It's been a while since out guest today has visited. Years in fact so please welcome Linda back with her brand new release, Ride to the Altar, book 3 in her Circle Bar Ranch series!
Overwhelming hurdles block the path in Patricia and Talon’s ride to wedlock. A past love, murdered years ago and now only a file in an unsolved case, returns to haunt Talon. A long-held grudge demands release, yet Patricia has no idea how very deep it runs until she confronts her mother. An attack against the Circle Bar itself, leaving cattle dead and one of its hands injured.
Different from all the other novels in this series, Ride to the Altar forces the two characters to face their past individually before they can face the future together.
A handshake is the initial measure of a man. The grip provides the best and the worst first impressions. Impossible through Skype, so Talon Carlson determined to use the alternative: steady, eye-to-eye contact.
He scrubbed his hands down his jean-clad thighs. Funny how he could propose to Patricia Talbert in an arena of seventy-five thousand avid bull-riding fans, yet he shook like a wobble-kneed colt in front of the blank computer screen. But he was just old fashioned enough to want to do this the right way.
He poked a button, Skype connected, and Patricia's father, Dale McAllister, appeared on the monitor. At six o'clock in the morning eastern time, the U.S. Senator from New York wore a suit and tie and looked ready for his Monday commute to DC. The somber attire complemented his authoritarian expression. Gunmetal-gray hair held silver wisps at the temples, and dark eyes bore an intensity matching his profession—or matching a father who was meeting his only daughter's fiancé for the first time. Didn't matter that the daughter was over thirty and the new owner of a two-thousand-acre ranch in Texas.
"It's nice to finally meet you, sir," Talon said. "I've heard a lot about you."
"Believe me, I've heard a lot about you too." Mr. McAllister's voice sounded deep, gruff. Intimidating.
"Yes, sir. I'm sure you have." He gulped. "Sorry that we have to meet like this. We intended to fly to New York—"
"Yes, Patty told me. No need to apologize. I understand you have a responsibility to your church, and performing funeral ceremonies is part of it." The senator offered a sympathetic nod. "Sorry for your loss."
"Thank you." The funeral had been for one of the most beloved women in the county, Beth Griffith. Her husband, Griff, had asked Talon personally to perform the eulogy. As a bullfighter, Griff had saved Talon's hide more than once, so there had been no question that Talon would say yes, even if it meant missing their flight to New York.
Mr. McAllister leaned back, though the distance between his face and the monitor didn't lessen the effect of his scrutiny. "I understand you have something to ask me."
"Yes, sir," Talon squeaked, then cleared his throat. He tried again, clasping his hands between his knees to stop their shaking. "Mr. McAllister, I love your daughter, and she loves me. I'd like your permission to marry her. Your permission and your blessing."
Pat's father tapped his fingers together. "You know she's been married before."
"Yes, sir. I know."
"You know she was hurt."
"Pretty badly, yes."
"I never did like that boy."
Nothing Talon could say to that. Since the older man's gaze seemed distant, best to just wait him out. He would never hurt Pat the way Kent Talbert had, but proof accompanies action. Mr. McAllister would know the kind of stuff Talon was made of as time went on. His saying so now wouldn't be convincing.
"Sometimes I think if he hadn't died, heaven help me, I would've killed him myself." The senator focused on him again. "You know what was wrong with him?"
Besides the fact he was a no-good, opportunistic, cheatin' womanizer, no. "Got my thoughts. What do you think?"
"He was a city boy. City folks—especially rich city folks—have different ideas from those of us raised on farms and ranches. Different priorities."
This seemed strange from a man who divided his time between DC and New York, but Talon nodded. "Yes, sir." After all, Mr. McAllister had been raised on a ranch, and it was his brother, Jake, who'd willed this one to Pat.
"I want a man for Patty who would make her happiness his top priority."
"As it should be."
"Are you that man?"
He straightened in his seat. "Mr. McAllister, I don't fall in love easily. Only once before in my life, and she died before we could get married. I love your daughter. I have a lot of respect for her. She's a good woman, and I'm honored she agreed to be my wife. I'll do everything in my power to assure her happiness and well-being."
The senator rubbed his jaw, pensively eyeing Talon through the monitor. "Patty told me about your first fiancée. What was her name?"
"Losing her was pretty rough on you."
"Yes, sir." About killed him. Took him years to get over her death, an experience made worse because he'd been a suspect in her murder. "Not something I care to repeat."
"I don't imagine. But if you loved that deeply once, you can do it again. You've been given a second chance, son. That doesn't happen often."
"No sir, it doesn't. I've been mighty blessed."
"I want you to continue to consider Patty a blessing in your life. That's what she is, and she deserves to be honored as such."
Talon didn't need to be told.
"She's old enough to make up her own mind about who she'll marry, but I appreciate your asking me. That means something." He sat quietly a moment, his face inscrutable, then he nodded. "I'm going to trust you with my little girl, young man. Don't let me down."
Talon released his breath. "I won't, sir."
"Call me Dale."
The grin started in Talon's heart, then burst forth on his lips. "I won't let you down ... Dale."
"Good. Welcome to the family. We'll let the women handle all the details." He shifted in his seat, making the leather squeak. "Is Patty around? I'd like to talk to her."
"I'm sure she's close by. I'll get her."
As Talon rose from his chair, the senator said, "Nice speaking with you, son."
"And with you, sir—Dale."
As he strode to the door to find Pat, he allowed himself a full-fledged grin. That hadn't been too bad. The hard part had been reading the man. Her father bore two expressions— stern and not so stern. Probably a requirement for being a senator. But then, he'd called Talon son and said to call him Dale. Good start.
When he opened the door, Pat stumbled through it. She caught her balance with a hand against the doorframe. Standing in the hallway with a crimson blush accentuating her sheepish expression, she looked adorable.
He chuckled. "Were you able to hear good enough?"
She scowled and swatted his arm. "Did it go all right? What did he say?"
"He said he wanted to talk to you."
"Okay, but what did he say about your proposal?"
"Talon!" One of the ranch hands, Chance Davis, burst through the front door and caught sight of them in the hall. "We've got more cows down."
"Ours or Griff's? How many this time?" Talon reached for his coat and hat on the rack by the door and headed out with Chance. They couldn't afford to keep losing cattle. They'd already stretched themselves too thin.
Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn't begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.
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Ride to the Altar can be purchased at Amazon and for a limited time is only 99 cents so if you love Christian cowboy romances check out this series!
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Until next time take care and God bless.