The Cowboy Says I Do by Dylann Crush
Series: Tying the Knot in Texas #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: 🔥🔥
Release Date: August 4, 2020
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
Lacey Cherish is the new mayor in town and she has big plans for her town Idont. Namely to change the name to Ido and make it a wedding destination! But she can’t do it all alone and needs the help of Deputy Sheriff Bodie.
Bodie has a complicated relationship with his family – specifically his father and grandfather. Where Bodie’s badge binds him to the law, his family doesn’t always operate in black and white. Bodie’s not sure how much longer he can take it – knowing that someday he might have to confront his family. He’s not quite sure what his family’s ulterior motives are and doesn’t want to be mixed in with their shady deals.
I loved how strong and independent Lacey was! She wants something to happen and finds a way to make it happen. She’s determined and not afraid of going up against residents of the town who think they know whats better for the town.
Lacey and Bodie have known each other since they were kids, but only recently became reacquainted with one another after not seeing each other for a number of years. And now they will be working very closely with one another. These two are trying so hard to fight their attraction towards one another, but they both want the same goals – the best interest in their small town. How far are they willing to go without letting their feelings get in the way?
The chemistry between Lacey and Bodie is evident right from the beginning. I loved when these two were verbally sparring with one another! I do feel that sometimes maybe their antics towards one another were a bit much and the miscommunication between Lacey and Bodie felt a bit forced at times. My favorite moments were when Bodie and Lacey had their guards down and how sweet they were with one another.
I enjoyed this charming small town romance that totally gave me hallmark movie vibes!
The Cowboy Says I Do Excerpt
Lacey Cherish blinked multiple times, trying to see through the obnoxious fake eyelashes her assistant had talked her into wearing at the last minute. Her fingers fiddled with the microphone in front of her as she silently willed the reporter from the television station in Houston to give it a rest. Not even forty-eight hours into her term as the newly appointed mayor of the little town of Idont, Texas, and she already had a full-blown crisis on her hands.
The reporter didn’t back down. Instead, she got up from the metal folding chair, causing the legs to scrape across the linoleum. Lacey squinted as she fought the urge to cover her ears. Her upper and lower eyelashes tangled together and she struggled to peer through the dark lines barring her vision.
“Let me rephrase that.” The reporter cocked a hip while she consulted her notebook. “You expect us to believe you’re going to find a way to put a positive spin on this?”
Lacey inhaled a deep breath through her nose in an attempt to buy some time and answer with what might sound like a well-thought-out response. The problem was, she was winging this. No one had been more shocked than she was to find out the biggest business in town, Phillips Stationery and Imports, had closed their doors. The company had made their headquarters in Idont for over a hundred years, starting as a printing press then moving into manufacturing, and importing all kinds of novelties from overseas.
“I’m sure Mayor Cherish will have more to say as the situation unfolds.” Leave it to Deputy Sheriff Bodie Phillips to bully everyone back into line. He was part of the problem. Granted, he wasn’t the ogre who decided to shut down the warehouse, but he did share DNA with the two men in charge.
“I’ll have a statement to the press by the end of the week,” Lacey promised.
Her assistant stepped to the microphone as Lacey moved away. “Thanks, everyone, for coming. As Mayor Cherish said, she’ll be prepared to address the closing by the end of the day on Friday.”
“You okay?” Bodie appeared at her side. He angled his broad chest like a wall, as if trying to protect her from the prying eyes of the people who’d turned out for the press conference at city hall. All six of them.
“Yes. No thanks to you.” She summoned her best scowl, ready to chastise him for interfering in her business. It didn’t matter that much when they were kids, but he needed to see her in a different light now. She was the mayor, after all, not the same scrawny, bucktoothed little girl who used to follow him everywhere.
“I’m just as surprised as you.” The look in his eyes proved he was telling the truth. She’d never seen that particular mixture of anger and frustration, and she was pretty sure she’d been exposed to all of his moods. “Dad didn’t say a word to me about this and I spent the holidays over at their place, surrounded by the family.”
“Well, you and your dad aren’t exactly bosom buddies, now, are you?” She gathered her purse and shrugged on her jacket before heading down the hall to the back door of the building.
Bodie followed, taking one step to every three of hers. Damn heels. She would have been much more comfortable in a pair of ropers, but her new assistant never would have let her step in front of a microphone without looking the part of mayor. Which was precisely what Lacey paid her to do.
“Hey, you can’t punish me for something my dad and my pops decided to do.” Bodie stopped in front of her, his muscular frame blocking the door, his head nearly touching the low ceiling.
