The Horseman’s Promise

he Horsemans Promise by Cathryn HeinA father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret . . . and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron’s Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families.

As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

An emotional small-town romance about love, loyalty and forgiveness.

First published 2011 as PROMISES. This edition published 2017 | |

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Print copies of the original PROMISES are available for purchase direct from me for $AUD15, including postage.

Email me via the Contact form on this website for details.

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“Promises is a fabulous story encompassing Australia’s wonderful country horse racing circuit and containing strong, likable characters who work their way into your heart and stay there.” – 1 girl…2 many books
“Australian author Cathryn Hein had me from the first page and I’m sure anyone who likes romance novels without bodice ripping or cliché phrases will also love this story.” – Sunshine Coast Daily
“Not since my introduction to Nora Roberts has an author had me so completely and utterly spellbound.” – Mission: Romance
“…one can almost smell the hay and hear the pounding of the hooves in this delightfully written love story.” – Launceston Examiner, 27th August 2011
“Books like this one, written by an author with genuine rural pedigree, are authentic and full of hope…” – The West Australian, 3rd September 2011
“This is probably one [of] the best books I have read … Hein is yet another powerful Australian fiction author whom I am sure we will come to love as more of her books become available.” – RRB: Recommended Reading Blog, 12th September 2011
Hakea Lodge, Harrington, south-east South Australia.
   ‘We should get drunk together one night,’ Sophie said to Aaron as they walked the horses along the firebreak. The pines seemed menacing today, as if bad things hovered in the forest’s dark depths. She wished she could shake off her despondent mood, but today seemed a day for unhappiness.
   ‘Because then for once you might tell me what’s going on in that handsome head of yours. It worked for Tess.’
   ‘Some things aren’t worth knowing.’
   ‘Everything about you is worth knowing.’
   ‘Stop it, Sophie,’ said Aaron quietly. ‘You’re only making it worse.’
   She wanted to keep pushing but Aaron had that shuttered look, like he was keeping himself from the world. His jawline was rigid and his hands were tight on the reins. What was he hiding that was so bad he thought she wouldn’t love him any more if she found out?
   ‘Can I ask you something?’
   He gave her a guarded look, and nodded.
   ‘What happened in the feed room… did I dream that or was it real?’
   He glanced away into the trees. ‘It was real but it should never have happened.’ Suddenly, he reached out, grabbed her hand and clutched it tight, blue eyes concentrated on hers. ‘Sophie, listen to me. You’re gorgeous and sexy and funny and strong, and I care about you more than I can say, but you have to understand, I can’t be what you want. Not now, not ever.’
   A lump formed in her throat. She tried to swallow it away but it wouldn’t move. ‘I thought -‘ She stopped, finding she couldn’t go on.
   ‘I know. I’m sorry.’
   ‘But you wanted to kiss me. You -‘
  You said my name like you loved me.
   He squeezed her fingers, eyes filled with sympathy and something her ever-hopeful heart thought might be regret. ‘Friends, Soph. Let us have that.’
   ‘It’s not enough.’
   It would never be enough. Not for her.
   He let her go. ‘It’ll have to be.’

Write What You Love

I was born horse mad and my reading has always reflected this. Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka trilogy was followed by every single book in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, and the utter bliss of National Velvet and International Velvet. I can still remember clutching those books to my chest and sighing theatrically as my own romantic horsey dreams swirled in my head.

So it comes as no surprise that I wanted to write a book where horses featured in the plot. I’ve written on and off since I was a teenager, and always nurtured a secret ambition of being a novelist. Over the years I’d started many manuscripts, each time determined to reach my dream of becoming a published author, but I never managed to produce more than 10,000 words. Life, work, and love were wonderful distractions, plus I knew nothing about the craft of writing, nor did I have any comprehension of the time and dedication writing a novel takes. Mind you, I soon learned once I finally knuckled down to the job!


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