Riding the Line

At A Glance

On Sale February 3, 2009
Virgin Cheek
Contemporary Erotic Romance
Turner Brothers #3
ISBN-10: 035234511X
ISBN-13: 978-0352345110

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Riding The Line

RIDING THE LINE is a wonderful journey of romance, self-discovery, and passion that is engaging from start to finish. It’s smolderingly sensual, so be sure to keep a fan handy while reading. A sure-fire winner, RIDING THE LINE is not to be missed!
Joyfully Reviewed

Rodeo cowboy, Dakota Scott, seems to attract trouble. After his truck breaks down and leaves him stranded in a small New Mexico town, he meets a woman who desperately needs his help. Robyn Sparrow, washed-up celebrity, has hit rock bottom and promises him anything to get a ride to the West Coast. As Dakota unwittingly leads her back to the spotlight, can Robyn resist the lure of Hollywood…or will she give it up for love?

Riding the LineDigital Re-release
Ebury Digital (May 14, 2012)
Available in the UK from
rBooks.co.uk and
Amazon.co.uk
Available in the US from
Amazon.com and
Kobo Books

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Chapter One

With a groan, Dakota stripped off his jacket and shirt and splashed lukewarm water over his grimy skin. The soap smelled of peaches but he didn’t care. At least he’d be clean again. He filled the basin with water and lowered his head. Behind him, the door opened and hit his ass shoving him face-first into the water.

“Are you sure you can’t find me a mechanic?”

Dakota Scott blinked rapidly into the pitiless glare of fluorescent lighting as he entered the dilapidated store attached to the gas station and so-called garage. He was hot, thirsty and needed a beer. His horse trailer was busted and apparently there was no chance of getting it fixed until Monday at the earliest.

And it was only Saturday night, not that you’d know it from the desolate darkened shop fronts and deserted streets. A hell of a place to break down. Thank God he wasn’t hauling his horse back to San Francisco, Tommy wouldn’t have liked this at all.

Mr. Carter, the gas station owner, was a thin old guy. He stood beside the cash register and laid a protective hand on it as if worried Dakota might have some notion of robbing him.

“The Ford brothers are the only mechanics in town and they won’t open till Monday. You’ll just have to wait till then, Mr. Scott.”

“Not the Ford family, right? Otherwise I might be expecting better service.”

His little joke fell flat. There was no flicker of amusement on Mr. Carter’s face. Maybe he’d heard it before. Dakota tried again.

“Is there a hotel?”

“There’s a motel down the street.”

“That’ll have to do until they fix my truck, then.” Dakota straightened up and rubbed his aching neck. He sure could do with a shower after his fruitless efforts to slide under the truck and work out exactly what was wrong. The sensation of his horse trailer trying to join him in the front seat of his truck was not one he wanted to repeat. “Do you reckon the motel will have any vacancies?”

Riding the Line“Usually does. Las Caldras isn’t exactly a hot vacation destination.” Mr. Carter scratched his balding head.

“They won’t be serving food at this late hour either, so if you want to eat, you’ll have to make do with what I’ve got here.”

Dakota sighed as his gaze swept the shelves of groceries for the lonely, the emotionally deprived and the poor. Cheap snacks filled with enough salt and sugar to make him forget his worries for an hour or two and significantly raise his blood sugar levels. A slight movement toward the back of the store caught his eye. It seemed he wasn’t the only customer. He nodded pleasantly at the old man.

“I’ll take a look. Thanks for the advice.”

He strolled toward the second aisle, aware of Mr. Carter’s eyes boring a hole in the back of his head. Damn, there wasn’t anything worth stealing in here unless a guy had an obsession for cheap shit. He stopped in front of a display of jerky and considered his options.

He had to wait for the truck and horse trailer to be fixed. There was no other way out of this tiny town. No railroad, buses or taxis’, no airport, nor cars to rent. Did people just come here to die? He turned right, headed up the next aisle and stopped. A woman hunched over the medical supplies section, her hand darted in and out of her coat pocket.

Dakota gently cleared his throat.

