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Falling For The Cowboy
Rowdy McDermott has a plan. Stay on the straight and narrow, help the foster boys on Sunrise Ranch and forget about love. The last thing he expects is his pretty new neighbor falling literally into his arms. Lucy Calvert is glad the handsome cowboy broke her fall, but isn't ready for the feelings he's stirring in her heart. She's heard rumors about his past, and is steering clear from the kind of man he used to be. With ...
Falling For The Cowboy
Rowdy McDermott has a plan. Stay on the straight and narrow, help the foster boys on Sunrise Ranch and forget about love. The last thing he expects is his pretty new neighbor falling literally into his arms. Lucy Calvert is glad the handsome cowboy broke her fall, but isn't ready for the feelings he's stirring in her heart. She's heard rumors about his past, and is steering clear from the kind of man he used to be. With a little help from his boys, can Rowdy show her that people— and hearts—can change?
Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch: These men have hearts as big as Texas.
Rowdy McDermott closed the door of his truck and scanned the ranch house that had seen better days. Carrying the casserole he'd been sent to deliver, he strode toward the rambling, low-slung residence. He'd always liked this old place and the big weathered barn behind it—liked the rustic appearance of the buildings that seemed cut from the hillside sloping down on one side before sweeping wide in a sunny meadow. There was peace here in this valley, and it radiated from it like the glow of the sun bouncing off the distant stream cutting a path across the meadow.
This beautiful three-hundred-acre valley was connected to his family's ranch. Rowdy had hoped one day to make this place his own, but the owner wouldn't sell. Not even when he'd moved to a retirement home several years ago and Rowdy had made him a good offer. He'd told Rowdy he had plans for the place after he died.
Four days ago his "plan" had arrived in the form of the owner's niece, so Rowdy's grandmother had informed him, at the same time she'd volunteered him to be her delivery boy.
He knocked on the green front door, whose paint was peeling with age. Getting no answer, he strode to the back of the house, taking in the overgrown bushes and landscaping as he went. Years of neglect were visible everywhere.
A black Dodge Ram sat in the drive with an enclosed trailer hitched to the back of it. He'd just stepped onto the back porch when a loud banging sound came from the barn, followed by a crash and a high-pitched scream.
Rowdy set the dish on the steps and raced across the yard. The double doors of the barn were open and he skidded through them. A tiny woman clung to the edge of the loft about fifteen feet from the ground.
"Help," she cried, as she lost her grip—
Rushing forward, Rowdy swooped low. "Gotcha," he grunted, catching her just in the nick of time. He managed to stay on his feet as his momentum forced him to plunge forward.
They would have been okay if there hadn't been an obstacle course's worth of stuff scattered on the barn floor.
Rowdy leaped over cans of paint and dodged a wheelbarrow only to trip over a pitchfork— They went flying and landed with a thud on a pile of musty hay.
The woman in his arms landed on top of him, strands of her silky, honey-colored hair splayed across her face.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
She blinked at him through huge protective goggles, her pale blue eyes wide as she swept the hair away. A piece of hay perched on top of her head like a crown.
"You saved me," she gasped, breathing hard. "I can't believe it. Thank you."
"Anytime," Rowdy said with a slow drawl, forcing a grin despite feeling as if he'd just lost a battle with a bronc. The fact that there was a female as cute as this one sitting on his chest numbed the pain substantially.
Those amazing blue eyes widened behind the goggles. "I'm sorry, what am I thinking sitting on you like this?" She scrambled off and knelt beside him. "Can you move? Let me help you up." Without waiting for his reply, she grasped his arm, tugging on him. "That had to have hurt you."
He sat up and rolled his shoulder. "Hitting the ground from the loft would have been a harder fall. What were you doing, anyway?"
Leaning back on her heels, she yanked off the goggles.
Whoa— Rowdy's pulse kicked like a bull as he looked into her sparkling eyes.
