The highly anticipated continuation of the Cardwell Ranch Collection, read by more than 2 MILLION!
Jackson Cardwell won't stop until she is safe.
In Montana for his brother's nuptials, Jackson Cardwell isn't looking to be anybody's hero. But the Texas single father knows a beautiful lady in distress when he meets her. Someone's hell-bent on making Allie Taylor think she's losing her mind. Jackson's determined to unmask the perp and guard the widowed wedding planner and her little girl with his life.
Allie has no idea who wants to harm her and take her daughter away. The truth is even more shocking. For Allie's past has stalked her to Cardwell Ranch. And not even the sexy cowboy who awakens irresistible passion may be able to save her from a killer with a chilling agenda.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels. When not writing, she quilts, boats and plays tennis. Contact her at www.bjdaniels.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Daniels/127936587217837 or on twitter at bjdanielsauthor.
Read an Excerpt
Allison Taylor brushed back a lock of her hair and willed herself not to scream.
"Is something wrong?" her brother-in-law asked from the kitchen doorway, startling her and making her jump.
She dropped the heavy covered pot she'd taken from the pantry a little too hard onto the counter. The lid shifted, but not enough that she could see inside.
"Didn't mean to scare you," Drew Taylor said with a laugh as he lounged against the kitchen door frame. "I was cravin' some of your famous chili, but I think maybe we should go out."
"I just need a minute. If you could see to Natalie "
"She's still asleep. I just checked." Drew studied her for a long moment. Like his brother, he had russet-brown hair and dark brown eyes and classic good looks. His mother had assured both of her sons that they were wonderful. Fortunately Drew had taken it with a grain of saltunlike his brother Nick.
"Are you okay, Allie? I've been so worried about you since Nick."
"I'm fine." She didn't want to talk about her presumed-dead husband. She really just wanted her brother-in-law to go into the other room and leave her alone for a moment.
Drew had been a godsend. She didn't know what she would have done without him, she thought as she pulled a band from her jeans pocket and secured her long, blond hair in a single tail at the back of her head.
When she'd mentioned how nice his brother was to Nick shortly after they married, he'd scoffed.
"Just be glad he likes you. He's about the only one in my family," he had added with a laugh.
"Why don't you let me help you with that," Drew said now as he took a step toward her. He frowned as his gaze went to the pot and the pile of ingredients she'd already stacked up on the counter. The chili pot was the last thing she'd brought into the kitchen from the porch of the small cabin. "You kept the pot?"
So his mother had told him about the incident.
He must think I'm losing my mind just like his mother and sister do.
The worst part was she feared they were right.
Allie looked down at the heavy cast-iron pot with its equally heavy cast-iron lid. Her hand trembled as she reached for the handle. The memory of the last time she'd lifted that lidand what she'd found insidesent a shudder through her.
The covered cast-iron casserole pot, enameled white inside and the color of fresh blood on the outside, had been a wedding present from her in-laws.
"She does know how to cook, doesn't she?" her mother-in-law, Mildred, had asked all those years ago as if Allie hadn't been standing there. Mildred was a twig-thin woman who took pride in these things: her petite, slim, fifty-eight-year-old body, her sons and her standing in the community. Her daughter, Sarah, was just the opposite of her mother, overweight and dumpy by comparison. And Mildred was always making that comparison to anyone who would listen, including Sarah.
Mildred was on her fourth husband and lived in one of the more modest mansions at Big Sky. Of her two sons, Nick had been the babyand clearly her favorite.
Nick had laughed that day when his mother had asked if his new wife could cook. "She makes pretty good chili, I'll give her that," he told Mildred. "But that's not why I married her." He'd given Allie a side hug, grinning like a fool and making her blush to the roots of her hair.
Nick had liked to say he had the prettiest wife in town. "Just make sure you stay that way," he'd always add. "You start looking like my sister and you can pack your bags."
The red, cast-iron, covered pot she was now reaching for had become her chili pot.
"Allie, I thought you'd thrown that pot away!" Drew reached to stop her, knocking the lid off in the effort. It clattered to the counter.
Allie lunged back, her arm going up protectively to shield her face. But this time the pot was empty. No half-dead squirrel inside it.
"I'm throwing this pot in the trash," Drew announced. "If just the sight of it upsets you"
"No, your mother will have a fit."
"Let her." He swept pot and lid off the counter and carried it out to the garbage can.
When he came back into the room, he looked at her and shook his head. "Allie, you've got to pull it together. Maybe you should go back to the doctor and see if there is something else he can give you. You're strung like a piano wire."
