The Texan's Bride

The Texan's Bride

by Linda Warren

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Sheltered her entire life, Jessie Murdock has rarely gotten her way. Until her dying father makes a deal with Cadde Hardin. Cadde will get shares of Shilah Oil on one condition—marry Jessie. In love with him for years, Jessie doesn't hesitate to sign the papers. But she didn't sign up for a completely absent husband.

Now Jessie has a counter offer. She'll give Cadde controlling interest of the business if he'll give her a baby…the natural way. Only he has a few caveats of his own. When life refuses to follow their written plan, Jessie and Cadde have to decide which is more important: their unspoken love or the family business.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373717354
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 10/11/2011
Series: The Hardin Boys , #2
Edition description: Original
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.68(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Linda Warren loves happy endings. The Rita® nominated author has written 26 books in the last ten years. Drawing upon her years of growing up on a ranch in Texas, she writes about sexy heroes, feisty heroines and broken families with an emotional punch. She lives in central Texas with her husband, and spends her days doing what she loves—creating unforgettable love stories—with happy endings.

Read an Excerpt

Cadde Hardin always thought he'd eventually get married. He just never dreamed it would be a marriage of convenience.

And a pain in the ass.

"One of these days I'm going to wring her damn pretty neck."

He threw his briefcase onto the desk, scattering piles of folders, and slam-dunked his body into a leather chair, which protested with loud, annoying squeaks. He was so angry he could barely breathe.

How many more times was Jessie, his wife, going to stab him in the back?

His brothers, Cisco—known as Kid—and Chance stood in the doorway. "Is it safe to come in?" Kid asked.

Cadde nodded.

"What the hell happened?" Kid wanted to know. "You said you had it handled, but once again Jessie shot down your proposal."

Cadde yanked off his tie. "I'm well aware of that." For a whole week he'd been telling Jessie how much he needed her vote at Shilah Oil's next board meeting. The company had to move forward. She had agreed, but evidently she'd changed her mind, voting against expanding drilling outside of Texas. He could feel his blood pressure rising by the minute.

"What did she say when you told her about the proposal?" Chance asked, taking a seat.

Cadde threw the tie onto the desk. "She said it sounded like something her father, Roscoe, would do. He was always a wildcatter, a risk-taker."

"Did she agree to vote your way?" Kid plopped into a chair and rested his boots on the desk. Usually, Cadde would knock them off, but today he wasn't in a mood to fight with Kid. Jessie and her about-face was all he had on his mind.

"No," he muttered.

"Sounds as if she's still pissed about the marriage," Kid commented.

"I didn't force her into this arrangement. Roscoe was dying and he wanted me to protect her, to take care of her, and I agreed."

"For a piece of the pie," Kid murmured under his breath.

He glared at Kid. "Don't start with me today."

Chance spoke up. "Face it, Cadde, she has to be upset at having her husband chosen for her."

"She was there when Roscoe made his wishes known. She didn't object or get angry. She accepted her father's decision."


"Dammit, Chance." Cadde swung out of his chair and stood to gaze at the view of Houston, but all he saw were Jessie's dark eyes. Swinging back, he said, "Don't you think I'm aware of that? I'm at my wit's end on how to handle Jessie."

"Since I'm an expert on women—" Kid formed a steeple with his fingers and looked at Cadde over the top "—I'd say Jessie wants something…and she wants it from you."

"What would that be, Kid?" Cadde asked in a sarcastic tone.

"I don't know, but whatever she's angry about is aimed at you."

"That's for damn sure."

"Shilah Oil is going nowhere without her support on the board," Chance said. "So your best bet is to have an honest-to-god talk with her."

"It might be as simple as a divorce," Kid added.

Cadde frowned. "You think she wants a divorce?"

Kid shrugged. "What else could it be? I mean, Roscoe sheltered her all her life. She's probably looking for some sort of freedom. And fun—preferably not with a man handpicked by her father."

Chance turned on Kid. "You don't know that. He needs to talk—"

"I'll see y'all later," Cadde said, grabbing his briefcase and heading for the door.

"What? No orders?" Kid's pesky voice followed him.

