EXCERPT: Sweet Mountain Rancher by Loree Lough

Are you ready for the release of SWEET MOUNTAIN RANCHER this September? If you're already a fan of Those Marshall Boys, chances are that you're just chompin' at the bit for another taste of the Marshall clan. To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from this upcoming Harlequin Heartwarming release:


Nate’s sister leaned around their cousin and his new wife. “Just look at him,” she said, “hoggin’ the biscuit basket, again.”

Zach and Summer sat back to give the siblings a direct line of sight to each other.

“Poor Henrietta. She’s never has figured out the difference between biscuits and rolls.”

Her wadded up her napkin flew past the newlyweds and landed in Nate’s his mashed potatoes.

“How many times do I have to tell you, it’s Hank, not Henrietta.”

“You may be Hank on the barrel racing circuit,” he said, calmly buttering his roll, “but you’ll always be Henrietta to me.”

“Nate,” his mother scolded, “don’t taunt your sister. You know as well as anyone that the name change is legal.”

“Hank,” his dad muttered. “Ridiculous. The name Henrietta was good enough for your grandmother. I’ll never understand why it isn’t good enough for you.”

“Dad,” she said on a tired sigh, “we’ve been over this ground a dozen times. It was a business decision, pure and simple.”

Hank had probably taken this particular guilt trip often enough to earn frequent flyer miles, and Nate felt bad about stirring things up again, especially over Sunday dinner at Aunt Ellen and Uncle John’s.
“You still planning to change it back once you’re married with kids?” he asked.

Zach laughed. “Don’t do it! I think Granny Hank is a great name for a grandma.”

Nate’s father harrumphed. “Your grandmother thought Henrietta was a great name for a grandma.”
If their father noticed Hank’s heavy sigh, it didn’t show. Nate heard it, though, and got an eyeful of her angry glare, too. After dessert, he’d take her aside and apologize…and hope for the best. She’d always had a fiery temper, and if things ran true to course, he’d need to prove exactly how sorry he with the promise of dinner at Shanahan’s, her favorite restaurant. That sister of yours sure does know how to get her way.

Did Eden stay in control of the boys in her care with shouts and fist-shaking? Not if those big sincere eyes and the warmth of her pretty smile was any indicator.

“You planning to go back to sucking your thumb, son?”

It took a second to figure out what his dad was talking about. Laughing quietly, Nate put down the butter knife and wiped his hand on a napkin.

“I know that googlie-eyed look,” Hank said, smirking. “I’d bet my Greely Stampede Barrel Champion buckle on it…he was off in Lala Land, dreaming about some woman.”

For an instant, no one moved. Not even his cousins’ kids said a word. Nate hadn’t shown any interest in a woman since Miranda, not even the pretty cowgirls Hank set him up with, so the wisecrack didn’t make a lick of sense.

“Okay, cuz,” Zach said, breaking the silence, “out with it. Who is she?”

His ears and cheeks felt hot, and Nate wondered why none of the other Marshall men had been cursed with the tendency to blush like a schoolgirl.

“There is no ‘she,’” he said.

His mom’s eyebrows disappeared behind dark, silver-streaked bangs. “Oh, she must be a real pip if he feels it necessary to hide her.”

Et tu, Mom?

He could take the spotlight off himself by reminding them of Hank v. Henrietta conversation, but throwing his sister under the bus didn’t seem right. Or fair. Nate sat up straighter and donned his best You’re all nuts! grin. “There’s no one to hide. Sheesh. Guy can’t even butter his thumb around here without everybody jumping to conclusions.”

While they laughed at his self-depreciating joke, Nate decided to further distract them with the latest ranch news.

“Carl found another dead horse yesterday. We got plenty of pictures. Near as we can tell, there’s a cougar on the loose.”

Maeve Marshall gasped softly. “But…there hasn’t been a cat sighting since….” She faced her husband. “How long has it been, Royce?”

“Five, six years? I’d have to check.” He looked grim. Concerned. “Are you sure, son?”

Nate explained the condition of the carcass, and repeated what his dad had taught him about the differences bear and cat kills.

“You’re frightening the children,” Maeve said.

