Ethan Cruz should be mending fences on his Montana ranch, but instead he’s driving to the Chance Creek, Montana, airport – to pick up the bride he didn’t know he had. This latest salvo in his ongoing practical joke battle with his best friend, Rob Matheson, has gone too far, and Ethan plans to send his “bride” right back home, then get busy plotting his revenge. One look at Autumn Leeds changes his mind, however. Perhaps he needs a bride, after all. A breathtakingly beautiful city bride.Autumn Leeds needs a story – fast – or she’s going to lose her lucrative contract with CityPretty Magazine, so when she sees the crazy video plea for a modern mail-order bride for a cowboy, it sounds like the story of the century. Making a video of her own, she casts herself as the perfect mail-order bride for a rancher, but when she finally reaches Montana, she’s surprised to find Ethan’s the perfect cowboy husband-to-be. Against her better judgment, her plan to keep her handsome groom at arm’s length disintegrates into a night of passion spent in his arms.Ethan knows he can’t keep playing this game – he has to come clean with Autumn and tell her the truth; about the practical joke and about the state of his ranch. He’s about to lose it all because of the debts his mother racked up before his parents’ deaths. Now his sister, Claire, wants to sell the ranch and collect what little money they can. He’ll be out of a home and a job, and in no shape to support the bride he desperately wants to marry, after all.Autumn’s in bigger trouble than ever. Not only has she fallen in love with the subject of her expose – she might be carrying his child. If she doesn’t write this article and secure her job for another year, she’ll lose everything – her career, her apartment, and more importantly, her family’s approval. The only alternative is to stay and marry Ethan. But how can she trust a man she’s just met when she knows too well that men always let you down?Can a love based on lies last?
“Want to see her?” Cab pulled out a gadget and handed it over. Ethan held it gingerly. The laptop he bought on the advice of his accountant still sat untouched in his tiny office back at the ranch. He hated these miniature things that ran on swoops and swipes and taps on buttons that weren’t really there. Cab reached over and pressed something and it came to life, showing a pretty young woman in a cotton dress in a kitchen preparing what appeared to be a pot roast.
“Hi, I’m Autumn,” she said, looking straight at him. “Autumn Leeds. As you can see, I love cooking…”
Rob whooped and pointed. “Look – there she is! I told you she’d come!”
Ethan raised his gaze from the gadget to see the woman herself walking toward them down the carpeted hall. Long black hair, startling blue eyes, porcelain-white skin, she was thin and haunted and luminous all at the same time. She, too, held a cell phone and seemed to be consulting it, her gaze glancing down then sweeping the crowd. As their eyes met, hers widened with recognition. He groaned inwardly when he realized this pretty woman had probably watched Rob’s stupid video multiple times. She might be looking at his picture now.
As the crowd of passengers and relatives split around their party, she walked straight up to them and held out her hand. “Ethan Cruz?” Her voice was low and husky, her fingers cool and her handshake firm. He found himself wanting to linger over it. Instead he nodded. “I’m Autumn Leeds. Your bride.”
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Cora Seton loves cowboys, country life, gardening, bike-riding, and lazing around with a good book. Mother of four, wife to a computer programmer/eco-farmer, she ditched her California lifestyle eight years ago and moved to a remote logging town in northwestern British Columbia.
Like the characters in her novels, Cora enjoys old-fashioned pursuits and modern technology, spending mornings transforming a neglected one-acre lot into a paradise of orchards, berry bushes and market gardens, and afternoons writing the latest Chance Creek romance novel on her iPad mini. Visit www.coraseton.com to read about new releases, locate your favorite characters on the Chance Creek map, and learn about contests and other cool events!
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