The Cowboy And The Bride by Marin Thomas released on May 25, 2004 is available now for purchase.
About the Author
Award winning author Marin Thomas writes western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group as well as women's fiction for Berkley Books. She graduated from the University of Arizona and she and her husband live in Phoenix. When not writing she spends her free time junk hunting and researching ghost tours. Learn more about Marin's books at www.marinthomas.com or sign up for her newsletter at http://bit.ly/MarinThomasUpdates.
Read an Excerpt
The Cowboy and the Bride
By Marin Thomas
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Eyes glued to the gas gauge, Madeline Tate guided the car onto the shoulder of the road. In desperation she pumped the accelerator as the needle slipped over the E. The sedan gave one last jerk, then died. She slapped her palm against the steering wheel and glared at the small beaded handbag on the front seat. All she had was an ATM card. She'd left her cell phone in her luggage.
Furious, she gathered all thirty yards of expensive taffeta, grappled for the door handle and almost fell on her head in her haste to get out. Wobbling on two-inch satin pumps, she stumbled toward the front of the car. She stared at the tire, envisioning the missing groom's head, then drew back her leg like a field-goal kicker and let it fly.
Jonathon Carter was the biggest ass west of the Mississippi.
And because of him, Madeline was lost.
Not to mention that she didn't know where in the world she was.
She kicked the tire again. Darn it! She should be lying on the beach in the Bahamas, not stuck somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Her ears perked. Strange sounds. Short, scuffling, scratchy noises filled the air. Definitely not the sounds she heard when she opened the windows in her Seattle apartment. Images of creepy, crawly varmints scurrying through the brush and weeds made her shudder.
Mr. Ass, her ex-fiancé, had removed all their luggage from the hotel room before ditching her at the altar. She'd been so stupid, so blind! She should have known something was up when he'd suggested a quickie wedding in Vegas.
A gust of dry, dusty wind blew the three-foot-long veil in her face, and she swatted at the scratchy lace. At six in the morning, an orangey glow brushed across the horizon, casting shimmering color over the miles and miles of desolate countryside. Surely someone would drive by before too long. After all, it was Friday and people still had to go to work during the week.
A ranch house, maybe? She studied the fenced-in land alongside the road. Not a single cow, horse or other animal grazed. Aside from a few cactus and scrub brush the only vegetation was one gnarled oak off in the distance, which looked a few hundred years old.
The light appeared to be about a mile away. Under any other circumstance, an easy walk. But hiking across a cow pasture, wearing a wedding gown and two-inch heels, would be a little tricky. She picked at the lace sleeves, careful not to pull any threads. She'd paid a fortune for the designer label, and she was determined to return the cursed thing to Sofia's Wedding Boutique and demand at least part of her three thousand dollars back. She also planned to return the satin pumps, gloves, stockings, beaded purse and even the stupid garter cutting off the circulation in her left thigh. What a fool she'd been to spend so much money on wedding apparel for a Vegas wedding!
Hands full of material, she hiked the dress to her knees and skirted the bushy weeds and prickly thistles as she moved closer to the fence. She studied the barbed wire, resolved to find a way over, under or through it without tearing the gown. Wary of the barbs, she pressed down on the top wire. The rusted metal sagged easily. Whoever owned the property needed to replace the fence ... twenty years ago.
Inching the voluminous folds of satin higher, she raised her right foot and carefully positioned it over the top rung of the fence. The heel on her left foot wobbled precariously as she fought for balance.
Just then a blast filled the air, startling her. She dropped the skirt of the gown, her arms windmilling frantically as she spun toward the road. Her right foot landed on something soft and mushy, causing her to slide backward into the fence.
She heard a tearing sound and froze. Not even daring to breathe, she glared at the two old-timers who stepped out of an ancient pickup that should have found its way to the junkyard a decade ago.
They took off their hats, scratched their balding gray heads and stared at her as if she'd dropped out of the sky.
Grinding her back teeth, she smiled. "Good morning, gentlemen." She wanted to curse the fools for laying on the horn and scaring her to death but under the circumstances thought it prudent to hold her tongue.
"Roy." The taller of the two men spoke. "You ever seen anything like this before?"
The shorter man slapped his hat on his head. "Nope. Ain't never seen nothin' like this since World War II."
World War II? These guys were that old? She swallowed the scream of frustration clawing its way up her throat.
"Now that I think about it, remember the time we found that widowed gypsy woman out on Henry's property?"
"Oh, yeah -"
"Gentlemen. Would it be too much to ask for a little help, please? You see, I'm stuck to the fence. And this is a very expensive dress. I'd like to get unstuck without tearing it further."
The old cronies stared at her with blank faces.
Great. "Maybe one of you could drive into town and get some help." She flung her left arm toward the rental car. "I ran out of -" She gasped. "Shoot!" The lace on the sleeve had caught against a barb. She didn't dare try to tug it off. Carefully, she reached across her body with her right arm and tried to wiggle the material loose. Just when she thought she was making progress, something nasty crawled up her leg and bit her hip.
"Yeow!" She slapped her thigh and jiggled her leg, causing the heel of her shoe to sink into the ground. Reaching back with her hand to gain her balance, she caught the other sleeve on the fence.
"Darnedest female I ever saw."
"Please, misters. I need some help here."
"Holy mother of God."
Startled, Madeline swung her head in the direction of the voice. Her veil slipped over her eyes, and she flung her head from side to side until she could see again. A Hispanic man made the sign of the cross over his chest.
Where did he come from? She looked around and spotted a saddled horse grazing across the road.
She stamped her foot. "Will someone please call the sheriff?"
The sound of another truck engine met her ears, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this idiot would be normal. Loaded down with hay bales, the truck pulled to a stop behind the rental car. Two rangy cowhands got out, spitting tobacco at the ground.
"Well, lookie here," the one with the pockmarked face said. "If it ain't the fairy godmother." Both men guffawed at the joke. Madeline narrowed her eyes. Just what she needed, a couple of wet-behind-the-ears country bumpkins.
The younger cowboy greeted the older men. "Roy. Roger."
Excerpted from The Cowboy and the Bride by Marin Thomas Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
## I enjoyed this book for the most part. The writing style was superb and the chatacters were well developed. I adored the heroine. She was strong and so fun-loving. There were two things I didn't like: the continual mention of the dead wife (a huge turn-off for me) and the frequency of which the heroine threw herself at the hero. Rejection much? After being sent away half a dozen times, I think I'd take a hint. However, there was still plenty to love about this book. I will definitely read again.
Seattle ad agency employee Madeleine Tate is irate that her fiancé Jonathon Carter deserted her at the altar in Vegas. Dressed in her wedding gown, Madeline flees into the desert only to run out of gas in the Nevada desert near the Idaho border. She heads to a nearby ranch only to see Cyclone the bull destroy her dress though she got off without a scratch.......................... Rancher Jake Montgomery observes how kind Madeline is to his five year old daughter Annie Jane even coaxing smile out of the sad child. When Madeline mentions she needs a place to stay for three weeks before heading back to work, Jake offers her a deal to stay at his ranch but baby-sit Annie. Madeline accepts and rather quickly falls in love with the Montgomery pair. Little Annie and Jake reciprocate, but the older Montgomery believes that his beloved would rather be Sleepless in Seattle than cherished in Nevada.............................. Though the jilted bride theme may seem trite, fans will appreciate the well written contemporary romance because the two adult protagonists and the child are a delightful cast. Jake is worried about Annie especially once Madeline, a new light in his kid¿s life, leaves; that deep concern comes across as much as his own desire for Madeline to stay. It is that subtly that makes for a wonderful family drama................................... Harriet Klausner