Engaging Brooke (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #377)

Engaging Brooke (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #377)

by Dara Girard
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Engaging Brooke (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #377) by Dara Girard

A bride for a Broward?

If Brooke Palmer doesn't find a husband within thirty days, she will lose her family home forever. So she turns to the only man she trusts to save her….

Jameson Broward has only one true love: his vast and rugged ranch in Granger, Montana. But he understands the importance of protecting a family's legacy, so he agrees to a marriage of convenience to the woman he's cared about for years. As the stoic groom and his beautiful bride begin their businesslike union, they are confronted by the unexpected lure of their sensual and passionate chemistry. Is it possible for the sexy rancher and his pretend wife to turn their short-term arrangement into a lifetime of love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373863532
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Series: Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #377
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Dara Girard fell in love with storytelling at an early age. Her romance writing career happened by chance when she discovered the power of a happy ending. She is an award-winning author whose novels are known for their sense of humor, interesting plot twists, and witty dialogue. Dara loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at contactdara@daragirard.com or P.O Box 10345, Silver Spring, MD 20914.

Read an Excerpt

They were under attack. That was the only way Jameson Broward could describe it. The town as they knew it was being seized by an unknown buyer. Longtime residents were being wooed by the charm of easy money instead of realizing the magnitude of the consequences of selling their land to outsiders who may not have the town's best interest in mind. Jameson looked around at his family as they sat in the BWB Great Room. The Great Room, which was the centerpiece in the elegant main house of the Broward Webb Broward Heritage Ranch, always served as the perfect place to discuss business-both personal and professional.

Grandpa Charles, the family patriarch, pounded the side of his chair with his fist. "I want to know what's going on. I want to know where we're headed before we get there. Who is doing this?" he said, asking the question they all wanted to know the answer to. Why had their beloved town of Granger, Montana, suddenly been thrust into the spotlight by an unnamed investor- or several investors for that matter, they weren't sure how many interested people there were.

That's what worried Jameson the most. The lack of transparency. Unfortunately, however, one particular land sale had been made clear, brutally so, and had struck him and his entire family in the heart.

"What can we do about Wes?" his mother, Gwendolyn Broward asked. She sat across from him, poised and graceful like the professional horsewoman she was. She was worried, very much so, but kept her voice and features calm. She was an attractive woman whose youthful looks belied her age of fifty-six.

"Nothing. The land is gone," his father, Steven, said as he stroked his graying beard. Jameson could hear the hurt and dismay in his voice. His father, Charles, along with his three brothers had been responsible for developing their land into a lucrative ranching business. Millions of dollars, and years of blood and sweat, had gone into creating the family business they expected to keep.

Betrayal. He'd experienced it before, but he hadn't expected it from his own flesh and blood. Jameson knew that just like him, his father felt hurt by what his younger son, Wes, had done. Without telling anyone, he'd sold his land to Samara Lionne, a Hollywood actress no less. Yes, Jameson's brother was the reason for the family get-together. Not the buying up of the town, not even the mystery of the buyers, but the fact that a member of their own family had completed a substantial transaction without telling them.

Although, technically the land he sold was not part of their family land, it was still Granger land, and they all felt it shouldn't have been sold to an outsider. They'd known Wes had been entertaining buyers, but they'd never thought he'd go through with a sale without at least warning them or giving them an option to buy it themselves. But, either in an act of cowardice or just pure luck, Wes hadn't stuck around to deal with the ramifications of his actions. He was off traveling in Europe with his fiancée, Lydia. Jameson didn't like to think too cruelly of his brother, but he always knew that Wes had never loved the land the way Jameson and the rest of the family did. The land was Jameson's life. His heart. It was the one thing that never betrayed him. It never let him down. The ranch and the town of Granger were all he had and he would fight to the death to maintain it for generations to come.

And, just like the rest of the family, Jameson had a feeling something shady was going on. They needed to find out what. Both his father and grandfather had been unable to get straight answers from people in town or their trusted friends. Unfortunately, over time, many of the old-timers of Granger had either retired and moved away or had died or, as was the case with most of the current residents, their children were more like Wes and were looking for ways to make money off the land.

Gwendolyn shook her head, casting a quick glance at Jameson as if she expected him to say something. He remained silent. "Why didn't he just come to us? We would have bought it from him."

"I never thought I'd live to see the day one of us would sell land instead of buy it," Grandpa Charles said, for a moment looking older than his eighty-four years. His blue eyes tired, he also sent Jameson a look as if hoping he could add something, but Jameson looked away. Charles had grown up on the land that his father, Silas Broward, had claimed as a homestead in the 1930s. While the Depression's strong grip decimated lives in the big cities, Silas had built up the ranch one horse at a time, raising four sons with his wife, Olivia. Charles and his brother, Stanley, grew the Broward Ranch into a highly successful cattle breeding operation. Stanley also raised four sons who had prospered and owned ranches in another part of Montana.

