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Book 1: Cross Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

Book 1: Cross Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

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Join the Cooper brothers - ginger-haired and short-tempered - as they try to find the just-right woman for them! You'll laugh, cry, and cheer for Travis as he tames his inner grump in order to win the heart of Shayla in this grumpy-sunshine cowboy family saga romance set at the beautiful and quaint Sweet Water Falls Family Farm!

START HERE! This is the first book in the Sweet Water Falls Farm Romance series.

About CROSS COWBOY: He's been accused of being far too blunt. Like that time he accused her of stealing her company from her best friend... She won't be able to put up with his attitude for long, but can Shayla tame the cross cowboy and capture his heart, or will she have to cut Travis loose the way every other woman has?

 

NOTE: If you purchase a paperback and would like it Personalized with a name, please email books(at)feelgoodfictionbooks(dot)com with your order number and the name to personalize to. Thanks!

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Sample Chapter 1 Now!

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Chapter One:

Travis Cooper whistled through his teeth, his irritation spiking. “Get up!” he yelled, though the dairy cows he herded only lowed in return. Some of them gave him the stink-eye, though he supposed he’d started the somewhat volatile relationship with the cattle by muscling them around, telling them not to stop in doorways, and perhaps even calling them a name or two when they disobeyed.

People thought the big black-and-white dairy cows were “just so cute” on social media, but to Travis, they were nothing but trouble. They loved to break down fences to get to the grasses and other tasty vittles in fields they weren’t supposed to be in. They made a huge mess of their pastures, day in and day out. Diseases spread like wildfire, and they never waited nicely in line for their turn to be milked.

“Come on, Bertha,” he said, shoving his shoulder against one of the huge beasts. Every dairy cow was named Bertha to Travis, and he actually smiled at his private joke. “To the right, girl,” he said, digging in with his boots and pushing. See? Stubborn things, cows were.

He got Bertha #1 in the chute, and by some miracle, the girls after her followed suit—at least for a few cows. He and the veterinarian had been playing this game of chutes and udders for four days, and Travis was so done with it.

But the cows had to be checked every so often, and it was up to Travis to get that job done around Sweet Water Falls Farm. His older brother, Lee, took care of so many other things that Travis had gladly accepted the health of the herd as his responsibility. He just wished it came with less mud and less lowing.

Sometimes his ears heard the sound cows made when he was all alone, and that noise followed him into his dreams too. 

He finally got the last Bertha into the chute, and she lumbered along until she reached Finley Rappont, the veterinarian who came out to the farm to check eyes, ears, tongues, and udders. He made a report for Travis, though he’d have separated any cows that had a problem.

Today, there were none, and Travis thanked his lucky stars above for that. Five or six of their newest milkers had shown sores, and Finn had pulled them. That hadn’t been a good day for Travis, and the conversation around the family dinner table at the farmhouse had contained a lot of rolled eyes and pointed questions.

The energy between Travis and his brothers always ran high, and he blamed all the redheaded genes in the family. Lee could go from grinning to gunning in less time than it took to breathe, and the worst part was that Travis never knew what would set him off.

Truth be told, he never really knew what would set himself off either. Sometimes, he just couldn’t carry one more thing, and something simple like a broken fence—something he’d dealt with countless times over the years he’d worked the farm—would irritate him to the point of snapping.

Not that it really mattered. He didn’t rant to anyone but Daddy, Lee, or Will. He treated his cowboys well. He didn’t have a girlfriend to speak of, and even when he did, those relationships barely made it out of the dugout. He might get to first base, but he might not, as he hadn’t had a girlfriend who’d lasted longer than two months in at least a decade.

“Lookin’ good?” he asked Finn.

“Yeah, today was easy.” He glanced up from his clipboard, which had a tablet attached to it. He tapped and swiped, and then he added, “All sent. You’ll get the report in your email.”

“Thanks.” Travis shook his hand, and they started toward the milkshed, where the small, dirt parking lot held their trucks. He had no idea what Finn got to go do now, but Travis had to get over a thousand cows into and then out of milking stalls in the next couple of hours. The work at Cooper & Company, the milking side of their family farm, could consume a man, as Travis had seen with his very own eyes.

Lee had been married and divorced, and while his ex-wife had never said their marriage had dissolved because of Lee’s dedication to bottles, Berthas, and milk. Travis had a suspicion it did. All of the women he’d dated over the years had said some form of the same thing to Travis—he worked too much. He was never available when they wanted to go to dinner. Sometimes he had to text during their dates. 

