Today my guest author is Marin Thomas. If you haven’t checked her out, well you’ve missed out. As most of you know, I love cowboy romance, well, yep you guessed it, she writes a lot of cowboy romance, mostly through Harlequin’s American Romance series.
I met Marin through another friend on Facebook and have enjoyed our talks and shares. Now I’m a fan. She has a way with words and cowboys. So, without further ado here’s Marin Thomas.
Stephanie, thank you for having me on your blog today!
I became infatuated with cowboys when I was sixteen and my family took a vacation to Colorado and Arizona. While in Colorado I went to my first rodeo and became mesmerized by all the cowboy hats, boots and leather chaps! Not only do I write about cowboy heroes in my Harlequin American Romance books but I blog about them at All My Heroes are Cowboys where you’ll find this on my page…..
“America needs the cowboy both to remind us of how far we have come and to bring us back to the simplicity of the values he represents. He is also needed because he is a piece of who we are as a country. He represents a lifestyle and a time period that is a cherished part of our history. Little boys want to grow up to be him and little girls want to grow up to marry him.” ~CowboyCrew.com
The Cowboy Next Door
Book 1 in a six-book series called The Cash Brothers (Harlequin American Romance.)
Six brothers all named after country and western legends by their eccentric mother whose lifelong search for her soul mate left each of her sons with a different father….
Johnny Cash (July 2013), Conway Twitty Cash (Oct 2013), Willie Nelson Cash (Feb 2014) Buck Owens Cash (May 2014), Merle Haggard Cash (Aug 2014) and Porter Wagoner Cash (TBA).
Be sure to check out #TheCashBrothersStampede …4 weeks of contests & giveaways!
Back Cover Blurb
Hard-working cowboy Johnny Cash has always been a protector to his little sister’s best friend, sweet but tough cowgirl Shannon Douglas. It’s pretty crazy for girls to ride bulls-yet it’s her life to live. Then he realizes he’s got some purely male instincts toward her, too. But absolutely no way can he fall for his boss’s daughter-if he loses his job, there’ll be hell to pay at home….
Shannon was raised to be strong and independent. She wants a national title so bad she can taste it-and she needs Johnny’s help. His protectiveness drives her crazy…the same way his kisses do. But she’s not about to hang up her bull rope because of him! Her heart says he’s the one-but her own stubborn streak might push away the only man who might actually understand her
On a hot, mid-August Saturday Johnny Cash stood in the cowboy ready area of the Butterfield Stage Days Parade and Rodeo in Gila Bend, Arizona, and watched the fireworks display between lady bull rider Shannon Douglas and all-around rodeo cowboy C.J. Rodriguez.
The hand gesturing and boot stomping drew a lot of notice and Johnny edged closer, ready to intervene if the argument quickly went south.
“You’re supposed to be my man not Veronica’s,” Shannon said.
No surprise that the notorious buckle bunny Veronica Patriot had sunk her claws into another cowboy. The woman was hell on boot heels and took what she wanted—mostly cowboys in committed relationships. If that was the case, and Rodriguez had cheated on Shannon, then Johnny felt bad for her.
Shannon was his sister’s best friend and Johnny had known her most of his life. Nine years her senior, he’d been a big brother to the little girl who’d spent countless afternoons playing at the Cash pecan farm or trailing after him at her father’s spread where Johnny worked as a seasonal ranch hand.
Rodriguez jabbed his finger in the air. “I can’t help it if I attract women everywhere I go.”
Hands fisted, Shannon stood her ground. “You’re ticked off that I won last week.”
“You didn’t beat me.” Rodriguez glanced at his competitors, who pretended not to listen.
Shannon laughed. “You’re sore because fans are finding out you’re not the superstar you claim to be.”
The feuding couples’ audience showed no signs of intervening. Pretty soon the rodeo officials and cameramen would notice the confrontation playing out behind the chutes and broadcast the lovers’ spat on the JumboTron.
“Shannon.” Johnny stepped from the shadows and touched a finger to the brim of his black cattleman’s Stetson.
She flashed him a grateful smile.
“Well if it ain’t the Man in Black.” Rodriguez snickered.
Johnny’s hackles rose. What the hell had his mother been thinking when she’d named him and his brothers after country-and-western singers? It had been bad enough that they’d all been fathered by different men. From the day Johnny entered kindergarten, he’d been teased—not that his mother had cared.
When his biological father, Charlie Smith, had split after Johnny’s birth, Aimee Cash had become an absentee mom, gallivanting across the southwest, searching for the next Mr. Right. She hadn’t been there when Johnny had come home from school with his first black eye—Grandma Ada had hugged him and insisted there was room in the world for two Johnny Cashes. Eventually he might have learned to turn the other cheek, but every year or two, another brother had been born and saddled with a moniker that needed defending until he grew old enough to fight his own battles. And Johnny had made his fair share of trips to the principal’s office during his school career.
“Back off, Rodriguez.” He leveled a sober stare at the cowboy.
“This is nuts.” Rodriguez threw his gear bag over his shoulder and stomped off. The onlookers dispersed.
“You okay?” he asked Shannon.
“Yeah. C.J.’s just frustrated with his riding, that’s all.” She rolled a clump of dirt beneath her boot.
