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Reunion at Cardwell Ranch

Reunion at Cardwell Ranch

4.4 7
by B. J. Daniels

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New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels continues her acclaimed Cardwell Ranch series! 

The last of his clan to come home to Big Sky, Montana, Laramie Cardwell wasn't planning to spend the holidays chasing an elusive cat burglar. He's stunned to discover that the masked, black-clad figure he tackles to the snowy ground is a woman. After a


New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels continues her acclaimed Cardwell Ranch series! 

The last of his clan to come home to Big Sky, Montana, Laramie Cardwell wasn't planning to spend the holidays chasing an elusive cat burglar. He's stunned to discover that the masked, black-clad figure he tackles to the snowy ground is a woman. After a distracting and sizzling kiss, she flees Laramie, who's knocked senseless by the culprit. Even though he manages to hold on to the stash in the melee, the sexy thief single-handedly steals Laramie's heart! Now he'll move any mountain to capture the mystery woman whose kiss still smolders on his lips.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Daniels, as usual, proves she's as adept with family relationships as she is with deep intrigue and suspenseful action."
-RT Book Reviews on Cardwell Ranch Trespasser

"The mystery and danger thickens from the first page, weaving a spell around readers."
-RT Book Reviews on Justice at Cardwell Ranch

"An explosive tale of love, trust and the twisted ties among an embattled family."
-RT Book Reviews on Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch

"Daniels is truly an expert at Western romantic suspense."
-RT Book Reviews on Atonement

"Fans of Western romantic suspense will relish Daniels' tale of clandestine love played out in a small town on the Great Plains."
-Booklist on Unforgiven

Product Details

Publication date:
Cardwell Cousins , #5
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Read an Excerpt

The moment she'd stepped into the dark house, she could feel the emptiness surround her like a void. The owners wouldn't be coming to Montana for Christmas this year. The couple was getting a divorce. The man's third marriage, the woman's first.

She'd gotten her information from a good source, but she'd learned, though, that you can never be certain of anything, especially the rumors that ran more wildly than the river ran through the Gallatin Canyon past Big Sky.

Standing stone still in the dark, listening, she waited for a few moments before she snapped on her tiny pen-light. There were no other homes close to this one. The owners of these expensive spacious second homes wanted to feel as if they had the mountainside to themselves. Because of that there was little to no chance that anyone would notice if she turned on lights. But she didn't like playing against the odds when it came to the chance of being discovered.

As she moved through the house, she saw sculptures that she knew had cost a small fortune and paintings like some she'd sat for hours studying in museums back East. She hurried on past them, reminded that time was never on her side. In and out as quickly as possible was her personal motto. Otherwise she knew all too well things could go very badly.

She found the painting in the master bedroom on the third floor. A twenty-by-sixteen-inch signed Taylor West original depicting a rancher on horseback surveying his herd. It was one of her favorites. She stepped to it quickly, admiring the brushstrokes and the skillful use of shading as she let the penlight move over it until she found what she was looking for.

Lifting it off the wall, she checked the time. She was running a little over five minutes on this job because of the three stories she'd had to search for this piece.

Quickly she replaced the painting with the one she'd brought, noticing that the bag she'd carried it in had torn. Wadding up the bag, she stuffed it into her coat pocket and tucked the painting from the wall under her arm.

She made her way back through the house, pleased. If only they were all as easy as this one. She'd barely completed the thought when a set of headlights washed over the room.

Laramie Cardwell mentally kicked himself for driving up this snow-packed narrow mountain road in the dark. But according to his sister-in-law, and the real-estate agent for the property, if he wanted a house in the Big Sky area, he had to jump on it the moment it became available.

"Why would you want to buy a house up here when you can stay in one of our guesthouses on the ranch whenever you come?" his cousin Dana Cardwell Savage had argued.

While he appreciated her hospitality at Cardwell Ranch, as much time as he found himself spending in Montana, he wanted a place of his own. It had been family that had brought his brothers back to Montana. But it was love—and barbecue—that had them staying.

He often marveled that it had all started with barbecue—the one thing all five brothers knew. They'd opened a small barbecue joint outside of Houston. Surprisingly, it had taken off and they'd opened others, turning a backyard barbecue into a multimillion-dollar business. It had been his brother Tanner "Tag" Cardwell who'd first come up with the idea of opening their first Texas Boys Barbecue restaurant in Montana in Big Sky.

While some of them had balked at the idea, it had proved to be a good one. Now his brothers were talking about opening others in the state. His four brothers had all returned to their Montana roots, but Laramie was a Texas boy who told himself that he had no desire to live in this wild country—at least not full-time.

