Bestselling author Kimberly Raye's rousing new series continues in Red-Hot Texas Nights. Get ready for squabbling kin, steamy nights, and mouth-watering romance...
LOVE IS ALWAYS INTOXICATING
When it comes to feuds, the Tuckers and the Sawyers do it Texas-style! The legendary moonshiners have been doing battle for more than a century, and they're nowhere near ready to call a truce. Especially when Brandy Tucker, a self-taught chef, mixes up a brew that rivals the original-only to find the recipe's gone missing. And the culprit seems to be Tyler McCall, a professional bullrider as hot as the Lone Star sun, despite the Sawyer blood running through his veins.
IN THE LONE-STAR STATE
Brandy is a sweet, sassy distraction Tyler doesn't need-especially not when he's preparing for a a competition that will either make or break his career. The more Brandy and Tyler cross paths with one another, the less they can can ignore the heat that sizzles between them. Should they give in to their fiery passions-even if they both risk getting burned? All it takes is one kiss to find out...
The next book in the Rebel Moonshine series, Red-Hot Texas Nights brings the heat!
"Ms. Raye is adept at mixing humor with sizzling love scenes...an entertaining reading experience!"-A Romance Review
About the Author
Bestselling author Kimberly Raye started her first novel in high school and has been writing ever since. She has published more than sixty-five novels, including Texas Thunder, and two of them are prestigious RITA Award finalists. She's also been nominated by Romantic Times BOOK Reviews for several Reviewer's Choice awards, as well as a Career Achievement award. She lives deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country with her husband and their children. She's an avid reader who loves Diet Dr. Pepper, chocolate and cowboys. Especially cowboys. Kim also loves to hear from readers.
Read an Excerpt
Red-Hot Texas Nights
By Kimberly Raye
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Kimberly Raye
All rights reserved.
It was the moment of truth.
Brandy Louise Tucker switched off the neon-pink OPEN sign that hummed in the window of her bakery, Sweet Somethings. Pulling down the hot-pink scalloped shades that spanned the storefront windows, she blocked out the rapidly setting sun and a small town full of prying eyes.
The last thing she needed was an audience.
Throwing the dead bolt on the front door, she double-checked to make sure the ruffled curtains were pulled, too, and then walked behind the main display case filled with what was left of today's freshly made cakes and breads.
Her heart beating ninety-to-nothing, she leaned down behind the cash register and pulled out a small pint-sized Mason jar filled with a pale gold liquid.
It wasn't even close to her specialty — chocolate nirvana cake with marshmallow fluff frosting and rich ganache drizzle — but it was just as addictive.
More so if the rumors floating around Rebel, Texas, were even close to the truth.
She could only pray that they were.
Shaking the jar, she watched the bubbles swirl into a telltale funnel that, as her late granddaddy used to say, was the sign of a damn powerful mix. Judging by the speed of the popping and whirling, the alcohol was well over 160 proof.
But potency was just the half the magic when it came to good moonshine.
Not that Brandy knew all the ins and outs of the stuff. Sure, she was a direct descendant of the Archibald Tucker, half of the legendary duo responsible for the infamous Texas Thunder — the best bootleg ever made in the Lone Star State. But Brandy made her living baking cakes and pies. Her claim to fame? Mixing up a light and fluffy buttercream, not stirring together a batch of mash.
Her finely tuned taste buds had paid off and she'd done it. She'd supposedly mixed up something better than the original she'd been trying so hard to duplicate. Forget Texas Thunder. This stuff was pure lightning in a jar. A raging tornado.
Her heart pounded at the thought and she drew a deep breath. She was getting way ahead of herself. Yes, she'd tweaked the original recipe, but who knew if it was that much better than Archibald's claim to fame? All she had was the word of a few local bootleggers who'd taken her mash and turned it into an actual brew.
She had no idea if they'd added something to it or altered it during the process. There was no way to be sure that it was 100 percent hers without seeing the process through — from start to finish.
Which was why she needed to come up with another batch of mash and get it to a professional. Someone who could run the mix in a safe, controlled, legal environment. Someone who could tell her if she had, indeed, found her own version of liquid gold.
But first she had to taste this jar and see if it truly was all that.
"Don't you think you're going overboard?" Ellie, her baking assistant, asked as she emerged from the storage area and noted the tightly drawn curtains. The woman was in her early twenties, tall and thin, with her long red hair pulled back into a ponytail. She wore a SWEET SOMETHINGS pink apron tied around her narrow waist and a matching T-shirt that read GO ON ... WHISPER SWEET SOMETHINGS TO ME. "It's not like we did anything wrong," she added. "I just handed the mash to a friend who handed it to a friend who handed it to another friend who just so happened to have a hidden still."
"We've still got a jar of illegal moonshine in our possession."
