A sexy Texan has the holidays to decide: close the deal or open his heart? Only from USA TODAY bestselling author Yvonne Lindsay!
Royal, Texas, native Nolan Dane's homecoming is bittersweethe'd once lost everything here. But he's eager to finalize a key real estate deal for his mysterious boss by Christmaseven if making it happen means cozying up to local shop owner Raina Patterson. Falling for the beautiful single mom isn't part of the plan. But when Nolan's secrets catch up with him, he realizes his true feelings for Raina run deep. Now, can he prove he's worthy of herbefore it's too late?
About the Author
A typical Piscean, award winning USA Today bestselling author, Yvonne Lindsay, has always preferred the stories in her head to
the real world - which makes sense since she was born in Middle Earth. Married to her blind date sweetheart and with two adult
children, she spends her days crafting the stories of her heart and in her spare time she can be found with her nose firmly in
someone else's book.
To find out more, visit Yvonne on her website.
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Read an Excerpt
Nolan rolled to a stop in the parking area at the Courtyard and looked around. The four-mile drive out of Royal had been pleasant, quite a difference from the Southern California freeway traffic that was a part of his daily grind back home.
Home. He grunted. Royal, Texas, was really his home, not the sparsely furnished luxury apartment he slept and occasionally ate in back in LA. But he hadn't lived here in Royal, or even been back, in coming up on seven years. Even now he'd chosen to check into a hotel rather than stay with his parents. The reminders of his old life and old hopes were still too fresh, too raw. He gave his head a slight shake, as if to jog his mind back on track, and pushed open the door to the brand-new SUV he'd hired for his visit. He alighted from the vehicle, grabbed his suit jacket from the backseat and pulled it on before taking a moment to adjust pristine white shirt cuffs.
The wind cut right through the finely woven wool of his suit. It seemed even Armani couldn't protect you from a frigid Texan winter breeze. Nor were highly polished handmade shoes immune to the dust of the unsealed parking lot, he noted with a slight grimace of distaste. But when had he gotten so prissy? There'd been a time when even baby spit hadn't bothered him.
A shaft of pain lanced through him. It still hurt as if it was yesterday. Nolan buttoned his jacket and straightened his shoulders. He'd known coming back would be hard, that it might rip the scabs off wounds he'd thought already healed. But what he hadn't expected were these blindsiding moments when those old hurts threatened to drive him back down on his knees.
Pull it together, he willed silently, clenching his jaw tight. He'd lived through far worse than these random memories that were all that was left of his old life. He could live through this. It was time to harden back up and get to work.
As private attorney for Rafiq Bin Saleed, Nolan was here to do a job for one of Rafiq's companies, Samson Oil. He loved his workparticularly loved the cut and parry of entering into property negotiations on behalf of his boss and friend. The fact that doing so now brought him back to the scene of his deepest sorrow was tempered only by the fact that he also got to spend some time with his parents on their home turf. They weren't getting any younger and his dad was already making noises about retiring. From personal experience working there, Nolan knew that his dad's family law practice was demanding, but he couldn't quite reconcile himself to the fact that his dad was getting ready to scale down, or even walk away, from the practice he'd started only a few years out of law school.
Again Nolan reminded himself to get back on track. Obviously he'd have to work harder. Being back home after a long absence had a way of derailing a man when he least expected itbut that wouldn't earn him any bonuses when it came to crunch time with his boss. He looked around the area that had been christened the Courtyard. The name fit, he decided as he took in the assembly of renovated ranch buildings that housed a variety of stores and craftsmen. His research had already told him that the tenants specialized in arts and crafts with artisanal breads and cheeses also on sale, while the central area was converted into a farmer's market most Saturday mornings.
To Nolan's way of thinking, it was an innovative way to use an old run-down and unprofitable piece of land. So what the hell did Rafiq want with it? He knew for a fact that there was no oil to be found in the surrounding area. Hell, everyone who grew up in and around Royal knew thatwhich kind of raised questions as to what Samson Oil wanted the land for. So far, Rafiq's quest to buy up property in Royal failed to make economic sense to Nolan.
Sure, he was giving owners who were still battered and struggling to pull their lives together after the tornado a chance to get away and start a new life, but what did Rafe plan to do with all the land he'd acquired?
Nolan reminded himself it wasn't his place to ask questions but merely to carry out the brief, no matter how much of a waste of money it looked like to him. Rafiq had his reasons but he wasn't sharing them, and it had been made clear to Nolan that it was his place to see to the acquisition of specific parcels of landwhether they were for sale or not. And that's exactly what he was going to do.
