With the release of A RANCHER’S HEART right around the corner, I thought it’d be fun to do a mini re-read of the Six Pack Ranch Series to get ready for Tamara and Caleb. Next up, ROCKY MOUNTAIN FREEDOM. Tamara spends some time helping Jesse out at the beginning of the book.
Three hurting hearts. Too many secrets. One chance to conquer their fears.
Over the past year, Travis Coleman lost the two people he allowed closest to his heart. Both gave him ultimatums—then left. Hell if he needs that kind of pain again. Time to move forward without the friends he thought might save him from his dangerous cravings.
When Ashley Sims returns to Rocky Mountain House, her rambling lifestyle isn’t all she’s hoping to change. Travis snagged a piece of her, and while getting tangled in his issues again might be crazy, she hasn’t given up on him.
Nine months ago, Cassidy Jones walked away to stop his best friend from making a huge mistake. Temptation lingers, though, and when Travis shows up on his turf accompanied by a sensually uninhibited woman, the combination tosses fuel on the banked fire.
Passion flares among the three of them, as hot as the summer days. But are they willing to push the limits, and fight for love?
Warning: Dirty fighting, dirty talk, dirtier sex—secrets are coming out. Get ready for ménage a trois and cowboy-on-cowboy action, with ropes and crops and the kind of relentless love strong enough to set a man free.
July, Red Deer, Alberta
Pain wrapped around his temples, the rush of blood through his veins echoing in his ears. Travis Coleman whipped his head up to track his attacker and stars danced before his eyes as chastisement for moving too fast after the recent blow to his head.
He raised his hands into a defensive position and waited with anticipation for the next bit of punishment to land. The dim lighting in the back alley wasn’t enough to show all the debris underfoot, and he stumbled before finding his footing.
The order rang from Travis’s left, and both he and his opponent turned to see a powerfully built blond race toward them.
By the time Travis recognized his friend, there was no time to shout a warning. Cassidy’s forward momentum brought him between Travis and the other fighter, an agonized grunt exploding from the man’s lips as Cassidy’s fist sank deep into his gut. Cassidy slammed his free hand against the stranger’s shoulder, toppling him to the ground.
Cassidy whirled to grab Travis, his green eyes bright as he examined the damage. “You okay?”
Travis tossed off the assisting arm, lurching around Cassidy’s bulk to offer a hand to the man he’d been fighting. His sparring partner had already scrambled crablike into the shadows and escaped.
“Dammit, what’d you go and do that for?” Travis spun toward his friend. The motion was too rapid after the hits he’d taken, and he staggered.
Cassidy caught him, pushing him against the nearest wall for support. “He was beating the shit out of you. I thought interrupting was a good idea.” He leaned in closer and grinned momentarily. “I arrived too soon. You’ve still got a pretty face.”
Travis shoved his friend’s hands away. “Next time ask before you butt in.”
“Too big a man to ask for help? Even to save yourself from being pummeled?” Cassidy pulled out a handkerchief and offered it. “Your nose is bleeding like you’re some kind of virgin sacrifice, and we both know how wrong that is.”
Travis took the faded blue fabric and held it tight to his nose to stop the flow. His grip covered his entire lower face and stopped him from having to respond. Silence was a fine thing because there wasn’t much he could say right now. Not without telling Cassidy more than he wanted to.
“Where the hell you been, anyway?” Cassidy folded his arms over his chest, biceps bulging the denim of his jean jacket. “We were supposed to meet at Traders. When you didn’t show up, I figured you’d found someone to fool around with, or you plain forgot.”
“I left a message,” Travis insisted. Not a very detailed one, true, but he had called.
Cassidy pulled out his phone and cursed, shoving it back into his pocket with a rueful sigh. “Dead.”
“Ha, see? I’m surprised you still have that thing. Isn’t it time you lost this one?” He needed to change tack—distract Cassidy from asking any more questions that had no answers.
Only his friend ignored the bait and narrowed his gaze, a glitter of brilliant green flashing out. “You called to tell me what? That instead of meeting to shoot some pool, you’d decided to drive an hour to the cheesiest dive we know so you could find some asshole to fight?”
