“Linking and speaking fast are _not_ the same thing! You don’t need to speak fast. When native speakers link words, they’re not necessarily speaking faster. The speech is just smoother and less choppy. It’s extremely important to stress the content words when you are linking words because this will force you to slow down at the right place and it’ll make your speech more easily understood.” p.102
Mojsin, L. (2009). Mastering the American accent. Los Angeles, CA: Barron’s.