"I was knocking a wall out with a sledgehammer. It was a splendid feeling—until the main beam gave way and I flew over the edge like a ninny." A nice blush fanned across her cheeks. "Talk about feeling silly—that'll sure do it. But I am so grateful you were here. For a short person like me, that was a long drop. And that you got to me so quick. How fast are you, anyway?"
She talked with the speed of light and Rowdy had a hard time keeping up. "Fast enough, but clearly not as fast as you talk." He chuckled.
"Ha, it's a curse! I do tend to rattle on when I've been saved from sure disaster." She stood up—which wasn't all that much farther from the ground.
Rowdy wasn't real sure she was even five foot, and knew she wasn't when he stood up and looked down at her. At only six feet himself, he towered over her by a good twelve inches which would make hugging a little awkward, but hey, he could overcome.
"I'm Lucy Calvert." She stared up at him and held out her hand.
Lucy. He liked it. Liked more the tingle of awareness that sparked the moment he took her small hand in his. When her eyes flared, as if she felt the same spark, his mind went blank.
"Rowdy. Rowdy McDermott, at your service," he said as his pulse kicked up like a stampede of wild horses.
"Rowdy." She slipped her hand free and tugged the edge of her collared shirt closed. Her smile faltered. "I think I may have heard my uncle mention you—I think he said your name fit you."
The disapproval he detected in her voice snapped him out of his infatuated fog as regret of the life he'd led twisted inside his gut. What exactly had his old neighbor said about him?
"It fits, but in all honesty, I'm trying hard to mend my ways."
"Oh." Her blue eyes dug deep. "What were you here for before I literally threw myself at you?"
"Food," he said, feeling off balance by the way she studied him. "My, um, my grandmother made you a casserole and I'm the delivery boy."
"How sweet of her." She laid her hand on his arm and his pulse kicked again. "And of you for bringing it over."
Rowdy wasn't sure he'd ever been called sweet. He looked down at her hand on his arm as that same buzz of electricity took his breath away. She turned, hips swaying and arms pumping as she headed toward the exit and left him in her dust.
"Tell her thank you for me," she called over her shoulder, keeping her steps lively without looking back.
"Can I ask what you were doing up there knocking out walls in your barn?"
They'd made it into the sunshine, and what had appeared to be her dark blond hair glistened like gold in the sun. She was getting better by the minute.
"I'm starting my remodel job. I'm making an art studio up there and a wall was in my way."
"So you knocked it down. Do you do that with everything that gets in your way?" That got him the smile he was looking for. Trying to put her more at ease, he tucked his fingers into the pockets of his jeans and assumed a relaxed stance, putting his weight on one leg.
"I like to hope I do."
Her brows leveled over suddenly serious eyes. "Really. That happens to be my new life motto."
"Sounds kind of drastic, don't you think?"
"Nope. Sounds good to me. It felt quite pleasant actually—" she scowled "—until I flew over the edge of the loft."
"The little woman has anger issues," he teased. "This little woman has a lot of anger issues." Rowdy knew a lot about anger issues, but would rather not discuss them. Trying to figure out a change-of-topic comeback, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye.
"Uh-oh," he groaned, looking where he'd left the casserole. The oversize yellow cat had ripped through the foil and was face-first in the Cowboy Goulash. "Nana isn't going to be happy about that." Even so, Rowdy was grateful for the distraction from the conversation as Lucy raced toward the cat, arms waving.
He owed the hulking orange cat big-time.
"No!" Lucy yelled, tearing across the yard with the troubling cowboy on her heels. She was not happy with her reactions to the magnetic man. Not only had he saved her, he'd taken her breath away. And she didn't like the air being sucked out of her. Nope. Not at all.
What was more, the fact that he—that any man—could do that to her was shocking.
"Bad kitty," she admonished Moose when she reached him. The cat had adopted Lucy four days ago when she'd arrived. Now the moose of a cat—thus his name—looked up at her with a goulashorange smile, then promptly buried his head in the noodles again. "Hey, how much can a hairy beast like you eat?" Lucy asked, pulling him away from the pan as his claws dug in, clinging to the wood.
"Shame on you. Shame, shame." Lucy was so embarrassed. "Honest, I feed him. I really do."
