Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Family Tree Book One
Utah Davies is a recluse by choice, shunning his family and denying the ranch that needs his care. His personal life is a broken fence-line of past failures, neglected relationships, and The One that got away. After his father’s death, Utah is summoned home and faced with a secret in the form of a dozen or so more siblings he—and the family—had no idea existed. A clause in the will states he must find the family scattered across the country and unite them all for the reading. Trouble is, he has no clue where to begin.
Until he comes face-to-face with the old flame that burned his heart to ash.
In the July of their love, journalist Caroline Wilks refused elopement with Utah. After that, she made a series of bad decisions starting—then ending—with a nightmare marriage to a drunk. But when hunky bad-boy Utah struts back into her life, the only peace from the soul-deep throb she’ll get is between him and a mattress. He refuses to believe she’s nothing more than a hard-nosed journalist known for digging up more dirt than the family coon dog, but she knows better—or does she? And how can Caroline take the time to help Utah find his scattered family when she has a feature story due by the end of the month? Maybe the human interest piece is standing right in front of her in the dark, brooding cowboy.
Genre: Erotic Western RomancePurchase links: Taliesin Amazon ARe Smashwords Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Cowboys, Contemporary
Release Date: August 7, 2014
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
Excerpt & More
Utah pawed through the mail on the cracked vinyl seat of his pickup, one eye cocked on the road. Deep ruts in the dirt and gravel would swallow a smaller, less backwoods vehicle. He wove around the holes, trying to save his old tires another year.
After crumpling the thick envelope in his fist, he tossed it on the passenger’s side floor. “Damn credit card offers.” As if a man like him needed credit. For a decade he’d lived on the land—harvesting, hunting, trapping, and trading.
The pile of mail was four inches thick, and most of it was garbage. Guess it’s been a long time since I got to town.
Bumping through a crater filled with water, he snagged the corner of another envelope. Fundraiser? Crumple and toss. Three different car dealership ads floated to the floor.
Utah caught a glimpse of movement on the road ahead and applied his boot to the brakes. A doe picked her way across the dirt road. He waited for a wobbly-legged fawn to follow, but none did.
He grabbed another piece of mail and rolled on down the road. On his rare trips into the one-stoplight town, he grabbed a bite at the diner and a case of beer for the lonely weeks ahead. This time he’d stopped at Madden’s General Store and bought a new shovel.
His last shovel hadn’t survived the digging of the massive hole needed to bury his horse. The new purchase clanked around in the back, reminding him that he needed to buckle down and go to auction for another horse too.
Putting it off meant he’d endure a harsh, snowed-in winter. On horseback, he could navigate the deep mountain snow. On foot, he risked starvation.
Utah wadded up two more pieces of junk mail and let them drop to the floor. As he opened his fist to release another envelope, he locked his gaze on the next letter. Sitting right on top of the stack with Utah Davies scrawled in a heavy, black hand.
Snatching it off the pile, he held it in front of his face. It was postmarked June second—two weeks before. The envelope sported no return address, but it didn’t need to.
He’d know his brother Clinton’s handwriting anywhere.
Even if he hadn’t laid eyes on it in seven years. Last time he’d received a letter from his family, his mother had passed away.
Stuffing a thick forefinger under the flap, he tore it open. His heart suddenly a wild bird in his chest, he read.
A son ought to know when his own pa dies, so I’m writing to tell you the old bastard finally kicked it. Massive heart attack while watching a Southern Utah Thunderbirds game.Don’t show up as late as you did when Ma died.
I know you’ll miss the funeral, but there’s a will to be read, and you’re needed here. Apparently our pa had a little secret just you knew about, and the lawyer says you’re the only one he can speak with.
The cage of Utah’s chest grew smaller around that flapping bird. He could hear Clinton’s derisive drawl as if the asshole were sitting in the cab with him. Each sentence was a jab.
Utah hadn’t been home in a decade except for his ma’s passing. That letter had been postmarked six weeks before Utah had made the trek to the small post office, and he’d missed his ma’s final struggle as well as the funeral.
Now their father had suffered a massive heart attack while watching the team Utah had played for in the summer of his life. As a college student, being away from home depressed Utah, and he’d let his grades slip. When the Thunderbirds dropped him as starting quarterback, Utah’s give-a-shit had plunged deeper into the toilet of despair.
So getting kicked off the team and being put on academic probation had been the natural course of things.
Still, his father never forgave him for screwing up his chance at playing pro football. Utah slunk home from college, had a knockdown-drag-out with his pa, and left for good.
Ever since then he’d made his own way and now rarely gave a thought to the sport he’d held so much passion for.
The woman, however… Now that was another story.
Utah barely registered the dirt road or the heavy foliage lining it. For a long, dizzying moment, he drowned in memories of The One That Got Away.
Petite, spunky, apple-pie beauty Caroline. Eyes like a faded denim sky, and wheat-colored waves tumbling around them as they kissed and kissed under a gold medallion moon. Round, tan thighs locked around his hips as they moved together.
The bird in his chest thrashed as the familiar pain of his loss swept him.
Everyone from Caroline’s father to Utah’s high school football coach had done their damnedest to keep them apart. Their relationship had never been anything but serious—Utah had never dreamed of being with another woman.
Asking her to marry him after graduation was the obvious step, but their families and half of the town had gone ape-shit at the news of their engagement. Utah was wasting his chance at stardom, Caroline was too young and couldn’t give up her dreams, even if she thought they were entwined with Utah.
For four hours, he’d waited at the county line with a suitcase in his truck and two wedding bands in his pocket before he admitted she wasn’t showing up.
An explosion rocked the pickup. Mud sprayed over the side window.
He dropped the letter and two-handed the wheel as the ass-end of the truck jerked wildly side to side. Branches scraped the windshield. Crashing through the underbrush off the road, he fought to regain control.
Adrenaline surged through his system, mingling with the bone-deep throb for Caroline and the mess his father had left him with.
Secret? More like mother of all betrayals—the reason Utah had steered clear since his ma passed away.
Following her death, Utah returned to catch his father sifting through photos in a safe. When asked who the kids in the pictures were, Utah was told they were his siblings.
Twelve more of them scattered across the country. Secret families born to women who were not Utah, Clinton, and Gunnison’s ma.
The truck sideswiped a tree, and the whole vehicle spun around to face the road twenty feet up the bank, an insurmountable distance even with four undamaged tires.
At least he’d come to a stop.
Utah tore off his battered cowboy hat and raked his hands through his too-long hair. “Damn!”
The immediate problem of how the hell to get his truck out of the wilderness seemed tame compared to facing his angry brothers and telling them their pa was a lying, deceiving playboy who unloaded more sperm than he did cargo on his hauls across the country.
Going home meant facing the town’s disappointment all over again too.
No, he didn’t give a damn about that. But dealing with his own emotions linked to a girl who hadn’t loved him enough to elope made that bird in his chest wheeze its last.
Slowly, the right front corner of the truck began to sink as another tire deflated, leaving Utah in the middle of nowhere with a pile of mail and only one spare tire.
But at least he still had the new shovel. Maybe he could dig himself a grave.
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Other titles by Em Petrova:
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Wild & Wicked Cowboys
69 Shades of Smut
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Be on the lookout for Em Petrova's upcoming releases: Heart Ties coming Oct 2014 and Peacemaker coming Nov 2014.
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