Travis backed away as Cassidy crowded him, suddenly gone fierce with not a trace of humour left on his face.
“Shut up,” Travis snapped. “It’s not like that.”
“Looked a lot like that to me,” Cassidy snarled. “You got a death wish, T?”
The lingering rush of adrenaline, the sweet tease of forbidden pleasure that accompanied the pain…
Travis shook his head to rid himself of the sensations. He attempted to muscle past the solid body blocking him. “None of your damn business.”
Cassidy caught him by the shirtfront and shoved him into the wall again. He pinned Travis in place with a rock-solid forearm across the chest, leaning in with his full weight to create a trap.
It was all kinds of fucked up that Travis had to clench his teeth together to stop from moaning as lust roared through him.
Cassidy got right in Travis’s face. “I’m your friend, and that makes it my bloody business.”
Travis wanted to look away. Wanted to hide, but it was impossible. He was caught, mesmerized by the full force of Cassidy’s stare.
With the release of A RANCHER’S HEART right around the corner, I thought it’d be fun to do a mini re-read of the Six Pack Ranch Series to get ready for Tamara and Caleb. Next up, ROCKY MOUNTAIN REBEL. Tamara has a small cameo in this book, but we get a deeper glimpse into her and her life.
The best type of growing up involves getting down and dirty
Vicki Hansol made different choices than her less-than-reputable mom and sister, yet her fiery temper has left her branded with the same town-bad-girl label. When she desperately needs a change of scenery, her get-out-of-town-free ticket arrives—and requires she face down one of her deepest fears.
Easygoing Joel Coleman has nothing to complain about, but he’s never really done anything to brag about either. The youngest member of the Six Pack Ranch is looking to make some changes in his life that include stepping out from under his twin brother’s shadow.
So when the bold beauty with the smart mouth approaches him with a proposition, Joel is intrigued. Her request for him to teach her to ride soon takes on a whole new meaning. All that passion in his arms, his bed, in the barn…hell, anywhere he can get it? Bring it on.
But tangling the sheets leads to unanticipated complications, and by the time the dust settles, everything family means is going to be challenged.
Caution: Saddle up for some youthful vigor applied with great enthusiasm. Ropes, rails and raunchy sex—there’s more places to get dirty around the ranch than first meets the eye.
Playing connect the dots was his newest obsession.
Joel Coleman took another drink, the tepid coffee left in the bottom of his cup barely registering. He was too fascinated with the smooth, exposed line of Victoria Hansol’s neck as she stood one table over taking down an order. With her shining brown hair pulled into a ponytail, his contemplation lingered on the freckle he wanted to nibble. Leading up to the one on her jawline. Right before he tasted the one hovering to the side of her luscious-looking mouth.
He could play this game all day if his estimate of how far her freckles extended was accurate.
Joel dragged his gaze off the woman he’d been ogling, and focused across the table. His brother’s grin was familiar enough. Joel saw pretty much the same face every time he glanced in a mirror. Dark hair, square jaw. As identical twins, he and Jesse had their share of mistaken-for-each-other stories.
Jesse peeked over his shoulder, turning back with a laugh.
“Vicki Hansol? You’re not serious.” Jesse leaned forward and lowered his voice. “I mean, yeah, she’s hot. But—”
“Whoa, hold it.” Joel shook his head in denial. “Just because she’s built doesn’t mean I want to get involved with her. I’m admiring the view, that’s all.”
“View is rather tasty.” Jesse’s brow rose, and he hummed for a moment. “How come we’ve never gone out with her?”
Damn it. Joel’s stomach clenched. “We? Jesse, will you fucking stop that? There is no ‘we’ when it comes to dating, okay? There are girls you date, and girls I date.”
“Fine. No need to bite my head off.” Jesse flopped back in his seat, hands raised in mock surrender.
Joel fixed his twin with a firm glare until Jesse laughed and returned to his plate. This was not a matter Joel was willing to bend on. Not anymore. They’d gotten a reputation over the years, him and Jesse. Not as wild as the Hansol family, but that was probably because the oldest of their immediate Coleman kin were squeaky clean and respectable. As the youngest of the Six Pack clan—literally the youngest by all of thirty minutes after Jesse’s arrival—Joel was ready to move on.
