In Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher by Mandy Baxter, there's nothing Nate Christensen hates more than a golddigger. Nate wants to stay away from all the women who want his money. That is, until he meets the sexy, beautiful Chloe Benson, who lights a fire in his blood that only the most passionate nights can ease...
Chloe cannot get enough of Nate-she's never felt more wild with desire in her life. The only problem is, she needs Nate's money. True, it's for a very worthy charity...but is their passion enough to still Nate's fears that she's only wants him for how big his bank account is?
"Spirited, refreshing, and brimming with holiday joy." - Library Journal
About the Author
Mandy Baxter lives in rural Idaho. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock. She is the author of The Billionaire's Club: Texas series from St. Martin's Press.
Read an Excerpt
Christmas With the Billionaire Rancher
Billionaires Club: Texas Heartthrobs
By Mandy Baxter
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Mandy Baxter
All rights reserved.
"I'm so sorry for your loss, Nate. Your father was truly an extraordinary man."
Nate Christensen stared blankly at the shriveled-up raisin of a woman who'd offered her condolences and then down at her hand clutched tightly over his. Huh. He hadn't even noticed her reach out. "Thanks." What else could he say? That his father had been extraordinarily good at chasing tail for a man his age? That to his sons, he'd been about as extraordinary as vanilla ice cream? Byron Christensen had cared for little else than his money. That and a string of ex-wives that would make Hugh Hefner jealous.
He was sure the pruney old gal meant well but the fact was, Nate and his father hadn't been close in a long time. He'd barely said five words to the man since the day he'd left for boot camp seven years ago. And now he was dead. Looked like they weren't going to have any sort of heartfelt reconciliation now. Not that he'd wanted one.
The parade of mourners and well-wishers carried on. The ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas was decorated for the season: bright twinkling lights, garlands, and ornate Christmas trees scattered throughout. You'd think tonight's dog-and-pony show was some sort of holiday gala, not the somber "celebration of life" it had been touted as. Nate gave the same mechanical canned response to each person who offered their condolences. In the corner of the ballroom, wife number five dabbed at her eyes with a Kleenex. He had to give it to Miranda, her acting skills had gotten better since he saw her last. Trolling for sympathy with her red, swollen eyes and downturned mouth, the only people who paid her any mind were the crowd of old hens near the buffet table who gossiped with glee about Byron's child-bride widow and the fact that she wasn't going to see a red cent of his billions.
"How you holding up?" Nate's younger brother Travis held a plate piled with gourmet buffet food in one hand. He stood six inches taller than Nate and his hours spent conditioning showed in his bulk. He was one of the largest goalkeepers in the NHL, as quick on his feet as he was tough. One of the rock stars of pro hockey, he looked the part with his shaggy hair and edgy designer clothes. He had a reputation for being an irresponsible party boy and notorious player, and while some of it was true, Travis could be counted on when it mattered.
Nate was sick of everyone walking on eggshells around him. As though his mental state simply couldn't handle the blow of losing their dad. "I'm fine." It's not like his dad had been blown to shreds by a mortar shell or some shit. The man died of a heart attack. And everyone knew that he'd been exerting himself over Miranda when the big one hit. "I just want this extravaganza to be over so I can get the hell out of here."
Travis snorted. "This is only the beginning."
Wasn't that the fucking truth? Nate and his three brothers were set to inherit Byron's kingdom. The oil magnate was worth billions. And as the oldest brother, Nate was in charge of the estate. "I don't want a dime of it." He brought the bottle of beer to his lips and drank deeply. "You can have my share."
"I don't want your share." Travis had more than enough of his own money. As the starting goalkeeper for the Dallas Stars, he was set. So was Travis's twin, Carter. Though they were identical in height and bulk, Carter was the epitome of the clean-cut, all- American athlete with his conservative dress and short-clipped hair. He'd just been traded to the Cowboys for a fat paycheck after they'd lost their star QB to the Seahawks when he went free agent.
"Fine, I'll give it to Noah." No doubt he'd be appreciative of a fatter inheritance check to supplement his salary as a county sheriff.
"What makes you think I want it?" Noah stepped up to him, arm outstretched, and handed over a fresh bottle of IPA. "Here. You look like you could use it."
