Second Chance Courtship

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Overview

Never Trust a Cowboy

That's what Kara Dixon's mother always warned her. Back home in Canyon Springs, Arizona, to care for her ailing mom, Kara comes face-to-face with rodeo cowboy Trey Kenton. Her former flame—and one-time bad boy—is finally ready to settle down and start a family, and he's got his heart set on Kara. But she's determined to head back to her big-city life in Chicago once her mother's on the mend. Can the charming cowboy convince...

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Overview

Never Trust a Cowboy

That's what Kara Dixon's mother always warned her. Back home in Canyon Springs, Arizona, to care for her ailing mom, Kara comes face-to-face with rodeo cowboy Trey Kenton. Her former flame—and one-time bad boy—is finally ready to settle down and start a family, and he's got his heart set on Kara. But she's determined to head back to her big-city life in Chicago once her mother's on the mend. Can the charming cowboy convince her to trust him and give their love a second chance?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373876549
  • Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
  • Publication date: 1/18/2011
  • Series: Love Inspired Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Cowboys ain't nothin' but trouble.

The oft-heard parental warning echoed through Kara Dixon's head. No surprise, for in the dim light and blowing snow outside a Canyon Springs, Arizona, restaurant, her eyes had fastened on the back of a broad-shouldered, dark-haired specimen of the cowboy variety. The Western hat and shearling jacket might be mimicked by wannabes, but the horse trailer hitched behind a big, silver Ford pickup vouched for his authenticity.

A cowboy. Yet another reason she had to get out of this town and back to Chicago. The sooner the better, too. She'd yet to run into a bona fide wrangler on the streets of the Windy City, which suited her just fine.

But how could she not take pity on the poor man? A man who valiantly endeavored to hand-brush fast accumulating snow from his crew cab pickup—while juggling a wailing toddler in one arm and making frequent grabs for a wandering preschooler with the other. Poor guy. Women shouldn't send their helpless men out into the world without adequate kid training. And back up.

She sighed. She didn't have time for this tonight. Customers straggling in late with cross-country ski rental returns had delayed the closing of her mother's general store, Dix's Woodland Warehouse. Much longer and Mom would start wondering why she hadn't brought home the promised Friday night dinner from Kit's Lodge. A quick call would put her mind at ease, but being accountable to Mom again was already getting old. It was bitter cold, too, with wind whipping out of the northwest in buffeting gusts. No, it wasn't a good night to stop and offer a helping hand.

Nevertheless, she returned to the SUV she'd borrowed from her mom and retrieved a heavy-duty snowbrush. Then, securing her jacket's insulated hood, she approached the struggling male and raised her voice over that of the squalling child.

"Could you use some help?"

He swung toward her, his face in shadow.

She waved the snowbrush.

"Oh, man, thanks." His own raised voice held a note of grateful surprise as he endeavored to calm the unhappy little girl now flinging herself back and forth in his arms. "Didn't know it snowed so much while we were inside."

"That's mid-January in mountain country for you."

Before Kara could register what he was intending to do, the man stepped forward and thrust the flailing toddler at her. What? She didn't want to hold the kid. All she'd intended to do was help clean off the guy's truck. But the bundled-up, squalling tyke was stretching out arms to her. Even though she was irritated with "Daddy," Kara reluctantly relinquished the snowbrush and gathered the tiny screamer into her arms. Lovely.

The man snagged the sleeve of the older child and gently pushed her toward Kara as well, then turned to the truck and set to work. Through the passenger-side front window, she glimpsed a lop-eared, mixed-breed mutt taking in the outside activity with interest. Almost as if laughing at her.

Kara awkwardly jiggled the bawling little one and fished in her pockets—in vain—for a tissue to wipe the miniature nose. She winced as slobber-wet fingers brushed her face. Where was the kid's mitten? Kara glanced at the snow-covered ground but saw no sign of it, then caught the tiny, sticky hand in her own.

Hurry it up, Cowboy.

As she warmed the little hand, she caught the older child staring at her. Even in the dim light it was clear she didn't think this stranger was handling her sibling with any degree of expertise. Kara bestowed a weak smile. It was hard to tell through the dim light and pelting snow, but the face peeping out from under a hood looked familiar.

Kara made shushing sounds at the youngster in her arms, then raised her voice over the howls. "What's your name?"

"Mary."

"Mary what?"

"Mary had a little lamb." The preschooler giggled and danced away.