Regrettably, however, it appeared that Winslow Properties, despite their shaky financial footing, were not open to selling this particular parcel of land. It was up to him to persuade them otherwise. He'd hoped some of the tenants would be more forthcoming about their landlord but so far, on his visits to the stores, he'd found them to be a closemouthed bunch. Maybe they were all just scared, he thought. Royal had been through a lot. No one wanted to rock the boat now.
There was one tenant he'd yet to have the opportunity to talk to. He recalled her name from his memoryRaina Patterson. From what he understood she might be closer to Mellie Winslow than some of the other tenants. Maybe Ms. Patterson could give him the angle he needed to pry this property from the Winslow family's grip.
He began to walk toward a large red barn at the bottom of the U-shape created by the buildings. The iron roof had been proudly painted with the Texas flag. The sight of that flag never failed to tug at him; as much as he'd assimilated to his California lifestyle, he'd always be Texan.
Looking around, Nolan understood why the Winslow family had, after initial interest in Samson Oil's offer, grown cagey at the idea of selling this little community and the land it was on. For a town that was still rebuilding, this was an area of optimism and growth. Selling out from underneath everyone was bound to create unrest and instability all over again. Not everyone here could just pick up and create a new life in a new town or state like he had.
Damn, and there he was again. Thinking of the past and of what he'd lost. His wife, his son. He should probably have sent someone else on the legal team to do this job but Rafiq had been adamant he handle it himself. He mentally shrugged. It was the price he paid for the obscenely high salary he earnedhe could live with that as long as he didn't ever have to live here again, with his memories.
Raina made a final tweak of the pine boughs and tartan ribbons she'd used to decorate the antique mantelpiece and looked around her store with a sense of pride and wonder. Her store. Priceless by name and by nature. She'd been here in the renovated red barn a month now. She still couldn't quite believe that a year after the tornado that had leveled her original business and much of the town of Royal, she'd managed to rebuild her inventory and relocate her business rather than just fold up altogether.
It certainly hadn't been easy, she thought as she moved through the store and let her hand drift over the highly polished oak sewing table she'd picked up at an estate sale last weekbut it had been worth it.
Now all she had to do was hold on to it. A ripple of disquiet trickled down her spine. Her landlord, Mellie Win-slow, had been subdued yesterday when she'd visited Raina but had said she was doing everything she could to ensure that her father's company, Winslow Properties, didn't sell the Courtyard.
Raina needed to know this wasn't all going to be ripped away from her a second time. She didn't know if she had it in her to start over again. Losing her store on Main Street, and most of her underinsured inventory of antiques, had just about sent her packing from the town she'd adopted as her own four years ago. She had to make this work, for herself and for her little boy.
No matter which way she looked at it, though, she still couldn't understand why anyone would be interested in buying the dried-up and overused land, let alone an oil company. If only Samson Oilwho'd been buying land left, right and center around Royalwould go away and let her have the peace and security she'd been searching for her whole life. Heck, it wasn't even as if they seemed to be doing anything with the properties they'd bought up. At the rate Samson Oil was going, Royal would become a ghost town.
Raina turned and smiled at her son, Justin, or JJ as he was known, as he proudly showed off the ice cream cone her dadhis namesakehad just bought him. JJ was three going on thirteen most of the time, but today he was home from day care because he'd been miserable with a persistent cold. He was back to being the little boy who wanted his mommy and his "G'anddad" most of all. The theory had been that he'd rest on the small cot she had in her office out back, but theory had been thrown to the wind when JJ had heard his beloved granddad arrive to help Raina move some of the heavier items in the store.
Looking at JJ now, she began to wonder if she'd been conned by the little rascal all along. The little boy had protested his granddad's departure most miserably, but he was all smiles now with an ice cream cone and the promise of a sleepover on the weekend.
"Lucky you," she answered squatting down to JJ's eye level. "Can I have some?"
JJ pulled the cone closer to him, distrust in his eyes. "No, Mommy. G'anddad said it mine."
Raina pouted. "Not even one little lick?"
She saw the indecision on his face for just a moment before he proffered the dripping cone in her direction. "One," he said very solemnly.
Raina licked off the drips before they hit the floor and theatrically sighed in pleasure. "That's so yummy. Can I have more?" she teased, reaching for JJ's wrist.
"No more, Mommy! Mine!" JJ squealed and turned and ran, laughing hysterically as Raina growled and lumbered playfully behind him.
