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Contemporary Western Romance

Contemporary Western Romance

Montana Reins…reaches out and pulls the reader into the lives of Ethan Sterling and Montana “Tana” Reins from page one.

This character-driven story holds the reader captive from start to finish. The well-developed secondary characters give depth to the story making it come alive so the reader feels like they are neighbors and friends. A JOY TO READ! 4 books out of 5″ Camellia, Long and Short Reviews.

****

“If you’re looking for a heart-warming contemporary western romance to curl up with, Montana Reins is it. The story is threaded with plenty of conflict and believability between the main characters, Tana and Ethan. This makes the reader root for these two strong-willed people…” Stacey Coverstone, author of Lucky In Love

****

Blurb:

Montana Reins has always been a loner. Her mother died when she was born, and she’s spent her life moving from ranch to ranch with her father, learning his trade – horse trainer. She’s never had the opportunity to make any permanent friends…which makes it hard to let people into her life. Especially someone like Ethan Sterling.

Ethan Sterling hired Montana Reins because of the reputation that went with the name – the best horse trainer alive. When Montana shows up, he’s more than a little disgruntled to learn he actually hired the daughter and not the father. Their first introduction is even less than auspicious–Montana saves him from a trampling under the hooves of his prized stallion.

But Montana’s never quit a job once she’s accepted it and she’s not about to start now. She’ll make the best of things, curb her own fiery temper and deal with Sterling’s, and do her best by the job. That would be much easier if she didn’t find herself fighting unfamiliar feelings for the man…feelings she’s never felt for any man. And Ethan’s obvious interest in furthering those feelings isn’t making things any easier.

Excerpt:

Tana took one last look in the mirror before going downstairs. Her reflection was clean and crisp. She wore her favorite pair of faded blue jeans–broken in and worn, hugging her slim muscled legs right down to her ankles. Her form-fitting tee had been traded in on a white button-down, open at the throat to reveal healthy tanned skin and the subtle swell of her breasts. Her long locks were loose–their luxurious shine evident in the way they cascaded over her shoulders. She was being more daring than ever before in her life and she wasn’t quite certain why.

Ethan was alone on the balcony when Tana arrived. He turned, a grin on his handsome face, his eyes moving appraisingly over her. “Ms. Reins,” he said, his tone quiet. “I didn’t think you’d make it for dinner.”

Tana looked around, secretly wondering where the brunette bombing squad was. Meeting his eyes, she said, “I have a habit of keeping my word. Where’s Leigh?”

“She left unexpectedly,” he replied, irritation in his deep voice. Instead of explaining her quick departure, he said, “I’m a little curious as to why you asked. She said she thought you might not like her.”

Tana shrugged. “I don’t know her. I haven’t formed an opinion one way or the other. Perhaps she’s just insecure.”

“Leigh? Insecure? Never a day in her life.” He laughed, his deep voice falling softly on her ears. He held a chair for her. When she didn’t move to sit down, he frowned. “Don’t tell me you’re not going to have dinner with me because Leigh isn’t here?”

Looking everywhere but in his eyes, she asked, “You still want to have dinner with me?”

He shrugged. “We have to eat, don’t we?”

She wondered why he would want to have dinner with her. They hadn’t exactly hit it off in the six days since she’d begun working for him. They disagreed on everything from where she slept to whether or not she should have been riding Zeus the day she saddled him. About the only things they agreed on were the view from the balcony, drinking cold milk with a slice of chocolate cake, and that she was good at what she did to earn a living. Reluctantly, she gave in, sitting down in the chair he still held for her. Perhaps it would not be so bad.

“Do you often eat out here?” she asked, hoping they’d find enough to talk about to keep the silence away.

“Usually. When I eat alone.”

She hadn’t thought about him being without family, and she wondered how often he ate alone.

He must have read her thoughts because he answered her unspoken question. “Two or three times a week.”

The door opened and a woman in an apron stepped out. She carried with her a black tray. While she set down two plates loaded with crisp salad greens, Tana stole a quiet moment of observation.

Assuming this woman was Ethan’s cook, Honey, she noted the pure white hair pulled sharply into a braided bun at the back of her head. The light brown color of her skin reminded Tana of warm caramel. Her blue uniform was perfectly starched and spotless–only her apron dotted with ingredients that had missed the pot or the bowl.

“I made the dressing myself,” Tana heard her say. “Hope you like it, Miss.”

Tana’s hand shot out. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Honey. Sam’s had many good things to say about you.”

Briefly taking Tana’s hand in her own, Honey’s nearly black eyes sparkled as she smiled appreciatively. “That man loves to eat.” Her eyes darted quickly over Tana. “You must be the new horse trainer Ellie’s told me about. Enjoy your dinner.”

