Stranded with the Rancher (Love Inspired Series)

Stranded with the Rancher (Love Inspired Series)

by Tina Radcliffe

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460339268
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/01/2014
Series: Love Inspired Series
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 161,305
File size: 276 KB

About the Author

Tina Radcliffe has been dreaming and scribbling for years. Originally from Western NY, she left home for a tour of duty with the Army Security Agency stationed in Augsburg, Germany, and ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Her past careers include: Certified Oncology R.N. and library cataloger.  She recently moved from Denver, Colorado, to the Phoenix, Arizona area, where she writes heartwarming and fun inspirational romance.

Read an Excerpt

Small towns always look best from my rearview mirror," Elizabeth Rogers said. She tugged on her coat and turned to look at her cousin.

"Beth, you aren't even giving Paradise a chance," Ben Rogers returned.

"Sure I am. I had lunch and a tour of the hospital and clinic with the medical director. Did I mention how much I like your new clinic?" Beth paused. "But I'm not really interested in the position."

"Uh-huh. I'm thinking you can't see anything but New York City."

"I won't deny that I'm excited about New York." Beth reached out to touch Ben's arm. "But you know I'm glad you found happiness with Sara here in Paradise, right?" She smiled. "This place is perfect for you—just not for me. I guess I'm a city girl at heart."

"Not always. Remember when we lived in that little town near the Four Corners?"

"That wasn't a town. It was a gas station and half a grocery story. It reminded me of the truck stop where my mother dumped me."

Ben winced. "Ah, Beth. I'm sorry." He ran a hand through his hair. "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

She raised a palm. "No worries. I was very grateful that your parents took me in, but I've never quite forgiven them for moving us there."

"Rural medicine. You know that's their life."

"Is it okay to admit I'm relieved those days are over?"

"Not for me," he said. "God and Paradise changed that."

"You made a choice, Ben. And I'm trying to do the same. I don't want to ever be in a position where I have to choose between two evils again."

Ben shook his head.

He didn't get it. Beth sighed. No one did. Time to change the subject.

"I really love this house." She shoved her mittens and wool scarf into her soft leather, oversize tote and then looked around the guest room of the quaint Craftsman bungalow.

"Thank you," he replied.

"Too bad it's not somewhere else."

Ben chuckled. "Do you have everything?" he asked.

Beth walked around the large four-poster bed. "Aha! Cell phone charger. I would have been very unhappy if I'd left this behind." After unplugging the cord, she straightened, her gaze moving to the window. "It's really snowing now. We'd better go."

"Your flight isn't until two." He glanced at his watch. "The airport is less than forty-five minutes away. That puts you there more than three hours early."

"And that's fine with me."

"Okay. Okay. Let's tell Sara we're leaving. I think she's with the babies."

He picked up Beth's suitcase and she followed him down the stairwell to the first floor. His wife, Sara, stood in the living room between two baby swings. She was talking to a tall man in a black ski jacket with a black Stetson on his head, while simultaneously rocking identical babies in their swings.

"Dan. What are you doing here?" Ben called.

"Hey, Doc." The cowboy grinned, his glance moving to Beth.

"Dan Gallagher, this is my cousin, Dr. Elizabeth Rogers."

The cowboy removed his hat and nodded politely before putting the hat back on. "Nice to meet you, ma'am."

Beth shot him a distracted smile, her gaze pulled to the window, where enormous snowflakes obliterated the view. She needed to leave. Now.

Sara turned to Ben. "Dan brought the twins' antibiotics. The pharmacy is closing early due to the forecast."

"Much appreciated," Ben said. "This is their second ear infection in six months and none of us are happy about it."

As they chatted, Beth chewed her lip. She wasn't going to panic. Relax. Just relax. She repeated the mantra.

"Maybe we'd better get going, Ben," she suggested in her calmest voice.

"Ma'am, I don't think you're going anywhere for a while."

Beth inhaled and avoided looking at Dan Gallagher, as though she could erase what he'd just said by ignoring it. "I have to go," she finally stated.

"Weather report has recently upgraded the storm. Conditions are ripe for this to be the worst one of the season. The roads are closing as fast as that snow is moving in."

"But it's the end of March," Beth quickly countered. "It'll be April in a couple of days."

"Welcome to Colorado," Dan said.

"Ben?" she pleaded.

