June Cowboy Calendar Wallpaper

June is all about those Studs in Spurs you know I love! This month’s Desktop Calendar Wallpaper inspiration was my professional bull rider, Aaron Jordan, finally getting his own story in SPURRED (A Studs in Spurs Romance Novel) on preorder now for June 30th. But he doesn’t get his lady love as easily or as quickly as he’d like, because he ‘gets tied up’ along the way…

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PREORDER SPURRED TODAY

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Catch up with all the Studs in Spurs before the new release

Studs in Spurs by Cat Johnson

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April Midnight Cowboys Desktop Wallpaper

It’s been a long wait but MIDNIGHT RIDE, the launch title in my new Midnight Cowboys series with Zebra, releases this month in mass market paperback and eBook! Enjoy this desktop wallpaper, available for free download with or without an April 2015 calendar page, and count down the days with me until release. And feel free to share! #MidnightCowboys

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NEW RELEASE DAY – Like sweet sexy cowboys? Be ready to get THROWN! #excerpt

Thrown Studs in Spurs Cat Johnson

Skeeter Anderson was born to ride bulls. He bypassed college to shoot straight to the top of the elite pro tour, but lately all he can seem to do is hit the dirt. Unwilling to admit his career might be over at twenty-one, Skeeter brainstorms a bull-riding boot camp with his buddies, which will put him closer to a girl who’s caught his eye—a stock contractor’s daughter called Riley.

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EXCERPT (G-RATED)

“And Skeeter Anderson hits the ground with the clock stopped at six-point-nine seconds.”

“Well, JW, I have to think that with the number of times this kid’s gotten bucked off, nine out of his last nine outs, odds are he’s used to the taste of arena dirt by now.”

“Used to it or not, this one’s gonna cost him, Jim. Without a qualified ride in this event, his ranking doesn’t make the cut. Skeeter’s officially off the tour for this series.”

“You’re right there, JW. Skeeter will be headed down to the touring pro division until he can get his points up to rank good enough to qualify for the series again. Let’s hope he works out the kinks in his riding and makes it to the finals in Vegas this year.”

Skeeter squinted through the bars on the faceguard of his helmet to see the clock. Seeing his time didn’t change anything. All the digital red glow of the numbers did was confirm what the announcers had said. The clock had stopped at six-point-nine seconds. Close but not close enough when he needed eight seconds to get a score.

Without a qualified ride during his last nine outs, for the first time in years he didn’t rank in the top forty. Only the best riders got to tour with this particular series. Skeeter was no longer one of them. That truth had echoed off the arena walls for thousands of bull riding fans to hear, thanks to the two announcers and their sound system. He pulled out his mouthguard and resisted the urge to throw it.

Sure, he could still ride for this association, but it would be in another division. In this sport, it was the equivalent of a baseball player who’d played in the majors—hell, in the World Series—being sent back to the minor leagues because he wasn’t good enough to cut it in the major leagues anymore. It sucked.

“Tough break, Skeets.” One of the bullfighters slapped Skeeter on the back while handing him his bull rope.

“Yup.” Skeeter grabbed his dusty rope. “Thanks.”

Behind the chutes, Aaron Jordan was there to meet him the moment he walked through the gate. “Don’t let being sent down to the touring pros get to you. You’ll be back here in a week. Two max.”

Aaron’s words had been encouraging on the surface, but all Skeeter could hear was pity behind them. Besides, it would take longer than a week or two to work his way back to where he’d been. But he didn’t bother arguing. What was the point?

“Yeah.” As Skeeter pulled his helmet off, he didn’t have anything more than that to say. He walked away from his friend and traveling partner, heading for where he’d left his hat before the ride.

A nine buck-off streak was too much for Skeeter to wrap his head around after having ranked among the top riders in the country—heck, in the world. They’d called him a prodigy. Joked he’d be the world champion before he was legal to drink.

They’d all been wrong.

Skeeter never ever thought he’d be in this situation, yet here he was. He needed a few seconds alone, but that wasn’t going to happen here and now while he was surrounded by people and cameras.

“What’s going on, kid?”

He turned toward Mustang Jackson, the rider he looked up to with as much respect as he had for the man who’d trained him all those years ago. Unlike Cooper, Mustang had never won the world championship, but he’d placed in the top ten riders consistently, year after year, and he’d been around for a long time.

“I suck, that’s what’s going on.”

Mustang chewed on his bottom lip and nodded. “After watching how you’re riding lately, yeah, I gotta agree with you on that.”

That was not what he’d expected Mustang, the tour cheerleader on most days, to say. A frown settled on Skeeter’s brow.

The older man laughed. “Don’t look at me like that. You know as well as I do, if you can hang on for six-point-nine seconds—”

“I should be able to hang on for eight.” Skeeter finished the sentiment he knew well. He’d heard other riders say it often enough.

“Yup. So, I’ll ask you again, what’s going on with you?”

He blew out a breath. “I don’t know.”

Mustang tipped his head to one side. “I suggest you take some time and figure it out.”

Not real helpful advice, in Skeeter’s opinion. If even Mustang couldn’t figure out what was wrong, after giving all of them good riding advice for years, then there was no hope for Skeeter’s future in this sport. That truth sat in Skeeter’s chest like a lead weight, making it hard to breathe.

He raised his gaze to meet Mustang’s. “I’ll try.”

