"A riveting story of love, passion, and forgiveness..."
Reviewed by Kim Roller
Posted April 23, 2019
He was taught everything was black and white. She shows him that
there are other choices. A one night stand leads to an unforgettable
night of passion with consequences. Can he forgive her for what she
did? Will her guilt and abandonment issues keep her having the love of
Ryan "Rye" Sullivan runs the Rafter S ranch along with his brother. A
one-night-stand of overwhelming passion makes him think he's found
his soulmate, but when he wakes up, she's gone. A few months later,
Victoria "Vick" Grayhawk shows up with news: she's pregnant. Vick
wants to give the baby up, but Rye is willing to raise their son and Vick
can do what she wants with her life. And even when Vick decides she
wants some kind of relationship with her son, Rye wants to stick to the
plan they agreed upon with their lawyers...
But life works in mysterious ways, and when Rye needs help after his
brother is injured, he turns to Vick, even though five years have gone
by. Vick agrees to help but insists that they revisit the visitation rights
set up all those years ago. Even with the disagreement between them,
both Rye and Vick can't deny that they haven't gotten over the night
they shared together. Back in each other's lives, they have to figure out
how to learn to trust again. With tensions running high, the ranch in
turmoil, and family secrets revealed will Rye and Vick find a way to
make things work?
SULLIVAN'S PROMISE by Joan
Johnston is a riveting story of love, passion, and forgiveness.
throughout this novel, characters have to over come the fear of that
happened in the past, and there is always another way to look at things
and find true love thought long lost. I hope to see more from the Bitter
Creek ranchers in the future!
Two unforgiving lovers reunite for the sake of their
child in this fiery contemporary romance from the New
York Times bestselling author of Surrender.
Facing the unexpected consequences of a life-altering night
of passion with a cowboy she met in a Jackson Hole bar, and
with her life committed to protecting endangered species,
Victoria Grayhawk does what she believes is the right
She hunts down the cowboy, seeking his agreement that their
baby should be adopted by a loving family.
Montana rancher Ryan Sullivan has no intention of giving
away his own flesh and blood, and takes their son to raise
himself. When Vick realizes what a horrible mistake she’s
made, and wants back into their child’s life, Rye remains
inflexible—because once trust is lost there are no second
chances—until an attack by one of the grizzlies Vick has
spent her life protecting changes everything and Rye learns
that sometimes love can heal all wounds.
Ryan Sullivan’s heart jumped when he saw who’d finally
gotten up the nerve to show her face at his ranch in
Montana. An image of Victoria Grayhawk, stark naked,
appeared in his mind’s eye, her golden curls spilling
across his pillow, her lithe body arched in ecstasy beneath
him. He shook his head to dispel the disturbing memory and
fixed his gaze on the unwelcome woman dressed in a denim
jacket, jeans, and cowboy boots standing on his back porch.
“What the hell are you doing here, Lexie?”
Her striking blue eyes, concealed by shadows during their
night together, looked wounded in the bright light of day.
He noticed her hands were trembling about the same time she
stuck them in her back pockets. He realized she hadn’t
answered him and said, “I asked you a question.”
Her chin lifted, and he saw a spark of the vibrant woman
who’d attracted him when he’d first spotted her in the
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
She looked him in the eye and said, “I made a mistake.”
“Which mistake are we talking about here? The one where
you lied about being on the pill? Or the one where you
wanted me to give up parental rights to my son?”
“I didn’t lie. I was on the pill. I don’t know why I got
pregnant. I only asked you to give up your parental rights
because I wanted the child to be adopted by a loving
“Let me stop you right there. Cody isn’t the child or a
child. He’s my child, since you gave up your right to have
anything to do with him the day he was born.”
She flinched, as well she should. He couldn’t imagine any
woman caring so little about her child that she would give
him up to anyone, even his own father, and walk away
without a second thought.
She met his gaze again, and he saw tears welling in her
eyes. He hardened his heart. He didn’t care what she
wanted now. She’d had her chance to be a mother, and she’d
thrown it away like a sack of trash. He wasn’t going to
let her back into Cody’s life now. His son was a happy,
healthy, six-month-old boy. He was doing fine without a
mother. He had a doting father, a grandmother, an uncle,
and a teenage aunt to give him all the love he needed.
“I know what I did was wrong,” she said in a voice that
grated like a rusty gate. “You can’t say anything to me—or
about me—that I haven’t said to myself a thousand times
over the past six months. I never should have walked away.
It was the dumbest, most idiotic, utterly shameful thing
I’ve ever done in my life. But I’m here now, and I want to
see my son.”
“He’s my son,” Sullivan shot back.
“I have visitation rights.”
Sullivan remembered how surprised his lawyer had been when
Victoria Grayhawk said she didn’t want visitation rights,
because she didn’t plan to be a part of the child’s life.
