Second Chance at Love

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What is it about reunion / second chance at love stories that make them a favorite? There are a few readers here who have mentioned knowing a boy in school, only to then be separated by circumstances, and then to come back together at a class reunion, a wedding, or a chance meeting years later. I’ve read of some couples in the newspaper where they reconnected after sixty years and a marriage in-between, tying the knot again at eighty years of age! I LOVE such stories!

What is their draw? Is it hope? Is it that love truly can conquer all? Or is it that we never forget our first love…and the rush of new emotions and experiences that made up that roller coaster of a time? The romantic in me say it is all these things.

My newest release (April 2016) is a story about second chances. It is a novella in the Western Spring Weddings Anthology ~ His Springtime Bride. I hope you enjoy the excerpt here…

His Springtime Bride 

Blurb ~

Released from prison, Gabe Coulter must work for his enemy to earn back the deed to his own ranch. But when his boss’s daughter, Riley Rawlins, returns home with a rebellious son after years away in the east, nothing will stop him from discovering the truth.

Riley no longer trusts the man she once loved so completely. Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back in her life or that of her son.

But one thing Gabe has is pure cowboy grit. Will it be enough to make Riley see that she and his son should be a part of his future?

Western Spring Weddings

Excerpt ~  

The coach rounded a rocky bend in the road and the village of Nuevo came into view. If she remembered correctly, the station and pen with fresh horses stood on the south side of the dusty town. From his seat overhead the driver called out announcing the place. The stagecoach slowed and finally pulled to a stop in front of the change station.

The dirt yard was empty; however, a buckboard sat off under the shade of a juniper tree. Perhaps that was her ride. The caw of a Steller’s jay broke the silence of the afternoon. A lean, broad-shouldered man stepped through the station door and out into the sunlight. She recognized him and froze. Scuffed boots, brown canvas pants, a cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a green bandanna at his neck and the darkest brown eyes Riley had ever seen under a tan felt hat. Gabe Coulter.

Her breath whooshed from her like a deflating balloon. What was he doing here? When had he been released from prison? She stared at him, captivated and at the same time annoyed that after all these years he had grown more handsome. His collar-length black hair framed a face chiseled and sharp with angles, his nose straight as always, his jaw firm and square. The only thing not hard on the man was his lips…and they looked exactly as she remembered…enticing and kissable.

Abruptly, she pulled away from the window, hoping that he would walk away and never know she was there. Her heart raced. He still packed quite a presence. She swallowed, angry with herself for feeling anything at all. No amount of time was sufficient to make her forget what he’d done. She would never forgive him.

The driver placed the box step and swung open the door. “All out! Nuevo!”

She didn’t move.

“Aren’t we going, Ma?” Brody watched her.

She took a steadying breath. Perhaps it was silly to be nervous about running into Gabe after all this time. Hadn’t she just been telling herself to leave the past in the past? This was a test of her resolve. That’s all. Nothing more.

She tugged down on the hem of her shirtwaist and then straightened her straw bonnet. Ready. She stepped through the doorway and onto the box the driver had set for disembarking passengers. The bright sunlight blinded her. She wobbled slightly, her legs unused to activity and stiff after riding for four hours.

A strong hand grasped her upper arm, steadying her. The grip hardened to steel. “Riley? Riley Rawlins?”

His voice was richer, deeper, than she remembered, and he sounded astonished. Careful to keep all of her colliding thoughts contained and squashed deep inside, she looked up and met his eyes. “Hello, Gabe,” she said with cool reserve.

Gigi Hadid: Actor inspiration for Riley Rawlins (Photo by Dave Lee)

Then she stepped down to the ground and promptly stumbled.

He grabbed hold with his other hand and steadied her. Both grips were tight bands on her upper arms. He stared at her with unveiled shock in his eyes. “You are the company that Rawlins is expecting?”

She stiffened. “I am.”

He let go immediately. “Then I guess I’m here to fetch you.”

Her pulse raced. Her entire body felt on edge, as though half of her wanted to bolt one way and the
other half run another. “You are working for my father now?”

“Started not too long ago.”

