Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hero Profile & Excerpt ~ THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS BABY by Jennifer Hoopes


Cowboy’s Christmas Baby (Fly Creek, #3)
by: Jennifer Hoopes
Series: Fly Creek
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Christmas Romance
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Publisher: Entangled ~ Bliss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google Books | Goodreads

She’s all he wants for Christmas.

Stranded in the middle of the road in big sky country, Wyoming, at eight months pregnant isn’t exactly what Sofie Pennington had planned when she decided to pack up and surprise her sister. Fly Creek is a fresh start for her, one where she’s finally free from her controlling ex and can figure out this whole single parent thing. First, though, she needs to get there. To her shock, her rescuer comes in the form of a frustratingly handsome cowboy.

Dan Rigby is on his way out of town—for good—when he stumbles across a very pregnant Sofie. She’s the most obstinate, exasperating woman he’s ever met…and the most appealing. She drives him crazy, in more ways than one. When her sister suddenly has to leave, and Dan becomes Sofie’s welcoming committee, they find themselves growing closer despite their desire for conflicting things. Can Dan convince Sofie that Christmas miracles do happen?


Name: Daniel Paul Rigby

Age: 31

Date of birth: February 22, 1987

Physical Description: 6’2”, black hair, brown eyes

Occupation: Rancher who helps run Sky Lake Dude Ranch

3 likes in no particular order: Sofie Pennington. Playing my guitar. Laney Bowler’s tarts (any flavor)

3 dislikes in no particular order: Men who mistreat women. Being taken advantage of. Pineapple.

Drink of choice: This time of year, it’s my homemade hot chocolate, especially if Sofie is drinking with me.

Favorite food: Normally it’s anything made by the ranch’s cook, Laney, but now it’s sugar cookies made by Sofie. They melt in your mouth (and she melts my heart.)

Favorite (Christmas) song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Who doesn’t love Judy Garland, and I happen to know Sofie adores the song. Maybe I should sing it to her?

Choice of transportation: Horse, although horse drawn sleigh has some definite perks if Sofie is snuggled up beside me.

Favorite way to spend an evening: Sitting with Sofie in front of the fire while she reads to her unborn child.

Best memory to date: Finding a fired-up Sofie on a cow-covered Fly Creek road, in the middle of the night. Who wouldn’t fall for an angel who thinks a simple cowboy can make a herd of cows move?

If you could have a do over, what would you do differently? I wouldn’t have tried to kiss Peyton a few months ago. She was always meant for Ryder, and well me, I think I was meant for Sofie.

Is it possible to survive tragedy and find happiness again? Absolutely! Just look at Emily and Adam Conley. Their love story is one for the ages.

Most romantic gesture: Playing a song in front of the whole town to let Sofie know how I feel about her.

Words to live by: “There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” ~Leo Christopher

“So this is your big entertainment here in town?” She’d shifted in the stool and almost overbalanced before catching herself and settling back against the railing.

“No. We reserve the term ‘big entertainment’ for something like the moonshine races in the fall.”

Sofie’s mouth hung open, and Dan closed it with a fingertip, lightly grazing her lower lip before letting it fall. “I’m kidding. We’re really not some backward town. We just happen to be small and isolated in comparison to most places on your side of the country.”

“I never thought you were backward,” she said, her eyes fixed on his hand resting on the pub table.

“Well, tonight I thought you might enjoy a different kind of race.”

As if on cue, several cowboys, temp ranch hands during the summer, carried out barstools modified with saddles on top. To go along with the festivus that Candy had instilled, each pommel had bells and a red bow hanging from it.

Sofie clapped her hands together, and Dan soaked up the smile wreathing her face. He’d promised her fun, and by the looks of it, he was well on his way to keeping that. He’d look for kudos where he could find them.

“Have you ever done it?”

Dan rubbed a hand down his neck and nodded. He couldn’t have stopped the heat spreading across his cheeks if given an entire tub of ice.

“Oooh, it was about a girl wasn’t it?”

He was saved from confessing by Candy tapping the microphone to her jean-clad legs.

“All right, cowgirls up first.”

A line of six women formed, each pointing and poking at each other and various people in the bar.

“What do they win?” Sofie asked.

“Boasting rights and drinks for the rest of the night.”

Sofie snorted. “Boasting rights. Really?”

“Ask Emily about it.”

“No.” Her eyes bulged. “Surely she didn’t.”

Dan smiled. “She wiped the floor clean. Adam strutted around like she was the prize steer.”

“I don’t believe you. You’re just teasing me.”

Dan leaned closer. “I have pictures.”

Sofie’s eyes widened even more, and she made a “gimme” gesture.

“They’re at my cabin on a flash drive. I promise I’ll show them to you before she gets back.”

