Title: Above Rubies
Author: Jaclyn Hawkes
Rossen Rockland is a Wyoming dwelling engineer and part time rodeo star. He witnesses a girl being attacked while in Vegas for a rodeo championship and jumps to rescue her. His honorable intentions are wonderful, seeing as how she is 17 and pregnant.
Kit Star has had a rough go at life. Abused by her foster dad, she runs away to make it as a musician on her own. She falls in love with her rescuer, who so gallantly keeps his distance, due mostly to her age. She is mega talented and born to be famous, but must grow up a bit first.
This is a second book in a trilogy, and while I always recommend reading in order, but you don’t need to read the first to understand the second. I do plan on going back and reading it, because Above Rubies got my curiosity peaked. Overall, this book was well written, but I found myself frustrated over the tight time span the book covers. It definitely held my attention, there were a few preachy or cheesy parts, but overall it was a page turner. I like The Most Important Catch by the same author, and would definitely read another of hers.
If this book were a movie, it would be rated PG.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
Millions of lights on the Las Vegas strip streamed through the smudged bus windows like alarm beacons. It felt like hundreds of flashing cop cars at some freakishly huge accident. The glare made the hungry knot of worry in the pit of her stomach tighten. Before she’d even gotten off the Greyhound, Kit knew she’d made a disastrous mistake.
Girl, what are you doing? As Rossen Rockland began to fill his truck with gas, he shook his head as he watched a slender young girl walking alone in the dark carrying a guitar. She was anything but safe out by herself in Las Vegas at almost one o’clock in the morning. Down a side street he could see a number of teenagers hanging out in an unruly bunch. Even though he was from a part of Wyoming that didn’t have a problem with gangs, he still recognized one when he saw one. They were making hand gestures to another group of youth who appeared near the rear of the station, not far from the young woman and he heard himself repeat out loud, “Girl, what are you doing?”
His best friend and roping partner, Slade Marsh, had gotten out to double check the horses in the trailer they were pulling and wash the windows, while Slade’s fiancée, Isabel remained in the cab. Even at this hour of the night, Las Vegas was just really getting going and she was more secure inside in this wide open party town.
The three of them had just come from the last round of the National Finals Rodeo, where the two men had taken top honors in their events. They’d reached their ultimate rodeo goals, but now, as tired as they were, they just wanted to go home. They’d been on the road rodeoing for most of the year, and it had been a great ride. But the season was over, Christmas was a mere ten days away, and they intended to be home on their ranches in Wyoming by morning. The entire National Finals had been a roller coaster of not just rodeoing, but several other troubling instances as well, and the three wanted to leave the hubbub of the City of Sin behind, and return to the peace and serenity of the mountains.
Almost as if Rossen’s thoughts had started it, the girl was approached by a cocky youth from the gang hanging out behind the station. Even though Rossen’s tanks weren’t yet full, he returned the nozzle to the pump and jumped back into the truck. As Slade climbed back into the passenger seat, Rossen drew his and Isabel’s attention to what was going on as the heavyset young gangster approached the girl. She immediately turned around and started walking in the opposite direction, but the youth simply turned and followed her. As he dogged the young woman, Rossen gunned the truck toward the girl, all three of its occupants tense at what they were watching take place.
The gang member followed the girl for a moment, then grabbed her by the arm and started dragging her toward the back of the station as Rossen and Slade slammed out of the idling truck. Rossen yelled, but it was only swallowed up in the music that issued from the station speakers and they started to run.
It all happened so fast they couldn’t stop it as the girl slapped her aggressor and began to fight him. The much larger youth backhanded her, sending her reeling into the building. Her guitar was knocked away and shattered as it hit the pavement and the gangster jerked her arm up behind her back, turned her and slugged her full in the face. The blow knocked her backwards. She stumbled off the curb, tried unsuccessfully to put an arm back to break her fall and then slammed into the asphalt on the back of her head. Rossen was horrified when the young woman lay sickeningly still.
Arriving seconds too late, Slade punched the gang member, doubling him over, and then slamming his face into his raised knee, as Rossen bent to the still form on the pavement.
At that moment Isabel shouted and began to gesture at something around the corner of the building. She was pointing and yelled, “Get her inside quick, before they get here!” Rossen scooped the unconscious girl off the street and quickly climbed into the rear door Slade held for him, then Slade jumped into the driver’s seat, pulled out of the station and onto the freeway, literally closing the door as he drove away.
Slade drove as fast as he dared with a trailer full of horses, while Isabel bailed over the seat to help Rossen try to stop the girl’s bleeding. At first, they couldn’t believe a nose could bleed that much, but it took only a moment to find she also had a two inch gash down the back of her head that was gushing blood. They quickly depleted the supply of napkins in the cab and went through a pillow case and then Isabel’s soft jacket, before the flow even slowed. It wasn’t until then that they noticed her left arm bent at a strange angle, and it felt like hours more before they sighted the hospital sign posted at the freeway exit, and pulled off the interstate.