Friday Weekend Escape to Pukerua Bay, New Zealand with Andrea Grigg

I’m delighted to welcome my Aussie author friend, Andrea Grigg, to my blog today. We’re going to escape for the weekend with Andrea to a beautiful bay in New Zealand. Enjoy!

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Hi everyone! It’s Andrea Grigg here, ready to whisk you away to the gorgeous little seaside suburb of Pukerua Bay, about 40 mins north of New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. (Just so you know, I was born in New Zealand, but have lived in Australia for over thirty years.)

Andrea_photo1

Whenever my husband and I visit my parents in Paraparaumu, (Maori names are a bit of a challenge, aren’t they?) we zip off to this beautiful cove and soak up the atmosphere. That’s Kapiti Island out there, a nature reserve, home to a number of native New Zealand birds.

Andrea_photo2

This next photo is a personal favourite of mine – not just because it shows my dad and husband being very cheeky behind my mum’s back, but also because of the lovely New Zealand bush in the background. It has a beautiful sweet fragrance, quite different to the herbal tones of the Australian bush.

Andrea_photo3

There are a number of cottages across the road from the beach. Some old and run down, others more modern. All part of the charm of Pukerua Bay. In fact, this little place would be a perfect setting for one of my stories …

Andrea_photo4

As you can see, Pukerua Bay isn’t your typical beach. In fact there is barely any sand at all, just rock pools, shells and piles and piles of driftwood …

Andrea_photo5

… and some enterprising soul has put pieces of that driftwood to good use. Cute little tree, isn’t it? I especially love the heart-shaped piece of pumice at the top. Sigh. It really is a great place for a romance writer.

Thank you for visiting with me – I hope some of you actually get to go there one day. If you do, you’ll have to let me know.

h'shot

ANDREA GRIGG grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but has lived more than half her life in Australia.

Andrea loves words, finding out what makes people tick, and romance. Her debut novel, A Simple Mistake, is a contemporary romance, and was a finalist in the Caleb Awards 2012. Her second novel, Too Pretty, was released August 2014.

Andrea lives with her husband on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where they have raised their three adult children – two daughters and a son. Recently retired from teaching ten-year-olds, if she isn’t being a domestic executive or socialising, Andrea can be found in her cave, writing stories.

Website: www.andreagrigg.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.andreagrigg?ref=hl
Twitter: @andreagrigg

Too Pretty Front Cover140x205mm WEB

Being beautiful isn’t easy – just ask Ellie Paxton.

Frustrated by a long string of empty relationships, Ellie makes a promise to God not to date for six months, a promise she’s determined to keep.

Tired of being continually misjudged because of her looks Ellie moves to Sydney for a fresh start. But when her path keeps crossing with the darkly handsome Nathaniel, that promise becomes much harder to fulfil.

As they battle with their attraction for each other, Ellie is not the only one to discover it takes more than simply looking in a mirror to find out who you truly are …

Could it be that God has a bigger plan? Could this really be one of those matches made in heaven …?

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I’m interviewing Andrea Grigg on Inspy Romance tomorrow (the post will be live on Saturday at 7pm, AEST) and we’re giving away an ebook copy of Too Pretty. You can check out our interview at the following link.

http://www.inspyromance.com/interview-with-aussie-author-andrea-grigg-and-giveaway/

Heartsong Presents September New Releases

My third fiction book release with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line, The Doctor’s Return, was released in August 2014. Today I’m posting information on the new Heartsong Presents releases for September.

Four Heartsong Presents books are released each month under the Love Inspired brand: two contemporary inspirational romances and two historical inspirational romances. The Love Inspired range of books include contemporary romance (Love Inspired), historical romance (Love Inspired Historical) and romantic suspense (Love Inspired Suspense).

North American readers can purchase books from the Harlequin Reader Service. International readers outside the USA and Canada can purchase the print books online from Amazon and The Book Depository (free international shipping). If you’re looking for inspirational (Christian) romances to read, please check out the Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired books.

