New York heiress Olivia Jacobs flees from her stepfather who’s trying to kill her in order to obtain her trust funds. Eventually landing in Texas where she buys a country bar she names Ollie’s, Olivia believes herself safe. Then one night in the bar, some thugs decide to rob the place. Olivia pulls out her Stillson wrench and ends their plans. Unfortunately, the event goes viral on the internet, and the media surrounds her home the next day. Her cover is blown and her face is all over the tabloids. Now she must run again. Rocky, a rancher living in the same town, offers to help her escape. Not quite trusting him, or the attraction she feels for him, she’s reluctant—that is, until her stepfather’s minions show up and she realizes she’s out of options. Now both she and Rocky are on the run from one of the most powerful men in New York, and things are about to get ugly…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Cowboy Boots on the Ground by Sherry Fowler Chancellor, Olivia Jacobs is on the run from her stepfather who is after her money. If she dies, her trust fund will pass to her mother who is in a coma and barely alive. At the moment, Olivia’s hiding out in Texas where she bought a bar she calls Ollie’s. When some thugs try to rob her bar, she defends herself, her customers, and her property with a wrench and ends up in a video on the internet. Now her stepfather knows where she is and will be sending men to dispose of her. So she has to run again. The only man she can trust is a former army intelligence soldier with whom she has a mostly hostile relationship. Will his skills be enough to save her, and why should he bother when he doesn’t even like her?
The story is suspenseful, intriguing, and the romance sweet. While classified as a romance, the story could also be classified as a thriller, since you’ll be riveted from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Cowboy Boots on the Ground by Sherry Fowler Chancellor is the story of a New York socialite and heiress, Olivia Jacobs, who has been in hiding for years. It seems her stepfather has put her mother in a coma and is now trying to kill Olivia so that her trust fund will pass to her mother, whose death will then give the stepfather the whole pot. Olivia knows that once she dies, her mother won’t live long either. She ends up in a small Texas town and buys a bar called Ollie’s. She loves it there and hopes to be able to stay until she’s thirty, at which time her trust fund will be transferred to her control and she can remove her mother as her beneficiary, hopefully saving both their lives. But when the bar is robbed one night, Olivia ends up on the internet and now everyone knows where she is. She has to run again before her stepfather and his men show up to dispose of her. Her only option is to accept the help of local rancher and former army intelligence officer Graham Rockford, an insufferable man who has been a thorn in her side the whole time she’s been there. He could tell she’s not what she pretends to be and has been suspicious all along. But without his help, she’s doomed. Can she swallow her pride and accept his offer of help? And even if she does, how can one lone former soldier with demons of his own defeat the most powerful man in New York?
Cowboy Boots on the Ground is both a sweet romance and a chilling thriller. Combining suspense, intrigue, and romance, the story will both warm your heart and keep you glued to your seat. Another jewel in the crown of this talented author.
A view of tumbleweeds and no trees, instead of shades of red and orange fall foliage out the window, depressed Olivia Jacobs more than anything else about this God-forsaken corner of western Texas. Well, maybe not more than anything, but it sure ran a close second to whatever else she could think of that she missed about early November in New York. Only a little over two years until she could go back. Surely those years would pass faster than the last five. They had to, right?
She stifled a snort. She must be the only woman in history to ever want her twenties to pass as fast as they could.
“What’s with the sad face?” Sharon Brooks, her best friend, asked.
“Nothing.” Olivia shook off the glums that had taken hold of her. “Just hoping that no one picks that song today.”
“You crack me up about that song. I know you hate it for some reason.”
“You have no idea.” Olivia scrubbed the top of the old mahogany bar with a ratty old bar towel, making a mental note to purchase some new ones. This might be a hole in the wall place, but it didn’t have to be grungy.
“Since this is your bar, I don’t know why you don’t take the stupid thing out of the jukebox.”
“How quickly you forget. Remember the near-riot when I did?” Olivia gritted her teeth at the memory of the rowdy patrons of this honky-tonk bar she bought when she landed in town two years ago.
She’d immediately set about changing some things in the place and got a lot of flak for it, but that one song she despised got the biggest reaction when she took it out of play.
“I still can’t figure out why you wanted to own a country bar when you hate the music. You have to admit, it’s weird.”
Olivia couldn’t tell Sharon the truth. No one could know why she was here and why she chose such a place to hide. Maybe in two years when she turned thirty, she could tell the real story to all those people she’d been lying to about herself.
“It was available, and I needed a way to make a living. It’s as simple as that.”
