USA Today Bestselling Author
Movie star Trace McBride is in a bit of trouble. More than a bit. He’s taken his bad-boy image too far, too many times, and when he gets arrested for skinny dipping in his producer’s pool – with his producer’s wife, it’s the last straw. His agent comes up with a plan to revamp Trace’s image – by going incognito for a cowboy movie on location – far away from the prying eyes of the Hollywood tabloids. Spending six months in the middle of nowhere sounds like an awful idea, until he runs into Cecilia Sanchez. Literally. Trace is irresistibly drawn to the nosy, sarcastic journalist, even though getting close to her is more than risky- it’s downright dangerous.
Investigative journalist Cecilia Sanchez is one good story away from getting out of the backwater town where she grew up. Forced to return home when her first big-city job backfires – note to self, it’s never a good idea to write an exposé your boss, even if it’s Pulitzer Prize-winning material – she’s determined to put Prairie on the map for something besides rodeos and tornadoes. CiCi is definitely not interested in cocky newcomer Trace, and doesn’t believe a word out of his sweet-talking mouth, but she can’t seem to resist his kisses.
When CiCi uncovers the story of a lifetime, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Trace, because letting the cat out of the bag this time might cost them both everything. Including each other.
Cecilia ‘CiCi’ Sanchez has what she knows is one of the best articles she’s written as an investigative journalist. Unfortunately for her, the people she’s outing want it stopped. So instead of praise she gets fired. Not knowing what else to do she heads home to Prairie. Her mother and grandmother are traveling so she’ll have the house to herself at least until Christmas. Plenty of time to decide what she wants to do going forward.
Trace McBride is in big trouble and in order to salvage his career he’s heading to Prairie to work on Resolution Ranch. Incognito of course because they don’t want or need the paparazzi running all over the place. When he starts getting antsy, Sterling suggests trying Rough Stock Riding School. This really appeals to Trace, he’s always wanted to ride a bull and he’s been watching Travis’ son Dax practicing. Now while he’s supposed to be keeping a low profile, he also craves interaction with people. It’s after he’s had breakfast at Dottie’s Diner that he literally runs into Cici. Well her car anyway.
This is just a part of the conversation that ensues and a favorite scene.
“Did you even hear what I said?” Her voice quivered with outrage, and two pink streaks flushed her cheekbones.
He tossed her a crooked grin, knowing his comment would trigger a reaction. “Something about a train station?”
She scowled and huffed, right on cue. “You have a lot of nerve, you know that?”
He arched a brow. “Oh? Tell me more.” She growled at his flip response. Trace pressed his lips together to keep from laughing outright.
CiCi rolled her eyes and extended a tiny hand. “Give me your insurance so I can take a picture while we wait.”
Shit. His identification had his real name.
Trace widened his stance. “Sorry. No can do.”
She crossed her arms, eyes widening in disbelief. “Excuse me?”
He lifted a shoulder. “You heard me, no can do.” Weston couldn’t get here fast enough. If she saw his real name, the paps would be crawling all over Prairie by dinner. He just needed to keep her distracted long enough for Weston to arrive, then his secret was safe.
Something an old acting coach said years ago popped into his head. Make the choice that raises the stakes. “I’m not the one at fault.” He drew a finger down her nose and tapped the tip. “I need your insurance, sweetheart.” Sure enough, he could practically see the steam pouring from her ears.
Her eyes burned like two black coals. “Oh like hell you do. You hit me.”
“Says me. And what makes you think Weston’s going to believe you? I’m the one who lives here.”
“Oh really?” He walked around to her demolished back end. “Plates say Illinois.”
“Well I do… now,” she added, almost sheepishly.
“So do I.” He might have dragged out the words a little too long. Just to see how she reacted next. He wasn’t disappointed.
CiCi scowled and stepped forward. “You’re a damned liar. Your plates say California. And this… getup?” She waved her hands. “You’re no cowboy. Real cowboys don’t prance around in designer jeans and custom-tailored shirts. You look like you bought this getup on Rodeo Drive, not Anders’ Feed ‘n Seed.”
She had a good eye, he’d give her that. Sterling might have raised an eyebrow at his choice of clothing when he first showed up, but he’d proven himself to be a hard worker, which is what mattered to those guys. “I think the only one prancing is you.” His gaze slowly slid down her body, fully appreciating the way she filled out her very proper pencil skirt, before landing on her silver high-heeled sandals. Shoes like that belonged in Beverly Hills, not here in the sticks. “You’re no cowgirl either, sweetheart-“
“Stop calling me that.”
He grinned broadly. He’d bested her alright and damn, it had been fun. He lifted an eyebrow in challenge. “Make me.”