Arizona Cowboy

Cowboy Holden Whitaker Believes in Second Chances 

Holden has never stopped loving Ava Herbert, even though she disappeared just as he was ready to say “I do.” Now Ava is back as the town’s new physical therapist, and this time Holden will do anything to get her to stay.

As Holden seeks to renew their romance, Ava’s guilt grows. She’s never stopped thinking about her first love, but she has a secret that could destroy his feelings for her. When an injury lands the handsome rancher in her office, Ava can’t seem to resist his charms. If she can find the courage to share the truth, they may just have another go-round at happily-ever-after.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Campaigning for Love

Katherine Harper Can’t Be Beat 

For Katherine, running for city council is about protecting children from the kind of grim childhood she had. And she won’t let privileged politician’s son Nick Delaney ruin her chances. Like he once ruined her dreams of true love and a family of her own.

Nick has his sights set on public office, not on rekindling a star-crossed romance from years ago. Yet as he and Katherine spend time together on the election circuit, his competitor compels him with her beauty and heart of gold. Falling for the opposition was never in his plans, but Nick will give anything to earn Katherine’s forgiveness and renew their love.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Ozark Wedding

Gavin Mathis Brings Light to the Countryside 

Gavin is determined to bring his sleepy hometown of Deer Lick, Missouri, into the electric age. But he doesn’t count on his wayward brother’s schoolhouse hijinks getting in the way—or the lovely teacher who sends Gavin’s heart into a tailspin.

Teacher Irene Delaney is a talented pianist who dreams of making music far beyond her small town. As the electricity humming between her and Gavin begins to grow, she worries falling for the striking man will douse her big-city plans. Can Gavin convince Irene she can keep her dreams—and they can still have forever?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

The Marshal's Pursuit

Malia Vaccarelli Needs a Place to Hide 

When her brother is arrested for a gangster’s murder, Malia is plunged into danger. Her life in peril, she trusts no one—not even the special U.S. marshal assigned to protect her. But handsome Frank Louden isn’t what Malia expects.

Hiding Malia on his grandparents’ Tuxedo Park estate may not be the best idea, but Frank is determined to do anything to protect her…even if he’s soon unable to ignore his growing feelings for the beautiful woman. As their romance blossoms, will Malia’s criminal connections force her to choose between her family and her heart?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Friday Weekend Escape to Martha’s Vineyard, USA with Lisa Belcastro

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my author friend, Lisa Belcastro, to the gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA. A place I’d love to visit! Lisa is giving us a tour of her home town and sharing her island paradise with us. Enjoy!

Take a Presidential Vacation on Martha’s Vineyard

By Lisa Belcastro

I’m blessed to live on Martha’s Vineyard. While thousands flock here in the summer, including President Obama, a few of us brave the cold winters and enjoy the beauty of the Island twelve months a year. We have very few guests in January, but then June rolls around and folks start asking if we’ve got an extra bedroom or two.

When friends arrive for a weekend, we have a list of must-do warm weather activities. No visit would be complete without a trip to one of our sandy beaches. We all load into my SUV and head Up Island to Aquinnah to my favorite beach and the Gay Head Lighthouse. The beach is sandwiched between the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic and Aquinnah’s magnificent clay cliffs, which vary in colors and striations and star in many a tourist’s picture. It truly is paradise.

Aquinnah Cliffs – A view from the Gay Head Lighthouse

Aquinnah Cliffs – A view from the Gay Head Lighthouse

On the way home we’ll detour through downtown Edgartown for a drive-by of the historic captain’s homes, the Whaling Church, and the quaint shops and restaurants that line the streets. After an outdoor shower, complete with hot and cold running water, we’re in the garden picking vegetables and then it’s time to pack a cooler, load the grill and head out for a sunset beach picnic. The fishing town of Menemsha is the best, and most famous, location to the watch the sunset. We arrive at 5 pm to be sure to get a parking spot, and walk to the fish market to purchase the daily fresh catch and some lobsters to cook on the grill while the evening sky is painted in shades of oranges, blues and pinks. Beach picnics are my most favorite summer activity.

