Charming the Outback by Leesa Bow
Published by: Destiny Romance
Publication date: September 2nd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
When jaded city girl Maddy McIntyre packs up and leaves Adelaide for a new job in the country, it’s not only a chance at a fresh start. Six months ago, the first guy she’d ever loved shattered her heart before moving home to Broken Hill. Deep down inside, Maddy is hoping that living in the same town will give her an opportunity to prove to Luke that she’s one temptation he can’t resist.
But when she arrives in Broken Hill, Luke White is not the same guy she knew in the city. And it soon seems very clear that he doesn’t want her there. Although Maddy settles in quickly, excelling at work and partying with her new friends, she can’t understand why Luke is remaining so distant. Particularly when all her instincts are telling her that they’re meant to be together – and that he feels the same burning attraction.
As Maddy learns more about Luke’s family and background, she begins to understand that his mixed messages are caused by balancing what’s expected of him with what he really wants. Maddy gave Luke her heart long ago and, despite their differences, she knows she’ll only ever be happy with her hot country boy. But how can she convince him that she’s the risk he needs to take?
Facebook party: The author is having a Facebook Release party on Friday 5th September 4.45pm PDT and everyone is invited. There will be 20 authors giving away books as prizes. here’s the link if anyone wants to attend:
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‘It’s like something out of Wolf Creek.‘ Aubree’s brow furrowed as she gazed at the long, straight road ahead.
My fingers tightened around the steering wheel as I squinted through the haze reflecting off the sizzling bitumen. ‘Sure is,’ I mumbled. ‘Where the hell are we?’ Saltbush dotted the landscape on either side of the road, and in the distance three rocky pinnacles broke through the flat, barren horizon. I swallowed, hoping we weren’t lost.
Aubree dropped her iPhone into her bag. ‘No internet.’ She pulled a map from the glove box and unfolded it. ‘Have we passed through Yunta yet?’
‘Yeah, you blinked,’ I said and laughed. ‘You dozed off for a few minutes.’
Her finger trailed along the paper. ‘Okay. So we should make it to Broken Hill in about an hour. Do you have another map of the town so I can work out how to get to your new home?’
New home. My stomach rolled with excitement and nerves, hearing her say the words. Two months ago I signed a teaching contract, believing it to be an opportunity to prove myself, take responsibility for my future, even if it was 500 kilometres from home.
‘Nope, don’t need one. The real estate agent said to follow the road into town, pass the cemetery, turn right before the school, travel a kilometre down the road and turn left into Cornish Street.’
Aubree fetched her phone out of her bag for the zillionth time. ‘I’ve got nothing. No mobile coverage, not even one bar. We’re all alone out here.’
‘Look.’ I pointed to something red at the roadside ahead.
‘Oh God,’ she said. ‘Please don’t tell me it’s another kangaroo carcass. I feel sick thinking that a joey could be alive inside.’ She turned her head to the window. ‘Wait. Stop the car.’
‘They’re only wildflowers. What’s your problem?’ I veered to the left and slowed to a safe speed on loose gravel.
‘I’ve read about these wildflowers. The Sturt Desert Pea,’ she said excitedly. ‘They’re exquisite.’ Aubree jumped out of the car and walked to the plant growing alongside the gravel. She kneeled in a delicate manner so as not to dirty her lemon maxidress.
I opened my door and followed. I gasped when she started picking handfuls of the red and black flower. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Collecting some for your house.’
I flicked flies from my face before saying, ‘It doesn’t feel right. I mean, are you allowed?’ We both jumped when a truck roared past on the opposite side of the road and sounded the horn. ‘See?‘ I said.
Aubree rolled her eyes. ‘You’re wearing tiny denim shorts, Mads. I think he’s honking at you.’
I ignored her comment. My shoulders burned under the midday sun, introducing me to the extreme weather of outback Australia. Flies hammered my face and had formed a polka-dot pattern on Aubree’s back. Gross.
Before climbing back into the car we flapped our arms as though we were about to take flight, ensuring no flies snuck inside. I turned the air con to max and glanced at Aubree, fiddling with the flowers.
Oh shit. She wasn’t wearing her ring. I clearly remembered Hunter – my cousin and superstar football player – telling her in no uncertain terms that she was to wear the pink diamond ring, a twenty-first birthday gift, on her wedding finger while accompanying me for the weekend. I cleared my throat.
‘Where’s your ring?’
Aubree pulled her hair-tie out of her long hair before looping it around the flower stems. ‘Oh, I left it home in case I lost it.’
‘What? You know Hunter will be pissed.’
