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As far as Kelsey Wilcox is concerned, her last cowboy was the last cowboy.
Kelsey Wilcox has had enough of cowboys. After the last one broke her heart, Kelsey traded in her boots for flip-flops, and the open range for a bistro on the beach. Her life on Corpus Christi’s gorgeous beach might be a little lonely, but at least it’s heartbreak-free. At least until her cousin’s beachside wedding bucks Kelsey right back into the rodeo.
When unlucky-in-love Brent Corbin packed his groomsman’s tux for his friend’s wedding, he brought his boots and belt buckle with him. Brent isn’t exactly looking for love, but when he sees what appears to be a mermaid in distress, he jumps right in to rescue her.
So Kelsey finds herself plucked from the sea—and certain-drowning—by a gorgeous groomsman . . . in soaked cowboy boots. She’s quick to say thanks, but no thanks.
Brent dedicates the weekend to pursuing Kelsey—and Kelsey spends the weekend trying to deny an obvious match. She’s as stubborn as a wild horse, but Brent’s determination may tame her yet.
About the Author
Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist who was first published in 2005 and has more than 22 novels to her credit. Along with her writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra is the author of the acclaimed Mule Hollow Matchmaker Series, the place readers tell her they wish was real. Her goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words. Visit her online at www.debraclopton.com, Facebook: debra.clopton, Twitter: @debraclopton.
Read an Excerpt
An August Bride
A Year of Weddings Novella
By Debra Clopton
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Debra Clopton
All rights reserved.
Kelsey Wilcox hated weddings.
But she loved her cousin. Loved her enough to endure a weekend of wedding torture.
Leave it to Tiff, though, to drag out the agony, opting for two days of wedding "fun," starting with this fancy rehearsal party, complete with music and dancing. And romance.
Fun—like a toothache.
Kelsey tugged at her gold sequined dress and struggled to readjust her attitude—the floor-length dress wasn't helping. She'd found it on the seventy-five-percent-off rack, refusing to pay more for something she'd never wear again. The thing itched, weighed a good ten to fifteen pounds, and was totally not Kelsey.
But Tiff had loved it.
So, here Kelsey stood, feeling like a total fake.
Come on, Kels, attitude adjustment, remember.
Right. Kelsey fixed her gaze on the vivid orange sun beginning to lower over the sparkling blue Corpus Christi Bay. She loved balmy August evenings.
Loved walking barefoot across the beach, the touch of the fading sun on her skin and the soothing sensation of warm sugar sand sifting through her toes. She drew on that now—needing every ounce of calm she could find before heading into the wedding party.
Good girl—calm, relaxed. Better, much better.
Her fingers tightened around the strappy heels dangling from her fingertips. "You can do this, Kels. For Tiff," she said aloud to the seagulls playing on the breeze without a care in the world.
Determined, she hoisted the tail of her dress out of the sand, forced down the lingering jitters, and struggled to let the perfection of the setting sun settle more securely around her. This incredible beach had always been her haven. Her place of refuge. Tiff had understood this. She shared Kelsey's love of the beach just as much. Her hope had been that this destination wedding, here where Kelsey had started her new life a couple of years ago, would help Kelsey. Even on Tiff's special weekend, she'd been thinking of Kelsey's feelings ...
It was all the more reason for Kelsey to force a smile and be supportive. And she really was happy for her cousin. Steven Lucas was a great guy. Unlike—
Nope, you are not going there.
Only fifty yards or so down the beach that stretched out between her bungalow and the hotel, she paused and studied the very new addition to the Corpus Christi skyline. Like the boardwalk that housed her bistro and several gift shops, the Castle Hotel was only a few years old. It had been created to be a destination-wedding showplace. With its white gleaming walls and endless glass windows and stairways that flowed down to the sand, the Castle Hotel had succeeded. It was almost impossible to see where the white stairs ended and the white sand began. Looking at it, Kelsey half expected to see Cinderella and her prince embracing on the landing.
She thought of Tiff and her prince, and knew she could get through this. Inhaling one last calming breath, she headed across the sand toward the stairs.
