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Book 3: Surly Cowboy (Sweet Water Falls Farm)

Book 3: Surly 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 single dad Lee as he tames his inner grump in order to win the heart of Rosalie in this grumpy-sunshine cowboy family saga romance!

Read if you love:

✔ Single dad romance

✔ Small town communities

✔ Cowboy family saga

✔ Grumpy sunshine

✔ Second chance romance

✔ A hero who knows what - and who - he wants!

About 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?

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Sample Chapter 1 Now!

Lee Cooper pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it in the general direction of his bed. It landed short and fell to the floor, but he didn’t bother going to retrieve it. As frenzied as his mind was, the one thought he landed on was No wonder Ford is a slob. It’s genetic.

He ripped open the closet doors, everything inside blurring for some reason. Probably because he hadn’t taken a proper breath in the past minute. Maybe two. Fine, ten.

Lee closed his eyes and slowed down. He dropped his hands to his sides and took a long breath in through his nose. He watched a morning affirmation channel online every day, and the woman who led the group did breathing exercises like this. 

In through the nose, he heard in her voice. Hold it. Longer. Really take a moment and slow down your mind. Your heart. Release those muscles. Okay, out with me. 

Five, four, three, two one, zero.

Lee opened his eyes when he got to zero, and the shirts took on individual form in the closet. “Okay,” he said. “You’re fine. Ford is fine. His teacher just wants to talk to both you and Martha on a weekday evening. It’s not a big deal.”

He’d gotten off the phone with his ex-wife ten minutes ago, and he’d hurried to finish an email that had to go out today. Then he’d dashed home, and he wasn’t any worse off by taking twenty seconds to center himself again.

With a bright red shirt covering his upper half and a peanut butter sandwich in one hand, Lee dashed back out the front door of his cabin and down the steps to his truck. The old girl had started to show her age, with rust wearing through around the wheels and the engine chugging to life like it would rather not.

Lee knew how she felt, and he patted the dashboard. “I’ll let you retire soon, okay? But Ford needs us tonight.”

He had no intentions of buying another truck, though he had plenty of money to do so. Lee rather liked this one, and he saw no reason to spend money on something when he already had one that worked. 

The drive to Sweet Water Falls passed in a flash, and Lee had no idea where his mind had wandered. He blinked, and the dark-haired image of Rosalie Reynolds flashed in his mind. Ah, so he’d gone down that path again.

He hadn’t been brave enough to drop by the woman’s office, even when she was expecting him to. He’d sent Will instead. Begged was a better word. The proper word. Familiar loathing and disgust built within Lee, and it was all directed at himself. 

His heart pounded right now, though Rosalie wasn’t anywhere near him physically. He wasn’t sure why she affected him so thoroughly, only that she did. They’d only met the one time. He’d only spoken to her twice, once in person and once on the phone. He’d looked at her picture plenty of times on her website, and he was taking that knowledge with him to the grave.

He didn’t need to add “stalker” to the list of names he’d been called over the years. Grumpy, sure, he could own that. Short-tempered, yes. What Cooper man wasn’t? He could hardly be blamed for that one. It was genetically inbred in him to get angry or frustrated at the drop of a bale of hay or the first sign of oil leaking from a tractor.

Meticulous, he actually counted as a compliment. Anal-retentive was a bit of a stretch, but Lee didn’t even mind that one. He worked with a lot of papers that held a lot of numbers, and someone had to be detail-oriented and obsessive about checking them to make sure things got done correctly.

Money in, money out—Lee took care of that.

Paychecks due, new orders received—Lee took care of that.

New clients and their contracts, established accounts and their renewals—Lee took care of that.

Lee ran Cooper & Co almost single-handedly these days, and most of the time, he let an inch of pride into his heart at how proud Daddy was of him. At how much Daddy trusted him to take over the generational operation that had been supplying milk to the people in Southern Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas for over a century.

He pulled into a spot at the elementary school, spying Martha’s car a few spaces over. She and Ford weren’t in it, which meant Lee was late. His ex-wife would give him the stink-eye for that, but he’d come as soon as he’d been notified of tonight’s meeting.

As he jogged toward the entrance of the building, he tucked in his shirt and he dang near pulled off the door as he opened it. 

“Dad,” Ford said, jumping to his feet from a cement bench across from the entrance.

