Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.
No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.
Back on the ranch in Colorado, Ochessa works as hard as any man. Then Nick tempts her into playing even harder as a woman—both are consumed by their growing love for one another.
Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…
Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.
Naked to the waist, and bent over the horse trough, his sculpted muscles standing out in sharp relief, Nic scooped handfuls of water over his head. A growl escaped him as he straightened to his full height, and slicked back the dripping mane of dark hair. Arms still raised, he met her gaze, as the excess water trickled happily across his bare chest.
Involuntarily she sucked in a deep breath. The distance between them felt charged with lightning, thunder pounding in her brain, leaving the rest of the world dead silent.
A look of surprise flickered across Nic’s face. His muscles flexed and bulged as he lowered his arms to his sides.
“Good evening, boss.” He emphasized the last word as if were a personal joke.
She swallowed hard, and fought to find her voice. “Time’s a wasting, Breedlove. Why are you still hanging around the ranch? Shouldn’t you be out earning your keep?”
“Well, we all have our own way of doing things, and my way is usually different from the norm.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
Retrieving his hat, he carefully dislodged a thistle from the battered brim then settled the coveted headgear upon his head. “What would surprise you, Ochessa?” He studied her with an expression that sizzled and danced through her like water on a hot griddle.
“Not seeing you every time I turn around would be a good start.”
“You’re not very good at lying.”
She nudged a dried up cow pie with the toe of her boot. “Maybe not. But I am good at recognizing a load of bull when it comes my way.”
He gave a deep chuckle, and reached for the shirt dangling from the water pump. “Sounds like you’ve been on both ends of the shovel.”
“No more than anyone else, I guess.”
He stood his ground, casually shucking into the article of clothing, his movements so sure, no wasted motion, no hesitation. Did he live his life the same? Taking what he wanted when and where he found it? She imagined him wanting her, taking her, and as his gaze slid down the front of her body, memories of their stolen passion again flared hot in the pit of her stomach.
His eyes brightened as if the same thoughts held him transfixed. Then his expression hardened, and the gleam in his eyes turned to flint. “I should have some information for you soon. I’ll be out of your way come morning.”
The fluttering in her belly turned to a panic. His leaving disturbed her more than running into him at every turn. Yet, it was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Confusion had her at a loss as to how to respond or how to proceed. It felt as if she’d captured a wild creature, and now before ever knowing what made him so intriguing, so unique, she had to set him free.
His mouth softened into a mocking smile. “I’ll be back in a day or two. I’m only going to Denver.”
Apparently her face was an open book, and now she felt the fool. “Don’t hurry on my account. I was only worried Lucky might miss you.”
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
When you look back on the history of the Old West, you’ll see more men recognized than women. However, women did have a great impact on this time period much like they do today.
No matter the era, women are strong, fierce, warriors who can hold their own in a fight. In Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats, Gini brought us Orchessa Starr. She had more skill with a firearm than a rolling pin. She ran a ranch and was well respected for her leadership. She was strongly independent, brave, and fiercely loyal to all those around her. She’s the type of character, a woman, I’d loved see portrayed more in books.
Nic, the drifter, was your typical male character you’ll see in many stories. He was adventurous, charming, flirtatious, and brave.
They might’ve had their differences, at first, but they came together to make one dynamic team.
Gun battles, outlaws, mystery, death, deception, romance, and love…. Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats was a very well written Old West story.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.
Heart Rating System
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)
Where the past and the present meet adventure and romance:
Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly and danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.