My editors at Carina Press, as well as my readers, are very patiently waiting for me to finish the third book in the Grady Legacy series– but due to some personal issues, I am still writing it. Thank you so much for your patience…
Jake Grady loves Bull’s Hollow ranch and all the challenges and hard work it entails. But the past year hasn’t been easy—his father’s good name has been tarnished, and new financial problems are threatening to destroy everything the Gradys have built. Performing live under a stage name has become his escape, a way of blowing off some serious steam.
Accountant Paige Reynolds found Jake’s guitar-playing alter ego intriguing, but her connection with the real Jake sends her attraction into overdrive. When she’s summoned to make order out of the chaotic paper trail at Bull’s Hollow, he sets her world a-rocking—both in bed and out. But Paige has a plan; she’s determined to create her own path for the future, but is soon left scrambling for firmer ground.
Good news about Jake’s potential singing career is followed by the revelation of another family secret, one that has him questioning whether he belongs at Bull’s Hollow at all. But leaving the ranch would mean leaving his family…and Paige. How much is he willing to give up for a real shot at fame?
Copyright © 2014 Leah Braemel
“We’ve got a special treat for y’all tonight,” the guitarist continued. “My good friend and buddy JT Larson has agreed to sing with us. But it seems that JT is a little shy and needs some encouragement.”
Larson? It couldn’t be the guy from Bull’s Hollow, could it? No, Reba had said his name was Gabe Larson, not JT. A spotlight trained on the guy at the bar Paige had been ogling earlier. He waved off Cam’s attention, though he didn’t look bothered. “Your fans ain’t here to hear me sing.”
“If you don’t get your butt up here right now, JT, I’ll tell everyone how you and I met. And how I saved your sorry ass.”
JT folded his arms across his muscular chest. “You’re never gonna let me live that down, are ya?”
His deep voice and relaxed cadence curled around Paige like a warm cloak. What was it about this guy that set something aflutter deep inside her?READ MORE
“Nope.” Cam gestured to the crowd. “Come on, y’all, let’s convince JT here that he can’t weasel out of singing for us. I promise, you’re in for a treat when he gets his lazy ass up here.”
He lifted an arm and began a chant of “JT—JT—JT” that was picked up in one corner and swirled around the room until the glasses hanging over the bar rattled.
Though she couldn’t hear what he said, Paige could read his lips well enough to know he swore at his friend. The singer grinned in response and waved his arms, revving up the chants even louder.
Caught up in the room’s energy, Paige clapped as she chanted “JT” along with them.
The room exploded when JT finally hopped off his stool and sauntered to the stage. He picked up the guitar by the empty stool. Before he sat down he leaned in to the microphone. Paige caught her breath at his sexy bad-boy smile. “Well, now, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Cam barked a laugh and winked to the crowd. “Don’t let him fool you, ladies.”
JT strummed a few chords on the guitar, then frowned and adjusted one of the tuning keys. After a few more tweaks, he nodded to himself and looked up again, his gaze roving over the crowd as if searching for someone.
Paige’s breath stuttered in her throat when their gazes met. One dark brow lifted, and his lips tilted up as his gaze raked over her. Her body reacted with a familiar tingle at his slow perusal. At least from that far away, there was no way in hell he could know how her heart raced. She smoothed her hands over her hips, wishing she could ease some of the ache settling there as he launched into Zac Brown’s “Keep Me In Mind.”
JT sure could sing. His rugged good looks—all broody, with that hard-working cowboy image—didn’t hurt either. All that was missing was a dusty cowboy hat.
When the song finished, hoots and hollers erupted around her, a pair of girls in the booth behind her whistling so loud Paige wanted to cover her ears. Once the applause died down, Cam whispered something to JT and grinned.
It may have been Paige’s imagination but she could have sworn JT’s shoulders relaxed. He took a deep breath and strummed a few notes as he settled in to another song, this one quieter. A few bars in, Cam blended his voice in harmony, not overpowering JTs.
