Phantom Waltz

Phantom Waltz

by Catherine Anderson


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New York Times bestselling author Catherine Anderson presents the beloved Coulter family in a novel that’s “romantic through and through” (Publishers Weekly).
One glance. That’s all it takes. Wealthy rancher Ryan Kendrick falls hard and fast for lovely Bethany Coulter. A beguiling mix of sass and shyness, naiveté and maturity, she shares his passion for horses, has a great sense of humor, and can light up a room with her beautiful smile. She’s absolutely perfect—in every way but one…
A long-ago barrel-racing accident has left Bethany confined to a wheelchair. In the years since, she has known both betrayal and heartbreak—and vowed never to open her heart to a man again. She has even accepted the possibility that she’ll never be able to enjoy a healthy intimate relationship—or have children of her own. But there’s something about handsome Ryan Kendrick. Something that makes her believe she can overcome every obstacle. Something that makes her believe in lifelong, lasting love…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593099889
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Series: Coulter Historical Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 160,329
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Catherine Anderson is the author of more than thirty New York Times bestselling and award-winning historical and contemporary romances including the Harrigan Family series, the Coulter Family series, the Comanche series, and the Mystic Creek series. She lives in the pristine woodlands of Central Oregon.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Forget chewing nails. Ryan Kendrick was so mad he could have chewed lug nuts. He had a broken-down tractor, and the parts needed to fix it should have been delivered to the Rocking K day before yesterday. As of this morning, they still hadn't arrived, and Ryan's follow-up calls had gotten him nowhere.


With one shoulder, he butted open the door of The Works, the largest ranch supply house in Crystal Falls. Harv Coulter, a rancher who'd gone bust, had started the business on a shoestring several years back, and the Kendrick brothers, along with many other ranchers in the area, had been patronizing the establishment ever since. Now the huge store was a going concern, well stocked with everything from heavy equipment to fancy western wear, the only problem being that as sales increased, the quality of service seemed to go downhill.


If Harv didn't get his employees whipped into shape, he'd start losing accounts. Delays like this, smack-dab in the middle of spring planting time, were intolerable. Due to late snows, every farmer and rancher in the basin was already behind schedule, and each day of downtime could mean thousands of dollars in lost crop revenue.


Ryan headed for an overhead sign at the rear of the feed section that read, "parts and repairs," his dusty riding boots beating out an angry tattoo on the concrete floor. When he reached a counter cluttered with parts and catalogs, he shoved aside an air filter, rested his arms on the grease-stained Formica, and settled a blistering gaze on a slender young woman who sat at a computer station near the register.


A long, luxurious mane of sable hair partly concealed her face. Her slender, neatly manicured fingers flew over the keyboard with speedy efficiency. Ryan waited for just a moment. Being ignored did little to mellow his mood. The morning was half over. He glanced at his watch and set his jaw.


"Excuse me," he said. "Is it possible to get some help around here?"


That brought her head up. Ryan went still, his gaze riveted. She had the most beautiful eyes, large, outlined with thick, dark lashes, and so deep a blue they reminded him of the Johnny-jump-up violets that grew wild at the ranch. Normally, he scoffed at the sappy phrases men used to describe women. He'd looked into a lot of eyes and never felt in danger of drowning, or losing his heart.


"I don't usually work the floor, but I can try to help you," she said, her voice as sunny as her smile, which flashed an irresistible dimple in one cheek.


Ryan couldn't stop staring. Her face was small and heart-shaped, with sculpted cheekbones, a pointy chin with just a hint of stubbornness, and a soft, sweet mouth. The tip of her delicately bridged nose was shiny and sported a smattering of freckles, which told him her flawless complexion was natural.


"What seems to be the problem?" she asked.


He started to tell her, but for an instant, his mind went as empty as a wrangler's pocket right before payday, and he couldn't remember why the hell he was there.


He had the strangest feeling, dead center in his chest-a sense of recognition-as if he'd subconsciously been searching for her all his life. Crazy. Love at first sight was more his brother's style. Ryan shopped for women like he did for boots, trying them on for size before he settled in for a long-term relationship, and even at that, he'd yet to find a comfortable enough fit to last him a lifetime.


"I, um..." He rubbed beside his nose, a habit when he got nervous. A dull ache throbbed behind his eyes. "I'm Ryan Kendrick from the Rocking K," he offered stupidly.


