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Book 3: Fourth and Long (Three Rivers Ranch Romance™)

Book 3: Fourth and Long (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 FOURTH AND LONG: A cowboy contractor, his ex-wife, and the son he never knew he had…This gripping romance is a testament to the power of forgiveness and the unbreakable bond between a parent and child. With its vivid portrayal of the emotional turmoil that comes with love, loss, and second chances, readers will be captivated by this story of two broken hearts mending together. Dive into this emotional journey of love and rediscovery that will leave you yearning for a love as resilient as Kate and Brett's.

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

The presence of Kate Donnely’s son had never been such a burden. Of course, she’d never introduced him to his father before. Sure, she’d thought about what this moment might be like. What she’d say, and how Brett would react. She just never expected to look into the almost black depths of her son’s eyes and feel a pinch of resentment, like it was Reid’s fault she was currently driving down a dirt road toward Three Rivers Ranch.

It wasn’t Reid’s fault, that much was certain. The vibrant seven-year-old had been asking about his dad for a few years now. Kate always told him Brett was overseas, being a hero by protecting the country. Not exactly a lie, though Kate didn’t know all the details of Brett’s service.

She did know he’d left for his deployment to Afghanistan only two months after they’d been married. She knew she’d found comfort in the charms of another man and asked Brett for a divorce only three weeks into his deployment.

And only a week after that, she found out she was pregnant. That effectively got rid of the other man, but also Brett, whose last email said he’d give her whatever she wanted.

The back of her throat burned as hot as the July sun as she thought of her behavior over the past eight years.

“Time to move on,” she muttered. “Find him, tell him, move on.”

“What, Mom?” Reid met her eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Nothing, baby.” She painted on a smile to conceal the earthquake shaking her core. “We’re almost there.”

“And I’ll get to ride a horse?”

“Maybe,” Kate said. “I haven’t been able to talk to my friend.” Her voice sounded too low to be hers. Her stomach clenched as tears raged against the back of her eyes.

She turned a corner on the dirt lane and a house came into view. As she neared, she saw another home—this one much newer—to her right, facing the first. As if her insides weren’t already rioting against her, now she had another choice to make.

She parked near the older home. “Stay here, okay, baby?” She waited until Reid nodded and then she slipped up the front steps of the first house.

No one answered her constant knocking and repeated doorbell peals. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, cursing the summers in Texas. She thought of California, her destination, and how balmy an ocean breeze would feel about now.

She retraced her steps to the car and drove the few hundred yards to the driveway of the second house. Ranch trucks filled the parking lot in front of the barns to her left, so someone had to be around.

The sound of squawking chickens and a grumbling tractor met Kate’s ears when she vacated the car again. No one opened the door at the second house, meaning she’d have to traipse around this ranch until she found Brett.

She almost left right then. Aimed her car west, without a plan of ever returning, of telling him about Reid.

But something pulled at her. Her conscience. God. Something.

Kate knew it wasn’t her conscience, and God had long abandoned her. The truth was, she needed the money her mother had left her, but she couldn’t have it without telling Brett about Reid.

And he has a right to know about his own son.

Kate opened the driver’s door and switched off the ignition. “Come on, baby. We have to go find someone. No one’s answering the door.”

Reid unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car, slipping his trusting hand into Kate’s. She squeezed harder than necessary, trying to ground herself for what she was about to do.

She heard voices in one of the barns, so she steered Reid in that direction. “Excuse me?” she called once she’d stepped out of the sun. Her eyes took their sweet time adjusting to the darker interior, but she could make out a man approaching.

She almost bolted, her heart somersaulting through her chest, trying to break free of her ribs.

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

A similar Southern accent to Brett’s, but definitely not his voice. How she knew all this time, she wasn’t sure. Kate blinked the whiteness from her eyes. “Yes. I’m looking for Brett Murphy? I was told he lives out here.”

“Yeah, Brett. He’s workin’ on the cowboy cabins this afternoon.”

Construction. Always construction. A sour taste coated Kate’s mouth, though she hadn’t been able to blame Brett for his profession. He was a builder when she met him, married him, and sent him off to war. His daddy owned the company, and he was a natural with his hands.

She’d used his job as a wedge between them unfairly, not that he knew that. He didn’t know anything.

“Want me to take you back there?” the cowboy asked.

“Just point me in the right direction.” The last thing Kate wanted was another witness to her confession.

He turned and pointed through the barn. “Head out thatta way. Take a right. I think he’s down at the foreman’s cabin. Biggest one at the end of the row.”

Kate thanked him and moved through the barn as quickly as she could. She found the gravel path in front of the cabins easily and slipped around the side of the last one, where she could hear the low drone of a radio playing.

Her sandaled foot slipped in something just as she gained the corner, and life slowed into single frames.

The sight of Brett glancing her way. His eyes widening.

The grip of her fingers tightening on Reid’s. His cry of surprise or pain.

