~ HER CATTLEMAN BOSS ~

He's tanned, rough and ready, and driving this city girl crazy!

When Kate Brodie  inherits half a rundown cattle station she doesn't expect to have a sexy cattleman boss to contend with!

Noah doesn't need a city-girl like Kate trying her pretty hand at Outback life, but he's a single dad now, and needs help restoring Radnor to its former glory. Kate's the only person within a hundred miles who will help him, so he'll grudgingly show her the ropes...

As they toil together under the Outback sun, romance should be the last thing on their minds... shouldn't it?


 

 

HARLEQUIN ROMANCE

- NORTH AMERICA March 2009 -

 

MILLS AND BOON  ROMANCE

- UNITED KINGDOM  March 2009 -

 

MILLS AND BOON SWEET

- AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND April 2009 -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             
 

 

 

 

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Kate Brodie stood, with her suitcase beside her, her sensible jacket folded over her arm, and looked across the stretch of sunburned grass to the site of her first and worst heartbreak.

She had hoped to feel calmer about coming back to the Australian Outback after nine years, but her first glimpse of the low, sprawling homestead baking beneath the harsh sun sent her stomach churning like a tumble dryer.

Such an annoying reaction after all this time. She was no longer the naïve English teenager who’d come to her uncle’s cattle property for a holiday. She’d recovered years ago from the embarrassing crush she’d wasted on Noah Carmody, her uncle’s handsome young stockman.

Kate looked again at the silent homestead with its ripple iron roof, reaching low, like a shady hat, over deep verandas, and her throat tightened painfully. She could almost picture her Uncle Angus standing at the top of the front steps, waiting to welcome her, his silver hair shining in the sun’s dazzle and his smile as wide as his open arms.

He’d lived in virtual exile in Australia, which had always seemed like the bottom of the world to Kate, but he’d been her only male relative and she’d loved knowing that he was there, like a deep sea anchor. It was so hard to accept that he’d gone for ever.

Turning slowly, she looked about her, taking in the vastness, the overwhelming emptiness of the Outback. The tourist coach that had brought her from Cunnamulla had already disappeared into the shimmering heat haze and flat red earth dotted with grey clumps of dried grass stretched as far as the eye could see.

Her uncle’s letters had hinted at the prolonged drought in this part of Australia, but she was shocked to see how desperately hot and dry it was.

Nine years ago, these same parched paddocks had been oceans of lush grass and the creeks had run with clear, fresh water. Pretty green lawns and bright, flower filled gardens had surrounded the homestead.

Now, with the gardens gone, every blade of grass shrivelled, and the earth sun-bleached and bone-hard, the homestead had lost its grandeur. It looked sad and faded, as if it, too, had succumbed to the cruelty of the withering sun.

Four lone frangipani trees had survived the drought and they stood, two on either side of the front steps, like maids of honour. They were ablaze with extravagant blooms and their gaudy splashes of colour were like thick daubs in an oil painting – pristine white, sharp lemon, deep rosy pink and rich apricot.

A photographer’s dream.

But now wasn’t the time for photographs…

A hot wind gusted, picking up gritty dust and throwing it in Kate’s face. She ducked her head and blinked hard. After her tediously long journey, dirt in her eyes was almost too much. She was weary to the bone. Jetlagged.

And she still had to face up to Noah.

Which shouldn’t be a problem. She was sure Noah Carmody had long forgotten the awkwardness of her teenage infatuation. For heaven’s sake, it had all happened when she was seventeen. Noah had recognised her crush, had taken pity on her and kissed her.

Unfortunately, she’d responded with a wantonness that had shocked him. That was the embarrassing part Kate fervently hoped Noah had forgotten.

She’d been so wild and headstrong back then, so desperately in love with him. And with the buoyancy of youth she’d bounced back from his rejection. Focusing on the kiss rather than the rejection, she’d gone home to England with her head full of dreams of leaving school, of getting a job and saving hard to return to Australia.

She’d planned to work as a jillaroo, to meet up again with Noah again, and she’d been sure that, given time, she could win his heart and marry him.

Fool.

How pathetic she’d been, fighting her mother’s protests and refusing to get her A levels, or to go to university. She’d given up everything for that one dream. And then, at about the same time she’d earned the money to buy her plane ticket to Australia, word had arrived via Uncle Angus that Noah had married an Australian girl.

