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Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway! My Cowboy Promises by Z.A. Maxfield

 

My Cowboy Promises

(The Cowboys Series, Book #4)

By Z.A. Maxfield



Blurb:

A real man needs a real love…

To become the man he’s meant to be, one cowboy will have to be the man he never wanted anyone to know he was…

Ryder Dent is a true-blue cowboy. A devoted son, husband and father, but one who is living a costly lie. When they were both young, Ryder and his closest female friend Andy thought they’d found the perfect solution to both their problems—she was single and pregnant, and he was secretly gay—so they got married and raised Jonas together.

When Ryder gets hurt at a party, his son’s new pediatrician comes to the rescue. The connection between Ryder and Dr. Declan Winters is sudden, powerful, and undeniable. Ryder loves Andy and the family they’ve created together—but they both need more. Can they pursue their hearts’ desire without destroying the life they’ve built and losing the son they love?

Available for purchase at
            

 

Excerpt
The hottest guy I ever saw was playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” on the piano while fifteen cagey preschoolers circled fourteen chairs. My father-in-law’s annual
Fourth of July shindig—the biggest event of the year—was a family picnic. We’d
set aside a play area for the littlest kids and I’d volunteered to supervise, but the piano man blindsided me and I nearly missed an outrageous hair- pulling
incident.
Like a too bright pair of headlights on a moonless night, he was all I could see.
Mayor Calder Hamilton—a cartoon bear of a man with a white handlebar mustache—snuck up on me with one of those painful backslapping man hugs.
“Ryder Dent, you son of a bitch. Which one is your boy?”
“That’s Jonas.” I pointed out my son. “Blue plaid shirt, cowboy hat. Crass determination to win?”
“I know that look, I see it every day when I look in the mirror. But how can that
be him? Last time I saw him he was half that size.”
Why do people always say that? Is it some rite of passage? Am I going to be
surprised kids grow someday too? “We had to buy him a new pair of cowboy boots
just last week.”
“He’s a fine-looking boy. Where’s Andrea?”
“She doesn’t come to these things to hang around with me.” I glanced toward the windows. “You’ll find her wherever there’s dancing.”
“She leaves you in charge of Jonas?”
“Gosh, yeah. Andi’s the social one. She likes to kick up her heels and I don’t mind if she wants to have some fun.”
“So have you met our new doctor yet? Isn’t he something? I have never seen anyone play piano like that.”
That’s Doctor Winters?” The doc had started playing “Pop Goes the
Weasel” like a Russian folk dance, all the while yelling Hai! Hai,! Hai! Hai! The music stopped and the chaos started. Jonas ended up on another chair.
“Go, Team Jonas!” I pumped my fist like a goofball.
“Yeah. Go, boy, go!” Hamilton was already tipsy enough to be unaware he was shouting right in my ear. It didn’t matter; I was going deaf from all the kids squealing anyway. “I’d like to ask your help with something.”
“Sure thing, Mayor. Shoot.”
“I need you and your family in a campaign ad”
“My family?” Good grief. Bitterroot’s founding fathers would shit in their graves at such an idea. “I don’t think we’d make a very good ad.”
“C’mon.” He punched my arm. “You and Andrea are both attractive. Jonas is a cute kid. You had to make some tough choices in the beginning, but look where you are now.”
“Uh. . . I don’t think—”
“I need a family exactly like yours to represent my campaign to the twenty-somethings. I need them to believe they’re important to me.”
Me and Andi? My stomach did a full 360, front to back, as if I was on a Six Flags ride. Mayor Hamilton wanted some picture-frame perfect family, and we were not it. Plus, we hadn’t exactly voted for him. “I’ll ask Andi about it, but—”
“Andrea’s dad just told me he’s backing me all the way again this next election.”
“Is he?” That figures. Her dad likes politicians to owe him.