Sunset on Menemsha Beach

Sunset on Menemsha Beach

The busiest week in August starts on the third Wednesday of the month with Illumination Night in the M.V. Camp Meeting Association’s gingerbread cottages. These beautiful and unique homes are crafted with intricate designs, themes, and colors, and form circles around the large Tabernacle.

Three of the most photographed cottages in the MV Camp Meeting Association

Three of the most photographed cottages in the MV Camp Meeting Association

The Campground was founded in 1835 as a Methodist summer meeting location. Hundreds of families pitched tents and gathered in July and August for church services held day and night. Today there are over three hundred cottages, and come Illumination Night they are decorated with paper lanterns of every imaginable size and shape. Crowds walk the paths or spread out blankets on the green, listening to the band play and singing along to the music while we wait for the lanterns to be illuminated at 9 pm.

The M.V. Agricultural Fair opens at 1 pm on Thursday, when Islanders race into the Ag Hall to find out if their entry won a ribbon or award. We often go to the Fair all four days, enjoying the rides, animals, exhibits, and food. It’s a country fair, small in size, but large in fun.

Ag Fair – the Agricultural Fair is one of summer’s highlights for residents and visitors alike.

Ag Fair – the Agricultural Fair is one of summer’s highlights for residents and visitors alike.

The unofficial end of summer seems to be marked by the annual Oak Bluffs Fireworks on Friday night. Hundreds of families spread out on the green grass of Ocean Park and watch the amazing light show. This year I’ll be sailing in the harbor on the Alabama, the sister ship to the schooner Shenandoah that is the primary location for my latest novel, Shenandoah Dreams. Can’t wait!

Shenandoah – Sailing in the Vineyard Sound

Shenandoah – Sailing in the Vineyard Sound

I’ve shared a glimpse of the magical Island I call home. There is so much more to see and do, but what we’ve outlined here would be one fantastic weekend. Call me if you decide to explore my bit of Heaven on earth. 

Author pic

LISA BELCASTRO lives with her family on island of Martha’s Vineyard. She writes inspirational romances set on the Island and the surrounding waters. She loves chocolate, reading, writing, running, working in her gardens, including weeding, and almost all outdoor activities — as long as the temperature is above sixty degrees! Being on or near the water is pure joy for her, and she is so happy the warmer weather has arrived.

When she’s not at her desk working on her next novel or writing the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine, Lisa is volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, gardening, training for her first 50-mile road race, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

http://www.amazon.com/Shenandoah-Dreams-Winds-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B00LETGK2I

www.lisabelcastro.com
www.facebook.com/belcastrolisa
www.twitter.com/lisabelcastro19

Shenandoah_Dreams_FRONT

“It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” Melissa Smith whispers as her eyes focus on the two men standing before her. She lives in the twenty-first century. She is chaperoning her sixth-grade students on an educational sailing trip. They are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, or the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They are sailing over the waters of the Vineyard Sound around the island of Martha’s Vineyard. So the men before her, dressed as though they’ve stepped off the set of a movie about the American Revolutionary War, cannot possibly be real. She’s dreaming. She will wake up.

But can a dream man touch her and send bolts of electricity through her veins and ignite a fire in her heart the likes of which she’s never felt before? Can a dream man serve her food that tastes divine? Can a dream lasts for weeks on end?

And if she’s not dreaming, then she’s traveled back in time, which is impossible. But here she is, in 1770, uncertain how she arrived, how she’ll get home, and if her heart could bare to be parted from Captain Isaiah Reed. Only time will tell if Melissa is given a chance at love with Isaiah or swept forward once again to her previous life.

ACRBA tour Dynamic Ageing by Ray Hawkins

18th – 22nd August 2014

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

Is Introducing

Dynamic Ageing

(Even Before 1 February 2014)

By

Ray Hawkins

 

About the Book

Discover how to make the ageing experience into an adventure. Join the Lord’s plan for ageing dynamically. Understand why God’s seniors are priceless. God’s grace for dynamic ageing more than compensates for physical limitations.

