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Book 3 of Cowboys & Brides
From New York Times and USA Today-bestselling author Carolyn Brown comes a contemporary Western romance filled to the brim with sexy cowboys, gutsy heroines, and genuine down-home Texas twang.
Emily Cooper promised her dying grandfather that she'd deliver a long-lost letter to a woman he once planned to wed. Little does adventurous Emily know that this simple task will propel her to places she never could have imagined...with a cowboy who's straight out of her dreams...
When sexy rancher Greg Adams discovers his grandmother Clarice has installed Emily on their ranch as her assistant, he decides to humor the two ladies. He figures Emily will move on soon enough. In the meantime, he intends to keep a close eye on her-he doesn't quite buy her story of his grandmother as a mail-order bride.
A lost letter meant a lost love for Clarice, but two generations later, maybe it's not too late for that letter to work its magic.
Fans of Linda Lael Miller and Diana Palmer will thrill to this charming story of a sexy Texas rancher and the mail order bride who brought him to one knee.
Cowboys & Brides Series:
Billion Dollar Cowboy (Book 1)
The Cowboy's Christmas Baby (Book 2)
The Cowboy's Mail Order Bride (Book 3)
How to Marry a Cowboy (Book 4)
Praise for Bestselling Contemporary Western Romances by Carolyn Brown:
"Sizzling hot and absolutely delectable."-Romance Junkies
"Charming...a smoking-hot romance...there's nothing sexier than a cowboy."-RT Book Reviews, 4 stars
"Witty dialogue and hilarious banter... Carolyn Brown delivers yet another steamy cowboy romance."-Night Owl Reviews
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than sixty books published. She writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances, as well as women's fiction. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Emily took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.
The cold February wind swept across the wide porch of the ranch house and cut right through her lightweight denim jacket. Her heavy coat was in the pickup, but this job wouldn't take long. Hand the box of letters over to Clarice Barton and she'd be back in her truck and on her way. Then her grandfather's spirit would rest in peace. He'd said that it wouldn't until the box was put in Clarice's hands.
She heard footsteps on hardwood floors, and then something brushed against her leg. She looked down just as a big yellow cat laid a dead mouse on her boots. There were two things that Emily hated and mice were both of them. Live ones topped out the list above dead ones, but only slightly.
She kicked her foot just as the door opened and the mouse flew up like a baseball. The woman who slung open the screen door caught the animal midair, realized what she had in her hand, and threw it back toward Emily. She sidestepped the thing and the cat jumped up, snagged it with a paw, quickly flipped it into its mouth, and ran off the porch.
"Dammit!" The lady wiped her hand on the side of her jeans. "God almighty, I hate them things, and that damned cat keeps bringing them up to the porch like she's haulin' gold into the house."
The woman's black hair was sprinkled with white. Bright red lipstick had run into the wrinkles around her mouth and disappeared from the middle. When she smiled, her brown eyes twinkled brightly. Sure enough, the hardwood floor to the big two-story house was so shiny that Emily could see the reflection of the woman's worn athletic shoes in it.
"I'm sorry," Emily gasped. "It was a reflex action."
The woman giggled. "Well, now that we've both decided that we hate mice, what can I do for you, honey? You lost or something?" she asked.
"Is this Lightning Ridge Ranch? Are you Clarice Barton?" Emily shivered against the cold and the idea of a mouse touching her favorite boots.
"Yes, it's Lightning Ridge, but I'm not Clarice. She's making a run out to the henhouse. We're making a chocolate cake later on and I used up all the eggs makin' hot rolls. It's cold. You better come on inside and wait for her. I'm Dotty, Clarice's best friend and helper around here. I'm going to have to wash my hands a dozen times to get the feel of dead mouse off." The lady stepped aside. "What do you need Clarice for?"
"I'm here to deliver this box."
"Your nose is red and you look chilled. Come on in the living room. We got a little blaze going in the fireplace. It'll warm you right up. This weather is plumb crazy these days. February ain't supposed to be this damned cold. Spring ain't that far away. Winter needs to step aside. What'd you say your name was?" Dotty motioned her into the living room with a flick of her wrist.
