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#ARC Review of A Cowboy to Keep by Karen Rock w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @karenrock5

Can’t stop running from the past 

Dani Crawford has a secret…and if bounty hunter Jackson Cade finds out, he could ruin everything. The scarred yet handsome cowboy has tracked a dangerous criminal to the dude ranch Dani manages, and to get rid of Jack she’ll have to help him catch his man. But the closer they get to cornering their quarry the more Dani wants Jack to stay. Spending time with him is making her long for things she can never have thanks to a past mistake. And if the truth comes out she may be spending her future behind bars rather than safe in her cowboy’s arms…

A COWBOY TO KEEP is the prequel to my upcoming Harlequin Heartwarming ROCKY MOUNTAIN COWBOYS series.

  • Series: Harlequin Heartwarming
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming (February 7, 2017)

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EXCERPT:

Without warning, Jack laid his thumb on Dani’s lips, as if seeing whether she would pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. She wanted to drop her gaze from his but couldn’t. Before, Jack had just been a threat to her secret. Her security. The safe life she’d constructed in this hiding spot. Now all Dani could see were his big dark eyes, the palms of his strong hands, the way his torso shifted under his T-shirt.

Her mind swerved in unexpected directions. She wondered, briefly, what it would feel like if he were to kiss her. She made a small, involuntary sound at the thought.

His lids lowered and he leaned his head into hers. When their lips were almost touching, he cupped the side of her face, the caress achingly tender, and slid his fingers into her hair.

He angled her face upward and brushed his mouth against hers, softly at first, then he lifted her chin and deepened his kiss so that her body trembled. She kissed him back—tentatively and then with a fierce passion, her hand stealing up his neck, her eyes closing. She could feel his heart drum through his shirt, the rush of his breath mingling with hers, the strength of his body as he drew her closer still until she clung to him, her head spinning.

His lips traveled along her jaw and she dug her fingers into his shoulders, needing his strength because her muscles were suddenly limp. Never in her life had a kiss—or a man—affected her this way.

Jack’s hands dropped to her waist and tightened there. In the still air, their breathing was the only sound. Blood throbbed in her veins, pulsed at the base of her throat. She buried her face in his neck and inhaled the clean male scent of his skin. It reminded her of a forest after a storm, strong and pure and good.

Yet he’d denied Dakota’s claim that he was a good man. And the sadness she glimpsed in the corners of his eyes suggested there was more to Jack than an ex-rancher turned tough guy bounty hunter. One she might never get to know.

“You take care of yourself,” he said softly into her hair. Then he pulled back.

Her heart beat erratically as she watched him stride away. She touched her lips, remembering the firm pressure of his. When she’d looked into his sorrowful eyes, a door in her heart had blown open. And when they’d kissed, she’d seen that on the other side of that door was the sky.

The more time she spent with him, the harder it became to hold in her secrets. He made her want to be open and vulnerable. To earn his appreciation honestly, as the person she was, not who he imagined her to be: someone with a spotless past.

Was there a chance he would understand, accept her, care for her, just the way she was?

If he found her picture in his composite sketchbook database, or her warrant, the choice to reveal all would be taken from her.

And so might the man who’d captured her heart.

I have to tell on Ms. Rock.  For some reason when she contacted me to review her latest release, she was a bit timid (I’d say) in regards to whether I’d review it or not.  Really?  If anyone knows, I’m in love with Harlequin Heartwarming line.  Like I told her, it’s better than the Harlequin Romance line.  Heartwarming stories have more depth to them, the romance is slower to build and when you are finished, you have the satisfaction that you have just read an awesome contemporary romance.  It’s clean, emotional and deals with real life situations that anyone can relate to.

Dani and Jack are two flawed characters (at least in their eyes) that meet in the funniest way.  Guns are involved and it’s actually funny.  You get to see what Dani is made of from the get-go and Jack is just out of his league when it comes to Dani.  Just not in the way you think.  Dani is hiding from her past but has built a better life for herself.  Jack is still beating himself up for something that happened to him over two years ago and he has the physical scar to prove it.

What really got me about their story was the mystery/suspense element that I really, really enjoyed.  This is something that Ms. Rock doesn’t write enough of this sub-genre but after reading this, she definitely has a future.  I loved how the cast of characters involved were real players in the mystery and how the present collided with Jack’s past.  Beautifully written, even when it became painful for Jack and Dani.  The climax of the book is just great.  It made Jack realize that Dani is the woman for him but does it push her further away?

Their romance is slow to build but once they realize that it’s there, Ms. Rock writes it sweet but with some hot kisses.  It is Heartwarming, after all.  I can’t wait to see how their relationship continues for the remainder of the series.  Oh yes, this is a prequel to the series featuring the rest of Jack’s family and his ranch.

If you have never read a Heartwarming book, you are missing out.  If you haven’t read Ms. Rock…SHAME on you.  I’ve been reading her for years and she is one of my favorite authors to read.    *drops mic*

 

A print book to a US or CA winner you choose or an eBook to an INT winner.

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3 thoughts on “#ARC Review of A Cowboy to Keep by Karen Rock w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @karenrock5”

  1. And yes, I told on you. Heartwarming is becoming my favorite line of books from Harlequin.

    And the mystery was just awesome. I love a good suspense/thriller/mystery and you delivered. I just couldn’t figure out the missing piece and I was shocked in the end. 🙂

    Marika

  2. You told on me, Marika! (Covers face, laughing) I’m so glad that you liked it so much 🙂 The mystery was a fun element to weave in, and a challenge, too, because I wanted to make sure that I kept the book as deeply romantic and emotional as Heartwarming books are known to be. Thank you for hosting me, today and for such a beautiful, moving review. <3 <3 <3

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