A Bravo Christmas Wedding (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2372)

A Bravo Christmas Wedding (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2372)

by Christine Rimmer

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Overview

LOVE ON THE RANGE? 

Princess Aurora Bravo-Calabretti is wishing for a mountain man this Christmas! But her most unroyal crush—rancher Walker McKellan—insists that they remain "just friends." Now he's her round-the-clock bodyguard while she is the maid of honor at her cousin's holiday wedding. Rory can't resist this Colorado cowboy…but she wishes she was walking down the aisle to meet Walker at the altar! 

Both the best man to the groom and Rory's bodyguard, Walker can't shake his charge. As he begins to see Rory in a different light, a surprise snowstorm strands him with his princess…and sparks ignite into a holiday love affair! Can their Christmas passion blossom into a very Bravo happily-ever-after?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460343654
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 12/01/2014
Series: Bravo Royales
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 238,972
File size: 280 KB

About the Author

A New York Times bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written over ninety contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. Christine has won the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers Choice Award and has been nominated six times for the RITA Award. She lives in Oregon with her family. Visit Christine at http://www.christinerimmer.com.

Read an Excerpt

Strings had been pulled.

Aurora Bravo-Calabretti, Princess of Montedoro, knew this because Walker McKellan was waiting for her right there on the tarmac when the private jet her mother had insisted Rory use taxied in for a landing at the Denver airport.

Irritation at the sight of him—and at her mother, too—had her chewing her lower lip. God forbid she should be allowed to get off a plane and walk all the way to customs without some big, strong man watching over her, making sure she got there safely.

Tall and lean, wearing old jeans, battered boots and a heavy shearling coat, Walker had his arms folded across his broad chest, and he was leaning against his camo-green SUV. In the thin winter sunlight, he looked so American—a rancher fresh off the range, or maybe a mountain man taking a short break from wrestling grizzlies and taming bobcats. As frustrated as she was with the situation, Rory couldn't resist whipping out her trusty Nikon D700 and snapping several shots of him through a passenger window.

Walker was a great guy. Rory adored him. He'd been a very good friend to her over the seven-plus years she'd been visiting Colorado on a regular basis. People should not take advantage of their very good friends. Rory would never have done such a thing by choice.

But her mother, who usually had the sense to mind her own business, had gone over to the dark side for no comprehensible reason and taken advantage of Walker for her. And Walker had let Rory's mother do it.

The more Rory thought about that, the angrier she became with both of them—with her mother, for roping Walker into being responsible for her. And with Walker, too, for not allowing Rory to back out of the unfair arrangement gracefully.

She pulled on her coat, stuck her camera in her tote and headed for the exit, pausing to thank the flight steward and the pilots as she left.

When she started down the airstairs, Walker straightened from the SUV and strode toward her. "My favorite princess. Lookin' good." Those blue eyes with the manly crinkles at the corners swept over her red pea-coat, long sweater and thick winter leggings tucked into a nice, warm pair of Sorel boots. He reached for a hug.

"Hey." She went into his arms for maybe half a second before ducking free.

His eyes narrowed briefly at her sullen greeting, but then he only asked, "Good trip?"

"It was fine," she said without even trying to sound as though she meant it. He gave her another swift, questioning glance. She ignored it. "There will be customs," she said. "But it should be quick."

A half an hour later, her luggage had been checked and loaded into the back of the SUV. They set out for the small town of Justice Creek, where her Bravo cousins lived.

As they sped down the interstate, he tried to get her talking. He teased her about the number of suitcases she'd brought and then about how he planned to put her to work cooking and cleaning out at his ranch, the Bar-N. She returned brief responses and stared out her side window at the high, flat land rolling off toward the distant gray humps of the mountains.

Eventually he gave up, turned on the radio and hummed along in his slightly off-key baritone to country-western Christmas music.

Walker waited.

Her sulky act wouldn't last. Rory came at life full out, and nothing got her down for long.

He let her sit there and stew until they turned off the main highway onto the state road, heading northwest. When she still refused to snap out of it, he switched off the radio. "Come on. It's not all that bad."

She made a low, unhappy sound and slid him a grumpy glance. "Did you at least take the money she offered you?"

"I turned the money down."

A gasp of outrage. "Now, that's just wrong."

"She sent a big check anyway."

"Don't you dare send it back." Rory leveled a stern glance on him. "It's bad enough that you have to babysit me. No way are you doing it for free."

"I like babysitting you."

A scoffing noise escaped her. "The way you say that? Doesn't lift my spirits in the least. You know I hate it when you treat me like a baby."