Her friend placed an elbow on the bar and leaned close. “I don’t believe you. You could’ve gotten a job anywhere with your brains. Owning this joint wasn’t the only option. And I know Buzz didn’t sell out cheap, so if you needed money, how’d you pay for this?” She sat up and opened her arms to indicate the bar as a whole.
“There’s this thing called a mortgage. Perhaps you’ve heard the term?” Olivia winked to show she was kidding.
“I heard Buzz say you paid cash.”
“Buzz is full of hot air.” Olivia wanted to throw up. Why all these questions now? She’d been here a while and thought everything was going well. Yes, she did pay cash, but the previous owner wasn’t supposed to tell. She hated small towns. Gossip, gossip, gossip. And she’d thought the grand dames of the Hamptons were bad. They had nothing on these people.
“You know I’m here for you if you need me, right?” Sharon leaned forward again, so intense, Olivia stepped back in fear.
“What do you mean, need you?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Sharon shrugged. “In case there’s a problem.”
“I don’t mean to sound cranky but what makes you say this now?” Had Sharon somehow heard something about her past? Terrified that she’d have to run again, Olivia tried to make her voice casual but was afraid she was failing in her effort.
Tex, a burly man known for drinking way too much, slammed his beer mug on the oak bar. “Hey, Ollie. I need a refill.”
Olivia took the stein from his hand knowing it was his third but checking to be sure he did. “How many is this?”
“Three. Then I’m done. Mabel wants me home early for the grandkid’s birthday.”
“All right but someone’s driving you, right?”
“Now, honey, you know this big old belly can handle more than three beers and still get behind the wheel.”
“Nope. I’m not going to be sued when you take someone’s life.” Olivia clicked her fingers over her head and called out, “Hey, Sam, can you take Tex home when he finishes his beer?”
“Sure thing, Ollie. Add it to my tab.”
She and Sam had a deal. He didn’t drink much during the week and drove patrons home, and on Sunday afternoon, she paid him in whiskey—usually a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon—and he drank it at home. Keeping drunks off the road was something she decided she wanted to do as soon as she bought the bar. Sam lived within walking distance so she didn’t worry when she gave him his pay that he’d be on the road.
“You’re really something,” Sharon said after Tex had his drink and wandered off. “I’ve never seen anyone care so much about the customers.”
Olivia shrugged. “What can I say? I don’t want any drunk driving fatalities or injuries on my conscience.”
Two college students stood at the jukebox. Young women. Olivia knew instinctively they would play the song she hated. “Can you watch the bar for a minute while I run to the office for something?” she asked Sharon.
“Sure.” Sharon moved to the gate in the bar that lifted to allow the workers to go behind. They brushed shoulders as Olivia practically ran to the back of the building to her office.
She almost made it before the song started. Unlocking the door with shaking fingers, Olivia lurched inside as soon as she could get it open. Too late. Some of the words trickled down the hallway.
Flopping onto the ratty sofa that had seen better days, Olivia burst into tears. The song didn’t always affect her this way, but sometimes it hit harder than normal. It had to be the fact that it was November and the holidays were coming. And she was in Texas. Alone and with no hope to go home for at least two more years.
And then fresh tears. Home wasn’t really home anymore, was it? With her mother in a coma and her father dead, what was there to go back to? Nothing. But at least she wouldn’t have to hide anymore. Age thirty. That was the goal. To get to thirty.
After indulging in a few minutes of weeping, Olivia abandoned her pity party and stood. She went to her private bathroom and freshened her makeup. Making a face when she saw how red her eyes were, she reached for the Visine.
Sharon was already asking too many questions today. Olivia didn’t need her prying for the reason she had bloodshot eyes all of a sudden.
She returned to the bar and took her place near the beer taps.
Sharon moved back to her stool. “Guess who came in while you were gone?”
“I don’t know. Elvis?”
Sharon shook her head. “You always say Elvis when someone asks you that question.”
Olivia shrugged. “It’s as good a response as any since the answer could be anyone from Sam to Tex to the pope.”
“I somehow doubt the pope will make his way to this backwater.”
“You never know. He might like a Cerveza.”
“Do you even care who came in while you were gone?”
Olivia wrung out the bar rag. “Only if he or she is buying a round.”
“It’s your favorite customer, and I’m sure he’s not treating everyone to a round. At least not in this bar.”
Great. Graham Rockford. The man who everyone seemed to love but her. He rubbed her the wrong way entirely—with his motorcycle named Prudence and his ponytail that hung past his shoulders.
“What does he want?” Olivia asked.
The man himself stepped up. “How about a PBR?”
Olivia quirked her eyebrows. “Really? You like PBR?”
“Sure. It’s an honest man’s beer. Cheap and filling.”