"Beth, I know. I get it. But I can't control Mother Nature. If this storm is coming in as fast as Dan says it is, then there won't be any airplanes going anywhere."

"I've got to be in New York by Monday." She tamped down a bubble of panic, searching for a rational thought. "Surely things will clear up by morning?"

"That could happen," Sara commented. She reached out to pat Beth's arm. "Sometimes our mountain storms hit quickly and then leave."

Dan gave a shake of his head, indicating he doubted that was going to be the case today. "I'm making a delivery in Gunbarrel," he said. "I'd be happy to take you that far. You can reevaluate the situation tomorrow. They've got a small hotel with an airport shuttle. At least you'd be halfway to the airport."

Beth brightened at the suggestion. "Yes, that would be great. Thank you."

"I thought you were on call tonight," Ben said, looking at Dan.

"On call?" Beth asked.

"Dan's a key member of our Paradise Clinic Snowmobile Rescue Team," Ben said.

Dan shrugged at the words. "I traded shifts. My brother is out of town for a prosthesis fitting and left me in charge of the ranch."

"What are you doing in town then?" Ben asked.

"With this weather we were short staffed at the pharmacy as well, so I came in for a bit."

"You left the cows alone?" Ben said the words with a laugh.

"Oh, you know. The whole family pitches in. My mother can handle things in a pinch." He nodded. "How is Joe doing?"

"One step forward and two steps back."

"We're praying," Sara said.

"Thanks." Dan's gaze met Beth's. "Well, we'd better get moving."

She turned and hugged first Ben and then Sara. "Thank you for a lovely visit." Beth patted baby Carolyn and her twin, Amanda, on their soft heads and smiled wistfully at them. A pang of longing filled her as she allowed herself to imagine what it would be like to be married and happy like her cousin. To have a child.

"They are so beautiful," she murmured.

"Give them five minutes. They both just ate and forgot they have ear infections in progress. You won't want to be here tonight when they remember again," Sara said.

"I'll be back. As soon as my schedule permits," Beth said.

Dan Gallagher's hand covered hers as they reached for the suitcase at the same time. She froze, embarrassed.

"I've got it," he said. Following her, he carried the bag into the small anteroom and then closed the door behind them before staring out the front door at the blizzard, which had risen out of nowhere in less than an hour's time.

A big silver pickup truck was parked in front of the house. The tarp that covered a snowmobile in the flatbed strained against its ties, while the edges of the blue fabric flapped furiously.

"That's quite a wind," Beth said. She wrapped her wool scarf around her neck.

Dan nodded as he pulled on a pair of dark leather gloves and picked up her suitcase again. "Ready?" he asked.

"Yes."

When he opened the door a gust of wind rushed past and slammed into her, bringing stinging flakes along as well.

Heads down, they dashed through the nearly ankle-deep snow to the curb. Yanking open the passenger door, Dan carefully helped her up and into the vehicle. Chivalry was still alive in Paradise, Beth mused.

He adjusted his Stetson against the snow before he slid the suitcase into the backseat and then came around the truck to the driver's side and got in. The man was well over six feet tall and the space inside the cab seemed to noticeably shrink as he settled in his seat. For the first time Beth really looked at him.

Beneath the brim of the Stetson his black hair was trimmed short, and the shadow of a beard accented his square jaw. When he turned slightly and his gaze met hers, Beth found herself staring into calm, slate-colored eyes. She turned away, embarrassed to be caught.

She cleared her throat. "I, ah, I really appreciate this." She brushed the snow off her hair and reached for her seat belt.

"Not a problem." He pulled on his own seat belt.

"What would you be doing if I wasn't tagging along?"

"I was heading home. This is just another day for me. Winter in Paradise means that some days getting home requires a bit more patience than other days."

"Where is it you live?" she asked.

"Outside of Paradise."

"And where is Gunbarrel?"

"A little bit farther down the road," Dan said.

"You're sure we can get there?"

"Ma'am, I'm only sure of a few things in life. But I can tell you this—if I can't get through then no one can."

The CB radio crackled as the truck roared like a wakening lion. A moment later the massive windshield wipers began to slowly shovel the snow away in large wedges. The big blades moved with a thumping rhythm.

You won't make it. You won't make it. They chanted the words over and over again.

Biting her lower lip, Beth ignored the mocking and focused on trying to see the road ahead. She had to make it to New York. She'd spent too many years working her way out of her circumstances to once again be at the mercy of something she couldn't control.

