Hubs and I are beyond excited to announce the release of the fourth and final book in our Riders Up series, set in the horse racing industry. If you didn’t know already, both my husband and I love horses, and have been privileged to own them once in a while. The Arabian on the cover wasn’t ours, but easily could have been. Ransom, the featured horse in this book, is based on a very real half-Arab, half-saddlebred horse we owned. My husband began his ground training when Ransom was still very young and worked with him until he was two, when we had to sell him for health reasons. Here are a couple photos of him – one as a new foal, and one at age ten:
We had no clue the honey-russet color we loved when he was tiny would turn out white, but he looks just like his daddy in the second photo. A side note – the photo in the pasture was taken when we visited our friends where he is stabled. He hadn’t seen us for over seven years, but he came when we called.
That kind of loyalty – and the gentle, patient training that fostered it – are central to the story line in Detour Ahead. When the real Ransom was still quite young, my husband took him down the country lane outside the barn for his first real taste of the world beyond his pasture and stable. We lived in northern
in the marshlands close to the Boundary Waters lakes. As they approached a
small stream flowing near the road, a mallard duck flew low overhead and
splashed down not fifteen feet away. Ransom froze. He stood stock solid still
for the next twenty minutes as my husband soothed him, encouraged him, moved
his head so he could look around, and began to ask him to move forward. Finally
he took a small step, and then another.
Recovery from trauma is like that. Traci Steele, our heroine in Detour Ahead, was raped as a teenager. When we first meet her in this book, she hasn’t discovered the difference between being a victim and being a survivor. Her journey forms the core of the story, one small step at a time.
Detour Ahead (Riders Up, Book Four)
Heat rating: three flames (explicit sex, m/f)
Threatened race horses, city slicker attorney, sexy
wrangler—what can possibly go wrong? California
Hot-shot Chicago prosecuting attorney Traci Steele works tirelessly keeping rapists off the street to prevent other women from suffering the hell she’s endured, so she resists her friends’ insistence that she take a two month R&R in their California Live Oak condo—until they persuade her to help their rancher friend as a private investigator.
Though he runs the stables at Live Oak, well-muscled mustached wrangler Scott McCord much prefers working with the race horses he trains at his ranch, and he can’t believe his old friends have sent a greenhorn female to help him with horse troubles.
The improbable dance between this mismatched pair barely fits in around the escalating suspense of whoever’s after Scott’s horses. Traci is as tenacious in her sleuthing as she is terrified about her inability to ever love a man. Can Scott succeed in gentling her—like he does his horses—before she flees in panic?
Scott McCord stood at Traci’s emergency room bedside. He must look a mess. They’d asked if he wanted a sedative—Hell, no. He wasn’t going to soften his guilt with drugs.
God damn, how had it happened? He replayed the scene over and over again. He still couldn’tunderstand it. One minute Traci and the horse had been working together as a team, and the next she was tossing about like a child’s rag doll.
Until she landed in the dirt. He hadn’t been able to move fast enough. Her words and the magnitude of her distress had temporarily paralyzed him. Without a doubt, this accident involved more than a woman learning how to ride a horse. But she was his responsibility, and he’d let her down.
So there she lay, ashen, but breathing steadily. Nothing was broken, no apparent internal injuries. She’d be bruised some, and they’d keep her overnight to check her for a concussion.
He followed the gurney when they moved her from emergency to the second floor. No one seriously challenged his presence. Since he didn’t know about her insurance carrier, he’d signed to cover financial responsibility. Looking at the pale woman who was becoming a bigger mystery every day, he knew she wouldn’t be pleased he’d taken over. But they could straighten things out later.
During the night, Traci came to enough to complain to a nurse about the IV, but he could tell she still had little understanding of where she was or what had happened.
Scott dozed off and on until sunshine bounced off his closed eyelids. Sputtering, cussing himself for having fallen asleep, he pushed himself up in his chair and looked at his patient. She stared back at him with a wan smile on her lips.
Leaping to his feet, Scott fumbled for words. She held out her hand to him; he clasped it between his own.
“Hi,” Traci said, softly. “You don’t look so good.”
“Maybe.” Scott ducked his head so she wouldn’t see the moisture forming in his eyes. “You don’t look quite ready to walk down a fashion show runway, either.”
“I’m sore and maybe a little weak, but otherwise I’m fine,” Traci offered. “So where am I?”
“You’re in the regional hospital. The doc kept you overnight for observation. They couldn’t find anything wrong other than being knocked out. Do you remember what happened?”
He watched the competent lawyer withdraw behind shuttered eyelids. Her body quivered, then calmed. She stared at him with renewed energy. “Yes, I remember. It wasn’t Cory’s fault.”
“No, I should have--”
“It wasn’t your fault, either. It’s hard to explain. I lost control of Cory. And then I got into a terrible place, and I lost control of myself.” She smiled weakly. “But I’m alive. I’ve survived worse.” Traci squeezed his hand. “Please don’t blame yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“So are you going to tell me about it? Somebody hurt you badly.” His fingers curled into a fist.
ABOUT ADRIANA KRAFT
Award-winning author Adriana Kraft is really two people, a husband-wife team writing sizzling romantic suspense and erotic romance. With backgrounds in criminology and counseling, they combine their expertise in the criminal mind, trauma, healing and human nature with a passion for robust sexuality and life-long vitality. Together they have published over thirty romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. Long and Short Reviews: “scorching hot…refreshing...something to read when you want straight up hotness.” Romance Junkies: “filled with warmth, blazing hot sex, well-developed characters…not for the faint of heart.” Romantic pairings include straight m/f, lesbian, bisexual, ménage and polyamory, in both contemporary and paranormal settings.
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