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Book 13: The Curse of February Fourteenth (Three Rivers Ranch Romance™)

Book 13: The Curse of February Fourteenth (Three Rivers Ranch Romance™)

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Escape to Three Rivers, Texas for small-town charm, sweet and sexy cowboys, and faith and family centered romance. 

About THE CURSE OF FEBRUARY FOURTEENTH: A runaway tennis star with a secret identity, a single dad cowboy, and the Cinderellaesque fairy tale romance that changes their hearts. This enchanting Christian cowboy romance captures the magic of love, faith, and the power of second chances at the heart of Three Rivers Ranch.

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

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Cal Hodgkins dusted his palms together as he left the stables at Bowman’s Breeds, located out at Three Rivers Ranch. He took a moment to enjoy the dusky light and perfect temperatures at this time of year. October was definitely the best month to be outside in Texas.

“You goin’ to the dance tonight?” Garth Ahlstrom paused as he walked past, fully turning when Cal didn’t answer right away. “There’s dancing,” the foreman of the ranch continued, a playful twinge in his tone. “Cookies. Costumes. Girls.” A full-fledged smile galloped across his face with the last word.

Cal gave him an obligatory smile. He liked dancing, that was for sure. And cookies. He could do without the costumes, though he’d sent his six-year-old daughter a yellow princess dress so she could be appropriately dressed for her first grade Halloween party. Her mother and his ex-wife had sent pictures from the festivities earlier that day.

“Maybe,” Cal said, thinking of his quiet cabin and the grilled cheese sandwich he could enjoy with a documentary about professional wrestling he’d found last weekend but hadn’t had time to watch yet.

Garth, another silver-haired man like Cal, ducked his hat and continued on his way. Done with the horse care for the day, Cal strolled toward his cabin, his mind already wandering through the fields at the ranch he loved so much.

“You goin’ to the dance?” Sawyer asked.

“Maybe,” Cal told the cowhand.

Step, step, step.

“You goin’ to the dance?” Beau asked.

“Maybe,” Cal told his next-door neighbor.

He’d just reached his steps when Bennett stuck his head out of the barn doors. “A bunch of us are fixin’ to go to the dance at seven-thirty.” He grinned at Cal like they were old pals. Sure, Cal liked hanging out with the boys, but that was exactly the problem.

They were boys, none of them over thirty.

He was the only one who’d been married, the only one with a child who came to the ranch every other weekend, the only one who lived in a cowboy cabin alone.

“You’re welcome to come.” Bennett stepped out of the barn fully and leaned against the side of it.

“I don’t—”

“Come on,” Bennett said. “You can’t stay cooped up here all weekend. It’s Halloween.” He said it like Halloween was some great holiday, not to be missed.

Cal couldn’t say he didn’t fit with the other boys, wasn’t interested in women, even though at thirty-nine-years-old he didn’t fit and he wasn’t interested in finding another mother for Sabrina.

But a companion for himself…. He sighed. “Seven-thirty?”

Bennett whooped and crossed the gravel path between the barns and the cabins. “You’ll have fun, Cal.”

“What are you dressing up as?”

“Cowboys.” Bennett grinned and practically skipped back into the barn.

Cal couldn’t help chuckling, and he had to admit that his heart took a bit of courage at not having to spend the evening alone. He usually liked being alone, but it had been a difficult week of work, dealing with a couple of pregnant horses on the ranch and then an accident at Brynn’s that left two of her champion trainees hobbling around.

He hurried into his cabin and showered, putting on his best cowboy clothes, the ones he normally wore to church each Sunday. He got his grilled cheese and he managed to squeeze in a few minutes of that documentary before he headed through the barns to the parking lot. He didn’t have to look far to find the boys heading into town.

The truck looked full already, with four men piled in the back. Their laughter rang through the clear air and almost made Cal turn around and go on home.

But Bennett had seen him, and he waved and said, “C’mon, Cal. We’re gonna be late.”

“It’s seven-twenty-five,” Cal said as he appraised the options for seating.

“Saved you a spot in the cab.” Bennett grinned at him and leaned closer. “Had to convince Sawyer that the old man needed it.” He laughed as he danced away from Cal’s disdainful look. “Get in, Cal.”

Cal got in. The forty-five minute drive into Three Rivers was filled with chatter between Bennett and his cabin mate, Beau. All the boys at the ranch called them B&B, because they never seemed to go anywhere without the other. As if their similarities weren’t already enough, they were dating a set of sisters in town, who of course, would be at the dance tonight.

Cal listened to them talk about how they’d recognize the girls, as they were very excited about the prospect of a masked ball.

That got Cal’s attention. “Masks?”

