Rough Wrangler, Tender Kissesby Jill Gregory
Caitlin Summers has come west for one reason only: to sell the Wyoming ranch that belonged to her late father. But Cloud Ranch isn’t hers to sell—not as long as foreman Wade Barclay and his two brothers are majority owners. According to the will, Caitlin can’t sell her share until
SHE CALLED HIM COWBOY. HE CALLED HER PRINCESS.
Caitlin Summers has come west for one reason only: to sell the Wyoming ranch that belonged to her late father. But Cloud Ranch isn’t hers to sell—not as long as foreman Wade Barclay and his two brothers are majority owners. According to the will, Caitlin can’t sell her share until she’s lived there . . . for a whole year. For the debt-ridden Philadelphia beauty, the situation is intolerable. But the rough, infuriating wrangler will awaken every tender emotion buried in her heart.
To Wade Barclay, Caitlin Summers is just a spoiled society girl—even if she is also the daughter of the man who was a father to him in all but name. Caitlin broke her father’s heart when she and her mother left Wyoming, and Wade has no intention of letting her do the same to him. But living together under the same roof is hard on a man. One stolen kiss is all it takes to make him wild with wanting her. As the days pass, Wade knows he desperately needs Caitlin—in his bed, in his heart, and by his side forever in this wild, beautiful land he knows she’ll never call home.
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"Oh, Miss Summers, do remember what I said. Don't ever, ever, ever fall in love with a cowboy."
As the stagecoach lumbered to a shuddering halt in the center of the tiny Wyoming town called Hope, the stout woman wearing the feather-trimmed hat and the puce traveling gown leaned forward, and nodded wisely at the blond girl seated across from her. "If you do," she sighed, "he'll only break your heart."
"Don't worry, Mrs. Casper." The blond girl's tone was reassuring. She straightened the satin bow atop her smart pink hat, smoothed her pale lavender skirt, and managed a smile for the woman who had talked incessantly since boarding the stage, mostly about her niece in Kansas who'd been left brokenhearted by a smooth-talking wrangler. Despite her tendency to babble, Mrs. Casper was kind, and Caitlin appreciated kindness. She hadn't seen much of it lately.
"I promise you, there's no need to worry about me." The girl spoke quietly as the stagecoach driver clambered down from his perch and the coach swayed. "There is absolutely no chance of my falling in love with anyone."
Ever again, she thought firmly.
Once had been more than enough.
Caitlin fought the pain that squeezed around her heart as Alec Ballantree's sensitive, beautifully handsome face surged into her mind. She didn't want to think about that, or the fact that her reticule contained only a meager twelve dollars and forty-seven cents, all the money she had left in the world--or about any of the countless other ways her life had fallen apart in the past few months. She wanted to think only of what must be done, only about Becky, the little sister who needed her. Only about the future.
But her stomach clenched at the thought of all the responsibilities facing her. Her eleven-year-old sister's wan little face and worried brown eyes lingered in her mind and she knew she must not fail.
She turned her attention to the sights beyond the stagecoach window, trying to concentrate on the town, to forget her weariness, the length of her journey, and the uncertainty of the future. She was here now, in Hope, and it was only a matter of hours before she reached her father's ranch.
Cloud Ranch. Reese Summers's pride and joy.
The town looked small, but bustling. Laughing children ran along the boardwalk, while men in chaps and spurs and Stetsons strode up and down the street. Women wearing bonnets and bright gingham dresses bustled in and out of various shops. And there were wagons and buggies and horses everywhere she looked. From the saloon came the tinny plinking of piano keys and the sound of deep raucous laughter.
Mrs. Casper's high-pitched voice overrode everything else.
"Mmm, take that one there for example. Isn't he a handsome devil? Just the kind to steer clear of, dear. Mark my words."
Caitlin spotted him even as Mrs. Casper spoke. For a moment her breath caught in her throat. The dark-haired man leaning against the railing outside of Hicks Mercantile was eyeing the stagecoach, his thumbs hooked in the pockets of his dark pants, two six-shooters slung in the gunbelt fastened across his lean hips. Handsome devil didn't begin to describe him. Dangerous, gorgeous, intimidating--those words did describe him, Caitlin thought faintly.
Well over six feet tall, he was deeply bronzed and muscular, with sharp, even features, wide shoulders, and an air of nonchalance.
Was he a gunfighter perhaps? she wondered a bit uneasily. There was something undeniably dangerous about him. His looks and demeanor didn't shout danger--but instead whispered it.
He was certainly handsome, but in a completely different way from Alec, she thought as she recalled her former fiance's curling light brown hair and debonair smile, his quick laughter and smooth elegant hands, hands befitting the gold signet ring that had been in his family for four generations. This man, this cowboy, appeared to be about as different from Alec Ballantree as a slab of steak from a lobster patty.
This man, with his pitch-black hair just long enough to brush his shirt collar, and the cool diamond-blue eyes that glinted from beneath the brim of his hat, was rugged as rock and looked as if he'd never seen the inside of an opera house or a tearoom, never had a servant shine his shoes or draw his bath.
Never danced a waltz with a woman beneath a crystal chandelier and told her he loved her . . . told her he would always love her . . .
He looked tough and capable--and just a tiny bit angry.
About what, she had no idea--and wouldn't even try to guess. There was no time to waste speculating about handsome strangers, especially cowboys, whom Mrs. Casper had spent the last few days of the journey warning her about.
