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Book 2: Grumpy Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

Book 2: Grumpy 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 Will as he tames his inner grump in order to win the heart of Gretchen in this grumpy-sunshine cowboy family saga romance!

About 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?

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Sample Chapter 1 Now!

William Cooper scanned for a parking spot, the lack of one sending annoyance through him. He should’ve known better, in truth. Everyone and their dog, and their dog’s uncle, came to the New Year’s Beach Bash.

He normally didn’t attend things like this at all. It took a lot to get him off his family farm, which sat about a half-hour outside of Sweet Water Falls. No, that wasn’t entirely true. He worked a lot with the hundreds of acres and thousands of dairy cows the farm had, and that prevented him from getting out into society.

He almost scoffed at himself for thinking the word society. If there was one in Sweet Water Falls, he certainly didn’t belong to it. 

An empty space caught his eye, and he swung his truck around the corner to get to it. The early evening sunlight glinted off his windshield, but he made it into the stall. There he sat, trying to decide if he should get out or not.

He’d come all this way…

Which in and of itself would be a dead giveaway to everyone who got within ten feet of him and Gretchen Bellows. For the life of him, he couldn’t stop thinking about the woman. He’d tried, and just when he managed to go a few hours with his focus on milk, money, or muffins, the blonde woman would get reintroduced into his life.

She’d been at Shayla’s big tent reveal, and Will had been too. His brother was now engaged to Shayla Nelson, and Will had wanted to be helpful to both of them. He currently lived with Travis in a cabin on their farm, but things would definitely change come springtime. 

Trav hadn’t said anything to Will about where he’d live with his new wife, and there was another cabin out by Clarissa and Spencer, who’d just gotten married a few weeks ago.

They’d have the hard conversations, because they didn’t hold back on those in the Cooper family. They had enjoyed a very nice cruise over the holidays, and even Will could admit he’d enjoyed himself more than he thought he would.

In fact, he could use a waiter to bring him a plate of tacos and a tropical smoothie right about now.

The weather in the Coastal Bend of Texas never really got cold, though it did rain in the wintertime. Not this winter, however, and Will finally killed the engine and got out of his truck. Heat assaulted him, and he learned the weathermen Daddy liked to listen to in the mornings hadn’t been kidding. 

His truck would be a furnace by the time he returned to it, though the sun should be long down by then.

Will took a deep breath and faced the beach. He’d found a spot on the second row over, and he smiled at his good luck. Someone had probably come early and then had to leave for an emergency. A sick child or one who wasn’t behaving. 

Will thanked his lucky stars, his eyes moving automatically to the food truck arena—and straight to the brightly colored vehicle with the caramel apples on the side of it. 

Gretchen’s truck.

He told himself he wouldn’t go there first. He could check out the other festivities first. There was a beach volleyball tournament happening, and he could stand there and watch that for a while. Travis and Shayla were already here, and he’d told them he’d meet them for dinner. Rissa and Spence too.

The caramel apple truck would be there all night, and Will wasn’t going to draw any attention to himself. None at all. Everyone in his family loved the caramel apples at Sweet Water Taffy—Travis couldn’t stop talking about them.

His suggestion they go get one wouldn’t be obvious. He’d make sure it wasn’t.

His first interaction with Gretchen hadn’t gone extremely well, and Will reached up to smooth his hand down the front of his shirt. She’d plastered caramel all over him in the drugstore, and he may or may not have barked at her.

Then run away.

It’s fine, he told himself. He’d been around her a few times since then, and while he didn’t currently have her phone number in his device, he knew where to find her. 

As he moved from sidewalk to sand, he couldn’t believe he even wanted the woman’s number. He couldn’t remember the last woman he’d been half as interested in, and he hadn’t asked for a woman’s number in oh, at least five years. Maybe longer.

He had just turned forty this past spring, and as he’d watched Clarissa and then Travis start to date, fall in love, and get engaged, Will could admit that he had something missing in his life. A hole a certain blonde could probably fill right up. 

Don’t be stupid, he told himself. He hardly knew Gretchen. He’d helped her set up at Shay’s tent reveal, and he’d run into her at the mall once. He’d been into her chocolatier shop a few times, but she hadn’t been there every time. 