Lee’s whole face lit up, and he couldn’t be mad at his son no matter what. He opened his arms to him, glad when Ford flew into his embrace. He always wanted Ford to be able to come to him for help, for the good, the bad, the anything.

“Hey, buddy,” he said. “What am I doin’ here tonight, huh?”

“Your son got in a fight,” Martha said, and Lee looked over Ford’s head to meet her eye. She didn’t look too terribly upset, and Lee kept hold of Ford in one arm as he leaned forward to touch his lips to Martha’s cheek. 

He settled awkwardly back on his feet, even putting another few inches between them. “I got here as fast as I could.”

“We’ve got five minutes still,” she said, nodding down the hall. The three of them started that way at a much slower pace than Lee had used coming inside. He’d loved Martha once-upon-a-time, and sometimes when he looked at her, he only saw the good things they’d experienced together. 

It didn’t take long for him to remember the things that had driven them apart, and he certainly wasn’t interested in getting back together with her. Lee simply took a long time to forgive—himself and others—and he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to get over infidelity.

Something about it just cut him right to the core, and even now, he worked against the feelings of betrayal and mistrust of all women. 

Ford’s teacher—a Miss Bair who was easily a decade younger than Lee—stepped into the hall. She smiled at Ford and then Lee and Martha. Lee didn’t want to be in her shoes, and he gave her a smile back so she’d know they were going to agree with her.

Lee was, anyway.

“Evenin’,” he said when no one else spoke. “I hope you weren’t waiting long for me. I live pretty far out.”

“Not at all,” Miss Bair said. “Come on in.” 

Martha went first, then Ford, and Lee held the door for the teacher and entered last. She’d set up some chairs around her desk, and he sat in the last one.

“Did Ford tell you what happened today?”

“I heard most of it,” Martha said. “Lee hasn’t gotten much information. I didn’t find the note or hear the message you left until about forty minutes ago.”

“Ford?” Miss Bair prompted.

The boy squirmed in his seat, and Lee put his arm around his son. “Hey,” he said real quietly. “Remember the roof? And the stars?”

Ford looked up at him, his innocent eyes so wide and so beautiful. He nodded, and Lee smiled at him. “Go on then.” He ignored Martha’s questioning gaze and glanced at Miss Bair.

She smiled at him, but Lee felt no spark of attraction to her. She had dark hair too—his preferred type—and nothing. Absolutely nothing like what he felt when he looked at Rosalie.

He had to call her again. Stop by her office. Something.

Travis’s wedding was in ten days. Could he ask Rosalie to go with him? Maybe he could offer to pay her, or pay for her dress, or something.

Nope, he told himself. You’re not paying a woman to go out with you. Either she’d say yes or she wouldn’t.

But not if you don’t ask.

“…so I told Simon to leave her alone,” Ford said.

“Wait,” Lee said, coming back to the conversation at hand. He really couldn’t let his mind wander in situations like this. “Simon Alvarez?”


Lee glared at Ford and then Miss Bair. “I thought Simon and Ford weren’t going to be allowed to be together.”

“It was lunch recess, Dad.”

“I don’t care,” Lee barked. “You’re not supposed to be near him.”

“He was teasing Lily,” Ford said, his eyes welling with tears. “He had her up against the kindergarten fence, and I helped her.”

Lee opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He looked at Martha, and she stroked Ford’s hair off his forehead. “But you hit someone, baby. That’s not how you solve problems.”

“Your mother’s right,” Lee said, swallowing afterward.

“But it got Simon to leave Lily alone,” Ford said, looking from him to Martha and back. “And then I was able to help Lily to the office. She was having a panic attack.”

“Whoa,” Lee said. “What?” He looked at Miss Bair, who wore a look of sympathy on her face. “Is she okay?”

“She’s asthmatic,” Miss Bair said, giving Ford a maternal smile too. She wasn’t mad at him, Lee realized, though she certainly couldn’t condone him hitting another student. “Once the nurse got her inhaler, she calmed right down.”

Lee nodded, suddenly so tense. “So now what?”

Miss Bair leaned forward and put her fingertips on Ford’s knee. “What did we decide, Ford?”

“That I won’t hit people,” he muttered. “Whether it’s to help someone or not.”

“That’s right,” she said. “Instead?”

“Instead, I try to get Lily away from Simon, or I start yelling for help from the sixth grade aides or the recess monitors.” He hung his head, as if this option was the worst thing imaginable. 

