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One Good Cowboy (Harlequin Desire Series #3393) [NOOK Book]

Overview


From Ex to Eternity? 

To inherit his family's empire, Texas cowboy-turned-CEO Stone McNair must prove he has a heart beneath his ruthlessly suave exterior. His trial? Finding homes for his grandmother's rescue dogs. His judge? Johanna Fletcher, the woman whose heart he broke. 

Sure, Johanna can handle a week traveling the country with her ex-fiancé to fulfilll his dying grandmother's request. She and Stone want different things—plain...

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One Good Cowboy (Harlequin Desire Series #3393)

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Overview


From Ex to Eternity? 

To inherit his family's empire, Texas cowboy-turned-CEO Stone McNair must prove he has a heart beneath his ruthlessly suave exterior. His trial? Finding homes for his grandmother's rescue dogs. His judge? Johanna Fletcher, the woman whose heart he broke. 

Sure, Johanna can handle a week traveling the country with her ex-fiancé to fulfilll his dying grandmother's request. She and Stone want different things—plain and simple. But there's nothing plain about Stone, or simple about the heat that still flares between them. One week may not be long enough….


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460328842
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Series: Diamonds in the Rough Series
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 86,278
  • File size: 274 KB

Meet the Author


USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has books in print in more than 20 countries with Desire, Romantic Suspense, HQN and other Harlequin lines. A five-time RITA finalist, she has won both the RITA and the Bookseller's Best Awards. Catherine resides in Florida with her aviator husband, their four children and a menagerie of pets. For more information, visit: http://catherinemann.com


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Read an Excerpt

Gentlemen, never forget the importance of protecting your family jewels."

Unfazed by his grandmother's outrageous comment, Stone McNair ducked low as his horse sailed under a branch and over a creek. Gran prided herself on being the unconventional matriarch of a major jewelry design empire, and her mocking jab carried on the wind as Stone raced with his cousin.

Alex pulled up alongside him, neck and neck with Stone's quarter horse. Hooves chewed at the earth, deftly dodging the roots of a cypress tree, spewing turf into the creek.

Even as he raced, Stone soaked in the scents and sounds of home-the squeak of the saddle, the whistle of the wind through the pines. Churned earth and blue-bonnets waving in the wind released a fragrance every bit as intoxicating as the first whiff of a freshly opened bottle of Glenfiddich whiskey.

This corner of land outside of Fort Worth, Texas, had belonged to the McNairs for generations, their homestead as they built a business empire. His blood hummed when he rode the ranch. Ownership had branded itself into his DNA as tangibly as the symbol of the Hidden Gem Ranch that had been branded onto his quarter horse's flank.

Outings on the ranch with his grandmother and his twin cousins were few and far between these days, given their hectic work schedules. He wasn't sure why Gran had called this little reunion and impromptu race, but it had to be something important for her to resort to pulling them all away from the McNair Empire.

His other cousin, Amie, galloped alongside Stone, her laughter full and uninhibited. "How're the family jewels holding up?"

Without waiting for an answer, Amie urged her Arabian ahead, her McNair-black hair trailing behind her just like when she'd been ten instead of thirty. Rides with their grandmother had been a regular occurrence when they were children, then less and less frequent as they grew older and went their separate ways. None of them had hesitated when the family matriarch insisted on an impromptu gathering. Stone owed his grandmother. She'd been his safe haven every time his druggy mother went on a binge or checked into rehab.

Again.

Damn straight, he owed his grandmother a debt he couldn't repay. She'd been there from day one, an aggressive advocate in getting the best care possible to detox her crack baby grandson. Gran had paid for her daughter to enter detox programs again and again with little success. Year after year, Gran had been as constant as the land they called home-for his cousins, too.

