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The last thing on Riley Mason's mind is romance. Sent to the McCord ranch to save the family's accounting problems, she only wants to impress her firm in Helena and be on her way. Life as a single mother isn't easy and she needs to impress her bosses for a raise. But when Zane McCord opens the door, her breath catches in her throat and a desire she's never experienced before takes over her. When the McCords insist that she and her daughter, Summer stay at the ranch, she's forced to give in and before long, she's pulled into their search for the long lost treasure. But she absolutely draws the line at getting involved with Zane McCord, playboy and heartbreaker extraordinaire.
But as they all get closer to finding Coot's lost treasure, a dangerous series of accidents target Riley and her daughter Summer. Can Zane keep her safe while trying to win her heart?
"Found love, lost treasure and ever-present danger. R.C. Ryan delivers it all with page-turning romance."
-Nora Roberts, New York Times bestselling author
"Fabulous...A well written story with fully-developed characters that I easily came to care for."
"...a tapestry of beauty filled with the colors of love. A must read..."—RT Book Reviews on Highland Heaven
"...a delightful addition to a memorable series. Catch this before it flies off the shelves..."—RT Book Reviews on Ruby
"...Powerful story...Exquisitely done."—Rendezvous on The Highlander
The Lost Nugget Ranch
Hey, guys. Wait for me.” Six-year-old Zane McCord struggled under the weight of the saddle and watched in consternation as his cousins, eight-year-old Wyatt and nine-year-old Jesse, started out of the barn on horseback.
“We’re heading up to Treasure Chest Butte.” Jesse pulled down the brim of his hat. “Catch up if you can. We don’t have time to wait for babies.”
From his position in one of the stalls, wrangler Jimmy Eagle watched as the little boy used an overturned bucket to finally get the saddle in place. Chubby little fingers struggled to tighten the cinch.
It was on the tip of Jimmy’s tongue to offer to lend a hand, but he knew he would be rebuffed. Zane McCord may be the youngest of the three cousins who lived here on the Lost Nugget Ranch with their parents and grandparents, but he was already a tough-minded, independent little cuss.
Minutes later Zane used the same overturned bucket to pull himself onto the back of his horse. By the time he’d cleared the barn, he could just make out two wide-brimmed hats in the distance as his cousins’ horses topped a ridge.
Half an hour later, when Jesse and Wyatt finally slowed their mounts to a walk, Zane and his pony caught up to them.
“You should’ve waited.” His face was red, his shirt stained with sweat from the broiling sun.
Jesse grinned at Wyatt. “You should’ve asked one of the wranglers to help you with that saddle.”
“Why should I? You don’t ask for help.”
“I’m not little.”
“Neither am I. And I don’t need anybody’s help.”
His two cousins shared a laugh before starting up at a brisk pace.
If they’d thought to leave Zane behind again, they were soon reminded of his steely determination when he urged his pony into a gallop to take the lead, leaving them to eat his dust.
Hours later the three boys sat on a rock shelf, surveying the lush rangeland spread out before them as far as the eye could see.
Wyatt polished off the last of the sandwiches the ranch cook had provided. “What’re you going to be when you grow up, Jesse?”
Their oldest cousin never even hesitated. “A cowboy. Like my dad and Coot.”
Their grandfather, called a crazy old coot for spending a lifetime searching this land for a fortune in gold nuggets that had been found and then lost by his ancestors, had embraced the nickname. Even his grandsons called him, with great affection, Coot.
“How about you, Zane?”
“Yeah. A cowboy. But I don’t want to work with cattle.” The youngest chugged from a canteen of lukewarm water. “See those mustangs?” He pointed to a herd of wild horses grazing across the valley. “I’d love to spend time with them. See if they’d trust me enough to let me ride one.”
Wyatt chuckled. “You’ve been watching too many movies. People don’t live with mustangs.”
Jesse nodded. “Coot says they eat our crops, trample our rangeland, and steal some of his best fillies every spring.”
Zane got to his feet, shading the late afternoon sun from his eyes. “I think they’re beautiful.”
“Don’t tell Coot that. He says the only thing they’re good for is the glue factory. Come on.” Wyatt pulled himself into the saddle. “We’ve got a long ride ahead of us if we’re going to make it home by dark.”
As they headed back to the house, Zane trailed behind, his gaze wandering again and again to the herd. He was fascinated by the way the stallion patrolled the perimeter, keeping his mares safe from predators.
He knew what the ranchers around here thought of mustangs. It didn’t matter. There was just something about a herd of wild horses living free on open rangeland that stirred his young heart. Not every creature, he thought fiercely, should be tamed.
