Following a career as a nursing instructor, award-winning author, Mary Karlik earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. A native Texan, Mary loves horses, dogs, cats, country music, and small town diners. Although she has recently relocated in northern New Mexico, her heart remains in the Lone Star state.
Three weeks after her longtime boyfriend dumps her, high school senior and queen bee Penny Wilson declares she is over him and finished with dating. But life without her ex is more difficult than simply repeating a few affirmations. A queen bee needs a king, or she wobbles dangerously close to the edge of the popularity ladder. To make matters worse, her dad announces he’s hired Wrangler-wearing calf roper Ty Jackson to work on their English horse farm. Never mind his curly blond hair and six-pack abs—he’s a rodeo team bottom-runger and no way is Penny going to admit she knows him, let alone allow him into her social circle. As if having cowboy Ty around is not bad enough, he nabs her father’s attention on the first day—something she has been unable to do since she lost her mother to cancer two years before. The Annie, a charity horse show named after her mom, is mere weeks away. To Penny, it’s the most important show on the circuit, and the one she’s bombed in the stadium jumping portion every year. Ty convinces her he can teach her to connect more deeply with her horse and settle her nerves in the show arena. But as they work together, Penny discovers that while she might be riding better, being around Ty does nothing to settle her nerves. Will a hush-hush relationship with Ty make matters worse with her dad? And what if her friends at school discover Ty is more than just a farm hand? Because between her show ambitions and her social status, she’s walking a fine line—and the price is everything that matters to her most.
New town. New look. New beginning. High school junior Ryan Quinn has a past. She will do just about anything to keep it hidden, even if means joining the ultra-conservative, no fun allowed, Purity Club. But secrets are hard to keep in a small town and when the Purity Club girls discover the truth, they viciously attack Ryan. Senior, Justin Hayes is a good guy wrapped in a bad-boy reputation. He may have been kicked out of the Homecoming Dance for fighting, but it was his dead sister’s reputation he was defending. He did stay out all night with super hot Ryan Quinn, but it was after he’d rescued her from the Purity Club and all they did was talk. He lost his heart to her that night. But with his home life a complete hot mess, there is no way he could have a relationship with her. The trouble is, he can’t stay away from her. Justin is the kind of guy who can make Ryan forget her vow to change. He’s the kind of guy she should avoid at all costs. But he knows her soul secrets. He understands her and it is torture when she is away from him. But as she deals with the outward scars on her face and the inward shame of her past and Justin’s home life continues to spiral out of control, their relationship becomes as convoluted as their home life. Will they find the courage to open their hearts to each other in spite of their family drama?