No one could deny the Christensen brothers' parentage. They were all basically carbon copies of their dad. And while Noah was closer to Nate's height and not quite as bulky, they all shared the same towering frames and dark brown hair. Their hazel eyes were the only trait they'd inherited from their mother and Nate often wished that when he looked in the mirror, he didn't see so much of his dad staring back at him.
As a self-made man, Byron Christensen had adhered to the belief that it would build character in his sons to give them absolutely nothing. No financial support, no leg up with his extensive connections ... And he hadn't stopped there. He'd been less generous with his affection. After their mom's death when they were only kids, they'd basically fended for themselves. And now that the old man was dead, he was giving them his fortune. They'd gone without it for so long, none of them was interested in it now.
Maybe they'd all built a little character after all.
"I'd bet his only concern was making sure she didn't get it." Travis jutted his chin to where Miranda sat.
"I'm sure she expects everyone to feel sorry for her," Noah said. "As though she deserves something for putting up with him. And — OMG — she still married him after he made her sign a prenup!"
Nate snorted at Noah's mocking tone. His dad had had the nerve to actually invite him to the wedding, as if Nate hadn't packed up his shit and run from that fucking bullshit as fast as his legs could carry him. In fact, he couldn't get far enough away from his dad and had already been on his way to basic when the invitations went out. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan ... Nate had traveled halfway around the goddamned world and it still hadn't been enough to wipe the memories of his father's betrayals from his mind.
He shook himself from unpleasant memories. "What was that?" Carter had said something to him, but he wasn't tracking.
"I said, the girls are getting antsy and I should probably take them home."
"Oh, yeah. Sure. You don't need to stick around. Get out of here."
Carter's wife, Stephanie, had died of cancer last year. It tore Nate up to think of his brother trying to get over losing the love of his life — they'd been high school sweethearts — while juggling football and five-year old twins. That was a tragedy. The people at his father's tribute acted as though Byron kicking the bucket was some unthinkable, sudden catastrophe. Sixty-eight years old with a bad heart, an affinity for scotch and cigars, and a twenty-eight-year-old wife. Hell, it was a wonder he'd lasted this long.
"If you need anything, let me know."
Nate should have been the one offering Carter help, not the other way around. Awesome. He was the family fuck-up. The emotionally unstable war vet who hid out at his ranch so he wouldn't have to deal with real life. "I've got it under control," Nate said. He could assemble an AR-15 in less than ten minutes. Running an oil empire couldn't be much harder.
"All right. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Sounds good." Nate watched as Carter headed toward the buffet tables where his daughters, Jenny and Jane, were running in a circle with a few other kids.
"Gird your loins, brothers," Travis said out of the corner of his mouth. "The grieving widow is headed this way."
Great. If Nate's brothers didn't want his share of his dad's fortune, he bet he could convince Miranda to take it off his hands.
"Don't even think about it." Noah pinned Nate with an accusing stare.
"What? You don't want it. Carter and Travis don't want it. Why not give it to her? I'd say she earned it."
"She deserves shit," Noah said. "Besides, she's getting the house. And the cars."
"Maybe she needs some cash, too."
"Not a chance. She's a deceitful, lying money-grubber and nothing else. She'd party it away in a matter of weeks. Take the money, Nate. I'm not saying you have to be the CEO of Christensen Petroleum or some shit, but you deserve it more than she does. Hell, as much as any of us does."
Nate took a long pull from his bottle. "I don't need it." He had all of about seven hundred bucks in his checking account right now. But he didn't want his life — or the people in it — to be defined by the numbers in his checkbook. Never had.
"Buy a few more cows. Hell, get a tractor. Make that sorry excuse of a ranch into something that might actually turn a profit."
"Wouldn't that violate dad's make-your-own-way policy?"
Noah cocked a brow and fixed Nate with a sad smile. "Doesn't matter now. The old man's gone."
* * *
Chloe Benson had done some crazy things to get her hooks in a high roller's checkbook, but crashing a memorial service was a new low even for her. She didn't have time to debate the morality of getting in line for a handout when Byron Christensen's body hadn't been in the ground for even a week, though. This was her eleventh hour. And if she couldn't get her hands on some serious cash by Christmas Eve, she was as good as screwed.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
She scanned the crowd in search of Nathan Christensen. According to the gossip mill, the oldest Christensen son was looking to off-load the substantial inheritance his father had left him. Speculation on the reasons why ranged from Nathan being mentally unstable to a falling out with his father years ago. Chloe didn't care why he didn't want the money. She simply wanted to be first in line when he started handing it out.
