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Book 6: Risky Cowboy (Hope Eternal Ranch)

Book 6: Risky Cowboy (Hope Eternal Ranch)

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Cowboys looking for a second chance at life, love, and happiness. All with a dash of suspense, plenty of sweet & clean romance, and a powerful redemption story at the heart of every book.

Love cowboys and the beach? The Hope Eternal Ranch series combines them both! You'll get a sweet and sexy hero in every book as, one by one, the Mulbury boys get released from the low-securty prison in the Coastal Bend of Texas and go to Hope Eternal Ranch, where they find their second chance at life, love, and happiness.

About RISKY COWBOY: She’s tired of making cheese and ice cream on her family’s dairy farm, but when the cowboy hired to replace her turns out to be an ex-boyfriend, Clarissa suddenly isn’t so sure about leaving town… Will Spencer risk it all to convince Clarissa to stay and give him a second chance?

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Spencer Rust buttoned up the red, white, and blue plaid shirt, not necessarily trying to be patriotic, though he knew it would probably help. He checked his belt to make sure it sat in the right place, and he reached for his boots.

These old things could stand to be replaced, but Spencer hated shopping with about as much intensity as the sun shone in Texas in June. The moment he stepped outside, he wondered why he lived here, and yet, he’d never lived anywhere else.

Memories started to stream through his head, and Spencer pressed against them. It would do no good to hash up the past, even if he was willingly stepping into it this afternoon.

“She’s not going to be there,” he told himself. Sweet Water Falls wasn’t a huge town, though it did bring in people from several little towns around it. All the shopping was in Sweet Water Falls, with ranches, farms, and other communities spreading out from it like spokes on a wheel—at least until the beach took over on the south and southeast.

Spencer loved Sweet Water Falls. He loved his job at Hope Eternal Ranch. He really did. Honestly and truly did. 

Something, however, seethed inside him. An animal that paced back and forth, demanding to be set free. 

He’d been at Hope Eternal for thirteen years, and that was the longest Spencer had stayed anywhere. Even as a kid and then a teen, his life had been filled with constant turmoil. This new job in Cotton Creek could be “the one.” That boss in Short Tail just didn’t understand. 

He boxed up the memories and shut the lid tightly. Tape went on the outside of the box, but Spencer knew it wouldn’t last for long. He always thought about his family and his past in the summertime, when his mother had died.

With his well-worn boots on, Spencer stood. He’d told exactly one person about his interview today, but he didn’t expect to see Nathaniel Mulbury on his way out. A ranch in the summer—especially a commercial ranch like Hope Eternal, where tourists came to visit, buy honey, watch live horse care demonstrations, and even stay in cabins out on the river—was extremely busy.

Nate had two kids now, and when school wasn’t in session, he’d have both his boys with him, slowing him down. If Nate could even go slow, which Spencer wasn’t sure about.

He smiled to himself and left his bedroom. He shared the house where he lived with four other cowboys, which didn’t bother him all that much. But at thirty-seven, Spencer was starting to wonder what it would be like to live on his own. He hadn’t really done that in his life, though most of his memories only had himself or his parents in them.

Sure, he’d had a few girlfriends over the years, but Spencer…well, he hadn’t had much luck with women. 

His pulse rioted as he reached the front door, where he hung the nicer of his two hats. The other one always waited by the back door, as that was the exit he used to go to work on the ranch. If he was going to church or town, he used the front door, and thus, wore his nicer cowboy hat.

Out on the porch, in the shade, the Texas heat didn’t hit him square in the face. No, that heat penetrated his lungs on the first breath, and Spencer dang near choked on the humidity. His body remembered how to behave in the heat quickly, and he was fine by the time he reached the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps.

At four o’clock in the afternoon, Spencer didn’t expect to run into anyone leaving the ranch. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t planned it that way, so he didn’t even think that.

“It’s time,” he told himself. “This is the right thing to do.”

While he wasn’t entirely sure of that, he got behind the wheel of the truck and left Hope Eternal Ranch in his rearview mirror. 

