Home :: Romance :: Cowboy Fever Series, Book 6: Drifter's Heart by Karen Wiesner (Romance: Western Contemporary)

Cowboy Fever Series, Book 6: Drifter's Heart by Karen Wiesner (Romance: Western Contemporary)

Cowboy Fever Series, Book 6: Drifter's Heart by Karen Wiesner (Romance: Western Contemporary)
 
(1 reviews)  

Easy to love, hard to hold...

Maggie May's pa is still looking for the cowboy who knocked up his cowgirl vixen daughter five years ago. Little Tex has grown up without a father, but he's the shining star of the May Ranch. Like his father, though, he's always running off and disappearing.

Just when Maggie May thinks it'll never happen, the drifter she loves shows up, suddenly wise to the fact that his oh-so-altruistic efforts to quiet her endless stream of conversation had ended with a child. Horse trainer for hire and former rodeo bullfighter, Ryder McCall returns to Fever, Texas. This time, Maggie May plans to get him back in her clutches--and win his heart forever.

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Cowboy Fever Series, Book 6: Drifter's Heart by Karen Wiesner (Romance: Western Contemporary)
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1 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Karen Wiesner
Mar 1, 2016
5 Stars! “DRIFTER’S HEART will steal your heart! This is a complicated, well-rounded story filled with an expanse of subjects that will touch everyone's hearts. It takes a very special person and writer to imbibe the sensitivity and expertise to rip at their reader’s soul and make them feel every bit of the sorrowful pain their characters are enduring. Ms. Wiesner has accomplished such a coveted gift, and she shares with her readers in this emotional ride of a lifetime. I began to love this character and all she stood for. Don't miss out on this wonderful series, the compassion and overwhelming heartache, the tears that will stream down your face before you realize they are there, that only a special writer like Ms. Wiesner can make you feel. This novel takes you through the conflict and turmoil of a drifter who’s always only known one way of life but wants to change, keep promises, have a real family, and just doesn't know if he has it in him. Sparks fly, love scenes are great, threats are made, and twists and turns are around every corner, and then fate steps in. Every aspect of the story makes for a wonderful, well-rounded, all-encompassing, heart-wrenching story that will warm the reader’s heart. If you haven't read this, it is a must on your TBR! Get your tissues ready for this all-encompassing tear jerker.” ~A Bookish Escape

“I admit to being a fan of all the books in the Cowboy Fever Series—the books are chock full of sexy cowboys; what's not to love?—but DRIFTER’S HEART is special. The reason: a four year old, whirling dervish named Tex. Maggie and Ryder's love story is passionate and heartwarming. A reader can't help but worry as they struggle to overcome the mistakes of their past and cheer as they strive to rise above them to build a life together for themselves and their son. The stronger, deeper and even more moving love in DRIFTER’S HEART, though, is Maggie's love for Tex. Ms. Wiesner draws an exquisite portrait of a child with ADHD and the heartbreaking decisions Maggie faces mirror those of all parents who discover the child they love literally can't sit still. Don't miss DRIFTER’S HEART. Buy the book for the wonderful romance between Maggie May and her sexy cowboy. Keep it for Tex.” ~Award-winning author Carrie S. Masek

5 Stars! “The sixth in the Cowboy Fever Series is a wonderful second chance ranch romance. The enjoyable storyline contains strong protagonists with the heroine knowing what she wants and the hero struggling between love and a dysfunctional childhood (due to his rodeo champion father). With the return of stars from the previous entries (see Cowboy Fever Series anthology for a delightful omnibus of the fab five) enhancing the readers visit to Texas ranch country, fans will relish Karen Wiesner's wonderful tale.” ~Harriet Klausner

“Karen Wiesner brings us a realistic love story with contemporary problems set in rural Texas. The story centers on Maggie and Ryder, two people with a passion for each other but very different lives. The author paints the relationship well, including details of Maggie and Ryder’s son’s issues with ADHD. The subject matter is unusual for a romance novel which only adds to the book’s allure. In a genre full of military, paranormal and historical subjects, it’s a pleasure to read a story that could easily be someone I know, ordinary and real. Supporting characters add much to the tale as does the Texas scenery. If you like real-life love stories, DRIFTER’S HEART is a lovely book and completely worth your time.” ~BTSemag

