Hardened in childhood by the death of her parents, then left to run the family’s southwestern territory ranch when her brother rode off to fight for the Union years before, Callie Cutteridge hides her heartbreak behind a mask of self-sufficiency. Breaking horses for the army proves she’s neither delicate nor helpless. When a former cavalry officer shows up claiming to own her brother’s half of the Arizona ranch, she steels herself to resist the handsome stranger’s intention to govern even one single aspect of her life. After all, loving means losing…to her it always has.
For months, Jackson Neale has looked forward to putting the bloodstained battlefields back east behind him. Callie isn’t the agreeable angel her brother led him to believe, but he’s damned well not the useless rake this foul-mouthed hellion thinks he is, either. His quest for calm stability contradicts sharply with her need for control, yet still their heartstrings tangle. But how can these mistrusting partners transform their fiery passion into happily-ever-after?
Warning: Contains a high-strung, tart-tongued heroine who drives the hero past the point of rational thought. If she were a man, he’d be happy to connect a well-aimed fist at her jaw. As it is, he’d be happy to give her foul mouth a good scrubbing with a bar of soap.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
I do believe I enjoyed this more than No Greater Glory. This one had much more banter and tension in it as well which perhaps made it better to me. I could just sit there and see Jackson smoking his cheroot with that cheeky grin saluting with his whiskey glass. I loved how he and Callie always got under each other’s skins and how hello bent she was on not wanting him to stay on at her family ranch. Everyone at the ranch warmed up to Jackson which burned Callie’s hide. Instead of relaxing, drinking good whiskey, and bedding senoritas, jackson’s attention soon sways towards Callie which she doesn’t know how to act even though silently the man makes her heart beat a mile a minute. It was fun following their story an I do hope Cindy writes more when given the chance.
“This a busy place, Neale. The last thing I need underfoot is some worn-out soldier who knows nothin’ about horses.” His mouth sunk into a smirk, bringing the haughty glint back to his eyes. “You’ve no idea my abilities, princess.”
“Don’t you realize what that sonofabitch did to me?” “He kissed you. So what? That’s still no reason to leave before the barbecue.” “Gus,” she screeched. “I don’t want to be kissed.” “Oh for God’s sake, kissin’ won’t hurt you none.” “You’re missing the point.” “What point?” He stepped closer. “That you were kissed or that Neale did the kissin’?” She glared at him, her eyes narrowing. “People are going to talk.” “About what?” He pulled the blanket from her gloved hands. “A harmless little kiss?” “It’s not harmless.” She paced before the man, her hands flinging wide. “You saw him, sauntering up there as bold as you please in that obnoxious way of his. Making the asinine assumption I’d be delighted by his…his…” “Kiss?” Gus said.
He leaned over, his lips a hair’s breadth from the curve of her ear. “I will be part of this ranch, Callie-girl,” he whispered, and the brush of his words sent an immediate wash of tingles down her back. “You don’t have to like it, but in time you’ll concede. And come tomorrow morning, it’ll be you and me riding the length of this property. Don’t make me come looking for you.”
“Let’s see…what did you say? Ah yes…you made this sweet and delectable, just for me. Then you were disappointed I wouldn’t sample what you offered.” He loomed nearer. “Never utter something suggestive if you’re not prepared to follow through with it.”
“Don’t enter my camp again with your hair unbound unless I’ve invited you into my bed.” “You are the last man on earth I’d crawl into bed with,” she hissed as he turned away.
“No, now I know four secrets.” “Four?” A perfectly sculpted brow arched and her laugh twisted Jackson’s quixotic emotions into a knot. The pressure inside his pants grew. He envisioned her naked beneath him, her long, coltish legs wrapped tight in a lover’s squeeze around his waist. A sliver of sweat slid down his neck. God help me, I want her. He shot a glance to the cup and saucer on the piano. “You make and serve tea. That’s one.” His hand slid along the Steinway, thankful for the coolness beneath his fingers. “Two…you play this instrument with remarkable skill.” He motioned toward her green damask evening gown. “Three. You do know how to wear a dress.” He then rested his elbows on the arms of the chair, and steepled his fingers in an outward show of control. Inside, however, his blood still churned. “And four…” Jackson paused to slide his gaze in a deliberate, self-indulgent sweep over the curve of her breasts before reconnecting with her now-widened eyes. “You’re an incredibly beautiful woman.”