"I'm Emily, and thank you. The warmth feels good," she said.
"Well, you just wait right here. She won't be long. Go on and sit down, honey. Take that rockin' chair and pull it up next to the fireplace. Can I get you a cup of coffee or hot chocolate?"
"No, ma'am. I'm fine," Emily answered. She would have loved a cup of anything hot just to wrap her chilled fingers around, but she didn't want to stick around long enough to drink a whole cup.
"Well, I'm in the middle of stirrin' up some hot rolls. Just make yourself at home until Clarice gets here."
Dotty disappeared, leaving Emily alone in the living room. She held the ancient boot box in her lap. Her grandfather had worn out the boots that came in the box and now it held letters from a woman who was not her grandmother. His passing and her two promises to him in his final days seemed surreal, especially sitting in the house of the woman who'd written the letters more than sixty years before.
Warmth radiated out from the fireplace as she took stock of her surroundings. The room was a perfect square with furniture arranged facing the fireplace to give it a cozy feel. A framed picture of a cowboy took center stage on the mantel. She set the box on the coffee table and stepped in closer to look at the photograph. He had dark brown hair and green eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses. It had been taken in the summer because there were wildflowers in the background. One shiny black boot was propped on a rail fence, and he held a Stetson in his right hand. His left thumb was tucked into the pocket of his tight jeans, leaving the rest of his hand to draw attention to the zipper. And right there in the corner of the frame was a yellow sticky note with the words, "Miss you, Nana!" stuck to it.
The crimson flushing her cheeks had nothing to do with the heat rising from the fireplace and everything to do with the way she'd mentally undressed this man she'd never even seen in real life. Get a grip, Em, she thought to herself. She backed away quickly and stood by the door, but when she looked over her shoulder, the cowboy was staring at her. She moved to the other side of the room and shivers shot down her spine when she realized he was still looking at her. She tried another corner and behold, those green eyes had followed her.
She was tired. It had been a long, emotional week and this was the final thing she had to do before she could really mourn for her grandfather. She'd driven since daybreak that morning, and her eyes were playing tricks on her. That must be it. Her dark brows knit together as she glanced at the picture from across the room. Did he have a wedding ring on that left hand? Determined not to let a picture intimidate her, she circled the room so she could see the photograph better, and his hand was ring-free.
How old was he, and when was the picture taken? Not one thing gave away a year or a time other than it was spring or summer. He might be a fifty-year-old man with gray hair nowadays and bowed legs from riding too many horses through the years. Or he could be a lot younger than he looked in the photograph and still be in college, just coming home to work on the ranch in the summertime like she had when she was getting her degree.
Unless he came looking for a warm spot to take the chill off, she'd never meet him anyway. Her mission was to deliver letters, and studying the picture was just a diversion while she waited on Clarice.
"My grandson, Greg Adams," a woman said from the doorway.
"Fine-lookin' cowboy, isn't he? His daddy and momma wanted him to be a businessman in a big old office in Houston, but he's got his grandpa's ranchin' savvy. He's down in southern Texas at a cattle sale. Cute little sticker he left there, isn't it?"
Emily swallowed hard at the mention of a grandpa. She fought even harder to keep from blushing again. "Yes, ma'am, he is surely handsome. I'm Emily Cooper, and you are Clarice Barton?" She quickly crossed the room and held out her right hand.
Clarice's handshake was firm and her smile sincere. "Do I know you? Dotty said you had a box or something to give to me."
Her thick gray hair was cut short to frame her round face. She wore jeans and a Western-cut shirt, boots, and no makeup, and she had the same green eyes as the cowboy in the picture.
"No, ma'am, you do not know me. You are Clarice Barton, aren't you?"
"No, honey, I'm Clarice Adams. I haven't been Clarice Barton in more than sixty years, but I was before I got married. Let's sit down while we talk. Dotty is bringing us some hot coffee in a few minutes."
Just out of curiosity, Emily glanced at the picture and sure enough, the cowboy followed her as she crossed the room and sat down.