With their exchange of letters, her father had known for over a month that she was coming home and yet he had hired Gabe? It didn’t seem possible. Years ago when he discovered they were involved in something more than friendship, Father had been dead set against them being near each other. He also knew how upset she’d been when Gabe had deserted her. Was this his own brand of retribution he was forcing on her?

She squared her shoulders, resigned that this “new beginning” had taken a decided turn for the worst. “Very well.” It wasn’t the most gracious of responses, but at the moment it mirrored how she felt.

His eyes narrowed as he took a closer look at her.

It was as if he was reaching back through the years and trying to read what had happened to her since then…and perhaps wishing she would return to where she had come from. Heat mounted on her cheeks under his scrutiny.

“Ma.”

She startled at her son’s voice behind her and turned to him. “Brody, this is Mister Coulter…a ranch hand of your grandfather’s.”

Gabe’s brow raised at the last, just the slightest bit, but he turned and watched Brody disembark. If Brody’s size…nearly five feet six inches…surprised him, not a muscle moved on his handsome face. When her son lifted his sullen gaze, all Gabe did was thrust out his hand.

Her son hesitated but then grasped Gabe’s hand in a firm shake.

“Brody,” Gabe said, as if testing his name and committing it to memory. His shake slowed and he glanced at Riley with a question lighting his eyes. Then he let go. “I’ll get your bags transferred to the wagon.”

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Tom Welling: Actor inspiration for Gabe Coulter.

“I can do it,” Brody said, his voice challenging. He scrambled to the top of the coach and tossed down their traveling cases with enough force Riley worried they might break open. It didn’t seem to faze Gabe as he caught them. What was her son trying to prove? When he had climbed back down and Gabe had left them to carry two of the cases to the wagon, she took Brody aside. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t like the way he looked at us—at you.”

It wasn’t the first time her son had acted protective of her, but it had been a long time since he had even cared—more than year.

“I hope you are a bit friendlier upon meeting your grandfather.” She also hoped her father was a bit friendlier than Gabe had been. Then squaring her shoulders, she braced herself for the long ride to the ranch and followed her son to the buckboard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gabe’s entire body was shaking on the inside when he settled the luggage in the wagon bed. Riley was back—and with a son! Just the thought of her with another man made Gabe knot up inside, stupidly jealous of something that happened years ago. He hadn’t expected her to stay unhitched. She was too beautiful to stay single for long. He darted a look at her as she walked toward the wagon. Still slender, still with that long, wavy, honey-colored hair—although it was up in a knot under her hat. He’d never forgotten her eyes—gray-green with long dark lashes. They’d haunted him for as long as he could remember.

He helped her onto the wagon seat, irritated that his hands tingled when he let loose of her. Brody gave him a penetrating look before climbing up beside her. It wasn’t hard to decipher the stare. Gabe had felt possessive often enough with his own mother whenever Rawlins had come slinking around. The boy didn’t have a thing to worry about. As much as he had once loved Riley, he had learned his lesson there. He was just the hired help in her family’s opinion and nowhere near good enough for her.

His Springtime Bride/Western Spring Weddings Anthology   ©  2016  by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information about Western Spring Weddings or my other books,
please check my website ~  www.kathrynalbright.com

Now ~ I’ve admitted to my favorite kind of stories. I also love coming-of-age stories and the-underdog-wins stories. What about you? What type of story draws your interest over and over. If nothing strikes you ~ just name your favorite book from the past five years…( I always need new recommendations for great reads!)

Comment for a chance in my drawing! I’ll give away one copy of Western Spring Weddings (or another story from my backlist) to one lucky commenter. 

Kathryn Albright
Kathryn Albright writes sweet western historical romance. Her award-winning stories celebrate courage and hope with a dash of adventure. She loves hiking and traveling and being caught up in a good story. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest.

