NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
He’s the right man at the wrong time
with an unwanted Christmas proposal.
As if cocktail waitress and horse trainer Lynzie Mullins didn’t have enough problems, she discovers she’s pregnant just as her high school crush rides back into town in time for Christmas. He’s a constant reminder of the happily ever after she’d always dreamed of instead of the mess she’s in now.
Cowboy veteran Ryan Crawford reluctantly returns to Lucasville to help his grandfather sell his place. The town has changed and so has Lynzie—from an awkward teenager to an attractive young woman with a caring heart.
Despite his best efforts, Lynzie is not interested in leaving Lucasville, so Ryan offers her what she wants—his heart. Unfortunately, that proves not to be enough. Now he has a decision to make. Give up his dream farm or his dream girl.
As this book opens Lynzie finds out she’s pregnant, the father Andrew, is someone she just passes time with, not someone she would want to marry. Her bestfriend Coco is with her and convinces her to wait until seeing a doctor before saying anything to anyone.
From Coco she also learns that her high school crush, Ryan Crawford, is back in town. This information comes just before he shows up on her doorstep. Ryan has changed a lot since his mother moved with him to Florida. He’s definitely not a kid anymore and he served his country honorably until he was injured and discharged. The unannounced visit, while a surprise also proves to Lynzie she’s still more than a little in love with him. The short visit ends with Ryan asking her to lunch the next day and her accepting.
Now that lunch has a couple of twists as they catch up, one of which is Andrew stopping at their table. Something that annoys Ryan and Lynzie both.
This is a favorite scene.
Ryan looked toward the corner and his brow furrowed. “Ex-boyfriend.”
She chuckled. “Not exactly that, either. We go out sometimes.” And stay in sometimes. “As you can see, it is nothing serious.”
“He’s not good enough for you.”
Her heart lurched at his words. She hadn’t heard a sincere compliment like that in years, at least not from a man. “Thank you, but I think I’m the one who’s not quite good enough, or should I say of the proper class.”
Ryan studied her before he spoke and when he did, it was as if he chose his words carefully. “A man is more than his ability to provide financially. The value of man is based on character.” He nodded toward the corner. “He lacks character.”
Something in Ryan’s tone had her believing he’d learned that in the Army. She shrugged. She didn’t want to talk about Andrew. “How’s your mom? Last time I saw her, her eyes were red from crying and she was packing boxes.”
“That’s right.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “Luckily, she stopped crying soon after that and got angry instead. She divorced my dad. He couldn’t seem to remember he was married when around other women.”
“Oh, I thought it was just the one woman.”
“No. I can’t say my dad was as great as yours.” He grimaced. “We moved in with my mother’s parents who owned a horse farm in Florida. It’s a beautiful spread. But when Mom remarried, my grandparents sold it. I was in the Army at the time, so I never had a chance to buy it.”
Energy surged through her as she realized he must still love horses. Maybe she could work for him. “Were you thinking of buying Gramps’ farm?”
In less than a second, he burst her dreams when he shook his head.
“No. I already bought one in Florida.” He smirked. “There’s no horses or staff there yet, but at least I own it.”
She squashed her disappointment, something she did on a daily basis, and focused on him. “Are you going to breed horses? Or were you thinking of training them?”
She chuckled. “Are you just going to put them out to pasture?”
Ryan’s eyes lit up. “Not that either. I’m going to start a Veteran’s therapy program.”
She’d never heard of such a thing. Then again, her dad was a policeman and was killed in the line of fire. No one she knew had served in the military and been overseas. “I’m not sure I understand. Does that mean you will use the farm like a summer camp, only with psychologists and physical therapists?”
“No, not exactly. It’s more like a dude ranch. We will be using the horses for therapy and the quiet of the farm will help those with PTSD feel more comfortable. However, not every man or woman who comes back from combat has PTSD. There’s about twenty percent who truly have it, but if you take into account the depression, guilt, anxiety, sleep disorders and readjustment to civilian life, there are a ton of ways my horses will be able to help.”
She smiled, loving his enthusiasm. “Your horses? I thought you said you don’t own any.”
He nodded. “I don’t, but that’s where Gramps comes in. He offered me twenty-five percent of the final take on selling his farm if I’d help him sell it.”
“Oh wow. That should be substantial, especially if you sell to a horse breeder or even a developer.”
His smile was wide. “That’s my hope. I would like to start with five horses and a couple staff. Believe it or not I already have two friends who are helping just to have lodging. They are on disability pay and just want a safe, quiet place to hang their hat, so to speak. But while they both know their way around an M4, they don’t have much horse experience.”
Ryan’s excitement was catchy. “Are your friends veterans too?”
