Noelle Lassiter, an only child, grows up in Chicago, Illinois, to be a lovely, gracious, and talented young woman. Just weeks before her college graduation, her parents perish in an automobile accident. Noelle turns to boyfriend Mike Reynolds for emotional support. However, the self-absorbed young man is too busy with his own studies and partying to be there for her.
Lonely and in agony, she decides to sell the family home and start a new life in another part of the country. Without considering her vegetarian lifestyle, Noelle buys the 200-acre Paradise Ranch in the cattle country of Wyoming.
Noelle makes the 1300-mile move. Thirsty after the trip, she opens the refrigerator to find sodas and food, along with a welcoming note, have been left for her by neighbor Jesse Blackstone, owner of the adjacent 200,000-acre Bar Three Ranch.
When Noelle queries the realtor, Linda, on how this neighbor was able to enter the locked house, she receives a mysterious explanation about Jesse and the beautiful Laurel, former owner of Paradise.
Over the next weeks, Noel meets town people and immediately falls in love with their friendly and open personalities. To everyone in town, she is labeled "The College Girl."
Among her new friends is Pete, an old-timer and former bull rider in the rodeos, who now owns the General Store in town and rides a wheelchair named Samson. He makes up his mind Noelle will marry a rancher and, therefore, it is up to himself, as an experienced cowboy, to train her about life in Wyoming, including cattle drives and rodeos.
Dee, describing herself as once on the stage in Cheyenne, is the town librarian and always decked out in a flamboyant style that includes elaborate jewelry and rhinestone-studded western clothes and hats.
Jackie Jackson, who works in her dad's western wear store, helps Noelle add typical western gear to her wardrobe while explaining the purpose of each article.
At home on a warm day, Noelle decides to relax by the pond. She falls asleep and wakes up to the sound of a man's voice. A quick look upward reveals the handsome Jesse Blackstone towering over her. Noel is immediately attracted to the tall stranger and he seems friendly to her, until she explains she is a vegetarian. His demeanor changes and he abruptly leaves.
Coming months find Noelle's mind troubled as she desires to spend more time with Jesse but, each time they're together, the memory of Laurel seems to cast a dark cloud over them. Even more upsetting for Noelle is hearing her new friends say she and Jesse are meant for each other.
In her garage at Paradise, Noelle notices something had fallen behind the washing machine. She finds a black lace nightie and note from J.B. to Laurel and is tortured by the thought of the handsome cowboy's love for the mysterious woman.
One night, returning home from book club at the library, Noelle discovers an intruder has been in her house and has left dead flowers and a threatening note. When she seeks an explanation, it appears each of her friends is hiding something from her.
Frustrated, Noelle is vulnerable when she receives an email from Mike asking if he can visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. She agrees.
Will the relationship with her former boyfriend become rekindled? If so, will she follow Mike back to Chicago and become his bride?
When the stalker, an alleged murderer, kidnaps Noelle, will anyone come to her rescue?
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About the Author
I am first and foremost inquisitive, always wanting to know what goes on globally and locally and wanting to understand WHY! Being a newspaper reporter was the career with which I began. Then, as a pianist and vocalist, I spent a number of years entertaining throughout the U.S. I also owned a talent agency during that time. After those 25 years, my next career was in public education, which was something I never intended to do. Getting "drafted" into teaching and the time I spent as an Academic Coordinator were very interesting and I do so love the students and teachers, administrators, and staff members I met. I'm very proud of our students. After six years, I left teaching and moved near my son and his family. I became a Master Gardener and Master Composter, joined local organizations, and have been able to enjoy more time with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I am thrilled that my professional focus now is limited to writing. I will be publishing both fiction and non-fiction works and begin that in new venture in 2012.