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Vegetarian Noelle Lassiter, a recent college graduate from Chicago, journals about the struggles of her new life in Wyoming, where beef reigns supreme. Attracted to cowboy Jesse Blackstone, their potential relationship is clouded by his previous attachment to the beautiful Laurel.
Noelle Lassiter, an only child, grows up in Chicago, Illinois, to be a lovely, gracious, and talented young woman. Just weeks before her college graduation, her parents perish in an automobile accident. Noelle turns to boyfriend Mike Reynolds for emotional support. However, the self-absorbed young man is too busy with his own studies and partying to be there for her.
Lonely and in agony, she decides to sell the family home and start a new life in another part of the country. Without considering her vegetarian lifestyle, Noelle buys the 200-acre Paradise Ranch in the cattle country of Wyoming.
Noelle makes the 1300-mile move. Thirsty after the trip, she opens the refrigerator to find sodas and food, along with a welcoming note which has been left for her by neighbor Jesse Blackstone, owner of the adjacent 200,000-acre Bar Three Ranch.
When Noelle queries the realtor, Linda, on how this neighbor was able to enter the locked house, she receives a mysterious explanation about Jesse and the beautiful Laurel, former owner of Paradise.
Over the next weeks, Noel meets town people and immediately falls in love with their friendly and open personalities. To everyone in town, she is labeled "The College Girl."
Among her new friends is Pete, an old-timer and former bull rider in the rodeos, who now owns the General Store in town and rides a wheelchair named Samson. He makes up his mind Noelle will marry a rancher and, therefore, it is up to himself, as an experienced cowboy, to train her about life in Wyoming, including cattle drives and rodeos.
Dee, describing herself as once on the stage in Cheyenne, is the town librarian and always decked out in a flamboyant style that includes elaborate jewelry and rhinestone-studded western clothes and hats.
Jackie Jackson, who works in her dad's western wear store, helps Noelle add typical western gear to her wardrobe while explaining the purpose of each article.
At home on a warm day, Noelle decides to relax by the pond. She falls asleep and wakes up to the sound of a man's voice. A quick look upward reveals the handsome Jesse Blackstone towering over her. Noel is immediately attracted to the tall stranger and he seems friendly to her, until she explains she is a vegetarian. His demeanor changes and he abruptly leaves.
Coming months find Noelle's mind troubled as she desires to spend more time with Jesse but, each time they're together, the memory of Laurel seems to cast a dark cloud over them. Even more upsetting for Noelle is hearing her new friends say she and Jesse are meant for each other.
In her garage at Paradise, Noelle notices something had fallen behind the washing machine. She finds a black lace nightie and note from J.B. to Laurel and is tortured by the thought of the handsome cowboy's love for the mysterious woman.
One night, returning home from book club at the library, Noelle discovers an intruder has been in her house and has left dead flowers and a threatening note. When she seeks an explanation, it appears each of her friends is hiding something from her.
Frustrated, Noelle is vulnerable when she receives an email from Mike asking if he can visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. She agrees.
Will the relationship with her former boyfriend become rekindled? If so, will she follow Mike back to Chicago and become his bride?
When the stalker, an alleged murderer, kidnaps Noelle, will anyone come to her rescue?
Chapter 1 - Roped And Tied On a Sunny Day in June
I know he won't hurt me. One can see gentleness in his eyes. But, occasionally, a glance into the deep blue orbs shows a hint of something more powerful, as though all decisions are his to make and he commands how life - and my future - will be.
Right now, I'm lying on his bed at the Bar Three ranch, rope tying my wrists and ankles to the four posters. I'm fully clothed, except for boots.
The bathroom door opens and Jesse, hair wet, barefoot, and dressed in pressed jeans, walks to the bed and sits down. I had not seen his hairy chest before and find myself staring and feeling a demanding desire.
I see the bandages on him and then look into his eyes. I start to say, "Any man with a six-pack and ripped body like that has no business wearing shirts!" However, I refuse to give him that satisfaction and tighten my lips.
He does look yummy and I wish my hands were free so I could throw my arms around his neck and pull myself to kiss him. Instead, I resent his taking such control of me and I do the bravado bit.
"You certainly didn't do the smart thing. You could have died!"
He doesn't answer, just stares coldly at me.
I dislike his arrogance and order, "Jesse Blackstone, you jerk, you untie me right this minute."
He stops me from speaking another word by leaning over and kissing me.