A small crowd gathered around a group of men and Chloe moved in. The Christensen brothers were infamous for being the black sheep of Dallas high society. The rumor mill had speculated for years about why the brothers hadn't entered into the family business and why they never showed up at events, the country clubs, or any of the other places where the elite hung out to pat each other on the back. Two of the brothers were pro athletes, the other a sheriff a few counties over. As for Nathan, he was the blackest sheep of all. He'd run off and joined the Navy. Rumor had it that Byron hadn't even known when his son returned home. Talk about estranged ...
Through the press of well-wishers and ass-kissers, Chloe caught sight of him. At least, she thought it was him. The picture of the brothers in the Dallas Morning News had obviously been several years old. The man she was now looking at resembled that guy. But he was older. Bigger. And projected a hardness that Chloe swore she could feel in the center of her chest. Probably a tough nut to crack. Fortunately for her, she wasn't one to back down from a challenge.
Chloe made her way toward the brothers, taking note of the fact that the accumulated net worth of the people here was enough to buy a country or two. Hell, with the politicians they all likely had in their pockets, it was safe to say they owned this country. Chloe had played to crowds like this for years. The rich and powerful loved to have their egos stroked. Unfortunately, she'd made the rounds and most of these people had already given her the cold shoulder — Byron included — which was why she had her sights set on Nathan Christensen. He didn't want his newly acquired wealth. She did. It was a win-win situation.
"I just loved him so much, you know?" Chloe stopped short of her goal. She recognized the woman fake-crying into a pile of tissues as Miranda Christensen, Byron's widow. Decked out in a sexy black dress, she looked better suited for a cocktail party than a memorial service. "I gave him the best years of my life, Nate! How could he leave me nothing?"
Best years of her life? She was twenty-eight, for crying out loud. A year younger than Chloe. Nathan — Nate — listened to her rant with a stoic expression. With shuffling steps, Chloe sidled in closer and hid her curiosity behind the lip of her wineglass.
"He didn't leave you without anything, Miranda. You got the house, the cars, and I know for a fact you've got a bank account with plenty of cash in it."
"I'll have to sell it all," she sniffed. "Do you know how expensive it is to maintain a house that size? What was Byron thinking?"
Chloe was pretty sure he'd been thinking with what resided down south.
"Just consider my offer, okay, Nate? I loved Byron. And I was there for him at the end."
Oh, I bet you were. Chloe snorted a little too loudly. Right underneath him.
Miranda whipped around, her dark eyes glistening as she narrowed her gaze. The former social climber threw off enough shade to make Chloe wish she'd worn a sweater. Nate Christensen turned his head in the direction that Miranda directed her anger. Chloe froze and clutched the wineglass closer to her mouth to keep it from falling open. Up close, Nate Christensen was absolutely breathtaking.
Tall, and with a body packed with muscle that seriously stress- tested his dark gray dress shirt, he stood out among the crowd of leisurely wealthy. Dark brown hair brushed his brow in the front and the sides were buzzed short, giving him an edgy look. His nose looked as though it had been broken at one point, a tiny bump below the bridge that gave it away. Sharp cheekbones accentuated his full lips and strong jaw. But none of those godlike features held a candle to his eyes. The most beautiful shade of hazel she'd ever seen, and clear as a river in midsummer.
Chloe had never been the sort of woman to get weak in the knees over a good-looking guy, but holy crap. She wobbled on her stilettos as if the shock of his gorgeousness had temporarily disrupted her motor skills. Heat rose to Chloe's cheeks and the flush spread down her neck. Her heart rate kicked into gear and fluttered against her rib cage at the same time her stomach decided to crawl up her throat. Heat continued to swamp her as she studied him, her attraction almost embarrassing in its intensity. Guys like Nate Christensen hung out with supermodels. Willowy, bottle blond socialites. Starlets. Guys like that didn't date overworked charity administrators who didn't have the time for a walk let alone a personal trainer, and the hips and belly to prove it.
While Miranda and Nate continued their conversation in hushed tones, Chloe waited for an in. She usually had time to prepare, to research the fat cat she was about to butter up. Byron Christensen's death had been sudden, and the only information she had on his oldest son was that he'd been estranged from his dad for years. That and he had no interest in his family's wealth. Fine by her. She was more than willing to take some of that money off his hands. All she had to do was convince him that she deserved it.