“Hey, Rocky. What’s the plan on that ride tomorrow?” Sam asked.
“It’s a charity run for the children’s hospitals. All you have to do is pay ten dollars and donate a stuffed animal. We’ll ride forty miles from one to the other and donate half the money and toys at one end and the other at the end. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids pick out a companion to help them along in their treatment.”
“I’ll be there.” Sam tapped his fingers on the bar and address Olivia. “Want to ride along with me? There’s room on my trike.”
“I can’t. Need to keep this place running.”
“The man everyone called Rocky plunked his money onto the counter and grabbed the beer she’d placed in front of him. “As always, Ollie of Ollie’s Bar doesn’t want to support the community. I’m shocked you even asked her, Sam.”
Knowing he was riling her up on purpose didn’t make it sit any better with Olivia. She had always supported charities. Hell, she’d been on committees since she was in junior high school but she couldn’t afford to become high profile yet. Not until that thirtieth birthday. “I’ll have you know I support this community. I merely don’t choose to do it publically and ostentatiously.”
“So riding a motorcycle to a children’s hospital is ostentatious now?” Rocky took a long swallow from the Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Olivia wiped the beer she’d spilled on the counter when she’d opened the pop-top on the PBR. “When you make a big production of it, it is. Being subtle isn’t a crime, you know.” ’’
“Never said it was, lady. You’re too prickly for my taste.” Rocky set his can down and tossed an arm over Sam’s shoulder. “I hear you got a new bike. Let’s go check it out.”
“Yeah. It’s a sweet ride. Come on over, and I’ll show you.” Sam turned back to Olivia. “If you change your mind, let me know. Be glad to have you come along.”
“She won’t change her mind. And besides, even if she did, she can’t find a stuffed toy before tomorrow morning.” Rocky walked away and out the door, followed by Sam.
As soon as they were gone, Sharon said, “I think he likes you.”
“Who? Sam? No way. He’s sweet on Russell.”
“No. Not Sam. Rocky.”
“Uh, no. Did you not hear how he talked to me? How he always talks to me?” Olivia could scarcely believe Sharon’s words. Graham Rockford had no use for her. Sharon was delusional for thinking so.
And Olivia didn’t care for him either. Sure, the man was handsome and rugged, even with the scar that slashed across his cheek. His scruffy beard was sexy, even though it had a gap where the scar flashed through, but he wasn’t someone who she could find happiness with. Her life was only on hold for now. When she returned to New York, much would be expected of her, and she would have to choose someone of her own set.
The thought made her want to wail and gnash her teeth as the song she hated and the man who broke her heart flashed through her mind.
Yeah, he was of her set, but he’d ripped her heart out and left her with the memory of a stupid country song that should be banned from the world. Before it hurt someone else.
As soon as Rocky got to the parking lot, he let out the breath he’d been holding since the moment Ollie spoke to him.
Why did he allow her to affect him so? She was the owner of a dive bar and should be beneath his notice, but there was some quality about her that he couldn’t put his finger on. The lady wasn’t who she appeared to be, and it bothered him.
His instincts, long honed in military intelligence, screamed at him that the woman was hiding something. He couldn’t let it alone. The mystery of her nagged at him and begged to be solved.
For a long time after he mustered out, he couldn’t focus. He didn’t want to leave the service, but his injuries and his blown cover required him to do so. ’He’d fallen into a deep depression.
Once he got involved at the children’s hospital, he’d started to pull out of his funk. And now there was this woman to figure out. Was she a criminal on the run?
Once in a while, when she spoke, she enunciated in a clipped tone. One he’d heard many times with wealthy people, and truth be known, some of his own family. He’d been told by Buzz that she paid cash for the bar, so she had money from somewhere, but, for all he knew, she could’ve robbed a bank or maybe seduced an elderly man and fleeced him.
She was pretty enough to do that. Blonde, leggy, and with green eyes that shot sparks when she was angry. Which she seemed to be every time he got near her.
Did she sense he was onto her not being who she pretended to be? Was that why she kept him at a distance like she didn’t do with anyone else?
Sam led him across the gravel parking lot to his house behind the bar. “What’s on your mind? You’ve been really quiet since we left the bar.”
“I was thinking about the logistics for tomorrow. Sorry.”
Sam laughed. “No worries. It’s not like I expected us to have an in-depth conversation in the parking lot.”
“I don’t think I’ve had what you might call an in-depth conversation in years.” Rocky knew exactly when he’d had the last long conversation in his life. When he’d last shared a deep part of himself. But he didn’t like to think about that time. With effort, he buried it in the recesses of his psyche.