This is what she’d wanted. Time to kick back, to unwind. Not worry about what tomorrow would bring. Just to exist, here and now. To have fun.
Forty-five minutes later, JT cleared his throat and downed the last half of the water in the bottle set by his stool. “Last one for me in this set.”
Ignoring the sounds of disappointment around him, he strummed the guitar and locked his gaze with hers once more. He launched into Blake Shelton’s “Who are You When I’m Not Looking.” As he sang, the lights on the rest of the band faded, until he alone was illuminated. Unsure if it was his singing or the lyrics that moved her, the hairs on the back of Paige’s neck raised, spread down her spine and along her arms. The clank and clatter of the other patrons faded away until it was just him, her and the music. As if he sang to her. For her.
His voice grew husky as he sang about wanting to get to know her better, about how she kept herself hidden. Fear that he might actually be able to see inside her welled along with the music.
What was he doing playing at a small bar like Slick’s instead of somewhere like Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth? He was too good for Joshua Falls, damn it.
By the time his last note hung in the air, the entire bar had fallen silent, caught in his spell. Applause thundered around her, many of the bar’s patrons on their feet. Paige’s palms burned as she joined them.
“Did I tell you JT could sing or didn’t I?” Cam shouted into the mike. “Hang around folks, because we’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”
JTs shoulders hunched again as people reached out to shake his hand.
“Aw, he’s shy,” one of the girls behind her cooed.
Or didn’t like his personal space encroached, Paige silently added. Especially the way several of the women grabbed his ass. If a guy did that to her, she’d be slapping his face.
“Thanks, ladies, I’m glad you enjoyed my singing.” He wrangled himself free of yet another enthusiastic fan. “But me and my lady friend would appreciate a little space until I have to be back up for the next set.”
Paige’s eyes widened when he slid into the seat opposite her. “Hey, darlin’, thanks for saving me a seat.”
Daggers shot her way from at least four different women.
Once they retreated, he grinned, his mouth pulling up higher at one side in a crooked smile. He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Thanks for not feedin’ me to the lions.”
“How do you know I’m not their leader with even bigger claws and teeth?”
“I don’t. But then I’ve always liked to live life on the wild side.” His expression grew guarded when one of the girls from the booth behind them shoved a paper at him, demanding an autograph. Which he signed. “There you go, darlin’.”
The moment he handed it back, another woman slid into her place, and another. Though he smiled when they each insisted on having a picture taken with him, Paige wondered if any of his fans noticed there was no laughter in his eyes.
Once they left him alone, he sat back in the shadows of the booth. “Don’t worry, if your friend comes back, I’ll move.”
“That was my aunt, not my friend, and don’t worry, she’s gone.” Huh. He’d seen Reba. Which meant he’d been checking her out too. “Were you watching me, JT?”
“Hard to miss someone as pretty as you, darlin’.” He tilted his head to one side, his slate gray eyes considering her, and held out his hand. “It’s Jake, by the way. Only Cam calls me JT.”
“I’m Paige.” She shook his hand, the calluses rough against her skin, not just at the fingertips from long hours of guitar practice, but on his palms as well. As she’d guessed, this was a man used to manual labor. And to taking charge, from the way he continued to hold her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Paige. As I said, I’m obliged.”
Oh wow, a true old-fashioned cowboy right down to the manners. If she ever met his momma, she’d have to thank the woman for raising him right. And his daddy for raising a strong man.
A waitress—not the one who had waited on her earlier—slid up to the booth. She touched her bottle blond hair and simpered as if Paige were invisible, tugged at the overly tight Slick’s Swamp Box tee, then smoothed her name tag proclaiming her to be Holly in an obvious attempt to draw his attention to the bounty that threatened to overflow the scooped neckline. As if anyone could miss her double Ds. “Can I get you anything, hon? A beer? Bourbon? Jack and coke?”