"That money should be mine and you know it, Nate. Call me tomorrow and let's talk."
Chloe nearly choked on her chardonnay as Miranda brushed a hand along his arm and gave Nate a flirty smile in parting. Really? At your husband's memorial service? Byron Christensen's widow was klassy with a capital K. Nate watched her go, his expression an impassive mask that gave nothing away. He shifted his focus and that inscrutable hazel gaze locked with Chloe's. A shiver of anticipation traveled from her head to her toes as he studied her. Chloe had never felt more devoured by a simple glance and it wasn't altogether unpleasant. A renewed rush of heat spread from her abdomen, lower. She took a deep breath, held it in her lungs. And let it all go in a rush.
It was now or never. Time to make her move.CHAPTER 2
Nate turned toward the woman who'd been eavesdropping on his conversation with Miranda. He'd meant to intimidate her, to stare her down until she got the fucking message that he wasn't about to let some rich-bitch Dallas party girl spread any more gossip about him or his family. Whatever he felt about his dad or Miranda, it was his business and no one else's.
God, he was already so sick of this bullshit.
His gaze locked with hers and he prepared to give her his best fuck-off glare. Instead, Nate simply stared. His blood heated as he took her in. Pinup gorgeous with rich auburn hair, full lips, and a curvy figure that filled out her business-casual outfit in all the right ways. Her full breasts practically spilled from the open lapels of her shirt and the generous curve of her hips made Nate itch to reach out and grip them. He clamped his jaw down to keep it from hanging open as a rush of pure lust shot through his bloodstream. She hit every single one of his yes please! buttons and his dick perked up like a hound scenting fresh game. He didn't even know who she was and he wanted her. Their eyes locked and rather than look away, she met his gaze with a brazen challenge that fanned the flames of his mounting libido.
Nate forced himself to appear impassive when what he really wanted was to reach out and touch. A woman like that could bring a man to his knees and Nate was more than up to showing her what he could do for her from that exact position. Rather than tuck tail at his forced stoicism, she squared her shoulders and stepped up to him. Ballsy. And not at all what Nate expected.
"I'm sorry about your father," she said without preamble. "But between you and me, he could be a real ornery bastard."
Excerpted from Christmas With the Billionaire Rancher by Mandy Baxter. Copyright © 2015 Mandy Baxter. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Baxter mixes emotion with loss and heat with everyday life in this short yet engaging Christmas novella. Her fun story brings together extremely plausible situations with off the charts heat. Her descriptions and narrative paint this entire world for the reader, inviting them in as participants, rather than simply observers. The characters were very well developed for a novella. Not only did I get to know them, I fell in love with them. Baxter brings them to life in a realistic yet absolutely unforgettable manner. Their troubles are so real that I wanted, no needed, to jump in and help them. It was a fantastic feeling for a novella. Baxter has definitely created a fun and hot Christmas novella with this one. It’s a great read for the upcoming season and one to be enjoyed year round. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say that the first thing about this novella that really grabbed my attention was the title. Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher sounded pretty specific and a little bit silly. I was in the mood for silly and fun to start of the month of December so why not throw in a bit of sexy? I could use more sexy in my life anyway. This story ended up being just okay for me. I thought it started out way over the top and silly was quickly turning into ridiculous. I am not a fan of ridiculous. As the novella progressed, it did settle into a decent little story. Of course, the beginning was really mostly sex with very little opportunity to get to know the characters. Once there was some real interaction between the pair that did not involve body fluids, I actually started to like them together. The story does contain a lot of sex. I like sexy times as much as the next guy. I don't mind it at all when the characters that I am reading about jump into bed with each other after just meeting. It is imaginary sex so it's pretty safe as far as I know. But please stay out of the coat closets, especially at funerals. That's not sexy...at all. It seems that as the story progresses Nate and Chloe do actually start to care about each other. There really was a lot going on in this short little piece. Nate just inherited money but doesn't want it. Chloe needs money to save her organization. It isn't as easy of a problem to solve as you might think. I was expecting this to be a Christmas story. I was actually kind of promised that in the title now that I think about it. There is almost no talk of Christmas in this story. There is some thrown in at the end but there is no mention of the holiday for 90% of the story or more. I almost feel like a Christmas dinner was thrown in just so this could be marketed for Christmas. My rating may be a little generous but to be fair the coat closet at the funeral scene was a major turn off for me. I did end up thinking it was a decent story and would recommend it to anyone looking for a short and sexy read. I haven't read anything by Mandy Baxter before but would like to she what she can do with a full length novel. I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Reviewed by Annie and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Money and Nate Christensen go hand in hand and women are constantly flocking to him to get their fingers into his bank accounts so Nate keeps his guards up to keep the golddiggers out. However, when he meets Chloe Benson Nate cant help but feel the chemistry between them and wants nothing more than to act on it. I was looking forward to this story because one, I’m a big fan of this series already and two, because I’m such a sucker for holiday reads. There’s just something very cozy and fun about it all. However despite the fact that there is the word Christmas in the title, there isn’t too much holiday stuff that going on. At least in the more traditional way as I was expecting. There is some charity work since that is Chloe’s job but I think I was just expecting a banquet of food, Christmas songs and the man in the red suit. But after I got over my initial expectations, I found that I could still enjoy the story. As this is a short story, the romance does heat up pretty quickly. I’m hesitant to say it was instalove because Chloe and Nate do have some issues they need to sort out so I’d rather call it instalust because that was clearly the case with these two when they first meet each other. A fun, lighthearted read, CHRISTMAS WITH THE BILLIONAIRE RANCHER is sure to put you in the sexy mood!
