Rhonda Lee Carver
His good intentions were lost in her soft curves…
His big mistake was volunteering to help Alaska Kellington and her son. Yet, how could he resist the sweet, innocent appearing woman who had a hidden freak flag that teased his inner bull?
Trouble had a name. Oh, did it ever and it was dressed in worn Wranglers and dusty boots. Arc Colt. Tall, dark, handsome, and confident. The cowboy rode in on his horse, upsetting every wall Alaska had ever erected to protect her and her son. Before she knew it, she was Colt-matized.
She’d been told to never look a gift horse in the mouth, but Alaska couldn’t trust anyone. Growing up in foster homes, tossed around like a Hacky Sack from one bad home to another, until she ran away to live on the streets, had taught her a valuable lesson. A gift never came without a price. When given money and a home in the small-town Tarnation, Texas, the opportunity to plant roots for her son is too tempting to resist. She’s willing to take the risk, even if the stipulation is that she must have the rundown B&B up and running within six months.
Both Arc and Alaska have secrets, some more threatening than others. When she’s arrested in the middle of the summer fest with townsfolk watching, things start to unravel, leaving her vulnerable and feeling like the scared, lost kid she thought she’d outgrown. Can love overcome a tragic past? In the end could every path they’ve walked have led them right where they belong, or did Buzz Colt have a surprising intuition?
I am loving these Tarnation, Texas books. The Colt brothers both biologic and step are definitely having issues with the stipulations set by their father Buzz’s will and trying to get along.
However, Buzz did something else in his will and now we get to meet Alaska and her son. For the record, not Buzz’s.
Alaska hasn’t had it easy and after getting a letter from Buzz’s lawyer Roe Robins she had some decisions to make. The letter stated she would have to travel to Tarnation for the details. After an altercation with her landlord Alaska and her son River make the journey.
As he did with his son’s Buzz put stipulations on his ‘gift’. The B&B that could become her home had to be up and running plus showing a profit in six months. Alaska wasn’t sure she could do it, but she would definitely think about it.
When her car dies on the road on the way to the property she meets Arc Colt. Although she had seen him in the diner she didn’t know who he was.
This is a favorite scene.
Working the Grinning Spurs together for six months was a cakewalk. But where the hell would each of them find a woman who wanted to marry them? Question was, how would Arc find a woman willing to tolerate him? Hell, no doubt he wasn’t the easiest to get along with. A man his age was set in his ways and those ways wouldn’t suit a wife. He’d never even lived with a woman he wasn’t related to.
He might as well just pick someone. Any woman.
Lifting his gaze to the blue sky, he stretched his arm outside the window and gave a thumb’s up to the sky. “God, I sure hope you have a sense of humor because I’m needing your help about now. Can you bring me a woman who can put up with my nonsense? A wife who can get me out of this mess.”
Laughing, he brought his attention back to the road and let out a growled curse as he slammed on his brakes to miss hitting the woman waving frantically. The tires slid, leaving a stretch of rubber, and he finally came to a complete stop several feet from the grassy ditch. Slamming the gear shift into park and shutting off the engine, he slid out, shaking his head in agitation. “What the hell?” Then his eyes found her. The same woman from the diner. The one who’d looked so lost sitting alone in the booth.
“Do you always drive like a maniac?”
Her long hair was pulled up into a messy topknot and her fists were fitted to her flared hips as she looked at him like she was about to read him his last rites. “You’re upset with me? Really? What woman stands in the road and waves at an oncoming vehicle?”
“The same woman who noticed that you slowed down and gave a thumb’s up,” she bit out.
Ah, shit! She heaved a sigh and her breasts gave a little bounce. His heart slammed against his ribs and his zipper felt tighter. What the hell? Had he become a walking dick? She wasn’t his type, not even close. She looked too innocent—too…what? The way the tiny, damp shirt almost became see-through certainly did make her interesting. “Hey. I—” Then he noticed the kid. A short, scrawny boy who had her blue eyes. Arc searched his brain. Did she have a kid back at the diner? Wouldn’t he remember? Not when certain parts of his body numbed his logic. His libido deflated. She was a mom…a.k.a “hands off”.
“Hi, mister,” the boy said.
“Hi, there.” Arc dipped his hat in greeting. “What seems to be the problem here?” Obviously, they had car trouble, judging by the heap sitting along the roadside.
“I think it’s the radiator. The car overheated and then steam rolled out from under the hood,” the woman said. He pegged her as a northerner by her accent.
“That happens frequently. The heat index rises and radiators and batteries go bad fast if they’re not new. Care if I take a look?” This wasn’t in his plan for the day, but he couldn’t leave a mom and her son stranded on the side of the road either.
“I-I hate to ask—”
“You didn’t.” He chuckled. “I volunteered. I can’t guarantee there’s anything I can do to fix it, but it won’t fix itself either.” Dragging off his hat, he tossed it through the open window and onto the front seat of his truck and strolled to the front of her vehicle. “Can you pop the hood for me?”
There was a good two second hesitation before she did as he requested then came around to join him at the front of the car, keeping a decent five foot of distance between them. Hell, he didn’t take offense. A woman could never be too careful, even in a place like Tarnation.
“Definitely the radiator.” He dropped down to the road and slid under the fender, the heat from the cement quickly warmed his skin through his shirt. When he popped back out, he swiped his hands down the thighs of his jeans. “You didn’t by chance hit something, did you?”
Her brows scrunched. “No…wait, yes. We ran over the remains of a tire on the highway before we got off on the exit to Tarnation. That’s been a while though.”
“That’s your problem, ma’am. The tire bent the radiator and it’s been slowly leaking fluid since. You’re lucky you made it as far as you did.”