Kara forced another smile. A comedian. She turned her attention again to the toddler who, for whatever mysterious reason, had abruptly quieted. Thank goodness. She'd pulled her tiny hand free, rubbed her nose and was now studiously exploring Kara's facial features with the tip of a moist finger. The girl giggled. Sniffled. Then hiccupped.

Kara turned her face aside to see what had happened to Cowboy. She shifted the kid and squinted through the steadily falling snow. Oh, there he was. On the far side of the pickup.

"Uh, you about done over there?"

"Almost. Hang on." He said something else but the wind snatched away the words.

Cowboy made a few more swipes with the brush, then limped around the front of the truck to open the passenger-side back door. He motioned to the older girl. "Hop in, Mary."

With a boost from him, the child obeyed. Then, tucking the snowbrush under his arm, he leaned inside the truck to harness her in a car seat.

"What's your phone number, sweetheart?" he called over his shoulder to Kara. "9-1-1-Kid-Help?"

He chuckled.

Her heart dipped. Then stilled. She knew that laugh.

She shook her head, in part to loosen the toddler's fingers now snaking into the hair under her hood, but mainly to dash away the foolish imagining. Being back in Canyon Springs made her jumpy. Paranoid. And at the present moment, a little sick to her stomach.

It couldn't be him. No way. She'd have heard if he was back in town, wouldn't she? Then again, for the past six weeks she'd been buried alive managing the Warehouse for her mom. Taking on the household tasks and transporting her parent to out-of-town physical therapy appointments. There hadn't been a single moment to catch her breath, let alone catch up with in-the-know locals.

But maybe that's why the little girl looked familiar? He'd returned after all—had kids now? Her mind flashed back a dozen years to a tall, lean high school senior who'd moved to town her sophomore year. He'd had her female classmates swooning over a slow, lazy smile that she remembered well. T-shirt. Jeans. Western boots. Attitude.

But although she'd lain awake far too many nights dreaming about him, she'd steered clear. Mostly anyway. After all, he was a cowboy. Just like her no-good dad. That "troublemaking preacher's kid" the townspeople had labeled him.

Thanks mainly to her…

Please, God, don't let it be him.

"Ouch!" Cringing, she grabbed her earlobe and pried away tiny fingers. "Not the earring, kid."

The child pulled back and frowned, studying her a long moment. Big dark eyes. Another hiccup. Then the tiny face crumpled and the wailing began again.

Kara stepped to the open truck door. "Okay, Daddy, time to reclaim your kid."

"That's not Daddy," the older girl objected from the backseat, her tone indignant. "That's Uncle Trey."

Kara's breath caught.

The man backed out of the truck and turned to her, both of them now illuminated by the vehicle's interior light. Steady blue eyes met hers. In that flashing moment his gaze reflected the surprise of mutual recognition. A recognition that rocked her to the core, all but knocking the wind right out of her.

He'd changed. Filled out. Matured. Laugh lines crinkled at the corners of his eyes. The crooked nose he'd broken from a fall off a horse still imparted a rugged, reckless air to his countenance. Same strong jaw, now in need of a shave. Every bit as handsome as he'd ever been. And then some.

"Kara?"

Her gaze riveted, struggling for breath, she could only nod. He didn't try to jog her memory as to who he was. He knew she'd remember. He'd have read it in her eyes.

Oh, yes, she remembered Trey Kenton.

After a too-long moment, he gave a wry chuckle. "Didn't figure I'd ever run into you again."

She swallowed and held out the now-whimpering child. "I don't imagine you did."

He accepted his niece and handed over the snowbrush, but his eyes searched Kara's. For what? Confirmation that she was sufficiently ashamed of the cowardly lurch she'd left him in those many years ago?

Oh, yes, she remembered. Would never forget. Or forgive herself. So why should he?

She broke eye contact and motioned to the child fussing in his arms. "She lost her mitten."

How lame. She owed him an apology, not an evasive, impersonal observation.

He dug out a handkerchief and wiped the sniffling toddler's nose, then enveloped the tiny bare hand in his large gloved one. "She hasn't had a nap in days and now we're all paying for it."

Could he be as uncomfortable as she was? After all, the last time they saw each other…Her cheeks warmed at the memory.

"Come on, Uncle Trey. Let's go home." "Hang on, Mary."

He focused again on Kara with a look she could only interpret as wary. Couldn't blame him.

"So, Kara, you're back in Canyon Springs."

