I’d like to wish Ursula a very happy birthday! She was kind enough to let Jayne and I celebrate with her by allowing us to shout out about our new book, Winter’s Thaw. It releases on February 19 and to keep the birthday bash rolling, we thought we’d share an exclusive sneak peek!
Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes it’s better.
Compass Girls, Book 1
Sienna Compton has it all figured out. Her life’s goals are set and it is all systems go. At least, it was. Until her long-time boyfriend Josh threw a ringer into the master plan, requesting a “break” from their relationship. Now she’s left alone during the long, cold Wyoming winter, questioning what her heart has always believed to be true love.
Daniel Lennon is facing an uncertain future. When a tragic accident leaves him unable to pursue his career as a professional bull rider, he finds himself at Compass Ranch, working to help Sienna’s father, Seth, build his horse breeding business. One look at Sienna has Daniel envisioning things he never imagined wanting—a permanent home, love, marriage—and he’s willing to use all the red-hot tricks in his sexual arsenal to melt the ice surrounding Sienna’s broken heart.
When lust turns to genuine emotion, can Daniel convince Sienna to take a chance on something different and unexpected? Can he persuade her to consider a new path, one that will lead her directly to his arms…forever?
Roping and riding, past and future, cold winter and fiery desire, lust and love all come together in this new Compass series. Saddle up and hang on. The Comptons are back!
“Shh. Quiet,” Sienna Compton warned as she and her cousins snuck into her family’s barn. It was nearly two a.m. on her sixteenth birthday. Sweet sixteen. At last.
Her cousins—and best friends—Jade, Sterling and Hope had planned a sleepover to celebrate with her. They’d piggy-piled into sleeping bags in Sienna’s bedroom shortly after ten, chatting and giggling for hours. Her dad, Seth, had come in twice to tell them to quiet down.
After a couple hours of whispered conversations, the rest of the house fell silent. That was when Jade had climbed out of her sleeping bag, tiptoed to the door and listened for a moment before declaring the coast was clear.
When Sterling had asked what the heck it was clear for, Jade had refused to answer, picking up her backpack and telling them to follow her. On their way out, they’d detoured through the kitchen so Jade could grab a saltshaker and oranges.
As they reached the hayloft, Sienna grabbed a camp lantern from the supply room and they each took a turn climbing the ladder. Once they reached the top, Sienna turned on the lamp. It cast the area in an eerie, dim light. They sat in a small circle facing each other as Jade produced a bottle of tequila from her bag.
Hope’s eyes went wide. “Where did you get that?” “I smuggled it out of my parents’ liquor cabinet.” Sterling shook her head in disbelief. “Uncle Sawyer is going to ground you
until you’re forty-seven.”
Jade shrugged, unconcerned. “It’s Sienna’s sixteenth birthday. We need to do something special.”
“The cake I baked for her wasn’t enough?” Hope asked.
Sienna reached over to touch her cousin’s hand. “The cake was perfect. Chocolate is my favorite.”
Jade rolled her eyes. “We always have cake on our birthdays. I thought tonight called for something different. The Mothers always pull this out on special occasions to make a toast. Why shouldn’t we do the same thing?”
Sienna grinned at Jade’s nickname for their moms. The Mothers, as she and her cousins had taken to calling them, were a force unto themselves around Compass Ranch. Sienna was proud to come from such a long line of strong, self- confident women. Her mother, Jody, and aunts Leah, Lucy and Cindi, as well as her beloved grandmother, Vicky—Vivi to them—had raised her to believe in herself, always offering encouragement and unwavering support.
Sienna was part of the Compton heritage, a family whose name was synonymous with power and honor in Compton Pass. The town had been named after her gazillions-great grandfather, and it had grown quite a bit during the years since her granddaddy JD’s death over fifteen years earlier. Though she’d never met JD, his legacy certainly lived on, and Sienna felt as though she had known him through the stories Vivi told her.
“I turned sixteen in May and you didn’t steal tequila for me.” Hope crossed her arms, appearing only slightly put out. Sienna knew her cousin was uncomfortable with the trouble they were risking with this escapade. While Sterling and Jade were the more rebellious of the foursome, she and Hope tended to walk a straighter, narrower line in terms of following the rules.
“I tried,” Jade explained, “but you decided to have a big-ass Sweet Sixteen party at the community center with our whole family and half of Compton Pass.
There wasn’t anywhere to hide the damn bottle in that fancy dress I had to wear.”
Hope’s birthday party was still a bone of contention between the two girls. Jade resided squarely in the middle of tomboy camp. Wearing a dress to any event was akin to eating manure. Sienna recalled Aunt Leah telling the other Mothers about the battle she’d waged to get Jade to wear the simple green dress. Aunt Leah knew Jade well enough to buy her a dress without frills, but regardless of her efforts, Jade resisted putting it on. Jade had insisted she’d look just fine in her new jeans, but Aunt Leah had stuck to her guns.
“You were really pretty that night.” Hope remained resolute in her choice of fancy attire for the party. “Half of the boys in our class looked like their eyes would pop out of their heads when you showed up.”
“I think you’re mistaking shock for interest. So, are we gabbing or are we drinking?” Jade pulled the cork out of the bottle of Patrón.
Sterling took a quick sniff, scowling. “Jesus. That smells terrible.”
Jade wasn’t deterred, picking up an orange and peeling it. “The salt and limes are supposed to take the burn off.”
Sienna pointed out the obvious. “We don’t have limes.”
“Hence the oranges. I guess it’s about the same. They’re both juicy fruits. Personally, I think the orange might taste better. It’s sweeter.” Jade broke the orange slices apart and placed them on a napkin in the center of their circle.
Sterling began to fill the shot glasses. “Guess we should go ahead and see what the fuss is about, since Jade went to all this trouble.”
Sienna didn’t think Sterling was too bothered by the prospect of trying the shot. Of course, that was par for the course for Sterling. She was usually up for anything.
Sterling handed each girl a glass.
Sienna didn’t even have to lift it to her nose to catch the overwhelming scent of alcohol. Jade licked her hand, sprinkled salt on it and then passed the shaker around, gesturing for them to do the same.
“So it’s salt, shot and orange,” Jade instructed, though none of them needed the tutorial. The Mothers had been following this same birthday tradition for as long as the girls had been alive.
“Aren’t we supposed to propose a toast?” Hope asked as they lifted their glasses.
“I have one,” Jade said. “Here’s to all the boys whose hearts we’re going to break this year. Poor suckers.”
They drank the shots, each of them wincing as they sucked on the sweet oranges they hoped would kill the taste.
“That’s awful,” Hope declared, wrinkling her nose and covering her mouth. “Totally gross. Why would anyone drink that?”
Sterling didn’t bother to respond. Instead, she studied Jade’s face. “Whose heart are you planning to break? I thought you had the hots for Evan. And I get the feeling he likes you too. You already sick of him?”
Jade shook her head. “I wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular. We’re all going to be sixteen soon. Hope and Sienna are already there, and you and I are celebrating our birthdays in January. Let’s face it. None of us is going to meet the one for a damn long time—if ever. In the meantime, I plan to be the dumper, not the dumpee. There’s no way you’ll catch me crying for weeks over a boy like Jenna Garber did when Russ Philpott broke up with her.”
“Jenna was ridiculous,” Sterling agreed.
Hope, ever the compassionate one, chimed in. “Russ was her first love. And he immediately started going out with her best friend. That’s pretty harsh.”
“This,” Jade explained, “is why I’m always going to make sure I throw the first punch. No boy is ever going to get close enough to break my heart.”
Sienna shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a very smart way to live your life. And you’re wrong about us being too young to realize if someone’s the one. Look at me and Josh. We’ve been together for nearly four months, and he’s totally awesome. There’s no way I’m leaving him. We’re going to go to the same college, then come back here to live in Compton Pass. We want the same things. That’s why we’re so perfect together. I don’t plan on breaking his heart and he won’t break mine.”
“How can you plan forever with a guy you’ve never gone past second base with?” Jade asked. “Uncle Seth’s never even let you go on a car date alone with Josh.”
“That’s because I was only fifteen. Now that I’m sixteen and I can get my driver’s license, Dad said I can go out with him. And even if we haven’t gone on a real date, that doesn’t mean we haven’t kissed. A lot.”
Jade rolled her eyes. “Kissing. Big deal.”
“Josh respects me. He said we could wait until I’m ready. Besides, unless I missed the memo, you haven’t even walked up to the plate with Evan. You’re both still in that middle school, arm-punching phase.”
Jade narrowed her eyes. “Ha ha. I told you. I’m not settling for the first guy to glance my way. Or even the second or third or—”
“We get the picture.” Hope, ever the peacemaker, picked up another orange slice and tried to steer the conversation to safer waters. “You and Josh are great together, Sienna. I wish I could meet a guy—or two—like him.”
Sienna grinned. Rather than two parents, Hope had three. Uncle Silas and Uncle Colby were both married to Hope’s mother, Lucy. While Sienna realized there were folks around town who thought the union was weird and looked down on it, Sienna thought it was beautiful. She knew Hope couldn’t see it as anything but natural and would be open to the same type of relationship.
Sterling’s view of relationships was harder to put a finger on. Sterling wasn’t quite the romantic Sienna and Hope were, nor was her view of relationships quite as jaded as...well, Jade’s. In most things, Sterling marched to the beat of her own drummer, which made her nearly impossible for Sienna to read.
“I think we’re too young to worry about any of this.” Sterling poured another round. “This stuff isn’t so bad. I’m feeling sort of warm and fuzzy inside. Should we try another one?”
Sienna was surprised when Jade and Hope both agreed. Never one to be left out, she accepted the salt and the glass again.
Once again, Jade proposed the toast. “Here’s to the Compass Girls, the craziest cousins west of the Mississippi.”
They laughed as they drank, and this time, no one disagreed.
AND…what party would be complete without presents? Each of the four Compass Girls books will have a season in the title. Today I will be giving away a copy of Winter’s Thaw to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment telling me which season is your favorite—winter, spring, summer or fall—and why.
Wow! This book sounds great and I can't wait to dig into the next generation of the Comptons. And of course see how our old favorites are doing. I am jealous of whoever wins this book, so get to commenting! Answer Mari's question for your chance to win a copy of Winter's Thaw.