He'll do anything to win her heart. She'll do anything to keep him away.
Country star Cole Grayson is in town, and Kylie Andrews is less than thrilled. As if months of changing the radio station and tearing down his posters werent bad enough, now she has to deal with a town of fans swarming toward the man who deceived her the year before. But when Kylies eyes meet Coles again, she cant deny the electric chemistry that drew her to him the first time around.
Cole Grayson is on a mission. Ever since Kylie left him, he hasnt been able to forget her sweet country smile. After writing a song just for her, he sets off for her hometown to prove hes not the player she thinks he is. But as much as Cole cant forget her, Kylie wonders if she can forgive him
About the Author
After a decade of moving all around the country (Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta are a few of the places she's lived), Margo Bond Collins has settled in her native Texas, where she teaches college English courses online and writes contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. Margo lives near Fort Worth with her husband, her daughter, and several very spoiled cats, and she spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them. She currently writes for Entangled Bliss.
Read an Excerpt
Taming the Country Star
A Hometown Heroes Novella
By Margo Bond Collins, Allison Blisard
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Margo Bond Collins
All rights reserved.
Kylie Andrews's Texas-themed gift shop, Cowbelles, sat on the very outer edge of Fort Worth's Stockyards District, not far from Jimmy's Honky Tonk. And much to her dismay, no matter how often she cleared it, the wall adjacent to her store remained covered with announcements for local events.
Like, for example, concerts.
She stared at the latest layer of advertisements.
From the topmost poster, Cole Grayson stared out at her, leaning against the edge of an old barn door, guitar at his feet. One booted foot was kicked up against the wooden wall behind him. His dark-blond hair curled around behind one ear and fell down across his eye on the other side. A cowboy hat rested on the ground next to the guitar.
Her hand drifted up toward the image, hovering several inches from the picture of his face. She glanced around. None of the other shopkeepers were outside. No one was watching.
"Bastard," she whispered to herself, and ripped the poster off the wall.
At least, she tried to. It was thicker than she had expected, attached more firmly, and it resisted her pull.
Chewing on her lip, she took another look around, dropped her bag to the ground, and reached up to grasp the edge with both fists, jerking at it in opposite directions. A tiny tear opened up along the side, and she yanked harder. Finally, the poster ripped — right across Cole Grayson's lying eyes.
She tugged at the image some more, glancing around surreptitiously every few moments and dropping ragged pieces of paper on the ground at her feet, until there was nothing left on the wall but a few fluttering strips.
Gathering the mutilated shreds together, she opened her bag and shoved them inside until they overflowed, bright ribbons of color in the morning light.
She shook her head and moved back into the store, trying not to think about the fact that Cole's concert was only a few hours away, right here in the Stockyards, less than five blocks from Cowbelles.
He was probably already in town.
She would have nothing to do with Cole Grayson. He was a liar. And she didn't care if he was going to be nearby for the first time since she had walked away from him in an airport in Mexico. She crumpled a shred of poster into her fist, then shoved it into the stockroom trash can. The rest of the narrow strips followed.
If only avoiding his likeness were that easy.
Heading to the back of the store, she flipped on the stereo system, tuning it to a country station. Cole's voice sang out at her — something about lost love. She knew the song had been climbing the charts, but she had made a point of refusing to learn the lyrics. Snarling, she hit the switch. She could turn on her own playlist. Listening to country music didn't have to mean listening to Cole.
She pulled a box out of the stockroom and started unpacking it. The turquoise necklaces were every bit as pretty as they had looked in the catalog. She spent the next half hour changing out the display. It was still early in the day. The tourists wouldn't really hit until midmorning, but a few customers came in to browse.
Kylie wandered through the stands of merchandise, refolding T-shirts and straightening the Cowboy Cookbook display. Usually, being in the store made her feel calm. It might be small, but it was all hers, and finally, after three years, she was starting to see a real profit. She was even considering hiring someone to work weekends — it would be nice to have someone other than her friend LeeAnn to cover for her occasionally.
She loved her store.
But today, all she felt was restless.
She reminded herself that she liked her life. It was quiet and simple, and most of all, anonymous. Nothing at all like her childhood as the daughter of a local rodeo celebrity.
She stared up at the group of framed pictures hanging on the far wall. Grouping stock with images of her father and Cole under the heading "Talk of Texas" had seemed nicely ironic when Kylie had first created the display almost a year ago, right after she got home from her vacation in the Mexican Caribbean.
The center picture, enlarged to poster size, was of a cowboy on a bull — the camera had caught the man's exhilarated grin, his left arm thrown up and his hat flying into the air as the animal's feet left the ground.
Several of the other photos were of the same man, smiling into the cameras as he moved through crowds, into restaurants, around rodeo grounds. In about half of them, he carried a young girl, three or four years old, who stared up at him adoringly.
Kylie could barely remember a time when she thought her daddy was the most amazing man ever. She remembered the flashes as reporters had taken pictures of the national rodeo champion everywhere he went. She remembered the excitement of the rodeo arena, the cheers as he moved past the stands, the way he smiled and talked to everyone.
But Kylie also remembered the way the ink from the cheap tabloid print smeared across her mother's fingers as she flipped through paper after paper, staring down at the pictures of Kylie's dad with other women. The strained lines around her mouth deepened with every new picture, every new issue, but she never cried, not even after he packed a single suitcase and loaded it into his pickup to drive away from them for good.
Talk of Texas. Yeah, right.
The display worked, though. She sold more items from that single part of the store than almost anywhere else. Even the framed prints of her childhood sold like crazy — after the first few times people had asked about them, she had copies made to sell. And Cole's concert was sure to bring in even more customers. She supposed that was its own irony.
She circled the display, moving items around. A reproduction of the cover of Cole's latest album hung over the display of CDs, key chains, T-shirts, and coffee mugs, all featuring his smiling, lying face.
If Kylie couldn't trust the men in her world, she could at least make money selling those men — in effigy, anyway. Selling a key chain with Cole Grayson's image on it didn't change her past. But if she sold enough of them, maybe it would change her future.
She ran a finger along a row of CDs, stopping to push one or two back into line. Cole's eyes stared back at her from a dozen items. Picking up a mug, she returned the stare.
He certainly was beautiful. She fought back conflicting urges to smash the mug and to brush her thumb across his image, instead placing it down gently, back into the display.
Destroying the merchandise wouldn't make her feel better.
Neither would caressing it, for that matter.
And as much as she might sometimes want to stop carrying Cole Grayson items entirely, customers snapped up the damned things almost as fast as she could stock them. She wasn't willing to give up the revenue in order to get rid of his image. She never looked at the pictures of Cole longingly.
At least that's what she told herself.
She turned her back on the photos.
A quiet life is so much better than all that.
She hefted the heavy box of jewelry onto the ceramic tile, then kicked it toward the rack for good measure.
Much, much better.
* * *
Cole Grayson stretched his arms over his head and gazed around his room in the Worthington Hotel. Nice enough, even if it was fairly typical. He pulled aside the curtain and stared out. Downtown Fort Worth, Texas.
The brick-paved streets crisscrossed through the historic Stockyards District before ending in a tangle of highways, the rest of the city stretching out past it.
Kylie Andrews was down there somewhere, probably tending the shop she had described to him. He could find her if he tried.
If. That was a word he'd tried to ignore a lot in the last year.
If he hadn't gone to Mexico in the first place.
If he hadn't taken his manager's suggestion to go totally incognito on his vacation.
If he hadn't met Kylie.
If he had been honest from the moment he met her.
If he didn't have the kind of career that required him to be on the road much of the time — a career that was doing well, that left little room for anything more serious than the kinds of flings that ended after only a few days, at most. The kind of fling he had with Kylie, but hadn't had since.
He sighed and flicked the curtains closed again.
If he tried to explain again, she might decide he was a stalker, and wouldn't that be great for his career? He laughed bitterly.
Actually, it might be good for his career.
And that was the whole problem. As soon as Kylie had found out who he really was, she cut off all contact.
No, he corrected himself. She cut off all contact when she saw pictures of herself with him in the tabloids. That just happened to correspond with figuring out who Cole really was.
He could find her. But he didn't want to hurt her again. He never again wanted to hear the kind of catch in her voice she'd had when she told him good-bye.
And it's not like he could offer anything new — his career still took up the bulk of his time. All he had ever wanted was to make it as a musician. His latest album, Call Me Tomorrow, was set to go platinum soon. He was still on the road, still followed by photographers everywhere he went.
Besides, she had walked away from him. There were plenty of women who wouldn't walk away, who would love the flashy life he could offer.
But Cole didn't want any of those women.
He wanted Kylie.
A knock on the door interrupted his circling thoughts, and he moved to open it.
"Hey," said Billie, his manager. "Ready to check out the venue?"
"Sure," Cole said, grateful for the distraction.
Focus on the work. Ignore how close he was to Kylie.
* * *
Kylie was sitting on a stool behind the register eating a chicken fajita salad when her best friend LeeAnn rushed in at lunchtime. Her face glowed with excitement.
"You are never going to believe what I won." LeeAnn spun around in a circle, her blond hair twirling out around her. She grinned and slapped her hand down on the counter in front of Kylie. "Check it out."
Kylie's answering grin faded. Under LeeAnn's palm were two tickets to Cole's show. Kylie set her fork down and slid the salad away, no longer hungry.
"Were you listening to the radio yesterday? Did you hear? They played the song, and I called in, and I was the fifteenth caller, and I won. Two front-row tickets. I went and picked them up after class last night. You know you want to go with me." She scooped the tickets up and spun around again. "Ooh, that Cole Grayson is a hottie."
Kylie's stomach clenched. "Cole Grayson?" she asked. She stalled, trying to come up with an excuse not to go. "Um. When is it?"
A frown appeared between LeeAnn's eyebrows. "What do you mean, when is it? There are posters all over the wall outside. It's tonight." She finally seemed to notice Kylie's reluctance. "You okay? I thought ..." Her voice trailed off.
"Don't you want to take Darrell?" LeeAnn's boyfriend might not be Kylie's favorite person, but at least if he went with LeeAnn, she wouldn't have to.
Her friend pulled a face. "Nope. He was supposed to go, but now he has to work late. Again." She paused. "So does that mean you don't want to go with me?"
"No, no," Kylie said quickly. She couldn't stand the disappointment threatening to take over LeeAnn's face. "Of course I want to go."
Her friend's sunny smile returned. "I knew you would," she sang out, dancing across the hardwood floor toward the door. She stopped halfway there, took a deep breath, and stood up straight. She closed her eyes and tented her fingers in front of her, the concert tickets between them.
"I am calm and centered," she intoned after a moment. She glanced up at Kylie. "I'm covering my yoga instructor's class at two," she said in her normal voice. "I'm hoping they'll hire me for real." She grinned. "I'll come back when I'm done and we can figure out what to wear tonight. See you later." She waved the tickets in the air.
Kylie forced a smile and returned a halfhearted wave as LeeAnn swung out past the doorframe.
"Crap," Kylie whispered. She couldn't even stand to listen to Cole's new hit on the radio. How was she going to get through a whole concert?CHAPTER 2
Still in her yoga pants and tank top after her class that afternoon, LeeAnn hitched herself up on top of the counter beside the cash register and crossed her legs lotus style. She stared off into the distance for a moment, then flicked her gaze back toward Kylie.
"You had sex with Cole Grayson?" she finally asked. "As in the Cole Grayson?"
Kylie nodded. "Yes."
"The 'Call Me Tomorrow' Cole Grayson?" she paused and then broke into enthusiastic, if discordant, song. "Go ahead and leave me tonight ... just call me tomorrow." Her voice wobbled a bit on the last word. "That Cole Grayson?"
Kylie ran her fingers through her light-brown hair, pulling it back into a ponytail for a moment, then dropping it to fan out around her shoulders. "That Cole Grayson."
"The one we're going to see tonight?"
"Yes. The one we're going to see tonight."
"And you didn't tell me?" She narrowed her eyes.
"I didn't tell you," Kylie said.
LeeAnn shook her head. "I don't believe you." She pulled her leg up and dropped her foot behind her head. "You're lying." She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and stretched the other leg straight out in front of her.
"Quit doing yoga," Kylie said. "I'm serious."
LeeAnn opened one eye. "Liar." She closed it again and began lifting the other leg. She breathed in through her nose, then blew it out through her mouth. "You should join me. Clear your chakras. You'll feel better. And then you'll be able to go with me tonight without whining."
"I'm not trying to get out of going to the concert. And I'm not whining."
"So this fling-with-the-famous-dude was last year after you and Tom split up?"
Kylie shrugged. "The honeymoon was paid for. I didn't see any reason not to go. And a pile of reasons to get out of town."
"Hmm." LeeAnn closed her eyes and blew out a breath. "So why didn't you tell me this before? Why didn't I know?"
"Because you don't read tabloids. Because I didn't want anyone to know. Because it was bad enough that I'd been dumped, practically at the altar." Stepping away from the counter, Kylie began refolding T-shirts stacked on the nearest table. "Finding out that I'd been lied to by another man? Not high on my list of 'secrets to share.' Not even with you."
"And you didn't recognize him?"
"No. He was all hot-suntanned-surfer-dude, not blue jeans and cowboy hat." A frustrated sound escaped her. "Besides, no one had started plastering his face all over my building back then. And he was out of context. I wasn't expecting some famous guy to hit on me. I'd like to see how many famous people you recognize when you're not expecting them. And ..." Her voice trailed off.
"And?" her friend prompted.
"And I wouldn't let him tell me his last name." She covered her eyes and hunched her shoulders around her ears, waiting for the response.
She didn't have to wait long. "You what?" LeeAnn practically shrieked, somewhere between outrage and laughter.
"I didn't want to know. It was supposed to be my honeymoon and I was there all alone. So when some beautiful man offered to be my rebound guy, I said yes."
LeeAnn cocked an eyebrow at her. "And yes, and yes, and yes, from the looks of the photos." She paused, stretching both arms up to pull her shin toward her nose. "You realize, of course, that he didn't lie to you. He just didn't tell you who he was."
"He might as well have lied. He didn't warn me that there might be photographers."
"Nope. This one's your own damn fault, sweetie." LeeAnn raised both her arms toward the ceiling, then dropped them down beside her. "Does anyone else know?"
"Not that I'm sure of." With a shrug, Kylie dropped the last of the T-shirts back onto the pile. "Anyone who reads tabloids, I guess. It's not like I asked, and no one told me if they did."
"This really explains a lot, you know. I never could figure out why you came back feeling so wretched — it clearly wasn't because of Tom calling off the wedding. We both know you were done with him before he ended it, but you've been moping around here ever since you got back from the un-honeymoon. That's almost a whole year of moping. Do you even know how miserable you've been?"
Excerpted from Taming the Country Star by Margo Bond Collins, Allison Blisard. Copyright © 2014 Margo Bond Collins. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
This is a novella -- only about 89 psges om my Nook tablet. When I saw how short it is, I wondered if this would be long enough for character and story development. Fear solved. Enough development, though the end seemed a little rushed. Warning: For those who don't like graphic sex there is at least one graphic patch that is pretty well done -- but graphic! I wasn't familiar with the "Bliss" series, but they are apparently aimed at short, sexy, and romantic. If that is what you're in the mood for, this book fits the bill!
Loved it, the author brings us super cute characters and a unique story. Kylie and Cole had a wild week in Mexico a year ago when she was on her should be honeymoon and he is trying to get a much needed break from the spotlight. Kylie has been trying to get Cole out of her mind since then and Cole has been thinking about her and how to get her back. It takes you on their journey and makes you smile. A truly lovely story.
A Book To Read While Listening To Some Country Music. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way. Kylie Andrews is a woman who owns her own business. Cole Grayson is a man who’s full of what ifs. Then as you see things unfold, you start to realize that you’re reading a novella because the ending is getting closer and closer. It’s a story that makes you wonder what would happen if you were in Kylie’s shoes. Then there’s your celebrity crush – will you have them make an appearance? Our author gives the reader just enough sex so that they can use their imagination should they so choose. I liked the ending but it left me wishing I had listened to some country music at the time. The good news is that I can read this novella again and pick out some of my favorite artists to listen to. I couldn’t say I loved it because I wanted one more chapter. But again, imagination is a wonderful thing. I hope that if you loved this book, you will check out more of Margo’s work.
Loved this story of second chance romance. They met a year ago on vacation in Mexico, wanted different things. Reconnected a year later. I loved how Cole would not give up on Kylie. A Bliss story with a little bit of heat. I could not put it down, a perfect summer afternoon read. I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.
I enjoyed this one from the very first page. When Kylie tries to rip down Cole's poster and it turns into an awkwardly difficult moment? Yeah, she had me from that scene. I could sooo relate. Both Kylie and Cole's characters were fun. I enjoyed Ms. Collins's light and breezy writing style--I've already addeds several of her other books to my TBR. The lovers-with-a-past troupe--one of my favorites--lends itself nicely to a novella formst, making their HEA more believable in spite of the short time frame. That said, I'd like to have seen this novella expanded into a novel--Kylie's turn-around, though it is nicely handled, definitely could have done with a bit more development. I did like the "evidence" used here, but question whether that would truly be enough to put her mind at ease, given how long-standing her fear of this issue was. I do like the "red hot" bits of these novels, even though I'm not really sure why the Bliss line needed to expand in this direction--it seems contradictory to what the line stands for. They do a fairly good job of warning readers, though, and as I've said, the open door doesn't bother me. At all. ;) All together, this was an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon...especially while listening to your favorite country music station. Rating: 4 stars / B I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 star review I really should know better by now. Novellas are short and you can read them quickly. The problem for me is when the author does such a good job grabbing you, making you eager to know what happens next, that I often am not ready for the story to be over when it is. Well, Collins does a great job telling the story of Cole Greyson, country star and Kylie Andrews, owner of a little Fort Worth store. Cole and Kylie met over one year ago in Mexico. Cole was trying to get away from it all and Kylie was on what was to be her honeymoon. The two shared a great time together but Kylie was blindsided when she learned Cole's true identity, and it wasn't from him. Kylie was used to the public life as her father was a known rodeo figure. She saw the negative impact that life had on her family and she wants nothing to do with it. So when Cole ends up performing back in Fort Worth, and she, to her dismay, is front and center at that show, everything changes. It seems neither of them really got over their time together in Mexico and Cole is determined to make things right. This story was great. I really enjoyed both of the characters and I enjoyed how Collins was able to put so much into just over one hundred pages. This book contains funny moments, drama, and some awesome chemistry. Definitely worth the read. Thanks to Entangled Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 stars Taming the Country Star was a cute fun read. If your looking for a quick and sexy read about second chance love without too much drama then you'll enjoy Taming the Country Star.
Go ahead and leave me tonight...just call me tomorrow This was my first Margo Bond Collins read and I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was predictable, but that's okay. It's like a guilty pleasure, you continue to consume what you can't get enough of. I can't get enough music themed books. They draw me like a blue-light-special at Kmart. All it takes is a guitar on a book cover, or in this case the words 'Country Star' and I'm hooked. It was short and sweet with likable characters, especially Kylie's best friend who tries to solve everyone's problems with meditation and yoga. Being a Texan myself, I also enjoyed the events that took place at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Taming the Country Star by Margo Bond Collins a new to me author. I loved this Red Hot Bliss book. Loved the characters and the dialogue. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance with some spice added. I'm looking forward t reading more books by this author.
Spicy Contemporary Romance There was definitely a physical connection between Kylie and Cole, and they exhibited an emotional connection as well. For a novella the backstory is well developed and it was expertly placed so it didn’t interrupt the present day story. I definitely recommend Taming the Country Star to fans of spicy contemporary romance. Rating 4.5/5
This was a fun read. It was pretty predictable outcome but it still was a good read. I liked both characters; they both had their own issues to deal with but did pretty well. I also thought the title was a little misleading, I don’t think there was a lot to tame about Cole, he was like any other guy out there except that was in the public eye. Overall it was a fun read and I enjoyed it. I give it 4 ¿ * I received as a free ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
What a super story! Just as their romance was getting started, events tore them apart. She wants a quiet hometown life, he's a country singing star. Incredibly written with characters that come to life. Very well done! I highly recommend this one.
Taming the Country Star is a great addition to the Bliss family. Short, seductive and sweet it has mild but sexy intimate moments being part of their Red Hot line which I love. And with a couple who have a bit of history, the story has some depth which novellas sometimes lack. Country stars have that air of cowboy about them which I love and Cole Grayson oozes charm. I adored him; he's a gentleman, sexy and confident and will go for what he wants. And what he wants is the lady who stole his heart on her 'honeymoon', Kylie Andrews. After being jilted at the alter, Cole was just what she needed; uncomplicated, the man was just Cole. Until she discovered his celebrity status and fled. He's in town for a gig and is on a mission. Question is can he win Kylie over? Their chemistry was perfect and when he begins to woo it was so sweet yet sexy and brings so many lovely moments. It didn't hold any particular surprises, but it was captivating and Margo Bond Collins has brought us a great easy-read romance. If you have an hour or so free, this is the ideal read and I look forward to reading more in the Hometown Heroes series. Copy received courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for an honest and unbiased opinion