She tightened her grip on the snowbrush. "Not for long. Helping my mom get back on her feet. She hasn't been well."

"Heard about that. Sorry."

Was he? Sharon Dixon and Trey Kenton hadn't exactly been a match made in heaven. Cowboy types didn't easily endear themselves to her mom. Or her.

The wind kicked up again, swirling a stinging mix of snow and ice pellets into their faces.

"Need to get these kids home and tucked into bed." He turned to the truck and eased the toddler into the empty car seat next to that of her sister.

Kara stepped away on unsteady legs. Was he visiting? Just babysitting for his brother and sister-in-law? Surely he hadn't moved back to Canyon Springs. No way. From the moment he'd set a booted foot inside the city limits as a teen, he'd been determined to put the mountain community in his rearview mirror.

With speed that likely rivaled his best record at roping and tying a calf, Trey buckled in his niece. Then he shut the back

door and turned to Kara once more, his face again shadowed. "Thank you kindly for your help."

With a brisk nod and a tip of his hat, he limped around the front of the truck to the driver's side and climbed in.

He didn't have a limp in high school.

Heart pounding in an erratic rhythm, she could only stare stupefied at the pickup as another gust of wind slammed into her. She hardly felt the cold creeping in around the neckline of her jacket or the wind-driven snowflakes pelting her face.

That was it? A coolly polite "thank you kindly for your help"? She took another step back, absently glancing down at the frosty ground—and spied a pint-size mitten lying half-buried in the snow. She knelt to pick it up with a trembling hand.

But before she could return it to its diminutive owner, the truck started—and the man whose life she'd all but ruined drove away.

Whoa. Trey gave a low whistle as he and the girls headed out of town to his brother and sister-in-law's place, the windshield wipers battling the pummeling snow.

Kara Dixon. Hadn't bargained on that one tonight.

He'd been in and out of Canyon Springs the past several months and knew she'd returned at Thanksgiving. Heard she was an interior designer with some big firm in Chicago. Had even glimpsed her a few times, helping her mother out of a car at the grocery store. Unloading boxes at the Warehouse. Dashing coatless across the street to Camilla's Cafe.

He'd intentionally kept his distance—even stayed away from town most weekends—but she wasn't a woman who'd be easily overlooked. Not with that toned figure and long, red-blonde mane of hers caught up in a ponytail. Strawberry blonde. That's how his sister-in-law described it. And Kara was model-tall and leggy, too, like a thoroughbred. He'd forgotten how it initially amused his seventeen-year-old self that ill-fated night when, in a sassy show of bravado, she'd walked right up to him, all but able to look him straight in the eye.

Just like her old man did to him now.

Well, maybe not just like. Her father's blustery shot at intimidation didn't send his heart galloping off like a wild mustang or his brain hurtling into a bottomless, fog-filled canyon. Didn't make his mouth go as dry as the Sonoran desert before summer monsoons kicked in.

Trey took a deep breath, still reliving the shock of turning to face her. No, he hadn't bargained on running into Kara up close and personal. And he sure hadn't bargained on feeling as if he'd collided with rock-hard Mother Earth, compliments of an irritable bronc. Even after all this time, even after what she'd done to him, he couldn't shake the impact of those beautiful gray eyes.

He let out a gust of pent-up breath. What was wrong with him anyway? He wasn't a kid anymore with a crush on the prettiest girl he'd ever seen—yet his heart was doing a too-familiar do-si-do, the rhythm beckoning him back through time.

He slammed the heel of his hand into the rim of the steering wheel, startling his dog, Rowdy, who rode shotgun on the seat next to him. He gave the Gordon setter-collie mix a reassuring pat and a feathered tail wagged in understanding.

Kara. No way was he going down that road again. He'd come back to town to lay the past to rest, not resurrect it. Thank the good Lord it sounded like she didn't plan to linger much longer. Just popping in to check on her mom. He needed to stay focused on the business at hand. Business, in fact, that Li'l Ms. Dixon wasn't going to be much pleased about once word got around. Which it eventually would in a tiny place like this.

In spite of himself, his mind's eye drifted to that long-ago night that now once again seemed like yesterday. The look in her eyes. The sweet scent of her hair. How she felt in his arms.

"Uncle Trey, why did you drive past our road?"

The accusing voice of his older niece carried from the shadowed recesses of the backseat, jerking him into the here and now.

"Just takin' the scenic route." He glanced into the rearview mirror at Mary, all the while racking his memory as to how much farther he'd have to drive to turn around with the empty trailer hitched to the back.