"True, but that's also the case for half the people in this town. I'm talking about the processing. We didn't brew anything."
"No, but we might as well have." Brandy paced the length of the counter and fought down a wave of worry. "What if Sheriff DeMassi knocks on that door right now?"
"Sheriff DeMassi is up in Austin at a law enforcement convention for the next two days. There's just Deputy Marty on duty and I've gotten to know that man really well since I rolled into this town" — she winked — "if you know what I mean. And he's gotten to know me. And, well, he's still hooked even though I made it perfectly clear that one night together doesn't make us a thing. He wouldn't bother us even if he had the time, which he doesn't. He's got his hands full with the Ladies Rotary Bunko Night going on over at the senior center. You know how those women get when the stakes are high."
Since Ellie had moved to Rebel only a few short years ago, she'd not only slept with most of the available men but had become the source for local gossip.
"Better to get ahead of it," she'd told Brandy more than once. "I know people are gonna talk about me and mine, so I make sure I do the talking first."
"Hear tell," she went on, "Laverne Shipley donated a full spa day at the Hair Saloon as a grand prize. I'll bet those old busybodies are practically pulling each other's hair out by now. You know Sally Goodwin lost her weave during the last poker tournament they hosted, don't you?"
Ellie nodded. "Cara Donnelly pulled it out in one handful after Sally laid down a flush. It wasn't pretty." Ellie's gaze went to the jar sitting on the counter. "Not nearly as pretty as this." Her eyes twinkled. "I'm telling you, this right here is the golden goose."
Brandy could only hope.
While the original Texas Thunder recipe had finally been found, Brandy had no clue if her older sister Callie and Callie's fiancé Brett were still in the market to sell it. The two had solved most of their own financial problems for the interim, which meant they weren't in any hurry to make a deal.
Perhaps they'd hold on to the recipe. Or auction it off. Hell, maybe they'd frame it and keep it for sentimental reasons. Brandy didn't know, and she certainly wasn't asking.
Callie Tucker had given up a scholarship to the University of Texas School of Journalism and forfeited her dreams to stay right here in Rebel and raise her two younger siblings when their parents had passed away. Ten years later, she was finally making her own dreams come true with a job at the local newspaper. Even more, she'd found her own happily-ever-after with the love of her life and once-upon-a-time enemy, Brett Sawyer.
The Sawyers and the Tuckers had been feuding harder and longer than any Hatfield and McCoy, but Callie and Brett were doing their damndest to mend the riff. They were getting married next month, much to the shock and dismay of an entire town still divided, but neither cared about public opinion.
They were in love. Happy.
Brandy certainly wasn't going to fudge that up by dumping a load of problems at Callie's feet.
Namely, Brandy needed to get out from under the loan she'd taken out a few months back to help pay the overdue property taxes left behind after her grandfather's death.
She'd been more than eager to put up her equipment for the secure note to help Callie, who'd been under pressure to save the Tucker family home. But Brandy hadn't counted on the new doughnut shop that moved in down the street from her bakery just a few weeks after she'd signed on the dotted line.
A mom-and-pop endeavor, like most places in Rebel, that had taken a bite out of Brandy's early-morning rush. Sure, she was still the only spot for cakes and pies and other custom-baked goods, but her morning muffin rush had brought in a healthy dime, too. With a fledgling business barely six months old, she had to put every available penny back into her bakery if she wanted it to grow. Chop off a chunk for lost income courtesy of Susie Mae's habanero-jelly-filled doughnuts — the new it breakfast in Rebel — and the substantial loan repayment, and she'd barely broken even this past month. Forget growing and nurturing Sweet Somethings into the go-to destination for all things sugar in Rebel and the surrounding counties. Particularly among the special-occasion crowd.
At her current size, she could barely produce one wedding cake per week in addition to her regular offerings. To really make a name for herself and get her bakery featured on the go-to website for Hill Country weddings — www.HeartofTexasHappilyEverAfters.com — she needed to crank out at least three to four custom orders. That meant hiring another cake decorator and bringing in a massive second oven.
And that meant she needed more cash.
She reached for the jar. Drawing a deep breath, she willed her hands to steady. Her fingertips caught the edge of the metal and she unscrewed the lid.
A soft poppp! sounded as the pressure released. In that next instant, the scent of warm strawberries and something much more potent filled the air and teased her nostrils.
"Go on," Ellie said when Brandy hesitated. "Do it."
"I will. Just keep your apron on." She tamped down on her reservations, summoned her courage, and touched her lips to the thick rim of the glass.
A quick tilt and the first drop hit her tongue. Sizzled its way down her throat. Burned a path between her breastbone and ... Shazam!
Heat rolled through her and firebombed in the pit of her stomach. The floor trembled. The walls blurred. A ringing echoed in her ears.
