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Rock Creek Ranch Boxed Set by Maddie James is a Stress Busting Festival pick #99cents #giveaway
Title: Rock Creek Ranch Boxed Set
Author: Maddie James
Genre: Romance / Contemporary / Western
The Rock Creek Ranch, 4-Book Box Set
This collection contains four books in the Parker Ranches, Inc. western romance series set on Rock Creek Ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. These stories feature cowboy heroes and the women who love them—often with complicated family relationships and external challenges. THE RANCHER’S SECOND CHANCE, Book 1 A reluctant rancher. A lonely librarian. A family in shambles. Can the rancher risk a second chance at love and heal his family at the same time? CALLIE, Book 2 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. PARKER, Book 3 When Parker Rankin’s father dies, he expects life on the ranch to change. The last thing he expects the day of his father’s funeral is for life to throw him another curveball—a red-headed, no-nonsense, curveball named Reba Morris. LEAVING NOAH, Book 8 A heartwarming tale of love, loss, second chances, and the power of the written word. Sarah MacKay and Noah Parker shared a clandestine weekend together five months earlier and haven’t seen each other since—until the Rock Creek Ranch cattle roundup.
Excerpt from Callie: Rock Creek Ranch:
“I’m fine, Murphy. Really. 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?” he asked.
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 down 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 fairly sure you probably 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.”
That was the truth and then some. Murphy Reynolds wasn’t going anywhere. The Rankin’s ranch was his home and had been for over fifteen years. He planned on it being his home for years to come. And even if he did, one day, get lucky enough to buy a small ranch of his own, his feet would still be firmly planted in Montana dust, hopefully in this same valley.
He definitely wasn’t going anywhere.
Callie was the one going places. Always flitting in and out, and then finally, out. At least for the past couple of years. Oh, he was sure she was going places in other ways, too. Like in her career. John had been proud she had gone to college, graduated with honors, and landed herself a job in the big city. He’d wished she’d been closer to home, of course, but he never denied what she was doing wasn’t important. He missed her. Everyone did.
She was here now, but that didn’t mean she was staying. It would do his heart good to remember that fact. This was temporary. No use in him getting his hopes up.
Right now, he figured he was here to just listen and perhaps lend a bit of advice.
If she’d take it.
She stared ahead, looking out over the ranch. “How are you, Murphy?”
“Good. I’ve been good.”
He studied her. Her hands palm down on either side of her thighs, she gripped the edge of the tailgate. She sat stiff, her shoulders tense, looking off. “Nope. None of that,” he said. “You?”
She chuckled and looked at him straight on, then relaxed. “No. None of that either.”
“Figured you’d have a big diamond on that hand by now.”
She stared ahead. After a moment, she said, “No. I’ve been too obsessed with working to get serious about anyone.”
Oh. Good. Murphy’s own shoulders relaxed a bit. He looked off now, into the stars.
They sat in silence. The headlights of both vehicles were still on, the sky lit with moon and the stars. He sidled a glance at her now and then. Pretty. She always was pretty. He tried not to look at her legs dangling from the tailgate. That was difficult. He tried not to think about how they looked as she’d slid out of the SUV a moment ago. About how he didn’t register at all how her short-enough-already skirt rode up even higher on her thighs as she did so. Or notice that her ankles rocked unsteadily on those damn skinny heels while she moved to the rear of his truck.
Her presence, mere inches from his, was palpable.
No. It was more than that.
Torture. It was pure torture.
It was not until she finally spoke again, that his heart cracked a bit.
“What happened, Murphy?”
Her words helped ground him. He searched the horizon. A mile or so below, the ranch sat waiting. Still all lit up in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t be long before the animals and ranch hands would start stirring, and his day would get started.
He’d not been to bed yet.
He wasn’t sure what to tell her. He was certain she was talking about what happened to her father, but for a moment, he wondered if she might be asking what had happened between the two of them, all those years ago. He had often asked that question, himself.
Mostly though, he chastised himself for how he’d screwed up.