“Here, now.” Jimmy Eagle had spotted a light on in the barn and ambled in only to find twelve-year-old Zane McCord busy tying a bedroll behind his horse’s saddle. “It’s almost midnight, son. You ought to be asleep up in the big house. What’re you up to?”
Zane ducked his head, hoping to hide his tears. He was too big to cry. If his cousins found out about it, they’d never let him live it down. “I’m leaving.”
“I can see that.”
Very deliberately the wrangler forced himself to lean on the rail and assume a relaxed pose. He’d already heard about the latest fight between the boy’s folks, Melissa and Wade. For years Wade’s wife had been pressing to leave the ranch and its simple lifestyle for a more glamorous life far from Montana. If the rumors were true, this time she’d managed to push Wade over the edge, and he’d agreed to take her wherever she chose to live.
“Where’re you headed?” Keeping his gaze averted so the boy had time to wipe away his tears, Jimmy stuck a piece of straw between his teeth.
Zane pulled himself into the saddle. “I don’t know. I just know I can’t stay here.”
As he started out of the barn, Jimmy opened a nearby stall and led his horse into the night air. He had no need of a saddle. A full-blooded Blackfoot, he’d spent his childhood on the reservation riding bareback. It was second nature to him.
When Zane heard the sound of a second set of hoofbeats, he turned. “You going to try to stop me?”
Jimmy shook his head. “Just figured I’d ride along. That is, if you don’t mind some company.”
“Suit yourself.” Zane dug in his heels and his big black gelding broke into a run.
Behind him, Jimmy’s spotted pony kept up an easy pace as they ate up the miles of rangeland under a full moon.
When at last they came to the top of a rise, Zane slowed his mount and slid from the saddle by the banks of the creek. Jimmy did the same. The boy dropped down in the dew-dampened grass, choking back the lump in his throat.
A short distance away the two horses stood, blowing and snorting from the exertion.
Zane looked up at the moon. “Dad said we have to leave the Lost Nugget. He said he’s been selfish to keep Mom here all these years. Now it’s her turn for some happiness, and we just have to suck it up.”
Jimmy held his silence, knowing the boy needed to get it all out.
Zane turned to the man who had always been his best friend. “How can I leave here, Jimmy? How can Dad ask me to? I love it here. I can’t stand the thought of not being with Coot. With Jesse and Wyatt. With you.”
Jimmy took a blow to his heart.
“Oh, Jimmy.” The boy buried his face in his hands and gave in to a fresh round of tears.
Jimmy gathered him in his arms and let him cry until, with a shuddering sigh, Zane pushed away and blew his nose in his bandanna.
A light came into his eyes as a thought struck. “You think maybe I could find a herd of mustangs and just live with them?”
“I suppose you could. If you were older. Right now, you’ve just got to do what your ma and pa want you to do. Whether you like it or not.”
“But what am I supposed to do in California?”
“Is that where you’re headed?”
“Hollywood.” Zane spit the hated word.
Jimmy chose his words carefully. “The way I see it, wherever you’re planted, you’ll need to go to school and do a heap of growing up. And when you’re old enough to make your own choices, you’ll have the smarts to make wise ones.”
“What if I never get to see you or Coot or this ranch again?”
Another blow, and Jimmy absorbed the pain. He knew exactly how Zane felt. He couldn’t imagine life here on the ranch without this boy who had been his shadow since he was little more than a pup.
“The good thing about life is that we can’t see what tomorrow will bring. If we did, son, some of us wouldn’t want to live another day. But this much I know: You’re tougher and smarter than most. For now, for the next few years, you just have to stay the course and endure whatever life hands you. And if it’s meant to be, you’ll find your way home.”
He dropped an arm around Zane’s shoulders as the two walked back to the horses.
They rode the entire distance back to the ranch in silence.
By the time the sun rose, the boy and his parents were in their van, heading down the long, gravel road. Away from all that was familiar and loved, and toward the unknown.
Jimmy Eagle stood in the dust and watched until they were out of sight, and fought back tears of his own.
Hoo, boy.” Zane McCord grinned when he walked into the big kitchen of the Lost Nugget ranch house and caught sight of his cousins, Jesse and Wyatt. “You two look a whole lot better’n those cows I’ve been tending.”
Jesse grinned. “Two weeks up in the hills, and you look more like a grizzly than a human.”
Zane ran a hand over his rough beard. “The cattle don’t care what we look like as long as we deliver food in the snow.”
Though spring had arrived in Montana, the mountains were still hip-deep in drifts. A storm had dropped nearly a foot of snow the previous weekend.
Cal Randall, foreman of the Lost Nugget, turned from the stove where he was filling a mug with coffee. “These late snowfalls play hell with the calving.”
