Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally host excellent author buddies.
First up, THANK YOU! The Outback Brides books are rocketing up the charts and it’s all thanks to you lovelies supporting them. The reviews for the opening two releases – Maggie’s Run and Belle’s Secret – have been amazing too. There’s a whole lot of love out there for our Wirralong girls. Long may it continue!
But back to the real reason we’re here: entertain and tempt you with a book teaser.
As you can guess, Teaser Tuesday is on an Outback Bride roll at the moment. With four books in the series, that’s a month’s worth of bridely goodness. Last week we had Kelly Hunter teasing us with Maggie’s Run. This week it’s Victoria Purman’s turn with Belle’s Secret.
I finished Belle’s Secret over the weekend and it was wonderful, and I know you’re going to think so too. Here’s Victoria to talk more about her Outback Bride.
Me! Buckets! Which, when you come to think of it, is probably not a huge surprise for a romance writer. But come on – who doesn’t love a love story that ends with a wedding, in which two people pledge themselves to each other, to promise to stand by each through thick and thin?
That sentiment was the inspiration behind the Outback Brides series. Put four romance authors together, create a town – Wirralong, population 5,790 and counting – and give them the licence for their imaginations to run riot. And, oh boy, did we have so much fun.
In the first book – Maggie’s Run – author Kelly Hunter introduces us to Wirralong and her heroine, Maggie’s Wirra Station, which she turns into a high-end wedding venue, only after finding her happy ever after with the hunky Max.
In my book, Belle’s Secret, Isabella Martenson has become Wirra Station’s resident marriage celebrant. Funny thing is, she believes in weddings for everyone else, just not for herself.
And why? You’ll have to read it to find out – and to discover what Belle’s secret really is. Here’s a sneak peek!
It was suddenly quiet.
Isabella Martenson put her leather folder on the table and slipped out a large envelope. She carefully slid the marriage certificate inside, sealed it for safekeeping, then tucked it back inside her folder. She looked around Maggie’s property with a warm sense of satisfaction.
She’d taken a huge leap of faith when she’d moved to Wirra Station almost twelve months before. She’d had a thriving business in Melbourne, was busy Saturdays and Sundays all year round, and had good friends she loved spending time with. Of course, she’d missed Maggie when she’d inherited the property and left Melbourne, but her own life was busy. She’d had chances to settle down. She met lots of men. So many she’d lost track.
They were inevitably fiancés. Fathers of the bride. Fathers of the groom. Brothers. Creepy uncles. Nervous groomsmen. Bored husbands. Extremely annoying sixteen-year-old boys who thought it was fun to flirt incompetently with the “old lady” conducting the wedding ceremony.
Truth was, Isabella hadn’t met a decent prospect in a while. And truthfully? She liked it that way. Of course she believed in marriage and happy ever afters. For other people, you understand. Not for herself. Absolutely, definitely not for herself. Guaranteed happy ever afters only happened in books and movies, right? She knew that happy ever afters had a bad habit of turning into miserable ever afters. Her own childhood had taught her that firsthand. No matter how much she’d wished for it, her parents had proved to her that happy ever afters only last until someone is bored or angry or unfaithful.
To do her job well, she let herself believe that bitterness and acrimony didn’t exist.
No, marriage wasn’t for her. She was perfectly content with her single life. It was precisely that single life that had given her the freedom to pack up her Melbourne life and her business almost twelve months before and move to Wirra Station.
And on days like this, when she was able to breathe the country air instead of city fumes, look around at the gums and the big sky, and sniff eucalypts, freshly mown grass and flowers in the garden beds in front of the cottage, and then drive the two minutes across the property to her own grace-and-favour cottage, she decided the risk had been worth it.
Isabella gathered together all the items on the table and took out a basket from underneath, loading it up. Her work for the day was done. She’d had another wedding that morning—two second-chancers who’d met playing bingo in the local pub—and she was now free for the rest of the day and the evening. Amanda and Simon had invited her to stay for the reception, but she always politely declined those invitations. She didn’t want to mix work and play, and marrying people was definitely work. She really needed a coffee. Perhaps two. And then a night on the sofa with a good movie. Perhaps she was due for another screening of Notting Hill. Perfect.
Isabella looked up. A man was walking across the lawn to her, strides long on the soft grass, a glass of white wine in his hand. All the guests had moved off to the marquee for drinks. Had he dropped his phone or wallet or something?
Isabella held a hand above her eyes to block out the afternoon sun flashing bright in her face. She couldn’t quite make out the man’s features. He had a tall silhouette. “If you’re looking for a wedding guest, I’m afraid they’ve all moved over to the marquee.”
“I’m looking for someone.” Broad-shouldered, taller the closer he got, he wore a stylish navy suit with a crisp white shirt and a paisley tie. His dark hair was swept back from his forehead in a thick wave. His eyes were hidden behind sunglasses. Isabella heard an American accent and decided he must be one of the wedding guests from the groom’s side. There was something about his voice that prickled the hair at the back of her neck.
“Is there something I can help you with?” she asked politely.
“Mrs Harrison?” His voice was deep and it carried in the distance between them, and it reverberated in her chest like the throb of techno music.
“I’m sorry,” Isabella managed, clutching her folder to her chest. “I’m not sure of the names of all the wedding guests. You might want to go and check the tables list at The Woolshed.”
Isabella was on the verandah and when he reached her, they were at eye level. He lifted his sunglasses from his face. His dark eyes flashed.
She swallowed hard and her mouth was all of a sudden filled with cotton balls. Oh no.
“I think I’ve found who I’m looking for.” He chuckled but there was an edge to it, a mean edge. “Mrs Harrison. As I live and breathe.”
A shiver scratched at the base of Isabella’s neck. Sweat beaded on her top lip even though she suddenly felt cold. Something clenched at her insides and she swallowed a wave of nausea.
“What did you say your name was again?” she stammered, trying to buy a few seconds to think, to stop herself from going into shock.
“You mean you’ve forgotten already? It’s Harry. Harry Harrison.”
Oh no. Oh please God no.
A year ago. This man. Her biggest mistake.
A year ago, she’d run all the way from Las Vegas with more regrets than she could stomach.
And the cause of that regret was now right here at Wirra Station.
This was one hell of a gotcha moment.
He he. Gotcha indeed!
Find out how Isabella wriggles out of this mess with your very own copy of Belle’s Secret. Buy now in print or ebook from:
Personally signed print books are also available for direct purchase from Victoria. For details, contact Victoria via the contact page on her website.