Expected publication: February 28th 2018
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Cowboy Homecoming by Cindi Myers
After years in the city Kate Randolph has come home to take care of her ailing father, only to find local cowboy Jace Carpenter in charge of her father’s ranch. Jace isn’t sure what to make of Kate, but he’s dealing with big changes in his own life since his family ranch was sold. Can a prodigal daughter and a restless cowboy turn the bad hand life has dealt them into a winning combination?
Kate held the water bottle out and Jace reached for it, and set it on the ground at their feet. Then he drew her close.
She stared up at him, heart hammering. “I almost kissed you the other night on my back porch,” he said. “But you pulled away.”
“I’ve regretted that ever since,” she said softly, and stood on tip-toe to press her lips to his.
He kissed her the way she imagined he did everything else, with a quiet thoroughness and skill that left no room for doubts or second thoughts. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the firm heat of his lips on hers, the taste of him on her tongue, the feel of his strong arms encircling her. It was as if she had been asleep for months, and the kiss awakened her, blood humming in her veins, every nerve buzzing with awareness of him.
When at last they broke apart, both breathless and panting a little, they stared at each other. “Maybe my other regret is that we didn’t do this sooner,” he said, smoothing one hand along the curve of her hip. “Say, ten years ago.”
“No, sooner wouldn’t have been as good,” she said. “You have to grow into a kiss like that.”
He kissed her again, letting his lips wander after a moment, from her mouth along the curve of her jaw and down the column of her neck, resting a moment over the pulse at her throat. She let out a breathy moan and dug her fingers into his biceps. If he could leave her this weak-kneed with just a kiss, imagine what he could do with the rest of his body.
Loving You From Afar by RaeAnne Hadley
Ariana thought her life was over when she lost her husband. But through a strange twist of events that brought a stranger into her and her children’s lives, she was starting to believe that maybe it was just the beginning.
Snowflakes fell from the black sky, lazily making their way down to the cold earth. It was so quiet that she could hear them when they landed.
All of the animals, both wild and domestic, were hunkered down to wait out the December storm.
She sat on the deck allowing the fat flakes to gather on her eye lashes. The house was quiet; her girls snug in bed and sound asleep. She felt moisture slide down her cheeks but didn’t bother to wipe them away. She looked up towards the heavens and sighed.
“I don’t know how to do this without you. We made so many plans, had so many dreams. Our girls need their daddy and I need my best friend. You kept me strong. Made me a better mother because you were an amazing father. My heart hurts. My mind aches and I don’t know that I’m strong enough to do this alone.”
She dropped her eyes and wiped away the tears. A breeze rustled the naked branches and she shivered. Gathering her empty tea cup, she let herself back into the house. She didn’t see the lone red rose petal fall from the sky and settle onto the seat of her chair
My Forever Cowboy by Diane J. Reed
Just when you least expect it, love finds you forever.
Photographer Avery Smart refuses to believe in “forever cowboys” after her father died in a tragic rodeo accident, until professional bull rider Grant Hollow decides to shed new light into the darkroom of her heart.
For a moment, all Grant could see was coppery hair with strands of gold highlighted by the sun. He squinted and made out the lovely face of Avery Smart, her brows drawn in concern.
Instantly, she hooked her elbows beneath Grant’s arm pits and proceeded to drag his weight with all her might. When Grant realized what was happening, that he was still in the rodeo arena near a two-thousand-pound bull that hadn’t been driven to the exit pen yet, he stumbled to his feet and turned the tables on Avery. Scooping her into his large arms, he hugged her close and made a mad dash for the fence.
“Good thing you’re light!” he cried, his feet drumming beneath him. A cowboy swung open a nearby gate. Grant rushed through, panting for breath as the cowboy slammed it shut. He held Avery so tightly to his chest, she could feel his heart hammering through his shirt as if he didn’t quite believe they’d made it to safety.
“You’ve heard of Dances with Wolves?” said the announcer. “Looks to me like Grant Hollow was dancing with the photographer! Am I the only who’s noticed he hasn’t put her down yet? Let’s give that cowboy a hand for protecting a lady the old fashioned way.”
The crowd applauded and whistled their approval.
“I’ve never had to clear the arena before I sprinted to the fence before.” Grant smiled, his face so close to Avery’s he could kiss her. The glint in his eye revealed he’d thought about it.
“Clear the arena? What am I, an empty beer can?”Avery replied, unable to hide the warmth that suffused her cheeks. The truth was, his muscled biceps felt heavenly against her body. And from this vantage point, she got an even closer look at his to die-for eyes.
“I didn’t mean it that way.” A smile teased Grant’s lips, which where perilously close to hers. “A woman like you couldn’t be trash if you tried.” He paused, his eyes tracing the amber highlights that perfectly framed her beautiful face. “More like striking gold.” He took in the warm brown of her eyes and the curve of her mouth, which Avery found sexy to the point of excruciating. “Next time, though,” Grant scolded, “I suggest you don’t try to rescue one of your photo subjects. Bulls are non-discriminating—they’ll take out anybody.”
