Saving the Sheriff by Kadie Scott

A man in uniform, a narrow alleyway, and a steamy kiss in the rain. Yup…sounds like my kind of book!

What’s it About?

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There’s a storm brewing…

The day his wife died, Sheriff Cash Hill discovered she was leaving him for another man, one she’d loved since before their marriage. How could the single dad ever trust another woman again? But when Georgia’s best friend, Holly, comes back to town, something about Holly’s sweet, sassy vulnerability has his protective instincts kicking in hard. Holly Jensen left La Colina, Texas with regrets. She’s returned home to work as the new large animal vet and to watch over her best friend’s daughter. But Holly’s knowledge of Georgia’s past could rip a family apart. And she’s reluctant to go to the sexy…and single…sheriff, as he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with her. Both are faced with a choice…stay locked in the past or allow their reservations to be silenced by a passion hotter than Texas summer nights. Can they learn to trust their own hearts and each other?

First Impressions

This novel manages to approach a very complicated romance in a brilliantly delicate way. After all, we are dealing with a single father whose wife died just one year before, and he’s starting to fall for his wife’s best friend. Definitely a love story that needs to be dealt with carefully so as not to seem widely inappropriate. And I’d have to say it was handled damn near perfectly, and you never really get the sense that either Cash or Holly are somehow crossing a line by exploring a relationship with each other. While Cash is still reeling from the death of his wife, we quickly discover that all was not perfect in their little family. Yes, they may have had a beautiful daughter together, but their marriage was seemingly one of obligation after an unexpected pregnancy. And on top of it all, on the day of his wife’s death Cash found a letter from her stating that she was leaving him because she had always been in love with another man.

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As for Holly, she’s had a crush on Cash for as long as she can remember, and when her best friend made a move on him which resulted in pregnancy, their friendship almost fell apart. Holly has since moved back to this small Texas town to keep an eye on Sophia, the daughter of Cash and her deceased best friend. Little does Cash know that Holly is aware of another of his wife’s secrets. There’s a chance the darling Sophia might not be his after all. In the beginning both Cash and Holly are wary to start any kind of relationship. They both understand their history is a complicated one, and when Holly reveals the possibility of Cash not being Sophia’s father, things get even worse. However, something that I particularly appreciated with this read was that the two really don’t rush into anything. Sure, they feel a simmering attraction, but they obviously have some things to work out together. While it does prolong their eventual romp in the hay (quite literally!), you also have to admire their ability to talk out some of their issues before jumping into anything too hastily.

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A Shy Extrovert

Something I could really relate to while reading this book was Holly’s demeanor. She can come across to others as very personable and outgoing, but internally she is reeling from shyness. Whether it be with Cash, his family, or even his daughter, Holly has the tendency to use humor as a way to deflect attention away from herself, and avoid having too many personal discussions. My God it’s like reading a description of myself! I could also relate to the internal struggle Holly was experiencing at moving back to her small hometown after going to school in a big city.

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“At a school of over forty-thousand students, it’d been easy to blend in and go unnoticed. She’d forgotten how into everyone else’s lives people got around here. Small-town Texas.” As someone who grew up in a small town in Ohio, I totally understand what Holly is talking about here. There is something about going to a big school, in a big city, where you have the ability to blend into the crowd. You rarely stand out and are able to just go about your life without the worry of others getting up in your space. But when you inevitably go back to small-town life, you go through a kind of culture shock at the suddenness of not being able to stay invisible.

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A Title of Deception

Since the death of his wife, Cash has become a shell of his former self. His ability to trust others has lessened considerably, especially when it comes to women. His wife hid the fact that she had been involved with another man right before she became entangled with Cash, which has now raised doubt as to the paternity of his daughter. Not only that, but Holly was aware of this other relationship, and kept it a secret from Cash for so long, thereby impeding his ability to trust her as well. However, it is because of Holly that Cash is able to learn to love again. He is able to break out of this shell he’s been suffering in for the past year so he can be a better father to his daughter, and a man that Holly can fall in love with.

