Excerpt: Love Me Some Cowboy
Nothing But Trouble by Lisa Mondello
His jaw tightened. Yes, there was something definitely wrong here. And money had nothing to do with it. It had everything to do with this beauty standing in front of him, who was clueless about what she was getting her pretty little hide into. “No,” he replied tersely.
“Mr. Buxton, I need your help.”
“Tourist season is in full swing. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding someone else.”
He turned his back to her and began walking along the fence toward the barn, almost forgetting… Abruptly, he glanced up and saw the charred remains of the barn. The place where all his troubles had started just one year ago. It hadn’t taken but a second for him to hear her boots digging into the dusty gravel behind him, jarring him from his thoughts.
“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said to his back.
His whole body stiffened. He angled back to read her face, to see if she was just being a spoiled rotten rich kid, trying to get her way, or if she was actually serious. Seeing her head held high and her arms crossed in front of her, he realized she was dead serious.
And dead she’d be if she stepped one boot into those mountains alone.
“You’ll do no such thing.”
Frustration flaring, he lifted his dusty hat and forced his fingers through the thick crop of black hair before returning the hat to his head.
“You just don’t get it, do you? You’re not asking me to take you on a theme park ride where you’ll get to see the wonders of the world at a nice safe distance. This is God’s country. The creatures that live up there don’t know civilization, and you are no better than them. You could–probably will–get killed if you go out there alone.” His lips twitched, taking a good long appraising look at the woman in front of him. “You might even chip a nail on that pretty hand of yours.”
USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lisa Mondello, has held many jobs in her life but being a published authors is the last job she’ll ever have. She’s not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she’d still be penning stories with paper and pen. Her first book, All I Want for Christmas is You won Best First Book in the Golden Quill. Her books have finaled in the HOLT Medallion, and the Colorado Award of Excellence contests. In 2011 she re-released her award winning book All I Want for Christmas is You along with a re-issue of her romantic comedy, The Marriage Contract, with a new contemporary romance called The Knight and Maggie’s Baby. In 2012 she reissued the first 3 books of her popular Western Romance Series TEXAS HEARTS including Her Heart for the Asking, His Heart for the Trusting and The More I See. Writing as LA Mondello, her romantic suspense, MATERIAL WITNESS, book 1 of her Heroes of Providence series made the USA TODAY Bestsellers List. You can find more information about Lisa Mondello at lisamondello.blogspot.com.
Texas Secrets by Jean Brashear
“Who are you? What are you doing on my ranch?”
Gray eyes went wary, studying him for a long moment that made Boone’s spine tingle with unease. Fringed with thick dark lashes, a striking black ring around the irises, her eyes softened.
“Are you Boone or Mitch?”
He stared at her. “I’m Boone,” he replied, frowning. “How do you know my name?”
She stuck out one slender hand to shake his, her eyes still soft. Too soft. Almost like an apology. “I’m Maddie Collins. Your father mentioned you in his letter.”
He forgot the extended hand. “What letter?” Boone had only gotten a telegram, and that only after Sam was dead and buried.
“You didn’t–?” Her eyes darted to the side, looking toward the house. “He didn’t…?”
“Didn’t what?” His stomach clenched. “Why are you here?”
The woman named Maddie swallowed, then straightened, shaking her dark brown hair back over her shoulders as if preparing herself. In the sunlight, it glowed hints of red like the sky’s warning of storms to come.
Then her next words wiped out all thoughts of silky dark hair and husky voices.
“Your father left the house to me.”
“He…what?” But even as he waited for her reply, he believed her, this stranger in too-bright gypsy colors who didn’t belong here. He’d been crazy to hope that anything might have changed between him and his father, that Sam had regretted abandoning his sons.
“I’m sorry. I–I thought you would already know.”
Her regrets didn’t help. At that moment, he knew only one thing. He wasn’t through losing things that mattered. He’d been a fool to think otherwise.
Even in death, the man who’d been barely a father still denied him the only place he’d ever thought of as home.
