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Cardwell Ranch Trespasser & Big Sky Standoff [NOOK Book]

Overview




Cardwell Beware

The Cardwell clan has a new, mysterious member. Dana Cardwell warmly welcomed her Justice cousin into the family fold and to the ranch for a reunion. But this cunning kin has other plans for Dana…and designs on her husband, Hud.

Hilde Jacobson has known Dana too long to let her best friend get conned, or worse—killed. Unfortunately Hilde is no match for a...
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Cardwell Ranch Trespasser & Big Sky Standoff

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Overview




Cardwell Beware

The Cardwell clan has a new, mysterious member. Dana Cardwell warmly welcomed her Justice cousin into the family fold and to the ranch for a reunion. But this cunning kin has other plans for Dana…and designs on her husband, Hud.

Hilde Jacobson has known Dana too long to let her best friend get conned, or worse—killed. Unfortunately Hilde is no match for a skilled impostor who's duped everyone in the canyon. Only Deputy Marshal Colt Dawson believes Hilde's claims about the phony relation; only his strong arms have saved her from "accidents" intended to get her out of the way. Together can they convince the Cardwells a predator lurks in their happy home?

Big Sky Standoff also included in this book!


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460310496
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/26/2013
  • Series: Harlequin Intrigue Series
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 186,237
  • File size: 430 KB

Meet the Author


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels. When not writing, she quilts, boats and plays tennis. Contact her at www.bjdaniels.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Daniels/127936587217837 or on twitter at bjdanielsauthor.

 

 


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Read an Excerpt

"You're never going to believe this."

Hilde Jacobson looked up from behind the counter at Needles and Pins, her sewing shop at Big Sky, Montana, and smiled as her best friend came rushing in, face flushed, dark eyes bright. Her dark hair was pulled back, and she even had on earrings and makeup.

"You escaped?" Hilde said. "I don't believe it." Dana didn't get out much since the birth of her twin boys last fall. Now she had her hands full with four children, all under the age of six.

Her friend dropped a packet of what appeared to be old letters on the counter. "I have family I didn't know I had," she said.

Hilde had to laugh. It wasn't that long ago that Dana was at odds with her siblings over the ranch. Family had been a word that had set her off in an entirely different direction than happy excitement.

Last year she'd reunited with her siblings. Her sister, Stacy, and baby daughter, Ella; and brother Jordan and his wife, Deputy Marshal Liza Turner Cardwell, were now all living here in Big Sky. Her other brother, Clay, was still in California helping make movies.

"A cousin is on her way to Montana," Dana announced. "We have to pick her up at the airport."

"We?" Hilde asked, looking out the window at the Suburban parked at the curb. Normally the car seats were full and either Dana's husband, Hud, or Stacy would now be wrestling a stroller from the back.

"Tell me you'll go with me. I can't do this alone."

"Because you're so shy," Hilde joked.

"I'm serious. I'm meeting a cousin who is a complete stranger. I need you there for moral support and to kick me if I say something stupid."

"Why would you say something stupid?"

Dana leaned in closer and, although there was just the two of them in the shop, whispered, "This branch of the family comes with quite the sordid story."

"How sordid?" Hilde asked, intrigued but at the same time worried. Who had Dana invited to the ranch?

"I was going through some of my mother's things when I found these," Dana said, picking up the letters she'd plunked down on the counter and turning them in her fingers.

"That sounds positive," Hilde said, "you going through your mother's things." Mary Justice Cardwell had died nearly six years ago. Because it had been so unexpected and because it had hit Dana so hard, she hadn't been able to go through her mother's things—let alone get rid of anything. Not to mention the fact that her siblings had tried to force her to sell the ranch after their mother's death because Mary's most recent will had gone missing for a while.

"About time I dealt with her things, wouldn't you say?" Dana asked with a sad smile.

"So you found something in one of these letters?" Hilde asked, getting her friend back on track.

Dana brightened. "A family secret!"

Hilde laughed. "It must be on the Cardwell side of the family. Do tell."

