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Book 5: Wishful Cowboy (Hope Eternal Ranch)

Book 5: Wishful 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 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?

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Luke Holt lay in the bed where he’d slept for a few months—the last few months of his prison sentence. Axle lay on his feet, the warmth from the dog’s body seeping into Luke and making him sweat. He hadn’t gone to bed with the pooch, but the dog wandered back and forth between the two bedrooms connected by the Jack-and-Jill bathroom.

He listened for the sound of Slate’s breathing, but he couldn’t hear it. It was still odd, even nine months later, to not be in the same room with over a dozen other men and all the noises they made in their sleep.

Luke blew a fan at night, mostly to combat his body’s natural furnace tendencies. But also to mask any sounds that might wake him.

He’d slept better here at Hope Eternal Ranch than he had anywhere else since leaving. He frowned, not sure what that meant. He’d never thought he’d stay here the way everyone else had. The problem was, there wasn’t much for him out in the world either.

“At least there’s no snow in Vegas,” he muttered as he rolled over. Axle got up and moved, padding up the length of Luke’s body, turning, and leaning right against his back. Luke didn’t complain, because it sure was nice to have another living, breathing thing so close to him. 

The dark gray light filtering into the room told him it wasn’t quite dawn yet. He wasn’t getting up yet—and he wouldn’t get up when the sun did. He didn’t work here anymore, and as today was his last full day in Texas, he and the rest of the boys from River Bay were going fishing.

Fishing.

Such a mundane thing to do. But Nate had requested it as his Christmas gift, and no one in the group could deny Nathaniel Mulbury. Least of all Luke.

With his eyes closed, he thought of the first time he’d met Nate. His first night in prison. He’d been a fighter before, and it was his natural instinct to have conversations with his fists instead of his words. He didn’t have to talk to his opponents. He didn’t have to care how they felt. All he’d cared about was winning.

He’d done a lot of that, and he believed his prison sentence to be an injustice to him. He still felt that way, and if he dwelt on it for too long, his anger caused his fingers to clench and his jaw to tighten. Then all Luke wanted to do was start swinging.

He deliberately breathed in and pushed the air out. Can’t change the past, he told himself. Accept what’s happened, and move on.

He was getting much better at actually doing what he thought. Since seeing Slate overcome the demons in his past, Luke figured it was time for him to practice what he’d been preaching.

Yes, he didn’t think he was guilty of any crime. But what he thought didn’t matter. 

Nate had taught him that, on that very first night in prison. Luke had picked a fight, because he always felt better when the pent-up energy inside of him flowed out through a jab or an uppercut. Nate had pulled him off a guy half his size and barked right in his face.

“That’s not what we do here, champ. Get control of yourself.”

Luke had gone right after Nate too, shoving him back and taking a swing at that pretty face, but Nate was a bigger man, and had been in prison longer, and he had three guys right there willing to take blows for him.

Ted, Dallas, and Slate.

Luke had faced down all four of them, wondering how they’d formed such a strong brotherhood in prison. How they’d formed a bond at all. He wasn’t great at that, but he’d been willing to try.

Luke had been the last in the group, and he still wasn’t sure how great he fit. The crew had been there for Family Day for Dallas when his wife had filed for divorce and dropped her kids off at her sister’s.

They’d come to visit Luke and Slate when they were the last two left. They’d come and picked them up on their release day.

Ginger had petitioned to have Luke in the re-entry program. He felt a debt of gratitude for her he hadn’t for another person other than his friends in prison.

So maybe you should stay here. He pushed the thought away. His family lived in Las Vegas now, and he had enjoyed being closer to them. They’d moved while he was in River Bay, and his Family Days had consisted of Nate’s brother and Dallas’s wife. Ted never did have much family come to the facility, and neither did Slate.

They both seemed to be thriving now, though. Heck, Nate and Ted had fallen in love by the nine-month mark of their releases, and Luke felt like it was just one more way he was failing.

He tried so hard. Tried and failed, almost all the time.

His mind cleared, and he managed to go back to sleep. He woke when a woman said, “Go on, Axle, you naughty thing. You’re not supposed to be in here.” 

He knew the voice, but his eyes were sluggish to open to see her face. In the next moment, the blanket got torn from his body, and the fan he used blasted cold air across his bare torso.

That got his eyes to snap right open. He grunted too, and that was when Hannah Otto said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

Luke sat halfway up, his heart pounding in the back of his throat. “Hey,” he said.

“I didn’t know anyone was in here,” she said. “And Slate said he needed a blanket, and…” She trailed off as her eyes moved from his face down his body.

Luke knew he had a lot of muscles. He worked purposely to get them and keep them. He’d loved boxing, and at least half of that was because of the physical conditioning it required. 

He liked to run, and he liked to lift weights. With all the muscle he had, it was no wonder he was like a walking furnace—or that he only slept in a pair of thin gym shorts.

Hannah stared at him, her mouth hanging open, and the moment turned awkward. Luke reached for the blanket she still held in her hands, and it came loose easily. He covered himself up as she blinked her way back to the land of the living.

