Heart of Texas Vol. 3 [Secure]
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by Debbie Macomber
Description: Nell's cowboy: Nell Bishop, widowed mother of two children, is turning her property into a dude ranch. And one of her first guests is Travis Grant, an Easterner known for his books about the West. Her kids are crazy about him--and she could fall for him herself. But it's too soon for her..... Lone star baby: Wade McMillen might be a minister, but he's also a man. An unmarried and very attractive one. So is it as a man that he responds to Amy Thornton when she shows up in Promise, pregnant and alone? Or as a man of God? Maybe it's both....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Mira,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [545 KB]
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NELL BISHOP BARRELED DOWN the highway, heading home, racing against the approaching storm. The March winds whipped against the pickup as she hurried toward Twin Canyons Ranch, thirty-four miles south of Promise, Texas.
Her mother-in-law was with the children, but Jeremy and Emma would have difficulty getting the animals into the barn without help. Ruth would do what she could, but the older woman's heart wasn't strong and…Nell didn't want to think what might happen if she didn't make it back in time.
Her life had been on a fast-moving treadmill for the past three years, ever since her husband died in a tractor accident. Storms were the least of her worries, considering the financial challenges she'd faced working the ranch without Jake. Not a day passed that her husband wasn't in her thoughts. Twenty years from now, forty years from now, he'd still be a part of her.
Ruth and others had encouraged her to remarry, at least to date, but Nell had resisted. She never expected to love again—not the way she loved Jake. Their love was the kind that happened only once in a lifetime, and no other man could compare to her Jake.
Nell had always known she wasn't any candidate for home-coming queen, but Jake had made her feel like one. He'd understood what it was to be big-boned and just plain big. Dainty or elegant would never describe her; at six feet, Nell was as tall as most men. Jake had been six feet four inches by the time he was a high-school freshman, and the only boy in school taller than Nell.
They'd lived in the same town all their lives, but it wasn't until high school that she'd noticed him. The very first day of high school, as a matter of fact. She was a freshman to his senior, and the minute his eyes met hers as she walked down the hall, she knew she'd found her life's mate. He was the only boy she'd ever dated. When he enlisted in the army and became an Airborne Ranger, she'd written him every day. He served his time in the army and was discharged a week after her graduation. Despite her family's protests, she'd married Jake while still a teenager.
Neither was to know that ten years was all the time they'd have together. It was Nell who'd found her husband trapped beneath the tractor, Nell who'd held him in her arms as the life flowed out of him, Nell who'd screamed in anguish, helpless to do anything to save her husband's life.
Now it was Nell who struggled to hold on to Twin Canyons Ranch, tended what remained of the herd, raised their children and cared for Jake's aging mother. The ranch had been Jake's dream—and hers; it was a small spread that they'd bought together, shortly after their marriage. But she was so very tired, weary to the bone with her financial struggles and other worries. The past three years had drained her mentally, emotionally and physically. For that reason she'd sold off most of the herd and started a new venture. A dude ranch.
Bless Jeremy's heart. Her son had been the one to give her the idea. Last year, she'd promised him a reward for acing his spelling test and he'd chosen to rent a movie. Of all the movies available, he'd picked City Slickers, and to Nell it was like a revelation.
After seeing the movie, Nell hadn't been able to sleep all night. She was certainly familiar with dude ranches, but it had never occurred to her that this might be a solution to her own dilemma. She couldn't say she understood it, but people actually paid for the opportunity to eat food cooked in a chuck wagon, ride around on horses and drive cattle. Why these people would prefer to live in primitive circumstances when they could experience the luxury of some fancy resort for basically the same price was beyond her. Apparently she had a lot to learn—but learn she did. After months of research Nell was convinced that a dude ranch really was the answer. With a portion of her profits from the sale of last year's herd, she'd had brochures printed and she'd contacted several travel companies. Now she was almost ready for business, and in a couple of months she'd be entertaining her first bunkhouse full of greenhorns.
In many ways she was a natural for this kind of work. After these few years without Jake, there wasn't a ranching chore she couldn't accomplish with the speed and dexterity of a man. At this point, she knew as much about ranching as any cowboy. Not only that, she'd heard the great stories of Texas all her life—stories about the state's settlement and the Alamo and the early cattle drives and many more. She'd always loved those stories, and if she could make money telling them now, romanticizing the Old West, all the better.
Heavy black clouds darkened the sky. Pushing thoughts of Jake from her mind, Nell focused her attention on the highway. Driving well above the speed limit, she rounded a turn in the road and saw a sports utility vehicle parked along the side.
Some damn fool had stopped to take pictures of the approaching storm. The man obviously wasn't a local. Anyone from Texas would know to take cover, and fast. Like the state of Texas itself, storms tended to make an impression, especially spring storms like this one.
Despite her hurry, Nell applied her brakes and pulled over. With the engine running, she leaped down from the cab. The wind slapped her long braid against her face as she raced toward the stranger.
The greenhorn lowered his camera. "Howdy," he greeted her cheerfully. He was taller than she was and clean-cut. His clothes were new-looking but rumpled.
Copyright © 2008 by MIRA Books.