Even now, all these years later, the memory of that letter made Kate’s throat close over. Thank God she’d eventually recovered. It had taken years, but at last Kate was normal. Her latest boyfriend, Derek Jenkins, was a rising star in London banking and Kate was quietly confident that she was over Noah. Completely and permanently over him.

When she saw him again, she would be as reserved and polite as he’d always been with her, and the only emotion she would show would be her grief over Angus’s passing.

Now, Kate marched resolutely across the final stretch of dirt to the front steps, where an elderly cattle dog, sleeping beneath the low veranda, lifted his head and blinked hazel eyes at her. He rose stiffly and approached her, his blue and white flecked tail wagging.

Kate stopped. She hadn’t had much experience of large dogs, and she expected him to bark, but he remained utterly silent, watching her keenly.

‘Is anyone home?’ she asked.

The dog gave another lazy wag of his tail, and then retreated to the shade beneath the floorboards, like a pensioner, allowed to enjoy the shade after a lifetime of hard work.

Kate couldn’t blame him from keeping out of the sun. Already she could feel it stinging the back of her neck. Sweat trickled into the V of her bra and made her skin itch. She hurried up the short flight of timber steps into the welcome shade on the homestead veranda.

And stopped dead.

The very man she’d been fretting over was sprawled in a canvas squatter’s chair. Shirtless.

Kate gulped. And stared.  

His face was covered by a broad brimmed akubra, but she couldn’t mistake that long rangy body and those impossibly wide shoulders. His bare chest was bronzed and broad, and it rose and fell rhythmically.

By contrast, Kate’s breathing went haywire.

It was the shock, she told herself, the shock of finding Noah Carmody asleep at midday. The last, the very last thing she’d expected.

She’d invaded his privacy, but heaven help her, she couldn’t stop staring.

She took another step and the veranda’s bare floorboards creaked, but Noah didn’t move. Her gaze fixed on his hands, large and long fingered and suntanned and beautiful, loosely folded over the belt buckle of his jeans.

Carefully, she set her suitcase down and continued to stare. His hips were lean, his thighs strong, and his blue-jeans clad legs seemed to stretch endlessly in front of him. He’d removed one riding boot and kicked it aside and his right foot now looked strangely exposed and intimate in a navy blue sock with a hole in the big toe. No doubt he’d fallen asleep in this chair before he’d got the other boot off.

‘Noah?’

Kate’s lips formed the word, but no sound came out. She sent another hasty glance beyond the veranda, to the wide expanse of dry, empty plains spreading to infinity in every direction. She’d get no help from out there.

The house was silent, too. The front door was slightly ajar, offering a hint of a darkened and cool interior, but no sounds came from inside. Beside the door, an old hat with a battered crown hung on a row of pegs, next to it a horse’s bridle and a leather belt with a pocket-knife pouch. The possibility that her Uncle Angus had left them there, planning to use them again, burned a lump in Kate’s throat.

She took another, careful step towards the door. Someone must be awake – Noah’s wife, or a housekeeper at least. But if she knocked, she might disturb Noah. To Kate’s dismay, her confidence shrank to zilch at the thought of that tall, muscle-packed, bare-chested man waking and setting his cool grey eyes on her.

She could avoid waking him if she went round to the back door. Then she would find the housekeeper in the kitchen. It was almost midday, for heaven’s sake, and someone should be up and about. No doubt that someone should wake Noah…

Turning carefully, she began to tiptoe, retracing her steps over the creaking veranda floorboards to the steps. Halfway across the veranda, she heard a deep, gravelly voice.

‘Kate?’

She spun around.

It was just as she’d feared.

Noah was out of his chair, standing tall. So tall. And heart-stoppingly attractive with a day’s growth of dark beard shadowing his jaw. His eyes narrowed against the sun’s glare. It is you, Kate, isn’t it?’

‘Yes.’ Little more than a squeak emerged from her tight throat. ‘Hell –’ She swallowed awkwardly. ‘Hello, Noah.’

‘Yes. Of course it’s you.’ His teeth flashed white in his suntanned face as he grinned. ‘No one else has that colour hair.’

 

 


 

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From “Her Cattleman Boss"
By: Barbara Hannay
Mills and Boon Romance
January 2009

ISBN: 978-0-263-20707-1
Copyright: © Barbara Hannay
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com

 

 

             
 

 

 

 

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