He stared at Vicki’s legs as she stood at the far end of the café, topping up a customer’s coffee. He’d seen the woman around town for years. Gone to school with her, in fact, although he and Jesse had been a couple grades above her. He knew about the Hansol girls, or what the community gossiped about them. The rotating door on her oldest sister’s bedroom had been discussed during many a late-night drunken boast-session among the less-than-courteous males who’d taken Sarah up on her willingness to share.
The short skirt that was part of the waitress uniform swirled around Vicki’s limbs as she moved, and Joel fought to find something else to concentrate on. Because there was no way, no matter how attracted he was, no way was he going to get involved with one of the town’s bad girls.
This was the year he made some changes. He was done with college, back on the ranch, and ready to move forward. Didn’t mean he wasn’t going to have any fun, but he planned to watch his step a little more.
Which put Vicki Hansol on the drool over at a distance, but avoid list.
Suddenly, there she was, a polite smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes pasted on her lips. “Either of you boys want dessert?”
Jesse shook his head. “Not for me, thanks.”
He pulled out his cellphone to answer it, talking quietly toward the window.
Joel gazed up at Vicki, working hard to focus on her face and not the amazing rack pushing the front of her uniform. “You bake today? Because, frankly, no one else here can beat your pies.”
Her smile came alive, brightening her entire face and making her brown eyes sparkle. “Made a dozen this morning. You want cherry or lemon meringue?”
Something inside twisted. Her obvious pleasure at the simple bit of praise struck him as odd. As if she didn’t receive many compliments. “A piece of each, please.”
Vicki nodded, reaching for the empty plates in front of them before retreating without a word, her skirt swaying over the rounds of her ass as she vanished into the back of the café.
With the release of A RANCHER’S HEART right around the corner, I thought it’d be fun to do a mini re-read of the Six Pack Ranch Series to get ready for Tamara and Caleb. First up, ROCKY MOUNTAIN ANGEL. Tamara’s first major introduction into the series is through her friend Alison, heroine of ROCKY MOUNTAIN ANGEL.
Sometimes even Angels must learn to fly…
Allison Parker needs a convincing excuse to come home to Rocky Mountain House. A hopelessly romantic reason that won’t let her mother suspect the truth—that Allison has discovered Mom is keeping a terrible secret from the family.
Gabe Coleman is struggling with two of the roughest parts of ranching: dealing with his bull-headed mule of a father, and making enough to pay the bills. When his old friend Allison offers to help him develop his ideas for organic ranching—in trade for pretending to be her fiancé—it sounds like the perfect set-up.
Yet the deception leads them in an unexpected direction, where their shared daily hells are erased by nights of heavenly distraction. It’s not supposed to be real, but once the gates are opened, there’s no denying they’ve found in each other a little bit of Paradise.
To break free of the past and face the future, though, will take more than temporary pleasures. It’ll take putting their hearts on the line.
Warning: Tortured hero with a guardian-angel complex, grief-stricken heroine willing to sacrifice everything for family. Break out the tissues, this trip to the ranch is a heartbreaker on the way to the HEA.
Neither of them blinked.
Dust motes hovered in the sun streaming through the open barn door. Gabe Coleman leaned back on a wall and took a deep breath. The heavy scent of farm animals filled his nostrils. Familiar as it was pungent, the aroma that had been a part of his entire thirty-one years calmed his nerves.
The conversation was going about as well as he’d expected, but damn if he’d give up yet. He resisted muttering stubborn jackass and scrambled for a new tack. “Look, I showed you the receipts for the past year. Expenses went up, our projected revenues are still far less than they need to be.”
The face before him remained motionless. Shit. Definitely not working.
Another idea struck. “I read an article in the Calgary Herald last week. Rancher down by Pincher Creek was ready to go bankrupt…”
Gabe trailed off. Suggesting their section of the Coleman ranch was getting closer to that same situation was not the way to make his father listen to reason.