“All the women are wearing masks,” Bennett said. “I just know I’m gonna fail at picking out Ruby.”

“So I’m not even going to know who I’m dancing with?” Cal shifted on the seat.

“Nope.”

Cal looked out the window, running through his options. He could go get ice cream at the shop down the street, wander the town until Bennett called and said it was time to go. He could—

“You’re going,” Bennett said. “I can practically see what you’re thinkin’.”

“What if I have to dance with Margaret?” Cal asked, not wanting to be rude, but, well, he simply couldn’t do that again. Not that he’d ever danced with her, because the very idea sent a shudder through his muscles.

“Oh, Margaret,” B&B said at the same time. They exchanged a glance, which didn’t lift Cal’s spirits at all.

“You guys gotta keep her away from me,” Cal said.

“We’ve gotta—” Beau started at the same time Bennett said, “Sure, boss. Double wing men, at your service.” He turned toward the downtown park, where the summer dances and other town festivals were always held. With three blocks still to go, the vehicles started thickening along the curbs.

Bennett pulled over into the next spot he saw and everyone piled out of the truck. Seven cowboys made quite the scene as they made their way to the party in full swing in the park. Cal automatically hung back while the other boys forged on, almost infected by the vibe in the country music staining the air.

Cal had fallen back three paces before Bennett turned to find him. “C’mon, boss,” he called, and Cal wished he wouldn’t call him “boss.” He wasn’t anyone’s boss; it was just something Bennett called every man older than him.

Cal didn’t come on. Something shook him inside. Probably all the bodies on the dance floor that had been laid over the grass. Or the dozens of people who wore masks. Any of them could be Margaret.

He lifted a red plastic cup of punch to his lips and drank the sugary-sweet liquid. Maybe he could just hang out here until he was sure Margaret wasn’t here.

“C’mon.” Bennett shouldered him, and Cal tried to twist away, only to find his second wingman there to block him. Together, B&B practically shoved him away from the refreshment tables.

“She’s the one,” Bennett said under his breath and pointed to a tall, lithe woman wearing a tight pair of black jeans, a tank top in the same shade, and a brilliant pair of orange monarch butterfly wings.

Her sun-kissed skin shone like the moon among all the black she wore—including a mask in the shape of butterfly’s wings.

She definitely wasn’t Margaret, and Cal found himself voluntarily walking toward her. He glanced right, expecting to see Bennett there to give him some advice, but Cal was very much on his own.

The butterfly wore a pair of black cowgirl boots with pale blue stitching in the shape of wings. She seemed hardly able to walk in the boots, but she continued toward him as if they were tethered together by some unknown line.

“Hey,” Cal said when they were a few paces apart.

She didn’t speak, but simply stared at him with blue-gray eyes behind the black mask.

A ballad came over the speakers. “You wanna dance?” Cal’s voice seemed stuck in his throat, but sound managed to cross the space between them.

She nodded, and Cal extended his hand toward her. Her fingers were long, her skin tanned, her muscles defined. She stood only a few inches shorter than him, and she touched him with the grace and power of an athlete.

He wondered who she was, and when she’d come to town, as he’d never seen her before. And he liked to think he would’ve remembered. Of course, he didn’t get to town much, other than church and the occasional grocery store run, but still. Talk of this woman would’ve made it through the cowboys in a matter of days.

Cal put one hand on her waist and she put one hand on his shoulders. They swayed, and Cal cursed himself for his slow tongue. But Butterfly didn’t seem to have any problem with his lack of conversation, and she made no attempt to make small talk.

“Are you new in town?” he finally asked.

“Yes,” she said. He could barely hear her, and he wanted to categorize the sound of her voice.

“What brings you to Three Rivers?”

“Not much.” She lifted one sexy shoulder in a shrug.

Cal swallowed, wishing for that punch. He glanced around, trying to find a familiar face and being met with only blurred features and garish masks.

Butterfly stumbled in her too-big boots, and Cal steadied her. He tipped his head down, the brim of his hat nearly touching her forehead. Her wings bobbled, and a chuckle covered the awkwardness between them.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Just fine.” She strengthened her grip on his shoulder, and he didn’t mind that one little bit. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“Cal Hodgkins.”

A quick smile passed her lips but it didn’t even get close to her eyes. He watched her, sensing something turbulent had brought her to Three Rivers. He understood the feeling, the pull the town had to wounded souls. He’d come to Three Rivers after his divorce four years ago, thinking he’d just stay for the night, thinking he was just passing through.