‘I hid it so he’ll never find out,’ she said, and waved her hand in a nonchalant manner.
I groaned. ‘You want to hope he doesn’t. The last thing I need is Hunter showing up and ruining everything for me.’ I gave her a look before turning my eyes back to the road.
‘First of all, I don’t need a ring to protect me from guys wanting to talk with me. And second, I’m not sure how he’d ruin things for you. Unless . . .’ I could feel her eyes on me, scrutinising. ‘Be honest, does your decision to move to Broken Hill have anything to do with Luke?’
I glanced at her. ‘No, why would it?’
‘Because you never really got over him. And now you’re taking up this teaching position – and I get that it’s a great opportunity – but it is in the same town he moved back to six months ago.’
My heartbeat stuttered. ‘It has nothing to do with Luke,’ I said, louder than necessary. ‘I was offered three teaching contracts: two were based in Adelaide working three days a week, and both an hour from my home. I needed full-time work and the only full-time contract was in the country. Plus there’s isolation bonuses, so I thought if I stayed a couple of years, I’d return to Adelaide with savings.’
‘So you don’t ever think about him?’
‘I didn’t say I don’t think about him but he’s not the reason—’
‘I knew it.’ She folded her arms across her chest. ‘He might not be the reason but he’s the incentive.’
‘Don’t read into it, Aubs. I only think about the things he used to say, that’s all.’
‘Aw, that’s sweet.’
‘You’re a drama queen,’ I quipped in a deep voice, mimicking Luke. ‘Can’t you go anywhere without being the centre of attention?’ I shook my head. ‘When he said it, it didn’t sound so sweet.’
‘He really said that?’
I nodded and pointed to the side of the road. ‘Four,’ I said, totalling the number of dead kangaroos I’d seen on the side of the road.
Aubree groaned. ‘Ew.’
We sat quietly for a few minutes before she broke the silence. ‘You know, you never told me the real reason why you two split. I thought after ten or so months you were both happy.’
It pained me to reveal the details of our breakup even to my best friend. Irreconcilable differences, isn’t that the term used? Except, in my mind, we were compatible and happy. It was Luke who – out of the blue – announced he no longer wanted to be part of a relationship, since he was returning home. He didn’t see the point. Hell of a way to make me feel special! I coughed.
‘I was happy, but Luke . . . Before he left he’d said that he’d found work back home as a geologist and was also helping out his uncle with the family business. He emphasised that he didn’t believe in long-distance relationships, plus he’d be too busy to worry about a girl.’
‘Yep. I was stupid enough to even beg him to give us a chance.’ I sighed, remembering the empty look on his face. ‘He didn’t hesitate, just said no.’
‘So I’m actually hoping not to see him, as I’m still embarrassed about the whole thing.’ Truth was, I hadn’t stopped thinking about Luke and deep down hoped to run into him – although not until I was settled, so he could see how well I’m doing.
‘Oh God,’ Aubree murmured. ‘It’s not one of those look-at-what-you-could’ve-had plans is it? Where you go to extreme lengths to prove yourself?’
‘Of course not. Why would you think that?’ I cringed when Aubree said it out loud.
‘Because you and Hunter are exactly alike,’ she admonished. She reached out and touched my hand. ‘I love you both but . . . just be careful. No one knows you here.’
‘That’s my point,’ I said quickly. ‘It’s a perfect scenario. I’m sick of being known as Hunter’s cousin and getting attention for all the wrong reasons. I can actually meet new friends with a clean slate. It’s like having a new identity. Luke thought I was an attention seeker and it bugged me. So, the last thing I want is Hunter showing up and causing a circus. And I hope there is no need for him to come here looking for you. So he better not find that ring.’
My gaze remained fixed on the road, although I could feel Aubree staring at me.
‘I’m really proud of you and don’t worry about Hunter, the ring is safe. Besides, he’ll have his hands full looking after Honey. She’s been naughty lately, ripping up his football socks and burying them in the backyard.’
I laughed, and at the same time strained my eyes to the distance. ‘Look.’
Aubree turned to the road and we both stared in silence. The sun reflected off rooftops rising out of the red dirt in the middle of bloody nowhere.
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Leesa Bow grew up in Broken Hill and later worked as a nurse at the local hospital before moving to Adelaide in her early twenties. Leesa began writing seriously when her second daughter became sick with cancer. Initially writing was therapeutic, but when her daughter got the all clear, she decided to continue writing seriously.
On weekends Leesa enjoys reading, watching basketball and football, having beach days with the family, catching up with girlfriends, and daydreaming about strong heroines for her next book.
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