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Country Love

Country Love

Montana Promises, BOOK 4

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 182 5-Star Reviews

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Synopsis

When Becky O’Donaghue moved from Ireland to Montana, she had grand plans to create a florist store like no other. Nine years later, she has achieved everything she dreamed of and more. But becoming the guardian of her best friend’s six-year-old daughter turned her world upside down. 

Sean Gray is a cattle rancher, search and rescue volunteer, and closet romantic. When his twin brother asks him to help organize a surprise wedding for his fiancée, Sean thinks he's crazy—until he meets Becky—Bozeman’s florist extraordinaire, and the woman who could change his life forever.

With his brother’s happy-ever-after at stake, Sean works alongside Becky to create a magical day for everyone. And, if the luck of the Irish is with them, they might find a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow, too.

Chapter One Look Inside

Becky’s gran would turn in her grave if she knew why the buckets of lovely roses were sitting on her workbench.

“Are you sure you want us to take the petals off all the flowers?” Laura, her part-time florist, asked.

“It may seem a little extreme, but the Pearsons have a grand aisle for their daughter to walk down.”

“And the bride wants to see a carpet of pretty pink roses,” her sister Molly added. 

Becky refused to look at the grin on her sister’s face. The bride, Cheryl Pearson, was a lovely young woman who struggled to separate her needs from those of her mother. Becky only hoped she wasn’t swapping one overbearing relationship for another on her wedding day.

“I’ll not be listening to any of your comments about my clients,” she said in an Irish accent that hadn’t mellowed with the passing of time. “Next you’ll be telling me to pick and choose who I agree to help.”

Molly sealed the first bag of petals and carefully placed them in the refrigerator. “I’ll not be telling you how to run your business, but it would be nice to work for clients who appreciate you.”

“In their own way, they do.” Becky opened the spreadsheet on her computer and updated the file. Tomorrow afternoon, Cheryl Pearson would marry the man of her dreams. The fairytale wedding would outshine anything ever seen in Bozeman and would be the talk of the town for weeks. For that reason alone, Becky was happy to work with someone who would try the patience of a saint.

With the list of tasks updated, she returned to the three-foot-high centerpiece she was creating. “Are all of your photos ready for the exhibition?” she asked her sister. Molly was a talented photographer who had shown her images around the world. To help Becky with the last details of the Pearson wedding, she’d taken a day out of her hectic schedule.

“I still have one to finish, but I have enough time to add a little magic to it.”

Becky hoped so. Molly had worked hard to build a career that would see her through the ups and downs of life. She didn’t want her to miss a deadline because she was helping in the flower shop.

The bell over the front door of Happy Petals jingled. 

“I’ll get it.” Laura hurried across the workroom. “If I need a hand, I’ll let you know.”

“That would be grand,” Becky said as she reached for a long-stemmed rose. “If it’s Doris, tell her I’ll see her tonight.”

Molly grimaced. “Better you than me,” she whispered. “I don’t know how you put up with her meddlesome ways.”

“She reminds me of Gran. Beneath her no-nonsense exterior is a woman with a heart of gold.”

“If you say so.”

Becky’s lips twitched. “I do. When you’ve finished with the petals, come and give me a hand.” Her cell phone rang as she was about to add another flower to the vase. “Hello. You’re speaking to Becky at Happy Petals. How can I help?”

“It’s Lynda Graham, Mary’s teacher. Can you come to the school to talk to her? She wants to go home.”

And just like that, Becky’s world tilted on its axis and all her plans went out the window. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” 

“Is everything all right?” Molly asked.

Becky ended the call and grabbed her keys. “I need to see Mary. Will you be all right for half an hour?”

“Of course we will. Go and talk to our little girl.”

As she drove toward Bozeman Elementary School, Becky took a deep breath and focused on what was important. And Mrs. Pearson’s last-minute changes to the floral arrangements didn’t even come close.