"Whoa. Was I the one who called it babysitting?"

She let out a grouchy little grunting sound and stared straight ahead.

He kept after her. "What I mean is I like hanging with you." When she only gave him more of the silent treatment, he added, "And it doesn't seem right to take money just for keeping an eye on you."

"But I don't need anyone keeping an eye on me. And what if some camper gets lost in the mountains?" He headed up the Justice Creek search-and-rescue team. "Or if there's a forest fire?" He also volunteered with the fire department during emergencies. "What are you going to do then?"

He shrugged. "Camping's more of a summer activity. And forest fires are down in the winter, too. But if something happens, we'll work it out."

Next, she tried threats. "I mean it, Walker. You put that check she sent you in the bank or I may never speak to you again."

Two could play that game. "Keep acting like this and I won't care if you never speak to me again—and I have to ask. Is it my fault your mother insists that you have security?"

"No, and I didn't say it was."

"So why are you blaming me?"

"Walker, I'm not blaming you."

"Then cut this crap the hell out."

"Great." She threw up both hands. "Now you're acting like you think you're my big brother. The last thing I need is one of those. I already have four, thank you very much."

Enough. "Okay, Rory. I've about had it. Knock it off."

She pinched up her full mouth. "See? What did I tell you? 'Knock it off.'" She faked a deep voice. "Just like a know-itall, fatheaded, domineering big brother."

By then, she was really starting to get on his nerves.

"Fine. I give up. Sulk all the way to the Bar-N if that's your pleasure."

They subsided into mutually pissed-off silence. He didn't even bother to turn on the radio and pretend that her bad attitude didn't bug the hell out of him.

It took ten minutes of both of them staring out the windshield, acting as if the other wasn't there, before she couldn't take it anymore. She swiped off her red wool beanie and scraped her fingers back through her long brown hair. "I mean, the whole point of my coming alone was that I get to look out for myself. I'm an adult, but my mother won't stop thinking of me as the baby of the family. It's not right." She had the beanie in her lap and she was alternately twisting and smoothing it. "I really thought I was getting through to her, you know? She finally admitted that maybe, just possibly, my having a bodyguard everywhere I go outside Montedoro was overkill. Think about it. How many of us need that kind of security? It has to stop somewhere. I have eight siblings ahead of me in line for the throne, not to mention all my nieces and nephews, who are also ahead of me. I want to go where I need to go for my work." Rory was a talented photographer. "A normal life—it's all I'm asking for. I just don't need all that protecting. Not only is it unnecessary and a waste of money, it seriously cramps my style."

He suggested, "Look at it this way. It's a step. You are here without a bodyguard."

More scoffing sounds. "Because you 're my bodyguard."

"We'll be spending a lot of time together, anyway. Isn't that what the best man and the maid of honor usually do?"

She blew out a hard breath and slumped her shoulders. "You're not going to cheer me up, Walker. Stop trying."

"Have it your way."

She said nothing. For about five minutes.

Then she shook her head. "I don't know…"

So far, she'd jumped his ass every time he tried to cheer her up, so he considered not trying again. But then, why prolong a stupid fight any longer than necessary? "Okay. I'll bite. You don't know what?"

"About Ryan and Clara getting married. I can't believe it's actually happening—and out of the blue this way. It's weird, seriously weird." His younger brother and her favorite Bravo cousin had surprised everyone just two weeks before with the news that they would tie the knot on the Saturday before Christmas. "I keep wondering what's really going on with them, you know?"

So, then. It looked as if she'd finished with the sulking. About time. He hid his grin of satisfaction. And then he thought about Clara and Ryan and he was frowning, too. "Yeah. Rye's been pretty cagey about the whole thing." Walker's brother had been claiming he was in love with Clara since high school. And Rye had proposed more than once in the past nine or ten years. Clara kept turning him down, saying how she loved him and always would, but not in that way.

"What changed all of a sudden?" Rory asked, her mind evidently moving on the same track as his. "And do you really think Ryan's ready to settle down?" Rye always claimed he loved Clara, but he hadn't exactly waited around, pining for a chance with her. He liked women and they liked him. The girlfriends never lasted long—a month, maybe two, and Ryan's latest ladylove would move on. A few more weeks would go by and he would turn up with someone new on his arm.

Walker said, "I don't know what changed. And I'm with you. I hope he's ready."

"It's just…not like Clara to suddenly decide Ryan's the guy for her after all these years of saying he's not. On the phone, she told me she was wrong before, that she really loves him and she knows they'll be happy together."

