Christmas Wishlist and Excerpt: A Cold Creek Holiday (The Cowboys of Cold Creek Book 7) by RaeAnne Thayne

Merry Christmas! These next few days leading up to Christmas I thought I would showcase some of the books that are on my Christmas Wishlist. I love a good Holiday Romance and I just wanted to share a few that I found…

A Cold Creek Holiday (The Cowboys of Cold Creek Book 7) by [Thayne, RaeAnne]

A Cold Creek Holiday (The Cowboys of Cold Creek Book 7) by RaeAnne Thayne

Purchase: Amazon

Holiday warmth brings four lonely souls out of the cold in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s classic Cowboys of Cold Creek romance!

All Emery Kendall wanted was to flee painful memories of Christmases past. She craved distraction and healing, and the mountains of Idaho offered both…plus the key to a long-buried family secret. But when she meets her host, rancher Nate Cavazos, she hardly gets a warm welcome….

The former army ranger’s smoldering good looks mask deep emotional scars. And now his hands are full as guardian of two orphaned nieces. That’s all the involvement he could handle right now.

Still, Nate can’t ignore his fierce attraction to Emery or his nieces’ instant attachment to her—until Emery’s secret shatters their happiness. Would it be a lonely Christmas for four lost souls? Or the best family holiday ever?

 

Excerpt:

Few things gave a woman a sense of her own vulnerability like driving on an unfamiliar mountain road in the dark through a snowstorm.

Her knuckles white on the wheel of the small SUV she had rented at the Jackson Hole Airport, Emery Kendall squinted through the blowing flakes the wipers tried to beat away, desperate for any sign she was even on the right road.

The GPS unit on the rental wasn’t working—naturally—and the directions she had printed off the Internet had already proved fallible twice.

She let out a breath. Stupid. This whole thing was a colossal mistake. What had seemed like such a logical plan in September, even a welcome excuse to escape the weight of her pain and grief and memories during the holidays, had lost a great deal of its allure the first time her tires slipped in the two or three inches of unplowed snow and the vehicle slid toward the ominous stretch of river ribboning beside the canyon road.

She had every reason to hate driving in the snow. It brought back too much pain, too many memories, and she couldn’t help asking herself what on earth she was doing here. She should be safe at home in Virginia, snug in her townhouse with a fire crackling in the grate and a mug of hot cocoa at her elbow while she tried to wrap her recalcitrant head around her latest project.

Alone.

She clicked the wipers up to a faster rhythm as she approached a slight break in the dark silhouette of trees lining either side of the road.

A log arch over the side road was barely visible in her headlights, but she saw enough to make out the words burned into the wood.

Hope Springs Guest Ranch. Finally.

The owners really ought to think about a few well-placed landscaping lights so weary travelers knew they were in the right place.

Not that it was any of her business how they ran their guest ranch. Right now the only thing she cared about was reaching her rented cabin, hauling her things inside and collapsing on the bed for the next two or three days.

She turned into the driveway, which was unplowed with no tracks indicating anyone else had driven this way recently, at least not since the snow started to fall.

As the tires of the four-wheel-drive whirred through the virgin powder, that sense of vulnerability and unease returned, not so much from the weather now as the sobering realization that she was heading alone to a strange place—and, she had to admit, from the knowledge that the Cold Creek Land & Cattle Company was only a mile or so up the road.

The Daltons. Three men, brothers. Wade, Jake and Seth.

A tangle of conflicting emotions tumbled through her, but she quickly pushed them all away, as she had been doing since the September night when her mother’s dying confession had rocked the entire foundation of her world.

Not now. All that could wait. At the moment, the more pressing need was to get out of this snow before she became hopelessly stranded and ended up freezing to death in a snow bank on the side of some obscure mountain road.

No Christmas lights illuminated the night, which she found odd for a guest ranch. Even a little string of white lights along the fenceline would have provided a much more cheery welcome than the unrelenting darkness.

Just when she was wondering if she had imagined that sign out front, she reached a cluster of buildings. A white-painted barn and a two-story log home dominated the scene and she was relieved to see the house ablaze with light.

The woman she had spoken with when she made the reservation months ago told her to check in at the main house. She had confirmed her reservation a few weeks ago and received the same instructions, though this time from a rather flighty sounding girl who had been somewhat vague, even as she assured Emery everything was in order for her arrival.

A cold wind dug under her jacket as she walked up the steps to the wide front porch, and she was grateful for her wool scarf and hat.

She rang the bell beside a carved wooden door and a few seconds later she heard from inside the thud of running feet and a decidedly young female voice. “Doorbell! Somebody’s here! I’ll get it, Uncle Nate.”

Three heartbeats later, the door swung open and a dark-eyed girl of perhaps seven or eight peered out.

She didn’t say anything, didn’t even smile, just simply gazed out in her blue thermal pajamas, as if finding a bedraggled traveler on their doorstep in the middle of a stormy December night was a daily occurrence.

She supposed it likely was. They did run a guest ranch, after all.

Despite the girl’s impassive expression, Emery forced a smile. “Hi. I’m Emery Kendall. I think I’m expected. I’m sorry I’m so late.”

“It’s okay. We’re not in bed yet. Just a minute.” She shifted her head and called over her shoulder. “Uncle Nate. It’s a lady in a really pretty hat.”

Emery touched her cloche, one of her own creations.

The girl held the door wide-open, but Emery didn’t feel quite right about walking inside, invited only by an eight-year-old. Conversely, she also didn’t feel right about standing in the open doorway, allowing all the delicious warmth from inside to wash past her and dissipate in the storm.

Before she could make up her mind, a man in a dark green wool henley, flannel shirt and Levi’s walked into the entry.

He exuded danger, from his hard eyes to his unsmiling mouth to the solid, unyielding set to his jaw.

She had that unsettling cognizance of her own vulnerability again. Who knew she was coming to Idaho? Only Lulu, the manager of her store, and Freddie, her best friend.

Solitary Traveler Shows Up at Dark Mountain Lodge in a Storm, Never to Be Heard from Again. She could just see the headline now.

Or maybe she had spent too many sleepless nights in the past two years watching old Alfred Hitchcock movies on the classic film channel.

Just because the man looked dangerous didn’t mean he necessarily was. How many serial killers sent little girls who called them Uncle Nate to greet their victims?

“Yes?” he asked, in a decidedly unwelcoming tone.

“I’m Emery Kendall.”

He met her gaze with raised eyebrows and a blank look. “Sorry, is that supposed to mean something to me?”

© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

 

About the Author:

RaeAnne Thayne

#1 Publishers Weekly, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

 

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