Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally tempt author buddies into doing the same. And today is one such day. Rah!
First, news from the Hein House.
Last week was nothing short of amazing. My second Outback Brides story, Serenity’s Song, released on Monday to much happy-happy-joy-joyness. Then later in the week, its predecessor, Elsa’s Stand, was listed as a Bookbub free deal across all the major ebook platforms, causing it to soar up the charts. Watching both books scale the heights was so much fun. I can’t thank you all enough for your support, and your wonderful feedback on Serenity’s Song.
Back to our teasy business…
I’m delighted to host Teaser Tuesday regular Fiona McArthur on the blog today. Fiona, as you know, is a fellow Outback Bride author whose Maeve’s Baby came out only a few weeks ago. She’s a hardworking author, our Fiona, and this time she’s back again with another release. A rural romance with the gorgeous title, The Bush Telegraph.
And though I’ve said it to her privately, I’d like to give another big WHOOP of congratulations to Fiona for her recent Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Award win with The Desert Midwife, which took out the Contemporary Romance Book of the Year. Pretty cool, eh?
Here’s Fiona to tell you a little about The Bush Telegraph and share an excerpt. If you’re a careful reader, you might even find there’s a giveaway to be had. So generous!
This week I’m launching my contemporary romance for Penguin Australia, The Bush Telegraph, set in outback Queensland. As a change from our shorter format of the Outback Brides, I love the large format of the contemporary fiction, because we can detail so many characters, add interwoven stories, and revel in the setting of the book.
The Bush Telegraph has all of those. Think hotshot ER nurse heading outback (a young single mum) and a disgraced station owner, a couple of teens and two older retired nurses, and set it in that vast, incredible landscape out past Longreach.
Last year Jaye Ford and I presented at the Outback Writers Festival at Winton and after the weekend the organisers (and Red Dirt Tours) took us to this amazing place called Rangelands. Rangelands is a property with mesas of incredible starkness and beauty, surrounded by dry, open flood lands. The mesas are what’s left after erosion and are gradually tumbling down onto the plains below. We went late afternoon, walked under the suspended boulders on top of the mesa, checked out the ones that had tumbled down, and feasted on cheese and fruit and wonderful wine until well after sunset. Who wouldn’t set a story there?
Here’s a segment from the story describing the sunset.
He waved her away. ‘I’m fine. Go and enjoy. See how the light touches that open plain? It’s never been cleared, so they’re natural grasslands and you can see the lines of small trees, the acacia.’
Jayden stood pointing things out to Bridget and then Bridget crouched down and studied the fluffy mulla-mulla flowers. Connor was right. The afternoon light hitting the floral filaments turned the fluffy flowers into sunbursts of pastel green and yellow. They did resemble pastel lambs’ tails waving in the breeze.
When she turned to look back to the mesa in the distance, it was painted a brilliant orange. The trees glowed gold, the cliff walls shimmered with red, and the afternoon light poured across the grasslands like orange cordial spilled across a countertop. Little rivulets of tree lines lay like baby snakes of green against the gold of the plainlands.
Jayden came to stand beside her. ‘When it floods, those rows of bushes turn into creeks and the water flows across. Dad said that when it floods everything is covered in water, even under our house. That’s why it’s on stilts.’
Connor joined them. Jayden glanced up at his dad and smiled shyly, then stepped away. Connor handed Maddy a glass of sparkling wine. ‘Care to toast the sunset?’
Although she wasn’t a big drinker, she would have loved to toast the moment. Still, she shook her head. ‘I’m driving later.’
He looked pleased with himself. ‘It’s non-alcoholic and tastes good.’
She took the glass, wrinkling her nose. ‘Since when do non- alcoholic bubbles go down well?’
‘Since now. I bought it for my mother.’ His eyes clouded with sadness and she remembered this man had only recently lost the most important woman in the world to him. ‘Mum loved champagne but didn’t like the way alcohol made her feel when she was sick. It’s from an airline that serves it in business class for passengers who don’t drink alcohol. They called it Jenny. Not sure why.’ He shrugged, sending another teasing smile that she couldn’t resist, and held the glass out again. ‘Try it.’
She took a sip and the crisp, dry explosion of bubbles in her mouth made her grin. ‘Oh, my.’