About Jean Brashear:
As a USA Today bestselling author of more than 30 novels in romance and women’s fiction, Jean Brashear is a five-time RITA finalist and Romantic Times BOOKReviews Career Achievement Award winner who knows a lot about taking crazy chances.
A lifetime avid reader, at the age of forty-five with no experience and no training, she decided to see if she could write a book. It was a wild leap that turned her whole life upside down, but she would tell you that though she’s never been more terrified, she’s never felt more exhilarated or more alive. She’s an ardent proponent of not putting off your dreams until that elusive “someday–take that leap now.
If you like the stories and families of Nora Roberts, Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre and Robyn Carr, you’ll want to try the vivid characters and engaging families of Jean’s stories.
Crazy About a Cowboy by Barbara McMahon
Sam Haller saw her across the crowded stockyard in the glare of the noonday sun. Shooting the bull with a bunch of cowhands was part and parcel of the stock sales, and Sam had been leaning against the rail fence, one booted foot resting on the bottom rung, swapping tall tales with the best of them when his gaze was caught.
Dust hung in the air, dry as a desert, churned up by the horses and cattle crisscrossing the stockyard. The background noise of bawling bulls and the occasional shrill whinny of a horse was ignored almost unheard.
In that instant, everything came to a crashing halt. Sam stared, ignoring the other men, the heat of the sun, the cacophony of sound. He felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. Time stood still. Slowly he lowered his foot, standing to his full height, his gaze never moving from her.
Memories flooded his mind; her laugh, her tears, the fights they’d had, the making up, making love long into the night. They’d been crazy in love, crazy in lust or just plain crazy.
It felt as if a vice gripped his heart. He hadn’t seen her in two years, except once, briefly, when he’d had to take Joey home early and no ranch hand had been available to deliver him. The jumble of emotions from that day stayed with him for a long time insuring he didn’t risk another encounter.
What was she doing in a stockyard in Fort Worth, Texas, when he thought she was in Denver? And who was the man she was talking with? Laughing with.
Jealousy churned as he watched. Was it an illusion? Or the real Lisa? For months after she left, he’d thought he’d spotted her a dozen times. Impossible since she moved away from Texas and on to Colorado. Was this another instance of imagining he saw her everywhere he went?
“Hey, Haller, you going off in a trance?” one of the men in his group asked. The rest laughed, one looking in the direction Sam was staring.
“From the looks of that babe, guess our Sam is finally going to break down and show he’s human,” another man joked.
Sam scowled and glared at Tim Higgins. He readjusted his Stetson and resumed his casual pose leaning against the fence, though every fiber of his being urged him to take off across the stockyard and confront Lisa. Find out what she was doing in Texas. See her, speak to her. Touch her.
Deliberately he turned away, tried to focus on what the men were talking about. Jeez, he had it bad. Still. They’d been divorced two years. It was over. When was he going to accept it and move on? When was he going to see another woman and really be interested in her?
“If you mean that bay mare, you’re right. I wouldn’t mind having her. If she throws true, I’d have some fine get,” Sam said, hoping to bluff his way through.
One of the cowpokes slapped another on the shoulder. “Should have known Sam’s coveting some horse. He never cuts loose like the rest of us.”
None of the men present, recent acquaintances, knew about his marriage. He planned to keep it that way. No man liked to admit failure. Especially when it was his own fault.
As soon as he could without causing comment, he offered to buy everyone a round of drinks at the bar that night, and headed off. Deliberately heading away from Lisa, he studied some of the cattle for sale, talked with one man at length about one of the bulls, but his mind wasn’t on stock.
It revolved around Lisa. If it had been Lisa, where was she now? Had she left, or was she wandering around with that man checking out the sale animals?
A casual glance in the surrounding area let him know he wasn’t being observed by anyone. Turning swiftly, he headed for the spot where he’d seen her.
She was gone.
He stood for a moment in indecision, then headed in the direction she’d been facing. In less than ten minutes he caught up with her. She stood to one side, out of the main swirl of traffic, jotting notes in the sales catalog, then glancing up to study one of the bulls penned in the shade.