“You do that, and in the meantime get back to your basics. Hop on some practice bulls. Hell, get back on a damn bucking barrel.”

“The barrel? You serious?” Skeeter’s eyes popped wide. He hadn’t been on a barrel in years. Not since his lessons with Cooper back in Arkansas.

“I never joke about bull riding.” Mustang’s brows rose high. “Just do it, kid. Trust me.” He knocked back the brim of his cowboy hat and was gone.

Ride a practice barrel like the little kids who weren’t old enough to ride bulls? Skeeter had ridden to a sold-out arena in Las Vegas. He’d competed in front of stands packed with thousands of fans. And now, he’d be reduced to riding a barrel in the backyard.

“You okay?” Aaron’s voice brought Skeeter back from where he’d been wallowing in his misery.

“Nope.” If Skeeter could stand to admit to himself his career could very well be over, at least at this level of competition, he might as well admit how miserable he felt about it to his best friend.

“Yeah, didn’t think so.” His traveling partner let out a breath.

Make that former traveling partner. Aaron would still be following this tour circuit, while Skeeter was going back in the touring pros.

“I’m gonna go get out of this stuff.” Helmet in his hand, Skeeter turned and headed for the back. He could pack away his chaps and his vest in his gear bag. There’d be no championship round for him today.

His path to the riders’ dressing room took him down a hallway lined with life-sized posters of past world champions. Some of these men had long since retired from the sport. These were the men Skeeter had grown up idolizing back when he only dreamed of competing pro. Back when his mom had taken on extra shifts to pay for his equipment and later, when he started to compete, for his entry fees. All while he’d mowed every lawn he could find in walking distance to earn money to help.

Some of the champions pictured were still competing. Skeeter had traveled, joked, eaten and prayed with them for the years he’d been with this tour. He’d ridden alongside champions, competing at their level—until now.

Now, it could all be over. His mom’s money and hard work gone to waste. All of Cooper’s countless hours of coaching—all for nothing.

Hoping none of the guys would be in the dressing room, Skeeter bit his lip and fought against the hot sting of tears, not brought on by sadness but anger. Anger at himself. Who else did he have to blame? He’d somehow let this happen, though he had no idea how. Just like he had no idea how he was going to fix it.

DON’T MISS THE REST OF THE SERIES 

REVIEWS:

In Thrown, Cat Johnson has given her readers an enjoyable new love story while satisfying their need for more on characters from the past. She has also given us an interesting look forward, something I’m very excited about, and most of all she’s stayed true to these characters and what they represent. I am one happy reader who is ready to do a complete series re-read just so I can read this book for a third time!” Slick, Guilty Pleasures 5 stars

“THROWN, a story of a young couple striving against all odds to find love and fulfillment, is heart-warming and a wonderful tale of a young man working towards his life-long passion. THROWN by Cat Johnson is well-written and is guaranteed to keep the reader glued to every page.” ~Fresh Fiction

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All new excerpt from my contemporary cowboy romance novel THROWN

Release Day is one week away! How about an excerpt to hold you over until next Tuesday?

cowboy romance by Cat JohnsonTHROWN (Studs in Spurs, Book 6) by Cat Johnson

Skeeter Anderson was born to ride bulls. He bypassed college to shoot straight to the top of the elite pro tour, but lately all he can seem to do is hit the dirt. Unwilling to admit his career might be over at twenty-one, Skeeter brainstorms a bull-riding boot camp with his buddies, which will put him closer to a girl who’s caught his eye—a stock contractor’s daughter called Riley.

Riley Davis lives and breathes bulls. Since her mother’s death, she’s been her father’s business partner as well as the apple of his eye—until a coronary rips him out of her life. Now, at nineteen, she must find a way to hang onto the family business. When Skeeter drives to Mississippi to lend her a hand, his buddies hot on his heels, Riley has more help than she can shake a stick at, and an attraction to Skeeter that’s heating up by the minute…

EXCERPT from THROWN (Rated G)

Inside her room, he released her hand and moved to the window. He hit the ON button for the air conditioner. It purred to life, much quieter than the unit upstairs. Hopefully the soft, steady drone would lull her to sleep.

He’d have to sneak in a shower after she fell asleep, but for now he could lie with her for a while. Skeeter sat on the edge of the mattress and pulled off his boots as the room began to cool. As the second boot dropped to the floor with a thud, he twisted to see Riley hesitating near the bed. She wasn’t sure what he wanted.

What he wanted and what he was going to do were two very different things. He swung his legs onto the bed on top of the covers and leaned back against the headboard.

Reaching out, he flipped back just the corner of the sheets on her side of the bed. “Come on. Get in and get comfortable.”

She did as he’d said, settling in against the pillow beneath his arm. She felt good there, nestled against him. A man could get used to having a soft warm body pressed against his all night, every night.

He glanced down to make sure she was comfortable and saw the smile on her lips. “What?”

She laughed. “I was just thinking if the preacher showed up now his head would probably explode. Between Mustang and Sage in the trailer, and Slade and Jenna in the barn. You and I here…”

“Yeah, I know. Not exactly the wholesome picture I painted for him.” Skeeter didn’t want Riley getting the wrong impression about the guys or him. “You know, they really are a couple of good guys.”

“I know.”

“Don’t say anything to anyone yet, but I think Slade might be fixin’ to ask Jenna to marry him.”

“Really?” She turned her head on the pillow to look up at him. “How do you know?”

