||May 12, 2008
At Fantasy Ranch, love is a game.
GAVIN CARTER owns Fantasy Ranch, a resort where guests get a week of cowboy love with the hottest cowboys in Wyoming.
REBECCA RYDER’s husband had promised to deliver her fantasy du jour: A cowboy. He died before he could keep that promise. She thinks if she plays the Fantasy Ranch game, just for a second she might have her husband back. And maybe that will be long enough to say goodbye. She doesn’t expect to break the rules. Or to really fall in love.
1) No sex; and 2) No contact or attempted contact after the week is up. Clause number two is accompanied by a clear warning: Any attempt at contact will be considered ‘criminal stalking’ and treated as such. A sure sign the cowboys are very good at making women think they have fallen in love.
Barnes & Noble.com
Hot Southern Lovin'
She rested her elbow on the carry-on slung over her shoulder and glanced at her watch. She’d better go out front to let the limo driver know she was waiting, or else she might miss her ride to the ranch.
Just what she needed. A week without all the clothes she’d packed, and worse, no vibrator. Rebecca swore under her breath. How hard is it to put a piece of luggage on the corresponding flight? Isn’t that what all those obnoxious paper tags are for? She waited for the carousel to make one more round and tried to convince herself she wasn’t stalling. She glanced again at the full-color glossy brochure for Fantasy Ranch gripped in her hand. She was out of her mind alright. And she was definitely stalling.
Maybe Melinda was right about the cowboys, and the ones on the website were just models used for advertising the place. The real ones probably had scraggly beards, three front teeth and hands so callused they’d tear a girl’s skin to pieces.
“Where are you going?”
She didn’t have to look up. The pointed toes of his boots and faded denim that traveled up from there gave the speaker away. A cowboy.
“Crazy apparently,” Rebecca said without making eye contact, focusing again on the brochure. What in the hell had she been thinking spending a small fortune for such a load of crap? She was on her way to the nuthouse alright, and getting there fast.
“I’m headed there myself,” Cowboy said in an obvious attempt at a joke. “I’ll give you a ride.”
He sounded friendly enough, but she didn’t feel like being hit on. She glanced up to tell him so, but was too blindsided to remember what smart-alecky comeback she’d planned to use. Melinda had been right about one thing. If she had to go crazy, he’d definitely be the one to go with.
“Are you Rebecca?” His dark blond hair hung to his chin in silky strands that begged to have fingers dragged through them, and his eyes could melt a girl.
A flush crept over her. No false advertising there. He was even more gorgeous in person. Her stomach did a somersault. What had she been thinking? She couldn’t go through with this. He was hot enough to sway a nun, and he was just the driver. How in the hell was she going to keep her horny hands to herself for a week? Or more to the point, how would she keep them off herself.
The cowboy held her stare and a slow easy smile spread across his face. Her head defogged enough to remember he’d asked her if she was Rebecca, and she hadn’t had the whereabouts to answer him. He spoke before she could twist her tongue around an answer.
“I’ll take that as a yes. I’m Gavin. Let me get this,” he said, reaching for her carry-on and easily hoisting the bag over his shoulder. “You don’t travel this light do you?”
“Gavin?” she managed. “Gavin Carter?”
“You did your homework,” he said with a smile. “I did too. Rebecca Ryder, thirty-two, biotech consultant from South Carolina.”
He summed her up like a bio off a dating site and his appearance was enough to shake her to the core, broad athletic shoulders v-ing down to narrow hips, long muscular legs and a rugged beauty that took her breath away. She forced air into her lungs. No man was going to take her breath away. That’s not what she had flown across the country for.
“You forgot to mention I like riding bareback at sunset and hot ass cowboys,” she said.
“I didn’t know that about you. Like your temper, it wasn’t in your reservation application.”
His smirk nudged her irritation up another notch, but the light that danced in his eyes sent her animosity slithering away.
“Having second thoughts, or just hungry enough to bite my head off?” he asked.
“Both.” She tilted her face to the ceiling and blew a heavy breath. The man was just doing his job - the job she had paid for him to do - nothing she needed to get so miffed about.
“Sorry,” she said, “I’m not usually nasty. Or crazy. I don’t know what I’m doing here. And it looks like they lost my suitcase.”
“We’ll get you settled in the truck and I’ll go check on your luggage. You’ll feel better when we get you to the ranch. I promise.” He reached for her, his hand barely resting on her lower back.
A sizzling shiver shot down her spine and tripped over itself heading back up again. Holy hell, the devil couldn’t have lit her hotter than Gavin Carter and they’d barely gotten past a rocky introduction. She had to get it together if she was going to survive an entire week out here.
