- N. N. Light
The Rancher’s Second Chance by @maddiejames is a Western Romance Event pick #westernromance
Title: The Rancher’s Second Chance: Rock Creek Ranch (Parker Ranches, Inc. Book 1)
Author: Maddie James
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
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?
When John Rankin’s wife dies, leaving him with two children to raise, he wonders how he can he take care of a family and run a working cattle ranch, too. Annie’s domain was home, hearth, and the kids. Her dying put a hole in his day-to-day existence like nothing he’d ever before experienced—not only in his rancher lifestyle, but also in his heart. As the months roll on, his heart is only one of his problems when eleven-year-old Callie rebels. Missing her mom and unsure how her life is unfolding, Callie pushes back at every turn, and John is unsure how to help her. Then his friend and farm manager, Buck McGinnis, suggests John seek the counsel of a woman for advice dealing with a moody pre-teen female. He wants to introduce John to his friend, Abby Cooper. John is reluctant, but eventually caves to Buck’s advice. Suddenly, life becomes more complicated. The Parker Ranches, Inc. series launches with the novella, The Rancher’s Second Chance, establishing the historical perspective of the original Parker Ranch, the patriarch of the present-day family, John Rankin, and his second chance at love.
The cowboy looked to be in his mid-forties. That would be the right age for John Rankin. He had a teenage son, according to Buck, who also told her that John’s wife had been several years younger than him. The man was stocky, yet fit, with lean, but muscular, wrangler legs. Legs that had worked a lot of years on a ranch, on horseback. His jeans were new and starched, his boots pointed and polished, but well broken-in. He wore a white collared shirt beneath a brown sports coat that strangely complemented the warmth of the atmosphere in the bar. His belt sported a silver western buckle, but not a rodeo buckle. Thank the Lord. He carried his hat as he drew even with her chair.
“Excuse me. Abby?” The hat shook in his hand.
“Yes. Are you John?”
He nodded. “I am. Mind if I join you?”
She gave into a smile. “That’s why we’re here. Right?”
He let go of a breath then, chuckling. “Yes, ma’am.” He sat, taking the seat at the bar beside of her, and positioned his hat back on his head. “I don’t mind telling you, I’m a tad nervous.”
Abby felt compassion for him at that moment. Before she realized it, she had reached out and laid her hand on the back of his forearm. “I don’t mind telling you I’m nervous as hell.”
The bartender placed her Old Fashioned in front of her. He glanced at John. “Sir?”
“A shot of Yellowstone.”
Abby watched John eye her drink. “Bourbon?” he asked
She removed her hand from his arm, grasped the tumbler, and took a quick sip. “Yes. I felt the occasion warranted something a little harder than wine.” She set the glass down on the bar. “I see you’re a bourbon whiskey fellow, too.”
The bartender set his drink in front of him. John picked up the shot glass and quickly downed the bourbon. “Bring another one. On the rocks this time.”
John drummed his fingertips on the bar top and glanced away for a moment, then back again. “Buck tells me you are a librarian. Sorry to say I don’t read many books.”
“You know, I hear that a lot.”
“From your other dates?”
She shook her head. “No. I don’t really date.”
“Ah, I see. Me, neither.”
“Just from people I meet casually, or in the library.”
“I see. I bet you do.”
“I won’t hold it against you.” Abby watched John’s face break into a smile.
“About not reading or not dating?”
Abby sipped her drink and then let out a little laugh. “Reading. I think this conversation has suddenly gone a little convoluted.”
John nodded. “Like I said. I’m nervous.”
“I’m the same. So, we’re even.”
The bartender interrupted again, setting John’s drink in front of him. “Should I add you to the dinner list, sir?”
John shot her a glance. She gave him a slight, uncertain shrug. Their gazes connected and held. “Let’s hold on that for a few minutes,” he said to the bartender. But his stare remained, holding her captive.
Abby felt a bit of a warm tingle run down her spine, a sensation she hadn’t felt in some time. It could have been the bourbon. Then again, it could be John Rankin’s mesmerizing brown eyes—eyes that for some reason she felt she could look into for a long time.
An awkward pause settled between them. Abby took another reinforcing sip of her Old Fashioned and John threw back his whiskey. The ice in his tumbler clinked when he set the glass back on the bar.
“Bozeman has a lot of nice restaurants.” John turned fully toward her on the bar stool. “Surely you go out to eat?”
Abby stared. “Actually, no. I don’t date, John, as I said. I haven’t for a while. Not since—” She really didn’t want to go there. You aren’t supposed to talk about your divorce or your ex on a first date with a new guy, are you? She’d read that somewhere. “And I rarely eat expensive steak,” she blurted out.
That was stupid, Abby.
John stared at her for a few seconds, causing her to lower her gaze uncomfortably.
“You have something against steak?”
She grinned, looking up at him. “Not at all, Mr. Rancher. It’s just not a priority on my salary with a twelve-year-old boy who eats like a horse.”
“Are you comfortable here?” he blurted out.
“Oh, I’m comfortable. I’m just….”
“Like a whore in church.”
Abby laughed aloud.
“You want to get out of here?”
Studying him for a few seconds, Abby made a quick decision. “Yes. I think I do.”
John nodded. “Me, too.”
“Maybe someplace quiet would be more conducive to conversation.” She eyed him, trying to gauge his reaction. “That is, if you prefer.”
“I like the sound of that.”
“Okay.” Abby hesitated. Should she act on the thought in her head, or quickly try to think of something else?
“Got any ideas?”
She paused for a couple of heartbeats, then jumped in with both feet. Now or never. “I do. And if you are not okay with this idea, that’s fine. We can come up with something else. But perhaps you can follow me back to Livingston? What about pizza and beer at my place? Or, whiskey, if you prefer. There’s a new oven-fired pizza restaurant around the corner. We could pick one up or have it delivered.”
John Rankin stood then, keeping eye contact with her. “Perfect.”
He pulled several bills out of his wallet, tossed them on the bar, and reached for her elbow. Abby stood and pulled her purse over her shoulder.
Leaning in as they stepped away from the bar, John whispered, “I like your style, Abby Cooper. And I’m following your lead.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
First in series and permanently free at all retailers! This story anchors the Parker Ranches, Inc. series and introduces readers to the ranch and Rankin family. Over 800 readers on Amazon have given the story a 4.3 / 5 review ranking. Besides, you’ll fall in love with the Rankin family and want to read more of them!
Enter to win a $40 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card
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Runs April 19 – April 28, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on April 29, 2022.
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.
Social Media Links:
Website http://www.maddiejames.net and http://www.maddiejames.org