“He kind of hinted at it the other day.”

“Wow. That’s nice. You think she’ll say yes?”

“Don’t know. She loves him, anybody can see that, but she’s a city girl with a home in New York. He’s a bull rider, on the road all the time, and his family is in Texas. Differences like that can cause problems, I suppose. It’s not like they’re from the same world—” Skeeter stopped himself before he finished the thought. From the same world like you and I.

If this were any other time in Riley’s life, Skeeter wouldn’t be sitting in bed with her making small talk until she could fall asleep. Instead, he’d be exploring every inch of her, getting to know her in so many ways.

That time would come. God, he hoped it would. He hadn’t considered trying to have a serious girlfriend since he’d started traveling with the pro circuit. It had seemed impossible. Riley made him want to have one. To have her. She made it seem possible. They did live in the same world. It was very possible.

His pulse sped a bit thinking of lying down with Riley every night, just like this. Like this, but different because if they were together as a couple, they wouldn’t be talking right now. It was nearly impossible, but he yanked his mind off thoughts of making love to Riley. Of what the first time together would be like.

Riley couldn’t know about his internal conflict as she continued to talk. “Yeah, I guess they are different. I still hope she says yes.”

He smiled at her optimism. “Careful. Your romantic side is showing.”

She lifted one shoulder. “That’s okay. It’s only you here. I’ll play the tough stock contractor with the heart of steel tomorrow.”

He gave her shoulder a squeeze. The fact she felt she could show him a part of herself she couldn’t show others warmed him inside. “Close your eyes. The rest of the guys will be here tomorrow, and believe me, you’re gonna need all your energy to deal with them.”

“Nah. I know you’ll deal with them for me.” Her voice sounded dreamy as she sank heavier against him, but all Skeeter could think about was how much trust and faith she’d already placed in him. He’d do whatever it took to live up to her expectations. There was no way he was going to let her down.

“Skeeter?” She surprised him by speaking. She’d been silent for long enough after her pronouncement of her faith in him that he’d thought she might have drifted off.

“Yeah?”

“I liked our kiss.”

Skeeter smiled. “I liked it too.”

He felt her relax against him again. Her breathing slowed until it became a steady, deep rhythm. All the while, he tensed beside her. He’d never wanted a woman this much.

Damn. Sleep wouldn’t come easy for him tonight. Not with Riley on his mind. Definitely not with her pressed against him, waking parts of his body he wished would go back to sleep, at least for now.

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AND don’t miss the rest of the Studs in Spurs Series

Do you love cowboys? Then check out my Oklahoma Nights series!

One Night with a Cowboy

Two Times as Hot

Three Weeks with a Bull Rider

REVIEWS:

“THROWN, a story of a young couple striving against all odds to find love and fulfillment, is heart-warming and a wonderful tale of a young man working towards his life-long passion. THROWN by Cat Johnson is well-written and is guaranteed to keep the reader glued to every page.” ~Fresh Fiction

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In defense of Jace EXCERPT #2 Three Weeks with a Bull Rider…

THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER CAT JOHNSONIt’s interesting to sit back as an author and watch readers react to your characters. I’m finding that particularly so with Jace from the Oklahoma Nights series. He’s not perfect. I know. I wrote him that way. There are reasons for his flaws and for his behavior, but you, the readers don’t get to see all that until his book, Three Weeks with a Bull Rider. Some readers of Book 2 complained about Jace as a character. What I would hope is that readers realize that if I can make him bother you in Book 2, I have the skill to turn both your opinion and his character around in Book 3.

In real life no one should judge another person until they’ve walked a mile in their shoes because what we see of each other is only the tip of the iceberg of a complete world that makes up each of us. More than that, not one of us is perfect. George RR Martin, author of Game of Thrones, says his favorite characters to write are the ‘gray’ characters because they are the most true to life, and I think, more interesting. I want to throttle perfect characters. They are cardboard, two-dimensional beings. Real people make mistakes. Real people are capable of great deeds, and even greater mistakes and stupidity.

Jace, on the surface, is a fickle womanizer, a player and a fool. Dig deeper and you’ll find a man who’s tortured, Be Kindwrestling with a past he can’t close the door on, as much as he tries to move forward.

Here’s a never before seen excerpt from Three Weeks with a Bull Rider. It’s a peek into a dark side of Jace’s life, his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. They dated for 7 years and even now, a year after their break-up, she’s still a drug he can’t resist. But just like an illicit drug, she’s toxic to him and he knows it. In this scene he’s given his best friend’s sister a ride home from a rodeo because her car broke down. READ THAT EXCERPT HERE But his ex-girlfriend, who likes to keep tabs on him even though they are broken up, is angry at him for being in the truck with another woman…

EXCERPT

Jace drove to the next block, and then pulled to the side. Letting the truck idle, he picked up his cell phone and dialed Jacqueline. He was tired. Bone deep exhaustion began in his heart and had nothing to do with the competition tonight.

Jacqueline answered on the second ring. “It’s after eleven o’clock.”

“I told you I’d call when I got to Stillwater so I’m calling.”

“It doesn’t take that long to drive from Shawnee. What did you do? Pull over and fuck her?”

“Yeah, Jacqueline. I fucked her nine ways ’til Sunday, right here in the truck. Then I dumped her off with her brother—my best friend—and told him what a great lay she was.” Jace’s heart pounded as hard when he fought with Jacqueline as it did when his hand was strapped to the back of a ton of bucking bull. That kind of stress couldn’t be healthy.