“Bent radiator? Slow leak?” Her face paled. “That sounds like a lot of money to fix.” She looked back at the boy.
Arc had never been the most compassionate man around, but when it came to animals and children nothing reached him quicker. Although she didn’t come right out and say it, he surmised from her expression that she didn’t have a lot of funds available. By the age of the car and the amount of rust holding it together, she was probably making do with what she had. Looking from the woman to her son and back to her, he shrugged. “I can get you a tow. I know a close shop that’ll fix this in a jiffy for next to nothing.” From the time he could walk, he loved to tinker with cars and by fourteen he’d bought his first car with the money he raised doing odd jobs. It was a vintage Mustang that needed more work than it was worth, but he spent every available minute for two years, between chores at the ranch and football, making the car run, and, by the time he was finished, she was amazing. He couldn’t call himself a mechanic by a long shot, but if he could help this woman and her son it was the right thing to do. Otherwise, she’d be shelling out some cash and stranded.
She seemed to muddle over his offer and then her shoulders slumped slightly. “It doesn’t look like I have much of a choice. Thank you for your help.”
“You’re quite a way from the highway. I can take you back to Tarnation and you might be able to find a room at the Inn until the car’s fixed. Could be a few days to weeks.”
“Weeks?” She frowned. “The Inn won’t be necessary. We’re headed to a B&B—”
“The Grinning Spurs B&B?”
“Yes. You know where it is?”
His breath came out in a hiss and he rubbed the tension from his forehead. He should have known…
So, this was Alaska Kellington?
The woman who somehow found herself with a shit load of money and a house—a house owned by Buzz Colt—rather his sons now. The same woman he’d researched to find information on, but didn’t find a damn thing. Suddenly his steel wall erected. “Yeah, I know where it is. You’re less than a half mile away.”
“Then we’re exactly where we need to be.” She didn’t quite smile but he saw some relief in her expression. The boy saddled up close to her and she placed her arm around his shoulders protectively. “Close enough for us to walk.”
“In those shoes?” He doubted she’d make it fifty feet in the flimsy leather sandals.
“I had no clue I’d be stranded on the side of the road.” She looked almost embarrassed.
“Apparently so. I can take you both,” he offered. Although he didn’t trust her, he couldn’t leave her and her boy in this heat. There was that expression again, the one that spoke volumes that she didn’t trust him either. He wasn’t sure how that made him feel. “Before you say it, it’s no sweat off my brow. It’s right up the road and you can’t have your son out here. It’s hot enough to fry the hair on a pig’s a—rear.” He caught himself.
Did he see a glimpse of a smile before it got lost under a frown? “Okay. I have a few things. I’ll grab them and put them in the back of your truck.”
“Let me help.” He met her at the back of her car. She opened the trunk and inside she had two brown bags and two white trash bags that were tied at the top. “Is this all?” He had trouble containing his surprise. He expected to find suitcases galore, especially if she planned on moving into the B&B.
“This is it,” she answered a little shyly.
Grabbing both grocery bags, he let her take the trash bags. They placed them in the back and piled into the front seat of the truck, the woman—Alaska—took the passenger seat and the boy was in the middle. “Don’t worry about your car. I’ll make sure it’s towed.”
She nodded. The wind caught tendrils of her hair sending them sweeping her flawless cheeks. As they drove over bumps in the road her breasts bounced, and he tore his gaze to the safety zone of the window. Now that he knew who she was and that she had a son, this switched up things a bit. He needed to concentrate on his situation with Buzz’s will and not the fact that the woman sitting in his truck was the cutest and shyest he’d been around in a long time, if not ever. He’d never had a problem getting the interest of the opposite sex, and by now, most women would have been offering him smiles, maybe even a few flirty actions. Alaska, however, seemed to care less. He wasn’t sure if that intrigued him or made him even less trusting of her. Did she have any clue who he was? That he was one of Buzz Colt’s sons? He had many questions that begged to be answered.
“The B&B, huh? How long do you plan on staying?” With one trash bag he fathomed not long.
She brought her chin around, her eyes meeting his for two lengthy heartbeats before she lowered her gaze. “I’m not sure. Now it might depend on when my car is fixed.”
Hell, if that was the case he’d pay to have a mechanic fix it and send her on her way, but then why did a part of him resist that idea? Sure, she was cute, but he wasn’t interested. He was practically engaged, to someone he’d never met, literally. But maybe his inquisitiveness had the best of him. What had she and Buzz shared that would make the man want to help her? Arc would like to think Buzz did it out of the kindness of his heart, but it didn’t make sense. The old man wouldn’t have done anything unless it was to his advantage.
Rhonda Carver. Pourmeadrink finalwithtoc (Kindle Locations 559-632). Kindle Edition.
As the lawyer had said the B&B needed work and a thorough cleaning. Arc found himself volunteering to assist, at least with the roof.
There is definitely chemistry between these two and that attraction only grows. We learn of an interesting legend surrounding a cliff and a tree as well.
Just a touch of suspense, a lot of romance and sizzle make this a book I didn’t want to put down.
5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda!
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Rhonda Lee Carver is a published book writer with a collection of print and eBooks under her wing. She is also a freelance editor. Her first book was published with Wild Rose Press in 2010.
She writes everything from contemporary to steamy to paranormal to suspense…you name it, she’s written it. Her specialty is writing men who love to get their hands dirty—hardworking, blue collar, heroes in everyday life.
When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling novels, you’ll find her with her children and husband watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, traveling to exotic places (with Bora Bora on her bucket list), doing (or trying) yoga, saving cats and dogs, and finding new ways to keep life interesting.
Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes life can be a challenge, but reading is a place where fantasy comes to life. Her motto: “Everyone deserves romance—one page at a time.“