She had to find Wade Barclay, her late father's foreman, and get to the ranch.
"Hope, Wyoming!" the stagecoach driver bellowed, and threw open the stagecoach doors. As he let down the steps with a grunt, she bade farewell to Mrs. Casper, clutched her pink satin reticule between her gloved fingers, and carefully stepped down into the dusty street.
Hope. That's what she wanted, what she needed. Hope. Hope that the sale of the ranch would go smoothly and swiftly, hope that she could return to Becky as soon as possible.
Hope that no more trouble would catch up to them.
Caitlin peered up and down the street. The handsome cowboy had straightened and was studying her, but she resolutely ignored him. When she spotted the older, potbellied man in the huge white Stetson ambling toward her, she felt a wave of relief.
He looked exactly as she had pictured her father's foreman. Genial, easygoing, avuncular. And punctual. She was grateful he had met the stagecoach on time.
"You're Miz Summers, ain't you?" He squinted at her, but it wasn't his close-set eyes or the mole on his chin she noticed but the beet redness of his bulbous nose. "I'm--"
"Yes, of course, I know who you are. Good afternoon, Mr. Barclay. I appreciate your arriving here on time."
The man stumbled as he reached her, and Caitlin instinctively shot out a hand to steady him. She tensed though as she smelled the liquor on his breath.
"Mr. Barclay . . . are you all right?"
"Wha? Never better, little lady. But call me Wesley."
"Wesley? I thought your name was Wade--"
"Hell, no, honey, I reckon I know my own name."
From the Paperback edition.
Meet the Author
Jill Gregory is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence and her novels Never Love a Cowboy and Cold Night, Warm Stranger were honored with back-to-back Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best Western Historical Romance. Her novels have been translated and published in twenty-four countries. Gregory grew up in Chicago and received her bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Illinois. She and her husband live in Michigan.
From the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Caitlin Summers thought her father, Reese, did not care for her. After all, her mother may have taken her away to Philadelphia as a child, but he never tried to contact her and never answered her letters to him. Yet, the day she found out her mother and step-father were lost at sea, she also found a letter telling her she had inherited her father's ranch. Pennyless, and with an eleven year old half-sister to care for, she set off for Wyoming to see the ranch. What she had not expected was to find out that her father had raised three orphan boys in her absence and left them the controlling percentage. In order to sell her part, she had to live on the ranch for year!
Wade Barclay was the eldest of the three brothers. After years of working on the ranch and listening to Reese mourn over his lost daughter, he had promised to keep her on the ranch for the full year. However, Caitlin was, in his opinion, too soft for the ranch. She made a powerful and dangerous enemy quickly too. Little did he know she had left a dangerous enemy in Philadelphia also, and he planned to get even!
*** Once again Jill Gregory will hook her readers immediately! The characters are very realistic and no where close to wimps! Strong, yet hard headed. Jill Gregory tends to be one of the best in historical romance writing today! ***
In the 1880's, Philadelphia debutante Caitlin Summers travels to Hope, Wyoming, hometown of her recently deceased father Reese to claim her inheritance. Nearly broke, the desperate Caitlin plans to sell her dad's beloved Cloud Ranch that means almost nothing to the Easterner. The ranch foreman, Wade Barclay worshipped Reese, who took him and his two siblings into his home and heart when their parents died in 1867 and raised the trio. In homage to his mentor, Wade will insure Reese's wishes are fulfilled even if it means forcing Caitlin to remain at the ranch for one year as stated in the will. Reese believes Caitlin is a spoiled brat who deserted her father and his love. Caitlin thinks Reese is a barbarian, but is jealous of the love her father showered on Reese and his two siblings. Neither one expected to feel attraction, passion, and love for the other. Jill Gregory and entertaining western romances are synonymous after novels like ALWAYS YOU and NEVER LOVE A COWBOY. Her latest Americana thriller, ROUGH WRANGLER, TENDER KISSES, is a tender late nineteenth century tale that pulls at the reader's heart because of the angst of the lead characters and the support of the strong secondary cast. Ms. Gregory stays with her theme that only love can break a heart and only love can mend it. Harriet Klausner
RT rated this story with 4 ½ stars. In my opinion, this is a fair story, predictable and typical of Westerns. In Gregory's stories, the writing is all right. However, the thing that annoys me is the headhopping and how her characters (heroines mostly) tend to describe themselves-cheek color and sometimes figure-when those times it would be more effective described through the eyes of others. Caitlin is a rather conceited, selfish heroine in the eyes of the secondary characters, and her self-describing only made her look more so to the reader. It was only at the end of the story when Caitlin thought Wade might not live did she treat Francesca the housekeeper with more respect. I saw on several occasions where Caitlin referred to Wade as 'the man' and her sister Becky as 'the slight, brown-haired girl' as if Becky was a stranger and the reader wouldn't remember Becky's name. Those lazy writing tactics pull me out of a story. I felt the ending was too sappy and drug out too long and really didn't make up for Caitlin's past haughtiness, mostly because throughout the story she never saw or admitted to her own shortcomings or tried to change. Forgiving Winnifred for withholding her and her father's letters through the years was nice, but it really didn't sound like she did it because it made her a better person. More like what she'd gain from it--peace, contentment, happiness and love. Wade never gave a good reason for falling in love with her.
Another good book by Jill Gregory. We could use more good books like she writes. Wish she would write many more. This book will keep your interest and not want to put it down