"Cade Creek is a typical small town in many ways, but some of the people inhabiting it are definitely exceptional. This goes both ways—some of them are very good, but some are so evil, I was ready to strangle them or worse. The main characters are sweet, the supporting characters are interesting and added to the story, and even though the first few pages were hard for me to get through because of all the (fairly graphical) emotional and physical abuse Happy was put through as a child and young man, the story as a whole left me feeling happy. I think this is a very promising first book in a spin-off series from the ‘Blaecleah Brothers’ books. It is linked only through the setting and a few characters reappearing, so there is no need to read the other books first. Happy is an amazing man. He suffered terribly as a child, abused by bible-thumping grandparents who were beyond cruel, with his equally abused mother as the only person he could trust and love. How Happy survived what he did can only be called a miracle, but even the permanent damage he suffered does not stop him from embracing life once he finally gets away from his a**hole grandfather. Happy’s way of looking at the world is very different, and I loved how simple his thinking is. There is no hiding from the truth or trying to be politically correct, Happy has an innate sense of right and wrong that is enviable and he doesn’t let anyone tell him differently. He may be slower than some people but he does learn, and his inner compass will not steer him wrong. I loved following him through the first stirrings of romantic love, and watching him figure out what was going on, then opening up to Marc, was a real joy. Marc is also pretty special. He is one of those men who look beyond the obvious, and his sense of who Happy is proves to be very accurate. He is also very sensitive to Happy’s needs, yet doesn’t treat him like a kid or like someone less mentally able. Marc is a good deputy, and once he has fallen for Happy (which is pretty much immediately upon meeting him). Marc is determined to do everything he can to make Happy even happier. He has a huge fight ahead of him, but Marc does not give up easily—or at all. I loved Marc’s ideas and way of showing Happy what he’s been missing, like introducing him to the farmers market or even strawberry milkshakes. Too cute! If you like your romances on the sweet side and are willing to suffer with the main characters until they get there, if gentle giants and the men who love them are your thing, and if you’re looking for a read that is as sweet and hot as it is emotionally touching, then you will probably like this novel as much as I did" -- Christy Duke, Rainbow Book Reviews
Marc slammed his truck into park and jumped out, running up to the fight happening in the street in front of the store. “That’s quite enough!” he shouted as he pulled Jeff Murkily and his brother Brad off of another man. He stepped between the three men, pushing them apart. “Enough!”
“He started it!” Jeff said right away, pointing to the other man.
Marc’s mouth dropped as he looked at the other man, and realized he was looking at the man’s chest. He had to raise his eyes up several inches to see his face.
“What happened here?”
“We were just minding our own business when this meathead came up and started shouting at us,” Jeff said. “When we told him to leave us alone, he started throwing punches.”
“We were just defending ourselves,” Brad insisted.
Marc turned to look back at the biggest damn man he had ever seen outside of a wrestling event. “What do you have to say?”
The man’s lips thinned as he pressed them together, but that was his only response. Marc wasn’t even sure he blinked.
“See?” Jeff said. “He knows he was in the wrong.”
“Is this true, sir?” Marc asked. “Did you start the fight?” Marc wanted to grind his teeth together when the massive man just stood there. “Sir, you need to answer me.”
Jeff laughed snidely. “Maybe he doesn’t hear you, deputy. Maybe he’s one of those—”
Marc pointed a finger at Jeff. “Say it and I’ll lock you up for the next month.” He hated bigots.
“You can’t do that!” Jeff’s eyes blazed. “I didn’t do anything.”
Marc leveled a stare at Jeff. He had known the man since high school and he was nothing but a bully, one of the reasons Marc hadn’t automatically believed him when he arrived on the scene. Jeff had been a bully in high school and he was still a bully.
“Just wait until the sheriff hears about this.” Jeff’s face flushed red as his voice rose. “I’ll bet he’d be real interested to hear his new deputy is threatening to lock people up for defending themselves.”
“I heard it,” said a deep voice from behind Marc. “And I agree.”
Jeff grinned as if he had won that argument.
“Say one word out of place and I’ll lock you up for a month.”
Jeff’s jaw dropped. “You can’t do that.”
Sheriff John Riley’s grin was even bigger than Jeff’s had been. The man crossed his arms over his chest and stared at Jeff with an expression that dared the man to argue with him. “Try me.”
Jeff sputtered for a moment then fell silent.
“What seems to be the problem here?” John asked as he turned his attention to Marc.
“I’m still trying to figure that out, sheriff,” Marc replied. “Jeff and Brad say that this man attacked them and that they were merely defending themselves.”
“Is that true, Happy?”
“No, sir,” came the quiet reply.
Marc’s eyebrows shot up. He wasn’t sure if it was from hearing the man speak or hearing his name. Or from the fact that the eyes that finally rose up enough so he could see them were the most stunning blue eyes he had ever seen in his life. It was like looking into someone’s soul.
“Tell me what happened, Happy,” John directed.
“I was sweeping the sidewalk just like Mr. Gus told me to and then these two came and started kicking dirt up on it.” A wrinkled frown worked its way across the large man’s forehead. “I didn’t hit anyone, Sheriff.”
“He didn’t, sheriff.”
Marc glanced up to see Gus Fletcher standing in the doorway of his shop with a couple of customers.
“Jeff and Brad started the whole mess. When Happy ignored them, they got pissed and started shouting at him. That’s about the time I called the station. Happy just held his arms up in front of his face.”
“Mama gets mad when they hit me in the face.”
