My Timeout Book Blog

My Timeout Book Blog

May 24, 2017

Review Tour ~ The Virgin Cowboy Billionaire's Secret Baby by Lauren Gallagher

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 79,000 words


After retiring at thirty-five, billionaire Matt Coolidge should have it made. Instead, heís got chronic migraines and high blood pressure. Oh, and during his workaholic years, he completely forgot to have a love life. Now heís just trying to relax in between arguing with his mother about the fate of the family farm, not to mention his lack of a family of his own.

Then Mattís childhood best friend, Dara Marley, rolls back into town. Ten years after a stupid argument ended a longtime friendship, theyíve both matured, and itís time to let bygones be bygones.

Especially since theyíre having a baby together.

Thanks to frozen embryos from years ago, Daraís pregnantÖ and alone after her husband walked out. She wants her child to have a father, so sheís turning to the most logical placeóthe biological father, and the man sheís always regretted falling out with.

But with two judgmental families who canít stand each other, and both Matt and Dara just trying to find their footing, they agree to keep the pregnancy quiet for now. Because somehow, he doesnít think this flavor of ìhaving a familyî will appease his motherÖ


Dara wasnít surprised that Matt looked good. She just hadnít been prepared for how good. Sure, heíd long ago morphed from a gangly kid into a guy who couldíve modeled his way through college, but he wore his thirties better than he had any right to. And sheíd been in Los Angeles for the past ten yearsósheíd seen her share of attractive men.

She shook herself. Was she really ogling Matt? Of course she was. Sheíd never even entertained the idea of being more than friends with him, but right now, checking him out was easier than watching his expression, because she wasnít entirely sure how this was going to play out. If heíd talk to her, or if he was a breath away from a ìget the fuck out of hereî. And if he talked to her, she had some newsóand a questionóthat might yet bring out that ìget the fuck out of hereî.

Beside her, Beth cleared her throat. ìIíll, um, let you two catch up.î Gesturing at the horse, she added, ìDo you want me to put her away for you?î

He glanced at the dapple gray as if heíd forgotten the horse was there at all. ìUmÖ IÖî

ìIíll try not to keep you too long,î Dara said. ìThereís something I need to talk to you about. And I figured it would be best to do it in person.î

His eyes widened a little further. ìOh. Um.î He glanced at his horse. ìI should reallyóî

ìIíve got her. Go.î Beth gestured at other end of the barn. ìYouíre welcome to use my office.î

Matt hesitated. ìSure. Thanks.î He took a step toward Dara, but paused. To his sister, he said, ìI think we need to bring Whiskey and Lady in. They both look like theyíre going to foal any minute.î

Beth nodded. ìIíll take care of them too. Go.î

ìWhat aboutóî


Matt glanced at the horse, then nodded and gestured for Dara to come with him.

As they walked, she checked out their surroundings. The barn was bigger nowóthe loft was new, and Dara couldíve sworn the aisle hadnít been quite that long before. There definitely hadnít been quite so many stalls. For that matter, the aisle had been packed dirt before, and it was smooth concrete now, and lined with gleaming metal-edged white cedar doors. No bars on the doors, of courseóneither Matt nor Beth wouldíve allowed that.

This place had changed so much, and yet in a lot of ways, it still felt the same. Just being here screwed with her balance. Sheíd been back in Aspen Mill for two weeks, staying with her parents in her childhood home until sheíd moved into a rental house across town, but it was this place that took her breath away. Coming back to the Coolidge farm was, more than anyplace else sheíd been recently, like coming home. It was like sheíd never left, and at the same time, like sheíd been away for far too long.

Which may have had less to do with the building and more to do with the man walking silently beside her.

It shouldnít have felt this surreal to walk next to Matt. Theyíd been friends since they were little kids. And it wouldnít have felt this surreal if ten years hadnít passed since theyíd last seen each other, and that wouldnít have happened if she hadnít been a goddamned idiot back then.

But she had been, and she couldnít change it. All she could do now was hope to God he wasnít just being polite.

At the end of the barn, he stopped in front of a door marked Private. He pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlocked the door, then gestured for her to go inside.

Wasnít this place a blast from the past? Sheíd been in here plenty of times as a kid, and like the rest of the barn, it was both radically different and exactly the same.

Two walls were covered from floor to ceiling by awards. The trophy case she rememberedóa small china cabinet with a modest collection of local trophiesóhad been replaced by a much bigger one, and it was exploding with silver cups and platters, as well as glass and acrylic awards.

The desk was the same, though the ratty chairs had been replaced with much nicer ones. Behind the desk, there was a huge photo on the wall that had been there for years. It was a little faded now, with some dust on the glass and the frame, but it had aged well. It mustíve been taken when Matt was four or five. Definitely no older than six. He and his two siblings sat in a row on the back of their grandfatherís prized stallion, all gap-toothed grins and bowl-cut hair on top of that elegant coal-black horse.

Behind them, Matt shut the door with a quiet click. Dara steeled herself, her heart pounding and her palms sweatingósheíd been dreading this conversation ever since she came back to Aspen Mill, and now there was no escaping. Willing her stomach to stay where it belonged, she faced him.

Matt took off his baseball cap, revealing some silver at his temples. He was a little young to be going that gray, but wow.

Staring at her, he swallowed. ìI still canítÖ Is thatÖis that really you?î

She smiled, trying like hell not to get her hopes up. ìIn the flesh.î

ìHoly shit.î He stepped closer, threw his arms around her and hugged her tight. ìI canít believe how long itís been.î

Her eyes stung, but she forced the emotions back. He didnít need to see her fall apart quite yet. ìItís been way too long.î

ìYeah. It has.î He let her go, and when he met her eyes, his were unreadable. Even if he was happy to see her, his guard was up. Not that she blamed him.

ìSo, um.î She cleared her throat, loosely folding her arms to keep from fidgeting too much. ìWhen did you come back to Aspen Mill?î

ìLast year. I retired early.î

ìReally?î She smiled despite her nerves. ìI didnít think youíd ever slow down.î

ìI didnít either. But I, uh, didnít really have much choice. Another year or two in that place probably wouldíve killed me. Literally.î

She blinked. ìThat bad?î

He nodded. ìOne of my business partners had a heart attack, and I was pretty much asking to be next.î With a shrug, he added, ìSo I decided it was time to get out.î

ìWow. So, what are you doing these days, then?î She gestured toward the rest of the barn. ìBesides riding, I mean?î

ìThatís about it, to be honest. And helping Beth around the farm.î He shrugged again. ìI needed some time off, I guess. More than I thought I did, apparently.î

ìIs it helping? I mean, are you doingóî

ìDara, whatís going on?î He studied her. ìI havenít seen you in ten years, and suddenly we need to talk?î His voice was gentle, with no trace of hostility. ìIím pretty sure you didnít stop by to discuss my health.î

She gulped. ìOkay. Yeah. There is something. IÖî Öseverely underestimated how hard it would be to talk to you about this. ìItísÖî She couldnít stand still, and she couldnít look him in the eye anymore, so she started pacing across the well-worn, dusty red rug that had been there since the dawn of time.

After a long, uncomfortable silence, he asked, ìIs everything okay?î

Not really, no.

Author Bio

Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn't have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Twitter: @GallagherWitt

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