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Book 6: The Seventh Sergeant (Three Rivers Ranch Romance™)

Book 6: The Seventh Sergeant (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 SEVENTH SERGEANT: A veteran cowboy, his care coordinator, and the chance to heal their hearts together. In this captivating Christian cowboy romance, these two lost souls must let go of their pride and learn to trust not only each other but also the divine plan that has brought them together.

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

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The sky surrounding Carly Watters had never seemed so wide, so blue, so threatening. Of course, she hadn’t set foot outside the city in half a decade. Her heart pulsed out an extra beat as she made a right turn and faced yet another two-lane highway without a single soul in sight.

The previous veteran care handler had told her Three Rivers Ranch was another forty minutes north of town. Carly had half-thought she’d been kidding. But now, with her orchid satin heels pressing against the accelerator and the minutes ticking by, she realized Lex hadn’t exaggerated at all.

Dismay tore through her when her tires met dirt instead of asphalt, and she knew her shoes wouldn’t survive more than a couple of steps in the dust and gravel. She’d bought the heels as a graduation gift for herself when she’d finished her social work Master’s degree at TCU a couple of years ago, and they remained the most expensive piece of her wardrobe.

“This is a good job,” she breathed to herself as that wide-open sky continued to suffocate her. “It’s a promotion—one where you can afford to buy another pair of three hundred dollar shoes. So what if you have to come out to the sticks every couple of weeks? It’s going to be fine.”

But as she pulled her cute, compact car into the parking lot next to a newer building, a sinking sensation in her stomach spoke that nothing would be fine. Carly pulled up the zipper on her jacket and reached for the file of the veteran she’d come all the way out to this ranch to see: Reese Sanders.

A Sergeant, Reese had suffered massive core injuries from a bombing a few years ago. Carly had already pored over Lex’s notes, and she expected to find a “happy-go-lucky veteran who left his wheelchair behind after endless hours of horseback riding.”

After she’d read his file, Carly had admired his tenacity, the way he’d clawed himself back from the edge of physical devastation. She’d had a hint of that kind of heartache in her life too, but it tasted bitter in the back of her throat and she painted over it with a fresh layer of lipstick and a smile almost as bright as the near-spring sun.

One of her mother’s adages sprang to her mind. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Carly had tried to make the words mean something in her life, but with two Mary Poppins Practically Perfect in Every Way older sisters, and a twin sister that Carly was technically older than, she’d never quite been able to measure up.

Even her choice of social work—of dedicating her life to helping others—had been overshadowed by her twin’s acceptance into a Ph.D program.

She locked her car as she clicked across the blessedly paved parking lot, the familiar ba-beep! somehow strengthening her to carry out this meeting in her usual cheerful manner. The wind caught her hair and blew the blonde locks around her face. She scrambled for the door handle, the weather pulling at her skirt, her jacket, her file.

Almost like God had pressed the fast-forward button on her life, the wind ripped the folder from Carly’s grip. The folder containing all of Reese’s accomplishments. The folder the previous handler had warned her not to misplace or rearrange. The folder that symbolized the beginning of her new career.

The weather snatched at the pages, sent them twirling through the air, and Carly could do nothing but watch. All at once, her life resumed its normal pace—all except her pulse, which thundered at four times its normal speed. She swiped for the pages with her hands, stomped on others with her precious heels, even hipped one into the doorjamb to keep it from getting sucked into the open Texas range, never to be seen again.

As she attempted to gather together what pages she could, the crunching of paper behind her attracted her attention. She turned, hoping for a handsome cowboy with exceptional lassoing skills.

She got the handsome cowboy bit about right, and she straightened, forgetting about the need to keep her hip curved into the building.

“Let me help you.” He bent to grab a fistful of papers before they could be tornadoed away. When he straightened, his dark eyes sparkled with a smile, causing Carly’s chest to squeeze in a good way.

“That must be your purple car.” He nodded his cowboy-hatted head toward the parking lot.

Her defenses rose. “I like purple.”

The man drank in her orchid heels. “Obviously.”

“It gets good gas mileage.”

“I’m sure it does.” He took a couple of stunted steps forward, his hand outstretched, and understanding flooded her. “I’m Reese Sanders. What can I help you with?”

Instead of answering, she reached for his hand and catalogued the thrill that squirreled down her spine at the contact. Warmth from his skin bled into hers, and she allowed her lips to curve upward. “I’m looking for you, Sergeant Sanders.” With a measure of regret she didn’t quite understand, she withdrew her fingers from his. “I’m your new veteran care coordinator, Carly Watters.”

“Ah.” He glanced down at the papers again before pushing them toward her. “These must be Lex’s notes.” Reese shuffled backward, and it looked like he might fall. Carly automatically reached out to steady him.

