NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
A former Army Ranger’s first civilian assignment is to protect a spunky physical therapist from an unknown threat at a rehab ranch for disabled veterans
Forced into medical retirement, Army Ranger Alex “Taz” Davila takes a job in the wilds of Montana with the Brotherhood Protectors. First assignment: undercover protection of a pretty physical therapist on a veteran’s rehab ranch.
Living her dream job, Hannah Kendricks helps wounded warriors and abused horses at a rehab ranch for veterans. Finally in a position for a little romance, she suffers a set back when strange accidents nearly get her killed.
Her lagging libido gets a kickstart when a sexy new patient starts following her, always there when she turns around. Before long, she realizes he’s the only thing standing between her and whoever is after her.
Accepting his offer to protect her, Hannah encounters a new problem. She’s attracted to the man! Together they struggle to determine who wants to hurt her and why, while fighting the growing attraction they are helpless to resist.
The last thing Alex ‘Taz’ Davila expected when he got off the plane in Montana was to be sent directly on a mission. However once he arrives, he sees it won’t be a hardship to keep an eye on the lovely therapist, Hannah Kendricks.
With several attempts on her life, that she has been calling unfortunate mishaps; Hannah finally has to agree that there really is danger when it’s apparent that the brakes on her tractor have been tampered with.
She doesn’t know Taz has been sent to figure it all out, and she is of the firm belief she shouldn’t get involved with a patient/client. The ranch she runs specializes in helping former military re-enter society by treating their insecurities with hard work. The clients work with the horses some that have been abused, and also do other chores around the ranch.
This is a favorite scene, the first meeting and a manure fight. It’s a little long but it’s so worth the giggles.
“Who knows?” Hannah smiled, hoping to lighten the subject of dating. “My man might be the next person who walks through that door.”
Arching an eyebrow, Gavin leaned to his left and looked around her, which made Hannah turn, her pulse kicking up a notch.
The doorway remained empty.
She let go of the breath she’d been holding and laughed at herself. “It will happen when it happens. Until then, I have a fence to mend.” She shot a smile back at Gavin and swung around, heading for the exit, and ran into a wall of muscles.
The collision made her let go of the bucket. The plastic hit the ground, the lid popped off and fence staples spilled onto the floor. “Oh, for heaven’s sake.” She bent at the same time a man did and they knocked skulls.
Pain shot through her forehead and she sat back on her bottom. “Oh!”
The man she’d bumped into rocked back on his feet and sat down hard. His eyes glazed, and he swayed more than she did.
Hannah pushed past her own pain and leaned up on her knee, a staple piercing the fabric of her jeans. She didn’t care.
The man in front of her paled. He appeared like he was about to pass out.
“Hey.” She grabbed his arm and held him steady. “Are you all right?”
He nodded and pressed the fingers of both hands to his temples. “I’m fine,” he said, in clipped tones. When he dropped his hands, the haze in his eyes cleared, replaced by a concerned frown. “Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head, the pain receding.
He looked at the mess on the floor. “I’m sorry. I’ll get these.” He scooped up a handful of staples and deposited them into the plastic bucket.
Hannah came up on her haunches and helped collect the nails. In a couple of minutes, they’d secured all of the staples in the tub.
The man rose with the bucket, swayed a bit and then steadied.
Hannah straightened and held out her hand. “I’ll take those.”
He surrendered the container. “Please, accept my apologies.”
“No, it was my fault.” She twisted her lips into a crooked smile. “I should watch where I’m going. Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for a Hannah Kendricks.” He stared into her face. “I don’t suppose that would be you?”
Hannah stared up into the deepest, darkest eyes she’d ever seen. The man towered over her, his shoulders impossibly broad and his face ruggedly handsome. What had he asked? Oh, yeah. “I’m Hannah. And you are?”
The man held out his hand. “Alex Davila. My therapist told me I might see if you had room for one more patient here at the Brighter Days Rehab Ranch.”
Hannah’s heartbeat sped as she took the proffered hand. “Man or beast?” Holy smokes she couldn’t help staring at the beast in front of her and all of his sexy maleness.
His lips quirked upward. “Man.” He touched his chest. “Although, I’ve been called a beast by some of my friends. The patient would be me.”
The wind sucked out of her chest, Hannah felt as if her lungs had deflated to completely empty of all oxygen.
“You?” She ran her gaze over him from the top of his cowboy hat to his sexy new cowboy boots. “Actually, we do have room at the ranch.”
“Oh, good. When they turned me loose at Walter Reed, I wasn’t sure where I’d go next. I was getting close to pre-injury normal, but I didn’t want to backslide.” He gave her a smile. “Would you consider taking me on? I hear you have a good program here.”
“You have?” The fact that he would be one of the ranch’s clients made her feel both disappointed and relieved all at once.
As a client, he would be strictly off limits to her personally. Hannah had an ironclad rule for herself. Don’t get involved with the patients. Er…clients.
They needed to learn to function on their own. Falling for their therapist would only delay their re-entry into society. Shaking off the need to lick the man from head to toe, Hannah swallowed hard and took his hand. “Alex, you say?”
He nodded. “My friends call me Taz.”
“It wouldn’t happen to be short for Tasmanian Devil, would it?”
