CLAIMED BY THE RANCHER – Jules Bennett
The Rancher's Heirs , Book 2
Harlequin Desire #2524
ISBN: 978-0-373-83851-6
June 2017
Contemporary Series Romance

Stone River, Texas – Present Day

Ten years ago, Nolan Elliott and Pepper Manning were in love and expecting a baby. Then Pepper miscarried, and the despair drove them apart and she left town. She has now returned to Stone River, where she recently opened a shop and is awaiting the birth of her child. One day, Nolan walks into the shop, surprised to see Pepper, and even more stunned to realize she's pregnant. She lets him know that she's moved on and he walks away, but that night, while driving past Pepper's shop/home, he discovers that it's on fire and he rescues her. With her home uninhabitable, Nolan invites Pepper to stay with him, which she reluctantly accepts.

Having Pepper under his roof is difficult for Nolan as he still desires her. When the parents of her unborn baby's father arrive at her shop to inform her that not only is he deceased, but that they want custody of the baby, Pepper panics. But Nolan has a solution: he asks her to temporarily marry him so that he can use his influence and money in the custody battle. Pepper realizes that not only is she still attracted to Nolan, but that she's playing a dangerous game marrying him. But with little money, she really has no choice. Once married, Pepper and Nolan don't take long before they're giving into the passion that sizzles between them.

How ironic that a miscarriage which drove Pepper and Nolan apart years ago has them reuniting over an unplanned pregnancy—with another man's baby! In CLAIMED BY THE RANCHER, both Pepper and Nolan thought that they'd put the past behind them and could move on, but once they're living under the same roof, the attraction is rekindled. Pepper has traveled around, never settling down for long, but now that she's expecting, she's ready to nest and build a life in Stone River. Nolan is a doctor, as well as part-owner of a huge ranch with his brothers. He cares for people, and when Pepper is in distress, whether it's her home burning or her ex's parents threatening to sue for custody, he's there to step in and rescue her. He has to break down her walls of independence before she accepts help from him. But neither wants to admit there is still a deep connection between them.

Once married, Pepper and Nolan settle into marriage, though their initial plan was for it to be in name only. Pepper figures she can enjoy the “benefits” of marriage and then walk away once the custody battle is resolved. But her heart is soon engaged, though she's too afraid of his rejection to say those three little words. Nolan tries to ignore the growing love that builds between them, and won't ask her to stay. Part of The Rancher's Heirs series by Jules Bennett, CLAIMED BY THE RANCHER can work as a standalone, though the couple from the first book, TWIN SECRETS, do appear in a few scenes.

A reunion that starts out bittersweet soon rekindles the flames for Nolan and Pepper in CLAIMED BY THE RANCHER. Will they get their second chance at love? Find out in this sizzling and emotional tale.

Patti Fischer