Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review/Excerpt–More Than Money (Heartland Heroines, bk #3) by Kris Pearson


                                                          Published June 9th 2014 by Smashwords Edition
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Exiled from his family for half his life, hard-living cowboy Rory Morrissey finally quits Texas and embarks on a desperate and delicate mission: to return to New Zealand, convince shy Kiwi heiress Alfrieda Hamlin to marry him, and earn a fresh start, respectability, and one hell of a farm.

Alfie might be shy but she’s no pushover. When she learns about the succession deal being hatched between her autocratic grandfather and the handsome Texan stud, she rebels. There’s no way she’ll stand by and have her expected inheritance and freedom stolen away, so with only one month to outwit the scheming duo, she throws caution to the wind and snuggles up to the man she’s been ordered to marry. After all, she needs to know her enemy if she expects to beat him at his own game.

Warning: Contains one hunky cowboy determined to ride down his heiress, hog-tie her, and bundle her into his bed.



After spending the next morning forced to show Rory around the beautiful estate, Alfie drives him back into the city in one of the farm trucks to collect the rest of his belongings. Here’s part of what happens along the way:

The cowboy moved in his seat, distracting her from such doleful thoughts. “Old Alfred can’t live forever.” His tone was more conciliatory now. “We can wait him out. Marry me right away and make the place ours. Secure the estate before he changes his mind, and then we can sort it out between us.”

She shook her head vehemently.

Again he laughed. The same humourless sound. “You’re not my idea of a wife, Alfie. I doubt I’m your idea of a husband.”

She swallowed in surprise.

He locked his gaze with hers. So magnetic. So persuasive. “Wait the old devil out. It’d serve him right. We can put on the expected show, but we don’t have to consummate the marriage. No-one will know but us.”

She shook her head again.

“Although,” he murmured, eyes now dancing with challenge, “We could probably enjoy ourselves if we put our minds to it.”

Alfie began to object, and at that instant he loosened his seatbelt with his free hand, leaned across, cradled her face, and settled his lips on hers. He tasted rich and dark, and it took her several seconds of unhinged shock before she gathered her wits enough to thump a fist against his chest. “We could probably,” he murmured against her mouth, “enjoy ourselves very much.”

Rory felt her struggling and reared back. Jesus! He’d grabbed her like some lust soaked teenager. What was he? Sixteen and desperate? He slumped into his seat, breathing hard, searching for appropriate words to apologise with.

“Don’t do that again,” she said in a small voice.

“Hell, darlin’, I didn’t mean to do it that time.” He flinched at the flippant comment that had burst from his stupid mouth. How would he get past this? “I’m sorry,” he added.

“Didn’t mean to grab you. You...attract me.” He shook his head. “Did I just make it worse?”

“Probably.” She touched her mouth with her fingers as though she was searching for damage.

“Did I hurt you?”

She stared at him, pupils so huge and black that her eyes had none of their vivid colour left. “No, of course not. Just surprised me.”

After a few seconds she asked, “I...attract you? Really?”

He watched her fingers running to and fro along her soft bottom lip, wanting to replace them with his own. Wanting even more to replace them with his mouth again. He reached a tentative hand out and then pulled it back. “For sure. How could you not? And I’m not meaning the farm. You’re...”

“I’m what?”

He shook his head. Was he really having this conversation? “You’re not what I expected. Last night I presumed you were a spoiled princess. You wouldn’t talk to me over drinks. I thought you were freezing me out.”

He watched as she covered her mouth with her hand and shook her head.

“And then I found Alfred hadn’t given you any warning about why I was there, and you stood your ground with him in the dining room and I admired you.”

Her hand dropped away. Her eyes were still huge. “Admired me?”

“For telling him what you thought of him. Even if it made him damn difficult company for me after that.”

The corners of her mouth twitched briefly. “Was he angry?”

“Fuming, but trying not to show it because he wanted me on his side.”

“Poor you.” She was definitely trying to stifle a smile now.

The bands of embarrassment choking his chest loosened a little.

A dimple indented one of her cheeks and then disappeared. “So I attract you because I’m brave? Not very. That doesn’t make me sound much fun anyway.”

Rory ran his hands through his hair and stared at her. “Geez, honey, are you determined to drag it from me? I came here expecting to find some unmarriageable mess of a woman and instead I got presented with you. So pretty I can’t keep my hands to myself. So female you make me hard in seconds. So in need of looking after that I’d walk over white-hot coals to keep you safe. Okay?”

He heard the snick as she unlatched her seatbelt, and then his breathing stopped as she wriggled up into a kneeling position. Was she going to smack him one? He clutched the fabric of his jeans so he couldn’t make another grab for her.

