Cowboy Fever (Sons of Troy Ledger Series) [NOOK Book]


Mustang Run, Texas—where the cowboy code lived…and danger lurked

Dakota Ledger was a bull rider at heart and a loner by choice…until fate put him in place to rescue Viviana Mancini. She'd never forgotten the delirious days of passion they'd once shared, but now she was in trouble…and so was the baby she'd never told him they'd had.

Dakota would do anything to guard Viviana and his new baby from the killer on their heels—even return to his ...

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Cowboy Fever (Sons of Troy Ledger Series)

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Mustang Run, Texas—where the cowboy code lived…and danger lurked

Dakota Ledger was a bull rider at heart and a loner by choice…until fate put him in place to rescue Viviana Mancini. She'd never forgotten the delirious days of passion they'd once shared, but now she was in trouble…and so was the baby she'd never told him they'd had.

Dakota would do anything to guard Viviana and his new baby from the killer on their heels—even return to his estranged father's ranch. There he could protect them…but he couldn't protect himself. Because Dakota faced two deadly threats—the killer on their trail and the would-be family he'd fallen helplessly in love with.…

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459208315
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Series: Sons of Troy Ledger, #4
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 345,956
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Joanna began her professional writing career in 1994. Now, Almost sixty published books later, Joanna has gained a wroldwide following with her cutting-edge romantic suspense and Texas family series such as Sons of Troy Ledger and the Big D Dads series. Connect with her at or write her at PO Box  852, Montgomery, TX 77356.


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Read an Excerpt

Dakota Ledger was back in Texas and the heat was on. Sweat rolled down his back and pooled at his armpits, staining his lucky red Western shirt. The smell of livestock and manure permeated the still air. "All My Ex's Live in Texas" blared from an aging sound system. The edgy excitement of competition was electric in the stifling June air.

"Gotta love bull riding in San Antonio."

Dakota turned to the youthful cowboy who was grinning like a puppy with a new bone. "What's so special about San Antonio?" Dakota asked.

"I qualified for the competition."

"That'll do it."

Dakota didn't know the rider's real name, but even though he was relatively new to the Professional Bull Riders Association circuit, he'd already earned a nickname. "Cockroach" stemmed from the way he scurried out of the reach of a bull's kicking hooves. It was a great talent to have if you wanted to keep living with all parts working.

Cockroach rubbed his palms against his chaps. "This is my first year to compete in PBR-sanctioned events, so I'm a little nervous."

"The adrenaline will take care of that once you drop onto the bull's back."

"I'm counting on that." Cockroach adjusted his hat. "One day I hope to be the PBRA world champion, just like you were two years ago. A million-dollar purse. I could use that. Not to mention all those endorsements you have."

"Bull riding's not about the money."

"I know." Cockroach toed the dirt as if putting out a cigarette. "It's a long, hard ride from the bottom to the top, but I plan to be one of the few who make it."

"Persistence is a large part of the battle," Dakota agreed.

"And skill is the rest," Cockroach said.

"Skill, passion and luck," Dakota corrected. "You gotta love what you're doing. And you gotta stay alive to keep doing it."

Cockroach reached down and adjusted his right spur. "Have you ever been seriously hurt?"

"Never met a bull rider who hasn't. I've had cracked ribs, concussions, a broken right wrist and bruises probably on every inch of my body."

"Hey, Dakota. Looking good."

Dakota turned toward the railing that separated the paid attendees from the competitors. A group of young women were leaning over the railing, probably not a one of them over twenty years old. Not that he was all that much older at twenty-five, but he sure felt it.

Still, he tipped his hat and smiled.

"Your friend's cute, too," one of the females called.

Cockroach beamed, turned a tad red and tipped his hat to his vocal admirer.

"What's your favorite rodeo town?" Cockroach asked when he turned back to Dakota.

Dakota nudged his worn Stetson back from his forehead. It damn sure wasn't San Antonio or any other town within five hundred miles of here, but he wasn't getting into that.

"Doesn't really matter where you are. It always comes down to just you, the bull and the clock."

"Can't be the same in places like Montana. I mean look at those hot babes over there. Short shorts, halter tops, sun-streaked hair and all that luscious tanned flesh. Bet you don't get that in cold country."

"They've got hot buckle bunnies every place they've got rodeo competitions," Dakota assured him. "The names change. The flirting and seduction games remain the same."

At least that had been true for him until he'd run into a certain dark-haired beauty with class and brains after a bull got the best of him last year at Rodeo Houston. The attraction between them had struck like lightning, shooting sparks without warning. They'd had six days together before he'd had to move on to the next competition. Six torrid, exciting, fantastic days.

End of story. He hadn't been the one to write the finale. The rejection had stung a lot more than expected. His performance level had taken a drastic drop for several months after that. He could thank Viviana—along with a couple of injuries—that he didn't even make it to the championship finals last year.

Dakota turned back to the circle of dirt where he'd face tonight's battle. Letting anything interfere with your concentration was suicide for a bull rider.