“Then why did fifty miles take you over an hour? I know how fast you like to drive.”

“It’s closer to sixty miles and I was towing her car behind the truck. I had to drive slow. Then I had to take the time to unhitch it when I got to Tuck’s place.” Jace gripped the phone tight and tried to maintain calm.

Maybe she’d believe he was telling the truth. Maybe not. That was always up in the air when it came to Jacqueline. He heard the sniffle and the shaky intake of breath.

“There’s nothing to cry over.” He was safe, back in Stillwater and alone. What the hell more could he offer her? Still, the tears always did him in. It seemed more so now that they were broken up. “Hey, you know what else? I came in second. And even better, I didn’t get hurt.”

Jacqueline let out a snort. “Too bad.”

Jace smiled at that. She’d stopped with the accusations about other women and resorted to insulting him. He knew they were on the upward slope of the fight. “This should make you happy. A young kid riding injured beat me out of first.”

“That’s because you’re old.”

“Pfft. Those young guys don’t know shit. You know that. Now me, I’m old enough to know where everything is and how to use it.” Jace’s voice dipped down, low and suggestive.

“Do you have to work early in the morning?” Jacqueline’s tone had softened.

“No.” He never scheduled jobs for the morning after he rode. There were times he needed the recovery time, or a visit to the hospital. Either way, he didn’t want to leave a customer expecting him and then not show up.

“Can you come over?”

His cock heard the invitation in her voice and immediately rose to the occasion. The damn thing was like his parents’ dog when he was growing up. Buster could be at the other end of the house, hear the can opener and come running, thinking it was time to eat. Like a reflex reaction, Jace’s dick heard Jacqueline’s voice and figured it was time for some lovin’. Truth be told, he hadn’t taken it out for a spin since the last time he’d been with her.

He drew in a shaky breath. “All right. I’ll be there in five minutes.”

Jace had taken his time on the drive from Shawnee to Stillwater, but he didn’t on the way over to Jacqueline’s apartment. He risked a ticket and sped down the dark, deserted streets as the clock on the dash told him it was getting closer to midnight. He wouldn’t stay the night. It would be too painful. How could he hold Jacqueline all night, wake up next to her in the morning in the home they used to share, and then get up and leave to go back to his empty apartment?

This was self-destructive behavior, and yet he was pulling his truck into her driveway, throwing it in park, and heading for the door . . . and her bed. They needed to talk. He needed to stop this. She needed to stop inviting him over. They both had to get on with their lives.

But not tonight. He’d come over tomorrow in the light of day when he wasn’t so tired and needy. They’d talk like adults and agree to be friends.

Jace felt satisfied with his plan as she opened the front door. He was good with it right up until she grabbed his shirt and pulled him inside and her mouth crashed into his. Then all rational thought was lost. He thrust his hands beneath the silky fall of platinum blond waves that hung nearly to her ass. She’d been the local rodeo queen the year he’d met her, and he had no doubt she’d still be able to take the title all these years later.

Yanking her head back, Jace took possession of her mouth. Without breaking the kiss, he backed her inside, kicking the door closed behind him.

Jacqueline wiggled both hands between their bodies. Blindly, she unhooked the buckle on his belt. After seven years of being together and a year of having sex while broken up, it was no surprise she could maneuver his belt as well as he could. She went to work on the fly of his jeans as he anticipated what would be next—her hands on him. Them on the bed. Him inside her.

He tugged the bottom of the tank top out of her pajama bottoms. Sliding his hands beneath the elastic waistband, he felt the bare skin of her ass. He loved how she slept commando. No underwear. Nothing beneath those PJs but his warm, smooth woman . . . except that she wasn’t his. Not anymore.

But for tonight—for the next hour or two—she’d be his.

Jace hoisted her up and she wrapped her legs around his back as he carried her to the bedroom. As he cleared the doorway of the room so familiar to him, he noticed she’d gotten a new lamp and painted the walls. The changes were physical reminders, like a fist to the gut, that they weren’t together. He tossed her onto the bed where she landed with a bounce on the mattress. He followed her down and knew with certainty they shouldn’t be doing this.

Yanking his T-shirt off over his head, Jace tossed it to the floor, realizing it wouldn’t remain there long. He’d put it on after they were done and drive home. In the morning, he’d wake up alone in his own bed. Tomorrow, he’d go back to wondering when the next phone call or text would come from her. When she’d ask him to come over again. And he’d do it, knowing it would hurt like hell afterward.

He didn’t want to live like that anymore.

The knowledge tickled the back of his mind, but the words never made it out of his mouth. Maybe because his mouth was too busy biting her neck, marking her. She raked her nails down his back, likely leaving marks of her own.

Their sex always had been intense. Rough. Passionate. Almost violent, just like their relationship. The worse the fight, the harder the makeup sex. Today’s argument had been nothing compared to their usual, but Jace was too needy, too deprived for too frigging long to not take her hard and fast.

Two fingers thrust inside her told him she was wet and ready. The damn woman always had gotten off from arguing with him. Jacqueline threw her head back, eyes slammed shut from the feel of his invasion. He could bring her to orgasm fast enough. Just a thumb or his mouth on her would do it. He knew her so well, it would take no effort at all, but he was mad and he needed to be inside her. Needed to pound away the emotions.

