Title: Wild Horse Springs by Jodi Thomas
Ransom Canyon Series Book Five
Imprint: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 368 pages
In the heart of Ransom Canyon, sometimes the right match for a lonely soul is the one you least expect
Dan Brigman may not lead the most exciting life, but he’s proud of what he’s achieved: he’s a respected lawman, and he’s raised a bright, talented daughter on his own. But finding a lone, sparkly blue boot in the middle of a deserted highway gets him thinking maybe the cowgirl who lost it is exactly the shake-up he needs.
After losing her baby girl, Brandi Malone felt like her soul died along with her daughter. Now singing in small-town bars to make ends meet, she’s fine being a drifter—until a handsome sheriff makes her believe that parking her boots under his bed is a better option.
College grad Lauren Brigman has just struck out on her own in downtown Dallas when a troubling phone call leads her back home to Crossroads. Her hometown represents her family, friends and deepest hopes, but also her first love, Lucas Reyes. Will Lauren’s homecoming be another heartbreak, or a second chance for her and Lucas?
Something bright blinked in his headlights just in front of him.
Dan hit the brakes.
With his beams on high, he climbed out of the cruiser, a flashlight in one hand and the other on the butt of his service weapon. The county road might be silent tonight, but this was 111, the stretch of highway where he’d been ambushed four years ago.
That day flashed through his mind more in sounds than pictures. Bullets pinging against the sides of his cruiser like hailstones. Tires popping as they went flat. Brakes squealing while he fought for control. Glass shattering across the windshield and raining onto the pavement.
Then, when all the noise stilled, all he’d felt was pain.
Three bullets were dug out of his body a few hours later. The six months of recovery seemed endless. Four years of peace since, and yet he could still hear the sounds of that one day. He’d watched his blood snake across the highway like a tiny river and pool into the dirt. He’d counted his heartbeats as if needing to know how many were left.
If it hadn’t been for one kid pulling him away from the gunfire, he’d be buried in the Ransom Canyon Cemetery, his grave covered in snow tonight.
Dan pushed the memories aside as he focused the flashlight’s beam on a sparkly blue object in the road.
A boot. One tall blue woman’s boot stood proud on the center stripe. The kind of fancy boot with rhinestones and stitching in the leather from the ankle up. One like cowgirls wore to dance in until the bar closed. One that would never be worn to work cattle.
Dan relaxed as he stared down at the boot. County Road 111 was mostly traveled by locals, and none of the ranch folks wore fancy footwear like this.
“It’s a mystery,” he said aloud. Dan was fully aware that he was talking to himself, but then who was around to object?
He picked up the boot and walked back to his car. If someone had tossed it out, which wasn’t likely, it probably wouldn’t have been standing straight up on the center line. No one would have thrown away just one even if they hated wearing them. A pair like this probably cost five hundred dollars or more.
By the car light he examined his find. Deep blue, like the sky turned just before it rained. The sole was worn. No other scrapes. Whoever wore this never shoved it into a stirrup.
Dan put the boot in the passenger seat and pushed the car into gear. “Well, pretty lady,” he said with a laugh. “How about riding along with me tonight?”
Any woman who wore a boot like this one would show it off. She’d have on tight jeans tucked into the top. She’d be outgoing, maybe wild. She’d laugh easy and probably yell when she argued. She’d take big gulps of life.
That kind of woman would never be attracted to him. Dan was as solid as the canyon walls, probably borderline boring if he thought about it, and as his daughter often reminded him, predictable.
Dan never allowed himself to daydream. He was always serious, a man who was his job, not one who just wore the uniform. But tonight, cloudy starless skies made the world seem more fantasy than real, and the rich blue leather sparkled in the dashboard lights.
“I guess I better start looking for Cinderella, because some cowgirl princess has lost her slipper.”
JODI THOMAS has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels “Distinctive…Memorable,” and that in her stories “[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes.” In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN’S REWARD. She also received the National Readers’ Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.
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