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Honorable Rancher Kindle Edition

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Length: 220 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

American Romance Series
See all of the books in Harlequin's American Romance series.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Award-winning author Barbara White Daille's most recent books from Harlequin American Romance received 4-1/2 Top Pick reviews from RT Book Reviews and a nomination for their Reviewers' Choice Award.  Upcoming titles include THE RODEO MAN'S DAUGHTER (Feb 2012) and HONORABLE RANCHER (Aug 2012).

Visit her on the Web at:  www.barbarawhitedaille.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Ben Sawyer had heard folks say that of some women. Not the one standing on the far side of the banquet hall from him, though. The one who'd done her best all day to avoid him.

Dana Wright had once worn a long white gown and walked down the aisle to meet her groom. He should know, as he'd stood up near the altar holding the ring his best friend would slip onto her finger.

Now, if the saying held true for the male side of a wedding party, he surely fit the bill.

Always a groomsman, never a groom.

Always losing out.

No sense worrying over it. He'd made his decisions a long time ago. Still, he had to fight to keep his eyes from tracking Dana's every move.

Twirling the stem of his champagne glass in his fingers, he watched the couples two-stepping past him. After plenty of turns on the dance floor himself this evening, he'd decided to sit this one out. Every once in a while, in a gap between the couples, he could see the opposite side of the hall. Just then, he caught sight of Dana disappearing through one of the glass doors to the terrace.

The newlyweds danced toward him.

"Having fun yet?" Tess asked.

"Absolutely," he confirmed. "Like everyone else."

Except Dana?

Tess's groom, Caleb, swept her away.

Ben set his glass on a nearby waiter's tray and began circling the room. Every few feet, someone stopped him. While he always enjoyed a good conversation, the interruptions came more often than he would've liked right now.

Finally, he eased away from a small group and edged over to the doorway Dana had exited through.

In the light from the carriage lamps outside, he saw her standing alone near one of the stone fountains flanking the club's entrance. He frowned and went through the door, pulling it closed behind him without a sound.

Her back to the building, she stared down into the water pooling in the base of the fountain. Lamplight and moonlight combined to make the silver combs in her blond hair sparkle. The combs held her hair up, exposing the smooth, pale skin of her neck. A row of buttons that matched her long pink dress marched down to the point where a bunch of lacy fabric covered the sweet curves of her hips.

His mouth went dry. He'd have welcomed another glass of champagne at the moment. Hell, he needed it to wet his tight throat. To occupy his hands. His fingers itched to touch those buttons now taunting him.

How had she managed to get into that dress all by herself? Would she need a hand getting out of it?

He shook his head at the stupidity—and the futility—of his questions. Of his dreams. Nine-year-old Lissa had probably buttoned her mother's dress and would unbutton it, too. In any case, Dana certainly wouldn't want his help. She didn't want his assistance with anything.

That gave him trouble, in view of the promise he'd made to his best friend. A promise he aimed to keep.

For a moment, he stood there considering his next move. Unusual for him. Folks teased that he'd talk to a tree if he couldn't find a person handy to listen to him. Yet, for the first time in his life, he didn't know what to say.

He took a deep breath and let it out again. Not wanting to startle her, he called her name in a low tone.

Without turning to look, she raised her chin a notch. She'd recognized his voice and gone into defensive mode. Hadn't he known she would? The sight should have made him turn around and leave. Instead, he smiled.

He never could pass up a challenge.

He ambled across the open space to stand by her side. Her head barely reached his shoulder. He caught the faint scent of a flowery perfume. When she neither lowered her chin nor looked at him, he gestured toward one of the small stone benches near the fountain. "How about you relax and we call a truce for tonight? After all, we're here to celebrate with Tess and Caleb."

She glanced from the bench to the country club as if assessing the lesser of two evils. "You're right, it's their night." With a small sigh, she took a seat.

The bench proved narrower than he'd expected and put him closer to her than he should've risked, truce or no truce. Their arms touched. Their elbows bumped. It would have made sense for him to wrap his arm around her shoulders. They were friends, weren't they? But once he'd touched her, could he keep it at that?

Her expression softened. "Caleb went all out for Tess, didn't he?"

"Renting the biggest hall within a hundred miles of Flagman's Folly? I'll say. Good of him to invite all the folks from town to the wedding, too."

"He seemed surprised that everyone accepted. But I know they wanted to wish him and Tess well." She smiled softly. "Tess makes a beautiful bride."

You did, too. Without missing a beat, he changed the words that had come so quickly to him. "You're looking good in that maid of honor dress yourself."

"Matron," she said. "Being a widow makes me a matron of honor."