She picked up the box from the coffee table and held it out to Clarice. "Marvin Cooper was my grandfather. He made me promise I'd bring these to you. They are the letters that you wrote to him when he was in Korea during the war."
Clarice laid a hand over her heart, and the color left her cheeks.
"Marvin," she whispered.
"Marvin Cooper?" Dotty set a tray holding three cups of coffee on the coffee table. "I'll be damned. Did you tell her that you were playing kickball with a damned old dead mouse?"
"No, ma'am." Emily's nostrils curled just thinking about it. She looked down at her boots. Should she simply leave them in her hotel room or try to wash the mouse from them? She could visualize the thing right there on the instep.
"Well, it took half a bar of soap to get it off my hand." Dotty went on to tell Clarice the story. "She don't like mice either, so I've decided that she's my new friend."
Clarice giggled. "I wish I'd been here to see that sight. Dotty hates mice and I hate spiders." She ran a hand down the side of the box, but she didn't take it. "I can't believe he kept them all these years or that you've brought them to me."
Emily pointed to the one that had been slipped beneath the faded red ribbon tied around the box. "This one is from him to you. It got stuck in a mailbag and then the bag got shoved back into an old desk drawer down at the post office. They didn't discover it until last week. According to the postmark, it should've been mailed sixty years ago, but it never left Happy. You might want to start with it. They brought it out to the ranch and apologized for losing it all those years ago. Gramps told me to put it with the others, and he didn't even open it. He said he remembered right well what it said."
Clarice's hands trembled. "Gramps? That would make you his granddaughter, then? He got married and had children?"
"Yes, he did and he is-was-my grandfather. He's only been gone four days and I'm still not used to the idea of saying ‘was.' It sounds so final."
"I understand. When my husband died, it took me a long time to use the past tense too. So Marvin had a granddaughter and I have a grandson," Clarice whispered.
Dotty shook her head slowly. "Marvin Cooper! When I first met Clarice she told me all about Marvin, but we never thought we'd hear that name again. And you drove all the way across the state to bring those letters? You are talking about Happy, Texas, right?"
"You aren't plannin' on drivin' all the way back tonight, are you?" Clarice asked.
"I'm staying at a hotel in Sherman," Emily said.
"Please stay with us for supper. I've got to hear all about Marvin and how his life went." Clarice's eyes misted over and Emily couldn't have refused her request if it had meant standing in front of a firing squad.
Besides, it was just supper and a couple of hours' worth of talking about her grandfather. It would make Clarice feel good, and Gramps would like that. Maybe it would even give Emily the closure she needed so badly.
"And if that damned old mama cat brings up another rat, we might have to stick together to get rid of it," Dotty said.
"Thank you. I'd like to stay for supper, but Miz Dotty, if that cat brings up another one of those vicious rats, you're on your own," Emily said.
"Rat, my hind end. It was probably just a baby mouse. Every time that Dotty tells the story it'll get bigger and bigger," Clarice said.
"You didn't see it. It was only slightly smaller than a damned old possum," Dotty argued.
Emily giggled and wished that she could take Dotty to Florida with her. That old girl would be a real hoot to have around all the time.
Clarice's phone rang and she fished it out of her shirt pocket. "Greg, darlin', the most amazing thing has happened." She gave him the one-minute shortened form of Emily bringing the box of letters and told him that she'd tell him the rest of the story when he got home.
Emily looked at the blaze in the fireplace, at the ceiling, and finally settled back on the picture of Clarice's grandson. She locked gazes with him, wondering what he would be like in the flesh. Was he really that handsome or just very, very photogenic?
"That's her grandson, Greg," Dotty whispered.
"She told me." Emily nodded.
"He's gone right now, but he'll be home tomorrow night. We miss him," Dotty said.
"I bet he misses being home," Emily said.
"Emily," Clarice said.
She whipped around when she heard her name, and an instant flash lit up her face.
Clarice giggled like a little girl. "I'm so sorry. He asked me what your name was again and I told him. It's a good picture of you. You have your grandpa's eyes. This is a new phone and I keep taking pictures of things rather than hanging up. I miss the old corded phones that we used to have and cameras that used a flashbulb. This new technology is enough to drive a person crazy."
