Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Crooked Tree Ranch by RJ Scott

Crooked Tree Ranch
Nate Todd knows things have to change for Crooked Tree to survive. He just doesn’t know how much of an effect Jay Sullivan will have on his life.

On the spur of the moment, with his life collapsing around him, Jay Sullivan answers an ad for a marketing expert on a dude ranch in Montana. With his small family, he moves lock, stock and barrel from New York to Montana to start a new life.

Foreman and owner of a third of the ranch, ex rodeo star Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Todd has been running Crooked Tree Ranch. His partners in the business convince him that he needs to get an expert in to help the ranch survive. He knows things have to change, but when the new guy turns up, with a troubled family in tow, he just isn’t prepared for how much.

Nate and Jay are so perfect for each other.  Okay they may not exactly be up to Jack and Riley caliber from Ms. Scott's Texas series but boy do they have that push and pull chemistry that had me hooked from beginning to end.  And talk about the end, I didn't want it to ever end.  On the surface it looks like the typical city boy meets cowboy romance but other than Jay's horse riding skills, or lack thereof, those differences don't really play in to the story. Some people may not find there differences not effecting the story very realistic but I speak from personal experience, it does happen.  My mother was the quintessential city girl and my dad was country all the way but Mom took to farming like she was born to it, so it really does happen.  I found not going the way of that cliche quite refreshing.

The secondary characters had me just as intrigued.  Nate's brothers, Jay's sister, niece, and nephew; there were more than a few times that I wanted to shake that niece of his to make her wise up but the truth is, she's a teenager and that's what they do, aggravate and warm your heart all in the same breath.  Definitely a must read and I eagerly await Rancher's Son, book 2 in this Montana series, which according to the author's publishing schedule should tentatively arrive January 2016.