"She told me the same thing. She said she finally got smart and decided to marry her best friend."

Rory scrunched up her nose. "Well, I can see that. I guess…" And then she shook her head again. "No. I don't get it. If I can find the right moment, I'm going to try to talk to her some more, try to find out if she's sure about this."

"Better talk fast. It's two weeks until the wedding."

She dropped her head back and stared at the head-liner. "Ugh. You're right. I don't want to make that kind of trouble. Ryan's always wanted to marry her, so no big surprise there. And Clara's no flake. She's strong and steady. If she's doing this, it must be what she wants."

They were climbing up into the mountains, the highway twisting through rocky moraine, pine-covered slopes rising to either side. Here and there, wide patches of snow from last week's storm caught the sunlight and sparkled like sequins on a pretty girl's white party dress.

"You want to stop at Clara's?" he asked as they began to descend into the Justice Creek Valley.

"It's after four." The sun had already slipped behind the mountains. "It'll be dark soon. Let's just go on to the ranch. I'll see her in the morning."

Rory admired the view as they approached the Bar-N. Nestled in its own beautiful, rolling valley with mountains all around, the Bar-N had been a working cattle ranch for five generations. The N stood for Noonan, which was Walker's mother's maiden name. The place had come down to Walker and Ryan from their mother, Darla, and their uncle, John Noonan. Four years ago, Ryan had sold his interest to Walker and moved into town.

Walker still kept a few horses, but the cattle were long gone. Nowadays, the Bar-N was a guest ranch. The homestead, in the center of the pretty little valley, contained a circle of well-maintained structures. Over the past couple of decades, Walker and his uncle before him had built five cozy cabins. There were also four full-size houses. The houses, constructed over the generations, had once served as homes for various members of the Noonan clan. Walker offered two of the houses, the cabins and the fully outfitted bunkhouse as vacation rentals.

Of weathered wood and natural stone, the main house had a wide front porch. Walker's German shorthaired pointer, Lonesome, and his black cat, Lucky Lady, were waiting for them when they arrived.

Rory laughed just at the sight of them. They were so cute, sitting patiently at the top of the steps, side by side. When Walker got out, the dog came running and the big black cat followed at a more sedate pace. He greeted them both with a gentle word and a quick touch of his hand. Then he started unloading her things.

Rory grabbed her tote and went to help, taking a suitcase in her free hand and following him into the house and up the stairs. He led her to a room in front. She hesitated on the threshold.

He set down the suitcases on the rag rug and turned to her. Rory met his eyes—and felt suddenly awkward and completely tongue-tied. Bizarre. She was never tongue-tied.

"There are hangers in the closet and I emptied out the bureau," he said. "I'll just get that last big bag for you." He eased around her and headed back toward the stairs again.

Once he was out of sight, Rory entered the room that would be hers for the next two weeks. It had a big window on the front-facing wall and a smaller one on the side wall. There was a nice, queen-size bed with a patchwork quilt, a heavy bureau of dark wood, a small closet and a bathroom.

The bathroom had two doors.

She opened the outer door and found herself staring across a short section of hallway into another bedroom, a small one with a bow window overlooking the backyard. Not Walker's room, she was reasonably sure.

Curiosity had its hooks in her. She zipped across the hall to have a quick look around that other room.

Definitely not Walker's. Walker liked things simple and spare—but this room was too spare, too tidy. Not a single item on the dresser or the nightstand that could be called personal.

She went back to the bathroom and stood frowning at her reflection in the mirror over the sink. Seven years of knowing Walker and this was the first time she'd been upstairs in his house. She wondered if this might be the only upstairs bath.

Would she and Walker be sharing? That could get awkward—well, for her, anyway. If Walker saw her naked, he'd probably just pat her on the head and tell her to get dressed before she caught a chill.

The front door opened downstairs. Rory shut the outer door, ducked back into her bedroom and got busy putting her things away.

Walker appeared in the doorway to the hall. "Alva left dinner, so that's handled." The Colgins, Alva and her husband, Bud, helped out around the ranch and lived in the house directly across the front yard from Walker's. He rolled in the last bag. "Where do you want this?"

"Just leave it—anywhere's fine." Was she blushing? Her face felt a little too warm. Would he guess that she'd been snooping?

If he guessed, he didn't call her on it. "Hungry?"

"Starved. I'll finish unpacking and be right down."

He left and Rory continued putting stuff in drawers—until she heard his boots moving across the floor below. Then she shut the door to the hallway and zipped back into the bathroom.