Kelsey swung her gaze away from the hotel and a little farther down the beach. Instantly, her insides tensed.
The "'posse" had arrived.
Yup, there they were—her redheaded aunt Esther Mae Wilcox and her two best pals, Norma Sue Jenkins and Adela Ledbetter Green. All three ladies waved wildly at her from the ocean's edge. Their excitement made her smile, despite her misgivings. Millie, one of her aunt's tiny black Yorkiepoos, dashed back and forth beside the sparkling waves, a blur as she chased the taunting seagulls, her shrill bark carrying on the breeze. The pup's sheer joy made Kelsey chuckle. She waved the hand holding her shoes, keeping a firm grip on the long, heavy skirt of her dress.
"Kelsey!" Aunt E exclaimed again. Hustling forward, caftan flowing, she engulfed Kelsey in her yellow, floral-printed chiffon arms. "Aren't you just a sight for sore eyes?"
"It's good to see you too." A lump lodged in Kelsey's throat, and she hugged as good as she got. Though her aunt and her pals added to her trepidation because of their meddlesome matchmaking ways, her spirits lifted.
Everyone talked at once, getting their greetings and their hugging out of the way. Millie raced between her feet, and Kelsey picked up the curly-haired mass of wriggling pooch, giving her a hug. The pup licked Kelsey's jaw, then strained to run free, the cawing birds just too tempting.
Aunt E's scarlet hair whipped about her face like flames in the wind as she studied Kelsey from head to toe. "My, don't you look radiant tonight! Norma Sue, Adela, isn't my niece the most beautiful sight in gold?"
"Lovely, Kelsey. Just lovely." Admiration warmed Adela's blue eyes, making them even more vivid than usual in contrast with her soft cap of snow-white hair.
"Yup." A ranch woman with a large personality and a smile as wide as her ample hips, Norma Sue had shed her Stetson for the occasion, and her short, steel wool-curls ruffled freely in the breeze. "Honey, you're gonna blow the socks off of every single male at this shindig tonight."
And there it was. Two minutes in and they'd already started matchmaking. No wonder these three innocent-looking ladies were known far and wide as the Matchmakin' Posse of Mule Hollow, their tiny Texas hometown.
"Now, y'all, I'm telling you right up front," Kelsey said. "I'm not looking for love or even a relationship, and y'all aren't pushing me into anything either."
Aunt E harrumphed. "That low-down, lying Lance Carson did you a favor walking out of that church. If you'd married that scoundrel, look what you'd have been tied to for the rest of your life."
"That's right, young lady," Norma Sue huffed. "You were raised on a ranch. You know you've got to get back in the saddle after you're bucked off. It's been two years. That's more'n time to saddle up."
Her mouth dried up. True, Kelsey's life on her family ranch on the outskirts of Boerne, Texas, had taught her that, but she didn't want to get back on the horse, and that was the difference. And she had good reason. She looked to Adela for help.
"I agree, dear. You don't want to let what he did define your life. You have to move forward."
Her heart fought the steel band tightening around it. "I agree. Lance did me a favor, really. If we had married, I never would have found my calling here in Corpus Christi. I love my life." It was true. She'd traded in her boots for flip-flops and a bistro by the beach two years ago. She was doing fine. Fine. Enjoying herself and running a business that allowed her a laid-back way of life with good friends and lots of happy customers.
Of course, after what Lance had done, she'd been hurt, embarrassed, and madder than—well, let's just say she'd been one hot Texas cowgirl. But that was then. She was no longer a cowgirl. She was a surfer girl—okay, so she didn't surf, but she did have an array of flip-flops fit for every occasion. She made the best coffee in the city, the best pastries and sandwiches too. And her soups were to die for—customers' words, not her own—but exactly what she was aiming for with everything she created. Making her customers happy made her happy.
Her life was fantastic.
It was. Sure, she'd love to drum up a little more business, maybe get some catering jobs so her employees could pull in some extra income for themselves, but that would come. It would.