 About the Author

 

Ray Hawkins, retired after over 40 years as a Churches of Christ minister, enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and five grandchildren. Ray shares his insights in his first two books on Marriage and Children with more ideas to come about ministry and much more. Living in Beauty Point Tasmania Ray heads up a new Christian Fellowship as well as doing relief preaching, community work and writing.

Australasian Christian Writers blog

I’ve written a few posts for the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) group blog over the past couple of weeks. The links are below.

What’s on your Writing Bucket List (August 6, 2014) http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/whats-on-your-writing-bucket-list-plus.html

Writing Conferences: The Benefits for Writers (August 11, 2014) http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/writing-conferences-benefits-for-writers.html

Writers Supporting other Writers (August 15, 2014) http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/writers-supporting-other-writers.html

Overview of Writing Conferences and Events for Australian and New Zealand writers (August 18, 2014) http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/overview-of-writing-conferences-and.html

Friday Weekend Escape to South Africa with Marion Ueckermann

I’m delighted to welcome my author friend, Marion Ueckermann, to my blog today. We’re going to escape for the weekend with Marion to her home country, South Africa. Enjoy!

By Marion Ueckermann

Passport to Romance Blog Tour LogoHelsinki Sunrise, a Passport to Romance, blog tour follows on from yesterday’s travel itinerary with International Christian Fiction Writers.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the country I reside in, beautiful South Africa. Thank you, Narelle, for hosting me on your travel blog.

It was difficult to choose a specific place in South Africa to showcase, so I decided on a quick overview of the places most significant to me—the beautiful and the ugly. When we moved back to South Africa after living in Ireland for eighteen months, some people thought we were going back to our mud huts. Whilst many in the rural areas of Africa live in this kind of housing, where children play in God’s backyard, South Africa is a modern country with bustling cities. I, however, grew up in a small town amongst scenery such as this.

Children playing in Gazankulu, one of the rural areas in the northern parts of South Africa

Children playing in Gazankulu, one of the rural areas in the northern parts of South Africa

Although Pretoria, the city I now live in, is lined in the summer with purple Jacaranda trees, the scenes below are sadly what we face daily. These photos, taken close to where I live, depict a common sight in all our towns and cities, in both upper and lower class suburbs.

2-Pretoria - poverty duo

Despite the poverty, there’s much beauty in our country. Take this Highveld lightning storm, for example, photographed by my son in the middle of the night from the roof of my house. Thankfully I was asleep and had no idea what he was up to. The Highveld region is renowned for its electric storms.

3-Highveld storm

 South Africa has an abundance of malls and restaurants. An interesting restaurant to visit is Moyo, meaning ‘Soul’ in the African language Swahili. You’ll find Moyo in the major cities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. Moyo is not only about cuisine, it’s about the experience, too—African music and entertainers, handcrafted jewelry, and face painting unique to Moyo.

If you read my blog tomorrow at Re-birth where I talk about the cover of my novelette Helsinki Sunrise which releases next Friday, you’ll find out more about my son and daughter-in-law being the cover models for my hero and heroine, Adam and Eveliina. Now, if Adam and Eveliina were back in Adam’s homeland (and mine), South Africa, they’d look exactly like this when enjoying a dinner at Moyo.

4-Kyle and Tiia - Moyo

Celebrating Kyle’s 21st birthday at Moyo

Ninety minutes from Pretoria, is the sleepy town of Magaliesberg. My parents live there on a farm with my sister and her husband. This dirt road leads to their farm and weekends of fun, food and family time. During autumn, white, pink, and burgundy Cosmos line the roads and fields all across South Africa.

5-Magaliesberg Farm and Cosmos

Lastly, I’d like to show you some of my favorite places way down south in the beautiful Western Cape. From left to right:

1.) Table Mountain, as seen from Rondebosch, a southern suburb of Cape Town close to where both my sons lived.

2.) The harbor of Hout Bay where you can buy fish fresh from the boat or watch seals playing in the water.