“It’s not the last time,” he said, keeping up the stream of talking to himself. He’d been doing that since his momma’s death too, and old habits sure did die hard around these parts of Texas. 

The highway leading north and then west took him to Sweet Water Falls Farm, and it only took fifteen minutes from one ranch to the other. They weren’t the same at all, though Spencer’s job wouldn’t be too terribly different. At least on paper.

Hope Eternal ran a lot of horseback riding lessons. They were a working ranch, with agriculture, breeding, branding, and so many chickens, Spencer had lost count. But they were really a tourism ranch. The owner, Ginger Mulbury, made most of her money off families coming to the Coastal Bend of Texas for an authentic western vacation. And the horseback riding lessons.

Wayne Cooper owned the operation where Spencer was now turning off the asphalt and onto a dirt road. It was a dairy farm, not a cattle ranch, and not a tourism destination. Wayne ran the place with his three sons, but all Spencer could think about was Wayne’s youngest daughter.

“She’s not going to be here,” he told himself as he came to a stop in front of the beautiful, sprawling farmhouse where Wayne lived with his wife. The rumor mill around Sweet Water Falls churned constantly, and just because Spencer was a man working at an outlying ranch didn’t mean he hadn’t heard about Clarissa Cooper’s big exodus to San Antonio.

It was almost like she was a local celebrity just for going to culinary school, as if she was the first person to ever do so.

Spencer tried to box her up too, but Clarissa had a way of busting right through the confinements, tape, and resistance he put up against her. He supposed it was the fire of the redhead in her, and a smile touched his mouth.

Maybe he’d be ready to play with that fire this time.

“Don’t be stupid,” he told himself, and he sounded so much like his father it made him pause. He did not want to be like his father, not in any way, shape, or form. Not in how he acted. Not in the way he dressed. Not in how he spoke.

He took a deep breath and got out of his truck. Wayne had said to come by the house first, and they’d talk about the job, the farm, all of it. Spencer swallowed hard as he made his way over the gravel and onto the sidewalk. Then up the steps. 

The front door opened before he reached it, and Wayne Cooper slipped outside. “Chrissy is sleeping,” he said with a quick smile. “Don’t want to wake her.”

“Of course not,” Spencer said, glad his voice had softened. He reached to shake Wayne’s hand. He’d known the man for years, and a measure of relaxation moved through him as they shook hands and smiled at one another.

“Hoo boy,” Wayne said, taking off his cowboy hat and running his hand through his hair. His was mostly white now, with only a hint of reddish-blond in there from days past. He wore a huge, white cowboy hat, a plain blue button-up shirt that went all the way to his wrists, and jeans. His belt looked as dusty as his boots, and he walked over to the west side of the porch and leaned into the railing, facing the farm.

“You haven’t worked a dairy farm before, have you, son?” 

Spencer bristled at the word son. “No, sir,” he said anyway. “I’m at Hope Eternal right now. Not a lot of dairy cows there.” Zero, in fact.

“Out at Sugar Hill before that,” he drawled.

“Yes, sir,” Spencer said, staying right where he was. The porch extended to both corners of the house, but it was narrow, and he’d just have to come back this way anyway. “Cattle there. I was only there for a few years.”

He didn’t say he’d left because he didn’t like the way the boss treated his hired help. That sounded too much like something his dad would’ve said. 

Wayne nodded and turned back to him. “The job has changed a little,” he said. “Due to some things shifting around here I wasn’t aware of when I put it on the board.”

“Okay,” Spencer said. “I can handle anything. I’ve been workin’ with animals and people for decades.” He offered Wayne a smile as he approached in a gait that looked like it had a hitch in it, like his right leg was a little shorter than his left.

“Let’s go out on the farm and take a look-see around, should we?”

“Sure,” Spencer said, glad Wayne had returned his smile. He seemed perfectly at-ease, and Spencer relaxed out under the blue sky, with the rolling fields, waving trees, and whispering breeze. 