Jace reached for the drawer next to the bed.

“There aren’t any more in there. You used the only one left last time you were here.”

There’d been plenty of times he had gone without protection with Jacqueline throughout the years, but not now that they were broken up. Especially not after Tuck’s revelation about Emma and Logan’s unplanned surprise. He sat up. “I have some in my gear bag. Be right back.”

“You what? You carry condoms in your gear bag?” Her eyes opened wide.

Crap. He realized his mistake too late. Jace knew that tone, knew that look. He sighed. “Yes, I have a box of condoms in the truck.”

“Why? Who are you fucking at the arena, Jace? Her? The one I heard on the phone tonight?”

“I’m not having sex with anyone besides you, Jacqueline.”

He should lie and tell her he’d picked up a new box because he’d remembered they’d used the stash he always kept in her drawer, but she’d see the box wasn’t new. Some were missing.

He could tell the truth, that he’d started carrying that box around with him shortly after they’d broken up. Since he hadn’t been with anyone else, he’d never used even one. The strip missing were the ones he’d given to Tuck the night he met Becca. But there was no winning a fight with Jacqueline when she got jealous and irrational.

“You’re a pig! You fuck your little tramp and then come here to my bed?” Jacqueline reinforced her accusation by grabbing the phone next to the bed and throwing it at him.

Only his quick reflexes blocked it from hitting him in the face. It bounced off his forearms as he held them in front of him. She threw a pillow next, which was fine. That couldn’t hurt, but when she reached for the lamp—the new wrought iron lamp he’d noticed when he’d walked in—he took a step back.

Jace couldn’t count how many times he’d walked away from a fight with Jacqueline, scratched and bruised. Being a bull rider, he was always hurt, so no one questioned or even noticed a few more injuries. The physical stuff healed. The hurt inside . . . not so much.

Yanking the plug from the wall, she hoisted the lamp over her head and his anger broke through. Jace had never once laid a hand on her. Even when she’d broken his nose, he’d done nothing but try to protect himself from the blows.

No more. He grabbed her forearm and held tight, hard enough to leave bruises from his fingers. The way he teetered on the edge of losing his temper and his control, if she hit him with that lamp, one or both of them would end up in the hospital.

“No, Jacqueline. No more.”

“Don’t you dare tell me what to—”

“No. No more berating me, or jealousy, or hitting me. No more sex. No more phone calls. Nothing. I have never once cheated on you. Never given you cause to feel or act the way you do. I can’t do this anymore. Don’t call me. Don’t text. Don’t come by my house or my work. I’m sorry, but we can’t even be friends. We sure as hell are no good at it.” He managed to keep his voice calm even as his heart thundered.

The hand that held her shook, but still he held tight. He stayed strong. He couldn’t do this anymore. Live in limbo. Hang on to a small thread of a relationship that he knew deep down was toxic to them both. She’d begun to act crazy months after they’d started dating, but he’d lived in hope she’d get over it, that she’d realize he wanted to be with her and only her. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen.

Jace released his hold on her and remained braced to block a blow, but it didn’t come. She stood before him, wide-eyed and shaking, looking small and vulnerable and making him want to do the one thing he couldn’t let himself—wrap his arms around her and comfort her.

This woman drove him nuts. He’d survived two of the rankest bulls on the circuit tonight, but he’d be lucky to get out of her apartment without a concussion or a few broken bones from a hundred and twenty pound woman wielding a bedside lamp.

In the midst of it all, he felt sorry for her. How crazy was that?

Jacqueline was his drug, his addiction, his kryptonite, and because of that, the only thing to do was go cold turkey. Walk out that front door, drive away, and never look back. No matter how much it hurt both of them.

“Good-bye, Jacqueline.” He turned and headed for the bedroom door. Flinching at the sound of the lamp hitting the floor, he kept walking.

“Jace.” The sound of her footsteps followed him down the hallway. “Please, wait.”

He put one hand on the doorknob and turned it, ignoring her plea and the sob that followed it.

Outside, the cool night air hit his face as he strode for the truck.

“Fine. Never come back!” Her front door slammed behind him, hard and loud, the sound cutting through the quiet of the night. With the truck doors locked and the key in the ignition, he let himself glance at the house, half expecting to see her running at him with the lamp, or the baseball bat he knew all too well was in the hall closet. But the front door didn’t open again. He pulled away from the curb. Only then, did Jace let himself breathe freely again.

The first text came before he’d left her block.

I’m sorry. Please come back.

In the past, this would have been where he’d make a U-turn. Spin the truck around, go back, and bury the anger with makeup sex. Things would be fine until the next fight began. He couldn’t do it anymore. Drawing in a bracing breath, he stayed on course for his own apartment.

The second text followed before he’d driven five more miles.

Where are you? Going over to fuck her? Have fun!

Jace shook his head and swiped a palm over the moisture in his eyes.

This Jacqueline—the angry, irrational one—was a hell of a lot easier to resist than the soft, tear-filled one. He hit the button to power down his phone. He knew her. The texts and phone calls wouldn’t stop all night. In fact, there was a good chance she’d drive over, if not tonight, then by tomorrow at sunrise, and bang on his door until he let her in to prove he didn’t have a girl inside. In fact, given the mood she was in, it was almost a certainty.

