—Linda Lael Miller
LOST AND FOUND . . .
Gil Yancy is a man with a mission: claim his share of Rocky Point Ranch and build a herd of his own. What Gil doesn't count on is the greeting he gets—in the form of a stove lid upside the head—from the mistress of the place. She's the prettiest thing Gil's ever laid eyes—and more—on. When last they met, the shady lady seduced him and stole his last red cent, so now it might just be time for a little sweet revenge . . .
Josie can't believe Rocky Point's new cowboy is that cowboy—the one with the strongest-yet-gentlest hands ever to mark a trail down her body. She robbed Gil blind out of sheer desperation, and years later, Josie still has something of his . . . but that's not her only secret. She wants him just as much as ever—and she knows he’d do anything to please a lady . . .
Praise for the novels of Janette Kenny
—RT Book Reviews on One Real Cowboy
“A classic Western historical with a hero you’re gonna love.”
—Jodi Thomas on Cowboy Come Home
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
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One Real Man
By JANETTE KENNY
Copyright © 2008 Janette Kenny
All right reserved.
Wyoming, Spring 1894
Gil Yancy leaned against the porch post and gave Rocky Point Ranch a long, hard gander.
His old friend's idea of a thriving cattle ranch and Gil's sure as hell weren't the same. Oh, the clapboard house was right nice, but the weathered outbuildings and cabins could use a good whitewashing. Hell, if not for the curtains fluttering at the windows or the string of horses milling in the corral, he'd swear the place was deserted.
To think he'd nearly thrown his shoulder out patting himself on the back for buying up a third of Rocky Point Ranch for a song. To think he'd finally stopped dodging that Pinkerton detective and had it out with him in Maverick.
Gil blew out a weary breath. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't walk away now and come out with a winning hand. Nope, he'd make his stand right here on this ranch.
He was fixing to mosey down to the barn when a woman stepped from a cabin nearest the swaybacked bunkhouse. She stopped on the stoop and tossed a bucket of water on the ground, then wiped her brow and pressed a hand to the small of her back, like it ached her. A kerchief held her hair off her face, and the wind set her skirt and apron dancing a wild jig.
Though he couldn't see her face, she looked fairly young. Mighty shapely too. The woman picked up the bucket and slipped back inside the cabin.
Since Everett Andrews was older than dirt, this bit of muslin must be the housekeeper. Yep, his old friend probably hired the woman to help his missus with the chores and tend the cabins for this guest venture Mrs. Andrews had cooked up.
Gil's boot heels kicked up dust and his spurs chink-chinked as he headed across the parched ground. At least he'd found someone who could tell him where to find Everett.
The three cabins looked new and about the size of line shacks. Guests' quarters, he reckoned.
He stepped up to the open cabin door. The woman was on her hands and knees, her faded calico skirt spread around her as she scrubbed the pine floorboards. Her rounded bottom gyrated like a silent invitation to come have a feel.
A twinge of lust caught him off guard and got him thinking about other chores this woman might take on here. Get your mind off diddling, Yancy. Hell, the woman was probably married to one of the ranch hands.
He rolled his shoulders to work out the tension knotting him and stepped through the slice of sunlight filtering through the lone window. "Morning, ma'am."
She looked up, but instead of the smile he usually received from the gentler sex, she gawked at him like he was the devil come calling.
Dammit! He hadn't meant to put a fright in her. "I'm looking for Everett Andrews."
"No," she said.
If that wasn't the craziest fool thing to say. The woman got to her feet and backed up, clutching that rag to her chest and looking scared to death.
That's when recognition slapped Gil upside the head so hard his Stetson damned near went tumbling onto the newly scrubbed floor. He blinked to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him.
Nope. It was her, all right.
The odds had to be a million to one he'd find her again. As for the rewards-Hell, they couldn't come at a better time.
"I reckoned our paths would cross one of these days."
He stepped inside and heeled the door shut, casting a long shadow that swallowed her up. Her eyes took on a wild, skittish look, but instead of cowering, she jabbed a finger at the door.
"Get out of here."
So the feisty little filly found her tongue. "Afraid I can't do that, even if I had a mind to."
Gil smiled and stepped around the bucket. She'd filled out right nice and lost that hungry look that had haunted him. But she still had that wealth of black hair that had felt like silk gliding through his fingers. Still had a pouty bottom his hands itched to fondle.