Holy guacamole. The taste packed more of a punch than she'd expected. While she'd never been much of a drinker and she had no intention of turning into one, suddenly she could at least understand why, even in this day and age, there were still men willing to risk life and livelihood to take to the woods and brew up their own hooch.
There was nothing like it.
The blaze had subsided into a vibrating warmth that bubbled through her and soothed her insides. The sweet, succulent flavor of strawberries danced on her lips. The rich buzz of alcohol filled her head. Dollar signs danced in front of her eyes.
"I think I might be on to something," she gasped, taking another sip just to be sure. Another punch of heat, an echoing hum, and a full-blown smile split her lips. "It's definitely good. Really good."
But was it the best?
Drawing a deep, calming breath, she handed over the jar to an eager Ellie. Another quick check of the locks to ease her paranoia, and she started for the back room and the plastic five-gallon tub sitting next to the pile of ingredients she'd assembled for another batch.
Because there was only one way to find out.CHAPTER 2
"This is highly illegal. You know that, right?"
"Depends on how you look at it." Tyler McCall stood on the rickety front porch and slipped his hand inside the three-inch gap in the weathered screen door. His fingers brushed peeling wood before he finally felt cold metal. He flipped the lock on the inside and the latch groaned.
"I'm looking at breaking and entering," came the nervous male voice behind Tyler. "And trespassing. And maybe even a destruction-of-property charge because you ran over that cactus when you pulled into the driveway and totally ruined any curb appeal."
"First off, that prickly pear grows wild and judging by the knee-high grass, I'm banking nobody in this house gives a shit about aesthetics. Number two, I'm not breaking in. This screen was already cut. I'm just making use of a preexisting breach. As for entering, well, that's more of a gray area." He turned the knob. Joints moaned and the door creaked open. "See? Wide open and welcoming."
"Is this your house?"
"You're sure? You didn't get kicked in the head during your last ride and lose your memory?"
"Hell, no." There'd been no eating dust during his most recent run. Ball Buster had been one vicious mother of a bull, but Tyler had managed to tighten his grip and hang on anyway to give eight of the best seconds of his entire life. A performance worthy of the highest score of his career, and the very reason he'd inched his way into the top thirty-five in contention for the coveted Professional Bull Riders championship in Vegas in October. Provided he could do a rinse and repeat in Cheyenne in just a few short weeks. Everything hinged on Wyoming. If he busted his ass there, he would slide back down the board and be out of the running, and shit out of luck.
And if he nailed one beauty of a ride?
He'd be set, headed to Vegas, ready for his shot at the big time.
For his chance to finally be something more than the black sheep of the uppity Sawyer clan.
If he nailed it.
He stiffened against the doubt and focused on the dim interior of the shabby blue house that sat on the outskirts of town near the railroad tracks.
It was the old Grainger place. Once the pride and joy of Ken and Mimi, who'd settled down fifty-plus years ago to raise a family and grow their own vegetables. Ken had keeled over from a heart attack fifteen years ago and Mimi had followed not long after, and so the place had been left in limbo while their three kids fought it out. The winner? Ken Jr., who'd eventually moved to Texas City to work in one of the refineries and left the place to his only son, Kenny Roy.
Kenny Roy was just a few years younger than Tyler and about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
He'd never held a job. Instead, he scraped by running a little local hooch, betting on football pots, and selling his own homegrown marijuana.
Tyler took a whiff and grimaced. Apparently Kenny Roy wasn't just selling. He was also sampling the goods.
"There's no gray involved," Duffy West said. Duff was Tyler's oldest friend and his traveling partner. Not that Duff would dare climb onto the back of a bull. He made up half of one of the best calf-roping teams in the state and while he was usually up for whatever trouble Tyler dragged him into, this was different. This didn't involve either of the two B's — buckle bunnies or booze — and so Duff wasn't nearly as pumped.
"It's black and white," the calf roper went on. "This isn't your house, dude. You don't have a key. Translation? You're breaking in."
Tyler shrugged and ducked his head inside the now open doorway. "It's not like I'm doing it with malicious intent."
"So you admit it? You are breaking in?"
"I'm not going to steal anything." He blinked, adjusting his eyes to the dim, musty interior. "I just want to talk to him."
"So pick up a phone and let's get the hell out of here."
"I did that already. Twelve times in the past six hours, as a matter of fact."
"Then take a hint and give up. Cooper obviously doesn't want to talk to you."
"Maybe he doesn't want to, but he needs to." That, and Tyler McCall didn't just give up. Not when his father had packed his bags and hauled ass when Tyler had been only twelve and he'd had to step up and take care of his mother and younger brother, and not now when that brother was about to piss away his entire future.
"He's a grown man now," Duff reminded him. "He can fend for himself."
"Coop's barely nineteen and, trust me, he doesn't know the first thing about fending for himself. He needs to get his act together. He will get it together just as soon as I get ahold of him."
