Callie: Rock Creek Ranch by @maddiejames is a Western Romance Event pick #westernromance #giveaway
Title: Callie: Rock Creek Ranch (Parker Ranches Inc., Book 2)
Author: Maddie James
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Leaving her job behind and heading home to Montana for a family emergency is worrisome enough, but when Callie Rankin’s New York future collides head-on with her Montana past, she is faced with making a life-, and perhaps, love-altering decision.
When Callie Rankin’s father falls critically ill, she returns to her Montana home. Leaving New York, her promotion, and a budding relationship behind, she heads back to the ranch, planning to stay only until she knows her father is out of the woods. But her homecoming is not entirely welcome. Her relationships with her siblings and stepmother are challenging, which makes coming home even more difficult. When the unthinkable happens and her father dies, Callie rapidly unravels. Then ranch hand, Murphy Reynolds—the boy she left behind a decade ago—reaches out to pick up the pieces. Murphy Reynolds fell in love with Callie heart and soul the last summer they spent together on the ranch. While coaching her when she raced the barrels, traveling to rodeos in the region, he fell hard and fast. He would have married her in a heartbeat to keep her on the ranch with him forever. The problem was, she couldn’t get off the ranch fast enough. College was her excuse—she left and never looked back. Or so it seemed to him. Now, Callie must not only mourn the loss of her father but face her past and mend fences with her family and Murphy. Her choices will shape her future. But will that future be with Murphy and her family on the ranch, or back in New York, where her promotion and a rocky relationship wait?
Callie glanced at the rearview mirror when a pair of headlights flashed behind her. She swiped at her tears, clearing her eyes. Wouldn’t do anyone any good to know she’d been up here crying in the dark. No crying on horseback, her daddy used to say.
The lights grew closer and bobbled up and down. Who in the hell had the nerve to follow her? She tapped her brakes, alerting whomever it was that she was there. The last thing she needed was to be rear-ended by one of her siblings. The vehicle pulled beside her. She refused to look that way. Finally, she glanced left.
It was a ranch pickup truck, dusty and battered. Could be anyone. The driver tapped the horn. The passenger side window rolled down.
“Oh, all right.” She sighed. Give me a damn minute here. Turning the key on for power, her headlights flashed on. It took her eyes a moment to adjust to the bright light again. She rolled down her window and looked into the truck.
“Callie? What the hell are you doing?”
“Murphy?” Oh my God. Murphy.
Occasionally, she’d let her mind wander and wonder what might be going on in his life now. Oh, her father would mention him time and again, and she’d ask about him, but there were days….
Had he married? Have a girlfriend? Kids?
Surely, she’d have heard of these things if he had. Right?
“What are you doing up here, Murphy?”
“Heard you and Parker arguing. He’s beat, Callie. I told him I’d come fetch you.”
“I’m not a dog, Murphy.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Come on. I’ll take you back down. Leave the truck. We can get it in the morning.”
“I’m not ready to go back down.”
“Then what are you ready to do?”
“Ah, hell.” Murphy killed his engine, got out, and circled the truck to her passenger side. He tried the handle with no luck, then yelled through the glass. “Let me in.”
“Big tough girl, huh? What are you trying to prove, anyway?”
Callie let that statement go unanswered. She wasn’t out to prove anything. All she wanted was a little peace and quiet to let the chatter in her brain die down. But something about his attitude and persistence reminded her of the past—of all those times he goaded her to run the barrels faster. When he’d kept her from doing stupid shit just to irritate Abby or Finn.
It made her smile, just a little.
Murphy rounded the front and his face was in her window in no time. He had aged, but nicely. More rounded out than she remembered. Stocky. Handsome. Familiar. His jet-black hair sported a little gray at the temples—how old was he now—thirty-five? thirty-six?—but his eyes still held that dark, intense look she could never fully grasp. Like he was holding back a secret he’d never tell.
Sexy, actually. If one thought cowboys were sexy.
Which she no longer did.
“I’m not letting you stay out here by yourself. Scoot over.”
Familiar and determined. That was Murphy, all right. Strong-willed and stubborn. He’d pushed her like no one else to get tighter into the turns, cuddle the barrels, chip a second or two off the clock.
They’d made a great team. Callie grew to depend on him outside of the ring, too. When times got tough with Abby—when she was caught up in so much teenage drama she wanted to run away, it was Murphy who talked her out of doing something she’d regret.
Now, she felt embarrassed she’d not kept up the friendship. Where had the years gone?
“I’m fine, Murphy. Nothing up here but cattle and coyotes. Maybe bison that ambled over from Yellowstone.” Not likely at this time of night. “I’m not leaving the truck, so I’ll be fine.”
She jerked at that word. “Really.”
“Been a nuisance lately. One reason Parker hasn’t had much sleep.”
Callie knew the other reason. “They can’t get to me in the cab. I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine. You’re upset.”
“Well, yeah. Seems there is a lot of shit going on.”
“So, let’s talk about it.”
“I don’t want to talk.”
“Then what the hell do you want?”
Suddenly, a long-buried conversation from a decade ago crept into her head.
Is that all you are going to say?
What do you want me to say, Callie?
She hadn’t thought about that night in years.
Without warning, Murphy reached to swipe a leftover tear from her cheek. Oddly, it felt like an uncanny attempt to erase the past.
“Been doing a little crying?” His voice was softer and he looked distracted. His finger lingered on her cheek. “Look,” he added, dropping his hand. “I know this is a tough time. Let me take you back to Parker’s so you can get some rest.”
His tenderness touched her, but also made her pull back a little. That reaction, plus her earlier remembrance, confused her. “Murphy. Can I just have a minute?” His compassion took her a little by surprise.
“Sorry.” He stepped away.
She lifted her door latch. “Let me out.” She pushed the door open and he moved further out of the way. “Can we sit out here? On your tailgate? You’ll protect me from the big bad wolves, won’t you? I’m sure you are packing.” She tossed him a challenging smile. “I really don’t want to go yet. And I don’t want to be pinned in the truck. I want to see the stars.” I don’t think I’ve seen them in ages.
“You need a minute.”
“I need a minute. Yes.”
“I’m not leaving,” he said.
“I don’t want you to.”
“Good.” He moved to the tailgate and flipped it down. “Because I’m not going anywhere.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Readers meet eleven-year-old Callie in The Rancher’s Second Chance. Fast-forward seventeen years and Callie has her own story to tell! Readers love reading about grown-up Callie and seeing where she is now in life—cry with her during the tragic loss of her father, and are thrilled for her as she conquers her past and grabs hold of her future. Highly rated at all retailers, Callie’s story is one of my favorites. I hope you love it, too.
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Runs April 19 – April 28, 2022.
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Maddie James writes romance – but don’t pin her down to one genre—or pen name! From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she writes to silence the people in her head.
As Maddie James, she writes contemporary small town and cowboy romance stories, from sweet to steamy. M.L. Jameson writes gritty, sexy, and deadly romantic suspense/thriller novels. Madelaide James pens women’s fiction. And if you prefer short, erotic fiction, look for M. J. Ames.
Affaire de Coeur said, “James shows a special talent for traditional romance,” and RT Book Reviews claimed, “James deftly combines romance and suspense.” Maddie is the award-winning author of over seventy titles of fiction—from short stories to novels—and a Top 100 Bestselling Author. Learn more at http://www.maddiejames.net.
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