Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Captive Cowboy by @Lindsey_Brookes - Review Tour and Giveaway

Captive Cowboy
by Lindsey Brookes
Series: Captured Hearts, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: EDH Graphics
Release Date: May 27, 2015

Sometimes a wrong turn can lead you to the right man...

All work and no play just like his father had done leaves Brandon Barnes, the 'Ogre of Lone Tree', on the outside looking in when it comes to those around him. A man whose trust has been broken, leaving his heart guarded.

Megan McKinney, determined to put her painful past behind her, ends up stranded in Lone Tree, Montana. Love is the last things she’s looking for, but she soon finds herself falling for the gruff, unsmiling cowboy who rescued her. Now it’s her turn to rescue Brandon – from himself. So she sets out to teach him that life is meant to be enjoyed, not just lived. And that sometimes true happiness is only a smile away.

Lightning cracked outside, sending a flash of light across Brandon Barnes’ desk. A rumble of thunder followed, rattling the windowpanes that lined the outer wall of his private study.

Frowning, he struggled to focus on the account book he’d had his nose buried in for the past two hours. He didn’t have time for distractions.

Anxious barking erupted outside followed by a high-pitched wail. Digger. Damn rambunctious pup. The wailing grew louder, drawing Brandon’s gaze around to the study window. Had Digger, the black Lab pup he’d taken in a few months before after it had shown up at the ranch half-emaciated and scared, cornered himself another rabbit? The mutt certainly had a gift for tracking things.

A shriek filled the night. A woman’s. Pushing away from his desk, he shot to his feet. Grabbing his rifle from the rack above the stone fireplace, he raced for the front door.

The same gawd-awful noise he’d heard from the study, filtered into the house, growing louder as he closed the distance between his office and the front door. The ear-splitting sound had the pup howling even louder in response.

Brandon whipped open the door and stepped out onto the porch where he did a quick scan of the yard, his rifle at the ready. The front security light had come on, casting additional light onto the grassy area just beyond the porch. A second light, one much smaller, drew his gaze to the far edge of the security light’s glow where it ended near the dirt drive. The weaker beam stretched out across the yard in his direction.

“What the...” Cocking the rifle, Brandon raised it and started across the yard.

Practically bouncing in his excitement, Digger raced towards him. Then, with an anxious bark, spun about and took off once more in the direction of the light.

“Digger!” Brandon called after him. “Back!”

The eardrum-rattling noise continued, growing louder with every step he took. No wonder the lanky pup was in such a crazed state.

A bolt of lightning zigzagged across the inky black night sky, this one much closer as the storm closed in on Lone Tree. The momentary illumination overhead drew his gaze to what appeared to be a slender form lying sprawled across the ground near the drive. One with...curves?

He blinked, wondering if his sleepless nights had finally caught up with him, making him conjure up things that weren’t there. Like a female. But darkness had once again swallowed up everything beyond the security light’s glow, leaving his questioning thoughts unanswered.

Brandon gritted his teeth as the assault on his ears continued. The female form he’d seen in the grass might very well be a figment of his imagination, but that damned incessant wailing wasn’t.

Muttering a curse, he continued across the yard, moving in long, determined strides. Another jagged bolt of lightning lit up the night sky along with the unmoving form lying halfway in the yard and halfway in the dirt drive. Unmoving female form. There was no mistaking what he saw now. He was too close. She was too real.

Resetting the safety on his gun, he set it aside as he hurried to kneel beside the woman to check for a pulse. Her skin felt cool under his touch, but the drop in temperature along with the gusts of wind blowing in with the approaching storm might have had something to do with that. Damn, but he hoped so.

The few moments it took to find that firm, steady ticking of her pulse beneath his finger felt like an eternity. Breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding eased past his lips. His gaze shifted to the flashlight lying in the grass next to the unconscious woman. Its beam was fading. The sound coming from it now more of a low groan than the high-pitched wail that had first drawn him out of the house.

Reaching out, he grabbed for the multi-function flashlight and shut off the siren. Then he aimed the dimming light at the woman in front of him, checking for any sign of obvious injuries.

