Favorite Lines: “She didn’t feel invincible, but neither did she feel so vulnerable and frightened. That could be a good thing, or a bad thing. She wasn’t going to do anything reckless out of a sense of power, but it was nice to know she had some knowledge of how to protect herself. Amazing what a gun could do for a girl.” (p. 184, e-galley)
Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.
Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.
Book one in Linda Howard and Linda Jones’ Men from Battle Ridge series is an enjoyable introduction to a calmer way of life. A way that includes unlocked doors, neighbors who all know each other and men who aren’t afraid to use guns when necessary. Running Wild is a contemporary romance with a thread of suspense.
I loved the chemistry between the Zeke and Carlin. Yes, there was an instant attraction, but they didn’t hook up as soon as I thought they were going to. Zeke’s obvious need for help on his ranch had to reach a boiling point to make the story work. That necessity overcame his brain’s refusal to bring a sexy woman home. In addition, the obvious small town needs of a restaurant are not the same as a big town restaurant, which made her acceptance of the situation realistic.
Zeke is a rancher in need of domestic help. He has cowhands, but putting one inside the house is nowhere near what the ranch needs. Obstinately Zeke tries to do without, but there came a time when he could no longer overlook his need. I liked him almost immediately. He isn’t an overwhelming alpha, nor is he a wuss or the average beta. Zeke is a cowboy I’d like to snuggle up to.
Carlin is an everyday woman, placed in a crazy situation. She learns how to adapt and survive. She made me like her. You would think that reading about her domestic doings would be boring, but I think that was part of what made the story work for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the for the most part absent villain.
The villain aspect of the story was rather silly. He was supposed to be sinister, but that whole plot line was rather weak. I just didn’t feel like the stalker was evil. He was a threat, but since he was off in the side lines nothing he did felt real. However, I understand that the heroine had to wind up in Battle Ridge, Wyoming, and have a reason to stay there. It wasn’t until the stalker’s appearance toward the end of the story that I appreciated him at all. There he became the scary man I had hoped to see throughout the book.
Running Wild is an exciting introduction to a new contemporary romance series. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes in the next installment.