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Book 4: Salty Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

Book 4: Salty Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

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Spend an afternoon or a weekend with the Cooper family in the Coastal Bend of Texas! Escape with sexy-and-sweet cowboys, the women business owners who tame their grouchiness, and all the sweet & clean romance you've come to expect from USA Today bestselling author Elana Johnson.

Read if you love:

✔ Grumpy sunshine where SHE'S the grump!

✔ Small town communities

✔ Cowboy family saga

✔ Forbidden relationships

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Secret romance

✔ A hero who doesn't give up on love!

About 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...

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Sample Chapter 1 Now!

Cherry Cooper put on her blinker to turn right about five miles before the driveway that led to her family farm. She’d lost her mind, that was all. She could schedule a few sessions with her therapist and drive Jed Forrester out of her head again.

She’d done it before with Charlie, then with a man named Tyler, then Dr. Freeman. Then Jed. 

And yet, she turned right onto the paved road that led to the corn maze at Forrester Farms, something she didn’t even want to do. She hadn’t been to a corn maze in years, and he hadn’t invited her to stop by and get lost with him among nine-foot stalks and plenty of straw bales and scarecrows.

Why was she here?

The salty cowboy had told her he didn’t want to date long-distance. I don’t have time to drive to Casper every week, Cherry.

The words stung at her brain as much now as when he’d texted them back in September. After he’d kissed her, of course. The man had likely gotten what he’d wanted, and he didn’t want her anymore.

Cherry hated the self-defeating talk inside her mind, but she couldn’t come up with another explanation as to why Jed had been so keen on texting and calling and getting together…and then gone cold.

After he’d said that, Cherry had been so glad she hadn’t told Lee or Will about Jed. She didn’t want to have to defend him, because he didn’t deserve a defense.

“Then why are you here?” she asked, panic starting to set in. If Jed was working the corn maze, he’d see her car. He’d know she’d come by to see him, and that would only fuel his already huge ego.

The parking lot for the maze wasn’t big by any means, and a single cowboy stood at the entrance of it. He didn’t seem tall enough to be Jed, and Cherry couldn’t turn around on the road anyway. She had to go into the lot to then go back the way she’d come, and she watched the man wave her to the right. She went that way, desperate now to get away from this place.

Why in the world had she come here?

Why not? her feisty mind fired back at her. She had every right to visit this public venue. She’d pay the fee, and she’d wander through the dry and dying stalks, and then she might have the strength and courage to continue to her family’s farm. Her sister was due with her first baby tomorrow, and while Cherry had already been home more this year than she had in the five preceding it, she wouldn’t miss being there for Rissa when she came home from the hospital with her first child.

She parked and got out of her car, tugging her hooded jacket tighter around her and zipping it up. She wore a pair of jeans that hugged every curve and had a thick seam going down the front of them and a pair of trail running shoes that had extra thick soles with a hiking boot grip on the bottom of them. She’d practically dressed for this corn maze, and she hadn’t even known it.

She paid the fee to a woman in a make-shift ticket booth with a large American flag flying far above it and moved toward the entrance of the maze. Now that Halloween had passed, the place wasn’t terribly busy, but a family had gone in ahead of her, and she walked slowly until she couldn’t hear their voices. At every junction she came to, she turned right. Right, right, right, until she couldn’t go right anymore.

Then she started turning left, and eventually, she had no clue where she was. The maze had big bridges built into it, so she could go up a dozen or so steps and stand on the bridge and look out over the corn stalks to try to find the way out. She didn’t do that, because this corn maze had become a representation of her life.

Always making the wrong turn instead of the right one. And if she did turn right, she found out later that she should’ve taken a left. She walked alone in the maze, just as she did in life. Sure, she had friends at work, and friends who lived in her neighborhood, but she knew it wasn’t the same as having someone really close to her whom she could count on for anything.

Her mind needled at her, telling her things like, It’s probably time to come home, Cherry, and You won’t have to see Charlie. You’ll be okay.