Rowdy chuckled. "In the cat's defense, Nana's food is pretty irresistible."
Lucy's gaze met his and her insides did that crazy thing they'd been doing since the moment she'd found herself in his arms.
"I would have loved to find that out for myself," she snapped.
He gave a lazy, attractive grin. "Don't worry, Nana will be coming by soon to invite you over for dinner. She figures you need to feel welcomed, but also she wants to introduce you to our wild bunch over at Sunrise Ranch. We can be a little overwhelming for some."
His odd statement stirred her curiosity. "And how's that?"
"So you don't know. You're living next door to a boys' ranch."
"A boys' ranch—what do you mean exactly?" Envisioning a bunch of delinquents, Lucy felt her spirits plummet.
"No, no, I didn't mean to make you worry. They're good kids. We have a foster program of sorts. There are sixteen boys ranging from eight to eighteen who call our family ranch home. They've just had some hard knocks in their lives and we're providing a stable place for them to grow up. Speaking of which, I need to run, they're waiting on me." Grinning, he started backing away. "No more flying, okay?"
Lucy laughed despite feeling off-kilter and uneasy. "I'll keep that in mind," she said, and then he was gone. The unease didn't leave with him.
After the betrayal and nightmare she'd been through with her ex-husband, she was stunned by the buzz of attraction she'd felt toward her new neighbor.
Especially since he'd admitted being a reformed rowdy cowboy. Reformed—that alone was all the deterrent she needed to keep her distance. Fuzzy warm feelings or thoughts of cozying up to cute cowboys hadn't crossed her mind. Even to feel attraction at all was startling to her. Then again, the man had swooped in and saved her from breaking her neck—maybe that explained away the attraction.
The thought had Lucy breathing a little easier. She'd come here to find the joy again. Joy in her life and in her painting: things she'd lost and desperately needed to find again. She was praying that God would help her and show her the way. What she wasn't praying for was romance, relationships or attraction. She'd learned the hard way that there was no joy to be found there.
None at all. Nope, this ole girl was just fine on her own, swan diving out of the hayloft and all.
The day after he'd caught her falling out of the hayloft, Rowdy drove up Lucy's driveway again as Toby Keith played on the radio. He had a ranch to run and horses that needed training, so what was he doing back here?
Making sure she wasn't dangling from the roof. He chuckled as the thought flashed through his mind.
Stepping out of his truck, he looked up at the eaves just to make sure she wasn't doing just that.
All clear; nothing but a rooster weather vane creaking in the breeze.
Looking around, the first thing he noticed was a large pile of barn wood a few yards from the barn. It was after five and, by the looks of the pile, she'd been busy.
He had work to do, but he hadn't been able to get his new neighbor off his mind. True, he couldn't get those pretty eyes out of his head or that cute figure he sensed beneath that oversize shirt she'd been wearing, but mostly he hadn't been able to stop thinking about her over here ripping her property apart all by herself.
He shouldn't have left the day before without offering to help, and that he'd done just that had bugged him all night. He'd been taught better by his nana; buying the property for himself had vanished with Lucy showing up. And though he hated that, he didn't hold it against his new neighbor— Well, maybe a bit. But that shouldn't have stopped him from helping her.
He was headed toward the barn when Lucy came out of the back door carrying an armload of Sheetrock pieces. She wore her protective goggles again and another long-sleeved work shirt. Her jeans were tucked into a pair of low-heeled brown boots. How could a woman look that good in that get-up? He must be losing his mind.
Tucking a thumb in his waistband, he gave her a skeptical look. "So I'm thinkin' you have something against walls."
"Yup." She chuckled as she strode past him to toss the load in her arms on the pile with the other discards. "I like open space. Don't you?"
"Yeah, but you do know a house has to have some walls inside it to hold the roof up?"
She paused. "I've left a few."
"But have you left the right ones? Maybe you should hire some help. I know some contractors who could do this for you. Safely."
She stared at him for a moment, a wrinkle forming above her goggles. It suddenly hit him that she didn't look like she was in a good mood.