Which makes you a woman alone with three little kids. So, why won't you accept my help? He couldn't ask that tonight. Not after he'd called for a ceasefire between them. He probably wouldn't ask that ever, as nine times out of ten, the shots came from Dana's side of their conversations. She'd never acted so defensively with him before Paul died.

"What is it they're calling Nate again?" he asked. Nate was the bride and groom's nine-year-old tomboy and the best buddy of Dana's daughter Lissa. Like the girls, Tess and Dana had been best friends all through school.

"A junior bridesmaid." She laughed. "Nate stopped fighting over wearing a dress the minute Caleb said he'd get her a pair of boots made to match his. She held her ground about being a flower girl, though."

He chuckled. "That sounds like her. Well, Sam's little girl had a good time dropping those petals in the church aisle. I heard you made her dress. And yours. Nice."

Damn him for using the compliment, but it gave him a reason to touch her lacy pink sleeve.

She shied like a filly come eye to eye with a rattler.

He clasped his hands together and stared down at them.

When he looked at her profile again, he found her gazing into the distance, unblinking. The moonlight showed her lips pressed together in a straight line, the way he'd noted much too often lately. Her cheekbones had never looked sharp before now.

Nothing could make her less beautiful to him, but it shocked him to realize she had lost weight.

She'd driven herself after losing Paul. Trying to handle everything alone had to be too much for her. He needed to stop thinking about himself—about what he wanted and could never have—and figure out some way to be of help to her.

He'd already bought the building where she rented office space so he could give her a break on the rent. There had to be something else he could do.

Right now, he just needed to get her talking. He cleared his dry throat. "Caleb's fired up about his new property. I've got to hand it to you for that one. Nobody could've done a better job of selling that ranch, especially considering it's bigger than every spread around here."

She waved her hand as if to brush his words away. "That was Tess's effort, mostly. I just stepped in to handle the paperwork when we knew she'd become half owner. Besides, she had to focus on getting married."

"Whatever the reason, I know she was happy to have you help wrap everything up in time for the wedding."

He knew Dana accepted help in return from Tess, too, when she needed it. Why wouldn't she take it from him? They'd all been friends forever, through high school and beyond. Not Caleb, who at some point had fallen a year behind. But he and Tess and Dana. Sam Robertson. Paul Wright.

He thought of his best buddy often, recalling him as young and full of life. As part of almost every memory he'd forged since the day he started school. He tried not to think about Paul's death a year and a half ago. Impossible to avoid that thought at the moment, with the man's widow sitting on the cold stone bench beside him.

In all the years since grade school, nothing had ever come between Paul and Dana. He had always honored that. Now he had to make doubly sure not to cross the line. "Today has to be hard for you," he said, keeping his voice low.

"Seeing Tess and Caleb so happy? Why should that cause me any trouble? I'm glad they're finally together."

She meant it, he knew, though her words sounded as brittle as the chipped ice in the banquet hall's champagne buckets. In the moonlight, her eyes glittered. Had she tried for a lighter tone to fight back tears? Or to prove how comfortable she felt around him?

Why did she have to prove anything? Why the heck couldn't she enjoy his company, the way she always used to? If she'd just give him that, he'd feel satisfied.

Sure, he would.

She'd grown quiet again, and he gestured toward the fountain. "What brought you out here? Wanting to make a wish?"

She shook her head. "No. Those are for people who aren't willing to work hard to get what they want."

"I can't argue with you there." Still, he felt tempted to toss a coin into the water for a wish of his own—that for once, she'd let him make things easier for her. "But there's such a thing as working too hard, you know."

"Ben, please." She gathered up her dress and stood. "You called the truce yourself, remember? I know you only want to help. For Paul. And because we're friends." Her voice shook from her stress on the word. "We've had this conversation before. Now, once and for all, I'm doing fine." As if to prove her point, she smiled. "And I have to go inside. Tess will be tossing her bouquet soon. I wo...


Product Details

  • File Size: 617 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin American Romance (August 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00835RNFE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,029 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed "The End" to her first novel many years later...in the eighth grade. Now, she's writing contemporary romance for Harlequin American Romance.

Barbara's thrilled to share that 2015 brings the release of a new series, The Hitching Post Hotel. The Hitching Post is a small, ranch-set hotel owned by a matchmaking grandpa who wants to see all his granddaughters married to the men he's handpicked for them. Unfortunately, they don't have a clue what he's up to! The series includes The Cowboy's Little Surprise (April), A Rancher of Her Own (July), and The Lawman's Christmas Proposal (December).