The kids did look a mite wide-eyed. But he’d been far younger when he got his first up-close and personal look at what a determined predator was capable of.

“Wish I had time to take every one of these kids out there,” he said, pointing at shed, visible through the many-paned window across the room, “so they could see for themselves what a determined predator is capable of.” Nate looked at each child at the table. “You’re ranch-raised kids, same as the rest of us were, and spend a whole lot of time outside. Meaning you have to keep your wits about you while you’re having fun.”

“Aren’t you just a big ol’ ball of warm and fuzzy,” Hank said.

He ignored her and got to his feet. “I’d rather give them a couple of scary dreams than see them become the prey of stealthy predators.”

Tossing his napkin onto the seat of his chair, Nate faced the hostess. “Dinner was great as always, Aunt Ellen. Thanks.”

“You’re leaving? Before dessert?”

In truth, Nate didn’t know what to blame for the agitation and tension in his whirling in his mind. With any luck, a few gulps of fresh mountain air would cure what ailed him.

“Thought I saw some leaning fence posts,” he said with a nod toward the windows. “That sky looks pretty threatening. Might as well check ‘em out before that storm rolls in.”

At least out there, he could think about Eden without being interrogated.

Her pretty face came to mind, and just that quick, his mood improved.


To learn more about the Those Marshall Boys series and to pre-order SWEET MOUNTAIN RANCHER, visit Loree's website at www.loreelough.com

And if you haven't already entered, be sure and check out the ENDLESS SUMMER GIVEAWAY on this post, where you can win an Endless Summer gift basket, $20 Amazon gift card, and FOUR autographed Heartwarming novels from Loree and Cerella Sechrist!


About Loree:

With nearly 5,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). The release of Once a Marine (#1 in the “Those Marshall Boys” series for Harlequin's new Heartwarming line) brings Loree’s number of books in print to 104! Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and www.loreelough.com!


  1. Loree, already drooling over that cover. And looking forward to the book.

    1. Thanks, Roz! I have to admit...until I started spending so much time with Nate's cousin, Sam (hero in book #3 of the series), I nursed a pretty hefty crush on that cowboy! LOL Hope your Wednesday has been wonderful! :-)

  2. He is a cutie. And I love the thought of kids calling someone "Granny Hank." Sounds good, Loree.

    1. Thanks, Muriel! I'm weaving "Granny Hank" (in her still-young, single form) into book #3, set in Nashville. Have a terrific week's end, m'dear! :-)

  3. I'm with Roz and Muriel, Loree! Love this! :)

    1. Thanks, Cerella! Can't wait to read YOUR excerpt...and get another eyeful of your gorgeous September cover!

  4. Love the cover!! Definitely looking forward to reading the book.

    1. Thanks, Ann! Yeah, those folks in Harlequin's art department are all kinds of talented, aren't they! (Just wait until you see what they did for book #3!) :-) Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  5. Love the cover, and it sounds like a good read! :)

    1. Thank you, @rlr888! As you may know, I'm doing a random drawing of the names of everyone who comments here, so if you don't win the big ENDLESS SUMMER $!50 prize giveaway (from Cerella Sechrist and me), you could win this one! :-)

  6. Thank you, Pam! (Don't tell anyone, but I had a little crush on Nate while I was writing this one; fortunately, that passed when I got all wrapped up in the life of his firefighter cousin, Sam, who lives in Nashville)! LOL Have a great rest of the week! :-)

  7. Ack! I haven't received the blog posts for the past two days...strange.
    Thanks for the excerpt, Loree! Hum...I hope I can get past the cover to read the story. :)

    1. LOL Jill! Just between you 'n' me...once that cover arrived, I had a little trouble concentrating on those final chapters... hehehehe And by the way? I've also had days when the posts don't show up. You're right: Strange! Have a terrific week's end and weekend! :-)

  8. Here's hoping everybody who picks up a copy agrees with you, Liz! LOL Have a wonderful week's end and weekend! :-)

  9. I keep looking at Nate's expression, and remembering how he came to look so pensive. Poor Nate... :-( But never fear...he's a rough, tough cowboy! :-)


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