Three feet across from him, broad nostrils twitched for a second then the ancient donkey reached down to grab a mouthful of grain before turning his back on Gabe.
Even the animals seemed tired of listening to him try to come up with a way to save their lives.
He pushed himself up and headed toward the tack room. If nothing else, the ranch itself provided a million distractions. The reality of working the land sucked—enough damn property to make a man look rich, and not enough money coming in to keep putting food on the table throughout the year.
Giving up wasn’t an option, but hell if he knew what was at this point.
The saddle had barely landed on Hurricane’s back before his mother’s voice carried from the house side of the yard.
“You got any spare time today?”
Gabe tossed her a smile even as he wondered why she hadn’t made her request to his father. “Was going to go check the creek and fence lines, but there’s no rush. You need a hand with something?”
She nodded. “I want to plant the garden this week and need more room. Can you turn over another few rows?”
Shit. Now he knew why she’d waited until Ben had headed into town after breakfast. “Ma, you already have enough garden you can barely keep up. You sure you want more to deal with?”
Dana Coleman looked her age that day, but the determined jut of her chin warned him he’d be breaking sod before long. They came by stubbornness honestly in their family, from both his parents’ sides.
“Every bit we grow is less we buy, Gabriel. And I figured a little extra wouldn’t go amiss—there are always people who want fresh produce.”
They stared at each other for a minute. Gabe hated the entire situation with a red-hot passion. He had ideas he thought could improve their circumstances, but beyond ideas were only half-started and hidden projects, none of which were going to bail them out of trouble. Using the donkey to practice talking about finances was supposed to make talking to his family easier, but hell if he wanted his ma to be the one worrying. “You can’t save the ranch by growing more carrots.”
“Well, I can’t save it sitting and complaining that the cost of feed keeps going up either, can I?” She snapped her mouth shut and glanced out over the fields as Gabe hid his surprise. She never, ever complained about the way Ben ran things, and the small slip stunned him.
Dana shook her head then made deliberate eye contact. “I ain’t saying another word, and neither will you. About me growing things to sell, you understand?”
Argue with her when she used that tone of voice? Hell no. He laughed inside. Well out of his teens, and still under his mama’s control. At least he understood her reasoning. “I’ll figure out a way to make things work. I promise.”
She sighed. “You’ll do your best, just like we all will, but there’re no guarantees, Gabriel. Ranching’s a dirty, hard and often thankless task. Something’s got to give, and this time it might be us.”
Get started with the bestselling Six Pack Ranch series with ROCKY MOUNTAIN HEAT.
“I’m fine, boys, stop your fussing.” Marion Coleman shook her good hand at the twins as they hovered nearby. “I didn’t need the wheelchair. It’s a silly hospital policy.” She shot to her feet, batting Jesse and Joel away.
Blake offered his help, and she smiled, the edges of her mouth remaining tight and the lines at the corner of her eyes deep. She might make light of the situation but it was clear her arm hurt. A lot. She tucked her fingers around his elbow and dragged him across the hospital parking lot, her rapid pace unhampered by the heavy cast covering her right arm from wrist to shoulder.
They stopped beside one of the huge crew-cab ranch trucks, the twins scrambling into the backseat. Marion stared in disgust at the hand pull she couldn’t reach.
“Why did you boys all have to grow to over six feet? None of you own a nice little Jetta or Mustang for me to be able to slide into. Just these monster trucks. I have to use a ladder to reach the seat.”
“You fed us too well.” Blake worked at remaining gentle as he lifted her to the bench, careful not to jar her arm. He’d closed the door and stepped around to the driver’s side before he realized it was impossible for her to buckle her seat belt with the cast in the way. He slid behind the wheel and reached to help her. “Let me get it, Ma. You’re going to find things a bit awkward for a spell.”
“I hate this.” Marion stared past him out the window, a touch of fury in her eyes.
“Maybe you should have waited for help picking the apples,” Joel piped up from the backseat.