Then he’d met Heidi Ackerman in her bakery, and the woman had found out he was a veterinarian, and that was that. Cal didn’t know that at the time, but he could see it now. Could see God’s hand in leading Cal to that bakery, on that day, at that time. Heidi was Squire’s mother, and Squire owned the ranch that had given Cal a purpose in his life. In many ways, that quick stop at the bakery for breakfast had saved Cal’s life.

The song ended, and Butterfly stepped out of his arms. Cal’s hands fell to his sides, lifeless. A sense of complete emptiness filled him, for no reason he could understand.

She ducked her head and a lock of dark hair fell across her mask. She pushed it back and shot him the first smile he’d seen from her.

Her eye caught something over his shoulder and all happiness left her features. “I have to go,” she said.

“Wait. What’s your name?” Cal called after her, but the butterfly spun and hurried away. She stumbled, almost tripped, and continued. She reached the edge of the dance floor, the edge of the crowd. If she left the area, the darkness would swallow her in those dark clothes.

Cal hurried after her. “Wait,” he tried again.

She glanced over her shoulder, and that was her undoing. She stepped onto the grass and down she went. Hard, too.

Cal shot forward, ready to help her up, help her back into his arms, where he wanted her to stay until he could get her name and phone number. But she was more agile than he’d given her credit for.

She leapt to her feet and took off into the darkness, leaving behind one black cowboy boot.

Cal reached the spot where she’d fallen, and he searched the darkness for a glimmer of her wings. “Wait,” he said softly, to himself, before bending to pick up the winged cowgirl boot.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “A truly enjoyable and fun book to read. The pressures of career and escaping life pressures add interest and anticipation of the next thing to come.” ~David A.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I love every book by Liz Isaacson that I have ever read and this one just might be my new favorite. It is the cleverist take on Cinderella that I have read yet! Trina may have been a trifle too dramatic in not accepting ownership of the boot sooner and Cal may may have pouted a tad too long when she did do so, but when you're in love, you don't always act rationly. I highly recommend this book for anyone who prefers romantic scenes over sex scenes. A good clean romance with unexpected twists.” ~Sac43

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Escape to Three Rivers, Texas for small-town charm, sweet and sexy cowboys, and faith and family centered romance. 

This is the series that started it all, and the world continues to grow in other cowboy romance series by USA Today bestselling and Top 10 Kindle All-Star Author, Liz Isaacson. You'll get second chance romance, friends to lovers. older brother's best friend, military romance, secret babies, and more! The Three Rivers cowboys and the women who rope their hearts are waiting for you, so start reading today!

  • Book 1: Second Chance Ranch

    A wounded Army cowboy, a divorcée with a child, and their second chance to heal old hurts...As Squire and Kelly work to save the ranch and navigate their complicated relationship, can they also give love a second chance, follow God’s plan for them, and build a family out of heartache?

  • Book 2: Third Time's the Charm

    He’s her brother’s best friend, and she’s so broken she’s sure not even the strong Army cowboy and his therapeutic riding program can help her… Can Pete and Chelsea confront their insecurities and learn to trust in love, acceptance, and the promise of a brighter future together?

  • Book 3: Fourth and Long

    A cowboy contractor, his ex-wife, and the son he never knew he had… Will their love be enough to heal the wounds they've inflicted on one another? Or will they allow the bitterness of their past to tear their family apart forever?

  • Book 4: Fifth Generation Cowboy

    A shy cowboy, a single mother, and their journey out of the friend zone. Can they face the challenges of single parenthood, past traumas, and societal expectations to build a life together? Or will their leap of faith leave them all broken-hearted?

  • Book 5: Sixth Street Love Affair

    In the heart of Texas, where the sunsets paint the sky with fiery passion, a rugged ranch foreman and a courageous veterinary technician find themselves entwined in a tale of second chances, faith, and unyielding love—even in the face of danger. Can these two wounded souls discover that love and redemption are within reach, but if only they dare to take the leap of faith…together?

  • Book 6: The Seventh Sergeant

    A veteran cowboy, his care coordinator, and the chance to heal their hearts together. Will Reese allow Carly into his guarded heart so they can build a happily-ever-after together?

  • Book 7: Eight Second Ride

    A champion bull rider, a barrel racing winner, and the ride of a lifetime as these enemies attempt to become lovers. Torn between their familial obligations and their hearts, can Ethan and Brynn embrace a different future together? Or will their hearts be broken on the rodeo circuit the way they have been before?

  • Book 8: The Ninth Inning

    The Christmas season has never felt like such a burden to boutique owner Andrea Larsen. But with Mama gone and the holidays upon her, Andy finds herself wishing she hadn't been so quick to judge her former boyfriend, cowboy Lawrence Collins. Well, Lawrence hasn't forgotten about Andy either, and he devises a plan to get her out to the ranch so they can reconnect. Do they have the faith and humility to patch things up and start a new relationship?

