Gambling on a Heart
Book Two: The Colton Gamblers
Author: Sara Walter Ellwood
She once lost his heart on a bluff. Will she risk everything to win it back?
Beautician Tracy Quinn spends her days making the women of Colton, Texas beautiful, while living down the nickname of Olive Oyl, given to her by the only man she has ever loved—Zack Cartwright. She spends her nights alone, despite what her ex husband wants their friends and neighbors to think.
Ex-rodeo cowboy. Ex-bad-boy. Ex-Marine. Widower and single dad Sheriff Zack Cartwright can describe his life in exes. One ex in particular reminds him of what’s missing in his workaholic life: Tracy Quinn. For years since she broke his heart, he’s practically made avoiding her a second job. He still wants her, but can never go after her.
When cattle rustlers target her brother’s ranch, Tracy and Zack are stuck working together. Her son could use a positive male role model, and his daughter is wild for a chance at a “substitute” mom. But Tracy’s ex threatens to sue if she lets Zack near her son, and the Colton grapevine is abuzz with rumors about their past relationship. Is it worth the gamble to see if what they have is more than lust?
Content Warning: Spicy sex
“I was hoping you could keep me company this afternoon.” He skimmed his fingers over her cheek.
Her insides, heating up like lava under the surface of the earth, pooled in her low belly. Her lips parted.
Against her lips, he whispered, “Tracy, I want you.”
She had thought of little else since he’d left her standing on her porch Friday night. He was asking her to enter into a sexual relationship without any hope of a future--without love.
But she was already in love with Zack.
Both of their kids would benefit from them being together. Hadn’t that been what she’d decided while she tossed and turned in her big, empty bed?
With her gaze locked on his, she murmured, “I want you, too, but I have a stipulation.”
He leaned back. “What is it?”
“I’m no one’s bed-buddy, Zack. I know what my reputation is in this town, but it’s all wrong.” She swallowed her rapidly thumping heart back into place. “I’ll only go through with this, if you promise to treat me as a serious girlfriend. That means we date, we visit with our families and we share our kids.” When his expression hardened, she quickly added, “Mandy likes me. And I adore her. I’d like to bring her here, to the shop, for a few hours and play. And take her shopping. I know your mom tries, but she’s busy with her foundations and charities she does for the Junior League.”
The breath she sucked in was full of Zack’s scent of sage and leather. “Meanwhile, you can teach Bobby how to ride and maybe take him to the sheriff’s department and show him around. Jake won’t like it, but I’ll deal with him.” Having laid her demands out on the proverbial table, she held her breath, waiting for him to tell her what she could do with herself. After all, a man of Zack’s caliber could have any damned woman he wanted. Tracy was just handy, and according to the gossip of her ex-husband and mother-in-law, she was easy.
He studied her for a few moments. “That’s more than one stipulation.”
“Take it or leave it.”
“Tracy, it won’t change what I told you Friday night. I’m never getting married again.”
His words stung as much now as they had the other night, but she didn’t show him how much. She kept her face determined, as if she were haggling over one of his horses, rather than her body and soul.
“Fine. But I’m not a floozy. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. But I have my son to consider. And I’d hope you’d feel the same about Mandy. They’re bound to see us together. What do you plan on telling your six-year-old daughter when she asks about me? That I’m your friend with benefits? I know that isn’t what I want to be teaching my son.” Moreover, she didn’t want to give credence to Jake’s claim that she had no sexual morals.
“Okay,” he said at last. “We’ll play the game your way.” He pressed her against him. “Luck would have it I’m off this afternoon, too. I’ve already put in sixteen hours.”
When his lips captured hers, she knew she’d made a pact with the devil, but she couldn’t stop the elation surging through her. There was something he wanted from her. Sex was a big portion of it, but something else kept Zack from walking away and hooking up with any one of the many available women in town.
I rated Gambling on a Heart with THREE AND ONE HALF LEAVES. For me, it was an easier read than Gambling on a Secret, because I already knew all of the characters and their backgrounds. Tracy Parker, Dylan Quinn's sister, owns a beauty salon in town. She is raising her little boy, Bobby and just trying to live her life peacefully. That is until her ex boyfriend from high school, Zack Cartwright, the town Sheriff, comes back into her life. Zack is also raising his little girl after his wife passed away at an early age. I enjoyed reading Tracy and Zack's story! In this book you learn all about their past. I was rooting them on the whole way to right their wrongs and at least have closure from their mistakes as kids in high school.
I rated Gambling on a Secret (Colton Gamblers #1) with THREE LEAVES. I did enjoy this book. With that being said, when I first started reading it, I was pretty confused with the introduction of so many characters at once. I understand that all of these characters are needed for the storyline, but I think, as a reader, it would have been easier to comprehend if the supporting characters were introduced a bit later. I also had a hard time relating to this book, because it is set in the country. There was a lot of country 'lingo' that would only interest someone who is immersed in that culture daily. Despite all of that, I enjoyed the storyline! Charli Monroe is a girl with a past trying to overcome obstacles and make her dream come true. Dylan Quinn is a military vet turned rancher. They are both stubborn and have written off relationships, but when they start working together, things had to change! If you like hot cowboys then this book is for you!
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.
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