Tag Archives: cowboys

The Best Man Plan: A Boots And Bouquets Novel by Jaci Burton (Book Showcase)

New York Times bestselling author Jaci Burton kicks off a dreamy new series with a sweep-you-off-your-feet friends-to-lovers romance.

Three days before Erin Bellini’s wedding, her fiancé breaks up with her–in an email! Hurt and embarrassed, she decides to have a fling with veterinarian Jason Callum, who’s both the best man and the hottest guy she knows. But Jason wants a lot more than just a one-night stand with the woman he’s cared about for years. So he’s taking things slow. And hot. And showing Erin what real love can look like.

Suddenly Erin finds herself spending a lot more time with Jason than she intended.  Feelings she never planned on having again are wrapping around her heart, refusing to let go. Erin isn’t sure she can trust her instincts, though. After all, she made a terrible choice with her ex-fiancé. But Jason intends to convince her that he’s the best man for her, and that what they have together is a real love that will last forever.

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

Audiobook Purchase Link

 

START READING!
(Preview courtesy of Jaci’s Website)

Chapter One


Erin Bellini shouted out from her office at Red Moss Vineyards.

“Mom. Have you talked to the caterers?”

Her mother didn’t respond right away. It was her most annoying quality. While she waited, Erin jotted down several things she needed to remind her bridesmaids about. Her two sisters were onsite so she had them covered, but she made a note in her planner for the rest of the bridesmaids.

Erin’s mother, Maureen, made an appearance in Erin’s office. “You don’t need to yell at me, Erin. You could have just sent me a text. And yes, caterers are confirmed. Which I already told you this morning.”

“Right. You did. For some reason I hadn’t checked it off the list. Sorry.” She typed an X in the spreadsheet on her laptop as well as marking it off on the page in her planner. She looked up at her mother. “And my dress is back from alterations, right?”

“It’s in your closet.” Her mom made that face, the one where her lips went straight and her eyes narrowed and you knew you were being scrutinized. “You’re not getting nervous, are you?”

Erin smiled and took in a deep breath to center herself. “I never get nervous. Because I have everything organized. In my planner. In my spreadsheet. In the notes on my phone.”

Her mother smiled. “Right. Yes, well that’s you, honey. I’m going out to the vineyards to check on your dad. Call if you need me.”

“Okay.”

She should call Owen, her fiancé, to make sure he remembered he had to pick up the tuxes. Or maybe she should call Jason, Owen’s best friend and the best man. Owen was always scattered and busy and he’d likely forget. Thankfully he had her to organize everything for him.

She picked up her phone and found Jason, then pressed the call button.

“Busy here, Erin.”

She shook her head at Jason’s gruff brush-off. They’d grown up together, had known each other forever. “I need you to pick up the tuxes.”

“What?”

“The tuxes, Jason.”

“I’m knee-deep in cow shit right now, Erin. You don’t mean now, do you?”

“No. I mean tomorrow.” She heard mooing. “You delivering babies?”

“Pregnancy checks.”

“Oh. Cool.” Jason was a large animal vet, so he was always on the run. He was part of a practice in town, but he also worked the local ranches.

She was scrolling through her e-mails when she saw one from Owen. Huh. That was odd. Owen never e-mailed her. He either called or texted. She frowned and clicked on it.

“I thought Owen was doing the tux thing,” Jason said.

“Owen is likely up to his elbows in hops or wheat or whatever it is that brewers do. Or he’s making sure the brewery won’t go up in flames without him when we’re on our honeymoon. You know how he is.”

“Fine. I’ll handle it. Anything else?”

“Yeah.” She was trying to concentrate on Owen’s e-mail and forgot she was on the phone with Jason.

“Erin. Anything else?”

Her blood went cold. Everything in her went cold, despite the warm May day.

She read the e-mail again. It was a breakup e-mail. Two days before the wedding, and Owen was breaking up with her.

“In a freaking e-mail? He’s breaking up with me in an e-mail?”

“Who’s breaking up with you?” Jason asked. “Owen is?”

She was getting married in two days. Correction. Apparently she was not getting married, because exactly two days before their wedding Owen had broken up with her. Via e-mail.

She felt dizzy and sick to her stomach. She leaned over and put her head between her legs.

“Erin. Are you there?”

“Did you know about this?” she asked, trying not to faint or throw up.

“Hell no, I didn’t know. Did he call you?”

Erin straightened, the dizziness making her feel as if she’d just downed a bottle of Bellini’s best prosecco in one gulp.

Two days. They were getting married in two days. This had to be a mistake. But as she looked at the e-mail again, the word “mistake” was written in the same sentence as the words, “us getting married.”

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” she screamed, long and loud, then yelled, “That sonofabitch. I will kill him. He broke up with me in an e-mail, Jason.”

“He didn’t,” Jason said. “Are you sure?”

She straightened, shoving her laptop as if somehow that was the same thing as slapping Owen. “Oh, he did. And I’m sure. I can read a damn e-mail, Jason. I gotta go.” She ended the call and stared at her lists, tears pricking her eyes as the future she’d envisioned with Owen dissolved right in front of her.

All because of an e-mail. An e-mail! How could he be so cold?

“I will kill him. I. Will. Kill. Him.”

