How can she resist the cowboy's smile when it promises so much pleasure?
Phillip Beaumont likes his drinks strong and his women easy. So why is he flirting with his new horse trainer, Jo Spears, who challenges him at every turn? Phillip wants nothing but the chase…until the look in Jo's haunted green eyes makes him yearn for more…
Sure, Jo's boss is as jaded and stubborn as Sun, the multi-million-dollar stallion she was hired to train. But it isn't long before she starts spending days and nights with the sexy cowboy. Maybe Sun isn't the only male on the Beaumont ranch worth saving!
Be sure to read other scandalous stories from The Beaumont Heirs series by Sarah M. Anderson, only from Harlequin® Desire!
NOT THE BOSS'S BABY A BEAUMONT CHRISTMAS WEDDING
A BEAUMONT CHRISTMAS WEDDING
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Jo got out of the truck and stretched. Man, it'd been a long drive from Kentucky to Denver.
But she'd made it to Beaumont Farms.
Getting this job was a major accomplishmenta vote of confidence that came with the weight of the Beaumont family name behind it.
This wouldn't be just a huge paycheckthe kind that could cover a down payment on a ranch of her own. This was proof that she was a respected horse trainer and her nontraditional methods worked.
A bowlegged man came out of the barn, slapping a pair of gloves against his leg as he walked. Maybe fifty, he had the lined face of a man who'd spent most of his years outside.
He was not Phillip Beaumont, the handsome face of the Beaumont Brewery and the man who owned this farm. Even though she shouldn't be, Jo was disappointed.
It was for the best. A man as sinfully good-looking as Phillip would be tempting. And she absolutely could not afford to be tempted. Professional horse trainers did not fawn over the people paying their billsespecially when those people were known for their partying ways. Jo did not party, not anymore. She was here to do a job and that was that.
"Sure am," the man said, nodding politely. "You the horse whisperer?"
"Trainer," Jo snapped, unable to help herself. She detested being labeled a "whisperer." Damn that book that had made that a thing. "I don't whisper. I train!''
Richard's bushy eyebrows shot up at her tone. She winced. So much for that first impression. But she was so used to having to defend her reputation that the reaction was automatic. She put on a friendly smile and tried again. "I'm Jo Spears."
Thankfully, the older man didn't seem too fazed by her lack of social graces. "Miz Spears, call me Richard," he said, coming over to give her a firm handshake.
"Jo," she replied. She liked men like Richard. They'd spent their lives caring for animals. As long as he and his hired hands treated her like a professional, then this would work. "What do you have for me?"
"It's awell, better to show you."
"Not a Percheron?" The Beaumont Brewery was world-famous for the teams of Percherons that had pulled their wagons in all their commercials forwell, for forever. A stuffed Beaumont Percheron had held a place of honor in the middle of her bed when she'd been growing up.
"Not this time. Even rarer."
Rarer? Not that Percheron horses were rare, but they weren't terribly common in the United States. The massive draft horses had fallen out of fashion now that people weren't using them to pull plows anymore.
"One moment." She couldn't leave Betty in the truck. Not if she didn't want her front seat destroyed, anyway.
Jo opened the door and unhooked Betty's traveling harness. The donkey's ears quivered in anticipation. "Ready to get out?"
Jo scooped Betty up and set her on the ground. Betty let off a serious round of kicks as Richard said, "I heard you traveled with awell, what the heck is that?" with a note of amusement in his voice.
"That," Jo replied, "is Itty Bitty Betty. She's a mini donkey." This was a conversation she'd had many a time. "She's a companion animal."
By this time, Betty had settled down and had begun investigating the grass around her. Barely three feet tall, she was indeed mini. At her size and weight, she was closer to a medium sized dog than a donkeyand acted like it, too. Jo had trained Betty, of course, but the little donkey had been Jo's companion ever since Granny bought Betty for Jo almost ten years ago. Betty had helped Jo crawl out of the darkness. For that, Jo would be forever grateful.
Richard scratched his head in befuddlement at the sight of the pint-size animal. "Danged if I've ever seen a donkey that small. I don't think you'll be wanting to put her in with Sun just yet." He turned and began walking.
Jo perked up. "Sun?" She fell in step with Richard and whistled over her shoulder. Betty came trotting.
"Danged if I've ever," Richard repeated.