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Although we see how this story encompasses “Saving the Sheriff”, in my opinion the novel has a much stronger focus on saving Holly. Her back story is just as compelling as that which Cash went through with his wife. In her mind, Holly is undeserving of love based on her own actions years before following the death of her grandmother. As the eldest of three children, Holly was suddenly thrust into a caregiver position for her two younger siblings. But rather than put her life on hold, she made the decision to go off to school, and put her siblings in the care of a foster family. The small Texas town felt that Holly had abandoned her family, and Holly came to believe the vitriol they spouted her way. When Cash and his daughter Sophia come along, she doesn’t feel worthy of becoming a part of their lives for fear she might one day abandon them like she did her siblings. Holly is standing on the precipice of living her life alone, and Cash takes it upon himself to prove that she is not only worthy of love, but deserving of his love specifically. As you can see, we’re not just dealing with a tale of “Saving the Sheriff”. These two really come to save each other.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Hills of Texas, book 1. Cash’s family is delightfully entertaining. With a number of siblings, I can’t wait to discover what romance is in store for each and every one of them!

Should you read it? This is a very well thought-out tale of romance. Normally when dealing with a tale where two leads are dragging their feet to enter into a relationship, you just wanna yell at them to get over it and have sex already. But with this book their hesitancy really does make sense, and you become intrigued to figure out how they’ll be able to overcome all of these obstacles together. And there are definitely a number of hurdles for them to jump. The incorporation of Cash’s daughter into the story was damn near perfect. Not too much, not too little, and she’s pretty freakin’ adorable. I do feel that this first book in the series is really laying the groundwork by introducing us to all the characters of this loving family, and that Cash and Holly are sort of the starting off point for even better things to come. I for one am all in, and am excited to see where this series might take us!

Smut Level: There’s only one sex scene, and it comes pretty late in the story. That being said, it’s in a barn hayloft for crying out loud, so totally worth it. We also get to enjoy plenty of steamy kisses before then!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing. 206 Pages.

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Winds of Time by Lilly Gayle

A vicious tornado whisks our heroine through the winds of time to unexpectedly drop her back in 1872. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore Toto! Or at least…not in modern day Texas anymore.

What’s it About?

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The past is her future, the future, her past, but can she save an innocent man’s life before history repeats itself? As long as Selena Tillman dreams of her ancestor, Mary, who disappeared without a trace in 1872, she’ll never find peace. As long as she dreams of the half-Native American army scout accused of killing Mary, she’ll never find love. Hoping to end the dreams and learn the truth, Selena goes to Texas where Mary and the scout died and sees more than ghosts. She sees a tornado kill Mary in real time before it jumps to the twenty-first century to pull Selena into its vortex and send her back to the nineteenth century. Selena believes she’s fated to prove Dylan’s innocence and save his life, but Dylan isn’t just the man of her dreams; he’s her destiny.

Fed up with the army, bigotry, and women—especially white women, Captain Dylan Casey dedicates himself to solving the mystery of Mary’s disappearance, proving his innocence, and trying to stop a war between the whites and the Indians. Then Mary’s cousin shows up, claiming a tornado killed Mary. Dylan doesn’t trust Selena, but she’s his only ally in Canyon Creek. Yet despite their common goal, growing mutual attraction, and a Comanche shaman’s prophecy of a white woman who will change his destiny and foretell the fate of the Indian Nation, Dylan refuses to take a chance on another spoiled, white woman—until fate changes his mind.

First Impressions

Yes, we are dealing with a time travel historical romance here. But more than that we are exploring some inherently deep-rooted and devastatingly tragic instances of racism in late nineteenth-century Texas. The supposed superiority of the white man over the “savage” Indian, and the downfall of the great Indian Nation at the greed of the white man. What I love about any Lilly Gayle historical romance is that we always learn about a unique chapter of history, and in most cases they are lessons which I never really had the opportunity to study fully in school. In each instance my interest is spurned to learn more! You can tell a lot of time and effort was spent researching this topic in an attempt to give an accurate portrayal of what it would have been like for a “half-breed” to live at this moment in history, not to mention the obstacles involved by falling in love with a white woman. After finishing this read I must say I’m inspired to visit the National Museum of the American Indian, especially considering it’s just a 15 minute drive from my apartment!

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Traveling the Winds of Time

One of my favorite aspects of any time travel story is discovering the rules of time travel which the author has chosen for their world. Will it be like Outlander, in which the events of the past are firmly set in stone? In these works we usually find the attempts of our characters to change certain events will instead directly cement the circumstances of history. Or will we maybe see something along the lines of Back to the Future where practically everything you do has a direct impact and influence on changing the outcomes of the future? In this novel we see an interesting blend of both.

