Master of the Wild by Aiden Ainslie

Trigger Warnings:
This book contains references to past abuse.

Book Info

Author:
Series:
Love at Lake Clyde
Publisher:
Aiden Ainslie
Published:
27 January 2022
Words:
88,500
Pages:
364
Tropes

Synopsis

Blurb

Conner: “How on earth had I ended up in the Sierras, where creatures like Ewan Driscoll roamed free? Wild, tattooed, gorgeous, messed up Ewan, who could fix any and everything. Anything except a broken heart. Logic told me to extricate myself from Ewan’s screwed-up world, get back to civilization and get on with my own life. But my treacherous heart made me linger.”

Ewan: “I had proven to myself, repeatedly, that I could have highly satisfying relationships while protecting my heart from any serious involvement. So why not take in a roommate with benefits? I was safe. Heck, Conner O’Reilly wasn’t even my type. This London city guy with his pale skin and designer clothes surely wasn’t going to last long in the wilderness of Clydesdale anyway. There was nothing to fear.”

Will Conner be sensible and get his life back on track, or will his heart lead him into the wilderness?

Synopsis

Ewan Driscoll learned at a young age to take care of himself. He also learned to stay away from serious commitment – that way lies hurt and heartache. Ewan has lived all his life in the close-knit community of Clydesdale in the California Sierras, where he is “Mr. Fix-it” who repairs cars, printers, and any other mechanical devices. His greatest ambitions are to keep his auto repair shop afloat and win the town’s annual “Master of the Wild” cross-country challenge.

Ewan’s world turns upside down when Conner O’Reilly crashes into him and lands him in the clinic.

Conner is a city boy from London – a successful IT professional from a wealthy family who is used to a world of fancy clothes, nightclubs, and skiing vacations in Switzerland. After a particularly nasty relationship break-up, he has come to Clydesdale to hide away from the world and lick his wounds. The last thing Conner needs is another romantic entanglement.

Ewan, however, is fascinated by this exotic, broken creature, and there is undeniable physical chemistry between the two men who have virtually nothing in common. There can be no question of any long-term relationship because Conner is merely there to recuperate before moving back to city life. Or have the fates decreed that Conner should find his HEA here in the wilderness?

A well-meaning cast of down-to-earth townsfolk includes the sheriff’s mother, the bakery owner, and a hairstylist who moonlights as a tattoo artist. They cannot resist meddling in Conner and Ewan’s affairs and only succeed in demonstrating that Clydesdale is not nearly as sleepy as it seems.

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Excerpt

CONNER

Was it yesterday or the day before that my parents had packed me into a limo and sent me off to Heathrow Airport in London? I’d popped two sleeping pills the minute my head hit the business class pillow and had only woken during the descent into San Francisco Airport.

I looked towards the trees again. If one ignored the charred bits and focused on the lake beyond, it was an impressive landscape – wild. Not at all like England.

A horn blared, and when I looked forward, a truck was coming straight at me on the wrong side of the road.

“Oh no – hell – no!” I yelled and fought the urge to clamp my eyes shut. The truck veered onto the shoulder of the road, but it couldn’t get completely out of my way. My scrambled brain screamed, do something! But my limbs would neither hit the brakes nor yank the steering wheel.

The truck loomed as large as a locomotive. Bloody hell! In all my life in England, I’d never seen a pick-up truck this size. I could see the whites of the petrified eyes of the other driver; his knuckles on the steering wheel equally pale as a cloud of dust and dirt sprang up from under his vehicle. This was it; I was going to die in a car crash on my first day in America. What the hell. It is what it is.

There was a deafening screech of tires and, as if by magic, the Tesla I was in veered to the right side of the road – the side I was supposed to be driving on. The vehicles missed each other by a whisker, and the Tesla stopped. I wasn’t sure whether it was my doing, or if the car had decided it had had enough of my driving.

The seatbelt was as tight as a straitjacket across my pounding heart and chest. I blinked repeatedly to make sure I was still alive. The other driver gave me a one-finger salute and shouted a string of obscenities, before roaring off.

I, in turn, cursed my cousin Gabe who had asked me to take the car to the garage in town. What was he thinking? This was my first day in the US, and yes, technically I had a license, but I hadn’t driven a car in years. No one drives themselves in London – we use Ubers and black cabs.

I set off at a crawl, keeping my eyes glued to the right-hand side of the road for the remaining three-mile trip into Clydesdale Village.

Clydesdale had barely registered in my consciousness when we’d passed through it the previous afternoon on our way to my aunt Isabella’s home from the airport. But now, mid-morning, I had to admit the little village had a certain charm. It reminded me of the frontier towns I had seen in western movies. The houses and shops clung to the main road along the lake’s edge like a motley collection of charms that a child might have strung together in a necklace.

I passed the Great Escape Holiday Cabins, a general dealer, a bright yellow community hall where worshippers of all faiths were welcome, a clinic that looked like a doll’s house, and a low-slung saloon – an honest-to-God saloon! I smiled. I would have to send my sister a picture of it.

I found Clydesdale Garage & Auto Repair at the far end of town and parked the Tesla among a collection of wrecks and soon-to-bes. Two fuel dispensers crouched under a sagging canopy; just as well that the Tesla didn’t need petrol – I wouldn’t trust whatever came out of those museum-ready pumps.

There was no reception, so I made my way to the open door of the workshop. I cleared my throat, “Excuse me. I’m looking for Ewan…Ewan Driscoll?”

A man emerged from the shadows and said, “I’m Ewan.”

I did a double-take and involuntarily took a step back to look up at him. Wow! I hadn’t thought that such a fabulous male specimen existed anywhere outside of the movies – or my fantasies. Ewan had a perfectly proportioned face, a strong jawline, and the kind of healthy outdoor complexion you would rarely see in London. His tousled brown hair touched the nape of his neck.

I was half expecting him to say, “Prince Valiant, Knight of the Round Table, at your service, sire.” I used to devour Prince Valiant comics.

This random thought made me want to chuckle, but one look at Ewan’s piercing green eyes caused me to keep my mouth shut. He looked like he took life very seriously; hell, with shoulders like his, he could carry half the world’s burdens. He probably had a picture-perfect wife, three kids and a host of other responsibilities.

Focus! I chided myself.

I managed to stutter something about the Tesla needing repairs, but all the while my eyes were glued to Ewan’s muscular, tattoo-covered arms. His t-shirt fit so tightly it might as well have been body paint, and his low-slung jeans hugged his narrow hips in the most delectable way.

I licked my lips and felt his stern gaze on me. Oh, shit – could this superman read my thoughts? He was probably a Class A homophobe and would pulverize me if he suspected that my eyes had lingered on his package.

He reached out to me, and I jumped back in alarm. Suddenly, there was a loud noise and around me, people were shouting. I was cornered and, for the second time that day, I froze in panic.

Then Ewan’s arm, hard as metal, swept me aside and knocked the wind out of my lungs. He pressed a button behind me, and the awful noise stopped. A stunned silence filled the workshop.

 

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