“Ma’am if you’re considering stealing that stuff, I’d think again. The guy who owns this shop is as jumpy as a rattle snake at a high-heeled shoe convention.”

She turned to look at him, desperation plain on her thin shadowed face. She was younger than he’d expected, probably around his own age.

“Fuck off.”

Dakota folded his arms across his chest.

“I’m just trying to help you out here, ma’am. I reckon, he’ll call the cops if you as much as steal a tissue.”

Her hand clenched on a carton of Tylenol.

“I need something. I’ve got a temperature.”

“Everything all right, Mr. Scott?”

“Good, thank you.”

Dakota switched position and used his body to block Mr. Carter’s view of the woman when he appeared at the head of the aisle.

“Stay there.”

He sauntered back toward the door, picked up a plastic basket and went back to the woman. He held out the basket.

“Put what you need in here. I’ll pay for it.”

“Why?”

She stared at him, her expression so suspicious he almost wanted to laugh.

“Because I want your body. Does that work for you?”

He smiled encouragingly when she didn’t. It seemed nobody in this town was getting his jokes. He sighed.

“Give me a minute to grab some stuff to eat, and we’ll go and pay together, okay?”

She nodded and handed over the pain killers at the same time. Her fingers brushed his, they were as hot as coals, her skin badly bruised and torn. Dakota checked for cuts on her thin wrist but couldn’t see anything.
He hurried through the aisles, found a couple of energy bars, breakfast cereal, milk and chips and headed up to the front. She was waiting for him. Hands thrust into the pockets of her long black coat, hood covering her face.

Mr. Carter stood on the other side of the cash desk, his expression one of intense disapproval as he stared at them both. Dakota handed over the basket of groceries and got out his wallet.

“So you’ll tell the Ford brothers I’ll be at the motel when they open up on Monday, then.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that.”

“Thanks.” He handed over some cash, winked at the woman and held the door open for her. It swung shut behind him with a thump and he let out his breath. He risked a glance at the silent figure beside him. She was tall for a woman, probably about five foot ten or thereabouts.

“So how did you get here?”

“I was hitch-hiking. This was as far as the guy went.”

“Damn bad luck.”

He studied the street, reckoned he could see the lights of the motel and started toward it. She touched the sleeve of his denim jacket.

“Can I have my pain killers?”

Riding the LineHe stopped to stare at her, the quiver in her voice brought out all his protective instincts.

“Do you have a place to stay tonight?”

She shook her head, her booted feet stirring up the dust. Her eyes finally met his to reveal a pathetic mixture of doubt and the beginnings of hope. Hard for him to see in an animal, let alone a human being. He sighed and knew he was done for.

“Would you like to bunk with me?” He paused. “In the motel, I mean, not literally in the same bunk.”

She tilted her head to look at him. He remained quiet under her fierce scrutiny.

“Why?”

He shrugged. “Because I’m a nice guy?”

“Okay.” She nodded awkwardly. “Thanks.”

He held out his hand. “I’m Dakota Scott. Nice to meet you.”

She quickly touched his outstretched palm and then stuffed her hand back into her pocket.

“Okay then, let’s go get signed in.” She fell into step beside him, their footsteps loud in the silence. “There’s one thing I need to know.”

“What’s that?”

“Your name. I can’t sign you in without one.”

“Call me Jane. Jane Smith.”

He snorted. “That’s original. Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Bet they’ve never heard that one before.”
Dakota hesitated as the orange and purple lights of The Shangri-La Motel beckoned. The low sixties-style buildings looked original rather than retro and in desperate need of some tender loving care. He opened the cracked glass door into the main office and blundered his way through a dangling pink beaded curtain.

There was no one at the desk, so he rang the bell and resisted the impulse to put his sunglasses back on to lessen the glare of the colorful space. Whoever owned the motel was either blind or in desperate need of a TV makeover show intervention.

A large woman appeared, a smile on her homely face. She wore a grubby pink dressing gown, diamante slippers and a tiara in her big blond hair.

“Hi, I’m Dorothy. You must be the cowboy with the broken truck. Mr. Carter said you might be popping by.”

Dakota smiled back at her. “Yeah, that’s me.” He gestured at his silent companion. “And this is Jane.”

