Review + Excerpt: Bounty (#7, Colorado Mountain) by Kristen Ashley

My Thoughts

A stirring, slow-burn, deeply felt love story
with that Kristen Ashley magic that makes it an instant favorite.

5stars

Synopsis

Apr-18Justice Lonesome has enjoyed a life of bounty.

Even so, she’s inherited the curse of the Lonesome. A poet’s soul. Which means she’s still searching for something. Searching for peace. Searching for the less…that’s more.

And when the foundation of her life is pulled out from under her, grieving, she goes to the mountains to find her oasis. She hits Carnal, Colorado and decides to stay.

Deke Hightower lost everything at the age of two. He lost it again at fifteen. His life has not been about bounty. It’s been about learning to live with less, because there’s no way to get more.

Deke’s also watched all his friends go down to the women who gave them what they needed. He wants that for himself. But he knows that search isn’t going to be easy because he’s a rider. His home is the road. That’s the only place he can breathe. And the woman who takes her place at his side has to do it sitting on the back of his bike.

When Deke meets Justice, he knows she’s not that woman. She’s cute. She’s sweet. And she’s into him, but she’s got it all and Deke knows he won’t fit into that. So he holds her at arm’s length. Establishes boundaries. And Justice will take it because she wants Deke any way he’ll let her have him.

But when Justice finds herself a pawn in a dangerous game, Deke makes a decision.

When he does, he has no idea he’s just opened himself up to bounty.

My Review

We return to the Colorado Mountains with the story of Justice Lonesome and Deke Hightower, rousing deeply felt nostalgia as another chapter turns in a series that has proved to be an indelible favorite. Theirs is a story of quiet poignancy, a slow-burn second chance at love which flourished despite everything life had flung their way. Every page evoked longing and love in a way that just made me feel. Like every other Kristen Ashley novel, it pulled me in deep, drawing on a well of emotion as I felt my way through their reluctant romance.

Bounty shares a story about finding more when all your life you’ve had less. About finding the less in all the more you’ve been given.  It’s about finding your home. About hope after loss. And ultimately, about a gypsy finding forever love with her traveling man.

“I was coming to understand I wanted more. I just had no idea what it was because if I wanted it, I could have anything. Not to mention, the feeling was uncomfortable. This was because I had it all.”

We meet Justice Lonesome at twenty-seven years old, out with her girls at a biker bar when she decides to slip into a dark corner… she never expected to see the man of her dreams. A huge towering man who she knew—with one glance—was every inch the kind of man made for her.

“It was him. A man in faded jeans and a white tee at a chain link fence in a biker bar in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, sucking back a beer, laughing with his bud. And I didn’t know his name. What I knew was that I wanted him to take me wherever it was he lived his life, plant me in it so deep I could never pull at the roots, flourish in the life we built together, and wither to dust by his side.”

And when he approached her in that dark corner, a promise for more bloomed inside, only to wither and die the next day. She never saw that man again, but he’d undeniably left his mark on her heart.

Since that day, Justice had enjoyed a life full of bounty—a life brimming with love, family, music and happiness. And yet, her heart hungered for something, especially after suffering the loss of one she loved so much—a loss that turned her world so upside down that she sought refuge in a place she could call her own.

“It was time to find my peace, my privacy, my place, my less that’s more than I needed.”

Little did she know that walking into a biker bar in Carnal, Colorado, seven years later, she’d come face to face with the man she’d once thought was made for her.

“Seven years, ten minutes, and I knew him at a glance. Seven years, ten minutes, I was right then drawn to him so deeply, it was taking physical effort to stop my body swaying his way, my feet from moving to him.”

But with a quick, cursory glance, he turned away.

Deke Hightower had not had a life full of bounty. His was one marred by sadness and struggle, guilt slashing through any hope for a life that would give him more. He was not a man who planted roots. He was the kind of man who found freedom on the road, who worked hard to earn the life of a traveling man. How could he find bounty without much to give, without roots?

But when fate pushes Deke and Justice together, reluctant roots begin to sprout as they find something special in each other.

Problem was, Deke wanted none of it.

“He didn’t need her shit. Didn’t need to feel less when it was obvious she could give herself more.”

Deke and Jussy’s story is not a smooth sail. Their lives had tracked so differently. But Justice’s goodness wears through Deke’s reluctance, and he realizes he could lose his first taste of bounty when Justice finds herself in the line of fire.

“My honor, Jussy, to be that man who’s there for you.”

Deke and Justice together are a beautiful thing to see. Despite their differences, the core of who they are is the same. They both realize home is not a trailer or a beautiful new house, home is being in the arms of the one you love. Likewise, freedom isn’t always the road, but the roots you plant for a future to grow on.

“That’s it, Deke. I’m a lucky girl. Blessed. Given so much bounty, it’s almost embarrassing how much God likes me. But He really must like me because I have all I have and He also gave me you.”

Music and love, grief and forgiveness, happiness and bounty… we see it all in this evocative story that made my eyes well up with tears more than once. Even better, because we’re back in Carnal, we see so many of the characters we know and love. And just as we’d expect, although their journey is rocky, their ending is every bit magic and beauty… unforgettably so. After all, Kristen Ashley always delivers a story that as quickly as it is devoured, is decidedly difficult to let go.

“Only roots I want, me in you, you in me.”

 

Excerpt

A lip brush then a whispered, “Relax, Deke.”

His hand resting on my hip slid up to my waist and squeezed.

It did not push me away. It just squeezed.

“Jussy,” he muttered. “Now’s not—”

I went in for another lip brush, another whisper of, “Relax, honey,” and then I went for it and slid my tongue out, gliding the tip along the crease of his lips.

God, he tasted yummy.

I had just enough time to have that thought before I drew in a soft breath when I suddenly found myself on my back, Deke’s weight on me, all of his lower half pressing me into the bed.

“Jussy, don’t,” he growled, his words contradicting our new position. “Now’s not the time.”

Now was totally the time. If I didn’t feel that “now was the time” gathering between my legs (which I did), I could feel that indication hardening on my thigh.

I moved both my hands to his neck, its back, fingers up in his hair and I used those hands and his stiffness to pull me up and I put my mouth back to his.

“Now’s a great time,” I said softly. “You’ve been taking care of me. It’s my turn to take care of you.”

“Jus—”

“Shush,” I whispered.

“Jussy—”

I cut off whatever he was going to say by sliding my tongue in his mouth and touching it to his.

His head jerked back.

My body went solid.

He didn’t move.

I held on to his neck and stared at him staring down at me.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have pushed it. Maybe now wasn’t the time.

Hell, maybe I was even wrong about the whole thing. Maybe Deke was that guy who went the extra mile to look out for his friends. And maybe the evidence that was growing hard against my thigh wasn’t evidence of what I thought it was, but just that I was a girl, he was a guy, we were in bed in the dead of night and that was the natural order of things.

I started to feel weird, scared, embarrassment creeping in, and I was about to let him go when it happened.

Thunder rolled in my bedroom, feeling like it was emanating from his stomach, through his chest, his lips, swelling in the room, over my skin, straight between my legs.

Then he shifted one of his hands that were in the bed at my sides, his weight up on his forearms, so it was wrapped around the back of my neck and his mouth slammed down on mine.

I opened my lips and his tongue thrust inside.

Oh God, yes, fuck yes.

He tasted yummy.

Another fierce growl released from Deke, sinking down my throat as he slanted his head and took the kiss deeper.

Okay.

Yes.

Okay.

Damn.

The man could kiss.

Reading Order

Each can be read as a standalone

Giveaway

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