When bull rider and rising star Sterling Kingsolver wins a national rodeo championship in a stunning upset, he becomes the public face of the rodeo league. But the big bosses had other ideas, and Sterling knows he’s in trouble. The league is pissed, there are a bunch of cowboys ready to kick his butt, and worst of all, he’s headed to New York City in the dead of winter to do a publicity junket. Sterling is just a cowboy from New Mexico, and all the fancy trappings of his new title don’t sit so well with him.
Jonas Burke, an experienced public relations assistant hired by the rodeo league, can't believe his Christmas week vacation has been cancelled to get a hick cowboy from the middle of nowhere cleaned up and presentable by New York standards. The two men square off a couple of times, but as Jonas gets to know Sterling, he begins to understand what makes a real cowboy tick, and he finds a lot to admire. Sterling also starts to realize there’s much more to city boy Jonas than a flashy smile and a good suit.
While taking in the sparkle and joy that is Christmas in New York City, their friendship quickly turns to more. But when the man who was favored to win the competition shows up looking for a piece of Sterling, the whole game changes. When the dust settles, Sterling’s days in the city come to an end, Jonas nearly loses his job, and facing that infamous midnight hour, Sterling and Jonas have to decide if their new year will include each other or not.
- 2 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Cultural Differences, Enemies to Lovers, Meet Cute, Opposites Attract, Slow Burning Love, Trapped Together
Word Count: 47410
Setting: New York City, NY
Languages Available: English
Sterling Kingsolver was fixin’ to ruin his goddamn career for stupid pride, and he gave less than no shits.
He stood there, staring at Clint Masterson, the buzz of fury zipping between his ears like killer bees.
“Listen to me, boy. Cody Ball has been promised this year. You’re a baby. You’re a rookie. You throw this ride and we’ll make it worth your while.”
“I ain’t a cheat.” He might be a piece-of-shit caliche farmer, a desert baby balls to bones, but he wasn’t about to take a dive. He had Rookie of the Year in the bag, sure—but if he rode his last bull? Shit marthy, he would take the event win and the championship.
“We aren’t asking you to cheat, son. I’m telling you to make a smart career move, hmm?” Masterson had been one of the First Five, and he was the face of the league, the big boss. Shit, this man could ruin him. Shit.READ MORE
“Fine. I think it’s bullshit, man. Total bullshit.” God. God help him. Was he considering this?
“This isn’t some little ranch rodeo, Kingsolver. This is the big time. Sometimes you have to lose a little. You got the Rookie of the Year money. Take it and run. Next year it will be yours.”
Right. Assuming he stayed healthy next year. Assuming he rode. Assuming he had another magic year. “Yessir.”
“Good boy. Go on. You need to strap in. Don’t make it obvious.”
Good fucking boy?
He stormed across the chutes, his boots rattling.
“Bit! Bit, come on! Tie on your damn glove! This is it.” Jack waved and bounced, his eyes as big as saucers. “What did Masterson want?”
“Nothing. Just to keep my ass on the bull.”
“Ah. Okay. Grab your bull rope. I’ll pull. Chance can hold your vest.”
“Right.” He went through the motions, acidic hatred burning in his belly. Motherfuckers, with their politics and shit. He could see Cody Ball and his long-assed ugly nose and sparse pussy-tickler mustache just staring him down with a bullshit smirk, knowing what they’d asked.
Just because Ball hadn’t fucking managed quite to keep himself centered, just because no one had thought Sterling was a goddamn threat until it was too late.
Now he was one ride away from taking the whole thing.
His daddy was sitting there in the stands, the day sheet crumpled in his fingers. Daddy would know. He would know and judge, even if he never said a word about it.
“Focus, asshole!” Chance shook him. “Blue Belly isn’t going to thank you for woolgathering.” His old friend leaned close, peppermint on his breath. “Don’t do it. Ride this son of a bitch. Ride him into the motherfucking ground and make them all scream.”
“Don’t. Just hold on, cowboy. You ain’t a rodeo athlete; you’re a goddamn cowboy.”
Sterling nodded and got his legs set, slamming his glove shut over his rope. Blue Belly bucked in the chute, tossing his head, slamming Sterling’s leg against the gate. He didn’t nod, but the gate swung open, and he kept his mind in the middle.
Just hold on. You’re a goddamn cowboy.
That was right. He was. He was a goddamn cowboy, and he didn’t throw rides. This wasn’t a job; this was who he was.
By the time he finished telling himself that, the buzzer sounded, the arena going wild.
Well, okay then.
Time to hit the dirt and take his lumps.COLLAPSE