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The Last Cowboy

The Last Cowboy

3.8 19
by Lindsay McKenna

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City girl. It was written all over her like a sign warning him to keep off. Sure, Slade McPherson would train her horse…With his ranch one bad day away from foreclosure, he can't afford to turn away a paying customer. But no way is this cowboy getting involved with a woman like Jordana Lawton—no matter how pretty she looks in a saddle.



City girl. It was written all over her like a sign warning him to keep off. Sure, Slade McPherson would train her horse…With his ranch one bad day away from foreclosure, he can't afford to turn away a paying customer. But no way is this cowboy getting involved with a woman like Jordana Lawton—no matter how pretty she looks in a saddle.

Yet everything can change in an instant. A terrifying run-in with an angry bull tilts Slade's world off its axis, leaving him wounded and unable to compete in a race that could change his future, for good. With Jordana by his side, he just might stand a chance. But what happens when this old-school cowboy finds himself falling for a modern city girl?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Talented Lindsay McKenna delivers excitement and romance in equal measure." - RT Book Reviews

"McKenna's latest is an intriguing tale...a unique twist
on the romance novel, and one that's sure to please."
-RT Book Reviews on Dangerous Prey

"Emotionally charged...riveting and deeply touching."
-RT Book Reviews on Firstborn

"Gunfire, emotions, suspense, tension, and sexuality
abound in this fast-paced, absorbing novel."
-Affaire de Coeur on Wild Woman

Product Details

Publication date:
Jackson Hole, Wyoming , #4
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File size:
632 KB

Read an Excerpt

"Boss! Look out!"

Slade McPherson was in a rectangular corral at his Jackson Hole, Wyoming, ranch with the meanest Hereford bull he'd ever dealt with. He heard Shorty, his wrangler, give a cry of warning. There was sudden movement behind him. Diablo, the bull, had been walking toward the chute to receive his yearly set of shots. Slade never allowed any horses in such a confined area with the bull. Diablo hated men. Slade wasn't about to allow one of his prized horses to be butted and injured by Diablo.

Whirling around, he saw Diablo toss his massive white-and-rust head, drool flinging in all directions out of his mouth. The bull had decided not to go into the chute and, instead, wheeled his one ton body around and charged Slade who was ten feet away. The bull bellowed, lowered his head and attacked.

Slade was five feet away from the steel-pipe fence. There was no way he could stop such a charge. All he could do was run like hell. And that's exactly what he did. Because he was six-foot-two inches in height and he had a long stride. Adrenaline shot through him as he dug the heels of his cowboy boots into the dusty floor of the corral. In two strides, Slade hit the fence, made a huge leap and landed on the third rung of the five-rung corral. The ground shook from Diablo's charge. As he jerked his leg up, still climbing to get away from the angry bull, Slade felt the brush of the bull's head against the heel of his boot.

It took a matter of two seconds before it was all over. Diablo roared and galloped around the small enclosure, tossing his head in frustration. Slade balanced himself on the fifth rung of the fence, watching his prized breeding bull bawl and race around the enclosure. That was close! Slade had lost count of the times Diablo had planned and waited until he'd get near enough to trample him to death. The bull had great genes for putting good meat on his offspring, but his personality sucked.

"Boss," Shorty panted, running over and looking up at Slade, "you okay? He grazed you."

Taking off his tan Stetson hat, the crown damp with sweat from the July day, Slade grinned and lifted his forearm. He wiped his brow with the back of his arm. "I'm fine," he drawled. "Close but no cigar." The sun was bright as it climbed higher in a deep blue sky. He glanced down at Shorty. The man was only five-foot-six inches tall, lean as a whippet and didn't look as if he could even make it as a wrangler, but he was one of the best. He came from good Irish stock with sandy-colored short hair and dancing green, elfish eyes.

"Good thing," Shorty muttered, worry in his tone. He stepped aside as Slade clambered off the pipe fence and landed on the dusty earth. "I'll tell ya, that bull seems to hate us humans more and more every year." Shorty's small face grew pinched as he watched the bull continuing to trot in circles, the drool from the corners of his opened mouth flying out like thin, glittering spider webs around his head and massive shoulders.