His gaze lingered on hers, her eyes searching his and enjoying whatever she saw. Before he knew what he was doing, he’d leaned into the last little gap between them and brushed her lips. Her mouth was warm and soft beneath his. He’d meant it to be a one and done, but she sighed in response, and he went back for another.

Jingle bells broke through the haze, and he opened his eyes to see her questioning hazel ones staring into his. The simple answer was, he’d wanted to kiss her, but that wasn’t what she wanted to hear, as evidenced by the panic also present in her expression.

He pointed above them, and she glanced up. “Mistletoe.”

He was saved by more bells and commotion, and they both turned to see three cowgirls doing their best to ride the barstool down the dance floor. “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” blasted through the speakers as the whole bar hooted and hollered. A small redhead crossed the line first, pumping her fists.

“Figures,” Dan muttered.

“What?”

He pointed to the cowgirl now mock bowing to the cheering crowd. “Becky Jane. She’ll be unbearable tomorrow.”

He tried to keep the distraction going, but his lips still tingled from their kiss. Had he lost his damn mind? Who kissed a pregnant woman, especially one as wary as Sofie? Guilt washed over him, and he shifted in his seat, putting at least another inch of distance between them. He needed to get himself and this crazy attraction to Sofie under control.

And yet the memory of their kiss played over and over in his mind, and no distraction could keep him from thinking about how much he wanted to do it again.

***

Sofie shifted her gaze between Dan and the petite, fiery cowgirl who’d just cleaned the floor on a barstool. It was silly to be jealous. Dan wasn’t hers. She wasn’t looking, even if his out-of-the-blue, blame-it-on-the-mistletoe kiss still had her blood humming. But when she felt like an over-inflated balloon and was faced with an attractive woman who clearly had a relationship of some kind with the man who revved her engine, well, jealousy had a mind of its own.

Then again he had kissed her.

“Does she work for the ranch?” Sofie mentally patted herself on the back for how normal she sounded.

“Not technically. She’s the vet.”

“Oh.” Sofie took in the small woman. “And she handles dogs and cats?”

Dan met her gaze. “She handles it all.”

Great. Not only was the redhead pretty, she was also accomplished. Sofie pushed down a wave of inadequacy. She had accomplished some things, like college and teaching. And fleeing cross-country from a controlling ex-husband. They counted, didn’t they? She was starting to handle it all.

“And she’s the biggest pain in the butt.”

That didn’t sound like admiration.

“Well, we can’t all be charming like you,” she said drily.

That earned her a snort and narrowed gaze. “You hungry?”

“I suppose gingerbread is on the menu?”

Dan laughed, and several heads turned toward them. Sofie smiled at the strangers, earning a nice wave or tip of the hat in return.

“No. I don’t think Candy would push the limits that far. Basic bar food. But if that doesn’t satisfy your cravings, then we can go somewhere else.”

“Fries sound heavenly.”

“Fries it is,” he said, and went to put in the order with Candy.

Sofie soaked in the atmosphere as another round of girls took off. Is that…? Surely that woman was not as old as she looked. But when the stool crossed the finish line and the cowgirl turned, Sofie’s mouth snapped open. That woman was clearly someone’s grandmother.

“It will be about five,” Dan said, hopping back in his chair.

Sofie pointed but couldn’t find a tactful way to ask.

“Oh boy.” Dan rubbed his hands together and sat up straighter. “That’s Polly. She takes yoga from your sister.”

“Is she…”

“Over seventy? Yep.” He snorted. “Lord, she’ll be worse than BJ if she wins. Man, this is going to be fun.”

The two women circled one another, trash talking, and Sofie took it all in. This was beyond anything she could have imagined occurring back home in Pennsylvania. She was sure friendly rivals like this existed there, but something about Fly Creek and its inhabitants added a little something to it. Not to mention the holiday magic all but being shoved down their throat.

In the end, there was no winner. Polly stuck her boot out, tripping Becky Jane but also hooking herself in the process. Both women went tumbling, Becky Jane in a much more athletic roll than Polly, who’s descent caused a hush rather than a rush of people. Both women declared themselves fine and were treated to a round at the bar.

Sofie couldn’t stop laughing. She hugged her belly as wave after wave of giggles moved through her.

“I promised you fun, didn’t I?”

Dan’s face was flushed with pride. He’d given her this gift of an evening. One full of French fries and frivolity. A small glimpse into the town she would come to call home. It eased so many of her concerns. And he did it all without taking anything for himself.

Purchase The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby from:

The Fly Creek Series:

Her Cowboy’s Promise ~ Review
The Cowboy’s Homecoming Surprise ~ Review

Jennifer lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. When not writing, she can usually be found elbow deep in flour or inhaling chlorine as she cheers her daughter on at a swim meet. She loves musicals, caramel and roller coasters, and lists Machu Picchu at the top of her bucket list. She is a member of RWA and is the President of her local chapter, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers. 

Places to find Jennifer Hoopes:

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