Stalling, he said, “We both need rest, Callie.”
She exploded off the tailgate, squared herself in front of him, and with two hands, balled up the shirt fabric at his biceps into her fists. Gone was that momentary glimpse of composure. “Goddamn it, Murphy! Tell me!” She shook him. “Would someone please tell me what happened to my father!”
He watched her tired, wild eyes well up with tears. She was about to burst.
He grasped her shoulders and pulled her to him. As her face hit his chest, she exhaled with a loud sob, and he pulled her tighter into his arms and just held on. His fingers found the back of her head and he threaded them through her soft locks.
His heart warmed. Nothing had ever felt so good. And as quick as he could, he pushed that notion aside.
“It’s okay, Callie. Get it out.”
“Tell me.” She sobbed.
She stood between his legs, her fists now clutching his shirt at his chest. “There’s some of this you need to ask Parker about,” he said. He curled over her and spoke softly next to her ear. “Your daddy was angry. He took off in a huff. Damn wolves have been stalking the calves and we’d lost half a dozen. A number of cows hadn’t calved yet and we needed to get them closer to the barns. We—Parker and I—found him a couple of hours later.”
Callie drew back. “What day was this?”
“And no one called me until today? Why?”
Murphy searched her eyes. He could see the hurt, worry, and question there. “You need to talk to Parker about that. Or Abby. I’m sure they kept thinking he’d get better.”
Callie stared past his shoulder. “But he didn’t.”
“Why did he fall? He was as good a rider as any. I don’t get it.” She spoke slow and into his shirt.
“Horse could have gotten spooked. Maybe your daddy had a spell of some kind. I don’t know. But he went down and his horse came home without him. That’s when we went looking.”
Callie pulled back. She looked long into Murphy’s face, perhaps searching for answers. Answers he probably didn’t have. That was nearly his undoing. Fat tears were ready to pop over her lower lid.
“Not like his horse to leave him….”
“Oh, God, Murphy. I might never get to hear his voice again.”
Murphy peered into her eyes, searching. There. Yes, she was in there. The old Callie. The old man’s little girl. “I know,” he whispered.
She closed her eyes and drew back. His hands fell to his thighs. For a minute, she simply stood there, looking lost.
“I’ve been gone too long,” she mumbled.
He caught her gaze again. “Yep.”
She pursed her lips. “I need to get down there and mend fences.”
“Man of few words.”
“Sometimes.” Her gaze mingled with his. His hand drifted to her face, and he slowly brushed back wayward strands of hair. Callie held his gaze as he did so. “Let’s go before the lights go out and the wolves move in.”
Nodding, she said, “I’m ready.”
“To go back or mend fences?”
He nodded in agreement. “You lead, I’ll follow.”
He wondered if that statement meant more than it seemed.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
This box set is a preorder sale! It’s available now for 99 cents through release week (off sale August 30). Release day is August 22.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/rock-creek-ranch
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/41XzRET
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
First, make sure my house is quiet. Noise stresses me out! Then I can relax in my recliner with a book or my laptop. Writing is not stressful for me, so sometimes I write. Of course, I also love taking a walk to get out in the fresh air. One can’t sit in a recliner all day, right? 😊
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
Ah, well, one word—cowboys. Right? This box set features four books set on a ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. I love this set because all the stories set on Rock Creek Ranch are together in one volume (and on sale!)—which means you can binge read your stress away all day long! Plus—cowboys.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs May 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2023.
Whether writing flirty contemporary romance or gritty romantic suspense, Maddie James writes to silence the people in her head.
In 2022, Maddie celebrated her 25th year of publishing romance fiction under multiple pen names. Her collective body of work includes over 70 titles. Maddie loves writing small town contemporary romance and cowboy worlds, and as M.L. Jameson she pens romantic suspense.
Affair de Coeur says Maddie, “shows a special talent for traditional romance,” and RT Book Reviews claimed, “James deftly combines romance and suspense, so hope on for an exhilarating ride.”
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