“So you just tell her you’re doing it, okay?”
“Sure, I’ll mention it, but—”
Hamilton’s wife, Sally, came up to collect him. “C’mon Cowboy. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
She grabbed his hand and, after a good-natured tug-of-war, they left together. I
breathed again. Andi’s dad ran one of the most successful ranches in the area.
If he wanted to see my family on a billboard, I’d have to figure a way to get out of it or learn to say “cheese.”
It was pretty hard to say no to Sterling Chandler. I’m not sure he understood the word.
Shit.
The new doc managed to make “Pop Goes the Weasel” sound like a funeral dirge and the children all lurched around like little zombies. Then he turned it into a
raucous honkytonk song.
Who was this guy?
Jonas got eliminated fourth from last but he wasn’t crushed by the loss. His
attention shifted right away to the buffet, where the cater-waiters had installed several trays of Texas-sized cookies, all colored with red, white, and blue sugar crystals in honor of the holiday.
Musical Chairs, the Survivor edition, came down to two particularly crafty-looking femme fatales. One wore a jeans skirt, cowboy boots, and a pretty white blouse, and the other had on a daisy-printed sundress with lacy socks and jelly shoes.
Lacy socks girl won by body-checking white blouse girl out of the way and pouncing on the last chair. She gripped the seat so tight with both hands no one could get her off it.
The new doc consoled the runner-up with a box of big-block Legos and gave the
winner a play set with pink and purple Ponies but it seemed she thought she was
getting the chair as her prize. Eventually her mom pried her up and they all
wandered off to join the party outside.
Doc Winters was left to tidy up. I figured I ought to help, being family and all.
Plus, it might get me out of small talk outside.
But the doc was the best looking man I had ever seen up close. I was bound to mess up and say something super stupid, and Andi was going to hear about it, and
then she was going to tease me for the rest of my life, because she was just waiting for me to lose my shit over some guy.
And Doc Winters, M.D., The Yankee Doodler?
He could be the guy.

 

Charcter Bio – Ryder Dent

Ryder Dent is a naïve twenty-three-year-old boy with a wife, Andi and a son, Jonas. He married Andi when he was still in high school after her secret love affair with a famous bull rider—a man with a taste for too-young girls—resulted in pregnancy and the man wanted nothing more to do with her. Ryder comes to her rescue, marrying her and raising the child as his own. Most people in town believe there’s more to the story, but nobody is sure.

Their pact worked fine when they were kids. It was the perfect opportunity for him to be part of a family. Further, by marrying Andi he could hide his homosexuality from a gossipy town and his hard-to-please father. Andi and Ryder are solid friends. They keep each other’s secrets. They believe in each other. They have overcome obstacles people older and more mature might struggle with.

But Ryder has a lot to think about. What seemed like an easy decision five years before grows more difficult as time passes. He loves Andi and his son more than ever, but his body is fully mature and now, he yearns for more. The arrival of the new town Doctor who is hot, out and proud, and wants him, really shakes Ryder’s faith in himself.

Ryder is shaken and conflicted. He’s still young enough to be unsure about a lot of things. But there are three things he believes:

  1. A good man tells the truth.
  2. A good man puts his child first.
  3. A good man keeps his promises.

He also believes—despite all evidence to the contrary—if he holds fast to the vision of the man he wants to be, he can do all three of those things, and come out a winner.

The Cowboys Series
About the Author
Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back.  Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”
You can find ZA Maxfield at 
            
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Guest Post, Giveaway and Excerpt: My Cowboy Homecoming by Z.A. Maxfield

It is such a pleasure to host Z.A. Maxfield today as part of her tour for My Cowboy Homecoming.  We are being spoiled with a Guest Post, a Giveaway and a lovely, long excerpt.

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Love can heal the deepest wounds…

A sense of duty brings a soldier home…but a passionate cowboy makes him want to stay.

After his brother’s tragic death, Tripp has to leave the army and return to New Mexico to take care of his mother while his father is in prison for arson. Seeking work at the J-Bar Ranch, Tripp is immediately drawn to injured cowboy Lucho Reyes, whose foot was accidentally crushed by a rescue horse. But will the sins of the father interfere with the desires of the son? Tripp’s father may be responsible for the death of Lucho’s grandfather. Now Tripp must balance caring for his mother, repairing his father’s damages, and trying to win the heart of a man who has every reason to hate him and his family…

Young_Guns

Young Guns: Emilio Esteves, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Southerland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney and Casey Seimaszko. These were the eighties cowboys, fresh from the Brat Pack days of St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Breakfast Club.