And she'd given each one of them a role to play. Alex managed the family lands-Hidden Gem Ranch, which operated as a bed-and-breakfast hobby ranch for the rich and famous. Stone managed the family jewelry design house and stores. Diamonds in the Rough featured highend rustic designs, from rodeo belt buckles and stylized bolos to Aztec jewelry, all highly sought after around the country. If everything went according to plan, he intended to expand Diamonds in the Rough with international offices in London and Milan, making the big announcement at a wild mustang fund-raiser this fall. And Amie-a gemologist-was already working on designs for new pieces to meet the expected increase in demand.

Yes, the world was finally coming back together for him. After his broken engagement knocked him for a loop seven months ago…

But he didn't want to think about Johanna. Not today. Not ever, if he could avoid it. Although that was tough to accomplish, since Johanna worked for Hidden Gem Stables as a vet tech. He'd missed her this morning when they'd saddled up. Would he bump into her after his ride?

The possibility filled him with frustration-and an unwanted boot in the libido.

Gran slowed her favorite palomino, Goldie, to a trot near the pond where they'd played as kids. Apparently race time was over. Maybe now she would explain the reason for this surprise get-together.

Stone stroked along Copper's neck as the horse dipped his head to drink. "So, Gran, care to enlighten us on the reason for this family meeting?"

His cousins drew up along either side of her.

She shifted in the saddle, her head regal with a long gray braid trailing down her stiff spine. "The time has come for me to decide who will take over the reins of the McNair holdings."

Stone's grip tightened on the pommel. "You're not actually considering retiring."

"No, dear…" Gran paused, drawing in a shaky breath at odds with her usual steel. "The doctor has told me it's time to get my affairs in order."

Her words knocked the wind out of him as fully as the first time he'd been thrown from a horse. He couldn't envision a world without the indomitable Mariah McNair.

Amie reached across to touch her grandmother's arm lightly, as much contact as could be made without everyone dismounting, and Gran didn't show any signs of leaving the saddle. Which was probably the reason their grandmother had chosen this way to make her announcement.

"Gran, what exactly did the doctor say?"

Alex patted Gran's other shoulder, he and his sister protecting her like bookends. They always had.

Amie's and Alex's childhoods had been more stable than Stone's, with parents and a home of their own. As a kid, Stone had dreamed of stepping into their house and becoming a sibling rather than a cousin. Once he'd even overheard his grandmother suggest that very arrangement. But Amethyst and Alexandrite's mother made it clear that she could handle only her twins. Another child would be too much to juggle between obligations to her daughter's pageants and her son's rodeos.

In one fell swoop, Stone had realized that while his family loved him, no one wanted him-not his mother, his aunt or his grandmother. They were all looking for some way to shuffle him off. Except Gran hadn't bailed. She'd taken him on regardless. He respected and loved her all the more for that.

Mariah patted each twin on the cheek and smiled sadly at Stone since he held himself apart. "It's inoperable brain cancer."

His throat closed up tight. Amie gasped, blinking fast but a tear still escaped.

Their grandmother shook her head. "None of that emotional stuff. I've never had much patience for tears. I want optimism. Doctors are hopeful treatment can reduce the size of the tumor. That could give me years instead of months."

Months?

Damn it.

The wind got knocked out of him all over again. More than once, Stone had been called a charmer with a stone-cold heart. But that heart ached right now at the thought of anything happening to his grandmother.

Shrugging, Mariah leaned back in the saddle. "Still, even if the treatments help, I can't risk the tumor clouding my judgment. I won't put everything I've worked for at risk by waiting too long to make important decisions about Diamonds in the Rough and the Hidden Gem Ranch."

The family holdings meant everything to her. To all of them. It had never dawned on him until now that his grandmother-the major stockholder-might want to change the roles they all played to keep the empire rock-solid. He must be mistaken. Better to wait and hear her out rather than assume.

Amie wasn't so restrained, but then she never had been. "What have you decided?"

"I haven't," Mariah conceded. "Not yet, but I have a plan, which is why I asked you three to come riding with me today."

Alex, the quiet one of the bunch, frowned. "I'm not sure I understand."

