After her mother passed away, Skylar Daines' father treated her like one of his hired cowboys. She can ride, rope, and train horses as well as any man, but the only thing she's ever really wanted is a place of her own to call home. When her father showed her a deed to a ranch in Wyoming and told her all they had to do to finally have it was to drive one last herd of horses there, she believed him. But then one of her father's men shot him in the back, stealing the horses, and tried to kidnap Sky, too. She outsmarted him, though, took her kid brother, and ran as far and as fast as she could, searching for her father's business partner, Chance Morgan. She thinks she's finally tracked him down in a dusty little town in New Mexico, only to find that the man is actually Chance's identical twin brother, Tucker. Before she can explain to the drunken cowboy why she's really there, he kisses her, scattering her wits, and then before she realizes what's happened, she finds herself accidentally married to him. But when Tucker sobers up and tells her that the deed to the property she holds belongs to him and his brother alone, Sky is none too happy about it.
After a day of gambling and drunken revelry, Tucker Morgan wakes up married to the prettiest little cowgirl he's ever laid eyes on, but her tongue is sharp enough to flay a man's hide. Not wanting to be married anymore than she does, he vows to get the marriage annulled immediately, but things don't go as planned. When he sees just how good she is at wrangling and gentling the wild mustangs, he takes on both Sky and her brother as hired hands to help drive his own horses to Wyoming, promising to give her the annulment when they arrive. Along the way, though, Tucker and Sky's attraction to one another grows until they succumb to passion over and over again. But Tuck never thought he wanted a wife, and Sky is as a stubborn as a mule. Can he find a way to convince her that what started out as a mistake has turned into something real? And what will become of them both when the man who murdered her father catches up to them, presenting a dangerous threat?
Mustang Wild is the first book of Stacey Kayne's Wild series and the very first book she wrote. It's the story of a feisty, young lady and the charming cowboy who captures her heart. All heroine Skylar Daines ever wanted was a home to call her own, but she's been forced to live on the trail, being treated like "one of the guys" by her father. Then one of her father's men kills him in cold blood in an attempt to steal his horses, the deed to the land he was headed for in Wyoming, and Skylar herself, so Sky takes her little brother, Garret, and rides like the wind toward New Mexico in search of her father's business partner, Chance Morgan. She thinks she's tracked him down at a small-town saloon, only to discover that it's really his identical twin brother, Tucker, who's drunk as a skunk. As she tries to get him to understand why she's come, she finds herself caught up in a flurry of words that make no sense, and in an instant, the two are accidentally legally wed. Once Tucker sobers up and Chance finally arrives, Sky discovers that her father lied to her about certain things, and now all she has left are the horses she and her brother rode in on and the deed to Tucker and Chance's ranch, which she leverages to get them to take her with them to Wyoming. Along the way, they brave dangers while Sky and Tucker find themselves surprisingly attracted to one another and contemplating whether they still want to get an annulment when they reach their destination. But the real test occurs when they cross paths with her father's murderer and the stolen horses she intends to get back to ensure a future for herself and Garret. Overall this book was a pretty enjoyable read, albeit one that's a little slow-paced at times.
Skylar's mother died when she was young, and after that, her father forced her to learn to ride, rope, and train horses with the best of his men. She's lived out on the open range being treated like merely another cowboy ever since, but deep down, she likes feminine fripperies and just wants a roof over her head again to call home. When her father is killed, she knows that Garret is now her responsibility, too. Her father had promised that once they drove the horses to Wyoming, she could finally have the home she so desperately wants, but what she didn't know is that the deed to the ranch he'd been showing her really belongs to someone else and he was just holding the document for safe-keeping. When she finally tracks down Tucker and Chance and learns the truth, Sky is disillusioned but determined to get her horses back from the slimy weasel who stole them so that she can sell them to Tucker and Chance and make a new start for herself and her brother. But the only way she can do that is by talking them into hiring her and Garret as trail hands to help them drive the mustangs they've rounded up themselves. Once they see how skilled she is at gentling the horses, they're happy to oblige, but Chance worries that since Sky still holds the deed to their property and Tucker foolishly got himself hitched to her she might try to take part of their land. None of this stops Sky from getting closer to Tucker and giving in to his seductive kisses, which leads to a whole lot more. Until she met him, no man had ever treated her like a woman before, which makes staying married to him extremely tempting, but she has her own agenda and she wants more from him than the occasional roll in the hay.