Blah, blah, blah. He’d heard it all, and he’d decided Lee had things figured out now—he didn’t date at all, ever. After Travis’s last attempt at a relationship had ended after only a few dates, he’d put himself on a female-free diet too. 

He bid farewell to Finn and turned to enter the milkshed, where the brothers kept the administrative office for Cooper & Co. The moment he did, shouting met his ears. Oh, boy. Lee wasn’t happy this morning.

“…that just won’t work,” he said.

“Why are you yelling at me?” Will fired back, and he was definitely the grumpiest of the trio of brothers. “I know it won’t work. That’s why I came to talk to you about it.” 

Travis strode the few steps to the office and found Lee sitting at the desk while Will hovered near the window. There were no clenched fists or red faces. The brothers just had loud voices, growly barks, and short fuses. 

“What won’t work?” he asked, and both Lee and Will looked at him. Will was the lightest of the gingers, with almost blond hair, and eyes between blue and green. He was the middle brother, and his eyes definitely came half from Mama and half from Daddy. When he grew out his beard, the red really came in then.

Lee was the darkest of the brothers, in attitude and physical appearance. His hair shone like red gold, a deep auburn that matched their oldest sister’s. Cherry didn’t live on the farm, but she and Lee could’ve been twins with their auburn hair. His green-black eyes only glinted with darkness when he was angry, as he was right now.

Travis sat somewhere in the middle of the two of them, with tons of the typical red hair people pictured when someone said, “he’s the redhead.” His eyes came straight from Mama, as did his hair, and they glinted like emeralds when he laughed. Or so Mama said. 

He was the youngest son, and he was very close to his mother. He didn’t deny it when everyone in the family told him he was a mama’s boy. He was, and he wasn’t embarrassed about it.

Lee stood. “What are you doing?”

“Milking three,” Travis said, glancing at Will. “Why?”

“We’ve got a shipment of essential parts coming for the threshers,” he said. “And Leonard can’t get them to us until next week.”

Travis didn’t work much on the agriculture side of the farm, but he knew so much of the nutrition of the dairy cows relied on the grain they grew over there. “That won’t work,” Travis said. “Why can’t he deliver it?”

“I don’t know,” Lee said, sighing as he sat back down, that permanent frown etched between his eyebrows. “Will?”

“He’s got one guy who broke his leg or something, and another one quit. Bottom line, he’s behind on deliveries, and we’re so far out that he won’t come until Wednesday.”

Lee shuffled some papers. “I could maybe send Chris.”

“Yeah, and I’ll hear about it for months,” Will said. “He’ll want every Sunday off to make a trip to town.”

“It’s a trip to town,” Travis said, not getting the problem. “We’ll just go pick up the parts ourselves.” Sure, the farm sat about thirty minutes from the town of Sweet Water Falls, but it was a half-hour, not a half-day. They went once a month for groceries and to run errands, and Travis himself definitely left the farm more than his brothers. He could go. In fact, an afternoon off the ranch suddenly held great possibilities for him.

“If we send Brad, we won’t see him until evening,” Lee mused. 

“I’ll go,” Travis said, looking from Lee to Will. “Send Brad over to help with the milking, and I’ll go right now.” He dug in his pocket for his truck keys.

Lee looked up from his papers. “While you’re there, you’ll have to load up the fertilizer too.” 

Travis almost backed out. No wonder they weren’t happy about not getting the delivery. No one wanted to load up the fertilizer, as they bought it from the farm supply store, and it was all-natural and organic. That made their milk organic, which meant they could make more money for the dairy products. It also came with a certain…smell. 

“So I can’t drive my own truck,” Travis said.

“You’d take the dump truck.” Lee looked up, his eyes filled with questions.

Travis didn’t really want to drive the dump truck. It had no radio, and while he didn’t usually mind the silence, right now, it had a way of screaming the truth at him. And the truth hurt at the moment.

“Please?” Will asked. “If you go, I’ll take care of all the milking today and tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow too?” Travis couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a day off. They all paid for it when men took full days off on the farm.

“Yes,” Will said. “We need those parts, and the fertilizer is just on the way.”

Travis didn’t really need to think too hard about it. He’d get off the farm today and he’d get to sleep in tomorrow. “Fine,” he said, folding his arms. “I’ll go.”

Will grinned, his face lighting up from within. “Thanks, Trav.” He looked at Lee. “Let’s call Leonard right now.”

