A Leatherneck by any other name can still kick ass, which is just what retired United States Marine Corps Captain Tanner Wilks plans to do when he returns to his Texas family ranch to care for his ailing father. And nothing will stop him from achieving his mission—not even a lithe, brown-eyed town veterinarian who seems hell-bent on driving him wild.
Captain Tanner Wilks, honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, returns home to find his father struggling after his latest heart attack. Worse yet, Julia Heller—the sexy new girl in town that he once spent a hot night with—is the resident veterinarian who’s made a home for herself at Round Top ranch, and doesn’t seem to be in a rush to repeat their time together.
It falls on Tanner’s shoulders to take on the ranch and keep an eye on his father before he falls victim to another heart attack. But Julia doesn’t appreciate Tanner coming in or pursuing her. Even if he’s hot as hell and can make her quiver with just a look. Ousting her may give Tanner the leverage he needs to corral his father, but first he has to wrestle with his own heart.
Serving their country as Marines was what one could call a family tradition for the Wilks family. Although Tanner was the only one of his siblings to follow that path. Now retired and heading home, his assignment as he thought of it, was to care for his father ‘The Colonel’. An assignment and a family duty, one he wouldn’t shirk from but one he wasn’t looking forward to either. His father a former Marine was hard headed and stubborn as a mule. Following Doctors orders was something he didn’t do very well at all.
Then there’s Jules the veterinarian who had taken over her Great Uncle’s practice. Long ago she decided that having a relationship with anyone that was a client was bad for business. Jules is smart, funny and wise.
A favorite scene is during what is supposed to be a one night stand, in Jules opinion anyway.
Suppressing the internal chuckle at his conversational left turn, she asked, “Why were we talking about broken clocks? What a weird thing. I don’t think I have any broken clocks. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t own any clock-clocks. I use my phone for everything. My uncle had this really great cuckoo clock when I was a kid, but I played with it one time too many because I was trying to fix the bird inside and I kinda broke it.”His laughter against her back made her groan. Then he said, “Do I want to know what you were trying to do?”
“Well, I thought it had a broken wing, because when it came out, you could see one wing but not the other. I didn’t know that was the design of the clock. So I . . .” Was she really telling him this embarrassing story from when she was five? “I set this trap for when the clock chimed and the bird popped out of the clock, so I could grab the bird to fix its wing and then let it go again. Don’t say it ”— she turned her head and waved a finger at him because he had stopped kissing her and just stared at her with the most incredulous look on his face—“ I get exactly how stupid it sounds. Please note that, for the record, I was five.”
“Very well then, continue, please.” It was a real struggle for him to get the words out past the laughter squeezing in between the syllables.
“Anyway.” She elongated the word. “I set my trap, which meant I had to sneak the ladder in from the garage, then climb up to where the clock hung several feet off the ground. I waited because I knew when the bird was going to pop out, and as soon as it appeared I grabbed it. But when I tried to pull it off its little perch, well, the whole clock came off the wall, and I fell off the ladder, crashed into the table, and knocked over the curio cabinet. I broke all of my aunt’s fancy dishes. But I did get the bird.”
He made no pretense of holding back his amusement this time. His laughter shook the bed. She tried not to fume at how long it took him to get himself under control. Finally, he wheezed out a breath and flopped onto his back to stare at the ceiling, a hint of tears at the corner of his eye. “I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in years. How did you survive?”
“Well, when I explained to my uncle why I was trying to catch the bird, he kind of had your reaction. He was mad about the dishes, but mostly because my aunt was going to be upset. But she took it better than either of you, so for the next six months or so, my uncle and I hunted at ever flea market from San Antonio to Dallas to find dishes like she’d had in her set. “
“And the bird? Did it make it?”
“Yes, the bird was fine. The clock . . . not so much.” She joined him this time when he chuckled. “Okay, so you’ve heard my embarrassing five-year-old story. You tell me one about you.”
Heather Long. ARC SemperFi Final (Kindle Locations 533-554). Kindle Edition.
That night ended with Jules leaving a note and no number, a one night stand with someone passing through. She was in for a major surprise later in the day.
The Colonel has many archaic views on relationships and more than once he admonishes both Tanner and Jules for their unseemly behavior.
As I read my feelings echoed the way Tanner handled things. Jules with her incredible insight and people skills is valued at the ranch. It’s her idea that just might help these two hard headed men come to agreeable terms.
I fell in love with the ranch, Jules and Tanner, and Maria, Ramon and Mateo, ‘the Colonel’ kind of grows on you. The family vibe is almost palpable with Maria and Ramon, it makes it easy to love them.
I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
Keep reading for an excerpt from when Tanner meets Jules.
Whoever the group was they had talent, and as Tanner studied the newcomers, he focused on a woman who slid over to the bar and drained a glass of water while the musicians found their rhythm. A minute later, she glided back onto the dance floor.For the next three songs, she traded partners. The woman could move. Tall, long-legged, and beautifully curved, she also had a gorgeous face, from her generous mouth—which pulled into an easy smile—to her sweet, dark eyes. Dark hair clung to her cheeks, and her sleeveless white top gave Tan- ner a good look at her toned arms.
He didn’t know her. She didn’t even ring a familiar bell, but she sure as hell looked fun. When she waved off a fourth man swooping in for a dance and headed to the bar, Tanner enjoyed the light, strutting cadence to her walk. Someone had taken her spot, so she sidled up to the bar next to him.
Fanning her face with one hand, she gave him a cool, quick grin, then waved at Sully. The bartender slid a glass of water over to her. “You ready for a glass of wine yet, darlin’?”
“In a bit.” She took a long drink of the water. The slender column of her throat convulsed with each swallow, and a fresh wave of lust crashed through Tanner. Damn, what he wouldn’t give to trade places with the glass.
“Put her wine on my tab, Sully,” Tanner called. The number of dance partners and lack of a ring gave him hope she was free. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“No, thank you,” the country goddess declined in a smooth, polite tone. “I’ll take care of my own drinks.”
Sully hid a smirk, but he had other customers.
“No need to be testy, ma’am.” He lifted his beer. “Just offering to buy you a drink.”
“Not being testy at all.” She turned sideways and gave him a once-over. “And you didn’t offer—you just decided to do it, sir.” The cool dismissal didn’t possess an ounce of malice or disrespect. “I simply like to pay my own way, and I never accept offers from strangers.”
“Hard to make an acquaintance if you don’t.” Though he couldn’t fault her. Even the women in his unit or those he’d met on assignment at various bases around the world maintained a sense of control over their environment, both in what they would tolerate from others and what they would accept. “My apologies for overstepping. I’m Tanner, by the way.”
Offering his hand, he waited as she took a beat before wiping her palm against her jeans and then accepting the handshake. “My friends call me Jules.”
“Jules.” Was it short for Julianna? Or Julie? Something else entirely? He liked the sound of it. Maybe it was the beer mellowing him out. Maybe it was being home. Or maybe it was simply watching her, but he wanted to spend some time with Miss Jules.
“Is it all right if I call you Jules?”
“I said my friends call me Jules, you can call me ma’am.” She chuckled, then drained her glass of water and started watching the band. They’d switched to a slow song. Shaking her head, she lifted the hair from the back of her neck. From her ushed cheeks to the gleam in her dark eyes, she was stunning.
“I’d be happy to call you ma’am.” The sentence worked, and Jules returned her attention to him and her eyebrows raised.
“Tell me, ma’am, may I have the next dance?”
Coming In December:
As You Were, Cowboy
Lone Star Leathernecks Book 2
USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.