She opened the medicine cabinet and the cabinet under the sink. There were the usual towels and washcloths. Also, bandage strips and a tube of antibacterial ointment, a bottle of aspirin long past its use-by date and a half-empty box of tampons.

Tampons left there by a girlfriend?

Walker with a girlfriend.

He didn't have girlfriends. Or rather, if he did, Rory had never met any of them.

He did have an ex-wife, Denise. Denise LeClair was tall, blonde and smoking hot—and long gone from Justice Creek.

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A Bravo Christmas Wedding 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: A Bravo Christmas Wedding - The Bravo Royales Book 9 Author: Christine Rimmer Publisher: Harlequin Special Editions Published:4-18-2014 Pages: 220 Genre: Romance Sub-Genre: Holidays; Women;s fiction ISBN: 9780373658541 ASIN: B00L0X)638 Reviewed For NetGalley and Harlequin Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 Stars LOVE ON THE RANGE? Princess Aurora Bravo-Calabretti is wishing for a mountain man this Christmas! But her most unroyal crush-—rancher Walker McKellan insist that they remain "just friends." Now he's her round-the-clock bodyguard while she is the maid of honor at her cousin's holiday wedding. Rory can't resist this Colorado cowboy… but she wishes she was walking down the aisle to meet Walker at the altar! Both the best man to the groom and Rory's bodyguard, Walker can't shake his charge. As he begins to see Rory in a different light, a surprise snowstorm strands him with his princess… and sparks ignite into a holiday love affair! Can their Christmas passion blossom into a very Bravo happily-ever-after? First off this book is part of Christine Rimmer's Bravo Series, but can be read as a stand alone and enjoyed. Although you will soon be wanting the other books in the series as well. Once you open "A Bravo Christmas Wedding" do not expect to put it down before reading the final page. The characters are multidimensional and believable. The plot has been thought out and planned so that it flows smoothly. There are plenty of tense moments filled with romance and enough humor to keep it light. My rating of "A Bravo Christmas Wedding" is 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story, well written with an interesting theme. The author is new to me, but I plan to become better acquainted. LA-TXN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this series. Great book
DawnPovijua1978 More than 1 year ago
Christine Rimmer takes these great stories that make you feel like you're in the middle of them. She always makes believable characters that make you wish you were one of them. Take the hot sexy cowboy and the beautiful sophisticated princess and put them together and fireworks explode
Evarista More than 1 year ago
Christine Rimmer revisits her Bravo family series with A Bravo Christmas Wedding. Princess Aurora Bravo-Calabretti returns to Colorado and the Bar N ranch for her cousin's wedding only to find her mother has hired the love of her life, Walker McKellon as her body guard. The attraction between these two character is obvious and electric. Rimmer does a wonderful job establishing the tension and relationship between Rory and Walker. We are immediately pulling for them and want this to be their best, most romantic Christmas ever.<br /> Rimmer creates a wonderful, sweet Christmas story that makes you long for a Christmas romance of your own. Walker is a wonderful, masculine cowboy and Rory is the princess we all long to be. The princess theme works surprisingly well in this modern tale. Rimmer is brilliant at establishing Rory's character as a truly modern princess. We know exactly what Rory sees in Walker and what Walker admires about Rory. <br /> The relationships and characters of the Franklin Bravo children is another aspect of the novel I truly enjoyed. These character were riveting and entertaining and make you long for their tales to come. I think this is always a clever and entertaining way for an author to capture your interest in future novels. I can't wait to read Clara's story; although, I am a bit disappointed that Ryan does not appear to be in her future.<br /> A Bravo Family Christmas is a warm, funny, sexy Christmas story that I know you will enjoy. I highly recommend it and can't wait for Christine Rimmer's next novel.
lisa163g More than 1 year ago
I received this book for an honest review. Rory is a princess visiting her cousin in Colorado to be maid of honor. Walker is a rugged cowboy who took the task of being Rory's bodyguard and is also one of her dear friends. The story of Rory and Walker is amazing. they endure so much to find love. This is one book that you will really enjoy reading and then it has a Christmas setting that just makes it perfect.
hnestorick More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book for a review and I will be very honest....Christine Rimmer is a favorite of mine. I have been reading her work since 1997. I have NEVER missed a title and I was excited to read this. I loved the characters and dialog but the plot moved a little slow for me. The sex was FUN and overall I really enjoyed this story.
janesquires More than 1 year ago