Barbara loves writing, reading about cowboy heroes (among many others), and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too! She hopes you will enjoy reading her stories.

She would love to have you drop by and say hi at any of these locations:

http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com

http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com/blog

You can also reach her via Facebook and Twitter:

http://www.facebook.com/BarbaraWhiteDaille

https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on August 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Lusting after your best friend's wife is not acceptable behavior for reliable, good old boy, Ben. He is the one folks have come to depend on when it comes to helping others. But when it comes to Dana, his helpful nature may have an ulterior motive. Yes, she may have married his best friend, but she will always be Ben's girl.

The plot line of this story is what intrigued me, well, that and the sexy cowboys. Dana is out to prove something to others, but most importantly to herself. With or without Paul, her husband, she can take care of herself. I have always considered myself a strong independent woman so this personality trait really hit home for me. So did the fact that sometimes independence and the need to prove something can hurt us just as much as it helps. This is a life lesson Dana had to learn. Though Dana did not make the lesson any easier on herself, it sure did create an interesting read.

If there is really a man out there like Ben, I sure would like to meet him. Ben just seems a little too perfect for me. I have met some men who are reliable and give to others, but Ben just seems to give, and give, and give while taking nothing for himself. While this is a trait I enjoyed reading about in a man, at some point it made it almost too unbelievable. In the end the same characteristics that made Ben perfect, proved to be his Achilles heel as well. With that said, if you are looking for a sexy cowboy who exhibits everything attractive about a cowboy then you sure have come to the right book. He makes something as simple as household maintenance sexy and exciting.

The romantic development is something that left me a longing for more. The relationship between these two is definitely hot and cold.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I've read several books lately where it seems everyone in town has an opinion on the hero/heroine's burgeoning relationship and honestly, they just really need to butt out! So is the case of Ben and Dana in Barbara White Daille's latest installment in the Flagman's Folly series, Honorable Rancher.

Dana is a widow raising three small children alone after her hero husband was killed at war. Her husband's best friend, Ben, has been in love with her all his life. Problem is she sees her late husband way different than the town and Ben do. She feels she can never share how she felt about her late husband with anyone especially his best friend. Following the wedding of her best friend, Dana and Ben find themselves sharing an intimate moment. When Ben tells Dana he's just following up on a promise he made to Paul (her late husband), to take care of his family she pulls way back.

First off I feel for Dana; she was in a not so good marriage to the town's golden son and she feels trapped by his memory and life in a small town. Financially she can't go anywhere and the town is home but it's oppressive. Ben is a "do the right thing" kind of guy. He's always there to lend a hand to anyone but he especially wants to help Dana and her kids, not because Paul asked him to but because he's always wanted Dana for himself. I liked both characters a lot but I felt Dana despite trying to prove she could manage on her own often let her pride get in the way. Ben honestly was a little too good to be true always giving and never getting much in return. It can be argued he got the satisfaction of being near Dana and the kids and to some extent that's true but I still think there are very few men out there that would have put up with Dana's hot/cold act for as long as he did.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amy Atwell on August 9, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found this to be a quick and enjoyable and was really drawn to Ben and Dana--two people connected by her late husband/his best friend, and the secret each one keeps. Ben has loved Dana since before she married his best friend. But friendship and pure honor kept him from ever speaking of his feelings, even after Dana's husband died while serving our country. He does what he can to make life easier for Dana and her children, even though it constantly reminds him of the family life he'd love to have with them. I can't share Dana's secret--it would spoil the story. But she has just as much honor as Ben, and the two of them are perfect for each other! A great escape to New Mexico in the fun town of Flagman's Folly. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harlequin Junkie Blog on October 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Honorable Rancher is a heartwarming tale of friendship and second chance at love.

Dana and Ben grew-up together in Flagman's Folly....Ben has loved Dana since they were kids, but when she married his best friend he had to give up his dream of love and family with Dana.

Dana is now a widow struggling to raise three small kids after he husband Paul was killed serving the country.... Having been hurt by her late husband Dana is determined never to rely on a man again, but Ben makes that task mighty difficult.

Ben made a promise to Paul before his last tour of duty to look after his family, he is honor bound to look after and care for Dana...

Dana and Ben are attracted to each other but Dana's need to be independent and Ben's need to help Dana constantly have them butting heads. Dana does not want to be an obligation to Ben.

The characters in this book were well rounded, I really Really liked Ben; he was just perfect. The push-pull relationship between Dana and Ben will keep you intrigued to the end.

If you like small towns settings, sexy cowboys and are a fan of second chance romances then Honorable Rancher is definitely a must read.

Reviewed by HarlequinJunkie.com
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