Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68
I've missed the mighty mountain men of Colorado and so stoked to be back in Carnal to visit with some of my all-time favorite Alpha-hunks. Mostly, I couldn't wait to unravel the enigmatic character that has haunted me for so long… Deke Hightower.
Since introduced in Sweet Dreams, I was fascinated by his imposing presence and wanted to dig deep into his soul. I discovered he’s a man whose sparse words spoke volumes. It took a gypsy chick, Justice Lonesome, to peel away the layers and bring his character to life. Their journey consumed me ~ from a chance encounter to a friendship turned undeniable love ~ I was happily absorbed in Jussy and Deke's world.
I loved how fate brought this couple together...twice. First time in Wyoming, while Justice was hanging out in a biker bar contemplating her unfulfilled life, longing for simplicity. Her world changed after spending a few moments with the gorgeous guy standing by a chain link fence. The stranger named Deke connected with her ‘poet's soul'. With a promise to meet again broken, Deke became an impassioned memory, which inspired Justice to compose and record a song that defined her life altering experience. It was Deke's song. And it was a hit.
Years later, after the recent passing of her father, Jussy decided to build a home in Carnal. Lo and behold, her contractor is none other than Deke, the man who rocked her world and stood her up. Thing is, he didn't recognize her at first. YIKES!! Poor Justice, I sympathized with all the hurt she felt. Top it off, he acted downright rude. Jussy being a cool chick took all his gruffness in stride and was determined to become his friend. It took time, but Deke finally remembered Jus and explained the heart breaking reason why he never showed.
Jussy, Deke's boho gypsy princess and famous singer-songwriter, was the most down to earth heroine. I liked the strength, sincerity and compassion her character embodied. I dug how deeply she connected with everyone who touched her life, bringing out their best, especially those most guarded. She was a woman of means, who had the world at her fingertips, but took nothing for granted ~ especially Deke’s affections. But what I absolutely adored was the way she immediately understood Deke, recognized his needs, and loved him unconditionally.
After reading Bounty, I was moved to write a ballad professing all of Deke's hotness. Broody, rugged, and a beast in bed...I was totally into his intense sexiness. Deke was a headstrong man who lived a simple life. Reserved and set in his ways, it took time for me to warm up to his character. But when I saw all the pain he shouldered, I got where this “travelin’ man” was coming from. Hurt from his past gave him good reason to deny his desire for Justice. Regardless, I wanted him to let go of his hang-ups to see the real woman behind all the money and fame.
One terrifying night for Justice caused Deke to put his feelings into perspective, and everything between them shifted. He could no longer fight the attraction, Jus meant the world to him. Determined to give her peace, love, comfort… anything his gypsy princess needed. That’s the moment I saw the fiercely protective and loving side of Deke come to life, and he won me over. When he beautifully opened up his heart, and gave all of himself to Jussy, I was a goner… and fell deeply in love with the caring, overly affectionate man he became.
Both free-spirited wanderlusts, they were perfect together. I loved that their journey was a slow burn filled with discovery, love, laughter and passion. Gah! Ashley is a master when it comes to writing sizzling sex scenes that makes me all tingly inside. One of the most sensual moments, and there were several, was when Jus finally confessed the meaning behind her song ~ how meeting Deke long ago affected her. His reaction was phenomenal.
Once again, I was spoiled with the bounty KA brings to all her tales - dynamic characters, scorching passion, a very detailed and emotional plot - the gifts were endless. It can be enjoyed as a standalone, but I recommend experiencing all of these hot romances. I loved that this read was reminiscent of Ashley's earlier works within the series, where secondary characters were more intimately involved in the story line. Practically all of the Colorado Series gang, and some from different series, came into play. Overjoyed that Krystal, who I adore, had a notable presence in the story. Jussy brought out a different side of Krys and she absolutely shined! There were some moments of angst, and during one particular heart palpitating scene, I was scared out of my mind! Seriously, my heart was in my mouth, tears filling my eyes! I would have liked a longer epilogue, seeing more into Jus and Deke’s future ~ I'm a very greedy reader when it comes to KA’s tales, never wanting to let go of her characters or their stories. Nevertheless, the ending was heartwarming as well as bittersweet. Bounty was an exceptionally written, powerful story of destined love that touched my heart.
A final note ~ Bounty included an incredible playlist of songs that enhanced this couple’s journey. (Jus crooning “Time in a Bottle” brought me to tears). But, it was this tune that was playing in the background of my mind, as I was fully absorbed within Deke and Justice's world...
“Lightning strikes...Maybe once...Maybe twice”.
And it did, for the Gypsy that was Justice Lonesome.
ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review