Seeing her again was better than his memory. Without all that paint women of her ilk put on their faces, she appeared younger than she had twelve years ago, writhing beneath him in a Kansas bordello.
But it was her. Make no mistake about it. This time she wasn't going to get away from him.
No, sirree. This sweet little thief owed him plenty and he meant to collect every red cent with interest.
The woman sidled to the wall, looking as wary as a rabbit cornered by a coyote. She was trapped in more ways than one and knew it.
Good. Gil wasn't a violent man, but after what she'd done to him, she had reason to be shaking in her unmentionables. He'd never given up hope he'd catch up to the thieving shady lady one day. And when he did-
"What are you doing here?"
"That's none of your business." He reached for her.
She yelped, threw the scrub rag at his head and ran toward the door.
Gil dodged the sopping rag and grabbed her. He pressed her to the wall and planted his palms beside her stiff body, corralling her. He caught a faint whiff of vanilla that was at complete odds with his spicy memory of her.
"Let me go."
"In due time. I want the money you stole from me."
She swallowed hard and seemed to shrink in on herself, feeling tiny and vulnerable in his grip. Gil snorted. He'd fallen for that act once before and ended up the big loser. He damn sure wouldn't be that gullible a second time.
"How did you find me?"
Pure dumb luck. Not that he'd tell her that. Let her think he'd been tracking her all this time. Let her squirm.
"Don't see as that makes a bit of difference now, does it? I'm here and I want my money."
"I'm sure you do, but I don't have it."
"You don't have it right now, but a lady as talented as yourself knows how to come by it."
She jerked her head to one side as if wounded by the truth.
Guilt bulldogged Gil for being crude, leaving a slow burn across his nape. Though she was a calico queen, and not some lady he had to mind his manners around, he'd never talked vulgar or laid a mean hand on any woman. But after treating him to the best ride he'd ever had in his life, this shady lady had coldcocked him and robbed him blind.
"You don't understand."
He scrubbed a hand over his mouth. "Then explain it to me, 'cause I know how much money I've squandered on shady ladies like yourself."
If looks could kill, his carcass would be fertilizing a field. "Men like you soiled the doves in the first place."
"It wasn't my fault you chose to make a living whoring. What do you do for Everett Andrews?"
"Whatever I damn well want."
He glanced at her red, chapped hands and realized they belonged to a hard-working woman, not a sporting one. "Everett and his missus know you made your living on your back before they hired you as a domestic? That you weren't beyond stealing a cowpoke blind?"
"Do they know?" She pressed her lips together as if trying hard not to snicker, then laughed and laughed until tears streaked down her pale cheeks.
He frowned. The woman was either half-pixilated or thought it was sidesplittingly funny that she'd gotten the best of him.
"Ain't nothing amusing about what you did and I doubt the Andrewses will think so either."
Her laughter died, but her pale blue eyes failed to reflect one iota of remorse. "How do you know Everett?"
"We go way back. Been good friends a right long time."
"Is that a fact? I suppose you're good friends with his wife as well?"
"Can't say I've had the pleasure to make her acquaintance yet, but I reckon me and Mrs. Andrews will get along right fine."
"Don't hold your breath," she said. "Now get off Rocky Point Ranch."
"I ain't going nowhere. I own a piece of this spread."
"Last fall, I agreed to be Everett's trail guide. Maybe you don't know, but his missus and him are starting up a guest ranch venture and Everett cut me in on it. So you ain't getting rid of me."
"That's where you're wrong, cowboy." She twisted free and ran toward the old Henry rifle propped in the corner.
Hell's bells! She aimed to plug him.
Gil lunged after her, snatched the rifle from her hands and held it out of her reach. He spun her around and corralled her between the potbellied stove and him.
Instead of the scrawny body he'd remembered, she was all soft, womanly curves. But still was as wild as a broom-tail, kicking and bucking and hollering at the top of her lungs.
"Let me go!"
"So you can shoot me? Forget it. I'm hanging on to you until I talk to Everett."
She stopped struggling and looked up at him. "You don't-Oh, my."
He waited for her to go on. Watched surprise and worry play over her face. Then her eyelids drifted down a mite and her mouth went all dewy and soft. Inviting lips.