Dotty picked up her cup of coffee and sipped at it. "Ain't that the truth. Us old dogs havin' to learn all these new tricks is frustratin' as hell, and that damned computer shit is the worst thing of all. Y'all best drink that coffee before it gets cold. Want some cookies to go with it? It's a while 'til supper."
"No, this is fine." Emily covered a yawn with her hand. "I'm sorry. I drove all day, stopped at the hotel, and then got lost twice trying to find this place."
"How did you find me?" Clarice asked.
"I stopped at the post office and the lady there said that there wasn't a Clarice Barton around. The only Clarice she knew was Clarice Adams and I might check to see if that was you."
"She's new in town. Ain't been here but ten years or she would have known the Bartons helped to build Ravenna." Dotty pointed to the door. "I know Clarice is just dyin' to dig into those letters. And I've got things to do in the kitchen. Would you like to take a nap until suppertime? You can rest in the first room on the left upstairs."
"I wouldn't want to be a bother," Emily said.
"No bother at all. You go on up there and rest. If you aren't awake by supper, I'll holler for you," Dotty said.
Clarice reached across the space separating them and patted her arm. "And thank you so much for bringing these letters."
"I promised Gramps I would do it. Is it all right if I take this upstairs with me?" Emily picked up her cup of coffee.
"Of course it is," Clarice said.
Dotty stood up at the same time Emily did. "Clarice was right about Marvin. She said that she thought he was about to ask her to marry him. She's the only one of us four that isn't a mail-order bride. That's the way I come to live in these parts. I was from Kentucky and he lived here. I thought any place was better than Harlan County, Kentucky, so I climbed on a bus and come out here. Married Johnny and loved him to his dying day, but the best thing that come out of me bein' a mail-order bride is that I met Clarice and we become best friends."
"Four of you?"
"Yep." Dotty nodded. "Me and Rose and Madge all come to Texas right after the war was over more than sixty years ago. I got here first in January and the other two came on later that spring. It's a long story how it all happened. Rose and Madge are cousins. Madge was writing to a soldier that she met through the church pen pal group. So she came out here to meet him, and then Rose came to visit and wound up married to a local guy too. Our husbands are all gone now and we are widows."
"You were all kind of like mail-order brides?"
"Mainly me and Madge were, and Rose kind of got...
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Book Description 2014. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # TO-9781402280528
Book Description Cowboys & Brides, 2014. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # TV9781402280528
Book Description Sourcebooks, Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Book 3 of Cowboys & BridesFrom New York Times and USA Today-bestselling author Carolyn Brown comes a contemporary Western romance filled to the brim with sexy cowboys, gutsy heroines, and genuine down-home Texas twang.Emily Cooper promised her dying grandfather that she'd deliver a long-lost letter to a woman he once planned to wed. Little does adventurous Emily know that this simple task will propel her to places she never could have imagined.with a cowboy who's straight out of her dreams.When sexy rancher Greg Adams discovers his grandmother Clarice has installed Emily on their ranch as her assistant, he decides to humor the two ladies. He figures Emily will move on soon enough. In the meantime, he intends to keep a close eye on her-he doesn't quite buy her story of his grandmother as a mail-order bride.A lost letter meant a lost love for Clarice, but two generations later, maybe it's not too late for that letter to work its magic.Fans of Linda Lael Miller and Diana Palmer will thrill to this charming story of a sexy Texas rancher and the mail order bride who brought him to one knee.Cowboys & Brides Series: Billion Dollar Cowboy (Book 1) The Cowboy's Christmas Baby (Book 2) The Cowboy's Mail Order Bride (Book 3)How to Marry a Cowboy (Book 4)Praise for Bestselling Contemporary Western Romances by Carolyn Brown: "Sizzling hot and absolutely delectable."-Romance Junkies "Charming.a smoking-hot romance.there's nothing sexier than a cowboy."-RT Book Reviews, 4 stars"Witty dialogue and hilarious banter. Carolyn Brown delivers yet another steamy cowboy romance."-Night Owl Reviews. Seller Inventory # BTE9781402280528
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