Given the theme and the current weather conditions outside my hotel, I chose a snippet from True Heart. I’m in Kansas City attending the RT Convention. I packed for hot weather and only brought a light zip-up in case the evenings were cool. My only shoes are FitFlops. So as you can imagine, once the snow started, I was pretty much trapped inside.
With snow on my mind, I chose a snippet from the opening scene of True Heart. The heroine is moving into a remote cabin on the ranch owned by True and Lonny Heart. She’s managed to slip on ice on her steps just as True and Lonny are riding up…
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Two men plus one woman equals three bodies on fire…
True Wyatt’s hands are going to be full enough keeping the herd alive through the dead of winter. The last thing he needs to hear is that his brother Lonny has rented out their isolated hunting cabin to a reclusive writer—especially a sassy, disaster-prone brunette. Who has the time to babysit a city girl until Spring?
With a deadline looming, erotica writer Honey Cahill is looking forward to six distraction-free weeks to finish her next book. However, between Lonny’s flirty sensuality and True’s hard-edged intensity, the Wyatt brothers set the stage of her imagination for a winter of wicked delights.
The fire that destroys the cabin, though, is as real as it gets. Forced to seek a bed under True and Lonny’s roof, the temptation to experiment—all in the name of research, of course—is overpowering. One night in their arms doesn’t feel like enough; it feels like more. Particularly with one cowboy who fires all her cylinders…
Warning: It’s a Devlin ménage—expect men with stamina and not an ounce of mercy to behave like sex gods, and the lucky woman to love every minute of it. A little domination goes a long, long way…
Honey had never seen a man look so angry and flummoxed at the same time. And that shouldn’t have been the case since she managed to ruffle men’s feathers faster than a hurricane. It was a talent.
She came up on her elbows in the mud and glanced at the papers cartwheeling across the yard. If you could call it a yard. The space around the cabin was more of a rough-cut clearing.
Nothing fancy, Lonny had warned her. He hadn’t over-represented the small two-room cabin with an efficiency kitchen and tiny bathroom.
And yet the rugged utility of the place appealed. The cabin smelled of pine sap and wood smoke, and when she’d stood on the porch the view of the mountains around her took her breath away.
The view from the ground right this second wasn’t that bad either.
“I’ll get those,” Lone Wyatt said. He gave her a quick glance, raised an eyebrow at his brother, then dismounted in a fluid, graceful move that had her envious of every flex of muscle that delivered him to the ground. Could any two brothers be more alike and conversely so different at the same time?
True Wyatt moved with rugged force. She couldn’t help wondering how that economy of motion and deliberation translated to how he moved in a bed. True wore “Cowboy” like some men wore Armani.
Her gaze crept upward from his scarred boots, past legs encased in sturdy, mud-stained denim, to a dark, dirt-streaked coat that fell to his knees. He looked like he’d stepped out of an old western movie. Even the cowboy hat, broad-rimmed and shadowing his deep-set eyes, emphasized his individualistic, rugged appeal.
Her glance flew back to Lonny, who chased the newspaper clippings and her own dog-eared notes across the clearing.
Lonny was a sweetheart. A flirty man with wicked intentions in his dark green eyes. She’d already decided she wouldn’t turn down an invitation to go to bed with the man. But that was before she’d clapped eyes on the brother.
She came back to True to find his gaze narrowed on her face. All brooding darkness and hard-edged features. Same dark green eyes, weathered skin and dark brown hair as the brother, but his expression set him apart. Made him seem even older than the thirty-six years Lonny had volunteered.
Lonny was in his late twenties, still footloose and straining against obligation. Facts she’d gleaned easily the first time they’d met. After all, she was a writer and a master at pulling information from a person without him realizing just how she did it.
Something told her big brother wouldn’t be nearly as easy to pump for information. “Pump” stuck in her mind, and her brain again leapt to sexier pursuits.
She’d gathered a lot of information during her brief encounter with little brother at the diner in town. She’d arranged to meet her original landlord to pick up the keys to the hunting cabin she’d rented for a writing retreat. Lonny had been hovering over the counter, sweet-talking a waitress, when he’d overheard her dilemma. After accepting his invitation to coffee, where she’d winnowed out his life story, she’d also managed to acquire an invitation to stay in the Wyatts’ hunting cabin, situated in a “lonesome high meadow”. She’d smiled at his attempt at waxing poetic, amused that he was trying to impress her after hearing she was an author.
Likely, he’d hoped that she’d use some of her pain-staking research into human sexuality and desire to show him how truly grateful she was for his last-minute save. Not that she felt under pressure to provide a little sexy quid pro quo.
Lonny was easy on the eyes and built like a brick house. Very like his brother in that respect. Although she was pretty sure by the way his gaze burned over her that True didn’t need the benefit of her expertise.
Pulled between two forces of nature, her attention was drawn once again to the tall brooding man who stood over her, his thickly muscled legs braced apart, the impressive bulge at the apex holding her attention longer than was polite.
