Today I have the privilege of bringing to you Tanya Anne Crosby and her newest historical book, Sagebrush Bride. Keep reading to get a glimpse of this entertainingly romantic read through an enticing excerpt along with my review. To learn even more about this book make sure to visit the other blogs hosting this tour.
Fiercely independent, Elizabeth Bowcock – “Doc Liz” as she’s known by all -- vows to raise her orphaned niece as her own. Unfortunately, the child’s grandfather has declared the unwed doctor to be an unfit guardian and refuses to deliver her to Liz's care until she finds herself a man...
Enter dark-haired, devil-eyed Cutter McKenzie. Outcast for his Cheyenne blood, the handsome halfbreed volunteers to pose as Elizabeth’s husband. But though his wicked sex appeal threatens to undermine Liz's independence, the road to St. Louis promises even greater perils…
“Mmmm, mmm,” Cutter murmured, embracing her as though she were his long-lost kissin’ cuz. “You’re looking better than ever, gal.”
Elizabeth’s heart jolted violently at the deep, unfamiliar voice. Warm lips kissed her cheek in a familiar way, taking just a fraction too long to leave her flushed skin, lingering at her lobe.
She swallowed convulsively.
He whispered in her ear. “Gotta loosen up, Doc, if you want this to look good... Come on now,” he coaxed, forcing her weight against him.
His husky voice set Elizabeth’s pulse to pounding, and her body into sudden paralysis. Powerless to fight him, she let him adjust her at will. Her legs felt wobbly, her body no more than mush in his hands.
“That’s it, bright eyes; now turn real slow,” he whispered, his lips scalding against her face, “act like you’re damned glad to see me.”
Elizabeth suppressed a helpless shudder as she worked up the courage to turn, fully intending to slap the britches off the fool who’d dared to be so intimate with her. But the man who faced her left her momentarily dazed, her throat too thick to speak.
Good night, but he was tall!
Her eyes refused to lower, but neither would they move up to his face. She forced them, and found dark hair flowing from beneath a dun-colored hat.
He cocked a brow at her, amusement flickering in his black eyes. He winked and she felt her knees go instantly weak... yet she couldn’t tear her gaze away even as they buckled.
He reached out to steady her, but Elizabeth continued to gape, helpless to do anything else. The longer she looked, the more she swore he didn’t have pupils, his eyes were so blessed dark... his face too tawny... his cheekbones too high. But it was those lips of his that unnerved her so: insolent, smug, kicked up only slightly at the corners, as though he couldn’t quite stifle his humor at her expense. His gaze roved, lazily assessing her, sliding down over her body slowly, seductively, then returning to her face to bore into her with silent expectation.
He anticipated some reaction from her, Elizabeth thought dimly, but couldn’t think what—couldn’t think, period. Staring as though transfixed, she tried to decipher his stony features but found her brain as useless as her limbs. But it occurred to her in that muddled moment that maybe he had appraised her with more than a mild interest, and her pulse quickened at that prospect. No one had ever looked at her in quite that way.
Those dark eyes still piercing her, he raised two fingers to his brim, tipping his hat in greeting as the remnants of a smile turned the corners of his mouth. “Howdy, Liz,” he said huskily. “It’s been a mighty long time, gal.”
Elizabeth shook her head, denying it, for if she’d ever set eyes on the man before now, she would have remembered. He wasn’t the type to be forgotten. Unconsciously she lifted a finger to her cheek, to the spot where he’d kissed her. Her throat constricted, seeming suddenly parched, and she licked her lips desperately as they parted to speak.
To her mortification, no words came.
For the first time in her life, Elizabeth Bowcock found herself dumbstruck. In spite of the man’s amused expression, he wore an air of menace about him like a second skin, and a tremor shook her as she averted her gaze to his boots. Dangerous, she thought.
The man was dangerous.
She hadn’t missed the fact that he had the most vicious-looking revolver she’d ever spied jammed into his gun belt, but she’d only just spotted the ink black knife hilt peeking over his faded leather boots. And those boots of his told a tale in themselves, for they were unmistakably U.S. Cavalry, and ominously inconsistent with his buckskin dress. There was little comfort in that he didn’t wear his weapons as Dick Brady did, like cheap jewelry. The fact that he kept his blade concealed and wore his gun casually, as though it were not there at all, told her all she needed to know. He was no gun-strutting cowpuncher. He was the real thing. As for the boots, she could think of a dozen reasons he should be outfitted so, not one of them reassuring.