She shook her head. "I don't need a doctor." She just needed for whatever was happening to her to stop.
His gaze moved past her, his expression going from a concerned frown to a smile. "Hey, girl," he said as his five-year-old niece came into the kitchen. He stepped past Allie to swing Nat into his arms. "I came over to check on the two of you. Mama was going to cook us some dinner but I think we should go out to eat. What do you say?"
Allie started to argue that she couldn't let Drew do any more for them and she sure couldn't afford to go out to eat, but stopped as her daughter said, "Are you sick, Mama?" Her precious daughter looked to her with concern. Allie saw the worry in Nat's angelic face. She'd seen it too much lately. It was bad enough that Natalie had recently lost her father. Now more than ever she needed her mother to be sane.
"I'm fine, sweetie. It's too hot for chili, anyway. So let's go out, why not?" Allie said, relieved and thankful for Drew. Not just for coming by to check on them, but for throwing out the pot. She hadn't because her mother-in-law was upset enough and the Taylors were the only family she had, especially now.
"Just let me freshen up and change," she said as Drew took Nat to look for her shoes.
In the bathroom, Allie locked the door, turned on the shower and stripped off her clothes. She was still sweating from fear, her heart beating hard against her chest.
"You found a what in the chili pot?" her mother-in-law had asked in disbelief when Allie had called hera huge mistake in retrospect. But at the time, she'd hoped her mother-in-law would understand why she couldn't keep the pot. Why she didn't want it in her house.
"I found a squirrel in that cast-iron pot you gave me. When I picked up the lid"
"No way would a squirrel get into your cabin, let alone climb under a heavy lid like that. Why would it? You must have imagined it. Are you still on those drugs the doctor gave you after my Nicky died?"
Allie's husband had always been "my Nicky" to his mother while Mildred had insisted Allie call her "Mother Taylor."
"No, Mother Taylor, I told you." Allie's own mother had died when she was nineteen. Her father had moved, remarried and started a new family. They'd lost touch. "I quit taking the pills a long time ago."
"I think it's those pills," Mildred had said as if Allie hadn't spoken. "You said they had you seeing things that weren't there."
"The squirrel was there. I had to take it out back and"
"If I were you, I'd talk to your doctor. Why do you need the pills, anyway? It isn't like you're still grieving over my Nicky. Charlotte Reynolds told me she saw you having lunch the other day, you and Natalie, and you were laughing."
Allie had closed her eyes, remembering the lunch in question. "I am trying to make things more normal for Nat."
"Well, it looks bad, you having a good time while your poor husband is barely cold in his grave."
She wanted to mention that Nick wasn't in his grave, but knew better than to bring that up. "It's been eight months."
"Like you have to tell me that!" Mildred sniffed and blew her nose. She'd cried constantly over the death of her favorite son and couldn't understand why Allie wasn't still doing the same.
"We all grieve in our own way and I have a young daughter to raise," Allie had said more times than she wanted to recall.
The phone call had ended with Mildred crying and talking about what a wonderful man her Nicky had been. A lie at best. He'd been a lousy husband and an even worse father, but now that he was dead, he would always be the wonderful man Mildred remembered.
After that, she'd learned her lesson. She kept the other crazy things that had been happening to herself. If Mildred knew, she would have her in a straitjacket. And little Nat ? She couldn't bear to think about Mildred having anything to do with raising her daughter.
"So," Drew said as she and Nat sat across from him in a booth at a local café later that evening. "Did I hear you've gone back to work?"
It was impossible to keep anything a secret in this canyon, Allie thought. She had hoped to keep it from the Taylor family as long as possible.
"Dana Savage called me about doing a Western wedding up at her ranch for her cousin Tag and his soon-to-be wife, Lily." She didn't mention that she'd accepted the job several months ago. Or how badly she needed the money. With the investigation into Nick's presumed death still unresolved, the insurance company was holding off paying her. Not that it would last long if she didn't get back to work.
Her mother-in-law kept mentioning "that big insurance check my Nicky left you," but the insurance money would barely cover a couple years of Natalie's college, if that. And Allie hoped to invest it for that very use.
"I've been doing some work at Cardwell Ranch. Nice people to work for. But are you sure you're up to it?" Drew asked quietly, real concern in his tone. "Mother mentioned that she was worried about you. She said you were still taking the pills and they were making you see things?"
Of course Mildred told Drew and his sister, Sarah, everything. Allie tried not to show her irritation. She had no appetite, but she attempted to eat what she could. She didn't want Drew mentioning to his mother, even accidentally, that she wasn't eating much. Mildred would make it into her not taking care of herself.