Jameson felt that ranching wasn't just a family tradition. It was a calling. He knew that both his father and grandfather wanted him to speak at this gathering, but he had nothing to say. Nothing that could be said to his family. He was seething but kept his face a neutral mask. His brother had a right to do what he wanted with his land. Because it wasn't part of the BWB Ranch, it wouldn't affect their bottom line, but it was the recklessness that bothered him. And the fact that Wes always did exactly what he wanted as long as it made him happy. It didn't bother Wes that outsiders were sweeping into Granger like vultures to taint the pristine land with their foolhardy dreams of ranch or farm work, most of which they had seen romanticized on TV and in the movies. He looked at his younger sister, Laney, who was unusually quiet.

"Is there any way to talk to this woman?" Gwendolyn asked.

Steven sighed. "Damn it, I told you he did it too quickly for us to do anything."

"Change is on its way," Grandpa Charles said. "But sometimes it worries me. This ranch was built up one horse at a time, but others see a quick buck and don't care about the people or this place. They don't care that there are people who depend on us. Granger has been a major employer for cowboys and ranch hands who want to work the land."

"Dad, things will work out," Steven said to his father. He quickly looked at Jameson as if he wanted him to speak up. Jameson folded his arms instead. "Besides, it was Wes's land. It was not officially a part of our family heritage. So, he had the right and freedom to sell it to whomever he wanted and for whatever amount he wanted. I just wish he had given us a chance."

Excuses. All Jameson heard his father say were excuses. Excuses for Wes. Excuses to explain away how his younger son's actions had hurt them.

"Jameson," Steven finally said, clearly the only one brave enough to involve him in the conversation. They all had been sending glances to him, as if he were a volcano they expected to erupt. But he was too controlled for that. Yes, he was furious. He was enraged by a feeling of helplessness he couldn't contain, but exposing how he felt wouldn't be something he'd let them see again. They'd seen it once before, more than ten years ago when a woman had ripped his heart apart.

At twenty-two, Meredith Palmer, the woman he'd planned to spend the rest of his life with, had ended their relationship. She'd been his first love. She was his high school sweetheart and after they'd graduated, they'd maintained a long-distance romance while he'd studied agribusiness at Montana State University in Bozeman and she'd attended a college back East. He'd imagined them growing old together and making his family's business even more successful than his father had. But with one phone call a few weeks before his graduation from college, she'd dashed his hopes.

"I've met someone else," she'd said over the phone, as if she was reciting a weather report. Her words had been cool, practiced. What she had to say was stated without a single sign of emotion, while every word pierced his heart.

"What do you mean?"

"I can't marry you."

Jameson thought of all the people who expected them to get married. Damn, he'd expected it. He'd had his whole life planned and at that moment it was coming apart at the seams. He knew he couldn't win her back, and frankly, he didn't want to. Years before he'd even looked at another woman.

He'd thought Priscilla Clark would make a perfect rancher's wife. But he soon learned he'd been wrong. He should have known it wouldn't work from the beginning. For one, she'd kept calling him "James," which he hated. But he'd forgiven her all her faults, primarily because she was very pretty, beautiful in fact, and stroked his ego. He'd introduced her to his family and he didn't care that the reception had been cool. His parents had been enthusiastic about Meredith and he'd seen how that had turned out. He'd gotten some subtle warnings from his Grandpa Charles, who'd said, "Be careful. A hungry man can find anything appetizing." His father had been more to the point: "Any woman who can't get your name right is after something else." But, at that time, he didn't care because Priscilla listened to him, unlike Meredith. She didn't say anything disparaging about ranching and she told him how wonderful he was, which was all he needed to hear. Then one day he had traveled to Smithville, one of Granger's neighboring towns, and overheard Priscilla talking to a friend in the grocery store.

"Oh, my God!" Priscilla said in a stage whisper. "You should see his parents' place."

"Well, I heard the Browards are loaded," her friend said.

"Loaded is too humble a term. When I marry James I'm going to be rolling in money."

"He's asked you to marry him?"

"He hasn't yet. But he will and I'm going to get him to build me a house as big as his parents'. No, even bigger. I have really hit the jackpot with this one. I usually don't like going after men that other women have dumped, but this is one leftover I'm ready to reheat. I won't have to use my degree because I'm going to be well taken care of. Mom was right when she told me to set my eyes on him. Men wallowing in heartbreak are so easy to use. And I'll make him grateful to have me. I know his brother, Wes, would be a lot more fun, but he's not ready to settle down like James."

