Ruthless Heart

Ruthless Heart

Kensington Brava
June 29, 2010
ISBN 9780758247506

Read an Excerpt

Book 1

He led her astray, and she never wanted to go back...

Sheltered all her life, Eliza Hunter never imagined herself alone in the vast Utah plains, much less trailing a mysterious, rugged man hired to hunt down her beautiful younger sister. Unable to reveal the truth about her pursuit of him, Eliza plays student to the teacher, transforming herself in the process. And she when she finds herself sharing the warmth of Grady's campfire, wrapped in his arms, hypnotized by his power, soon she is a naive spinster no more...

Grady Wolfe is more than a loner, he's a man forever on the run. With a body and soul finely honed from living off the land, Grady knows he should leave the irresistible woman alone, but she stirs something in him he hasn't felt before. Now he's lost in the woods for the first time in his life—with a dangerous job to do. And no one—not even the luscious Eliza—is going to stop him...

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"Emma Lang will touch your soul with this compelling tale." — 5 Cups, Coffee Time Romance

"RUTHLESS HEART will tug at your heartstrings and make you sigh happily at the very end. I loved it!" — 4.5 Blue Ribbons, Romance Junkies

"…superb Americana romance" — 5 Stars, Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round Reviews

"A well-written and tender love story that shows how love can change a person." — Romantic Times Book Reviews

"A joy to read and a journey of discovery, RUTHLESS HEART is a winner…" — Romance Reviews Today

"The story is action‑packed and full of witty dialogue as the prim and proper Miss Hunter takes on the ruthless Grady Wolfe who never knows what hit him. A definite keeper." — 5 Stars, Affaire de Coeur Book Reviews


“What are you doing?”

Eliza glanced up to see Grady scowling at her. “I decided to avoid singeing my hand on the open fire any longer and have been working on a device to assist me.”

He sipped his coffee. “You don’t want to get burned so you’re making something for the fire?”

“That’s correct.” She held up some strips of leather from her traveling bag. “These will allow me to fashion a handle on the pan.” She held up pieces of metal from the bottom of the bag. “And these will be a grate for the pan to sit on.”

As she worked to fit the pieces together, he was quiet. Eliza always seemed better at thinking of inventions rather than building them. Her hands weren’t strong enough to put the pieces of metal together in a lattice pattern.

On the fourth attempt, she nearly fell into the fire.

“Jesus Christ, woman. Give me the damn thing.” Grady snatched the pieces from her and made quick work of a rather nice lattice pattern. “Is this what you wanted?”

Eliza told herself not to blush, not to look away as if she were embarrassed. “Yes, that’s exactly what I was attempting to do. Thank you Grady.” She took the new grate back from him, pleased with the result.

As Eliza wrapped the thinnest leather strips around the grate to keep it secured, he picked up her journal and looked at the page with the drawing of the device. She wanted to take it from him, make him stop looking at what she’d invented, but she didn’t. It wasn’t as if they were the secrets of the universe, there was no need to be so childish about keeping them as such.

“Looks like a good idea.” He glanced at the other strips of leather. “But I think if you braided these before you put them on the handle, they’d stay on better.”

Eliza was startled, to say the least, because he was correct and because he had thought of something she hadn’t. “You’re an inventor too.”

He snorted. “Not hardly, just been on the trail too long with burnt hands.” Grady picked up the leather and started braiding the strips.

Eliza could hardly believe it, truth be told. He was a bounty hunter, a man who made his living hunting other human beings, yet he sat beside her on the ground making a grate and handle for the cooking.

As she finished securing the grate together, he had already completed his task and was examining the handle of the pan. She set the grate down and picked up the braided leather. It was perfectly even and tightly done.

“This is marvelous work, Grady. I don’t think I could have done a better job.”

He narrowed his gaze. “I don’t cotton to people talking down to me.”

“I most certainly was not talking down to you. Your assistance with this invention is proving invaluable. I was being completely forthright with you.” She bristled as if he’d insulted her rather than the other way around. Silly how she reacted to everything he said in the opposite way she should.

He watched her for another few minutes before he nodded. “Okay then, thanks.”

“And please accept my thanks for your contribution. Now if you’ll hold the pan, I’ll secure the end and begin wrapping the braid around the handle.”

Somewhat grudgingly, he picked up the pan and held it so the handle faced her. Eliza began tying the end knot and he harrumphed at her.

“That ain’t no knot. It won’t hold more than a day.” He thrust the pan in her hands. “You hold this and I’ll show you how to tie a knot.”

Grady’s font of knowledge was far greater than she suspected. He was actually patient as he taught her the intricacies of tying a secure knot. Although his hands were callused, his fingers were dexterous and strong enough to secure the leather braid to the pan.
She vowed to attempt knot tying later when he wasn’t looking.

Grady finished wrapping the braid around the handle, then tied it to the hole on the end. “There, now stop fussing with the thing and make some supper.”

Eliza examined the handle carefully. “This is quite marvelous work. You are a man of many talents.”

His gaze glittered in the fading twilight. “You have no idea.”

She shivered, although it was still quite warm outside. His insinuation was clear enough to even her untrained ears. She shouldn’t be surprised, after all, she’d given herself to him already.

“Now let’s see if we can make good use of our good ideas.” She managed a smile, which he did not return but his gaze slid to the pan and she thought she saw a spark of pride. It was probably something he didn’t feel very often. Perhaps she should share her ideas for inventions with him more often.

Eliza made dinner using the ham she’d purchased at the store. The handle worked marvelously well and she was able to move the pan to the grate at the side of the firepit when the ham was cooked. It served as a wonderful resting spot for the hot pan.

As they ate the ham with canned peaches and drank coffee, the sun warmed up the air around them. She closed her eyes and listened to the wind the leaves, strangely at peace in the middle of nowhere with only a gruff bounty hunter for company.

Eliza couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so content and wondered if it was because she was away from her father’s heavy hand, or because she was with Grady. She couldn’t decide which idea appealed to her more.