He guided her toward the line of double doors that led out of the airport in a gait as sure and unhurried as the rest of his demeanor.
Maybe the cowboy she was assigned to would look good enough to keep things interesting, but not half as good as Gavin. That would make things a whole lot easier.
Parked at the curb was a stretched out Dodge truck with dual tires, a silver ram on the grill and windows tinted as dark as midnight. He held the door while she climbed in and slid across the cool leather seat. Ahhh, relief. The door shut between them, and her breathing resumed on its own. She wasn’t chilled anymore, nope she was hotter than Hades, and considerably worried she might break into a sweat.
And she wasn’t alone either.
“Hi, I’m Marge,” said a middle-aged woman seated with her back to the front of the truck. Marge’s jeans were new, and she had paired them with stylish but orthopedic shoes. Her body was soft and had settled into its current stage of life. She had to be someone’s mother, maybe even someone’s grandmother. Good for her. A woman’s never too old to want a little love or to go after the attention she needs.
Rebecca smoothed the skirt of her cotton sundress and introduced herself. “You think they’re all as hot as the driver?” she added.
“I don’t know if my ticker can take it if they are.” Marge choked on a nervous laugh and patted her chest. “I guess I really didn’t know what I was in for out here.”
“He does get your blood flowing, doesn’t he?” Rebecca let go of her nerves. She wasn’t the only one Gavin affected that way.
Marge sized up Rebecca’s outfit. “Those are cute boots. I couldn’t find any comfortable enough.” She pulled a bottle of champagne from the door. “It’s all just pretend anyway, probably won’t even need them. You want a glass?”
“Sure,” Rebecca said, “I’m parched.” But she wasn’t paying attention to Marge.
Gavin had stowed her carry-on in the truck and was headed back into the airport. He looked as good going as he did coming. A surge of pleasure overtook her, a sensation she hadn’t felt since Todd was alive. At least when the man was that far away she could still breathe.
She was sipping champagne when he opened the door again. A steady fire fanned out from the pit of her stomach, and it had nothing to do with the alcohol. Damned traitorous body.
“Some bags were diverted to another flight, but they’ll be coming in later tonight. Yours will be delivered to the ranch when it arrives,” he said. “In the meantime, I’ll be happy to provide anything you might need.”
She was pretty sure he could provide exactly what she needed, if there wasn’t that No Sex clause in her contract.
“Thanks.” She was careful to keep her voice as natural as possible. “I have a change of clothes in my carry-on. I’ll be fine until tomorrow.”
“Alright then. I’ll take you ladies home.” Gavin’s eyes lingered on her long enough to singe the hair on the back of her neck, then he shut the door and walked around the front of the truck.
“I hope there’s plenty of water in here.” She relaxed into the seat and took a deep breath. “You might have to hose me down before we get there.”
Marge laughed. “If a man looked at me the way he just looked at you, I would have torn his clothes off and thrown him down on the curb.” She looked down at the hand curling nervously in her lap. “I would’ve wanted to anyway.”
“I think I’m going to like you,” Rebecca said.
“No offense, but I hope I’m too busy with some little cowboy half my age to get to know you.” Marge took a long pull and winked at Rebecca over the rim of her glass.
The women laughed again and Rebecca settled back to watch the landscape roll by. She dug her phone from her purse and dialed her sister’s number.
“Hey, ridden one already?” Melinda answered.
“No.” Rebecca rested her head back on the thick leather seat, sinking into it like a pillow. “But from what I’ve seen so far there wasn’t any false advertising.”
“Seriously?” Melinda’s voice was missing its usual spunk. She was having a rough time dealing with Scott’s latest affair, although by now she should be used to the heartache.
“Seriously,” Rebecca said. Her sister needed distraction more than a lecture. “And the airlines didn’t put my bag on the right flight. So I’m out here without my little friend.”
Marge chuckled across from her and lifted her glass in the air. Usually Melinda would have laughed too, but instead she sighed, and the sound of a door slamming echoed from her end of the line.
“I’m sure you’ll manage,” Melinda said, her voice suddenly deflated.
“Mel, you okay?”
“I’ve got to go. Scott’s home.” Melinda dropped her voice to a whisper. “Call me when you get a chance.”
Rebecca dropped her phone back into her purse and sipped her champagne while she watched the back of Gavin’s head through the clear glass that separated him from them. He had taken his hat off and for the second time she imagined running her hands through his silky hair. He caught her eye in the rearview mirror and smiled. She should have had the decency to turn away, but she couldn’t bring herself to stop staring at him.
