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The Billionaire Rancher She Married
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“I’m Hilary, but most people call me Harry.”
Evergreen, Texas’ most eligible bachelor Devon Montgomery does not believe in love, which is why the handsome but cold-hearted ranch owner gets himself a mail order bride who’s sure to be undemanding of his time.
Note: This is a STEAMY MODERN-DAY ROMANCE set in small-town Texas. It has no cliffhangers and a guaranteed HAPPY EVER AFTER.
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A rare cool wind blew towards a sprawling three-story mansion, causing the dark red curtains at the sides of the balcony doors to flutter invitingly. This had the man seated behind the table look up from the report he was reading, a thoughtful expression on his face.
He stood up a moment later and headed out to the balcony. He was a tall, golden-haired man with cold blue eyes and a ruggedly handsome profile. Even though he was dressed in an expensive handmade suit, he exuded the kind of earthy masculinity that belied his roots. Born a rancher, always a rancher, as his great-grandfather had liked to say. And it was true, for he was, in a nutshell, the type of man who was used to wielding power, whether inside a corporate boardroom or astride a horse.
Someone knocked on his door before opening it a second later, his visitor – a beautiful well-preserved woman in her late forties – clearly having no intention to wait. She was dressed in a floral wraparound dress, with clouds of expensively dyed hair curling around her unlined face.
“Devon?” Mary Beth caught sight of her only son in his balcony and hurried towards him as fast as her five-inch stilettos could carry her. “Devon, tell me it’s not true.” She came to his side and pulled on his sleeve insistently.
Turning to kiss her on the cheek, Devon said obediently, “It’s not true, Mama.”
Mary Beth almost sighed in relief until she saw the mocking gleam in Devon’s eyes. “You wicked boy!” Her son was usually so serious it was hard to tell when he was making one of his rare jokes.
“Contact whoever wrote this announcement and have them take it back!” She waved the rolled-up newspaper in her hand at his face, which was so like his dear Papa. Unfortunately, she thought pitifully, that was the only thing Devon had inherited from Desmond. Whereas her husband lovingly doted on her and did everything she asked, their youngest child proved to be the opposite, insisting on doing things his way, never mind if she did not approve – like now.
The memory of what she had read from the papers made Mary Beth shudder. “This is not a laughing matter, Devon! How can you marry someone you don’t know at all?”
“Actually, I know her far better than any of the giggling debutantes you’ve pushed my way in the past two decades.” His voice was still pleasant, but the grim look in Devon’s gaze brooked no argument. “Last night was the final straw, Mama.”
Mary Beth colored. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she muttered, avoiding his gaze by turning towards the magnificent views before them, which consisted of an amazing blend of orange and blue skies, huge magnolia trees, and jade green waters of the creek bordering the edge of their lands and going all the way down to San Antonio.
Primrose was the flagship property of Montgomery Ranches, and it made Mary Beth feel faint, thinking that the mistress of Southwest Texas’ richest and most famous ranch would be some woman they didn’t know from Adam!
“Be reasonable, Devon. You cannot just order a bride—”
“It’s your fault I did, Mama. You went too far last night.” His lips thinned as he recalled the distasteful event. Mary Beth had invited a group of her friends – a polite term to describe fifty or so guests – to have dinner in his home. He had agreed but warned Mary Beth that he would be arriving late and heading directly to the stables upon reaching home. Ella, one of his most prized Thoroughbreds, had just given birth, and he wanted to make sure that its colt was faring well.
Armed with the knowledge of her son’s plans, Mary Beth had arranged for all the stablehands to take their leave and for her friend’s daughter, Jill Bartwell, to wait for him inside one of the stalls – naked. The plan was for Mary Beth and her friends to come across them just as Devon chanced upon Jill and force them into a shotgun marriage.
Considering Jill’s father was a man Devon deeply respected and one who unfortunately loved his spoiled daughter greatly, the plan might just have worked. If Jim Bartwell had learned of the two of them being found together in a compromising position, if Jill had been able to utter her lie about Devon playing her false and promising marriage if she gave her body to him – if Jim had insisted that Devon marry his daughter, Devon knew he would have eventually caved in.
Jim had been the one to save him from bankruptcy and the ranch from being repossessed following his father’s untimely death. Devon owed him too much to cause him pain.
But fate had thankfully intruded. Last night, Devon had been tied up with work and he had sent his vet ahead of him. It was Dr. Green who had stumbled upon the naked Jill, Dr. Green who had eagerly offered to marry the scheming socialite to protect her honor, and now it was Dr. Green engaged to the Bartwell heiress