The sweet curve of her lips deepened. "Hi. I'm pleased to meet you. And don't feel bad. I have days like this, only worse. At least you know your name."


He huffed with laughter. "You actually forget your name?"


The dimple flashed again. "What works for me is to back up. You're Ryan Kendrick from the Rocking K, and you came in here to...?"


He snapped his fingers. "My parts."


"Your parts?"


He chuckled. "I want to know where the Sam Hill they are."


Pure devilment crept into her expression. "You've lost your parts and think I've got them? Most cowboys I know guard theirs like Fort Knox."


Ryan threw back his head and laughed. The tension that had knotted the muscles in his neck and shoulders all morning miraculously vanished.


"I hope you don't have a hot date lined up for Saturday night," she added. "A cowboy who's missing his parts could find himself in a very embarrassing situation."


He nudged up the brim of his Stetson. "Well, now, darlin', that all depends. What are you doin' Saturday night?"


It was her turn to laugh. The sound was rich and musical, and it warmed him clear through.


"I usually avoid cowboys who can't keep track of their parts."


"Go out with me, and I guarantee I'll find mine in damned short order."


"Maybe if you'll give me an order number instead of a hard time, I can help locate the little buggers for you."


Little buggers? Ryan almost corrected that misconception. But there were lines a man didn't step over, and he had a hunch this was one of them. Maybe it was the sweetness of her smile-or that innocent look he'd glimpsed in her eyes-but something told him she wasn't as worldly as she pretended to be.


As he fished in the pocket of his blue chambray shirt, he swept his gaze over her. She was a fragile, slightly built woman, which undoubtedly explained why those eyes seemed to be the biggest thing about her. But despite that, she was temptingly well-rounded in all the right places. Perfection in miniature.


Her brown shell top showcased a long, graceful neck, thin but well-defined shoulders, and creamy-white arms that looked surprisingly firm for someone with such a slight build. Beneath the brown knit, small, perfectly shaped breasts pleaded for a lingering look. Minding his manners, he flicked his gaze lower and bemoaned the fact that the counter concealed the rest of her. He was a leg man, and it was a woman's foundation that always swung the vote for him.


Wishing she'd stand up so he could get a look, he handed over the slip of paper on which he'd jotted his order number. While she scanned computer files and tracked down his parts order, they carried on a lively exchange, during which he learned she was twenty-six, had no significant other in her life except a feline named Cleo, and was the baby in a family of six kids. Her five rambunctious older brothers spoiled her rotten and kept things hopping at family gatherings.


Ryan enjoyed talking with her. Even with her attention divided between him and the computer screen, she kept him on his conversational toes. It wasn't often he ran across beauty, brains, and a great personality, all in one package.


" gonna give me a name to put with the face?" he asked.


"Bethany." Finished with the computer, she leaned back in her chair. "Well, cowboy, time to eat crow. Guess where those parts of yours are."




"En route to the Rocking K. And it's not our fault they're late. This is the busy season. Those particular parts are in high demand right now, were on back order, and took two days longer to reach us than they should have."


Ryan had heard that one before, but coming from her, it seemed more credible. He tipped the brim of his hat back down to shade his eyes before returning outdoors. "Hmm. Lucky for me, I didn't raise too much sand, huh?"


"It takes more than a cantankerous cowboy to throw me. Five brothers, remember?" She propped her elbows on the chair armrests, her big blue eyes still smiling. "Have a nice day, and good luck fixing your tractor. Too bad you're not an employee. You could charge yourself time and a half."


By that, Ryan guessed she knew who he was. No big surprise. Practically everyone in Crystal Falls, Oregon, had heard of the Kendrick family. He tipped his hat to her. "Thank you, Bethany. It's been a rare pleasure."


"Any time," she called after him as he walked away.


He had nearly reached the door before he swung to a stop. To hell with walking out. He was thirty years old and hadn't come across a woman who interested him this much in a long time. Bethany. She was beautiful, sweet, and funny. The only other women he knew who could take him from pissed off to laughing in three seconds flat were his mom and sister-in-law. No way was he leaving without at least getting her phone number, a date if he could manage it.


"I know this may seem forward," he began as he returned to the counter.


Already back at work, she glanced up from the screen, her thoughtful frown giving way to another warm smile. "You've lost your parts again already?"