3.) The most exquisite wine farm I’ve ever visited, Waterford

4.) Waterford’s wine cellar, aptly called ‘The Cathedral’. I love ‘The Cathedral’ so much that I incorporated it into a South African romance novel I’m writing.

6-Cape Town

I trust you’ve enjoyed your armchair journey down to sunny South Africa. On September 5th I’ll share about Finland, the location of my debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_680 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Be sure to follow this blog tour tomorrow to Hungary where we’ll take a look at the story behind the cover of Helsinki Sunrise with Re-birth.

Numerous eBooks of Helsinki Sunrise will be given away on the blog tour, so take a journey to each of the stops and leave a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address.

Helsinki Sunrise will be available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

 

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven. Her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise, releases August 22, 2014 by White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Book Cover Reveal: Her Tycoon Hero

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont Believes in Second Chances 

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith and Cassie as his own.

Narelle: I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for my fourth book and my first contemporary inspirational romance set in Sydney, Australia. You’ll notice the Sydney Opera House, one of my favourite places in Sydney, is on the cover.

Her Tycoon Hero will be released on November 4, 2014. It’s available for pre-order at the following stores:

Harlequin

Amazon

Christianbook.com

The Book Depository (free delivery worldwide)

Barnes and Noble

Parable Christian Stores

Cokesbury

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

Deeper Shopping

iTunes

Mills and Boon Australia

Australian Christian Book Stores:

Koorong

Friday Weekend Escape to Sydney, Australia

This weekend I’m escaping to my home town of Sydney, Australia, to attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. I’m hoping the weather is a little bit warmer than Canberra’s -6C overnight temperatures this week. Sydney is a beautiful harbour city and I’ve included a few photos below. Enjoy your weekend!

Bondi Beach in Sydney.

Bondi Beach in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Opera House.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour.

The Doctor’s Return Official Release Day plus Book Giveaway!

It’s party time!!!

I’m thrilled that my third book, The Doctor’s Return, officially releases today (August 5) in North America! To celebrate, I’m giving away two print copies (worldwide, wherever The Book Depository delivers) on my blog today.

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The Doctor’s Return, Luke and Megan’s story, is the third book in my Snowgum Creek series. Luke is the town doctor and Ben’s brother from The Nurse’s Perfect Match (Book 2). Megan is Jack’s sister and Kate’s best friend from Falling for the Farmer (Book 1). A reunion romance, the story starts when Megan returns to Snowgum Creek.

The Doctors Return cover

Megan Bradley Is Putting Down Roots 

After years spent traveling the globe, she never expected to be back in her hometown sharing an office with her former sweetheart, Dr. Luke Morton. Megan is focused on building her business, and doesn’t have time to dwell on past mistakes. But she can’t ignore her feelings for the handsome doctor who works down the hall.

Luke is afraid to trust his heart to Megan, knowing she may not stay for long. But as they work together, their romance quickly rekindles. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes her way, Luke must free Megan to choose between a big-city career or love and family…right there in Snowgum Creek.

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CHAPTER ONE Excerpt:

Megan Bradley inhaled the sweet perfume of a champagne rose in her sister-in-law’s garden. “Kate, I love your roses. Jack has outdone himself this time.”

Kate smiled. “A belated wedding present but definitely worth the wait.”

Megan’s brother had planted the rose garden along one side of the newly built home on the family apple farm in Snowgum Creek. After a number of delays, the house had been completed a couple of months ago, but Kate’s debilitating morning sickness had postponed their Saturday lunch housewarming until today.

Megan stretched out the muscles in her back, stiff after yesterday’s long drive from Sydney. Family and friends gathered on the spacious wooden deck at the back of the sandy brick house overlooking the Snowy Mountains. Only one person was missing—her brother’s best friend, Luke Morton. She needed to summon the courage to talk to Luke soon.

She lifted her arms above her head, releasing tension in her shoulders. “As much as I’d love to hide away and chat, we should mingle with your guests.”

Kate nodded. “I’ve been ordered to take it easy. Your mom and Aunt Doris have taken over my kitchen, and Jack is in charge of our new outdoor grill.”