Without the opportunity to reply, Tana watched the cook disappear through the door she’d come out of. She wasn’t certain Honey approved of her eating with her boss.

“You won her over with that comment about Sam,” Ethan was saying, his voice scattering her thoughts.

Tana turned her eyes on him, but didn’t comment right away. He’d picked up his fork, his long fingers holding it suspended over his salad. She couldn’t keep her thoughts under control. Seeing his hands, she wondered what they would feel like against her skin. He wasn’t far enough away, the small round table all that was between them. The breeze moving through the canyon came to her carrying the masculine scent of him.

Her thoughts turned to the brunette and a frown touched her lips. Why had that deplorable woman left her to deal with Ethan Sterling? Had she and Ethan quarreled? If so, was Tana to blame for that quarrel?

“Montana?”

He’d called her by her first name.

“Ms. Reins?”

She frowned. There was that tone of formality. She found her voice. “I’m sorry,” she said distractedly. “Honey seems like a very nice person.”

“She is.”

He politely overlooked her nervousness and speared a cherry tomato with his fork. Her gaze followed the small red ball to his mouth before looking away. Picking up her own fork, she decided it was best to have her mouth full than attempt to carry on a conversation with this man.

“I would like to apologize for Leigh’s remarks earlier. She doesn’t always think before she speaks.”

“That’s apparent,” Tana replied.

Laughter evident in his eyes, Ethan said, “Perhaps she was correct in assuming you don’t like her. She’s really not so bad.”

Biting down on her fork kept Tana from speaking her mind. Not only was her host her boss, but he also had a history with the brunette. She didn’t think it would be wise to tell him exactly what she thought of his future wife, if what Leigh had said earlier in Tana’s room was any indication of his feelings for the woman.

“I like the way you’re working with the horses. You have a natural ability.”

Forgetting her nerves, she graced him with a grin. “Zeus is my favorite. I can easily see why he’s yours as well.”

Ethan nodded. “You and he have something in common. You’re both stubborn.”

Honey brought out their main course, effectively interrupting her rebuttal. The main dish was orange roughy, buttery white rice, and steamed vegetables in a creamy white sauce. The first bite was a taste sensation of tender white fish. Tana couldn’t keep back her approval, her hum filtering through the air. “This is wonderful.”

They managed a light banter between them through dinner and dessert–the formality of last names lost. She was Montana and he was Ethan. Afterward, feeling completely at ease with her companion, she took her glass of wine and leaned against the banister of the balcony. Ethan joined her, his shoulder brushing hers as he stood beside her.

Tana breathed deeply, the fresh scent of pine and wild flowers in the air. “This is a magnificent place to be, Ethan. God’s grace is evident everywhere you look. I wish my father could see this.”

“The canyon?”

She nodded. “The canyon. Your ranch. The horses. Everything.”

“Invite him for a visit.”

Turning, she met his eyes. He extended the invitation so easily that it had to be earnest, but bringing her father to the ranch was something she knew would never happen. “Maybe I will,” she said, opting for the easy way out.

In the distance, an owl hooted, drawing her gaze out at the sea of darkness filling the canyon. “He sounds lonely.”

No response from Ethan.

Turning to see if he agreed, she found him watching her.

The pull was greater than any force she’d ever known. His eyes were dark pools searching hers, drawing her even further under his spell. He moved closer still, taking the glass out of her hand and setting it on the banister. When he bent to kiss her, she simply wasn’t prepared for how that kiss would affect her. His mouth was a tentative pressure over hers, creating an emotional stir deep within her. She clung to the banister, certain her legs could not support her any longer. His arms were around her, his hands holding her to him. When his tongue invaded the moist recesses of her mouth, she couldn’t help but rest against him, feeling the hardness of his body. Instinctively, her arms circled his neck, her fingers laced through thick sections of his hair. She was inundated with desire.

It ended and they separated. She saw her boss–the man who’d been reluctant to hire her–and her mind cleared. Picking up the discarded wineglass and moving away from the banister, she crossed to the table and set down the glass. She was gathering her thoughts, trying to make sense of the jangled mess of emotions running rampant throughout her body.

Finding her voice, she told him, “Mr. Sterling, I assure you that will not happen again. It was not appropriate behavior between an employer and a ranch hand. It never should have happened.”

Ethan crossed to her, his hands moving along her arms, his touch searing into her skin. “Montana–“

Whatever his response would have been, it was lost when the door opened and the brunette stepped out, oblivious to what had taken place prior to her arrival.

“Ethan, I just couldn’t leave things as unsettled–” Leigh stopped, her eyes assessing the situation.

Ethan and Montana were too close. It had to be apparent.

LASR_reviewed_by

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