His thumb tapped out a rhythm on the steering wheel, and the tendons in his forearm danced along. She hadn’t even seen as far as his elbow, but the slight strain of the fabric against his bicep promised it only got better up there. He was golden, like he spent time in the sun, but not enough to turn himself to leather, and there was just the right amount of pale blond hair coating his masculine arms. The lady at the Chamber of Commerce had nailed it. Gavin Carter was easy on the eyes. Very easy on the eyes.
The truck eased to a stop, and beyond the windshield two massive gates swung forward in the standard Wyoming pace. Slow and steady. Scrollwork across the top of the gates spelled out the moniker: Fantasy Ranch. Beyond stood a massive ranch house and several outbuildings flanked by endless acres of natural countryside and the bluest sky in the world. Heaven couldn’t be more beautiful. A woman could definitely lose herself here.
Rebecca raised her glass to Marge. “Let the cowboy games begin.”
Fallen Angels Reviews - Recommended Read
Rebecca Ryder’s husband Todd passed away a year ago. She is ready to get on with her life again and have some fun. Rebecca has found just the place. An authentic ranch in Wyoming where she can have a week long stay with a real-life cowboy who will wine, dine, and treat her like the lady she is. The place is called Fantasy Ranch. It is owned and operated by brothers Garrett and Gavin Carter.
The brochure for Fantasy Ranch has two rules. The first is No Sex. The second rule is No Contact or attempted contact after the week is up or it will be considered criminal stalking. Gavin will be servicing Rebecca for the whole week. He is very easy on the eyes with blond hair, lots of taut muscles, and green eyes. Unfortunately the longer both Rebecca and Gavin spend time with each other the harder it is to follow the rule of No Sex. Also what secret is Marge, one of the guests at Fantasy Ranch hiding?
I thoroughly enjoyed Cowboy Games very much. The sexual tension that developed between Gavin and Rebecca was so hot you would have thought you were in the Mohave Desert. Cowboy Games was such a well written book by Wendi Darlin . When you think of a cowboy as well as how he should be, Gavin is that cowboy. He is sexy, knows how to handle a horse, has that great charm cowboys have about them and he fills out a pair of jeans in all the right areas. Rebecca showed that sometimes you can get lucky twice in finding the man of your dreams. Cowboy Games is filled with romance, fun, a steamy love scene and scorching cowboys. This is why I gave Cowboy Games Five Angels and the title of Recommended Read.
Reviewed by: Cheryl
Simply Romance Reviews - Outstanding Read
Outstanding Read: A "Wendi Darlin’s Cowboy Games is one smokin’ story. From the first page through the last she takes us on a non-stop ride of sexual tension, teasing and a whole lot of loving. The setting is Wyoming on the “Fantasy Ranch” and by the time you finish reading you’ll be looking for some brochures yourself. The characters are strong and tender, stubborn and loving and all together realistic.
Cowboy Games is well written, humorous, and filled with smoldering passion. The sexual tension oozes throughout and the secondary plot is strong enough to keep you on edge worrying for our hero and heroine. All things must come to an end and the week at Fantasy Ranch is no different, but we can hope that Ms. Darlin will invite us back for more experiences in the future. Squeezing itself onto my keeper shelf, I’ll be looking for more of Ms. Darlin’s books to read. I highly recommend you pick this one up and enjoy a little trip to the Fantasy Ranch." —Lynda, Simply Romance Reviews
Dark Divas Reviews - 5 DIVAS
Rebecca Ryder travels to Fantasy Ranch as a tribute to the husband she lost too soon. She expected to have a good time with the cowboys paid to shower women with attention and gauge if she is ready to step back into the dating pool. What she doesn't expect is the owner of Fantasy Ranch, Gavin Carter, everything a woman in need could want and much more. Gavin, hurt by his past, is determined to play the cowboy games according to plan, but Rebecca pushes him beyond risk and throws him against the walls he has built around his own heart. What starts out as mutual attraction crescendos into a stunning affair as hot as it is tender.
Wendi Darlin delivers in this page-turning erotic romance. In turns witty, fun, deep, and romantic, the story is addictive from the first. The setting is amusing and tangible. The characters are smart, feisty, and well-written. Gavin walks right out of every cowboy-lovin girl's fantasy. Their affair is one of the best kind—forbidden—the secrecy adding to the excitement of an already intriguing plot. Everything an erotic or romance reader could want, Cowboy Games should be on everyone's Must-Read list! I give Cowboy Games 5 Divas! - Amber, Dark Divas Reviews
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