"Sun?" she said.
"Kandar's Golden Sun." Richard blew out hard, the frustration obvious. "You ever heard of an Akhal-Teke?" The name rang a bell. "Isn't that the breed that sired the Arabian?"
"Yup. From Turkmenistan. Only about five thousand in the world." He led the way around the barn to a paddock off to one side, partially shaded by trees.
In the middle of the paddock was a horse that probably was golden, as the name implied. But sweat matted his coat and foam dripped from his mouth and neck, giving him a dull, dirty look. The horse was running and bucking in wild circles and had worked himself up to a lather.
"Yup," Richard said, the disappointment obvious in his voice. "That's Kandar's Golden Sun, all right."
Jo watched the horse run. "Why's he so worked up?"
"We moved him from his stall to the paddock. Three hours ago." Jo looked at the older man, but he shrugged. "Took three men. We try to be gentle, but the damn thing takes one look at us and goes ballistic."
Three hours this horse had been bucking and running? Jesus, it was a miracle he hadn't collapsed in a heap. Jo had dealt with her share of terrified horses but sooner or later, they all wore themselves out.
"That's the thing. No one knows. Mr. Beaumont flew to Turkmenistan himself to look at Sun. He understands horses," Richard added in explanation.
Heat flooded her cheeks. "I'm aware of his reputation."
How could anyone not be aware of Phillip Beaumont's reputation? He'd made the People Magazine "Most Beautiful" list more than a few years in a row. He had the sort of blond hair that always looked as if he'd walked off a beach, a strong chin and the kind of jaw that could cut stone. He did the Beaumont Brewery commercials but also made headlines on gossip websites and tabloid magazines for some of the stunts he pulled at clubs in Vegas and L.A. Like the time he'd driven a Ferrari into a pool. At the top of a hotel.
No doubt about it, Phillip was a hard-partying playboy. Except except when he wasn't. In preparing for this job, she'd found an interview he'd done with Western Horseman magazine. In that interviewand the accompanying photoshe hadn't been a jaded playboy but an honest-to-God cowboy. He'd talked about horses and herd management and certainly looked like the real McCoy in his boots, jeans, flannel shirt and cowboy hat. He'd said he was building Beaumont Farms as a preeminent stable in the West. Considering the Beaumont family name and its billions in the bankit wasn't some lofty goal. It was within his reach.
Which one was he? The playboy too sinfully handsome to resist or the hard-working cowboy who wasn't afraid to get dirt on his boots?
No matter which one he was, she was not interested. She couldn't afford to be interested in a playboy, especially one who was going to sign her checks. Yes, she'd been training horses for years now, but most wealthy owners of the valuable horses didn't want to take a chance on her nontra-ditional methods. She'd taken every odd job in every out-of-the-way ranch and farm in the lower forty-eight states to build her clientele. The call from Beaumont Farms was her first major contract with people who bought horses not for thousands of dollars, but for millions. If she could save this horse, her reputation would be set.
Besides, the odds of even meeting Phillip Beaumont were slim. Richard was the man she'd be working with. She pulled her thoughts away from the unattainable and focused on why she was herethe horse.
Richard snorted. "We don't deal too much with the partying out here. We just work horses." He waved a hand at Sun, who obliged by rearing on to his back legs and whinnying in panic. "Best we can figure is that maybe something happened on the plane ride? But there were no marks, no wounds. No crashesnot even a rough landing, according to the pilots."
"Just a horse that went off the rails," she said, watching as Sun pawed at the dirt as if he were killing a snake.
"Yup." Richard hung his head. "The horse ain't right but Mr. Beaumont's convinced he can be fixeda horse to build a stable on, he keeps saying. Spent some ungodly sum of money on himhe'd hate to lose his investment. Personally, I can't stand to see an animal suffer like that. But Mr. Beaumont won't let me put Sun out of his misery. I hired three other trainers before you and none of them lasted a week. You're the horse's last chance. You can't fix him, he'll have to be put down."
This had to be why Richard hadn't gone into specifics over email. He was afraid he'd scare Jo off. "Who'd you hire?"
The older man dug the tip of his boot into the grass. "Lansing, Hoffmire and Callet."
Jo snorted. Lansing was a fraud. Hoffmire was a former farm manager, respected in horse circles. Callet was old-schooland an asshole. He'd tracked her down once to tell her to stay the hell away from his clientele.