Skylar is a real spitfire who gives Tucker a run for his money, always getting her back up about one thing or another. She can be pretty stubborn even when Tuck is being sweet to her. Most of the time, I understood where she was coming from, but there were certain aspects of her characterization that I thought could have been deepened to make her even more sympathetic. Her objections to staying with him became a bit tedious at times. I don't think I could have resisted, especially when Tuck was doing so many nice things for her. Also, once she and Tuck become lovers, she acts like there's something wrong with it and she's nothing more than a whore or a mistress to him even though they're married, which didn't make a lot of sense to me. However, in spite of her feeling this way, it doesn't stop her from returning his passion in equal measure, which helped to balance it out some. Overall, Sky was a pretty good heroine. But since she really wants a home and more feminine things and to be treated like a woman, I would have liked to see her gradually soften a bit more each time Tuck provides her with some of her desires instead of being so stubborn right up until the end.
Tucker lost his mom when he was young, too, but later on, his father remarried. However, his step-mother proved to be a shrewish woman who made life miserable for them, making both Tuck and his brother vow never to marry. After his father's death and a stint in the confederate army, he became a bounty hunter, but more recently, he and Chance have made plans to settle down, buying a ranch in Wyoming. Chance worked for a while with Sky's father, and cut a deal with him to buy his horses, leaving him the deed to their property as collateral. Tucker went to New Mexico to round up mustangs, which is where all three end up meeting. Tuck is having a wild time at the saloon and just won a large pot while gambling that included a marriage document. His opponents razz him about whether he'll actually use it, and he says he will if he can find an angel. At that very moment, Sky walks in and a drunken Tucker thinks his wish has just been granted. The preacher says a few words over them and he gets Sky to sign the document, then awakens from his stupor later to find he has a wife. He doesn't want to be married any more than she does but getting an annulment proves impossible, so they head for Wyoming, planning to take care of it there. Along the way, though, he succumbs to his desire for the feisty beauty, making it harder and harder to remember why he wanted an annulment in the first place. Tucker is an easy-going guy who is always patient with Sky's obstinate nature and proves to be more amused by her sharp tongue than angered by it. He respects her abilities with the horses as being even better than his own, while also treating her like a lady. He's a gentle and skilled lover who can make Sky practically forget her own name. He may have a bit of stubbornness in him when it comes to the marriage thing, but his fear for Sky when bad things happen, as well as all the thoughtful little gifts he buys her and his observant nature, show just how much he cares for her, even when he isn't saying the words.
Overall, Mustang Wild was a good read and a respectable debut novel from Stacey Kayne. As I already mentioned, it could be a little slow at times. The bulk of the story centers around Tucker, Skylar, and their brothers driving the horses from New Mexico to Wyoming, so it kind of has the dynamic of a long road trip. There are a few dangers that they face along the way to make things more interesting, as well as the romantic interludes between Tuck and Sky, so generally speaking when the pace started slowing down, it didn't take too long for it to re-engage my interest. I liked all the main characters. Tuck was a confident charmer and a sweetheart, and even though Sky could be rather stubborn, I found enough substance in her character for her to be relatable in spite of it. This was my first foray into this author's writing, and even though it wasn't totally perfect, it's left me very open to trying more of her work. Chance's book, Maverick Wild, is next, and a grown up Garret becomes the hero of the final book, Mountain Wild. I look forward to checking out both of them in the future.
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