She was breathing too fast and she knew it. She was going to hyperventilate if she didn’t calm down. She pushed herself out of her chair and forced herself to pace the floor of her office, centering her breathing, holding the tears back, resisting the urge to crumple on the floor and sob like a baby.

How could he do this to her? To them? They were perfect together.

Oh, no. She would not cry. Not over him.

Want to read the entire first chapter?
Then click HERE!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Matchmaker’s Mistletoe Mission by Jaci Burton (Book Showcase)

New York Times bestselling author Jaci Burton celebrates the gift of love and the holiday season with a snowy Christmas wedding at the Bellini family vineyard.

Stranded at the Red Moss Vineyard a week before her best friend’s wedding, LA native and professional matchmaker Alice Weatherford is not pleased with her first trip to Oklahoma, or the epic snowstorm forcing her to stay. So much for Christmas cheer. What she needs is a project, something to distract her…and, oh, has she found one in neighboring rancher Clay Henry. Gorgeous, charming, and unlike any other man she’s ever met, finding the right woman for Clay should be easy….

Having grown up with the Bellini sisters, it’s no hardship for Clay to ride out the storm at their cozy family vineyard, especially since that means spending time with their savvy and smart houseguest. But despite Alice’s best efforts, he’s not the least bit interested in her matchmaking….

Alice is the only woman Clay wants. Now he just has to convince the matchmaker herself to give love a chance.

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

Excerpt courtesy of Jaci Burton’s website

 

Alice Weatherford pulled her rental car into a parking space at the Red Moss Vineyards.

Talk about off the beaten path. This was her first trip to Oklahoma. As an LA native, her travels tended to be more coastal in nature, and her desires were definitely more exotic. She’d been to Hawaii, Fiji, the Caribbean, the Azores, Greece, so many places.

She had to admit she’d had preconceived notions when her best friend Lainie had started dating Jeff, an Oklahoma native. Even though Lainie had raved about Oklahoma City, Alice had had a hard time imagining it as a happening place. Then when Lainie and Jeff had gotten engaged and decided to get married at the vineyard about twenty miles outside the city, all Alice could think about were the amazing vineyards in Napa and Sonoma and what a wasted opportunity it would be not to have the wedding in California.

But as she got out of her car and took in the beautiful scenery in the middle of December, she was impressed. Rolling hills and tall trees adorned the landscape, along with rows upon rows of grapevines. In the not-too-far distance she spotted a picturesque pergola overlooking a lake, and could already envision Lainie and Jeff’s wedding next weekend. Besides, it was Lainie’s wedding, not hers, and Lainie could get married anywhere she wanted. Lainie loved Jeff, and if she wanted to get hitched in his home state, more power to her. Alice just wanted her best friend to be happy.

She only hoped the weather would be better next weekend than it was right now. Once she’d picked up her rental car and left the airport, it had started to snow, something they didn’t see much of in Los Angeles. Hardly ever, for that matter. She pulled her cardigan tightly around her, wishing she had bought a better coat than the thin wool one she’d picked up before leaving LA. The coat that was currently residing in her suitcase because she was an idiot. The wind whipped around her, slapping tendrils of her hair against her cheeks and making her quicken her pace.

She headed up the stairs of a large, beautiful wood-framed house that was decorated with bright white Christmas lights. A welcome sign with a friendly snowman waving at her adorned the door, making her smile. Hanging on the wall next to the door was a wreath that had been made from twisted branches and decorated with red berries, green leaves and a beautiful red bow. She rang the bell, already starting to shiver. She half turned to see that the snow was coming down even harder now.

Uh-oh. This could be bad. Very bad. Then again, maybe it was just flurries. How would she even know? She’d never been in a snowstorm before. She always planned her trips to coincide with nice weather.

Leave it to Lainie to decide on a Christmas-themed wedding. And she wasn’t even here yet, and wouldn’t arrive until next Thursday. As a pharmaceutical sales rep, Lainie was constantly on the go. And since Jeff was a doctor, the two of them led extremely busy lives. In fact, Lainie was currently managing a team of her own reps and attending a seminar in Portland this week. Jeff was an orthopedic surgeon and always buried in work. Because they were both taking off time for the wedding and their honeymoon in Greece after, they wanted to work as long as possible up to the wedding. Which meant it was up to Alice to fly on ahead and make sure all the preparations were made before the wedding.

Which Alice didn’t mind at all. Her job was a lot more flexible. She was planning to stay in a hotel in Oklahoma City and do some work. A change of scenery was always a good idea. Plus, she might make some contacts here. Maybe pick up some new business.

The door opened, and a beautiful woman with raven hair pulled up into a ponytail smiled at her. “Hello. You must be Alice. I’m Erin Bellini. Please come in.”

“Thanks.” Alice stepped in and shook the snow off her shoulders and hair.

“This snow is extremely unexpected.”

Alice looked out the window next to the door, and she could swear it was coming down even harder than when she’d arrived. In fact, the windshield of her car was already covered with it. “Do you think it’ll last long?”

Erin closed the door behind her. “The forecast calls for six inches, so it might last a while. You’re probably cold. Come on into the family room, and I’ll make you some tea or coffee.”

“Thank you.” She followed Erin into a beautifully decorated room with arched windows surrounded by dark wood and a fireplace that crackled with a roaring fire. She already felt so much warmer. Next to the fire was the biggest Christmas tree Alice had ever seen, decorated with silver and gold balls, white twinkling lights and red ribbon. That tree had to be ten feet tall.

