Author: Andrea Downing
Genre: Western Historical Romance
When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
As the round-up wound down, the Reps took their stock back to their outfits and soon the men were back at headquarters or at the camps. Alex knew ‘word’ had more or less got out and found the punchers were gentler now around her, had a sort of quiet respect for her, and she hated it. She tried to bully them a bit to show them she was still the same girl, jolly them into joshing with her as they had before. It was slow work.
“You all wanna practice your ropin’, Lady ‘Lex,” Garrison offered one afternoon. “I got that old horsehair rope here you might be able to handle some; you remember what we taught you?”
“I remember some,” Alex responded, trying to fall into her Colorado accent without much luck. “I have to tie the honda first so it’s not just a rope, it’s a lariat—isn’t that what you taught me?”
“Yep. You gotta make a noose.” He watched as she formed the eye, then coiled the rope so as not to get it kinked or twisted, played it out and finally threw it. She missed.
“Good thing we didn’t count on you to help with round-up,” he chided gently. “You go on and practice some. That rope’s a might short for me now so you can have it.” Garrison watched her for a while but when the bell was sounded for dinner he left her to carry on.
Alex realized her arm was bothering her but couldn’t get herself to give up trying. The light was failing and the birds were settling with their evening calls. Somewhere in the pasture a horse nickered. She sensed Jesse was there watching her but she never turned to him as he stood at the fence. Then she heard him climb over and come up behind her. He gently took the coiled rope from her in his left hand and slid his right hand over hers on the swing end, almost forcing her backwards into his arms.
She thought of paintings and statues she had seen, imagining his naked arms now, how the muscles would form them into long oblique curves, how he probably had soft downy fair hair on his forearms, how his muscle would slightly bulge as he bent his arm. His voice was soft in her ear, and she could feel his breath on her neck like a whispered secret.
“Gentle-like, right to left, right to left to widen the noose; keep your eye on the post—are you watchin’ where we’re goin’?”
He made the throw and pulled in the rope to tighten the noose. Alex stood there, his hand still entwined with hers before she took it away and faced him. For a second he rested his chin on the top of her head, then straightened again and went to get the noose off the post while coiling in the rope. She looked up at him in the fading light and saw nothing but kindness in his face, simplicity and gentleness that was most inviting. A smile spread across her face as he handed her the coiled rope and she watched as he sauntered away, turning once to look back at her before he opened the gate.
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A native New Yorker, Andrea Downing divides her year between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning western romances. She has twice been a finalist for the RONE Awards, winner of the Favorite Hero along with several Honorable Mentions in the Maple Leaf Awards, and winner of the Golden Quill for best novella for Dearest Darling.
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Twitter: @andidowning https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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