“Yeah. But the flip side is”—Zane pulled a tiny video camera from his shirt pocket—“I got some fabulous shots of the hills buried in fresh snow. They’ll make a great background for the introduction I’m planning for my documentary. I can see the camera panning a vast, snow-covered wilderness, while a voice intones, ‘When Coot McCord died, the town of Gold Fever called him crazy for having spent a lifetime searching for the lost treasure of his ancestors. How could anyone in his right mind believe one man could find a sack of gold nuggets in such a primitive setting? But Coot’s grandsons pledged at his graveside to carry on his search. This, then, is the record of one family’s dream, and the successful conclusion of a treasure hunt that began in 1862, at Grasshopper Creek, in the Montana wilderness.’ ”
“Sounds great, cuz.” Wyatt punched his arm. “Especially that part about the successful conclusion. The sooner the better.”
“Yeah. Hey, it’s slow going, but we’re all committed.”
Jesse nodded. “I’ve found another piece of equipment I’d like to have shipped out here as soon as the snow melts up in the hills.”
“Good. I wish we could find a piece of radar that could see through tons of rock.”
The three shared a grin as Jesse added, “If such a thing is ever invented, we’ll be the first to buy it.”
“Hey, Zane.” Jesse’s wife, Amy, stepped into the kitchen. “Welcome back to civilization.”
Jesse and Amy embraced and even when they moved apart, Amy kept her arm around his waist.
“You staying for supper?” she asked Zane.
“Depends. What’s Dandy fixing?”
“Slow-cooked pot roast.”
Their ranch cook had been with the family for more than thirty years, and he knew just how to please a hardworking cowboy. From fiery chili to perfectly grilled steaks, nobody in Montana made better meals than Dandy Davis.
“I’m definitely not giving up Dandy’s pot roast for Daffy Spence’s greasy burgers.”
At his reference to Daffy, owner of the Fortune Saloon in the nearest town of Gold Fever, the others began laughing just as Wyatt’s bride, Marilee, stepped through the doorway and paused to brush a kiss over her husband’s cheek. “Hello, you.”
“Hello, yourself.” Wyatt affectionately brushed a lock of red hair from her eye.
Zane turned to Cal with a mock shudder. “There’s just way too much of this newlywed affection going on here. I hope it isn’t contagious.”
“I wouldn’t worry, if I were you.” Cal shared a laugh with the others. “We’ve seen the way you keep cutting fresh fillies out of the herd and then discarding them.”
Zane smiled. “So many women. So little time.”
“So I’ve noticed.” Cal grinned. “I think your bachelor days won’t be threatened until you’re old and gray.”
“Like you, Cal?”
The old cowboy chuckled before ducking his head in embarrassment.
It occurred to Zane that the only woman who ever really got Cal’s attention was their aunt, Cora McCord. An artist who was a bit of an eccentric, she was more comfortable wearing her brother’s cast-off clothing while she worked in her studio. And though her paintings brought fabulous sums of money from art patrons around the world, she remained a simple woman who had turned her back on the European art scene to live in her beloved Montana.
“Where’s Aunt Cora?”
“Off on one of her nature campouts. While a spring blizzard rages.”
Zane heard the worry in Cal’s voice and was quick to soothe. “She’ll be fine, Cal. And if she doesn’t check in tonight, we’ll send the cavalry after her.”
“I’ll be leading the charge,” the foreman said firmly.
Zane gave him a long look. “Is that a clean shirt in the middle of the day?”
Cal nodded. “Thought I’d clean up for the interview.”
“Interview?” Zane glanced around. “What’ve I missed?”
Cal took a sip of coffee before saying, “With Coot gone, I’m buried in paperwork. I complained to our accounting firm in Helena, and they agreed to send me their new hotshot bookkeeper to clean up the mess.”
“A hotshot bookkeeper is coming all this way?”
“Schooled in the East.” Cal took a sip of coffee. “Guy named Riley Mason.”
“A city boy?” The cousins shared a grin. “How long do you think he’ll last out here?”
Cal shrugged. “Depends. The last one they sent lasted all of four days before he said he needed to get back to civilization. Can’t say I blame him. If he’s used to spending his off-hours at coffeehouses or bars, there’s just not that much to entice him into feeling at home here. And after a visit to town, and a night at the Fortune Saloon, what’s left? So I told them to send someone who’s not only sharp, but willing to spend a lot of his downtime doing ordinary things like reading or watching old videos.”
Zane nodded in agreement. “How long would you like him to stay?”
