Rodeo rider Nico Laramie may not have a squeaky-clean reputation with the women of Coldwater, but there are rules he doesn’t break. No bullies. No married women. And definitely not his best friend, Eden Joplin. So what exactly is Nico thinking, kissing Eden in front of her jerk ex-husband? With the proverbial bull out of the pen, Nico is about to get gored—hard.
Eden has secretly been writing a sex-advice blog called “Naughty Cowgirl,” but her divorce killed all her sexy inspiration. Then, when her gorgeous best friend kisses her in a way that makes her toes curl, suddenly Eden’s mojo is back. And the heat isn’t going away. Now something deep and long-denied is happening between them. Something that could destroy their friendship…or finally prove that this time it’s the real deal.
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Equality for Rodeo Heifers!
Nico Laramie silently cursed when he saw that. The protest demand was on a canary yellow sign that the protest organizer, Liddy Jean Carswell, had adorned with tiny cowbells.
What she'd written on it probably wasn't legible enough for most folks in his hometown of Coldwater, Texas, but Nico had had plenty of dealings with the octogenarian so he was well aware of the message.
A stupid message.
Some people did indeed protest mistreatment of rodeo animals. Mistreatment that Nico would never have allowed in his own business. Liddy Jean knew that, and she also knew that his track record was clean, but clearly she felt he needed to spur a radical change in the rodeo industry. She also apparently thought Nico could orchestrate the change that she'd spelled out on the back of her sign.
Allow Heifers in Bull Riding!
And there it was. Liddy Jean's main cause in a nutshell.
Nico had tried to explain to the woman that the sport was called "bull riding" not "cow riding." He'd even gone into detail about how bulls tended to be larger and more aggressive than cows and were therefore more suited to a competition like that. But Liddy Jean was sticking to her guns and had protested at least a dozen times since Nico had started using this office on Main Street three months ago.
Nico flashed the woman a smile, and it wasn't bragging for him to admit he was good at that particular facial expression. It often worked either to soothe hurt feelings or heat things up. Heck, he was downright charming. Plenty of people had told him that. Not Liddy Jean, though. Charm and smiles apparently didn't work on her. Neither did logic.
As she had on her previous protest days, Liddy Jean was wearing khaki shorts that went to her knobby knees and a plaid shirt covered with patches and decals that publicized her other cause.
Stop Vilifying Snakes in Movies.
Nico wasn't sure if, when or where the woman actually protested the reptile thing, too, but Coldwater likely wasn't a good target audience for her on that particular topic. There was no movie studio anywhere in the vicinity and no one with even weak connections to that industry.
"It's too hot for you to be out here, Miss Liddy Jean," Nico commented. It was already well into the nineties, and it was barely eight in the morning, but that was Texas in July weather for you.
"Equality for heifers!" she snapped in her crotchety tone, and just kept on prancing up and down the sidewalk as fast as her vein-streaked legs would carry her.
Sighing, Nico turned to unlock the door of the office building, but Liddy Jean said something else that stopped him in his tracks.
"Sorry about that woman dying," she grumbled.
Just like that, the annoyance of her protest vanished, and in its place came the grief. Grief like a thick layer of sweat covering him. It felt so real that Nico was certain it would rub off on anyone who touched him right now.
"She was like your real mom, I heard," Liddy Jean added with what sounded like genuine sympathy in her voice.
No. Brenda Calhoun had been a heck of a lot better than his actual mom. She'd been his rock, and until Brenda had died two weeks ago, she'd been the most important woman in his life.
Liddy Jean wasn't the only person in Coldwater who knew about his situation with Brenda. Everyone did. This was a small town that dished up talk as often as the bakery did their snickerdoodle specials. It didn't matter that Brenda had never lived there, that her home had been nearly an hour away in San Antonio. Brenda had visited Nico enough so folks would still know how important she'd been to him.
And that's why even a protestor who disliked him now looked at him with sad, pitying eyes.
Sadness and pity from women were new experiences for Nico — as an adult anyway. With his reputation for playing around and blink-and-you-miss-it relationships, women usually gave him different kinds of looks. Either a come here, cowboy or keep your jeans zipped around me.
He didn't like the pity, but until this grief ran its course, he couldn't see a way around it. That didn't mean he was going to try sex with those come here, cowboy lovers to try to console himself. No need to add guilt to his grief.
"Thanks," he told Liddy Jean after he swallowed the uncomfortable lump in his throat.
Nico got moving again, unlocked the door and, once inside, he went up the stairs to the second floor. His assistant's desk was empty — it was still early yet — so Nico started a pot of coffee. However, before he could make it across the hall to his own office, his phone dinged with a text message.
Dear Naughty Cowgirl,
I'm hooked up with one hot guy! He can't keep his hands off me. I'm talking three, four times a day, and I'm loving his hands — wink, wink — as much as I love him. So, here's my question. How do I keep the heat this high ... like forever? The dirtier, the better.
Signed, Pleasured in El Paso.
Nico read through the message and frowned. He was betting most guys didn't get texts like that at seven-thirty on a Monday morning. Or any other time for that matter. He frowned again at the plea for help from the person who'd sent the text. His best friend, Eden Joslin, who owned the Naughty Cowgirl Talks Sex blog.
Got any good suggestions for dirtier/better? Eden had tacked onto the copy of the blog letter.
He gave it about thirty seconds of thought.
Tell Pleasured in El Paso to play naked pin the tail on the donkey. Don't use pins but a feather or vibrator.
Okay, not his best effort, but maybe he could add more after he had some coffee. Eden didn't often ask him for advice with the blog, which meant she was still going through a dry spell. That was natural, he supposed, since she was in a bad dry spell in her life, too. He really did need to figure out a way to pull her out of the slump. While he was at it, he might also figure out a way for himself.
Work. That was what he needed now to forget about the grief. And thankfully, he had plenty of it. He needed to find four bulls suitable for a rodeo in Austin and then arrange for the transport of his own livestock that he'd be providing. There were invoices to check, emails to answer, calls to return.
Nico didn't do any of those things.
Instead, he shoved his hands into his jeans pockets and walked to the shelf behind his desk that was lined with framed photos. Pictures of him with his three brothers, Callen, Judd and Kace, including a recent one that had been taken at Christmas. Another one of their foster father, Buck McCall, who'd raised them after Social Services had placed him and his brothers here in Coldwater when Nico had been eleven.
Then, there was the picture of Brenda.
Nico automatically smiled when he looked at it. Man, even in a picture she could light up a room. And she was gone much too soon at the age of just forty-five.
It was a mean greedy bastard, all right. It had also claimed Brenda's husband when they'd only been in their thirties.
Along with being his fourth-grade teacher, Brenda had become his first foster mother. Well, the first one that counted anyway. Plenty of folks had thought she was too young to take him in. Barely twenty-four at the time, but there weren't a lot of fosters clamoring for a nine-year-old kid with an attitude. Brenda had not only taken him in, she'd treated him like a son.
Pushing that all aside, or rather trying to, Nico went back across the hall, filled his World's Okayest Bull Rider mug — a gift from one of his brothers — and carried his coffee back to his desk. The emails he had to answer didn't have anything to do with sex advice, cancer or protestors. It was business as usual that he found comforting in a going through the motions sort of way.
About a half hour later, Nico heard the clomp of boots coming up the stairs, and he looked up to see his assistant, Wally "Hog" Hannigan, step into the doorway of his office. Hog was a hulk of a man, and he was true to his name, thanks to a nose that'd been broken and poorly set so many times that it now resembled a snout. His hair didn't help. It was a mix of pale ginger and gray spiky sprigs that looked pig-pink in the wrong light. Somehow, it always seemed to be the wrong light.
There must have been something telling in Nico's expression because Hog sighed. "You okay, kid?" the man asked.
Kid. Not Nico. It didn't matter that Nico was nearly thirty-one and that he was Hog's boss. The man had called him that since they'd first met when Nico had been sixteen and learning to ride bulls. Nico figured he had a better chance of stopping Liddy Jean's protests than he did of getting Hog to call him anything else.
"I'm fine," Nico assured him, and that was mostly true. Mostly.
Hog nodded, but his faded green eyes let Nico know he wasn't buying it. Nor would he push it.
"You know how bad news comes in threes?" Hog asked, but he didn't wait for Nico to say anything about that. "Well, sorry, but you've got a big-assed set of three." Hog held up his index finger, counting them off. "I just got the word that you drew BYB for the Bluebonnet Charity Rodeo."
Well, hell. That definitely got Nico's mind off his blue mood. BYB was the "family-friendly" name for Bust Y'all's Balls, an ill-tempered Brahma mix that most rodeo riders hoped they didn't get in the random drawing to assign riders to bulls.
Since the Bluebonnet Rodeo was local and plenty of his friends and family would be there, Nico had wanted a good ride, one where his eyes remained firmly in his sockets and his teeth didn't get rattled. But because Bust Y'all's Balls was also true to his name, Nico was pretty much guaranteed that wasn't going to happen. Still, this was part of the job so he'd get it done.
He was a livestock contractor first and foremost, and the owner of Laramie's Bucking Bulls. It was his job to locate bulls for rodeos, but he also felt it necessary to keep his finger on the pulse of the actual business, and he did that by trying to keep his butt on an often-ill-tempered bull for eight seconds. That meant occasionally getting his balls busted. But the kick of adrenaline and publicity he'd get from it would be worth it and would outweigh the pain.
Hog held up a second finger to let Nico know he was continuing with the three bad news things. "The crazy protestor lady is back. She was marching out front with that heifer sign again."
"Yeah. I saw her when I came in," Nico verified.
"Did you also see her swing her sign at your brother when he told her to move on and quit blocking the sidewalk? She hit him with it, and one of the cowbells cut his head."
No, Nico had missed that little drama, and now he went to the window to see his brother — Sheriff Kace Laramie — putting Liddy Jean in the backseat of his cruiser. It appeared that had riled two of Liddy Jean's friends because one of the women was fussing at Kace, and the other had taken over holding the protest sign. Something like this would set tongues wagging, and it wouldn't put Kace in much of a good mood, either.
When Nico turned back to Hog, his assistant held up a third finger. Bad news number three was coming, but Hog didn't jump to volunteer it. He hesitated, his gaze drifting to Brenda's picture before he said, "Right before the protestor lady smacked Kace, I saw Eden walking just up the street. I'm pretty sure she was bawling."
Shit on a stick. It hadn't been that long since her text for dirty advice, and Nico wondered what the heck had gone wrong in that short period of time. If she was crying, it was something big.
Since Eden had recently gone through a divorce, her tears probably had something to do with that, but he shouldn't have had to guess about what was happening with her. He shouldn't have let his own grief get in the way of helping someone who'd been his friend since sixth grade.
"Eden was going into Roy's?" Nico asked, already getting his hat so he could head out. Roy's was Roy Eccleston, Attorney at Law, where Eden worked part-time as a legal assistant.
Hog nodded and checked the time on his battered Timex watch. "You got that rodeo guy from Kerrville coming in at nine so there's time if you wanta go ahead and see Eden."
Even if visiting Eden took longer than that, then Nico would just have to be late for the meeting.
When Nico came barreling out of the building, he figured that he'd see Liddy Jean's protest buddies still loitering around, but the woman he saw was significantly younger.
Excerpted from "Sweet Summer Sunset"
Copyright © 2019 Delores Fossen.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
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
I adore this series! Every time I start a new book by Delores Fossen I know I will be lost to the rest of the world for the duration. The world she creates, the characters that live there, they are filled with life and loving, and I just want to linger there, to enjoy each moment, treasure the clever usage of language, the inspiring, engaging stories, and fall in love all over again. I loved the friendship and connection between rodeo rider Nico Laramie and his best friend, Eden Joplin. It is not every day you experience that kind of chemistry even in romance novels. Eden and Nico knew everything about the other, they were soulmates, friends, confidants, and they respected and cherished the other as such. And then in comes the heat, the physical attraction, the passion and oh man, they melt the pages of the book! Yes, the love scenes are detailed, and they are scorching hot, yet told with such a dose of humor and heart, deep feels and rich laughs, demonstrating the precious, loving connection between Nico and Eden, and I adored every moment of it. But the book is not just about the ardent love story between Nico and Eden, even though there is more than enough material between these two as they start to try new things for Eden's blog! In the mids of all the shenanigans and small-town drama, there are serious issues of infidelity, young adult pregnancy, and the possible consequences. There are issues of the wide range of care children experience on foster families, from being a blessing to the horrid abuse. These sensitive, delicate situations are handled with tender hands, and heartfelt, raw honesty. I admire how the author manages to bring light to the vulnerable social issues while presenting them in a way that touches our hearts yet makes us smile. These are just a few of the reasons I adore this series and the unparallel way the author uses heat, heart, and humor to tell heartfelt, fervent tales of everyday people in an engaging, inspiring, and uplifting way. This story took me for a wild Texan style emotional, entertaining, captivating, and most of all delightful ride through dark valleys, and bright pastures, absolutely a marvelous tale! ~ Five Spoons!
I thought this was a very enjoyable friends to lovers romance. Eden and Nico had great chemistry and I loved how one unexpected kiss changed everything. There is plenty of drama, sweetness, heart, heat and humor blended throughout the entertaining story line to keep you focused and reading. A very fun read.
I'm a fan of Miss Fossen and was excited to read book 3 in the Coldwater Texas series. It was a lighthearted story that was a fun read but fell a little short for me. Not my favorite in the series but still a good read. It just seemed a bit disjointed and the town was displayed in a less than favorable light in this book. Hoping the next book in the series is an improvement. I received a free ARC eBook from NetGalley and the Publisher. This is an honest review based on my own thoughts and opinions.
SWEET SUMMER SUNSET is a cute installment in the Coldwater Texas series, which follows four brothers who had entered foster care. In this book, we follow Nico, notorious for his one-night-stand ways, and his best friend, Eden. Nico runs his own business and rides bulls. He has recently sworn off casual sex, since one of his foster parents with whom he was really close died. She left behind a young foster daughter, Nico's (foster) sister. Nico wants to do right by the sixteen-year-old, but he is having trouble dealing with his foster mother's sister who has taken in the girl. Eden is six months divorced from her childhood sweetheart who left her for another woman, Mimi. She is keeping her head afloat, which can be tough in a small town where everybody is in your business. She is also secretly running a Naughty Cowgirl blog which gives sex advice- not always things she has tried. Nico gives her some friendly advice for it from time to time. Since both were friends and Eden was always taken, they had each put each other firmly in the friendzone. After an impulsive kiss, they suddenly question why they were/if they need to be in the friendzone. However, life is not easy for the two to get together as Nico's sister and Eden's ex stir up drama. Luckily, the pair has each other to help them handle it all. With some swoony scenes and loads of sexual frustration, this is a drama-filled romance that will have the reading groaning along with the protagonists. Earlier books in the series were absolutely incredible, and this one felt a little lesser in comparison. It may be that the drama was a little too intense and frequent (at times, it felt like a soap opera, which is a compliment in a different sort of way- I mean, soaps KNOW drama). There's major drama for both that just keeps coming and developing. There was also less comic relief as some of the secondary characters from earlier books have very minor roles and don't fill in those gaps (like Miss Rosy). Overall, I really loved them as a couple though- they compliment each other well and I felt connected to them both and invested in their relationship (a must in a good romance read!). The blog added some extra spice/fun throughout too. I would add warnings for teenage pregnancy and adultery. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.