"Actually, that is what's so shocking. It's on the Justice side." Climbing up on a stool at the counter, her friend pulled out one of the letters. "My mother had a brother named Walter who I knew nothing about. Apparently he left home at seventeen and married some woman of ill repute, and my grandparents disinherited him and refused to have his name spoken again."

"Seriously? That is so medieval," she said, stepping around the counter so she could read over Dana's shoulder.

"This is a letter from him asking for their forgiveness."

"Did they forgive him?"

"Apparently not. Otherwise, wouldn't I have known about him?"

"So you tracked him down on the internet and found out you have a cousin and now she is on her way to Montana."

"Walter died, but he left behind a family. I found one cousin, but there are apparently several others on that side of the family. Isn't that amazing?"

"Amazing that you were able to find this cousin you know nothing about." Hilde couldn't imagine doing such a thing—let alone inviting this stranger to come visit—and said as much.

"It's not like she's a complete stranger. She's my cousin. You know, since I had my own children, I realize how important family is. I want my kids to know all of their family."

"Right," Hilde said, thinking of the six years Dana had been at odds with her siblings. She'd missed them a lot more than she suspected they'd missed her. "I'm sure it will be fine."

Dana laughed. "If you're so worried, then you absolutely must come to the airport with me to pick her up."

"How did you get out alone?" Hilde asked, glancing toward the street and the empty Suburban again.

"Stacy is babysitting the twins, and Hud has Mary and Hank," Dana said, still sounding breathless. It was great to see her so happy.

"How are you holding up?" Hilde asked. "You must be worn out."

Hilde babysat occasionally, but with Stacy, Jordan and Liza around, and Hud with a flexible schedule, Dana had been able to recruit help—until lately. Jordan and Liza were building their house on the ranch and Stacy had a part-time job at Needles and Pins and another one working as a part-time nanny in Bozeman. Mary was almost five and Hank nearly six. The twins were seven months.

"I'm fine, but I am looking forward to some adult conversation," Dana admitted. "With Stacy spending more time in Bozeman, I hardly ever see her. Jordan and Liza are almost finished with their house, but Jordan has also been busy with the ranch, and Liza is still working as a deputy."

"And I haven't been around much," Hilde added, seeing where this was going. "I'm sorry."

"We knew expanding the shop was going to be time-consuming," Dana said. "I'm not blaming you. But it is one reason I'm so excited my cousin is coming. Her name is Dee Anna Justice. She's just a little younger than me—and guess what?" Dana didn't give Hilde a chance to guess. "She didn't know about us, either.

I can't wait to find out what my uncle Walter and the woman he married were like. You know there is more to the story."

"I'm sure there is, but let's not ask her as she gets off the plane, all right?"

Dana laughed. "You know me so well. That's why you have to come along. Dee Anna is in between jobs, so that's good. There was no reason she couldn't come and stay for a while. I offered to help pay her way since she is out of work. I couldn't ask her to come all the way from New York City to the wilds of Montana without helping her."

"Of course not," Hilde said, trying to tamp down her concern. She was a natural worrier, though—unlike Dana. It was amazing that they'd become such close friends. Hilde thought things out before she acted. Dana, who wasn't afraid of anything, jumped right in feetfirst without a second thought. Not to mention her insatiable curiosity. Both her impulsiveness and her curiosity had gotten Dana into trouble, so it was good her husband was the local marshal.

For so long Dana had had the entire responsibility of running Cardwell Ranch on her shoulders. Not that she couldn't handle it and two kids. But now with the twins, it was good that Jordan was taking over more of the actual day-to-day operations. Dana could really start to enjoy her family.

"I'll get Ronnie to come in," Hilde said. "She won't mind watching the shop while I'm gone with you to pick up your cousin."

"I have another favor," Dana said, and looked sheepish. "Please say you'll help show my cousin a good time while she's here. Being from New York City, she'll be bored to tears hanging around the ranch with me and four little kids."

"How long is she staying?" Hilde asked.

Dana shrugged. "As long as she wants to, I guess."

Hilde wondered if it was wise to leave something like this openended, but she kept her concerns to herself. It was good to see Dana so excited and getting a break from the kids that she said, "Don't worry, you can count on me, but I'm sure your cousin will love being on the ranch. Did she say whether or not she rides?"

