Lionhearted [NOOK Book]

Overview

THE LAST HART BACHELOR GETS LASSOED!

As the holiday season approached, the residents of Jacobsville were whispering about Janie Brewster's hopeless crush on Leo Hart. Up till now, all her efforts to lasso the dynamic cattleman had crumbled quicker than those mouthwatering biscuits the Hart men coveted. However, this time the starry-eyed debutante had come up with the perfect self-improvement campaign to dazzle Leo—she'd become a courageous ...

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Lionhearted

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Overview

THE LAST HART BACHELOR GETS LASSOED!

As the holiday season approached, the residents of Jacobsville were whispering about Janie Brewster's hopeless crush on Leo Hart. Up till now, all her efforts to lasso the dynamic cattleman had crumbled quicker than those mouthwatering biscuits the Hart men coveted. However, this time the starry-eyed debutante had come up with the perfect self-improvement campaign to dazzle Leo—she'd become a courageous cowgirl!

Still, her sudden transformation seemed to rouse Leo's formidable temper more than ever. But was it tender yearning—not dark disdain—that gleamed in his eyes when they kissed beneath the mistletoe? Could the last Hart bachelor be on the verge of taking Janie as his bride?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459208797
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Series: Long, Tall Texans
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 50,439
  • File size: 661 KB

Meet the Author

The prolific author of more than one hundred books, Diana Palmer got her start as a newspaper reporter. A New York Times bestselling author and voted one of the top ten romance writers in America, she has a gift for telling the most sensual tales with charm and humor. Diana lives with her family in Cornelia, Georgia.

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Read an Excerpt


Leo Hart was half out of humor. It had been a long week as it was, and now he was faced with trying to comfort his neighbor, Fred Brewster, who'd just lost the prize young Salers bull that Leo had wanted to buy. The bull was the offspring of a grand champion whose purchase had figured largely in Leo's improved cross-breeding program. He felt as sad as Fred seemed to.

"He was fine yesterday," Fred said heavily, wiping sweat off his narrow brow as the two men surveyed the bull in the pasture. The huge creature was lying dead on its side, not a mark on it. "I'm not the only rancher who's ever lost a prize bull, but these are damned suspicious circumstances."

"They are," Leo agreed grimly, his dark eyes surveying the bull. "It's just a thought, but you haven't had a problem with an employee, have you? Christabel Gaines said they just had a bull die of unknown causes. This happened after they fired a man named Jack Clark a couple of weeks ago. He's working for Duke Wright now, driving a cattle truck."

"Judd Dunn said it wasn't unknown causes that killed the bull, it was bloat. Judd's a Texas Ranger," Fred reminded him. "If there was sabotage on the ranch he co-owns with Christabel, I think he'd know it. No, Christabel had that young bull in a pasture with a lot of clover and she hadn't primed him on hay or tannin-containing forage beforehand. She won't use antibiotics, either, which would have helped prevent trouble. Even so, you can treat bloat if you catch it in time. It was bad luck that they didn't check that pasture, but Christabel's shorthanded and she's back at the vocational school full-time, too. Not much time to check on livestock."

"They had four other bulls that were still alive," Leo pointed out, scowling.

Fred shrugged. "Maybe they didn't like clover, or weren't in the same pasture." He shook his head. "I'm fairly sure their bull died of bloat. That's what Judd thinks, anyway. He says Christabel's unsettled by having those movie people coming next month to work out a shooting schedule on the ranch and she's the only one who thinks there was foul play." Fred rubbed a hand through his silver hair. "But to answer your question—yes, I did wonder about a disgruntled ex-employee, but I haven't fired anybody in over two years. So you can count out vengeance. And it wasn't bloat. My stock gets antibiotics."

"Don't say that out loud," Leo chuckled. "If the Tremaynes hear you, there'll be a fight."

"It's my ranch. I run it my way." Fred looked sadly toward the bull again. He was having financial woes the likes of which he'd never faced. He was too proud to tell Leo the extent of it. "This bull is a hell of a loss right now, too, with my breeding program under way. He wasn't insured, so I can't afford to replace him. Well, not just yet," he amended, because he didn't want Leo to think he was nearly broke.

"That's one problem we can solve," Leo replied. "I've got that beautiful Salers bull I bought two years ago, but it's time I replaced him. I'd have loved to have had yours, but while I'm looking for a replacement, you can borrow mine for your breeding season."

"Leo, I can't let you do that," Fred began, overwhelmed by the offer. He knew very well what that bull's services cost.

Leo held up a big hand and grinned. "Sure you can. I've got an angle. I get first pick of your young bulls next spring."

"You devil, you," Fred said, chuckling. "All right, all right. On that condition, I'll take him and be much obliged. But I'd feel better if there was a man sitting up with him at night to guard him."

