The stunning beauty and quiet majesty of the Wyoming wilderness can heal your soul. But one woman will discover that her heart is fair game . . .
The Lazy S Ranch is everything to Jenna Nash. It’s given her family, friends, and a fulfilling career: helping veterans rebuild their lives. She sacrificed a lot to get her equine therapy program off the ground—including love. But suddenly, she’s in danger of losing it all . . .
Joining the Marines was the best decision Quinn Powell ever made, even if he had to go it alone without Jenna. Now his best friend’s death has brought him back to the ranch he once called home—and to the woman who rejected him.
Quinn hasn’t lost his touch—with the wildest horses or with Jenna. Though she’s falling for the brash, impulsive cowboy all over again, Jenna has reason to be wary. But when she and the ranch are threatened, Quinn will put everything on the line to save them both . . .

He stole her water and drained it, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He winked at her and gave the bottle back.
Jenna’s heart didn’t skip a beat. Her breath didn’t catch. No butterflies danced in her belly. But the tips of her ears heated and she turned away before he glimpsed her smile.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Seriously, it was just a wink.
And that flash of dimple.
“That was my water.” She tried her best to sound irritated, but as she turned back, he flashed that dimple again, so she figured her tone wasn’t very believable. Damn. She was in trouble.
“Come on,” Quinn said as he guided her back toward the cabins. “I’ll buy you a drink in town.”
“Town? What for?”
“To find Crystal.”
Jenna stopped walking and turned toward him. “How do we do that? The sheriff’s office hasn’t even been able to find her.”
“From what Frank said, I don’t think they’re looking too hard. We canvass Murdock. Show her picture around. Ask questions. Find the bad guys. You know, like in the movies.”
“Sure,” Jenna said. “I’m Turner. You’re Hooch.”
He flashed her a grin. “I was thinking something a little more mysterious, like Batman and Cat—”
“I’m not wearing a skintight bodysuit.”
“You’ve got the legs for it.” He tipped his head and looked at her behind. “And the ass.”

A Harley and a highway are all an Iraqi war veteran needs to soothe her restless spirit—until a pit stop puts her on the front lines of love . . . 

Settling down is not an option for Mackenzie Parish. Since the end of her tour of duty, the former Marine has been on the road, doing what she can to ease the pain of her wounded shoulder and mind. But when her money runs out, she takes a job on a Wyoming ranch—and finds herself in unfamiliar territory once more . . .
Mackenzie’s lesson number one: a horse is definitely nothing like a motorcycle. But even knee deep in manure, and saddle sores aside, Mac finds comfort in the daily routine of hard work and the great outdoors. Only her bunkmate, Hank Nash, provides an unsettling distraction. The former champion bull rider has returned home to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Yet despite his own struggles, he has the patience to show Mac the ropes, and the sweet touch to draw her out of herself—and her painful past.
But when the ranch becomes the target of violent threats, Mac will have to choose between the call of the road—and the man who has helped her feel whole again . . .

