In Arden’s (Never Say Never: Zero to 60, 2016, etc.) erotic, romantic tale, a feisty, young rodeo rider falls in love with an Marine veteran while trying to escape her uncle’s threats.
Romance is the last thing that Margo Santero is looking for when she meets former soldier Rod McLemore at an airport. At 18, she has a weighty responsibility on her shoulders; if she doesn’t win her event in the upcoming Southern Cross rodeo, her shady uncle, Axel Campesino, will foreclose on her father’s farm and sell her beloved horse, Apollo. But when she encounters the alluring Rod on her way to her sister’s wedding, she can’t resist him. They both get the shock of their lives when they discover that his cousin is marrying her sister—and that Margo’s nearly 11 years younger than he is. Although Rod initially attempts to keep away from Margo, he can’t help but be drawn back to her again, and during their bouts of verbal and physical sparring, they find themselves coming dangerously close to falling in love. But when Axel threatens to get Rod charged with statutory rape if Margo fails to ride in the championship, she knows that the stakes are higher than ever. Arden’s novel—the tenth in her Bad Boys series—is punctuated by frequent steamy sex scenes, including one of the BDSM variety, and will likely satisfy her loyal readers as well as newcomers who are fans of the genre. Margo and Rod bicker and banter and ultimately can’t keep their hands off each other, and it’s no spoiler to say that love ultimately conquers all. The age difference, however, is distinctly unsettling: Margo turns 18 just before meeting Rod. Arden writes Margo as if she’s a slightly older woman—she may be headstrong, but she lacks teenage naïveté. But there’s still something unpleasant about a grown man thinking about a teenage girl, “One day I’d marry her. Put a baby in her belly, then another. And another.”
A sometimes-entertaining cowboy romance, undone by the age gap between its main characters.