Marry Me, Cowboy (Copper Mountain series, Book 2) by Lilian Darcy
ebook, 78 pages
Expected publication: October 2013 by The Tule Group, LLC
Champion barrel-racer Tegan Ash has nothing left to go home to in her native Australia and every reason to stay in the USA. But her visa is about to expire, and her prospective groom has called off their green-card wedding. Jamie MacCreadie doesn’t actually want to marry a woman he can’t stand, but his best friend and fellow rodeo rider Chet has just let her down and, somehow, he finds himself offering to do the deed instead. There’s no chance it could turn into the real thing, because they have nothing in common… do they?
An excerpt from Marry Me, Cowboy
Copyright © 2013
He was twenty-six years old. He had a mother, three sisters and an aunt he was close to, as well as a father and a brother, but apparently he still didn’t have a clue. When he was riding the adrenalin rush of a rodeo win, he thought he managed it pretty well. Or when he’d had a drink or two. Rest of the time, no, and to be honest it wasn’t a fault, as far as he was concerned. He just didn’t see the point of a whole lot of talking.
Fortunately, a lot of women seemed not to mind. They carried the dialogue forward on their own, and accepted a lazy smile or a sideways glance as his part of the conversational bargain.
Not Tegan Ash, though. She left him in no doubt about his shortcomings in this area. In fact, she was the one who’d first pointed it out, several months ago, in her cute, blunt Australian accent. “You know what your problem is, Jamie?”
“Well… Do I have one?” He’d stayed calm and mild, knowing it would annoy her. He liked getting a rise out of her, truth to tell. She was the same age he was, and they were like grade school kids with each other, sometimes. Immature in a way he didn’t think he was with other people. It was only her.
“You don’t know how to talk to women.”
She couldn’t stand him, and she was marrying his best friend.
They were both watching Chet right now, Tegan’s long, lean, barrel-racer body as lazy as Jamie’s, leaning on the rodeo arena rail. Somehow she still managed to smell like a shower stall, even though she’d been around horses all day. There was a sweet, nutty scent in the air, sourced in her thick tumble of blond hair. It disturbed his peace of mind in a way he didn’t like to think about, and he shifted six inches along the rail so he wouldn’t be close enough to notice it any more.
Chet was collecting his winner’s buckle for best all-around cowboy at the Nevada Spring Creek Stampede with the announcer’s voice booming, “Che-e-et Wyndham!” from the amplifiers, while the smell of dust and dung and horse feed and hot dogs wafted all around them.
Jamie hadn’t been so lucky today, in the saddle bronc. No buckles for him. He made an effort with Tegan. “So, wedding tomorrow.”
“You’d better show up.” Tegan flicked him a quick look. More like a glare, with those deep dragon-green eyes. She’d placed seventeenth in the barrel-racing, and she wasn’t happy. Her strong chin was stuck out stubbornly, above a smooth neck that disappeared down into a bling-covered western shirt. She had a mile-wide competitive streak that matched Jamie’s own, and it amused him sometimes because you wouldn’t have guessed it to look at her. He got a kick out of the contrast.
But she’d kicked him in a different way, this time, implying he might be unreliable on Chet’s wedding day, of all times. She carried her poor opinion of him too far, and there was no call for it.
“Like I wouldn’t show,” he said on a growl. “I’m the best man.”
“Well, you don’t seem that thrilled about it.” The green eyes challenged him, and he looked quickly away.
Yeah, he wasn’t thrilled. But not for the reason she probably thought – their dislike of each other.
In fact, he didn’t know what was bothering him about Chet and Tegan getting married. This was a super-practical green card wedding so that Tegan could stay in the country and keep on with her barrel-racing career. It wasn’t some big, hot romance between the two of them that was going to disappear in a cloud of rodeo dust after the excitement wore off.
That thing flashed into Jamie’s mind. The thing Chet had hit him with a couple of months ago when he was drunk – well, when they were both drunk, in fact. The thing Jamie didn’t like to think about, and that Chet didn’t even seem to remember, the next morning. Jamie always made his thoughts veer away from it, like he was doing now, not naming it in his head, not assigning it a value.
It probably had nothing to do with his doubts about the wedding, anyhow.
“You got a dress and everything?” he asked Tegan, to distract himself.
“We’re going with rodeo-themed outfits. You have a western shirt you can wear, right? Black, if you can. I hate dresses.”
Chet finished collecting his buckle and began ambling toward them, wearing the grin that came from relief because he wasn’t in plaster or a neck collar or a brace, as well as from knowing he’d banked a four-figure sum today. Jamie had earned a small part of that, because they team-roped together and had just squeaked into the money.
