Sweet Home Cowboy Anthology
March 29, 2022, by HQN Books
Four half sisters create the family they’ve always dreamed of in this enchanting quartet from bestselling authors Maisey Yates, Nicole Helm, Jackie Ashenden, and Caitlin Crews.
The Hathaway sisters might have grown up apart, but when they agree to move to Jasper Creek, Oregon, to revitalize their grandfather’s farm, it seems a straightforward decision. Until they meet their neighborhood cowboys…
Sweet-natured Teddy has never met a man worth taking a risk on, until now. Tomboy Joey has more affinity with farm equipment than men, until a brooding cowboy changes her mind. Prickly baker Georgie can’t resist the temptation of the most forbidden cowboy of all, and sparks fly between ceramicist Elliot and the grumpy single-dad rancher next door.
The sisters’ feelings are anything but simple, but with the love and support of each other, they discover that a cowboy might be the sweetest thing of all about coming home.
It was never comfortable for people when four sets of violet eyes zeroed in on them with the level of intensity the Hathaway sisters could manage.
A fact the half sisters had learned when they’d first met at summer camp, thanks to their families, who’d been careful to give the girls the opportunity to meet each other, without the pressure of having to become friends or even real sisters.
But sisters they had become that first day at the age of thirteen. In each other, they’d found kindred spirits. Not just in the unusual color of their eyes, but in the depths of their passions, and in their driving need to forge family out of the fragments their father had left behind when he’d impregnated all their mothers at different points in the same year.
So that, as adults, though they lived in different parts of the country, they were the best of friends. Sisters, through and through, and when Georgie had informed them of Grandpa Jack’s heart attack in Jasper Creek, the rest had rushed to the small Oregon town to see what they could do.
Grandpa Jack looked at each of them with his usual squinty-eyed suspicion. Though their father had never made any effort to be a part of his daughters’ lives, Grandpa Jack had always made it clear he’d be there if needed.
But not to expect him to be cheerful about it.
“Didn’t all have to come,” he grumbled, shifting in his hospital bed.
“Well, of course we did. And we’ll stay until you’re on the mend,” Teddy said, patting his hand. The squinty-eyed suspicion became a full-fledged scowl as he pulled his hand away.
While Teddy was all about gestures of affection, Grandpa Jack was decidedly not.
Which made the fact Georgie was the only local granddaughter a blessing as she shared the discomfort with such goings-on. He turned his glare to her. “Didn’t have to call them.”
“She was right to,” Joey said firmly, meeting Grandpa Jack’s scowl with her own. “We won’t hear another complaint about it. A waste of time. You know how stubborn we are.”
Grandpa Jack grunted.
Elliot smirked. “Wonder where we got it.”
A nurse knocked on the door, then poked her head in. “Sorry, girls, it’s time to head home. Visiting hours are over.”
“Girls,” Elliot muttered under her breath with a considerable amount of disdain for the word.
But Teddy pressed a kiss to Grandpa Jack’s wrinkled forehead, Elliot touched his shoulder, and Georgie and Joey hovered at the door until they all left the room, chorusing goodbyes.
“I hate leaving him all alone,” Teddy said as Elliot linked arms with her. Teddy reached out and took Joey’s arm.
“He’ll be home soon enough,” Joey reassured her. She gave Georgie an apologetic shrug, then linked arms with her too, so they were a unit as they walked out of the hospital into the cool spring evening.
“He’s not going to let you fuss over him, Teddy. It isn’t his way,” Georgie said pragmatically as they walked to her truck.
Teddy frowned. “I think you misjudge my tenacity.”
Elliot’s eyebrows winged up. “Do we?”
Teddy wrinkled her nose, but didn’t argue with Elliot.
“I found an Airbnb closer to the hospital,” Georgie said, sounding tired as she climbed into the driver’s seat. “I knew this wouldn’t be a quick visit and we’d need more room than Felix and I have.” Georgie had grown up with her half brother right here in Jasper Creek.
The four sisters climbed into Georgie’s truck. Whatever belongings they’d packed were strapped into the bed of the truck from when Georgie had picked Joey and Teddy up at the airport this afternoon, after Elliot had driven down from Portland.
Georgie drove onto the highway, and it was only about fifteen minutes later she parked in front of a pretty little farmhouse just outside of Jasper Creek.
“This place is amazing,” Teddy said.
“Much better taken care of than the main house at Grandpa Jack’s property,” Georgie returned.
The women got out, grabbed what they’d need for the night, then headed inside.
“I’ll make us some dinner,” Teddy said, already moving for the kitchen.
“The host said she left some things for us to eat when we arrived,” Georgie replied, dropping her stuff in the front room.
They all descended on the kitchen, which was quaint and old-fashioned—something that suited all four women to the bone. On the table were a variety of baked goods.
“I found a teapot and some tea,” Teddy said.
“Scones and sweet rolls for dinner sounds good to me,” Joey said, already unwrapping the plate of baked goods and digging in.
Elliot found plates and set the table, shoving one at Joey as she’d already plowed through three-fourths of a scone.
“Do you think Grandpa Jack is stressed about the ranch? And that’s what caused this?” Teddy asked, fiddling with the stove.
“I think he’s an old man who eats poorly and smokes cigars regularly. But…” Georgie sighed.
“He’s been talking about selling off the last piece of land to Colt West next door. He’d keep the
cabin and about an acre around it, but the rest would go to Colt.”
