9780380791026

Simply Love

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780380791026

  • ISBN10:

    0380791021

  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2018-12-07
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Summary

Even the hardest heart can be softened by love ... Cassandra Zerek is a true innocent in a wild and dangerous place -- but her indomitable spirit and gentle soul make her stronger than anyone suspects. The owner of a Colorado mining empire, Luke Taggart's wealth and position can buy him anything, yet he has grown bored with a life of saloons, gambling, and loose women. Nothing soothes his restless inner yearning -- until he spies Cassandra, as fresh and pure as a spring morning, and vows he will possess her. The radiant, charmingly naive young beauty seems blind to the depth of Luke's desire or the lengths he is willing to go to seduce her. But the lady is wise, with an unwavering faith in the magical powers of love. And she's determined to awaken the good man hiding in Luke's tormented heart, for only one precious gift will truly win her: his deep, passionate, and unsullied love.

Excerpts

Simply Love

Chapter One

It was the devil's own afternoon. Black clouds gathered over the teeth-sharp peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and an angry wind from the north drove gusts against the buildings. Locked into his own thoughts, Luke Taggart stood by the window in the Golden Slipper's best upstairs room and watched the sun drift behind a patch of thunderous gray. Heralding the approach of winter, September was coming in with a vengeance. Unless he missed his guess, there would be one hell of a rainstorm before nightfall.

The warm glow of the gaslights placed strategically around the red and gold bedchamber did little to offset the gloom. Oblivious to the opulence he'd once admired, he listened with half an ear to the sibilant hiss of the gas jets, his heart striking two muted beats to every click of the pendulum.

From beyond the windowpane he heard a hoarse shout, followed by a stream of curses. Another barroom brawl in the offing? he wondered without much interest. Leaning a hip against the sill, he gazed morosely through the glass at the cobblestone sidewalks two stories below him. Townsfolk scurried past the Golden Slipper to patronize shops farther up the way. As the ladies walked by the gambling house, they stepped clear off the curb and into the street, their noses lifted in disdain, their fancy skirts drawn close around their ankles, as if the very air might be contaminated.

Anger burned low in Luke's gut like a smoldering coal buried under a thick layer of ash, the fire inside him always

It was the devil's own afternoon. Black clouds gathered over the teeth-sharp peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and an angry wind from the north drove gusts against the buildings. Locked into his own thoughts, Luke Taggart stood by the window in the Golden Slipper's best upstairs room and watched the sun drift behind a patch of thunderous gray. Heralding the approach of winter, September was coming in with a vengeance. Unless he missed his guess, there would be one hell of a rainstorm before nightfall.

The warm glow of the gaslights placed strategically around the red and gold bedchamber did little to offset the gloom. Oblivious to the opulence he'd once admired, he listened with half an ear to the sibilant hiss of the gas jets, his heart striking two muted beats to every click of the pendulum.

From beyond the windowpane he heard a hoarse shout, followed by a stream of curses. Another barroom brawl in the offing? he wondered without much interest. Leaning a hip against the sill, he gazed morosely through the glass at the cobblestone sidewalks two stories below him. Townsfolk scurried past the Golden Slipper to patronize shops farther up the way. As the ladies walked by the gambling house, they stepped clear off the curb and into the street, their noses lifted in disdain, their fancy skirts drawn close around their ankles, as if the very air might be contaminated.

Anger burned low in Luke's gut like a smoldering coal buried under a thick layer of ash, the fire inside him always there but carefully banked. Snobbish bitches. Let them risk life and limb if that pleased their condescending sense of morality. It was no skin off his nose if one of them got run over by a passing conveyance.

Running a hand inside his unbuttoned shirt, Luke rubbed his chest, his fingertips tracing the hard bulges of muscle under his sweat-moistened skin. God, he felt fired, the kind of tiredness that ran bone-deep and far beyond the physical.

"Luke, baby. Come back to bed."

Gloria's purring demand raked down his spine like a fingernail over a blackboard. In spite of its pretension to elegance, the room carried the subtle odor of fish that always seemed to accompany sex. As was his habit after he'd finished with a woman, he'd scrubbed all trace of her from his person, but the faint smell that lingered in the air and clung to the satin sheets still made him feel unclean.

Christ, what in the hell was wrong with him these days? He should be snuggled into the soft feather mattress of the fancy bed behind him instead of scowling out the window like a restless prisoner. Gloria was a gorgeous woman, with a mane of silky blond hair, skin like cream, and pink-tipped breasts the size of melons. She was also willing to do almost anything for a price, and Luke had an endless store of money to accommodate her. Six months ago, he would have kept her busy until well after midnight. Then, if he'd gotten bored, he might have called in another girl to spice things up. There was nothing like two women in one bed to whet a man's sexual appetite.

Feeling a mild interest stirring, he toyed with the idea of doing just that. Two women-hell, maybe even three. With a bottle of expensive scotch to numb his senses, he could sink back on the downy mattress and give himself up to their ministrations. He was rich, for God's sake. Anything he wanted was his for the asking. All he had to do was snap his fingers.

He'd done it plenty of times before. He could do it again.

So, why didn't he?

That was the question that had lured him from the bed to the window, the question that had his belly knotted and his mind running in dark circles. Not that he was unhappy, exactly. How could he be when he had damned near everything he'd ever wanted? And yet he'd come to realize over the past few weeks that his life reminded him of a glass of ale left out overnight-flat, with all the fizz gone.

Making more money didn't help.

Nor did the women he bedded. Blondes, redheads, brunettes ... each more beautiful than the last. They didn't seem to make a difference. Flat ale was flat ale, and no matter how much salt you added, sometimes it wouldn't come to a head.

Simply Love. Copyright © by Catherine Anderson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Simply Love by Catherine Anderson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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