* * *

"What's in New York?" Dan finally asked. They'd driven in companionable silence for several miles, and though the driving was slow, they were well past the outskirts of town.

"I have a locum tenens position that starts on Monday," Beth answered.

"Locum tenens? You're a temp doctor?" He couldn't help the surprise in his voice.

"Yes."

Dan cocked his head and shot her a glance. "If you don't mind my asking, why would you want to be a temp doc instead of having your own practice?"

"I like traveling. New cities. New adventures."

"Ah, you're one of those." His gaze again left the road for a moment and met her cool blue eyes.

"Excuse me?" Annoyance laced her voice as she pushed strands of toffee-brown hair away from her face and stared at him.

"I just mean you're a wanderer."

"A wanderer?" She paused briefly, considering his words. "You're implying I'm lost?"

Dan held back a chuckle, recalling the Tolkien quote, "Not all who wander are lost." Another glance at Dr. Elizabeth Rogers told him she wouldn't be amused by the reference.

"No, ma'am," he finally returned.

As if reading his mind, she exhaled sharply, obviously more than a little defensive. "You know, there's nothing wrong with—"

Her voice trailed off when the vehicle suddenly lurched forward.

From habit Dan reached out an arm to protect his passenger.

When the truck jerked to the left he gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands, struggling to maintain control.

Something didn't feel right with the steering. Too much play. He'd noticed the same thing earlier in the week, but had dismissed it as his imagination. Now he chastised himself for not taking the truck in to be checked.

"You okay?" he asked as the vehicle slowed.

She nodded. "That was scary."

"Yeah. Sorry, patch of ice."

"The temperatures are dropping already?"

"There's a sheet of ice on the roads from that snow-rain mix that was coming down first," Dan said.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I've put you at risk."

"Naw. I told you I'd be out on the roads anyway, to get home." Dan turned up the defroster, hoping to clear the clouded window. "But it might be a good idea to call ahead to the Gunbarrel Hotel and let them know you're coming."

Beth pulled off her gloves and dug a cell phone out of her tote. "No reception."

"Once we get to the other side of that hill you should get something."

"What hill?" She narrowed her eyes as she peered through the windshield. "All I can see are pine trees and those tall poles."

"Snow poles. But trust me, we're almost past the hill. I've pretty much got this road memorized. I spend a lot of time back and forth, making deliveries."

"Deliveries?" Beth asked as she put the phone away.

"I'm a pharmacist."

"A pharmacist who makes deliveries?"

"Why not?" Dan smiled, amused at her reaction. "Fact is, sometimes it's the only way I can get things to my patients."

She glanced out the back window toward the flatbed. "And you're on a snowmobile rescue team?"

He nodded. "Yeah. So I know this area inside and out."

"What do you do as a volunteer?"

"Whatever Dr. Rogers tells me to do." He grinned. "Ben is your boss?"

"Dr. Sara and Dr. Ben are. Ben manages the unit and Sara is his backup. There are six of us and each member has their own area of expertise. I'm an AIFLP."

Beth stared blankly at him.

"Advanced interfacility life support paramedic."

"You're a critical care paramedic?" she asked.

"The state of Colorado doesn't have critical care paramedics…jet. Approval is tied up in government red tape."

"I'm still impressed. That's quite a specialty out in the field."

Dan shrugged. "I guess so, but I'm basically in it for the perks."

"Perks?"

"Occasionally they let me ride in the helicopter."

A smile parted her lips and her blue eyes sparkled, transforming her reserved expression. Dan was caught off guard when dimples appeared. Apparently Dr. Rogers's good humor had been restored.

He made a mental note not to annoy her again. They were in for a long day and he didn't need to be at odds with his passenger in the confining space of the truck cab. Besides, he liked it when she smiled. Elizabeth Rogers was easy on the eyes.

"Have we passed your place?" she asked.

"No, at the snail's pace we're going, it'll be a bit. I'm off the beaten path to the east. Small ranch at the base of the mountains."

"You're a rancher, as well?" she asked.

"Not me. My brother. He runs about two hundred head of cattle."

They rounded a bend in the road and Dan nodded toward the phone in her lap. "Why don't you check for signal strength again?"

Beth picked up her phone. "Yes. Got it."

"Great. Use my phone." He pulled a cell from his jacket pocket. "I have the sheriff's office on speed dial. Dispatch can connect you to the Gunbarrel Hotel."