She would take particular joy in saving a horse he couldn't.
Moving slowly, she walked to the paddock gate, Betty trotting to keep up. She unhooked the latch on the gate and let it swing open about a foot and a half.
Sun stopped and watched her. Then he really began to pitch a fit. His legs flailed as he bucked and reared and slammed his hooves into the ground so hard she felt the shock waves through the dirt. Hours of this, Jo thought. And no one knows why.
She patted her leg, which was the signal for Betty to stay close. Then Jo stepped into the paddock.
"Miss" Richard called out, terror in his voice when he realized what she was doing. "Logan, get the tranq gun!"
"Quiet, please." It came out gentle because she was doing her best to project calm.
She heard footstepsprobably Logan and the other hands, ready to ride to her rescue. She held up a hand, motioning them to stop, and then closed the gate behind her and Betty.
The horse went absolutely wild. It hurt to see an animal so lost in its own hell that there didn't seem to be any way out.
She knew the feeling. It was a hard thing to see, harder to remember the years she'd lost to her own hell.
She'd found her way out. She'd hit bottom so hard it'd almost killed her but through the grace of God, Granny and Itty Bitty Betty, she'd fought her way back out.
She'd made it her life's work to help animals do the same. Even lost causes like Sun could be savednot fixed, because there was no erasing the damage that had already been done. Scars were forever. But moving forward meant accepting the scars. It was that simple. She'd accepted hers.
Jo could stand here for hours listening to the world move, if that was what it took.
It didn't. After what was probably close to forty-five minutes, Sun stopped his frantic pacing. First, he stopped kicking, then he slowed from a run to a trot, then to a walk. Finally, he stood in the middle of the paddock, sides heaving and head down. For the first time, the horse was still.
She could almost hear him say, I give up.
It was a low place to be, when living hurt that much.
She understood. She couldn't fix this horse. No one could. But she could save him.
She patted her leg again and turned to walk out of the paddock. A group of seven men stood watching the show Sun had put on for her. Richard had a tranq gun in the hand he was resting on a bar of the paddock.
They were silent. No one shouted about her safety as she turned her back on Sun, no one talked about how the horse must be possessed. They watched her walk to the gate, open it, walk out, and shut it as if they were witnessing a miracle.
"I'll take the job."
Relief so intense it almost knocked her back a step broke over the ranch manager's face. The hired hands all grinned, obviously thankful that Sun was someone else's problem now.
"Provided," she went on, "my conditions are met."
Richard tried to look stern, but he didn't quite make it. "Yeah?"
"I need an on-site hookup for my trailer. That way, if Sun has a problem in the middle of the night, I'm here to deal with it."
"We've got the electric. I'll have Jerry rig up something for the sewer."
"Second, no one else deals with Sun. I feed him, I groom him, I move him. The rest of you stay clear."
"Done," Richard agreed without hesitation. The hands all nodded.
So far, so good. "We do this my way or we don't do it at all. No second-guessing from you, the hired hands or the owners. I won't rush the horse and I expect the same treatment. And I expect to be left alone. I don't date or hook up. Clear?"
She hated having to throw that out there because she knew it made her sound as if she thought men would be fighting over her. But she'd done enough harm by hooking up before. Even if she was sober this time, she couldn't risk another life.
Plus, she was a single woman, traveling alone in a trailer with a bed. Some men thought that was enough. Things worked better if everything was cut-and-dried up front.
Richard looked around at his crew. Some were blushing, a few looked bummedbut most of them were just happy that they wouldn't have to deal with Sun anymore.
Then Richard looked across the fields. A long, black limousine was heading toward them.
"Damn," one of the hands said, "the boss."
Everyone but Jo and Richard made themselves scarce. Sun found his second wind and began a full-fledged fit.
"This isn't going to be a problem, is it?" Jo asked Richard, who was busy dusting off his jeans and straightening his shirt.
"Shouldn't be." He did not sound convincing. "Mr. Beaumont wants the best for Sun."
The but on the end of that statement was as loud as if Richard had actually said the word. But Phillip Beaumont was a known womanizer who made headlines around the world for his conquests.
Richard turned his attention back to her. "You're hired. I'll do my level-best to make sure that Mr. Beaumont stays clear of you."