Cal thought about it. “I guess that depends on what he finds. I figure he’s going to need a couple of weeks, maybe months, to get everything into a computer database so the Helena firm can handle all those mysterious government forms that need to be filled out in triplicate.”
“Where will he stay?”
Cal pointed his mug toward the doorway. “He can have his pick of empty rooms. There’s that bedroom next to the office that would probably work best.”
“If he doesn’t mind living in a cave.” Marilee gave a throaty chuckle. “Maybe you can keep him chained to his desk, Cal. Then he can clear up the paperwork in half the time.”
“Believe me, I’d be happy to, as long as I wouldn’t have to deal with legal documents ever again. I don’t know how Coot could stand doing all the paperwork involved in running this place.”
“Good luck with the interview. I’m more interested in supper.” Zane turned away, rubbing a hand over his bristly beard. “Excuse me while I head upstairs for the longest shower and shave in history.”
He ambled out of the kitchen and was heading through the great room on his way to the stairs when he heard a knock on the front door.
Since nobody but a stranger would ever use the front entrance, Zane was grinning good-naturedly as he grasped the knob and threw open the door to admit the accountant.
Zane knew he was staring, but it took him a moment to switch gears. He’d expected a dark suit and he wasn’t disappointed. And a firm handshake, which he returned woodenly. But the image of the nerdy accountant in his mind was replaced by a gorgeous female, dark hair slicked back into a knot at the back of her head, trim figure encased in a knee-skimming dark skirt and figure-hugging jacket. And that was quite a figure to hug.
Then there was the voice. Soft and breathy, with just a hint of nerves.
“I’m Riley Mason. Are you Cal Randall?”
“No. Cal’s in his office.” Because she was female, and because it came naturally to him, Zane gave her one of his most charming smiles. “My name’s Zane. I’ll show you the way.”
“That’s all right.” She took a step back, studying him warily. “Maybe I’ll just wait here and you can tell him I’ve arrived for my interview.”
He realized, too late, that he probably smelled like a barnyard and looked like a trail bum, causing her to be completely repelled.
“At least wait inside.” He held the door wider, and she was forced to accept his invitation to step inside.
She did so hesitantly.
As she brushed past him, he breathed her in. Her hair smelled like a spring garden. Something light and floral and fresh as a breeze.
For two long weeks he’d smelled nothing but horses and saddle leather and unwashed wranglers.
Pure heaven, he thought as he gave her one last look. “I’ll go get Cal.”
He sauntered away, leaving her standing in the foyer, staring after him.
Riley didn’t relax until the cowboy disappeared along a hallway. She’d known, of course, that the Lost Nugget was a working ranch. But she’d assumed that she would be isolated from the wranglers, since she’d been told they lived in bunkhouses scattered across thousands of acres of rangeland.
Not that she felt herself above working cowboys. She’d been working since she was fifteen, and she was proud of it. But if the men on the ranch looked anything like that one, she preferred to give them a wide berth. There had been a fierce, dangerous look to him. Like a throwback to the cowboys of the Old West who could calmly shoot a gunslinger, toss back a glass of whiskey, and ride out of town without a backward glance.
Silly, she knew. She’d always been cursed with a wild imagination. But being on a ranch in Montana was about as far from her comfort zone as possible.
“You’re not in Philly anymore, little girl,” she muttered.
She watched the approach of a handsome, white-haired man. Now this was how she’d envisioned Cal Randall, foreman of the Lost Nugget. Tall, rangy, weathered, and extremely courtly as he extended his hand.
“Riley Mason? Cal Randall.”
“So nice to meet you, Mr. Randall.”
“That’s too formal for my taste. Call me Cal.” He put a hand beneath her elbow. “Let’s go to my office and chat.”
They passed through an enormous room with a four-sided fireplace surrounded by comfortable furniture. The floor-to-ceiling windows offered an incredible view of the towering spires of the mountains in the distance. Riley caught her breath at the sheer beauty of it.
Before she could take it all in, Cal led her along a hallway and paused to open a set of double doors. Inside was a purely masculine retreat, complete with walls of shelves holding an assortment of leather-bound books and yet another fireplace.
Cal settled himself into a leather chair behind an oversize desk littered with paperwork. He indicated a chair across from him and Riley perched on the edge of the seat.
Seeing her nerves, he strove to put her at ease. “Tell me about yourself, Riley.”
“I’m twenty-four. Fresh out of college.” She flushed. “I took some time off to work, so that set me back a bit. I’ve worked since I was fifteen. Mostly as a clerk in a local store, and at a coffeehouse off-campus. I’m trained in accounting. But I have to be honest with you.” She stared openly at the mountains of paperwork that spilled from open file drawers and was piled haphazardly on top of every available surface. “I just don’t know how much help I can be until I have a chance to look over some of this. It looks—”
Cal interrupted. “I know what you mean.” He tapped a pen against the desktop. “It intimidates the hell out of me.”