The smell of fresh horse dung. Her knee thudding against earth and rocks.

“Kate?” The sound of Brett’s voice saying her name made time flow forward again, faster and stronger than before.

She glanced down at her soiled shoe, tears combining with embarrassment so quickly that her face churned like a volcano about to explode.

A dog bounded toward them, a chocolate lab with another little boy right behind him. Kate seized the opportunity to talk to Brett alone, like she’d always planned.

“Reid, baby, why don’t you go see if you can play with that boy and his dog?”

Reid gave her a quick glance before running through the grass toward the dog, who yipped and changed direction toward the other boy.

Kate tried to wipe the offensive substance off her shoe and onto the strip of grass bordering the house, but gave up after the first try. She took a deep breath and pushed it out as she faced Brett.

Another man stood next to him, a tool belt hanging off his hips and sporting a cowboy hat, same as Brett. For a moment, she wasn’t sure which one was the cowboy and which one the carpenter.

“Brett, hi.” Kate stuck her hands in her shorts pockets. “You look great.” And he did. Tall, dark, and handsome, Brett had charmed her from the moment she’d met him. If only she hadn’t been so weak, acted so stupidly, kept such a massive secret for so long.

His eyebrows disappeared underneath his hat. “That’s what you have to say to me after eight years? ‘Hi, Brett, you look great.’?”

“You know her?” The other man spoke so quietly, Kate had to strain to hear him.

“She’s my wife,” Brett said. “Well, my ex-wife.” His gaze wandered to Reid and back to her. “What are you doing here, Kate?”

“Well, about that….” She choked, the words there—always there, planned for years—but stuck stuck stuck.

“What about it?”

“That little boy is your son,” she said, her voice rushing now, the things she’d planned to say abandoning her. “His name is Reid.”

* * *

Eight years ago:

Dear Brett,

I’ve written this letter at least a dozen times. I don’t know how else to say it, so I guess I’ll just say it.

I’m pregnant.

I know you might think the baby isn’t yours, but it is. I never—I made mistakes after you left, but that wasn’t one of them. Momma is sending me to North Carolina to live with Nana, so when you get back, come find me on the great Magnolia estate in Bryson City.

The baby is due just before Easter, so maybe you can get clearance for a video call that Sunday. Let me know so I can make sure Nana’s Internet is paid up.

I’m so sorry about everything. I love you, and I’ve wanted to erase my last email since the moment I sent it.

I hope you can forgive me, and we can be a family when you get back next summer.

All my love,


* * *

“I’ll see you later.” Pete, Brett’s Army buddy and best friend, walked away. Brett had never seen him move so fast, even while under attack in Afghanistan. Pete disappeared around the side of the cabin, but Brett couldn’t hear his footsteps in the gravel.

The words That little boy is your son echoed endlessly, drowning everything else out, even that rose-scented perfume Kate always wore.

Her mouth moved, but Brett didn’t comprehend anything she said. Her fingers twisted around themselves, and he felt the same sensation tightening his gut, twisting and fisting it until he doubled over.

I have a son.

Brett straightened, the prairie breeze whisking away his ex’s declaration. He turned his attention to the dark-haired boy romping through the grass with Finn, Major Ackerman’s stepson.

Brett had felt welcome and at home at Three Rivers Ranch with Pete and his wife, Chelsea. He’d been taking care of the homestead, installing new flooring and repainting the interior, one room at a time. He’d been testing his green thumb with some new landscaping this summer and finding himself again after being overseas for so long.

Squire, Chelsea’s younger brother, had come home for the Independence Day celebrations and to visit family. Finn had turned seven years old a few days ago, and everyone was attending a big birthday party at Kelly’s parents’ house the following evening.

Brett had been enjoying his life at Three Rivers: The occasional construction job, the wide-open range, the hospitality of the people in town. He could do without the constant blind dates the older ladies enjoyed setting up for him, but all in all, he’d been happier in Three Rivers this past eighteen months than anywhere else.

And of course, here was Kate Donnely, ruining it. Brett tore his gaze from his son—I have a son!—to look back at the boy’s mother. She’d stepped in horse manure, and she looked sweatier than a sinner sittin’ in church.

Brett tried not to be happy about those things, but the woman had asked for a divorce—via email—only three weeks into his first deployment. He’d given his permission—what else could he do from half a world away?—and blocked her email address.

She’d never tried to contact him in the seven years since. She’d moved away from Oklahoma City by the time he completed his first tour in Afghanistan. Her parents wouldn’t tell him where she’d gone, or give him a forwarding address.

As far as Brett was concerned, Kate Donnely had died.

And yet, she stood in front of him, her hazel eyes wide and scared, her auburn hair curling at the ends because of the heat.

“Do you want to meet him?” She gestured toward the child. “I brought him out here to meet you.”

“Where you goin’?”


