Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Second Chances arrives Friday! That's right, my next cowboy book is almost here!

Second Chances releases Friday!  Yes!  I can't wait! Dusty is one of my very favorite heroes!

Here's a bit about the story:

Former Navy SEAL turned stable owner, Dusty carries scars from war, manipulative women, and a hurtful tear in his family bonds. Content to be alone with his animals, he’s happy with life on his own terms.

April needs a special stable to board her adopted horses. With a filly that has been abused and a history of her own suffering at the hands of men, April’s hesitant but willing to give Dusty a try. If only he can work magic with her horses, she’ll be overjoyed.

He’s not thrilled with her but can’t bring himself to send her packing. Not when his body responds so easily and his heart craves the salvation she offers. To make matters worse, a raging wildfire threatens to wipe out everything he owns and separate him from the one woman who makes him believe again.

Will fate tear them apart or can he find a way to step up, like the hero she believes he is, in order to save the day?

An Excerpt:

“I’m looking for a stable to board my horse and I hear you’re the best.”

Dusty stood, uncomfortable with her standing over him. Primitive instincts made the position unacceptable. He topped her by nearly a full head and probably doubled her in weight, yet she didn’t appear nervous or back up an inch.

He ignored the compliment. He enjoyed his job, loved the animals, and pampered them like prized pets. Horses were in his blood. The ‘best’ treaded the line of subjectivity, but he didn’t really care what others thought. He did what he’d always dreamed of doing and left it at that. “What do you want to know?”

She glanced around the airy room, where several stalls sat empty. After feeding the horses their morning meal, he’d put them out to pasture for the day. Horses needed room to stretch their legs, grass to graze on, and simply to do what nature intended—be a horse.

“Let’s start with what you charge.”

He placed the halter down on his makeshift chair. “Two hundred per month per head. That includes everything—feed, grooming, and farrier service. The only extra expense you might incur is a vet bill. I cover the basic vaccinations, but anything over is yours.”

“I see.” She glanced around the room before her gaze landed on him once more. Interest and intrigue sparked in her baby blue eyes. He found the sight somewhat captivating. “Do you offer training?”

“Yeah, but that’s extra, depending upon what you’re interested in. Anything from basic saddle breaking to specialized advanced training. I can do just about anything with a western saddle, but draw the line at dressage and jumping. Since I have no experience in such, I don’t feel comfortable trying to teach a horse how to do all those fancy maneuvers.”

“I’m just looking for trail riding, at the most. Nothing fancy.”

“That’s doable, then.” He appreciated her professional questions, much preferring to clarify particulars now, rather than after the fact. His contracts spelled out everything, but he noticed few boarders ever bothered to read the detailed pages. Not his problem. He put forth the information, so legally he was covered.

She gestured to the stalls. “How much stall time versus pasture?”

“I bring them in at night, unless you want them to be on full time pasture. They’re grained twice a day. Pregnant mares occasionally three times, depending upon their needs.”

“Oh, I won’t be getting one of those. I’m going to adopt from the humane society farm. In fact, I’m going there next to choose one.”

Her revelation shocked him. Not that she appeared wealthy and uppity, but he rarely ran into anyone who wanted less than a gently raised horse with perfect manners. Though none of his business, curiosity prodded him to pursue her reasoning further. “Why would you want one from there? Hell, there’s plenty of well-bred animals around here with rich bloodlines and sound training. With the humane society, it’s a crap shoot.”

The woman straightened her spine and pinned Dusty with her gaze. “Some of them have seen the worst the human race has to offer, yet they persevered and triumphed over the odds, able to find trust, in the wake of inconceivable torture. To me, those horses are diamonds in the rough and wear badges of courage. I’ll take a battle tested and scarred horse over a paddock raised one any day.”

He studied her face for a long moment then nodded slightly. Give her credit for standing up for the underdog and for a kind heart. He’d seen too many instances of abuse and neglect in his lifetime, each situation disgusted him to no end. Sometimes he could step up and help, with others his hands were tied. Yet, he commended the little lady for her beliefs and for opening her door to a rescued horse.

The words replayed in his mind, hitting home with power. Battle tested and scarred. Not just in relation to her pick of animal, either. Unwilling to dwell further, he drew his attention back to the business proposition. He headed through his office door, grabbed a couple pages of paper and quickly returned to her. “Here’s the contract. Pick out your horse, lady, then have them drop it off here.”

“My name is April, not lady.” She met his gaze steadily while taking the paperwork.

He inclined his head slightly.

“Thank you.” She smiled victoriously. “I know this will be the most wonderful home a horse could hope for.” With those final words, she walked out of the stable and back to her car.

The action, combined with the sassy sway of her hips, sent a sharp jolt straight to his groin. Don’t get your water hot, SEAL. You’ve learned your lesson about women the hard way. With one more look, he turned away and went back to work.

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