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A chance encounter with the woman who ran out on him leads Jess Jansen to gamble on love one last time.
For Jess Jansen, grief and guilt are as much a part of him as riding herd. Twenty-two years he’s longed for the woman who ran out on him, and now his luck is about to change. Needing a place to hole up during a thunderstorm, the Lazy K looks to be a safe haven. There’s a barn―and a body with soft curves and sapphire eyes he’d know anywhere.
Rachael Weston is a bundle of nerves when Jess suddenly appears at her door. He shunned her once and will again if she foolishly welcomes him back into her life. But when Jess proves innocent of wrongdoing, Rachael fears revealing to him the one truth that just might cause him to turn his back on her―for good.
“I severed our relationship!” Jess kicked aside the quilts and lunged to his feet. “You ran out on me.”
Anger sprang into her eyes. “I did not. You shunned me on the boardwalk and then you ceased all contact with me.”
“The hell I did.”
“Oh?” She fisted her hands on her hips. “You didn’t shun me?”
Heat crept up his neck, spread to his cheeks. “That I did do, because I didn’t have a choice. Carl was with me. You and I had agreed to not give our families reason to suspect we favored each other until we were ready to tell them.”
“I would’ve accepted your explanation, except…” Her brow furrowed. “What are you doing on your feet? Lie back down before you do more damage to your back.”
“My back’s fine.”
Her gaze rapidly filled with damnation. “You lied about your health?”
“How the hell else was I going to convince you to let me stay?” he groused. “And don’t change the subject. Finish what you were going to say.”
“You know the rest.” She pivoted on her heel and strode toward the kitchen.
“You’re not getting away this time.” He went after her, gently grasped her arm and turned her to face him. “I’ve waited twenty-two years to hear your side of the matter. I’m not waiting any longer. Spill it.”
“My, my, what a tyrant you’ve become.”
Jess rolled his eyes. “I’ve been called worse. Now talk.”
“I’m sure you have.” She wrinkled her nose in distaste before pulling free from his grasp. “I saw Alexandra and Cynthia at the dress shop before I saw you and Carl. Alexandra told Cynthia you didn’t favor relations of any kind. I didn’t believe her, but then, you shunned me and stopped meeting me.” She squared her shoulders. “I waited for you, but you never came.”
“I came,” he spat. “You were nowhere to be found.”
“You’re a liar! I was at your pa’s lineshack every day for a week.” Her gaze narrowed. “Where were you?”
“For a week? What the hell for? Everyone knew Carl and I were in the calaboose.”
“You were not. I would’ve known if Sheriff Crumb had locked you in his jail cell. The gossips’ would’ve talked about nothing else the whole time you were there.”
“I wasn’t in the Coyote jail. I was in the Pueblo jail.”
At the stunned expression on her face, his blood turned cold. Brawling with his brother. Shattered glass. Ten days of miserable hell. He’d always assumed she’d known. Pa had said everyone knew. But she hadn’t, and he swallowed hard, felt the regret for what should have been burn his gut. “I didn’t abandon you,” he said quietly before taking her hand and leading her to the table. “Sit. Let me explain.”
Angela J. Shirley
Julie Lence has managed to combine romance and danger in this book and as I turned each page, I could not wait to see what she had planned for her readers. Not a fan of romance, I can honestly said she has recruited me and I plan on reading more of her books. Glad I found her. Anyone that loves westerns with some romance intertwined will enjoy this sweet, often sad story which ends with such joy after all the sadness. Julie has managed to develop EACH character in
such a way that you feel you are right there with them. If you ever wonder if a past love will return into your life, well Jess and Rachel are proof it can happen. I felt EVERY emotion these two experienced as Julie took the time to "personalize" them with human emotions that anyone who has loved and lost has felt. Through all the heartache, happiness does arrive for these two! Lol, I was dying to sleep during the week I had mapped out how many pages I was going to read each night, but found myself wanting to read more. This book is by no means boring and will have you laughing, crying, wondering and rejoicing. Keep writing Julie, we need you!
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