Which was why he should have never come back to Texas. Even before he'd met Viviana, the odds here were stacked against him. The Ledger name was infamous in the Lone Star State and that had nothing to do with his reputation with the bulls.

Nineteen years after the fact, the brutal murder of Dakota's mother was still being written and talked about in this area of Texas. She'd been shot at home, in a ranch house less than a hundred miles from where he stood right now.

His father, Troy, had been convicted of the crime. Dakota had been six years old at the time.

Luckily, questions about his past hadn't come up today in his interviews with the local media. All they'd focused on was taking pictures and asking him about his success. He suspected that was because the competition's organizers had told them any mention of Troy Ledger was off-limits.

Cockroach got the signal to head toward the chute. He looked over to the female cheering squad and tipped his hat before swaggering toward the bucking, snorting beast that was already fighting to clear the chute.

"Remember, it's just you and the bull," Dakota shouted after him. Six seconds into the ride, the bull bucked and veered to the left. Cockroach was thrown off. Fortunately, it was his hat and not his head that got entangled with the bull's hooves. True to his nickname, the cowboy got out of the way while Jim Angle distracted the indignant animal.

Jim was one of the rodeo clown greats. It had been Jim Angle who'd saved Dakota from getting seriously injured back in Houston the night he'd met Viviana. The past attacked again, this time so strong Dakota couldn't shut the memories down.

Images of Viviana filled his head. Dark, curly hair that fell to her slender shoulders. Full, sensual lips. Eyes a man could drown in. A touch that had set him on fire.

Damn. If he didn't clear his mind, he'd never hang on for the full eight seconds, and he needed a good showing tonight to make it to the final round in this event tomorrow. A rider couldn't rest on past laurels and the competition got tougher every year.

He'd drawn the meanest of the rough stock tonight. That was half the battle to getting a high score. The other half was up to Dakota.

He was the last rider of the evening and he worked to psyche himself up as the other contenders got their shot at racking up points. As his turn drew near, he fit the leather glove on his riding hand and one of the other riders helped him tape it in place. The resin came next, just enough to improve his grip. Then he climbed onto the chute. It was time for action.

A rush of adrenaline shot through him as he gripped his worn and trusty bull rope and felt the 1700-pound bull buck beneath him. It would be a hell of a ride. The crowd was with him. Their cheers pounded in his head, their voices an indistinguishable roar.

"Hey, Ledger. We don't like murderers around here."

Unlike the cheers, the taunt was distinct. Cutting.


The gate clanked open and Devil's Deed charged from the chute.

In what seemed like a heartbeat, the bull went into a belly roll and Dakota went sailing through the air. His right shoulder ground into the hard earth. A kicking hoof collided with his ribs as he tried to scramble to safety.

Pain shot through him like a bullet. Yep. He was home.

Chapter Two

"STAT. Ambulance en route."

Dr. Mancini looked up at the male E.R. nurse delivering the news.

"And I so needed this cup of coffee."

"I know. It's been murder in here tonight. Must be the full moon."

"More likely that I volunteered to pull Dr. Cairn's shift for her." She took a large gulp of the much-needed caffeine. "Nature of the emergency?" she asked, shifting her brain to work mode.

"Gunshot wound to the head. Critical blood loss. Vitals at life-threatening levels. "

There went her last chance of getting home on time and relieving the nanny tonight. "Any other details?"

"Caucasian male, likely early twenties, picked up in the back parking lot of a bar in the downtown area. Expected arrival…" He glanced at his watch. "Any minute."

"Alert the nurse assigned to the shock trauma center and also Dr. Evans."

"I'm on it."

She was glad Dan Evans was on duty tonight. He was one of the top neurosurgeons in Texas. "Also alert the O.R.," she called to the departing nurse.

Fatigue was forgotten as she hurried down the halls to the trauma unit. They'd already lost one patient tonight. Hopefully, they'd save this one.

"Dr. Mancini."

She recognized the voice. Police Detective Harry Cortez, or Dirty Harry, as she'd come to think of him. Not because of his toughness—though she expected he was plenty tough—but because the front of his shirt always bore testimony to his latest meal.

"If you're here about the patient with the gunshot wound, you'll have to wait. I haven't seen him as yet."

His eyes narrowed. "You have a patient with a gunshot wound?"

"Arriving as we speak, but don't even think about questioning him until I give you clearance. This is a hospital, not the police station."

"I'm only doing my job, just like you, Doctor. Besides, I'm here to talk to you about Hank Bateman."

Mention of the name filled her with disgust. "We'll have to talk later."

The squeak of a gurney's wheels came from near the E.R. entrance. She raced toward the trauma center. The slap of the detective's street shoes on the tiled floor signaled he was right behind her.

She was sliding her long fingers into a pair of sterile gloves when she heard the detective's voice outside the examining room.

"Who shot you? C'mon. Name the bastard. He won't come after you again. I'll see to it. Just give me the name."

She walked to the door as the patient was rolled in. She shot a stern warning look at Cortez, and he waved in surrender and backed away.