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After being dropped in 1872 by a wayward tornado, Selena seems stuck in the past with no possibility of traveling back to her own time. She knows the history surrounding the fate of Dylan Casey, who stands accused of murdering her ancestor Mary. However, she’s just seen that the same tornado which carried her through time is responsible for Mary’s death, not Dylan. Can Selena possibly alter the events of history to prevent Dylan’s own murder which she has seen play out in visions since she was 10? Is Dylan fated to die, or is it Selena’s destiny to save his life? You simply never know what the rules of time travel might be in any given romance.

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An Argumentative Romance

Race is an extremely important discussion in this novel, especially in how it relates to Selena and Dylan exploring a romantic relationship. Living in a small Texas town, Dylan experiences hateful glances and racial slurs practically every day. He’s had friends and lovers desert him upon discovery of his mixed heritage. He once thought Mary (Selena’s ancestor) was the woman for him, but in the end the fact he was a “half-breed” proved to be reason enough for her to give up on them. When Selena drops into town she’s unlike any other woman Dylan has ever met. She has no hesitancy about exploring a physical relationship with Dylan, which is something he simply can’t wrap his head around. Why would a white woman risk her reputation pursuing a half-breed like him?

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All in all I’d have to say that my one complaint with this book is how much of Selena and Dylan’s time together is spent arguing. I feel like Selena had a closer connection to Dylan because of the visions she’d experienced of him throughout her life rather than from their interactions with each other. The fact that Dylan is a scout for the army also means that he and Selena spend pretty long periods of time apart from each other. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I couldn’t help but feel there was some disconnect between the feelings garnered from Selena’s visions to her actual interactions with the man.

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Selena has literally been dreaming of this man forever, and when she finally has the opportunity to meet him in person he’s…well…a bit surly. She continuously reiterates the fact that his race is of no consequence to her. Selena’s actions also speak towards her dedication, especially when she gives up the luxurious comforts of his parent’s house to instead make a home for them in Dylan’s small ranch house. And yet, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to convince Dylan that she’s serious when she says his Indian heritage doesn’t bother her. He insists she could never love a “dirty savage” such as him.

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The Cockiest Cowboy to Have Ever Cocked by Jamila Jasper

Well if that title doesn’t catch your attention…then I don’t know what will!

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This should have been easy.
Hide out from my ex in Omaha while helping an old woman on her ranch.
One problem…
Her son Kurt O’Connor.
I should have known better than to get involved.
He’s tall, a pillar of muscle, icy blue eyes… and cocky as h*ll!
He doesn’t just want my body.
He wants all of me.
I must resist.

First Impressions

I first heard about this book in the immediate aftermath of the #cockygate controversy. For those of you romance readers and writers out there who aren’t familiar with the issue, I’d say it’s definitely worth a quick Google search. I think we can also agree that the concept of trademarking the word “cocky” for use in a romance novel title is rather…cray cray. This novel was initially published under the name Cocky Cowboy, but in the wake of #cockygate it received a well-deserved title upgrade to The Cockiest Cowboy to Have Ever Cocked. I must admit I was pretty stoked to support this cause and author. The novel starts off with all of the elements for a great read, including a strong African-American female lead, a mysterious crime on a remote Nebraska ranch, and even a cocky cowboy or two! Unfortunately I can’t say the story completely came together for me, and I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed when all was said and done. Let’s take a closer look at the details!

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An Impeccable Start

This novel starts off with an intriguing story that pulls you in with its suspense and intrigue. It opens on Nicki, a 45-year-old private detective seeking refuge on a ranch in the wide-open plains of Omaha after fleeing her abusive husband back East. However, she’s not just using this ranch as a stepping stone to get her life back on track. There have been some strange goings-on happening at this ranch in the middle of nowhere, including a howling nightly apparition which is subsequently followed by the slaughter of the ranch’s sheep. The ranch owner allows Nicki to stay on her property in the hopes that she’ll be able to help get to the bottom of this mystery.

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Seeing this big city girl adjust to life on a small ranch definitely sparks your interest, and you can’t help but admire this woman for taking such a huge risk in escaping out from under the controlling thumb of her abusive ex-husband. The fact that she also decides to find pleasure for herself by exploring a sexual relationship with Kurt, the eldest son of the ranch owner, makes you root for her all the more to find happiness. As the story progresses you definitely wonder who might be wreaking havoc on such a seemingly innocent family, but we also start to see some missteps when it comes to the execution of the plot.