"Get your damn feet off my desk! Chance, I want the drilling log on the Carver well when I return." Why had he brought his brothers in on this oil venture? They had a way of getting under his skin. But the truth was he needed their expertise to make Shilah Oil a successful company. Besides, they were brothers who stood together in rough times and in good times.

Right now Cadde didn't want to think about his siblings. Jessie occupied every corner of his mind.

In record time he was in his truck and driving north out of Houston toward Brenham. Maybe he and Jessie could talk and work things out. The knot in his gut eased a little.

Lord knew he didn't enjoy the marriage any more than she did. The first time he had dinner at the Mur-dock estate Roscoe had made it very clear that his daughter was off-limits, so he was shocked when Roscoe had brought up the suggestion of them marrying. He'd told the man he would look out for Jessie, but he didn't see any reason for a legal ceremony. They didn't love each other. They were barely more than acquaintances.

He'd never paid much attention to Roscoe's daughter, and he'd thought she'd grown to be an unattractive old maid without much appeal, except her father's wealth. As for Roscoe—it had been said that he resembled the back end of a horse going the wrong way. The man wasn't handsome by any means and Cadde had assumed his daughter favored him. He'd been mistaken.

Roscoe was big and barrel-chested with a booming voice that could make babies cry. Jessie was just the opposite; slim, feminine and beautiful with long dark hair and the blackest eyes he'd ever seen. She obviously took after her mother. Roscoe never spoke about his wife and there were no photos of her in the house.

That first night Cadde had dined with the two of them, he looked everywhere but at the gorgeous woman sitting across from him. No way did he want Roscoe to catch him eyeing his daughter. That would put an end to his oil career. He played the part of cool indifference well, and the status quo remained the same every time he visited the Murdock estate.

He'd spent a lot of years working toward one goal—owning his own company. He, Kid and Chance had roughnecked all over Texas. They knew the oil business. He wasn't jeopardizing that goal by acting stupid. Jessie was his boss's daughter and in his eyes that meant she was off-limits.

Then, Roscoe being the gambling wildcatter that he was, sweetened the pot.

"How long have I known you, boy?" Roscoe had asked that day in his hospital room.

"A little over ten years."

Roscoe nodded. "You roughnecked on a wildcatter well. I saw you had potential and I brought you into the office. You've been my right hand since then."

"Yes, sir. I've learned from you and I'll always appreciate the opportunity you gave me."

"It's payback time, boy. Don't you know that?"

"What?" Cadde wasn't sure where the old man was headed with the conversation.

"I'm not asking you to marry Jessie. I'm telling you."

That took a moment for Cadde to digest.

"I've always been a gambler. You know that. Tomorrow I'm taking the biggest gamble of all…they'll remove the tumor from my brain. The doctors say I have a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery and I'm willing to take that risk. I'm damn tired of the headaches and losing my eyesight, but I can't go under the knife until I know Jessie's future is secure." "Sir…"

"Okay, boy," Roscoe interrupted, not willing to listen to anything he had to say. "I'm gonna make this easy for you. Marry Jessie and I'll give you half of my shares in Shilah Oil. Jessie gets the other half."

That sent Cadde's heart galloping like a wild steed.

"The papers are there on the nightstand. They require your signature to become the CEO of Shilah Oil." Roscoe took a labored breath. "Sign it, boy, because I'm not giving you any other choice. You've got integrity. I've known that from the start, and you'll keep Jessie safe."

Fear choked the man's voice. Roscoe's paranoia was never more evident than it was that day, but Cadde had to ask, "How does your daughter feel about this?"

Jessie walked into the room in a brown pantsuit and heels. Her dark hair was coiled into a knot at her nape. She looked elegant, sophisticated and uptight as any woman could be. The only sign she was nervous was the false smile on her face.

"Here's my baby," Roscoe said, and held out his hand.

She grasped it. "Daddy, I'm hardly a baby. What are you doing talking business with Mr. Hardin? You should be resting."

"I can't rest until I know your life is secure."

"Oh, Daddy."

"I'm serious, Jessie. Marry Cadde." Roscoe took another tortured breath. "We've talked about this and it's the right thing to do. Cadde knows the oil business and he'll keep Shilah profitable so you'll never want for anything. Please, baby."

Jessie met Cadde's eyes for the first time and their depths bore right through him. "Has Mr. Hardin agreed to this?"