"I'm fine. I'm not taking the pills. I told your mother"
He held up his hand. "You don't have to tell me about my mother. She hears only what she wants to hear. I'm on your side. I think going back to work might be the best thing for you. So what do you plan to do with Natalie? I don't have to tell you what Mother is going to say."
"Nat's going with me," Allie said emphatically. "Dana has children she can play with. As a matter of fact, Dana is going to teach Nat to ride a horse."
Natalie grinned and clapped her small hands excitedly. She was the spitting image of Allie at that age: straight, pale blond hair cut in a bob, green eyes with a pert little nose and deep dimples. Allie got the blond hair from her Scandinavian mother and the green eyes from her Irish father.
There was no sign of the Taylor family in her daughter, something that had caused a lot of speculation from not only Nick, but his mother.
Nat quickly told her uncle that it would be a very gentle horse and Dana's kids Hank and Mary were riding before they were even her age. "The twins are too young to ride yet," she announced.
"Dana wouldn't let Nat do it if she thought it wasn't all right," Allie added.
"I'm sure it will be fine," Drew said, but she could tell that he already knew what her mother-in-law was going to have to say about it. "Cardwell Ranch is where the wedding is going to be, I take it?"
"The wedding will be in a meadow on the ranch with the reception and a lot of other events in the large, old barn."
"You know that we've been invited," Drew said almost in warning.
The canyon was its own little community, with many of the older familieslike Dana'sthat dated back to the eighteen hundreds before there was even a paved road through it. Mildred Taylor must be delighted to be invited to a wedding of a family that was like old canyon royalty. Mother Taylor might resent the Cardwell clan, say things behind their back, but she would never outright defy them since everyone loved Dana Cardwell Savage and had held great respect for her mother, Mary Justice.
"How are things with you?" Allie asked.
"Everything's fine." He smiled but she'd seen the lines around his eyes and had heard that his construction company was struggling without Nick.
He'd been so generous with her and Natalie that she feared he was giving away money he didn't have.
She was just thankful when the meal was over and Drew dropped her and Nat off at the small cabin in the Gallatin Canyon where she'd lived with Nick until his disappearance. The canyon as it was known, ran from the mouth just south of Gallatin Gateway almost to West Yellowstone, fifty miles of winding road that trailed the river in a deep cut through the mountains.
The drive along the Gallatin River was breathtaking, a winding strip of highway that followed the blue-ribbon trout stream up over the Continental Divide. In the summer as it was now, the Gallatin ran crystal clear over tinted green boulders. Pine trees grew dark and thick along its edge and against the steep mountains. Aspens, their leaves bright green, grew among the pines.
Sheer rock cliffs overlooked the highway and river, with small areas of open land. The canyon had been mostly cattle and dude ranches, a few summer cabins and homesthat was until Big Sky resort and the small town that followed developed at the foot of Lone Mountain.
Luxury houses had sprouted up all around the resort, with Mother Taylor's being one of them. Fortunately, some of the original cabins still remained and the majority of the canyon was National Forest so it would always remain undeveloped.
Allie's was one of the older cabins. Because it was small and not in great shape, Nick had gotten a good deal on it. Being in construction, he'd promised to enlarge it and fix all the things wrong with it. That hadn't happened.
After Drew left, Allie didn't hurry inside the cabin. It was a nice summer night, the stars overhead glittering brightly and a cool breeze coming up from the river.
She had begun to hate the cabinand her fear of what might be waiting for her inside it. Nick had been such a force of nature to deal with that his presence seemed to have soaked into the walls. Sometimes she swore she could hear his voice. Often she found items of his clothing lying around the house as if he was still thereeven though she'd boxed up his things and taken them to the local charity shop months ago.
Just the thought of what might be waiting for her inside the cabin this time made her shudder as she opened the door and stepped in, Nat at her side.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another great Cardwell Ranch installment from B.J. Daniels! Jackson Cardwell comes to Montana for his brother’s wedding. He only plans to stay long enough for the nuptials, but he meets the widowed wedding planner, Allie Taylor, and senses something is not quite right with her. Rather than question her sanity – as everyone else seems to be doing – Jackson feels that she’s being tormented by someone. The question is – who? BJ Daniels presents a number of good suspects from the miserable mother-in-law, the creepy brother-in-law or is it the presumably dead husband? All seem to have something to gain by Allie being declared crazy or even better yet – dying. Allie has no idea who is stalking her and making her think she is losing her mind, but she knows she must fight them to protect her daughter. Jackson Cardwell has rescued her more than once and the attraction she feels for him is overwhelming. Strong characters and a plot with plenty of action and suspense make this one of my favorite Daniels’ books to date. About the time I would be certain of who the ‘bad guy’ was, the plot would take a turn and I’d have to rethink the ‘whodunit’ part. This was a good page turner and I didn’t want to put the book down until I was finished with it. I can’t wait for the next installment of the Cardwell Cousin series! I would, and have, recommended this book to my friends.