  • Book 9: Ten Days in Town

    Sandy Keller is tired of the dating scene in Three Rivers. Though she owns the pancake house, she's looking for a fresh start, which means an escape from the town where she grew up. When her older brother's best friend, Tad Jorgensen, comes to town for the holidays, it is a balm to his weary soul. A helicopter tour guide who experienced a near-death experience, he's looking to start over too--but in Three Rivers. Can Sandy and Tad navigate their troubles to find the path God wants them to take--and discover true love--in only ten days?

  • Book 10: Eleven Year Reunion

    Pastry chef extraordinaire, Grace Lewis has moved to Three Rivers to help Heidi Ackerman open a bakery in Three Rivers. Grace relishes the idea of starting over in a town where no one knows about her failed cupcakery. She doesn't expect to run into her old high school boyfriend, Jonathan Carver. A carpenter working at Three Rivers Ranch, Jon's in town against his will. But with Grace now on the scene, Jon's thinking life in Three Rivers is suddenly looking up. But with her focus on baking and his disdain for small towns, can they make their eleven year reunion stick?

  • Book 11: The Twelfth Town

    Newscaster Taryn Tucker has had enough of life on-screen. She's bounced from town to town before arriving in Three Rivers, completely alone and completely anonymous--just the way she now likes it. She takes a job cleaning at Three Rivers Ranch, hoping for a chance to figure out who she is and where God wants her. When she meets happy-go-lucky cowhand Kenny Stockton, she doesn't expect sparks to fly. Kenny's always been "the best friend" for his female friends, but the pull between him and Taryn can't be denied. Will they have the courage and faith necessary to make their opposite worlds mesh?

  • Book 12: Lucky Number Thirteen

    A wounded rodeo champion and a tender-hearted nurse find healing and love where they least expect it—with each other. Has God put him in Three Rivers for a reason, and is this the divine plan that will finally lead him to happiness and love?

  • Book 13: The Curse of February Fourteenth

    A runaway tennis star with a secret identity, a single dad cowboy, and the Cinderellaesque fairy tale romance that changes their hearts. Will she take a leap of faith and embrace her role as Cal's Cinderella no matter the cost, or will she continue to run from the shadows of her former life?

  • Book 14: Fifteen Minutes of Fame

    A nurse seeking for answers, a skeptical cowboy, and the legends of Three Rivers that help them see past their differences to the possibility of true love. Can love and legend come together for Gavin and Navy to create a tale of true love? Or will the walls around Gavin’s heart be too strong for Navy to break down?

  • Book 15: Sixteen Steps to Fall in Love

    A cowboy veterinarian who works sixteen steps from the woman of his dreams...and doesn't even know she's there. Can a chance meeting in a different location open his eyes to happily-ever-after?

  • Book 16: The Sleigh on Seventeenth Street

    When sparks fly in Three Rivers, can love light up the Christmas season for these two opposites? Can Camila and Dylan finish the build without breaking up or losing their shirts? Will they be able to traverse the delicate balance of water and electricity, the spell of mistletoe and Santa’s sleigh versus reality, without losing their hearts?

  • Book 17: The First Lady of Three Rivers Ranch

    A dance with destiny at Three Rivers Ranch between the sexy cowboy owner and the woman he hires to clean the cabins…who ends up stealing his heart. Will she return to school to fulfill her dreams or follow her heart and stay in Three Rivers with Frank?Can their faith in God and each other guide them to the sweetest of happy endings?

  • Coming Soon! Book 18: Eighteen Bow Ties and Counting

    Coming soon - summer 2024!

Escape to Montana with more sweet & swoony cowboys!

Embark on an unforgettable journey when you visit Horseshoe Home Ranch, where faith, love, and second chances abound. In this heartwarming series of Christian cowboy romance novels by USA Today bestselling author Liz Isaacson, each standalone tale is an invitation to explore the intertwined lives of rugged cowboys and the resilient women who win their hearts.

 

From the rolling ranchlands to the intimate corners of small-town life, these stirring stories are filled with emotional trials, inspirational transformations, and love's redeeming power. Whether it's a chance encounter, a second chance at love, or an unexpected competition, these tales of faith, hope, and love highlight the enduring bonds of community, the healing power of forgiveness, and the irresistible pull of the heart.

 

"Isaacson artfully combines disparate threads in her contemporary Western Christian romance…in her Three Rivers Ranch series." ~BookLife, Publisher's Weekly

 

Inspirational tales of love, faith, and second chances in the heart of Montana. Come fall in love with your next cowboy boyfriend!

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