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Rustled Mass Market Paperback – July 5, 2011

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist. Since then she has more than 40 short stories and 70 books in print. Her best-selling Harlequin Intrigue series, Whitehorse, Montana, has appeared on the USA Today bestselling list numerous times. She has also won a variety of awards including a Career Achievement Award for romantic suspense. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Dawson Chisholm reined in his horse to look back at the ranch buildings in the distance. This was his favorite view of the Chisholm Cattle Company. He'd always felt a sense of pride and respect for the ranching empire his father had built.

Today, though, he felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders for the ranch and feared for his father—and the future. Someone wanted to destroy not only what Hoyt Chisholm had built, but Hoyt himself.

"I'm going to ride up into the high country and check the cattle on summer range," he'd told his five brothers. They knew him well enough to realize that as the oldest brother he needed some time alone after everything that had happened.

They'd been at the main house sitting around the kitchen table this morning, avoiding the dining room since their father had been arrested for murder and their stepmother, Emma, had taken off to parts unknown.

The house had felt too empty, so they had all moved back in even though they had their own houses on the huge ranch. When their father's new bride, Emma, had come to the house two months ago, she'd required them all to show up freshly showered and changed for supper every evening.

No one questioned Emma's new rules, which included no swearing in the house and bowing their heads in prayer before supper. In the weeks since she and Hoyt had wed, she'd made a lot of changes at Chisholm Cattle Company.

That was until the body of Hoyt's third wife turned up and he'd been arrested.

Dawson still couldn't believe it. There was no way his father was a murderer. Unfortunately, given the evidence against him and his wealth, the judge had denied bail and Hoyt was now sitting in jail in Whitehorse awaiting trial.

Emma… Well, she'd packed up and skipped town with only a short note saying she couldn't do this. It had broken their father's heart. Hoyt Chisholm had looked older than his fifty-six years when Dawson had visited him yesterday evening. He'd taken the news about Emma even worse than Dawson had thought he would.

"Emma wouldn't just leave," his father had argued. Emma had been nothing like his father's other wives. Redheaded with a fiery temper, plump and annoyingly cheerful. Her stepsons hadn't wanted to like her. But she'd won them all over and their father clearly adored her.

"She left a note, said she couldn't do this and packed up all her stuff and was gone when we got home," Dawson said, unable to hide his own anger— and not just at Emma. His father had gone off to a cattleman's meeting in Denver two months ago and, after a quick stop in Vegas, had come back with a wife. Why was his father surprised the woman would leave, under the circumstances?

"Listen to me," Hoyt said, leaning forward behind the thick piece of bulletproof glass as he spoke into the phone provided for inmates to talk to visitors. "Emma wouldn't leave. You have to find her."

Dawson didn't need this. He and his brothers were having a hard enough time running the ranch without their father. He had a lot more important things to do than find his father's fourth wife.

But, he had to admit grudgingly, he'd liked Emma and maybe that was why he was so angry with her for bailing on their father.

"Where would you suggest I look? Is there family I can call? Friends? Is she even from Denver?" When his father didn't answer any of the questions, he said, "You really don't know anything about her, do you?"

"I know she wouldn't leave me," Hoyt had snapped.

Dawson sighed now, took one last look at the ranch and spurred his horse into the thick cool darkness of the pines. The ride up from the main house had taken most of the day. The big blue sky overhead was tinted pink to the west where the sun had dipped behind the Bear Paw Mountains.

He breathed in the sweet scent of pine. Since he was a boy, he'd always come to the high country when life got to be too much down on the prairie. Having five brothers, all of them adopted by Hoyt years ago, not even a ranch as large as this one felt big enough sometimes.

"I need one of you to see if you can find Emma," he'd told his brothers before he'd ridden out.

"Dad just doesn't want to believe that she deserted him," Marshall had said. "What's the point in finding her? She won't come back."

"I'll go," Zane had said, speaking up. When they all looked at him as if he was crazy, he said, "Dad loves her. He has enough problems without worrying about Emma. I'll see if I can find her. Did he give you any place to start?"

"All we know is that he met her in Denver," Dawson had said. "I suppose you could start there."

None of them had any hope that Zane would find her. Even less hope that if he did, she would come back and stand by their father's side during his trial.

Dawson couldn't really blame Emma when he thought about it. Rumors had circled around Chisholm Cattle Company for years after Hoyt's first wife, Laura, had drowned on a Fork Peck Reservoir boating trip.

The rumors only got worse after his second wife, Tasha, had been killed on a runaway horse. When his third wife, Krystal, had disappeared, never to be seen again, people who knew him were convinced Hoyt Chisholm had the worst luck with wives. Others weren't so sure.

There was at least one person—an insurance investigator—who suspected that Hoyt Chisholm had not only murdered all three wives, but would also do the same with his latest, Emma.

Dawson knew better. Hoyt was his father, the man who had adopted three motherless boys—Colton, Logan and Zane when the triplets' mother had died in childbirth, father unknown. He'd adopted Dawson, Tanner and Marshall when their mother had abandoned them, father also unknown.

Hoyt probably would have adopted even more children who needed homes if it hadn't been for the trouble with his wives.

