Thursday, 7 May 2015

Blog Stop & Excerpt: Midnight Ride by Cat Johnson

Midnight Ride

Midnight Cowboys #1
By: Cat Johnson
Releasing April 28th, 2015

Midnight Ride

Midnight Cowboys Romance

One bucking bronco…
Oklahoma ranch hand Tyler Jenkins is too young, too sexy, and too damn wild to be tied down by any single woman—for more than a few steamy hours…

One hard-working widow…
Widowed rancher Janie Smithwick is too busy paying off her debts to play rodeo with a reckless young cowboy like Tyler—no matter how hot he gets her…

One midnight ride they’ll never forget…
As a rule, Janie should be dating a man her own age, like her handsome neighbor Rohn—not the twenty-four-year old ranch hand he employs. But once Tyler gets Janie alone—held tight in his arms, pressed against his hard muscled body, burning with desire—the widow realizes that some rules, like broncos, are meant to be broken…

A dark shape, its bulk blocking the window of the back door, caught her eye. Startled, she jumped, but managed to hold in the scream that threatened to sneak out past the hand she’d pressed to her mouth.

Logic replaced fright soon enough and she recognized the cowboy hat and the cowboy beneath it. Living alone had made her jumpy. She wasn’t used to company. She moved toward the door and swung it wide.

I’m so sorry I scared you again. I seem to keep doing that. I didn’t mean to.” He bowed his head in a move that would have looked contrite on anyone else. On Tyler, with a cocky smile lighting his face, it only made him look amused.

It’s okay. I was expecting you. I just got startled, is all.” Janie figured it was simply a symptom of living alone after having people around the place for so many years.

This here’s Colton.” Tyler stepped to the side and hooked a thumb in the direction of the blond

cowboy behind him. Not only had Tyler arrived as promised, but he wasn’t alone. Good thing she had made that extra coffee.

Howdy, ma’am.” The man introduced as Colton tipped his hat to her in greeting. “We spoke on the phone yesterday.”

Yes, we did.” She had to wonder when ranch hands in Oklahoma had gotten so young and so handsome.

They certainly hadn’t seemed so when she’d had a crew working here. Then again, her husband had done all the hiring. Tom had always chosen older, plainer, married men to work for them. It seemed Rohn leaned toward hiring a crew way younger than she was used to having around her own place.

Janie realized she was being rude, leaving them standing in the doorway, and took a step back. “Come on in, both of you. And thank you for calling and letting me know about the fence. I appreciate it.”

Not a problem.” Colton dipped his head. “I didn’t think it would be good to chance having your cows break out and somehow get in with our bulls.”

She laughed. “I don’t know about that. Considering the bulls on your property, I might have me some prize-winning bucking stock in a few years if that were to happen.”

If you’re thinking about breeding your heifers, I could talk to Rohn for you—”

No. That’s okay.” Janie interrupted Tyler’s offer. “I know full well that Rohn’s bulls are potential champion buckers. My stock consists of a few heifers and some cows I was too sentimental to sell with the rest of the stock last year. It would be silly to even think about breeding them with your bulls.”

Tyler shrugged. “Well, if you change your mind, just let me know.”

I will. And thank you.” A beep from the counter behind Janie signaled the pot was done brewing. The fence would wait long enough for them to drink the coffee while it was fresh and hot. “Coffee’s ready. Can I pour you two a cup before we head outside?”

Yes, ma’am. That would be great.” Colton nodded. “Black, lots of sugar if you’ve got it.”

Yeah, I’ve got it.” She smiled as she poured. That was how her husband used to take his. She handed Colton the mug. “Sugar is in that big canister right there on the counter. Spoons are in the drawer just below.”

She’d long ago given up on trying to keep one of those cute little sugar bowls full with Tom and the other guys dipping into it all day. Even though it had been nearly a year since she’d been drinking her coffee alone in the morning—and she only took one teaspoon of sugar in hers—she’d never put the oversized sugar container away. It was too familiar, too much a part of the kitchen, so it remained where it had always been.

Tyler took the mug Janie handed him. “I take cream and sugar in mine . . . if you’ve got any. I’m afraid I’m not as hard-core as Colton here.”

Always the charmer, he treated her to the same self-deprecating smile she’d seen the night before during their odd encounter. Janie smiled.

Don’t worry, so do I. There’s a quart of half-and-half in the fridge. Top shelf.” Coffee without cream and sugar was torture, as far as she was concerned. It didn’t matter how good the beans were or how fancy the machine brewing them.

Thank you, much. I’ll grab it for us both, then.” He nodded, sending the cowboy hat into a dip as he turned to open the refrigerator. Tyler turned back to her with the container in hand. “Then when we’ve all had our coffee, you can come outside and see if Colton and I did a good enough job on the fence for you.”

