Redheads & Ranchers Book 1
Redheads & Ranchers is my new three-book series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels, each featuring a sexy redhead and a hot rancher they can’t resist.
First up is JENNY’S VOICE. It’s the story of Jenny Stone, a young woman in a world of trouble, and Cole Caldwell, a horse trainer with a heart of gold who wants nothing more than to protect her.
Upon returning to his ranch after picking up a new client’s horse, gifted horse trainer Cole Caldwell is shocked to find a terrified young woman hiding in his horse trailer. She’s been beaten, and beneath his old barn jacket, she’s barely dressed. She’s not even wearing shoes.
Mute since the violent day she was taken, Jenny Stone saw her chance to escape the thugs who’ve been holding her for the past two years, and she took it. Hiding in the horse trailer seemed like her only option.
Now, how can she explain to Cole that dangerous criminals will be out there looking for her? How long can she hide at his horse ranch? And can she ever recover her voice?
Here’s a teaser from JENNY’S VOICE.
By three o’clock that afternoon, Caldwell Ranch had been restored to normal. Jenny helped Cole untack the horses and put everything away in the barn. The canopies and coolers were returned to their proper places as well.
As they worked together, Cole was uncomfortably aware of the conversation he needed to have with Jenny. He wondered if he could put it off. It had already been a huge day for her. She’d faced her fear of being seen and he was proud of her, so proud. But this was one of those conversations best had sooner rather than later.
He cleared his throat. “You know, I feel kind of sorry for Apollo and Dahlia. Everybody else got a nice workout today. They must be feeling a little left out.”
Jenny chuckled, hooking a thumb at Jade.
“Well, Jade, too. But I’ve been working her hard, so she probably appreciated the day off.” He stepped toward Jenny.
“Maybe we could take Apollo and Dahlia for a trail ride. There’s a ridge toward the back of the property, overlooks the whole ranch and it has a nice view of the sunset. What do you say?”
An hour later, they neared the ridge he’d told her about. Perched atop Dahlia, Jenny had easily made the transition from riding in the ring to trail riding. It seemed the more she rode, the more comfortable she was. Again, he worried about the time when Dahlia would have to go back home with Meredith.
I’ll just buy Jenny another horse, he decided.
As the trail grew steeper, Cole moved ahead on Apollo, leading the way up the ridge. He glanced back at Jenny.
“How are you doing?”
She smiled and gave him a thumbs-up, her small whiteboard hanging at her side from a cross-body shoulder strap he’d fashioned for her.
He nodded with satisfaction. “You’re doing great, we’re almost there.”
At the top of the rise, the ground leveled off in a grassy area dominated by a huge old oak tree. Cole slid out of his saddle, gave Apollo’s nose an affectionate rub, and left the horse to graze as he headed to help Jenny down.
With both horses munching contentedly on grass, Cole and Jenny retreated to the shade of the giant tree. Cole patted the trunk.
“This was one of my favorite places growing up. When I needed a minute to myself, I could come up here and just be.” He eyed the upper branches with a wry grin. “Used to be a pretty good climber, too. I could sit way up there and look out all over the valley. I also got out of a lot of chores that way.” He winked, and Jenny smiled.
The late March afternoon wasn’t inordinately warm, but it was as dry as ever. From the small backpack he’d worn, Cole retrieved a pair of bottled waters, handing one to Jenny. She unscrewed the cap and sipped thirstily as she stood at the edge of the rise looking out over the ranch below.
Recapping her water, she tucked it under her arm and scribbled on her board. I had no idea how big the ranch is.
Cole nodded. “Yep. It’s quite a spread. Back in the day, my folks ran a much larger operation with a bunch of ranch hands helping out. Later, they pared it back a little, then when I took over, I made it just about horse training. It’s what makes me happiest, and I’m able to make a good living, so it works out.”
Jenny nodded, wandering around the perimeter of the clearing as she took in the 360-degree view. Occasionally, her gaze flitted in Cole’s direction and he wondered if he imagined a cautious glint in her green eyes.
Scrubbing a hand over his mouth, he decided to plunge ahead. “You know, Jenny, I wanted to talk to you about something.” He sighed heavily, and she froze in her circuit of the clearing, her eyes now locked on him.
“Last night after you went to bed, I remembered that I needed to order some medicine for Minnie’s hoof. I went online and pulled up my history to find where I looked at the medicine the other day, and that’s when I noticed some tabs I didn’t recognize.”
Jenny’s jaw tightened noticeably, and she crossed her arms protectively as she stared at a spot beyond him.
“You know you’re welcome to use the computer or anything else at the house,” he said quickly. “You can consider my home as your own. And I didn’t mean to pry into your business, I really didn’t.”
Sweeping his hat from his head, he took a step toward Jenny. “I read the article about Jennifer Stone from Boulder.”
Jenny cut her gaze away, but not before he saw the pain that flashed in her green eyes.
“Jenny,” his voice soft as he took another step toward her, “someone killed your parents?”
She drew a ragged breath and nodded brusquely without making eye contact.
“Damn it,” he swore softly. “Were you there when it happened?”
She clapped her right hand over her mouth as large tears rolled down her cheeks, and again, she nodded.
Cole took another step closer. “And then they took you?”
Jenny’s eyes squeezed shut as she sobbed silently. Cole dropped his hat and went to her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her to himself. She was stiff in his arms, but he pulled her close, murmuring softly against the top of her head.
Eventually, she relaxed, leaning into his embrace, sobbing into the front of his shirt. He held her like that for a long time before she quieted. Easing his hold, he peered down at her. “Jenny, I’m so sorry that happened to you. And I’m so sorry about the way I found out about it.”
He exhaled loudly, shaking his head. “But once I knew about it, I had to tell you. I don’t play those games, those ‘keeping things secret’ kinds of things. I believe in being honest, always. The thing is,” he took her hand in his, “now that I know, you don’t carry this burden by yourself. I carry it with you.”
Tentatively, she looked up at him. Cole saw the fear and suspicion in her eyes, willed her to see the sincerity in his own. “I care about you, Jenny. And I’ll be…”
He cut off, infuriated at the idea of someone harming Jenny. Deliberately softening his voice, he continued. “I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone hurt you, ever again.JENNY’S VOICE, Pandora Spocks
JENNY’S VOICE, Redheads & Ranchers Book 1, is due out in February. Keep watching here for the official cover reveal and the release date.