exactly fit into the town's idea of what an honourable man should be like. The long-haired (I love long-haired heroes!) biker is attacked with kindness on all sides as the general population politely tries to drive him out of town. But he realises he's Ellen's last chance at getting better, and doesn't give up on her no matter how difficult it is. His constant reassurances to her that he was going to keep trying until she got better were very touching.

Tara Taylor Quinn has created two wonderful characters, moving straight past the stereotypes. Ellen's progression from living in a state where people happily keep her `damaged', to a point where physical contact - and then intimate contact - with Jay was wonderful. It went far beyond a simple physical relationship, and made everything mean so much more. Jay's issues with crossing boundaries in a situation with a patient were handled realistically and responsibly. That had been one of my main concerns going into this book, and I was satisfied with the way the two of them talked it through.
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DO NOT be fooled by this book's description as I was. When I chose to read Full Contact, I thought it sounded like a light read with a good girl looking for an adventure with a bad boy. I was wrong.

Jay Billingsley is a medical massage therapist who moonlights as a private investigator. He's in Shelter Valley on a personal mission to find the father he believes abandoned him as a baby and to meet the son Jay never knew he had. While there he takes on clients in need of his therapist skills. One of those clients is our heroine, Ellen Moore.

Ellen's come a long way since she was brutally raped seven years ago. She's still suffering from PTSD and she knows she has to move past it or she'll never be able to live the life she wants with her five year-old son. Ms. Quinn does a remarkable job of guiding you through the physical and emotional effects of rape. Ellen's triggers, panic attacks, and anxiety made me ache for what she was going through.

Jay is gentle and understanding. He allows Ellen the time needed to become comfortable with him, to trust him; both professionally and personally. So many rape/abuse/trauma books represent the women in very unrealistic ways. You cannot go from fearing touch one day to having hot and steamy sex the next! I thought Full Contact to be one of the best depictions of overcoming rape, learning to trust, and to love. Jay never once oversteps the boundaries while treating her. There isn't a single lusty kiss or heavy petting moment during treatment. He fears -- as he should -- that going too far would be a setback in her recovery. The romance is very gradual, but I never once doubted the connection between them. Once Ellen trust him, begins to get to know him, and feels safe, she opens herself up to love.
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Jay Billingsley is a massage therapist and also a private investigator who comes to Shelter Valley looking for his father he's never known. He is asked to help Ellen who was brutal raped a few years ago . She can not get past it and she need too so she can be the mom to her 5 yr old son. Jay has agreed to help her plus persue his quest to find his father . They slow start to fall in love . Will Ellen get over the brutal raped and find true love will jay find his dad?
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Good story. Had a hard time putting the book down. It was a lot of story without the descriptive sex.
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Great Product fast shipping... Thanks Again
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