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Sample Chapter

Maggie May wasn't sure she'd ever get used to having to tinkle every five minutes, the way she'd been doing for the past six months. Pregnancy had turned her bladder into an intolerably tiny storage compartment, and regardless of how much or little she drank during the day or night, she found herself rushing to the nearest cowgirl's room often. She came out of the stall, sighing in relief, and moved to the ancient sink in the church unisex bathroom.

Peeing constantly was, of course, not the only change to her body. Since she'd turned thirteen, her figure had been a contradiction of petite and voluptuous. Beyond that it hadn't changed much except she now had a little bump that she absolutely adored. Whenever she was in front of a mirror, she had to look at her slowly swelling abdomen. If not for her child's rambunctious activity, she might find it hard to believe she was going to have a baby. Her little Cupid reminded her constantly of his or her presence.

Funny how this pregnancy had started out with her sleeping twelve hour days with many naps during the day, and now her baby kept her up so much she was lucky if she got a few hours of sleep here and there. As she washed her hands, she saw the dark circles all around her eyes. Her face looked strangely lean. Was it possible to lose weight while you were pregnant? She wasn't sure. She'd tried hard to eat healthily since she found out her condition, but she was sick so often.

A small, black cloud floated down into her heart--one she'd been wrestling with a lot in the past half-year. Going through this alone... Okay, so she wasn't really alone; she had her family and friends. Going through this without a partner, the father of my baby, the love of my lifetime...well, hell, that ain't been easy. Some days, some nights, I don't know how I'll get through it at all.

Tears that she usually reserved for her alone time in the black of the night pressed against the backs of her eyes. Ruthlessly, she wiped her hands on the towel. Whatever happened, she was plenty old enough to be having a baby. She'd always wanted one of her own anyway. She was ready, come what may. Scared? Shorely. But I'm prepared. I want this baby so bad.

Maggie ran her hands soothingly over her rocking belly, alive now with kicks and internal blows that made her cringe in pain even while she laughed joyfully. My little Cupid. The unspoken promise of you brought me and your papa together for a single night. A part of me hoped it would lead to forever. But I was never really fair. I wanted to believe he loved me as much as I loved him, so I just...well, moved things along the path I thought they'd eventually go. Yeah, that's what I did. And now I'm alone. Cupid's arrow missed its mark. Maybe it wasn't meant to be. After all, I knew he was a drifter. Nothing I did, he did, we did was ever gonna change that. Moisture stung the backs of her eyes.

Realizing she would be missed if she didn't hightail it out of the bathroom soon, she got her watery emotions in check and went back out to the sanctuary of the small country church in what constituted "town" in Fever, Texas. Every Friday, she and her mama came to the church with their massive mobile haircutting and styling kits. The women in town gathered here to have their hair, makeup, and nails done. Pastor Doc, the only reverend and doctor in town, didn't mind letting them use the church for the weekend prelude to socializing, especially since most of the women were also getting prettied up for church on Sunday morning just as surely as for dancing and flirting at the Spitfire Friday and Saturday nights.

Just as Maggie entered the wing that led into the sanctuary, she heard Mabel Mulroney, who was Fever's police dispatch, secretary and reception all rolled into one, ask in her cigarette-hoarse voice, "Come on, Belle. You can tell us. Maggie tells you everything. Who's the father of that baby?"

Maggie's mother hooted. "I got no clue, sugar. You'll have to ask her."

"You must suspect someone," Lindy Matron added.

It was true that Maggie told her mother everything, yet she hadn't talked to anyone about this. Her mama hadn't asked either, not even after Maggie's daddy got out his shotgun and demanded that one of them tell him something about the sidewinder who dared take advantage of his baby.

"Now, sug, I can't tell ya anything I don't know myself," Belle said in exasperation. "But I do know it couldn't be somebody from 'round here."