"She's a true city girl, but Hud can teach anyone to ride if she's up for it."

"I'm sure she will be. Did she tell you anything about her family?"

Dana shook her head. "I still can't believe my grandparents had a son they never mentioned. Or, for that matter, that my mother kept it a secret. It all seems very odd."

"I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of it. When is she arriving?" Hilde asked, as she picked up the phone to call Ronnie.

"In an hour. I thought we could have lunch in Boze-man, after we pick her up."

Fortunately, Ronnie didn't mind coming in with only a few minutes' notice, Hilde thought as she hung up. Hilde suddenly couldn't wait to meet this mysterious Justice cousin.

Deputy Marshal Colt Dawson watched Hilde Jacobson and Dana Savage come out of the sewing shop from his spot by the window of the deli across the street. Hilde, he noticed, was dressed in tan khakis and a coral print top she'd probably sewn herself. Her long golden hair was bound up in some kind of twist. Silver shone at her throat and ears.

Colt couldn't have put into words what it was about the woman that had him sitting in the coffee shop across the street, just hoping to get a glimpse of her. Most of the time, it made him angry with himself to be this besotted with the darned woman since the feeling was far from mutual.

As she glanced in his direction, he quickly pretended more interest in his untouched coffee. He'd begun taking his breaks and even having lunch at the new deli across from Needles and Pins. It was something he was going to have to stop doing since Hilde had apparently started to notice.

"She's going to think you're stalking her," he said under his breath, and took a sip of his coffee. When he looked again she and Dana had driven away.

"I figured I'd find you here," Marshal Hud Savage said, as he joined him. Colt saw Hud glance across the street and then try to hide a grin as he pulled up a chair and sat down.

He realized it was no secret that he'd asked Hilde out—and that she'd turned him down. Of course Hilde told her best friend, Dana, and Dana told her husband. Great—by now everyone in the canyon probably knew.

The "canyon," as it was known, ran from the mouth just south of Gallatin Gateway almost to West Yellowstone, miles of winding road along the Gallatin River that cut deep through the mountains.

Forty miles from Bozeman was the relatively new town of Big Sky. It had sprung up when Chet Huntley and a group of men started Big Sky Ski Resort up on Lone Mountain.

Hud ordered coffee, then seemed to study him. Colt bristled at the thought of his boss feeling sorry for him, even though he was definitely pitiful. He just hoped the marshal didn't bring up Hilde. Or mention the word

crush.

Hilde had laughed when he'd asked her out as if she thought he was joking. Realizing that he wasn't, she'd said, "Colt, I'm flattered, but I'm not your type."

"What type is that?" he'd asked, even though he had a feeling he knew.

She'd studied him for a moment as if again trying to decide if he was serious. "Let's just say I'm a little too old, too serious, too…not fun for you."

He knew he had a reputation around the canyon because when he'd taken the job, he'd found there were a lot of young women who were definitely looking for a good time. He'd been blessed with his Native American father's black hair and his Irish mother's blue eyes. Also, he'd sowed more than a few oats after his divorce. But he was tired of that lifestyle. More than that, he was tired of the kind of women he'd been dating.

Not to mention the fact that he'd become fascinated with Hilde.

Hilde was different, no doubt about it. He'd run into her a few times at gatherings at Hud and Dana's house. She was serious. Serious about her business, serious about the life she'd made for herself. He'd heard that she had been in corporate America for a while, then her father had died and she'd realized she wasn't happy. That was when she'd opened her small sewing shop in Big Sky, Montana.

Other than that, he knew little about her. She was Dana's best friend, and they had started out as partners in the shop. Now Dana was a silent investor. Hilde also had her own house. Not one of the ostentatious ones dotting the mountainsides, but a small two-bedroom with a view of Lone Mountain. She'd dated some in the area, but had never been serious about anyone. At least that's what he'd heard.

Some people talked behind her back, saying that she thought she was too good for most of the men around the area. Colt would agree she probably was too good for most of them.

"Maybe I've changed," he'd suggested the day he'd asked her out.

Hilde had smiled at that.

