Will Holly uncover the brooding cattleman's secret?


Nanny Holly O'Mara has formed a close bond with her late cousin's little twins. When their estranged father, rough, rugged Australian cattleman Gray Kidman arrives to take them home to the outback, Holly senses that he is out of his depth.


Holly soon falls for mysterious Gray. Seeing him light up his children's world makes her spirits leap and even begins to heal her own emotional bruises. Yet something is making Gray push her away... With her help, will he find the courage to love again?



       Strong, Silent...

       and Single!    











Mills and Boon Sweet Aust/NZ


Mills and Boon Cherish UK





- NORTH AMERICA April 2011 -



- UNITED KINGDOM  May 2011 -



























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                       Chapter One

They were asleep.

At last.

Holly held her breath as she closed the story book, then backed out of the children’s room with the stealth of a special ops soldier.

The caution was necessary. Really. These kids could sleep soundly through the familiar blast of car horns and sirens from the busy New York street below, but the tiniest squeak from within the apartment could rouse them to instant, panicking wakefulness.

This evening, to Holly’s relief, neither child stirred. They lay perfectly still in their matching bunk beds. In striped pyjamas, one dark head and one fair, they clutched their favourite fluffy toys – a kangaroo for Josh, a koala for Anna – and their eyes remained blessedly closed. 

Holly reached the doorway without a mishap, and quickly flicked the light switch, plunging the room into darkness. For once there were no responding squawks or protests. Just sweet, blissful silence.

She tiptoed down the hall… and the silence continued.

Fannnntastic. With a little luck, tonight would be a good night. No wet beds. No nightmares. In the past month there’d only been a handful of good nights. But before Holly could even think about letting out a sigh of relief, her cell phone rang.


With the speed of a baseball short stop, she dived across the room, snatched the phone from the coffee table and darted into her bedroom, closing the door quickly but softly behind her.

The phone’s screen identified the caller. Her boyfriend, Brandon. Wonderful.

‘Hi, Brand,’ she whispered.

No squeaks emanated from the bedroom down the hall and she sank gratefully onto the bed.



‘Why are you whispering?’

‘I’ve just got the twins to sleep.’

‘Oh, right.’ Brandon gave an audible sigh. ‘How are they coping this week?’

‘A little better.’

‘That’s great.’

Great wasn’t quite the word Holly would have chosen to describe the small improvement in the children’s progress, but of course she wouldn’t reproach Brandon. He’d given her fabulous support during the funeral and its aftermath.

‘I got your message,’ he said.

‘Right. Thanks for calling back.’ Holly took a moment to relax into the pillows and she deliberately lightened her tone. ‘So, what do you think? Can you wangle a leave pass for this weekend?’

Holly crossed her fingers as she waited for his answer. Please come, Brand. I need you.

Brandon’s family owned a dairy farm in Vermont and his dad’s health wasn’t the best, so the responsibility of running the enterprise had fallen squarely on Brandon’s shoulders.

So, yes – it was asking a lot to expect him to get away to New York again so soon. Last month, after Holly’s cousin Chelsea’s sudden and tragic death, he’d taken almost a whole week off to be with her and to help with the children.

That was pretty amazing, actually. Holly had been touched and surprised. Since she’d moved away from Vermont to study in New York, she’d come to accept that if she wanted to see her boyfriend it was up to her to make the effort. She’d grown up on a dairy farm, too, so she understood the demands, and she’d been prepared to be the one who did all the travelling. Even so, she’d only been able to see Brandon a handful of times in this past year.

If he came this weekend, she would make sure they had time alone together. She and Brandon had been an item since high school, almost six years. Very soon now, she would be finished with her studies, Anna and Josh would be settled in Australia with their father, and she was looking forward to going home to Vermont to settle down with Brand.

She could so easily picture their lives together – Brandon with his dairy herd, while she worked in the local school, the two of them balancing their day jobs with their life at home, and eventually, with a family of their own – copper haired children like their dad.

Holly was very happy with that picture, and thinking about her boyfriend always made her feel cosy and safe.

Admittedly, most girls might not place cosiness and safety high on their wish-list when it came to boyfriends or future husbands, but Holly wasn’t looking for a guy who spelled excitement and passion. Her cousin Chelsea, the twins’ mother, had taken that risk and the result had been divorce and heartbreak.

‘I don’t know if I can get away this weekend,’ Brandon said suddenly.

Holly suppressed a sigh. ‘I do understand, honey, but –’

‘Do you?’ His voice bristled with unexpected impatience. ‘Because I don’t understand why you’re complicating this, Holly. The children’s father is on his way at last, so why do you need me? Why do you need my help if he’s going to be there too?’

‘I wanted your opinion. I have to hand the children over to him.’

‘Of course you do. He’s their father.’

‘Yes –’ Holly winced. ‘But I thought another man could sense if Gray’s – you know – if he’s OK.’ After all, Chelsea had run away from this Australian cattleman, although admittedly, her cousin had never said a bad word against her ex.

‘Holly, even if I didn’t like the man, there’s nothing I could do about it.’

‘I guess –’ She suppressed a sigh. Thing was, she needed to be calm and composed when she talked with Gray about his children, and she would have liked a little back up from Brandon. She needed to explain to Gray about Anna and Josh’s schooling needs, their eating habits, their fears…

The twins had been at home on the day Chelsea had collapsed, and it was six year old Josh who’d courageously dialled 911. They hadn’t only lost their mommy; they’d suffered a terrible trauma. Anna’s nightmares were truly terrifying.

Holly needed to explain all this to their estranged father, but it would be so much easier if her steady and reliable boyfriend was there as well. As a buffer. An anchor. A safety net.

‘Actually, Holly, I can’t come this weekend.’

The sudden nervousness in Brandon’s voice penetrated the whirl of Holly’s thoughts.

Why was he nervous? Brandon was never nervous. Was something wrong?

‘There’s – um – there’s something I should tell you,’ he said.

‘What is it?’

‘It’s really hard to explain. I – I don’t know how to say this, but –’

Holly’s insides froze and she was gripped by a terrible deer-in-the-headlights fear.

Brandon cleared his throat.

She forced herself to ask, ‘Brandon, what’s the matter?’

‘I didn’t want to tell you before – because of Chelsea and everything –’

‘Tell me what?’ she almost screamed. He was scaring her.

Brandon cleared his throat again.

Holly gripped the phone tighter, squeezed her eyes to hold back threatening tears.

Was Brandon trying to break up with her?





From “Rancher's Twins: Mom Needed"
By: Barbara Hannay
Mills and Boon Romance
April 2011

ISBN: 978-0-263-22012-4
Copyright: © Barbara Hannay
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com






United Kingdom


North America





From Romantic Times...

RANCHER’S TWINS: MOM NEEDED (4) This heart-warming tale is filled with memorable characters grappling with an emotional situation. Hannay handles the transition from mourning to romance gracefully.













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