On His Bended Knee: a Sweet Marriage of Convenience series Shanae Johnson
(The Brides of Purple Heart Ranch, #1)
Publication date: October 11th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Western
She needed a place to stay. He needed to save his ranch. Together they just might make a home.
Sgt. Dylan Banks lost more than just his leg in the war. His fiancée and family turned their backs on him as well. Now, he’s determined to create a safe place where wounded warriors like himself can heal. But a hidden zoning law requires all residents of the Purple Heart Ranch to be married. To save his dream, Dylan and his men will have to tie the knot—but can a man with such deep scars inside and out believe in love again?
Maggie Shaw lost both her job as a veterinary technician and her apartment on the same day. Who knew her unreasonable landlord would kick her out for being four dogs over the one pet limit? Now, she and her gang of special-needs dogs are in trouble. Fate puts her in Dylan’s path with a proposal that seems too good to be true—but can her heart bear a loveless marriage of convenience?
Dylan yearns to reach out for Maggie’s healing touch, but he keeps his distance, convinced his wounds are too deep for her embrace. Maggie sees past Dylan’s injuries, but if she fails to capture his heart they both could lose it all: her beloved animals, his ranch, and each other.
Find out if love can truly heal all wounds in this light-hearted, sweet romance of convenient arrangements that unfold into lasting love. On His Bended Knee is the first in a series of marriage of convenience tales featuring Wounded Warriors who are healed with the power of love.
“Unless there’s something about you that we should know, Ramos.”
Xavier Ramos reached over and tried to smack Reed Cannon in the head, but the other man raised his prosthetic arm to ward off the attack. There was nothing wrong with his reflexes. Ramos’s flesh hit Cannon’s metal and Ramos winced.
“Can’t we get the zoning changed?” asked Sean Jeffries. He had his sunglasses off now that they were all inside one of the ranch’s barns.
The men had converted the old barn into a gaming room complete with large flat screens, an old-fashioned record player and tape deck, and every gaming console including an antique Atari which Rees had brought back to life with his techno-genius.
“It would be a long process,” said Dylan. “And in the meantime, we’d all have to leave the ranch while the powers that be waded through all the red tape.”
The men were lounging in recliners or sitting on bar stools, but an anxious hum went around the room. The ranch was their haven, their home. Even for those who had somewhere that they could go, leaving was not an option.
Unlike with Dylan, Jeffries’s family hadn’t rejected him. They called the ranch on a regular basis. It was Jeffries who didn’t want them to see him. It wasn’t just the scar on his face that shamed him. He suffered from PTSD and was prone to flashbacks. He could be taken back to the war-torn deserts of the Middle East when he slept, or with loud noises he could readily identify. The men surrounding him knew how to manage his episodes. But Jeffries was terrified of hurting someone he cared about. And so he stayed away from his family and wouldn’t receive their calls.
“Aren’t you all missing the obvious?” They all turned to Reed and waited for his revelation. Reed took his time. The man had a bit of the flare for the dramatic at times. “We just need to get married.”
Eyes and heads rolled as everyone turned away from the proclamation. Except Fran.
“It’s not a bad idea,” Fran said. “People do it all the time. For green cards, for financial stability, some fools even do it for something called love.”
Dylan had been such a fool who wanted to get married for love. Or what he thought was love. He had no idea where the plan came from as his own parents hadn’t been in love.
Catherine and Charles Banks had married for social standing. The irony was that they couldn’t stand each other. Though the rest of society would never know it. At parties, they put on a show of devotion and compatibility. They used to put on the show at home for Dylan when he was a kid. But they soon stopped caring about what he saw behind the closed doors of their many homes, which they often occupied separately.
“Who would want to marry a bunch of broken soldiers?” asked Sean.
“Hey, we’re not broken.” Dylan almost believed the words coming out of his own mouth. “We served our country. We are highly skilled. We are loyal, dedicated men.”
Though the speech was impassioned, the faces around him looked doubtful.
“Frances might have a point,” said Xavier, using the feminization of the name to get under Fran’s skin like they all did from time to time. “There are a lot of hard-up women out there. Some probably need a place to stay, money in their pocket, or just a good lay.”
Now it was Dylan who rolled his eyes and neck at the preposterous direction the discussion was taking. He needed his men to focus on viable solutions to this very real problem. But the other men were listening to Xavier’s nonsense.
“Dr. Patel is always saying we need a good woman to heal our hearts.” Reed picked up the gauntlet of the insanity. He was a romantic at heart and still believed love was waiting to come into his arms. “Maybe now’s the time.”
“Patel had an arranged marriage,” said Fran. “And it worked for him.”
“This is the Wild West,” said Reed. “This kind of stuff happened here all the time. Remember the Gold Rush Brides?”
“That was California,” Sean said. The man was a walking encyclopedia. “You mean mail order brides.”
“It would be email now,” said Fran. “No one uses the postal system.”
“We are not finding women on Craig’s List,” said Dylan, pinching the bridge of his nose and squeezing his eyes shut in exasperation.
“Then how are we gonna stay here?”
Dylan wasn’t sure which man said it, but he knew they all were thinking it. He opened his eyes and faced the room full of men. They’d looked to him for leadership when they were in combat, and they looked at him the same way now. How would they win this particular war on the home front?
“We’ll petition the court,” said Dylan. “I have a few contacts in the government.”
“We have more recruits coming in a couple of month. What are we gonna do with them?”
Dylan didn’t have an answer for that. He didn’t know how he would take in another wounded soldier only to potentially turn the man away. As he prepared to turn around, a flash of fur ran through the room.
No, ran wasn’t exactly the right word. Two front paws ran. The two back paws were not there. Instead, two wheels acted as legs that the little dog used to propel himself onward.
Dylan wasn’t the only one who spotted the animal. The other soldiers turned and stared at the creature. The dog stared back. It also slowed down as it looked up at all the big humans eying it.
The dog had had a grin on his face, but under the close scrutiny, his muzzle closed. He pulled his lolling tongue back into his mouth and let out a low whimper.
Dylan bent down to be on the dog’s level. He rested on his good knee, which was a difficult feat for him after a long day. But he had to get a closer look at this dog and his apparatus.
The dog made a slow beeline for Dylan. Dylan put his hand out to the dog. The dog gave the back of his hand a tentative sniff and then a lick.
Who would do such a thing as to take a dog’s hind legs? But more importantly, who would take the time to make a contraption that gave the animal back a semblance of the life he once knew?
“I’m so sorry,” said a feminine voice. “That’s my dog.”
Dylan looked up into the face of the woman. She was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail. She wasn’t wearing a lick of makeup. She looked fresh, clean, capable.
She marched into the room, not like she was on a catwalk, but like she was on a mission. She reached for the dog and he saw her hands were un-manicured. When one of her rough fingers brushed the skin of his forearm, Dylan felt a spark. His breath caught and so did hers.
Shanae Johnson was raised by Saturday Morning cartoons and After School Specials. She still doesn't understand why there isn't a life lesson that ties the issues of the day together just before bedtime. While she's still waiting for the meaning of it all, she writes stories to try and figure it all out. Her books are wholesome and sweet, but her heroes are hot and her heroines are full of sass!
And by the way, the E elongates the A. So it's pronounced Shan-aaaaaaaa. Perfect for a hero to call out across the moors, or up to a balcony, or to blare outside her window on a boombox. If you hear him calling her name, please send him her way!