Braden Montgomery is certain about three things: one, luck is for suckers; two, time spent outdoors is what keeps him sane; and, three, when it comes to sharing his bed, there’s only one female he’s willing to put up with—his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Charley. Braden’s constructed his life on these beliefs, and he’s quite content with the status quo.
But when a moment of bad luck lands Braden toe-to-toe with a blonde bombshell with her own television show, his stubbornly structured reality begins to unravel.
As for Amber Regan, her brand has been built on camo, cut-offs, and cleavage. With her own hunting show on the foremost sports channel and enough social media followers to garner her plenty of endorsement deals, Amber’s come a long way from the tomboy in a small Texas town she once was. Unfortunately, ratings are down and her contract for next season is in limbo, so she’s in desperate need of a reboot to save her show—and filming a rough and tough archery elk hunt in Colorado might be the way to do just that. Too bad the local game warden grunts more than he speaks, seems determined to despise her—and makes her heart race in all the most inconvenient ways.
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A near psychotic laugh bubbles up before I can stop it. Braden immediately begins to launch a series of irritated questions at us.
“Why are you laughing? And why in the hell are ‘trending’ and my name being uttered in the same sentence? Someone tell me what the fuck is going on. Now.”
I finish my giggle-fest with a satisfied sigh and slump into my seat, turning lazily to point my phone his way. “The picture I posted earlier. Part of your handsome frowning face is in the shot, and chicks are getting lady boners over you.”
His face screws up. “That’s a sign of some sort. I’m going home. I have shit to do later, and Charley will pout if I hold up dinner—and I hate it when she pouts.”
My grin starts to fade. Not that he owed me a relationship status disclosure, but who is this pouting “she” he’s talking about? What sort of woman does Braden go home to? She pouts? I can’t picture him putting up with much drama of any kind, let alone female drama. What does she look like? Is she pretty?
Oh, hell, who am I kidding? Look at him. The dark hair and the scruff, the serious sage eyes, and a sourpuss attitude many a woman would love to claim she single-handedly charmed into submission. All of that and he’s built like the caricature of a lusty lumberjack. So yeah, she’s probably gorgeous.
My phone beeps with a text, interrupting my internal ramble. Bless my little brother’s heart, because he probably just saved me from making a fool of myself had any of the ramblings become external.
Where is your extra laundry detergent? I know you have some. You’re my laundry whisperer. Better yet, come home, laundry whisperer. WHITES! COLORS! MY DELICATES! THIS IS TOO HARD!!!
Sigh. The kid is twenty-five going on twelve. His adulting skills are especially weak when it comes to laundry, and since I find laundry to be the most relaxing chore in the world, I’m content
to be his enabler when it comes to his aversion to washing machines.Plus, he’s my kid brother. We lost our parents in a fire when I was ten and he was seven, and despite Uncle Cal taking us in and loving us the best he could, the two of us still became a little codependent unit. I mothered him and he protectedme—and we do the same today. If I were home, he would have shown up with his laundry basket like a college kid, dumped it next to the washing machine, and then concocted a bullshit story about a sudden work emergency. But given that he’s part owner of a burgeoning custom furniture company and runs the design portion of the business, most of his job involves him hunched over a sketch pad. Not exactly a job fraught with crises.
Another text lights the screen.
You’ll need to buy more peanut butter when you get back. And eggs.
And milk. Toothpaste. TP. I’ll make a list. You’re welcome.
I snort. He also struggles mightily with grocery shopping, so I’ve been known to stock up on extras of the things he likes. I tap out a quick reply.
Stop *shopping* in my pantry and take your lazy ass to the grocery store. IT’S THAT HUGE BUILDING NEXT TO THE STRIP-MALL DIVE BAR YOU FREQUENT.
Teagan peers toward my phone. “Trey?”
“Yeah,” I answer, clicking the lock on my phone. “I can’t leave him alone. His laundry won’t do itself, and I’m not there to make it magically disappear, then reappear clean and folded.” Braden clears his throat and my eyes shoot to his. We’re both holding our phones awkwardly, somehow quizzing each other without so much as a word.
“Well, I’m sure your brother,” Teagan offers, “will figure it out. Either that or I’m sure he can just brush off the sawdust and make do.”
Visible relief works across Braden’s features. Suddenly, he thrusts his phone in my face. My eyes drop to his home screen, where there’s a picture of a dark toffee-colored Chesapeake Bay retriever zonked out in a layout blind, her head resting on what I’m assuming is one of Braden’s manly thighs.
“Charley,” he declares.
A smile spreads across my face. Braden returns my smile with his own.
OK, calling it a smile might be pushing it. But he isn’t glaring or frowning, and the left side of his mouth is curved up ever so slightly, enough to send a zing of satisfaction through my body. We stay that way until Colin’s stage whisper absolutely kills the moment.
“Jesus. Is that what we look like?”
An oof follows, likely the back of Teagan’s hand whacking against Colin’s abs. Teagan then chimes in with an invitation.
“Come to dinner with us, Braden. We need you to tell us where to go anyway—you’re the local.”
His eyes drift over to Teagan before opening the truck door to get out.
“I can’t. I wasn’t bullshitting about having a thing to be at tonight. Your choices for dinner are limited in Hotchkiss, but there’s a barbeque place called True Grit. It’s pretty good. Give that a try.”
The door shuts, and he disappears into the low light of a late afternoon creeping toward sunset. We wait until his truck starts before turning to give one another the same skeptical expression.
“Did he just recommend a barbeque joint to us?” Colin asks.
“He did,” Teagan replies.
We all go silent for a few beats. Dumbfounded by what Braden has just so innocently proposed. Shocked by the nerve of it. Entirely confused.
“Was he joking? He knows where we’re from, right?” Colin continues, prompting only a shrug from Teagan and a questioning headshake from me.
Because if there’s one thing we Texans readily unite behind, it’s our barbeque—the belief that no matter how you smoke it, baste it, or slather it, no one else does it the way we do. We do it right. Everyone else does it wrong.
And to claim otherwise is blasphemy.
Get ready for another fun, sexy and hilarious read from the Grand Valley series, Ready for Wild. I loved this series from the start and now sad to see it end. But being introduced to these cute and loving couples from Grand Valley had me smitten from the start!
Braden Montgomery is the grumpy Colorado Game Warden and to make him in an even crappier mood, he's been told that he needs to help Amber Regan and her tv crew with show. It's the last thing that Braden wants to do! Right off the bat, Braden judges the beautiful Amber as just a pretty face with no real talent when it comes to hunting.
So when Braden has to help Amber with her show, he is pleasantly surprised how much this woman knows her way around and he can't be help but fall for her! And Amber has a lot on her mind, she's trying to save her show from being cancelled and now, Braden is occupying her head.
These two fail to fight their attraction and decide to see where their relationship goes, but there's one problem...Braden is Colorado and Amber has a life and career in Texas.