That's when he'd finally realized that she only saw dollar signs when she looked at him. He'd never be seen as someone's leftovers. He never told Priscilla why he broke it off, and the devastation on her face had almost made him smile. At that moment he vowed that women weren't for him. Since then, he'd thought he could always trust his land and his family at least, but now Wes had taught him that he couldn't even trust that.

"Jameson," Steven repeated. "Don't you have anything to say?"


"Did you know what Wes was up to?"

Jameson lowered his gaze and brushed imaginary lint from his sleeve. "I never know what he's up to."

Without his input the conversation floundered, as he hoped it would. He felt as if a fire was burning inside him, and talking about what Wes had done only added gasoline. Jameson needed to get away, to think of what his next step should be. The town was under threat and it would take a cool head to strategize how to handle the situation.

He lifted his gaze and sounded bored. "Are we done?"

His father nodded. Jameson stood and went out back. He needed to be outdoors. He stood in the doorway that led to the backyard and smelled the May morning air. How could someone love anything less than all this? Jameson looked out on the acres of land in front of him.

The land stretched on for miles and miles and looked like a landscape painting. He loved the emerald-green grass against the backdrop of the rugged mountain range in the distance, dotted with the earthy, smooth, brown bodies of his cattle. Low-hanging trees provided a framework through which to see the land; to him it was more than beautiful. It was his life. He was determined. He wouldn't let his grandfather or father down. He'd maintain BWB. He couldn't-no, wouldn't-let their heritage end with him.

"Don't be too angry with Wes," his mom, Gwendolyn, said as she came up behind him.

Jameson kept his gaze on the horizon, watching the rolling prairie grass undulate in the breeze. He loved his mother but knew she didn't understand his deep connection to the ranch and to the land. He wasn't as fun-loving as Wes or an accomplished horseman like his sister, Laney. At times he felt like a throwback to another time. A time when being a man who valued his land and family mattered. "It was his land to do with as he wanted," Jameson said, wishing he could feel as casual and nonchalant as he sounded. "He knew what he was doing and didn't have to tell us about it."

"I don't think he thought of it that way. Times are changing and-"

Jameson spun around to her. "Not that much. Have times changed so much that you don't think about one's responsibilities or family loyalties?"

Gwendolyn lightly touched his cheek, the same soothing touch she'd give a lame horse. Although the gesture annoyed him, it also calmed him as she knew it would. "You're doing the best you can."

And what if it's not enough? What if I lose everything? He wanted to say this, but instead he turned away, keeping his fears to himself, just as he did everything else. "Do you think Grandpa Charles deserves to see the day when all he's struggled to build is destroyed because of greed? Well, I won't let that happen."

"When are you going to start a family of your own?"

Jameson shook his head, his voice low. "I don't have time for that now."

"You have to make time."

"I went on a date, didn't I?"

"That was for charity," his mother said, referring to the recent bachelor charity auction that was an annual town event. "Besides, I know you hate being a part of that every year."

Jameson shrugged without concern. His mother was right. "It was still a date," he said, leaving no room for argument. The Browards were known for their charity work, and it was one of the few events he had been unable to avoid.

He heard her soft sigh before his mother turned and went back inside.

Jameson stepped out on the deck. He had the blood of a rancher running through his veins. His family had put the small town of Granger, Montana, on the map. He remembered being five years old and feeling the calloused hands of his grandpa as he led him around the ranch. From an early age he loved the smell of the cattle, horses, chickens and pigs. By three, even before he could read, he could pick out a heifer from a cow. As he got older, he'd loved learning to rope a calf and ride a horse, drinking fresh milk and smelling Montana grass, which, to him, was the best in the world. At seven he had been given his own flock of chickens and several pigs to care for and a dog he called Buddy. He had respect for all the animals. He could read them better than he could any person. Maybe that's why he felt so comfortable on the ranch. Animals would not betray him. They would not connive or deceive. He decided to make sure that Wes's action, along with others, didn't do the damage to Granger he feared, which was putting power into the hands of a group of people who didn't care about the town.

Granger was becoming unrecognizable to him, with outsiders, mostly from the city, thinking themselves ranchers. His parents had money flowing into their lodge-style estate, which they had successfully turned into a business. Gwendolyn had been the one to first make the suggestion of turning the main house into a money-making venture. At first, his father had objected, but once he saw it in operation, he was on board.

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Engaging Brooke 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being in love with your sister ex is nasty
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the second book in this series. Really looking forward to the next one