It was her lawyer who’d insisted on writing in a clause
allowing her to see their son “One weekend per month, from
5 p.m. on Friday to 5 p.m. on Sunday.”
Sullivan remembered how she’d pursed her lips and shaken
her head when her lawyer said, “You might change your
mind.” Sullivan had been tired of fighting and had agreed
to her lawyer’s terms, certain he would never see her
again. They’d both signed the legal document, which was
approved by a family court judge, making Ryan Patrick
Sullivan the primary custodial parent and giving Victoria
Alexandra Grayhawk visiting privileges one weekend a month.
For the past six months, he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of
her. Now, here she was at the back door of his Montana
ranch house on a Friday afternoon demanding to see his son.
“You can’t see Cody. You can’t hold him. You can’t have
him for the weekend. Get the hell off my doorstep. Get
the hell off my property. Go away and don’t come back.”
“He’s my son, too! You can’t deny me the right to be a
mother to him.”
The flash of fire in her eyes reminded him of the look
she’d given him at the bar, when he’d asked if she’d come
back to his room at the Wort Hotel. The one that had
turned him hard as a rock. The one that had made it
impossible to swallow. The one that had caused him to
capture her nape and touch his mouth to hers. A shiver of
excitement skittered down his spine at the mere thought of
He knotted his fists and forced the feeling down. “You’re
the one who walked away,” he said in a voice made harsh by
vivid memories he thought he’d put behind him. “You said
you didn’t want to be a mother. It’s not something I’m
ever likely to forget hearing.”
“I told you, I made a mistake!”
“You sure as hell did!”
“I have legal rights,” she protested.
“Good luck with that. Where were you planning to keep Cody
for the weekend? You can’t take him out of state without
my permission, and I won’t give it. Do you have a home
here in Montana?”
“I’ve bought a cabin.”
“On the edge of your property.”
“Not the Wingate place,” he said, horrified at the thought
of having her so close.
“I think that was the old man’s name.”
Sullivan had been planning to buy that tiny log home on the
edge of Glacier National Park, and the five hundred acres
that surrounded it, for himself. He’d just been waiting
for old man Wingate to lower his price, since he didn’t
think there was anyone else willing to buy such a shabby
hovel so deep in the woods. Now the mother of his child
was going to be living right on the edge of his property,
day in and day out.
“What happened to your grand plans to save grizzlies and
wolves from extinction?” he said with a sneer.
“I’m still working to save endangered species.”
“I thought you had to travel to do your job. After all,
that was the excuse you gave for not wanting to be a
mother.” That, and the fact that she didn’t know him
from Adam. He was just a guy she’d met in a bar. It had
been good sex, she told him (great sex as far as he was
concerned, though he hadn’t bothered to contradict her),
but that had been the extent of it. The pregnancy was
merely an unforeseen, entirely unexpected, consequence. At
twenty-two, she wasn’t ready to become a single mother, and
she wanted the child to grow up in a loving home.
At twenty-four, he hadn’t exactly been ready for
parenthood, either, but he’d known he could never give his
own flesh and blood away to someone else to raise.
“I still have to travel,” she said defensively. “But I
plan to be here at least one weekend a month to see my
“He’s not yours. He’s mine,” Sullivan said. “And don’t
you forget it.”
His gut clenched with fear for his child. He could
probably put off the Grayhawk woman for a while, by
bringing in social services to check out the living
conditions in that old cabin in the woods. But eventually,
she was going to get Cody one weekend a month. His little
boy would be scared if he went off alone with some
stranger. Which meant Sullivan was going to have to let
that damned woman into his home to spend time with Cody,
before she took him away and kept him by herself.
Not to mention making sure she knew how and what to feed
Cody, how to change a diaper, what his bedtime ritual was,
and how he sometimes woke up at night and needed a small
light turned on before he would go back to sleep—for no
reason Sullivan had ever been able to determine.
He studied the somber look on Victoria Grayhawk’s face, so
different from the bubbly smile and laughing eyes that had
caught his attention at the bar. The air had shimmered
with tension when he was still half a room away from her.
It was as though she were tugging him toward her with an
invisible rope, from which there was no escape. He felt
the same attraction now and fought against it.
She wasn’t the woman he’d imagined she was when he’d taken
her to bed. That woman spoke of noble ideals and goals
which, even though they ran counter to his personal
feelings, still resonated with him. She wanted to save
wolves and grizzlies from extinction—the same wolves and
grizzlies that killed his cattle every year. She hadn’t
changed her tune, even when she’d found out they were on
opposite sides of the fence. She’d simply cozened him with
kisses to convince him to take a look at her point of view.