“There’s farm chores,” Wayne said after he’d gotten in Spencer’s truck. “Just take the road back the way you came, but don’t turn toward the highway. We’ll go out to the barns first.”

“Okay.” Spencer did as he said as Wayne continued to talk.

“We’ve got horses to tend to. They have stalls and an arena that has to be kept clean.”

“No problem.” He glanced at Wayne. “Hope Eternal has over a hundred horses now. We do these massive horseback riding lessons in the afternoons. Every afternoon.”

Wayne nodded and pointed to a deep, brick-red stable. “Right there, son.” 

Spencer pressed his teeth together and parked at the stable. He got out quick as a whip and hurried around to the passenger side to help Wayne down. The older man did fine, but Spencer really didn’t want to be with him should he take a tumble.

“My sons run the milk side of the operation,” he said, limp-walking toward the stable. “But we’ve got hay to harvest, barns to stock, horses to care for. We’ve got chickens galore, and my daddy has about ten dogs that circulate around him at any given time.” He flashed Spencer a grin and opened the stable door.

Spencer held it for him so he could enter first, and he’d already moved on to talking about the work that had to be done around the ranch too—fences being restrung, watching for foxes in the chicken coops, and all the road maintenance.

None of that would be new for Spencer either, and he took a moment to gaze past the stable to the cowsheds where the dairy cows were milked. The milk parlor sat there too, with several other outbuildings related to their dairy operation here at Cooper & Co.

The farm itself was called Sweet Water Falls Farm, but the dairy side had been labeled Cooper & Co. Everyone knew that, but no one knew why.

His eyes landed on the retail shop here on the farm, and Spencer quickly tore his gaze from it and entered the stable. Clarissa ran the retail shop, and he told himself over and over and over again that she wasn’t going to be there.

For one, they closed pretty early, though Spencer didn’t have the hours memorized. Number two, he’d heard she’d be in San Antonio, training for her new job this week. By the time he put in notice at Hope Eternal and made the move over here, she’d be long gone.

His gut writhed at the thought of sitting down with Nate and Ginger and telling them he was leaving the ranch. Ginger would take it personally, and Nate would want to know more about why Spencer felt like he needed a change. They wouldn’t come at him in rapid-fire succession, but they’d still come. Nate was a thoughtful, meticulous man, and he could see deeper than a lot of other people. Spencer supposed his time in prison had fostered that inside him.

He wondered what he’d learned from all the bad things that had happened to him in his life. How not to snap at someone when he was angry, he’d learned that. He’d learned not to even get angry, especially about simple things like rain and animals that got stuck in fences. Those were just things that happened, not events to rage about.

“…over there,” Wayne said, and Spencer realized they’d gone through the whole stable already.

“Okay,” he said, though he hadn’t been listening to the man he hoped would be his new boss soon. 

“So we’ll head over to the barn, and then I’ll take you to the shoppe. Clarissa will go over that part of the job with you.”

“O—what?” Spencer came to a full stop. “The shoppe?”

Wayne simply walked outside and held the door for Spencer. He better get a move on—and start paying attention to what Wayne said. “Yes, the shoppe,” he said, indicating where it sat across a small parking lot. “We sell cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream. I guess anything Clarissa makes, we sell it.”

A single car sat out front, and Spencer could only blink at the quaintness of the place. The shoppe looked like it had come from an old western novel, complete with a white picket fence along the faux porch, dark brown boards as the walls, and a bright white roof. The sign even held the old-fashioned lettering, with an extra P and E on shoppe.

“We do a lot of business through the shoppe,” Wayne said, continuing toward the barn. “Clarissa handles all the sales for the milk to the bakery in town. They make everything with our milk. We have trucks coming every day to the farm, but again, my sons handle most of that.”

“So what will I handle?” Spencer asked, paying much closer attention now. He thought he saw the curtains in the shoppe flutter, but that couldn’t be. Clarissa absolutely was not here.

