Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Secret Nights with a Cowboy (Kittredge Ranch #1) by Caitlin Crews ~ Book Review with Excerpt


A man holding on...
Riley Kittredge has always known exactly what he wanted. His land, his horses. His woman. He met and married Rae Trujillo far too young, and their young love combusted right after they said their vows. But their passion has never managed to burn itself out. Yet when Rae shows this time, it's not a night of pleasure she demands, but a divorce.

A woman letting go...
Rae should have moved on a long time ago. She knows she and Riley just don't work. They might make great lovers, but that doesn't make a marriage. And now Rae wants a new life, complete with a baby. But when her husband offers to be a father, to give her the family she's always secretly desired, she and Riley will both have to face demons from their past—and choose love over fear at last.


Rae Trujillo did not wake up on a regular weekday morning at the end of another one of Cold River, Colorado’s chilly Octobers prepared to turn her life inside out.


She woke up grumpy. Outraged that her alarm had jolted her out of another night of too few hours of sleep. And furious that, as ever, she was her own worst enemy, because why did she keep doing this?

It felt brutal every time. Like she kept punching herself in her own face, but did she ever learn her lesson? No, she did not.

But it was far too early on a shivery Thursday to think about the epic disaster that was her endless—and endlessly complicated—relationship with Riley Kittredge.

Besides, Rae knew by now that by the time she staggered outside and crawled into her trusty old pickup, she would be good to go. If not exactly singing a happy tune, certainly awake enough to handle the drive into town. But the waking up part never got any less shocking when she’d only gotten home a few hours before.

Because whatever else she was—and sure, there was a part of her that enjoyed it when people thought the worst of her, because the truth was a sharp little knife she kept to herself, and after all this time, she could admit she sometimes liked the cut of it—she was first and foremost an idiot when it came to Riley.

“And lying here brooding about it doesn’t help,” she muttered into her pillow.

She sat up and swung out of bed. Long years of experience in exactly this idiocy meant she’d laid out her clothes the night before. All she needed to do was stagger into them without making herself think about anything. Especially her life choices. Then she headed downstairs to perform a face dive into the strong coffee that was the only thing that ever made her feel remotely human at this hour. With or without her two whole hours of sleep.

Rae tiptoed through the dark old house, once a small farmhouse and now a collection of meandering updates various ancestors had made. At least one for each generation since the first Trujillo had showed up on this land, long before the English settlers came west. She moved silently down the stairs because her grandmother claimed she woke at the slightest sound, and the last thing she wanted to confront at this hour was Inez Trujillo in one of her states.

No one wanted Inez’s lacerating commentary on anything and everything but especially about the ways in which every person she’d ever met had disappointed her.

Especially Rae, who Inez had once called her favorite—but Rae had opened her big mouth and ruined that a long time ago. Now she tried to appease her grandmother like most people did, because it was easier.

Rae made it to the main floor and headed for the lit-up kitchen where her father, the earliest riser because he liked to be out in the greenhouses well before dawn, always left a hot pot of coffee behind him when he left the house. Things she was not thinking about included: Riley. Always and ever Riley. And the many choices she’d made about him and because of him that had led to her living in her parents’ house now that she was inarguably in her thirties.

Not adjacent to them. Not newly thirty. But in them.

But no morning-after yet had been made any easier by beating herself with the shame stick. And she was so busy trying not to do it today that it took her longer than it should have to realize that when she walked into the kitchen that smelled marvelously like her father’s preferred dark roast, she wasn’t alone.

“Good morning to you too,” rumbled her older brother, Matias, sounding obnoxiously alert.

Possibly he’d learned such things in the Marines. Where he had also learned how to transition from the sweet, funny boy she’d always hero-worshipped into the too-quiet man who’d come back changed, with too many secrets in his dark eyes.

Rae wanted to growl at him but restrained herself. Because she was a lady.

She shuffled across the floor to the coffee machine as if it were some kind of shrine and treated herself to a large, steaming mug, adding in an overly generous pour of cream. Then she savored that first sip.

Okay, she thought. I might live.