This my first book by Mandy Baxter and it won't be my last. I enjoyed the hero and heroine. Nate was the typical wounded soul and Chloe a strong confident woman with a backbone of steel. It was great to read a simple romance. It kept my full attention and I can't wait to read the next books in the series. I was given this book for a honest review.
Nate Christensen would love nothing more than to give away his fathers fortune, and wash in hands of the family oil business. Learning that he would be inheriting the company and a portion of his fortune was almost more than he could bare, especially since it was meant to be his father's last stitch effort to apologize for a wrong he committed not so long ago. Nate and his father never really saw eye to eye, and he always felt that his father cared more about his fortune and oil business than he did his own sons. Growing up Nate and his brothers were expected to work hard and pave their own way in life, and it was understood that their father would not be giving them access to his money. So, Nate and his brothers found ways to make their own money and never depended on their father for much of anything, including love and approval. Carrying the Christensen name came with its disadvantages, especially when it came to fortune hunting women, so Nate primarily stuck to being a "no strings attached" kind of guy, which has always worked well for him until he meets a certain auburn haired beauty at his father's funeral. One night with her and this handsome cowboy is left wondering if one night will ever truly be a enough... Chloe Benson is in dire need of money for the foundation she runs for at risk youth, and she believes she has designed the perfect plan to get her the money. She just has to walk up to the handsome and newly rich Nate Christensen and convince him to make a generous donation. Armed with the knowledge that he wants nothing to do with his newly inherited fortune should play in her favor, but when she gets face to face with him her plan is shot all to hell...he is far more enticing than she imagined and making her a offer she can't refuse. This was my first visit to this series, and I can say with complete certainty that it won't be my last! One paragraph in and I was immediately hooked, the story line captivated my attention right from the start and had me burning right through the pages. I ended up treating myself to a little literary marathon and polished it off in a matter of hours, and I have to say it was a HIGHLY satisfying read! Ms. Baxter has truly outdone herself with this one, DEFINITELY a hot and spicy five star read, that will have you blushing and reaching for a fan! ARC requested through Netgalley, and kindly provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
The last thing Nate Christensen wants are the millions his father left him in his will. No wait, the last thing he wants is some woman wanting to get her hands on all that money. That is until he meets Chloe Benson. She seems to be the one woman he can't get out of his mind! Does she only want him for his money though?? Considering her fledgling charity that seems like a possibility. This was an excellent read! The chemistry between Nate and Chloe was sizzling hot, the story and writing were awesome, and the pace of the story made this a quick fun read. I highly recommend this one.
Chloe and Nate found each other at the right time in their lives. When neither was looking they up and fell in love. Mandy Baxter takes her readers on a journey that is combustible. Her characters have personalities that range from volatile to moody yet can still entice the reader into a world of sensual pleasure. Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher deals with the important subject of PTSD in a way that is enlightening and encouraging. Nate and Chloe each feel they have something to prove. Chloe wants to prove that she can make a difference in the world with her charity. Nate wants to prove he can succeed without his father. What they both have to learn is that it does not make a person week to ask for help. I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review. Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher by Mandy Baxter is a short story with a big message.