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The Colton Bride (Harlequin Romantic Suspense\The Coltons) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Series: Harlequin Romantic Suspense\The Coltons (Book 1772)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037327842X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373278428
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carla Cassidy is an award-winning author who has written more than fifty novels for Harlequin Books. In 1995, she won Best Silhouette Romance from RT Book Reviews for Anything for Danny. In 1998, she also won a Career Achievement Award for Best Innovative Series from RT Book Reviews. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The three Colton sisters sat in the parlor area of Catherine's bedroom suite, each of them pretending to carry on a casual conversation while ignoring the reason they were gathered together.

The pregnancy test Catherine had just taken was in the adjoining bathroom and none of them had looked at it yet to see the results.

The suite was three rooms: the sitting area, the bedroom and the bath. All were decorated in a splendor of pinks and black with silver accessories. This was Catherine's haven, the place she felt most safe and secure, but at the moment her nerves screamed inside her.

"Jim Radar's bull got himself all tangled up in a mess of barbed wire this morning. It took me hours to get him unwound and cleaned up," Amanda said. At twenty-eight, Amanda had a successful large animal veterinarian practice and a six-month-old daughter, Cheyenne, who was the love of her life. "I gave Jim a lecture about the dangers of barbed wire, but I think it went in one ear and out the other."

"How's the barn project coming along?" Catherine asked her younger sister, Gabriella. Gabby had a dream of turning an old red barn on the property into a center for troubled teens. She was not only devoted to her project but also planning a Christmas wedding with Trevor Garth, head of security here at the Dead River Ranch.

"Slowly," Gabby admitted, her green eyes sparkling with happiness. "I keep getting distracted by wedding plans. It's already October and that doesn't give me much time to have a perfect wedding by December."

"It's going to be a beautiful wedding and hopefully it will bring some joy into this place," Catherine replied.

Amanda sighed with a touch of impatience. "We've only got an hour before dinnertime. Shouldn't somebody go in there and check and find out if the answer is yes or no?"

Once again Catherine's nerves jumped erratically inside her veins, as if attempting to make a hasty escape. How had she gotten herself into the situation where she'd even have to take a pregnancy test? Before the question fully formed in her head, she knew the answer. She'd been such a fool. They'd always been so careful, always had what she assumed was safe sex, but apparently it was possible that at some point a condom hadn't done its job.

She stood from the dainty pink-and-white chair where she'd been seated, an anxious dread attempting to weigh her back down. "I guess I'll go find out."

Gabby jumped up off the chaise where she and Amanda had been seated. She grabbed hold of Catherine's cold hand. "I'll go with you, Cath."

The whole thing felt surreal. When Catherine had missed her first period she'd chalked it up to all the stress and madness that had been taking place over the past couple of months at the ranch. When she'd missed her second period, she'd finally decided it was time to take the test. And now it was the moment of truth.

She squeezed Gabby's hand tightly as they entered the large, plush bathroom. The plastic test container was on the back of the stool and within five steps of it she could see the result. The positive sign glared up at her.

She was vaguely aware of Gabby's small gasp, but a curious numbness swept over Catherine. Pregnant. She was pregnant. The words went around and around in her head, but she couldn't grasp the concept.

She picked up the test and threw it into the small trash can next to the commode and then she and Gabby returned to the sitting room. Gabby gave a nod to Amanda as Catherine sank back down on her chair.

"So, what are you going to do, Cath?" Amanda asked.

"I don't know. I'm not sure. I need some time to think," Catherine replied. "Neither of you can tell anyone about this. It has to be our secret until I figure things out."

Amanda nodded solemnly. "My lips are sealed."

"Pinky swear," Gabby said. "You know your secret is safe with us."

Catherine did know. She and her sisters had always been a team, confiding in each other, trusting each other, especially lately when there was such tension, such a sense of uncertainty and a faint simmer of danger in the house.

"I need to go check on Cheyenne," Amanda said as she stood.

"And I've got some things to get to before dinner." Gabby gazed at Catherine in concern. "Are you going to be all right?"

"Of course." Catherine forced a smile to her lips.

"Do you need to talk or something?"

Catherine shook her head. "I just need some time to process everything. I think I'll head out to the petting barn for a little while before it's time to eat."

She'd be able to think more clearly there among the little creatures that depended on her for their care. She'd always found peace in the petting barn and she definitely needed some peace at the moment.

Thankfully, as she made her way downstairs and to one of the back doors, she encountered nobody. She didn't want to see anyone right now, didn't want to have to indulge in idle chitchat. She needed to embrace the fact that she was pregnant by a man she'd thought she might be in love with, a man she now abhorred.

The Dead River Ranch was one of the most prosperous spreads in Wyoming. The two-thousand-acre ranch was located in the Laramie Mountains, forty miles from Cheyenne.

The enormous mansion housed not only the three sisters, but also their sickly father, other relatives and staff and ranch hands. It was an entire community unto itself, and for the past three months the community had been folding in on itself, but she couldn't think about all that right now.

Not only was the house huge, but there were outbuildings everywhere and the remains of several that had burned in a horrible fire that had occurred two months before.

Old barns competed with new ones, stables and sheds dotted the landscape against a backdrop of blue endless skies and thick woods of a variety of trees.

As she stepped outside, she drew in a deep breath of the fresh, slightly bracing October air. It smelled of evergreen tinged wind from the mountains and of pastures browning with the cooler air. Cattle were visible in the distance, enjoying the late-afternoon sunshine while they grazed.

She headed toward the miniature barn where the petting area was located next to the huge stables building. The petting barn had been built two years ago when Catherine had found herself the unexpected owner of two friendly ferrets.