“Isn’t that usually the way with us guys?”
“I’ve heard that from many a man’s wife.” Rocky snickered. “The fairer sex seems to always want us to share our feelings, don’t they?”
“You’re right. Thank God I’m not planning on acquiring one of those.”
“One of those?” Rocky grinned.
“Yeah. No wife for me.”
“Me either, my friend. I’m too much of a mess to want to have one of those. God knows, she’d want to fix me, and I’m afraid I can’t be repaired.”
“Can I tell you how many women have tried to reform me? That think I’d like women if they could only get their hands on me?”
Rocky laughed. “I can only imagine.”
Sam was what women would call good-looking and the fact that he worked out all the time didn’t hurt either. Rocky had seen every new gal who came into the bar size his friend up as if checking to see where she would fit.
“Like what I have is a disease they can cure with a pair of boobs.” Sam gestured as if he’d grown a pair on his chest. “But come on, enough with the problems of women who want us. Check out my new trike.” He pulled up the door on his garage, and the two men entered the building.
Rocky stepped over to a 1966 GTO parked in the back. “What is that sweet ride there? Have you been holding out on me?”
“Oh, that’s Ollie’s. She’s been tinkering with it for a while.”
“Ollie? Her? She likes old cars?”
“Seems so.” Sam shrugged. “She had that thing towed here about six months ago and has spent hours on it. Doesn’t have a place to work on it at her house, so I let her keep it here.”
“That lady is full of surprises, isn’t she?”
“Have you never seen her Stillson wrench?”
“I’ve seen it.” Rocky smiled. “She threatened to use it on me more than once.”
“You’re one of those kind, huh?”
“Yep. That’s me. A trouble-maker.” Rocky ran his hand along the side of the black GTO. “I’d like to take a spin in that.”
“Fat chance. Especially now that I know she’s reserved a side of the Stillson for you.”
“I know. No chance at all.” ’”Rocky cast a longing glance at the car then turned to check out Sam’s motorcycle. “But let’s see your bike.”
It was a great ride. Red and black and shiny with newness.
“That’s a big hoss. Do you know how to handle something with that much power?”
“You want the truth?” Sam asked.
“I’m scared to death of this thing.”
Rocky shook his head. This was one fine ride, and the man next to him didn’t seem like a biker. It was a puzzle why he’d purchase that much power for his first cycle. “Then why buy it?”
“I wanted to be part of the group so I went to the dealer and they talked me into this.”
“Have you ever even been on one?”
Sam smiled ruefully. “Sure. Of course. I had to take that class to get the license.”
“Oh Lord, man. We’ve got to get you in some practice if you’re coming on the ride tomorrow. Tell you what, let me lend you one of my smaller bikes until you get the hang of it. We sure don’t want to be visiting you in the hospital. Can you come out to my ranch and let me set you up?”
“As soon as I drive Tex home. I promised Ollie I’d get him home safely and I probably better go see to that now.”
“Sounds good. Once you drop him off, come on over. I’m heading that way.”
They left the garage. As they walked toward the front of the bar, Rocky said, “Did you just decide you wanted to start riding or was there another reason you want to be part of the group?”
Sam ducked his head as if embarrassed. “Another reason.”
“Want to talk about it?” Rocky thought he knew what the other man’s motive was and didn’t want to embarrass him but he was genuinely curious why Sam would buy such a noticeable bike. Most men did that to attract someone who might already ride. Tempt them, so to speak.
“Not really but I believe Russell is part of the group, right?”
“Ah, I thought it might be something like that,” Rocky said.
“And you’re not offended?”
“Of course not. To each his own, man, to each his own. I’m all about finding what you need where you need it.”
“I’ll see you at your place in a little while? I don’t want to embarrass myself tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there. Come on when you’re ready.”
They arrived at the front of the bar, the gravel parking lot crunched under their feet. “Are you coming in?”
“Nope. I think the proprietor has seen me enough for today. I don’t know why the lady doesn’t seem to like me.”
“It is odd now that you mention it.” Sam turned to the door. “She’s usually the first to welcome people, but you do seem to set her off.”
“That’s why it’s best I go on home now.” Rocky stepped over to his bike. “Prudence and I will see you later.” He started the engine and roared off almost before Sam could get through the door.
As he rode on toward his ranch, their last words ran through Rocky’s head. If others were noticing the way Ollie treated him, it wasn’t something only in his mind, after all. She really was trying to keep him at a distance, and all that did was pique his curiosity even more.
What was the lady hiding? And what kind of name was Ollie for a woman anyway?
© 2017 by Sherry Fowler Chancellor