One look at the patient and her stomach rolled. She should be desensitized by now, but the sight of bloody tissue oozing from the skull was not the kind of thing she'd ever get used to. The victim's chance of survival was next to zero. The miracle was that he had lived to make it to the hospital.

The young man coughed, and blood mixed with spittle spilled from his lips. His mouth kept moving. He was trying to say something. She leaned in close, but the gurgled murmurings were too garbled to understand.

"I'm Dr. Mancini," she said as she helped the nurse get him hooked up to the heart monitor. "I'll try to ease your pain."

"And I'm Dr. Evans," the young neurosurgeon said as he joined them.

The patient coughed again, this time choking on the blood.

"Shhh… Shell…"

She leaned in close. "Are you trying to tell me who shot you?"

Before he could nod or mumble a reply, the line on the monitor went flat.

"Either you go to the emergency room by ambulance or I drive you," Jim Angle said.

Dakota shrugged, but winced as he tried to grab a gulp of bracing air. "I don't need to see a doctor. It's just a contusion."

"You don't know that."

"I was wearing my protective vest."

"You could still have a few cracked ribs. Butch Cobb was wearing a vest in Phoenix."

All the riders knew about Butch. He'd been one of the best until a fractured rib had punctured his right lung. "A freak accident," Dakota said.

He lifted a bottle of water to his mouth. His chest protested the movement with such vengeance that he grimaced.

Naturally, Jim noticed.

"You need to be x-rayed."

"I needed to stay on that bull eight seconds."

"You don't always have to play the tough guy, Dakota."

"Who's playing? But if it makes you happy, I'll stop by the emergency room, old man, and get checked out."

"Watch who you're calling 'old man' or I'll toss you over my shoulder and haul your sorry ass to the hospital."

"How about you just collect my bull rope and glove for me?"

"Can do, and then I'm driving you to the hospital."

"Just what I need, a chauffeur in rodeo-clown makeup."

What Dakota wanted was a couple of painkillers, a six-pack and a soft bed, but he knew that Jim was right. He should get the injury checked out. If it was something serious, the faster he got it tended to, the better off he'd be.

The nearest hospital was only a ten-minute drive. He'd passed it on his way to the arena tonight. He could easily drive himself. He started unbuttoning his shirt. He had a clean one in his truck and he didn't want the hospital deciding they had to rip this one off of him.

He almost doubled over from a stab of pain as he shrugged out of the shirt. His chest felt like someone had just whacked it with a two-by-four.

"Get in," Jim said.

This time Dakota didn't argue.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 23, 2015

    Professional bull rider Dakota Ledger was a loner who liked movi

    Professional bull rider Dakota Ledger was a loner who liked moving from town to town on the rodeo circuit and not settling down. That worked well for him until the day he rescued Viviana Mancini. They'd had a brief passionate encounter a while back making it more important than ever for him to help her out now. Viviana was in deep trouble with a killer after her and her baby - the one she never told Dakota they had. Dakota would do anything for Viviana and their baby so he took them to his estranged father's ranch where he knew he could protect them.

    This is such a well written book (and series) that it is addictive! As in each book in this series, Troy continues to look for his wife's murderer. In this suspenseful book, Dakota is trying to keep Viviana and their daughter safe from a killer. Overall, the writing was fantastic and the characters! The characters were wonderfully written. I loved the chemistry between Dakota and Viviana.

    Cowboy Fever is a great book that I highly recommend.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Another great story about the Ledgers!

    Troy Ledger had a loving marriage and five sons, but he lost everything when he was wrongfully accused of brutally murdering his wife. After being released from prison, he returns to his Texas ranch, determined to find the real killer.
    One by one, his grown sons return home. Although their mother's relatives taught them that their father is a monster, they each realize the great injustice their father has suffered. As each son makes peace with his past, the Ledgers bond to form a Texas ranch family unlike any other.
    Cowboy Fever is the story of Troy's youngest son. Dakota has made a living as a professional bull rider, traveling from one rodeo to another, always on the move, always running from commitment. But his plans for a life free of obligations take a tumble when he reunites with Dr. Viviana Mancini. Dakota is stunned to learn that his one-week affair with the gorgeous emergency room doctor has resulted in a beautiful baby daughter.
    Dakota can ride a bull, but he can't imagine himself as a father. He's been taught that he inherited his father's violent tendencies, and he's afraid he'll endanger the baby and woman he loves. But someone else is threatening Viviana, and that's something Dakota cannot tolerate.
    Cowboy Fever is the fourth book of the "Sons of Troy Ledger" series. Throughout the series, Joanna Wayne has been dropping hints about the real killer, but Troy hasn't found him (or her) yet. I hope the next book will bring home the last son and uncover the person who tore apart the Ledger family. So far, each son has fought for the love of his life and successfully reunited with his father, but Troy is still haunted by his wife's murder.
    I know Joanna Wayne will tie up all the loose ends, and I can't wait to find out how she'll do it.

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