The owner of the ferrets, a friend of Catherine's, was getting married and moving and she didn't want to take her little babies to the local animal pound. Catherine had taken them and then had talked her father into building the petting barn.

She'd known her father, Jethro, would like the idea of a place where school and scout groups could come.

He loved the idea of anyone visiting the ranch and admiring all that he'd built here.

The minute she opened the waist-high white gate that surrounded a small outdoor arena, Inky and Dinky, the two miniature donkeys brayed a greeting and competed with two sheep, three pygmy goats and a pot-bellied pig to get her attention.

She laughed as she was nudged and head-butted by the variety of animals all vying for an ear scratch, a belly-rub or the nuggets of grains she often carried with her before coming into the enclosure. "Sorry, kids, nothing for you this afternoon," she said. Her words didn't lessen the enthusiasm of the furry, fluffy creatures who loved her with or without treats.

It took several minutes for her to make sure that each and every one of them got a little special time and then she headed inside the miniature barn that housed the smaller animals. Rabbits ran in a fenced area and ducks quacked their happiness as they swam in a small pool that was continuously fed fresh water. A large cage held Frick and Frack, the two ferrets who were favorites among the school and scout troops that came to visit the hands-on animal barn.

During those visits, Catherine acted as spokeswoman, educating the kids on each type of animal and their natural habitats and origins. It was something she loved to do when she got the opportunity.

There were stalls to house the outdoor animals during the harsh, cold winters and the entire barn was heated to keep everyone toasty while the snow flew outside and the temperatures dropped to subzero.

Today, as she checked food and water containers, petted and stroked each and every animal, her mind was a million miles away.


She was pregnant.

Catherine admired Amanda her veterinarian business and Gabby for her commitment to troubled teens. At twenty-six years old Catherine hadn't yet figured out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

All she'd ever really dreamed of was being a wife and a mother. She'd once believed that would happen with Gray Stark, one of the ranch hands whom she'd loved with every fiber of her being when she'd been a teenager. Then one day she'd awakened to discover that he'd left Dead River Ranch and her behind without a word of explanation.

It had taken her a long time to realize he wasn't coming back, that whatever they'd shared was over and eventually she got on with her life. Thank goodness she hadn't waited around for him. He'd been gone from the ranch for five long years.

She lowered her hand to stroke a small circle across her still-flat lower stomach. Pregnant. Be careful what you wish for, she thought ruefully as she headed back toward the gate. She'd gotten half her wish, but the timing couldn't be worse.

She and the father of the baby had broken up two months ago and nothing and nobody would fix that particular relationship. She didn't want i...

More About the Author

Carla Cassidy lives in the Midwest with her husband, Frank. She's the author of over eighty books and can't think of anything she'd rather do for a living than tell stories.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Blonde Betty on October 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book picks up several months after the previous. Not much has changed at Dead River Ranch. Ravages of the recent fire inform the landscape and a pall of despair and danger seems to have descended on the Ranch and surrounding areas. The new Sherriff is making a valiant effort to untangle the mess left by the previous occupant of the position, but the level of corruption makes things difficult. The patriarch, Jethro, is still in a coma and not answering any questions.

Catherine and Gray make an effort to figure out what's going on, but the bulk of the story is centered on their reunion and keeping Catherine safe. The keeping Catherine safe turns out to be a real fear as she is almost kidnapped twice and actually kidnapped once. Suspicion begins to fall on the entire household. Gray rescues Catherine, but they are no closer to any answers than they were when we began.

Beginning the fourth book I was hoping it was time to start wrapping up some of the loose ends; there are a lot of them. That was wishful thinking on my part. Instead of wrapping anything up, Cassidy introduces another murder. She does give us tantalizing glimpses of who may be masterminding the entire operation, but actual confirmation of anything remains elusive. I know I have my theories, but with the way this series has played out, I think I'm destined to be wrong.

Cassidy delivers with her installment of the series. Her characters are well-developed and believable. She moves things forward according to the timeline and leaves us wanting more. As with the previous three, I can't wait to read the next installment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gray Stark is a character mentioned in the previous books, but never revealed to be an old love interest of one of the Colton sisters.

Catherine Colton and Gray Stark's love story ran the typical path of miscommunication when they were teenage lovers: his leaving without saying good-bye and she being hurt over his leaving. He returns years later to take his father's place as ranch foreman and for 5 years has very little interaction with her.

Catherine being pregnant by someone else was a hard swallow. The author tried to explain who she "thought" she loved the man then learned he was only after her inheritance. Once he found out she wouldn't be getting anything until she turned 30 in three long years, he left.

Long buried desires surfaced for both of them as Gray suggested he become her husband so he could protect her 24/7. They had their adventures along the way with a couple of kidnapping attempts on Cat and an actual kidnapping that lasted only a few hours.

The best part of their story was how they worked together to try to solve the mysteries surrounding Dead River Ranch. Their story was the perfect set up for the next book in the series featuring Dylan Frick (another character mentioned in all the books so far). By working together to solve mysteries, Gray discovered a passion for something other than ranch work and Cat felt useful. With their being together day and night, their love could reignite with no way of getting away from it.

Another book in the series that continues to mention Amanda's daughter Cheyenne without mention of Gabby's future step-daughter Avery. With all the other things continuing in this series, it would be nice to include the infant from the first book who started this mystery.

Good story.
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By Susan Kathleen O'Briant on April 22, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this whole series! Sometimes could not put the book down, wanted to know who dun it! I recommend the full series of these books.
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By Ardyth Elms on December 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent series. I loved reading about the not so perfect Coltons and the their not so perfect lives. You couldn't help but hope for them to win their personal battles.
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Wonderful story and I want to read more of the Coltons ..Its nice that you write about a clean romantic love story.
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