"You'll each need to do something for me-" Mariah angled forward, forearm on the saddle horn "-something to help put my mind at ease about who to place in charge."

"You're testing us," Amie accused softly.

"Call it what you like." Gran was unapologetic, her jaw set. "But as it stands now, I'm not sold on any of you taking over."

That revelation stabbed pain clear through his already raw nerves.

Enough holding back. He was a man of action, and the urge to be in control of something, anything, roared through him. "What do you need me to do for you?"

"Stone, you need to find homes for all four of my dogs."

A fish plopped in the pond, the only sound breaking his stunned silence.

Finally, he asked, "You're joking, right? To lighten the mood."

"I'm serious. My pets are very important to me. You know that. They're family."

"It just seems a…strange test." Was the tumor already affecting her judgment?

His grandmother shook her head slowly. "The fact that you don't know how serious this is merely affirms my concerns. You need to prove to me you have the heart to run this company and possibly oversee the entire family portfolio."

She held him with her clear blue gaze, not even a whisper of confusion showing. Then she looked away, clicked her horse into motion and started back toward the main house, racing past the cabins vacationers rented.

Shaking off his daze, he followed her, riding along the split rail fence, his cousins behind him as they made their way home.

Home.

Some would call it a mansion-a rustic log ranch house with two wings. Their personal living quarters occupied one side, and the other side housed the lodge run by Alex. His cousin had expanded the place from a small bed-and-breakfast to a true hobby ranch, with everything from horseback riding to a spa, fishing and trail adventures…even poker games, saloon-style. They catered to a variety of people's needs, from vacations to weddings.

The gift store featured some of the McNair signature jewelry pieces, just a sampling from their flagship store in Fort Worth.

Alex was one helluva businessman in his own right. Gran could be serious about turning over majority control to him.

Or maybe she had someone else in mind. A total stranger. He couldn't even wrap his brain around that unthinkable possibility. His whole being was consumed with shock-and hell, yes, grief-not over the fact that he might lose the company but because he would lose Gran. A month or a year from now, he couldn't envision a world without her.

And he also couldn't deny her anything she needed to make her last days easier.

Stone urged his horse faster to catch her before she reached the stables.

"Okay, fine, Gran," he said as he pulled alongside her, their horses' gaits in sync. "I can do that for you. I'll line up people to take, uh…" What the hell were their names? "Your dogs."

"There are four of them, in case you've forgotten that, as well as forgetting their names."

"The scruffy one's named Dorothy, right?"

Gran snorted almost as loudly as the horse. "Close. The dog looks like Toto, but her name is Pearl. The yellow lab is Gem, given to us by a friend. My precious Rottie that I adopted from a shelter is named Ruby. And my baby chi-weenie's name is Sterling."

Chi-what? Oh, right, a Chihuahua and dachshund. "What about your two cats?"

Surely he would get points for remembering there were two.

"Amie is keeping them."

She always was a suck-up.

"Then I'll keep the dogs. They can live with me." How much trouble could four dogs be? He had lots of help. He would find one of those doggy day cares.

"I said I wanted them to go to good homes."

He winced. "Of course you do."

"Homes approved of by an expert," she continued as she stopped her horse by the stables.

"An expert?" Hairs on the back of his neck rose with an impending sense of Karma about to bite him on the butt.

He didn't even have to look down the lengthy walkway between horse stalls to know Johanna Fletcher was striding toward them on long, lean legs that could have sold a million pairs of jeans. She usually wore a French braid to keep her wavy blond hair secure when she worked. His fingers twitched at the memory of sliding through that braid to unleash all those tawny strands around her bare shoulders.

What he wouldn't give to lose himself in her again, to forget about the thought of his grandmother's illness. Even if the best scenario played out, a couple of years wasn't enough.

For now, he would do whatever it took to keep Gran happy.

"Your expert?" he prodded. "All adoptions must be approved by our ranch vet tech, Johanna Fletcher." Of course.

