Beauty And The Cowboy Beast

Book Cover: Beauty And The Cowboy Beast

Rosalie Sanders is almost 18 and dreams of having her own family someday. While ready to find a husband, there are no prospects in her hometown. She loves to read and by chance, comes upon an ad in the local paper from a rancher in Wyoming. She doesn’t mean to get caught up in the whole ‘mail order bride’ business, but she is intrigued enough to send him a letter. To her delight, he responds with one of his own, and the two strike up a friendship and then a relationship.

Daniel Ward is a rancher who was disfigured by a horrific fire when he was a child. He never dreams he’ll find someone who’ll accept him because of the way he looks, so when he begins corresponding with a young woman, he’s thrilled.

When the two finally decide to meet, both are met with fears for the future. He worries that she will discover how ugly he is, and turn away from him. The test for Rosalie though, will be if she can look past the scars and let her heart lead the way.

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A heavy weight settled on Rosalie’s chest.  She couldn’t breathe lying down in her bed, she couldn’t breathe sitting up in her chair. She had to get up. She paced across the bedroom floor for a while, but that didn’t work either. She needed air, her lungs screamed for it. She quietly slipped on her clothes, so as not to wake Carrie. She could think of a million questions, but right now she needed to be alone… First, she needed to breathe.

She snuck quietly through the house and out onto the porch. The night air was crisp and she had forgotten her wrap. She hardly noticed, however, as the cool clean night air hit her lungs. She sat on the porch swing and once she was able to breathe again she allowed herself to think about Daniel’s letter.

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He was deformed. Her heart ached for the poor child trapped in an inferno. How frightening would that have been? How painful? Two years of treatments only to be left horribly scarred for life. His heart aching each time someone looked at him with fear or disgust. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She felt that same anxiety and she had to get up and walk. She headed toward the dirt path that wound around her father’s wheat field. She knew if either of her parents woke up and she was missing, they would be angry, but she couldn’t go back in now. She would never be able to sleep.

She walked for a mile or two, turning her face up to the moon. Was Daniel looking at it too? In his letters, he was kind-hearted, compassionate, and generous. Just the kind of person she wanted to spend her life with. Then she forced herself to think of the reality. Could she look at him and not cringe as others had done? She searched her own soul. Would she be able to love a man who was horribly deformed?

It seemed so shallow to even consider it, but she had spent her life dreaming of the perfect husband. He was always strong and handsome. When she thought of Daniel, she imagined him the same, giving her that unexpected tickle in the pit of her belly when she thought of being in his arms. Could she feel that way about someone who was scarred and “hideous” as Daniel himself had put it? Could she look upon him with anything other than pity or loathing? The truth was, she didn’t know.

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Soiled Dove

Life in Calico is ripe with opportunity for an industrious gal. Ginnie Roberts enjoys the party life, drinking and entertaining in the upstairs rooms over the saloon where she works. When she runs into a handsome cowboy who would rather talk than have a tussle under the sheets, she's intrigued, if not disappointed.

Totally smitten and determined to woo her, Joe is up for the challenge of trying to sweet talk Ginnie away from her life as a saloon girl, and he’s got less than a week to do it. But can he? Since he’s wagered his money, why not bet it all? If he can withstand her charms for one week, she’ll give up her profession and marry him. However, if Ginnie wins the bet, Joe must give up all talk about a future together and give her what she wants most: a wild ride with her sexy cowboy.

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Clint rode hard until he reached the edge of the small lake bordering the ranch to the north. Cattle grazed on the grassy hillside. Off in the distance, fields of irrigated crops grew in rows as far as he could see into the horizon.

He had always been content with his place in life. Work on the ranch kept him from getting lonely, until Sherry. For the first time, he was jealous of Jack. Not because he got the girl they both wanted, or because Jack owned a prosperous ranch. To Clint, Jack seemed to have the world in the palm of his hand. Clint wanted the sweet taste of success on his lips, too.