Looking at the three expectant faces of the matchmakers, her pulse stuttered and her stomach knotted. They were going to be on her like syrup on a hot pancake tonight. To them, a single woman needed a man. End of story.
Kelsey was having none of it, though. And she was about to say so when Millie zipped past them heading toward the water and dove for a low flying sea gull. Was she a pup or a bird?
Millie landed on the receding wave, her fur splayed out like a mop as she floated. Yipping and barking, she began paddling wildly, but instead of returning with the waves, she was pulled farther out. She had to have traveled more than twenty feet in the time Kelsey had watched.
"My baby!" Aunt E exclaimed, running for the water with Norma Sue and Adela on her heels.
Millie was about to be lost at sea.
Kelsey dropped her shoes, hiked up the narrow skirt of her sequined dress, and took off running. "I'll get her, Aunt E," she shouted. She plunged into the water, maneuvering a shallow dive in the direction of the black mass of yelping fur.
She came up where the puppy had been, only to find Millie had been swept farther away, still treading and yelping frantically. As Kelsey pushed forward, the heavy sequined dress caught water like a sponge. She floundered, scrambled, and fought to no avail—the dress tangled around her legs and dragged her beneath the waves.
She clawed for the surface and gasped for air, only to be sucked under once more. Thrashing and twisting, she fought her way back up and kicked her gold-encased legs up and out of the water, but the dress clung to them.
Her lungs burned. Flipping and flopping, she tried to reach around for the zipper but couldn't—the ridiculous fabric weighed her legs down like actual gold. She managed to reach the surface and gasp for air before the ocean claimed her again.
This, she thought, was not how she'd envisioned herself going out.
And what about the poor puppy?
* * *
Brent Corbin yanked at the collar of his starched white dress shirt and strode out of the Castle and onto the hotel's back patio. Heading toward the outer corner, he breathed in the scent of ocean air. Soon he'd have to go back inside to join the wedding celebration. But not for a few moments yet.
Brent was happy for his college rodeo pal Steven, and a little envious that Steven had found what he hadn't been able to find himself. Love seemed elusive for Brent.
He'd just reached the railing when screams erupted down by the beach. Three older women in bright colors were waving and jumping and getting all kinds of crazy in the sand. What could they be so excited about? Brent looked out over the water for signs of trouble. The evening sun glinted off the blue water, flaring suddenly off of what appeared to be the golden tail of a—of a mermaid.
The tail flipped and rolled, and suddenly the body of the mermaid appeared, arms flailing, before she sank back beneath the water. An instant later she burst again from the waves, her form glowing gold in the sunlight, long blond hair flowing over her like flaxen seaweed ... and then she was gone.
The mermaid was in trouble.
Brent vaulted over the hotel rail, landing boots first in the sand, and plowed forward, fighting the sand as it sank beneath each step. He kept his eyes on the spot the mermaid had disappeared, yanking off his jacket as he ran. He dropped it to the wet sand, passed the three hysterical women standing ankle-deep in the waves, and kept on going. He plunged into the surf just as he saw the blonde emerge yards away. Her eyes were wide with terror that pierced his heart and drove him forward.
Swimming hard, Brent made it to her before she sank again. He reached for her and grasped a flailing arm. She latched onto him, throwing her free arm around his neck, and nearly took him under too, trying to scramble on top of him. Her thick blond mass of hair covered his face and filled his hands as he struggled to gain control of the situation.
"Whoa, darlin'. It's all right," he soothed, holding her at bay while some of her desperation eased. "You have to give me room or we'll both drown. I gotcha."
"M-my dress, it's too heavy! I can't move." Huge eyes, blue as the water, locked on him. His heart skipped a beat as a wave crashed over them.
"Millie," she gasped, and he realized only then the puppy that was floating beside them, looking almost finished.
Snapping to, he dragged the mermaid close, fully aware that every nerve ending in his body hummed with new energy when she clung to him. Twisting to his back, he scooped up the bobbing puppy, then, holding tight to both, he kicked hard toward shore doing a one-armed backstroke.