He swallowed hard, almost tasting them. Dammit all, she was fixing to seduce him. Wouldn't you know his pecker thought that was a fine idea. Good thing his mind was stronger than his cravings. Or would be once he reined in his lust.
"Gone," she whispered, her fists uncurling to graze his sides as she pressed her breasts against his chest, firing him up for a fare-thee-well.
Yep, a bolt of heat burned through his shirt and arrowed to his crotch. The fact they were alone wasn't lost on him.
This spitfire was offering herself, and he was mighty hungry for a woman's touch. He shoved thoughts of Everett from his mind and lowered his head toward her.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her swing something at him. A heartbeat later, pain exploded in his noggin and licked over his scalp faster and hotter than a prairie fire.
His vision blurred. The last thing on his mind before his knees buckled and he crashed to the floor was that for the second time in his life, the shady lady had clobbered him a good one.
Josephine Andrews clutched the small, round stove lid to her heaving chest and scrambled away from the man she'd hoped she'd never lay eyes on again. He sprawled still as death, but the rise and fall of his broad chest proved he was alive. Just like before.
And the same as way back then, she shook like a leaf caught in the wind. She could scarce draw a breath. Fear kicked her heart into a flat-out gallop. Mercy, she still didn't know who he was, or what she was going to do with him.
One thing was mighty clear: he'd be madder than a rabid dog when he came to.
She gnawed her lip and glanced at the rifle propped against the sideboard. One bullet would get rid of this cowboy forever. But she hadn't been able to shoot him years ago, and she sure couldn't do it now.
Josie pressed her back against the wall and rubbed her aching temples. She didn't see any easy way out of this fix Everett left her in. Willing or not, this man from her past was her new trail guide. He now owned part of Rocky Point. Or was this snake lying?
That's what she had to find out. But how? The bill of sale Maverick Land and Security made up for Everett was how. Her husband's copy was in the lockbox hidden under the kitchen floor, along with the will that Everett had drawn up that left everything he owned to Josie and Sarah Ann.
Maybe this man had the title on him. What did Everett say his name was? Will Clancy? No, no. Yancy? Yes, that was it. Gil Yancy.
Josie set the lid back on the stove and knelt beside the cowboy. She slid her hand into a vest pocket. Touching this big man had her face burning something fierce. And the flood of memories-
He was as big and warm as she recalled, and with his eyes closed, just as vulnerable as she'd left him. Yes, she'd taken all his money, and a part of him with her. More nights than she cared to recall since then, she'd lain in bed wondering what had happened to the handsome cowboy.
She pushed those thoughts from her mind and checked his other pocket. Her fingers grazed cool metal. She tugged out a gold pocket watch. Her heart sank as she read the name engraved on the cover-Gil Yancy.
Josie slipped the watch back in his pocket and kept on searching. Finally, she tugged a folded paper out of his pocket.
She read it slowly, her heart sinking as she recognized Everett's mark. The cowboy wasn't joshing her. Gil Yancy was her new trail guide.
Oh, Everett, do you have any idea the fix you left me in?
Her stomach heaved. Maybe she should shoot Yancy dead anyway. She sure couldn't give back what she'd stolen from him, though that lusty gleam in his eyes proved she'd have a devil of a time having a respectable partnership with this man.
Like Reid Barclay, her neighbor to the north. Reid wanted one thing from her, and he hadn't hesitated to proposition her a month after Everett passed on. He was willing to pay handsomely for her charms.
Josie stared at the man sprawled at her feet. He'd be more apt to trick her into his bed. Or worse-force her there to keep her past a secret from the townsfolk. And what about her daughter?
She heard a scuffling at the door and looked up. Sarah Ann stared at the man, and Josie's heart gave an odd thump. Thank God she didn't favor the cowboy.
But judging by that frown, Josie figured her daughter had seen more than she should have. Had she heard them arguing, too?
Sarah Ann smacked her straw hat on one leg of her britches, sending dust flying everywhere. "Who's he?"
"Gil Yancy, our new trail guide. I cleaned up in here, so don't be making a mess."
"Sorry, Ma." Sarah Ann ventured closer, looking and sounding more like a young cowpoke than an eleven-year-old girl. "You sure walloped him a good one."