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Roosters welcomed the dawn when Clint returned to Jack’s spread and left the horse back in the stables. He entered the bunkhouse to eat breakfast with the men. A loud, raucous laugh erupted from the corner. It appeared the party was still going strong for a few.

Cookie, you got any coffee?” he asked the round man behind the stove.

Cookie cracked eggs into a large bowl with his pudgy fingers. “Help yourself.” He nodded to the stove. Another loud round of laughter echoed off the walls.

What’s going on over there?” Clint asked, sipping hot coffee.

Dollie’s girlfriend is winning the shirts off Charlie and a couple of the boys. Been at it most of the night. Surprised the hell out of me. She drank six men unconscious.”

You’re talking about Sherry’s friend, Ginnie?”

He nodded. “That’d be the one.”

Clint set the coffee down and joined the group of men watching the poker game.

Ginnie sat with one foot propped up on the chair next to her. Tossing a couple coins into the center of the table, she called a bet. Her cards stayed folded close to her bosom, while the man sitting behind her tried to see her hand.

Clint felt prickles along the back of his neck as she tipped a glass of beer to her lips. She had complete command of the group. Her dress wrinkled, her hair disheveled under a borrowed cowboy hat, enhanced the satisfaction in her twinkling eyes.

Fold,” the man facing her said, and tossed his cards on the table, throwing his arms wide in defeat.

Another hand?” Her silky voice held a challenge.

At the shake of his head, Ginnie reached out to slide the coins into her pile. The man took her hand, and brushed his lips and mustache against her knuckles.

Clint watched the exchange, his temper darkening like ominous thunderclouds on a muggy summer afternoon. He approached the table.

Good morning,” she said to Clint, as she glanced at the men around her. “Thanks for the game, boys. Perhaps I’ll see some of y’all later.” She returned the cowboy hat to its rightful owner. “I’ll collect my winnings now.” Her eyes never left Clint as she folded the bills piled in front of her and stuffed them into the cleavage of her dress. Her gaze flitted away as she dropped the coins into her small bag.

She stood and put her hand on Clint’s elbow. “I’d like a cup of coffee.”

Still angry, his posture stiff, he fell into step beside her when she walked away. “You think I came in here to find you?” he asked coldly.

Quite the contrary. I know you’re irritated with me by the look on your face. I can tell you didn’t sleep either. We’re both still wearing the same clothes.”

At least you haven’t wasted your time. Your night was profitable.”

She stepped back, momentarily rebuffed. “Don’t be mean.”

He witnessed her increasing unease under his scrutiny as she fidgeted with her dress.

I was provoked,” she said.

His eyebrows shot up.

I wanted to spend the night with you, but your delicate sensibilities wouldn’t let you.” She bit her lips and looked away.

I’m a man, not an animal.” He stopped at the stove and poured her a cup of coffee. Once safely out of earshot, he hissed low into her ear, “Don’t treat me like one of your customers.”

Oh darling, if I was doing that you’d look much happier.”

They walked close together as they made their way to the stables. “I’m trying hard not to think about your profession, but you make it impossible.”

What is it you want from me?” she asked. “Have I mistakenly given you the impression I want something from you besides a bit of fun?”

I don’t want to simply take you to bed,” he ground out. “I aim to court you.” He said the words tentatively, still debating the notion himself.

A flash of humor crossed her face. “Clint, I’m only here for a couple of days.”

He pulled a pouch of tobacco from his pocket. “Then that doesn’t give me much time, does it?”

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Mail Order Widow

Travelling across the country to marry a complete stranger is scary enough, but when a freak accident leaves Katie Cavanaugh widowed after only a few short weeks, her world shatters. She moved to Calico to make a new start, not to start over by herself. Forced to confront frontier life on her own, she faces challenges that make her question everything.