"Bad personality genes for sure," Slade agreed, settling the dusty, sweat-stained Stetson back on his head. He watched Diablo. Once the bull seemed cooled down, the animal walked quietly into the chute. For the Hereford, it was a game, Slade realized as he walked around the outside of the corral. At the chute, he dropped the rear slat that would keep the bull confined. Going to his green Chevy truck, Slade picked up the syringe lying on the seat. Once a year, Diablo got his necessary vaccinations. Shorty followed him to the stout pipe chute that now enclosed the twenty-five-hundred-pound bull.

"Boss, remember you got a new client comin' out here this afternoon," Shorty reminded him. The wrangler had been with Slade since he'd taken over the ranch.

Slade grunted. He really didn't want to hear that. Going to the chute, he said, "Stand by Diablo's head and distract him for a moment."

Grinning, Shorty moved to within a foot of the metal chute where the bull stood. "I'll be the decoy," he chortled.

Slade nodded and positioned himself at the rear of the bull. Diablo lived to find a human to trample. In the bull's mind, humans were a threat to his territory. And Diablo would never allow another male on two legs within the pastures he roamed with his herd of cows. If they came near, all bets were off, and he became enraged and would charge them. Good thing he thought four-legged horses were not threatening. Diablo snorted, his ears moving forward and back as Shorty slowly approached.

"Perfect," Slade murmured as he sank the needle into the thick, muscled area of the bull's well-padded hip. Diablo's entire attention was on Shorty's approach. As Slade withdrew the needle, he glanced forward to get the bull's reaction. There was none. His angry brown eyes were fixed on Shorty. "We're done," he called. Placing the emptied syringe back in the box on his truck seat, Slade said, "Release him back out into the pasture."

"Right, Boss," Shorty said with a quick nod. "He ain't gonna be happy, though. All his ladies are in the pasture across the road from him."

Pulling his leather gloves back on, Slade nodded. "Too bad. He can look, but not touch." Slade had a small herd of Herefords, fifty in all, that Diablo bred in early fall. It took nine months for gestation. In the early summer months, the calves were born. At that time, Diablo was separated from his band, a dirt road plus a stout metal-pipe rail fence between them. One never kept a bull with newly born calves. The chances of them being injured or killed by the bull was very real.

And Slade needed every calf that was birthed because after they reached a certain age, they would be sold to the meat market. And that meant money to pay a mortgage that was always a monthly nightmare to him. Above all, Slade never wanted to lose this ranch. He lived on the razor's edge of doing just that. Being a small-time rancher meant a constant balancing act with the bank mortgage on a monthly basis. Miss one payment and he'd be foreclosed upon. It can't happen!

Slade watched Shorty open the chute. Instantly, Diablo bellowed and shot out of it at a full gallop. The Tetons Ranch that Slade had inherited from his parents after his uncle died was only fifty acres in size. A very small ranch, all things considered. Diablo thundered out of the opened gate. Ahead of him was lush green pasture. And farther to his left was the stout pipe fence and a dirt road. All his ladies and their babies grazed peacefully on the other side. Diablo would pace for a while, walking up and down the fence line, tossing his head and reestablishing he was boss of his herd. Slade knew that the territorial bull would eventually settle down. Diablo would do his best to follow his herd, but the pipe fence and road always stood between them. Once the bull quieted, he would graze and watch his band from afar.

Shorty came back. He took off his dusty black Stetson and brushed it against his thigh. Dust poofed away from it. "Boss," he said as he pulled a crinkled piece of notebook paper from his back pocket, "here's whose comin' at 1:00 p.m."

Slade didn't like new clients, but they were his bread and butter, necessary to meet his financial obligations for the Tetons Ranch. "Okay, thanks," he grunted, taking the paper. Shorty managed Slade's endurance-training appointments. Carefully unwrapping the note, he saw Shorty had scribbled a name and phone number. Frowning, he tried to read it. Shorty was thirty-five years old, single and had never been married. He'd worked for Slade's Uncle Paul shortly before he'd died, and the ranch had been willed to Slade and his fraternal twin brother, Griff. Slade was now thirty-two, and he was grateful for Shorty's loyalty to the ranch and his family. He glanced up—Shorty's thin, narrow face was set in a grin.

"I 'spose you can't read my writin', Boss?'' "Got that right," Slade growled. He handed the note back to his wrangler. "Want to translate it for me?"

