Racing Dreams and Family Saga’s

Merindah Park

by

Renee Dahlia

 

A brand new rural romance series about an emerging racehorse stud and the family desperately trying to make their racing dreams come true.

John Henry Bassett

‘Money lost, nothing lost. Courage lost, everything lost.’

My dad’s favourite quote. Maybe not one I should be listening to, given my gambling-addict dad sank our once-famous horse stud into a deep, deep hole. Five years I’ve been digging it out. Slowly. Carefully. And now … I am risking it all. Risking Merindah Park on a stallion. Tsuyoi Red, runner up in the Japan Derby last year.

Now is not the time to get distracted by a gorgeous, pragmatic veterinarian.

Toshiko Sato

I’m at a crossroads in my life. Though my father encouraged me to follow my dreams and become an expert veterinarian, he left our family’s horse farm, Tomikusa, to my younger brother. My family expects me to honour my father’s wishes and marry a neighbour-a perfectly nice man who I don’t feel any spark with at all. But my own ability to bet-successfully-on horse races has given me options.

This decision would be easier if I didn’t feel the wicked chemistry hovering between me and the handsome, broad-shouldered Australian that my brother has decreed I will travel with to Australia to look after an injured horse. I’m usually so good at calculating the odds. But how do I choose between losing my place in my family, and losing myself?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse racing industry doing data analysis and writing magazine articles. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée wrangles a partner, four children, and volunteers on the local cricket club committee as well as for Romance Writers Australia.

Q.  What sentences in writing have changed your life?

That’s an incredibly esoteric question! There is a sentence in a Lisa Kleypas book (A Wallflower’s Christmas) that I credit with giving me the idea to attempt to write a romance novel. I’d written non-fiction for over a decade, when I read this. I complained one day that I’d read all the books in the house, and there was nothing new at the bookshop, and Matthew challenged me to try writing one of my own.

Q. What is the best opening sentence you have written?

I have a soft spot for the opening sentence in The Heart of a Bluestocking (http://books2read.com/u/3yD16v).

It perfectly sums up the heroine, Claire.

‘No,’ Claire said emphatically. ‘I don’t owe you my time.’ She lifted her chin a fraction and glared at her father. He stared back with those astute eyes.

Q.     Best closing scene, you have written?

I enjoyed writing the epilogue to the Merindah Park series – it gives the reader one last taste of all the characters, as well as a nod to the success of one of the horses whose stories are threaded through the series.

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The Wild Wild West and a chat with a Hot Cowboy!

It’s a dusty afternoon; Mel and I are exhausted from the flight.

“I never drink beer, but I tell ya, one would sure as hell go down a treat about now.” I whinge as we plod into the local waterhole in Marietta.

“I hope they have decent tea.” Mel tries for a smile.

We amble up to the counter and a tall woman greets us. She is brisk and confidence. This is clearly her place. Her eyes are the colour of toasted barley. Chestnut hair with streaks of grey running through it is tied up out of the way.

“G’day y’all. Can see you ain’t from around here. What can I get ya?” Her smiles highlights the twinkle in her sharp gaze as Mel leans on the counter.

“An Earl Grey and a beer, please.”

The woman rubs her chin, “Can do for both, though I’ve never had such a strange order before.” She chuckles as she types our request in to the electronic till and I pay.

“So, what are two gals like you looking for in Marietta?”

“Nate Hansen,” is all I say as I turn around and squint at my fellow patrons, all drinking, eating and socialising.

“Hey Nate! There’re two ladies here looking for ya! Thought you’d gone and changed your ways.” The bar tender shouts out across the establishment to a man sitting in the farthest corner sipping from a mug. Both Mel and I jump.

Nate looks up from his table, “Hey, darlin’, now don’t be like that.” He shakes his head. Clearly it is an old joke between them.

The lady chuckles then looks at us, “I’ll brings yer drink over to ya.” She nods in Nate’s direction.

Nate rises from his seat and holds out a hand in greeting. “Take no note of her. She loves to remind me of the past.”

Mel takes it in hers, “No worries. Please to meet you.”

And then I do the same, “All good. How are you?”

“Nice to meet you both. I was intrigued when Ann called to let me know she’d arranged the interview.”

Nate is a man who has the whole ‘tall dark and handsome’ thing doing him all kinds of favours. His grip is frim and the callouses on his hands speak of hard work. But the scars on his face tell of some risky business too.

“Nice town.” I say as I sit down. Mel pulls out her iPad and its small keypad.