"Yes," Roscoe said before Cadde could answer.

She turned back to Roscoe. "Daddy, you do realize I can take care of myself? I'm twenty-nine years old."

"Don't argue with me, Jessie. Please let me die in peace. I have to know you're safe."

Tears welled up in her eyes and Cadde felt a sucker punch to his chest. She hugged her father tightly and then straightened. "Okay. I guess I'm getting married."

They had the ceremony that afternoon by Roscoe's bedside and Cadde signed the papers that gave him a large interest in Shilah Oil. The next few hours were tense as they waited for news that Roscoe had survived the surgery. He hadn't. He'd died on the operating table.

Losing Roscoe had been a big blow. He thought the old man could win at anything, but the stakes were too high this time. Pushing aside his grief, he tried to comfort Jessie by offering to take her home. That was a huge mistake. She lit into him like a dog in a chicken coop.

"Contrary to what my father believes, Mr. Hardin, I can take care of myself and deal with Daddy's death…on my own."

That's when the iceberg set in—big-time.

She was stoic at the services. At the grave site, she stumbled and he caught her. She leaned on him for a second before she'd pushed away, thus setting the tone for their eighteen months of marriage.

The reading of the will was an eye-opener. Everything Roscoe owned was equally divided between him and Jessie, except Shilah and the Murdock estate. The house belonged to Jessie, and Roscoe's shares in the oil company were split twenty-five percent to Cadde and twenty-six percent to Jessie.

Roscoe omitted mentioning that little tidbit, which gave Jessie the upper hand. She used it every time she could—like today. Roscoe's cronies, who owned the remaining percentage of shares and sat on the board, always voted her way.

He never understood why Roscoe had done that. Jessie didn't know anything about the oil business, yet she was the one calling the shots—not him. That irritated the hell out of him on a good day. On a bad day he cursed a lot. If Shilah Oil was going to succeed, he had to find a way to reach Jessie.

Cadde sped down the paved road leading to the Mur-dock estate. Climbing Mount Olympus might be easier than reaching Jessie. And definitely less painful. But today he was angry and he was having his say. She wasn't giving him the cold shoulder and walking out of the room as she usually did. If he had to tie her to a chair, they were discussing their farce of a marriage, and most definitely her sabotage of Shilah Oil.

He drove up to the double wrought-iron gates leading to the house. As he touched a button on his windshield visor, the gates swung open. An eight-foot steel fence surrounded the entire property and was held in place with brick cornerstones every twelve feet. Razor wire curled across the top. The entire structure was linked to a state-of-the-art security system. To say Roscoe was paranoid about Jessie's safety was putting it mildly. But Cadde knew he had good reasons.

Roscoe's brother, Al, who had started Shilah Oil with Roscoe back in the forties, had a six-year-old daughter who'd been kidnapped. The child had fought so vigorously that the kidnapper had broken her neck. The man had been a roustabout who Al had fired.

Al's wife couldn't handle the grief and died six months later. Al followed her the next year. After the tragedy, Roscoe made sure nothing would happen to Jessie. He had her guarded twenty-four hours a day, even when she went away to college. That couldn't have been easy for her.

Usually, a guard was at the gate, but today no one was there. Jessie had dismissed them a week after the funeral. It was their first marital argument, if you could call it that. He told her he didn't think it was wise and she told him to mind his own business. They went back and forth until she stormed out of the room, leaving him in no doubt what she thought of his opinions.

She never rehired the guards and neither did he. Somehow he felt he had failed Roscoe, but he knew if he hired new security, she'd fire them. So maybe for once in Kid's life he was right. Jessie wanted her freedom.

