Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lullabye in Lone Creek - Mary Manners

Welcome back, Mary! Yes, indeed, I love this one, too! Lullabye is the second story in the Lone Creek Ranch series, and already I can't wait for the next one! Thanks so much, Donna!

How many more to come? And when? There are still two more to come...Lesson in Lone creek and Love in Lone Creek. Release dates are not yet firm but I can tell you that Nick and Tanner Merrill are just as fun and lovable as their brothers Carson and Dalton!

Ooh, how fun! Thanks so much for the inside scoop!

Well, here's a peek at Lullaby

In eight seconds Dalton Merrill's professional bull riding days—and the fame he enjoyed—ended. When the adrenaline-junkie returns to Lone Creek Ranch to heal, he discovers a single reckless romp with sweet Emilee Walker has left her with more than a little heartbreak. She’s carrying his child. The last thing he wants is to be tied down with a wife and a son. 

Emilee Walker trusted Dalton with her heart, and he left her for the rodeo. She wanted Dalton to return home, but not like this. Now she wonders if it's responsibility or love that holds him on Lone Creek. This time she vows to show him what family ties and faith in God really means.


The heavy thump of music startled Emilee and she felt the ground vibrate as she worked in the first stall of the stable with a mare named Lucky Girl. She turned and glanced through the open stable doors to see a mud-splattered truck racing up the drive. The truck might have been black at one time…or possibly midnight blue? She couldn’t tell for all the dirt caked from hood to wheel wells. But whoever was behind the wheel was driving way too fast. Gravel spit from the rear tires in an angry rooster tail, leaving a dark trail of dust that clung to the air long after the truck hit the black-topped entrance.

“Who on earth…” Emilee’s voice faded as she turned her attention from Lucky Girl and left the stable to stride across the paddock, toward the road. Someone was about to get a piece of her mind—and how. No one drove around Lone Creek like his hair was on fire. It was dangerous—for the animals, the workers, and the guests—and just plain stupid, too. Now that Lone Creek was officially open for business, its camps up and running, the last thing they needed was the bad publicity of crazed drivers racing along the property.

“Hey!” Emilee shouted as the truck rounded a curve and raced along the paddock fence toward the stable. She stuffed the stethoscope she’d been using into the pocket of her veterinarian’s smock and waved her arms in wide arcs above her head to attract the driver’s attention. “Slow down!”

As if he could hear her with the music blaring full throttle. Emilee frowned and placed a protective hand over her rounded belly as the baby growing inside her kicked and squirmed. The poor little guy wasn’t used to such loud noise. “It’s OK, Colton,” she murmured, giving her stomach a little pat. “You’re safe. I’ll take care of this.”

The truck skidded to a halt inches from the stable, and Emilee rushed toward it, holding her belly as she picked up the pace. Her blood boiled, and a flush of heat washed over her cheeks as the music died and the driver’s door swung open.

“Hey, you!” She jabbed a finger toward the truck as one soiled cowboy boot eased over the door jamb and settled on the blacktop, along with a battered duffel bag that was tossed from the seat. “What do you think—” Emilee’s voice froze in her throat as the second boot dropped, and the driver unfolded himself before turning to look at her.

He reached for a battered cowboy hat from the passenger seat and slipped it on his head, positioning the brim low across his cobalt-blue eyes.


“Hi, Em.” His lips curved into a challenging little smirk as he dipped the hat with a bandaged hand. His gaze swept her, head to toe, pausing as it reached the growing mound of her belly. She heard his slight intake of breath as realization registered. When he spoke again, his voice was a low growl. “I see you got yourself…knocked up.”

The words stole her breath, and once again, her palm splayed across her mid-section covering the restless baby. A flash of heat curled up her spine as angry tears scalded her eyes. Her words trembled. “What are you doing here, Dalton?”

“I’m home—for good.” His voice faltered as his gaze rested on her. He gave the duffel bag a little nudge with the toe of his boot as a flash of anger narrowed his eyes. “But I see I’m just…a little bit too late to pick up where we left off.”

“A little…?” Emilee’s voice caught as her pulse galloped. “You’re gone nearly eight months and that’s all you have to say?”

