Elsa's Stand by Cathryn Hein

Elsa’s Stand

When the sudden death of his mother forces outback opal miner Jack Hargreaves home to Wirralong, his plan is simple: mourn his mother, sort out the family farm, and get the hell out of the town that has always hated him. But Elsa O’Donoghue, the beautiful hairdresser with a big heart and even brighter smile, has other plans.

From the moment Jack strides into her salon and helps himself to her clippers, Elsa is in lust. He might be a poster boy for the strong silent type, but she senses there’s a good man behind that stoic facade. With her business taking off, Elsa is finally ready for a relationship and Jack is just her kind of man. Not to mention, she’s never said no to a challenge.

Worried their association will harm Elsa’s business, Jack tries to avoid her, but Elsa is irresistible. Soon, she has him believing and hoping for a future with her in Wirralong, but another family tragedy shatters Jack’s fragile dream. Jack knows he must leave Elsa to protect her, no matter the cost to himself.

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“Elsa’s Stand is an absolutely delightful outback romance, and in a fascinating twist, I’m incredibly well qualified to review some of the ‘technical’ aspects of the plot… it just so happens that I’m a member of a lapidary club, with experience of both opal and sapphire hunting myself. If Cathryn Hein hasn’t been fossicking, she’s definitely consulted thoroughly with someone who has. She uses all the right terminology and really gets the mindset of the lone miner chasing that elusive big strike.”

– Goodreads review

“Elsa’s Stand is a beautiful love story. Both Elsa and Jack are very special. They’ve got big hearts and are sweet and generous. Their love is truly wonderful. They’re soul mates and it’s clear they belong with each other. I love it when a connection between two main characters runs so deep and really enjoyed reading about these terrific main characters.”

– Amazon review

Excerpt – Elsa’s Stand

Elsa has just treated Jack to one of her special shaves …

‘There,’ she said, adjusting the chair upright and unfastening the cloak. ‘You’re all done.’

Jack felt his jaw, surprised by its smoothness. He regarded the mirror and half-snorted at the man staring back at him. He looked tidy. Almost decent.

‘Like I said, a better version of you.’

‘Not so sure about that.’ He lifted himself up and rubbed his jaw again. Smooth as a baby’s bum. Amazing.

‘So,’ said Elsa, walking towards the counter with her yellow dress swinging, ‘did you enjoy it?’

He did. A lot. Too much.

‘Yeah.’

‘Good.’ She walked backwards for a moment, dazzling a smile at him, before whirling around again.

Christ on a bicycle, it was like being hit by a lighthouse beam.

Instead of stopping at the counter, she headed for the shop front. Jack halted, wallet ready in his hand, and stared at her but Elsa opened the door and tilted her head.

He glanced at the till and back at Elsa. ‘How much?’

‘Nothing.’

Jack tapped his wallet against his fist, and stared again at the till, unsure what to make of this development.

‘Jack, you left a hundred dollars on the counter last time. Enough to cover four haircuts. I owe you.’

‘I used your equipment, left a mess. You don’t owe me anything.’

‘Even taking that into account it was too much.’

He shook his head. Leaving without paying didn’t seem right. He opened his wallet, determined to give her something.

‘Don’t.’ Suddenly she was there, her hand curling over his. ‘I mean it.’

‘Next time then.’

Her voice was as teasing as her smile, her hand warm and soft on his. ‘Just as long as there is a next time.’

Jack opened his mouth to tell her ‘sure,’ when an elderly man bustled in.

His wrinkly mouth sank inward as he looked Jack up and down, then his gaze narrowed as he noticed Elsa’s hand on Jack’s. Jack knew that look. The disapproval. The I-bet-you’re-just-like-your-father suspicion.

‘All good there, young Elsa?’

Jack stepped aside, breaking Elsa’s touch, and shoved his wallet in his back pocket, all good feeling evaporated. Christ, he hated Wirralong.

Elsa frowned. ‘I’m fine, Al. Why wouldn’t I be?’

Jack didn’t stick around to hear the answer. He knew exactly what it’d be.

Because Jack Hargreaves is bad news.

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