By: Author Aden Lowe
Released On: September 15th, 2014
Genre: Western Romance
*Recommended for ages 18 and up due to sexual situations and some strong language*
When a legendary predator decides prize horses should be on his menu, Kate takes the advice of her neighbor ranchers and hires a big game hunter to track the mountain lion and remove the threat. The hunter arrives to take up the trail, but instead of the seasoned older man she expects, he's young and impossibly sexy. Freshly back from deployment to Afghanistan as a special forces operative, Jakob needs to clear his head of the horrors of war. When his uncle is injured, Jakob steps in to fulfill the older man's commitment to hunt down a mountain lion on the other side of the state. The prospect of several days in the wilderness with only his horses and dogs for company sounds like the ideal opportunity. Except the infuriating female rancher insists on going along for the ride.
Continuing her wide circuit of the rig, Kate's attention fell to the custom crates built into the bed of the pickup. That explained it. Dog kennels meant the hunter had arrived hours earlier than she expected. But why bring his own horses? As far as she'd heard, most only brought their dogs, and the rancher was expected to provide whatever transportation the hunter preferred, whether it was horses or ATVs. She'd already had two heavy duty ATVs prepared, packed with provisions and extra fuel, in expectation.
And where was the hunter, anyway? Turning, she looked down by the barn, expecting to see a stranger poking around. Nothing. Puzzled, she examined the truck closer. Surely he hadn't slept in it? No one deliberately slept in a truck the night before hitting the trail with days in the saddle ahead. And yet, where else could he be?
She approached the driver's door carefully and stretched to try and see through the dark tinted window. Nothing visible, of course. A tap at the window should wake anyone inside, so she gave it a try, and stepped back to wait.
A heavy hand dropped onto her shoulder and she jumped hard, biting back a surprised yelp, and swung, her knuckles landing solidly on a hard jaw.
The deep male grunt confirmed she'd landed a good blow. Long fingers circled her wrist in a grip that promised to easily crush the small bones if she resisted.
Frozen in place, Kate glared up. And up, past a strong throat, beard-shadowed jaw, unsmiling mouth, and straight nose to meet a startlingly green glare. "I'll let go if you promise not to hit me again."
Kate nodded willingness to comply and took a fast step back as soon as she was free, while her lower body clenched in sudden tense awareness. "Who the hell are you? And why are you parked by my house?" Dammit, she sounded flustered and breathless, rather than stern and commanding. Damn hormones picked the most ridiculous and inconvenient times to wake up and kick her ass.
His lip quirked a little, as if he could read her thoughts as clearly as the newspaper. "Sorry to startle you, ma'am. I'm Jakob Barger. We spoke yesterday evening I think?" He waited for her nod of recognition. "I pulled in after two and didn't want to disturb your stock, so I parked up here. I hope that's okay?"
The combination of gravelly voice and contrite attitude set more hormones on the rampage by way of thundering her pulse through her pelvis. "Kate Holt. Sorry for the… uh," she brushed a hand over her own jaw to indicate the reddening mark on his. "I don't normally go around hitting perfect strangers."
The same long fingers that had circled her wrist gently probed the red mark. "Couldn't prove it by me." A sudden sheepish grin broke the tension. "I don't normally go around startling harmless women either, so I guess we're even. If you'll show me where to park my rig, I'd like to let my animals stretch their legs while I get everything ready."
"Of course. Can I hitch a ride? I'll help you unload." No way he'd get that big-ass rig parked without someone directing him either, but she didn't say that.
"Thanks." He efficiently loaded his animals back into the trailer, then rounded the front of the truck in long easy strides and opened the passenger door and stood waiting. Evidently he meant to hold the damn door for her to climb in.
Kate gave a little shrug. Whatever floated his boat, as long as he caught that lion, made no difference to her. Except he stood there watching her. "You know you don't have to hold the door for me, right? I can manage that little task for myself." Annoyance crept into her voice.
Reacting to what he probably thought was her resistance to being taken care of in any way by a man, Barger raised his hands and stepped away from the truck. "Suit yourself." He crossed back to the driver's side.
Kate took advantage of his attention being elsewhere to get to the passenger door. Now why the hell did she need to hide her limp? She never bothered with it, and he would see it sooner rather than later anyway, while she helped him park and unload. Certainly not vanity—she'd long ago given that up, settling for neat and clean, or hardworking when that wasn't possible.
So what on earth had her hiding her weakness from Jakob Barger? It wasn't like she had even a remote chance in hell at getting his attention, or even truly wanted to, despite the uproar he'd put her hormones into. Still, it might be nice to have a man like him of her own. Tall and solid with muscle, handsome in a rough sort of way, and evidently quick witted.