Dorothy brought out the guest book and rummaged for a pen in a pink flamingo pot.

“You want one room or two?”

“One will be fine. Two beds.”

Dakota glanced over his shoulder as Jane spoke up. Her voice surprisingly firm.

“She’s right. It’s cheaper that way and I reckon after they fix my truck I’ll need every cent I can get.”

He signed the register, added Jane’s name and handed her the pen. He frowned as he watched her write. Why were her hands so beat up? Had she fallen out of something or been pushed and used her hands to break her fall or protect her face?

“Number fifteen is round the back. It’s quieter there and you can get a view of the creek.”

“Thanks, Dorothy. We sure appreciate it.”

She handed him a key and a huge can of ‘Bug Away’. “Here you go. Remember, don’t spray this stuff in your face or breathe it in, it’s lethal.”

Dakota handed Jane the keys and kept the bug spray for himself. Outside, silence stretched like a thick warm blanket. He found himself yawning.

“Jeez, I wonder how big the bugs are if she gives this out for free?”

Jane didn’t answer him, her attention fixed on the ground as she walked. He found number fifteen and waited while she unlocked the door and flicked on the light. Faded orange striped wallpaper fought a losing battle with the blue and green circles on the carpet.

“Hope you don’t get migraines, Jane.” He put the bug spray on the table with the groceries and turned to survey his companion.

“Will you be okay here if I go back to my truck and fetch a few things?”

She suddenly sat down on one of the twin beds as if her legs could no longer hold her up. Dakota frowned.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Can I get you anything before I leave? Water, a doctor?”

“Water would be great.”

He took the bug spray into the bathroom with him. No need for her to know he was terrified of spiders. He got her a glass of water and put it on the bedside table closest to her. Like most cowboys, he wasn’t known as a great conversationalist, but she made him look like a real chatterbox.

“Here you go. Take some painkillers and I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He paused at the door, had a strange feeling that he might never see her again.

“You will stay put, right?”

She looked up at him and he caught a gleam of a faint smile and a set of dark brown eyes.

“Of course I will. I still owe you.”

He relaxed against the doorframe. “No you don’t. I was just kidding. Now take care of yourself, and I’ll be back before you know it.”

He shut the door behind him and headed toward the town center. If his brothers could see him now they’d be laughing their asses off. He’d allowed his soft heart to fall for another lame duck. How many strays had he collected over the years? Way too many to count and not all of them had been a success.

He frowned as the outline of his truck came into view behind the gas station. Yeah, he might try and remember that, sometimes scared and desperate creatures could turn on a man and make him sorry he’d ever lived.

Robyn Cooper let out a shuddering breath as the door closed behind the big cowboy. Had she done the right thing letting him help her like that? She couldn’t think what else to do and she would’ve hated sleeping in the street. He seemed like a nice genuine guy, but who knew? She’d just have to take care of herself and she’d been doing that quite competently since the age of twelve.

She stared at the lurid orange wallpaper. Part of her kept hoping it was a dream and that someone would leap out of the closet and tell her it was all a set up and that she hadn’t really hit an all time low in her already rocky life.

She got up and rummaged in the bag of groceries he’d left behind for the pain killers. God, her head hurt and her eyes were full of grit. The last guy to give her a lift had stunk of booze and kept putting his hand on her thigh while he drove. She’d spent fifty miles holding him off and finally bailed at the gas station, hurting her hands in the process of diving clear of his moving car.

To her relief, the bathroom was tiny but clean. She snapped on the light above the mirror and pushed back the hood of her coat. Oh My God. She looked like something from fright night on Halloween, her eyes reddened, her mascara all over her cheeks and her lipstick non-existent. At least her long black hair was safely secured in its braid. None of the guys who’d given her rides along the way had recognized her. Was she finally turning into someone invisible? Was that a good thing or a bad one?

She opened the pain killers and took six. The desire for a large glass of vodka to chase the pills down warred with her recently acquired conscience. Somehow she doubted the Shangri-La had booze or room service and she had no money to pay for it anyway.

With a sigh, she returned to the bedroom and took the bed furthest away from the door. The counterpane was thinning and deposited tufts of orange fuzz on her black coat. Would her cowboy come back? She pictured his brown hair, hazel eyes and provocative laughing mouth. He was tall too, easily outstripping her. She reckoned he was in his late twenties, about her age or perhaps a little more. What was he doing in such a godforsaken spot? He looked way too clean and wholesome to be staying in a dive like this.

Riding the LineWhile she loitered in the store, she thought she’d heard something about a truck. Perhaps he was waiting for it to be fixed. Whatever his reasons for being there, he was her ticket out of this town and she intended to ride him as far as she could. By habit, she checked her cell phone, even though she’d been cut off. Who would she call anyway? Her sisters were too fucked-up to help her and as for her mom…

She stuffed the cell back in her pocket and stared at the door. Here she was, dependent on a stranger to help her out of the hole she’d fallen into. What could she offer him to get his cooperation? Angrily she wiped away a tear. She had almost no formal education, a dysfunctional family and no idea how normal people ran their lives.

He didn’t look like the kind of guy who was desperate for money or fame—not that she could offer him those things anymore. What else could she give him? She swallowed hard, remembered his first comment to her about wanting her body. Could she do that? Could she offer him sex?

Hell, why not? She’d come close to letting the whole world see her naked, and according to the tabloids, she’d had over a hundred lovers before she reached twenty. What difference would one more make?

What the Critics Say

Get ready to go on a sizzling-hot ride with RIDING THE LINE. Kate Pearce has delivered a captivating erotic romance with an unlikely couple who will grab your heart and not let go.

RIDING THE LINE is the loosely connected to ROPING THE WIND and WHERE HAVE ALL THE COWBOYS GONE?, two other books of Ms. Pearce’s featuring Dakota’s half brothers, Jay and Grayson. What I love about each of these books is that they are so different, both in plot and in the type of people the heroes and heroines are, and yet each book blends perfectly with the other two. All three books can be read as stand alones, but in reading this book I was delighted to see Jay, Grayson, and Lauren once again. There were a few parts of RIDING THE LINE that made me somewhat curious to hear more about (my admittedly favorite characters of Ms. Pearce’s) Jay and Helen (who was mentioned but never appeared). I live in hope that Ms. Pearce will be writing stories for the brothers’ other half-siblings because I cannot bear to leave these wonderful characters behind.

RIDING THE LINE is a wonderful journey of romance, self-discovery, and passion that is engaging from start to finish. It’s smolderingly sensual, so be sure to keep a fan handy while reading. A sure-fire winner, RIDING THE LINE is not to be missed!

Joyfully Reviewed

Real problems are convincingly depicted by the dynamic couple featured in RIDING THE LINE, where emotions and desires frequently take center stage.

Distinctive characters and emotionally compelling storylines make any book by Kate Pearce totally captivating. From start to finish, I found myself completely caught up in what was happening to this unforgettable couple, as their complex lives and haunted pasts lead to concerns over how they should react to current situations. Ms. Pearce had Dakota and Robyn facing numerous dilemmas, and their responses to each of them is believably portrayed with an honest genuineness. Whether these two are trying to decide just where they want to have sex next or if they must come to a decision affecting their futures, there is often a deeper meaning to their comebacks. Some of the banter between them only covered up the real reasons for their behavior, and Ms. Pearce lets readers become more aware of these causes through carefully worded scenes. Any emotion associated with a situation is vividly revealed with sincerity plus insight into what a character is truthfully thinking at a certain time. Robyn starts out as a heroine who does not care about much anymore and her behavior often proves this attitude, yet interaction with the hero slowly changes her mind about how she sees herself and what she desires in life. When it comes to the sensual side of this story, Dakota and Robyn have an exceedingly lusty nature, one they are not afraid to explore. Some of their intimate moments are blazingly scorching, and each one is overflowing with a potent enthusiasm. There are several secondary characters whom have been met before, and it is delightful getting to see what was new in their lives. Sexual tension heats up the pages of RIDING THE LINE, while the emotional conflicts touch your heart.

5 Stars, Ecataromance