Brett crossed his arms, trying to figure out why she’d come now. “You could’ve just taken him to California. I never would’ve known.” He took a step toward her, which caused her to flinch. A fierce animal roared inside his chest, making his voice scratch his throat as he said, “But now that I know about him, I’m not letting you take him halfway across the country, away from me. He deserves a father.”

He stalked closer with every step, anger replacing the shock that had saturated his system.

“Yes, he does,” she spat. “And where have you been the past eight years?”

“Right where you left me,” he said. “It was obviously pretty easy to find me, Kate. I asked your parents for years where you were. They wouldn’t tell me.”

Her cheeks turned pink, from rage or embarrassment, he wasn’t sure. “I stopped talking to my daddy after Momma died.”

Brett felt the weight of her words like another punch to the gut. “I didn’t know about your mom.” He couldn’t bring himself to add his condolences, though a voice whispered that he should be the bigger person and do so.

She shrugged. “I finished nursing school, and I have a job waiting in California.” She glanced toward her son. His son. “I need a fresh start.”

“Seems like you take one of those every few years.” Brett wished his words weren’t so poisonous, but he couldn’t help it. He bit back a hurtful comment, glad to know his self-control wasn’t completely gone when faced with Kate.

She started nodding, which caused a single tear to drip onto her cheek. She wiped it away quickly. “My momma told me that you deserved to know about Reid. And I—well, I couldn’t leave the Midwest without telling you.”

“You could’ve texted.”

She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Brett suspected there was something more to her little visit, but he couldn’t fathom what it could be.

“Or called,” he pressed. “Sent an email. You’re really good at sending life-changing emails.”

“Brett—” Kate’s shoulders deflated. “I just wanted you to meet him before we leave.”

Cold fear punctured Brett’s lungs. He’d never been particularly good with children, but he wasn’t about to let Kate know that. She’d robbed him of years with his own son. He turned his fury on her, certain by the way her bottom lip shook that she felt it all the way to her bone marrow.

“I’ll let you make the introduction.” Brett swept his hand toward the boy, who laughed with Finn like they’d been friends since birth.

“Reid,” Kate called as they got closer. “C’mon over here, baby.”

She hadn’t lost her accent, and something sharp pulled inside Brett, making his step stutter. He’d always loved the sound of her voice, which had made her email breakup so much more hurtful. He’d lost the timbre of it before the email came, but all the feelings he’d had rushed back with sudden familiarity.

“You chose the name Reid?” he asked, real low so the boy couldn’t hear.

“Yes.” She drew Reid into her side. “Reid, this is—” Kate glanced at Brett, her eyes wide and watery.

Brett knelt in front of the child, seeing himself in the cut of Reid’s jaw, his jet-black hair and coal-colored eyes. No doubt about it, Reid was Brett’s son.

He waited for Kate to finish; he certainly wasn’t going to make this easier for her.

“This is your daddy, Reid.” Kate squeezed the boy’s shoulders.

Reid’s expression turned from guarded to delighted. “You’re back!” He flung his arms around Brett’s neck and nearly choked him.

On instinct, Brett wrapped his arms around the little boy and picked him up. Love he’d never known filled his heart, worked its way up his throat, surged all the way to the soles of his feet.

He met Kate’s eye over Reid’s shoulder. “You’re not taking him away from me.”

Kate’s jaw hardened, and her lips flattened into a stiff line. Brett didn’t care. She’d had Reid to herself for years, and Brett suddenly didn’t feel like sharing.

* * *

Eight years ago:


I’ve blocked your email address and then unblocked it over and over. You haven’t sent me another message, and I can only assume you’ve gone ahead with the divorce. I won’t lie, when I think about it, I feel like someone’s ripping out my insides with an icy hand.

I don’t understand what happened. We loved each other, and we were happy before I left Oklahoma City. At least I was, because you were my whole world. I don’t pretend to know what you went through when I had to leave. I do know I’m awfully lonely out here in the desert, and your messages were all I had.

Sure, my mom’s written every week. Even Dad threw in a line in the last letter. But I don’t worry about them the way I do you.

I wish you’d write, sugar. I hope and pray that when the day comes when I get released that you’ll be waiting for me at the airport. A man can hope for miracles, right? Out here in the desert, I don’t know what else to do.

With love,


What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I love this book, the characters are so real- the way Liz has developed their story is really wonderful. She has a real gift for telling stories that speak to your heart, intrigue you to keep reading. So, far I haven’t been disappointed with any of her books, her characters all mesh together from book to book. Making you want to find out more about how their stories & lives mesh together to become a much bigger family.” ~Janet A.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This book had me from the first page. Full of surprises for Brett and Kate. I love the way the author does this series. Concentration on a central character with others worked it to fill in the spaces. By the time I had finished this book, I was ready to work on this ranch. The characters in all of the books are quite believable and you will fall in love with all of them. My tear ducts were ready to spill over with this particular book but did not have to. You can really get into this series and feel a part of the 'group' of friends that this series provides. Great read! I look forward to reading the whole series.” ~Alice

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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!