Travis Sutherland is the town veterinarian. After a rough first meeting, he has no intention of falling for the town's new widow, but she's got the prettiest eyes he's ever seen and they draw him in like a magnet. Forced to spend time with her after one of her animals becomes sick, he finds himself attracted to Katie after all. Can he convince her to give him a chance?

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Life was never going to be the same. Katie sat on the porch, staring out into the yard. This was it, this was what she had to look forward to for the rest of her life. She shook her head. With no family of her own, she’d answered a mail order bride advertisement, came all the way west and married a handsome rancher. Things were supposed to be better now that she was married. He was attractive and witty, and they got along as well as two strangers could in those early days. They’d even talked about starting a family of their own straight away. She was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen, since her time had come and gone in the few weeks they’d been together. Her entire world came crashing down when George took a horse’s kick to the head. He died without ever regaining consciousness.

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She was still in shock, and now stuck all alone on a ranch in the middle of a dusty desert. The nearest town wasn’t that far away, but she didn’t know a single person in Calico. Heck, she hadn’t even known the town existed until she arrived to meet her new husband.

He’d wanted to give her a horse of her own as a wedding gift. He’d found a beautiful chocolate brown mare, but she’d never been ridden before. He said he had to break the horse, which wouldn’t be too hard, seeing how she was a little mare and all. George had tamed many horses on his ranch and wasn’t too concerned. He left Katie baking bread while he went out into the corral with the horse. Something must have gone wrong though, for when Katie realized she hadn’t seen George in hours, she went outside to look for him. She found him unconscious in the corral, with a severely bleeding head wound. She screamed, and one of the ranch hands came running. After helping get her husband into the house, he rode into town to fetch the doctor, but it was too late.

The horror of that day rushed through her mind over and over. What was she to do now?

She sighed and got up to go back inside.

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Matters Of The Heart

Book Cover: Matters Of The Heart

After the untimely death of her sister, Marianna Brownlee travels to Wyoming to collect her young nephew, now orphaned and alone. But he isn't as alone as she thought, nor does he want to return to Chicago with her.

Jackson Steed is a rancher with big dreams. Caring for his best friend's child until the arrival of his aunt has been all consuming, but nothing pleases Jack more. He truly loves the boy and is heartsick that he must let him go.

As a snowstorm rips through Wyoming, his business trip to Laramie is delayed. Stranded in a tiny cabin during a raging blizzard, Marianna and Jake find an attraction that's difficult to ignore, yet impossible to pursue. But it's the time waiting for the next stagecoach to come through that makes both see that compromises are always possible and love can truly find a way.

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He looked away. “I’m sorry, Miss Brownlee. I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time, but I’m afraid I’ve behaved inappropriately.”

He gazed at her, his brown eyes wild with emotion. Yet, somehow, she understood the strange emotion completely, because it coursed through her own body as well. It was the strange, wonderful feeling Judith had once tried to explain to her. The emotion shared by people in love. Committed love.

But there was no commitment between them, and there could never be. That was why Jack had expressed regret over what he’d done.

She reached toward him and touched his cheek.

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You’re a wonderful man, Mr. Steed. I’m glad for the time we’ve had together, but you’re right. We mustn’t indulge in this kind of behavior. It’s not for people like us, strangers who will never see each other again.” She glanced around at the beautiful terrain. “Perhaps we should return to the ranch house.”

He took her hand. “Not just yet, Miss Brownlee… Marianna.” He trailed his fingers through her hair and whispered her name again. “Marianna. Let me call you by your given name. Let’s have at least that much between us.”

Her heart beat wildly. “Jack, I wish we could have more than that.”

Could we, Marianna?” he asked eagerly. He cupped her cheek with his palm. “Are you saying—”

She quickly placed her fingers over his mouth. “I’m saying we both know we can have nothing more than a stolen moment. But Jack...” She dragged her eyes away. “Jack, I’m glad you kissed me.”