He’d been willing to sacrifice every cow on his ranch to
feed hungry bears and wolves by the time she got done with
him. He was well and truly lost, ready—if she’d just said
the word—to tie the knot and take her home with him to
Except, when he’d woken up the next morning, she’d been
gone. And he’d never gotten her last name. She’d simply
called herself “Lexie.” He’d only been in town for a two-
day cattlemen’s meeting, and when he’d asked about a
“Lexie” in the bar the next evening, no one knew a woman of
her description by that name. Nor had there been anyone in
the lobby when they’d entered the hotel who might have
known her. It was only later he discovered her name was
Victoria Grayhawk, and folks in Jackson called her Vick.
It was one more transgression to add to the growing list.
“Lexie” had been more careful than he was, asking enough
questions to find out his full name, and that he lived on a
ranch in Montana. She’d come looking for him when she
found out she was pregnant, and that whole sorry legal mess
He wondered if he would be so mad at Lexie now, if he
hadn’t felt so foolish for wanting more time with her, when
she’d apparently forgotten all about him once the sun hit
the morning sky.
“Rye? Who’s at the door?”
“No one, Mom.” That’s what Lexie Grayhawk was and always
would be to him and his son.
He could hear his mother—who was nosy, but in a good way—
crossing the mudroom to see for herself who’d come to
The sudden intense look of longing on Lexie’s face told him
something was amiss. Then he heard the screen door screech
behind him and turned to see his mother stepping onto the
back porch with Cody in her arms.
Cody leaned over and thrust out both arms, but it wasn’t
Sullivan he was reaching for. As Rye had turned to watch
his mother’s approach, Lexie had held out her arms to the
child, her face lit with joy. Rye realized with a sudden
pang that it was her smile he saw reflected on Cody’s face
each morning when he greeted his son—the same bow on the
upper lip, the same fullness of the lower one, and the
wide, inviting mouth.
Her arms reached for the baby, who was grinning toothlessly
back at her.
Sullivan saw what was going to happen and intercepted the
infant before the boy’s mother—this stranger—could touch
He felt disconcerted because Cody was still straining to
reach the woman, his tiny arms outstretched.
At the sound of Lexie’s voice, low and husky, goosebumps
rose all over Sullivan’s body. That was the same
mesmerizing voice that had coaxed him into her arms.
He tried to hand Cody back to his grandmother, to put him
out of Lexie’s reach, but his mom’s arms were folded over
her chest, and she had “that look” on her face that told
him she knew exactly who was standing on their back porch.
And that what Sullivan was doing—keeping a mother and her
son apart—was wrong.
But he wasn’t wrong. He knew it in his gut.
What if Lexie stepped into Cody’s life and made the
vulnerable little boy love her, and then changed her mind
again? He wanted to spare his child that pain. Better she
never became a part of Cody’s life in the first place.
Lexie had dropped her hands, and her smile had faded, but
her eyes still implored him to let her hold the baby.
Cody settled his warm body against Sullivan’s heart and
stuck his thumb in his mouth, but his eyes remained focused
on the woman standing in front of him.
“Go away, Miss Grayhawk,” Sullivan said in a calm voice
that wouldn’t upset the child in his arms. “There’s
nothing for you here.”
“Except my son, whom I love with every fiber of my being.”
He was startled by the fierceness of her voice as much as
by the words she’d spoken.
“You can’t stop me from being a mother to Cody,” she
continued. “The courts are on my side. Make up your mind
that this is going to happen.”
His heart was beating frantically, pushing against his ribs
like a terrified animal trying to escape, knowing there is
no escape. “Fine.” The single word was harsh, and
startled both her and Cody, who lifted his head and looked
up at him with a tiny furrow between his brows.
“Fine,” he repeated in a more moderate voice.
“I can take him?” she said, her arched eyebrows raised in
question, reminding him that he saw her every day when he
looked at Cody’s face.
“Cody doesn’t know you. And you don’t know his routine.
If you’re going to do this, you might as well start from
“May I hold him?”
Rye felt an ache in his chest. Why couldn’t she have asked
that at the hospital? But the time for regrets was past.
She was here now, and he was going to have to make the best
of a bad situation. He would do what had to be done for
“He might not want to go to you,” he said as she took a
step toward him.
Cody put the lie to his words, as Lexie smiled again and
held out her arms and cooed, “Hello, Cody. I’m your
The little boy eagerly reached out to her and left the
safety of his father’s arms for the far less certain ones
of his mother.
She held the infant awkwardly at first, shifting him until
she had him sitting on her female hip, which God had
apparently made for just that purpose. Her whole face was
lit up so brightly it hurt to look at her. He saw before
him the vivacious woman he’d met in a bar, who’d become his
lover, and who was now the mother of his child.
He’d forgotten about his own mother. She pulled the screen
door open wide with another loud screech and said, “Why
don’t you come inside?”
He stood helplessly by as Lexie Grayhawk, a woman he could
never trust, a woman he both despised and desired, stepped
into his kitchen . . . and into his life.
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