There was plenty of room for it since the room had a ceiling that seemed to go on forever. This house was huge. Alice hoped she’d have a chance to explore it.

“Take a seat by the fire,” Erin said. “Would you like coffee or tea?”

“Coffee would be great, thank you. Decaf if you have it.”

“I do. I’ll be right back. Please make yourself at home.”

She set her bag next to the chair and sat, pulling out her phone. She had several text messages—one from Lainie, of course. She replied to that one to let her best friend know she’d arrived. She left off the fact that large flakes were coming down like snowmageddon, figuring that worrying Lainie wouldn’t do the already nervous bride-to-be any good. Then she let Lainie know she’d call her tonight with a more detailed update.

She answered the other text messages, mostly from anxious clients, assuaging their fears. She had a few e-mails to answer, but she could handle those later.

“Here you go.” Erin returned with a tray that she placed on the table between the two chairs. She poured coffee into both cups. Erin had also brought cream and sugar, so Alice put a little cream into her cup and lifted it to her lips.

Mmm. Delicious. “Thank you for this, Erin. I’m sorry to be a burden.”

Erin held her own mug between her hands. “Nonsense. We’re happy to have you here. My sister, Honor, actually handles the wedding portion of the business, but she’s out right now. As soon as she comes back, she can tell you all the details of the wedding.”

“Of course. And what do you do?”

“I’m the business manager. Since the family handles both the vineyard and weddings, I manage the business side of both.”

“That’s a big job.”

“It is, but I love it. My other sister, Brenna, works with my dad at the vineyard.”

Alice smiled. “How ideal. So all three of you are involved in the family business in some way.”

“Yes, it just worked out that way. Our mother helps me manage the family business as a whole entity. She’s the accountant in the family. I went to college to get a business degree, planning to run off and do anything but be involved in Bellini business.”
 
“But?”

Erin smiled. “After I graduated, I could see how being part of the family business had its benefits. I couldn’t wait to dig in and make the operation flow more smoothly.”

“Plus, you already knew how things worked, right?”

“Exactly. What do you do, Alice?”

“I’m a matchmaker.”

Erin’s eyes widened. “No kidding. That must be so fun, helping people fall in love.”

Alice had noticed the big, beautiful diamond on Erin’s ring finger right off. “It’s an amazing job. But I see you need no help in that department.”

Erin laughed. “No, fortunately. I’m engaged, and I’ll be getting married next spring.”

“Here at the vineyard, I assume?”

“Yes, of course. Plans are in full swing.”

“Congratulations. I’m sure you’re very excited.”

“Thank you. And yes, I am.”

“I’m so sorry I’m late.” A beautiful brunette rushed in, brushing snow off her hair as she did. She held out her hand. “You must be Alice. I’m Honor Bellini. I got waylaid by traffic and then this snow. It’s very unexpected.”

“Nice to meet you, Honor,” Alice said, shaking her hand. “I guess no one was expecting this amount of snow.”

“Initially, they predicted a couple of inches. This morning they changed it to six inches. I heard on my way here it might end up being a foot.”

“A foot, really?” Erin said. “Wow. We normally don’t get much snow at all.”

“Will it affect your vineyards?”

Honor shook her head. “Dad is bringing the warmers out just in case, but the vines are dormant this time of year, so we should be okay.”

Alice was relieved to hear that, not only for the vineyard, but also for the wedding next weekend. The last thing Lainie needed was a pre-wedding catastrophe at the venue.

“You probably want to go over everything for your friend’s wedding,” Honor said.

“I can wait. Take some time to catch your breath first.”

“Oh, I’m good. I’m used to running a hundred miles a minute.”

“This is true, she is,” Erin said, standing.

Honor looked at her phone. “Actually, we should eat before we get down to details. Everyone comes in for lunch, so you’ll get a chance to meet the family.”

“I don’t want to intrude.”

“Nonsense. We always end up with extras at lunch.”

“She’s right,” Erin said. “I hadn’t even realized it was lunchtime. That explains why my stomach is growling.” She smiled ruefully. “I skipped breakfast this morning, so I’m starving.”

Alice felt a little strange about inserting herself into the family. She had only planned to stop by and introduce herself, take a look at the vineyard and the wedding venue, then head over to her hotel. But since Honor was literally dragging her by the arm, she didn’t have much choice.

And, to be honest, she really didn’t mind, because now she could get a better look at the house, which was incredible. They walked down a long hallway, and Alice couldn’t help but admire the staircase leading to the second floor as they passed by. Cream wood spindles stood out under the dark wood rail. There was a grandfather clock in the hall that had to be an antique, yet it gleamed as shiny as if it were new. Black-and-white photos adorned the walls, and Alice wondered who the people in them were. But since both Honor and Erin were moving at a fast pace, she made a mental note to ask later.

They stepped into a dining room that by Alice’s standards was enormous. There was a long wood table that could accommodate at least twenty, and several people were already seated, including a woman who Alice could tell had to be Erin and Honor’s mother. She had dark wavy red hair pulled up by a clip and stunning green eyes.