I’ll be honest! I don’t really remember the plot of the movie. I remember how those boys, the ones I still think of as heartthrobs, looked in their western gear. Like my earlier examples, the fashion of the day dictated the look of the cowboys, so while John Wayne wore the strict, closely barbered men’s haircut of the forties and fifties, our eighties boys looked fresh from the pages of GQ. Hair and stubble was the name of the game in the eighties, and you could always find a meticulously trimmed Van Dyke.

As a child of the seventies, and eighties, I related to the cowboys from Young Guns. They were more complex than the cowboys from the thirties. They had inner turmoil. They had angst. They’d lived through war and come back changed.

I still love just watching them, ready to do battle with their enemy, Jack Palance…

See below for a wonderful long excerpt

Chapter One

The road home was less auspicious than I thought it would be. Traffic slowed to a bare crawl outside Las Cruces, and the overheated bus had started to smell.

Just like on every bus, everywhere in the world, people were packed in tight. They stared ahead expressionlessly, as if that cramped, anonymous ride was the best they could expect because it probably was.

All four westbound lanes had been forced into one until at last we reached what seemed like a flare-lit city of fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. Uniforms covered the highway like ants at a picnic.

When I saw the wreck, my heart gave a lurch. An old yellow school bus with “Iglesias Angelica Bautista” written on the side had been hit head-on by a double tractor-trailer truck. The impact had scattered debris all over both sides of the highway.

A single battered high-top sneaker lay in the middle of the street, blood-spattered and abandoned. I couldn’t take my eyes off it as we drove past.

The front of the wrecked school bus was crushed like an accordion. No way the driver survived the crash. There were others lying still and lifeless beneath sad yellow tarps. EMTs raced between people lying side by side in a makeshift triage area.

I tried to make myself do the deep breathing the army shrinks taught me. I thought about trying the other bullshit stopgap measures I was supposed to deploy before going to the little pills they gave me for anxiety, which I’d thrown away anyway. I tried repeating nonsense rhymes and visualizing my happy place, but the fact is, if you’ve been in a sniper’s crosshairs long enough, it’s hard to convince yourself there’s nobody trying to kill you anymore.

I was home, goddamnit. I wasn’t in danger. Except . . . we’re all in danger all the time. We just don’t know it.

As we inched past the wreck, even I—with the knowledge of how random and tragic fate could be—shook with shock. I couldn’t take my eyes off that shoe lying by itself in the street because my brother used to wear those same Converse high-tops when he was about five. Chucks. I got annoyed every time I heard his little feet padding after me as I tried to run away and play with my “big kid” friends.

Wish I had that now.

Wish I had time to play with him and a chance to know him, now that we were both out from under our father’s thumb, but while I’d been deployed to the valley CNN once called the most dangerous place on earth, my brother got killed on the I-10, exactly like the poor bastard who was driving that bus.

Random.

The stifling heat made the Greyhound nearly unbearable. A woman on the seat behind me cried out to Jesus, starting a prayer that three or four of the other passengers echoed. Instinct, still honed to razor-sharp readiness, lifted me to my feet, even though the bus was moving.

“Sit down,” said the old man next to me, whose skin was gray with age and probably cigarettes. Tattoos littered his forearms, including one I recognized, the Devil Dog. Marines. “What do you think you’re going to do out there they aren’t already doing?”

I shrugged and sat.

He studied me. “Just get back?”

“Yeah.”

That got a laugh. “I thought so. You look it.”

“How so?”

He just stared at me then, and something passed between us. Anxiety and fatigue and that indefinable pinch of pain, as if our lives were too small now, and it hurt to walk around in them.

“Yeah.” I glanced away.

I sat still, even though every cell in my body was telling me I should do something. It was both my nature and, up until recently, my job to keep order. Yet now my TOS was up, and I was going home.

In spite of everything, I stayed still.

It seemed like it took forever to pass the accident.

“Lordy, Lordy.” The woman behind me cried softly. “Sweet Jesus, help your children in their hour of need.”

I let my old, cold friend discipline flow through my heart and I looked away.