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A Lackluster Finish

First of all, I couldn’t help but question Nicki’s prowess as a private detective. Considering she’s there to help solve a mystery, I was surprised to find that asking questions of the ranch owner and other witnesses was seemingly never too high on her priority list. When she did manage to ask them a few questions they were mysteriously cryptic in their responses, and they remained continuously closed off and secretive to her inquiries. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t understand why she would bother putting with with this secretive family when she’s there trying to help them. If it were me and they insisted on staying so close-lipped I would’ve just said, “See ya! Hire Scooby-Doo and the gang if you want help uncovering the true identity of this masked culprit. I’m done!”

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While the mystery of the ranch pulls you in at the start, unfortunately this story just continued to lose momentum as the novel progressed. It was sort of like a puzzle that was missing a few pieces to form a complete picture. The motive behind the ranch haunting was kiiiiiiiind of mentioned at the very end, but I feel like we never uncovered all the reasons why the ranch was a target in the first place. There are many other aspects of the story which sort of drop off and questions which are left unanswered. Even the fate of one of our main characters (who gets hit by a car!) is never fully revealed. This book started with us wondering who was terrorizing the ranch, and while we eventually uncover who that person was, in the end I felt like I had even more questions than I did when the novel commenced.

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Series: I kind of wish this was a series, if only to learn what actually went down in this one.

Should you read it? I reaaaaaaally wanted to like this book. It starts off so strong, but unfortunately all of the various plot points kind of fall apart by the end. If I had read this as a first draft I think it would have had a lot of exciting promise, but as a final product it could have used some more time and attention bringing everything together. There were also a number of spelling errors that were kind of distracting. When I purchased this book it was just $2.99 on Amazon, and considering what it stood for in terms of #cockygate I think it was still money well spent even though I can’t say it’s the best cohesive read.

Smut Level: Nicki and Kurt always seem to start things off up against a wall. This quickly progresses to Nicki on her back with Kurt’s head between her legs. Gotta appreciate the convenience that Kurt’s mom and brother always seem to be off “in town” when these seductive moments take place!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Jamila Jasper Romance. 479 Pages.

Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

The trickiest thing when it comes to summer romances? There’s always a time limit. Sooner or later, the summer must come to an end.

What’s it About? 

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When New Yorker K.C. Daniels heads to Wyoming for a summer job, she wants nothing more than to fit in with the staff of the Lazy S Ranch. Yearning to be independent of her mom and dad, and have a taste of the west before she starts her Master’s degree, getting involved with a cowboy is the last thing on her mind—especially when she’s greeted with warnings about ‘Bad Boy’ Chay Ridgway.

High school dropout Chay Ridgway sees summer as his time to be a rodeo star and win a girl in his life, while facing the responsibilities he has for his father. Although working to bring in cash to help his dad, he’s never had a problem finding a woman who’s happy to be that summer love—until K.C. Daniels appears on the scene. As two different worlds collide in a season that will end all too soon, is this going to be another summer romance or a love that will last for years?

First Impressions

Upon first meeting Chay, we as the audience have the same assumptions about his character that K.C. does. He’s a player. A bad boy. A high school drop out. He might be a good fling for a summer romance, but for an actual relationship? Probably more work than it’s worth in just the span of the summer. However, as the summer progresses, we learn that underneath Chay’s carefree attitude is a loving man who has his hands full. He had to take on the responsibilities of an adult early on in life. Taking care of both his ailing father and his crumbling homestead proved too difficult to tackle in addition to high school, hence his decision to drop out. Since then he’s had a one track mind of building up his family home to it’s former glory. Having a relationship with a woman beyond just a summer is something he has no interest or time for. Until of course K.C. comes along. We see that his number one priorities start to shift as he gets to know this city girl.

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The Difficulties of a Summer Romance

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As with any summer romance novel, emotions develop rather quickly between Chay and K.C. They recognize early on that something about their attraction to each other is different than anything they’ve experienced before, and they want to take a chance on a relationship. The switch from summer fling to full on relationship is something I wish had been explored just a bit more. As a novella, it’s already a pretty short read, and it seemed like one minute K.C. was debating whether or not to give Chay a chance, and the next she’s willing to change her future plans to accommodate him into her life for the long haul.