When his boots touched ground in shallow water, he'd never been so happy. Standing, he folded his arms beneath his mermaid's knees and carried her and her puppy out of the water.
"Kelsey, honey, I thought we'd lost you," the redhead exclaimed as he trudged to the shallow surf. She reached out a hand. "Here, let me get Millie, you sweet, amazing man, you."
The pooch leaped from him to the redhead, wiggling and whining with happiness.
The mermaid's arms wound tighter around his neck as her heart thundered against his. He tightened his hold in response, not at all ready to give her up.
The other two women were talking too, but he didn't hear what they were saying. He was too focused on the treasure he'd plucked from the sea.
The glitzy gold number weighed the mermaid down in his arms and fabric dangled well past her feet. It was no wonder she'd almost drowned.
"I don't think this thing was meant to be a swimsuit," he drawled, hoping to calm the erratic beating of her heart. "You're trembling."
"You saved me," she said between gulps of air.
She was staring at him as if he could jump tall buildings in a single bound. With her looking at him like that, he thought he probably could. "Well, yes, ma'am, that's what we Texans do when we see damsels in distress."
She smiled at that and her hand on his shoulder squeezed. "Thank you. You can put me down now."
"Whoa, not so fast. I've got you, so stay put as long as you need to."
"You are one strong swimmer," the robust woman with bushy gray hair declared. Planting her hands on her floral-print hips, she grinned at him. "I don't think my horse could have moved as fast as you did getting out there to these two. We can't thank you enough. I'm Norma Sue."
"And I'm Adela. You were a true blessing to us today," said the third woman, a delicate wisp of a woman with wise blue eyes that shone against her short, snowy white hair. "The Lord sent you along at the perfect moment."
"Yes, he did," the redhead gushed. "I'm Esther Mae, and this is my niece, Kelsey Wilcox. She would have drowned if not for you. And she was looking so stunning in that gold evening dress too. You should have seen her racing out there to save my Millie."
"I'm fine now. Got my breath back," the mermaid insisted, her voice watery but stronger. "You really can put me down now. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" he asked. She looked pale, and the silky skin of her arms still felt cold. "That was quite a scare you just had."
Esther Mae scooted close. "Yes, it was, Kelsey. Why, he might need to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on you." "Hush, Esther Mae Wilcox," Norma Sue snapped, booting her out of the way with a well-aimed hip. "You only do that with victims who aren't responding."
Brent laughed and so did Kelsey, although with a tremor. His arms tightened about her before he finally complied and set her on her feet. "There you go. Easy does it," he urged when she wobbled. He kept his hands on her, steadying her.
A brief, uncertain smile fluttered over her lips, and he felt it wing its way through him like a butterfly caught on the breeze. She was captivating—no matter that her hair clung to her in dripping sheets. Her blue gaze called to every protective instinct he had.
"Thank you." Her soft words pulled him from thoughts of kisses in the moonlight.
"That was ... scary." She looked down at her ruined gown, tugging at the shimmery cloth. "No, on second thought, this is scary." The dress stretched out like a sweater on her slim figure and puddled in the sand. She half gasped, half laughed, then her head shot up, alarm on her face. "My cousin's wedding rehearsal party. Aunt E, I'm going to be late. I have to go change. Can you explain things to Tiffany before I get there? But don't alarm her," she warned.
Esther Mae's mouth dropped open. "I wouldn't dare," she said.
Her last name finally clicked with him and Brent's pulse kicked into high gear. "Your cousin is Tiffany? Steven's Tiffany?"
Esther Mae brightened—if that was possible. "Yes, do you know my other niece, Tiffany, and her fiancé, Steven? Are you here for the wedding?"
This day couldn't get any better. Brent went to tip his hat, then realized it was floating out to sea. "We rodeoed together in college. I'm one of his groomsmen, Brent Corbin. I missed rehearsal earlier."