Maybe I’d built up this illusion that home was a place made of safety and order, but that goddamn shoe told me different.

Anyhow, that’s why I was late getting into Deming.

***

I scanned every face on the street, looking for my mother, when I got off the bus. I don’t know why I thought she might come. She was afraid to drive the single mile to church. Venturing as far as Deming was probably more than she could take.

After Dad landed himself in prison, I hoped she’d start going out again, just to the grocery store if she needed to. I guessed she didn’t, because she wasn’t waiting for me.

The dirty, gray bus station emptied out quickly. It was little more than a stop off the I-10 in a hot, dry collection of buildings generosity made me call a city. Deming had little going for it besides its proximity to the highway.

I’d hiked my duffel over my shoulder and was working out how I’d find my own way home, when somebody called my name.

“Calvin Tripplehorn?”

I followed the sound and found a cowboy standing behind me. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t say why. “Who’s asking?”

“Jimmy Rafferty.” He held out his hand, but I let it hang there while I tried to process his face. His eyes narrowed. “From the J-Bar? Your mama called the ranch. I’m here to give you a ride.”

I hesitated before I gave him my hand to shake. “Pleased to meet you, sir.”

“This way, son. I need to pick up one of the hands from the ER in Silver City. He’s going to think I left him to find his way back by breadcrumbs or some such.”

I fell into step beside him, consciously matching my stride to his leggy, rolling gait. He was all cowboy, lean and rangy. He looked about forty or so. He wore some hard road on his face, but he was good-looking in his way.

“You know my mother?”

He stopped to look at me. Screwed up his face. “I can’t say I do.”

He was proving to be a bit of a character. “Then why are you here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how did you know to pick me up?”

He raised his brows. “Do you need a code word or something? I’m not here to kidnap you and sell you into white slavery or nothing. Nobody told me—”

“I mean”—heat suffused my face—“why are you here if you don’t know my mother?”

“Oh.” He grinned. “Boss asked me ’cause your mama and Emma Jenkins are friends. I guess she didn’t know about Emma not living at the J-Bar no more.”

“Ah.” The Jenkinses. Neighbors for as long as I could remember. Emma used to invite my family to the J-Bar on the Fourth of July. They always made a party of it, throwing a big barbecue and chili cook-off. I think a summer picnic at the J-Bar was where I first realized cowboys flipped my switch as opposed to . . . er . . . cowgirls.

I loved the J-Bar. I’d wanted to work there.

“How is everyone?”

“Crandall passed.” Jimmy informed me solemnly.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Crandall Jenkins was the kind of man whose loss would be felt keenly by everyone he ever came into contact with. “Emma didn’t sell up, did she?”

“Nah. She wanted to spend time with her girls and the grandkids. Speed Malloy and his partner Crispin are running the place now.”

I missed a step. Speed Malloy made my pants tight back in the day. I could barely be around him without sporting wood. “His partner?”

“His life partner.” Jimmy stopped and faced me, hands on his worn leather belt. “You got a problem with that? Get it out of your system.”

“No sir, not me.” I didn’t out myself there on the street, but I wasn’t going to let him think I was a homophobe. They probably got that shit a lot.

“Malloy told me to pick you up, on account of he talked to your mama. I’m just doing what I’m told.” He stopped beside a battered old crew-cab pickup truck. “Drop your bag in the back and we’ll be on our way.”

“Thank you.” I did as he asked and climbed into the cab beside him. After the hot, close quarters on the bus, it felt as nice as a limousine. Not that I knew what limousines were really like.

“You back for good?” he asked.

I nodded. “My mother needs me more than Uncle Sam does at this point.”

He peered at me like he was trying to see inside. “I guess things ain’t been too easy for her lately.”

“You know about my dad?” I asked.

Jimmy’s mouth tightened right up. “Some.”

My heart sank. “I’m nothing like him.”

He glanced away first. “Ain’t going to be easy to gain people’s trust after what him and his pals did.”

“I don’t need people’s trust.”

He keyed the ignition and the truck started up. “You will if you want to build a life here.”

Christ, what an awful thought. Building a life there. “I don’t know what I want, yet.”

He shot me a cryptic smile. “You’ll figure it out. You’re still young enough, Calvin.”