“Mom, this is Alice Weatherford,” Honor said. “She’s maid of honor for the Tigen/Friday wedding next Saturday. She’s Lainie Tigen’s best friend. Alice, this is our mother, Maureen Bellini.”

Maureen clasped both her hands over Alice’s and smiled the warmest smile Alice had ever been graced with.

“Alice, we’re so happy to welcome you to Red Moss Vineyards.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Bellini.”

“Please. Call me Maureen. I’m glad you’re here for lunch. I’m sorry you arrived when we’re having an uncharacteristically vicious snowstorm.”

“Fortunately, I got here before the snow started coming down too hard.”

“Well, it’s snowing even more now, so at least you’re safe here.”

She smiled at Maureen. “Thank you for that.”

A big, burly guy came in and put his arm around Maureen. He had dark hair, graying at the temples.

“This is my husband, Johnny,” Maureen said. “Johnny, this is Alice Weatherford. Her best friend is getting married here next weekend.”

“Very nice to meet you, Miss Weatherford. We’re happy to have you at the Bellini home.”

She instantly liked Mr. Bellini. He had a kind smile and polite demeanor. He held out the chair for his wife and pressed his hand on her shoulder. When Maureen smiled up at him, Alice could immediately feel the affection between the two of them.

“Sorry I’m late—I was on the phone.” A gorgeous redhead came into the room and slid into one of the chairs. “Did I miss anything?”

“Alice, this is our other sister, Brenna,” Honor said. Honor told Brenna who Alice was.

“Oh, great to meet you, Alice. Glad you made it before the snowstorm got out of hand.”

“Thanks.” From what she was hearing, this snowfall was going to get bad. She tried to keep her spirits up, but she was beginning to think getting back to Oklahoma City was going to be hazardous.

Several other people came in and Honor introduced them as a few of the employees who worked at the vineyard. Then lunch was served, and Alice was shocked to discover there was a working kitchen staff as well.

Wow. Red Moss Vineyards was a big deal.

“Louise and her husband, Marcus, have been here for over twenty-five years,” Honor said. “Mom and Dad hired them on when they bought the vineyard, and they have their own house on the property.”

Louise looked to be in her early fifties, of medium height with short brown hair and peaches-and-cream skin. She was dressed in dark brown pants and a white top and wore a cardigan, and if Alice didn’t see her serving the meal she would have thought she was one of the houseguests. Louise passed out the soup and smiled at Maureen. “We’re like family.”

“Indeed we are. I don’t know what we would do without Louise and Marcus here to help us.”

“What Mom is trying to say is that she’s a terrible cook,” Brenna said. “And without Louise here, we’d have all starved.”

“Brenna.” It wasn’t Maureen admonishing Brenna—it was Louise.

Maureen laughed. “So true. My head was always in the books, and not in the kitchen.”

“That’s why you have me,” Louise said.

“A man can only eat so many plates of burned lasagna,” Johnny said, offering up a rueful smile to his wife.

“You were a champion about that,” Maureen said.

She heard the front door open and close and felt the cold chill of air all the way down the hall. The sound of boots making their way toward them intrigued her. A man’s tall, wide frame filled the doorway, and for a moment, Alice forgot to breathe.
 
He was magnificent standing there in a heavy long coat, a cowboy hat tipped low on his face showing off just a hint of beard stubble on his magnificent jaw. He looked straight out of an old Western movie, all the way down to his snow-covered boots.

He pulled off the hat, revealing a full head of thick, dark blond hair, and his eyes were a mesmerizing whiskey brown.

Alice wasn’t one to be taken in by a handsome man, but this one? Wow.

“It’s really coming down out there,” he said. “I was going to head to my place, but I can barely see. Plus, I rode over here on Mickey, and I was worried about trying to ride home in this weather. I hope you don’t mind, but I stowed Mickey in your barn and thought I’d say hello.”

“I’m glad you decided to stop here,” Johnny said. “Take your coat off and stay for lunch, Clay. We’ll see how the weather plays out.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”

He half turned, but then his gaze caught Alice’s and he offered up a smile.

All of her parts suddenly woke up from their cold winter freeze.

Who was this gorgeous guy?


END OF EXCERPT

 

Amazon Kindle US
Barnes & Noble Nook
Apple Books
Kobo
Google Play

Amazon Kindle UK
Kobo UK
Amazon Kindle AU

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats by Gini Rifkin (Book Review)

Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.

No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated. 

Back on the ranch in Colorado, Ochessa works as hard as any man. Then Nick tempts her into playing even harder as a woman—both are consumed by their growing love for one another. 

Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…

Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

Kindle Purchase Link (UK)

Print Purchase Link (UK)

Barnes and Noble Purchase Link

 

 

Naked to the waist, and bent over the horse trough, his sculpted muscles standing out in sharp relief, Nic scooped handfuls of water over his head. A growl escaped him as he straightened to his full height, and slicked back the dripping mane of dark hair. Arms still raised, he met her gaze, as the excess water trickled happily across his bare chest.

Involuntarily she sucked in a deep breath. The distance between them felt charged with lightning, thunder pounding in her brain, leaving the rest of the world dead silent.

A look of surprise flickered across Nic’s face. His muscles flexed and bulged as he lowered his arms to his sides.

“Good evening, boss.” He emphasized the last word as if were a personal joke.