“Still, you could wear a dress to your own wedding,” he said mildly.
“Oh, because you like to see women in skirts they can’t walk in, and stress-fracture shoes?”
“No, because it’s a wedding.”
She glared at him again, but this time he met the look steady and full-on, and she was the one to chicken out first. Gotcha, he thought, and watched as her fingers brushed in an uncertain way against her neck and some late afternoon sun etched the side of her jaw. Her cheeks had gone pink, and he couldn’t see her eyes anymore, just her lashes, which were so long and dark.
Then Chet arrived and the whole atmosphere changed. He was still buzzy from the win, and Tegan met him more than halfway. “I can’t believe you got a buckle for today. When I saw you the first three seconds out of the chute on that bronc, I thought you’d never stick him for the full eight. As for the team-roping, that was pure dumb luck, baby! Neither of you earned it.”
She punched Chet’s arm and he gave her a jittery hug and said, “What about you, tonight? What happened?”
“I should have shaved more off that last turn. I’m so mad at myself.”
As soon as horse-talk turned technical, Chet was in his element, and he always looked happier. He said, “Yeah, you should, but you had your foot stuck out so far, if you had shaved it, you would have kicked the barrel down.”
“Okay, you’re probably right.” Tegan gave one of her grins – the goofy one that said she knew she’d stuffed up. She had several quite different ways of smiling, Jamie had noticed, depending on her state of mind. “I need to work on my stupid feet, don’t I?”
“Let’s go spend some of this.” Chet flapped his wad of cash in the air.
“Bachelor party,” Jamie said, then wished he hadn’t.
Tegan loved the idea. “Yeah, Chet, you should.” She clapped her hands.
“We don’t need that,” he protested, but it was half-hearted. Jamie could already see the intention growing in him.
Chet would get pass-out drunk, the night before his wedding. There would be yelling and destruction, and Chet would get himself arrested if he could possibly manage it. Who planned that?
“Get some of the guys,” Tegan was saying. She had the same spark of life in her face as she did after she’d had a good run with the barrels. “I’ll grab some girls and have a hen night.”
“A what?” Jamie said.
“Hen night. Stag night for girls. Bachelorette party. I don’t know what language I’m speaking any more, what’s Australian and what’s not.”
“We don’t need a lot of guys,” Chet said. “Maybe just the two of us. Wanna hit some bars, Jamie?”
Not really. Not at all.
But he sensed his friend’s need. And, after all, the guy was getting married tomorrow. Maybe that would solve a few things.
Maybe it wouldn’t.
About the author:
Lilian Darcy was born on Valentine’s Day. This auspicious date, as well as a love of reading, set her destiny as a writer of romance and women’s fiction from an early age. She has also written extensively for Australian theatre and television, under another name. Her plays have been professionally performed by some of Australia’s most prestigious theatre companies, and have received two award nominations for Best Play from the Australian Writers Guild, while in 1990 she was the co-recipient of an Australian Film Institute award for best TV mini-series. She has now written over eighty romances for Harlequin, as well as several mainstream novels, including Cafe du Jour, originally published by Mira Books Australia.
Cowboys, horses, a guy and girl who don't like each other, a marriage of convenience. This is the recipe of countless other romances and in Lillian Darcy's Marry Me, Cowboy, she tosses the formula into a barrel and makes it her own.
Marry Me, Cowboy is the second book in the new Copper Mountain series. I loved the ease with which I immediately fell into this charming story. From the opening scene with American Jamie MacCreadie, 26, a competitor in the rodeo circuit, and Aussie Tegan Ash, also 26, barrel-racer, I was in. They are standing by the railing at a competition and Tegan is condescendingly reminding Jamie about the next day. The day when she marries his best friend, Chet. You can tell Jamie's a nice guy, by the way he easily admits how awkward he is around women, and these two haven't exactly gotten along. There's something bothering him about Chet marrying Tegan so she can get her green card and remain in the U.S., but he can't figure out what, not when he can smell her shampoo from her close proximity and his thoughts become easily muddled. When disaster strikes on Tegan's wedding day, will Jamie help her out? Will she let him?
Since this is a novella, I won't go into details. This is my first story featuring rodeos and barrel-racing. I liked this setting, it was different and refreshing to read. Author Lillian Darcy writes an entertaining novel featuring two lead characters a reader can easily fall in love with. Tegan is feisty and Jamie is headstrong. The dialogue flows easily, the pacing is just right, and a contemporary romance with classic tropes charms the reader to the very last word.
Marry Me, Cowboy can easily be described in three words: I loved it!
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review during a blog tour.