It had been three weeks since she'd turned him down. He'd had numerous opportunities to date other women, but he hadn't. He was starting to worry about himself. He figured Hud probably was, too, since the canyon was such a small community, everyone knew everyone else's business.

"I thought I'd let you know I might be taking off some more time," Hud said after the waitress brought him a cup of coffee. Neither of them had gotten into the fancy coffees that so many places served now in Big Sky. Hud had taken off some time when the twins were born and a few days now and then to help Dana.

"Things are still plenty slow," Colt said, glad his boss wanted to talk about work. He and Hud had gotten close since he took the job last fall, but they weren't so close that they could talk about anything as personal as women.

"Dana discovered she has a cousin she's never met. She and Hilde have gone to pick her up. Stacy's babysitting all the kids right now, so I have to get back. I'll be in and out of the office, but available if needed. Dana wants me to teach her cousin to ride a horse. She's going to try to talk Hilde into taking her cousin on one of the river raft trips down through the Mad Mile. I told her I'd do whatever she wants. As long as Dana is happy, I'm happy to go along with it," he added with a grin.

"Wait, Hilde is going on a raft trip?" Colt couldn't help but laugh. "Good luck with that."

"I think there's a side to Hilde you haven't seen yet. You might be surprised." Hud finished his coffee and stood. "Might be a good idea for you to go along on that raft trip," he added with a grin.

As the plane flew over the mountains surrounding the Gallatin Valley, the now Dee Anna Justice prepared herself for when she met her cousin.

She'd been repeating the name in her head, the same way she used to get into character in the many high school plays she'd performed in. She'd always loved being anyone but herself.

"Dee Anna Justice," she repeated silently as the plane made its descent. The moment the plane touched down, she took out her compact, studying herself in the mirror.

She'd always been a good student despite her lack of interest in school. So she knew how to do her homework. It hadn't taken much research on her laptop to find out everything she could about her "cousin" Dana Cardwell Savage.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/Kimberly & posted at Under the Co

    Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/Kimberly & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog
    "B.J. evokes such emotion that I'm completely sucked in as usual even though I know things are going completely awry." ~Under the Covers

    Dana Cardwell Savage and her handsome Marshall husband, Hud Savage have a good life now. After a difficult beginning they are a strong couple with four beautiful children and a happy home. Dana's upbringing with her siblings was a tad off-colored and not as close as she would have liked it to have been, so when she finds that she has a cousin on the Justice side of the family she knew nothing about, she invites the cousin to stay with her family to become acquainted.

    Right off the bat we know that Dee Anna Justice is going to be trouble with a capital "T". She may look like Dana, but there is something dark about this woman who claims to be the Cardwell cousin and Dana's best friend, Hilde Jacobson has her number. When Dee realizes that Hilde is going to be a problem, she attempts to push Hilde into the river but saves her at the last second. Hilde says nothing to Dana but she is worried that this cousin, if she even is a cousin , is up to no good and wants Hud for herself. Dee Anna is a brilliant liar in Hilde's estimation and she has Dana easily wrapped around her finger.

    Hilde enlists the help of Deputy Marshall Colt Dawson, who has a huge crush in Hilde, in finding out what Dee Anna Justice is all about. Even though Hilde has turned him down when he asked her out, Colt has feelings for the honest and hardworking store owner and is the only one who believes her when issues start happening. The deeper Dee Anna becomes with the Cardwell- Savage family, the more dangerous things become and Hilde will put nothing passed this stranger who has invaded this peaceful home. Lives will be at stake if only Hilde can get her best friend to listen to her instead of Dana thinking that blood is thicker than true friendship.

    Never have I begun a book knowing right off that the first character I meet is evil and twisted and she going to end up tearing a good family apart and there's nothing you can do about it. This is typical B.J. Daniels, who immerses you right in her story kicking and screaming along the way. B.J. evokes such emotion that I'm completely sucked in as usual even though I know things are going completely awry. I love that the secondary story is always just as amazing as the main one and I fall for her characters intensely. Even though Hilde is as skittish as a fish she comes to realize that there is much more the Colt that she originally thought and following him down his path isn't a bad thing at all. I loved this book and I know you will as well!

    *ARC provided by publisher

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    Great book! Couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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