* * *

Sean stepped out of the barn. Late afternoon was his favorite time of the day. The sun had lost its unrelenting heat, but wasn’t ready to sink below the horizon. Depending on the season, most of the ranch hands were usually finished for the day—hanging up their cowboy hats for a hot shower and a cold beer. Apart from the odd snort, woof, or meow from his sister’s army of shelter animals, it was as if nothing existed beyond the wire fences circling the Gray family ranch.

Taking a deep breath, he surveyed the wide-open pasture surrounding him. For three generations, his family had raised beef and bison on this land. When prices had plummeted and demand slowed, they’d plowed the fields, diversifying into wheat, corn, lentils and peas.

“Are you going to stand there all night or give me a hand to change the tire?”

He glanced over his shoulder at Matthew, his twin brother. “I’m appreciating what’s around us.”

“Appreciate it another day. I promised Ashley I’d take her into town for dinner.”

“I thought you were saving your money for your wedding?”

“We are, but this is more like a mental health break. Her stepmom wants her to fly to San Francisco to buy a dress. Ashley wants to buy the one she’s seen in town.”

Sean wasn’t about to point out it was Ashley and Matthew’s wedding, not her stepmother’s. He knew how fragile family relationships could be and adding his opinion wouldn’t help anyone.

“Have you seen the last tire nut?” Matthew asked.

Sean looked on the ground before moving the flat tire. “It’s under here. Have you thought about what you’re wearing when you get married?”

His brother took the nut. “It looks as though we’re renting suits.”

“So, your idea of wearing jeans didn’t go down too well?”

“You could say that. Ashley’s mouth dropped open and Mom gave me one of her looks.”

Sean laughed. “And it still worked?”

“I’d have to be dead not to know when she isn’t impressed.” Wiping his hands on his jeans, Matthew walked to the back of the truck. “I’ll lower the jack.”

Sean waited until the truck hit the ground before tightening the tire. “I spoke to Nathan and Liam. They’ll both be here for your bachelor party.”

“I didn’t think either of our brothers would miss it. Have you told them what we’re doing?”

“It’s a surprise. Give me a hand to lift the flat tire onto the truck. You can take it into town with you.”

“What will I do with it? It’s six o’clock at night.”

“I called the garage. Mike said to leave it at the back door and he’ll drive past after supper and fix it for us. You can bring it back to the ranch after you’ve had dinner.”

“I should have known you’d have something organized. It’s a pity you don’t have the same skills with women.”

Sean closed the tailgate. “I’m more selective than someone else I know.”

Matthew grinned. “Ashley was always the love of my life. It just took both of us a little time to realize it.”

A lot of time and hundreds of miles, Sean thought. But, if two of his three brothers could find their soulmates, there must be hope for him. 

A series of snorts erupted from a stall farther into the barn. Even if his parents’ llamas thought he was hilarious, there must be someone who’d take pity on a thirty-five-year-old cowboy—especially if they enjoyed chilled wine, horseback riding, and sunsets that drifted into forever.

* * *

Becky hurried across the parking lot of Bozeman Elementary School. Twelve months ago, a phone call from her ex-fiancé’s lawyer had changed her life. Even though their engagement had ended ten years ago, she’d kept in contact with Jamie. He was a good person with a big heart, and she valued his friendship.

When he’d married Sophia, she’d flown to Dublin to celebrate the day with her friends. A year later, she’d returned when Mary was born. When Sophia and Jamie asked her to be the legal guardian of their baby girl, she was both humbled and shocked. With no one in their families able to take care of their daughter, the American-born couple wanted to know Mary would be looked after if anything happened to them.

Nothing she’d said could change their minds, so she’d gone with them to their lawyer’s office. Never in a million years had she expected Mary would eventually live with her, but a tragic accident had left their darling girl an orphan.

Instead of returning to Ireland for Mary’s fifth birthday, she’d packed a suitcase and attended Jamie and Sophia’s funeral. Mary had traveled back to Montana with her and, day by day, she was learning to live in a world that didn’t include her parents.

Taking a deep breath, Becky stepped into the administration block. The last year had gone by so quickly it was hard to remember what her life was like before Mary arrived. Despite everything that had happened, they’d both found a new kind of normal and, most of the time, they were happy.

The school secretary smiled when she saw her. “Mary and Lynda are in the meeting room at the end of the corridor. Go on down.”

“Thanks.”

Lynda lifted her head when she walked into the room. “Thanks for coming so quickly.”

Before she could reply, Mary flew toward her, gripping Becky’s legs as if she was about to be swept away by a raging torrent. “It’s okay.” Placing her hands on Mary’s shoulders, Becky looked at Lynda. “What happened?”

“One of Mary’s classmates said something to her in the playground. She burst into tears and hid under the stairs again. I’ll leave you to talk to her.”

Becky dropped to her knees and pushed the honey-gold curls off Mary’s face. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Big, tear-filled eyes lifted to hers. “Tommy Pinto told me you aren’t my mommy, so you can’t come to Parents’ Day.”

“Of course, I can come. Mrs. Graham said the day is for all the adults who look after the children in her class.” 

“But Tommy said it’s only for moms and dads.”

“Tommy’s wrong.” Holding Mary’s small hand, she led her across to the sofa. “Let’s sit here for a few minutes.” Reluctantly, Mary sat beside her. “Do you remember when we talked about families?”

Mary nodded. “They’re like Goldilocks.”

“That’s right. Families come in all shapes and sizes, just like Goldilocks and the three bears.”

“But I don’t like porridge.”

“That’s okay,” Becky said with a smile. “Molly eats enough for both of us.”

Mary lifted her thumb to her mouth and leaned into Becky. “I told Tommy that Mommy and Daddy are in heaven. He said that’s a place where dead people go.”

With her arm around Mary’s narrow shoulders, Becky kissed the top of her head. “Tommy’s right about that. But, even though your mom and dad are in heaven, they’re still watching what you’re doing.” 

Mary still didn’t fully understand what had happened. Some days, it was as if she expected her parents to walk through the door and take her back to Ireland. 

“Would you like Mrs. Graham to let Tommy know it’s okay for me to come to Parents’ Day?”

“She told him before, but he doesn’t listen too good. Can I go home?”

“No. You have to say at school until the bell rings at the end of the day.”

Please?”

Becky looked into Mary’s big brown eyes. It was nearly the end of the day and it wouldn’t make much difference if she left. But Mary needed to stay here in case leaving school early became a habit. 

“I’ll be waiting for you after the bell rings.”

Mary scrunched up her face and sighed.

It reminded Becky so much of Jamie that a knot of grief snuck up on her. “Let’s go back to your classroom. It’s a fine day for learning new things.”

With another sigh, Mary slid off the sofa. “I got a gold star for the story I wrote yesterday.”

“That’s wonderful. Do you want to show it to me before I go back to work?”

With a resigned nod, Mary slipped her little hand into Becky’s and followed her into the corridor.

Becky sighed. It was hard enough being six, but missing your parents was worse.

Fans of Netflix’s Virgin River series will love this small-town, feel-good romance!

Sean Gray is a cattle rancher, search and rescue volunteer, and closet romantic. When his twin brother asks him to help organize a surprise wedding for his fiancée, Sean thinks he's crazy—until he meets Becky—Bozeman’s florist extraordinaire, and the woman who could change his life forever.

With his brother’s happy-ever-after at stake, he works alongside Becky to create a magical day for everyone. And, if the luck of the Irish is with them, they might find a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow, too.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "If you want to cozy up with a book and be swept into a love story, this is the series for you!"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "The simplicity and purity of the love story melted my heart. This is what romance novels should be!"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "I laughed, I cried, I didn’t want it to end. Simply beautiful!"

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