“She did ask, you jerk, remember?” Jesse said. “First we had to finish the back field before the weekend, then Dad asked us to—”
“This is no one’s fault. You boys are all busy, with the hay ready to be cut and the animals to care for. I wanted to get the apples before you had time to help me and, well, I’ve never fallen out of a tree before in my life. Been climbing that one for years.” His mom wiggled around in her seat to shake a finger at her youngest sons. “It was an accident. I don’t blame either of you, so don’t you think you did something wrong. But now I’m going to need some help. Not only do I have a bushel of apples to deal with, there’s the garden that needs to be put up, laundry for the family and the cookin’ and…” She returned her gaze to the window. “I’ve caused a mess, boys, and that’s the plain truth.”
Blake touched her hand softly. His ma was a hard-working woman and not just at the ranch. She’d toiled beside his father for over thirty years, doing everything inside the house, plus caring for and raising six boys, gardening and dealing with the livestock. In addition to her chores at home, she’d always been there for the community, for newcomers and new babies, and whenever a person needed a helping hand.
Having a broken arm was going to bother her a lot—the pain of it mending, and the annoyance of everything she’d be unable to do for a while. Sitting and watching others work was not her style.
“Well, I guess it’s time the neighbours get a chance to show a little lovin’ your way and come to give you a hand.” Blake hoped she’d actually allow people to step forward.
“Blake Coleman, I’ve never done anything in my life in the hopes to be repaid.”
He backpedaled. “That’s not what I meant. We know you do things because you want to help others, Ma, but you’ve got to accept the friends who come to chip in. I’ll do what I can—we all will. Even though we’re temporarily back under your roof doesn’t mean you have to feed us and tend to our needs. It’s not as if we haven’t all cared for ourselves before. We’re big boys. In fact, you need to let us know what we have to take over for you.”
Marion shook her head. “You say you want to help, but when are you going to manage that right now? The fall is the busiest time of year between the animals, the fields and the furniture orders. You can’t add my chores to your list. Everyone else in town is just as busy.”
She lifted the cast in the air tentatively. “I’ll figure out how to work around this. I’ll get by.”
Blake looked in the rearview mirror and exchanged worried glances with his brothers. Something had to happen. He didn’t know who was available, but sooner than later, his ma was right. They were going to need help.
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Jaxi was so busy passing food bowls she missed his question. Jesse nudged her in the ribs, and she turned to discover Blake’s storm-grey eyes staring at her. Jesse’s fingers lingered on her side, and she pinched his wrist to prompt him to withdraw them.
Jesse was fun, but Blake…he made her body ache.
“Are you still working for the doctor and his wife?” Blake asked again.
Mike cleared his throat. “Actually, Jaxi’s got a new job.” All heads swung toward the end of the table.
“She’ll be my helper for the next bit.” Marion made a face at her arm before glancing up and putting on what Jaxi was coming to recognize as her make-the-best-of-it expression—something midway between a grimace and a grin. “Doctor’s orders are that I have a nursemaid, and if I have to have one, she’s my first choice.”
Joel leaned over and whispered as he scooped another spoonful of stew onto her plate. “You’d be my first choice as well. Wanna play doctor with me later?”
Jaxi hid her laugh behind a cough. She had to cool the twins off and fast if her plan to catch Blake’s attention was going to work. She looked across to see Blake’s eyes darken as his gaze flicked between her and where Joel’s elbow rested on her chair.
Interesting. A tiny flicker of feminine intuition trembled with hope.
Marion told Daniel about the compound fracture of her arm and how long the cast needed to stay on and all the details he’d missed while trapped in the tractor hauling bales. Jaxi enjoyed her supper, taking time to lick every drop of the savoury stew from her fork, listening to the easy conversation about what needed to be accomplished in the fields the following day and what animals had to be transferred where.
She watched each of the faces around her in turn to see what their reaction was to the announcement she would be in their hair for the next while. Travis gave her his usual smoldering stare, the one that made her wonder if he was still attracted to her, in spite of everything else that had gone south between them. Daniel and Matt seemed pleased to have her around, in their typical non-threatening and non-sexual way. The twins—well, they were a little too delighted by her presence, but she’d already suspected she’d have to nip any plans of theirs in the bud.