“‘Tripp,’” I corrected automatically. “People call me ‘Tripp.’”

“Okay, Tripp. Call me ‘Jimmy.’” He nodded before pulling out into the street.

The ride from Deming to Silver City takes a little under an hour. Because of the change in elevation, the desert, with its infrequent clusters of agave and cactus, gives way to a forest of junipers  and piñon trees. No matter how many times I’d driven up that road I was always surprised by the change in landscape. It was stark and beautiful one minute, and lush green the next.

The area hadn’t changed much since the day I’d turned eighteen and left for good.

Eight years.

The afternoon shadows lengthened until I no longer needed my Oakleys. I pushed them onto the top of my head as we pulled up in front of the Regional Medical Center. A lone man rested on crutches out front—another cowboy, taller, broader, and darker than Jimmy, wearing a straw hat that shaded his face. He bent his leg at the knee, keeping his foot—which was encased in a sturdy black soft cast—from bearing his weight.

“Aw, shit. I was afraid that foot was busted.” Jimmy said, stopping the truck at the curb. “That’s Lucho. Go help him into the truck, will you?”

“Sure.” I jumped down from the passenger seat, leaving the door open so I could help the man in. “Front seat okay? Or would you be more comfortable in the back?”

“Back, please.” Polite.

Good-looking too. A sharp sizzle of awareness passed between us and I smiled as I opened the back door.

His eyebrow lifted.

Okay. So I checked him out. I was guilty as charged. He eyed me appreciatively in return. He had dark hair, tan skin. Coca-Cola eyes that watched my every move from beneath lashes thick as a doll’s. That dark gaze lingered on my package before traveling slowly upwards. His brief quirk of a smile sent the unmistakable message that he liked what he saw.

Message received and noted.

I held my hand out, so he handed over his crutches without taking his eyes off mine. I put my arm around his waist to steady him and pretty much lifted him into the truck so he didn’t have to put his weight on his foot.

Was it my imagination? Or did he lean into me a little more than necessary? I caught him closing his eyes.

“Pain?”

“No.” He shook his head. “You smell good.”

Breathless, I let him go, but it was like I was in some kind of trance. My reluctance to end contact came from pure biological imperative. He felt so good. He smelled like sage and horse and the sick sweat of pain, but his muscles were solid and his body lean and strong. His was the first man’s body I’d held close in so long.

I did not want to let go and he didn’t want me to. We stayed there, looking into each other’s eyes until I heard Jimmy clear his throat.

Startled, I stepped back. Lucho gave me a playful push and another long, slow perusal that felt exactly like a juicy lick up my dick. I shook myself out of my stupor and gave up a huff of embarrassed laughter before I stepped away.

God.

I’d never come on to anyone that hard in my life.

It must have been the timing. Everything was out of whack with me coming back home like that. With the accident and the apprehension of what I’d find when I saw my ma again.

With strangers picking me up when it should have been family.

I put my hand out to shake. “Folks call me ‘Tripp.’”

Instantly, he lost all warmth. “You’re Calvin Tripplehorn’s son?” His voice was dangerously soft.

“Not so’s you’d know it.” I’d meant the words as a joke. He didn’t take it that way. The fire in his eyes simply died and he let my hand hang there, untouched until I drew it back.

“Everything okay?”

He nodded and removed his hat. Without it I could see his lean, fierce face was etched with shadows and pain. I stood there too long, staring. Cataloguing tan skin, high cheekbones, a chin with more than a day’s growth of beard.

He had a long, straight nose that made him masculine and beautiful at the same time. Stark and lovely, like New Mexico itself.

His expression and gone from interest to disdain in the space of a second, and I guessed I knew why. The Tripplehorn name probably came with a warning label around these parts. “Okay to close the door?”

“It’s fine.” His eyes had narrowed with suspicion, but he had lips like a kid’s, soft as Cinnamon Bears, and I was heartsick that I’d probably never get to taste them. That was the kind of immediate effect Lucho had on me. Desire and despair, all at once.

As he ran the fingers of one hand over the soul patch on his chin I asked, “Need anything else?”

He shook his head sharply and then looked away. “Not from you, Tripplehorn.”

