Hunter -- Julie Lence

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Hunter Barlow is certain nothing can heal the bruises he's sustained, then Tawny's bright eyes set his heart to thumping.

For his last mission with the army, Hunter Barlow volunteers to go to Jackson Creek and round up supplies for the regimens camped outside of town. Not only does Jackson Creek put him that much closer to the California brothel that was his childhood home, but his brothers are there and settling a score with them is of the utmost importance. They deserted him, left him with a mother who despised him. But when the woman Jackson Creek’s mayor hires to cook and clean for the army’s headquarters runs off, Hunter hires Tawny Monroe to take her place. A working girl with bright blue eyes, something about Tawny suggests he’d rather keep time with her than seek vengeance on his brothers.     

Tawny Monroe fled Baltimore and her aunt’s constant badgering for a chance at freedom, but penniless in Austin, she was forced to take a job as a working girl. Feeling the sharp sting of the saloon owner’s hand too many times, she stole away to Landries in Jackson Creek, only a working girl’s wages don’t readily provide an escape from the past, so when handsome army sergeant Hunter Barlow offers her honest work cooking and cleaning for him, she readily accepts, hoping he’ll find favor with her skills and take her with him back to his fort. But when something deep within lurches toward Hunter’s honesty and muscles, Tawny isn’t so sure freedom is what she wants most of all.      




5 Stars:  I enjoyed this 3rd book in this Trilogy. Written by Julie Lence, a favorite author of mine writes the best storylines with small western towns and strong but hurting heroes. Loved each book in this Trilogy, but Hunter was the one who pulled at my heartstrings. Waiting for years for his two brothers, Slade and Landry to come and take him away from the Brothel they were raised in, he grew a strong hatred for them. Tawny, our heroine feeling unloved and unwanted, left her Aunt's home for the freedom to live her life. I like Tawny, she's sweet, nice and surprisingly stronger then she thinks. This begins their story in the small western town of Jackson Creek. I was pulled in quite quickly and I enjoyed each page, as I followed the two of them through all the angst of falling love. A few unexpected surprises throughout the storyline. Recommend. JudyE

5 Stars:  I enjoyed this story. It has been a while since I have been to Jackson Creek. I loved Tawny with her acceptance of her situation though she did not like it and hoped for a better, safer future for herself. Hunter was so full of anger and resentment that I was not sure he would ever find his happiness. As Tawny and Hunter spent time together, their chemistry pulled them together. I will give Hunter a lot of credit for his willpower to keep his hands off Tawny for as long as he did. It was great to see the brothers finally figure out a way to help and get to know each other again, and become a really family. Christine Woinich


“Sunday’s are boring,” Myrna said. “Wipe away the doldrums, Tawny, and tell Burke about the fellow.”
Burke angled his head her direction, stared pointedly at her.

“There’s nothing to tell. He saw us in the alley, said hello and rode away.” Because Myrna embarrassed him. Powerful legs encased in black trousers, stubble along his jaw and a straight nose; he is dreamy and—
“You’re blushing,” Myrna giggled. “You’re ensnared with him, as he is with you.”

“He’s not ensnared with me,” Tawny retorted. “He’s a stranger passing through.” She bit the inside of her cheek to stem the heat staining her skin. “I think I’ll make a pot of tea. You want a cup?” she asked Burke the same time the batwing doors flapped open. Swiveling around, her gaze fell on a gun belt strapped around a slim waist. Looking up, she took in a chest thick with muscle beneath a leather vest, stubble along a square jaw, full lips and… She swallowed hard, wiped her palms on the sides of her robe. Staring back at her were the dark eyes belonging to the handsome stranger.

“Ma’am.” He touched a finger to the brim of his hat. “Is the owner around?”

Are his eyes black? Or brown? Tawny peered closer.

“Landry ain’t here,” Burke said. “Come back in the morning.”

“I will,” the stranger promised, smiling at her.

A ribbon of warmth shimmied down her spine and she rubbed her palms harder along her robe. And then, she sobered. Forget his eyes! And his sinew. He’s trouble.

“Before I do,” he continued with Burke, though his gaze never left her, “I need a woman.”

“Got three of them,” Burke said. “But I think you already made your choice.”

“I did.” His smile broadened and that ribbon of warmth wrapped around her stomach.

“Seeings how this is Tawny’s night off, her fee is double,” Burke advised.

A shiver moved through her as the stranger’s gaze slowly traveled the length of her and then moved past her to Burke. “I ain’t looking for a tumble. I’m a sergeant with the army, sent here to help with the Apache. I need her to cook and clean for the captain and me. The woman the mayor hired left town.”
An army man! Needing a housekeeper. Hope surged through Tawny. She could begin shedding her reputation this very night, have that freedom she craved sooner than she thought, that is if he had a job for her at the fort from which he’d come. Or knew of someone who did.

 “I accept,” she said before Burke could decline.