The man in front of me inched closer and raised his hand as if to palm my cheek. Hank arose out of the darkness behind the brothers. Even in the dark, the intent in Hank’s eyes was clear. I shook my head slightly and to my surprise, he stopped silently in his tracks. Still, he wasn’t the kind of man to stay in the background for long.
“Ah, ah, ah,” Hank warned. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Talbot’s hand froze inches from my face, but he wasn’t as startled as I’d expected him to be, or he hid it well. “Yeah, Nash? Whatcha gonna do about it?” The two other brothers closed in ranks. Hank would have to go through them to get to the one in front of me.
Shifting clearly into my sight line, Hank settled into a loose-limbed, hip-shot stance, and hooked his thumbs into his front pockets, a contemptuous smile on his face, though no one noticed but me. “I’d worry less about what I’m going to do about it and more about what she is going to do about it. Me, I just want front seats to see another Talbot ass whipping.”
I stood up straight and braced my legs in an athletic stance, ready to do whatever I needed to do. My stomach did that crazy little flip-floppy thing at Hank’s words, at his confidence in me, at his strength to stand back and let me handle this situation. Because he knew as well as I did that if he stepped in now, and if these brothers ever found me alone again, they’d pounce without hesitation. I had to give them a reason to hesitate. A muscle twitched at the corner of Hank’s jaw and I knew he stood on a hair trigger, ready to provide backup despite his negligent stance.
“Back away,” I told Talbot. He took a step back, but not in retreat. Instead, he used the increased distance to allow a more thorough perusal as his eyes skimmed down and then back up my body, his hand still raised near my face. And yeah, I was going to need a long, hot scrub in the shower to wash away that slimy leer that polluted my pores like the Valdez oil slick.
“Make me.” He didn’t move. Not toward me or away.
“Last chance,” I warned in all fairness. As much as I wanted to deck him, I waited. He had until he made physical contact to change his mind. Until then, I could wait. The seconds stretched out, his hand never wavering.
One of the brothers must have moved because gravel ground beneath a boot but Hank and the man in front of me hadn’t budged. “Come on, Tanner. Leave ‘er be. It’s gettin’ late.”
So the man in front of me was Tanner. Hank’s chin rose at the knowledge. He may never be able to tell the other brothers apart, but this Talbot, Tanner, would forever stand out in both Hank’s and my minds as if a neon target were painted on his chest.
Tanner shook his head in derision at his brother’s words. He leaned into me. “Why is the baby in the family always such a pussy?”
I uncrossed my arms, ready for the touch, then he palmed my cheek and glanced a calloused thumb across my cheekbone. Hank’s hands fisted at his side.
“So soft,” Tanner whispered.
When I smiled, his expression went slack with confusion. Then I threw a punch to the inside of his right bicep, not as hard as I would have liked considering the close quarters, but I stunned the ulnar nerve and he caved from the pain. With him partially doubled over, I grabbed his shoulders and slammed his body downward as I jammed my knee into his solar plexus. He dropped. Hard. Heavy. Like the sack of shit that he was, fighting to catch his air. I turned, ready to face the brothers, but Hank stood between them and me, and to be honest, neither one looked enthused about jumping in. I guess two of the Talbot boys had a few brains cells after all.
“Get him out of here,” Hank growled at them.
The brothers scooped up Tanner, looping an arm each under Tanner’s armpits to support him as he staggered to his feet. To give Tanner credit, he was intelligent enough not to mouth off as his brothers carried him off. I watched their retreat until the darkness swallowed them.
When I turned back around, Hank leaned against the flopped-down tail bed and scrubbed his palms down his face, his eyes dark and intent as I stepped between his legs. He settled his hands on my hips. “Jesus Christ, Army.” His voice dropped low and coarse.
I wrapped my arms around his back and he tugged me closer, burying his face in the crook of my neck and breathing me in.
“Thank you,” I said.
“What for? Backing you up?”
I tipped my head so I could see his face. “No. For backing off.”
He chewed hard on my answer. Then he pushed me back a step, his hands on my shoulders and then on either side of my face. His fingers hard and calloused, like Tanner’s, but so full of gentleness and integrity I’d never mistake one touch for the other. “You’re the smartest, toughest, most resilient woman I’ve ever met. You have the heart of a warrior, and I love that about you. I really do. But so help me, Mackenzie, it will surely break me if you ever ask me to do that again.”
In his eyes, I understood what it had taken from him as if my asking him to step back had stomped and bruised the edges of his protective soul. Not chauvinism on his part. Not disrespect or lack of faith in my ability to protect myself. Because clearly he’d had faith or a whole platoon couldn’t have held him back.
Being profoundly protective of those who mattered to him? That was his heart. That I mattered enough to have that effect on him? Well, schnick schnick—a couple more pieces of my own shattered soul found their way back home.

Vicki Tharp makes her home on small acreage in south Texas with her husband and an embarrassing number of pets. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her on the back of her horse—avoiding anything that remotely resembles housework—smelling of fly spray, and horse sweat.

Twitter: @vwtharp

Instagram: author_vicki_tharp

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