“Yeah. Been here my whole life.”

“You were born here?” I ask as I shift in the hard chair.

“Nope. Ma brought me and my two brothers here to live with my grandfather when we were younger. Never left.” He reaches for his mug of half-drunk coffee just as the bar lady arrives with our drinks.

“Do your brothers still live in Marietta?” I ask, then sip the ice-cold beer. Its bitter bubbles rush down my throat and wash away the dust and exhaustion of travel.

“Jethro took over the ranch when the old man got too weak to run it. He’s a good man. Set his life straight to help our grandfather out, better than I ever was.” A look of regret and shame crosses Nate’s dark eyes.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying,” Mel looks up from her screen and reaches for her cup of tea, “But you seem to harbour a lot of guilt?”

Nate sighs as he leans forward on the table. He pins us both down with a gaze that could melt underwear in two seconds flat!

“I’ve got a lot to make right. Spent my whole life blaming everyone and everything for losing our mother. I need to grow up, stop hurtin others. Hardest part is changing my reputation.”

“The one she eluded to earlier,” I point a thumb back over my shoulder in the bar lady’s direction.

Nate nods.

“Yeah. Had a bad habit of pickin fights, drinkin too damn much and waking up in a different bed each mornin. It ain’t a life I want to live. But now I have a reason to change.”

“And what’s that reason?” I ask, then take another large gulp of the bitter beer.

“Our Grandpa died before I could show him I was the man he wanted me to be.” I glance at Mel as we both note the deep regret and hurt which hugs the edges of Nate’s tone.

“I can see family means a lot to you, Nate.” Mel across her keyboard.

“Family. It’s everything!” His gaze shifts from that of a lost little boy to a man.

“So, do you work on the ranch with your brother?”

Nate leans back in his chair, pulling his hands through his dark hair as a grin spreads across his face. The smile speaks volumes and the twinkle which brightens his gaze tells of love, hope and good things.

“Nah, I work for Joy. She’s my… Read the book will ya.”

“I can’t help but notice the look of happiness in your eyes when you mention her.” Mel cocks her head.

Nate proffers a grin that has every buckle bunny in towns, knees turning to jelly.

“Well, Thanks for the chat Nate.” I reach out and shake his hand as Mel packs up her stuff.

“Pleasure.” Ever the gentleman, he stands to see us out.

 

About the Book

Nate Hansen desperately needs a reboot to his playboy image that doesn’t involve women, drinking and fighting. Rehabilitation and building a solid future proves elusive as he can’t land a permanent job until someone mentions local widow Joy Mitchell who’s advertising a full-time ranch job. Perfect.

Joy Mitchell is desperate for a ranch hand to help keep her dead husband’s legacy alive out of the greedy grasp of her manipulative father-in-law. Nate’s reputation precedes him, none of it good, but the ranch is running on empty, and Joy make the hard choice. Problem is the job she’s offering isn’t exactly what Nate had planned.

Nate knows what its like to lose everything, but seriously, become a mail-order groom? But Joy won’t or can’t compromise.

AMAZON US

Ann B harrison BookBaybZ

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Lost Love and Hard Won Happiness!

Mel and I exit the car and make our way down to the creek where we’ve been told we’ll find Fenella Rose-Waterman, heroine and manageress of, The Cranky Lizard Winery.

It’s a hot day and we both welcome the cool shade which envelopes us as we near the Creek. Clear, sparkling waters run down the ravine and over rocks creating an aura of sublime peacefulness.

“There she is.”

Mel points to our left where a petite woman with midnight hair and clothes that match, stands, skipping pebbles across the surface of the water.

“Hi, Fenella.”

I wave as the two of us toddle toward her.

“Hi.”

She steps off the log she’d perched on and saunters over to us, hand outstretched. Her green eyes are bright, but gaurded, unlike her expression which is open in a blank sort of way.

“Juantia said we’d find you down here. How are you?” Mel shakes her hand and we all stroll back to the log Fenella had stood on moments earlier and sit down, Fenella between us.

“Fine.” She leans back and picks up a reptile, “This is Lucky.”

I cringe a little and Mel admires the scaley spiked headed beast.

“He won’t bite.”

A soft grin lightens up her face as she strokes the Bearded Dragon, sporting a red collar and matching leash, before putting him down on the ground before us.

“So, care to tell our readers a little about yourself?” I decide to start the interview.