That had the desired effect, causing her to relax a bit as she matched his grin.
“I’m current with state and federal guidelines on fees and assessments, and even though I haven’t been in Montana long, I know I can get up to speed on local issues as well.”
She dug an envelope out of her pocket and set it on the desk. “Our firm suggested independent assessments of my work. These are the e-mail addresses of my immediate superiors at our Philadelphia firm, and also my college professors who are familiar with me. They agreed to answer any questions you might have about my abilities. They were in contact with the firm in Helena before I was hired.”
She took in a breath. “I’ve been apprised of your business and I’m of course prepared to handle daily sheets and payroll. I think I could get all the necessary paperwork ready for our CPA firm in Helena. And though I can’t promise miracles, I’m pretty sure I could get most of this”—she indicated the desk—“cleaned up and in some sort of order. But, as I said, neither of us will really know what I’m capable of until I take a look at the work you need done.”
Cal grinned. “That was quite a mouthful.”
Riley flushed, knowing he had seen through her prepared remarks. She’d rehearsed them all the way out here.
“I don’t value speed nearly as much as I value efficiency. I told the firm that I want someone who will take the time to simplify this paperwork and make my job run smoothly.” Cal leaned back in his chair. “And, to make your job a bit easier, I’m prepared to offer you a room here.”
She seemed surprised. “The firm didn’t say anything about living on the ranch.”
“Is that a problem?”
She hesitated. “Before driving out here, I arranged for a room in Gold Fever, with a lady named Delia Cowling, who was recommended by a banker in Helena.”
Cal smiled. “I know Delia. Her brother was owner of the Gold Fever bank before his untimely death.” He thought a minute. “As you know, the ranch is an hour’s drive from town. Living here could save you time, as well as gas and wear and tear on your car.”
The way she was chewing on her lower lip told Cal that something was bothering her. “Of course, the decision is up to you, Riley. I certainly don’t want you to find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.”
She took a deep breath. “I didn’t come to town alone. I have a four-year-old daughter.”
“Oh.” It was Cal’s turn to be surprised. “Is your husband okay with the hours you’ll be away?”
Her head came up. “My husband?”
“I figure he’ll be stuck with some of the child care if you sign on for this.”
Riley realized she’d been sitting on the edge of her seat. She sat back in the chair and met Cal’s questioning look directly. “I didn’t mean to mislead you. I don’t have a husband. I’ve never been married. There’s just Summer and me.”
“I see.” He saw more. Much more. Though the job interview may have unnerved her, questions about her private life were infinitely more painful. This was obviously not the first time she’d been asked about her unmarried status. Though she was direct and honest, she didn’t volunteer any more information than necessary. Despite her honest explanation, he could see the way her chin came up, waiting for him to throw the first punch.
“You haven’t said if you’d be willing to live here on the ranch.”
“I… I’d be more than willing, as long as you understand that I’d be bringing along my daughter.”
“That’s fine with me.” Cal stared at the envelope she’d dropped on his desk. “I don’t need to check any further references, Riley. Our firm in Helena had nothing but good things to say about your work. That’s good enough for me. So, if you’re agreeable, I’d like you to get started as quickly as possible.”
His abrupt end to the interview caught her by surprise. She’d expected Cal Randall, once he’d heard about her daughter, to use her references, or possibly her lack of experience, as an excuse to dismiss her. She’d expected him to be like so many others who judged her without even knowing her.
And he had, she realized. But he was judging her by her work ethic, and not by her personal life.
Cal got to his feet and leaned across the desk to extend his hand. “If you’d like to wait in the great room, I’ll phone the firm in Helena and affirm your employment.”
She was reeling from the speed with which he’d come to a decision.
She stood and offered her hand. “Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Cal.” She turned toward the door.
“Can you find your way?” he called to her retreating back.
“Yes. I’m fine with it.” Riley closed the door and backtracked until, pausing in the massive great room, she sank into an overstuffed chair, feeling a wave of giddy relief.
Needing to calm her nerves, she closed her eyes and took long, deep breaths until her heartbeat returned to normal.
Zane was whistling as he descended the stairs and headed toward the kitchen. He’d noted the door to Cal’s office was closed, and he wondered about the foreman’s reaction to the new guy, Riley. That had Zane grinning. It was a natural mistake, and they’d all been guilty. Who’d have believed the new hire would be female? And so darned pretty.