“I’ll get the receipt printed for the fertilizer too,” Lee said. “Thanks, Travis. This is really going to help us.”

“We’re okay for me to be gone for the rest of today and tomorrow?” he asked. 

Lee frowned again. “We’ll see about tomorrow. We’re on the last harvest here, Trav.”

“As if I didn’t know,” Travis said sarcastically, smiling at his older brother. Lee didn’t return the gesture, and Travis wondered what it would take to get him to loosen up a little. Probably a miracle from the Lord above.

From there, things happened quickly, and the next thing he knew, he climbed into the dump truck and started her moving down the dirt road from the equipment shed to the highway. Everything bounced in the old truck, and Travis had loved riding in it as a child. He hadn’t had the opportunity very often, but when he did, it was just him and Daddy. He got to go to town with Daddy, and they always got ice cream in Sweet Water Falls before they returned to the farm.

They were good times, and Travis felt some of the tension he carried everywhere with him finally start to seep away. 

The drive to town passed in a blink, and Travis wasn’t even sure what he’d thought about. He pulled around to the back of the farm supply store, and he showed the attendant there his receipt for the fertilizer.

The man handed Travis a pair of gloves and put on a pair too. Travis pulled around to the fertilizer bin, the scent of it permeating the inside of the dump truck already. It had been mighty hot in Texas lately. 

“Oh, boy,” Travis said, noting the attendant had put a bandana around his nose and mouth. He handed Travis a shovel, and they faced the dark brown stuff spilling from the bin. Neither of them moved.

“Let’s dig in,” Travis finally said. “It’s not going to shovel itself.” He took the first shovel full, and the other man got to work too. Dislodging the fertilizer only made the smell intensify, and it was impossible to stay clean. Travis swore the fertilizer—which contained manure and bat guano that had been baking in the sun—covered him from head to toe by the time they got the truck filled.

“Thanks,” he said to the attendant, who waved to him as he pulled back up to the loading dock. Someone brought out the mechanical parts they needed, and Travis signed the invoice and accepted the receipt.

It had a flyer stapled to it, announcing the Fall Ball, which the farm supply store was sponsoring that year. They often sponsored events and happenings around the town of Sweet Water Falls. Looking at the cartoon rendition of a man and a woman, both dressed in their finest clothes, dancing under the stars, Travis’s heart bumped out a couple of short, stilted beats.

He wanted to go to this ball. He loved dancing, and he hadn’t been in a while.

“Nope,” he told himself, tossing the invoice and attached flyer onto the seat beside him. “That would not be a female-free date.” Plus, he probably didn’t have time anyway.

He backed away from the dock and got the truck moving toward the exit. He slowed as a large F-350 appeared, slowing to obviously turn into the back lot behind the farm supply store. The truck had a sleek, sophisticated logo on the side that said Sweetspot, with the silhouette of a hiker hanging off the long end of the P.

His heart tapped strangely again, because he knew this company. And he knew the woman behind the big truck now turning toward him. Shayla Nelson. 

He’d picked her up on the side of the road a few months ago, and he hadn’t exactly been nice to her. His mouth had a way of running away from him, and he only seemed to be able to realize it after the fact.

She made the left turn, but he hadn’t stopped the truck, and he’d crowded the entrance. When she realized it, he clearly saw the displeasure on her face. Her disgusted and frustrated look screamed at him through two windshields, but he couldn’t move.

She really was pretty, and his mind started thinking about what Shayla Nelson would look like in a ball gown…all that dark hair piled on her head in some elegant updo…

She honked her horn and gestured for him to back up, and Travis jumped into action to do just that. He eased the truck backward, giving her room to get into the lot, which she did.

His phone chimed, and he pushed on the brake to check it, as that was Daddy’s specific sound. Lee says you’re in town. Can you stop and get Mama’s medicine at the pharmacy?

Sure thing, Travis said, his heart heavy in his chest now. He thought of his mother and the constant medications she needed. He pressed his eyes closed and said a prayer for her health, and that if she had to suffer, maybe the Lord could just take her home already.

His eyes jerked open when someone rapped on his window with sharp knuckles.

He flinched away from the sound, his gaze locking onto Shayla’s through the glass to his left. Adrenaline ran from his toes to his scalp in half a second, and his heart dropped to his stomach, rebounding back to its rightful spot a moment later.

He reached to roll down his window. “What the devil are you doing? You scared me.”

She’d climbed right up on the runners of the dump truck, and she didn’t look happy. Snaps, crackles, and pops filled the air between them, and Travis wondered if he was the only one who could feel them.

