STONE COLD COWBOY - Jennifer Ryan
Montana Men , Book 4
Avon Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-243532-3
March 2016
Contemporary Romance

Crystal Creek, Montana - Present Day

Sadie Higgins is chasing her brother, her stolen horses, and a herd of stolen cattle across Kendrick land when she finally catches up with the perpetrators.  Her brother, Connor, long time drug abuser and petty thief now turned cattle rustler, is riding with four other men.  Sadie's hope is to turn him around and persuade him to abandon the cattle before Rory Kendrick and his brothers come looking for them.  Instead, things go horribly wrong.  Connor turns his back on Sadie while his friends physically assault her, leaving her wrapped in barbed wire, hanging from a tree, stripped almost naked, bleeding, and nearly dead.

Rory Kendrick has been missing cattle for months, first just a few, now an entire herd, and when he tracks the rustlers to the far end of his ranch, the cattle and thieves are long gone, but what he finds in their wake is a horrifying sight that angers and sickens him.  He gently releases Sadie from her shackles, tends to her multiple wounds, calls his brother Colt, and they rush her to the clinic and into the healing hands of Dr. Bell.  Rory is praying that Sadie lives, and vows to find the people who left her for dead.  He doesn't care about his cattle; he's only out to avenge Sadie's attack.

Sadie has long admired the eldest Kendrick brother, Rory, but he's so far out of her league that all she can do is dream about him.  For years she's been rescuing her own brother from trouble.  Ever since their mother died, Sadie has been doing her best to help with the family ranch and turn Connor around.  Even though he's twenty-one now, Sadie still bails him out time after time.  Until today.  Today, Connor walked away and left her at the hands of a knife wielding sadist.

Rory has seen Sadie Higgins around town; he even goes to the diner where she works and sits in a booth in the back so he can watch her.  Rory is intrigued by Sadie, but he doesn't have time for love; he has a ranch to run, a Grandfather to watch out for, and two brothers to keep out of trouble.  Ever since their parents died, Rory has assumed the responsibility as head of the Kendrick family.  They call him the STONE COLD COWBOY, a man so intent upon his duties that he never takes time for himself.  Nearly a recluse, he stays on the ranch, venturing into town only for errands, or to catch a meal at the diner where Sadie works.  And, like Rory, Sadie has also taken on family responsibility after her mother died.  She works two jobs just to keep up the ranch and pay for Connor's misdeeds.  Rory now sits by her hospital bed, waiting for her to regain consciousness, hoping and praying that she'll live.  Can they explore a relationship in their future?

STONE COLD COWBOY is the fourth novel in the Montana Men series, and follows HER LUCKY COWBOY (September 2015), WHEN IT'S RIGHT, (April 2015), and AT WOLF RANCH, (February 2015).  Each book stands alone, and each features delightful characters, romance, and a bit of mystery and suspense.  Coming up next is Colt Kendrick's story:  HER RENEGADE RANCHER, due in October 2016.

On a personal note:  Montana Men is a splendid series of books, but I have noticed that the violence escalates with each new novel.  The characters are vibrant and I love reading about them, but STONE COLD COWBOY begins and ends with horrific scenes of graphic violence that are difficult to read through.  I do not wish to watch my heroine get sliced with knives, punched in the face, nor wrapped in barbed wire.  However, my opinions aside, STONE COLD COWBOY contains a good story, and the interaction between Rory and Sadie is love in its blossom, if you can overlook the shadow of horror that comes with the romance.

Diana Risso