Crap. He couldn’t go home. The battle would just continue there. Knowing that, he swung a sharp left and headed away from his apartment, toward the practice arena used by the Oklahoma State rodeo team he sometimes helped Tuck coach.

He’d slept in his truck before, and chances were he’d do it again. It was part of life on the rodeo circuit. Sometimes it was easier to pull over and sleep for a few hours rather than get a hotel room for the night. It was sure as hell cheaper. There’d been other times he’d spent the night in the truck in a parking lot, sleeping off a drunk. He didn’t drink and drive, but that didn’t mean he always took a taxi home. The truck was good enough for him for one night at times such as those, and it was good enough now.

Eventually, he’d have to turn on his phone again and go home. He’d figure out what to do about that later, after some sleep and distance.

Jace cut the engine and stared out into the night. Peace and quiet. Nothing but the stars and the empty practice arena. Easing the seat back as far as it would go, he tilted his hat lower, slumped down and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a better day. True or not, he had to believe it.

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Excerpt #1 Three Weeks with a Bull Rider (Oklahoma Nights, Book 3)

THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER CAT JOHNSONOne Broken Man…

Cowboy Jace Mills has suffered fewer injuries from bucking bulls than he has from his ex-girlfriend. Following his best friend Tucker’s advice, Jace is convinced it’s time to move on. But with his ex’s tight rein on him, easier said than done.

One Broken Heart…

Tara Jenkins learned a lot in her sports medicine courses, but not how to fix her broken heart. So when her brother Tucker suggests using her skills on the rodeo, it gives her the perfect opportunity to ride off into the sunset—or at least run away.

Three Weeks Together…

Only problem is, Jace and Tara have had a hate-hate relationship for over a decade, putting up with each other for Tucker’s sake. With their long history as frenemies, they know sparks will fly, they just never expect them to flare into scorching passion…

In Trade Paperback & eBook MARCH 25, 2014

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EXCERPT 

With a huff, Tara spun on the heel of her cowboy boot, bound for the building. She stepped from behind her car and into the path of a truck going way too fast for a parking lot. It skidded in the gravel and rocked to a stop as she leapt back. After a second, the maniac behind the wheel swung the vehicle into the empty spot next to her car.

The driver’s side door opened and that’s when Tara recognized both the truck and the man who’d almost flattened her.

Jace Mills. That figured. Chief idiot and number one annoyance from among her brother’s roster of friends, and now he’d nearly run her over. “Jesus, Jace. You coulda killed me. Slow the fuck down.”

“You kiss your momma with that dirty mouth, Tara?” Jace raised one sandy brow high above his hazel eyes. “And you stepped right out in front of me. Look where you’re going from now on.”

Tara clenched her jaw and tried to control the string of obscenities she’d love to let loose on him.

“I was distracted, but you should still be more careful. There are families walking around here with kids and stuff.” She frowned at the empty cab of Jace’s truck. “Tuck’s not with you.”

“That is an excellent observation, Tara. I always knew you were smarter than you look.”

Couldn’t this man cut her even one little break? Every tiny piece of information she got out of him was a struggle. “Why isn’t Tuck with you?”

“That is a very good question.”

She rolled her eyes in frustration. “Do you have an answer?”

“I do, and it’s a doozy.” Jace waggled his brows. “Wanna hear?”

“Dammit—yes, Jace. I wanna hear.” Tara would need dental work from gritting her teeth if she continued this painful conversation with this obnoxious, frustrating, annoying man who made her want to scream.

A wide grin stretched across Jace’s lips. “He’s at a wine tasting with Becca, and Emma, and his BFF Logan.”

Tara’s gut twisted at hearing Logan’s name. Having Jace mention it in the same breath as Logan’s new wife made it even worse. She’d loved Logan for as long as she could remember, and Becca’s sister Emma had swooped in and stolen him from her. She swallowed away the bitter taste in the back of her throat, nauseated all over again by the memories of her last conversation with Logan. It had been on the day of his wedding. He’d told Tara he’d never loved her and never would. That he loved Emma.

She needed to focus on the situation at hand, and not her broken heart. Tuck’s sudden interest in wine over rodeo left Tara stuck without a ride. “Crap. I needed Tuck to be here tonight.”

“We’re going to have to talk about that potty mouth of yours, young lady.” Jace folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the truck. “But before we do, why did you need Tuck here? And come to think of it, why are you here?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m working with the sports medicine team to fulfill my internship requirement for graduation.”

“Sports medicine? That’s what you’re going to school for?” Jace frowned. “Hmm. I thought it was veterinary studies.”

“You’re so observant.” Tara rolled her eyes.

Jace’s only response was to lift one shoulder in a shrug. Unfortunately, as much of an idiot as Jace was, it looked like he was also her only hope of a ride. Both her parents’ house and school were too far away to go there, but if Jace would drive her to Stillwater she could crash for the night at Tuck and Becca’s place.

“Can you tow a car with that thing?” Tara eyed the monster behind him. A man with a truck that large must be severely lacking in other areas.

He hooked a thumb at his vehicle. “This thing? Tow a car? Uh, yeah. I could tow a tractor trailer if I had to. Why?”

“My car is dead.” She tilted her head in the direction of the piece of crap behind her. “One of the stock contractors took a look at it for me and suggested I tow it to the local scrap yard and junk it.”

Jace eyed the vehicle and let out a long slow whistle. “That bad, huh?”