She definitely needed more therapy to let go of the broken pieces of her past, to knock out all of the bad tile and replace it with granite countertops or hardwood flooring. All of her siblings were now happily married or would be soon enough. Lee had just proposed to his girlfriend, Rosalie Reynolds, and Cherry had gotten a text last night about their celebratory dinner this upcoming weekend.

She’d taken the whole week off from her academic advising job in San Antonio, and she didn’t have to be back for nine more days. So much could happen in a single hour, and Cherry didn’t like making plans too far into the future. 

Lee and Rosalie had set a date to be married in April, which was an idyllic month in Texas, with plenty of flowers and sunshine, all of which suited Rosalie so well.

At Cherry’s wedding, there’d probably be black napkins and zero lace, because she didn’t ever think she’d get married. She had, once, but that dream had died a slow, painful death that sometimes still haunted her. 

Now, Cherry didn’t dream at all. Life was just life, and she didn’t want to get too bogged down in thinking about whether it was fair or not—it wasn’t—or good or not. Such a thing was so subjective anyway, and she just wanted to do a good job, go home and eat something delicious for dinner, and try to find a way to ease her loneliness.

Once again, she turned left when she came to a crossroads, and she thought she should probably consider returning to the farm where she’d grown up. There was room for her there—or there would be once Travis’s new house got built. She could live right next door to her sister and be the best auntie in the whole state of Texas.

As she walked over the hard-packed dirt ground, a voice came over the loudspeaker. “The corn maze is closing. Please make your way to the nearest exit.”

If she could do that, she would, but Cherry honestly had no idea where she was. She could be in the middle of the maze or along an outside wall of it. She glanced around and didn’t see any bridges in the vicinity, and she wondered what the cowboys here at Forrester Farms did to make sure all of their guests got out of the maze. Did they have cameras that would show her wandering around, panicked and scared?

Humiliation streamed through her, and she picked up her pace as she approached the end of the aisle. Left or right? 

She went left, practically jogging as another announcement to find an exit filled the air. “I’m trying,” she muttered to herself. She’d given up praying for help long ago, but now she found herself with a plea in her heart for the Lord to guide her and help her get out of this maze. 

Rissa and Spencer were expecting her, and she couldn’t believe she’d turned off the highway too early.

A bridge came into view, and Cherry hurried toward it. She sprinted up the steps and looked out across the maze. The huge American flag flew above the ticket booth, and it was behind her. Away from the she’d been walking. 

Helplessness crowded into her throat, and she swallowed against it. Perhaps the farm had a helicopter that could come pluck her from this bridge, saving her the energy and time of trying to go back the way she’d come. Perhaps she could just start crashing through the dry stalks as she forged her own path and made her own exit.

Footsteps crunched through the dry foliage on the ground below, and then they started up the steps to the bridge where she stood. Her heart hammered in her chest as she watched a cowboy arrive not ten feet from her.

Not just any cowboy.

“Cherry Cooper,” Jed Forrester drawled. He didn’t smile. He didn’t approach. He wore a windbreaker that wasn’t big enough to go across his broad shoulders, a pair of sexy dark denim jeans, and his gorgeous dark brown cowboy hat. He heaved a great big sigh and said, “I’ll help you out.”

Cherry wanted to argue with him and claim she knew the precise path that would lead her to safety. She couldn’t say that, because it was the furthest thing from the truth. 

“Well, come on then,” he drawled in that deep bass voice that followed her into the depths of her slumber at night. He turned and went down the steps without waiting for her to say anything, and she didn’t see any other choice.

He’d once saved her from Charlie at Travis’s wedding. Over the months since then, his texts and calls had saved her from her dreary, quiet, lonely nights. And right now, he was literally saving her from wandering through this maze for the rest of the evening.

She followed him, reaching the ground just as he went back into the maze. She ran to catch him, saying, “Can you slow down?”

“Nope,” he said over his shoulder. “We’re closed already, and I’ve got more work to do before I’m actually done for the night.”

Cherry panted as she reached his side. She didn’t know what else to say. As they approached a corner, he indicated they should go left, and he led the way. He was taller than her, with much longer legs, and she figured as long as she could see which way he went, she didn’t have to walk right beside him.