Long, slender, jean-clad legs lay crossed like a pair of open scissors, one sandal on, the other nowhere in sight. Chances were good that at some point during all the ruckus Digger had gotten a hold of it. If that were the case, the sandal was as good as buried.

The woman’s legs, while sprawled awkwardly, didn’t appear to be broken. He shifted the light, running it slowly upward. A smooth expanse of flesh peeked out from beneath the knotted bottom of the fitted plaid shirt she wore, the thin cotton material having ridden up when she’d fallen.

A tiny, dangling gem winked back at him from the dip of her naval as he ran the light up over it. Something unexpected stirred inside of him.

Desire? Poorly timed desire at that.

Cursing his loss of focus, something he rarely allowed to happen, Brandon dragged the light up further. Slender arms, bared from the elbow down, thanks to the sleeves she’d rolled up, lay limp at her sides. No sign of any breaks there either.

Easing the flashlight up to her face, his breath caught. She was young. Maybe in her early twenties. Her face porcelain perfection. No, he noted with a deepening frown, not porcelain. Pale.

Reaching down, he pushed several long, blonde curls from her face. “Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

Digger danced around on the other side of her, whimpering anxiously.

The young woman’s eyelids fluttered open, revealing a flash of blue before promptly squeezing shut again. “Too bright,” she groaned.

“Sorry,” he said, quickly adjusting the direction of the beam away from her face while keeping it close enough to still be able to see her clearly. “Are you injured?” Hell, what kind of dumb ass question was that? He’d found her lying unconscious in his yard. Of course, she was injured.

Just what he needed. Another lawsuit. He was already tangled up in one with Alan Martinson, a man he’d once trusted implicitly. That was before his financial advisor/right-hand man had been caught in some underhanded dealings that had called for his immediate dismissal.

“Is my car totaled?”

The softly spoken words pulled Brandon back to the present. Her car? He glanced off into the darkness to where the long, dirt drive ran down to the main road. Raising the flashlight, he aimed it in that direction, finding no sign of any vehicle, totaled or not. But then the faint light only reached so far.

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly, his concern deepening. Had she wrecked somewhere along the main road and then made her way to his ranch to get help? Another more troubling thought struck him. “Was anyone else with you?” he asked as he looked down at her, the outer glow of the light’s beam washing over her pale face.

“No.” Struggling to open her eyes again, she blinked several times and then lifted her head slightly to look around. “This isn’t Spokane, is it?”

He shook his head. “You’re in Lone Tree,” he told her with a frown, more than a little concerned that she didn’t seem to know where she was. Hell, her guess of where she was wasn’t even in the same state.

“Lone Tree,” she repeated as if trying to process the information she’d just received. Then she nodded. “I remember now. I’m in Montana,” she said, her response easing some of his concern. At least it had until she looked up at him, adding, “You aren’t some sort of crazed maniac are you?”

His worried frown deepened. “Did you hit your head when you wrecked your car?”

“I didn’t wreck,” she replied as the wind whipped her curls about her face. “I exited the interstate in search of a restaurant called The Greasy Griddle and then my car died.”

The Greasy Griddle? Just the thought of the food served in that dump had his gut clenching. “Be glad you didn’t find it.”

Her lips pulled up into a soft smile. “Only because I got lost. Oh, and I suppose my car’s dying had a little to do with not reaching my destination.”

“How did you get here?”

“My car broke down at the edge of your property. I saw your porch light and cut across the pasture looking for help.” She glanced toward his dog. “He found me instead.”

“Did he bite you?” he asked worriedly, his brows furrowing as he recalled the scream he’d heard before heading outside to investigate. Digger had never shown any tendencies to be aggressive, but then he hadn’t had the pup for all that long.

She shook her head, wincing with the slight motion. “No. Just startled me, coming at me out of the dark the way he had.”

“He knocked you down?”

“I don’t think so,” she said as she struggled to sit up. “Truth is I haven’t had much to eat today. I think it was a combination of hunger and being startled that got me.”

Digger chose that moment to move in and plant a wet kiss on her cheek, nearly knocking her back down.

“Digger!” Brandon scolded as he reached out to steady the young woman.

She offered a weak smile. “It’s okay. I’d rather be kissed than devoured.”

He could change her mind about that.

The rambunctious pup dove in again, saving Brandon from giving voice to that completely inappropriate thought. What was wrong with him? Thinking things like that. Hell, that was something his younger brother, Dalton, would have done before Caitlin Myers came into his life. But never him. Brandon Barnes. Cold. Hard. Ogre of Lone Tree.

This was a great read that had a wonderful cast of characters that left me with a smile. Although there is a lot going on in this book it was easy to get caught up in Brandon and Megan’s story so it read very fast.

Brandon is the epitome of “all work and no play”. He’s always been the responsible one and has put business first. And when he finds his fiancé cheating on him, well business not only comes first, but it is the only thing he wants to focus on. He’s definitely an alpha cowboy type, but he holds his emotions close to his vest and very rarely lets himself have any fun, which has earned him that nickname – the Ogre of Lone Tree.

Megan has been hurt – and she carries the scars both physically and emotionally from the car accident she was in and then the emotional fallout she suffered when her boyfriend walked away making some very nasty accusations. I just loved her strength and resolve to start her life over again, and also her resolve when it came to Brandon.

When fate lands Brandon and Megan together, they are exactly what the other needs. Megan sees the man under the “Ogre” façade, and Brandon accepts Megan exactly as she is, scars and all. Watching these two dance around their attraction was fun – especially seeing Brandon struggle to keep his focus on business because he’s too busy thinking about Megan! They certainly have some issues to work through, but when they finally give in to the attraction between them, you can feel the chemistry on the page.

I loved all the secondary characters in the book – especially Digger, the dog who showed up one day at Brandon’s ranch and decided to stay. It was also great to have Brandon’s brother Dalton and his fiancé Caitlin part of the story. They both have become an important part of Brandon’s life and for me it was because Brandon has seen what true love looks like through Dalton and Caitlin that he becomes open to the idea that maybe he could have that to. Megan’s brother Riley was also a great addition to the story, and I hope that he gets his own happy ever after!

The writing and the dialogue were well done, and the banter at times had me laughing out loud, especially the scene in the diner when Megan and Caitlin run in to Brandon’s ex-fiancé.
Turning, Megan locked eyes with an immaculately dressed blonde who appeared to be dining alone. The woman, not much older than she and Caitlin, looked her up and down with obvious disdain. “Clearly,” she told her, trying hard to contain her irritation at hearing the hurtful nickname Brandon had been giving, “you’ve been misinformed. Mr. Barnes is not an ogre. Brandon’s actually a very kind and caring man.”

The woman snorted. “Then he has you fooled. The man is nothing short of cold and callous.”

“Maybe where you’re concerned,” Caitlin joined in. “But what man would be warm towards a woman who spreads easier than mayonnaise?”

The blonde gasped and then shot to her feet in a huff of indignation. “Well, I never!”

“That’s not what I’ve been told,” Caitlin muttered as she took Megan by the arm and led her to one of the booths at the other end of the diner.
All in all, this book had lots to love in it and wasn’t filled with lots of angst and heartache. There were some issues that needed to be worked through, but I loved that fact that the characters would address them head on to minimize the drama and keep the story moving. This is the second book in the series and can be read as a standalone (but Kidnapped Cowboy is also a great read, so check that one out too!). This would be a great addition to anyone’s TBR list!

Also in the Series:
Book 1: Kidnapped Cowboy

Romance author Lindsey Brookes has finalled in/or won more than 75 RWA chapter sponsored contests with over a dozen different manuscripts. She is also a four time RWA Golden Heart finalist as well as a past American Title III finalist and winner of Harlequin's Great American Romance Novel contest. She writes for Kensington Publishing, Amazon Publishing, as well as Indie pubbed several of her young adult and adult contemporary romances.   Ms. Brookes was a finalist in the Booksellers Best Awards with her contemporary romance – Kidnapped Cowboy.  She is represented by Michelle Grajkowski with 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Check out her websites:

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