The town superstar has just met his match
When retired Army Captain and Prairie’s favorite son, Sterling Walker, returns home to join Resolution Ranch, he finds himself face to face with his biggest rival- Emma Sinclaire, the sole daughter of Prairie’s oldest family- all grown up, gorgeous, and glaring daggers at him.
Will it be winner take all in this battle of hearts?
A rising star at Kansas City’s internationally acclaimed Royal Fountain Media, Emma agrees to personally oversee the marketing and fundraising campaign for Resolution Ranch. But she never expected to come face to face with her high school nemesis, Sterling Walker, let alone have to work closely with him. As they face off across the boardroom, she can’t deny her attraction to the smart, sexy, soldier who engages her in battle at every turn.
When a moment of carelessness threatens to shut down the fundraiser before it starts, Sterling will put everything on the line to protect Emma’s reputation. Will it be enough to win Emma’s heart for good? Or will the fallout be the ruin of Resolution Ranch?
After burying one of his best friends, Sterling is in a bad place. A phone call from Travis offers him a new beginning, a new life.
Emma and Sterling have been competitors since high school. But while Sterling looks at that time as making him better at everything, Emma sees it being humiliated time after time.
This is a favorite scene at the Trading Post on New Year’s Eve.
He shrugged, a rueful grin playing at the corner of his mouth. “There was a chance you might say no.”
“I almost did.”
He tipped his head closer to hers. “Then I’ll consider this my lucky day.”
A shiver of attraction skittered down her spine as she caught his gaze and held it. His voice held a note of sin and promise. It would be so easy to give in. Become another in a long line of conquests. But, no. Not tonight. Not ever. She looked away. His hand at her hip gave her a little squeeze, somehow acknowledging what had just passed between them. “I should thank you, you know.”
She glanced up sharply. “How so?”
His eyes were sincere. He wasn’t teasing her this time. “You made me work.”
“What do you mean? Everything came easy to you.”
“Some things easier than others,” he admitted. “But I don’t think I’d have gotten the appointment to West Point without pushing myself to beat you.”
“The competition didn’t hurt me either. I was ready for Barnard when I arrived.”
“Ready for West Point? For real?” His admission shocked her. “The great Sterling Walker unprepared?”
He maneuvered them between two other couples. “No one is prepared for Beast. Not even me. But that’s the point. It’s supposed to be brutal. You’re supposed to want to quit, but you don’t. It builds you up.”
Her respect for him went up a notch. “How’d you get through that?”
He studied her intently while the last notes of Kaycee Starr’s song faded. Heat bloomed across her chest as the strains James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go filled the bar. When he finally spoke, his voice came out with a burr. “You dig deep. Remember the people you love at home and why you’re there. And the people you’re letting down if you give up.”
“There’s no way you ever would have quit, Sterling. It’s not your style.” But still, she couldn’t imagine what it must have been like, if he was admitting it was hard. Especially to her.
His expression turned serious. “Can I ask you something?”
Her heart began to thump erratically. “Sure?” Sterling was never serious. At least not with her. She tensed as she waited for him to speak.
“Do you think I’m an asshole?”
“Do you think I’m an asshole?”
He was serious too. She opened her mouth but no sound came out. How in the hell was she supposed to answer that?
His face tightened. “Your face says it all. You think I am. I was. Shit.” He stopped in the middle of the dance floor, putting both his hands on her shoulders. “I was an asshole. To you for sure, and probably to others. And I have no excuse for my behavior except that I was a teenaged dumbshit. If I hurt you in any way I’m truly sorry. I never wanted to hurt you.”
A rush of feeling flooded her, pricking her eyelids with hot tears. She would not cry in front of Sterling. “I… thank you,” she finished lamely. What else could she say? She’d never admit to the countless soaked pillows, or the tears she’d cried into her horse’s mane.
The song switched to Brad Paisley’s Then as the clock crept toward midnight. Sterling pulled her back into his arms, and this time she let him pull her close. Maybe it was dangerous to do so, let herself get close enough to catch a whiff of his spicy cologne. He was so charming. It would be so easy to melt into him. Lose herself in a kiss or four.
“Do you think we could start over?” His eyes were soft. Hopeful.
Layne, Tessa. A Hero’s Heart: Resolution Ranch (pp. 24-26). Shady Layne Media. Kindle Edition.
Nothing comes from that encounter, not even a kiss to start the new year.
The trail drive was hard and satisfying. Now preparations begin to get the ranch up and running. A major fundraiser to finance the buildings to house the veterans coming for help. The dream of this ranch beginning to come to fruition.
In spite of her resolve Emma finds herself not resisting the charm and persistence of Sterling’s pursuit. Unfortunately he has to come to terms with himself before their relationship can be a relationship.
Stolen electronics cause major problems and Sterling steps up to prevent these things from not only destroying the fundraisers for the ranch, but Emma as well. Although he does it without contact, that was handled by Jamey, Lydia, Luci and Hope.
I fell in love with Cade and Kate, Jason, Macey and Sophie even though they are secondary characters here. I hope we see all of them again.
A page turning read with plenty of suspense, drama, laughter and a few tears as well.
5 Contented Purrs for Tessa!
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Tessa Layne writes smokin’ hot contemporary cowboy and military romances filled with tenderhearted tough guys and sassy strong women who capture their hearts.She grew up in Colorado in the mountains at the edge of the Great Plains. There, she met her own smokin’ hot Cowboy and they had a whirlwind romance to rival any novel. She believes in Happily Ever Afters, loves fireflies, horses, and breathing clean country air. Her favorite thing to do is to sit on the porch swing with a glass of Rose, listening to her Cowboy pluck his guitar!
Feel free to drop her a line (links below) – She loves to hear from her readers!