Since he hadn’t offered to help her up, she cleared her throat, pushed a half-filled box off her lap, and struggled to sit.
A hand dangled in front of her face. A large hand with thick callused fingers.
Her heart hit a speed bump before hammering faster inside her chest. She accepted his firm grip and came up more quickly than she’d expected. She swayed against his chest before she got her feet underneath her. Then she had the whimsical thought that if he leaned forward just an inch, her mouth would graze the canvas material of his duster coat just over his heart. True was a big man.
“Thanks,” she said breathlessly.
Slowly, he eased his hand from hers then took a step back, his glance going back to her car. “We’ll finish the unpacking. Those boots of yours aren’t made for walkin’.”
“Really?” she said, glancing down at the pretty cowboy boots she’d bought for her retreat that now had a thick layer of mud crusted around the bottom.
“Why do you think you fell on your ass?” He cleared his throat then stomped away.
Honey didn’t know whether to take his comment as an insult or not, but she liked the sound of his deep growl. It rasped along her nerves, stirring long-dormant desires she’d sublimated in order to write the kind of surly, dominant men her readers seemed to love. Fictional men were easier to say goodbye to.
She stepped forward to help him, unwilling to just stand by and watch him do her work. However, a twinge of pain pulled across the muscles of her lower back, and she grimaced, reaching back to rub the spot only to discover her backside was covered in mud. Her grimace deepened.
“Did you hurt yourself?” Lonny asked, striding toward her with his hands clutching her papers. His gaze trailed down her body to where her hand rubbed.
“Just a twinge,” she said. “What with the heavy lifting—”
True snorted and stepped past her, his arms filled with three boxes stacked high.
Her gaze followed him, wondering whether she should call him on his rudeness or let it pass. Something made her want to challenge him.
“He’s always like that,” Lonny said, smiling. “Don’t take any offense.”
“I didn’t. Much,” she murmured. She aimed a tight smile his way. “Would you two care for a hot cup of coffee when you’re through?”
“We don’t have time to chit-chat,” True said, stomping right back out the door and down the steps.
She stepped into his path, forcing him to halt or slam right into her. “Did I say something that offended you?”
True’s hands came up, gripped her waist and picked her up to set her aside.
Her jaw dropped. Heat filled her cheeks. When he walked away, she glared at Lonny. “He always does that too?”
Lonny’s eyebrows were high, a little smile curving one corner of his mouth. “That’s not something I’ve ever seen him do. Whatever you said to him—”
“I didn’t say a thing.”
He shook his head. “Something sure as hell set him off. I better go give him a hand before he tries to walk right through me without the courtesy of moving me first.” He handed her the papers he’d rescued and followed his brother to her car.
Feeling off-balance because she didn’t understand what had angered the gruff cowboy, or whether he’d simply taken an instant dislike, she wandered up the steps and into the cabin, scuffing off the mud on the doormat before striding inside. The boxes were stacked near the kitchen table where she’d decided to set up her office. The rectangular surface already held her laptop and portable printer.
She wondered what they thought of her array of boxes. There were reams of paper, a couple filled with research, but she’d shoved clothes and camera equipment into the rest because she’d been in a hurry to escape the telephone when she’d left her snowbird house on South Padre Island.
True stomped in again and set three more boxes beside her. “These are the last and kinda light,” he muttered.
Probably held her underwear. The thought tugged a grin from her mouth.
His gaze dropped to her lips for just a second, and then it swept her body—so quickly she might have mistaken the once-over for a blink. When he’d finished, he tipped his hat and stomped out of the house.
Maybe he always stomped. Might not have a thing to do with her.
Lonny hovered in the doorway. “If you don’t mind, I’ll come by later to check in and see if you need anything.”
Did she need anything? A hug? A smile to assure her she hadn’t grown a second head or a wart on her nose. “I’d like that.”
Lonny flashed a grin then hurried down the steps. Big brother was already riding back up the ridge, his broad shoulders stiff.
Still, the sight of him, his sturdy body outlined in the snowfall that had begun sometime in the last few minutes, made her chest hurt. He wore loneliness like he did his long, dark duster.
She closed the door, shutting out the cold and the view. A shiver reminded her she’d better check the wood-burning furnace again. It was time to get to work anyway.
She hadn’t come all the way to the Colorado mountains in the middle of winter to pine over a man she didn’t even know and probably wouldn’t like if she did.
Honey bent and tugged off box tops until she found the ones holding her favorite knit scarf, another pair of clean jeans and a gray sweater. She shucked off her boots and muddied clothes, dressed in the clean ones and wound the sky-blue angora around her neck. Then she hunted for the bottle of scotch she’d packed, knowing she’d need it to get to sleep as the anniversary approached.
She poured herself a finger of amber anesthesia into a coffee cup she found in the small cupboard over the sink and settled down in front of her computer.
Her glance strayed one last time out the window beside the door. Snow had begun to fall steadily in fat flakes. Not that she minded. She’d wanted solitude.
Looked like she’d get it too—other than the occasional visit from one sexy young cowboy.
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