With his entire family here now, he wanted his own place, and he could darn sure afford a second home. Though he suspected the one he was on his way to check out would be too large for what he needed.

But there was one way to find out. He figured he'd get a look at the house from the outside. If it wasn't what he wanted, then he wouldn't waste his sister-in-law McKenzie's time looking at the interior.

As he topped a small rise in the road, a moonlit Lone Mountain, the peak that dominated Big Sky, appeared from behind a cloud, making him catch his breath. He'd seen the view numerous times on his other visits to the area, but it still captivated him.

He had to admit this part of Montana was spectacular, although he wasn't so sure about staying up here for the winter. While the snow was awe inspiring in its beauty, he still wasn't used to the bracing cold up here.

"You wouldn't mind it if you had someone to cuddle with at night," his brother Tag had joked. All four of his brothers had fallen in love in Montana—and with Montana—and now had wives to snuggle up to on these cold winter nights.

"I only want a house up here," Laramie had said. "I can kick up the heat when I spend time here during the holidays."

As he topped the rise in the road, his headlights caught on a three-story house set against the mountainside. Laramie let up on the gas, captivated by the design of the house and the way it seemed to belong on the side of the mountain in the pines.

That's when he spotted the dark figure running along the roofline of the attached garage.

* * *

Laramie remembered hearing that an alleged cat burglar had been seen in Big Sky, but so far the thief hadn't gotten away with anything. Until now.

Slamming on the brakes, he threw open the door of his rented SUV, leaped out and took off running. It crossed his mind that the robber might be armed and dangerous. But all he could think about was catching the thief.

The freezing snowy night air made his lungs ache. Even though he'd been the business end of Texas Boys Barbecue, he'd stayed in shape. But he felt the high altitude quicken his breathing and reminded himself he wasn't in Houston anymore.

The dark figure had reached the end of the roofline and now leaped down as agile as any cat he'd ever seen. The thief was dressed in all black including a mask that hid his face. He was carrying what appeared to be a painting.

Laramie tackled the burglar, instantly recognizing his physical advantage. The burglar let out a breath as they hit the ground. The painting skidded across the snow.

Rolling over on top of the thief, Laramie held him down with his weight as he fumbled for his cell phone. The slightly built burglar wriggled under him in the deep snow.

"Hold still," he ordered as he finally got his cell phone out and with freezing fingers began to call his cousin's husband, Marshal Hud Savage.

"You're crushing me."

At the burglar's distinctly female voice, Laramie froze. His gaze cut from the phone to the burglar's eyes—the only exposed part of her face other than her mouth. The eyes were a pale blue in the snowy starlight. "You're a…woman?"

In a breathless whisper, she said, "You just now noticed that? Could you let me breathe?"

Shocked, he shifted his weight to allow her to take breath into her lungs. This was the cat burglar?

She freed one arm and wiped away the powdery snow from her eyes as she whispered something else.

He cut his eyes to her, suddenly worried that he had injured her when he'd taken her down. She motioned for him to lean closer. He bent down.

Her free hand cupped the back of his neck, pulling him down into a kiss before he could stop her. Suddenly her lips were on his, her mouth parting as if they were lovers.

The next thing he knew he was lying on his back in the snow looking up at the stars as the cat burglar took off. Her escape had been as much of a surprise as the kiss. He quickly sat up. He'd lost his cell phone and his Stetson. Both had fallen into the snow. He plucked them up as he lumbered to his feet. But by then she was already dropping over the side of the ridge.

He took off after her, but he had gone only a few yards when he heard the roar of a snowmobile engine.

Scrambling after her, he turned the corner of the house in time to see the snowmobile roar off through the snow-heavy pines and disappear. He listened to her get away, feeling like a fool. He'd let her trick him.

She'd taken advantage of his surprise and the extra space he'd given her to breathe. She was a lot stronger and more agile than she had appeared and she had a weapon—those lips. He groaned when he thought about the kiss—and its effects on him.

As he turned back, he saw a corner of the painting sticking up out of the snow. Laramie trudged to where it had landed. The only good news was that she hadn't gotten away with the painting.

Surprisingly the frame was still intact. He carefully brushed away the snow, thinking about the woman who'd gotten away. He'd known his share of women in his life. A few had tempted him, a couple had played havoc with his heart and several had taken him for a ride.

However, none of them had tricked him like this. He could well imagine what his brothers would say.

But would he be able to recognize her if he ever saw her again? She'd never spoken above a whisper and he hadn't gotten a chance to remove her ski mask before she'd dumped him in the snow.

Those eyes. Those lips. He told himself if he ever saw either again, damn straight he'd recognize her.

