It's coming out on January 3 exclusive to Amazon and in KU!
This one is set on a high country sheep station in the foothills of the Southern Alps of New Zealand and it has three - yes three! - devilishly hot heroes!
Check out this cover! Korey Mae Johnson at Stormy Night Publications has absolutely outdone herself with this one! I love it!
And read on for the entire first chapter:
Carly Morgan clutched the crumpled scrap of paper tightly, trying to spread it out on the steering wheel and get rid of the creases enough to make it readable. The hastily-scrawled note had been virtually illegible when the handsome stranger had first given it to her and now, nearly a whole year later, faded, worn and torn after so long stuffed in the back of her wallet, it was next to impossible to read. Growling in frustration, she threw it on the floor.
This was the road – it had to be. The signpost had long gone and the tarseal had turned to gravel ages ago. It was the only road around for miles. Narrow and winding. Leading to the middle of nowhere.
She could distinctly remember the turn left at the fork and head for the hills instruction spoken in that low, rumbly tone that even now, months later, made her stomach clench. This was the only fork in the road she’d come to in the better part of an hour and behind it were stunning hills. Foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, with the snow-capped peaks of the mountains themselves beyond, towering above the valley. They were majestic, beautiful. It was gorgeous countryside out here, even if it was in the middle of nowhere.
Her mind went back to last year, when she’d first met her handsome saviours. She’d been desperate, waiting on the side of the deserted road for hours. The GPS she’d been following had taken her on this short-cut that really wasn’t, there was no cell phone coverage and she’d discovered, too late, that her brand-new work car didn’t have a jack. She’d been beginning to wonder if she’d have to spend the night there. She’d spent the night in worse places and at least there was a stunning view.
The road had been so deserted that when the dust cloud thrown up by the battered red ute with the huge wheels had slowly got bigger and bigger, she’d thought she was seeing things. Until she’d heard the rumble of the engine getting closer and closer. It had pulled up behind her and three big men, her heroes, had gotten out. Brothers, from Ryan’s Peak Station back in the hills. They’d all been tall, broad shouldered, lean and muscular, and ruggedly handsome, and they’d made short work of changing her tyre. She’d stood on the side of the road and chatted to them as they worked, and casually mentioned that she wouldn’t mind seeing a high country station one day. “It must be so romantic!” she’d commented dreamily. They’d chuckled at that, all of them, but hadn’t corrected her. One of them, a part-Maori man, the tallest of the three, had invited her to the local pub with them for a drink, but she’d politely declined. She had to carry on, she’d said. She’d wasted enough time, stuck out here in the middle of nowhere; she wanted to be back in the city before dark. So they’d gone on without her, but not before another one of them had pressed a piece of paper into her hand.
“Here,” he’d told her. “How to find us.” The wink he’d given her had turned her insides to mush and she’d regretted her hasty refusal to have a drink with them, but before she could change her mind he’d gotten back into the ute and they’d roared off, dust flying up behind them, and she’d been all alone once more.
“This has to be it,” she murmured to herself, taking the left fork. “Oh well, here goes nothing.”
As well as being so dusty that tiny particles of dirt came in through the vents and stuck to her face and hair, the road was potholed and rutted. Her sedan wasn’t small, but it didn’t have big wheels like the ute she remembered, and it jolted and bumped. She slowed to a crawl. “Damn this road is awful!” she muttered, gripping the steering wheel tighter to navigate around the holes.
The road seemed to go on forever. What was it the barely readable directions said? 12k’s? Surely she’d driven that far? She glanced down at the speedo: bang on snail’s pace. It would take a fair while to drive twelve kilometres at that speed.
She kept going.
And then she stopped, amazed. Just over the brow of the hill, to the right, the valley opened up to the most spectacular view she’d ever seen. A waterfall crashed over a cliff to splash into a little pool below. A stream meandered along the valley floor. Cattle were scattered along the river flats. Green grazing gave way to crops further back, with the hills turning into tussock beyond that. To her left the Southern Alps loomed, the snow-capped mountains standing forbidding and powerful. She was stunned. She’d lived in New Zealand her whole life. How had she not known places like this existed?
Forcing her eyes back to the road, she carried on. It couldn’t be much further now, surely?
Just around the next bend a narrow driveway went off to the left. Ryan’s Peak Station, according to the wooden sign standing tall and proud in the paddock. Was this it? It had to be! Butterflies in her tummy tried to make their escape as she steered the car over the cattle stop, bracing herself for the bumpy rumble. What was she going to do if this wasn’t the place? What if it turned out she’d come all this way for nothing?
Her clammy palms slipped on the steering wheel but there was nothing she could do but keep on driving. Fences on either side of the driveway made it impossible to turn around and she wasn’t much chop at backing. Never had been. As long as she was going forwards, she was a perfectly fine driver. But backwards… That had never made sense to her. And she certainly wasn’t going to attempt reversing over the cattle stop. Not when there were concrete barriers on either side just sitting there, waiting for her to hit. No. She’d rather take her chances with what was at the end of the driveway. She held her breath as she inched forwards.