She swallowed hard, and fought to find her voice. “Time’s a wasting, Breedlove. Why are you still hanging around the ranch? Shouldn’t you be out earning your keep?”

“Well, we all have our own way of doing things, and my way is usually different from the norm.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”

Retrieving his hat, he carefully dislodged a thistle from the battered brim then settled the coveted headgear upon his head. “What would surprise you, Ochessa?” He studied her with an expression that sizzled and danced through her like water on a hot griddle.

“Not seeing you every time I turn around would be a good start.”

“You’re not very good at lying.”

She nudged a dried up cow pie with the toe of her boot. “Maybe not. But I am good at recognizing a load of bull when it comes my way.”

He gave a deep chuckle, and reached for the shirt dangling from the water pump. “Sounds like you’ve been on both ends of the shovel.”

“No more than anyone else, I guess.”

He stood his ground, casually shucking into the article of clothing, his movements so sure, no wasted motion, no hesitation. Did he live his life the same? Taking what he wanted when and where he found it? She imagined him wanting her, taking her, and as his gaze slid down the front of her body, memories of their stolen passion again flared hot in the pit of her stomach.

His eyes brightened as if the same thoughts held him transfixed. Then his expression hardened, and the gleam in his eyes turned to flint. “I should have some information for you soon. I’ll be out of your way come morning.”

The fluttering in her belly turned to a panic. His leaving disturbed her more than running into him at every turn. Yet, it was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Confusion had her at a loss as to how to respond or how to proceed. It felt as if she’d captured a wild creature, and now before ever knowing what made him so intriguing, so unique, she had to set him free.

His mouth softened into a mocking smile. “I’ll be back in a day or two. I’m only going to Denver.”

Apparently her face was an open book, and now she felt the fool. “Don’t hurry on my account. I was only worried Lucky might miss you.”

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

Kindle Purchase Link (UK)

Print Purchase Link (UK)

Barnes and Noble Purchase Link

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

When you look back on the history of the Old West, you’ll see more men recognized than women. However, women did have a great impact on this time period much like they do today.

No matter the era, women are strong, fierce, warriors who can hold their own in a fight. In Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats, Gini brought us Orchessa Starr. She had more skill with a firearm than a rolling pin. She ran a ranch and was well respected for her leadership. She was strongly independent, brave, and fiercely loyal to all those around her. She’s the type of character, a woman, I’d loved see portrayed more in books.

Nic, the drifter, was your typical male character you’ll see in many stories. He was adventurous, charming, flirtatious, and brave.

They might’ve had their differences, at first, but they came together to make one dynamic team.

Gun battles, outlaws, mystery, death, deception, romance, and love…. Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats was a very well written Old West story.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.

 

Heart Rating System

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

Kindle Purchase Link (UK)

Print Purchase Link (UK)

Barnes and Noble Purchase Link

 

 

Where the past and the present meet adventure and romance:

Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly and danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Court Me, Cowboy & The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal by Barbara White Daille (Author Showcase)

The End…or Just the Beginning?

Gabe Miller’s marriage ended so fast it had hardly begun. Which is why he couldn’t quite believe his luck—or his “ex”—when she returned a few months later with the news that legally they were still husband and wife. And that the child she was carrying was his son.

Gabe feared Marissa would bolt again, making a custody battle his only option—unless he could turn back the clock and woo her the way he should have during their whirlwind romance. But even with his boy’s future at stake, mending fences with a woman—especially the one he loved—wasn’t something the strong, silent type found easy to do….

 

CHAPTER ONE

One day soon, he’d get rid of this wedding ring.

Gabe Miller tossed the gold circle into the air and snatched it back again, trying not to think of the woman who’d slipped it onto his left hand, third finger. Trying not to think of what she’d had inscribed inside.

Forever, M

Ha. What a crock. Forever hadn’t lasted but three short weeks.

Scowling, he shoved the band into the velvet-lined jeweler’s box and slid it back beneath the stack of flannel shirts in the dresser drawer. Call him a dumb cowboy, but it’d taken his own wife’s desertion to finally get the message rammed into his thick skull:

Never trust a woman.

“Yo, boss.”

He turned. Warren stood in the bedroom doorway, his whiskered face scrunched into a frown.

“Shake a leg. The boys’ll be raring to eat any minute now.”

“Right.” He hustled along the hall in his elderly ranch hand’s wake. Their two pairs of boots sounded loud on the bare wooden stairs. He glared at the older man’s back, then felt immediate guilt. Warren hadn’t caused his ugly mood.

He followed him into the kitchen.

“We gotta get us a cook, boss. It’s been months since Joe and Mary went back east.” Warren flipped a switch, powering up the coffeemaker Gabe had gotten ready the night before. “Lord knows, a rancher’s got enough to keep him moving, sunup to sundown. And you’re kept busier than most, considerin’ the size of your spread, and managing it yourself ‘n all.”

“We’re doing just fine, Warren.” He kept his tone neutral, knowing how much the older man hated that he couldn’t pull his weight with the younger hands any more.

“Yeah, ‘long as you don’t try gettin’ too fancy.”

“Okay, so the pancakes didn’t work out too well.”

That earned him a chuckle.