She thought she was smarter than he. She thought she'd gotten away. But he had the painting. And he would find her—if she didn't find him first, he thought, glancing at the painting in the moonlight.

To the fading sound of the snowmobile, he walked back to his rental SUV. Placing the painting in the backseat, he called his cousin's husband, the marshal.

That had been too close. As Obsidian "Sid" Forester pulled the snowmobile around to the back of the cabin, she glanced over her shoulder. No headlights. No lights at all. She hadn't been followed.

She'd taken a longer route through the trees. At first she'd thought the man who'd tackled her was the owner of the house. But she'd done her research on him and knew he was much older than the man she'd just encountered.

So who was that cowboy with the Southern drawl? Moonlight on snow did strange things to one's vision. But she had gotten a good look at him—a better look than he'd gotten of her, she assured herself. Thick dark hair. Ice-cold blue eyes. Handsome, if you liked that clean-cut, all-business kind of man. She did not.

The only thing that had thrown her was his accent. Definitely from down South. Definitely not the New Yorker who owned the house.

That wasn't all that had thrown her, she had to admit. The kiss. It had worked just as she'd planned and yet… She touched her tongue to her upper lip, remembering the electrical shock she'd felt when they kissed. Worse was the tingling she'd felt in her belly. True, she hadn't kissed a man in… She couldn't even remember when, but she'd never had that kind of reaction. She certainly hadn't expected to feel…anything.

Her pulse was back to normal by the time she entered the cabin. The air smelled of oil paint, turpentine and linseed oil. She shrugged out of her boots and coat at the back door, hung up her coat and kicked her boots aside as she moved to the painting she'd been working on earlier that day.

She gave it a critical perusal before moving into the small kitchen. Unfortunately she hadn't been to the grocery store in several days. She was always starved after one of what she called her "night jobs." With a bottle of beer—her last—a chunk of cheese and some stale bread, she stepped into the living area where a half dozen paintings were drying.

The cabin was small with only a living room, kitchen, bedroom, small bath and a storage room off to one side at the back. The moment the owner had shown it to her—and told her about all its peculiarities—she'd had to have it and had quickly signed the papers.

Sitting down now, she considered each of her paintings as she ate her snack and sipped her beer. It was hard to concentrate after what had happened earlier, though. She'd come close to getting caught before, but nothing like tonight. What would the man do?

Go to the marshal.

She considered that and decided she wasn't worried about the law catching up with her.

What did worry her was that he had the painting.

Taking another bite of cheese and bread, she chewed for a moment before washing it down with the last of the beer. She really did have to go to the store tomorrow.

Just the thought of going out in public made her wonder if she would run into him. That was the other thing about her cabin. It was nestled in the woods, far from urban Big Sky.

What if she did see him again? She had no doubt that she would recognize him. She'd gotten a good look at him. He had high cheekbones, a patrician nose and generous mouth. She felt that ridiculous stirring again over that one stupid kiss.

She assured herself that there wasn't any way he could recognize her since she'd had the black ski mask on the whole time. Nor could he recognize her voice since she hadn't spoken above a whisper.

Shaking her head, she tried to put him out of her mind. There was more than a good chance that she would never see him again. Obviously he was a tourist, probably only here for the holidays. Once the holidays were over, he'd be on a jet back to wherever he'd picked up that Southern drawl.

Still, she wondered who he was and why he'd driven up to the house tonight. Probably lost. Just her luck. What other reason could he have had to be there?

But while she'd gotten away, it hadn't been clean, which upset her more than she wanted to admit. She prided herself on her larceny skills. Worse, she'd failed. She didn't have the painting.

Losing her appetite, she tossed the crust of stale bread in the trash and put the cheese back into the fridge before she returned to her work in progress. She always did her best thinking while she painted.

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels. When not writing, she quilts, boats and plays tennis. Contact her at www.bjdaniels.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Daniels/127936587217837 or on twitter at bjdanielsauthor.