Leaving the Nest

What I particularly liked about this novella is that it wasn’t just a summer romance. It was also a summer for growing up, and this applied to both our lead characters. K.C. has come to Wyoming to get a break from her overbearing parents. She feels she has to do what they say as they paid for her undergraduate education, and will soon be paying for her MA degree and living expenses for graduate school in New York City. Definitely a pretty penny right there! Her time with Chay though shows her that some things are worth fighting for, and she’s willing to break out on her own from her parents if it means a possible future with the cowboy.

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Chay too grows as a person during his summer with K.C. He’s finally willing to give his heart to a woman, and take a chance on love. As the novella progresses it seems damn near impossible that they’ll end up together considering everything standing in their way. Will she give up school to be with him? Will the rugged cowboy take on the skyscrapers of the Big Apple? Can they try a long distance relationship for two whole years? And then you have K.C.’s high class parents who decide to come out West for a little visit with their daughter. What else could possibly happen?

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Heart of the Boy, book 1. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series.

Should you read it? I think I would have preferred if this were a full length novel instead of a novella. While I really did love the story and the delightful characters, I also couldn’t help but feel that certain elements were a bit too rushed. From the romance itself to some interesting dramatic moments, I guess I just wanted more! I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series though, which will be full-length and continue on in the romance between our city girl and her cowboy.

Smut Level: Nothing too scandalous.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 94 Pages.

 

West of Forgotten by Lynda J. Cox

A secluded Wyoming ranch set in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like the ideal place for romance to bloom. I seriously need to take a trip to Wyoming.

What’s it About? 

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Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly. For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter. Unless she can learn to trust Harrison, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.

First Impressions

The first half of this novel is all about Rachel and Harrison developing trust in their relationship. She’s been hurt before, and anyone who comes into both her and her son’s lives needs to earn her trust. Harrison is just the man to exhibit the necessary patience to win her over. Upon meeting the tantalizingly beautiful single mother, Harrison is determined that rather than take over the ranch completely, he wants to help her see it thrive again. To do so he determines their best option is to marry. Not only will it silence the gossips in town to see a man living with Rachel, but it also ensures she’ll get the entire ranch should something ever happen to him.

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Beyond just trusting him from a business partner standpoint, Rachel must also learn to trust him physically. She shies away from his every touch with fear in her eyes over what happened at the hands of his brother years before. Although their trust comes slowly, I must say it was built unbelievably well, with a hint of reality to it. It’s not like one day Rachel is wary of the stranger on her front porch, and the next she simply decides her fate is sealed and she’ll throw caution to the wind by trusting him completely. By developing it slowly over time their relationship is stronger for it, as it is built on something more stable and important than physical desire.

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A Troubled Past

I definitely appreciated this story emphasizing the importance of trust in a relationship, but in my opinion there was something which stood out even more. This is also a tale of survival. Rachel survived a horrific rape and abuse at the hands of a man who had the ability to charm an entire city into believing his version of events over hers. It was truly frightening to see how people treated her in the aftermath, as though she were the one to blame. That she led him on. How nobody believed her save a select few.

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What sickened me even more was to consider that this still happens today. This story might be set in the bygone era of the Wild West, yet it’s underlying horrors are still present. Rachel was ostracized from the community, but the one shining light throughout it all were those select few who believed in her. Although not related by blood, they were her family, and were willing to do anything to protect her and her son from the dangers of the world. Rachel is a strong, admirable lead character who drew on the love of her friends to help raise her son, and she could stand up to anyone who dared cross their path. Including a sexy U.S. Marshal.

*A copy of this novel was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Yes! This novel isn’t just a tale of blossoming love. As Rachel receives threatening notes, and her ranch is plagued by arson, we discover that her abuser has returned. She must face her fears all over again, but this time she has Harrison by her side. An intense finish that will have you holding your breath and clenching your toes in anticipation. At least…that’s what I do when I get anxious reading a book!

Smut Level: Harrison is the ideal. He helps Rachel live her life again. He pushes her, but not too much. Harrison lets her make her own decisions, but helps to nudge her in the right direction. He also helps her explore her sexuality, and learn that there’s no shame in pleasure. They take things slow, but Harrison manages to seduce her with words, and holy hell is that man a smooth talker and sexy grinner extraordinaire!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 318 Pages.

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