Gabe grabbed the egg carton and a pack of pork links from the refrigerator. Sure, this’d been the last thing he’d needed–undertaking kitchen duties once his ranch cook and her husband had moved on. And Gabe did have more to handle than most of the local ranchers. Something Marissa hadn’t understood.

He rubbed the back of his neck and tried to swallow a growl. Tried to stop thinking of Marissa.

Lost cause, that idea. He brooded on it, anyway. Why in heck did he wake up this morning–alone in his big bed–with the feeling today would turn out worse than the usual? He couldn’t manage to push the feeling of gloom from his mind, the way he’d shoved the wedding ring back under his flannel shirts. The ring he should have tossed out, just the way she’d tossed him aside and walked out, months ago.

That, right there, was the problem.

She’d taken off three months ago today.

Jared and Hank and the rest of the cowhands trooped into the kitchen. Their usual whooping and hollering drowned out the sizzle of eggs and sausages.

“Hey, boys, hold it down a bit,” Warren grumbled. “Don’t know where you get your energy this early in the morning.”

Gabe grimaced, knowing his own bad mood had caused the complaints. He was used to rowdy cowboys before the sun was even up–he’d breakfasted with ranch hands all his life. But he remembered those days–those way too few days–when he’d skipped the chow-downs out at the bunkhouse and spent every last early-morning moment he could bedded down with his wife.

Hank, best known as the ranch’s clown, looked over Gabe’s shoulder. “No pancakes today, boss?”

The rest of the men guffawed.

“All right, so I’m not much of a cook.” Marissa was. He shook the thought away. “Better knock it off, or y’all will be taking turns at the stove yourselves.”

Silence fell heavier than a bale dropped from the hayloft. His back still turned to his men, he reached for the egg carton again and grinned. Shut them up, all right.

In the calm, he heard the noise of a car’s engine outside. Awfully early for visitors.

Warren pushed up the blind over the kitchen sink and squinted through the window. “Seems like you got company, boss.” The old cowboy’s voice had gone rusty.

Gabe stepped to his side. “Must be Doc, right? Nobody else’d–”

What he saw through the window shut him up, too. The light over the back porch stabbing through pre-dawn darkness. The white Mustang purring in the drive. And the woman sitting behind the wheel.

Marissa.

He must not have woken up yet after all, must have dreamed Warren’s call and his trip to the kitchen. Because, Lord only knew, he was dreaming now. Blinking didn’t help. The picture didn’t go away. He closed his eyes for a long moment and opened them again. Nope, she was still there.

Looking right at the lighted kitchen window.

He stumbled back a pace.

“Easy, now.” Warren might’ve been talking to a skittish colt. He pulled the forgotten carton of eggs from Gabe’s hands. “Got it under control here, boss. I guess you got some business needs taking care of.”

“Yeah, right.” He looked through the window again, gritted his teeth and set his jaw.

He had something to take care of, all right.

Throwing his ex-wife off his land.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Harlequin | Kobo

 

 

A husband for Christmas?  

Mitch Weston’s back in Cowboy Creek, and self-proclaimed matchmaker Jed Garland has his single granddaughter Andi on his mind. Mitch is a lawman, good with the little ones and easy on the eyes. He and Andi were high school sweethearts, for heaven’s sake! Why can’t they see they’re perfect for each other?  

Because Andi already lost one husband to a dangerous job, and now she’s all about playing it safe, for her sake and her children’s. Being a cop is everything to Mitch. After discovering Jed’s plan, Mitch and Andi come up with their own: they’ll pretend to get engaged and then break up due to irreconcilable differences. Jed’s got his work cut out for him—because this match needs a Christmas miracle!

 

 

As Mitch strode through the doorway, Andi crossed her arms, rested her hips against the table, and gave in to the pleasure of seeing him. In tight black T-shirt, jeans and black biker boots, he looked taller and tougher and sexier than ever before. That T-shirt and his black hair made his eyes startling blue.

“Jed and Paz told me I would find you here.”

She frowned. “Is everything okay? Do they need me to take Missy off their hands?”

“No, they’re feeding her Paz’s Christmas cookies, and they said that’s keeping her out of trouble. They also said your kids won’t ever want to go home.”

Just what Jed was hoping for, she knew.

“What can I do for you?” she asked. When he grinned, she crossed her arms more tightly. “I’m very busy.”

“That’s why I’m here. Jed figured he’d keep me out of trouble by giving me a job.”

She stood straighter. “I don’t need a helper, thank you.”

“Too late. I’m on board. What do you want me to do?”

She turned away and rummaged through a carton of ornaments. “Nothing. I’ve got everything under control.” The words made her think again of her reaction to his kiss. Of her loss of control.

“Andi, walking away yesterday didn’t make me go away. Pretending to be busy here doesn’t mean I’ll disappear. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you?”

“At the moment, you are.”

“Well, that’s a start.”

She shot a look over her shoulder and found him smiling down at her. He was so close, she could have taken a step back and found herself in his arms.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Harlequin | IndieBound | Kobo

 

 

I’m Barbara, and I write small-town romance that usually includes quirky characters and a touch of humor.

Have fun looking around the site and my blog, The Daille-y News.” And consider signing up for my newsletter, where you’ll get insider info on my writing life, sneak previews, and access to subscriber-only book giveaways.

 

Website Link 
Facebook Link
Twitter Link

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Book Showcase)

 

It’s Christmas in Copper Ridge, and love is waiting to be unwrapped… 

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery’s new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair?

