Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hooked - Cat Johnson

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HOOKED (Studs in Spurs, Book 4) by Cat Johnson





His last eight seconds could lead to the longest, most satisfying ride of his life.
Annie Grant is at the top of her game as an on-air interviewer for the pro bull-riders tour. In all those years standing within microphone range of thousands of sexy cowboys, she’s never been tempted…until now. Now that respected veteran Luke Carpenter is no longer with his longtime girlfriend, he’s back on the market. And Annie is buying.
Luke knows his days are numbered. Every year the rookies get younger, the bulls get ranker and, like it or not, the time is coming when he’ll be hanging up his spurs. After a sizzling hot night with Annie, he realizes that maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks. But quicker than a bull can spin, things get complicated.

Tragedy forces Luke into a no-win decision: hang onto the tail end of his career, or retire early for his family. Either way, he can live with his choice. Question is, can he live without Annie?
Warning: Contains knock-your-boots-off cowboy lovin, some up close and personal interviews of the oral persuasion, and a happy ending…cowboy style.

Enjoy this G-Rated Excerpt from HOOKED

“Look, Annie. I have one thing to say then I’ll leave you alone.” Mustang’s gaze zeroed in on her face as she waited. The fact he’d used her name and hadn’t followed it up with the usual darlin’ told her he was serious. “For years now we’ve worked with you and you’ve been nothing but professional. Not a one of us will think any less of you if you decide to go for it with Luke.”


Next to Mustang, arms crossed over his chest, Slade nodded. “Agreed.”
Annie let out a half-laugh, half-sigh. “First of all, you’re assuming I’m interested in going for it. Second, who says Luke, or any of the other guys, are interested in me? Huh? With all the pretty young things hanging around the arena after the events to meet you guys—” and do other things, “—why would anyone look twice at me?”
At thirty-something—Annie couldn’t even bring herself to name the exact number in her head—she felt suddenly very old next to the barely twenty-somethings hanging around in pursuit of their own champion bull rider.
Slade rolled his eyes and let out a snort. “Yeah, right.”
Meanwhile, Mustang laughed. “Yeah, you’re really old. Jeez, woman. No young girl is going to turn Luke’s head when a real woman is interested. Luke’s been around here long enough to know the real deal when he sees it.”
Was Mustang saying Luke thought Annie was the real deal? Huh. Maybe Luke had talked to them about her while they were hanging out. The guys had all gone for dinner and beers together last night.
“Did Luke say that?” Her traitorous heart pounded as she waited for the answer to what was probably an incredibly presumptuous question. She was playing right into Mustang’s hand, letting him get her hopes up about Luke when she was supposed to be playing it cool. She sucked at this stuff.
“I won’t speak for Luke, darlin’.” Mustang shook his head as he finally opened the door and waited for her to step through. “But you can ask him yourself, now can’t you?”

Damn cowboy code. One rider would never betray the confidence of another. Annie should have known better than to even hope they would.

As they walked down the hallway toward the arena, Mustang glanced at her again. “I can tell you this though. Any man who wasn’t interested in getting to know you better is crazy.”
“Mustang Jackson, are you flirting with me?” She laughed, happy to have the subject stray from Luke into territory she could deal with.
He shook his head with a grin. “No, ma’am. If I was flirting, you’d know it.”
On the other side of Mustang, Slade let out a burst of a laugh. “Oh yeah. I can vouch for that.”


Slade’s cell phone rang and he excused himself to take the call, leaving her to walk alone with Mustang. 

“Listen, I’m just saying don’t wait for what you want. None of us knows how long we’ve got. Not here on this earth and certainly not here in the pros. In eight seconds out there in that arena, a man’s whole life can change.”
  
Annie sobered immediately. She knew. She’d seen it happen. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Make sure you do.” Mustang tipped his hat. Then he headed down the stairs to the rider’s dressing room, leaving Annie with quite a bit to think about.
Annie must have been thinking harder than she realized, because the next thing she knew she’d walked head on into something about as hard as a brick wall, although a lot better smelling.

The rich scent of his cologne—a combination of leather and spice perhaps—assaulted her senses as she gazed up and into the tempting, handsome face of Luke Carpenter. He grabbed both her arms in his big, firm grasp and steadied her.
Tiny, incredibly endearing crinkles appeared in the corners of his intense blue eyes as he smiled down at her. “Whoa, there. Where are you heading in such a daze?”
He released his hold, but the warmth where his hands had been remained. 
Flustered at being caught by the very man who’d been occupying her mind and had caused the daze, Annie scrambled for an excuse.
“I, uh, need to change before the broadcast.”
She held up the drycleaner bag full of clothes draped over her arm, feeling the need to prove to him she wasn’t lying. That it wasn’t thoughts of how and when to make her move on him that had her so distracted.
Ah, gotcha. A woman has to look her best for the cameras.” He smiled.

What was he saying? That she needed all the time she could get to look good? No, of course not. Now she was being paranoid.
Luke continued. “I better do a little prep work myself.”
“Why? You look great already.” And smell even better.
“I meant I need to get my rope cleaned and rosined up, but thanks.” Luke grinned and Annie couldn’t help but stare at his lips, wondering if they’d be soft or firm when—if—he ever kissed her.
She swallowed hard. “Oh, yeah, of course. Um, maybe I should get that on camera. You know, for the viewers. They might like to see all the preparation you guys go through before a ride.”
God, did that sound as lame to him as it did in her own head? Hopefully it wasn’t totally obvious to Luke that this idea for a piece was strictly so she could spend more time with him, even if it was on camera.
“Great idea. Anytime. You know where to find me. Right now I better get. See ya later?”
She nodded. “Later.”
With the tip of his brown cowboy hat, he was gone, but the effects lingered on. Annie sagged against the wall and drew in a deep breath to settle herself.

 REVIEW:   You've heard it all week - we've got cowboys - young ones, old ones, all of them make a gal weak in the knees!  As much as readers will come to love Slade, Mustang, and Chase but I have to tell you, you're gonna fall for Luke.  Excluding myself, the only girl who is perfect for him is Annie. 

Annie embodies all that you want in a heroine: she's strong, she professional and sassy.  I love that she is surrounded by all that fine manflesh and just feels like one of the boys - until she wants to be Luke's girl.  Once he's back on the market, Annie is ready to make her dreams come true....she just has to convince him that.  And that's where the fun begins.   

Luke comes across as a polite, experienced "old timer" who's cool has been cracked by the breakup with his long time girlfriend (sort of an unheard of on the circuit). He's not really interested in starting up something new but Annie has her mind set on her long time crush.  Behind all that polite is a raw, hot cowboy - and he knows how to get a girl started....and finished! 

Cat Johnson has a knack for creating stories that grap you and make you want to hang on for the entire ride....even beyond the buzzer.  Her characters have depth and humor and the dialogue is sexy, witty and very, very real!  There is some serious growth in the building story arc of these cowboys - nice to see old friends and make new ones.  This former city girl is "hooked" on the cowboy way - keep\'em coming Ms. Johnson....we are ready to saddle up and ride 'em hard!
RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and a glass of champagne - cheers to a rockin' author and her hunky hero cowboys!  Well done and bring on the next one!!!!!

This book was given to us by the author for an unbiased review. Many thanks.
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