Ryan chuckled. "Not on your life. I just-" He felt heat crawling up his neck. He hadn't felt nervous about asking a girl out since his early teens. "About Saturday night. I know we were only joking, but on a more serious note, I'd like to get to know you." At her startled look, he added, "Hey, I'm a nice guy. Your boss, Harvey Coulter, will vouch for me."


"Oh, I'm sure you're very nice, but-"


Ryan held up a staying hand. "How about dinner and dancing? We'll go out, have a fine meal, get to know each other a little better. Then we'll cut a rug. I'm hell on wheels at country western, and I know of a great band."


Her mouth curved in a wistful smile. "You like to dance, do you?"


"I love to dance. How about you?"


She averted her gaze. Ryan wanted to kick himself for coming on too fast. So much for that legendary charm his brother teased him about. Well, it was too late now. All he could do was go for it and hope for the best.


"I used to enjoy dancing very much." She tapped a pen on the work surface beside her computer, her small hand clenched so tightly over its length that her dainty knuckles went white.


Ryan shoved up the brim of his hat. He did his best convincing with his eyes. "Come on, sweetheart, take a chance on me. We'll have fun. I give you my solemn oath to be a perfect gentleman."


"It isn't that."


"What, then?"


To his dismay, he saw that all the laughter and mischief in her eyes had been eclipsed by shadows. He sensed he'd said or done something to cause that, but for the life of him he couldn't think what.


"If you're worried that you're too rusty to get on a dance floor, I'm easy to follow. Give me ten minutes, and you'll think you've got wings on your feet."


She rolled her chair back from the computer station and folded her hands in her lap, gazing up at him with a prideful lift of her small chin. "Somehow I rather doubt that." Her strained, overbright smile was foiled by the flush of embarrassment on her cheeks. "Don't you?"


It took Ryan a full second to register what she meant. Then he saw that she was sitting in a wheelchair.


He felt as if a horse had kicked him in the gut-an awful, suddenly breathless feeling that made his legs threaten to buckle. It had to be a joke. She was so beautiful and perfect in every other way, the girl of his dreams. There was no way-absolutely no way.


But then his gaze dropped to her legs. The hem of her gathered black skirt came to just below the knees, revealing flesh toned support hose, finely turned ankles, and small feet encased in black slippers. The way her feet were positioned on the rests, one turned inward, was typical of a paraplegic's, and as shapely as her calves were, he could see that her muscles had begun to atrophy.


Sweet Christ. He felt like a worm. His first knee-jerk reaction was to make a polite excuse and get the hell out of there. To run.


The thought made him feel ashamed. Judging by those shadows in her eyes, she'd been down this path before and gotten badly hurt, undoubtedly by a long line of jackasses just like him who'd run when they saw her wheelchair.


He'd be damned if he'd do that to her. It was only one date.


Bethany fully expected Ryan Kendrick to make fast tracks or start stammering. That was usually the way it went. Watching his dark face, she had to give him credit; he looked stunned for a moment, but he quickly recovered. Flashing a wickedly attractive grin, he said, "Well, hell, I guess dancing's out. Unless, of course, I can come up with a set of wheels so we can do the wheelchair tango."


Usually men avoided mentioning her wheelchair, and while they groped for something to say, their eyes reflected a frantic need to escape. She always wanted to crawl in a hole when that happened, but Ryan Kendrick's reaction was even worse. If he felt an urge to run, he was a great loss to the stage.


"There are a number of things besides dancing that we can go do." He rested loosely folded fists at his lean waist, frowned, and then started naming off ideas, ending with, "How's dinner followed by a good movie strike you?"


It struck her as alarming. Terrifying. He was supposed to be heading for the closest exit. She flirted all the time. A girl had to have some fun, after all. But no man had ever taken her up on it. She didn't know what to say. Every time she looked into his gun-metal blue eyes, her mind went blank. He was so handsome, the epitome of tall, dark, and gorgeous. Chiseled features, a strong jaw, jet hair, and oodles of muscle. A dangerous mix. Crystal Falls was a large town, and Bethany had attended different schools than Ryan had. She'd also been a few years younger, so they'd never moved in the same social circles. But as a teenager, she'd seen him a few times at a distance, usually out at the fairgrounds during rodeos, and she'd thought he was handsome even then. He was even more attractive now. Little wonder his name was almost legend and half the women in town fancied themselves in love with him.