“What the devil am I doing? You’re blocking everyone coming in and out of the parking lot.” Her eyes narrowed, and she pinched her fingers over her nose. “And you stink.”

He looked in his rearview mirror, and sure enough, three or four other people waited behind him so they could get out too. 

“I’ll move,” he said, releasing the brake pedal where his foot sat. The truck started backward, and Shayla yelped.

“I’m on the truck,” she said. “Stop. Stop it!”

He jammed on the brake again, and Shayla grunted and groaned as if he’d been going fifty miles per hour and had slammed on the brakes. She glared at him. “My goodness, Travis Cooper. What is wrong with you?” She peered at him as if she was really trying to figure him out. Could she feel that electricity now zinging from the ends of his fingertips? Or was that all him?

“Well, get off the runner,” he said, not looking away from her. “I need to move.”

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I loved this story! I saw so many characters from some of the other books. It was like a homecoming. I did feel sorry for both Travis and Shayla with all the problems of having time together. I loved how they got back together. I give Travis lots of points on how he cared so well for his Mother. I wanted to laugh at how disgruntled the brothers (all of them) could get over just about anything!" ~Barbara W

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I really enjoyed Travis and Shayla’s story. I loved how the author put the title of the book into the story. Travis and his brothers are loud and love to argue. But now Travis wants to change things and keep a woman for more than two months. It was fun to see how he would be with Shayla, you have to laugh at his first step to asking her out. This was a fun read and I cannot wait for Will’s story." ~d1ll

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Join the Cooper Brothers at Sweet Water Falls Farm!

Ready to be part of a family who loves deep? Sometimes yells? Works hard? And always, always has a place for YOU to belong?

If you’re ready for that, welcome to the Cooper family in Sweet Water Falls, at their generational farm in the Coastal Bend of Texas. And we’re all waiting for YOU to pull up a chair at the family dinner table!

To do that, you need the complete collection – all the Cooper brothers, as cross and grumpy and surly as they may be. Get it in this singular set! 4 full-length sweet contemporary western romance novels that are guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and fall in love.

  • Book 1: Cross Cowboy

    He's been accused of being far too blunt. Like that time he accused her of stealing her company from her best friend...She won't be able to put up with his attitude for long, but can Shayla tame the cross cowboy and capture his heart, or will she have to cut Travis loose the way every other woman has?

  • Book 2: Grumpy Cowboy

    He can find the negative in any situation. Like that time he got upset with the woman who brought him a free chocolate-and-caramel-covered apple because it had melted in his truck... Can William and Gretchen start over and make a healthy relationship after it's started to wilt?

  • Book 3: Surly Cowboy

    He's got a reputation to uphold and he's not all that amused the way regular people are. Like that time he stood there straight-faced and silent while everyone else in the audience cheered and clapped for that educational demo... Can Lee and Rosalie let bygones be bygones and make a family filled with joy?

  • Book 4: Salty Cowboy

    The last Cooper sibling is looking for love...she just wishes it wouldn't be in her hometown, or with the saltiest cowboy on the planet. But something about Jed Forrester has Cherry all a-flutter, and he'll be darned if he's going to let her get away. But Jed may have met his match when it comes to his quick tongue and salty attitude...

More cowboys to enjoy!

Join the band of brothers who first met in prison, and then journey to Hope Eternal Ranch as they look for their second chance at life, love, and happiness.

Read this sweet cowboy redemption romance series if you like: 

 Sweet & Sexy Cowboys

 Single dads

✔ Light romantic suspense

 Small town community

 Strong heroes who bend for their One True Love

 Workplace romance

 Quaint western setting

 Feeling like YOU belong to a community

 Found family

 Band of brothers

 Sweet & Steamy kisses

Customer Reviews

Based on 77 reviews
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C
Christine J.

I as yet read this book but I know that I will Love it as I have loved all of Elana's so far

J
Judy S.

It seemed to get off to a slow start for me, but when it picked up - Wow! I was blown away when the relationship got sticky for Travis and Shayla. The feelings I experienced when they 'broke up' brought tears and anguish to me personally. If one has gone through that type of love, your heart also breaks for these two. Super job, Elana!

D
Danielle W.

Fantastic like all her others

J
Jane

This book epitomises Elana Johnson’s writing style . I have loved everything I’ve read of hers , she has the penmanship to draw in the reader and makes compelling descriptions and relatable characters and situations

s
suze h.

perfect