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Reunion at Cardwell Ranch 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
SusanFrank More than 1 year ago
Good book with a different kind of romance and an art focused mystery. Laramie is the youngest of the Cardwell cousins and the last one left single. He's come to Montana to spend the holidays with his family before returning to their business headquarters in Texas. Not comfortable with the idea of always staying with family when he visits, he is in the market to buy a house for those times. While checking out a possibility, he surprises a burglar coming out of the house. The surprise is on him when he discovers the thief is a woman, who distracts him with a kiss before getting away. Intrigued by the mysterious thief, he's determined to track her down. Laramie is left holding a painting that the thief appeared to have taken from the house, but when the marshal investigates, nothing from the house has been taken. In fact, the original of the painting he grabbed is still hanging in the house. In fact, all the reported cat burglar sightings haven't turned up any missing property. As the house is for sale, Laramie decides to buy it and use the two paintings as bait to lure the thief back. Sid can't forget the man who foiled her latest attempt. She has to find a way to get that painting back, but she suspects that getting that close to it again won't be easy. When she meets him out in town, she is even more drawn to him, and can't decide if she should try to get closer or run as far away as she can. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse aspect of their first few meetings. Laramie is sure that she is the cat burglar, but without proof he can't do anything about it, so getting closer to her is his plan. He doesn't expect to find himself actually liking her and hoping that she's not really a criminal. Sid definitely feels like a mouse, as she wavers between believing he's just flirting with her and that he knows who she is and is trying to set her up. When he does indeed catch her, she has no choice but to trust him with the truth of what she is doing. I loved his protectiveness and how he worries that she is going to get hurt. As their relationship develops, both have to be willing to trust if they hope for anything to come of what is burning between them. The mystery surrounding the paintings was very good. Sid's reasons for wanting to retrieve them was very personal to her and Laramie was determined to help her. There is also more to the background of these paintings than she knows, and as she gets closer to completing her goal, more questions arise about them. There are multiple possibilities as to who is really responsible, and it could be any or all of them. The final confrontation was really intense, with an interesting twist to the resolution. Family is a big part of the story also. For Sid, it is getting the truth behind her father's death, and eventually reconciling with her older sister, who is an interesting character herself. On Laramie's side, as the youngest of the brothers, he constantly has to fight to be seen as an adult. I liked seeing him stand up to them and take charge of what he wants. I also enjoyed seeing Dana succeed in bringing the family completely together. I loved the bit at the end as they decorate the Christmas tree, and what her husband has to say about it: "Dana can't stand the idea of an ugly tree not getting to be a Christmas tree," her husband the marshal explained with a shake of his head. "We do what we can for it." Can't wait to see if there will be more Cardwell stories in the future.
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Action, adventure, suspense, and romance all make their appearance in Daniels’ latest release. She tells a seamless tale with the same flair and well written style I’ve come to know and love her for. Not only was the plot well developed but the setting was as well. The main characters were a fantastic paradox. I loved the contrast between their lives. I also really enjoyed getting to know them as individuals. Once again Daniels has created a great novel with an action packed plot. It’s a great read for all those who enjoy romantic suspense. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Book_It_Now More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars This book was another really good read by B. J. Daniels. If you like romantic suspense, served up western style, you can’t go wrong reading B.J. Daniels books. No fluff in her books, you just get a straight forward great story to read. Where you are drawn in and hooked into the story from the beginning. In B J Daniels’s latest’s book, “Reunion at Cardwell Ranch” the last of the confirmed Cardwell bachelor Cousins, meets his match. Laramie is the number cruncher of the Cardwell cousin’s “Texas Boys Barbecue” business, and the last of the male cousins to migrate to Big Sky Montana. Needless to say Dana Cardwell plays a big role in encouraging him to make the move to Montana. Dana has been on a mission to bring all her family together, since the beginning of the series. I would love to be a part of this close knit family, where they all have each other’s backs Shortly after Laramie arrives in Montana, while checking out a possible home for him to purchase, he literally runs into a cat burglar. Obsidian (Sid) Forester is the cat burglar’s name, and once she tricks Laramie with a kiss to escape being caught by him, Laramie is smitten with her. Even though I know stealing is wrong, I can’t help but root for Sid. She comes from a poor background, and has a good heart, overcoming many adversities. Her reason for stealing paintings revolves around her trying to right a wrong from many years ago, and solving the mystery around her father’s death. Keeping Laramie in the dark about who she is, and what she is doing, becomes a challenge to her feeling for him. Sid is a very independent woman, who doesn’t want anyone involved in her efforts to steal certain paintings. This doesn’t bode well for Laramie; the Cardwell men feel it’s their duty to save damsels in distress. She finally agrees to let her half-sister Zander though, who has her own shady past, to assist her in righting a wrong. This book has several twists and turns in it, and a healthy dose of romance, that will keep you turning pages. The reason for minus a 1/2 star, is one minute the books describes Zander passing as Sid’s twin, but at the same time, it says Zander look like her gorgeous mother, who wasn’t Sid’s mother. If I’m the one who miss understood this part of the book, hopefully B. J. Daniels will set me straight.  :) You could read this book as a standalone, because B.J. Daniels gives you enough back ground to the ongoing storylines, for you not to be confused. I suggest though, for you to fully enjoy her books in this series, you read them all in order. I was given an advance copy of this book, for a fair and honest review of it.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