Marc felt a growl burn deep in the pit of his stomach. “This has happened to you before?”
“As I’m sure you can understand, Happy has had a few problems due to his size,” John said. “People tend to either be intimidated by him.” John waved his hand toward Jeff and Brad. “Or they think they need to fight him to prove themselves.”
Marc could see where that could be an issue. He stood at six foot two inches tall, not a short man. Happy stood at least half a foot taller than him, and a good hundred pounds heavier. The man was simply massive.
“Do you want me to lock them up?”
“No, but we’re not going to have any more trouble, are we boys?” John cocked his eyebrow at the two men. “Because if we do, not only will I be going to have a talk with your pa, but I’ll be locking you two up for a good long while.”
“Now, look here, sheriff—” Jeff began.
“Do we need to take this down to the station, Jeff?”
“You can’t do this!”
Marc as waiting for the man to stomp his foot.
“Shut up, Jeff,” Brad said as he started pushing his brother toward the other side of the street. “You want him to call Pa down here?”
“Fine!” Jeff shouted. “But this isn’t over.”
“It had better be,” John said, “or you and I are going to have a serious difference of opinion.”
Marc stood with his boss and watched Jeff and Brad climb into their pickup and then spin their tires as they took off down the street. “You want me to follow them and give them a ticket for speeding through town?”
“No.” John chuckled as he turned toward the feed and seed store again. “I’ll give their father a call later and let him know those two are up to no good again.”
Marc nodded even as his eyes strayed back to Happy. He was intrigued by the unusual manner in which the man was watching him. It was almost shy in nature as if he wanted to look but was afraid to get caught. It wasn’t something he could have expected from such a large, intimidating man.
“Happy, how’s your mother?” John asked.
Marc inhaled sharply when the sweetest smile he had ever seen spread across Happy’s face. It changed the man’s whole demeanor. Marc suddenly realized that he was dealing with a gentle giant. He doubted Happy had a mean bone in his entire body.
“Hey, you listen to me.” Happy stumbled forward when Marc grabbed his shirt and yanked him forward to stand between his legs. “You’re not stupid, Happy. You have a lack of knowledge due to not being exposed to the world. I have no doubt that once you have access to learning, you will pick it up in no time.”
Happy nervously moistened his dry lips. “You think I can learn?”
“I have no doubt that you can.”
Happy’s brows drew together as he agonized over telling Marc the truth. He wanted the handsome man to have a good opinion of him, and if he told Marc the truth then the man might not look at him with that special sparkle in his eyes.
But lying by omission was still lying.
“My grandfather beat me over the head with a brick when I was younger. Mama says that’s when things started taking a little longer to make sense to me.”
“I know, but that doesn’t make you stupid. I’d be slow, too, if you showed me the periodic tables and told me to find zinc.”
Happy just stared.
“Scientific stuff, Happy.” Marc chuckled. “I never could make heads nor tails of it.”
Happy worried the corner of his lower between his teeth. “You really think I could learn this stuff?”
The corner of Marc’s mouth curved up. “I do.” There was pure confidence in that response, enough that Happy started to believe Marc’s words might be true.
He leaned his head down and pressed his forehead against Marc’s. “Thank you.”
The other side of Marc’s mouth curved up, the man grinning. “Anytime, Happy.”
Happy started to move back when he realized he stood between Marc’s legs, his groin pressing against Marc, and the guy was hard. Happy licked his suddenly dry lips as his eyes dropped.
When his eyes flickered back up to Marc, the man was watching him with hooded eyes. Something burned in their blue murky depths that Happy was unfamiliar with, but he sure wanted to know what it meant.
“I’m going to kiss you now, Happy.” Marc’s hand curved around the back of Happy’s neck, pulling him closer. “If you don’t want me to, say something now.”
Happy pressed his lips together, refusing to say anything. He wanted to be kissed. He dreamed of being kissed. But only by Marc. He didn’t really want anyone else kissing him. Well, maybe his mama but not like he wanted Marc to kiss him because that would just be icky.
Marc started to lean closer, paused and let out a small chuckle, and then closed the rest of the distance between them. Happy wasn’t sure what to expect when Marc’s lips brushed against his. He had been kissed before, but only by his mother, and then only on the forehead or the cheek.
This was nothing like that.
This made Happy’s toes curl and his body start to sing. He groaned, wanting whatever Marc offered him. There was a burning lust in his eyes that left Happy speechless.
The hand Marc had wrapped around the back of his neck tightened and pulled him closer as Marc’s tongue slid over his lips. Happy’s body tensed with need when he felt Marc’s other hand grab his hip then slide around to the small of his back.
Happy’s lungs burned for oxygen, but he refused to pull away. He opened his mouth when Marc’s tongue pressed against the seam between his lips, the man’s tongue plunging in, sweeping and exploring.
Happy grabbed Marc’s hips when his head began to spin. He started to move, thrusting his aching dick against the apex of Marc’s thighs. Marc pulled Happy closer, grinding against him as their tongues dueled. He lightly bit Happy’s bottom lip. Happy gasped before returning the careful nip.
Marc consumed him with one kiss that seemed to go on forever. Happy didn’t want it to stop. Marc’s tongue flickered over Happy’s lip, teasing, tantalizing. He murmured Happy’s name, sending Happy into a wild craze.
He began to thrust against Marc in earnest, feeling his hard cock sliding against Marc’s over and over again, the only thing between them was the thinness of their pants. His thigh muscles quivered, his legs threatening to give out as his balls drew so tight to Happy’s body that they actually hurt.