26 Comments

  1. I have always liked when the hero is hurt, injured or sick and she finds him and helps him out. The second & third chance love stories also and as you said the underdog type as well. I have loved the just friends to more and that has happened to me in real life a few times. The other is meeting someone and,just knowing them, instant friendship and will go beyond that of course but it is like meeting a stranger and then having a best friend over for dinner that night. The vibes, feelings and more of instant recognition and knowing you have known them from somewhere, sometime & somehow you are connected. By a previous life? Soul Circles? Reincarnation? We have lived before? Soulmates? Who know but you do know you know each other from some place & time in the past but as what exactly you do not know, that is the most interesting part. Again I have met a few people just like that and depending on how you talk about things are they are in your life still? As what and/or do you keep in touch. The metaphysical has always interested me and in my family we believe in more than most, even our gifts to some extent too as I am an Empath but had to discover it exactly and find out much more as I got older. So stories along any of those things are interesting and can be very intruiging because I know it is fact like in my own life so far and I have only touched the bare surface because there is still so much more to learn. Like being afraid of water, fire, heights, dark and/or enclosed places, it is I believe how we were injured/died in other lives so we have a fear of repeating the past so as a warning to not have that happen again we fear it instead of learning to conquer it and thereby close that chapter in that life. So much I have learned & experienced yet still not know enough. So stories about any of it catch my interest immediately. So hope this is along the lines you wanted to know Kathryn.

    1. Thank you for stopping by today Elaine! I’ve never written a story of “friends to more” but I do enjoy reading those. I have had the experience you speak of–of meeting someone and immediately feeling a connection (although I don’t attribute that to a past life.) I think stories are so much richer for including a spiritual or (in my case) an inspirational facet. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I am always interested in ones where they start out hating each other but then fall in love.

    1. Hi Debra! Those can be fun ones–all the discovering that each character has to do that makes them realize they were wrong in the first place. Pride and Prejudice come to my mind as a classic example with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

  3. I love variety so will read almost any scenario but I usually like a bit of angst. There has to be some sort of conflict to overcome 🙂

  4. Hi catslady! (I wonder how many cats you have with that name LOL!) My stories usually do have that element of angst. The current story that I’m working on is a fun change from them as the main character is a free spirit type of gal, who is balanced by the more taciturn hero.

    Absolutely agree with you about conflict. That is what makes a story! Here’s a quote that I like and has stuck with me since I first heard it…

    “Literature was not born the day when a boy crying “wolf, wolf” came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels; literature was born on the day when a boy came crying “wolf, wolf” and there was no wolf behind him.”
    Author: Vladimir Nabokov

    Thanks for stopping by today!

  5. I like many different kinds of stories, but my fav our those secret babies.. I guess because I know a couple of times this has happened to people I know. Makes them all the more interesting.

  6. Hi Kathleen! Was it obvious that the book I am giving away today is a secret baby kind of book? I’ve actually never known anyone in real life to have that type of relationship! Pretty cool that you have! Did the people you know get back together in the end?

  7. I love many different types of stories! Rescuing ones are always fun to read, the second chance ones are lovable, the hate-to-love ones make my heart flutter, and the angry alpha male being won over by a soft hearted female always makes me swoon.

    1. Hi Susan! I like the rescue stories too–but they both have to help each other. It can’t be all one-sided. I also tend to like “man against the elements” like having them lost in the wilderness. It sounds like you have a wide variety of interests in your reading!

  8. I love secret baby stories, fairytale types, wounded hero, and so much more! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Colleen! I would love to read some more fairytale-type based stories. There are several authors doing that now and I really need to check a few of them out. I grew up on fairytales…my favorite being Beauty and the Beast! Thanks for stopping by Wildflower Junction!

  9. I read all kinds of stories, but I love beauty and the beast-type stories. Also stories where the hero or heroine are hurt emotionaly and they cut themselves off from normal human contact. I love it when their other half reaches out to them, gaines their trust and makes them LIVE again…

    1. Ditto, Stefanie! Thanks for commenting! Beauty and the Beast–my favorite type of romance! Although, I like to read that type of story (and I really like the TV show!), I don’t think I’d want that type of relationship in real life. It would be too full of drama for me… Best to keep it between the pages of a good book!

  10. I totally agree with you, Kathryn, “that we never forget our first love.” I know I haven’t and I’m really looking forward to reading “His Springtime Bride.” Great excerpt.

    I’ve been on a binge for a while, I guess you’d say, with marriage of convenience stories (which include mail order brides), and stories with strong, goodhearted (sometimes beta) men.