Kate shook the nonsense from her head and climbed into the passenger seat of his truck, realizing the error too late. The warm musky scent of healthy male blended seamlessly with horse, leather and hay, and stood up to introduce itself, much to the delight of her libido. Oh shit, she was in serious trouble here. Thoughts of a week or more on the trail alone with owner of that scent did something funny to her stomach.
He climbed behind the wheel and started the truck, and blasted the interior of the truck with a combination of hard beat and screaming guitar. He hurried to turn the volume down. "Sorry, forgot it was so loud."
At least his scent no longer consumed her awareness. "What the hell was that anyway?"
Jakob glanced at her as he backed the trailer slowly toward the split in the driveway. "What do you mean? You've never heard Metallica?" When she shook her head, he stopped the truck a moment to fiddle with the CD player. "This is called 'Enter Sandman'. One of my favorites. Listen?" When she nodded again, he turned it up to just above normal listening volume for her.
The catchy tune quickly gave way to the hard beat from earlier, and a growling voice blended perfectly. "Say your prayers little one, Don't forget my son…" Kate listened, captivated, as something in that voice reached into her and gripped a part of her she hadn't known existed. By the time the last notes trailed away, she knew without a doubt, she'd found something entirely new and unexpected.
Jakob watched her, not hiding his knowing smile. "Gotcha." His exact duplication of the growl on the CD sent a shiver down her spine. "Not what you expected?" His voice had gone back to normal, but her newly trained ear picked up the sinister growl hiding within the gravelly tones.
The shudder of appreciation wasn't easy to conceal, but Kate thought she managed it fairly well. "Not at all. I've never been interested in that kind of music. Always just turned the dial as quickly as possible."
"Hang around me a while. I'll show you something far more interesting than what you're used to." The way his gaze swept over her features, paused at her breasts, and continued downward said he fully intended the double meaning.
Okay, she really needed to change the subject. The lane to the barn appeared, offering the perfect opportunity. "Go forward and bear left here. You'll round the barn to the right and pull around back. I have a shed back there if you'd rather park under cover, or you can park just to the side of the shed."
The truck stopped and Jakob nodded once before putting it in gear and following directions. "Do I get an answer now? Or do I have to wait until I catch you a lion?"
"An answer to what?"
"Will you hang around me enough for me to show you some interesting things?"
Oh…boy. Every more severe epithet she'd ever known fled right out of her head. So much trouble. "That—" She had to pause and clear her throat to get the breathy, wanton tone out of her voice. She tried again, "That depends." Better.
"On what?" The grin he flashed her way said he knew all about the pulse that suddenly pounded her core. "I haven't decided yet."
It was a good thing he'd stopped the truck behind the barn, waiting to see where he should go next. She opened her door and bailed when self-preservation demanded she get the hell away from all that overwhelming maleness. The man absolutely oozed sex at the moment, and she wasn't equipped to deal with that sort of assault on her senses. Nothing in her life had prepared her for that.
Exclusive Blog Tour Interview with Jakob
We're here with Jakob Barger, main character of Big Game: Hunted Love #1, by Aden Lowe, to get a little insight on the book and what might be in store for Kate and Jakob in their second book, at the end of the Hunted Love series.
**Jakob, I gathered you spent a lot of time with your Uncle Frank as you were growing up. Were you close to your parents at all?
Jakob: My dad was killed when I was ten. He was a firefighter. But yes, I was close to him. After he died, Uncle Frank sort of stepped in to help my mom. She was devastated without my dad. I grew up hearing stories of how much they loved each other.
**What were you thinking when you first realized you were falling for Kate?
Jakob: Part of me was terrified. I knew she was at least attracted to me, but I had no idea if it was more than that for her. I was also relieved in a way, to know that the kind of love I'd heard of all my life actually could happen more than just that one time. I'd always been afraid it was some kind of fluke or something, and certainly never expected to care that much about anyone. A lot of people go through life without even hoping that can happen to them. Hell, most of the guys I know don't even give a damn, and I probably wouldn't either if I hadn't heard those stories as a kid.
** What was it about Kate that initially got your attention?
Jakob: Hahaha, her fist. Seriously, I'm not really sure. I think it was partly her strength, but she was also this really odd mixture of innocence and experience… It's hard to explain. The closest I can think of is when people say someone is 'wise beyond their years'. Only with her, it didn't apply only to the big 'life lesson' things, but to every single facet of her. I have a thing with puzzles, can't resist them, and to me, she presents the ultimate puzzle. I'm willing to spend the rest of my life trying to figure her out.
And there you have it. Don't miss the next installment of the Hunted Love series, Bounty, due out in a couple of weeks.
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