“Apparently. And then, I also kind of need a ride to Tuck’s place.” She’d play on her brother’s sympathies when she got to Stillwater. Maybe she could convince Tuck to loan her his truck for the next few weeks.

It’s not like he needed it. He and Becca both worked at the same damn place. They should carpool. Save the environment. Reduce their carbon footprint, and all that good stuff.

A smug smirk appeared on Jace’s face. “So what you’re saying is, you need my help.”

“Forget about it. I’ll find another ride.” Tara let out a huff. She’d just keep calling Tuck until he answered.

“I didn’t say no. Stop pouting. God almighty, you’re such a child.”

Gasping at the worse insult he could have thrown at her, Tara had no words except to deny it. “I am not a child. You’re a—”

“Tara, stop. If you’d shut up one doggone minute and listen you’d hear I’m saying okay. I’ll help you. I’ll take a look at your car and if it doesn’t look fixable, I’ll tow it to the scrap yard and drive you back to Stillwater.”

This man was so infuriating, she’d love to plant the toe of her cowboy boot right where the sun didn’t shine, but he was willing to help so she’d have to play nice. “And what would I have to give you in exchange? I’m warning you. I’ve got hardly any cash on me. Not even enough to help pay to fill that monster of yours with gas. Seriously, like next to none. I emptied my account for that piece of shit car.”

“What’s with the Jenkins family that y’all always assume I’m destitute?” Jace scowled. “I don’t need your money. I have plenty of my own to pay for gas, thanks.”

That comment confused her. She honestly didn’t think or care about Jace’s finances, but whatever, she still didn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. He wouldn’t do her a favor for nothing. He must have some ulterior motive. “Then what do you want?”

“Hmm, let’s see. What do I want?” Jace stared up at the sky and tapped one forefinger to his chin. “I know. You have to be nice to me. No name calling. No smartass comments. None of your usual bullshit. Think you can do that?”

Not likely. “I don’t know. For how long?”

“Until we get to Stillwater. Starting now.”

“How about starting the moment we get inside the arena, for until we get in your truck to start the drive to Stillwater?”

“You’re unbelievable.” Laughing, Jace shook his head. “All right. It’s a deal.”

Jace extended one big, rough hand and though she’d never willingly touched him before, Tara shook it to seal the deal on this unholy alliance.

DON’T MISS THE REST OF THE BESTSELLING OKLAHOMA NIGHTS SERIES

ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY (Oklahoma Nights, Book 1)

TWO TIMES AS HOT (Oklahoma Nights, Book 2)

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Countdown to Christmas Reading: A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS

I see all the new holiday themed book releases by some of my favorite authors and I get envious wishing I had one this year, as well. But the truth is, a holiday release is a mixed bag. Yeah, it’s fun during the season, but the other 10 months of the year can be hard on those Christmas books.

So, much like the ornaments I dragged down from the attic last week, I’m going to take these stories out, dust them off, and show them some love because this is their time of year to shine.

Today’s spotlight will be on one of my favorite books I’ve written, A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS.  I love the hero. I love the heroine’s backstory and how it shapes her life. I love how the hero and heroine are complete opposites but still can’t fight the attraction. I love the fish out of water theme and how it swaps with first her being the one out of her element in his world, and then thanks to unforeseen circumstances it’s him having to survive in her world. I love the side characters, and the surprise plot twist. Mostly I love how it will make you laugh, and then make you cry, and then leave you with a smile and a Hallmark Channel-worthy happy ending.

I wrote this approximately 52,000 word story during November a couple of years ago for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), while all those cheesy made-for-TV holiday movies played in the background and I think it shows, because it’s a feel-good tale that I could easily go back to each and every year to reread. Though don’t get me wrong, unlike those family-friendly movies, this book is HOT!! It’s got a 5-star rating average on Amazon, so I guess readers like it too!

A Cowboy for Christmas by Cat Johnson

A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS

Sexy, independent, corporate executive Casey Harrington’s life and career were shaped by a childhood Christmas wish left unfulfilled.  Now, twenty years later on a Colorado cattle ranch, she finally gets everything she’s always wanted—both a hot cowboy and a dream job.

 

But Bonner “Blue” Boyd is a rancher and Casey is a New Yorker, and even if the sex between them is hot enough to start a prairie fire, they both know that city and country might mix for a week, but it can’t work for a lifetime. Or can it?

 

When a dramatic turn of events reunite Bonner and Casey, this time on her turf in her city, she has to prove to her displaced cowboy he belongs with her, no matter where they end up. Luckily Casey knows the quickest way to a man’s heart is slightly lower than his stomach.

 Ravenous Romance      Kindle       ARe       Nook      AUDIOBOOK

 EXCERPTS

REVIEWS

“a well choreographed love story that offered intrigue, romance and pulled at the heart-strings” 5 Stars (Nominated for LASR’s Book of the Week 2/4/12)

“A sexy cowboy, feisty heroine, great secondary cast, HOT SMEXIN’, a couple of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and a totally SIGH-WORTHY ending!!!” DiDi, Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

“sizzling hot, emotional, funny, witty and so easy to get lost in! Johnson’s writing is excellent, and let’s face it to make the story good the writing has to melt in the pages and transform into a world in your head” Niina, For the Love of Reading

“sweet and refreshing with a few twists and turns to make it entertaining. The characters are multi-dimensional, and easy to fall in love with.”  Night Owl Reviews

 

NEW Paperback Release ~ SMALLTOWN HEAT

Smalltown Heat (Red, Hot & Blue series Paperback) The Red, Hot & Blue series trilogy of stories JARED, COLE and BOBBY, are together again in one single book, as they were written, as they were meant to be read, and it’s available only in paperback for you all who still like to hold a book in your hand.