Through her son's shrieks of delight, Raina heard the bell tinkle over the main door, signaling a potential customer.
"Justin Junior, you stop right there! No running through the store," she called out, but it was futile. JJ was barreling away from her at top speed.
She rounded the corner just in time to hear a muffled "oof!" as JJ ran straight into the man who'd just entered the store. The man was wearing a very expensive looking suit, which, she groaned inwardly, now wore a fair portion of JJ's ice cream cone, right at the level of the man's groin. JJ rapidly backed away. The stranger looked up, a startled expression on his face as his eyes met hers. A frisson of something she couldn't quite put her finger on ran between them like a live current. It unnerved her and made her voice sharp.
"JJ! Apologize to the gentleman, right now."
She couldn't help iteven though it was her fault for chasing him, she couldn't prevent the note of censure that filled her voice. And she still felt unsettled by that look she'd just exchanged with a total stranger. A look that left her feeling things she had no right to feel. Raina dragged her attention back to the disaster at hand and searched around for something to offer the man to help him clean up.
The only pieces of fabric she had close by were a set of handmade lace doilies from the early twentieth century. She certainly couldn't afford to lose inventory, but then again, nor could she afford to lose a potential customer either.
JJ turned his little face up to hers. His blue eyes, so like her own, filled with tears that began to spill down his still-chubby cheeks. His lower lip began to quiver. He dropped what was left of his cone on the floor and ran to her, burying his face in her maxi skirt as if he could make himself invisible.
"Hey, no harm done," the man said, his voice slightly gruff and at odds with his words.
Raina definitely noticed a hint of Texas drawl as she glanced from her son to the customer, who, despite that initial look of shock, now appeared unfazed by the incident. He reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an honest-to-God white handkerchief. Was that a monogram in the corner? Raina didn't think they had such things anymore.
"I'm so sorry, sir. Here, let me," she started, reaching for the cotton square.
"Might be best if I handle this myself," the man replied.
Oh, heavens, she was such an idiot. Of course he'd have to handle it himself. It was his groin, after all. She had no business touching any man's trousers, let alone there. She gently set JJ to one side and got busy picking up the cone that he'd dropped on the floor, gathering the sticky mess in her left hand.
"JJ, can you go fetch me the tea towel that's hanging up in the kitchen?" she asked her son. "And no running!"
It was too late. JJ raced away as if he couldn't wait to put distance between himself and the mess he'd created.
The stranger finally smiled and Raina looked up at himreally looked this timeand felt a punch of attraction all the way to the tips of her toes. Before she could answer, JJ was back and, ridiculously glad of the distraction, Raina used the cloth to wipe up the residue from the floor and then wrapped up the cone in the towel to deal with later. Her customer had likewise dealt with the mess on his trousers.
"See, all cleaned up," he said, rolling up the handkerchief and shoving it in his pocket again.
Raina cringed at the cost of getting all that fine tailoring back into pristine condition again. "But the stain. Please, let me get your suit dry cleaned for you."
"No, seriously, it's no bother. Is this your boy? JJ is it?"
She nodded and watched as the man squatted down so he was at eye level with JJ, who had cautiously turned his head around when he'd heard his name. She couldn't help but notice how the fabric of the stranger's trousers caught snugly across his thighs and, despite hastily averting her gaze, she also couldn't stop the disconcerting rush of acute feminine awareness that welled inside her.