A quick, wide-eyed glance to Jo told her that she was in no immediate danger, however. Jo’s lips lifted at the corners, and she, too, was on the verge of a smile, her kindly cinnamon eyes warm with humor.
Not really understanding why she felt compelled to, Elizabeth decided to play along. “Uh... um...”
Mercy’s sake, she didn’t even know his name! How was she going to pretend to know him if she didn’t know his blessed name? In panic, her gaze skidded to Jo.
“Cutter,” Jo supplied with a laugh, seeming to read Elizabeth’s thoughts. Her eyes gleamed with mischief. “I believe you have her tongue-tied, brother dear. Reckon she thought she’d never see you again.” Seeing Elizabeth’s confused expression, she laughed softly. “Isn’t that right, Liz?”
“Right?” Elizabeth nodded woodenly. Jo’s brother? “Oh—yes! I did think I’d never see you again!” She nodded dutifully for the benefit of their audience.
All eyes reverted suspiciously to Cutter, leaving her somewhat doubtful of her performance. Her brow furrowed.
Warmth invaded his eyes as he gently chucked her under the chin, much as a brother would a cherished younger sister.
Elizabeth felt suddenly too warm, almost as though she were being roasted over a slow fire. And the heat of his fingers... lingered upon her chin long after he’d withdrawn his hand. Mortified that he could affect her so, she averted her gaze to Brady. He was watching her with unflinching eyes.
His eyes narrowing to shadowy slits, Cutter turned to Brady and his men, sending them each an unspoken challenge. Brady fidgeted, flinging Elizabeth a doubtful look before turning away. The rest of his outfit followed immediately, slapping one another consolingly on the shoulder.
Elizabeth’s brows rose as she watched the exchange, astounded at the ease with which Cutter had handled Brady and his men. She opened her mouth to speak, but the words stuck in her throat like a spoonful of dry sugar. The man was just too smug for his own good. He’d had no right to be so familiar with her, but she did owe him her gratitude, no matter how reluctant it came. “I suppose I should thank you,” she said.
Cutter grinned. “Anytime, Doc.”
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
From the moment Elizabeth walks into the saloon and states she needs a man her life will never be the same. Growing up learning all she can about medicine by her father's side has left little time for the softer things in life. Her mother and sister left when she was young because they couldn't handle the harshness of living away from city life so she immediately took on an adult role. She was the one to take care of her father as well as their patients. She's not used to letting others care for her and has become an independent woman because of it. It's also made her less trusting of others. She loved her mother and she left without a word so love too isn't something she believes in. Being closed off and prim and proper is her defense against being hurt. Dressing in baggy clothes and thick glasses also keeps her heart safe as no one thinks of her as a woman.
At least no one did until Cutter volunteers to play her make-believe husband when she goes to claim her niece upon the death of her sister. Growing up wasn't easy for Cutter as a half-breed. He refused to hide his Indian heritage like his sister Jo, Elizabeth's only friend, has done and he's paid the price and has the scars to remind him of people's prejudices. I absolutely adored Cutter! He's sexy, charming, and is a man you can count on to keep you safe. He's immediately drawn to Elizabeth and sees the woman behind the baggy clothes and wants nothing more than to protect her from harm. As he gets to know more about her he comes to admire her more every step they take towards her niece. Soon their fake marriage becomes a reality but their road to a HEA veers off course when soldiers from his past come back to take the woman he's come to call wife away from him. It's a dangerous plan he enacts that puts his and Elizabeth's life in danger but the outcome might just be worth it.
Elizabeth started off very staid and serious. She's a bit unappreciative towards Cutter at the start and naive about many things. Cutter's charming ways, his honesty, and belief in her inner-strength slowly win her over. Elizabeth's growth is like seeing a butterfly emerge from its cocoon and she became a more likable character through her time with Cutter. Seeing the two of them together with all their witty banter brought a smile to my face. The sexual tension between them was palpable and leads to some very steamy sexual encounters. Both had been hurt by their pasts and it seemed fitting that their healing only came through their togetherness. The secondary characters were a nice addition and I hope to see more of Jo as there's an interesting past just hinted at. The relationship between Cutter and Elizabeth progresses at a nice pace but their journey goes on a bit too long as does Cutter's showdown with his military past. Minus those small criticisms I found this a thoroughly entertaining and immensely satisfying story.
My rating for this is a B+
*I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Tanya has written seventeen novels, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including the New York Times and USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two dogs and two cats in northern Michigan.