So while it was true that he barely knew her, he did want to get to know more about her. That thought made his stomach tighten and his vision narrow. So much so that he’d taken several steps toward the food trucks before realizing it. 

He wasn’t going to go over there first. He made a sharp right turn and headed out onto the beach a little further. Trav had texted several minutes ago to say he and Shay had found a spot to watch the volleyball, and Will would join them.

His brother wasn’t all that hard to find, what with his tall, Texan cowboy hat. He stood with his hand in Shay’s, and the bright, white volleyball flying above their heads as Will approached.

“Howdy,” he said, easing in next to Trav.

“Will.” His brother seemed happy to see him, and Will hadn’t expected anything else. They’d always gotten along just fine, even if they did argue sometimes. Everyone in the Cooper family argued; it was bred inside them. Will thought it had something to do with the redheaded genes they’d all inherited from Daddy, who had one of the worst tempers Will had ever seen.

Age had calmed him, as had Mama’s illness. Daddy was downright kitteny sometimes now, and he’d broken up a couple of arguments recently that he would’ve fueled previously.

“Who’s winning?” Will asked, shading his eyes despite the sunglasses he wore. He’d also changed out of his normal farm attire of jeans, long-sleeved shirt, and boots and into a pair of khaki shorts, a polo the color of limes, and a baseball cap. He didn’t quite feel like himself, but he fit into the Beach Bash better than Travis did.

“Lou’s Plumbing,” Trav said. “We’re cheerin’ for them.”

Will nodded like he cared, but he didn’t. Still, he did like watching the volleyball, and the plumbing shop won a few points later. 

“Let’s find Rissy and get something to eat,” Trav said.

Will nodded and tagged along, the third wheel to his brother and his fiancée. He realized that when they found Rissa and Spence, he’d be the fifth wheel. His gaze automatically moved toward the food trucks, because they would be headed in that direction. 

Irritation spiked through him, and Will tried to push it away. The crowd here on the beach drove him batty. The sun was far too hot for December thirty-first. He should’ve just stayed home, where the air conditioning never stopped blowing.

Travis and Shay got swallowed up in a group of teenagers, and Will paused as he got separated from them. 

Couldn’t anything go right tonight?

Why had he come?

He looked over to the food trucks again, and his feet took him that way. “Apple sample?” someone asked on his left, and he hadn’t even seen the woman standing there. She wore the same bright colors in her uniform as had been painted on the Taffy truck. 

“Sure,” he said, though he didn’t want to talk to her. He took the apple slice and ate it in one bite, the sweet caramel and warm chocolate easing some of the grumpiness inside him.

“Oh, this one gets a whole apple,” a woman said, and that voice lit him up from inside.

He turned to find Gretchen walking his way. Gretchen Bellows. She was blonde and curvy, with long legs and a smile that could charm snakes and cowboys alike. He stumbled in the sand, though he’d barely moved his feet. A grunt came out of his mouth, and he latched onto her arm to steady himself.

Horror struck him like lightning, and he yanked his hand back. “Sorry.” He stepped away from her too, to have more distance. A proper distance, he told himself.

“It’s fine. I’ve fallen twice today. This sand is so lumpy.” She handed him a white-chocolate-coated caramel apple with plenty of cinnamon stuck to the outside. “Apple pie flavor,” she said.

He didn’t believe for a single second that she’d fallen in this sand. “Oh, I can’t,” he said, though he already held the apple in his hand. His face flamed with heat, but Will didn’t know how to quench it. The moment his eyes locked onto Gretchen’s, she’d see his feelings for her.

So he kept his gaze flitting around. “I just lost Trav and Shay. We were going to go get something to eat.”

“You can put it in your truck,” she said. “Or I’ll hold it for you at mine.”

“Is that the apple pie one?” another man asked, and Will looked at him. He practically salivated over the apple, and Will wanted to clutch it to his chest and tell him to back off.

“We have a lot more over at the truck,” Gretchen said, and she turned to lead him that way. She smiled at Will over her shoulder, and the gesture dove right into his heart. 

Feeling foolish, he smiled at the girl giving out samples, though her attention had been stolen by other people at the party. Will knew the feeling. He felt like he had fifteen hundred things going on at any one time, and he was responsible for everything going smoothly at the farm.