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Calico Bride

After the death of her parents, it broke Brianna Campbell's heart to send her younger brother out west on the mercy train, but with no means of supporting him, she hoped that he'd find someone to take him in. When she is finally able, she sets out for Calico, California, to reclaim him, and make a home to start a new life together. With no time for love, she doesn't count on meeting a handsome rancher who makes her heart race.

Needing help for his ranch, Sean James takes in a couple of orphans from the mercy train under his temporary guardianship and provides room and board in exchange for good honest work. Still recovering from the death of his wife, he's shut himself off from the outside world, especially the marriage hungry young women of Calico. But the boys worm their way into his battered heart, and he finds he doesn't want to let either of them go when a sister comes to claim the younger of the two.

Brianna's fierce independence earns Sean's respect, and to his surprise, his interest in more than just a friendship. His attraction to the pretty blonde grows with each passing day, but can he convince to trust him and take a chance on love?

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His feelings for Brianna had dangerously escalated during the time she’d come to live at the ranch. He felt edgy and restless and more than a little guilty. Guilty that he was dishonoring the vows he’d taken with Martha. But Martha was gone forever, and the vows they had spoken were all but a distant memory. Feeling guilty over his developing feelings was a ridiculous notion, but he couldn’t help it. Besides Martha wouldn’t want him to be alone and unhappy for the rest of his life.

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He pushed the thought away, tossed the grass aside and sat up straight. “Is there anymore of that cake left?” He yanked the picnic basket toward him just as Brianna took hold of the handle. Their fingers collided and their eyes locked. Brianna’s cheeks bloomed pink, and she tried to pull away, but Sean held on tight. “Brianna, I want—”

Hey, Sean! We could use a little help over here!” Marcus’s piercing shout wafted on the warm breeze.

Brianna broke eye contact and jerked her fingers from Sean’s grasp. He gripped his hands into tight fists as he stood. He stared down at her for a moment, but she kept her eyes lowered. He resisted the urge to touch his hands to her shiny curls.

Come on, Sean! The kite’s tangled in that old tree.”

Brianna?” he started. Dammit. He had overstepped the invisible line they’d drawn between each other. “Are you all right?”

She nodded, keeping her attention on the crumbs she was gathering from the quilt. “Go on. The boys need your help.” And I don’t.

She hadn’t actually said the words, but Sean heard the message loud and clear. Since her parents had died, she’d had only herself to rely upon and no one else.

Would she ever be able to let down her defenses and accept support and encouragement? From him?

Brianna had been alone for a long time. But she wasn’t alone any longer.

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Wyoming Wild

Book Cover: Wyoming Wild
Abandoned with an infant child, Cora Lane struggles with managing a farm and ranch on her own. The last thing she wants or needs is to get tangled up with another man who will probably just leave when he tires of her. No, it's better to be alone.

Thomas Sanderson is a broken man. When his uncle invites him to Wyoming to heal, he jumps at the chance. Helping out a single mother on her ranch might be just the thing he needs to forget his tragic past. One look at Cora, though, and all he can think of is taking her in his arms and making her his own.

Cora doesn't believe she is worthy of love, Thomas can't stop wanting her. Things are about to get complicated.

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Throwing caution out the window, Thomas reached for her, framed her face with his hands and pulled her to him, eyes fixed on her lips. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her, and dammit, he was going to do just that. An urge beyond his control took over and the moment before their lips met, he let every reservation fall.
Her darkened gaze stayed on his, her mouth opening under his in a soft kiss that he felt all the way down to the pit of his belly.
Cora’s hands clutched at the fabric of his shirt, pulling him closer. The sensations tore through him. The feel of her soft body molded against his, every touch of her lips, the light suckling of his tongue was like tasting heaven. Thomas let out a groan, slid his hands behind her head, and thread his fingers into her hair.

 

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She was soft in all the right places, the perfect counter to his harder frame. Time stood still as his lips and mouth devoured every bit of hers and she in return savored him. This, oh God yes, this is what a kiss should be like.

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