Excerpt, Review & Giveaway : GAMBLING ON A SECRET by Sara Walter Ellwood (CR)

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Excerpt, Review & Giveaway : GAMBLING ON A SECRET by Sara Walter Ellwood (CR)

Book Blurb

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.

COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.
Ms. Brown also named Gambling On A Secret as one of her favorite romance reads in 2012 in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today.

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Book Excerpt

“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

Toot's Review by Stacy Sabala

This is the second book by this author that I’ve read.  It started out well and pulled the reader in instantly.  The main characters are Dylan and Charli who both are dealing with major issues.  Dylan is home after being injured while fighting in Afghanistan.  He is drinking his physical and emotional pain away.  Just before his injury and last mission, he received a Dear John letter from his wife Brenda telling him she was pregnant with another’s baby.  Two days later his team was blown up and four of his men died.  Dylan feels tremendous guilt over leading his team into a trap.

Charli lost her mom when she was 15 and went to live with her cold hearted grandfather.  Full of hurt and hate, she ran away ending up on the streets of Las Vegas.  While there she became addicted to cocaine and involved with a dangerous drug dealer.  Prison and rehab were in her future.  Her grandfather found her and brought her home.  Leaving her a fortune when he died, she used some of the money to buy a ranch in Texas.

This ranch was run down and unlivable but she was determined to make it into a working ranch of her own.  She took a chance and hired Dylan as her manager, even though he was constantly drunk.  She wanted to help him and decided that all he needed was a chance.  She was just the woman to give him that chance.
They entered into an agreement and worked hard on the ranch.  They become friends and secretly harbor feelings for each other.  They both try and deny what they feel, but fail and finally admit it to each other.
Their lives are challenged by family feuds, Dylan’s step uncle who wants Charli and her ranch, Dylan’s vicious ex wife, and secret pasts.

This book was awesome.  The characters were well written and multi-faceted.  I was intrigued with what they faced and how they overcame their issues.  The action was throughout the book and kept the reader engrossed.  The romance was sweet, fun and sexy.  I had to fan myself a couple of times reading the loves scenes.  The ending was definitely sigh worthy.  Ms. Ellwood has made me a reader of cowboy romance stories.  I am now hooked.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance. I give this 4 out of 5 books

Author Bio

Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.

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