Megan straightened the hem of her lilac shirt. “They won’t stop fussing over you until the baby arrives.” She grinned. “I can’t wait to meet my little nephew or niece.”

Kate placed her hand on her slightly rounded abdomen. “Hopefully bub won’t arrive early. I’d like some time to get settled in the house first.”

A black Jeep meandered along a narrow dirt track leading to the house. Megan sucked in a deep breath, her pulse skyrocketing.
Kate lifted a brow. “I told you Luke was coming.”

“I know.” A busy doctor, Luke Morton had probably been delayed at the Snowgum Creek Medical Clinic. “I need to ask Jack something.” She strode toward the back deck, away from Luke, who had parked his Jeep under a gum tree near the front of the house.

Kate followed close on her heels. “You can’t run away from him forever.”

“I’m not running.” She frowned. Who was she kidding? She’d spent eight years trying to forget the events that had transpired the last time she’d seen him. “And I will talk to him today.” Assuming he was willing to talk to her.

Megan left Kate chatting with friends and walked over to her brother. Jack stood near the grill on the far side of the deck, a broad smile covering his tanned face. She was glad he’d married her best friend a few years ago, and that he now looked forward to becoming a father later this year.

She breathed in the tantalizing aroma of barbecued beef. “Something smells good.” Rib-eye steaks sizzled on the grill.

Jack nodded. “Lunch is nearly ready.” He turned over a couple of steaks. “How are you?”

She pasted a bright smile on her face. “I’m fine. A bit tired from the drive yesterday.” She’d arrived after dinner, exhausted from her last-minute rush yesterday morning to pack up all her belongings in her Chatswood apartment.

“How long are you visiting with Mom and Dad?”

“I’m not sure.” Her family was unaware of her potential job opportunities and the strong possibility she might live in Snowgum Creek for the next twelve months. The longest period she would live in one place since she’d completed her exercise physiology studies in Sydney eight years before.

His lips formed a wry smile. “Luke is heading our way.”

Megan spun around and flicked her long dark hair back over her shoulders. Luke’s golden-brown eyes met her gaze, his face devoid of emotion as he wove his way through the guests gathering around tables on the deck.

She wiped clammy hands down the sides of her designer-label black fitted pants, holding his gaze and refusing to look away first. Her heart danced to a faster beat as old feelings, long forgotten, washed over her. He was leaner and fitter than she remembered, decked out in a casual shirt and jeans. His face had matured and his honey-brown hair was cropped short. No surprise he was considered the most eligible bachelor in Snowgum Creek.

Jack stepped forward and shook Luke’s hand, stealing his attention. “Glad you could make it.”

“Sorry I’m late. I had to fit in a couple of extra patients.”

“No worries, we’re just about to sit down and eat.”

Luke turned to Megan, his intense gaze searching her face. “It’s been a long time.”

“Yep.” She nibbled her lower lip, words escaping her. He still had the ability to scatter her thoughts.

Jack cleared his throat. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Luke nodded. “Do you need me to do anything?”

“Can you watch the grill? We’re putting the meat platters on the tables.”

“No problem.” Luke picked up an empty white ceramic platter.

“Thanks.” Jack stepped away from the grill. “I think we’re organized and ready to serve lunch.”

Her brother headed indoors and an awkward silence followed Jack’s departure. Luke filled a couple of platters with juicy steaks and she distributed the platters to nearby tables.

She lingered beside the grill. “Is there anything else I can do?”

“No, I think we’re all right.” He added a row of steaks to the grill. “You’re looking well.” Luke’s eyes softened, his velvet voice sending her pulse into overdrive.

“Thanks.” She twisted a lock of hair around her finger. “I hear you’ve taken over Dr. Davidson’s medical clinic.”

“He retired last year, and the clinic provided a great opportunity to move back home from Sunny Ridge.”

“That makes sense.” His dream eight years ago had been to finish med school and own a medical clinic in Snowgum Creek. A dream she hadn’t shared. Her yearning had been to travel and explore the world.