SMALLTOWN HEAT releases today in trade paperback (no, it is not available as an ebook though the individual stories are). You might be able to find it on the shelves at your local Barnes & Noble, but the trade paperback is also available for order online.

Amazon (United States)

Amazon (International)

Barnes & Noble

BooksAMillion

Who said happiness has to end with the word “cut”?

JARED
Jared enjoys simple farm life, until an LA producer blows into town like a tornado hitting a trailer park.

Pigeon Hollow is perfect for Mandy’s new reality show, and she’s sure Jared will have the female demographic glued to their sets. Except the red-hot cowboy is cool to the idea…even as their attraction heats up.

COLE
Ten years ago, just as Cole was about to head to the major leagues, Lizzie gave him everything…then broke his heart. Now he’s back with a bum arm and a cancelled contract. Lizzie is still there, still keeping her secrets.

Lizzie did what she had to do to give Cole the future he wanted, but there was no hiding the results of her one and only night in his arms. Now that he’s back it’s only a matter of time…

BOBBY
Bobby has two problems: a reality show that keeps creeping into his personal life, and an unexpected desire that the show’s assistant producer will creep into his bed.

Christy never mixes business with pleasure, but the town sheriff has her breaking all her own rules. And now she’s scrambling to keep her career from crashing and burning.

Warning: You met them in RED BLOODED, now fall in love with the men of Pigeon Hollow! Contains three hot men who have to get creative, both in and out of bed, to win the women they want.

“SMALLTOWN HEAT will definitely be given a place on my keeper shelf.” Romance Junkies

Classic Romance Tropes ~ the tortured hero

Jack Red Hot & Blue Book 2Tortured heroes… women love them. Maybe it’s something about their dark brooding nature. Maybe we want to be the one woman to save them from themselves.

Apparently I am not immune to the tortured hero myself since it seems I keep writing them into my books.

Jack Gordon from my Red, Hot & Blue series was probably the first one for me. He grew up with a single mother after his drunk of a father left, but he and his brothers kept themselves on the straight and narrow. Now, Jack is in the military, basically a happy guy, but circumstances lead to him still being tortured. He’s watching his best friend TREY hook up with the woman he loves and Rough Stockhis older brother JIMMY is missing in action during an undercover op in Kosovo.

I torture my cowboys as well. Mason from ROUGH STOCK is the quintessential dark brooding cowboy, which made him the perfect counterpart for Clay, his happy-go-lucky best friend. When Mason and Clay find themselves both in love with same girl, Mason really has something to brood about until they try to figure out how to make this strange three-way relationship work.

The Naughty Billionaire's Virgin FianceeThen there are those broody billionaire heroes. They’re handsome and rich, but not happy. He’s looking for the one thing money can’t buy—love. I’ve got one of those too! Keep your eye out in May for THE NAUGHTY BILLIONAIRE’S VIRGIN FIANCEE where I take the old classic Harlequin-esque billionaire/secretary trope and turn it on its ear.

There are too many more tortured heroes in my backlist, and in upcoming releases, to mention in one post. I do suggest you keep your eye out for “TWO FOR THE ROAD”, my novella releasing in the Kensington Aphrodisia anthology IN A COWBOY’S BED, on preorder now for release this July. There you’ll find another dark, brooding, but oh-so-sexy pair of heroes as I get back to my cowboy threesome roots with this story. Ben and Ned will capture your hearts, just as they capture the heroine’s.

So what say you, readers? Tortured heroes… love em? Hate em? Are we tired of them or will they always have a place in our hearts?

Note: The originally scheduled Tortured Heroes Blog Hop was officially canceled by the organizer however I’ve noticed some bloggers have still posted their hop posts.

Tortured Hero Blog Hop

Cover Reveal: TWO TIMES AS HOT (Oklahoma Nights, Book 2)

Two Times as Hot by Cat Johnson

 

COMING in Trade Paperback and eBook from Kensington Brava SEPTEMBER 24th

Paperback on preorder at Amazon

TWO TIMES AS HOT

(OKLAHOMA NIGHTS, BOOK 2)

One Good Girl…

After her sister snags a hot Oklahoma cowboy, Emma Hart figures it’s her turn to saddle up. And with two country boys pursuing her at once, she’s in for a wild ride…

Two Sexy Guys...

Lieutenant Colonel Logan Hunt can’t deny the heat between him and Emma is fierce. But Logan isn’t looking for anything serious…just a chance to blow off some steam. So why is he crazy jealous when he sees pro bull rider Jace Mills trying to charm Emma into bed?

Winner Takes All…

Logan knows he and Emma could have something special—and not just because she’s smokin’ hot.   Now he has to find a way to prove that even a no-strings-attached guy like him can stick around for the long haul…

THE OKLAHOMA NIGHTS SERIES

ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY (Oklahoma Nights, Book 1) Available Now

TWO TIMES AS HOT (Oklahoma Nights, Book 2) Coming Sept 24, 2013

THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER (Oklahoma Nights, Book 3) Coming in 2014

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