by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
Series: The Men from Battle Ridge #1
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: November 27, 2012
Genre: Romantic Suspense
In book 1 of this steamy new contemporary Western romance series by two blockbuster authors, a cowboy and a woman on the run take a stand and fight for love. Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen. Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.
One of my favorite genres is romantic suspense and when you add a smexy, drop dead gorgeous cowboy, this little woman is one happy reader. I read Dani @ Paulette’s Papers review of Running Wild where she declared she was reading this over and over! *Naturally I bought it!* Howard and Jones provided me with a suspenseful thriller and a delicious romance. I literally consumed this full size novel in one sitting. Three word review: suspenseful, smexy and colorful.
The tale begins when we meet Carlin Reed as she anxiously watches traffic for signs of a familiar blue car. Carlin is on the run from a bad date turned stalker. When she fears him closing in she heads north and finds herself in a place called Battle Ride, Wyoming. She ends up becoming a cook and housekeeper to cattle ranch owner Zeke Decker and the tale that unfolds has humor, romance and danger. I became completely swept up in this fast paced tale and its delightful characters.
Carlin Reed is sweet, determined, confident and deathly afraid. Living off the radar, Battle Ridge seems safe at least for a little while. I really admired Carlin, and laughed at some of her escapades. Zeke is a cowboy through and through not to mention totally swoon-worthy. He works hard, has a ferocious appetite and is good to his employees. He is not looking for a woman, he’s been there, done that! There is only one problem; Carlin. The dance these too waltzed was sweet, hot and endearing. As a couple I felt the spark from their first encounter. I love wicked banter and their chemistry was intoxicating. Zeke’s patience and handling of Carlin stole my heart as did the crew. The folks in Battle Ridge are exactly what you would expect in a small town with all the charming qualities. Kat, the diner owner was a hoot and the cow-hands on the ranch provided humorous and heartwarming moments. A few of the secondary character were developed and I am hoping we get their story. Of course the stalker was creepy and getting inside his head gave me the shivers.
Small town romances always offer such wonderful, colorful characters and I love watching the romance unfold and the humorous side of life in rural America. Running Wild added a suspenseful thriller to the plot and it captivated me as I turned page after page in search of resolution and my HEA. The writing and pacing of the overall arc was well done, and the romantic aspect felt genuine and built slowly. The collaboration was well done, and their voice blended to create a fast paced, entertaining and suspenseful read.
Running Wild will appeal to both readers of suspense and romance. I am looking forward to the next book in the The Men from Battle Ridge series.
Four cups of Mountain Brewed Coffee out of five
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