His eyes slid to Johanna closing the gap between them as she went from stall to stall, horse to horse. Her face shuttered the instant she looked at him, whereas once she would have met him with a full-lipped smile, a slight gap between her front teeth. That endearing imperfection only enhanced her attractiveness. She was down-to-earth and sexy. He knew every inch of her intimately.

After all, she was his ex-fiancée.

The woman who had dumped him in no uncertain terms in front of all their friends at a major fund-raiser. A woman who now hated his guts and would like nothing more than to see his dreams go up in flames.

Stone McNair, the CEO in a business suit ruling the boardroom, commanded respect and awe. But Stone McNair, cowboy Casanova on a horse, was a charismatic charmer Johanna Fletcher had always been hard-pressed to resist.

Johanna tamped down the urge to fan herself as she stood just outside a horse stall and studied her former lover out of the corner of her eyes. Damn it, he still made her hot all over.

She busied herself with listening to a horse's heartbeat-or pretending to listen at least. The palomino was fine, but she didn't want anyone thinking she was still pining for Stone. Everyone from Fort Worth to Del Rio knew her history with him. She didn't need to feed them any fodder for gossip by drooling every time he strutted into the stables.

Lord help her, that man knew how to strut.

Jeans hugged his thighs as he swung a leg over his horse, boots hitting the ground with a thud that vibrated clear through her even from twenty yards away. The sun flashed off his belt buckle-a signature Diamonds in the Rough design-bringing out the nuances of the pattern. Magnificent. Just like the man. All the McNairs had charisma, but Stone was sinfully handsome, with coal-black hair and ice-blue eyes right off some movie poster. Sweat dotted his brow, giving his hair a hint of a curl along the edges of his tan Stetson. She'd idolized him as a child. Fantasized about him as a teenager.

And as a woman? She'd fallen right in line with the rest and let herself be swayed by his charms.

Never again.

Johanna turned her focus back to the next stall with a quarter horse named Topaz, one of the more popular rides for vacationers. She had a job to do and she was darn lucky to work here after the scene she'd caused during her breakup with Stone. But Mrs. McNair liked her and kept her on. Johanna hadn't been able to resist the opportunity to work with so many unique horses in the best stable.

Her career was everything to her now, and she refused to put it in jeopardy. Her parents had sacrificed their life's savings to send her to the best schools so she had the educational foundation she needed to pursue her dreams. Although her parents were gone now after a fire in the trailer park, she owed them. Perhaps even more so to honor their memory. Her father's work here had brought her into the McNair world-brought her to Stone, even if their romance ultimately hadn't been able to withstand the wide social chasm between them.

She had no family, not even the promise of one she'd once harbored while engaged to Stone. She had her work, her horses. This was her life and her future.

Hooves clopped as Mariah and Stone passed off their rides to two stable hands. Johanna frowned. Even though the McNairs were wealthy, they usually unsaddled and rubbed down their horses themselves. Instead, the grandmother and grandson were walking directly toward her. Tingles pranced up and down her spine. Ignoring him would be impossible.

She hooked her stethoscope around her neck. Her own racing heartbeat filled her ears now, each breath faster and faster, filling her lungs with the scent of hay and leather.

Trailing her hand along the plush velvet of the horse's coat, she angled her way out of the wooden stall and into the walkway. "Hello, Mrs. McNair-" she swallowed hard "-and Stone."

Mariah McNair smiled. Stone didn't. In fact, he was scowling. But there was also something more lurking in his eyes, something…sad? She hated the way her heart pinched instinctively, and hated even more that she could still read him so well.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Love it

    Really enjoyed this story. Love the way we saw stone come into his own. You revisted with characters from previous books. Looking forward to seeing what Mariah has in store for the other family members.