“I’m glad to be back. Snowgum Creek is a thriving town, unlike many small towns in this region.”

“Kate said Sunny Ridge is booming, too.”

“It has experienced significant growth over the last decade.” He checked the remaining steaks on the grill. “Did you know Sunny Ridge is now officially classified as a city?”

“Really?” She inspected her fingernails. They’d need a manicure if she helped Jack and his workers pick the last of the apple crop next week. “I heard your medical clinic is expanding.”

“Yes. It keeps me busy. My schedule this morning was jam-packed and I ran overtime.”

“Is that normal?”

“Sometimes. It depends on the day.”

Jack returned and Luke handed over the cooking utensils.

“Thanks.” Jack smiled. “You two should sit down and enjoy lunch.”

Luke turned toward her, indicating two spare seats at a nearby table. “Would you like to join me?”

“Sure.” He held out a chair and she slipped into the wooden seat. How many times had they practiced this ritual during their four-year relationship in college?

Luke sat beside her and together they served their lunch of steak, salad and crusty French bread rolls. Megan made small talk with a couple of Jack’s friends who she hadn’t seen in years. Her short visits back home over the past eleven years hadn’t included catching up with the townsfolk. Luke seemed at ease beside her, chatting with the other guests.

His forearm brushed against her elbow and she tensed, aware of his presence only inches away. She concentrated on her lunch, her traitorous heart liking his close proximity. The moment everyone at their table had finished, she stood and started clearing their plates.

“I’ll help.” Luke collected a few empty platters and walked with her to the kitchen.

Alone with Luke, she focused on loading the plates and cutlery into the dishwasher.

He leaned back against the kitchen counter, arms crossed over his muscular chest. “Are you here for the weekend or longer?”

“I haven’t decided.”

“Did you take leave from work?”

She shook her head. “I’m between jobs at the moment. Please pass on my congratulations to Ben and Amy, by the way.”
“I will. They arrived back from their honeymoon a few weeks ago.”

“Where did they go?”

“Batemans Bay, one of Ben’s favorite fishing spots. They were supposed to be here today but my niece is sick with a cold.”
“I hope she gets well soon.” She pulled out the top rack, already half-full with cups and glasses. “Um, can we talk?”

“Sure, what about?”

“No, not here. Can we go somewhere where we won’t be overheard?”

He raised an eyebrow. “It has taken you long enough to finally decide to talk.”

Touché. She lowered her lashes, knowing she had hurt him. At least he was prepared to talk.

“How about a walk in the orchards?” he asked.

Like old times. How often had they snuck away into the orchards? Her cheeks flushed as memories of her final year of high school invaded her thoughts.

She squared her shoulders. “I’ll finish cleaning the kitchen first.”

“I’ll meet you at my Jeep in ten minutes.” A smile curved up the corners of his lips. “If we’re not discreet, the gossips will have us married off by the end of the afternoon.”

“True, they don’t need any encouragement.”

“See you soon.” He left the kitchen, his boots tapping on the wooden floorboards as he headed toward the veranda.

She filled the top rack with cups and bowls from the sink and switched on the dishwasher. Luke seemed okay with her temporary return to Snowgum Creek, but was he prepared to make this a more permanent arrangement? Could she convince him to rent her a consulting room in his medical clinic?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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ACRBA tour A Jane Austen Encounter By Donna Fletcher Crow

4th – 8th August 2014

(Stone House Ink, February 2014)

By

Donna Fletcher Crow

 

About the Book

Join Elizabeth and Richard on the Jane Austen trail. Visit all the sites so redolent of Jane and her characters in the beautiful city of Bath, stay in the Chawton House Library and visit the charming cottage where Jane’s writing flowered and the nearby Steventon church where her father was rector and her own faith established, stand by her grave in Winchester Cathedral, and enjoy your time at the lovely country estate of Godmersham. But don’t let your guard down. Evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.

About the Author

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels of British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 13 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/
You can follow her on Facebook at: http://ning.it/OHi0MY