Jake barely gave the waitress a cursory glance. “A Shiner Bock would be great.” He gestured to Paige’s almost empty glass. “You need a refill?”
The bill she’d asked for almost an hour ago? “It doesn’t matter.” Paige gestured to Holly’s retreating form. “She’s left already.”
“Sorry. We’ll catch her when she comes back with my beer.”
Her fingers itched to stroke the silky russet locks brushing his shoulders. She’d always had a thing for guys with longer hair. Not to mention the prickle of crew cuts never felt right compared to the brush of long locks when they lowered their heads between her thighs. “So if the J stands for Jake, what does the T stand for?”
He grinned, amusement and heat filling his eyes. “Trouble.”COLLAPSE
Slick Reads on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews wrote:
Recommended Read…a sexy read that sizzled off the pages…well penned with twists and turns that added intrigue to a strong cast of characters. There’s family, love, hope, endings, and new beginnings, everything that will have anyone with a romantic heart cheering in the end.
Jo on Romance Junkies wrote:
Impossible to put down; No Accounting For Cowboys was filled with twists, turns, and secrets new and old making it another fine offering from author Leah Braemel.
…pulled at my heartstrings from the first page to the last…an emotional read that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next…Come join the drama, you’ll be glad you did.”
More from the reviewers:
Top Pick! …an absolutely must read story ~ Terri, Night Owl Reviews
“…. full of twists and turns that weave together to create a truly awesome story…The developing relationship between Jake and Paige is really romantic, sweet and HOT”.~ Erica, Blending Perspectives
“… I could not put it down…The character development is amazing and the plot took so many interesting twists and turns that I could not help but be drawn in, waiting to read what would happen next. I literally cried through some of the scenes, then some parts in this book made me laugh. It made me really feel something for all of the characters, and my emotions were a complete roller coaster throughout the entire book. This book delivered everything you want in a romance. I would highly recommend this book…” ~Kim, Cocktails and Books
“… I loved it! If you love emotion this book has it in spades!” ~ Vamps, Thongs and Hockeystyxx
5 AH-MAZING STARS for No Accounting for Cowboys~ BookieNookie Reviews
Losing his father was hard enough, but now Ben Grady must face the fact that he and his brother may not be sole owners of their beloved ranch. To protect his family’s legacy, he’s forced to rely on the legal prowess of the woman who stars in his erotic fantasies: Allie O’Keefe. Ben’s never forgotten the illicit encounter they shared fifteen years ago—or forgiven himself for letting her go.
Allie thought she’d moved beyond the scandal that cost her Ben in the past. But working so closely with the seductive rancher arouses the wild child within the cautious woman she’s become. Though she tries to keep business and pleasure separate, Allie soon gives in to temptation, and discovers Ben’s sensual skills surpass even her X-rated memories…
Allie has every intention of leaving Bull’s Hollow forever after her investigation is complete. But there are a few complications. Not the least of which is that while saving the ranch, Allie’s lost her heart.
Copyright © 2013 by Leah Braemel
If someone had told Allie O’Keefe fifteen years ago that she’d set even one toe on Bull’s Hollow Ranch again, she’d have cussed them out. After she’d decked them. Which explained why Allie jammed her foot on the brake when she reached the ranch’s wrought-iron gate. Or maybe she stopped because of the man talking to a group of ranch hands in front of the ranch’s trailer office. It wasn’t just his weathered brown Stetson that stood out from the standard baseball caps the others wore. After a casual glance in her direction, he resumed talking.
Even from this far away she could tell who he was—Ben Grady, the first man she’d ever loved. Just as he had back in high school, he still managed to set butterflies fluttering in her stomach, although right now they felt more like boulders tumbling in a spin dryer.READ MORE
Ben Grady was the quintessential cowboy, from the way he stood with his thumbs hooked through a belt loop, leaving his fingers to drum on the worn leather of his chaps, right down to his dust-covered boots. He could step back in the 1800s and live in the Wild West with no problems. The only thing missing was the six-shooter at his hip.