“Muzz and Liv Waterman adopted me after my own mum died. They accepted me with all my troubles and worries. Never gave up on me. So here I remained, and now I manage the place.”

“That’s wonderful. Do you have any regrets?”

“I trusted a ratbag with my heart and my business.”

“Ratbag?”

“My ex. He emptied out the winery’s bank account.”

Mel and I give each other a painful glance. Wolves in sheeps clothing are every where these days!

“How do you see yourself?”

Fenella cocks her head and a dark shadow passes across her gaze.

“A survivor. I’ll never let anyone break me. But the shadows of my past seem darker on my down days.”

Mel shifts on her seat, “I like your leather bracelts.”

Fenella subconcoiusly grips one and twists. The movement pushes it up and I catch a glimpse of keloid scarring. This girly’s been through helluva lot more than she lets on.

“Anyone special in your life?”

Fenella’s eyes shoot toward me before she looks down as a frown creases her brow.

“He’s back.”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“He?” Mel gives Fenella and interested look.

“Kieran Murphy. But it’s too dangerous to get too close.”

I give Mel a , What the heck?, look and she shrugs.

The distant rumble of a car engine and tyres on gravel echoes across the warm air.

“Look. I’ve gotta go. It was great meeting you guys. Please feel free to pop by for a bottle of wine, on me.” She proffers a small smile then stands up, “Come Lucky, works a waiting.”

 

When the shadows ride in Wongan Creek…

Juanta Kees

Fenella Rose-Waterman is happy running The Cranky Lizard winery until a broken relationship lifts the lid on the Pandora’s Box of her past. After years of repressed memories haunting her dreams, she is forced to face the truth to find justice. But with truth comes a danger that puts everyone she loves at risk.

Kieran Murphy left Wongan Creek a newly-wed and returned a widower. He believes he and his young son will find healing in the town that healed him once before. Instead, he finds the woman he loved running scared, her life in turmoil and her business under threat.

As the shadows of the past gather on the horizon, will they lose their chance of happiness or will they find healing together?

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It’s Here! Sexy Cowboys, Attractive Lawyers and a True Romance

Ann B harrison BookBaybZ

After moving to the lush green wine region of Australia’s Hunter Valley, Ann has the perfect surrounding to let her imagination to run wild. She alternates her time between writing western romances and playing in her garden.

Two kinds of hero make Ann a mass of nerves. The hot cowboy with a slow sexy drawl (she used to live out in the desert and enjoyed every minute) and a man in a kilt. (Imagine Jamie Fraser) She can’t wait to visit Scotland where she can get her fill of the tartan clad hotties for, um research purposes, of course.

In the meantime, her dear husband puts up with her talking to her characters and getting lost in worlds only she can imagine as she battles to bring stories to the page for everyone to enjoy.

Q.Which book left you empty inside once you finished writing it?

Easy.

The Cowboy’s Baby Surprise, third book in the Hansen Brothers Series. I bawled my eyes out on the last chapter.

Q.What is the best opening sentence you have written?

Tyson Watson took another sip of his whisky, immune to the fire burning down his throat. After the first two glasses the numbness had set in and he could have just as easily been sculling water for all the good the liquor was doing for him. He stared at the bottle, somehow blaming it for the foul mood he was in and then tried to focus on what he was doing.

Wife wanted, no frills or fancy ideas. Must be willing to live in the country, help on the ranch and not be afraid of commitment.

Ann B Harrison BookBaybZ

Excerpt from – Cowboy to the Rescue.

Sadie ran to the next room, grabbed her handbag, and opened the front door for Jethro. He hustled past her and nodded to the truck at the curb. “Door’s unlocked. Open it for me, please, and then get in the back.”

“You want me to come too?” Her face paled. “Shouldn’t someone stay here in case Tyson calls back or a client comes by?”

“Sadie, I need you with me.” Layla gripped her hand and dragged her along. “Don’t you dare leave me now!”

“But, I… surely I should be doing something in the office. Schedule meetings or something.”

“Please, Sadie, send him a text message.” Jethro slid Layla into the front seat and reached for the seat belt, locking it in place around her. “I need help with this one. I owe her, you know, and I’d feel better if there was a friendly face with me.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“No, but she does, and from what I’ve seen, she trusts you more than anyone. Pretty sure a woman needs someone she trusts at a time like this.”

A roar of frustration came from Layla perched in the truck. “You two together, with me—now!”

“Get in. We can argue how much we know each other later.”

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Thank You for taking the time to chat to us about your writing and your book Ann.