Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones. (The Men from Battle Ridge #1)
November 27, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
I’m not huge on romantic suspense stories that involve stalkers. They frustrate me because I feel like either the stalker isn’t really a viable threat or the heroine doesn’t take her safety seriously, making me roll my eyes. So when this story started, I braced for frustration, instead I was impressed with the stalker and the story overall.
Carlin’s on the run from an obsessed stalker. Although she has made reports to the police, her stalker is a cop, and he is able to manipulate the people he works with so they won’t pursue her allegations. He is a expert computer hacker, causing Carlin to use extreme caution in each new city she finds work in. She doesn’t give out her real name, social security number etc, finding menial jobs that people will pay her in cash to perform.
Her latest town is Battle Ridge, Wyoming. She always told her ex that she loved sunny Florida, so she hopes going to the opposite end of the country throws him off even more. She stops at a diner for some food, and ends up getting a job doing dishes and waitressing for the owner Kat. Kat also offers her a room above the diner, free of rent. Although Carlin doesn’t divulge every detail about her past, she does let on that she is running from a stalker as she comes to be a friend and trust Kat. With winter coming though, the diner traffic is going to slow down and Kat isn’t going to be able to afford to keep Carlin around. But then she gets an idea.
Kat’s cousin, Zeke is a rancher who lives about an hour away. He is in desperate need for a cook and cleaning person. He mangages about eight ranch hands on the huge ranch that he owns, and after his beloved older Libby, left to live with her daughter, he has found it is hard to keep up with the inside chores as he works 14-16 hours outside. His men need hearty meals, and clean clothes. Kat suggests Carlin go and live and work with him for the winter. Carlin is extremely hesitant at first, especially moving to the middle of nowhere with several strange men. But she really trusts Kat, and she really doesn’t want to pick up and move quite yet. So she reluctantly agrees to go work for Zeke.
I think these authors do a great job with the characters in this book. I really enjoyed both Zeke and Carlin. Zeke is a very rough, alpha, hard-working rancher who doesn’t have a lot of time for non-sense. He isn’t all that pleased to be taking Carlin on, as she has many secrets and a shady on the run track record. But there are not a lot of women who can cook for 8 men and keep up with the house, especially where he lives with the very hard winters. Carlin has a crap life, but she has spirit and a good attitude. Her stalker scares her completely, but she has a sense of humor and is very sarcastic with Zeke. She gives him a hard time, and she has some really cute moments.There is also nice interactions with the other ranch hands.
Now, the sexual tension in this book is well done. It’s a very slow build-up (I don’t think anything start to happen until at least the 50% mark) but I liked it slow because Carlin is wary of men as it is. She soon realizes Zeke is her rock, and won’t let anything happen to her. He encourages her to take control of her own defense though, giving her gun lessons and self defense classes. He empowers her to feel safe, while also being a commanding presence himself.
This story moves along at a nice pace, but I do have to admit I was bummed at the actual sex scenes. They are so glossed over and quick. I’m talking a paragraph or two at most. And the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ are used, too clinical for all the smoldering tension that builds up to these scenes.
Hot prickles of sensation speared from her nipples straight to her vagina, to her entire body.
He didn’t give her a chance, sliding between her legs and reaching down between them to guide his penis into place at her opening.
It’s just not sexy, y’all! And don’t give me two paragraphs of cowboy sex. Give me pages and pages! Otherwise, nice story.