He didn’t want her there anyway. Foolishness filled her, especially when she followed him to the right and then dang near plowed straight into him. She yelped and flung up her hands, her eyes slamming shut for some reason.

He caught her deftly, because Jed was sure and strong about everything. He didn’t hem and haw over a long-distance relationship. He just said no. Not for me. Thanks for the past few months.

“Don’t touch me,” she said, swatting his hands away from her waist now that she had her feet under her.

“Why are you here?” he asked, not giving her an inch in this small corner of the maze. She’d turned right, and then it immediately jogged left again, but Jed hadn’t taken the turn.

“I needed a few more minutes before I went home,” she said, not giving herself enough time to censor herself.

“So you came here?” 

“It’s a public place,” she said.

Jed searched her face, and Cherry had no idea what he was looking for or if he’d ever find it. He said nothing, sighed, dusted his hands, and took the right turn to go around the small corner.

“Jed,” Cherry said, but she didn’t know what else to say. She shouldn’t have to say anything. He was the one who’d dumped her. He kept walking, and she followed, and only a few minutes later, they emerged into the parking lot. It wasn’t the same entrance she’d used to get into the maze, but she spotted her car off to her left, across the whole dirt lot. Every other car and truck had gone, and another dose of foolishness hit her in the face like a bucket of icy water.

“Thank you,” she said as diplomatically as she could, and she started toward her car. If she could make it there, she could get off this farm and bask in her own embarrassment without an audience. She held her head high as she walked, and because she was so focused on her goal, she didn’t realize Jed had started walking too.

She finally heard his footsteps and turned to see him only a couple of paces behind her. “I’m fine now,” she said. 

“Do you want to go to dinner tonight?” he asked.

Surprise tripped through her, actually tripping up her feet too. She stumbled, and blast him, Jed reached out and steadied her. Everything in her life had been more stable since he’d whisked her away from Charlie at the wedding.


“No,” she said, not quite sure what question she was answering. Or even what she was saying. 

His eyebrows went up. “You have dinner plans with your family?”

“No,” she said again.

“Then why can’t we go to dinner?”

“Because you don’t want to,” she said, frowning at him. “I asked you if you could do the long-distance thing, and you said no.”

Jed’s dark blue eyes blazed with fire. “Maybe I made a mistake.”

“I haven’t moved,” she said. “I still have my job in San Antonio.”

“I’m aware.”

She was aware of how close to her he stood, and how she didn’t want him to back up. She hadn’t told Rissa or Spence what time she’d arrive, and honestly, her sister was used to her showing up whenever it suited her. She absolutely could go to dinner with Jed. 

Not here, her mind screamed at her, and Cherry balked once more at the idea. “Where would we go?”

He folded his arms, one hip cocking out. “I suppose you don’t want to go anywhere in town.”

“Somewhere else would be ideal,” she said. 

He looked up into the darkening sky. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

“Then don’t do it,” she snapped. She spun around and marched away from him again. “You’re no prince, Jed. I don’t need to be rescued.”

“You’re no princess either, Cherry,” he called after her. 

He was so right, but she didn’t stick around to tell him so. She reached her car and yanked open the door to get behind the wheel. She started the ignition and threw the car in reverse. Her car beeped and the seat beneath her vibrated as she started to back up.

She slammed on the brakes, her eyes finally catching up to what the car already knew. Someone stood behind her. 


Fuming, she unclasped the seatbelt and threw open the door again. “Move,” she demanded as she got out of the car. “Right now.”

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Cherry and Jed have a sweet love story. They began dating long distance when they met up at a wedding but Jed broke it off because he couldn’t do the long distance. Now her sister is having a baby and Cherry is unhappy with being so far away from her family even though she has ghosts of the past that tend to make her not want to return. While home she and Jed rekindle there relationship and become closer. What happens when Jed learns her secret?

The Sweet Water Falls Farm stories make a really good series. This is the last installment and the author has included an Epilogue with each of the Cooper children as the focus. That makes this particular book even better in my opinion." ~Avid Reader

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Felt like it was a real life, real people. One can get lost in the lives of the Cooper family." ~oc

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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