There were trees up ahead. The roof of a house was just visible through the leaves. On this side stood a huge shed, a corrugated iron monstrosity that had no doors and appeared to house myriad agricultural equipment. She recognised a tractor, but that was about it. Everything else inside was completely foreign to her. She swallowed nervously. She was so far out of her depth, here. Why had she even come? What made her think they would even remember her? They probably rescued dozens of damsels in distress from off the side of the road.
Pulling up in front of the shed she put the car into neutral and killed the engine. A little yappy dog, fox terrier by the looks of things, darted out of the shed, alerting the world to her arrival in the noisy way only dogs can. A part-Maori man, as tall and striking looking as she remembered, appeared through a gap in the trees before she’d even opened the door. He stood there with his arms crossed, just looking at her. Glaring, almost. A direct challenge in his dark eyes, daring her to get out of the car and face him, but at the same time demanding that she turn around and go back from whence she came.
Taking a deep breath she opened the door and stepped out. There was a shrill whistle and the little dog left his sniffing of her car, scurrying back to the security of the shed.
“We’re not selling.” His voice was harsh, cold. Nothing like the carefree rumble she remembered on the side of the road.
She flashed him a smile. “I’m not buying.”
“So why are you here?”
Two more men appeared, one came from behind him, through the gap in the trees, presumably; the other one came out of the huge shed, the little dog at his heels. He wore his blue overalls as pants, the top half hanging down around his waist, the sleeves tied loosely around him, a singlet that had possibly once been white but was now stained mostly grey, the only thing covering his broad chest. His shoulders were huge, biceps well defined. Grease was smeared across his face. Even from a distance she could see the dirt in his scruffy blonde hair. He was a mess. But her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him. He was a mighty fine specimen of manhood. He rested his hand up on the side of the shed and leaned against it, a casual stance that made the muscles in his arm flex. She felt his eyes on her, looking her up and down. He winked, a half-smile creeping slowly across his clean-shaven but very grubby face. There was a dimple right in the middle of his chin.
She wracked her brain, trying to remember his name, all of their names. They’d all introduced themselves; they’d had quite a chat on the side of the dusty road, all those months ago. Clearly, a lot had happened since then. For all of them, her included.
The man at the back stepped forward. Josh. She remembered his slight limp. Although still a good six feet tall, he was the shortest of the three men, the leanest, a bit finer built. The grin he flashed her suggested he knew exactly who she was, and perhaps even why she’d come.
“I remember you,” he said simply. “The lady from the side of the road. Last year. We were on our way to the pub. A Friday night.”
A small tremor went through her as their eyes locked. She smiled. “That’s right.”
Josh pushed past the taller man blocking his way, rather roughly, she thought, using his shoulder as a bulldozer with just a bit too much force. He strode forward, stopped a bit too far away from her, extended his hand.
She had to step forward to shake it. His hand enclosed around hers, squeezed, held on just a fraction too long. She remembered his eyes, a startling blue. She couldn’t tear her gaze away.
“I wondered if we’d ever see you again.” His voice rumbled over her, as reassuring now as it had been then. There was a soft gentleness lurking in the rich baritone, a tender quality that immediately put her at ease and made her feel safe.
“Carly! That’s your name, isn’t it?” The man who’d spoken first, the one who’d been so keen to make sure she knew Ryan’s Peak wasn’t for sale, stepped forward. Now that he knew that she wasn’t in the market for the property his bearing was relaxed, far less imposing and intimidating than it had been at first. He was still a big man, tall, broad, muscular, and he set her heart racing just with his looks and his sheer physical presence.
He stuck out his hand. “I’m Davo.”
The strength of his grip, the callouses on the base of his fingers, the leathery texture of his rough palm, as his hand closed around hers, all confirmed the first impression she had of him. This man meant business.
The last man let go of the shed and came over too. Close up, he was even more handsome than what she remembered. And even grubbier than she’d first thought.
“I’m Mike,” he said. Like the men before him he reached out to shake hands with her, glanced down at his grease-covered palm, wiped it on the leg of his overalls, inspected it, then let it drop to his side with a sheepish grin that made her insides squirm with lust. “I’m the one who actually changed your tyre.”
Without moving, she returned his grin. “I remember. You were a bit cleaner then, though.” She cocked her head to the side and looked at him, taking in the dirt and grease, the sculpted muscles, the fine looking body that she just knew was underneath the clothes. “From memory, you scrubbed up alright.”
He swept both hands up and down his body before winking rakishly. “Are you saying there’s something wrong with the way I look now?”
Carly hesitated, one eyebrow raised. “Well… you’re not exactly clean, are you?”
He shrugged. “Clean’s overrated.”
She couldn’t help but laugh. “Dirty does look good on you.”
Mike chuckled, a husky, throaty laugh that made her laugh even more. “You sound like our kind of girl.” He waved towards the gap in the trees. “Come inside, have a beer. It’s nearly knock-off time anyway.”
Check out the post below to snag a copy of Caine - loosely tied to
High Country Daddies - absolutely free!