In the great room he came to an abrupt halt. The object of his thoughts was seated in a chair, hands folded in her lap, head back, eyes closed, practicing some sort of deep breathing.
Yoga? he wondered.
He took that moment to study her more closely, enjoying the way a lock of dark hair had fallen from that prim knot to curl against her cheek. Such a pretty, dimpled cheek. Everything about her was pretty. And soft. From the lips, pursed as though in prayer, to the gentle curve of her eyebrows.
Just then her eyes opened and she caught him staring.
At the sound of his voice her eyes widened in recognition. “You’re… the one I met at the front door.”
“Yes, of course. Zane.”
“When do you get to tackle Cal’s office mess?”
“Whenever he wants me to start.”
“I’d say the sooner the better. Cal doesn’t have much patience with paperwork.”
“That’s what he told me.” She laughed. “Fortunately, it’s what I do best.”
Just then Cal stepped into the room. “You two getting acquainted?”
“Yeah. When does Riley start?”
Cal turned to her. “You’ll need tomorrow to move your things out here and get settled in. Then you can start the following morning. How does that sound?”
“Perfect.” She offered her hand. “I’d better get back to town now. I have to get the rental car back before closing.”
Cal accepted her handshake. “Rental car? How did you get here from Helena?”
“Well, then, you’ll need some help getting your stuff out here.”
“Oh, I don’t think…”
Zane interrupted. “I’m free in the morning. I could take one of the ranch trucks into town and lend a hand.”
“No. That isn’t neces—”
“Perfect.” Ignoring her protest, Cal gave Riley a smile. “How does eight o’clock sound?”
“Yes. All right.” She turned to Zane. “Thanks for the offer. I’m staying at Delia Cowling’s place. Do you know it?”
“Sure thing.” Zane’s smile grew. “I’ll see you at eight.”
When she and Cal walked to the front door, Zane stood admiring her backside.
Minutes later, when Cal closed the door and joined him, he was grinning like a conspirator.
“Very slick,” Cal muttered as they made their way to the kitchen.
“I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for giving me that perfect opening. It’ll give me a chance to get to know our pretty new accountant.”
“A word of warning.” Cal paused at the kitchen door. “She’s going to be an employee now, Zane. You make the wrong moves, she could sue you for harassment.”
“Me?” Zane threw back his head and roared before dropping an arm around the foreman’s shoulders. “When have you ever known me to make a wrong move on an unwilling female?”
“Willing or unwilling, Riley Mason is off-limits. And if she doesn’t sue your hide, I’ll do it for her.”
“Thanks for that fatherly advice. I’ll keep it in mind.”
Zane was still chuckling as he joined the others.
Riley drove the rental car down the long, curving driveway leading away from the Lost Nugget Ranch.
She was still reeling from her second encounter with the cowboy. She’d had to keep from staring at the change in him. Gone was the dark beard, the filthy clothes. He’d been freshly showered and shaved, with little drops of water still glistening in his hair. Dark hair, she’d noted, that just brushed the collar of his plaid shirt. Long legs were encased in faded denims. On his feet were scuffed boots.
He had piercing blue eyes in a tanned face that wasn’t so much handsome as commanding. With that killer smile aimed at her, it was impossible to look away. But she wasn’t interested in a fling with a cowboy.
A man was the last thing on her mind.
But a job…
The magnitude of what had just transpired came over her in waves.
She had the job.
Right this minute, nothing else mattered except that.
She had the job.
This wasn’t just the start of a new job. This was the start of a brand-new life.
A new life, in a place so far away from where she’d begun, nobody searching for her would ever be able to find her or Summer.
Not ever again.
Excerpted from Montana Glory by Ryan, R.C. Copyright © 2010 by Ryan, R.C.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 16, 2010
Zane McCord was the youngest of the three cousins that grew up on Lost Nugget Ranch in Montana with their grandfather and extended aunts and uncles. He struggled to keep up but his love of horses proved that he was just as tough and had a talent for controlling even the wildest of the breed. While having been pulled from the ranch at a young age once he returned after his grandfather's death and was reunited with his cousins he knew that he could fulfill his desire to stay on the ranch and still be the documentary star Hollywood saw him as. Riley Mason needed a place to hide with her daughter; Summer because she had a terrible secret that could get the both of them killed and needed to get out of Philadelphia immediately. The job offer at Lost Nugget Ranch was the perfect fit for Riley and Summer and before she could even completely unpack it felt like home.
Zane took one look at Riley and realized that while he had found life again at the ranch with his extended family, with Riley he started thinking of it as home too. He had traveled the world filming his documentaries but never found the kind of peace that sitting in a room with Riley and her daughter brought to him - this was more than a quick relationship it was long term and that scared both Zane and Riley.