One of her hands gripped the back of the seat for balance. The other reached over and touched his hair, smoothing it where he’d no doubt mussed it up seconds earlier. He tilted his head to find her eyes, totally beguiled by her unexpected reaction, determined not to spook her again.

“Thank you,” she whispered, her fingers moving lower to trace over his eyebrow and around the edge of his ear. Slow and dreamy. Exploring him like a piece of sculpture. “That makes things feel different.”

Somehow he held still. Her short nails ran down the side of his face, then reversed to push against the grain of his beard. “Whiskers,” she murmured. “You poor thing having to shave them all the time.”

He wanted to laugh but didn’t dare. “Comes with being a man.” He needed to clear his throat and didn’t dare do that either in case it spoiled the moment.

“Hmmm.” A soft murmur of agreement.

Finally he couldn’t take any more of her gentle torture. “So do I pass the test?”

“What test?” Her fingers trailed lower again.

“Whatever you’re...” He fell silent as she touched the corner of his mouth. Ran her feather-light finger over his cupid’s bow and around the rest. His hands clenched tighter into the denim, and his heart threatened to burst out of his burning ribcage. He gulped a fast breath.

She shifted on the seat, leaning closer. “Yes, you pass the test. You’re so lovely you’d pass any test.” She bit her bottom lip and visibly swallowed. “Can you kiss me again please? I wasn’t ready last time.”

Alfie’s voice quavered as she spoke the last words. Who was kneeling and begging now?

Her. Absolutely her.
Kneeling on her seat, begging to be kissed.

Would he do it? If he didn’t she’d die of embarrassment.

She watched as his big hands relaxed their death-grip on his jeans. As he took another deep breath. As he turned in his seat and touched her face, sliding around her jaw to cradle it.

No words. Simply the sensation of those long fingers smoothing over her skin, and his eyes burning into hers with fierce intensity.

Utterly crazy. How had they gone from open animosity to teasing, then through another full-on argument to declarations of tender regard and into a kiss hot enough to scorch her soul?

“Ah, honey...” he whispered, rubbing his mouth over hers so softly she was barely sure they’d connected. A butterfly brush. A sensation as warm as tropic air. Lips dragging gently past each other. Back and forth. Maddening.

She made a noise of some kind. A wanting noise. A needing noise. Because yes, she needed. Needed to touch him and taste him. Wanted more of him than this. Ohhhhh....

She raised her hand again...caressed his jaw, and it was enough. He parted his lips on an indrawn breath, settled them over her lower one and sucked for an instant, then moved up to do the same to the upper. All her nerve endings there flickered, and she moaned with delight, not knowing her fingers had flexed greedily against his skin. Rory’s hand tightened too, pulling her face against his as her lips parted. Holding her where he wanted her. Angling his mouth over hers, lifting and lowering, dragging in air between each dizzying descent until they were both panting, both open-mouthed, tongues sliding together, groaning, frantic.

Alfie yearned to be closer still. Wanted to be pressed against his body, enclosed by his arms they way she’d been that morning. She struggled to turn, perched as she was on her knees on the seat.

“Easy darlin’,” he warned as she tipped off balance. He grabbed her in both hands, strong enough to support her weight and tilt her so she sprawled, unharmed, head in his lap.

She gazed up at him, gasping, ripped away from the kiss that had stolen her brain.

He laughed—a deep joyous rumble that she felt as well as heard, pressed as she now was against something really hard in his groin. A long firm rod that thrilled and scared her equally.

“You okay?” he asked, loosening the hand trapped between them so he could stroke her face.

She nodded mutely, which gave her a little more information about what she’d landed against. Oh goodness...

He grinned down at her. “I didn’t picture our first kiss happening in a farm truck on the main road,” he said. “We do have a hotel room to use if you’re so insatiable?” One dark brow rose.

Alfie opened her mouth to object, and then relaxed again when she realised he was teasing. “Not insatiable at all. And anyway, you started it.”

“True, darlin’. Provoked beyond reason. ” He stroked her hair. “Not even a little bit insatiable?” he asked hopefully.

She shifted on the seat and eased a leg up onto the steering wheel, then remembered too late that she’d worn a skirt instead of her customary jeans. She tried to reposition herself more decently.

His hand shot over, lightning-fast, and grasped her leg.

“Let me go!” she squeaked, giggling, blushing, helplessly trapped.

“Not a chance, darlin’.” He bent sideways and smoothed his face over the soft skin above her knee and then down to somewhere far too near her panties. Oh God... That was...incredible. And way too personal. All the muscles in her thighs quivered, and she groaned, alight with apprehension. How could he do something like that?

She heard his soft laugh of triumph.

