Fiercely independent, Elizabeth Bowcock – “Doc Liz” as she’s known by all — vows to raise her orphaned niece as her own. Unfortunately, the child’s grandfather has declared the unwed doctor to be an unfit guardian and refuses to deliver her to Liz’s care until she finds herself a man…
Enter dark-haired, devil-eyed Cutter McKenzie. Outcast for his Cheyenne blood, the handsome halfbreed volunteers to pose as Elizabeth’s husband. But though his wicked sex appeal threatens to undermine Liz’s independence, the road to St. Louis promises even greater perils…
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
“Mmmm, mmm,” Cutter murmured, embracing her as though she were his long-lost kissin’ cuz. “You’re looking better than ever, gal.”
Elizabeth’s heart jolted violently at the deep, unfamiliar voice. Warm lips kissed her cheek in a familiar way, taking just a fraction too long to leave her flushed skin, lingering at her lobe.
She swallowed convulsively.
He whispered in her ear. “Gotta loosen up, Doc, if you want this to look good… Come on now,” he coaxed, forcing her weight against him.
His husky voice set Elizabeth’s pulse to pounding, and her body into sudden paralysis. Powerless to fight him, she let him adjust her at will. Her legs felt wobbly, her body no more than mush in his hands.
“That’s it, bright eyes; now turn real slow,” he whispered, his lips scalding against her face, “act like you’re damned glad to see me.”
Elizabeth suppressed a helpless shudder as she worked up the courage to turn, fully intending to slap the britches off the fool who’d dared to be so intimate with her. But the man who faced her left her momentarily dazed, her throat too thick to speak.
Good night, but he was tall!
Her eyes refused to lower, but neither would they move up to his face. She forced them, and found dark hair flowing from beneath a dun-colored hat.
He cocked a brow at her, amusement flickering in his black eyes. He winked and she felt her knees go instantly weak… yet she couldn’t tear her gaze away even as they buckled.
He reached out to steady her, but Elizabeth continued to gape, helpless to do anything else. The longer she looked, the more she swore he didn’t have pupils, his eyes were so blessed dark… his face too tawny… his cheekbones too high. But it was those lips of his that unnerved her so: insolent, smug, kicked up only slightly at the corners, as though he couldn’t quite stifle his humor at her expense. His gaze roved, lazily assessing her, sliding down over her body slowly, seductively, then returning to her face to bore into her with silent expectation.
He anticipated some reaction from her, Elizabeth thought dimly, but couldn’t think what—couldn’t think, period. Staring as though transfixed, she tried to decipher his stony features but found her brain as useless as her limbs. But it occurred to her in that muddled moment that maybe he had appraised her with more than a mild interest, and her pulse quickened at that prospect. No one had ever looked at her in quite that way.
Those dark eyes still piercing her, he raised two fingers to his brim, tipping his hat in greeting as the remnants of a smile turned the corners of his mouth. “Howdy, Liz,” he said huskily. “It’s been a mighty long time, gal.”
Elizabeth shook her head, denying it, for if she’d ever set eyes on the man before now, she would have remembered. He wasn’t the type to be forgotten. Unconsciously she lifted a finger to her cheek, to the spot where he’d kissed her. Her throat constricted, seeming suddenly parched, and she licked her lips desperately as they parted to speak.
To her mortification, no words came.
For the first time in her life, Elizabeth Bowcock found herself dumbstruck. In spite of the man’s amused expression, he wore an air of menace about him like a second skin, and a tremor shook her as she averted her gaze to his boots. Dangerous, she thought.
The man was dangerous.
She hadn’t missed the fact that he had the most vicious-looking revolver she’d ever spied jammed into his gun belt, but she’d only just spotted the ink black knife hilt peeking over his faded leather boots. And those boots of his told a tale in themselves, for they were unmistakably U.S. Cavalry, and ominously inconsistent with his buckskin dress. There was little comfort in that he didn’t wear his weapons as Dick Brady did, like cheap jewelry. The fact that he kept his blade concealed and wore his gun casually, as though it were not there at all, told her all she needed to know. He was no gun-strutting cowpuncher. He was the real thing. As for the boots, she could think of a dozen reasons he should be outfitted so, not one of them reassuring.
A quick, wide-eyed glance to Jo told her that she was in no immediate danger, however. Jo’s lips lifted at the corners, and she, too, was on the verge of a smile, her kindly cinnamon eyes warm with humor.
Not really understanding why she felt compelled to, Elizabeth decided to play along. “Uh… um…”
Mercy’s sake, she didn’t even know his name! How was she going to pretend to know him if she didn’t know his blessed name? In panic, her gaze skidded to Jo.
“Cutter,” Jo supplied with a laugh, seeming to read Elizabeth’s thoughts. Her eyes gleamed with mischief. “I believe you have her tongue-tied, brother dear. Reckon she thought she’d never see you again.” Seeing Elizabeth’s confused expression, she laughed softly. “Isn’t that right, Liz?”
“Right?” Elizabeth nodded woodenly. Jo’s brother? “Oh—yes! I did think I’d never see you again!” She nodded dutifully for the benefit of their audience.
All eyes reverted suspiciously to Cutter, leaving her somewhat doubtful of her performance. Her brow furrowed.
Warmth invaded his eyes as he gently chucked her under the chin, much as a brother would a cherished younger sister.
Elizabeth felt suddenly too warm, almost as though she were being roasted over a slow fire. And the heat of his fingers… lingered upon her chin long after he’d withdrawn his hand. Mortified that he could affect her so, she averted her gaze to Brady. He was watching her with unflinching eyes.
His eyes narrowing to shadowy slits, Cutter turned to Brady and his men, sending them each an unspoken challenge. Brady fidgeted, flinging Elizabeth a doubtful look before turning away. The rest of his outfit followed immediately, slapping one another consolingly on the shoulder.
Elizabeth’s brows rose as she watched the exchange, astounded at the ease with which Cutter had handled Brady and his men. She opened her mouth to speak, but the words stuck in her throat like a spoonful of dry sugar. The man was just too smug for his own good. He’d had no right to be so familiar with her, but she did owe him her gratitude, no matter how reluctant it came. “I suppose I should thank you,” she said.
Cutter grinned. “Anytime, Doc.”
Elizabeth Bowcock has just received notification that her sister has passed away. She must come with her husband to get approval from her niece Katie’s grandfather, then she may take Katie to raise. The problem is…she’s not married. Cutter McKenzie thinks he’s the solution to Elizabeth’s problem.
Both the characters and the plot were well-developed. I really liked both the characters, too. I did take exception when they were starting out on the journey, though. Cutter has gotten Elizabeth drunk, and he takes some liberties – like stolen kisses. Other than that, I loved the way Cutter and Elizabeth interacted. There were some down right hilarious scenes that were very easy to visualize. Plus, I loved how their relationship seemed so real. It didn’t seem like some “never gonna happen” fairytale.
When Elizabeth and Cutter arrive to meet Katie, they are greeted by Miss Mimi. I thought she was hilarious! She cracked me up when she was having a sex talk with Elizabeth! Then you had your villain, and his entourage. There were some very scary, heart-pounding moments.
Overall, I rate it 4 stars! I very much enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading more from Tanya Crosby!
Warnings: some strong language, violence, and steamy scenes (not what I’d describe as explicit, though)
Tanya has written seventeen novels, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including the New York Times and USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two dogs and two cats in northern Michigan.