He maintained all of their equipment in the milking operation, and he managed the schedules for all of the cowboys and cowgirls who worked the farm with them, on both sides. On the agriculture side and the milking operation. He never got time off. He never slept more than six hours.

The cruise had shown him how wonderful it was to have a break, and he’d told himself that was why he’d come to the New Year’s Beach Bash too. To find a few hours of non-work. To get a break.

He returned quickly to his truck and put the caramel apple on the seat before pulling out his phone and texting his brother that they’d gotten separated.

We just found Rissa, Trav said. We’re going over to the Hawaiian rib truck.

I’ll meet you there, Will said. Then he shoved his phone in his pocket and faced the beach again. 

The Hawaiian barbecue tasted like meat candy, and Will enjoyed himself despite being the extra man out. He kept himself from looking over to Gretchen’s truck too often, and every time he did, he didn’t see her. 

No one asked him about her, and no one suggested they get apples.

The sun set, and the beach bonfires got lit. Will yawned long before midnight, and he’d never intended to stay for the twelve o’clock countdown and fireworks show. After all, they had milking to do in the morning, and because it was a holiday, they’d delayed the chore an hour. From five to six, which was still really early in the morning.

They couldn’t just make the cows wait to be milked, no matter what day of the week it was.

“I’m gonna head out,” Will said about ten-thirty, his exhaustion all the way down in his soul. 

“We are too,” Trav said, smothering his own yawn. “See you at home.”

“Yep.” Will would arrive first, because he didn’t have a fiancée to drop off and kiss goodnight before he made the drive back to the farm. 

Will didn’t mind being at the cabin alone. He sometimes thought he’d like to live alone all the time. And you will, he thought. Soon enough.

Trav and Shay had set a May wedding date, and that was only five months from now. Will probably wouldn’t like living alone then.

He opened the door to his truck and slid inside, realizing far too late that he’d set his caramel apple on the seat. He felt it smear across his backside, and he leapt out of the truck, a roar gathering in his throat.

“No,” he managed to say, and the sticky, gooey, now-baked apple fell to the ground. “Stupid…who hands out caramel and chocolate in a heat wave?”

And better question: Who puts an apple pie apple on their front seat and then forgets about it?

Will looked down at the lump of fruit and dessert on the ground, and then gingerly touched the back of his shorts. No matter how he sliced it, he was going to have to ride home in white chocolate, caramel, and cinnamon. A lot of cinnamon.

“This is so stupid,” he growled to the night air. “Who tells someone to put a caramel apple in their truck?” He turned, wondering if anyone had seen him slide into his dessert, though it sure seemed like everyone else was all-in for staying at the beach bash until the clock struck midnight.

Will couldn’t wait to get away.

Footsteps approached, and then Gretchen herself appeared. She extended a wad of paper towels toward him, saying, “These are wet wipes, Will. Maybe they’ll help enough so you can get home.”

Pure embarrassment and strong humiliation filled Will from top to bottom. He couldn’t make himself step forward and take the wet wipes from the woman he’d just insulted and insinuated that his idiocy was her fault.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "This book had me laughing and crying at the appropriate moments. I thought the characters were well-written. The setting was easy to step into. And it's a clean, sweet romance which I found to be balanced. I really enjoy reading Elana's writing and plan to keep on reading." ~M. Kittles

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I really enjoyed this story about Gretchen and Will. For a "Grumpy Cowboy" I love that he's a bit insecure and vulnerable. Gretchen just rolls with the imperfections and a smile. I didn't want to put it down." ~Sour

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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 1 review
Wren W.
Grumpy Cowboy

I read this when it first came out and it was so fun to visit again as I listened to the audio book. As grumpy and loud as the Cooper family is, their hearts of gold sometimes gets lost in all the noise. I love how Gretchen decided that she wanted the cowboy she fell in love with and not some watered down version. It was good to see them both changing their work/life balance as they prioritized their relationship. Will was so good with both his mom and her dad as health and age issues make them vulnerable. Even with all the noise, grumpiness and getting in each other’s business you find yourself cheering for them all to find their HEAs, because under the noise was pure love.
Clean. Great narration with good Texas twang. Lite Christian themes.