Excerpted from An August Bride by Debra Clopton. Copyright © 2014 Debra Clopton. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Quick easy read and nice addition to the Year of Weddings stories. My complaint is that I'm finding myself annoyed at meddling characters that always seem to know best and the MC's that don't fight back. Personal issue though ;)
I loved this story. From the very first page, to the very end, I absolutely devoured it. Kelsey Wilcox is a fantastic woman. Her faith and ideals are strong, she is stubborn, and has a strength I envy. Brent Corbin is just what I would hope for in a cowboy: strong, stubborn, handsome, and relentless in his pursuit of Kelsey. The matchmaker trio provided the perfect amount of fun. The sparring between the characters was it's own thing. I really, really enjoyed this story. It might be one of my favorites in the series.
Book Summary: Kelsey Wilcox has had enough of cowboys. After the last one broke her heart, Kelsey traded in her boots for flip-flops, and the open range for a bistro on the beach. Her life on Corpus Christi’s gorgeous beach might be a little lonely, but at least it’s heartbreak-free. At least until her cousin’s beachside wedding bucks Kelsey right back into the rodeo. When unlucky-in-love Brent Corbin packed his groomsman’s tux for his friend’s wedding, he brought his boots and belt buckle with him. Brent isn’t exactly looking for love, but when he sees what appears to be a mermaid in distress, he jumps right in to rescue her. So Kelsey finds herself plucked from the sea—and certain-drowning—by a gorgeous groomsman . . . in soaked cowboy boots. She’s quick to say thanks, but no thanks. Brent dedicates the weekend to pursuing Kelsey—and Kelsey spends the weekend trying to deny an obvious match. She’s as stubborn as a wild horse, but Brent’s determination may tame her yet. Review: I found the story to be readable although I had trouble getting into the storyline. It was slow going for me at the start If Kelsey was that distrustful of cowboys than she would have needed a lot more time to before she gave Brent a chance. I liked Kelsey but never really connected with the story. It was an interesting idea to match a now city girl with a cowboy, the very type of man that Kelsey dislikes. The secondary characters were the best part of the story Aunt Mae and her friends. They were a hoot! I liked the book better as it progressed. Kelsey started to unbend and her dislike of cowboys decreased. Really like this novella format. I would like to thank Net Galley and Zondervan Fiction for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
Clopton is one of my favorite authors. And her MuleHollow series is one of my favorite sets of books. I have to read the entire series at least once a year. And I was so sad when the author left MuleHollow behind (although I really enjoyed her Sunshine or Sunrise--I always forget the exact name--Ranch books). Anyway, bringing the Mule Hollow Posse into this different (but interesting) setting was so great! I missed those ladies. And this story was so good. I really enjoyed it and I think that any fan of Clopton's will enjoy this book as well.
Kelsey Wilcox has five rules for dating: No Cowboys No Cowboys No Cowboys No Cowboys NO COWBOYS! So when an amazing cowboy rescues her from drowning she tries to run. But, hopefully, with the help of the Matchmaking Posse of Mule Hollow, this cowboy cam teach Miss Kelsey that not all cowboys are the same. Hott Review: I really enjoyed An August Bride. I think this is my favorite book in the series so far (I’ve probably said that several times though). This was a light, fun, and summery romance that just made me long for the shores of Corpus Cristi, Tx. While I enjoyed Kelsey and her cowboy, I absolutely LOVED the Matchmaking Posse of Mule Hollow and am going to need to read more of Debra Clopton’s books to get to know them better! More… Author: Debra Clopton Source: Zondervan via Netgalley Grade: A Ages: 16+ Steam: Nada Setting: Corpus Christi, Texas Series: A Year of Weddings, 9
This book stands out to me out of the whole series so far because it has to do with never judging a book by its cover. That is most definitely the case with Kelsey in this book; after being burned by one cowboy she has treated all of them with disgust without giving them the time of day. I did really like that Brent wasn’t willing to give up though; he showed that he was worth her taking the risk. He has some great determination for sure. I do think that he was a good fit for Kelsey because as much as she pushed, he pushed back just as much. I thought the storyline was one that was very interesting and kept my attention quite well. I do have to say though that my favorite characters were the posse, and I really hope to read more about them in the future! I would really recommend this series to anyone who loves the old fashion romance’s that are not as big and popular right now in the reading world. Reviewed by Crystal Marie for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy provided for review*
This was a fun novella with plenty of humor, angst, and romance. It was entertaining to see the matchmakers of Mule Hollow on vacation and still going at it! Brent and Kelsey have great chemistry and even though she fights falling for a cowboy the inevitable happy ending occurs with lots of fun and drama along the way. (Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
An August Bride is part of the year of Weddings Novellas. Admittedly I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Kelsey in the first couple pages. She seemed very selfish. I was very glad I stuck with the book. I loved it when Brent pulled her out of the water thinking she looked like a mermaid. The descriptions were so vivid I could see her in the gold dress looking like a mermaid. The three older ladies were hilarious and made the story. Brent was adorable and worth sticking with the book. You can see my full review at More Than a Review dot com where I rate the level of sex, violence, language and drug/alcohol use in books.