The action lit a fire at Hannah’s core.
“Guilty,” Taz said.
“Let me guess,” she said, her words tripping on her suddenly heavy tongue. “You’re the kind of person who spins into a situation, stirs it up and spins back out before anyone realizes what hit them?” Like he had her heart and her head spinning right then.
He shrugged. “Something like that.”
“What would you like us to call you? Alex, Davila or Taz?”
“Taz will do.” He stared down at her hand in his. “Do you mind if I have that back?”
Heat rushed up into her cheeks as she realized she’d been holding the client’s hand all the time they’d been discussing his name. Hannah yanked her hand out of his, suddenly missing the warmth and strength. Which was ridiculous. She didn’t need either. But knowing that didn’t stop her from wanting them…
Hannah squared her shoulders, determined to be professional amid her totally unprofessional thoughts. “Gavin will show you to the bunkhouse and get you settled in. But before you decide to stay, you should know, everyone who comes here is expected to pull his or her own weight in one form or another. Disabilities aren’t an excuse to get out of working. The animals we rescue count on us to make their lives better.”
Taz’s brows dipped. “I thought this was a rehab ranch for veterans.”
“And horses. We also rescue abused and mistreated horses. The veterans who come to us learn that they’re not the only living creatures with seemingly insurmountable problems. Our charges help each other heal.” She tipped her head in challenge. “Are you willing to do your share?”
He nodded. “I am.”
“Have you ever been around horses?” she asked.
Taz’s lips twitched. “A little.”
Hannah suspected he wasn’t telling the whole truth. However, she had work to do, and standing around drooling over a client wasn’t getting it done. “As I said, Gavin will show you to your quarters.” She left the tack room as quickly as she could without appearing bitchy or off-putting. Being near Taz was making her insides burn and her thoughts scramble.
“Hey! What the hell!” a voice shouted.
Hannah recognized it as Franklin’s.
“You got it on me first, you damned grunt,” Vasquez responded.
A snort sounded from the other side of a stall and something sailed into the air, landing with a plop on the ground at Hannah’s feet.
“Rather be a grunt than a jarhead,” Franklin shouted.
“Yeah, at least the shit is on the outside of my boots, not on the inside,” Vasquez said.
Two more clumps of straw-studded horse manure sailed out of the stall, landing on the ground near Hannah.
“What’s going on in there?” she shouted, anger building as yet another clump of manure flew out of the stall.
“He started it,” Franklin said, and grunted.
Hannah ran toward the stall, afraid the two young men would hurt each other with the hay rakes.
When she reached the stall gate, she stopped, her lips twitching, laughter bubbling up inside. Franklin and Vasquez were in a war of the rakes, balancing the two tools beneath their good arms, using their bodies to apply leverage. The rake tines were locked, and they were at a standoff.
Then Franklin backed off, dug his tines into the straw and manure and slung shit at Vasquez.
Vasquez ducked, and the horse manure hit Hannah in the chest. She let out a sharp breath and backed up a step.
The two fighters froze, their eyes rounding.
“Miss Kendricks, I’m so sorry.” Franklin ran toward her, still carrying his rake.
“It’s okay,” Hannah said, choking on her sudden need to giggle. She tried not to let it out. The situation was serious, but the guys covered in crap looked hysterically funny. She couldn’t hold back and let loose a bark of laughter.
“Attention!” a commanding voice said behind her. “Drop your tools.”
Both men quickly dropped their rakes and stood straight.
“It’s okay.” Hannah stopped laughing long enough to take a deep breath. When she did, she smelled the manure on her shirt and made a belated attempt to brush it off. Then, to make certain Franklin didn’t devolve into another brawl later, she schooled her face into a stern mask and faced them. “You do realize you’re cleaning up the mess you made?”
The two spoke as one, “Yes, ma’am!”
She tilted her chin a little higher. “And what did you learn today while slinging manure all over the barn?”
Their brows descended. “Ma’am?” Franklin questioned.
“Not to sling shit because it’s wrong?” Vasquez guessed.
“That, too.” Hannah let her lips curl into a smile as she gestured toward the vets. “More importantly, you learned you could manage a rake with one hand. And you did well enough to sling a considerable amount of manure all over the place. Now that you know you can do that, you can put your backs into cleaning up.”
“Yes, ma’am!” Franklin and Vasquez said as one. But they didn’t move. Their gazes shifted to the man who’d commanded them to attention.
“Get to it,” Taz said, his voice deep, strong and brooking no argument.
Franklin and Vasquez scrambled for the rakes. Each grabbed a handle on the wheelbarrow. Together they rolled it toward the middle of the barn and started shoveling manure.
James, Elle. Montana Ranger (Brotherhood Protectors Book 5) (pp. 39-45). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
Right from the start you get a glimpse of the camaraderie that exists between everyone at the ranch in spite of what branch they served in. All of them equally dedicated to keeping Hannah safe.
From a rejected puppy, to someone taking pot shots, this book will grab you and not let you go.
Some major twists and turns, with a romance that will have you sighing.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
Click the Image for Buy Links and More!Brotherhood Protectors Volume 1
Brotherhood Protectors BDRR Unit Book 1
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.