"Hey, JJ, no harm done, except to your ice cream. I'm sorry about that, champ." When Raina started to protest that he had nothing to be sorry for, he merely put up one hand and kept his attention on her little boy. "Are you okay?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very good book about two people with painful pasts who have a chance at happiness, if they can put that pain behind them. Nolan has returned to Royal to finalize several real estate deals for his secretive boss. He had left years earlier, after the deaths of his son and wife made staying too painful. He plans to finish his work and go back to LA. There's one property that is resisting the buyout and Nolan goes there to see if he can find out why. In the process, he meets Raina, one of the shop owners. He's immediately attracted to her and thinks nothing of getting closer to her to see what he can find out. But it doesn't take long for Raina and her three year old son JJ to work their way past his walls. I liked Raina. She has worked hard to get her life back together. but she is wary of men these days. She has proved to herself that her judgment about them hasn't been good. Her ex-husband cleaned out her bank accounts and left her while she was giving birth, but continues to pester her for money on a regular basis. Her antique store is finally beginning to recover from the effects of the previous year's tornado when rumors start circulating that the land could be sold and the tenants evicted. She has much to be worried about, and Nolan's attentions are a pleasant distraction. I had a little trouble warming up to Nolan at the beginning because of the way he seemed to be planning to use Raina. I couldn't entirely dislike him because he was so wonderful with JJ right from the moment JJ dumped his ice cream on Nolan's suit. It quickly became obvious that he was developing feelings for Raina that conflicted with his job, and that conflict caused him to question what he was doing. I loved seeing what he did about it, though it came too late to keep Raina from finding out. I ached for Raina and her feelings of betrayal. She had that pain to deal with, as well as the increasingly insistent demands for money from her ex. Her feelings for Nolan had grown quickly, and she was left feeling that she had failed again. Nolan was hurting also, as he knew what had happened was his own fault. I liked the way that he turned his hurt into action, finding a way to protect Raina and JJ. I also liked that he didn't give up, and was finally able to explain what had happened to Raina. The only thing he had left to confront were his memories of the past and telling her about them, which he keeps putting off. I loved that he admitted his feelings to himself, but also knew that it might be too fast for Raina, and had the sensitivity to give her time to think. His big moment at the New Year's Eve party was sweet and romantic. In this book, the person behind the land purchases is revealed, but his motivations are not. He definitely does not come across as a very nice person, but there are hints that he may be due for some surprises of his own.
4 star The story has laughs, betrayal, secrets, and heartbreak. If you have not read the below I would recommend reading those books(s) first Courting the Cowboy Boss (Texas Cattleman's Club: Lies and Lullabies #1) by Janice Maynard This is Raina and Nolan’s story. Raina is just getting back on her feet after a horrible storm came through the town. She wants to raise her son and have her store be a success. Nolan was sent to town to get the person who owns the buildings on the street Raina works on to see to his boss. When he meets Raina he is attracted to her but he knows he needs to do his job. The more time he spends in town the more he wants to be with Raina. But Nolan has secrets. When his secrets come out will Raina want him in her life anymore? Will she be able to believe he wants to change and be a better man? Will Raina ever be able to trust him again? I felt I was able to connect with the characters and the story was a great read. I recommend this book.
A fun and enjoyable story with great characters! Nolan Dane has finally come home to Royal, Texas. He left after a tragedy years ago, and has only returned to complete his job acquiring land for Samson Oil, then he will head back to the life he has made from himself. Single mom Raina Patterson is finally starting to see the light after losing her shop in the tornado that destroyed much of Royal. When handsome Nolan comes into her shop, she is intrigued, but wary, as her past experience with men hasn't been good. Raina has grabbed Nolan's attention, and he uses the need to gather information on the property as an excuse to see her again. Both these characters have past hurts and secrets that they aren't ready to share. As they spend more time together, Nolan has to decide if he can let go of the past and come home to a future with Raina...if he can make her believe he was interested in her, not the property. I really enjoyed these two characters. Nolan is a truly good man who buried his feelings to deal with the pain. Meeting Raina helps him realize that he is allowed to be happy again, and that his memories will always hurt, but not as much. Raina is a strong woman who has learned to take care of herself and her son, not needing a man. When it comes to her ex, she doesn't take a stand, which I see as her biggest weakness...but we all have them. I think it makes her human. This was a well-written story, with fun and likable characters, especially a rambunctious and adorable little boy! I enjoyed this story immensely, and didn't feel lost for not reading the first in the series, although I am interested in reading them! **I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Lone Star Holiday Proposal is Yvonne Lindsay’s contribution to Harlequin Desire’s Texas Cattleman’s Club: Lies and Lullabies series. Lone Star Holiday Proposal is set in Royal, Texas a town that is coming back after a devastating tornado ripped through the town. Raina Patterson, a single mother, is finally getting her life back together. She’s reopened her antique store and has started teaching crafting classes. Nolan Dane has returned for one reason. He’s buying-up real estate all over the town for Samson Oil. Nolan has his sights set on the complex where Raina has located her store. Not only does Nolan immediately fall for Raina, he also finds himself caring for her son. As their relationship develops, secrets are revealed that threaten their relationship. And along the way, Nolan comes to grips with a past that has kept him from returning to Royal. Lone Star Holiday Proposal was another fabulous read by Ms. Lindsay. This is a fantastic holiday novel that I highly recommend. I’d like to disclose that I received an advanced copy of Lone Star Holiday Proposal in exchange for a fair and honest review.