In other words, Richard had absolutely no control of the situation. A fact that became more apparent as the limo got closer. The older man stood at attention as the vehicle rolled to a stop in front of the barn.
Phillip Beaumont didn't scare her. Or intimidate her. She'd dealt with handsome, entitled men before and none of them had ever tempted her to fall back into her old ways. None of them made her forget the scars. This wouldn't be any different. She was just here for the job.
The limo door opened. A bare, female leg emerged from the limo at the same time as giggling filled the air. Behind her, Jo heard Sun kick it up a notch.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Harlequin Romances used to be a monthly purchase for me. I'd walk into my local bookstore or retail location and go through the monthly releases and choose which four I would be taking home with me. I loved the process of glancing at the newest covers, reading the blurbs and the making the tough call to weed through the monthly offerings to choose my final four. I admit there were some months I'd end up taking a few more home and then there were months that I'd be lucky to find 2 that would really interest me. I'm thrilled to get back to the publisher with this book by Ms. Anderson. The voice that she brings to the table made a huge difference to my impression of not just her work but where Harlequin publishing is going in the future and I'm pleased that the direction is filled with more than what your Mom's Harlequin books were known for in romance. So on to this book in particular, Phillip Beaumont and Jo Spears are characters that are at polar ends of the equation about addiction. Jo has hit rock bottom and discovered the value of remembering what and where she is. Meanwhile Phillip uses alcohol to escape the pressure of family responsibilities and uses his position has a screen for his more outrageous actions. This topic can be as volatile as discussing politics, taxes or religion but Ms Anderson handles it with true diplomacy. She never seems to forget or overlook the damage that it has upon an individual, family and relationships. As someone who has seen this sort of behavior up close and personal, it was represented with true realism which is one of Ms Anderson's hallmark gifts of skill, tact and plain truthfulness. Our heroine, Jo, is a woman of depth, devotion and singlemindedness which she has cultivated due to her dual addiction of alcoholism and men. I appreciated the fact that she took a stand on her relationship with Phillip and stuck to it. This is the type of woman that we all need in our lives as role models and need to exemplify ourselves. Phillip is the "typical" rich kid who has had a life not living up to his father's expectations and has used the escape of alcoholism to blunt the pain that he feels. I found this character very reflective of this idea and when he moves to change his life, there was a glimmer of truth that I found compelling and heartbreaking all at the same time. The relationship between these two unique individuals is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and a determination to stand up for principles that were non-negotiable. I'm thrilled that these two characters didn't "jump into bed together" after the first meet and greet. They truly got to know each other on a deeper level before their relationship became more than boss and trainer. Final Thoughts: If you are looking for a book that will give you more than just a typical relationship then check this book out. As always, Ms. Anderson's gift shows that her characters and their story is essential to every story that she tells. A copy of Tempted by a Cowboy was provided to me by the author and nothing else was exchanged for my honest review.
As the second son, Phillip Beaumont always felt ignored by his father, except when he was on the farm where they could talk horses. Phillip felt that taking care of the Beaumont Percherons was the one thing he could do to impress his father and fit into the family business. Now he's known as the handsome "face of the Beaumont Brewery" and keeps up a wild party schedule to promote the brand. Yet, the only place he feels comfortable is on the farm taking care of the horses, including one very troubled, rare, seven-million-dollar horse named Sun. Jo Spears is a horse trainer who uses unconventional methods to retrain and rehabilitate horses. This job working with Sun is just what she needs to establish her reputation and get a hefty fee to put towards buying her own ranch. What she doesn't need is an attraction to this out-of-control playboy. Whether Phillip admits it or not, Jo recognizes the signs of an alcoholic. She knows because she is a recovering alcoholic herself, and she can't afford to get involved with someone who will drag her back to that lifestyle. But when Phillip sheds the playboy image and demonstrates that he's more than just an urban cowboy, Jo is seriously tempted. While there is not much time in this length of book to go into detail about addiction and rehab, I thought the author did a good job of portraying people destroyed by alcohol and their journey back to good health and love. Of course, the interactions with all the different horses, including Sun and the companion donkey Itty Bitty Betty, were an added bonus for this horse lover!
Absolutely loved this book. Both Jo and Phillip at one point hit rock bottom, but found their way back. Love, love love!!!!