“Yes, Jesse and Cooper. They are at the farm right now. I’d trust them with my life.” He chuckled. “Actually, I had to a few times.”
She couldn’t imagine what it had been like for him. His upbeat excitement to help his fellow comrades was such a breath of fresh air. “How did you come up with this idea? Or was it that you wanted to help your friends using what you know?”
He shook his head. “I’d like to take credit for that, but I can’t. I actually was told about a place that exists like this in Virginia and I went there myself. I admit, it wasn’t for research.” He lowered his voice and leaned forward, his smile gone. “I went because I needed help with my leg, but it was really an escape from having to fully readjust to civilian life again.” He sat back. “I didn’t have many expectations, but by time I was done, I knew what I wanted to do with my life savings.”
Her heart swelled with pride in him at the same time she felt inferior. His sense of purpose, his caring, his life experience showed her exactly how small her own world had been.
Luckily, the waitress came by with their lunch and he started asking her about Lucasville. She was far more comfortable talking about a place she knew backwards and forwards.
By time they finished their meal, she was in complete awe of him.
After he paid, he walked with her outside. “I better get over to the garage. Antony wants me to do a couple hours work today. He still doesn’t trust me. I never expected that.”
She put her hand on his arm. “It’s not his fault. All of us who have been here while Lucasville suddenly exploded have been burned a time or two. But to be fair, others have done very well like Renee Reese. Just give him a little time.”
He looked at her. “What about you? Do you need time to trust me?”
She smiled. “No. You are still the boy I liked in high school, just better.”
His grin was back. “That’s good enough for me. So would you like to come over this weekend and give me a few pointers on Midnight and Toby?”
“I can come by Sunday. I don’t work Sunday night.”
“Perfect. You can stay for dinner.”
What was she doing? “Sounds good.”
“It will be. I’m cooking. You don’t want to eat anything Gramps cooks. I found that out the hard way.”
She rarely ran into Ryan’s grandfather, but she’d heard he was forgetting things. “You know how to cook?”
He shrugged. “I’ve picked up a couple tips here and there. My specialty is smoked ribs. Do you like those?”
Oh, God could the man get any better? “I love smoked ribs.”
“How about twelve hundred hours? I’d like your opinion on a few things, but I know you work late.”
Her opinion? She ignored his use of military time. “Noon is fine.”
He gazed into her eyes, a smile still on his face. “I’m really glad I came back here.”
Before she could react to the thrill that buzzed through her chest, Ryan cupped her neck and kissed her.
The second his lips touched hers, her whole body came alive. At first the kiss was just a brush of a touch, but as he lifted away, he hesitated then came back and really kissed her, his tongue seeking entrance to her mouth, which she allowed.
As teenagers, they had been awkward at best in their kissing, but Ryan knew what he was about now as he commandeered her mouth with his tongue. She moaned as she kissed him back, loving his new taste.
At the sound of the strange voice, she pulled away and looked at the person who wanted to go into the restaurant. She didn’t recognize the man, but still her cheeks heated.
“I’m sorry.” Ryan spoke to the man then stepped away from the doorway, taking her with him, his hand at the small of her back, possessive.
Once they had walked a few steps away, he turned and faced her. “I know I should apologize for kissing you on the sidewalk in front of everyone, but I can’t because I’m not sorry. I hope you’re not offended.”
She shook her head, not quite able to form words yet.
“Good.” He looked at his watch. “I better get going. See you Sunday?”
Post, Lexi. When Love Chimes (Broken Valor Book 1). Kindle Locations (283-345). Lexi Post. Kindle Edition.
With Ryan working part-time to finance repairs at his grandfather’s farm prior to sale, he makes time to see more of Lynzie. Even finding out she’s pregnant won’t deter him from wanting more with her.
Andrew proves he’s even more of a jerk after finding out about the baby, giving Lynzie several options. None of which include marriage.
The friendship between Lynzie and Coco is one of laughter and love. Their shopping trip had me giggling as they looked for gowns to wear on New Year’s Eve.
Love, laughter and tears surround the characters as Lynzie finds love with Ryan.
I confess I’ve never read the Dicken’s story this tale was based on, I do know I will be reading it now.
5 Contented Purrs for Lexi!
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Lexi Post is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of erotic romance. She spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about the classical literature she loved. From Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death” to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, she’s read, studied, and taught wonderful classics.
But Lexi’s first love is romance novels. In an effort to marry her two first loves, she started writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and found she loved it. From hot paranormals to sizzling cowboys to hunks from out of this world, Lexi provides an erotic experience with a “whole lotta story.”
Lexi is living her own happily ever after with her husband and her cat in Florida. She makes her own ice cream every weekend, loves bright colors, and you will never see her without a hat.