Series: Montana Men #4
on February 23rd, 2016
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With their hearts' desires on the line, nothing can stop the Montana Men
Sadie Higgins has a bad habit of bailing her brother out of trouble. But when he rustles a herd of cattle from the tough, honorable Kendrick brothers, it's Sadie who's in for it. Because the cowboy tracking them down is big, silent, and forbidding as hell.
Rory Kendrick is on the hunt to find out who's been stealing from him. When he stumbles upon Sadie in the woods, he barely recognizes the quiet, vulnerable beauty who has always taken his breath away. His mission shifts in an instant: He will do anything it takes to keep her safe . . . and make her his.
Sadie has always protected her family—no matter the price. But when Rory ropes her heart, she's forced to take a look at her life and make a dangerous choice—one that could cost, or gain, her everything.
If whoever owned those cattle didn’t kill him, she might.
A soft pat on the neck and a nudge with her heels sent her horse Sugar down the hill in a trot. Sadie loved to ride, but chasing after her brother took the pleasure right out it. The cold wind, scented with pine, grass, and rain from the storm last night that had left the ground muddy, whipped her hair out behind her and burned her cheeks. Her lips dried and cracked in the bitter cold.
Her horse’s fast approach startled several cattle. They broke off from the herd and scattered. She rode straight up the middle and split the herd in two, hoping to discourage the animals from following the rider up front and the two flanking them. Her brother spot- ted her and reined his horse around to meet hers. She pulled up short and stopped beside him, glaring at his ruddy face, red from the cold. His intense gaze collided with hers. His pupils were the size of saucers. High. Irritated he’d been caught, he narrowed his eyes on her.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Her lips drew into a grim line. “Saving your ass from making another mistake.”
“Get out of here before you get hurt.” Connor scanned the area, avoiding looking at the two guys with him, who closed in on them. “You have to go now.”
Sadie sighed out her frustration. The cows had stopped walking down the valley and milled around them, chomping at the new grass just beginning to grow after the last of the snow melted. The cold temps remained even as spring pushed in to take winter’s place. She stared at the poor, tired animals. Her brother and his buddies had pushed them hard and brought them a long way. One steer turned, and she caught a glimpse of the brand on his hide.
She sucked in a surprised breath. “These are Ken- drick cattle. Are you crazy? Those guys will hunt you down and beat the living shit out of you. If Rory comes after you, you’ll wish you were never born.”
She’d gone to school with Colt Kendrick, but didn’t really know him. The last time she saw him, he’d been sitting around a table with his two older brothers at the bar. She’d gone to drag her brother home after the bar- tender called to let her know Connor was playing pool and looking for a fight. He’d nearly gotten one when he stumbled into Colt and dumped beer down his front. Sadie stepped in just in time, blocking her brother from the punch Colt threw and almost landed straight in her face, until Rory grasped his brother’s wrist and stopped his swing inches from her nose. When her brother tried to go after Colt, she’d tried to hold him off, but he got around her. Rory grabbed Connor by the shirt and held him off the ground in front of him like he didn’t weigh more than a puppy. He’d looked her brother in the eyes and shook him hard to get his attention. He didn’t speak. Didn’t have to. The ominous look in his eyes made her brother quake in his boots. Rory set her brother down with a thud, and Connor ran for the door. Sadie chased after him, but not before she turned back and caught the feral look in Rory’s eyes. The same kind of look she’d seen weeks earlier when she plowed into Rory’s big, solid body in the feed store. The man was hard and unyielding, physically and mentally. You did not go up against a Kendrick, and especially him. Her stupid brother got off free and clear that time.
Connor scratched at a scab on his chin. “If you keep your fucking mouth shut and get lost, they’ll never know.”
“You don’t think they’re going to know an entire herd of cattle is missing? You’ve lost your mind, little brother.”
He puffed out his thin chest, his bony shoulders going back. “I’m not little. I can take care of myself,” he whined like the child he acted like most of the time. “You have yet to prove that in any capacity. If it weren’t for me, you’d have been locked up in juvy at fourteen. All these years later, you’re not proving to be any smarter than that punk kid who cried and begged me to save him. You promised me on our mother’s grave you’d do better, you’d quit drinking and doing drugs. But you didn’t keep that promise to me, or her.” “I warned you.” The words belied the sad, resigned look that came into his eyes.
A split second later, she had the blink of an eye to understand what he meant. A fist slammed into her face, sending her off her horse and into the mud, grass, and darkness.
I quickly became a Jennifer Ryan fan after I read a book from her McBrides series. So I picked up all her books that were out for her hunted series and devoured them. And then out came a new series, Montana Men, and I was instantly hooked!
Something I’ve come to expect from Ms. Ryan’s book is a gruesome/heartwrenching bit somewhere in the book. I can honestly say that i was simultaneously loving and cringing at the opening sequence. What Sadie went through was beyond crazy! I am pretty sure I spent most of that part reading with my eyes wide and my mouth slightly agape. The opener had me hooked and wasn’t going to let go any time soon.
When Rory came upon Sadie, I felt every emotion he was feeling. Panic, fierce protectiveness, anger. Most of all, I felt that instant connection between our hero and heroine…well, as soon as she woke up. Rory is one of favorite types of book boyfriends-the strong, silent type. He’s admired Sadie from afar for quite some time. I thought that was kind of cute. And Sadie, she’s always thought he was attractive, but also thought he was a man to give a wide berth. After Sadie’s trouble at the beginning of the book, Rory quickly squashes any walls Sadie decides she wants to put between her and him. I love a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to reach for it.
I really liked Sadie, but there were times where I just wanted to shake her for giving her brother so many chances! But I know there are people out there that do act as enablers to their family members issues. If I look past this, Sadie was able to grow the backbone I wish she’d had from the very start. Don’t let me confuse you, though, she had a great sense of right and wrong. If she was an actual person, she would be someone I could find myself friends with. Not to mention to was perfect for Rory. 🙂
A heart-pounding, addicting read I refused to put down! I cannot wait to read more from this series!
Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.
Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.