REBEL SERIES BOOK 8 (PAGE COUNT: 339)
Mail-order Groom for a Rebel
Donnie Jo promises her dying father to keep the Circle C for herself and her three younger siblings. As a widow with a small daughter, she struggles with growing ranch workload. Finances dwindle. She’s forced to let more hands go. Stress builds. Wiggling into jeans, she straddles her stallion to help with the cattle. She’s dubbed Rebel.
Desperation spawns a wild plan. When she finally confesses her deed, her sisters are horrified. Donnie hopes her smile will hide her doubts. Mounting Dixon, she gallops for north canyon to check on the herd. Char, her huge dog, follows.
Donnie’s stomach tightens. Will I be glad I advertised for a husband, or will I rue the day I thought up the mad scheme?
The prospective groom arrives when Donnie’s disheveled and smelly from working with cattle. He laughs. Her Rebel proclivity surfaces. They’re off on the wrong foot.
Time passes. Donnie longs to wait for love, but She must marry and join Andrew’s finances with hers in order to save the ranch. Finally, She plans a wedding. Will it bring the ecstasy she yearns for or surprise and shock?
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MAIL-ORDER GROOM FOR A REBEL (PAGE COUNT: 339)
Circle C Ranch, March, 1869
“You can’t be serious!”
“Indeed I am, Miss Elizabeth Grace.” Donnie Colter Logan tossed her long black curls and turned from the kitchen window to eye her younger sister.
Beth swiped a dusting of flour from her navy sleeve. “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous! You wouldn’t have to do such a fool thing if you acted more like a lady. You strut around in jeans and a man’s shirt. You look like . . . . . Like . . .”
Donnie chuckled. “Like a man?”
“No man ever swung his butt the way you do in those tight pants!” Beth rolled her blue eyes. “If Mama could see you, she’d die all over again.”
“Papa approved.” Donnie swung her hips seductively. “It’s easier to rope and ride if I’m wearing pants.”
Beth’s jaw tightened. “You’re worse than a rebel! If Papa hadn’t wanted a boy when you were born, he wouldn’t have named you Donnie Jo.” She flipped her light-brown braid back over her shoulder. “And he probably wouldn’t have permitted you to ride straddled a horse.”
“Since Papa died, I’ve had to do ranch work, and herding cattle sidesaddle would be ridiculous!”
Beth’s long skirt swished as she strode around the kitchen. “The ranch is man’s work. You should be cooking and baking bread.”
“Why?” Donnie Jo eyed the smear of dough on the pink ruffle of her sister’s apron. “We have you to do that.”
“If we had more ranch hands, you could be a lady.”
Donnie stared at her. “We couldn’t pay more hands. The cash Papa left is rapidly dwindling.”
“But . . . Mama taught us to be ladies.”
“Bethie Girl, I can’t act like a prissy lady when there’s a man’s work to be done, and I’m the only one to do it.”
“No wonder people call you a rebel.” Beth huffed. “We had nine men. You sent six packing!”
“I had no other choice. That’s why I have to help.” Donnie glanced out a window. “Had I not been willing to be a cowhand, our money would have vanished by now. I know we need more help to make the ranch profitable. That’s why I decided to marry again.” A vision from the past made her sigh. “It’s been two years since Larry was killed.”
“I know, and Papa’s been gone for months! It’s probably time for you to remarry.” Beth propped her fists on her slender hips. “But to order a . . .” She rolled her eyes. “Why can’t you marry some local fellow?”
“None appeal to me.”
“So you send for a stranger?” Astonishment blossomed on Beth’s oval face. She brushed a strand of light-brown hair away from her forehead. “You don’t like the men you know, so you’re intending to marry a man you’ve never met and hope for the best?” She shook her head. “I never heard of anything so ridiculous.”
Donnie pulled her black curls to her nape and tied them with an ocean-blue ribbon that matched her eyes. “There’s no one around here I want to marry.”
“So, as usual, you would rather do something wild! Well, I’m not going to let you make a fool of yourself.”
Donnie’s chin rose a few degrees. “It’s too late.”
“Not if I intercept the letters at the post office.”
With a wave, Donnie dismissed her sister’s concern. “I’ll do whatever I feel is necessary to save this ranch. I promised Papa. If marriage is the best solution, I’ll marry.”
“I won’t let you marry a complete stranger! I’ll steal his letters.”
“Pilfering the mail won’t help. I’ve already told you it’s too late to stop me.”
The outside door swung inward and fifteen-year-old Darlynna swept into the kitchen in time to hear the last sentence. She removed her cloak and flipped it over a peg by the door. Her long strawberry blond curls, tossed by the wind, made her appear quite fetching. Blinking, she focused on Donnie. “Too late to stop you from doing what?”
Donnie grinned. “I’m going to solve our problems.”
“By creating a hundred more?” Beth huffed.
Darlynna eyed one sister, then the other. “What’s going on?”
Donnie grinned. “You ever hear of a mail-order bride?”
The youngest Colter sister’s turquoise eyes widened. “Donnie Jo, you’re not going to marry some man who advertised for a wife, are you?”
“Ha!” Beth gripped the back of a kitchen chair. “Nothing so common. Our sister plans to advertise for a mail-order groom!”
Darlynna gasped. “Donnie Jo! Is that true?”
“We need a man around here, Darly.” Resolve tightened Donnie’s lips. “Neither you nor Beth have plans to marry. That means I’ll have to.”
“But, a . . .” Darlynna laughed. “You’ve come up with rebel ideas in the past, but this tops them all. I’m with Beth. We’re not going to let you do such a ridiculous thing.”
“It’s too late. I’ve already told you that.”
Beth glared. “It’s never too late. Just don’t do it.”
“It’s done.” Donnie grinned with satisfaction. “He’s on his way.”
The color drained from Beth’s sweet face. “But . . .”
Darlynna stood blinking. “You mean you’re just going to marry a stranger?”
“He won’t be a stranger for long.”
Darlynna rested pleading eyes on Beth. “What can we do to stop her?”
“I don’t know.” Beth slumped to a kitchen chair and propped her elbows on the table. “Wyatt helps a lot, and he’ll be doing more soon. Our dear sister couldn’t wait for something so simple.”
“There isn’t time to wait.” Donnie seized her jacket and headed for the door, then turned to face her sisters. “I expect the gentleman to be here sometime before too long.”
“No!” Beth set her jaw. “Maybe I’ll have to ride out to intercept him.”
Donnie lifted one dark eyebrow. “To do what?”
“I’ll think of something.” Beth grinned. “Maybe I’ll have to kill him.”