While Riley keeps ducking from telling Zane the truth about what brought her to Lost Nugget Zane does explain about the search for the lost gold and how after generations of searching for the treasure the cousins were getting close or so they hoped. Fancy equipment was being used, notes being deciphered and luck being requested as they dug and searched for their grandfather's treasure.
With renewed hope and lots of prayers Riley and Zane start to release the secrets and uncover the dreams one another has. Both have been hurt and felt unloved but in one another's arms they are safe and content. When the secrets and safety are threatened it takes the entire family to jump into action to get a plan worked out and resolve the danger that is lurking trying to take it all away from this wonderful couple. There is also another couple that is trying to find love and with Cal and Cora is a relationship that has been in the works and just now revealing itself and surprising even them to admit it.
I try not to have favorites with any series but have to admit this one really won me over with its characters, colorful scenery descriptions and fascinating story. Zane being the youngest he spent his life playing catch up to older boys and knew that the world was his oyster but that his heart was at Lost Nugget and the love of horses was his true passion. Riley overcame so much to get an education, raise her daughter alone and never relinquish her dreams for them that you just want so much for her to succeed. Together they make a fabulous couple and it is not a push pull relationship as much as one on equal ground and trying to trust each other when you feel you have baggage that no one can accept. Zane and Riley are great characters in an amazing series that I am thrilled to have read and sorry it has ended.
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Posted March 28, 2012
I had hoped for a story that was interesting and well developed. What I got was a lot of overused narration and very little in the way of mystery and suspense (you didn't need a clue!). The romance was dull.
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Posted October 8, 2010
As a child, Zane McCord loved staying at his grandfather's Lost Nugget Ranch. However, when he turned twelve years old, he was forced to leave. Now he is back along with his two cousins, Wyatt (see Montana Destiny) and Jesse (see Montana Legacy) to run the ranch and to search for an alleged missing treasure. Unlike Wyatt and Jesse who apparently have found love, Zane plans to remain single.
Accountant Riley Mason accompanied by her four years old daughter Summer arrive on the ranch to work. Riley hopes to hide Summer at Lost Nugget from some ugly thugs who were associates of her daughter's late father. They will use Summer to obtain information they believe Riley possesses. When these predators arrive in Big Sky Country, Riley vows to keep them away from her beloved Zane and his extended family; Zane vows to keep the mother and daughter he loves safe from rattlesnakes.
The final McCord cousins' Montana trilogy is a wonderful romantic suspense tale starring a courageous heroine who is a lioness protecting her cub and a reluctant knight in shining armor who needs to intervene to keep his two beloved females safe. Fans will enjoy the last entry that ties up the overarching plot as the trio and the other McCord couples make for a terrific taut thriller.
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Posted September 28, 2010
New York Times best-selling author Ruth Ryan Langan, under the pen R.C. Ryan, has written more than ninety fiction novels, both contemporary and historical in a career spanning more than twenty years. Other titles include: Montana Legacy, Montana Destiny, Heart's Delight, Paradise Falls, Ashes of Dreams, Cover Up, Wanted, Passions Law, Angel, Deception, and Nevada Nights. She has also co-authored books with Nora Roberts. She resides in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
This is book three in the McCord Family series, and the last, with Montana Legacy and Montana Destiny coming before. The McCord cousins have been brought back together on the Lost Nugget Ranch by the death of their beloved grandfather, Coot. The town of Gold Fever, Montana thought old Coot was crazy when he spent every waking moment searching the ranch for his family's lost treasure. But these three cousins are determined to continue the search, and happen to fall in love along the way.
Riley Mason is a single mom who's running from a past that threatens her and her four-year-old daughter, Summer. When the opportunity to take an accounting position in Montana arises, she jumps on it, knowing it's as far from Pennsylvania as she can get. The rugged landscape surrounded my mountains is the perfect place to hide out and start over. But taking the position means residing on the Lost Nugget Ranch, in a suite right next to irresistible Zane McCord. Zane is the youngest of the McCord cousins, and the wildest of them all. Most comfortable among the wild Mustangs, Riley soon realizes it's not only her past she should fear, but her heart as well. And then her past comes back to haunt her, threatening all she holds dear.
This is the last book in the series, and not that I didn't love Jesse and Amy or Wyatt and Marilee, but Zane's story with Riley tops them both. Riley's daughter, Summer, is just like her name, a breath of fresh air. Secondary characters Cal, Cora, and Dandy return, who were some of the best parts of the first two books. Will Cora and Cal finally acknowledge their love in a side story? You won't be disappointed. Will the three McCord cousins finally find their family's treasure? I'm not telling. R.C. Ryan's best writing feature is her ability to illustrate her breath-taking surroundings. I bow down to another splendid, witty read by this fabulous author.