"And bully him the way you do everyone?"
But Tyler wasn't a bully. He was just a determined sonofabitch. He'd had to be in order to keep what was left of his family together and make a name for himself on the circuit. He sure as hell had no intention of stopping now when everything was on the line.
His brother had a big, fat juicy scholarship waiting on him. A free ride out of the broken-down two-room trailer that held so many crappy memories. A chance to really make something of himself.
Tyler wasn't letting him fuck it up by falling in with the wrong crowd just to make a few quick bucks to satisfy their mother's selfish habits.
That was Tyler's job. He sent home more than enough to pay the bills and buy the groceries. If Ellen McCall didn't know how to budget, well, he'd give her a crash course before he left Rebel.
He wasn't letting his brother throw away his one opportunity just because the woman needed more cigarettes and another bottle of Jack.
"I can't just look the other way when my brother's in trouble," Tyler told Duffy. "I have to do something."
Silence ticked by before the cowboy let loose an exasperated sigh. "Then what the hell are you waiting for?" Duffy asked behind him. "Just get inside the damn house and let's get this over with."
"Thanks, buddy." Tyler grinned. "I owe you."
"Tell me something I don't already know."
* * *
"So I know I'm usually the queen of bad ideas and it really isn't my place to point fingers," Ellie said when they pulled into the dirt driveway, "but this is just plain stupid."
"Don't you think I already know that?" Brandy shoved the car into park and stared through the windshield at the beaten-down house with the overgrown yard. "But I can't get any brewer to take me seriously without an actual sample, and I can't take the first sample because that could be just a fluke. I need another sample that's just as good, if not better, than the first." And she needed it by the end of next week. In time for her meeting with Mark Edwards, the CEO of Foggy Bottom Distillers and the man who'd been trying to buy the original Texas Thunder recipe from her grandfather before he'd passed away. She'd called Mark about her new and improved version and he'd quickly cleared an hour from his schedule so that they could meet next Friday morning before he left for a distillers' seminar in Kentucky. Followed by a trip to Germany to study brewing techniques and set up a foreign distributor for his company's product list. He would be gone a minimum of two to three months. Maybe longer.
Excerpted from Red-Hot Texas Nights by Kimberly Raye. Copyright © 2016 Kimberly Raye. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Brandy loves her job, her family- but longs for more. Tyler tolerates his family, is always up for a challenge and fantasizes about the girl that got away. Kimberly Raye's latest installment of those feuding moonshine rebels may not be as intoxicating as Texas Thunder but it has just as much to offer. I received an ARC of Red-Hot Texas Nights in exchange for an honest review. Kimberly Raye gives new meaning to "behind close doors" with this one. Tyler and Brandy are keeping secrets from each other, their families and the entire town. This story did not start out very well for me. It took a while for the story to catch up with the characters but gradually it pulled me in. Tyler and Brandy have to stop listening to everyone else and admit they belong together. A rough start but Kimberly Raye delivered in the end.
This is the second book in the Texas Moonshine series but you don't have to have read the first to enjoy it. It has great characters in Brandy and Tyler and they each have a way of both breaking and warming your heart at the same time. Tyler wants nothing more than to brush the Rebel TX dust off his boots and never look back. First though, he has to get his brother back on track and on his way to college. Brandy has always been known around town as the "easy" girl although nothing could be more wrong. Now she's trying to turn her life around and make a go of her bakery but the competition is tough. To help out financially she wants to sell her grandfather's moonshine recipe but she needs a sample to prove the recipe's worth. These two have always had an intense attraction but as their relationship begins to change from fun fling to something more, neither sees a way to make it work. She's trying to dig her roots in deep and he's trying to cut all ties. Can they make this thing work?? I recommend you grab a copy of this one and find out!
Tyler’s dream is to get out of Rebel, Texas and to achieve that he hits the bull riding rodeo circuit right out of High School. With bad memories of his hometown he has no desire to settle there or settle at all till he achieves his desired goals in life. Brandy’s dream is coming to fruition with a bustling bakery shop that has been in business for six months. Her goals require that she not get saddled with a husband and children until she has achieved all she believes her mother once gave up. This is a story of both Tyler and Brandy realizing that there is more to what they started in High School…if they are willing to let their guards down a bit and pursue more than their goals for financial and professional success. This book is able to stand alone even though it is the second in the Rebel Moonshine series. Some of the characters from book one make an appearance or two and there are people that show up that may appear in future books of the series. There is the still unsolved issue of the murder of Brandy’s grandfather to be solved along with two friends of the main characters finding a bit of love in a side story, too. I look forward to finding out what will happen with Jenna and wonder if she will star in book three…and if so…who she will finally be able to commit to. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the copy of this novel to read and review.