My dad’s name, his goddamn shadow, loomed over me, though I hadn’t even gotten home yet.

“Be nice, Lucho.” Jimmy’s bark was a warning, like we were kids in the backseat and he was going to say, Don’t make me stop this car.

“Give me a break, Rafferty,” Lucho growled. “I don’t gotta be nice to Calvin Tripplehorn’s kid.”

Closing the door between us, I hesitated before getting back into the truck. How had I forgotten the gut-churning taste of shame?

Old memories came back to me with a violent shove. I was “crazy Cal’s” kid.

Pretty soon I’d forget what it was like to be decorated army sergeant Tripplehorn—to earn respect by following orders and keeping a professional attitude and working my ass off. Nobody around these parts was going to give me that chance.

“C’mon kid,” Jimmy coaxed.

A ride was a ride. As soon as I’d climbed up into the passenger seat, Jimmy cranked up the radio and took off again.

Nobody talked until my family’s place came into view, and even then, I simply stared. It was hard to sort out what I was seeing. The manufactured house was still there, but the screen door hung askew. Out front, weeds choked what was once a pretty garden. The chicken coop had fallen down. There was no sign of life anywhere.

“Man.” Jimmy frowned at a dust devil blowing across the packed dirt of what used to be an exercise ring for horses. “Your brother really let the place go.”

“Ya think?” I said sourly.

Concern for me shadowed his eyes as he framed his next, careful question. “You planning on fixing the place up?”

I felt exhausted already. “If my mother doesn’t want to leave, I guess I’ll have to.”

I’d thought Lucho was asleep, but he snorted derisively from the back seat. “Maybe you ought to just burn it down. You Tripplehorn motherfuckers got a lot of experience with arson, after all.”

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About the Author

_AuthorPhotoZ. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

 

 

☞ 149 M/M Romance Book Trailers and counting…..

I’ve discovered that I really enjoy watching m/m romance book trailers – not as much as reading the books of course 🙂 – but I get a kick out of seeing another side to the book, apart from the blurb.

It’s so interesting to see the elements the author has selected to include in the trailer.

  • The portraits and photos which show how the author has envisaged the main characters (I’m assuming the author approved them even if they didn’t find the pics themselves)
  • The chosen text and commentary to entice the reader
  • but most importantly, the music which really sets the mood!

I’ve managed to collect 149 m/m romance book trailers which I have collated into a You Tube Playlist. I hope you find some time to check them out and if you do find any that I haven’t yet included then please let me know so that I can add to my collection!

I have included the link to the full playlist but also selected a couple of individuals to highlight separately. I hope you enjoy my selection and most importantly, get tempted to buy and read the books! 🙂

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Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan – short, simple, gorgeous video of a cowboy on his horse

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Notturno by ZA Maxfield – beautiful, professional looking trailer

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Tri Omega Mates by Stormy Glenn – some pics of gorgeous naked men plus I like the music!

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The Value of Rain by Brandon Shire – evocative blend of music and the sound of rain

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Connor’s Courage by SJD Peterson – gorgeous black & white

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★★★★★ My Cowboy Heart by Z.A. Maxfield ★★★★★

My Cowboy Heart (book # 1) – in this review
My Heartache Cowboy (book # 2) – due for release in Jan 2014

My Cowboy HeartMy Cowboy Heart by Z.A. Maxfield

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

J-Bar ranch foreman Malloy pretty much keeps to himself—slinking around the edges of everybody else like an old coyote, doing his job and staying private. That is until Crispin Carrasco shows up.

Lean, muscular, and with a motor mouth that won’t quit, Crispin sparks something in Malloy—something the foreman didn’t know was there. But how does a lone coyote approach the warmth of a fire? And more important, what would happen if that fire burned?

So what did I think?

This is a beautiful romance that shows what love and family are all about. It is heartwarming and tender with some emotionally charged moments.

Malloy had a very sad upbringing with a drug addicted mother who was always looking for the next man or the next fix. He largely had to fend for himself until Crandall Jenkins and his wife Emma took him in. They provided him with a job and a home on their ranch but most importantly a place in their family. Malloy’s life largely revolves around the Jenkin’s family, his role as foreman of the ranch and his need to earn Crandall Jenkin’s love and respect.