"Did you have a reason for stopping by?"
So he was right. "I just dropped by to check on you. Make sure you weren't dangling from high places."
The crease above her goggles deepened. "Actually, I've managed a whole day without mishap. Of course, there was a tense moment when I climbed up on the roof and lost my balance walking the peak."
His blood pressure spiked even as he recognized she was teasing him—so maybe she wasn't in a bad mood after all. "I'm glad you're teasing me."
"Had you there for a moment, though."
"Yes, you did."
She smiled sweetly. "The thing is, Rowdy, I just met you yesterday, and while I am very grateful that you saved my neck, I really don't know you. And that being the case Well, you get what I'm saying?"
Get out of my business. Okay, so maybe she was in a bad mood—twinkling eyes and all. He was losing his touch reading women. That was an understatement. He hadn't read Liz right at all. Not until her husband had shown up and punched him in the nose had he suspected he'd gotten involved with a married woman. His stomach soured just thinking about it.
Looking at Lucy, he held his hands up. "You are absolutely right." He planned to leave it at that, get in his truck and hit the road; after all, it wasn't any of his business. The problem: Rowdy was known for not always doing what he was supposed to do. He'd suffered from the ailment all of his life.
"But you don't know what you're doing."
The words were out of his mouth before he could edit them.
Lucy's eyes flashed fire his way before she spun on her boot heels and strode back into the house, leaving him standing just off the porch.
Clearly the woman did not want to hear what he had to say. Any man with good sense would get in his truck and head home to tend to his own business. There was sure no shortage of it and that work was what he'd promised himself and the Lord he was going to do for the next year.
But what did he do?
He followed her. That's what.
Right through her back door and in the direction of a sledgehammer beating the stuffing out of a hunk of wood somewhere inside the house.
All the while telling himself he needed to mind his own business. He had a well-thought-out plan for his life—he was done jumping off into relationships impulsively. He'd given himself at least a year to be completely single. He'd made the deal with the Lord—no attachments—and he'd almost made it.
So what are you doing?
Posted January 5, 2014
When I received Her Unexpected Cowboy by Debra Clopton in the mail, I was just going to read the the introduction pages. I had another print book that was in my review pile next so I intended to place this one under it. However after reading the intro pages I kept reading, the next thing I knew I was 25 pages into the story. Ms. Clopton has once again written one of those wonderful stories that grabbed my attention right away. I really enjoyed Her Unexpected Cowboy, the second book in the Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch series. This is a really great series that is full of those wonderful cowboys that I know a lot of us love to read about.
Rowdy has been burned by love in the past, he has no intention of falling in love again, maybe EVER! However when he stops by to greet the new neighbor Lucy, he finds himself intrigued.
Lucy has been through a lot and has the scars to prove it. Her scars make her very self conscious and she really doesn't want anyone else to see them.
I really liked Lucy. She strong, tough, and brave with a little bit of fear and not a lot of self confidence. She likes to take her frustration out on her house that she is remodeling. I loved that she would pick up a sledge hammer and take down a wall. I can really see where this would relieve some anger and frustration. However the boys of Sunrise Ranch were a little afraid she might take out a few too many walls.
Lucy is not looking for a relationship either and fights Rowdy's offers of help many times before she gives in and allows him and the boys to help her. Not only were the boys able to help with the work on the house and barn but Tony (one of the boys) helps her see that her scars are not as unattractive to other people as she thinks.
On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It is full of a lot of emotional moments that brought a few tears and there is also some really humorous moments that made me laugh. The romance between Rowdy and Lucy is so sweet as it grows. These two are exactly what the other needs.
I have been a fan of Debra Clopton's work since I had the chance to read Her Forever Cowboy. She has a way of telling a very moving story with a lot of meaning but also throws some great humor in as well. I LOVE the Sunrise Ranch Series and what they are doing for these wonderful children. I can't wait to see what Ms. Clopton has in store for the next book. I will be anxiously awaiting it's release.
I was given the opportunity to read this book so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Her Unexpected Cowboy.