"I, um..." She shrugged, for once in her life at a total loss for words. If one of her brothers had been present, he would have marked the moment.

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Phantom Waltz 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this novel very much. Being a woman in a wheelchair myself, I found it inspiring, gave me hope...It is nice to see an author write out of the box for once. Not your typical romance but a memorable one!!! I recommended to all my friends.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Owner of the Rocking K Ranch, an angry Ryan Kendrick visits the Works, a ranch supply store in Crystal Falls because his supplies were not delivered. However, the person on the floor is a gorgeous sassy woman who makes Ryan believe in love at first site. After a double entendre discussion, Ryan asks Bethany Coulter to go dancing with him, but she is confined to a wheelchair. Realizing his error, Ryan smoothly asks her out anyway and she reluctantly accepts.

Bethany has suffered several losses and not just the use of her legs from a rodeo accident. Since her injury last year, she feels men cannot be trusted and refuses to take a chance on any male, especially one with the reputation of love em and leave em Ryan. However, Ryan knows he has found his soul mate and nothing will stop him from persuading Bethany that he has a strong back and loyal heart that is exclusively hers.

PHANTOM WALTZ is a powerful ranch romance starring two fabulous lead charcaters. Ryan is a wonderful hunk who knows what he wants and nothing, including his beloved¿s efforts to end their relationship, will deter him from attaining his life¿s goal. Bethany is a heroine rarely seen in a romance novel. The relationship story line centers on more than just a love tale. The plot provides some of the difficulties confronting an active person now wheelchair bound and the obstacles to a relationship even with love as a catalyst. Catherine Anderson provides a poignant tale that deserves wide readership just as she merits awards and kudos.