Her shoulders drooped. So Sarah Ann had seen. "I didn't mean to hit him so hard, but he walked right in and scared the dickens out of me."
She hated to lie to her daughter. But she didn't have any choice. At least not one she could live with.
Sarah Ann nudged one of his boots with her own. "Is he dead?"
"No, he's knocked out cold."
Josie draped an arm around Sarah Ann's narrow shoulders and urged her away from the cowboy and the past that had haunted Josie for so long. Her daughter meant the world to her. God knew she'd do anything to protect her. She'd already done the unthinkable long ago. What more would she be forced to do to keep this child she loved safe?
"Go fetch Hiram," Josie said.
Sarah Ann looked like she'd balk; then she ran toward the barn. Josie hugged herself and stepped back inside the cabin. Gil Yancy gave her a mountain of new worries.
As her advertisements boasted, for the handsome price of two dollars a day, folks could take their meals, ride the range and enjoy the pleasant company of a genteel ranch family while they "experienced the true wonders of the West."
Her future and Sarah Ann's depended on her having the image of a respectable businesswoman. Even with Everett's passing, she'd managed to hold on to her dream. And now the one cowboy who could ruin it all was smack dab in the middle of her life again.
Mercy sakes! If a whiff of her unsavory past got out, those upstanding ladies she hoped to coax out here would turn up their noses and her dream would die. Decent folk in Maverick would shun her, making her an outcast in the only place she'd ever called home. Worse, Sarah Ann would suffer.
Josie pursed her lips and stared at Yancy. Her stomach lurched, but she had no choice. She'd have to honor their agreement and trust he'd keep her secret. And if he refused? If he blackmailed her into doing more?
She rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. Instead of coming up with a way out of this mess, she trembled at the memory of this cowboy seducing the bloomers off her.
Damnation! She might have to shoot him after all.
The heavy clomp of boots jerked Josie from her morbid thoughts of silencing Gil Yancy for good. She drew a ragged breath and turned to the door.
Hiram towered in the opening, his ebony features taut with worry. "Miz Sarah says you need my help."
"Actually, our new trail guide does."
Hiram ambled over to Yancy and stared down at the big man for a tense moment. "What happened to him?"
"I hit him."
She pointed to the stove lid, drawing a whistle from Hiram. "Mr. Yancy and I had a misunderstanding and one thing led to another. He's going to have a big egg on his head."
"That he will, but I reckon he won't notice right off with the pain it'll cause him."
Josie rubbed her brow, but the headache born from Gil Yancy's arrival tormented her-like she feared he aimed to do to her from here on out.
Hiram gave the downed man another long, hard look and shook his head. "You sure you want the likes of him around here?"
Not one bit, but getting rid of Yancy for good would bring trouble on her-one way or the other. "He's the man Everett trusted, and I feel obliged to respect his wishes." For now.
"What you want me to do with him?"
"Put him in bed. It's best Mr. Yancy recuperate in his own cabin." Far from her house.
Excerpted from One Real Man by JANETTE KENNY Copyright © 2008 by Janette Kenny. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Jeanette Kenny captivated western romance fans with her debut 'One Real Cowboy ' by showing the loving, handsome and strong side to a cowboy. She has done it once more with even more flare in 'One Real Man!' A few years back, handsome Gil Yancy ran away from his rich family and an arranged marriage to become a cowboy. One night in a brothel he meets the prettiest thing he's ever seen. Little does he realize that Josie is desperate and afraid and has been abused by the brothel owner, Ross Parnell. She must escape before he hurts her further. Gil has never been the lovin' and leav'em type and wakes up feeling a bit guilty, until he finds out his head is not hurting from too much drink and good loving, but a knock in the head with a frying pan. To make matters worse, he discovers he has been robbed of all he owns. He wants revenge on the sweet little Josie, but at the same time, cannot seem to keep the lady thief off his mind. He roams the west, a rich easterner learning to be a cowboy, with a part of his mind always on Josie. Then he receives an urgent letter from his friend Everett Andrews who needs Gil's help at his ranch and offers him part of his land and also asks that he take care of his wife and daughter. Knowing his family is probably looking for him, Gil decides to take up Everett's offer, thinking Rocky Point Ranch would be a good place to hide while discovering the west and continuing to run from his family. Gil shows up at Rocky Point Ranch only to discover that his sweet little thief Josie is Everett's widow and that her daughter, Sarah Ann, sure has a striking resemblance to his sister back east. The revenge he has longed for seems to have fallen into his lap, but he soon discovers that Josie and her daughter really need his help and that his passion and desire for Josie, together with his growing attachment to her daughter Sarah Ann, outweigh his long awaited revenge. He discovers there are other landowners after Josie and the ranch, even the town sheriff wants to court her, and there is also a local family that is trying to take Sarah Ann away from Josie. But more important, the evil Ross Parnell is searching for Josie for revenge much more dangerous than Gil ever thought of. Can Gil prove to Josie that he can be a cowboy, her true love, and help and protect her from the problems and evil that stalks her, while at the same time somehow get her to open up and confide in him the secrets and mysteries she is holding back? In this hard to put down story, all mysteries and secrets build to an exciting conclusion. Just as Gil's family find him, many of Josie's secrets are revealed, and all of the bad guys seem to converge on Rocky Point and Josie at the same time. Will Gil admit his true feelings and do the right thing by Josie and Sarah Ann, protect and keep them safe, while proving to his family that life in the west on Rocky Point Ranch with his new little family is more important than wealth and privilege in the east? But most of all, can he prove to Josie that he is her One Real Man?