Johnny noticed she wore Dynasty Boots. He glanced at her gear bag—that, too, sported the Dynasty Boots logo. The last he’d heard, Wrangler Jeans was promoting Shannon and Rodriguez’s cross-country tour, highlighting women’s bull riding. He motioned to the boot stitched on her shirt. “I thought Wrangler sponsored you.”
“They did.” She watched the rodeo helpers load a bull into a nearby chute. “Dynasty Boots offered me and C.J. a better deal and bought out our contract with Wrangler.”
“What kind of better deal?”
“If C.J. and I continue to compete against each other and keep up our sham of a romance—fans love that we’re a couple,” she said, rolling her eyes, “we—”
“You’re not a couple?”
“Not anymore.” She shrugged. “Anyway, whoever has the most wins after the Tucson rodeo in January earns a fifty-thousand-dollar bonus.”
Johnny whistled between his teeth. “Where does the score stand between you two?”
“Did you think because C.J.’s a man he’d be ahead of me in the competition?”
“No…I…” Johnny shrugged. In truth, he believed bull riding was best left to cowboys, but if there was ever a cowgirl who could go the distance with the men, Shannon Douglas was that girl.
“If I want to win the title of Cowgirl of the Year, I need to beat C.J.” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, clearly agitated. The hotshot cowboy had rattled her.
“You sure you’re okay?” His gaze roamed over her body.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Rodriguez must be blind.”
Her cheeks flushed pink. Even though Shannon was a tomboy, the subtle signs of a pretty woman were evident. Her turbulent green eyes, fringed with thick black lashes, glowed with a vibrant, determined spirit. Then there was her mouth, plump lips that begged a man to… Startled by his train of thought, he cleared his throat. What the heck was he doing—cataloging his sister’s friend’s body parts? At least he’d stopped before he’d checked out her—
“I got to the rodeo late. Did you ride this afternoon?” she asked.
“Sandpiper tossed me on my keister.”
“Did any of your brothers compete?”
“The rest of the gang stayed behind to work on the bunkhouse.”
“I heard Dixie threw all of you out of the farmhouse after she and Gavin married.”
“You heard right.” He nodded at C.J. “Was that your normal warm-up routine?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to kick off the men’s bull riding event, but first, we have a special treat for you.” Applause and whistles filled the arena. When the noise died down, the announcer continued. “Shannon Douglas is about to show us that cowgirls are as tough as cowboys when it comes to bull riding!”
The crowd noise was deafening. Johnny had no idea Shannon had become so popular on the circuit. “You sure you’re okay?” She shot him a dark look, so he said, “Good luck,” and moved aside. He didn’t stray far—in case Rodriguez got it in his head to pick another fight with her. After she put on her Kevlar vest, protective face mask and riding glove, she climbed the chute rails while the announcer finished his spiel.
“Shannon Douglas hails from the Triple D Ranch near Stagecoach. She’s been competing in roughstock events since high school and you won’t find a tougher cowgirl in the whole state of Arizona!” The JumboTron displayed a close-up of her as she waved to the fans. “This cowgirl’s about to tangle with Boomerang, a veteran bull known for his tight spins.”
Shannon stretched a leg over the bull and settled onto his back. She wrapped then rewrapped the rope around her gloved hand and Johnny worried that she was thinking about her quarrel with Rodriguez.
He spotted her partner inching toward the chute and stepped into the man’s path. He wasn’t letting the rodeo playboy taunt Shannon. Only after the gate opened and Boomerang sprang free, did Johnny turn to the action inside the arena.
Shannon hung on through three spins. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the bullfighters moved into position, ready to help if needed.
The buzzer sounded and Shannon hung on, waiting for an opening to dismount. Boomerang chose for her. The bull kicked out at the same time he twisted his back end and she catapulted through the air. She hit the ground and skidded several feet across the dirt. His heart stalled when Boomerang turned on Shannon as she struggled to stand.
Head down, the bull charged and a collective gasp rippled through the stands. The bullfighters made a valiant attempt to intervene, but the beast was fixated on his rider.
Move, Shannon, move!
She must have felt the ground shake, because she rolled sideways in the nick of time and the bull’s horns missed her by inches. Scrambling to her feet, she stumbled toward the rails as the rodeo helpers guided Boomerang to the bull pen.
When Shannon’s boot hit the bottom rung, Johnny held out his hand and her green eyes flashed with relief. Adrenaline pumped through his blood and he yanked her too hard over the rails, her momentum carrying him backward. They tumbled to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs, Shannon sprawled on top of him. Damned if he couldn’t feel the soft mounds of her breasts through her Kevlar vest. His arms tightened around her and the first thought that popped into his head was how good she felt pressed against him.
“There you have it, folks!” the announcer bellowed. “Shannon Douglas has bested Boomerang!” The announcer’s voice startled them and Shannon rolled off of Johnny. Another cowboy offered his hand and helped her to her feet. Her competitors congratulated her with fist pumps, high fives and hearty pats on the back. By the time Johnny stood, she was no longer smiling.
By: Marin Thomas
Imprint and Series: Harlequin American
Copyright ©: 2013
By: Marin Thomas
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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Now if this doesn’t get you even a little intrigued about cowboys, I’m going to have a talk with you. Thanks Marin for your time and the wonderful excerpt. Yep, I’m hooked on the Cash Brothers. To even further get you hooked, Marin is giving away a paperback copy of “The Cowboy Next Door”, so message me to get in the drawing and we will pick tomorrow. This is open to US citizens only, so get those entry comments in.