Wheeler Series Book 1
by Sara Butler Zalesky
Genre: Sports Romance
Loren Mackenzie is at the top of her game, leading an elite team of pro cyclists in the Women’s World Tour in Europe. But for her, cycling was a way to escape, using the burn of her muscles to cleanse her mind.
After a change in the management of her team, Loren is brought back together with a man she once loved. His amorous attention resurrects the feelings she once had for him, but also how he tried to force her to sleep with him, and the sting of his hand on her cheek at her refusal.
When mishap puts her in the sights of an A-list actor, the flirtation quickly develops into something more for Loren, but the relationship exposes her to the tabloid media, dredging up the past she wanted to bury. It also reveals a dangerous rival who puts her chances in the World Championship in jeopardy.
Love and obsession collide in the first book of the Wheeler series, can Loren stand at the center of the storm, or will she lose the success she has worked so hard to achieve?
Loren was in the back garden at her house cleaning her training bike when her mobile rang in her back pocket. She looked at the caller ID and frowned. IDC is calling me? then pressed the answer icon.
“Loren? It’s Pippa.” Her brows knotted and remained silent. “Pippa Davies, from media relations,” the woman continued.
She smacked her forehead. “Pippa! I’m so sorry! How are you? Are you still meeting up with us tomorrow night?”
“Oh, yes! Thank you ever so much for inviting me.” She paused. “Are you sitting down? I have some brilliant news!”
She raised a brow. “What’s up?”
“I received a terribly odd telephone call just a bit ago and I’m afraid it might be someone having a laugh with me, but I reckoned I’d inquire with you because I would be quite–.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just a bit excited.” She took a deep breath. “Loren, what happened this morning?”
She blinked. “Well, Ingrid and I had a bit of a slip on our training ride, and then I had a…” Her eyes narrowed. “What is this about?”
Pippa squeaked. “I received a telephone call from a rep from the RH Group.”
“Are you having a laugh? They represent some of the biggest names in Hollywood!”
“But what does that have to do with me?”
“Someone stopped to help you change your tire this morning, yes?”
Loren’s mouth popped open. “Uh, y-yes.”
“OH MY GOD!” Pippa screeched. “Is it true? Did you meet Graham Atherton this morning?”
She put her hand to her forehead. “Oh, my god.”
“They rang me to get your telephone number so Graham Atherton could ring you!”
“Oh, come on,” she scoffed. “It has to be a…” But I didn’t tell anyone. Her eyes grew wide and she lowered her voice. “Are you serious?”
Loren sat down heavily on the damp earth. “What do I do?”
“I told him I would ring you and ask if I could relay your mobile number. May I?”
She covered her mouth with her hand for a second, glancing around the patio. “Uh, okay. He can call me if he wants.”
Pippa shrieked again. “I am so happy for you!”
In Darkness, There Is Still Light
Wheeler Series Book 2
“Atherton Leaves Her! Has the Actor’s Whirlwind Romance with the Women’s Pro Cyclist Run its Course?”
Loren Mackenzie knew the headline in The Sun was misleading, but the Elite Women’s World Champion cyclist still felt the sting. With her team’s season winding down, reuniting with boyfriend, Graham Atherton is tops on her holiday to-do list. But as rumors and innuendo swirl around the couple, secrets they have kept from each other shake their relationship to its foundation.
Her fragile confidence is tested when Loren discovers details of her relationship with Felix Lalonde were provided to the media. Still reeling from the headlines, a bittersweet reunion with someone she thought lost becomes the catalyst for reliving the fractured memories of her childhood. Resentment and betrayal only add fuel to the fire already burning in her heart.
All the while obsession and greed churn into a storm on the horizon, threatening Loren and those closest to her. When the tempest hits, what is uncovered tilts the axis of her world.
In the second novel of the Wheeler series, can Loren believe that even in darkness, there is still light, there is still hope; there is still love.
As Loren dressed after her shower, her thoughts were occupied with what to tell Maggie about what happened recently. She heaved a sigh and glanced at her watch.
Band-Aid theory. You can do it. She picked up her mobile to begin a video call while moving to the desk near the windows.
“There’s my birthday girl!” Maggie sang when the video connected, but her expression changed to a deep frown. “Are you alright? You don’t look so good.”
Loren patted her cheek. “I’m fine. Nothing a bit of tea and a soak can’t cure.”
“What happened on Sunday?” Maggie narrowed her eyes. “Is Graham with you?”
“He’s here. He just went downstairs for a minute.” She glanced away, shrugging. “And nothing happened on Sunday. It’s just the tabloids trying to spin something.” Her aunt’s expression didn’t change, and Loren rolled her eyes. “Leave it alone, Mags.”
“Uh huh,” she muttered. “What do you have planned for today?”
“Honestly, I just want to sit here and stare out the window.” She changed the screen to share the misty view.
“Wow. Is that Central Park?”
“That it is.” Loren turned the camera back to her. “Fortieth floor penthouse on West 63rd, courtesy of Benny Wallace.”
“Damn. Maybe I should find myself an actor.” They both chuckled, but Loren’s didn’t last long. “There’s something else, isn’t there,” Maggie said.
“I got an early birthday present. A letter from Aaron.” She scrunched her nose. “His name is Adam, now.”
Her aunt’s mouth popped open. “You’re joking.”
“No. I’m sending you a copy of it now.” She grabbed her tablet to pull up her email and after she pressed send, Maggie’s tablet pinged almost immediately. Her aunt’s brows knotted as she read and when she was done, she looked up with tears in her eyes.
