The Country Girl
Is his promise worth more than their love?
After landing a major cookbook deal, star food blogger Tash Ranger swaps city life for the family farm. But Tash’s homecoming is bittersweet, for now she can no longer avoid seeing her best friend Maddy, who was severely injured in a riding accident and unable to communicate. No one knows that Maddy and Tash had a deep falling out and with every visit Tash must pretend to be the friend everyone believes her to be.
Patrick Lawson, Maddy’s fiancé, battles despair and hope daily as Maddy lies imprisoned in her body, gradually losing his faith in her recovery. When Tash returns to Castlereagh Road with her joy and boundless appetite for life, he realises finally what his loved ones have been trying to tell him for months – that Maddy wouldn’t want him to throw his life away. It’s time to move on. But letting go is no easy feat, especially if moving on means Tash. He’s a country boy and she is a star on the rise with ambitions that could propel her out of reach.
Can these two friends step out of the shadow of Maddy’s tragic life and accept love, or is the past forever destined to dictate their future?
‘An epic story full of emotion, love and heartbreak… The descriptions of the food and recipes had me watering at the mouth!’– Netgalley review
‘The Country Girl definitely won me over, which is no surprise really because Cathryn Hein is one of my favourite authors and her rurals are always sweet with a bit of a sassy twist.’– Netgalley review
Excerpt – The Country Girl
Patrick stared at her. An invitation? To a party? After what he’d said, the fool he’d made of himself?
‘I’ll be filming,’ Tash continued, her words rushing out in a breathy stream, ‘so you’ll have to sign a release form but it’s nothing to worry about. Just a legal thing to say that you’ve given permission for me to use your image. You don’t have to sign but it helps. Otherwise I’ll have to edit you out and that’s not always easy. Editing is really time consuming, even with good software …’ She trailed off, cheeks flushing rose pink, avoiding his gaze.
Maddy used to comment that Tash didn’t believe in her own prettiness. Patrick hadn’t thought much of it—by the time he was having those kinds of conversations with Maddy he was too caught up in their love, with keeping the amazing, frightening, encompassing feel of it alive forever. But Tash was pretty, even with helmet hair and dust sticking to her skin.
‘Yeah. I’ll be there. Thanks for asking me.’
‘Right. Good. That’s sorted then.’ She pointed at the flat. ‘I’d better get on. Things to organise.’
She bustled towards the sliding door. Patrick’s gaze slid over her body, lingering on its hourglass sweep and the way her breeches cupped the mounds of her bum. His fingers twitched with the urge to touch and he clenched his fists against the wrongness of it.
As if asking if he could soap her back wasn’t humiliating enough. It wasn’t the asking so much as her horror at the suggestion, which was fair enough. He was engaged to her best friend. But the thought of Tash in the shower had connected his mouth to his jocks, bypassing his brain.
His thoughts had already been drifting that way, thanks to catching her dancing and singing in the garden. She was sunshine to his darkness and the sudden need to get close, to touch some of her light, had poured out of him like sweat. He’d driven on quickly but the need had lodged. Then it had turned to sex.
Not that that was new—Patrick was a healthy man after all, plus it felt like forever since he’d last done it. What disturbed him was that he was thinking about sex specifically with Tash. A lot. Next thing he knew he was back at Wiruna, fetching the washed containers and driving back to Castlereagh. For what, he didn’t know. To touch a bit of her sunshine? Fat chance of that. Tash had regarded him like a cockroach she’d discovered in her cupboard. Which had only made him act like even more of a tool with that clumsy cover-up and stupid wave.
He waited until she slid the door closed before returning to his ute. Tash’s containers were stacked on the passenger seat. He stood with the door open, undecided. He glanced at the flat. There was a little window he assumed belonged to the bathroom, slid ajar to let out steam. He tapped his fingers, debating, and heard the unmistakable pound of a shower. She’d be naked by now, waiting for the water to get to the right temperature, luscious and golden skinned.
Patrick looked at the containers.
The order came on a breath. ‘Don’t.’