Belle didn't need to say more about that. In her time, Maggie had dallied with most of Fever's cowboys her age. She'd been boy-crazy since she got out of diapers, just like her mama had been. The fact was, none of them had ever roped Maggie's heart. She wasn't about to tell anyone, especially her mama, who she'd given her heart and the virginity she'd somehow managed to retain. If Belle told Maggie's daddy who'd knocked their baby-girl up, he'd be after him with a double-barrel, if he could even be found.

Ryder McCall had drifted in and out of Fever, Texas like a season. He'd come in one day with the March rains, and, quite literally, he'd been gone with a summer wind. Since he made Maggie's dreams come true in a single night, he'd disappeared entirely, and she hadn't gone too far in trying to locate him. If Ryder didn't love her even now, she wasn't about to force him to take responsibility for her foolish presumption. She knew darn well she'd tricked him into more than he wanted with her because she wore blinders where that man was concerned.

"Well, hell, Belle, ain't you even curious?" Mabel demanded in obvious annoyance.

Surprising Maggie from where she was hiding in the wing, her mama chuckled softly--a sound like the beautiful bell she was named after. "'Course I am. But I know my Magpie. She chose the best man in the county, and when she's good and ready, she'll accept that cowboy's apology and his weddin' ring."

The black cloud inside Maggie's chest dissolved with her mother's faith in her. She closed her eyes against the burn of grateful tears. Not telling her mama her secret had been harder than anything else she'd ever done. How often had she almost rushed to the old house she'd grown up in and spilled her heart to her mother?

She'd known her mama would feel this way, wouldn't think the worst of her. Her parents always clung to the best impression of her, despite all the rumors and gossip-mongering in these here parts. Her mama was right about Ryder, too, though. He was a good man, lived by the cowboy code. If he knew she was pregnant after their beautiful night together, he'd marry her because it was the honorable thing to do. She'd convinced herself jackrabbiting out of her life like that hadn't been easy for him, especially when he realized she was a virgin. He'd been so shocked at the time. Who would believe she of all cowgirl vixens in this county had held on to her maidenhead and treasured it, only giving it to the man she loved?

Her heart squeezed tight in her chest at the memory of his shocked gasp, the look in his eyes quickly turning to tenderness. Then he'd been so gentle and loving with her, no longer frantic and passion-crazed. She was convinced her first time was the most special of any woman's because of his sweetness after he recognized the gift she'd given to him alone.

Her love for him had started that very first season he'd come to work on her daddy's ranch. She'd heard of him and seen him prior to that season, since he'd worked seasonally on some of the other ranches in the area. He'd insisted from the first that he was too old for her (only seven years--big deal), and he certainly was the one guy who was immune to her charms. She'd chased him harder as a result. Yet he seemed to have no trouble resisting her. Maggie had laughed off his indifference to her, choosing to believe he was just good at hiding his feelings.

One summer day, motivated to get him alone where he could show her how he really felt about her, she'd heard he was out fixing fences and checking cows in the north pasture. The other hands talked about how Ryder liked to work alone. He was a loner in every aspect of his life, they said. With a picnic lunch for them in her saddlebag, Maggie had ridden out to find him. By the time she came upon him, the sky had turned a menacing black. He was too much a cowboy to leave her on her own. They'd had no choice but to seek shelter in an old cabin on her folks' land. It'd been in a sad state, but it was the closest place to get out of the storm. Hail, lightning, and flood conditions had been predicted for the day, Ryder had told her later--which was why he'd been doing a quick check before the bad weather hit.

The cabin was dry at the very least, as well as the shed where he'd put the horses up. When he'd come inside he'd been soaked, but she'd been the one shivering so violently, her teeth chattered. He managed to build a fire in the old fireplace using the wood from the mismatched, ramshackle kitchen chairs stored there. Even the fire hadn't warmed her up, and he'd been worried about her, considering that the temperature had dropped drastically for a summer day. Neither of them could warm up wearing soaked clothing. He'd insisted using shared body heat was practical, their only recourse to getting through the storm, since the blankets in the cabin were too thin and full of holes to be any real help.