PLEASE SAVE A CARDWELL COWBOY FOR ME! WEDDING AT CARDWELL RANCH by B.J. Daniels is the second book in her Cardwell Cousins series, which is an off-shoot series from her Cardwell Ranch series. This book can be read as a standalone even though there are interconnected characters and a continuing background story. All of B.J.'s books are fresh and fascinating Western mysteries set in gorgeous scenery, suffused with intrigue, spiced with sexy cowboys and imbued with slightly sensual romance. My full review is posted at Reading Between the Wines Book Club.
A Great book Contemporary, Suspense, Romance Big Sky, Montana Jackson Cardwell isn’t looking for love and most definitely isn’t looking to be anyone’s hero. Being a single father visiting from Texas is enough for him until he meets a beautiful lady in distress. Someone is determined to convince Allie Taylor that she is losing her mind. Jackson is just as determined to unmask the perp behind what is happening. He is also going to guard the widowed wedding planner and her daughter no matter what. Allie has no idea who would want to take her daughter away or even harm her. Allie’s past is stalking her at the Cardwell Ranch. The sexy cowboy that has awakened a passion in her may not be able to save her from a shocking truth and a killer with a chilling agenda. This is proving to be a wonderful series with some great characters. The suspense keeps building until the very end with a showdown that is sure to keep readers glued to the pages until the very last clue is revealed. With all the suspects and motives in this book it is sure to keep readers guessing until the final reveal. It is full of action and suspense that keeps twisting and turning until the reader is never sure exactly which way is up. This is proving to be one series that readers are sure to love and enjoy revisiting the different characters again and again.
I had heard of the term "gaslighting" and had even read other books that talked about it but until this book, I had put two and two together! Now I KNOW what the term means for sure! Jackson comes to town for his brother's wedding. He meets the wedding planner, Allie, and he can tell that something very strange is going on with her. She is so "rattled" every time he meets her! Allie's husband is dead....he HAS to be dead....so why are all these crazy things happening to her?? Why is his shirt in her shower, why does her cabin smell like his after shave? Why do her keys constantly get lost and then reappear, and her purse too? Why is her daughter gone from her bed one minute and the next, she back asleep? She's loosing her mind!!!! She knows her in-laws hate her but they'd never do this to her.....would they? I enjoyed going on this roller-coaster ride with the next book in the Cardwell Ranch series! I loved the two children in the story too! B.J. just knows how to make each book unique so you don't get tired of any books. Each one is fresh and different and the characters are original! I'd recommend this book, even if you haven't read any of her books!
4 STARS I admit to liking B.J. Daniels stories. I like the Cardwells. The suspense was good, I was not sure who the guilty party was till it was revealed. I like the characters. Ford and Nat are cute together. They steal the show. There was a love scene that I skipped over. Jackson Cardwell is a divorced father of Ford. He has come for his brother's wedding and to see where their new restraint will be. He is not looking for romance. Allie Taylor is the wedding planner. Her husband disappeared 8 months ago. She is afraid that she might be loosing her mind or is someone playing tricks on her? Her little girl will start school this year. Allie really has no family to turn to. No one believes her when she is the only one seeing things. Natalie is cute. She likes Ford and likes the animals at Cardwell Ranch. She is even being taught to ride horses. Jackson believes Allie in fact he witnessed a few things and gives her faith in herself. That someone is really playing games with her. He wants to help her find out who is doing it. Is her husband really alive and faking his death? I like how Jackson steps up and helps her before he really knows her. He sees someone scared and wants to help her. I like seeing the characters from previous books show up and being part of the story. I also wonder who is next to fall in love. The setting is in Montana at Cardwell ranch and surrounding area. The Cardwell's from Texas are finding romance in Montana. The story was believable and kept me guessing with all the twists and turns the story took. Did not put the book down till I had finished it. I was given this ebook to read and in return agreed to give honest review of it by Netgalley.
