Hotter Than Hell

Ride a Dark Horse
Harper Collins (June 24, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780061161292 ♦ ISBN-10: 0061161292

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When Catalina O’Roarke travels to Taos, New Mexico, to get away from Los Angeles and bad memories of her recent divorce, she meets the devastatingly handsome and mysterious cowboy named Andrés–a man with an uncanny power over horses… and her soul. She doesn’t realize she’d known him in another life… or that he’s so much more than he seems.

Read an Excerpt

Ride a Dark Horse

They were every color men had named: buckskin and Appaloosa, chestnut and bay, pinto and sorrel, white and gray. Their eyes glittered with starlight; their hooves flashed like dark jewels. Cat’s heart surged into her throat. She clung to Kelpie’s reins and closed her eyes. The herd rushed on, implacable, parting at the last moment to flow around woman and horse in a swift and savage tide.

An incredible feeling claimed Cat’s body. Her breath came in sharp bursts. She flung back her head, surrendering to sensation. Her legs buckled and she dropped to her knees, dizzy and stunned.

“Are you well, señorita?”

The voice was soft, but it carried through the darkness like a roll of thunder. Cat tried to stand, but her legs refused to obey her commands.

“Hello?” she said, using her courtroom voice. “Who’s there?”

The man seemed to appear little by little, as if the shadows gave him up with only the greatest reluctance. Cat’s first impression was of dark hair and broad shoulders, a lithe and muscular figure that moved with the grace of the horses that had preceded him. He wore the typical uniform of a working cowboy: battered leather boots, scuffed jeans, long-sleeved shirt, sweat-stained Stetson. The jeans fit him like a glove, molding strong thighs and an imposing package.

Cat shivered and looked up. He wasn’t particularly tall. His face was a little too angular to be handsome, but no one could have denied that it was striking. The long, thick hair that trailed from beneath his Stetson was jet-black. His lips were sensuous and slightly curved, his nose a little arched, his eyes…

Oh, his eyes. They welcomed the moonlight like a lover. Pale they were, though she couldn’t make out the color. They stripped Cat naked and left her utterly defenseless.

Señorita,” he said, touching the brim of his hat. “How may I assist you?”

Cat grabbed Kelpie’s stirrup and pulled herself to her feet, half afraid she might fall without the gelding to support her. The stranger spoke only the simplest of phrases, and yet his faintly accented voice raised goose bumps on her skin.

“It’s nothing,” she said thickly. “My horse … he stepped in a prairie dog hole. I’m taking him back to the ranch.”

“Indeed. Would that be the Blue Moon, señorita?”

His tone was mild and courteous, but the steadiness of his gaze unnerved her. She tried to calculate how much farther she and Kelpie had to go … how far she was from any help at all. She’d never thought to bring her pepper spray. She’d fight, of course, but he was all whipcord muscle and supple strength. She wouldn’t last long….

What in hell’s wrong with you? He’d offered no threat whatsoever. He wasn’t armed. He didn’t even have a horse that she could see.

“The Blue Moon, yes,” she said. “They’ll be waiting up for me.”

He smiled as if he fully recognized the false bravado in her words. “I have no doubt,” he said. He reached for Kelpie’s head. The gelding stood very still. Cat held her breath.

“So, querido.” The man stroked Kelpie’s muzzle, but his gaze remained on Cat. “Shall we see what ails you?” He knelt to examine the gelding’s leg, murmuring in Spanish all the while. “It is not so bad, mi amigo. A poultice, a few weeks’ rest …” He rose slowly. Cat felt as though he were running his hands over her body. “I will guide you back to the ranch, señorita,” he said.

“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary.”

“But you are traveling in the wrong direction,” he said. “Those who wait for you will surely worry.”

Was he mocking her? She drew up, all her anger against men spilling into her chest. “I’ll be all right.”

Ride a Dark Horse

“Will you?” He moved closer. “It is not wise to travel alone, even in a place like this.”

He smelled, she thought, of sagebrush and horses and a unique, completely masculine scent that threatened to overwhelm her senses.

He was dangerous, but not in the way she’d feared.

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