Excerpt: White Collar Rancher by Marie Johnston

What It’s About:

Justin used to rule the boardroom. Now he rules his own little plot of land, or he could if he weren’t a clueless single dad with a newborn. Desperate for help, he calls out an SOS to an old friend—the doctor who delivered his son. But the longer she’s around, the harder it is to ignore that a stunning intellect isn’t her only appeal.

It was supposed to be just two friends getting through a baby’s colic together. Only Priya has harbored way more than friendly feelings for Justin for years, and she’s struggling to keep her thoughts platonic around the scruffy, rugged rancher. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only friendly port in a frigid small town that was supposed to welcome her back with open arms.

Justin’s sworn off women and refuses to change for anyone. Priya’s fighting to save her job and has no time to soothe male egos. So a friends-with-benefits arrangement seems like the perfect solution…except no one warned them one of the “benefits” could be a broken heart.

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A hoard of seasoning bottles was clustered next to the crockpot. He succumbed to watching as she added a dash or two here and sprinkled some there. Then she grabbed a spoon and tasted the broth. As her red lips closed around the utensil, he stared, his heart doing a slow slam against his ribs.

She was clinical about the whole process. Efficient. Critical. And he was as enthralled as if she were in a lacy negligee, dancing around and swiveling her hips.

Heat engulfed him with that image. Swamped him until his heart pounded. They were just friends.

Just friends.

Just. Friends.

“Can you save it, Doc?” He had to break the silence—and the power one little thought had over him.

“This, I can save.” Another cryptic comment. It wasn’t in what she said, but what she didn’t say. Something was going on in her life and he had a no-access pass.

That bothered him.

After Maisy, she’d been as no-nonsense as she was about the roast. She saw what needed to be done and did it. But with each passing day, she was dealing with something she couldn’t fix. A professional like her? It must be eating at her.

He would know. He used to be the same way.

Until he’d moved home. He’d rather deal with the changing sheep market and finicky Mother Nature than play people games in the boardroom—and in the bedroom.

She started digging in his cupboards. “I’ll just add some noodles, if you don’t mind. It won’t take long.”

“Of course I don’t mind.” She ate what he made, and he rounded out his meals better. For her. “I’ll go lay him down.”

She arched a brow. “Is he going to stay asleep after being hugged against you?”

“Probably not. But as much as this baby-wearing thing is growing on me, I can’t afford to have a parasite stuck to me day and night.”

Her lips quirked. She put the lid back on the crockpot and turned it to high. “Parasite?”

“Like one of those fish that stay suctioned to the sides of fish tanks.”

She laughed, throwing her head back, and he couldn’t look away from her graceful neck. What would it be like to nuzzle her skin? To hear her breathy sighs, feel the way it’d make her writhe?

Just friends.



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About the Author: Marie Johnston writes award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance and is a RITA® Finalist. Before she was a writer, she was a microbiologist. Depending on the situation, she can be oddly unconcerned about germs or weirdly phobic. She’s also a licensed medical technician and has worked as a public health microbiologist and as a lab tech in hospital and clinic labs. Marie’s been a volunteer EMT, a college instructor, a security guard, a phlebotomist, a hotel clerk, and a coffee pourer in a bingo hall. All fodder for a writer! She has four kids and just as many cats.

Connect with Marie:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram



Promotional materials courtesy of the author and Inkslinger PR







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