Prickly Graham sister, Olivia, has been left in charge of the younger Graham siblings while head of the family, Matthew and his new wife Hannah spend a few days away from the ranch. Texas Ranger, Brody Armstrong arrives at the ranch during this time with news for Matthew about his investigation into the disappearance of youngest sibling, Benjy. When Brody finds that Matthew is not home, he attempts to leave, but Olivia makes it impossible for Brody to get away without telling her what is going on.
Olivia had been very attracted to Ranger Brody, but as the months continued on with no news from the mysterious Texas Ranger about Benjy, who has been stolen from the ranch six months prior, she began to lose faith and trust in him. Brody didn't feel the news was appropriate for Olivia's ears, but after her haranguing him, and against his better judgment, he tells her he has a lead and after investigating a local cabin, he was heading to Mexico to follow up on his lead. Olivia wants to go with Brody, but he quickly forbids it. Her brother, Matthew, good friend to Brody, would kill the Ranger should something happen to Olivia.
Brody goes off to investigate the cabin and knows immediately there's a connection to Benjy Graham and several other people's disappearance. When he is about to uncover a clue, he's confronted by the determined Olivia. Brody immediately cuts her down and tries to send her home, but when proves her worth by saving Brody's life, they partner up in the search for Benjy.
On their way to Mexico these two argue, bait one another and discover a passion neither can resist. No matter how Brody tries to keep Olivia at arms length, the attraction is too much for him to turn away from. Once in Mexico things quickly become dangerous when they meet aspiring overlord Rodrigo, his beautiful but cunning sister Elena and their cold and calculating mother Lucinda, who is the owner and operator of the local brothel. Olivia will do almost anything to discover the whereabouts of her precious little brother and that creates even more danger when Brody finds that he is a jealous man.
Oh how I LOVED this book. While reading the first Circle of Eight book Matthew, I knew Brody was going to be a force to reckon with. Underneath the cool and hard exterior of the Ranger dressed in black there is a heart he tries with all his might to hide from the world. That is until the bossy and overly curious Olivia Graham crosses his path and creates so much chaos, Brody has no idea what to do.After all, Brody is a Texas Ranger and has dedicated his life to his work, he couldn't possibly give in to a woman.
Olivia has been cast aside by her ex-fiancee. He got what he wanted from her and then tossed her away after the murder of Olivia's parents and Benjy's kidnapping, and yet she still opens her heart to the brooding Ranger, knowing full well her heart may be broken. I had an extreme dislike for Olivia in Matthew's book. Once Emma Lang redeemed her, I liked her, but still was wary of her character. Until this book. Olivia has matured and even though she is still bossy and over-bearing, she is a woman in her own. No whining for this one. Emma Lang (Beth Williamson) has created a world that I want to get lost in. Watching Brody finally letting down his guard and allowing Olivia under his skin is a wonderful journey I really enjoyed taking.
I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of Brody in a Twitter contest that Beth Williamson was running.
Brody won't be available to the public until June 26, 2012, but I highly recommend that you pre-order this amazing story. This is definitely one of my favorite books so far this year and Beth/Emma is one of my favorite Western Historical authors. She not only brings humor in the midst of upheaval but she has a complete understanding of what readers like myself enjoy!
5 Stars (Hook Line and Sinker)
READ AN EXCERPT
Olivia stood in the shadows, her heart thumping like mad. She heard the other man’s voice and Brody’s deep one. He was in trouble.
The pistol pressed against the small of her back, reminding her she’d come armed out into the wild. She’d shot it a few times, at coyotes and such, but never at a human being. However, she would protect the ranger, even if he was an ass, the man didn’t deserve to be murdered like poor Margaret.
She was glad she’d worn her cowhide riding boots with the soft sole. Lorenzo had made them for her as a birthday surprise, he’d had a crush on her for years unfortunately. But lucky for her, he was a wizard with cowhide and a needle. They were sturdy and quiet as a mouse when she walked. She crept toward the door, keeping to the gloom, and pulled the pistol out. The weight of the weapon was unfamiliar but she gripped it firmly. No matter what, her father had taught every one of his children how to shoot every weapon they had. Texas was no place to live and not know how to take care of yourself.
She reached the edge of the door and peered through the crack. The ranger was on his knees in the tall grass, his hands on his head. Two men stood in front of them, one had a rifle, the other a shotgun, both pointed at Brody’s head. She could squeeze off one shot before they reacted so she had to make sure it was the right choice.
“You snooping around where you don’t belong, Armstrong. Some people don’t like that and they send people like me to stop you.” The greasy-haired one was skinny with dirty brown trousers and a gray shirt. His hat was dirtier than his hair, which seemed impossible.
The other stranger was bigger, a barrel-chested man who would be harder to take down with one shot.
She stuck the barrel through the crack in the door and closed one eye. They were at least fifteen feet away but if she aimed carefully, she could hit the skinny one holding the shotgun. She sucked in a shaky breath and cocked the gun.
“I’ll stick you in there with her and you can rot in hell together.” The man raised the shotgun.
She fell to her ass, right onto the broken crates. The boom was so loud she couldn’t hear anything but the ringing in her ears. She scrambled to her feet and looked outside in time to see Brody fighting with the bigger man. The skinny one was on the ground and she knew her shot had been a true one.
She loaded another bullet in the gun as quick as she could then stepped out of the shack. Without being closer, she couldn’t hit the other man without risk of hitting the ranger. The skinny man screeched when he saw her, blood covering his chest. He spat a bloody gob at her, but she jumped back, her eyes wide and her heart in her throat. She had done that, shot the man in the chest and now he would die because of her.
No matter what, she could not go back to who she had been two minutes before.
Olivia walked closer to the two men wrestling on the ground. The big man had Brody beneath him and was currently beating his face with meaty fists. She pressed the gun to the back of his head.
“Let him up or he’ll be picking pieces of your brain out of his hair for a week.” She hardly recognized her own voice. It was full of grit and rage.
“You best back up missy or I’ll fuck your eye sockets after I kill him.” The man’s voice was colder than anything she’d heard before. He kept right on punching Brody, whose face was a bloody mess.
“One more chance, mister. Let him go or I’ll kill you.” Her palm was wet with fear but she kept her hand steady, the trigger cocked.
“Fuck you.” The man swung around to grab her leg, but she jumped back and fired.
The man’s head exploded in front of her. Blood, brains and bone spraying in a gruesome cloud all over the grass, and Brody.
“Oh, you kilt us both, you bitch.” The skinny one had crawled to his shotgun. As he fumbled to aim it at her, Olivia crouched down, grabbed the rifle beside her and fired, stopping him cold.
She dropped to her knees, then to her elbows until she pressed her forehead to the ground. The smell of dirt and grass filled her nose, temporarily blocking out the iron stench of blood and gunpowder. Brody put his hand on her back.
“Hell, Liv, you just saved my ass. I never thought you would be armed or that could kill two men.” He sounded impressed, which at any other time might have pleased her. For now she just kept her eyes closed and focused on not vomiting.
“Let me have that.” He pried the gun from her hand and disappeared for a few moments. The sound of water hitting the ground reached her and she realized he was wiping the gore off his face. In another minute, he pressed a wet cloth to her face. “Here, just try to relax.”
Relax? She’d just killed two men. Killed them. Olivia didn’t think she would ever have to kill one person in her life, much less two men in two minutes. The wet cloth felt good against her face and thank God, it didn’t smell like blood.
When she finally got control, and made sure she wouldn’t cry in front of him, she sat up. He crouched beside her, his cold blue eyes assessing.
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