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  • Posted April 17, 2014

    One Good Cowboy is the first in the new series by the super tale

    One Good Cowboy is the first in the new series by the super talented Catherine Mann.  When Stone and his ex fiance, Johanna, are forced on a mission by his dying grandmother to find homes for her dogs they can’t deny the sparks flying between them, or the heartache that their break-up caused. The chemistry between Stone and Johanna was intense. Not just the instant physical attraction but the history between them, you obviously have a lot of chemistry with someone you were supposed to marry.




    All of the characters were really well fleshed out and their relationships were extremely believable. The plot was solid and cohesive and fun and sexy all at the same time. The family vibe was definitely strong in this one. The relationship with Stone and his grandmother was the best. I loved that Stone was a take charge kind of guy but could be brought to his knees by not only his ex but by his grandma. I also loved his weakness for Johanna. He truly loved her. He was complex and strong and yet simple. Johanna was strong in her own right as well. I loved how Stone was her weakness and she truly loved him but she also had a good, firm grasp on her own dreams and what she wanted. Some things, the things that were most important to her, she was not willing to waiver on and I really liked that about her. And Stone’s bombshell secret I never saw coming, which shows you that Mann was doing everything right!




    One of favorite things about this story, aside from the incredibly hot love scenes, was visiting old characters from Mann’s previous novels. Readers were able to catch up with characters from the Alpha Brotherhood(another Desire series), and the Landis-Renshaw family, who we first heard of in the Wingman Warrior Series. It was very clever to include characters not just from one series but multiple ones and integrating them into one book. (and getting readers curious about the other series).




    Mann also did a fantastic job at integrating jewels and gems into the names and places on the Ranch…and the dogs names, which were the best part in my opinion. The dogs had back stories and histories, too, which made them characters in their own right. They weren’t just there for show, they were part of the story.




    I’m really looking forward to Amie and Alex’s stories and revisiting this family. The other two books can’t come fast enough for me!




     








     

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  • Posted April 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

      This story was about more than just Stone and Johanna.  You al

      This story was about more than just Stone and Johanna.  You also got to meet the matriarch of the McNair family - Stone's grandmother, Mariah McNair.  She is definitely the glue that holds the family together.  The other blood relatives include Amethyst and Alexandrite or Amie and Alex, Stone's twin cousins.  Johanna is like a granddaughter to Mariah though, being practically raised on the ranch where her father worked and herself now living and working there. 




    Stone and Johanna are sent out on this test because Mariah has found out she has an unoperable brain tumor.  This shocks all the grandkids but affects Stone the hardest.  He was raised by his grandmother as his mother was/is a drug addict -  in and out of rehab continuously.  He didn't find out who his father was until he was 25, and decided that he was better off without him.  He made some decisions during that time that would affect his future in ways he could not imagine.  




    I liked the love of animals that is also portrayed in this book, and the care they took in finding these dogs homes.  Makes me want to go find another furry friend to replace one that we lost to diabetes a couple of years ago.  




    All in all it was a quick read.  I like those stories that don't lose speed and have some heat between the main characters.  You knew there was attraction between Stone and Johanna, even though they both fought to ignore it. I liked it that they didn't just jump into bed with each other at the first sign that the spark was still there, but you get to feel their frustration and their confusion.  Looking forward to the next book in the series. 

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  • Posted April 7, 2014

    Stone McNair has always felt different. His painful childhood me

    Stone McNair has always felt different. His painful childhood memories keep reminding him that he is not like others. When Gran tells him she is dying, he is stunned. She raised him when his crack addicted mother wasn't able. She cared when no one else did. Now she has a final test for him. He has to find homes for her four dogs. She wants to know they'll be cared for after her death. The problem. He needs to work with his ex-fiancée, Johanna Fletcher, their ranch vet. Their break-up was painful. Can he be with her without their desire getting in the way? Everyone thinks he is a "cowboy Casanova" but he keeps his hopes and fears to himself. Can he learn to let love in? One Good Cowboy is an emotional story of love, forgiveness and healing. Stone is a powerful character. He doesn't want to let anyone know his fears. Johanna loves him deeply but she needs him to be more than her lover. She wants to be his companion and confidant. I loved watching Stone grow as he allowed Johanna into his life. They are passionate lovers, but that's not enough. They need to be honest. I loved seeing them open their hearts and allowed the other in. Catherine Mann is a wonderful author. She brings her characters to life with a well plotted and compelling story. This is one of her best works. One Good Cowboy is the first in the Diamonds in the Rough trilogy. I'm looking forward to the next book.