Thirteen years ago, Liam’s boss at the winery offered him a bribe—leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn’t good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he’s back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together…

 

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

UK – Amazon Link

 

Excerpt courtesy of Maisey Yates’ website

 

Liam Donnelly was nobody’s favorite.

Though being a favorite in their household growing up would never have meant much, Liam was confident that as much as both of his parents disdained their younger son, Alex, they hated Liam more.

As much as his brothers loved him—or, whatever you wanted to call their brand of affection—Liam knew he wasn’t the one they’d carry out if there was a house fire. That was fine too.

It wasn’t self-pity. It was just a fact.

But while he wasn’t anyone’s particular favorite, he knew he was at least one person’s least favorite.

Sabrina Leighton hated him with every ounce of her beautiful, petite body. Not that he blamed her. But, considering they were having a business meeting today, he did hope that she could keep some of the hatred bottled up.

Liam got out of his truck and put his cowboy hat on, surveying his surroundings. The Grassroots winery spread was beautiful, with a large, picturesque home overlooking the grounds. The winery and the road leading up to it were carved into a mountainside. Trees and forest surrounded the facility on three sides, creating a secluded feeling. Like the winery was part of another world. In front of the first renovated barn was a sprawling lawn and a path that led down to the river. There was a seating area there and Liam knew that during the warmer months it was a nice place to hang out. Right now, it was too damned cold, and the damp air that blew up from the rushing water sent a chill straight through him.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and kept on walking. There were three rustic barns on the property that they used for weddings and dinners, and one that had been fully remodeled into a dining and tasting room.

He had seen the new additions online. He hadn’t actually been to Grassroots in the past thirteen years. That was part of the deal. The deal that had been struck back when Jamison Leighton was still owner of the place.

Back when Liam had been nothing more than a good-for-nothing, low-class troublemaker with a couple of misdemeanors to his credit.

Times changed.

Liam might still be all of those things at heart, but he was also a successful businessman. And Jamison Leighton no longer owned Grassroots Winery.

Some things, however, hadn’t changed. The presence of Sabrina Leighton being one of them.

It had been thirteen years. But he couldn’t pretend that he thought everything was all right and forgiven. Not considering the way she had reacted when she had seen him at Ace’s bar the past few months. Small towns.

Like everybody was at the same party and could only avoid each other for so long.

If it wasn’t at the bar, they would most certainly end up at a four-way stop at the same time, or in the same aisle at the grocery store.

But today’s meeting would not be accidental. Today’s meeting was planned. He wondered if something would get thrown at him. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

He walked across the gravel lot and into the dining room. It was empty, since the facility had yet to open for the day.

rustic barn with a wooden chandelier hanging in the center. There was a bar with stools positioned at the front, and tables set up around the room. Back when he had worked here there had been one basic tasting room, and nowhere for anyone to sit. Most of the wine had been sent out to retail stores for sale, rather than making the winery itself some kind of destination.

He wondered when all of that had changed. He imagined it had something to do with Lindy, the new owner and ex-wife of Jamison Leighton’s son, Damien. As far as Liam knew, and he knew enough—considering he didn’t get involved with business ventures without figuring out what he was getting into—Damien had drafted the world’s dumbest prenuptial agreement. At least, it was dumb for a man who clearly had problems keeping it in his pants.

Though why Sabrina was still working at the winery when her sister-in-law had current ownership, and her brother had been deposed, and her parents were—from what he had read in public records—apoplectic about the loss of their family legacy, he didn’t know. But he assumed he would find out. About the same time he found out whether or not something was going to get thrown at his head.

The door from the back opened, and he gritted his teeth. Because, no matter how prepared he felt philosophically to see Sabrina, he knew that there would be impact. There always was. A damned funny thing, that one woman could live in the back of his mind the way that she had for so long. That no matter how many years, or how many women he put between them, she still burned bright and hot in his memory.

That no matter how he had prepared himself to run into her—because he knew how small towns worked—the impact was like a brick to the side of his head every single time.

And no matter that this meeting was carefully orchestrated and planned, he knew it was going to be the same.

And it was.

She appeared a moment after the door opened, looking severe. Overly so. Her blond hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and she was wearing a black sheath dress that went down past her knee, but conformed to curves that were more generous than they’d been thirteen years ago.

In a good way.

“Hello, Liam,” she said, her tone impersonal. Had she not used his first name, it might have been easy to pretend that she didn’t know who he was.

“Sabrina.” The word came out neutrally enough, but he couldn’t ignore the fact that he could taste it. Like honey on his lips. Sweet. Enticing.

Something he hadn’t tasted in far too long.

Sabrina didn’t seem to feel the moment at all. Her expression remained cool. Her lips set in a flat line, her blue eyes looking through him.

“Lindy told me that you wanted to talk about a potential joint venture. And since that falls under my jurisdiction as manager of the tasting room, she thought we might want to work together.”

She finally smiled.

The smile was so brittle it looked like it might crack her face.

“Yes, I am familiar with the details. Particularly since this venture was my idea.” He let a small silence hang there for a beat before continuing. “I’m looking at an empty building at the end of Main Street in Copper Ridge. I think it would be a great opportunity for both The Laughing Irish and for Grassroots. A tasting room that’s more easily accessible to the tourists who come to Copper Ridge.”