“Even the main house?” Joey asked, as she licked crumbs from her fingers.
“You could hardly call it that these days. It’s falling apart at the seams.”
Teddy frowned. “That’s just not right.”
Georgie shrugged. “He hasn’t lived in that house in decades. He’s a single, old, grumpy man. He’s finally accepting he can’t really take care of the ranch. Why not sell?”
“It’s our legacy,” Joey said. Then she looked around the table. “Isn’t it?”
“It’s our absent father’s legacy,” Elliot returned. “Assuming he’s still alive.”
All eyes turned to Georgie, who was the only one who’d ever had any contact with Mickey Hathaway. She lifted her shoulders. “Far as I know.”
Silence filled the room until Teddy’s teakettle began to whistle. She poured tea for everyone, then took a seat at the kitchen table. As far as she was concerned, this was all fate. The timing, the chance of all four of them coming here at a point in their lives where they got to decide what came next.
“We’ve always talked about how much we wanted to live there, so why don’t we?”
“Why don’t we what?” Joey replied, mouth full with her last bite of scone.
“Live there. Do what we all love to do. Put together some kind of…business. Honey, eggs,” Teddy said, pointing to herself. “Produce,” she said, pointing to Joey. “Ceramics.” Elliot’s specialty. “Our sweet Georgie’s baked goods,” she said, grinning at Georgie’s negative reaction to being called sweet.
“Most of us are already selling our wares anyway. Why don’t we do it here? The four of us.”
It would be more than the year her mother wanted, more than just learning some independence. It would be actually, hopefully permanently, forging that independence. Well, with her sisters. Which suited Teddy better. She didn’t want to be alone. She wanted to be a part of a family. Her family.
“You’d move here all the way from Maine?” Joey asked dubiously. “Leave your mother?”
Teddy sniffed. “I can leave my mother.” Then she wrinkled her nose. Subterfuge wasn’t her
“She wants me to move out anyway.”
“Why?” her sisters demanded, offended on her behalf.
“She thinks I need a year of independence. To find my own way. Apparently twenty-five is too old to have always lived with your mother, according to her.”
When none of her sisters argued, she glared at them. “You agree with her?”
Elliot shrugged. “I don’t disagree with her.”
“Well, anyway, this would solve that, wouldn’t it? We can fix up the house. I’m sure some people need bee removal around here, so I’ll start a new hive. Buy new chickens. Elliot can drive her ceramics van down here. Joey, you could start the farm of your dreams with local produce and flowers—a brand-new challenge, all yours. Georgie, you can design the baking kitchen you’ve been planning since childhood. And we’ll be close enough to Grandpa to help him—and far enough away he won’t beat us away with sticks.”
They looked at Teddy, varying looks of consideration and concern on their faces. But as the idea took shape in Teddy’s mind, she knew it was exactly right. This wasn’t some new dream out of left field; it was an old dream.
And if she had to be independent, why not make that old dream a reality?
“We always wanted to live in one place. Like a real family,” Teddy said. She would have reached out and grabbed all their hands if she had three herself. As it was, she only looked at them imploringly. “Sisters. Live together. Work together. It’s the dream. Maybe something good can come out of Grandpa’s health scare. If Grandpa lets us live in the house, and we pool whatever our savings are together, it’s not a financial stretch. Elliot and I can keep our independent businesses running while we get our joint business set up. Then we split the farm profit four ways.”
“Profit. That is optimistic at best,” Georgie said.
“You know I am all about optimism,” Teddy returned.
A wind chime tinkled from the front room, which was odd considering there shouldn’t be enough wind to make it move here inside.
“Did someone leave the door open?” Joey asked, pushing back from the table. The girls got up and walked toward the door, which was indeed open.
“Look at that,” Elliot said.
They stepped out onto the porch together. Beyond the dogwood in the front just beginning to bloom, the sun was setting in a riot of colors—bright magentas, deep oranges, fading into lavenders and lighter pinks.
“It’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.”
“That’s a tad dramatic, Teddy,” Georgie said gently, though her voice held all the awe of someone who agreed, but would never admit it.
“We have to do it,” Teddy said, her voice almost a whisper. “This is a sign. Don’t you believe in fate?”
Elliot nodded. “Yeah. I’m mobile. I go where I please. Why not right here?”
Georgie shrugged. “Don’t know about fate, but it wouldn’t change much for me, except you guys would be close. I’d like that. Felix is talking about leaving Jasper Creek.”
Teddy reached out, but Georgie stopped her with a quelling look. “It’s fine.” She offered a smile, or Georgie’s version of a smile anyway. “Especially if you guys are here.”
All eyes turned to Joey.
“I have to talk timing over with my mom. I don’t want to leave her short-staffed,” Joey said, her eyes still on the sunset. Then she pushed out a breath and looked at her sisters and grinned. “But why the hell not?”
Teddy smiled at the sunset, feeling a bit teary over the whole thing. But it was meant to be, she was sure of it. “Four Sisters Farm.” She looked at each of her sisters. “That’s what we can call it. Because it’ll be ours. Always.”
Excerpted from Sweet Home Cowboy by Nicole Helm, Maisey Yates, Jackie Ashenden, Caitlin Crews. Copyright © 2022 by Nicole Helm, Maisey Yates, Jackie Ashenden, Caitlin Crews. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
Three of the four writers here are my angsty favorites: Yates, Crews, and Ashenden (I’m not as familiar with Helm’s style). I can rely on them to really bring the heartache! Love it!