Lacey clamped a hand to her hip, ready for a throwdown. “I’m not trying to punish you. I just don’t understand how all of a sudden, after a century in business, they decided they can’t make a go of it anymore. And breaking the news right after the holidays?”
Bodie shrugged. “I don’t know, Sweets.”
“Stop calling me that. I’m the mayor now.” She pursed her lips. Why couldn’t he take her seriously? She’d figured the childhood nickname would have disappeared, along with her aggravating attraction to the man who’d been her big brother’s best friend all her life. But here she was, back in Idont where nothing had changed, especially the way her traitorous body reacted to Bodie Phillips.
“Aw, come on, Lacey. You’ll always be Sweets to me.” He grinned, dazzling her with his million-dollar smile. Well, maybe not million-dollar, but she’d been there when he had to go through braces twice, so it had to be worth at least five or six grand.
She resisted the pull of his charm. He’d always been able to tease her back into a good mood when hers had gone sour. But this was different. The only reason she’d run for mayor was because her dad had been forced out of office after a particularly embarrassing public incident. In which he drove a golf cart into a pond. A stolen golf cart. While drunk.
His stunt earned him his third DWI and twenty-four months of house arrest. During her tenure as mayor, she hoped she could polish off the tarnished family name and turn the tide of public opinion about the Cherish family. That, and she couldn’t find a real job. Evidently a degree in communications wasn’t worth much more than the paper her diploma was printed on.
“What am I going to do, Bodie?” She shook her head, her gaze drawn to a section of chipped linoleum on the floor. The whole town seemed to be falling apart.
“Maybe it’s time to consider merging with Swynton.”
Lacey jerked her head up, causing one of her fake eyelashes to flop up and down. “Please tell me you didn’t just suggest we wave good-bye to our roots and hand our town over to that obnoxious man.” She tried to reattach the line of lashes against her eyelid.
Bodie didn’t bother to suppress his smile. “Come on, Lacey. You’ve got to admit, their economy could run circles around ours. I know you don’t care for Buck, but he’s doing something right over there.”
She pressed her lips together. The only thing Mayor Buck Little was doing was turning the once-semicharming town of Swynton into a hot pocket of cheap housing and seedy businesses. “Have you seen how many building permits they’ve issued in the past three months? If he had it his way, we’d end up with empty strip malls and low-rent apartment buildings all over town.”
“At least that would create jobs and give people some affordable housing options.” Bodie leaned against the wall. “My family’s business was our biggest employer.”
“I know.” Lacey gritted her teeth, wishing with all her heart she had someone to talk to about this. Someone who might be able to offer a realistic option, not just confirm everything she already knew about what a sorry situation they were in. “I need to think.”
Bodie pushed open the door leading to the back parking lot and swept his arm forward, gesturing for her to go first. “You want to grab lunch over at the diner and talk?”
“I can’t now. I’m late for my shift at the Burger Bonanza.” She jammed her sunglasses on her face, crushing them against the stupid lashes as she brushed past him through the door into the sunny, but chilly, February day.
“When are you going to quit that job, Lacey Jane? The mayor shouldn’t be flipping burgers and mixing milk shakes.”
She turned, jabbing a finger into Bodie’s chest. “I’ll do what I have to do to pay the bills.” She jabbed harder. “And I’ll do what I have to do to keep this town afloat.”
Despite her effort, the concrete plane of his pecs didn’t budge. Damn him.
He grabbed her hand, twirling her around like they were doing a two-step instead of sparring about the future of their hometown. “That’s one thing Idont has going for it that Swynton never will.”
“What’s that?” Lacey stumbled as he released her, not sure if she was dizzy from the spin or off-balance because of the way her hand had felt in his.
“You.” Bodie tipped his cowboy hat at her as he walked away. “You’re determined, I’ll give you that, Mayor.”
She adjusted her purse strap and tried to compose herself as he climbed into his pickup and drove away. Bodie wasn’t one to dish out compliments, especially to a woman he’d considered a pesky nuisance most of his life. Either that was the nicest thing he’d ever said to her or he wanted something. Knowing him, it was the latter.
That would give her two things to think about while she worked her shift at the Burger Bonanza . . . how to save the town of Idont, and why in the world Bodie was trying to butter her up like a fresh-baked biscuit.
“You’re late.” Jojo stood at the counter, loading her arms with blue plate specials. “Watch out for Helmut, he’s on a bender.”
“Thanks.” Lacey slipped off her heels and slid her feet into her flats before tying an apron around her waist. “Where do you need me today?”