“Maggie!” She put a hand over her ear. “My virgin ears!”
“Oh, stop it,” she laughed but let it fade. “He was in Philadelphia? Do you know what he’s talking about?”
Loren nodded. “Yes, and I was a little freaked out, but I had to focus on the race.” She bit her lip as she opened her email again. “I emailed him back the other day, and I just sent you his reply.” The bedroom door opened behind her. Graham walked over and leaned down to see the screen.
“Hey.” She gave a distracted wave as she was reading, then looked back to Loren. “O’Connell is my maiden name,” she said.
“I imagine that’s why he chose it, but I’ll ask him about that when I see him.” She sat back and pressed her lips together as her aunt’s mouth dropped open again.
“You’re going to see him?”
“I talked to him last night.” Her eyes slid away and she swallowed hard. “Mags, I’ve started to remember more and none of it is good.” She glanced at Graham. “We were going to meet up today, but I’m starting to freak out.” He brushed her hair over her shoulder.
“You have to do what’s best for you, love,” he said. “You can’t think about hurting his feelings, but I’m certain he’ll understand.” Loren worried at her fingernail before looking to her aunt again.
“I need to know what’s real, and he’s the only one who can tell me.”
“I know, kitten, and I’m sorry I can’t help you more,” Maggie said, then glanced at her watch. “Poop. I have to get to work, but call back later, okay? Randall and the kiddos would love to hear from you.”
“I will.” Loren sat back in her chair after disconnecting and stared out the window. Graham touched the back of her neck.
“You’ve got your thinking face on.” She gave a soft smile, then pressed her lips together.
“I need to be in control, and I’m not.”
“Loren, you can’t control everything.”
She shot him a look. “I know I can’t, but I should be able to control my reactions. With everything that’s happened… ” She sighed, and Graham put his arm around her shoulders.
“Darling, you’ve spent years winding yourself up so tightly,” he said. “You’ve been able to function, but I don’t think you’ve actually lived.”
She raised a brow. “And then you came along, and my whole world started to unravel.”
“You make it seem like that’s a bad thing,” he said, his mouth somewhere between a frown and a smirk.
“In some ways it is, but I think my remembering was only a matter of time,” she replied, making a face. “James told me I had to stop looking down into the hole I dug, because if I looked up, I would see how many hands were reaching for me, to help pull me out.” Graham reached for her hands and squeezed them.
“I’ve got strong hands, you know,” he said. “I can change out a bike tire pretty quick.”
One Fire Burns Out Another’s Burning
Wheeler Series Book 3
It’s the start of a new year for World Champion cyclist Loren Mackenzie and already, her luck has taken a nosedive. Tensions rise at training camp in Mallorca, Spain, with the arrival of team sponsor, Ryzak Sports. There’s something familiar about Maksim Ryzak’s charm, and while Loren can see through it, she can’t shake the attraction.
Fingers are pointed at Loren when a reporter hints at her involvement in a doping scheme allegedly begun by Felix Lalonde. She denies it, but her fears that no one will believe her drag her down. When pictures of Graham with another woman are published by the tabloids, a match ignites that could burn their relationship to the ground.
The Spring Classics begin with races in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy, where rivals become allies and friends become adversaries. Loren is tested in both mind and body, but she is determined to prove herself worthy of being a World Champion.
But, as one fire is put out, another takes its place. Loren is still haunted by Felix, and it’s his voice in her ear in competition, whispering she’s not good enough. Even with her friends and family rallying behind her, can Loren free herself once and for all?
Sara has never lacked for imagination, but it wasn’t until the Fates decided to give the string of her life a tug, bringing her romantic leanings together with her passion for the sport of cycling and Poof! A story was written down and completed, much to her surprise and chagrin.
She is a (self)published author of women’s fiction/sports romance novels, Wheeler and Wheeler: In Darkness, There is Still Light. A third novel to complete the series is in development.
The author resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with her husband and their son. Sara is a paralegal for a law firm in Chester County, Pa, an avid road cyclist, and indoor cycling instructor at a national chain.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I like to crochet, which is kind of an old lady thing to do but it helps me think while I’m writing. I used to play Guitar Hero when I needed to clear my mind, but the TV keeps everyone else awake.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
My life is pretty routine and boring.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Loud gum chewing. Not using a turn signal. Drivers who try to run me over while I’m on my bike.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I grew up in Wharton, NJ. Exit 34B off Rt. 80.
What are you passionate about these days?
I’m passionate about cycling, especially women’s cycling. The women’s races are more exciting than the men because their race distances tend to be shorter and more intense. The teams don’t have the same number either, between 6 and 9 riders, whereas the men can have up to 12. Women racers have to be good at everything – sprinting, climbing, endurance. It’s difficult to specialize in one thing like the men’s teams when your teammates rely on each other to fill every position.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Ride my bike or binge Midsomer Murders on Acorn TV.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I have spent many a late-night writing Wheeler, but that quickly caught up to me. Now I write whenever I get the time, be it 10 minutes or an hour, and often at work. SHHH! Don’t tell.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still don’t consider myself a writer. It was a strange congruence of events that led me to put the first novel on paper – and finish it. A first for me.
Do you have a favorite movie?
There are so many films I can watch over and over, but I cringe at what I used to bolt home for when I was a kid. I prefer action and suspense films, like Tom Clancy or Dan Brown. I really liked Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher and Oblivion.
$25 Amazon and handmade crochet bookmark