Chortling, Shorty read it and said, "Dr. Jordana Lawton is bringing her mustang mare named Stormy here this afternoon at 1:00 p.m." Shorty handed him back the note.

"A doctor?"

"Yes, Boss. She's an emergency-room physician, and Gwen Garner told me that Dr. Lawton is also a functional-medicine specialist and has her clinic near the hospital."

Mouth quirking, Slade asked, "What'd you do? Have a cozy chat with Gwen?" Her son, Cade Garner, was a deputy sheriff. She was the town gossip, but she was careful on what she said and made sure her information was correct before she passed it on to anyone else.

Turning red, Shorty shrugged. "Hey, Gwen said Dr. Lawton was a nice lady, Boss. I guess because Dr. Lawton is used to chattin' with her patients, she's real easy to talk to."

"You weren't her patient."

"No, but when we talked on the phone, she made me feel special," Shorty said, challenging him.

Shrugging, Slade muttered, "I don't care who she is so long as she can pay for the training. What's this about a mustang mare? Is she wanting endurance training?"

"For both of 'em, Boss. The doctor wants to know if her mare is capable of being an endurance-horse prospect from a conformation standpoint. So, I told her to trailer the mare out here and you'd take a look at her."

In Slade's business of endurance riding, of which he was many times a champion, people often brought their horses out for him to check out. "Okay. Anything else she wants?"

Shrugging, Shorty said, "The doc said if her mare's conformation was okay, she wanted to hire you to train both of them for level one riding."

Nodding, Slade interpreted this as money coming into his coffers to keep the bank at bay. He had weekly training sessions with nine male students. He knew how to get a horse ready for an endurance ride, whether it was a twenty, fifty or a hundred-mile challenge. And he also knew how to get the rider in shape, as well. "Okay, that sounds good. She got a background in endurance racing?"

"A little," Shorty hedged. "I really didn't get into much of a discussion with her on that, Boss. I figure you'll sort it out with her when she arrives here this afternoon."

"Okay," Slade said. Tucking the paper with the doctor's name and phone number into his dark red cotton cowboy shirt pocket, he said, "Let's get back to work. We need to start separating the calves from their mothers, branding and vaccinating them." That would be a weeklong activity. And Slade only had one wrangler. He worked from four in the morning to midnight every day. And every hour of daylight was precious.

"Right," Shorty murmured, following him to where their horses were tied to the corral fence.

As Slade mounted his buckskin quarter horse, Dude, his mind wandered back to Dr. Jordana Lawton for just a second. Slightly curious if she was a good endurance prospect, Slade hoped that it would work out so he had more money flowing in. He'd find out soon enough.

Meet the Author

A U.S. Navy veteran, she was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition.  Her heart and focus is on honoring and showing our military men and women.  Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. Visit her online at www.LindsayMcKenna.com.