“Why don’t you start on the floor and take over the grill when Helmut leaves?” Jojo had been waiting tables at the Burger Bonanza since she and Lacey started high school. If Helmut had taken the time to name a manager, Jojo would be the natural choice. But instead he paid her the same as the rest of the waitstaff and expected her to keep everyone in line.
“Sounds good.” Lacey grabbed her order pad and made her way to the front of the restaurant.
“Table twelve just got seated.” Jojo nodded toward the corner booth.
“Got it.” Lacey headed that way, her eyes on her notebook. “Hey, can I get y’all something to drink?”
“Well, look who it is.” The voice that had squashed a thousand of Lacey’s childhood dreams drifted across the table.
Lacey lifted her gaze to stare right into the eyes of her high school nemesis-Adeline Monroe. “Oh, hi, Adeline. It’s been a long time.” And thank God for that. Adeline lived over in Swynton. It used to be the only reason she’d cross the river that divided the two towns was if she was on the hunt for some too-good-to-pass-up gossip. What was she after now?
“It sure has. And look at you. I heard you came back.” Adeline leaned over the table, lowering her voice, that familiar glint in her eye. “Is it true you got yourself elected mayor?”
Lacey nodded. “Yep, sure did. Now, what will it be? A round of Burger Bonanza Banzai Shakes? Or can I start you off with a basket of buffalo bites?” She tried to pull a smile from deep down, but it seemed to stick on the way to her face. Half of her mouth lifted, the other half slid down, probably making her look like an undecided clown, especially with the damn lashes still glued to her eyelids.
Adeline turned to the man next to her. A quick glance at the giant rock on her left hand confirmed he was probably her finance. What happened to the curse Lacey had cast at graduation? Adeline was supposed to be hairless and withered by now, or at least well on her way. Instead she looked like she’d just stepped out of a salon. Every highlighted hair was in place. Her eyebrows were plucked to perfection and there was no sign of premature aging.
“Lacey, I’d like you to meet my finance, Roman.” Adeline put her hand on Roman’s arm, obviously staking her claim. As if Lacey were going to try to hump the man right there at table twelve.
“Congratulations. Nice to meet you, Roman.” She managed to correct her awkward expression and forced a smile. “Are you ready to order?”
Adeline’s smirk faded. She ran a manicured nail down the side of the menu. “We’ll take two Burger Bonanza baskets with fries. Diet for me.”
“Do you have iced tea?” Roman asked.
Lacey nodded. She’d been afraid the man couldn’t speak. She wouldn’t have put it past Adeline to marry a man incapable of talking back to her. He probably didn’t get a word in edgewise most of the time. “I’ll be back in a minute with your drinks.”
She tucked her order pad into the front of her apron. First the news of the Phillips business closing, now an unexpected visit from Adeline. Bad news usually came in threes. What would happen next?
It took less than a minute to find out. As she approached the soda station to grab two cups, someone grabbed her arm.
“Mayor Cherish, you’ll need to come with me.” His voice was all business. The commanding tone sent a shiver straight through her. But his lips twitched. A hint of humor shone in those deep gray eyes. She’d spent way too much of her life thinking about what it would feel like to lose herself in those depths.
“What are you doing here? I’ve got a shift.”
“I’m aware of that.” His fingers closed around her elbow, eliminating any argument, propelling her toward the door. “But we’ve got a problem that needs your attention. Now.”
Bodie gripped Lacey’s elbow a little tighter as he led her outside. He wouldn’t admit it, but he kind of enjoyed spending time with Idont’s new mayor-much more than he expected, and a lot more than he should.
“Stop, Bodie. I’m not taking another step until you tell me what’s going on.” Lacey planted her feet as she wrapped her arms around her middle. It was chilly, even for Texas. He should have grabbed her coat, but now he didn’t want to take the time to go back inside.
“Here.” He slid his jacket off then draped it over her shoulders.
“I don’t want your jacket.” She shrugged it off and tossed it back at him. “I want to know why you dragged me out here during my shift. Helmut’s going to pop a blood vessel over this. What’s so important?”
“There’s a protest down at the warehouse. Seems Jonah Wylder has chained himself to the front doors. Says he’s not leaving until someone gives him his job back.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” She tilted her head back, giving him a full-on glimpse of the smooth ivory column of her neck.
When did the little girl who used to bug the hell out of him turn into such a beauty? Seemed like she’d always been underfoot as a kid. He and her big brother, Luke, couldn’t go anywhere without her tagging along. Since she’d been back he hadn’t paid much attention to her-he’d been too focused on trying to figure out a way to get out of Idont himself. But now with her taking on the doomed role of mayor, he started to wish he hadn’t ignored her for so long.