Janie drew her brows low. “You fixed it already?”

Yes, ma’am.” Colton leaned back against the counter with his mug in his hand.

I was going to help—”

Tyler’s burst of air cut her short. “No gentleman worth anything is gonna let a lady help him do something like dig out a fence post. We handled it just fine on our own.”

Yup,” Colton agreed. “Wasn’t a problem at all.”

Their kindness threatened to bring tears to Janie’s eyes. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

This here fine coffee is thanks enough.” Tyler smiled. “Don’t tell Rohn I said so, but he makes the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted.”

Colton let out a laugh. “Ain’t that the truth. Tastes like he scooped it out of a tire rut after a rainstorm.”

Janie couldn’t control her smile. “Maybe I should come over and give him a lesson.”

The corners of Tyler’s mouth lifted. “I think that’s a very good idea. I can’t think of a better way to start a morning than greeting the day with a beautiful woman and some good coffee.”

His stare was so intense upon her that she felt her cheeks heat. She couldn’t exactly say thank you since he hadn’t said she was that beautiful woman he’d been referring to, but the implication had been there. Judging by the look in his eyes as they focused solely on her, his meaning was clear.

Then I’ll see what I can do . . . about Rohn’s coffee, that is. It’s the least I can do to pay you back for your work on the fence.” Desperate to get out from under his gaze, she threw out that response and then turned toward the counter to add sugar to her own mug.

I’ll look forward to it.” There was amusement in Tyler’s voice as it came from much closer to her than she expected.

He leaned past her to set the container of half-and- half on the counter next to her. The move put him close enough that the combined scents of manly deodorant and good clean sweat hit her. That, along with the warmth radiating off his body as he brushed against her before moving back, had her hyperaware of Tyler. He was a man and she was a woman. Her body knew it and didn’t care he was younger and she was a fool to even think of him that way.

Janie took her time adding cream to her mug. When she finally had no more excuse to hide in the corner, she turned. She was in time to see Colton shoot an amused look at his friend before his mug covered the smirk on his lips.

Tyler was a flirt. Colton knew it. Jed from the lumberyard had known it. Deep down, Janie realized it, too, which made it even more ridiculous that she was letting him get to her. He was a young, cocky ranch hand enjoying life. Enjoying it a bit too much, as far as she could see.

She needed to get herself back on level ground. She was a mature woman who also happened to be the sole owner of a large tract of land, some damn good horses, and a few head of cattle. Things weren’t ideal, but she was hanging on. Those accomplishments were nothing to sneeze at in this economy, especially after last year’s drought, which had been bad enough to put some farms in dire straits.

Searching for a safe topic of discussion, she asked, “So how’s Rohn doing? I don’t get to see him much.”

He’s real good,” Tyler answered before taking a sip from his mug.

Colton frowned. “You think so? It seems to me he’s lonely. When we’re busy working he seems okay, but when things slow down at the end of the day, he looks kinda sad. I think he’s still not over losing his wife.”

Janie nodded. “That I can understand better than most.”

I guess you can.” Colton’s eyes settled on her. “I’d meant to say it before, ma’am. I’m real sorry about Mr. Smithwick’s passing. I’d met him a few times. He was a good man.”

Thank you. He was.” She’d reached the point where she could smile at the good memories and accept the kindness of those who’d known her husband without tearing up. Maybe things were improving after all.

If you need any help, like with the fence, just give Rohn a call and Tyler and I will be right over.

Our other hand, Justin, too. As soon as he’s back to work.”

Thanks.” When Janie glanced at Tyler, she noticed his odd expression as he watched the conversation between her and Colton, maybe because she hadn’t included him in her gratitude. She could rectify that easily enough. “Thank you both. I appreciate the help more than I can say.”

She directed that last to Tyler. For once, there was no amusement in his expression when he focused his piercing blue gaze on her. “It was my pleasure.”

Uncomfortable beneath his scrutiny, she raised her mug. “I guess you’d better finish up so you two can go back to work before Rohn gets mad.”

He’ll get over it.” Tyler’s gaze remained on her.

Still, I didn’t mean to steal his two best hands for the entire morning.”

No stealing involved. I came very willingly. Believe me.”

Her cheeks heated at the implication in Tyler’s words. Watching her face, he smiled, a smile that reached all the way to his eyes.

Janie had a feeling she’d be seeing that smile and those eyes again real soon. Most likely the moment her head hit the pillow and she closed her weary lids, and she feared there wasn’t a damn thing she there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Cat Johnson writes contemporary romance in genres including military and western. Known for her unique marketing and research techniques, she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western footwear for book signings, and a fair number of her consultants wear combat or cowboy boots for a living. For more visit
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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