     Nate Todd pinched the bridge of his nose and attempted to quell the combination of anger and fear that churned inside him. When he woke up to an absolutely perfect Montana morning, he’d never expected his day to turn sour so damn fast. The voice on the other end of the phone kept going, the tone a mixture of apology and demand.
     “I’m sorry, Nate. If it was just up to me then I’d let the feed delivery happen, but Dad is getting pissy with it being five months outstanding.”
     “It’s probably an oversight,” Nate explained. Marcus was the one who looked after the accounts and they’d never had problems before.
     Samuel continued. Nate had gone to school with him, and this was humiliating for Sam to be telling him this. Hell, Nate hated that people outside Crooked Tree might think they were struggling. “We spoke to Marcus last week, Nate. He said he was going to make good on the outstanding balance when we explained that the account was in arrears. I wasn’t going to bother you with this, but the account is still overdue and I kinda felt I owed you an explanation since your order we got yesterday isn’t going to be filled.”
     Tension banded Nate’s head. This was the third supplier in the last week that had implied Crooked Tree was falling behind in paying. Hell, not just implied—two of them had refused to deal with the ranch. Did they all talk to each other? Jeez. When the first place’s delivery was stopped, Nate had considered that it was probably an error. He kept meaning to talk to Marcus about it, but never quite got around to it. When the veterinarian turned around on the call before this one, and basically said no to the usual Crooked Tree meds order without citing a reason, Nate had been angry but hadn’t been sure where to place his anger. Things had been up and down with the suppliers over the last few years. One day Marcus was on the ball, the next he’d be wallowing in grief and unable to keep on top of things. This made for uncomfortable relationships with those owed money by the ranch.
     “I need the feed,” Nate said. The door opened into the kitchen and Gabe walked in. Nate turned his back on his brother and spoke quieter. “Take the money from my private account.”
     Sam coughed and paused for a few moments. “You’ll need to top it up, Nate.”
     “I’ll sort it this morning,” he said firmly. “You have my word.”
     He ended the call and turned to face his brother, expecting to have to explain anything Gabe may have overheard. Instead he didn’t have to be worried. Gabe obviously had something on his mind if the concern written on his face was anything to go by.
     “You need to come out and see this,” Gabe said. He turned and left without further explanation. Nate followed him and pushed the concerns about the unpaid accounts to the back of his head. He’d talk to Marcus as soon as he could.
     “What’s wrong?” Nate asked worried. “Is it the horses? A guest?”
     “It’s Luke,” Gabe said softly. Gabe pushed open the door of the small barn next to the house. Early evening sunlight flooded the dim interior and dust motes danced in the breeze caused by opening the door. It took a few seconds to focus in on what Gabe was pointing at.
     Luke, his youngest brother, lay on the floor spread-eagled and naked, staring up at the roof and humming softly.
     “Fuck, is he drunk?” Nate asked.
     Gabe picked up the small bag discarded by the door and handed it to Nate who sniffed the contents. Nate knew immediately what his little brother, spirited and full of the need to explore his world, had done.
     “Jeez,” Nate groaned. Then, squaring his shoulders, he crossed to his brother. Luke looked up at him and grinned like a freaking idiot.
     “You’re not even seventeen yet,” Nate snapped at Luke.
     “July twenty-eight today…” Luke slurred. “Hundred and fifty days ‘til Christmas an’ my birthday. I wan’ a bike an’ a Barbie an…” Luke giggled and held a hand in front of his face. Then he proceeded to examine his hand as if he hadn’t seen it before.
     Nate despaired at the fact that whatever he said, Luke did what he wanted anyway. Luke looked up at him with a goofy grin and a spaced out expression on his face. Nate bit back his temper.
     “It won’t hurt him, Nate,” Gabe placated. “We were younger than him when we tried it.”
     “We were rebelling, Gabe. What’s he got to rebel against? He does what he wants anyway, not like we stop him.” That much was true. Luke was an independent teenager and a good kid—responsible, organized…everything Nate hadn’t been at sixteen.
     Gabe shrugged then chuckled. Great. Now he had Gabe laughing. Admittedly, finding Luke naked in the middle of their barn, staring up at the roof and talking about his Christmas Day birthday, was kinda funny on the surface. Still, drugs anywhere near his little brother were a serious matter and one Nate had to take seriously. Crossing his arms over his chest, Nate widened his stance. Add Luke high on pot to finding out Crooked Tree owed thousands in unpaid feed bills and he was quietly losing his cool.
     Gabe copied his stance but was still half smiling. “Seems I remember you were sixteen when Mom found you stretched out in the back yard, talking to the sky, and you told her you’d been drinking.”
     Nate heard what Gabe said and instantly recalled the day with the familiar grief of remembering his mom.
     He was angry. “That’s beside the point. You were younger than me when you did it, but we never got found out.” Even as he spoke he knew what he was saying was complete crap, and just ever so slightly irrational. He also knew Gabe was going to call him on it.
     “What exactly are you angry at?” Gabe began in a patient tone. “That Luke has pot, or that he was caught with it?”
     Nate pointedly ignored Gabe. “You’re both my responsibility.” He wasn’t lying. He wanted his brothers to have a different life than he’d had, a better life, more choices. Why did they seem to follow what he did and then not listen to him? He wanted them to see that they could take a better path than the one he’d had to follow out of stupidity and necessity.
     Gabe thumped him on the arm. “Jesus, Nate, I stopped being your responsibility the day I turned eighteen.”
     “I’m still the head of the family,” Nate snapped. That was always his final defense and one he knew wouldn’t stand up with his brothers. Ever since their parents had died in 2004—when he himself was eighteen, Gabe fifteen and Luke barely nine—he had assumed the mantle of sometimes-parent, even though he was fully aware it was a losing battle. Hell, Gabe had been the easy one and Luke had been a good kid until he’d fallen in with the Hemsley twins.

Author Bio:
RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over sixty titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.
Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

EMAIL: rj@rjscott.co.uk

KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

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