“Simon won’t have lunch recess for three school days,” Miss Bair said, pulling her hand back. “Unfortunately, I have to do the same to Ford.”

“No suspension?” Martha asked.

Miss Bair shook her head. “I can’t do that,” she said, and while she couldn’t say more, Lee heard it all. She actually agreed with Ford, and she’d do what she could to protect him. She looked from Martha to Lee. “Any questions?”

“No, ma’am,” Ford and Lee said together, and they looked at one another and laughed.

“I think that covers it,” Martha said, and the three of them stood. Lee took his son’s hand in his as they left the classroom, but he waited until he was all the way outside before he crouched down in front of his eight-year-old.

“I don’t think you should hit people, bud,” he said. “But I’m so, so proud of you for standing up for Lily.” He grinned at Ford and nodded once. “Okay?”

Ford nodded and reached out to touch Lee’s cowboy hat. “I don’t want to tattle to the recess monitors.”

“Just stay away from Simon.”

“But what if he’s hurting someone?”

“Ford,” Martha said, kneeling down in front of him too. “You’ll get suspended next time, I promise. You can’t hit other children.”

He nodded again, his chin so low. 

“Hey,” Lee said. “Chin up, son. Look at me.”

Ford did, and he seemed so lost and looking for Lee to guide him. “Do you want the other kids to think of you as a bully?”


“You can’t hit other kids, not even if you’re standing up for someone.” He smiled and tapped Ford’s nose. “Plus, if you get suspended, I’ll work you like a dog on the farm. Is that what you want?” 

Ford grinned too. “Can Queenie come with me?”

Lee laughed, realizing that his “punishment” for his son getting suspended wasn’t a punishment at all. He exchanged a glance with Martha. 

“Come on, Ford,” she said. “Give your daddy a hug. We have to get going.”

Ford wrapped his skinny arms around Lee, and he held his son just as tightly. He whispered, “I love you, son. You be good for your momma, and you obey your teacher.”

“Yes, sir,” Ford said.

Lee stood and watched Ford link his hand in Martha’s. She met Lee’s eyes, and so much was said between them. Then they went to their car, and Lee went to his truck. 

He drove back to the farm alone. He made dinner for himself, and he ate it alone. He hated being alone, and he wanted to do everything in his power to change his single status. 

He got out his phone and let his thumb hover over the icon for the dating app he’d once used. He couldn’t tap on it; he just couldn’t. 

He only wanted to go out with one woman, and she was Rosalie Reynolds.

Therefore, the following afternoon, Lee went through a similar routine as the previous night.

He changed his shirt. He washed his hands. He loaded himself into his truck. He drove to town.

Everything blurred around him, because when Lee focused on something, it was all he could see. All he could think about. All he could taste. And right now, that was a certain curly-haired brunette with gorgeous eyes. She’d rendered him mute once, and he was determined not to let that happen today.

He swallowed as he flipped on his blinker, scanning for the Curious Kids office. A small sign sat on the roof announcing the location of his destination, and he dang near stomped on the accelerator to get away.

“No,” he coached himself. “You’ve come all this way. You’re just going to go in there and tell her how stunningly beautiful she is, and then you’re going to ask her to your brother’s wedding.”

The pit in Lee’s stomach roared at him, but when a break in traffic presented itself, he made the turn into the parking lot. 

No one sat in front of Curious Kids, and Lee took the spot directly outside the door. He killed the engine. He got out of the truck.

It was almost like his mind was moving through a checklist. Do this. Do this. Do that. 

Go inside, check.

Find Rosalie, check.

She stood from the smaller of two desks, off to his left. With a smile on her face, she said, “Lee Cooper,” in that melodic voice he couldn’t get out of his ears.

Ask her to the wedding.


Tell her how gorgeous she is.


Say you can’t stop thinking about her.


Do something.

Lee couldn’t do anything. He felt like he’d entered the presence of an angel, and he stood there, frozen and mute.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I enjoyed this book very much. I thought reading about Travis and Will were going to be my favorite, but I sure enjoyed Lee and Rosalie." ~Wandi

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I love how much Lee and Rosalie appreciate each other. I love how they strive to be and do what they need to for themselves and each other even when they are struggling. I love how Lee learns to manage some of his surliness. I love how much they want and need their families. Surly Cowboy is a great addition to this series." ~J Archibald

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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