His brain fired at him though, a bullet that Wayne had said only moments ago. Or maybe an hour. Everything in Spencer’s head felt blended up at the moment.

Clarissa will go over that part of the job with you.

She was here, and he was going to have to talk to her soon. Very soon.

“All the local sales that do pick-up,” Wayne said, and Spencer tore his gaze from the billowy curtains to follow the man. With his attention so complete on that blasted shoppe, he didn’t see the barrels right outside the stable, and he went plowing right into two of them.

Water slopped inside them; pain shot through his thigh and stomach; pure humiliation hollowed him out.

He told himself not to look over to the shoppe to see if Clarissa had seen him get gutted by two benign barrels, but he couldn’t help it. Sure enough, this time, the redhead stood in the doorway of the shoppe, her arms folded and her glare strong enough to cross the parking lot and pierce him in the heart.

“Come on, son,” Wayne said from the barn. “You’ll have work to do in here too.” 

Spencer tore his eyes from the stunning, disapproving woman across the parking lot. “Yes, sir,” he said, hurrying now to get away from the woman he’d once dated and had thought he’d never see again.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This book tied in with the relationships in the rest of the series well. I especially like the way the author deftly describes the connections formed in the previous books. If you've only read this book you'll still get a glimpse at the specialness that is Hope Eternal. If you read them all you may gain the confidence to grow through your own experiences: that's the power of a well written book.” ~Terri Lynn

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐“VERY ENJOYABLE READ: Well written , great characters! The storyline follows the lives, histories of families who work the land! Desires to move on, see the world, be better, all coming,e with the need to feel useful, satisfied in ones life. Hard work doesn’t always provide the challenges or rewards we want. Home is where the heart is....sometimes! Clarissa and Spencer are a great couple!” ~Christine Scrivo

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Join the Mulbury Boys as they journey to Hope Eternal Ranch looking for healing, hope, and happily-ever-after!

Cowboys looking for a second chance at life, love, and happiness. All with a dash of suspense, plenty of sweet & clean romance, and a powerful redemption story at the heart of every book.

Love cowboys and the beach? The Hope Eternal Ranch series combines them both! You’ll get a sweet and sexy hero in every book as, one by one, the Mulbury Boys get released from a low-security prison in the Coastal Bend of Texas and go to Hope Eternal Ranch, where they search for their second chance at life, love, and happiness.

  • Book 1: Hopeful Cowboy

    He’s struggling to step into his new role as a single dad. She’s trying to keep her ranch operational and her heart intact. Can Nate and Ginger build forever out of heartache?

  • Book 2: Overprotective Cowboy

    Can Ted and Emma face their pasts so they can truly be ready to step into the future together? Or will everything between them fall apart once the truth comes out?

  • Book 3: Rugged Cowboy

    He’s a cowboy mechanic with two kids and an ex-wife on the run. She connects better to horses than humans. Can Dallas and Jess find their way to each other at Hope Eternal Ranch?

  • Book 4: Christmas Cowboy

    He needs to start a new story for his life. She’s dealing with a lot of family issues. Can Slate and Jill find solace in each other at Hope Eternal Ranch?

  • Book 5: Wishful Cowboy

    He needs a place where he can thrive without his past haunting him. She’s been waiting for the cowboy to return so she can confess her feelings. Can Luke and Hannah make their second chance into a forever love?

  • Book 6: Risky Cowboy

    She’s tired of making cheese and ice cream on her family’s dairy farm, but when the cowboy hired to replace her turns out to be an ex-boyfriend, Clarissa suddenly isn’t so sure about leaving town… Will Spencer risk it all to convince Clarissa to stay and give him a second chance?

Meet more Sweet Water Falls cowboys!

Fall in love with the Cooper Brothers at Sweet Water Falls Farm today!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Grumpy sunshine

✔ Loud, loving family saga

✔ Small town romance

✔ Sweet & Sexy cowboys

✔ Enemies to lovers

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Single dads

✔ Heroines who tame their hero

✔ Steamy, sweet kisses

✔ Sweet & Clean Romance