4 STARS This is the 5 book about the Cardwell Cousins. I liked it but it would have been so much better if it were longer. But this had to fit the pages. so some scenes felt rushed. Lot of drama, mysteries was not sure of what was really going on. Who to trust. There was one love scene. The setting is Big Sky, Montana December. Laramie Cardwell the last brother that is still living in Texas and single. He is out looking at a possible house for a second home. When he sees a cat burglar and catches him or her. She kisses him to distract him to get away on a snowmobile. He does have the stolen painting. Only nothing was stolen. Laramie takes the painting to have it authentic and is told that it is real. He is offered 30,000 for it. Laramie can not forget the kiss and those eyes. He knows he will recognize her lips again when he sees her. Sheriff thinks Laramie's brothers are playing tricks on him. We see right away who the cat burglar is but not know why she wants to steal all the paintings. There are a few other twists and turns to figure out too. I like the characters, it is nice to see some familiar characters back again. This book can stand alone okay. I liked the ending. I was given this ebook to read by Netgalley and Harlequin. In exchange for a honest review of Reunion at Cardwell Ranch.
LindaTownsend More than 1 year ago
Intriguing romantic suspense with sexy cowboys and beautiful western scenery! Would he love the house as much if his cat burglar didn't come back for the painting? He pushed that thought away, telling himself he was in the market for a house long before he'd laid eyes on the dark-clad figure running along the rooftop. Long before the kiss. REUNION AT CARDWELL RANCH by B.J. Daniels is an excellently-written western romantic suspense novel! B.J. is one of my very favorite authors and I've thoroughly enjoyed ever book I've read by her. This is the story of Laramie Cardwell, the youngest and the last Texas Cardwell to fall in love and stay in Montana. It takes place less than a week until Christmas. Even though REUNION AT CARDWELL RANCH is the fourth book in the author's Cardwell Cousins series, it can be fully enjoyed as a standalone, if that is your druthers. The romantic relationship and the danger plot are fully contained within this novel. Fans of the series will enjoy catching up with favorite characters from previous books. You know you're addicted when you smile every time a previous favorite makes an appearance; I smiled a lot in this tale. As the story begins, Laramie has come to Montana to be with family at Christmas. Laramie is the chief financial officer of the brothers' lucrative barbeque enterprise. He's considering purchasing a second home in Montana so he won't have to stay with relatives every time he visits. On a house-hunting mission, as he pulls up to one prospective home, he is taken aback to discover that he's obviously come upon a burglary-in-process. He successfully runs down and tackles the masked, black-garbed thief only to find out that the thief is a woman. When she unexpectedly surprises him with a sultry kiss, he's startled; she takes advantage of his brief attention lapse and escapes - but, without her plunder. When Laramie reports the burglary, he's shocked to discover that nothing has been taken which makes Laramie even more determined to solve the mystery and find the elusive woman whose kiss he cannot forget. His investigation will take him into the western art world with a colorful array of characters. Be prepared for a riveting read. I had so many favorite scenes in this tale, but, since it is set at Christmastime, I'll highlight one which reminded me of a certain tree in a Charlie Brown Christmas. Here's a short snippet from that scene: "Dana can't stand the idea of an ugly tree not getting to be a Christmas tree," her husband the marshal explained with a shake of his head. "We do what we can for it." I literally inhale every book I can get my hands on by B.J. Daniels. She is just not capable of writing anything but riveting reads. My only complaint about this one is that I didn't want it to end. If you enjoy intriguing romantic suspense with sexy cowboys and beautiful western scenery, REUNION AT CARDWELL RANCH should decidedly be on your must-read list! My full review is posted at Reading Between The Wines Book Club. Please check it out there! 4 1/2 Wine Glasses!
Joy1018 More than 1 year ago
This was another wonderful addition to the Caldwell Ranch series. The final Texas cousin Laramine Caldwell visits to celebrate Christmas. He aims also looking to buy a place rather than stay at his cousin ranch when he comes to visit. He's in charge of the money for the brothers Texas Barbecue chain, which has expanded to Montana since all his brothers have found love. While he's looking at a house he sees a burglar stealing a painting who stuns him with a kiss and gets away. He has made it his mission to catch her. The story is fast paced and as always the plot has than you initially think. That's the amazing thing about B.J. writing. She knows how to keep you interested and this one certainly did that. Sid is a match for Laramine and I enjoyed the the push/pull. It's another perfect book in an amazing series. I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"That's sounds a bit like the embodiment of diabetes." Remi blinked and sat down at the table awkwardly.