She shook her head. "It's a recording."

"What's it say?"

"Call 9-1-1 if it's an emergency. Due to a heavy volume of calls, unable to…" Beth released a breath. "What now?"

"When is your flight?" he asked.

"It's not until two, but it's the last Alamosa-to-Denver flight until Monday. Then I still have to connect to New York." Turning to the window, she hid her expression.

"You think they're going to hold a blizzard against you?"

"I think it's likely I won't get the position. They need a physician now, not later."

"If you don't mind my asking, what's so important about a temp position?"

She looked at him. "This particular medical group auditions all candidates for their practice by allowing them to work as a locum tenens first. It's the only way you get in."

"I take it the competition is stiff."

"There were over one hundred applicants. In the end, only two of us were chosen. If either of us is a good match for their team we'll be offered a permanent job."

"What's the catch?"

"The catch?"

"You could get a job anywhere. Why this practice? What makes it so special?"

"It's been my dream for as long as I can remember."

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Stranded with the Rancher 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
MaryConnealy More than 1 year ago
I fell more in love with this book with every word and the sweet ending left me smiling and sighing with the romance of it all!
Anonymous 3 months ago
The story line was good but the story was cut off when it was just starting and left unfinished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this one.
Proudmom508 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Stranded with the Rancher by Tina Radcliffe. Like her other books, the characters are very real. Beth is struggling to find her place in the world, dealing with being stranded by a blizzard in a stranger's house, and getting a real taste of family life and the life of a rancher. Other reviewers commented that this was a medical romance but I didn't see it that way. Beth is a doctor, Dan is a pharmacist, and Dan's mom ends up in the hospital - those are parts of the story not the story. While Beth deals with her issues, Dan has issues of his own to resolve. Tina Radcliffe's writing is very descriptive. I especially loved and laughed at the snickerdoodle making scene as I could imagine being in that kitchen. I'm glad the characters followed the logical course of events (I don't want to ruin the story with a spoiler.) because that made the story more real. Great story!
Janine_S More than 1 year ago
“Stranded with the Rancher” by Tina Radcliffe is a book that moves at a record pace but at the same time it almost seems to be the slowest book on record. I heard my mother's words repeated several times through Elsie with her humor and wisdom. The time that all the main events happen may have taken place over a week or so, but the way they happened made the whole story seem realistic and not some kind of thrown together story where boy meets girl and they fall in love. There are hurdles to overcome without a doubt, and discoveries to be made that made this book that seem so fast while at the same time so slow. Beth is a woman, who right or wrong, does the things she has done for a reason that she just can't seem to let go of. This reason is revealed throughout the story and it also makes Beth seem so much more approachable in a strange way. Beth likes to be kept busy and to be needed. During her little detour she has learned a whole lot more about herself, life and God, which has made her rethink some things about herself. Beth's heart is also large and encompassing though maybe it is not all that noticeable. Dan has been burned in the past and is not willing to make the same mistake again, though he is not above making other mistakes. Dan firmly believes in what he does and how it is a ministry to help others, and he has no problems of trying to help out someone when it is within his power. Dan's story is a little slow in coming out but when it does it makes sense as why he is feeling the way he does and why he does what he does. Dan knows how to laugh freely, shows his affections easy enough with his family and isn't afraid of hard work. I so enjoy romance stories when there is a sense of realism to it, though I know that is not always the case, and love at first sight is one of those story-lines that more in likely is done either very very well or very very bad, but in my opinion this story was done remarkably well. It didn't feel as if anything was forced between Beth and Dan, and frankly it was hard sometimes, to remember that they only knew each other a very short time. I had been waiting for that first kiss for sometime for the attraction that both Dan and Beth felt for each other filled the pages so subtly that I knew it was there but it wasn't the main focus either. It is this kind of developing relationship that just seems so frustrating and sweet at the same time. There are lessons to be learned, changes and discoveries to be made which are accomplished throughout the story. There is nothing really preachy, though God is most certainly front in center in the book. It seemed as if this was a book that showed how effective it can be when one shows their love for others and God, instead of preaching about God, and how it is better to be honest when asked questions. A couple of times though it seems as if those answers were given even before the question was asked but it was perfectly timed. Certain character's were very open about their relationship with God which helped open others eyes and hearts in a very beautiful and unobtrusive way. I hope that all who read this book, enjoys it as much as I did.