Series: Texas Rodeo #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 1, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Rodeo producer Cole Jacobs has his hands full running Jacobs Livestock. He can’t afford to lose a single cowboy, so when Cousin Violet offers to send along a more-than-capable replacement, he’s got no choice but to accept. He expects a grizzled Texas good ol’ boy.
He gets Shawnee Pickett.
Wild and outspoken, ruthlessly self-reliant, Shawnee’s not looking for anything but a good time. It doesn’t matter how quickly the tall, dark and intense cowboy gets under her skin—Cole deserves something real, and Shawnee can’t promise him forever. Life’s got a way of kicking her in the teeth, and she’s got her bags packed before tragedy can knock her down. Too bad Cole’s not the type to give up when the going gets tough…
My Favorite Fictional Cowboys – Serving Up the Eye Candy
You won’t find a lot of classically beautiful women or men in my books, and even when they are (I’m looking at you Delon, in Tangled in Texas) I shy away from putting a huge amount of emphasis on looks as the basis of attraction. Sure, we all get our heads turned by a pretty face, and my characters definitely notice the fit of a good pair of jeans, but lasting love comes from being irresistibly compelled by who a person is, down deep in their bones, and shared interests and values that are expressed in actions, not just sweet words.
However, I am not averse to an occasional heaping helping of eye candy, which is exactly what you get in the king of country music’s one and only shot at acting, the movie Pure Country. Yes, I know. There’s a reason directors weren’t beating George Strait’s door down afterward—as he’s happy to admit—and the plot is a wee bit thin in spots. But the music is outstanding and the roping scenes are absolutely true to life, including the fact that George is a roper so that was him on that really nice sorrel horse. Who cares if he can act? I’m happy to just settle in with my popcorn and pretend he’s aiming those Aw, shucks smiles at me.
And then there’s Maverick, either the 1950’s television series starring James Garner or the 90’s movie with Mel Gibson. Talk about some killer smiles, and both versions are a boatload of fun as card shark Bret Maverick finagles himself into and out of constant trouble. I know we’re not supposed to swoon over Mel Gibson anymore but I’m giving this one a pre-implosion exemption because it also stars my favorite Native American actor, Graham Greene, who steals every scene as the chief whose tribe survives by conning white men who want a taste of the older, wilder west, and Jody Foster as a charming, faithless, conniving woman who I want to be when I grow up.
And now an excerpt from Tougher in Texas, in which Shawnee inadvertently gives Cole a real eyeful.
Shawnee hauled the gray horse around to face her yet again and they both paused to take a few heaving breaths. Sweat dripped from her eyebrows, soaked the strands of hair that escaped the wad on top of her head, and ran down to make muddy tracks in the dust coating her neck and arms. She was puffing like a freight train from alternately chasing and dragging the colt.
Then something caught his eye and he tried to stampede.
Shawnee swore, dragged him to a stop, and shot a glare over her shoulder. Cole Jacobs stood, arms folded on the top rail of the gate, his canine minion planted beside his feet.
“What?” she snapped.
“It’s almost eight o’clock.”
“We run tonight’s stock through the arena at eight.”
The gray whinnied and sidled toward where his buddy was dozing on the other side of the fence. Shawnee yanked him around to face her. “I’ll get out of your way as soon as Butthead here settles down and pays attention.”
“It’s almost eight o’clock,” Cole repeated, his voice sharpening with impatience.
“You can’t wait half an hour?” She scrubbed at her sweaty forehead with the back of one grungy hand. “It’s not like it’ll get that much hotter.”
His face took on the obstinate, ain’t-gonna-budge look that invariably goaded her into saying something rude so he’d get all stiff-necked and walk away. Yeah, she knew Cole had legitimate issues. Join the worldwide club.
“We always work the stock at eight,” he said.
“And what, they turn into four-legged pumpkins at the stroke of nine?”
He scowled so ferociously his brows pulled into a single dark line. “I have a schedule. I like to stick to it.”
“I’ll be sure I’m out of your way in the future.”
He just stood there, glaring at her. The dog glared, too.
Shawnee matched their heat and turned it up a few kilowatts. “I’m not leaving this arena until I’m done.”
The furrows around his mouth deepened. “We can’t work around you.”
“Then wait.” The gray tried to take advantage of her distraction. She jerked on the line to set him straight, then turned her glare back to Cole. “You of all people should know that when a horse picks a fight, you can’t quit until you win. Otherwise, you’re just teaching him to be an asshole. If you want to speed things up, take Butthead over there to the trailer where this mothered-up son of a bitch can’t see him.”
“I thought that one was Butthead.”
She blew out a loud, exasperated breath. “They’re all buttheads when I get them. As soon as they stop being buttheads I sell them, so there’s no sense wasting time with names.”
Cole frowned, probably debating whether to bodily remove her from the arena. No doubt he could, but she’d get in a few shots in the process. Finally he gave a single, curt nod and turned to untie the other horse and lead it away, Katie marching along beside him. Christ. Even his dog had a stick up her ass.
Shawnee glared after them for a couple of beats, then gave the gray her undivided attention. “It’s just you and me, fleabag, and you don’t even want to know how long I can keep this up.”
By the time Cole came back, she had sweated out another gallon of fluids, but she had the horse trotting passable circles. She stepped out and flicked the line. The gray paused, then swung around to circle the other way. Intensely aware that Cole was watching every move, she worked the horse back and forth, made him stop, face, back a few steps, then start again.
Showing off, just a little.
Satisfied, she stopped the gray, brought him around to face, then walked up to rub his dripping forelock. She could feel sweat running down the crack of her ass, soaking the seat of her jeans. “Next time, you’ll know better.”
The gray dropped his head and whuffled as if in agreement.
She turned toward the gate and found Cole staring at her as if he’d never seen the likes of it. His eyes remained glued to her as he stepped back and swung open the gate.
“Thank you for your patience,” she said sweetly, tossing him a mocking smile as she passed.
“You should change shirts before you run into anybody else,” he said, then strolled into the arena, closing the gate behind him.
She glanced down. Her white T-shirt was soaked through with sweat, her nipples clearly visible through equally soggy white spandex. Damn bargain rack sports bra. She considered being embarrassed, then shrugged. Wasn’t like it was the first time someone had seen her in a wet T-shirt, and she wasn’t even dancing on a bar.
Then another thought struck and she huffed out a self-deprecating laugh. She’d been so sure Cole was in awe of her mad horse-training skills, and the whole time he was just staring at her tits.
She laughed again and started for her trailer, keeping the horse between her and a trio of committeemen chatting in the shade of the grandstand in the interests of public decency. Then again, they were good tits. They’d put a smile on more than one face. She should probably share the joy whenever possible, while she still had them. That shoe could drop at any time, especially now that she’d made it past thirty.
Cole, though—she shook her head. She’d figured him for the kind to toss her a towel and order her to cover up instead of hanging around to enjoy the view.
Huh. He might be human after all.
Three bundles of the first three Texas Rodeo books
(Reckless in Texas, Tangled in Texas, Tougher in Texas)