Title: Wedding at Cardwell Ranch - Caldwell Cousins Book 3 Author: B. J. Daniels Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue Published: 6-17-2014 Pages: 219 Genre: Romance Sub-Genre: Suspense; Contemporary ISBN: 9780373697700 ASIN: B00I55GB5I Reviewed For NetGalley and Harlequin Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 Stars Following a bear attack Allie Taylor's husband Nick is presumed dead even though they did not find the body. Her daughter Natalie is her reason for continuing. When things begin to happen things not being where she left them and then found in strange places. Locked doors are suddenly found open and ajar. Is someone trying to gaslight her and steal Natalie or is she truly loosing her mind? Jackson, determined to find out who his tormenting Allie offers his help. The trouble follows them back to the ranch. As the danger escalates the sparks fly between Jackson and Ellie. Their children work to show their parents they all belong together. Written with strong characters and clear concise text that draws vivid pictures in the reader's mind. The emotions of passion and fear will be your own as you read. Suspenseful and fast paced this latest offering is a fun, dynamic read. My rating of "Wedding at Cardwell Ranch" is 4.75 out of 5 stars
B.J. Daniels blew me away with this masterfully crafted romantic suspense story! I cannot tell you how many times I had to restrain myself from jumping ahead in the book because I was DYING to know what was going to happen! There’s no way I could describe this story without giving away spoilers so I’m going to refrain from details. What I can tell you is that this book will knock your socks off! Jackson Cardwell is so dreamy! If you think chivalry is dead, you obviously haven’t met the Cardwell men. The book can totally be read as a standalone but your curiosity—like mine—will have you putting the rest of the Cardwell books on your TBR (to be read) list! This is my second read from B.J. Daniels and I am thoroughly enchanted. I’d give it 10 Stars if I could! I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a solid story, engaging characters, beautifully tempered romance and a mystery that will leave you breathless! ***I was gifted an eBook copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own***
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads! I loved this book and all the characters! Jackson was dreamy and such a sweetheart when it came to Allie whose life went off the rails since her husband died and mysterious events surrounding her are making her think she is losing it. Where is her husband, the presumption is he was killed by a bear, but no body was found? Is he really dead? If so was he killed by a bear or by someone Allie knows? Who is making Allie think she is crazy? You will have to read the book to find out more. This is the first book I have read featuring the Cardwells and now I will be looking for more books from this series. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great romantic suspense story! I will definitely be putting this my library and reading it from time to time!
I really liked this book on the Cardwell Ranch so much that I ordered two more and a collection of these books. They are very good.
Great book !
B.J. Daniel is a great writer, and her book hold your attention until the end of the story. I will buy anything she write.
What a trip! My heart was literally in my throat for parts of this novel. I couldn’t even fathom living through this, but Daniels drew me right into the mix. I couldn’t put it down. Even after I finished the novel, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She engaged me mentally & emotionally. This story was so vividly real that I could picture each and every moment of it. Daniels’ story is completely unique, yet still contains the elements that we’ve come to love from her work. Suspense, intrigue, and romance abound throughout. I found myself dying to know what would happen next, needing to know how the story ended. As soon as I saw that Jackson was the main character in this novel I knew that it would not only be unforgettable, but completely unique. The characters in this tale really brought it to life. And their individual plights come together in a shocking light that brings the entire story together. Their broken marriages give them a sense of vulnerability. Their closeness with their respective families brought the entire story together. They both bring the main characters together and set them apart. I found myself drawn to the entire cast. As a whole this was a fantastic novel. It could easily be read as a standalone, as part of the Cardwell Cousins series, or as part of the extended Cardwell series. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any fans of (or even those with a lukewarm interest in) romantic suspense. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
LOVED this book!! Hope BJ Daniels will continue with the other brothers of the Texas Boys Barbeque! Have loved all of these books. Due to the length of time between books, when you read about Dana, and her father etc. I had to stop and think and connect the dots. But it didn't take long at all... Awesome...
Wow! What a family our heroine married into. They aren't just hateful. A great story with great twists and turns. Loved it.
I just want to start by saying I LOVE a book that keeps me guessing, and has lots of fun twists and turns. B.J. Daniels doesn't disappoint with the latest installment of the Cardwell Cousins series! The book starts a little bit slow, but trust me and stick with it because the suspense builds. Characters here (as in all of Ms. Daniels' books) are well drawn and you feel as though you know them and they live just down the road by the time you put the book down. In this latest Cardwell book, a lovely young widow is facing multiple challenges, not the least of which is someone who is trying to convince her she's losing her mind and is doing a good job of it. Each turn of the page brings another surprise - read it, you'll be glad you did!