Say Nothing by Autumn Piper
The best medicine doesn’t always come in pill form, but who knew it could be a scruffy, cranky cowboy?
After escaping from the psycho who held her prisoner for months, Brooke often suffers panic attacks when she tries to speak. When her cousin invites her to recuperate at his friends’ ranch in Colorado and help them care for their twin toddlers, she accepts.
For years since his engagement went belly-up, lead ranch-hand Rowdy has been non-relationship material. He feels a connection with Brooke, though, and she’s able to confide things in him she doesn’t trust her therapist with.
When her successful ex rides back into the picture, Rowdy will have to decide: fight for Brooke, or give her the financially stable future she deserves.
Her phone vibrated on the nightstand. Weird. Here it was…the clock said after one a.m. She’d ignore it, but who would be texting her in the middle of the night except in an emergency? She kept the throw around her shoulders and picked up her phone.
She walked back to the window, looked down at his cabin, where a light shone. She texted back, Yes I’m fine but then erased the lie and sent, Are you OK? Why you up in the middle of the night?
He replied, Trouble sleeping. (me) It’ll pass in a couple days though. What about you? Nightmare?
How’d he guess? Well, she had told him she had nightmares. Yes. Flashback. Pretty much ruins a night.
I’m sorry, he texted. And then, If you wanted to tell me about it, I’m all eyes. The goofy-eyed emoji he included made her smile.
She considered. Her cold sweat had nearly dried. The worst of this episode had passed. By morning, details would fade, and she’d only be able to remember bare facts. Which was why Roberta pushed hypnosis, but Brooke kept resisting because she didn’t exactly want to be able to remember those things at all hours of the day. It would be a lot of texting, she told Rowdy.
Worried you’ll wear out your thumbs?
Throwing down a challenge. She hadn’t shared any more details than the police and prosecutor demanded, though she knew court was coming and she’d have to type replies to the attorneys’ questions if she didn’t have her speech back by then.
So she told him every detail she could recall about that day.
Peyton’s Kiss by Ann Anders
No one ever promised Stella Fairchild that life would be fair. If it was, then her best friend wouldn’t be dying. A little girl wouldn’t be losing her mother. And a lonely cowboy would be ready for love. Under the blue skies of Colorado, however, fate has its own ideas. And maybe, just maybe, silver linings could be found hiding in the storm.
He didn’t laugh at her. “I never get tired of it. The open space, the sky. But it can also be dangerous if it turns on you. Don’t come up here alone, okay? Storms move in quickly. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can find yourself in trouble real fast.” He rubbed Hermes’ neck fondly. “Hell, you can get into trouble even when you do know what you’re doing.”
Stella shivered at his words and watched Corinne and Misty disappear over the rise up ahead. “Two sides to every coin.”
He wouldn’t say anything. He’d think her words over first.
And then Hermes sidled up beside her, pressing her leg into Pickles. Peyton’s hand grasped the back of her neck and… finally.
Her hat tumbled down her back at the same time Peyton’s mouth covered hers. At first it was just their lips, meeting, joining, but then the tip of his tongue coaxed her mouth open and she couldn’t help but drop her reins and take hold of Peyton’s wrists. A current of emotions swept through her as she twisted to meet him.
He slowed the kiss. “Easy girl.” He whispered against her lips. Stella felt Peyton set the reins back into her hands before Hermes stepped away.
Midnight Ride by D’Ann Lindun
Can they escape peril and fall in love?
When Brynn Lockwood and her five-year-old daughter Brooke decide to camp in the Colorado Mountains the last thing they expect is to be taken hostage by a gunman. After suffering a devastating shooting, Sawyer Bennet moves to Black Mountain, Colorado, to recover. As a Sheriff’s Posse member, he is called out to find a dangerous criminal, but loses his heart instead.
“Damn it, I left my hat out there.”
“That can be replaced. You can’t,” Brynn said.
The warmth in her eyes and tone caused him to pause. “Thanks.”
“It’s true,” she insisted. “Now, how do we get out of here?”
He held his hands over the fire. “How’s Brooke?”
“Pretty sick for her to sleep through gunfire. I’m worried.” Fear flashed in her eyes, and without thinking, he stepped close and took her in his arms. She fit exactly right. Almost as tall as his own six feet, soft breasts crushed against his chest, long legs he could imagine tangled with his…
“Don’t,” he said, shaking off the sexy image. “She’ll be okay.”
“She has to be.” A shudder ran through her and he ached to make all this go away. For half a cent, he’d go out and put himself back in the line of fire if it would get Brynn and Brooke out of here alive.
“I think we need to make a run for it,” he said finally. “Maybe under the cover of darkness….”
“The trail between here and my camp isn’t dangerous, as long as you don’t make a wrong turn like I did,” she said slowly. “If we did that in the dark, it could be fatal.”
“The trail from here to Durango is pretty straight, but it’s across a long, open stretch. Out in the open for a good part of it.”
“It’s taking a big risk,” she said. “Taking a midnight ride.”
“Yes.” He wouldn’t sugarcoat it. “But so is staying here.”