Dawson, the oldest, was three when his father married his second wife, Tasha. They had been married only a short time before her death. He was five when Krystal came into their lives. She'd stayed an even shorter time. He doubted his brothers, who were all a few years younger, remembered any of them.

After that their father had raised them alone. All six of them now ranged from twenty-six to thirty-three. And then Hoyt Chisholm had met Emma.

A new wife had spurred all that old talk about Hoyt's other wives and brought former insurance investigator Aggie Wells back into their lives—until she'd gone missing. That was when their father's third wife's body had turned up. Aggie was still missing.

Dawson felt the temperature begin to drop up here in the mountains. He loved this ride from the sagebrush and prairie to the rocky mountain range, the towering pines and rush of snow-fed creeks. He'd been raised on a horse and felt as at home there as he did in the high country.

At heart he was a cattleman, he thought as he heard the comforting sound of cows lowing just over the ridge. There was nothing like that sound or seeing the herd scattered across a wide meadow.

He stopped a short way into the meadow and leaned on his saddle horn to admire the black cattle against the summer-green meadow. Chisholm Cattle Company raised the finest Black Angus beef there was—and lots of them.

At that moment he realized what a loner he was. Before Emma had left, he'd noticed that she'd seemed intent on seeing each of her stepsons settle down with the perfect woman. He shook his head at the thought. Was there a woman alive who could understand his need to ride up here and camp out for a few days with only cows as company?

He laughed at the thought, remembering some of the women he'd dated. Even hard-core country girls weren't all that up for roughin' it. He thought of the one woman he'd known who might have and quickly pushed the painful thought away.

A cold breeze stirred the deep shadows that had settled into the pine boughs. He glanced across the meadow to the spot where he usually camped and saw something move in the trees.

A hawk burst from a high branch. The cattle began to moo loudly and move restlessly in the bowl-like meadow. Something was spooking them. A mountain lion? A grizzly?

Dawson stared into the trees across the meadow and started to pull his rifle from the scabbard on his saddle, thinking it had to be a large predator for the cattle to get this nervous.

The first rider came out of the trees at a gallop. Dawson pulled his rifle as the rustler came into view and fired a shot into the air as warning before taking aim to fire another. The cattle began to scatter.

A second rustler appeared, then another and another broke from the pines; shots rang out across the grazing land as the rustlers tried to circle the now stampeding cattle.

Dawson realized the cattle were headed right for him—and so was one of the riders.

Chapter Two

With the stampeding cattle headed directly at him, Dawson realized there was nowhere to go to get away from them, and it was too late to try to outrun the herd. He was about to be caught in the middle of the stampede.

He reined his horse around in time to see one of the rustlers turn the herd at the last moment—and just enough that he was able to get out of the way. The cattle thundered past in a cloud of dust—the rustler with them.

Dawson sheathed his rifle, spurred his horse and took off after him. The rider was moving fast, bent over the horse and riding as if his life depended on it. It did, because Dawson was gaining on him. Just a few more yards…

Riding up behind him, Dawson dived off his horse, tackling the rustler. Both of them hit the ground at the edge of the thundering herd of cattle and rolled into the tall grass. Dust boiled up around them as they came to a stop at the base of a large pine tree, Dawson coming out on top.

As the dust settled, he got his first good look at the rustler. H...

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780373695553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373695553
  • ASIN: 0373695551
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

NYT and USA Today Bestselling author B.J. Daniels was born in Texas but moved with her family to Montana at the age of five. Her first home was a cabin in the Gallatin Canyon and later a lake house on Hebgen Lake outside of West Yellowstone.

Most of her books are set in Montana, a place she loves. She lives now in a unique part of the state with her husband and three Springer Spaniels.

When she isn't writing, she loves to play tennis, boat, camp, quilt and snowboard.
There is nothing she enjoys more than curling up with a good book.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debbie on March 18, 2012
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I really enjoy BJ Daniels books, they are refreshing relating to alot of books, I relate alot of her books to Montana ranch life which I came from.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Regina Harris on November 20, 2012
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Another great B. J. Daniels book. I have enjoyed this series and would love to meet some of these cowboys.
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I enjoyed Dawson's and Jinx's story. What happens when you have cattlerustling and murder you fall in love. There is a back mystery in this series. You don't have to read the other books to know what is happening but it is a good idea.
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Another episode of the Chisholm saga. Each one of of the family members will find their nitch in the ranch and the ranch. There is more to come.
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By Adrienne DeBoard on January 13, 2014
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I just love the suspense of all of B.J Daniel's books. She really knows how to keep you turning the pages. I read most of her books during my vacation. I was reading two to three books a day. I could not get enough. I started with her most recent trilogy books, (2013) now I am at the beginning. (2004). I just hope by the time I am finished with them that she has a new group of books out. I also like that is more about the story line then the sex. The way she throws in the love making part is really great. These little towns sure has a lot of secrets and action.
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By MJB on March 25, 2013
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Enjoyed
This was a fast read.
A family love story that follows the entire family; so this is fun.
The author writes about the area of the country that is beautiful and she describes this so well.
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By Melissa on March 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This one was, for me, to "busy" with three different story lines going. However, even with this the story was good and ended cohesively.
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By Dean on January 2, 2013
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I love her books. When she does a series, she never really leaves you hanging. You know there will be more about another character, but get closure with the one you read about.
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