The death glare he gave first to her hand on his forearm and then which he speared straight into her eyes left zero doubt about how he felt. She yanked her hand back, heat rising through her chest to her cheeks.

“S-sorry,” she mumbled, her pinpoint heels suddenly too small to hold her weight. She sagged into the building again, not caring that it slouched her figure, despite her mother’s warning voice in her head. “Can we go in? You were expecting me, right? Lex told me—”

“I’ve been expectin’ you, yeah.” He bent and collected a paper stuck against the glass, handed it to her, and entered the building before holding the door open for her. “We can meet in the conference room.” He nodded to the right. “Through there.”

Carly took a deep breath as she passed him, not because she wanted to get a better sense of his smoky, spicy scent, but because she needed the extra oxygen to settle her nerves. Hadn’t she read in that blasted file that Reese resisted help? That the only reason he’d even signed up for services was because someone else had called first?

Once inside the conference room, Carly shoved the papers back into the folder, intending to sort through them and put them back in order when she could be alone. She didn’t need him to witness first-hand her OCD when it came to her client’s files. She moved to the head of the table and sat down.

“So,” she started. “Tell me about your job here.”

Reese closed the door and moved to the chair next to hers. He possessed a fluidity in his injury, something Carly hadn’t expected. She admired the dark stubble along his jaw and found herself fantasizing about what it would feel like against her cheek. If his lips would be soft in comparison as they touched hers.

Her hand flew to her mouth as she sucked in a breath. She needed to find her center, stop this ridiculous train of crazy thoughts. Reese was a client. A veteran she was supposed to help. Nothing more.

“I’m the receptionist here at Courage Reins.” Reese spoke with quiet authority, and another traitorous trickle of delight made her skin prickle.

“I answer phones, make appointments, help with the horses. That kind of stuff.”

Carly pulled out a random piece of paper from the folder and flipped it over. She clicked her pen into operational mode and wrote something. What, she didn’t even know. She just wanted to look official, like she knew what she was doing. “You live in Three Rivers?”

“Yeah.”

“You drive out here everyday?”

“Everyday I want to get paid.”

Carly glanced up from her chicken scratch at the gruff amusement in his voice. His dark diamond eyes studied her, unsettling her and making her next question abandon her mind. Heat rumbled through her stomach, rising until it settled in her face. She shoved the useless notes back into the folder. “What can I help you with, Sergeant Sanders?”

He leaned away from the table, his injury nowhere near his impressive biceps. The biceps that bulged as he crossed his arms and continued watching her with those gorgeous eyes. He seemed to be able to see right through her pretended professionalism.

“I don’t need help,” he said. “I’m doin’ great. That’s what I told Lex a month ago, when she said she was leavin’.”

“It’s procedure when a new care coordinator—”

Reese lifted one hand, rendering her silent. “I know,” he said. “I get it. But I don’t need anything right now. I’m good.”

Oh, he was. Carly licked her lips and pressed them together, a slim vein of frustration sliding through her. She’d driven two hours for him to tell her he was good?

“Well, maybe I can get some groceries for you on my way back through town.”

“I do all my shopping online.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “You do your grocery shopping online?”

“You say that like I don’t know how to use a computer.” A deep chuckle accompanied the words. “It’s easy, Miss Carly. You just login to this app, order what you want, and show up at the store. They bring everything right to me. I don’t even get out of my truck.”

Of course he’d drive a truck. Probably one of those huge, obnoxious pick-ups that she could never see around. Still, she wanted to hear him say Miss Carly over and over.

She cleared her throat and straightened the already-straight file. “You sure there’s nothing you need? I could stick something in the oven, start a sprinkler, get your mail—”

His arms uncrossed and his left hand came down on hers. “Miss Carly, I don’t need anything. But if you wanted to hang around here for a while, I could show you the horses.”

Panic streamed through her, mixing with a wild thread of joy at his touch. She could hardly sort through how to feel, not to mention what to say.

Finally, her mind came up with He needs company. And she could give him that, if nothing else.

“I—Okay,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse up close.”

He looked at her like she’d just said she wasn’t human. “Well, Miss Carly, that simply won’t do.” He pushed against the table and stood. Carly noticed the weakness in his core, the difference in length between his left leg and his right. Even with his injuries, he radiated power and confidence as he reached the door and opened it.

Reese paused on the threshold. “Well? Come on. You can’t leave Three Rivers without seeing at least one horse.”

* * *

Reese had no idea why he’d invited Carly Watters to stay and see the horses. Even more surprising was that she’d agreed. He’d watched her war with something within, but in the end, she’d said yes.

Why’d you ask her at all? he wondered for the fifth time as he stepped onto the dirt road that led to the horse barn. He didn’t know. But he did like her bright, blue eyes, her platinum hair, her purple car.

“So tell me about you,” he said. “I’m sure that file gives you all my details.”