Author and Reviewer
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This was the first series of books I have read by this author and I loved every one. Ms.Ryan writes stories that are both real and emotional... Mix in some characters, some humor, lots of love and a little mystery and you have a great read... I would recommend Montana Legacy, Montana Destiny and Montana Glory to all... A continuing story of three cousins, best friends in their childhood, separated by many years but brought back together by the death of a beloved grandfather... Three love stories and a search for a long lost family treasure makes for some cozy evenings in front of the fireplace. I am now going to look for more R. C. Ryan books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2011
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after reading this book I fell in love with Zane McCord, the soft heart of a child turns a rugged and very single bachelor into a loving and giving character. When Riley Mason and Daughter Summer arrive in Montana I never thought that both of them would fall for single bachelor Zane, I love the slow development of their relationship and it's all Summer who brings them even closer. The drama in this book caught me at every page and every page with 4 year old Summer Mason adding in quips and amusing commentary made me smile and laugh all the way to my heart-strings. truely this book is worth the read. Any woman will fall in love with Zane McCord once they see how a 4 year old catches his heart and he catches the heart of her mother.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2011
This is the 3rd book in R.C. Ryan's Montana Trilogy (I think it's a trilogy); I did not read the first two books in this series.
Riley Mason is an accountant who has come to work on the hapazardly-kept finances of the McCord Ranch. As we read, we learn she's originally from Philadelphia, and has come to work at the ranch with her young daughter because she figured no one would ever find her on a ranch in Montana. (ooohhh, mysterious!)
Zane McCord is the youngest of three cousins running the McCord ranch after the death of his grandfather. He's just come back from two weeks of living with wild mustangs, filming a documentary, when he opens the door, expecting a nerdy male accountant, and instead finds a gorgeous female accountant. He's attracted to her but has been warned off as she is an employee and not just some chick.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked watching Zane and Riley fight their attraction to each other. I liked Riley's daughter Summer a bit even...she didn't drive me as nuts as some kids in books do. I loved that Zane spent time with Summer even before he decided he wanted to date Riley. The storyline for Montana Glory was good - my guess as to what Riley was running from was off the mark, which always makes for a pleasant surprise (for me, anyway). The side storylines were entertaining - there's a search for family gold (I'm under the impression has been a constant through all three books) and also a second love story between the cousin's aunt and the foreman.
Ms. Ryan did a great job of unfolding Riley's storyline at just the right pace. We got to experience her getting used to her new surroundings, learning to live with a loving family, learning to trust. Her background is revealed slowly, in bits in pieces until the big reveal (which is so tender and sweet), and of course this big, loving family rallies around her.
This book was definitely a balm for my "cowboy itch" (sounds like something you'd need cream for, LOL). The secondary characters were interesting and I wanted to know their stories; I actually went out and bought the first two books in the series because I wanted more of these delightful characters.
Posted November 1, 2010
MONTANA GLORY by R.C. Ryan is a romance western.It it is a wonderful,exciting conclusion to the McCord Family trilogy set in modern day Gold Fever, Montana.It is the third in the McCord Family trilogy but can be read alone.Book One (Montana Legacy) and Book Two (Montana Destiny). It is well written with details, depth, and many of family togetherness. It has passion, romance, suspense, mystery, secrets,cowboys, ranch life,horses, finding family lost treasure and fulfilling a lifelong dream. The hero, Zane, is the youngest McCord cousin. He is handsome, sexy, keeps his promises, wishes to fulfill his family's lifelong dream of finding their lost treasure. He is a Hollywood documentary star, believes he will never get married and have a family due to his own father and mother's discord. But enter Riley and little Summer.The heroine, Riley, is smart, beautiful, running from her past, has deadly secret, and a single Mom. She only wishes to provide for herself and her daughter, Summer, and stay alive. But enter Zane. From the first time Riley and Zane meet sparks fly. Riley is hired as the Lost Nugget Ranch's new accountant and given a place to live at the ranch. She and her daughter, Summer, who is four years old and quiet the little star. Summer is smart,cute and full of curiosity. She also captures all of the McCord family's heart. When Zane learns Riley and Summer are in trouble he jumps into action with his family to save them. Zane and his family will risk the McCord's priceless legacy in order for Zane, Riley and Summer to have a future together. This is an explosive conclusion to the McCord Family trilogy. I would highly recommend this book especially if you enjoy love, ranch life, mystery, and sweet romance. This book was received for review from the publisher and details can be found at Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing and My Book Addiction and More.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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