I really liked this book! Debra did a good job writing a story with the right amount of angst and feelings for each other. She has created some wonderful people. I felt for Kelsey for going to a wedding after having been left at her wedding. Her Aunt and friends try to fix her up. Brant is lonely but not into dating again. They meet in the ocean. Kelsey is done with cowboys and owns a café in town. Brant is a cowboy. It was fun watching them square off at each other. I would recommend this to everyone with a liking for romance. This is a quick read. Give it a try! I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
When you've been burned by someone you tend to stay away from that type of person. In Kelsey's case it is cowboys. She doesn't want anything at all to do with them. She's made a vow to herself that she will never ever fall for a cowboy. But then along comes Brent Corbin. He's everything she wants in a man, but he's a cowboy and that is a definite NO! Brent is determined to wear Kelsey down. He's had hurts of his own, but just being in the presence of Kelsey is a salve to those old wounds. If he can just get her to let her guard down long enough to prove to her that he can be trusted. Who doesn't love a little romance of the cowboy variety?!! An August Bride is so much deliciousness (pun intended) all wrapped up in this little novella. Just getting to read about Esther Mae, Norma Sue, and Adela also known as the notorious Matchmakin' Posse of Mule Hollow is a treat in and of itself. Everyone needs an aunt like Ester Mae . . . scheming but utterly lovable. Did I also mention that the story is set in Corpus Christi? So not only does it include handsome cowboys but a beach is involved. That's an absolute win-win in my book. This was a great addition to the Year of Weddings series. If you like a little romance mixed with humor you're going to enjoy this one. It is a quick read so grab your glass of iced tea and find a comfy spot then just relax and enjoy! I received a copy of this ebook to facilitate my review.
This is the second book I've read by Debra Clopton, and this is the second one I've thoroughly enjoyed! An August Bride was equal parts funny, romantic, and tender. Kelsey is an endearing character, and Brent is certainly a heart-throb. Kelsey's aunt and her friends really contributed to the overall feeling of the book and nearly stole the show. After reading such a strong story (and a novella, no less!) from Clopton, I'm anxious to go back and read the rest of her "Mule Hollow" stories. I definitely recommend An August Bride to anyone looking for a sweet romantic comedy! [4 stars] I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.
An August Bride by Debra Clopton Published by Zondervan An August Bride is a novella filled with ups and downs of how our hurts can turn us into someone God doesn’t want us to be. The sweet unfolding of what we dont want, only to find what God wants for our lives. An August Bride is a sweet, light romantic novella with a hint of realism. I loved how the main female character, really wrestled with her self on the subjest at hand. It made the connection between me and a fictional-story writer seem as if we were on the same page. Character development was a breeze. Though the plot that should have backed the main female character should have been more in tow, though it was a good balance of the time-line. This particular novella was heavely built on scene; if any of you have been in Texas long enough, you’ll know what I mean. The descriptions were great. I was entertained and even caught myself in a few laughs and quips. The overall message was inspiring: Never let one bad event spoil your life or change your opinon on anything, you might miss out on all God has to offer. I highly recommed this novella. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” B’Sweet~Stay Sweet Annie ¿