“Six older brothers,” Carly said. “From Amarillo. Served two deployments.” Her voice caught on the last word, and Reese slid her a glance. She seemed mortified by what she’d said.

“I know I served in the Army,” he said. “I know I got hurt. It’s okay to talk about.”

“Is it?” She peered at him like she wasn’t really sure.

“Yeah, sure.” Lex had assured him that her replacement was amazing. That she’d take good care of him. Reese didn’t need a lot now that he’d gotten the job at Courage Reins, now that he’d signed up for free shipping and online grocery shopping. But he missed Lex. She’d always been good company for him. He wondered if his file said that.

Lonely. A sad, lonely veteran whose best friends have four legs and long manes. Or are already married.

“How long have you been a care coordinator?” he asked, glad when his voice didn’t betray the storm of emotions stirring inside.

She gave a nervous giggle. “This is my first appointment.” She froze on the gravel, and he thought she’d hurt herself in those bright heels. “I’m totally doing it wrong, aren’t I?”

Reese retraced his steps back to her and hooked her elbow in his. “’Course not, Miss Carly. You’re keeping me company, and that’s exactly what I need right now.”

She gazed up at him, and Reese’s mind went into a tailspin. His pulse followed suit, and he forced himself to look away so he wouldn’t say or do something stupid. He took a slow step toward the barn, relieved when Carly came with him.

He hadn’t dated since he’d come home broken, three years ago. Hadn’t even thought about it. Had told Chelsea no over and over when she suggested women he could take out. But now, with Carly’s cold fingers pressing into his forearm, he thought maybe he was ready to take a step toward getting to know her.

“So, you?” he asked. “I do have six brothers, and they’re all married and successful. Does my file say that? That I’m seventh best? The seventh sergeant in the family?”

She shook her head, her loose curls brushing his arm. Fireworks tumbled up his arm and sparked in his shoulder. He hadn’t felt like this about anyone for so, so long. He hardly trusted himself to know what it meant.

“No, your file lists your family stats, but nothing about them. Where are they?”

Reese took a deep breath as they stepped out of the weak sunshine and into the barn. Just the presence of animals settled him. “You’re not getting out of telling me about yourself.” He led her past the first stall, heading for Elvis. He clucked his tongue at the black-and-white paint stallion.

“Oh, he’s gorgeous,” Carly breathed as the horse lumbered toward them.

Reese let Elvis snuffle against his hand. “He’s a thoroughbred. Won a few races before he hurt his leg.” He spoke with love and reverence about the horse. “I rescued him from death. When a racehorse can’t race….” He let the sentence hang there, grateful the gentle animal hadn’t lost his life.

He’d been saved, the same way Reese had. Though he’d struggled to find worth inside himself, he saw it in Elvis, and he knew God had rescued them both. It had taken Reese many long months to get to that place, and a sense of gratitude filled him every time he thought about his journey.

Elvis eyed Carly, and she shrank behind Reese. “Oh, come on, Miss Carly. He won’t bite.”

“He’s taller than I thought.”

Reese turned around. “Let’s go see Tabasco. He’s smaller.”

She went with him, sure and strong on such skinny heels. “Who names the horses?”

“Whoever owns them as foals. We don’t get a lot of those here on the ranch. Our horses are retired from working or whatever. We use them for therapy.” Further down the line, Tabasco waited with his head already over the fence.

“See? He’s much shorter.”

Carly reached hesitantly toward him, and Reese willed the bay to behave. He did, his eyes falling halfway closed as Carly stroked his cheek.

“He likes you.”

Carly beamed under the compliment, and Reese wanted to make her feel like that again. “So, your family?”

“I have three sisters. Two older, and one twin, who I’m four minutes older than.”

“A twin, huh?”

“Mirror twins,” she said. “My hair parts on the left, hers on the right. I have a dimple on my left cheek, hers is on the right.”

Reese had no idea what mirror twins meant, but before he could ask more, she said, “Basically everything Cassie does is right, while everything I do isn’t.”

He heard every syllable of resentment, of frustration, of sadness in her statement. In her next breath, she put on a happy smile and started asking him about the different kinds of horses.

Reese obliged and kept the conversation light and flowing. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe Carly Watters was as lonely as he was.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I enjoyed this story with all it's complications and set backs for Carly and the wounded veteran she was assigned to help. I have thoroughly enjoyed so many of Liz Isaacson's books and this one is a winner.” ~Virginia

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This is a clean and cozy romance featuring a wounded warrior cowboy. The plot is special and realistic. The story goes by quickly and left this reader wanting more. The characters, their emotions and their reactions are spot on realistic and believable. I have read other books in the Three Rivers Romance series and this is my favorite, so far. This novel can easily stand-alone and there is not a cliffhanger ending.” ~GranJan

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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!