Her eyes snapped and the air between them charged. Trace’s nerve endings lit up in anticipation. She was either going to smack him or kiss him. He half-hoped it was the latter. Without meaning to, but unable to stop himself, he dropped his gaze to her mouth, mesmerized. Her lower lip was plump, perfect for nipping, and up close, it was the most beautiful shade of pink he’d ever seen. He shouldn’t, couldn’t, but damn, he wanted. He leaned in, unable to resist, barely registering her sharp intake of breath. Arousal curled through him, stirring low in his belly. A flash of pink tongue darting out to slick lips turned the fire in his veins up a notch while buzzing filled his ears to the point of dizziness. Jeezus he ached for the tiniest taste of this forbidden fruit.
Behind them a throat cleared. “Something I can help with?” Weston Tucker asked.
They both stepped back, startled. Shit. That had been a close call. What had he been thinking? Trace snuck a gaze her direction and bit back a smile as CiCi concentrated on the gravel while she quickly smoothed her skirt, cheeks bright pink.
“I hope so,” she answered Weston brusquely, all business. “This… person here,” she waved his direction. “Hit my car… there.” She gestured toward her wreck of a car. “And now he won’t turn over his insurance.”
“That’s not how it happened,” Trace argued. “She hit me.”
Weston stepped over to the vehicles, peered inside the shattered window, then walked around to the front of Trace’s truck. “Can I have both your driver’s licenses and insurance?” Trace had to hand it to Weston. The guy was unflappable, the perfect Chief of Police.
“Of course.” CiCi reached into her vehicle, skirt tightening against a perfectly heart-shaped ass as a silver shoe left the ground for balance. For a split second Trace had a view of shapely legs disappearing into dark recesses. His cock chubbed up and Trace turned away, looking skyward. Anywhere but at her. It wouldn’t help his case if he shamelessly ogled, and it would be ten times worse if Weston caught him like this. “But I don’t know why you need mine,” she answered, still straining to reach the glove box. “Like I said-“
“Standard procedure, CiCi. Nothing to be concerned about,” Weston assured her with his hand outstretched.
Trace returned to his truck and dug around in his glovebox until he found his insurance, then handed both his license and the paper to Weston. Without an upward glance, Weston examined both sets of identification. “Walker, your license is expired.”
“You heard me. You’ve been driving with a license that’s three months out of date.”
Behind him, CiCi snickered.
Weston pulled out a ticket pad and started writing. “I’m going to have to fine you. You’ll need to go to the DMV tomorrow and get a new license.”
He handed Trace the ticket. Trace glanced down, then scraped a hand across his mouth to keep from smiling. What he held was no ticket, but a note from Weston. Smooth move dumbass. Stop by the station tomorrow and I’ll have a new ID for you. Trace cleared his throat and jammed the ticket into his pocket. He’d been to enough Sunday dinners with Travis and Sterling to understand that Weston still had deep connections with off-grid organizations. If he thought about it too hard, it was a little freaky, but right now he was too relieved to be anything but grateful.
“But what about my car?” CiCi interjected.
“Want me to have it towed down to the body shop?” Weston offered. “I can make the call.”
“I’ll pay for it,” Trace offered quickly. “The repairs, too. No harm, no foul?” Although her car looked so old it probably wasn’t worth fixing. Hell, he could buy her a new Volvo and not miss the money.
CiCi’s eyes narrowed. “So now you want to help? What gives?” Her eyes darted between the two men and her mouth pulled down. “You’re all bluster until Weston shows up and writes you a ticket. What’s he have on you?”
Shit. He looked over to Weston for guidance. What was he supposed to say now? Weston barely shook his head. “Take it easy on Trace, CiCi. He’s new to town and still learning how we do things here. Let him help you.”
CiCi crossed her arms, eyes still flicking between them, toe of her right foot tapping like a machine gun. She clearly wasn’t having it. “Why?”
“Because he’s volunteering out at Resolution Ranch, that’s why,” Weston shot back. “You know the vetting our volunteers go through. He’s not trying to yank your chain.”
Tessa Layne. Ride Rough: A Roughstock Riders Novel (Kindle Locations 516-578). Shady Layne Media.
In spite of all the warning signs, CiCi finds she can’t resist Trace. He actually takes care of her. She’s never had that from anyone other than family. She’s still got her doubts but he does convince her to give him a real chance. The chemistry these two have will practically melt your kindle when they hit the sheets.
Trace knows he has to reveal his true identity but knowing she’s a journalist he just can’t bring himself to do it. He keeps everything he tells her the truth as far as he can. It will come out though and the way it does, well you have to read it for yourself.
This books was so much fun. With the rodeo and all the characters from the other Prairie, Flint Hills books it was like a homecoming. I can’t wait to read the next book in this new series.
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!