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By Carol Ross
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
August 1st 2018 by Harlequin Heartwarming
She’s not the country nanny he advertised for
But she could be perfect for him…
Jon Blackwell needs a woman ready to tackle the duties of a cattle ranch and two lively, take-no-prisoners twin girls. But ever since Lydia Newbury showed up at his six-generation Montana spread, the frazzled single father is rethinking, well, everything. The Philadelphia dazzler is a marvel. What he doesn’t know is the secret that has Lydia on the run…
“But…how is that possible?”
“What do you mean?”
“Stuck out here in the middle of nowhere taking care of someone else’s kids? This is the life you want?”
Lydia stared back at him, hoping her heart wasn’t showing in her eyes. “Um…” She turned and held her arms out in front of her. “This isn’t exactly nowhere. Pretty sure it’s the most beautiful place on earth.”
“I’m not trying to put you on the spot here, it’s just that I’m wondering why.”
In that moment, she wished she could tell him everything. But what would he think of her? There wasn’t a situation in the world that would cause Jon Blackwell to run from his problems the way she’d always run from hers. Maybe, she could tell him a little, though. Tanner’s warnings surfaced but she brushed them away. She’d keep things vague.
“Well, Jon, I’ve made some mistakes. I haven’t had great luck with relationships.” With a little grimace, she went on, “There’s no luck involved. It’s more that I get involved with the wrong guys. The last one was a real piece of work. I had a difficult time getting out of the relationship.” Gripping the rock she’d gathered, she continued, “That’s part of the reason that I took this job, to get away from him. I needed to get out of Philadelphia.”
Jon’s eyes homed in on her like a laser beam. “Lydia, did some guy…? What are you talking about? If someone hurt you, I’d like to know about it.”
Lydia’s heart fluttered helplessly in her chest. She couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to have a man protect her for once, or at least to not want to hurt her. And not just any man, but this man, who was strong and smart and good. Too good, maybe, because he ended up with a woman who took advantage of that goodness. She ignored the little voice that reminded her that she was currently doing the same.
But she didn’t want to be. She wanted to protect him, too, from the wiles of Ava and Marilee. She wanted to help him in every way that she could—take care of his girls, support him on the ranch and keep him from working too hard. She wanted to be his partner. And love them all in the way they deserved.
“Um…he didn’t hurt me physically.” Lydia had often thought he wanted to. She suspected he’d been abusive in other relationships. “But he could be rough and the threat of more was always there. Verbal abuse, yes. I worked for him so that made it all worse.” She sighed. It was so difficult to explain without explaining. “At the end, I lived in constant fear.”
Lydia watched his mouth flatten out to a thin, angry line. “You deserve so much better.”
“Thank you. I know I want better.”
“What do you want?” His voice was low and deep and somehow made her want to cry a little.
You, her heart answered immediately. It hurt that she couldn’t say it, so she looked out at the view again. Doing her best to lighten the moment, she tossed the rock from the cliff and answered in a teasing tone, “Oh, I don’t know. Not much really. Just love, safety, security… And someday…maybe my own horse.”
Her attempt at levity didn’t work.
Jon looked out toward the horizon. He was still and appeared calm. But Lydia knew him better now. Tension radiated from him and she knew it wasn’t anger. Her breath stalled as her pulse began to pound fast and hard. His expression was pure Rancher Blackwell—grave and solemn and almost unreadable. Almost, because she could see the vulnerability there. She knew he had feelings for her, too. The attraction between them had been simmering hotly since he’d kissed her on Easter. What she hadn’t known was what those feelings entailed or how strong they were. But now she did. And at that moment, all of the reasons why they couldn’t be together flew out of her head. Which left only her heart, aching and craving his love. Just say it, she silently pleaded. Because no matter what happened long-term she wanted to hear the words at least once in her life from a person she wanted to hear them from.
He faced her again, his gray-blue gaze ensnaring hers. Her heart jumped into her throat. “What if I told you that I want those things, too? And what if I told you that I didn’t ever want to let you go, not even when the girls leave for college?”
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Carol Ross grew up in small town America right between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, in a place where you can go deep sea fishing in the morning and then hit the ski slopes the same afternoon. The daughter of what is now known as free range parents, she developed a love of the outdoors at a very early age. As a writer, Carol loves to breathe the life she has lived into the characters she creates, grateful for the “research material” that every questionable decision, adrenaline-charged misstep, and near-death experience has provided.
– 1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card and a copy of THE RANCHER’S TWINS (print to US/CAN and ebook to international)
– 3 winners will each receive a copy of THE RANCHER’S TWINS (print to US/CAN and ebook to international)