Today I have an excerpt from Laura Drake’s Nothing Sweeter. This is the second book in her Sweet on a Cowboy series, and it releases January 28 from Forever.
Here’s the blurb:
A Love as Wild as the West . . .
Aubrey Madison is starting over. Leaving Los Angeles and everything behind except the scars of her ruined past, Bree sets out for cowboy country. Now she has a new home, a new job-and a new worry: the ruggedly sexy rancher who makes her long for things she shouldn’t . . .
Rough and tumble cattleman Max Jameson has broken wild stallions and faced angry bulls. Yet the redheaded city cupcake who turned up at the High Heather Ranch might be his undoing. Bree has a plan to rescue the ranch from foreclosure that’s just crazy enough to work. But will Max gamble his future on a beautiful stranger?
And the review from Publisher’s Weekly:
“The second entry in Drake’s Sweet on a Cowboy series (after The Sweet Spot) is another character-driven contemporary western with more heart than heat. Rancher Max Jameson, stunned by the unexpected death of his father, is determined to keep the family spread in Steamboat Springs, Colo., despite pressure to sell to a greedy neighbor. His brother, Wyatt, tries to help out, though the sibling relationship is strained due to Max’s discomfort with the fact that Wyatt is gay.
Bree Tanner is scarred physically and mentally after being wrongfully convicted of and imprisoned for her ex-boss’s shady financial dealings; now exonerated and free, she decides to start over by helping to raise rodeo bulls on the Jameson ranch.
Max’s tough exterior masks relatable fear, his relationship with Wyatt is handled gracefully, and Bree’s genuine shame about her past makes her sympathetic. While Max and Bree’s romantic relationship is secondary to their internal and interpersonal struggles, complex characters and some fun full-riding scenes balance out the seriousness.”
Here’s the excerpt: (first kiss!)
They topped a rise above a small valley. Herefords grazed in belly-high grass, and to the east, a stream bisected the pasture. Vivid color assailed her: deep green grass, rust colored cattle, and the white snow on the mountains. “A high-priced photographer would make a killing in this state.”
Max would have to take her word for it. She should have looked silly in a baseball cap, perched on that English saddle, a rein in each hand. But she didn’t. Gazing into the distance, heels down, head high, back ramrod straight, she looked like she belonged here.
“Let’s give ‘em their heads.” With just a touch of heel, Trouble laid his ears back and galloped down the hill. By the time they’d reached the bottom, Smooth pulled alongside. Bree flowed over the horse’s neck, baseball cap tucked into the waist of her jeans, hair streaming. Laughing, she urged her horse on with her heels.
The little brat is trying to beat me! He leaned forward and Trouble surged under him.
Cud-chewing cattle watched as they tore across the meadow. Max pulled up at the stream’s edge. Bree didn’t. She gathered the horse with her hands, and Smooth took off from the bank. The stream was too wide — no way she’d make it. Max’s brain registered the image; Bree, hair flying, a look of bliss on her face as the horse sailed over the creek in a graceful arc. His hands tightened on the reins as Trouble fought for his head, wanting to follow.
Smooth touched down on the other side without wetting a hoof. Max released the breath he wasn’t aware of holding. He dismounted as she cantered in a circle. Smooth splashed through the water at a sedate walk. Bree’s laughed down at him, her eyes shining.
“Did you see him? What a great horse – he sailed over that water like it was a puddle.” She reined in, kicked her feet out on the stirrups, and leapt from the horse to land beside him.
He was still breathing hard when he grabbed her arm above the elbow and yanked her to his chest. “That was the stupidest stunt I’ve ever seen. You could have broken your neck, you little fool.”
He looked down at her wide, bright eyes and her breasts, rising with her rapid breathing. “You don’t know the terrain, the horse . . .“ Lord help him, he couldn’t take any more. He bent his head, his lips smothering her laugh. Desire hit him hard. When her mouth opened in surprise, he deepened the kiss. He’d wanted to do this since he’d first slapped eyes on her, and the reality of those lips was even better than he’d imagined.
She tasted clean and tart, like lemons and the chill wind. Once over her surprise, her tongue met his in greeting, then settled down to get better acquainted. This girl didn’t do anything by halves; when she kissed, she was there. Her soft mewling woke him like a slap. He hadn’t been invited, and she was an employee. He broke the kiss and backed up a step.
Bree’s face registered shock, her cheeks on fire with a blush.
Now I’m in for it. He tipped his hat. “I beg your pardon.”
Her eyes narrowed to slits as her gaze raked over his face. “I’d like to see you beg for something, Jameson.” Looking him straight in the eye, she snaked her hand around his neck, knocking his hat off as she pulled his mouth back down to hers.
Sweet Jesus. Max forgot his good intentions as he hauled her off her feet, flattening her breasts against his chest as her hair fell around them. He let her slide, slow, down his body. When she stood on her own feet, he fisted her hair in his hands and tilted her head to give him better access to that willing mouth. Hot. He reached down with one hand to cup her backside and snuggle closer. She shifted one leg between his and slid across him with a sinuous twist of her hips. Damn. She may look like the girl next door, but she sure hadn’t learned that move in the Girl Scouts.
Behind him, Trouble nickered and pawed the ground. The beast tossed its head and bolted, ripping the reins from his hand. Max tore his mouth free and turned, but it was too late. He stood, catching his breath, and watched the black and white rump retreat into the distance to the thumping cadence of hooves.
“That Cayuse is dog food this time, I swear to God.” Dazed, he bent to pick up his hat.
Grinning, Bree tugged her cap from her waistband and snugged it over her hair. She cocked her head and fluttered her lashes. “Need a lift, cowboy?”
God, he’d love to do things that would wipe that smug smile off her face.
“I need to be getting back anyway.” She turned to check Smooth’s girth. “I’ve got this slave-driver boss. If he knew I was out here wasting time, he’d can me for sure.”
He chuckled. “Sounds like a real butt wipe.”
“He is.” Bree gathered the reins and mounted, throwing him an impish smile. “Sometimes.”
Yummy, huh? If you enjoyed the excerpt, you can pre-order by clicking the link below: