Wilde Side

Wilde Side

by Jannine Gallant


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601837745
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 10/25/2016
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)

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Wilde Side

Born to Be Wilde

By Jannine Gallant


Copyright © 2016 Jannine Gallant
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-774-5


The limo ahead jostled and shook, hitting every hole pocking the endless dirt road winding through the wilds of Idaho. Since the black behemoth more closely resembled an armored tank than a luxury vehicle, the occupants probably barely felt the bumps. Lucky them. When her head smacked against the side window after the support van bounced through a particularly deep rut, Devin Lockhart clamped her teeth together. Too bad she'd been relegated to traveling with the media team instead of riding with the congressman's personal entourage.

As both vehicles picked up speed to a bone-jarring level, she swore beneath her breath. If one of the newshounds hadn't been sitting right next to her, she'd have used a few choice phrases to express her true feelings about her boss's latest scheme to ingratiate himself with the voting public.

Leg outstretched, she readjusted to anchor herself better with a foot jammed against the door and a white-knuckled grip on the armrest. This ridiculous backwoods rafting adventure was designed to favorably sway the opinion of the common man in the upcoming presidential election. Portray Walton Hinsdale as a stalwart hero primed to conquer the wilderness with his devoted son by his side.

She snorted softly. What a crock.

"I can't believe we aren't there yet. Shit!"

The grumbled complaint rose to a squeak as another bump sent them airborne. She glanced sideways, and a grin slipped out. Apparently the reporter from the TV news show, Political Spotlight, didn't share her inhibitions. Liam Kennedy's lips twisted in a grimace, and brown eyes held a touch of panic behind thick-lensed glasses. He couldn't be much older than her own twenty-nine years, but the man had bragged earlier about landing such a prestigious assignment. If his pained expression was any indication, he was rethinking his good fortune.

Devin took pity on him. "I was told twenty-five miles of dirt road." She craned her neck to see the odometer. "We've gone twenty-four."

"Thank God. I've gotta pee like a race horse, and the bouncing isn't helping."

She pressed a hand to her lips to hold back a laugh, relieved she'd been smart enough to opt out of a second cup of coffee with her breakfast.

"Here we are, folks, Boundary Creek Campground." The driver's amused gaze met hers in the rearview mirror as the older woman stopped the van behind the limo. "For those in need, toilets are over to the right through those trees."

When Devin pulled the release handle on the door to slide it open, the journalist bolted past her and disappeared into a stand of lodgepole pine. She and the videographer riding in the back seat climbed out more slowly. Stretching her arms out in front of her to ease kinked muscles, she took a bracing breath of chilly morning air — then nearly choked when her gaze landed on the man approaching at a fast clip. If he were a mere mortal. Devin had serious doubts. The specimens who hung around Capitol Hill didn't have hard-muscled chests tanned to a deep bronze, or arms that could surely sweep her off her feet with little effort. Short brown hair, damp from a shower — or maybe a swim in the river roaring loud enough to drown out the chirping birds — crowned a face with a straight nose, hard jaw and square chin.

When the blue T-shirt he'd just pulled over his head shifted down to cover drool-worthy abs, Devin forced her gaze upward. Amusement sparkled in green eyes flecked with gold, and a hint of a smile curled firm lips.

Why wouldn't he laugh? She must look like a gaping idiot with her mouth hanging open. She snapped her jaw shut. Too late for damage control. The newcomer had already veered right, his full attention captured by the congressman waiting beside the limo.

Shrewd gray eyes bright with pleasure softened the blunt features of Hinsdale's rugged face as the big man greeted him. "Howdy, stranger. How long has it been?"

"Way too long." A grin stretched the hottie's mouth to reveal even teeth. "My parents' thirtieth anniversary party three — no — four years ago."

The initial handshake turned into a back-slapping hug. Devin's boss had mentioned the owner of Wilde Waters Rafting was a family friend. She could only assume from the congressman's genuine smile, not the effortless one he pasted on for public appearances, that the recipient of the bear hug was Sawyer Wilde.

Walton stepped back and glanced over his shoulder. "Sawyer, you remember my son, Dwight. He's grown some since you last saw him."

"Of course." The rafting guide held out a hand. "How's it going?"

The congressman's teenaged son straightened from his perpetual slouch. Dark hair hung in his face but didn't disguise disdainful brown eyes as he briefly grasped the offered hand. "It's going."

Silence descended.

Walton cleared his throat, then motioned to the two additions Devin had been forced to accommodate at the last minute. His brother-in-law and teenaged nephew had been included to boost the family angle and give his campaign more credence with conservative voters.

"Charles, come meet Sawyer Wilde, my godson and our guide for the trip." The regulation smile flashed again. "His father and I go way back to our college days at the University of Wyoming. Sawyer, this is my brother-in-law, Charles Monahan, and his son, Alex. Charles lives in your neck of the woods, just east of Cody. Maybe you two have met?"

Sawyer shook Charles's outstretched hand. "I don't think so. Do you work in Cody?"

"No, I'm in sales, so most of my time is spent on the road, but Wyoming's my home base."

The congressman turned on the heels of his sneakers and frowned. "Devin, where the devil ... oh, there you are."

Brushing her fingers down the sides of her spandex running pants, she stepped forward to hold out a hand to the hottie. "I'm Devin Lockhart, the one responsible for flooding your inbox with emails."

A warm, callused palm closed over hers as moss green eyes scanned her face then dipped lower for a brief moment before returning to meet her gaze. "I appreciate your attention to detail. It made organizing this trip relatively smooth despite all the complications involved with hosting a public figure."

When he let go of her tingling fingers, she stuffed them in her sweatshirt pocket. "My job is to make things easier for the congressman."

Walton patted her shoulder. "And she does it so well. Until November rolls around and the votes are counted, my life will be a three-ring circus. Without Devin, I'd be sunk." His voice lowered. "If these press people try to do anything to tarnish my image, she'll be all over them."

One of Sawyer's brows shot up. "Will things be any better once you're elected president?"

Hinsdale's booming laugh echoed through the pine trees. "I like your positive thinking, though I'm well aware chances the people will elect an Independent candidate are slim."

"Your numbers in the polls are climbing."

Flinty eyes gleamed. "Yes, they are. We'll see what happens." The congressman clapped his hands together. "I'm ready to get this adventure started. When do we shove off?"

"As soon as we load your gear and have a brief talk about safety and what can be expected while we're on the water. Take a little time to stretch after your drive, have a snack, change if you need to. Temps are expected to warm up considerably." Sawyer glanced back at Devin. "Maybe you could gather any stragglers and arrange for the whole group to meet me down by the river in about twenty minutes?"

She nodded. "Organizing is what I do best."

When his gaze perused her from head to toe a second time, her cheeks heated ... along with a few more intimate areas. She shifted and crossed feet clad in a pair of old flip-flops.

Bright eyes darkened to match the surrounding evergreens. "Somehow, I doubt organizing is the only thing you're good at."

* * *

Walton's assistant was hot. Super hot. Not that Sawyer was complaining. Based on her ultra-efficient email correspondence, he'd expected an older woman in a no-nonsense suit and sensible shoes. Not a twenty-something cutie in flip-flops and form-fitting workout pants. The form they fit was definitely curved in all the right places. Devin Lockhart would no doubt make this rafting trip a whole lot more interesting than he'd anticipated.

From the get go, he'd expected a challenging few days. If Dwight's surly attitude was any gauge, Walton's son had a chip the size of a bull moose on his shoulder. Sawyer didn't anticipate any cooperation from that one, but the brother-in-law and nephew seemed likable enough. Sawyer hadn't met the media team yet. In addition to the congressman's relatives, the group included a journalist and videographer for Political Spotlight, a national news show. Last, but certainly not least, the only female in the group, the sexy assistant. Seven newbies who'd probably never paddled a raft in their lives, tackling the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. They'd be lucky if everyone survived the trip. There was a reason this particular stretch of whitewater was nicknamed the River of No Return.

Sawyer rolled his eyes. As he'd been told, the sole purpose of this fiasco-in-the-making was to splash Walton's backwoods adventure across the media in a push for votes, and all his pleas to change the venue to a less challenging river had been summarily dismissed. An email from the assistant pointed out that a leisurely float down tame waters would defeat the whole purpose.

Running a hand through his hair, Sawyer let out a long breath, then went back to packing gear into waterproof containers. His only goal was to get the congressman through six days on the water without mishap. Period. Admiring Devin Lockhart in a bikini — if he was lucky and she chose to wear one — wasn't out of the question. As long as he wasn't too distracted from his purpose.

"I take it our guests arrived safely."

Sawyer glanced up and scowled at his right-hand man. "Where the hell did you disappear to? Roman and I had to haul all the luggage down without you."

Jon's weathered face creased in a smile. "Carolyn was giving me a proper send-off. I won't see her for a week."

At least someone's getting a little action. Sawyer had to wrack his brain to remember the last time he'd had any. "You've been married, what, three decades?"

"Thirty-one years last June." His most trusted employee jumped nimbly into the second raft and made short work of storing the remaining gear.

Despite the fact he was past sixty, Jon Berry was more agile than most men half his age. He'd retired early after making a fortune in the stock market, only to be bored senseless with nothing to occupy his time. On a Wilde Waters trip through the Grand Canyon, Jon had handed Sawyer a handwritten list of reasons why he should hire him as a river guide. Amused by the man's brashness, he'd agreed, and never once regretted the decision.

"Your wife isn't tired of you by now?"

Hazel eyes twinkled beneath bushy gray brows that matched a full head of hair. "Not even close. You should find a nice lady to settle down with instead of spending all your off-water time alone. Maybe you wouldn't be so cranky."

"Maybe I wouldn't. Too bad none of the women I've met recently are as sweet as your Carolyn." Sawyer strapped down the last case in the final raft and leaped ashore. "Quite frankly, I'd be happy to find a woman interested in more than a casual fling ... as long as she doesn't bore me to death."

"She looks interesting and sweet."

"Huh? She who?"

Jon pointed. "The pretty blonde with Roman."

Sawyer spun around. Walton's assistant strolled down the trail wearing a bathing suit beneath a bright pink net cover-up. Though she was on the short side, toned legs tanned to a golden brown seemed to go on forever. Sawyer dragged his gaze upward to land on blue eyes sparkling with animation. Tilting her head back, she laughed at something his newest hire had said. Short, honey-blond hair swirled around her face.

Odd, he'd never found Roman Engel all that amusing. The kid was young, early twenties, but efficient and skilled at guiding a raft through the roughest waters. He didn't usually have a whole lot to say. Not necessarily a negative since witty conversation wasn't high on Sawyer's priority list when it came to hiring guides. He'd been relieved to find someone — anyone — qualified to take Cory's place on short notice after his number two employee had gotten clipped by a car in a crosswalk the previous weekend.

Seeing the two blond heads inch closer together as Roman helped Devin over a rocky stretch of trail soured Sawyer's mood. Not that there was one good reason why it should. He certainly had no intention of starting something in that direction. If Hinsdale's aide was attracted to a long-haired drifter, making a move on her wouldn't get him anywhere. Even if he was interested. Which he wasn't. Not to mention the kid had to be at least a few years her junior ... but maybe she had a thing for younger men.

Fine by him. Hot body aside, the life of a political assistant sounded about as enticing as a lobotomy. Especially being trapped in a cement metropolis like Washington, DC. Just the thought of that kind of confinement gave Sawyer the willies.

Fingers snapped in front of his face. "Hello, I asked who came with the congressman."

He blinked, then focused briefly on Jon before glancing back at the group following his guide down the trail. "The blonde with Roman is Walton's assistant, and the tall, balding guy in the camouflage print shirt is his brother-in-law. I'll have to tactfully suggest he wear a hat, or his head will be fried to a crisp before the day is over. The younger boy in the preppy shorts and polo shirt is Hinsdale's nephew, and the scowling delinquent is his son. Walton rousted out all his male relatives for this trip to show he's both a man's man and a family man."

Jon fisted his hands on his hips. "The other two are with the media, then?"

"Yep, we'll have full TV coverage for this trip. That's why I asked you and Roman to wear company logo T-shirts. Might as well get a little extra publicity for Wilde Waters in any footage they shoot."

One gray brow rose. "What, no Secret Service? I'm disappointed. I've been trying to wrap my mind around the idea of men in suits, paddling through rapids."

Sawyer grinned. "I inquired about that in an email. Walton's aide responded that he'd declined protection when it was offered. Maybe he didn't feel it fit his common man image."

"Having someone dog my footsteps would give me the heebie-jeebies. I don't blame him for blowing off the glorified bodyguards." Jon shrugged one shoulder. "Well, since the gang's all here, go give your safety speech so we can shove off. I assume Gregor already left?"

"He took the tents and food with him in the oar boat and should have camp set up by the time we get to our stopping point for the day." Sawyer glanced behind him at the river. After a recent rainstorm, the water was running high for September. "Let's hope we don't have any problems along this stretch."

Pulling sunglasses from his pocket, Jon cleaned them on the hem of his T-shirt and squinted over at the group as they reached the bottom of the steep trail. "The three and four man rafts are easy enough to manage. How do you intend to divvy up the group?"

"Since no one has any experience, they can divide up however they like. We'll be doing the lion's share of the paddling."

"Fine by me. I'm up for the challenge. Based on appearances and my keen observational powers, I'd guess one of the media hounds, the woman and the brother-in-law will pull their own weight. Maybe split them up to balance the rafts. If the others are useless, it won't matter so much."

"Sounds like a plan." Sawyer grabbed the stack of life vests. "Let's do this."

Fifteen minutes later, they pushed off, and Sawyer settled into the rhythm of the river. At the front of the raft, the congressman's son kicked back and closed his eyes, making no pretense at helping. The journalist, Liam Kennedy, had a white-knuckled grip on his paddle and breathed hard through his mouth. Since they hadn't even reached the first set of rapids, Sawyer prayed the man wouldn't hyperventilate before they stopped for lunch.


Excerpted from Wilde Side by Jannine Gallant. Copyright © 2016 Jannine Gallant. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Wilde Side 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ReadingInPajamas More than 1 year ago
✦Review: Wilde Side (Born to Be Wilde) by Jannine Gallant Publication Date: October 25, 2016 Romantic Suspense/ Contemporary Romance Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Donna Rated: 4 Stars A real nail-biter who-done-it mystery revolving around everyone. Devin was easy to like, even though a time or two she had me scratching my head. Sawyer also started out all alpha then a few things he did or thought didn’t quite mesh. But that is the way of romantic struggles, and this one was a real struggle that couples tend to face at times. I appreciate how well the author handled the issue while weaving the drama. I also enjoyed how Ms. Gallant gave us city life and outdoor adventures all entwined with a plot that kept me guessing. I look forward to the next installment of the Wilde brothers. *Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Linda__ More than 1 year ago
Another winner! I loved book one in this series and book two is another winner. If you like fast paced romantic suspense, you will love this book. Devin is the aid to an independent congressman running for president. As an independent candidate, no one expects him to have a chance at winner.....then he starts to rise in the polls and have a real chance at winning the presidency. As part of his campaign, he takes a fast water rafting trip. Sawyer owns the rafting company and is very concerned about taking an inexperienced group on such challenging rapids, and that is before the trouble begins. One problem after another occurs. The only thing that has gone right is Sawyer meeting Devin (the congressman's aid), but, other than chemistry, they don't have much in common. Sawyer breaths a sigh of relief once they're off the water, but the problems keep on coming. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book. While it is part of a series, it is a stand alone novel. The author is on my must read authors' list.
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Romantic suspense with another Wilde brother sees Sawyer leading a group on a white river rafting trip. The clients are his godfather, Walton, a presidential hopeful and a few others along for the ride. Devin is Walton’s PA and the complete opposite of Sawyer BUT opposites definitely attract in this story. With a number of questionable events involving the potential murder of Walton and more than one suspect there is little time for romance. Devin’s goal in life is a successful career in a big city and with Sawyer hating big cities the chances for a HEA are not great without considerable compromise. With a potential murderer to unveil and a romance to cement this is an action-packed fast-paced suspense-filled story that had me hoping Devin and Sawyer would find a way to stay together. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC. This is my honest review. 4.5 Stars