“How would it differ from Lane Donnelly’s store? She sells specialty foods.”

“Well, we would focus on Grassroots Wine and Laughing Irish cheese. Also, I would happily purchase products from Lane’s to give the menu a local focus. It would be nothing big. Just a small lunch place with wine. Very limited selection. Very specialty. But in a town like Copper Ridge, that works well. People want wander the historic main street and shop in boutiques.  A place that offers the change to sit and have a short break is perfect.”

“Great,” she said, her smile remaining completely immobile.

He took that moment to examine her even more closely.  She was more beautiful now than she had been at seventeen. Her slightly round, soft face had refined in the ensuing years, her cheekbones now more prominent, the angle of her chin sharper.

Her eyebrows looked different too. When she’d been a teenager they had been thinner, rounder. Now they were stronger, more angular.

“Great,” he returned. “I guess we can go down and have a look at everything sometime this week. Gage West is the owner of the property, and he hasn’t listed it yet. Handily, my sister-in-law is good friends with his wife. Both of my sisters-in-law, actually. So I’ve got the inside track on that.”

Her expression turned bland. “How impressive.”

She sounded absolutely unimpressed. “It wasn’t intended to be impressive. Just useful.”

Her lips twitched, like she was holding back a smile. But not a particularly nice smile. “Well, aim for what you can achieve I suppose.”

“I didn’t say I couldn’t be impressive if I had the mind to be,” he said, unwilling to let that dig go.

Her lips twitched again, bit this time he sensed a lot more irritation than he had before. “That won’t be necessary.” She cleared her throat. “Lindy and I had discussed a shopfront in Gold Valley, since it’s slightly closer to the winery, and at the moment retail space is cheaper there. Why are you thinking Copper Ridge? Aside from the fact that it’s closer to your ranch.”

. It’s definitely on its way, but it’s not there yet.”

“But it’s on its way like you said. Property values are only going to go up.”

“Property values in Copper Ridge already have. And oceanside real estate isn’t going to get cheaper. At the price Gage is willing to sell for we’ll come in with equity.”

She looked irritated, but clearly didn’t have another argument ready. She sighed slowly. “Did you have a day of the week in mind to go view the property? Because I really am very busy.”

“Are you?”

“Yes,” she responded, that smile spreading over her face again. “This is a very demanding job, plus, I do have a life.”

She stopped short of saying exactly what that life entailed.

“Too busy to work on this project, which is part of your actual job?” he asked.

She looked calm, but he could sense a dark energy beneath the surface that spoke of a need to savage him. “I had my schedule sorted out for the next couple of weeks. This is coming together more quickly than expected.”

“I’ll work something out with Gage and give Lindy a call, how about that?”

“You don’t have to call Lindy. I’ll give you my phone number. You can call or text me directly.”

She reached over to the counter and chose a card from the rustic surface, extending her hand toward him. He took the card, their fingertips brushing each other as they made the handoff.

And he felt it. Straight down to his groin, where he had always felt things for her, even though it was impossible. Even though he was all wrong for her. And even though now they were doing a business deal together, and she looked like she would cheerfully chew through his flesh if given half the chance.

She might be smiling. But he didn’t trust that smile. He was still waiting. Waiting for her to shout recriminations at him now that they were alone. Every other time he had encountered her over the past four months it had been in public. Twice in Ace’s bar, and once walking down the street, where she had made a very quick sharp left to avoid walking past him.

It had not been subtle, and it had certainly not spoken of somebody who was over the past.

So, his assumption had been that if the two of them were ever alone she was going to let them have it. But she didn’t. Instead, she gave him that card, and then began to look…bored.

“Did you need anything else?” she asked, still looking determinedly cheerful.

“Not really. Though I have some spreadsheet information that you might want to look over. Ideas that I have for the layout, the menu. It is getting a little ahead of ourselves, in case we end up not liking the venue.”

“You’ve been to look at the venue already, haven’t you?” It was vaguely accusatory.

“I have been to the venue, yes. But again, I believe in preparedness. I was hardly going to get very deep into this if I didn’t think it was viable. Personally, I’m interested in making sure that we have diverse interests. The economy doesn’t typically favor farms, Sabrina. And that is essentially what my brothers and I have. I expect an uphill fight to make the ranch successful.”

She tilted her head to the side. “And yet, our winery is well-established and very healthy.”

“But Lindy wants to expand, I’m not incorrect about that. She was very interested in this proposition, and not only that, she’s started hosting weddings and farm-to-table dinners, right?”

“You know you’re right,” she said. “Like you said, you do your research.”

Her friendliness was beginning to slip. And he waited. For something else. For something to get thrown at him. It didn’t happen.

“That I do. Take these,” he said, handing her the folder that he was holding on to. He made sure their fingers didn’t touch this time. “And we’ll talk next week.”

Then he turned and walked away from her, and  resisted the strong impulse to turn back and get one more glance at her. It wasn’t the first time he had resisted that.

 

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

UK – Amazon Link

 

 

Also In this Series:

APRIL 18, 2017
(Lane’s Book: link)

 

JUNE 27, 2017
(Alison’s Book: link)

 

AUGUST 29, 2017
(Alex’s Book: link)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized