Montana Born Books
Montana Made, Book 1
Release Date:

Aug 20, 2024

ISBN:

978-1-964418-08-7

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The Wrong Brother

by

Eve Gaddy

She went to Marietta to meet one brother…but fell for another

With everyone in her Texas hometown suspecting her of involvement in her parents’ illegal activities, Cici Bradley hopes linking up with the cowboy she met on a dating app will give her a fresh start in rural Marietta, Montana. Liam McFarland is handsome and charming, but there’s zero chemistry. The sparks with his brother, however, threaten to ignite.

Dr. Logan McFarland is suspicious of his brother’s online match. Why did such a captivating and beautiful woman leave Texas to meet a man? He’s determined to solve her mystery, but instead finds himself caught in her spell. But Cici is his brother’s girl and that makes her completely off-limits. Then Logan learns that Cici and Liam have decided to remain just friends. Do he and Cici have a chance?

Just as Cici and Logan explore their feelings, Cici’s past catches up with her and threatens the future she’s only begun to imagine.

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Chapter One

Dr. Logan McFarland stared disbelievingly at his brother Liam. “You’ve invited a woman you’ve never even met in person to come stay with us? Why?”

Liam looked up from the saddle he was cleaning and frowned. “I’m thinking about getting married.”

“To a woman you met over the internet? Are you nuts?”

“No.” He gave Logan a speculative glance. “Did you know Clint asked Mom to marry him?”

Clint Westbrook owned one of the neighboring ranches. He’d lost his wife years ago and had been sweet on their mother for as long as she’d been a widow. Which was several years ago now.

“Good for him. It’s about time. What does that have to do with anything?”

Liam shook his head. “It has everything to do with it. She said no.”

“What? She’s crazy about the man. Did she tell you why she turned him down? And why hasn’t she said anything to me or Connor?”

“She didn’t tell me either. I overheard her and Velma having an argument.”

Velma Fay was their housekeeper who’d been with them forever. “I know she and Velma are close but why the hell would she talk to Velma and not us?”

“She doesn’t want us to know. Mom told Velma she wouldn’t marry Clint because then she’d have to leave the ranch. And she won’t leave the ranch until I’m settled,” Liam said, making air quotes for the last word.

Logan stared at him. “That’s ridiculous.”

Liam stood and shrugged. “That’s Mom. You know how stubborn she is when she makes up her mind.”

“And she didn’t tell you. Only Velma.”

“Right. Because she doesn’t want to force me into marrying someone. But she’s worried I never will. On account of Caroline.”

Caroline. The woman who’d left his brother at the altar to run off with another man. “You’re not still hung up on her, are you?”

“Hell, no. But there’s also no one around here who doesn’t know that story.”

“So?”

“So I want a fresh start. And Cici Bradley could be it. We’ve been corresponding for a couple of months now and she’s coming here. Next week.”

“Does she know you’re thinking about marriage?” To some woman he’d never actually met. How crazy was that?

“She knows I want to settle down eventually. I think she does too. But no, marriage hasn’t come up. We haven’t even met in person yet.”

“You think she wants to settle down but you’re not sure?” Liam rolled his eyes but didn’t answer. “How long is she staying?”

“We left it open.” He picked up the clean saddle and hung it up on the wall.

Logan shook his head, watching his brother pick up another saddle, put it on the block and start to clean it. “So she can just up and leave her job?”

“She’s a writer. She says she can write from anywhere.”

“What does she write? Is she published?”

“Fiction. And yes. I don’t know that much about it. We’ll talk more once she gets here.”

“What if you’re not attracted to each other? Have you thought of that?”

“Zoom, remember? We’ve seen each other plenty of times. She’s gorgeous.”

“Virtually. Not the same thing, bro. Besides, if she’s so gorgeous why is she coming to Montana to possibly marry a guy she’s never met in person? Where’s she from anyway?”

“Texas.”

“So this gorgeous woman can’t find a guy in Texas? Sounds pretty fishy to me.” Hell, he’d lived in Texas during medical school. You couldn’t tell him she couldn’t find a man in Texas.

“I’m not asking for your approval.”

“Good, because you’re not getting it.”

“I thought about not telling you, but I didn’t want you showing up here and being an ass when you met her. If you can’t be decent to her then don’t come around.”

“How? I live here too.”

“You’re at the hospital as much as you are here.”

An exaggeration but not by much. He was a surgeon and rather than drive back and forth between the ranch and the hospital he often chose to stay at the hospital when he was on call.

“Have you told Mom?”

“Of course. But as far as she’s concerned this has nothing to do with her and Clint. Cici’s staying with us, and I wanted to make sure she knew my mother lived here too. So she’d be more comfortable.”

“Mom’s okay with this?”

“I’m a grown-ass man. My mother doesn’t run my life.”

“You’re a dumb-ass man. Mom might not run your life, but she’ll figure out what you’re doing and why. And then there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Not if we don’t tell her. She knows I met Cici over the internet and we liked each other. And that she’s coming here so we can get to know each other.”

“I thought those online dating things put people who lived near each other together.”

“Some do. Some don’t if you request to meet people from farther away or even other states.”

“She knows you’re a rancher, right?”

“Duh. It’s part of my profile. Besides, I’ve sent her pictures of the ranch and the town.”

“Your profile? Like hardworking rancher needs female companionship?”

“Ha ha. There’s a lot more to it.”

“You’ve met other women through this thing?”

“Actually, no. She’s the first.”

“Oh, my God, Liam. This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

“Why? The worst that happens is we figure out we’re not suited to each other. In which case I’ll try again.”

Logan left the barn before he exploded, tracking his mother down to the kitchen where she was talking to Velma.

“Mom, can I talk to you?”

“Of course.”

Velma undoubtedly knew about Cici. Even so, he wanted to talk to his mother alone. “Let’s go in the den.”

Velma snorted but didn’t say anything. His mother followed him, looking puzzled. “What is it, honey?”

“Liam’s lost his mind.”

She laughed and took a seat on the couch. “You heard about Cici, I take it.”

He paced a few steps. “Are you telling me you’re okay with this craziness?”

“They met through a dating service. Lots of people use them. What harm could there be?”

“What’s wrong with the women around here? Why can’t he date one of them?”

“You know why. Caroline jilting him played hell with his ego. He’s convinced every woman around here thinks he’s a loser.”

“Bullshit. More likely they think she was a bitch. Which she was.” And a liar. A woman who wasn’t at all who Liam had thought she was. Like Beth, who Logan had fallen for during his residency and who was the major reason he’d been content to play the field since then.

“I pointed that out. He said that was even worse. He says he doesn’t need anyone’s pity.”

“So he wants to hook up with a woman he met over the internet?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Logan. They’re not ‘hooking up.’ At least, I don’t think they are. They haven’t even met in person yet. Relax. It’s all going to turn out fine.”

And what happens if it doesn’t?

Cecelia Owen couldn’t wait to get out of Texas. She was a born and raised Texan and two years ago she wouldn’t have believed she’d be so anxious to leave her home state. Of course, two years ago she hadn’t known her parents were felons. But she wasn’t going to think about them and their Ponzi scheme. She was leaving Texas so she didn’t have to be constantly reminded of a damned traumatic experience she never wanted to think about again. But that seemed impossible living in Fort Worth.

She’d decided to leave town because she could hardly show her face in her hometown. Everyone had heard about, or worse, been victimized by, the Ponzi scheme her parents had perpetrated. Most of them figured she’d been involved regardless of the fact that she’d turned them in and testified at the trial. God, she never wanted to go through something like that again. Thank God the national news outlets hadn’t picked up the story. Everyone in her hometown, and probably the state, knowing was bad enough. She figured the only thing left for her was to get out of the state, for a while, anyway. Her best friend Roxanne had tried to convince her this would all blow over, but she wasn’t going to hang around until it did. If it did.

On a whim, she’d signed up with Matchmakers.com, a dating service that specialized in connecting people with matching profiles, regardless of where they lived. You could specify where you didn’t want to go, but otherwise you could get matched with anyone who was of similar interests, et cetera. She’d signed up under her pen name, Cici Bradley, and had requested someone in the US but beyond that she hadn’t cared. And honestly, she held out very little hope that anything would come of this scheme. Wincing, she reminded herself it wasn’t a scheme. That word held far too many negative connotations given what her parents had done.

She met a couple of men online, one who lived in Las Vegas and one who lived in Juneau. They were both nice and they video-chatted a few times, but there was no spark. Certainly not enough to warrant going to Nevada or Alaska to meet them in person. She was beginning to think that video-chatting wasn’t a fair way to judge a man. Then she met Liam McFarland.

First, not to be shallow, but he was damn good-looking. Tall and lean, with brown hair, hazel eyes, and a decisive jaw, he made a woman look twice. He was a rancher, raising horses and cattle and he lived near a small town in Montana. They got along well, and they had some similar interests. Not a lot, but some, and she was sure they’d find more once they got to know each other better. She really enjoyed talking to him. The town he lived near was small and rural, which sounded and looked appealing, even though she was a city girl through and through. The past couple of years had soured her on city life. So when Liam suggested she come to Marietta and stay with him for a while and see how they felt meeting in person, she accepted. She’d been wary of staying with him, because after all, she didn’t really know him, but when he told her his mother and brother lived on the ranch as well, she decided to accept his invitation.

So here she was on a plane flying to Bozeman, Montana, the city nearest Marietta with an airport. They’d argued over who was going to pay for the airline ticket, but Liam insisted and she discovered that once he made up his mind there was no changing it. Liam said he’d pick her up.

What’s the worst that can happen? We decide this is never going to work and I go home. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll like it and I’ll stay in small-town Montana. Maybe it will inspire my writing, which I’ve been having a hard time with since the shit hit the fan with my parents. Or maybe Liam and I will fall madly in love with each other and live happily ever after.

Nah. I couldn’t be that lucky.

End of Excerpt

This book will begin shipping August 20, 2024

The Wrong Brother is currently available in digital format only:

ISBN: 978-1-964418-08-7

August 20, 2024

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