When bounty hunter Sam McCallister sees Eden Pace playing poker for the first time, he loses all interest in the cards; instead, the thought of playing stud with the lady gambler stirs his cock to life. Eden’s the prettiest woman and the best card sharp Sam’s ever met. Good thing he has a few cards up his sleeve.
Eden’s doing her own outlaw hunting. She’s on the trail of her husband’s killer and Sam’s in her way. To get free of this hardheaded, softhearted, gorgeous man, Eden tries strip poker and naked truth-or-dare, but when Sam ups the stakes, carnal submission and desire are unleashed.
When Sam discovers Eden’s wanted for murder, he figures his bed is the safest place for her. But taking Eden prisoner isn’t as easy as Sam expects. He’s in a high-stakes poker game with lust on the table and his heart on the line, because one taste of Eden just isn’t enough.
Sam watched Eden kneel beside the shimmering bubbles as she tested the water—expecting, he was sure, to find it frigid. Instead, he knew heat pulsed under her touch, water as warm as the bath she’d taken in Wichita Falls.
“Are we in for the night?” she asked without taking her eyes off the pool.
“Yep.” His one-word answer seemed to be enough this time.
“What do you plan to do with me?” Eden asked over her shoulder as she disrobed. Sam could see that she didn’t intend to play shy around him. That was good, because if she was waiting for him to look away, she’d be an old woman when she gave up.
“Plenty.” He worked the one word through lips almost as stiff as his cock. She was a sight to see and she knew it, standing there flaunting her wares at him.
“All right,” she huffed. Her words were filled with irritation as she stepped out of dress and chemise in one fluid motion. “Is that what this is about?” She sounded genuinely surprised when she asked, “You’re not interested in the bounty?”
Eden turned to face him as she gathered her long mane of hair, re-pinning it on top of her head. She stood naked on the rim of the rock pool, surrounded by torchlight.
Jesus, the woman's trying to kill me. Savoring the creamy skin covering her slender curves, he followed the lift of her arm and watched her rounded breast tilt upward. Licking lips suddenly gone dry, Sam let his eyes center on the patch of dark curls at the V of her thighs. He admitted gruffly, “You were on the top of my wanted list as soon as I set eyes on you. Handbill or not, I’d have claimed you.”
Eden walked around the hot spring and followed the ancient steps down into the pool. Her soft moan of pleasure echoed in the cave. “Ohhh, this is wonderful.”
His voice sounded pretty rough to his own ears when he called over to her, “You plannin’ on fuckin’ me senseless again so you can escape?”
Her laughter bounced off the walls, followed by her answer. “Yes.”
If there was one thing Sam enjoyed more than the chase, it was the challenge of keeping the prey once caught. “Give me a minute to get us settled for the night, pretty lady. Then you can commence your getaway attempt.”
Bent on revenge for the death of her husband, Eden travels across post civil war Texas, amassing money by gambling and hoping to draw out the man who destroyed her life. Bounty hunter Sam takes on her troubles, against her wishes and slowly coaxes her back to a reality that includes him and helps her deal with her sadness and vengeful attitude.
Sam follows Eden from gambling hall to gambling hall, keeping her safe and wearing down her resistance to his lovemaking. She responds carnally to him, but won't allow herself to love him. They inflame each other's passions but where can a relationship between an embittered widow and a drifting bounty hunter go? The explosions of their sexual encounters are the stuff of dreams.
I liked all the characters here—the strange amalgam of people that are Sam's family, all touched by the horrors of war, Indian kidnappings and a grandfather's brutality. The pioneers of this country were a hardy lot, all making the best they could in a harsh and threatening land.
Sam is infinitely more patient than I would have thought, given his brutal upbringing and even more brutal profession. This was brought home quite graphically when Eden accused him of using the same knife he had killed with, to prepare a meal. He treats her like a skittish horse he is trying to gentle. And little by little, she responds to his gentling, patience and protection from danger.
The premise of Five Card Stud seems like a good plot for an episode of Lonesome Dove. All the elements of an old west adventure are here and well-presented at all levels.
Manic Readers receives books from authors, publishers, and publicists which are given to
reviewers in exchange for their honest opinion. Each review represents the opinion of the reviewer
which may or may not have been influenced by receiving the book at no cost.