Read an excerpt from Rancher in Training by Marie Johnston

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Deputy Farah James arrests bad boys, she doesn’t date them. So when an ex-con with a fiery past returns to town, she ignores the criminal things he does to her pulse. Behind bars, Jesse Rodriguez and his wicked looks were easy to dismiss, but as a free man with a life to reclaim, he’s never been more dangerous to her—or her job and the ranch that depends on her paycheck.

When stopping to help a stranded motorist puts Jesse on the radar of the local deputy, for once, he doesn’t complain. After all, Farah’s just as cute as he remembers. Too bad she’s also an icy professional who doubts he’s a changed man. He’s willing to give her up as a lost cause and make his way out of town…until an accident strands him at the ranch next door.

Crossing paths on duty is one thing, but seeing how good Jesse is with his hands threatens everything she’s ever worked for. But Farah’s not the only one taking a risk, and he won’t torch his future again, even if it means leaving her in his rearview mirror for good.

Excerpt

He hadn’t moved, but to get inside far enough to shut the door, she ended up far too close to him.

Looking up, she jumped on the real subject she’d meant to talk to him about. “When you call Josie, can you just leave it at lending Caleb a hand and not bring up our problems?”

One blink. Two blinks. His expression remained blank. “That might require a little more explanation before I lie to my sister.”

“I didn’t ask you to lie. We don’t know for sure someone destroyed my fence or stole Caleb’s cattle.” The look he gave her was full of do you think I’m stupid? He was the felon Caleb had asked to watch over things, after all. “Look, our land borders…another family’s with a large ranch. It’s no secret we’re struggling but determined to hold on to what belongs to us.”

He crossed his arms, bringing her attention to the width of his chest. The orange jumpsuit hadn’t done him justice, but this T-shirt was excellent. “And if you two fail and have to sell, this unnamed family,” he gave her a pointed look, “can snatch it up for rock-bottom prices and expand.”

Exactly. And she hadn’t said Clinton was the greedy one. Jesse might revert to his old ways, thinking to right a wrong. She didn’t want him in trouble again, and certainly not because of Clinton. Her ex had to be the reason she’d become so protective of Jesse. She wouldn’t hate herself if Jesse got himself into trouble. But she couldn’t have Jesse face the consequences of her personal conflicts.

She lifted a shoulder. “It’s obvious when shit happens while I’m working. My dad can’t be everywhere.” He was in town for Mom’s therapy a lot and that was also predictable. The clinic wanted regular appointments not made at random times and what could Dad say? But I’m afraid I’m being watched and I’ll come home to missing cows. “Caleb’s shifts don’t change. You hanging around just might be enough to scare the vandals off.”

His eye twitched at the word vandal. Because he was one. But the more she was around him, the easier it was to forget his unlawful past.

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About Marie Johnston

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Marie Johnston is an award-winning writer of paranormal and contemporary romance, and a RITA® Finalist. Marie decided to pursue her passion for writing and traded in her lab coat for a laptop to write her first book ever, Fever Claim. She lives in the upper Midwest with her husband, four kids, and two kittens. Other than hanging out with her family, Marie enjoys reading, movie dates with her hubby, getting outside on sunny days, and the all too rare - girls' night out.

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