Kara Dixon was already messing with his mind.

"It's dark." Mary's petulant voice came again. "I want to go home."

She sounded as tired as he was. Three days playing both Mom and Dad had just about done him in. One more day to go.

"Your wish is my command, princess."

"I'm your princess?"

"You know it."

He glanced again at Mary, then over his shoulder at Missy and smiled. Sound asleep. He'd drive all night if it would keep her snoozing. What a day. He shouldn't have dragged them all the way to Holbrook this afternoon to look at that pony.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, but that was before a stronger cold front plowed into the region. Before he'd discovered the advertised pinto was an ill-tempered beast, certainly nothing he'd want his nieces having anything to do with. Then there had been the diaper dealings. A lesson learned the hard way. No, not a day he cared to relive anytime soon. His sister-in-law would laugh her head off.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Canyon Springs, Arizona Book 2

    Second Chance Courtship by Glynna Kaye
    Book 2 in the Canyon Springs, Arizona Series
    In my opinion this is an excellent book. You know that being a romance it will end up good but the journeys are always interesting. The main characters in this book are from two different worlds and you really wonder how they will end up.

    Kara Dixon couldn't wait to get out of Canyon Springs. Her father left them when she was a teenager and he left in a cloud of shame. Being a small town where everyone knew everyone else and their business...well she could not kick the dust off her feet quick enough. To top it off she has made a promise to someone that caused another person grief and to be labeled in a negative way. How could she face people when she carried that guilt around? Instead she ran off to Chicago and worked designing homes for the rich. But she could not run far enough from the guilt and her unforgiving attitude towards her father. And now she was back while her mom recovered from health problems, she just had to keep focused on getting back to Chicago and hold tight to her heart in the mean time.

    Trey Kenton was enjoying being back in Canyon Springs with his brothers family. His nieces were quickly becoming very special to him. His sister-in-law, Reyna, hoped to find him a woman so he would stay put. He had went on a date with Meg McGuire but her heart had already belonged to Joe Diaz. And then she came back to town, Kara Dixon. He had a secret he had to keep from her and it filled him with guilt that he promised not to tell anyone. He also had to prove to this small town that he was not guilty of a crime he had been accused of at age seventeen. How could he stay and manage a new business with this hanging over his head? Someone in town must know the truth so that he could be set free.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    great read

    I enjoyed Glynna's first book and this one lives up to the standard. This time Kara is the heroine and Trey the Hero. Kara doesn't want to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone but wants to live in a big City. Trey wants to settle down in the small community and put down roots. It is interesting watching the story unfold. Kara made a promise when she was younger which is causing her alot of problem. We see how a promise can cause alot of problems if its kept or broken. There are some scenes in this book I really identified with being a single. Some of the statements made by Trey in one part of the book will ring true to many singles and will hopefully be a lightbulb moment for some people. I could identify so much with some of his comments and observations. I loved this story and I cant wait for more books set in this community.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    heartwarming, inspirational romance

    Glynna Kaye has done it again. She has written a heartwarming and endearing love story with elements that we can all relate to. Her characters come alive on the page and their conflict is so real you are really cheering them on. I was delighted to read Trey and Cara's story and once again visit Canyon Springs. This is a book you can't put down so plan on plenty of time to finish it.

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  • Posted January 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book to read and for book club selection/discussion

    Obviously, from the name of this book, the main characters are going to have a second chance at love. In order to make this happen, forgiveness must be extended to each other for transgressions committed against each other years before the present day of the book.

    Glynna Kaye, author of "Second Chance Courtship" has brought Kara and Trey, the main characters to life. With excellent writing and descriptions, you will discover Kara and Trey to be down-to-earth, real people who may remind you of yourself or someone you know. The small town of Canyon Springs, "where everybody knows your name" and your business, reminded me of the small town where I grew up.

    The most important message of this book is God is a God of second chances. Third, fourth, tenth, fiftieth chance. No matter the transgression, He forgives and gives us another chance. Ms. Kaye has done a masterful job of weaving this message throughout the book without being "preachy."

    "Second Chance Courtship" is published by Steeple Hill Books, the inspirational line of Harlequin, and is being released today. I was fortunate enough to win a copy - had I not, this book would definitely be on my "to buy" list. I encourage you to buy a copy. You will thoroughly enjoy reading "Second Chance Courtship.

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    Posted January 22, 2012

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