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  • Posted April 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Catherine Mann delivers another sensual and moving story in One

    Catherine Mann delivers another sensual and moving story in One Good Cowboy.




     




    CEO Stone McNair can handle any business situation but matters of the heart have him living up to his name. Is ailing beloved grandmother has giving him a challenge, to find homes for her dogs. But this test comes with an overseer, his ex-fiancé Johanna Fletcher. The woman who heart he devastated. 




     




    Johanna Fletcher loves her job as the vet tech at the Hidden Gem Ranch. It is hard seeing her ex almost daily but not worth giving up her job. Now she is asked to spend a week with Stone to be sure his grandmothers dogs go to good and stable homes. This should be an easy task but nothing is easy when Johanna and Stone’s attraction is still smoking hot.




     




    Stone realizes that he must open up his heart to Johanna if he has any chance of getting her back.  He is afraid if she finds out about his past it might be too much for her to overcome. But nothing stops a dedicated man from getting the woman he needs.




     




    One Good Cowboy is a delight. The chemistry between Johanna and Stone is sizzling and electric.  They both need to overcome past issues to cherish the love the both deserve. The emotional tug of Stone and his grandmother Mariah adds another heartfelt layer to this story. Looking forward to the next story in this series. 

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  • Posted April 1, 2014

    Cowboy up. This is the first book in a series. The story star


    Cowboy up. This is the first book in a series. The story starts of by introducing you to the family of Stone McNair. Stone is thrown for a loop in the beginning of the book, finding out his grandmother (who raised him) is dying. She sets a task for him to prove he is worthy of inheriting the company... placing her beloved dogs in new homes. Well as grandmothers are known to do she has a secondary agenda... she wants Stone to grow up and learn who he really is. So she throws in that he has to do this with his ex-fiancé Johanna.
    There are a few ups and downs and steamy moments as Stone learns his heart is not made of stone.

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  • Posted April 1, 2014

    Catherine Mann has a hit with her new trilogy Diamonds in the Ro

    Catherine Mann has a hit with her new trilogy Diamonds in the Rough. One Good Cowboy starts off the trilogy about a family whose matriarch, Mariah, has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Mariah leads the family’s holdings that include Diamonds in the Rough and the Hidden Gem Ranch. She announces to her three grandchildren that she is going to put each of them through a test to determine who can take charge of her holdings when something happens to her. One Good Cowboy introduces us to Stone and Johanna. There were a couple but Johanna broke off their relationship when she determined Stone truly wouldn’t have a family with her. We learn that Mariah raised Stone after his mother was repeatedly placed into drug rehabilitation centers. Mariah tasks both Stone and Johanna to place her dogs in loving, caring homes. We go on a journey with Stone and Johanna as they rediscover the love they once had. I loved this book from the beginning and was hooked from page one. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy. I would like to disclose that I received a copy of One Good Cowboy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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  • Posted March 29, 2014

    One Good Cowboy is the first in a 3-book series 'Diamonds in the

    One Good Cowboy is the first in a 3-book series 'Diamonds in the Rough'.  The characters are fraternal twins (brother and sister) and their cousin who is the hero in this book.  Stone McNaire must prove to his grandmother that he has a heart.  His quest includes his ex-fiance and some adorable dogs.  I won't give away the plot but let me say you'll become invested in these characters and want to follow along as they find their way back to each other.  I really liked the hero Stone and heroine, Johanna. As an extra treat our couple crossed paths from characters from other books although this one can stand alone nicely.  Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit down, and prepare to spend a few nice hour! 

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