Leo stretched sore muscles, pushing his Stetson back over his blond-streaked brown hair. It was late September, but still very hot in Jacobsville, which was in southeastern Texas. He'd been helping move bulls all morning, and he was tired. "We can take care of security for him," Leo said easily. "I've got two cowboys banged up in accidents who can't work cattle. They're still on my payroll, so they can sit over here and guard my bull while they recuperate."

"And we'll feed them," Fred said.

Leo chuckled. "Now that's what I call a real nice solution. One of them," he confided, "eats for three men."

"I won't mind." His eyes went back to the still bull one more time. "He was the best bull, Leo. I had so many hopes for him."

"I know. But there are other champion-sired Salers bulls," Leo said.

"Sure. But not one like that one." He gestured toward the animal. "He had such beautiful conformation—" He broke off as a movement to one side caught his attention. He turned, leaned forward and then gaped at his approaching daughter. "Janie?" he asked, as if he wasn't sure of her identity.

Janie Brewster had light brown hair and green eyes. She'd tried going blond once, but these days her hair was its natural color. Straight, thick and sleek, it hung to her waist. She had a nice figure, a little on the slender side, and pretty little pert breasts. She even had nice legs. But anyone looking at her right now could be forgiven for mistaking her for a young bull rider.

She was covered with mud from head to toe. Even her hair was caked with it. She had a saddle over one thin shoulder, leaning forward to take its weight. The separation between her boots and jeans was imperceptible. Her blouse and arms were likewise. Only her eyes were visible, her eyebrows streaked where the mud had been haphazardly wiped away.

"Hi, Daddy," she muttered as she walked past them with a forced smile. "Hi, Leo. Nice day."

Leo's dark eyes were wide-open, like Fred's. He couldn't even manage words. He nodded, and kept gaping at the mud doll walking past.

"What have you been doing?" Fred shouted after his only child.

"Just riding around," she said gaily.

"Riding around," Fred murmured to himself as she trailed mud onto the porch and stopped there, calling for their housekeeper. "I can't remember the last time I saw her on a horse," he added.

"Neither can I," Leo was forced to admit.

Fred shook his head. "She has these spells lately," he said absently. "First it was baling hay. She went out with four of the hands and came home covered in dust and thorns. Then she took up dipping cattle." He cleared his throat. "Better to forget that altogether. Now it's riding. I don't know what the hell's got into her. She was all geared up to transfer to a four-year college and get on with her psychology degree. Then all of a sudden, she announces that she's going to learn ranching." He threw up his hands. "I'll never understand children. Will you?" he asked Leo.

Leo chuckled. "Don't ask me. Fatherhood is one role in life I have no desire to play. Listen, about my bull," he continued. "I'll have him trucked right over, and the men will come with him. If you have any more problems, you just let me know."

Fred was relieved. The Harts owned five ranches. Nobody had more clout than they did, politically and financially. The loan of that bull would help him recoup his losses and get back on his feet. Leo was a gentleman. "I'm damned grateful, Leo. We've been having hard times lately."

Leo only smiled. He knew that the Brewsters were having a bad time financially. He and Fred had swapped and traded bulls for years—although less expensive ones than Fred's dead Salers bull—and they frequently did business together. He was glad he could help.

He did wonder about Janie's odd behavior. She'd spent weeks trying to vamp him with low-cut blouses and dresses. She was always around when he came to see Fred on business, waiting in the living room in a seductive pose. Not that Janie even knew how to be seductive, he told himself amusedly. She was twenty-one, but hardly in the class with her friend Marilee Morgan, who was only four years older than Janie but could give Mata Hari lessons in seduction.

He wondered if Marilee had been coaching her in tomboy-ish antics. That would be amusing, because lately Marilee had been using Janie's tactics on him. The former tomboy-turned-debutante had even finagled him into taking her out to eat in Houston. He wondered if Janie knew. Sometimes friends could become your worst enemy, he thought. Luckily Janie only had a crush on him, which would wear itself out all the faster once she knew he had gone out with her best friend. Janie was far too young for him, and not only in age. The sooner she realized it, the better. Besides, he didn't like her new competitive spirit. Why was she trying to compete with her father in ranch management all of a sudden? Was it a liberation thing? She'd never shown any such inclination before, and her new appearance was appalling. The one thing Leo had admired about her was the elegance and sophistication with which she dressed. Janie in muddy jeans was a complete turnoff.

He left Fred at the pasture and drove back to the ranch, his mind already on ways and means to find out what had caused that healthy bull's sudden demise.

Janie was listening to their housekeeper's tirade through the bathroom door.

"I'll clean it all up, Hettie," she promised. "It's just dirt. It will come out."

"It's red mud! It will never come out!" Hettie was grumbling. "You'll be red from head to toe forever! People will mistake you for that nineteenth-century Kiowa, Satanta, who painted everything he owned red, even his horse!"

