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by Tricia McGill
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: August 3, 2012
Editor: Natisha LaPierre
Line Editor: Valerie Haley
Cover Designer: Mike Zambrano
In the small Tasmanian town where they grew up, Sally fell in love with Mac at first sight. She was still a child and he a teenage boy, almost but not quite a man. But a special bond of deep friendship formed between them, fuelled by their mutual love of animals—especially horses. As each matured that special bond threatened to move beyond the limits of friendship. By the time Sally reached her 17th birthday, she was desperately in love with him, the shining hero of her girlhood.
One terrible night Mac betrayed that love and Sally could not find it in her heart to forgive him until the truth was revealed years later. But by then they had both moved on with their lives, and the heartbreaks of the past seem destined to remain only tarnished memories.
"Barbara tells me you're thinking of getting engaged." His sharp statement broke into the seething silence.
Sally jumped as if a firecracker had been let off at her feet.
His foot pumped the pedal and the vehicle raced up a hill. "Tell me about this extraordinarily lucky man who has won your heart."
She felt as if a boulder blocked her throat as she turned to stare at him. His handsome features looked to be carved from granite. Had he forgotten how to smile? Once, his face was open and expressive. Now he looked so stern. If she lived to be a hundred, she doubted she would ever get used to the perfection of his rugged face and his powerful body. He seemed to improve with maturity.
If only he didn't still appeal to all her senses, then perhaps she might be able to hate him. If he were less respected among his clients who relied on him explicitly where their animals were concerned, perhaps she could despise him. If only she didn't still have to curb the desire to run her fingers through his thatch of mahogany hair. If only he had a vicious streak in him.
So many ifs again. She sighed raggedly.
"Peter. Peter Rand. Actually he's my boss. I guess Mum told you that too." Her mother should learn to keep more to herself. "He owns the boutique where I work. In fact, he owns a string of shops all over the country. I've worked for him since"—she bit her lower lip—"since I left home."
Peter had been badgering her for months to get engaged. So far marriage hadn't been mentioned. Sally was sure it wasn't on his agenda. Not that that worried her in the least. She had no intentions of getting married. If she did, it certainly wouldn't be to Peter. And she wasn't getting engaged to him either. Barbara must have gotten it wrong when Sally happened to mention during her short visit at Christmas that he'd brought the subject up.
Lifting her eyes to the man beside her, she suddenly felt like screaming. Mackenzie Boswell, Mac to his friends, was the only man she'd sworn—long ago—to marry. Once he'd been the nucleus of her being. Her entire world.
Peter's wife had walked out on him and then divorced him, when his infidelities became insufferable. Sally doubted he could be faithful to one woman. He only brought up the subject of getting engaged because he thought it a sure-fire way to get her in his bed. Fat chance!
It said a lot for his opinion of women when he considered an engagement ring could entice one to sleep with him. Sally admired his business flair. He’d inherited a string of shops from his mother and managed them adequately. But he was vain and full of his own importance. The exact opposite to the man seated by her side. Peter enjoyed fine wine and good food, and it showed; his figure was running to flab. Although forty, his blond mop of curls and flamboyant mode of dressing made him appear almost boyish. Until you looked closely. Then you saw the lines that excessive living had etched on his face.
Sally had only succumbed to his pleas for a date initially to stave off her desolation and loneliness when life in Melbourne became intolerably melancholy. A decision she regretted deeply. Once back in Melbourne, she fully intended to make it clear she had no intention of becoming his fiancée—or his mistress.
As a gauche seventeen-year-old, she had started work in one of his suburban boutiques after she'd fled to the city. Her mother had been distraught when Sally pleaded with her to ask her lifelong friend, Joanna, to let Sally stay with her until she found her feet. Barbara never understood the compelling desire of Sally's to leave the town she professed to love. After a year with Joanna, Sally moved into a flat with another girl and meanwhile worked her way up the professional ladder to become a senior saleslady. Last year, Peter made her manageress of his most prestigious city store.
She worked long shifts so she didn't have to spend too many lonely hours in the furnished flat she rented in a luxury apartment block. Memories of the past too easily crept up to haunt her—to remind her of how things could have been. Furtively, she stole a glance at the man beside her, wondering if he ever spared a thought for her, other than remembering a pest of a child who had turned into an aggravating adolescent.
As if he'd read her thoughts, he asked harshly, "Like living in the big smoke, do you?"
She shrugged, feigning indifference. "It grows on you." What a lie. She didn't belong there. But she didn’t belong here anymore either.
The sickening automobile fumes of the city combined with the nerve-jangling noise and activity would never suit her if she stayed there forever. Often she had to fight the urge to walk out of her job, never to return. What she would give to be able to return to this sometimes gentle, often hostile, but always adored countryside. But this was another thing she would never admit to Mackenzie Boswell.
About the Author:
Award winning author Tricia McGill's books cross many sub-genres but all have romance at their heart. Her books include contemporary, mainstream, futuristic, time-travel, and historical. Her short stories have appeared in the Australian Woman's Day magazine. Born in England, Tricia moved to Australia many years ago and lives in Victoria where most of her modern romance novels are set—except Tarnished Memories, which is set in Tasmania, her second favorite state.
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Customer Reviews:grumpygirl (Wednesday, 22 August 2012)
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