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The Texan's Bride 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Aggieblues More than 1 year ago
The Texan's Bride - Cadde has spent the last eighteen months in a married of convenience with Jessie for Shilah Oil. But Jessie now wants something out of it - a baby - something Cadde hadn't planned on. The characters and conflicts are believable, and I feel that Linda is beginning to push the confines of line. She gets better with each book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheElizabethP More than 1 year ago
Very good Texas story. Story probably comes straight from the small counties of Texas.
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skyla11377 More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a new friend and I have to say I really, really enjoyed it. Although we both didn't realize it at the time, it was actual book two of a three book Cadde Hardin is all about Shilah Oil. He is a true business man that likes to work long hours and give the job his whole undivided attention. Cadde was never in the market for a wife at least not until his boss and mentor R. Murdock offers him a deal he just can't refuse. Seeing this as the opportunity of a life time Cadde takes Murdock up on his offer and marries his daughter Jessie. To Cadde this is a marriage of convenience and nothing more. Just a means to an end to get his hands on Shilah Oil. Jessie Murdock has loved Cadde since the first time she laid eyes on him. When her father told her she was to marry Cadde, she saw this as her one chance to have the man she loves. Little did she realize her marriage wouldn't be the ideal situation she had envisioned for herself. For 18 months they both lead a totally separate life living in two different houses except for twice a week when Cadde stays at the Murdock Mansion. During this time Jessie devises a plan to get Cadde right where she wants him. She offers him controlling interest in Shilah Oil if he agrees to one condition of hers. Jessie wants Cadde to give her a baby the old fashion way. Now this is where the story gets really good (and trust me it was good before this point This story had me rooted for Cadde and Jessie the whole time. You might also want to invest in some tissues because this story can be a tear jerker at times. This book really surprised me, in the fact that, I didn't really think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. It is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered by all. On a scale from 1-10 I give The Texan's Bride a 10. It is a great story with a good message that I myself could relate to in some ways. I have already ordered book 1 The Texan's Secret and Book 3 The Texan's Christmas so I can read up on the rest of the Hardin boys. I encourage everyone to pick up this trilogy and see why I love them Hardin boys.
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LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Love will always win out. I've had the honor of reading the other books in Ms. Warren's Hardin Boys series. I'm glad I got this one as well. Ms. Warren writes stories with characters I can't forget and situations I need to root for them to overcome. The words simply flow on the page and take the reader from scene to scene effortlessly. I might not have agreed with every single one of the characters' actions - who really does? That's what gets the reader emotionally involved in the story--I still had to know what would happen next. Jessie has been in love with Cadde for as long as she can remember. I love that trope. Immediately I need to know that they will get together. Her feelings for Cadde are sweet and mixed with the right amount of spice. Still, there were things she did that I understood, but I wasn't real thrilled with. More than once I wanted to bop her on the head and say, hey! Don't do that! Still, the explanations as to why she does makes sense and being in her shoes, I can't say I wouldn't have done differently. Cadde. The guy is a conundrum clad in sexy business clothes and boots. As soon as he stepped on the page, I knew he cared so deeply for Jessie. I totally understood his confusion and divided loyalties--love the girl or the job. While it's been done, Ms. Warren made it work in this book. I wanted to see him succeed and become the man I knew he could be. I wasn't let down. In fact, reading from Cadde's point of view was fantastic and had some very hot moments. If you want a book that will stay with you long after the last page and is chock full of characters you'll root for from the get-go, then you need to read The Texan's Bride. It's a fun, sweet, and spicy read. Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Shiloh Oil CEO Roscoe Murdock was dying, but had one unfinished business left before he can go on in peace. He wanted his daughter Jessie safe after she inherits his shares of the firm. He trusts one person, his former ambitious but honest employee Cadde Hardin. He orders Caddie to marry his daughter, but sweetens the deal with stock. Months after Roscoe died, Jessie remains angry with Caddie for agreeing to a marriage of convenience. They remain estranged while she thwarts his plans to expand drilling beyond Texas. Thus he is shocked when she offers him a deal. Caddie is shocked when -- after months of a cold war with his wife -- Jessie suddenly tells him she'll sign over controlling interest in the company if she and Cadde have a baby together. Cadde agrees, and the two soon realize that months of ignoring each other only allowed them to hide the attraction they feel for each other. The second Hardin Boys contemporary romance (see The Texan's Secret) is a delightful modern day marriage of convenience in which Linda Warren displays her talent with a merger of babies and oil. The protagonists are a fabulous pairing of a business mogul and the woman who keeps him on his toes. The support cast, especially her father from the grave and his siblings, enhance a wonderful Texas tale of love cementing the deal. Harriet Klausner
hip-grandma More than 1 year ago
my mother-in-law likes romance novels - got it for her for Christmas