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The Last Cowboy 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy reading and a nice change of pace. Enjoy.
kimba88 More than 1 year ago
The Last Cowboy had all of the elements necessary to create the perfect feel good western romance. The backdrop for the story was Jackson Hole, Wyoming near the Teton Mountains. McKenna had me longing to see this picturesque country side. Next, she stirred in sexy, heart weary rancher, Slade McPherson. She introduced Dr. Jordana Lawton, a woman who could see through his stubborn exterior. Then, she sprinkled on a villainous neighbor, an estranged brother, disaster and a couple of beautiful horses. The Last Cowboy grabbed me at page one and held me till the final page. The characters had depth and the plot moved quickly. The storyline was believable and the romance felt fresh. The sub-plot to the novel dealt with horse training and McKenna's knowledge of the subject was apparent. I found it to be interesting and it made ranch life burst to life. This was the perfect read for a rainy day and I enjoyed it immensely. McKenna left the door wide open for follow up stories to this tale, and I'd be happy to go back again. I want to thank netGalley and Harlequin Publishing for the ARC, in exchange for my unbiased review.
Joey44 More than 1 year ago
This book revolves around two characters and their involvement in endurance riding. Jordana was a doctor who enjoyed endurance riding as a hobby and dreamed of entering a race but knew she needed training first.  She asked Slade, who is a champion endurance rider, if he would accept her as a student at his endurance school in Jackson Hold, Wyoming. He didn't want to accept her but finally did. Most of the story describes horses, their movement and endurance riding which the reader needs to know in order to understand endurance eventing which is the main focus in this book.  This information is very detailed and accurate however a bit boring for the average reader - whether you are interested in horses or not. I found the equine descriptions interesting since I have owned many horses over the years. My absolute favourite horse was an Arabian mare. I never competed, just rode for fun but my all time high was when we were galloping across the fields.  This story did remind me of those adventures so I enjoyed that part of this book.  Again, I will say that this book is not for everyone. This book was hard to read and rate but I finally decided on this. Description of horses and events - 4 stars Story line - 2 stars So I decided to go with an overall rate of 3 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thisis one of my favorites. I have continued to read the series and have enjoyed them all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If when you read you pick up on the details and fully follow the story line at all times, do not read this book. I could not finish it due to all the repeating facts and inconsistencies. Examples - Jordana talks to Slade about speaking and getting gossip from Gwen. However, in the next chapter when Jordana walks into Gwen's store Gwen comments that it's nice to finally meet her. Also, you learn of the same information over and over again, definitely not needed. Example: You are told that Curt Downing's dad killed Slade's parents in a drunk driving accident from Slade as he tells Jordana. Then later when Jordana meets Curt for the first time it mentions it again. If something like this happens once or twice, no big deal. But it is rampant in this book. At least the first half which is all I could read. Although I feel I could really like these characters and the story lines seems to be a shoe in for a great read, the actual writing is lacking a TON. Instead of learning about the characters through the characters I felt McKenna simply used direct characterization often. Shoving character information at us rather then learn it through their behaviors and interactions. Also, many events seemed to jump out of nowhere and seemed unrealistic - Griff's arrival and his and Slade's conversation's following it. I could go on and on about what I felt was lacking in the writing. So, just save yourself some time and find another book to read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously, I struggled through the first 60 pages and then gave up. The narrative is literally a how to guide on horses. The dialogue is painful. Questions asked in dialogue are rhetorical and it seems as if the same piece of information is repeated three times before the characters move on to something different. I have read a few books by this author and enjoyed them very much. I get the feeling that she knew nothing about horses before writing this book and did extensive research to give the book some validity. However, all her research notes strung together is better suited to a research paper, not a novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
judiOH More than 1 year ago
the last cowboy is a very interesting story. the ranch is about to go under but a horse race might win enough to save it. slad the owner gets gored by a bull, and so jordana says she can to it on her horse. slade thinks , "yeah, right". then jordana's horse comes up lame. so does jordana run the race on her horse? does slade change his mind about jordana and decide she is ok? if she races, does she win? there is an unscrupulous man in the race that couold do real damage to her or the horse if she races. loved this story and will be looking for the next one.
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rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
Slade McPherson is a rancher on his family ranch. The ranch has been in his family for over 100 years. Slade & Griff inherited when their parents died at 6 years old. Slade stayed on the ranch and is Aunt & Uncle raised him and ran the ranch till they died at 17. Griff went with a different uncle to New York who was a stockbroker. Griff had lived the high life in New York. He made millions before he lost it all on the stock market collasp. Slade has been riding endurance rides and is either #1 or #2 in most races. He trains other riders for endurance races. He had a bad divorce 4 years ago to a New York City girl. His new student he does not want to train because she is a woman and her horse is a mare. Slade tells her double the amount for training and boarding her horse 2000. a month. Jordana Lawton is an emergency doctor & has sport clinic. She had lost most of her money in the stock market and knows the 2,000 a month will hurt but it is her dream to compete at the top level. So she puts up with Slade attitude when she see's how gentle he is with her horse. Griff comes back to the ranch after he lost everything. Their is hard times for both twins. Slade does not want him their, since a few years Griff denied loaning him money to help the ranch and he has never put time or money into the ranch. Slade gets injured and can't ride in upcomming race and he needs the prize money to save the ranch. It is a modern story dealing with people losing their home's & savings with the down fall of stock market and banks closing. I liked the story and wanted more hopefully Griff will get his own story. I like Lindseys writings and will read more of her work in the future. I was given this ebook in exchange for honest review.
SheltieMomDW More than 1 year ago
I thought is was a really good read..great Lady loves the cowboy romance...