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Rather than join her wealthy parents in England, rebellious Louise Ashford sets off to work in the frontier settlements of the Australian Outback. She finds herself in the company of a young cattleman of convict descent, but will their passionate union bring grief to them both?
He saddled the two horses and turned when Louise made no move to go. He stood there looking at her, waiting, and suddenly she dreaded the parting which was soon to come. Her fear that he was about to be lost to her, emboldened her, taking over from her misgivings. She patted the ground beside her. "Come here, please.â€
He obeyed her, dropping to his heels. "We have to go. You know that.â€
Her eyes flew up to his face and she swallowed the lump of uncertainty in her throat. "I know. I just wanted to thank you for escorting me this far. Youâ€™ve been very good--I must say it was the greatest piece of good fortune I encountered you at Bauhinia Downs that day.â€ She uttered a shaky, self-deprecating laugh that was totally unlike her. "Perhaps youâ€™ve thought it otherwise, however.â€
He continued to regard her intently, saying nothing, and she added, "We should say goodbye now. We shall hardly be able to do so under the eagle eye of Mrs. Greenwood.â€
She held out her hand to him, which he took perfunctorily, his eyes still holding hers. The expression in them reminded her of the way heâ€™d looked at her a couple of nights ago in his shack, and she realized sheâ€™d lured him into something more than a simple handshake. This was the moment to move away and forestall him, but anticipation held her captive. Her heart thudded nervously while he moved closer, clasping her hand in his and moving his calloused thumb caressingly on her palm.
She looked up at him breathlessly, her eyes locked with his, while the movement of his thumb sent little tingles of delight coursing through her body. Then he twisted her hand so that their palms were together, their fingers entwined. He tipped off his hat and bent his face down to hers to find her mouth.
One hand on the ground supported his weight, the other relinquishing hers to come up and stroke the sensitive skin at the back of her neck. The awkwardness of earlier was overtaken by her bodyâ€™s surging response as his mouth moved over hers. Louise was conscious of nothing but a blurred image of green eyes and light-brown hair, tanned skin, and a firm mouth that tasted of pipe tobacco and strong black tea. At last he lifted his head, his hand dropping to her shoulder. Owing to his crouching position their bodies hadnâ€™t even touched.
"Louise--â€ he used her Christian name for the first time, his voice husky--â€what the dickens made you leave the Barclays like that?â€
She looked at him, startled even in the midst of her desire. "How did you know my name was Louise?â€
"It was on one of your handkerchiefs.â€
Of course. Sheâ€™d dropped a handkerchief beside the campfire one day and heâ€™d retrieved it for her. It had happened to be one that little Sarah Barclay had embroidered, using Louiseâ€™s first name instead of the more usual initials. It was lucky she hadnâ€™t used the initials. That handkerchief would have to stay packed away in future.
"Iâ€™m generally called Lucy, you know.â€
His hand tightened on her shoulder. "Louise suits you better. But you havenâ€™t answered me question. I want you to tell me why you left the Barclays--the truth, that is.â€
Her nerves tightened. Suddenly she badly wanted to tell him. She could not go on under false pretences like this, letting him believe in Lucy Forrest, the governess. Yet she would have to feel the way, first.
"Lloyd, have you ever heard of the Ashfords?â€
"Which Ashfords do you mean?â€
"The Harry Ashfords, from Banyandah. Theyâ€™re cousins of James Barclay.â€
"Harry Ashford,â€ he repeated. He rose abruptly, his face and voice suddenly grim. "Yes, I know of the family. I didnâ€™t know they were cousins of the Barclays, though. James Barclayâ€™s a bit too good for â€˜em, isnâ€™t he?â€
"Why?â€ She could hardly breathe. "What do you know of them?â€
Heather grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland. As a child she loved horses, books and the bush and these are still passions of hers. She and her husband now have a cattle and grain farm. She has two young adult children, a son whoâ€™s doing a boilermakerâ€™s apprenticeship and a daughter who is presently living many miles away in South Australia.
Heather first began writing at the age of seven and published her first novel when she was in her early twenties. At that time many towns in Central Queensland were celebrating their centenaries, and this helped inspire her historical novels set in the pioneering days. Having babies interrupted her writing and she didnâ€™t seriously return to it until many years later.
As well as being a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and the Romance Writers of Australia, she belongs to a local writersâ€™ group which meets once a month. Theyâ€™ve published two books of short stories, in which some of her work has been included. She has also had short stories printed in other anthologies.
Heather is one of a group of volunteers who once a month put together a newsletter of the happenings around her town. She works part-time at the local library and, of course, at home on the farm.
The day Matt Jones discovers his parents at Fenham Manor, England are not his blood kin, his world as he knows it, comes suddenly to an end. A HIDDEN LEGACY by Heather Garside is exquisitely crafted with vivid detail, and is tightly interwoven with sexual indiscretions and family scandals. Mathew must strive to grow up to face his new world.
I highly recommend A Hidden Legacy, a Historical Romance written by Heather Garside for its intricate plotting, multifarious adventures, and the twisting tale of its family relationships. Itâ€™s more than just a quick afternoon read.-- Review Rate: 5, Reviewer: JoEllen Conger
A Hidden Legacy :
Ms Garsideâ€™s books are fascinating, giving you a definite feel for her homeland, Australia. No only does the romance enthrall but the essence of the country draws you in. Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, it is also a welcome sequel to â€˜The Cornstalkâ€™. ... This delightful book is compelling reading and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who enjoys romantic novels. -- â€˜A Hidden Legacyâ€™ reviewed by, Hazel Statham, author of Dominic, My Dearest Friend, His Shadowed Heart
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 346
Paper Weight (lb): 14.6
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