“I…yes.” His words were clipped. How dare he be angry at her? He massaged his damaged hand through thick, gauze bandages, and Emilee fought the urge to feel even a smidgen of sympathy.

She’d heard about the accident from Dalton’s brother—what he’d been through the first weeks of recovery—she just hadn’t been ready to see the destruction first hand.

“What do you want me to say, Em?” His tone still had that hard edge. “Look at you. What did you…do?”

“What did I…?” A veil of rage blurred Emilee’s vision. She stomped one foot, clad in pale blue leather cowgirl boots, and spun away from Dalton to stride across the paddock. “You’re insufferable, Dalton Merrill,” she called over her shoulder, her voice choked with sobs. “I can’t believe I ever cared an ounce for you. What a fool I’ve been.”

“Emilee, wait! I’m just shocked that’s all.” She could hear his footsteps behind her. At the stable door, she grabbed an empty feed bucket and turned to lob it at him, missing his head by mere inches.

“Go away. Go back to…to your bulls, Dalton.”

“What’s got you so riled up?” He took a tentative step, his blue eyes dark slits beneath the brim of his hat. “Look, let’s talk.”

“You want to…talk?” She turned her back to him again and rounded the stable, double-timing it to the small, whitewashed clapboard cottage beside the main house. Once inside, she gave the door a stiff slam and rested her back against the wood, her arms crossed over her belly. Scalding tears flowed in torrents as the echo of Dalton’s heartless words shattered what was left of her broken heart.

“Emilee, please. Just listen for a minute.” Dalton’s voice was muffled through the wooden door. “I’m sorry I upset you. You just caught me by surprise. You never mentioned you were seeing anybody. I mean, I can’t blame you. I was gone eight months.”

She swiped tears from her cheeks and urged the tremor from her voice as she called, “Forget it. I’m not interested in what you have to say, Dalton. Not now—not ever. Just go away.”


Wow! You want to talk about conflict? This story is just filled with it. Dalton's opening words to Emilee are terrible. The tension Emilee was already feeling just cranks even tighter. But what she doesn't see is that Dalton is all rough on the outside while his insides are a bundle of emotion.

Yeah, he's the kind of cowboy you hate to love, but can't help yourself.

All I can say is Ms. Manners has done it again. From the opening page she wrapped her characters around me and didn't free me until "The End".

Great story!

Buy link:

Mary Manners is an award-winning author of inspirational romance who lives in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband and teen-aged daughter. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Smoky Mountain Romance Writers.

During the school year, she teaches middle-schoolers reading and Algebra. In her free time, she likes to garden, take long walks with her husband, and read romance novels in a hammock beneath century-old shade trees.
Visit Mary at


  1. Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by again. I loved Lullaby. Dalton is quite the character! Great job with a rough and tumble cowboy with a soft heart. I'm looking forward to the other brothers.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Nick and Dalton are looking forward to meeting you, too!

  2. I just finished the first two books in this series, and I can't decide which I like best - they're both phenomenal! WTG, Mary!

    1. Thanks so much, Delia. I'm glad you have enjoyed them. I say the same for your Soloman's Gate series...a treasure!!!

    2. Obviously, I agree, Delia!

  3. Okay Mary - you have to stop Kindle is getting full from my TBB/TBR list LOL!

    Good luck and God's blessings to you and ALL my fellow WR/HL friends!

    1. Thanks, Pam. By the way, I'm really enjoying The Wordsmith Journal. Keep up the phenomenal work!!!

  4. Sweet! I can't wait to sink into my recliner to read this one! Congrats, Mary!

    1. Thanks so much, Dora. Ahhh...a recliner sounds GREAT right now!

    2. Ugh, I spent most of today asleep in the recliner - I have a touch of the flu - luckily I can't pass it on.

  5. Another great story to enjoy from your gifted pen (computer? LOL!) Keep up the wonderful work, Mary - I wish I could be just half as prolific!!! You're amazing!!! God bless, and see you SOON!!

  6. Thanks so much, Marianne. I am so looking forward to meeting you in Chicago. Just another week or so. Can you believe it???

  7. Thanks for stopping by everyone!

    Don't forget, I have a new post up every Tuesday and Friday!

    See you next time!