He hesitated, wanting to speak to her, knowing they had nothing left to say. Hadn’t it all been said years ago?
Yet the pull of connection was still there. He tried not to think about her that would drive him crazy. But seeing her again – maybe it was fate.
What could it hurt to just say hi? It wasn’t as if they couldn’t be civil. Saying hi wasn’t a declaration of intent. Not that they had a prayer of getting back together. There was too much between them. More than even Lisa knew.
Almost without volition, his feet carried him in her direction. When he drew close enough to smell her flowery scent over the dusty air and pungent cattle, he halted. It wasn’t too late to turn and walk away, she hadn’t seen him yet.
But Sam Haller wasn’t a coward.
She spun around, her eyes widening.
“Sam! I didn’t expect to see you.”
“What are you doing here, then?”
She tilted her head, her eyes narrowing. “I’m on an assignment for my boss.”
“An insurance agent in Denver?” he asked in disbelief.
She shook her head. “I’ve changed jobs.”
He waited, watching as she rolled the catalog up in her hands, unrolled it. Was Lisa as nervous as he felt? He pulled the brim of his hat down a bit lower, tucked his fingers in the back pocket of his jeans, his gaze never leaving her. He tried to ignore the rush of blood through his veins. Damp down the feelings that threatened to rise.
She looked great. Her glossy brown hair held back from her face with clips, fell in waves across her shoulders. The checked shirt was opened at the throat, revealing her pale skin. The snug jeans fit like a second skin. He remembered peeling them off her, touching every inch of her satiny skin as it became revealed.
Swallowing hard, he shifted a bit to ease the growing tightness in his own jeans.
She looked away. “I’m working here now in Fort Worth. I missed Texas. And my folks wanted to be able to see Joey more often and more easily.”
Joey, their son. A link between the two of them that would never cease.
About Barbara McMahon:
At last count, over sixteen million copies of Barbara’s books have sold in fifty different countries in twenty one different languages. For books with international settings, she refers to her flight attendant’s journal for descriptions and memories. But the American West is her favorite locale. She has written numerous books with cowboys as heros, and more plans even more to come.
Dedicated to a strict work regimen to meet deadlines, she still finds time to pursue her hobby of working on her family history and heads the county’ genealogy society. She serves on the the Amador County Cemetery Board, the local chapter of the NSDAR and volunteers one day a week at the local Animal Shelter.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America; Novelists, Inc.; and the NSDAR – which has nothing to do with writing, but does tie in with her love for genealogy!
Once Upon a Cowboy by Day Leclaire
All she’d ever wanted was to be a cowboy…
Holt watched Cami charge through the bushes and up over the ridge, shiny black curls bouncing against her back. He remembered sliding his hands through that hair and the feel of her curls beneath his hands. The softness had taken him by surprise, the little ringlets twisting around his fingers, clinging and twining so he’d been afraid he’d hurt her when he’d gathered sufficient wits to pull free.
He also remembered what her mouth had felt like beneath his. Soft. Soft and sweet and welcoming. And then there’d been the rest of her. The scent of her skin. The tiny groan of desire slipping from her mouth to his. Delicate curves pressed tight against him. Breasts as close to perfect as he’d ever laid hands on.
He’d almost stripped her down and taken her right there beneath the cottonwood. His own wrangler. Would she have resisted? Something told him she wouldn’t have. Something told him, she’d have given herself to him with the same determination and generosity that had characterized her from the minute he’d first seen her.
Of course, if nature had taken its course, his neighbor, Frank, would have gotten quite an eyeful. Then he’d have had to shoot Frank. Frank probably wouldn’t take well to having been shot and feel obligated to do something about it. Plus, Holt would have the small problem of the law frowning on ranchers shooting each other. Once upon a time he might have gotten away with it. But today people tended to frown on it.
“You’ve got trouble,” Frank said.
Holt didn’t bother denying it. “Big trouble.”
“So what are you going to do about it?”
“Keeping my damned hands off Cami might be a good start. Not smart to make love to your wranglers.”
“Sounds like a difficult proposition.”