He didn’t know what to say or do. He’d entertained a fairly massive crush on the woman standing in front of him while he’d lived here at Hope Eternal Ranch. 

But Hannah had been dating Bill Buckingham at the time, and Bill was one of Luke’s roommates in the Annex. When they’d broken up, Luke had started to form a plan with Jill to ask Hannah to dinner, but in the end, he hadn’t.

In the end, he’d gotten a job with a construction crew and knew he wouldn’t be staying in town. He didn’t think it fair to start a relationship with Hannah that he couldn’t finish, and he’d never asked.

He met her eyes and found her face red and getting redder fast. Without a word, she spun and left the bedroom, the slam of the door behind her making him cringe.

He sighed and looked up to the ceiling. “Really?” He didn’t have any other words for the Lord. Out of all the people who could’ve come in and disturbed his sleep, it had to be Hannah?

She was dating someone else now, and Luke wasn’t surprised. She was easily the most beautiful woman he’d ever met in his life, and he was honestly surprised she hadn’t been taken a long time ago.

He wasn’t as surprised that he was still single. He’d never really wanted a girlfriend growing up, because his older brother had had one, and she was so much work. Luke had enjoyed wrestling in high school, and then he’d gotten into boxing immediately afterward. 

He hadn’t gone to college, and he’d never wanted to. He liked working with his hands, and he’d thought construction would be a good career for him. The work was hard, and he had to get up early, but he didn’t mind either of those things.

His father was a part-owner in a real estate development firm, and Luke had been working for him since Thanksgiving. 

Someone knocked on the door, and Luke said, “Just a sec.” He jumped up from the bed, left the blanket behind, and pulled a T-shirt over his head before opening the door. 

Slate stood there, looking over his shoulder as he said something to Nick and Connor down the hall. When he turned back to Luke, he said, “I’m an idiot.” He stepped past Luke into the bedroom and started pacing.

“Why?” Luke asked. “What happened?” Slate felt like the little brother Luke had never had, though he was technically older than Luke. He closed the door and watched his friend go back and forth. 

He’d done this in prison too, when he needed a couple of seconds to work out his thoughts. It was amazing to Luke how much of a person was ingrained in who they were, and also how much a person could change.

“I forgot Jill and I were going to her parents for brunch in the morning.”

Luke frowned, the dots not lining up. “Okay.”

“I can’t drive you to the airport.”

“Oh.” Luke smiled and ran his hands through his hair. “It’s fine. I’m sure one of the other boys can.”

“They can’t.” Slate stopped pacing and faced him. “When Jill reminded me last night, I asked everyone. Ted and Emma are going to San Antonio to see Missy’s other mom. Dallas and Jess are leaving for Montana tonight. Ginger has a horse she’s taking through a birth, and she wants Nate there, because she’s getting bigger, and she’s worried she’ll need to take a break, and someone has to be there with the horse…” 

Slate hung his head as Luke’s mind spun. Everyone had such busy lives…except for him. 

“There are tons of cowboys here,” Luke said. “I’ll find someone to take me.”

“You don’t need to do that,” Slate said. “I found someone.”

When he wouldn’t say who, the unrest in Luke’s soul stirred. “It’s not Bill, is it?”

“No.” Slate scoffed. “Give me some credit.”

“Why aren’t you saying who it is?” Luke asked, squinting at Slate. “There’s no credit, unless you somehow got me a ride on a spaceship or something so the drive will only take five seconds.” Luke hated driving in the car. He felt like it was such a waste of time. 

“You like this person,” he said.

“Is this a guessing game?” Luke’s patience was already thin, and he hadn’t even showered yet. “Just spit his name out, Slate.”

“It’s not a him,” Slate said. “It’s a her. It’s Hannah.”

Luke opened his mouth to respond and only a guttural squeak came out. 

“She seemed really happy and excited to do it,” Slate said in a rush.

“That’s not happening,” Luke growled, the words coming out coated with gruffness and maybe a little distaste. “I can get my own ride to the airport.” Heck, he’d call a cab before he rode for an hour with Hannah Otto. The woman had just fled his room without a word; riding in the car together for even five minutes would be akin to torture—for both of them.

No way. Wasn’t happening.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This was an interesting book. It started out slow and ended with a fast-paced story capturing all their friends, their children and the love of horses and dogs. Interesting because it involved the turmoil Luke was going through and his angel, Hannah, who waited for him. It brought in the parents who lost their son and the parents of Luke's and Hannah's and how they were raised. Just a good story with a great ending.” ~Wandi

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐“This was the hardest book in the series for me to read. I wanted to throttle Luke for what he put Hannah through, but it was nothing compared to what he was going through himself. When Nate challenged him that he had never accepted responsibility for what he had done, he realized that he was still a prisoner to his past and set out to free himself from it. It was a long, difficult journey, but with the love and support from the men he had been in prison with, he was able to find himself. I have loved this series and one sentence sums it up perfectly. Hannah is watching everyone at Thanksgiving dinner and thinks "Nathaniel Mulberry had changed everything at Hope Eternal Ranch...he'd brought all of his friends here, kept them united, and pushed them to heal." This is a beautiful, uplifting series.” ~Elaine Keifer

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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