Crispin has been through a terrible trauma and still bears the scars of his experience. Mr Jenkins offers him a place on the ranch and asks Malloy to keep an eye on the openly gay Crispin. This is the turning point in his life as Malloy’s eyes are finally opened to the true man he is inside.

The scenes where Malloy first admits his feelings for another man are wonderfully done, with Malloy first facing the loss of his dream “I wasn’t like Crandall Jenkins, and I’d never find an Emma. I’d never have what they had between them – not the home, not the kids, not the legacy, nor the love, nor the comfort of a lifelong partnership.” but then realising this wasn’t the end “It had only been moments since I’d thought about everything I’d lost, but now…now I could see what I’d gained.”

Crispin is truly a strong and inspiring man. He sees so much of the truth in people and I really warmed to his character. It was easy to see why Malloy felt so passionately about the man. I enjoyed the build of the relationship and the very emotional connection they had as well as the extremely passionate sex.

The story follows the romance but also has a strong focus on family as Crandall gets sick and the family need to deal with the ramifications. We also get some insight into the other ranch hands, Eddie and Jim who have their own issues. (I can’t wait to read their story in My Heartache Cowboy which is due Jan 2014). I guess Malloy’s doctor had it right when he said “Are you living on a ranch or a telenovela?”

A lovely balance of deep emotional issues with moments of love and happiness! 4.5 stars

Following is the song that Crispin and Malloy dance to on Valentine’s Day (Malloy ‘borrowed’ Crandall and Emma’s song because ‘some traditions are worth keeping.’), “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis.

 

To find out more about Z.A. Maxfield and her books visit her website.

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Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

A great book! I am already looking forward to whatever the next book in The Brothers Grime series is! I hope it is soon!
Grime and PunishmentGrime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.

Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.

Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers. Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime And Punishment

So what did I think?

I really enjoyed this book and the wonderful characters!

The first 20% of this book had me a bit confused, introducing characters at a rapid rate and delving into the world of crime scene clean up. But as Jack’s company’s logo says “Life is not a fairytale.” I guess I was a little surprised at the depth of information provided (not for the squeamish but if you can stand watching CSI you should be ok!).

By this point of the book I would also expect to have a clear understanding of the two main characters and started to see them interacting. However at this point, Jack is having casual hook-ups with his in-the-closet cop friend Dave and Ryan isn’t very much in the picture.

Jack is part-owner of the clean-up company and the plot revolves around him gaining closure by personally cleaning up the scene of his ex-boyfriend’s suicide. The ex happens to be Ryan’s cousin and the deed occurred in Ryan’s home. Ryan also wants closure by assisting in the cleanup. I must say this all seemed a bit odd but anyway, it got Jack and Ryan together.

Jack has been severely hurt in the past, both emotionally and physically. He still bears scars and has never allowed himself to trust and have a proper relationship. Ryan seems to attract people who need help, such as his cousin Nick. They both need to overcome their issues if they are to have their happy ending.

Jack’s friends are concerned about the relationship, worried that Jack’s attraction to Ryan is based on his likeness to Nick. Luckily this is not a problem for Jack who clearly sees Ryan as his own man. “Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.”. He just needs to convince Ryan of this. “He was going to have to prove it was Ryan’s heart, and not his face, that mattered.”
[ There is a lovely explanation from Jack to Ryan, acknowledging that he does have a physical type and Ryan fits the bill, just like Nick did. This seems so logical. (hide spoiler)]

This book had wonderful characters including a cute cat, and although filled with gory crime scenes, contained lots of humour. The only downsides were minor – I didn’t understand what attracted Ryan to Jack, it was maybe a bit too insta-love and I wanted to know more about Dave’s background to understand him better.

4 Stars
[“….and today’s episode will be the one where the openly gay cousin that got disowned but still inherited all the family’s old money comes to his drug-addict cousin’s suicide funeral with the boy the dead cousin nearly got arrested for assaulting as he plus one.”
(hide spoiler)]

To find out more about Z.A. Maxfield and her books, visit her website.

Buy Grime and Punishment on Amazon

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