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Author: Marie Johnston

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About White Collar Rancher:

Justin used to rule the boardroom. Now he rules his own little plot of land, or he could if he weren’t a clueless single dad with a newborn. Desperate for help, he calls out an SOS to an old friend—the doctor who delivered his son. But the longer she’s around, the harder it is to ignore that a stunning intellect isn’t her only appeal.

It was supposed to be just two friends getting through a baby’s colic together. Only Priya has harbored way more than friendly feelings for Justin for years, and she’s struggling to keep her thoughts platonic around the scruffy, rugged rancher. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only friendly port in a frigid small town that was supposed to welcome her back with open arms.

Justin’s sworn off women and refuses to change for anyone. Priya’s fighting to save her job and has no time to soothe male egos. So a friends-with-benefits arrangement seems like the perfect solution…except no one warned them one of the “benefits” could be a broken heart.


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Justin looked like hell and it wasn’t fair how handsome he still was.

Priya swaddled Isaiah, doing her best to secure him as snugly as possible. She’d reviewed all the education she’d had on colic and tried to recall every mom who lamented about the hard days and longer nights of raising a baby with it. She liked to think that one of the signs she was maturing as a doctor was that she listened and learned from those stories as much as from her teachers. She was focused on women’s health and not infant health, but Isaiah seemed healthy.

It was time to deal with the dad. The dad with the sinful stubble that looked better than when he was clean-shaven.

Since she’d moved home, he always seemed to have a few days of growth darkening his face and deepening the blue of his eyes. The contrast with his dirty-blond hair was intriguing and something she thought about way too much. His loose pants hung low on his hips and his lean muscles were too apparent through the thin material of his shirt. She’d be tempted to drool if the dark circles under his eyes and the hang of his shoulders didn’t snap her back to reality. A reality in which he was not just her best friend’s ex, but the ex of a friend who had recently died—under her care.

Tonight was about Justin, not her unresolved feelings for him. “Go lay down,” she said in her best authoritative tone, the one she used in the surgery suite. “I’ve got him.”

His look was a strange mix of hopeful, relieved, and terrified. “I don’t think I can.”

He’d better. Isaiah’s screaming wasn’t going anywhere and if the baby had colic, then this was Justin’s life until it passed.

“Doctor’s orders.” She waved him off.

The corner of his mouth hitched up, and he shuffled to a short hallway that must house the door to his bedroom. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. “Formula and bottles are by the sink. We have rural water but it tastes weird without being filtered. There’s a water jug next to the can of formula.”

She nodded, uncertainty trickling in. How would she know if Isaiah was hungry? Her training came back to her. Rooting. Right. But in the throws of colic, he probably wasn’t going to eat anything.

“Where’s the nursery?” she asked before he disappeared completely.


Perfect. The distance would muffle the cries. If she were more comfortable driving through the county in the dark, she’d load Isaiah’s car seat and go for a long drive. Maybe next time.

She paused and looked up the stairs. Who said there’d be a next time?

But come on. The guy was alone with a baby with colic. Last year, she’d had a mom break down with sobs that shook her body. She’d cried so hard, Priya had worried she’d upset her C-section healing even after six weeks. The poor thing had been facing the end of her maternity leave and her baby had been like Isaiah since week three.

Okay, so there’d be a next time. And she’d bring earplugs. The nursery was quiet and—

Wow. Not the nursery she’d expected, but then Justin hadn’t planned on being allowed much access to his own kid.


About Marie Johnston:

Marie Johnston writes award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance and is a RITA® Finalist. Before she was a writer, she was a microbiologist. Depending on the situation, she can be oddly unconcerned about germs or weirdly phobic. She’s also a licensed medical technician and has worked as a public health microbiologist and as a lab tech in hospital and clinic labs. Marie’s been a volunteer EMT, a college instructor, a security guard, a phlebotomist, a hotel clerk, and a coffee pourer in a bingo hall. All fodder for a writer! She has four kids and just as many cats.


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