A story of Christmas, wedding plans, and staying in Colorado at a Ranch. Aurora had a crush on Walker for 7 years and never figured he would even notice her. Her Mom hired him to be her bodyguard. Which didn't work well. Horse trail rides in early morning hours, and time with cousins. Tree Trimming Party event - first one held at Walker's Ranch. It would not be last. Aurora is a princess as all Aurora's should be. I know as I have a three year old one. Aurora comes from a large family and she is the baby. Her Mother is very protective. Walker, on the other hand, had his Dad walk out on his Mom leaving her with two boys to raise. She never quit loving his Dad and hoping he would return so Walker did not know how to deal with trust issues in a marriage. A surprise snowstorm, stranded in a cabin for a few days and Aurora with a big bruise on her forehead day of wedding. All make for an interesting read. I highly recommend it.
judyrudy More than 1 year ago
A Bravo Christmas Wedding is a part of The Bravo Royales series written by Christine Rimmer for the Harlequin Special Edition line. It is a friends to lovers themed romance. Ms. Rimmer delivers another fantastic addition to the series. Princess Aurora Bravo Calabretti (Rory) of Montedoro is visiting Justice Creek Colorado. She&rsquo;s there to participate in her cousin Clara&rsquo;s wedding. Walker McKellan is the owner of the Bar-N and brother to Clara&rsquo;s intended. Rory&rsquo;s mother hired Walker to be her bodyguard while she&rsquo;s visiting. They&rsquo;ve known one another for seven years and Rory has had feelings for him since the outset of their friendship. Walker&rsquo;s been hurt by his ex-wife and has a difficult time admitting to his feelings. Neither wants to lose their friendship. Rory recognizes Walker&rsquo;s feelings for her and decides to walk away from him. He fears he&rsquo;s too late but anything can happen at a bachelor-bachelorette party. And what about that wedding? Surprises do happen in this magical holiday read. I enjoyed it from page one and couldn&rsquo;t put it down. I highly recommend A Bravo Christmas Wedding along with the other books in the Bravo Royales series. I&rsquo;d like to disclose that I received a copy of A Bravo Christmas Wedding is exchange for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another winner for Christine Rimmer!  Rory and Walker are the best kind of friends to lovers story. Rory has loved Walker for years, but has always felt that &quot;he just wasn't that into her&quot;, so she made one awkward attempt to catch his attention and then settles back to just be friends. Walker was VERY tempted, but was held back from making a move with old baggage sitting in the way!  When reconnecting for her cousin and his brother's upcoming wedding there is an opportunity for the spark to lead to fire!  Parts of the book were literally laugh out loud funny!  Many Bravos for Ms. Rimmer's Bravo novels! 
tjlittles More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful book by Christine Rimmer.  The relationship between Rory and Walker shows the fear and wonderfulness involved when feelings with a friend change into something more.  The first thing I thought when I finished this book was how soon can I read it again.  A must read
Dee_T More than 1 year ago
Take a rugged cowboy who is friends with a princess and add a majorly dysfunctional extended family and create tons of havoc and you have A Bravo Christmas Wedding :) The best part of this book is that Christine is able to wrap it up with a nice tight bow at the end while leaving you with anticipation for the next in the series!! This is one of the MANY reasons I will continue to buy AND keep her books on the shelves n my home! &lt;3 Very good book!! I can totally relate  to Walker in this book!! I was not at all in the Christmas spirit until Rory started decorating his place and having parties!! I love Christine Rimmer's ability to create a world that I can escape to and come back to reality and feel good!! &lt;3 FOREVER FAN!!
DyanC More than 1 year ago
To me a great book is one that paints a picture with words.  In this  new Bravo story, I can see easily picture the characters and places Rimmer writes about.  I would love to grab a book at the Library Cafe or take a ride with Walker and Rory!  What a great addition to the Bravo Royales series!
connsl More than 1 year ago
Another great love story from Christine Rimmer, who never fails to deliver a story with well rounded characters! This time it is Walker and Rory's story. These characters come to life within the first few pages. So if you like stories about friends who fall in love then look no further!!
csell1 More than 1 year ago
A Bravo Christmas Wedding by Christine Rimmer is an award winning romance book, about two people a Princess and a Rancher who falls in love, Rory and Walker been best friends for about 8 years her cousin from Justice Creek Clara was getting married to Ryan Walker brother who is his best man, mother playing matchmaker again decided to hire him as her bodyguard, Rory fines out and gets her mother to fire him. romance blossoms between them she turns is life upside down makes his house into a home decorate for Christmas. read the book to find out what happens at the alter and why I love how she handle the situation between Clara and Ryan she wanted a friend and not a husband.