Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer - and he needs a little help. Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax.
Knife's entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.
PI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights and he doesn't trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.
Two months ago, Jackson Rivers got shot while trying to save Ellery Cramer’s life. Not only is Jackson still suffering from his wounds, the trigger-man remains at large - and the body count is mounting. Jackson and Ellery have been trying to track down Tim Owens since Jackson got out of the hospital, but Owens' time as a member of the department makes the DA reluctant to turn over any stones. When Owens starts going after people Jackson knows, Ellery’s instincts hit red alert.
Ten years ago Sheriff's Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He's gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron - who thought life began and ended with his kids - is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.
PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit. But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town, so they can meet the snake in its den. Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom, and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery.
Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once - not even Sammy! An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot - if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.
Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn 18 and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex, from Johnnies, spots him bussing tables. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts, but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.
Tino Robbins' sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica's best friend, Taylor Cochran is back in town, released from PT, and in need of a job. Turns out, Taylor's a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn't just love their family - he's desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.
Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners, when he should be studying for finals, he's pretty sure it's the latter! But one delivery might change everything.
In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers - and their penchant for making good music when they weren't getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends - especially Grant Adams - made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.
Nobody knows the real Chase. Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover's goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he'd rather die than open it, and the lies he's used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.
Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan’s friend and confidant - and a damned sexy man. At 21, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan - he’s never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver.
High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow. But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.
Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work - and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins. One brisk night in late October, a post-practice convo in Richie's car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected - nor want to forget.
Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants - comradeship and physical contact on trade -and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He's sure of it.
The world might not know who Lee Burton is, but it needs his black ops division and the work they do to keep it safe. Burton’s spent his life following orders - until he sees a kill jacket on Ernie Caulfield. Ernie isn’t a typical target, and something is very wrong with Burton’s chain of command. But when Burton refuses Ernie’s contract, he kicks an entire piranha tank of bad guys, and Burton can’t rest until he takes down the rogue military unit that would try to kill a spacey psychic.
Mason Hayes's love life has a long history of losers who don't see that Mason's heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love - and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it's a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend's soccer teammate. The truth is much more painful.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them - just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity - Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not - but then Oliver kisses him good-bye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible - and left John to clean up his mess.