Harriet Klausner

Kiko1021 More than 1 year ago
What a great follow-up to "Baby Love". Phantom Waltz is such a touching story. It's the story of Ryan Kendrick, Rafe's younger brother. He is a handsome, single, millionaire rancher who makes all the ladies swoon. He meets Bethany Coulter and is instantly taken with her. He asks her out for dinner and dancing and then she shows him she is in a wheelchair. Most of the men she has met turn tail and run once they see that, but not Ryan. He makes a date and keeps it, and from that night on he is taken with her. The story is about their developing love and how it can transcend any boundries. It really is a beautifully written story. I laughed and cried while reading this novel. I fell in love with the whole Kendrick family in "Baby Love" and they are just as lively in Phantom Waltz.
VictoriaVJ More than 1 year ago
It is not often you find an author that goes out on a limp and writes about relationships that enclude the handicapped population in this world. Ms Anderson has stepped up to the plate with this series and has done it with style and true romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have lost tack of how many times I read the papet version, and now I down loaded it for my e-reader. I like the way Ms. Anderson writes about how a young lady in a wheelchair can find love and happiness. The banter between the two main characters make you smile and can make your heart ache when they hit a snag in their relationship. Down load it and get hooked on Catherine Anderson's series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is another good Catherine Anderson present day western romance. Set in Oregon, Bethany was a triple winner in barrel racing by age 18. Her horse has a one in a million fall, causing her to become a paraplegic, and now must live in a wheelchair. She has almost no social life,but her family is uber supportive. She meets Ryan when he comes into her fathers store looking for a part that was ordered but never delivered. Ryan asks her to go dancing, not knowing she is in a wheelchair. They do go out, but to his ranch to see a newborn foal. Later they have a great time at a tractor pull. From that point on we see how Ryan tries to prove to Bethany that their love can conquer all obstacles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Love Catherine Anderson because she writes about real people. When I read Phantom Waltz, I couldn't put it down. The story has a great heroine, and an even better hero. This was my first Anderson novel, and I will keep reading her books and recommending her to everyone.
mom2lnb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Phantom Waltz is a slow, sweet love story that expresses true love in it's purest form, a selfless giving of two people to each other in every way. Except for a couple of incidents, there isn't much action to speak of. Most of the conflict revolves around overcoming the heroine's disability and her emotions surrounding it, just good old-fashioned character driven romance. I must say that Catherine Anderson is masterful at character development, creating both primary and secondary characters that are easy to like and care about. There were lots of incredibly romantic moments, such as Ryan and Bethany's first date and kiss, Ryan arranging for them to dance, and their private exchange of vows in the wilderness to name a few. There were also a few laugh-out-loud funny moments, my favorite of which was their flirtatious exchange at her family's ranch supply store, when Ryan was looking for his ¿missing parts¿. You have read it to see what I'm talking about, but it had me rolling on the floor. Also Bethany's cat who makes friends with Ryan's bull is a hoot. Although, there were parts in the story where Ryan and Bethany could have communicated better, I was generally impressed with their openness with one another and with their families, often talking freely about subjects that would make many people cringe with embarrassment. I like stories in which the main characters are friends before becoming romantically involved, so it was very enjoyable to read about the building of Ryan and Bethany's friendship. One of Ms. Anderson's trademarks that I really like is that her characters aren't prefect and they make mistakes in their relationships, but they usually seem to learn a valuable lesson and gain self-insight in the process. It makes for a lot of character growth throughout the book which is something I enjoy immensely in story-telling. Other than one incident involving Bethany near the end of the book which I have detailed below, I found the character growth in this story to be satisfying. I couldn't help but adore all the Kendrick men, Ryan, his brother, Rafe (Baby Love) and their father, Keefe. They all seem to fall hard, love fiercely, and protect their women with a vengeance, just the way I like my heroes. Both Ryan and Rafe were willing to lay down their lives for the women they loved which I find incredibly romantic. I liked the way that Catherine Anderson created love and romance in this story not just for the young, but also the young at heart. I thought it was really sweet that Keefe and Ann Kendrick were still madly in love and enjoying a healthy sex life after some thirty odd years of marriage. It was also adorable that the hardened ranch foreman, Sly, had fallen in love with Maggie's mother, Helen (Baby Love). Even though Bethany's parents played a smaller part in the story, they also had been married for many years and had a committed, loving relationship. While there was much to like about his book, there were a few things that bothered me. One minor and perhaps rather silly thing was that once Ryan and Bethany got going, they seemed to mate like rabbits.;-) While there certainly wasn't an overabundance of explicit love scenes in my opinion, there was mention of them making love sometimes upwards of four times a day. While I am certainly no prude and enjoy plenty of loving sensuality in my stories, this just simply seemed rather excessive and unrealistic to me, even for young lovers in the throes of newly discovered passion. There was also a part where Bethany was talking to virtual strangers about her sex life, in an attempt to figure out how to please Ryan, when I thought that she should have been communicating with him directly. While the whole scenario created both some amusement and some conflict which brought interest to the story, I just felt like a little more openness and honesty between them might have been in order. Eventually it happened, but just not quite soon enough to suit me. Both here and at the end o
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first of the Coulter family books, about a paraplegic heroine. Very emotional, as are all her books, but the hero was just too perfect to make it a 5-star book. At least she does her handicapped heroines well, making them realistic, and not the usual people who attained sainthood along with their handicaps. Very interesting and frank discussion of sex for a paraplegic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just read this excellant love story. A story that was written by an excellent author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See above
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Rhodes123 More than 1 year ago
I read the original book and the remake. Catherine Anderson never disappoints and is dependable for a good read. Ryan Kendrick is a wealthy rancher and falls fast for Bethany Coulter with just one look. Bethany is a shy woman but also has a flirty side. Her beautiful eyes and smile draws Ryan in but her love of animals and sense of humor brings him to his knees. She has it all except that Bethany is a paralyzed and in a wheel chair. Bethany was injured in a barrel racing accident at the tender age of 18 and shortly thereafter had her heart broken and was betrayed by her best friend. Since then she has never wanted to open her heart to another. She has been told that she may not be able to enjoy intimate relations or have children. But Ryan has other ideas and is determined to make everything possible for her, he slowly breaks down her resistance and overcomes her brothers' threats just to ensure that they have a lifetime of love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked the book. Made me realize that anyone can do most things with a little help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful heartwarming story. Life hands us so many challenges. It takes a great deal of courage to meet them head on. This book warmed my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Catherine continues to give us her best in writing her stories. Excellent book, well written. I will always pick up one of her books to step into a book world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you for this beautifull story'.. i hope it gives someone needed courage to take a chance on life and love,
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd in the series and was just as good as the first one. Thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn't put it down.