Janie laughed as she stripped off the rest of her clothes and stepped into the shower. Besides being a keen student of Western history, Hettie was all fire and wind, and she'd blow out soon. She was such a sweetheart. Janie's mother had died years ago, leaving behind Janie and her father and Hettie— and Aunt Lydia who lived in Jacobsville. Fortunately, Aunt Lydia only visited infrequently. She was so very house-proud, so clothes-conscious, so debutante! She was just like Janie's late mother, in fact, who had raised Janie to be a little flower blossom in a world of independent, strong women. She spared a thought for her mother's horror if she could have lived long enough to see what her daughter had worn at college. There, where she could be herself, Janie didn't wear designer dresses and hang out with the right social group. Janie studied anthropology, as well as the psychology her aunt Lydia had insisted on—and felt free to insist, since she helped pay Janie's tuition. But Janie spent most of her weekends and afternoons buried in mud, learning how to dig out fragile pieces of ancient pottery and projectile points.

But she'd gone on with the pretense when she was home— when Aunt Lydia was visiting, of course—proving her worth at psychology. Sadly, it had gone awry when she psychoanalyzed Leo's brother Callaghan last year over the asparagus. She'd gone to her room howling with laughter after Aunt Lydia had hung on every word approvingly. She was sorry she'd embarrassed Cag, but the impulse had been irresistible. Her aunt was so gullible. She'd felt guilty afterward, though, for not telling Aunt Lydia her true interests.

She finished her shower, dried off, and changed into new clothes so that she could start cleaning up the floors where she'd tracked mud. Despite her complaints, Hettie would help. She didn't really mind housework. Neither did Janie, although her late mother would be horrified if she could see her only child on the floor with a scrub brush alongside Hettie's ample figure.

Janie helped with everything, except cooking. Her expertise in the kitchen was, to put it mildly, nonexistent. But, she thought, brightening, that was the next thing on her list of projects. She was undergoing a major self-improvement. First she was going to learn ranching—even if it killed her—and then she was going to learn to cook.

She wished this transformation had been her idea, but actually, it had been Marilee's. The other girl had told her, in confidence, that she'd been talking to Leo and Leo had told her flatly that the reason he didn't notice Janie was that she didn't know anything about ranching. She was too well-dressed, too chic, too sophisticated. And the worst thing was that she didn't know anything about cooking, either, Marilee claimed. So if Janie wanted to land that big, hunky fish, she was going to have to make some major changes.

It sounded like a good plan, and Marilee had been her friend since grammar school, when the Morgan family had moved next door. So Janie accepted Marilee's advice with great pleasure, knowing that her best friend would never steer her wrong. She was going to stay home—not go back to col-lege—and she was going to show Leo Hart that she could be the sort of woman who appealed to him. She'd work so hard at it, she'd have to succeed!

Not that her attempts at riding a horse were anything to write home about, she had to admit as she mopped her way down the long wooden floor of the hall. But she was a rancher's daughter. She'd get better with practice.

She did keep trying. A week later, she was making biscuits in the kitchen—or trying to learn how—when she dropped the paper flour bag hard on the counter and was dusted from head to toe with the white substance.

It would have to be just that minute that her father came in the back door with Leo in tow.

"Janie?" her father exclaimed, wide-eyed.

"Hi, Dad!" she said with a big grin. "Hi, Leo."

"What in blazes are you doing?" her father demanded.

"Putting the flour in a canister," she lied, still smiling.

"Where's Hettie?" he asked.

Their housekeeper was hiding in the bedroom, supposedly making beds, and trying not to howl at Janie's pitiful efforts. "Cleaning, I believe," she said.

"Aunt Lydia not around?"

"Playing bridge with the Harrisons," she said.

"Bridge!" her father scoffed. "If it isn't bridge, it's golf. If it isn't golf, it's tennis… Is she coming over today to go over those stocks with me or not?" he persisted, because they jointly owned some of his late wife's shares and couldn't sell them without Lydia's permission. If he could ever find the blasted woman!

"She said she wasn't coming over until Saturday, Dad," Janie reminded him.

He let out an angry sigh. "Well, come on, Leo, I'll show you the ones I want to sell and let you advise me. They're in my desk…damn bridge! I can't do a thing until Lydia makes up her mind."

Leo gave Janie a curious glance but he kept walking and didn't say another word to her. Minutes later, he left—out the front door, not the back.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 46 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2005

    great romance

    This was the first Long tall Texan book i read. Now i must have them all. I loved this one and IT IS MY FAVORITE so far. But i love them all. This is a great author and i can' wait to read more about those LONG TALL TEXANS

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Fantastic!!!!!

    I wainted a long time to see Leo Hart fall in love. I read about Simon,Rey,Cag and Corrigan falling in love and I waited a long time for this book. Diana Palmer books are always a FANTASTIC read. The wait was worth it!!!!!!It was GREAT!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    excellent

    Enjoyed this book, the characters are great,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    Lionheart

    Padd in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Lovedit

    A great romance to read.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Loved this book

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    Posted October 7, 2011

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    Posted July 3, 2011

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