    For the marriage of convenience theme, I loved “Silver Lining” by Maggie Osborne, “Heaven Sent” by Pamela Morsi, “The Wrong Cowboy” by Lauri Robinson, and “Devil in Winter” by Lisa Kleypas. The key to my loving this theme is watching a couple gradually grow to know and then love one another. The growth of a relationship is enough plot line for me most of the time, as well as characters I really care about–including below:

    For the good-hearted hero, I loved Quill McKenna in Jo Goodman’s “This Gun for Hire” and Sheriff Wyatt Cooper in her “Never Love a Lawman,” schoolteacher Mitch Parker in Winnie Grigg’s “Lone Star Heiress,” and of course Jamie Fraser from “Outlander.”

    1. Hi Eliza! Thanks for all the suggestions for my TBR pile! The only one I have read before is the Wrong Cowboy! And I haven’t read Pamela Morsi for a long time–but I did like her earlier books a LOT. I remember reading the second book in the Outlander series and really falling hard for Jamie with that book. I enjoy reading Winnie Griggs too but have not read the one you suggested.

  11. I love stories where the guy and the gal loved each other way too young then life gets in the way and they part , only to find each other years later.

  12. Hi Melanie! Thanks for stopping by! If that is one of your favorite plots, then my new release is just what you’d like! It wasn’t until I started analyzing stories and how to write them that I learned the same plot can be made into such diverse and interesting stories, depending on a writer’s creativity. MY mind started spinning with all the possibilities after that.

  13. I can’t wait to read this anthology. Harlequin historical anthologies are favorites and I have a shelf of keepers. I love the sound of your story and am sure Gabe, Riley, and Brody will be joining them.
    My favorite trope is Beauty and the Beast. Wounded heroes are favorites, as are reunion stories. My husband and I qualify as a reunion story of sorts. We were friends in high school, but never dated or were close friends. We ran into each other 7 years after graduation and both felt getting to know each other held some promise. I never got a chance to really test the theory. We had only seen each other briefly three times while I was home for a Christmas break when I extended my job. He showed up at my overseas assignment (the Peace Corps) 4 or 5 months later and proposed. We never really dated before I said yes. We didn’t get much of an opportunity to know each other. He was stationed about 12 hours from my parents’ home and we saw each other about once a month. After we got engaged, he was shipped over to Thailand (the Air Force) and got back a few weeks before the wedding. He was shipped back over 5 weeks after the wedding. We spent many years getting to know each other, hard to do with 2 babies born the first three years and two more tours to the Vietnam War. It was meant to be. We just celebrated our 44th anniversary.
    Thanks for the excerpt. I hope the release of WESTERN SPRING WEDDINGS goes well. Two of you are favorite authors so I know I will enjoy it.

    1. I’m so glad that you told your story Patricia! What an amazing testament to your marriage vows! Wow! You really made it work with all the separations forced on you. That could not have been easy! Thank you for such an uplifting telling of your own love-story!

  14. Hi Kathryn, You are a new to me author.
    I like reading all kinds of genres and this book sounds terrific! Can’t wait to read it.

    1. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Cheri! I hope you come back often! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

  15. I love all types of stories but one of my favorites is when the heroine or hero are redeemed(such as “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. I also love the stories of when the H & H had a past together that didn’t work but now years later it does.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  16. HI Cindy! I read Francine Rivers book MANY years ago and really loved it too. Yes–the hero needing redemption makes such a great story. I think that happens in several of my books. And then two are the heroine needing redemption. I think that always makes the story so much deeper… Thanks for stopping by!

  17. This sounds like a great premise for a romance story — and not that far from reality. Over the years I have been surprised at the number of my friends who, upon losing a husband to death or divorce, reconnected with a high school sweetheart and very happily married them. In one case, it was a junior high boyfriend whose family had moved from the area. It seems when some men are cast adrift, they start looking up old flames. Best of success on this story. Unfortunately, as it appears to be the case in your story, the children from the first marriage are not always as enamored with the idea. I’d love to read it.

  18. The contest for a free book is closed and I used a random number generator at http://www.random.org to “draw” the winner.

    Susan P won a copy of my newest release ~ Western Spring Weddings! Congratulations, Susan!

    And thank you to all who commented! I love getting to know each and every one of you!

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