Excerpt Friday – The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch

Welcome to Excerpt Friday!  Each Friday we’ll be featuring excerpts from recent releases by our very own Fillies.  So grab a cup of coffee and read on.  And if you find you’re hooked by what you read (and we know you will be!) just click on the book cover to purchase the entire book.



Hi from Charlene

Here’s just a bitty sample from my book  The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch.  It’s war hero, Justin’s turn this time from The Slades of Sunset Ranch.  A cowboy, a secretive heroine and one sweet baby all rolled up into one, I hope you enjoy this snippet.



Secret HeirJustin Slade was home. It’d been three days now.

His Ford F-150 truck barreled down the highway with enough horsepower to match the equine force of Sunset Ranch’s best thoroughbreds, radio blasting Luke Bryan’s latest country hit. It was beat-tapping music. At any other time, Justin would be pounding the dashboard in sync with the rhythm.

But today, he wasn’t enjoying the music, the blue Nevada sky or the morning weather, which was clear and crisp enough to remind him winter was on the distant horizon. His gut churned in half a dozen ways as he faced what he was about to do. The marine in him hadn’t a doubt he was doing the right thing. He had to come clean for Matilda Applegate’s sake and for…Brett.

He punched the off button on the radio and Luke’s voice disappeared.

Appropriate silence filled the air.

A cold shiver of dread hung around him like an invisible cloak, refusing to be shrugged off with upbeat music or good weather. Brett Applegate was dead. It was Justin’s fault, and Brett’s aunt, his only living relative, needed to know the truth.

He pressed his foot to the pedal and glanced around the outskirts of Silver Springs as a sultry female voice on his GPS gave him the coordinates. Gravel spit under his tires.

The deserted road narrowed and a knot in the pit of his stomach begged for this to be over. He’d been on dangerous missions in Afghanistan that hadn’t caused him this much anxiety. Guilt and apprehension sucked as constant companions.

Justin popped two antacids into his mouth. He’d been living on the darn things lately.

“In fifty feet, turn right,” the GPS voice instructed.

Justin made the turn and drove his truck down a dusty dirt path that wound its way toward a one-story ranch house matured by frigid winters, hotter-than-hell summers and a string of bad months in between. Seeing Brett’s home in such a state of neglect was a sharp shot of reality, testament to the economic misery the Applegates had suffered over the years. Brett had always said his uncle Ralph would’ve gotten heartsick seeing what had happened to his once-proud home.

As the truck ambled closer, Justin caught a glimpse of a disabled car near the house, the back tire flatter than a flapjack, and a woman bending over, her head deep in the bowels of the trunk. Her jewel-pocketed derriere pointed skyward, drawing his immediate gaze. Hell, it was a beacon for any man in his right mind to stop and help out.

Justin pressed on the brake, keeping his eyes trained on a sight he hadn’t seen in a long time: a gorgeous, perfectly shaped female ass. It was enough to get his juices flowing. Heck, after nine years in the marines, it didn’t take much. But hot damn, the view was fine.

He swallowed and climbed down from the cab of his truck. His boots ate gravel as he neared the back of her car. The woman’s silky blouse climbed her waist while she continued to search the trunk, and his eyes locked on to five inches of soft-as-butter, creamy skin.

“Sweet heaven, what else is going to go wrong?” Her voice flowed over him like smooth bourbon. He grabbed a peek of that exposed skin again.

Man, oh, man.

He cleared his throat. Darn his mama for teaching him gentlemanly manners. Forcing his gaze away from her beautiful bottom, he focused on her curly, platinum-blond hair.

“Excuse me, miss. Can I lend a hand?” She jerked up and hit her head on the inside of the trunk. “Ow.”

She scowled as her hand went to her head, rubbing away the pain. “Oh, I didn’t see you—”

Their gazes locked. Her hand froze in her shoulder-length platinum locks. Her brows pulled tight and her lips rounded. “Oh.”

She was a stunner.

A twinge of recollection jarred him out of his lusty thoughts.

He remembered those deep jade eyes, that pouty mouth and Marilyn Monroe hair only a few women could pull off. He would’ve bet his last dollar he’d never see her again. And now, here she was…in the flesh.

On Matilda Applegate’s homestead, no less.

He didn’t much believe in coincidences. And this one was too big to ignore. His gut churned again, begging for another antacid.

Maybe he was wrong. It had been over a year and a half ago. Maybe she only looked like the woman he’d met in New York City that one weekend.

Justin removed his Stetson and her eyes flickered at the gesture.

“Sorry if I startled you, miss.”

Seconds ticked by as she took note of his shiny black boots, new jeans, silver belt buckle and tan shirt opened at the collar. She studied his face and gazed deeply into his eyes. With her hand in her hair, her fingers wove through the silver-blond strands as if she was fashioning some new upswept hairdo. With her arm raised and bent at the elbow, she tilted her head to one side and gave him thoughtful consideration. The move exposed the delicate softness of her throat. A breathless sigh escaped from her mouth.

That bit of body language was unique to the woman he’d known. Sexy. Not forced. Genuine. A jolt hit him smack between the eyes.

It had to be her. He thought back to that night at the Golden Palace Bar.

“I don’t date soldiers,” she’d said as he stood by her table.

He’d taken a seat and smiled anyway. “But you’ll make an exception for me.”

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When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.

7 thoughts on “Excerpt Friday – The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch”

  1. WOW! Oh Charlene, this excerpt is so good! I’ve got to my little behind over to Amazon and get this on my Kindle. What a sexy guy and the Marilyn Monroe-type woman….I can feel the heat now! Bet they burn all the words off the pages. A scorcher for sure.

    Wishing you tons of success!

  2. (Sigh). The word “Marine” when used in reference to the USMC and its members, is always capitalized.


    Light a fire under your copy-editor. Thank you.

    S. E. Simmons, USMC (retired).

  3. Thanks for the excerpt. Good as usual. THE SECRET HEIR OF SUNSET RANCH sounds like you have given us another good read. I always enjoy your books.
    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season will be enjoyable.I hope the book is doing well.

  4. Hi Linda and Patricia! Thanks for the well wishes and kind words! I am in holiday mode now. We had rain finally and the air is cooler, not cold, but it feels like “holiday” weather!

  5. Hi Shay — I know. I always capitalize Marine and editors always change it. I guess it’s something I should have questioned more when they did it. No one values our military more than I do…I’m feeling badly about it now. It never looked or felt “right” to me.

  6. Maybe if you told them that it makes the author look as though she doesn’t know what she’s writing about? There’s nothing that will make a Marine go high and to the right faster than calling him/her a marine.

    Unless of course it’s asking them if they’re in the Air Force.

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