“Rory!” She wriggled, trying to escape. Hopeless. Heard him inhale to sample her scent. So embarrassing. Felt his mouth pressing kisses high on her thigh. Couldn’t see because his head was under her rucked-up skirt.

She lay there, tangled and open to him, as his lips worked back in the direction of her knee and he appeared again, hair rumpled, eyes so hot they practically smoked. With his free hand he pushed at the denim. Alfie felt deserted as he drew back further.

“Not boring panties,” he drawled, flicking a glance down to her very tiny turquoise lace thong and then back to her eyes.

Oh, could this get any worse? “No—I forgot...” she muttered, knowing she must be scarlet in the face.

He glanced down again. “You put that on for me, darlin’?

“No...I don’t know...”

He grinned. “Definitely appreciated. You got any more like it?”

She squeezed her eyes closed and unkinked one leg. Rory kept a firm grip on the other one.

“No. It...umm...went with my bridesmaid’s dress. The one I wore last night.”

He bent and kissed her knee again, sliding his mouth slowly down, keeping his eyes on hers until her skirt concealed them. Then all she could do was imagine.

“But you didn’t have this on last night?” A low suggestive murmur from under the fabric. His kisses progressed further south.

“No. Of course not. And I don’t know why I put it on today”. She gulped a fast breath. “Maybe I just wanted to feel pretty...”

“You feeling pretty right now, honey?” He licked and sucked so close to the elastic edge that Alfie’s hips hitched up in shock.

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This book was a big, fat paradox, both incredibly sweet and unbelievably sexy at the same time. Alfie had been incredibly sheltered and isolated because of her flighty artistic mother who had her out of wedlock. (This is 2014, right?) Her grandfather who is the Svengali of the book, is a throwback to the 1920's. I don't know, maybe it's different in New Zealand, but he was a MAJOR tool in this American girl's honest opinion. Anyway, back to the paradox, Alfie couldn't have been any greener if she had been raised by nuns. Despite the fact that she works with livestock and is well aware of what goes where. She has been browbeaten so much and for so long by Herr Craftsman, that her sexual identity is zilch. Not only that but he has arranged a marriage, without her knowledge or consent to a man who just shows up on her doorstep. So, at this point I am seriously thinking, it might be time to pull a Menedez on ol' Granpappy. But then some strange insect made me rethink the whole sitch. New Zealand is the home of the cave weta. They only live in this tiny area of the entire world. If New Zealand can breed these critters, well maybe Pops isn't such a strange Kiwi after all.

 Seriously, I thought this was photoshopped or something but this a a THING. Rory, the ex-pat Kiwi, who now hails from Texas, actually saved Alfie when a cave weta fell down her shirt. For this he deserves all the sex, and land that he could ever want. Not only did he remove the weta, he put it back in the cave so that it wouldn't die in the sunlight. I love this cowboy. With all his shucks, and darlings, he was just too, too yummy. He was actually a very decent sort, who fell into instant lust with Alfie and resented the way she had been parceled out as part of a land deal. He put a lot of effort into building up her self esteem and giving her some independence. He was also a very dirty cowboy, and I'm not talking trail dust, nosireebob! He gives Alfie some hands on training in animal husbandry. *snort*

For under one hundred and fifty pages, this was a well written, quick but satisfying romance that taught me a few things, some good and some I'll have nightmares about. *ewwwww* I think the whole weta incident pretty much put the kibosh on any future trips to New Zealand, so I guess I'll have to rely on more books from Kris to satisfy my wanderlust. Nice, job, Ms. Pearson, I enjoyed the ride.

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If it's fine, Kris gardens. If it's wet, she writes. And if the writing's going well, the garden can look after itself...

She's the author of 'The Boat Builder's Bed', of which more than a million were downloaded free. Giving away a taste of her work with this one kick-started sales of all her other novels.

Her latest books are her Heartlands series - the girls who live deep in the New Zealand countryside. First there's 'Her Man with Iceberg Eyes' - a novel set in the alpine resort of Queenstown, way in the south. Then there's 'Christmas Holiday Husband' - which takes you to a sprawling back-country farm with its lovely old homestead and long family heritage. June 9 sees the launch of the third, which is titled 'More than the Money'. In this you'll again meet some of the characters from 'Christmas Holiday Husband'.

Kris writes sizzling contemporary romances, and is the current membership secretary for Romance Writers of New Zealand. Six of her books are set at least partly in the capital city of Wellington so she can make use of the beautiful harbor in the plots. She's called them her Wicked in Wellington series. (There's a boxed set of three Wickeds if you'd like to save some money.)

In a new adventure, two of these are now available translated into Spanish, with at least two more to follow. The first titles are 'La cama del constructor de barcos' and 'Zona prohibida'. There's a Spanish version of her website - just click the flags at the top right of it to change languages.

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