This time.

Only when her synapses were firing at last did she turn around, lean back against the counter, and allow herself to take in this strange appearance of her brother in the usually empty kitchen.

“What are you doing awake?” she asked in a far sweeter tone of voice than she’d been using on herself so far today.

“Long day ahead,” Matias drawled.

He lounged back in his chair, too big, really, for the kitchen table their mother mostly used as her office. Right there in the middle of the most-used part of the house, because Kathy Trujillo was not one to suffer or toil in obscurity. She and Inez had that in common.

Though they would both have acted deeply appalled at any suggestion that they were alike.

“It really will be a long day,” Rae agreed. “Since you’re starting it before dawn.”

Matias let a corner of his mouth drift up in a vague approximation of a curve. Rae and her younger sister, Tory, firmly believed he practiced that in his mirror. “You really do wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Just like when you were fourteen.”

That was maddening. Rae assumed it was meant to be. Accordingly, she smiled sweetly at her brother as if he’d said something marvelous, secure in the knowledge that he found that equally annoying. Balance was important.

She concentrated on draining her first cup of coffee as if she were on a mission, then went back for more. Matias was not drinking coffee. He was sitting in that chair that was on the verge of too small for his big frame, still and watchful.

More so than usual, if she wasn’t mistaken.

“But really,” she said when it was clear that he planned to keep that up, and because he normally didn’t get up for hours yet. Who would if they didn’t have to? “Are you doing a shift in the shop?”

It would be news to her if he were. And maddening in a whole different way, because if he were planning to go open the family floral shop in town, she wouldn’t have to and could still be asleep right now.

“I don’t have a shift today.” Again, a ghost of a curve on his mouth. “Do you see me wearing the red shirt of shame?”

Continue reading the excerpt here: https://megancrane.com/books/secret-nights-with-the-cowboy/

It took me a while to warm up to Rae and Riley, I liked the story but felt it dragged at a few parts and could have been shorter. That being said let me tell you what I did like about the story....

I love second chances, and this one had a unique twist because Rae and Riley were married but separated, one day Rae up and moved out and Riley didn't understand why. Their relationship never really ended because she would make late night visits to their home and spend a few hours in bed together, well that was until she showed up asking for a divorce.

Rae had a secret that no one knew about, I did figure it out early on because there were some clues but you have to be paying attention or you may miss them. Anyway, this secret is a big one and it's something that drove her to leaving her husband that she really did love. Riley and Rae still loved one another deeply but Rae didn't think they could be together.

I mentioned earlier that I felt the book dragged a bit and that could be because I wanted Rae to stop the internal fighting she had going on and just man up and tell Riley what was happening so I was getting frustrated but I'll leave that to you to decide for yourself, you may enjoy the inner turmoil she had going on.

This book also included a bonus novella, Sweet Nights with a Cowboy, where the youngest Kittredge brother, Connor, finds his HEA with ex-girlfriend Missy Minton.

If you enjoy spicy western romances with the Second Chance at Love trope then this one is for you!

Happy Reading!!! 

**I have voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book for my Blog, Nadine's Obsessed with Books**


USA Today bestselling, RITA-nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Caitlin Crews has written more than ninety-five books – and counting. She’s won fans with her Harlequin Presents, Harlequin Dare, and contemporary cowboy books as well as the romance, women’s fiction, chick lit, and work-for-hire young adult novels she writes as Megan Crane. She loves contemporary romance in all its forms, from cowboys to military heroes and beyond – including her take on futuristic Vikings, outlaw bikers, and fairy tale princes. She has a Masters and Ph.D. in English Literature, has taught creative writing classes in places like UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, and is always available to give workshops (or her opinion). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her comic book artist husband, though, at any given time, she is likely to either be huddled in a coffee shop somewhere or off traveling the world. Preferably both.

Author website: https://www.caitlincrews.com/ 
Author Amazon Page: https://amzn.to/2CfVOcB
Author Twitter: @megancrane
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeganCraneAndCaitlinCrews
Author Instagram: @meganmcrane

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