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Left with emotional scars from his time in an orphanage, Rand Sinclair has vowed never to marry. But when he discovers Callie Quinn and a small orphan boy hiding on his ranch, he can’t help but open his home to the desperate runaways.
Callie has been betrayed by every man she’s ever known. While she’s grateful for Rand’s incredible kindness, she knows it’s only a matter of time before he shows his true colors. But she needs this safe haven—maybe the outlaw on her trail won’t find them here. Yet as Rand slowly uncovers her secret fears, they each come to realize that the only way to keep her safe is for Rand to risk everything to offer her the protection of his name…and his heart.
Toby barreled out the kitchen door, trailed by Biscuit. “What’cha doin’?”
“Hi, pardner.” Brett ruffled Toby’s dark hair. “I brought you something.”
“What is it?”
“Your very own tepee.”
“To keep?” Toby’s eyes widened and his big grin spread.
“Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. If you mind your elders, you can keep it. If not, I’ll have to take it back.”
“I’m the best boy in the whole world.”
Brett’s grunt seemed to say that time would tell as he arranged twelve long poles on the ground and began tying the tops of three together with a length of rawhide. “Where do you want to put this, Rand?”
“Let’s move it over by the woodpile, where it’s out of the way.” He was going to be the only white man with an Indian tepee on his ranch. How had this sorry state of affairs come to pass? But he wouldn’t say no. It meant too much to Brett and to Toby.
Callie came from the house looking fit to be tied. “Hello, Brett. I hope this isn’t what it looks like.”
“Miss Callie, I wanted something special for Toby to play in, that’s all. If you draw the line at him sleeping out here, that’s all right. It’s up to you to decide when and how often you want the boy to use it.” Brett gave her a smile. “I’d never undermine you.”
“This could be very magical to a child,” Rand said gently.
“Please, ma’am?” Toby begged. “I wanna be an Indian.”
Biscuit gave a loud whine and spun around in a circle as though she too was adding her two cents’ worth.
“Please?” Toby persisted.
When she lifted her eyes to Rand, he gave her a lopsided grin and a wink. Getting tangled up in her warm whiskey gaze could be quite pleasurable, he found.
“Oh, all right.” Callie threw up her hands. “But I won’t have you sleeping out here, young man. You’ll play in it only when I give you permission. And you’ll have chores to do each day before you can play. Understand?”
“It’s too dangerous out here at night anyway, with that mountain lion hanging around,” Rand said. “I’ll keep an eye on him during the day. I don’t want you to worry.”
Toby hugged Callie, then threw his arms around Brett’s waist. “Thank you. I’m glad we came here.”
Brett returned Toby’s hug, then knelt to rub Biscuit’s head. “Now tell me where you got such a fine-looking animal.”
Rand stood watching the pint-sized squirt relay what little facts he knew. He already loved this little kid.
Whatever had happened to them, it made him happy that he could help bring a light to the boy’s eyes. He remembered how dull they’d been when he’d first found them in the run-down bunkhouse last week. His mind turned back time to the days following his, Cooper’s, and Brett’s escape from the orphan train. To avoid detection, they’d slept during the day and traveled by the light of the moon, eating food whenever they found some or managed to kill a rabbit or squirrel. Cooper was always the one to watch over them and fight when things called for it. He’d once tried to kill
Tolbert Early in a bathhouse for attacking Brett.
Toby had that same protective instinct. Rand only prayed he could help the boy stay a boy a while longer. Once you became a man, you could never go back.
“Where are you, brother?” Brett asked.
“Just thinking that you’d best explain what we need to do.”
With Biscuit supervising and pretty much getting in the way, they all pitched in erecting the tepee, which was made from buffalo hide.
Working side by side with Callie proved the best part. Each time their hands touched, a current ran up Rand’s arm.
He couldn’t imagine what might happen if the touching involved a bed and the scent of night around them. He’d probably just explode faster than a load of nitroglycerin. Likely find pieces of him three states over.
The haunted look had begun to fade from her eyes a little, and she wasn’t as tense and anxious as when they first arrived.
Maybe, just maybe, the fear would be gone soon.
And then he intended to kiss the daylights out of her.
Of course he’d go slow. He closed his eyes and watched it play out in his head.
He’d start by kissing each eyelid, then move to her shell-like ears and trail kisses down her long slender throat.
Tiny nibbles at the corners of her mouth.
Trace the seam with his tongue.
Breathe her fragrance.
Whisper tender words.
Only then would he press his lips fully against hers and take all that she wanted to give.
It took a minute to sink in that someone was trying to get his attention. “What?”
“Where did you go?” Brett asked. “I need you to help me get these sewn buffalo hides around this tripod and cone I’ve made. Of course, if you’d rather take a nap—”
“Just show me what to do,” Rand snapped.
As they worked, Rand’s gaze kept straying to Callie’s soft, round curves. The woman was going to be the death of him yet.
Even so, he was realizing he’d die a happy man if he could only get a taste of her lips.
Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 2015
Time and setting: 1869 Texas
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Heat Level: 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by Vikki
When Callie Quinn’s twin sister dies, she takes her nephew and runs from the boy’s outlaw father to her childhood home in Texas, a place she had felt safe and loved as a child. She needs to find her mother’s treasure box. As her mother lay dying she gave Callie and her sister a key and told them to find the box when they had the greatest need.
It’s the dead of winter and bitterly cold, when Rand Sinclair discovers Callie and her nephew in one of the outbuildings on the ranch he has recently bought. While the last thing he wants or needs is a woman and a child in his life, he cannot turn them out in the cold.
Callie has no reason to give her trust to any man. The men in her life have not been kind and each of them has betrayed her in some form or fashion, from the stepfather who turns from her upon her mother’s death to the boy she thought she loved when she was eighteen. Then her stepbrother steals something very precious.
Every woman in Rand’s life has deserted him. His mother left him when he was five, and his fiancée leaves him, running off with another man. His two adopted brothers are the only family he has ever known, and the only family he wants.
When friendship grows into more, can Callie and Rand learn to open up their battered hearts and allow love to teach them to trust that life really can have a happily ever after?
Linda Broday writes with plenty of emotion and the passionate love scenes are very moving. I truly liked Callie and Rand’s characters, and her nephew, Toby pulled at my heartstrings. The other characters in the story are intriguing, especially Brett. Ms. Broday sets up the next book in the series very well, leaving me wondering about the events she reveals at the end, enough that I will probably read the next book.
I struggled a bit with the story line because some of the backstory seemed implausible. It lacks continuity and the plot is predictable. The pacing is slow, and at times, I became frustrated and almost gave up and set the book aside. I am glad I didn’t stop reading though, because the last part of the story was much more exciting, and the high drama toward the end captured my attention and made it all worthwhile.
If you enjoy a romance that unfolds slowly with a bit of drama along the way, then Twice a Texas Bride will be an enjoyable read for you, especially if you like western historical romances with a satisfying ending.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Broday now resides in the panhandle of Texas on the Llano Estacado. At a young age, she discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. Cowboys fascinate her. There’s something about Stetsons, boots, and tall rugged cowboys that get her fired up! A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold Award. She blogs regularly at www.PetticoatsandPistols.com.