Janette Kenny¿s One Real Man is a western historical romance full of fiery humor and passion that will delight readers from beginning to end. Janette Kenny weaves historical detail and the depths of human emotions into the very heart fabric of her narrative style and her characters' romance. Gil Yancy, a gambler and secondary character from One Real Cowboy, heads to Wyoming thinking he is about to start a new life and put his past behind him after buying a share of a parcel of land. Gil is about to start a new life --- but his past is about to haunt him when he runs smack into the feisty spitfire Josephine Andrews, a woman he met in a Kansas brothel who hit him over the head and stole his money and disappeared. Forced together by Josie's husband's business transaction, will Gil and Josie see beyond betrayal? Josie has kept her Kansas past a secret, starting a new safe life in Wyoming, or at least a life she thinks is safe until Gil walks onto Rocky Point Ranch. Can she dare trust this cowboy? If Gil speaks a word about her past to her uppity neighbors, all her plans to create a guest ranch for women will be ruined. Does Josie dare reveal her secrets to the very man who might rob her of her heart and her most precious possessions? Gil has put aside gambling and his past mistakes, hoping that his new business venture will prove his father¿s low expectations wrong. Now that his worst nightmare stands before him, defiant and proud, and ready to complicate his goals, will his passion for this former calico queen be his undoing or the one risky bet who brings all the dreams of his heart within his grasp? The heroine and hero of One Real Man are outstanding! The fiery and defiant Josie is full of grit. She is a woman of action and yet underneath she is a wounded soul, tender and steadfast in her loyalty to family. Handsome, sexy, and tough, Gil is the quintessential cowboy and romance hero. His friendship with Everett Andrews, Josie¿s husband, reveals a western and male code of honor that underlies his actions to others. In Gil¿s character, Janette Kenny reveals the real man behind the western myth, a man torn by loyalties and a desire to carve out a new prosperous life in the backdrop of past personal and national misfortune. One Real Man is filled with humor and suspense as the reader knows certain facts before the characters and delights in watching the characters discover the truth and sees their reaction. The written narrative style reminds one of the beauty of oral stories so common in the western setting. One Real Man is just so much fun to read to another person, both for the reader and the listener. As the plot thickens and the characters interact and reveal their pasts, the tone changes and a rich emotional depth emerges. One Real Man makes the western period of American history come alive. The reader feels the geography of the west as the Wyoming wind and dust make tactile her landscape. The Panic of 1893, the worst economic crisis to date in American history, undergirds the history preceding the opening of One Real Man, giving a realistic urgency to the financial motives of the characters. In the background the reader feels the influence of The Pullman Railway strike which halted all traffic to the west. One Real Man reveals some of the hard issues historical women faced such as brothels and abuse and in doing so, creates a thematic structure where real love emerges as connection that respects and truly cherishes the beloved. Gil emerges as a real man and a wonderful romance hero --- one who respects, loves, and truly cherishes a woman for all she is. One Real Man is simply awesome! Janette Kenny is a rising star in the western historical romance genre!