“A painful proposition.” They both fell silent for a few minutes. In a resigned voice Holt asked, “I don’t suppose you’ve heard of any decent wranglers looking for work.”
“I put the word out. The few I heard were free I wouldn’t have within a thousand miles of my spread. What about those other resumés you received? Isn’t there anyone else you could hire?”
Holt shook his head. “Only one’s still available and she’s eighty-two. I’d have hired her on the spot, but she’s just been released from the hospital following a bout of pneumonia and the doctor won’t okay it.”
Love, Texas by Ginger Chambers
His mother’s voice sounded odd to him. Will gave her his full attention after taking the last step from the windmill’s metal frame to the ground.
“What’s up?” he asked, tipping back his hat to wipe away perspiration. “I was just headin’ in for a break. Finally got that part to work.” The slowly turning blades bringing water gurgling up through the pipe into the fat metal cistern gave auditory proof of his success.
“That young woman,” his mother said. “Our guest. She’s—”
“What’s she done now?” he demanded when she again broke off without finishing.
“Will…those initials: C. A. Edwards. She’s Cassie. Cassie Edwards!”
His mother seemed to think the name would ring a bell with him.
“Little Cassie Edwards,” she continued. “From Love. Bonnie Edwards’ daughter. Surely you remember her. She was younger than you, but you had to have seen her. Her mother was always draggin’ little Cassie around. I felt sorry for the girl. Dressed in those hippie clothes like her mom. She didn’t look happy.”
“I remember her,” Will said flatly.
It had taken a minute, but he remembered her, all right. Not so much in her early years, but later, when she was starting to leave childhood behind. His most vivid recollection came from the time he’d gone into town for something late in the summer before he left for college, and he’d come up on a few of the local boys giving her a hard time outside the post office. She’d been a mousy little thing back then, all long dark hair and big dark eyes. He’d stopped what was going on and had had a word with the boys. Boys, hell, a couple of ‘em were as old as he was! But he’d doubted it would do much good. She was a juicy target for bullies. Rarely looking at people, seldom saying a word. When he’d turned back, intending to offer her some sort of solace, she’d gone. It probably would have been another waste of words, though, falling hollow on her ears. Still, the way she’d looked that afternoon had stayed with him for the next few weeks. Her defenselessness, her alarm, her misery. And, for just a moment, a spark of something in her eyes that he couldn’t put a name to. Shortly afterward, he’d left for A&M and gotten busy with his courses and college life. Then a few years later his dad had died in a ranch accident and he’d come back to run the Circle Bar-T. Bonnie Edwards was still around town, but he never saw the daughter. At some point later someone mentioned that she’d moved away, and he remembered silently wishing her well. Then he’d forgotten all about her, having plenty of problems of his own to deal with.
“She says she’s here to make us an offer.”
His mother’s words jerked him back to the present. He frowned. “What kind of offer?”
She shrugged. “She says she’ll tell us at dinner. She must mean supper, considering what time of day it is. She’s…different, Will. And I’m not just talkin’ about her losing most of her accent or referring to things the way city people do.”
“What did Granddad say?”
“I haven’t told him yet.”
To help ease his mother’s apprehension, he teased lightly, “Who knows? Maybe this’ll be good news. At least that would be somethin’ of a change.”
Sylvia wasn’t ready to be cheered. Instead, she fell back on the phrase she’d begun to use almost automatically these days. “Whatever happens, we’ll be fine.”
As usual, Will pretended to believe her. Then he set his hat back to the proper low angle over his forehead, bent to collect his tools, and as he straightened, said, “I think we should tell Granddad. Warn him about who she is and what she wants.”
“Me, too,” his mother agreed.
“He awake from his siesta yet?”
“Then let’s go do it.”
About Ginger Chambers:
Ginger Chambers is the bestselling author of numerous books sold throughout the world. She has written for Harlequin’s American Romance, Superromance and the Tyler I and II continuity series. She has also written for Dell Publishing in the Candlelight Romance, Ecstasy and Ecstasy Supreme lines. At present, she is working to make her backlist books once again available to readers.