His resistance had fallen away unexpectedly in their molten embrace. Yet he'd cringed and almost turned away when she'd told him how much she loved him after the first, amazing kiss that turned her inside out. She'd drawn him back, whispering for more. Somehow that was all it took to bring about the most beautiful experience of her life. After they made love, they shared the picnic lunch she'd been bringing out to him, and she'd talked endlessly, trying to get him to open up. Eventually, they'd been in each other's arms again. The whole night had gone that way. Her love for him had become unalterably real, and the need for him to love her in return was nearly unbearable.

In the light of day, she'd discovered she was alone and barely had time to dress in her clothes hanging over the fire before her father and older brothers were there--sent by her missing beau to rescue her. Ryder had conveniently let it slip to one of the other hands that he'd seen her horse near the ramshackle cabin while he'd been out checking the damage early that morning. He'd also implied he'd taken shelter with the cattle during the hellish night. Naturally her father heard about it second-hand ASAP--after Ryder had already informed the man he had to leave on account of a family emergency.

Did Ryder believe their time together was a mistake? Or simply realized her father would kill him as soon as he was sure his baby-girl was safe? Whatever the case, he was gone by the time she got back to the ranch house, and she couldn't doubt he'd left because of her. For more than a month, she'd been furious and then devastated. Her love hadn't been enough. The most cherished night of her life had merely been sex, heat of the moment, for a drifter like Ryder McCall. Even still, when she learned she was pregnant, a part of her had been wildly happy. Maybe she should have gone after him and told him the truth, but she couldn't live with a shotgun marriage or one based on some code of honor that was outdated in most parts of the world but not here. She wanted love. Nothing less. Would Ryder want to know anyway?

After she and her mother packed up and got their kits back in the pickup, Maggie hugged her hard.

"What's up, sweet pea?" Belle asked, obviously seeing how close she was to the edge.

"I don't know what I'd do without you, Mama. Thank you. For everything."

Her mother looked into her face, and, as she had all her life, Maggie wished to be as beautiful as her. Oh, she had no doubt she had her own measure of appeal, but her mama had the most natural beauty she'd ever seen in another human being. Closing in on her late fifties and five children borne from her own body, Belle May could have easily passed for thirty. She took good care of herself, and Maggie's daddy was still drunk in love and lust with her. Their marriage was what Maggie had wanted all her life--after she was done with her man-crazy ways as a teenager. Ryder had seen to making that the case. "You're emotional today, sug."

Maggie sighed. "I wanna make some changes in my life, Mama. I been driftin' too long, thinkin' all the wrong things were gonna satisfy me. They never have. What I want most of all is to be a good mother to this baby."

"Oh, Magpie, you will be. You'll be the best mama. Don't you know that? Who couldn't love you? Your nieces and nephews adore you. Everyone does, sugar."

Maggie didn't laugh out loud, but she could have. In a country where the women outnumbered the men considerably, her flirtatious ways had made enemies. She had few female friends anymore. She regretted that often, especially when she remembered her closest friends growing up: Angie Lewis, now living in Wisconsin, and Karla Sanford, who'd become an enemy when Maggie started dating Ken Abrams--the man Karla had eventually married, presumably after being secretly in love with him most of her life.

Ryder didn't love me, the way I fooled myself into thinkin' he did. If she couldn't make the one man who mattered fall in love with her, she wasn't sure how good she'd be at making a baby, even her own, love her. What if she was no good at mothering? Contrary to her mother's faith in her, no one else would ever believe she'd make a good mother. Her reputation had seen to that. But she wanted to change all that. She wanted to make some female friends and learn how to be a good mama. Her own mother had already taught her so much, but she still had a lot to learn, especially since she'd be doing this whole parent thing on her own.

It's just me, and I wanna do this, this above all, right. Lord help me, there's nothing else left for me if I can't get the most important thing I've ever done in my life right.

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