Tough Talking Cowboy
by Jennifer Ryan
Series: Wild Rose Ranch
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Return to Montana as a tough-talking cowboy meets his match in Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch novel.
Ex-Army Ranger Drake McGrath has come home to Montana, locked in a battle with himself, lashing out at those who love him most—driving away his ex-fiancée and alienating his family. But Adria Holloway sees beyond Drake’s tough talk to the raw pain beneath.
Raised with her twin sister Juliana by a neglectful mother at the Wild Rose Ranch, Adria also struggles to put the trauma from her past behind her. To help them both, she makes Drake a shocking deal—a no-strings relationship that’ll help them both face down their demons. Maybe it’s a way for her and Drake to heal each other, one sizzling night at a time…
The heat between them is instant and incredible. But the biggest challenges are yet to come. With Juliana battling her addiction and Drake working on his issues, Adria realizes she can’t save everyone. But Drake and Adria discover love can survive tragedy and loss—and they can have the life they never thought possible if they just hold on.
Feeling surly, he lashed out. “Conceited much?”
“Oh, I think I’m right on the money. You wanted me and came up here and destroyed my stuff because you didn’t think I’d want you because of a few scars and a bad temper.”
He raked his fingers over his head. “That’s not it.”
“Yes, it is. Melanie didn’t want you, so you think no one will.”
He tried to hold it together, but his anger flashed. “She tried. I tried. But I couldn’t. I can’t. Not anymore. So what good was I to her? I’m no use to any woman now?”
Adria shook her head. “You’re kidding, right?”
He held his hands out wide. “Does it look like I’m kidding?”
She braced her hands on the back of the sofa, leaned in, locked eyes with him and said the unexpected again. “There is nothing, and I mean nothing, wrong with you.”
“How the hell would you know?”
“Because I’m the one you held wrapped in your arms with your thick, rigid, I-want-to-fuck-her dick pressed against my ass for nearly an hour.”
He went still. “You’re lying.”
“Why would I lie about something like that?”
Dr. Porter chimed in again. “Maybe one of you should explain what really happened.”
Adria ignored the doctor, just like he did. She got up from the couch and walked around it to face him.
He stared down at her, everything inside him wanting her to be right, for it to be true.
Hope rose up inside him.
“I don’t know what happened between you and Melanie. Maybe the way she looked at you, or didn’t look at you with a longing and need to be with you, turned you off.”
He started thinking out loud. “I thought because she loved me, she wouldn’t care about the scars and that I couldn’t move the way I used to. We’d figure it out.”
“But she hesitated. The moment felt like you needed to show her that you could be the man she remembered. But overwhelmed by what happened to you and trying to fix something in your life and make it work, you couldn’t. Too much pressure. Too much riding on it. Her not showing you the compassion and patience you needed to quiet the nightmares and fall into her. She couldn’t see past the damage to the man she loved. You took her rejection and turned it into every woman rejecting you. You convinced yourself you couldn’t be with any woman, that every woman would only ever see the bad, the damage. You let your insecurity, guilt, and anger win.”
“I don’t know why you need me,” Dr. Porter interjected, startling both of them as they stared at each other. “Sounds like she’s got you pegged. Listen to her, Drake.”
“Just because it worked once, doesn’t mean it will work again.”
“You’ll never know unless you try,” she challenged.
His mind went blank for a second. She didn’t mean with her. She meant for him to give it a go by himself. Well, he’d tried. And failed. And gotten more pissed and despondent about it, because without sex, what the fuck was the point of surviving all he had if he couldn’t be with a woman, make a life and have a family with her.
That’s what he’d always wanted. But right now, he’d take a willing woman who’d give him a chance to see if he could get it up again.
“Juliana once said that my sisters and I carry around our baggage like an apology we owe the world. I’ve been thinking about that lately. I was with a couple of guys, but I could never really get past my own inhibitions and remembering what happened to me.
“My mother is a prostitute. She loves sex and doesn’t care who knows it. I’d like to stop thinking men will believe I’m like her if I just have fun and enjoy it.”
“Uh…” He really didn’t know what to say to that, except, “Shouldn’t everyone enjoy sex.”
“Exactly. But I get hung up on her past, my past, and get it all in my head that I’m doing something wrong because that despicable man made me do things that made me feel icky. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway because I needed to protect my sister.” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “We have that in common: trying to protect everyone around us and scarring ourselves in the process. So if you’re willing to try, so am I.”
His fucked up brain did not compute. “What are you saying?”
“Maybe we can face down our demons together. No strings attached. No expectations. Judgement-free sex. I’ll show you, you’re not impotent, and maybe you can help me let go and enjoy myself.”
The idea appealed a lot, but they didn’t know each other well, and the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her feelings or disappoint her. “You’re serious?”
“How long do you want to go without knowing if you really can or can’t have sex? How long will you deny yourself that pleasure? How many women will you let get away because you think you can’t be with them?”
He tried to find a rational reason why this was a bad idea when everything inside him wanted to try. But he didn’t want to use her like that. “You’re my sister’s friend and business partner.”
“You guys, this might not be such a good idea.” They’d completely forgotten about Dr. Porter.
Drake wished he’d shut up because the more Drake thought about it, he wanted to do it. Or at least try. And he had to admit, he felt a stirring inside him he hadn’t felt in a long time.
Anticipation. Need. Hunger. They all started to wake up inside him.
Adria walked back to the coffee table and held up the laptop and stared at Dr. Porter. “Talk therapy is good and all, but I think what we both need is a little sex therapy. And you’re not invited.” She closed the laptop lid on whatever Dr. Porter’s reply might have been.
Adria held Drake’s gaze. Mind made up, she didn’t back down. “How long should I go without knowing if I can let go, feel like a whole woman, and find satisfaction with a man? I deserve to feel wanted and needed and be okay with that, don’t I?”
He nodded because he’d always made sure the woman he was with enjoyed it as much as he did.
“Whatever and whoever we are outside this cabin makes no difference. In here, you and me, we’ll give each other what we’ve both been missing.”
Drake still hesitated. “Don’t get me wrong, I want to, but I’m not sure how this will go between us. We barely know each other.”
That seemed like it should have been her line.
“I don’t need you to love me, Drake, I just want you to want me. It seems like something about me appealed to you, enough that when you held me, your body responded.”
About the author:
NY Times & USA Today bestselling author JENNIFER RYAN writes suspenseful contemporary romances about everyday people who do extraordinary things. Her deeply emotional love stories are filled with high stakes and higher drama, 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 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. For information about her upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter: www.jennifer-ryan.com/newsletter.
To celebrate the release of TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan, we’re giving away a Wild Rose Ranch hardcover set to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a hardcover set of Dirty Little Secret, Restless Rancher, and Tough Talking Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 5/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!