- N. N. Light
Unbranded (Montana Bred Series) by @LBradleyAuthor is a Book Series Starter pick #womensfiction #win
Title: Unbranded (Montana Bred Series, Book 1)
Author: Linda Bradley
Genre: Women’s Fiction (with romantic elements)
Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.
CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather's Montana ranch, but her father isn't ready to become partners—yet.
Jaded memories of her parents' shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she's pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn't in her genes, and she doesn't expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.
After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?
I peed on the stick and said a prayer.
I wasn’t sure which stirred the queasy flutter in my belly, the fact I could be pregnant or the fact I’d have to own the responsibility. Matt and I weren’t ready for an addition. We’d been friends since college. We never talked about marriage, and I liked it that way.
My toe-tapping didn’t speed up the process. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. The stopwatch on my phone ticked like the stride of a sloth. I wrapped the pregnancy test in tissue, tucked it beneath the washcloths in the vanity drawer, peeked into the hallway, then decided to go downstairs to the kitchen. I stuck my head in the refrigerator. The blast of air cooled my brow. My stomach rolled over.
My relationship with Matt wouldn’t ever be the same.
I grabbed a bottle of water, shut the door, and twisted the top off. The plastic container crackled. With an eye on the clock, I drummed my fingertips on the counter. The granite was cold, unforgiving.
I peered out the picture window. Maggie and Dad were nowhere in sight. The midday sun lit the majestic Montana landscape. Dad had brought me here to live on his parents’ 617 Ranch when I was eight—6/17, my grandparents’ wedding date.
“I miss you, Grandpa,” I whispered to his spirit and pictured him, the way he looked when I came here eighteen years ago. I wiped away brimming tears, turned on a heel, hurried back to the bathroom, and locked the world out.
I never knew my grandma, Ida May, and I wished I had. I’d seen her in old photographs and always wondered what part of me was like her. If any. And did she watch over me with my granddad?
My hands shook as I read the results on the white plastic stick. My vision blurred. There was no mistake about the outcome. I leaned against the counter and glanced in the mirror. I didn’t feel twenty-six and pregnant.
The knock at the door jarred me. I took a deep breath, wrapped the evidence in toilet paper, then buried it beneath the existing trash.
“Chloe, are you in there?”
I turned on the water, washed my hands, and took a seat on the toilet to search the far crevices of my mind for an answer. Every problem had a solution. All I had to do was find it. Maggie called my name, again. My heart raced.
“Just a second.” I pounded my fists into my thighs. The hangnail on my pointer finger caught in the fray of my blue jeans, and I bit my lip.
“Chloe? I could use your help.” She paused. “Chloe,” Maggie’s voice was muffled through the heavy door. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” I dried my damp cheeks, stood, shook out my legs, and inspected myself in the mirror. My wavy, dishwater blond hair framed my flushed cheeks. The silver necklace I wore flickered in the light.
“I’m coming.” I steadied my hand and reached for the doorknob.
Maggie stood in the hallway, leaning against the railing. Her lips pinched when our gazes met. I hoped I could hide my secret behind a smile. “What’s going on?”
She stepped closer, the corners of her eyes her lined with concern. She was beautiful as ever, perhaps even more beautiful than when I first met her. Her slender fingers pushed strands of hair from my face.
Maggie tucked her long, strawberry blond hair behind her ears. I didn’t think she’d ever go gray. I desperately wanted to ask her how it felt to carry a child.
“What’s wrong, Chloe?”
My shoulders fell forward. What was I going to do with a baby? Maggie stroked my hair.
“Chloe, what’s wrong?”
I had no words. Maggie held my hands in hers. The flecks of gold in her green irises shimmered like an Irish field as the light streamed through the window at the end of the hallway.
“You’re obviously upset. You’re shaking.”
“Matt and I had an argument.” I lowered my gaze at this lie.
Maggie examined me through narrow slits. Hopefully, she wouldn’t go all Maggie on me. That’s what Dad called it when she sensed something was off. As amusing as I thought it was when she turned the tides on him, I didn’t want to be in the undertow should she suspect a fissure in my world. She had the nose of a hound when it came to pretense. I suspected she acquired this inherent sense before retiring from her elementary teaching career.
“I should talk to Matt first,” I answered.
I swallowed away the knot at the back of my throat and leaned against the wall. My shoulders fell forward. I tucked my fingers in my pockets and hooked my thumbs through the belt loops of my faded jeans.
My flat stomach wouldn’t be so flat much longer.
“I can’t imagine anything being so bad. You and Matt get along so well.”
I leaned back; my shoulder blades skimmed the wall. “Yeah, I’m sure we can work it out.” How do you work out a baby?
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Cowgirl grit, ambition, family drama, and love make this story shine. One Amazon reader, Teachernut, said, “If you like romance, horses and ranchers, but Yellowstone is too violent for you, this book may be your perfect choice...”
"...The writing and character development within Unbranded were beautifully done and really allow you to become immersed in the story. It has a bit of everything for everyone and definitely has its own unique points which make the story so great…you won't be disappointed." —5 Star Review by Miche Arendse for Readers' Favorite
“…Unbranded is a heartwarming story bringing back her beloved, familiar cast of misfit characters. Her magical manipulation of words creates a symphony in your mind building lasting impressions to savor.”—Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild & Third Man on the Left
Note: The Montana Bred Series is a spinoff of Linda’s Montana Bound Series and can be read first.
Enter to win a $40 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs January 10 – January 18, 2023.
Winner will be drawn on January 19, 2023.
Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys with heart-warming emotion.
Linda has been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers' Choice Award. She lives in Michigan and loves dogs, horses, art, and stories with hope and heart.
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