She took another sip and the subtle flavour of berries swirled in her mouth along with the fizzing bubbles. ‘I’m impressed.’
‘Good. And I’m glad you’re here to be impressed.’
His smile confirmed it. The glass was taken from her hand and placed gently on a flat-topped rock she hadn’t noticed. Gentle fingers brushed the fringe back from her face. ‘Your hair is beautiful in the sunlight. Like spun gold.’
‘It’s titian,’ he countered. ‘Like that kids’ mermaid.’
‘And what do you know about Ariel of the Mermaids?’
‘Obviously not the name. One of the women I worked with, her daughter was mad about Ariel. Your hair reminds me of that.’
Pleasure and warmth flooded her. ‘Alma always said I was titian.’ And she’d also said to take a compliment gracefully. ‘Thank you.’ Her mood dipped. ‘Bridget’s father said I was carrot-topped.’ He had called her a ‘ranga’, which was why she’d been so upset to hear that come from Jayden’s mouth about Bridget.
‘The man didn’t know how lucky he was. But I so don’t want to talk about him.’
Neither did she. It had been some stupid, protective idiocy that popped out to break the mood between them. She was acting like a frightened girl and she did like Connor. A lot. Maybe she should trust him a little more. And they were in full view if the kids turned around.
Connor wouldn’t let the mood break. ‘You’re missing the sunset. Stand here.’ He eased her in front of his body so that she leaned back against him and he settled a hand on each side of her hips, anchoring her.
She tried to stay rigid against him, but it was too fine to just settle back and relax. To tuck her head beneath his chin, which rested on top of her hair. His big hands were warm and appreciative on her hips. Her brain turned to mush as she gazed out across the perfect painted plains. Peace stole over her.
When he bent his head to rest his face against the top of her head, she murmured, ‘Nice sunset.’ As though to emphasise her words, the world grew even more golden.
‘Don’t suppose you’ve seen enough?’ His voice rumbled play- fully as he turned her so she stood within his circling arms, staring at the tanned V of his throat. He tugged until she eased sideways with him behind a dark-barked tree.
The tree blocked them from the kids. His top two shirt buttons were open, exposing dark skin and a few curling dark hairs that she wanted to touch.
Good grief. The scent of him settled around her and she breathed him in. A hint – not too much – of expensive yet essentially Connor cologne. Masculine, clean and spicy. Sensual fingers trailed her hair. She wanted to inhale his scent so deep. He was an Aladdin’s cave of masculine surprises.
His hand came up and touched one fingertip under her chin to tilt her face. ‘I’m up here,’ he said with a laugh in his voice.
‘And I’m down here.’ Lame, she thought, not knowing how to respond. But when she did look up into the depths of his kind eyes, words seemed superfluous. And, of course, his mouth came down closer, closer and she leaned up to meet him.
Connor’s mouth settled on hers, firm yet gentle, a caress and a promise she wanted to explore. She kissed him back carefully, then not so carefully, and then her mouth opened against the erotic sweep of his tongue and . . .
The stifled cry and Bridget’s scream jerked both their heads up.
Thanks so much for having me, Cathryn, The Bush Telegraph is on sale now from bookstores, on-line, in ebook across all platforms and from www.FionaMcArthurAuthor.com/bookstore if you’d like your copy signed and posted to you.
Amazon US | Amazon AU | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play
For the chance to win a paperback copy of The Bush Telegraph – leave a comment with your favourite place to enjoy sunset, either now, from the past, or the one you’d eventually like to experience. Warmest wishes for your happy reading xx Fi
Did you hear that, folks? We have a paperback copy of The Bush Telegraph up for grabs. Wowsers!
My favourite place to enjoy a sunset. I have LOTS of places, but this year I’m content to watch the sun set over Newcastle Harbour from one of the many bars and restaurants that line its waterfront. The working harbour never ceases to fascinate and it’s beautiful, and we live close enough that we can toddle home along the creek afterwards.
What about you? Where’s your favourite place to enjoy a sunset? Leave a comment and we’ll pop you into the draw.
Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday Australian Eastern Standard Time, 11th September 2020. Prize is a paperback copy of The Bush Telegraph. Australian postal addresses only. Good luck!