He hasn’t seen you yet. You could still turn around. Plead with her boss once again to have someone else assigned to the case. Although all her previous attempts had earned her was a “suck it up, buttercup” comment from her boss.
Two of his men strutted over to ATVs parked neatly in a row by the bar while the other took the reins of the bay horse. Finally freed of whatever responsibility had been keeping his attention, Ben faced her.
One look at that straight nose and angular jaw and bam, her body softened.
Not good, not good, not good, she repeated. You’re not eighteen years old anymore. And you didn’t do anything wrong.
Right. She could do this.
Taking a shaky breath, she parked her car beside the mud-crusted white pickup, its dual rear wheels dwarfing her small sedan. Tucking her case beneath her arm, she picked her way across the gravel-strewn yard. She really shouldn’t have worn her heels today, but her pride wanted to show off that she’d traded in her work boots for kick-ass stilettos that stopped traffic. Her not-so-subtle see what you missed out on statement. Which would be lost if she twisted her ankle.
His gaze locked on her, Ben leaned against the stair railing in his oh-so-casual way. When they’d dated, she’d loved how he’d stop to watch her approach. Now she felt like a gazelle being stalked by a lion. No, not such a proud animal. The Gradys were scavengers. Vultures, ready to pick the flesh from the bones of anyone who got in their way.
He’d filled out from the rangy teenager she’d known. He’d always been strong, but his muscles were more defined, the light cotton shirt tight across his chest and wide shoulders. His biceps bulged as he gripped the stair railing, hinting at the strength to lift and haul both hay bales and stray calves.
Ben tipped his hat up with one finger and shot her a lazy grin that melted her a little inside. His gaze swept down her body, blazing a path even hotter than the sun, then returned to meet hers. The lines at the corners of his sky-blue eyes gave him a distinguished air.
“You’re early. I wasn’t expecting you for another half hour.”
His voice still had the low roughness that had driven her crazy, especially when they were lying skin-to-skin. Damn it, she’d gotten over him, so why was the ache in her chest back? She took a deep breath but the anguish didn’t ease.
Clutching her case tight under her arm, she stopped in front of him and shielded her eyes from the morning sun. “Hello, Ben.”
His eyes widened in shock. “Allie? What are you doing here?”
Her breath rushed out at the realization he hadn’t recognized her. If there’d been even a hint of friendliness to his voice, she might not have snapped, “I’m here to save your ass.”COLLAPSE
Terri on Night Owl Romance wrote:
“Slow Ride Home is one of those rare romance books that while you get romance and hot and oh so steamy sex, you get a complete story that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.”
Lace on Blackraven's Reviews wrote:
5 Star-Top Pick Review “The characters were absolutely perfect complete with imperfections and quirks…the romance couldn’t have been better…came together with passion and emotion.”
E and MinnChica joint review on The Book Pushers wrote:
Recommended Read – ” a plot twisting, heat sinker read…simply brilliant… I melted over the sweet hand holding just as much as I did those hot bedrooms/anywhere scenes…I want more”
“Ben came across as the kind of stand up, loving and attentive hero that every woman loves!…super sweet, and incredibly sexy…I look forward to seeing this series continue” ~Joint review by E and MinnChica on The Book Pushers
More from reviewers of SLOW RIDE HOME:
Slow Ride Home kept me enthralled. I became completely invested in Ben and Allie’s story and am looking forward to No Accounting for Cowboys, book two in The Grady Legacy series ~ Lea Franczak, USA TODAY
“This series opener has it all. From the hint of mystery to the almost erotic romance, this series is one to look out for.” ~ Becca, BS Book Reviewers
“SLOW RIDE HOME is the perfect read to heat up a cold winter night.” ~The Book Girl
“…strong and interesting characters…I loved it. Leah’s attention to detail and her emotion filled tale give this a 4 and a half moon rating from me.” ~ Kim Rocha, Book Obsessed Chicks