They say you should never go back, but glamorous Ronnie Percy did just that, to the home she ran away from with her lover.
But not everyone is finding it easy to forgive and forget.
Daughter Pax, fighting for custody of her small son as her own marriage disintegrates, is furious to have to spend New Year’s Eve waiting for some stranger her mother has invited to help run the family stud farm.
Even more annoyed is the staunchly loyal stud head groom, Lester. Does Ronnie think he’s lost his touch with the horses? And anyway, who is this so-called Horsemaker, Luca O’Brien? Why does he seem to be running away from something? And what is the true story of his relationship with grey stallion Beck, once destined for the Olympics, now broken and unrideable, screaming his anger from the Compton Magna stables.
Passionate, sexy, gripping, laced with her trademark wisdom and humour, this is bestselling Fiona Walker at her dazzling best.
To celebrate the release of Country Lovers, Fiona has shared an extract today. I hope you love it as much as I did.
*****beginning of extract*****
Convinced the stud’s revival would bring her family closer together, Ronnie refused to be daunted by the hard work needed to make it profitable by the trustees’ deadline. She just had to attract owners, generate stud fees and sell horses fast. Horse-trading was in her blood.
In the room behind her, Ronnie’s two small dogs were rooting round the skirting boards on the hunt for mice, sneezing at the dust. Tough, low-slung black and tans – mother and daughter Lancashire Heelers – their tails gyrated at fresh scent.
‘Catch ’em, girls,’ she urged. ‘Got to make this place habitable.’ She glanced round the room, part of a long-neglected staff flat. Blast the housekeeper for going AWOL just when they needed her most, a handwritten note delivered last week to say she was fed up working for nothing.
Well, she couldn’t afford to buy Pip back when she had a new work rider to pay.
Hired before she’d changed her mind about staying on, Luca O’Brien was an added expense Ronnie knew she must justify. Having poached him from a big Canadian showjumping yard, she’d vetoed both daughters’ demands to withdraw the job offer at the last-minute. No rider could make a horse look as good as Luca; added to which he wasn’t afraid to muck in and get his hands dirty, could manage a yard, and never stopped smiling. Lester had his teeth gritted too tightly in disapproval to muster much joy these days.
She watched the small, bowed figure in the distance, throwing open the gate to the winter turn-out then limping back to the broad-span barn to let out a stampede of yak-like woolly beasts, kicking and squealing as they charged into the field to shake off the straw, playfight and roll. Somewhere beneath all the matted hair and mud were some decent youngsters, she hoped. And whinnying furiously from his stallion box in the yard, trumpeting his superiority, her beautiful grey powerhouse would wow fellow breeders just as soon as she figured out how to defuse the bomb in his head.
Her phone face lit up on the windowsill, notifications pinging. ‘At last!’
Happy New Year had a green tick beside it now. A moment later, how are you keeping? appeared in a bubble below it, followed by, O’Brien there yet? The prospect of Ronnie sharing close quarters with a cavalier young globetrotter had irritated Blair from the start. So that’s why he was marking his territory.
About to reply with an irritated ‘not yet’ – flying out of Ontario today, Luca had a forty-eight-hour Dublin stop-off to see family – Ronnie realised the signal was lost again. Leave it there, she told herself firmly, pocketing her phone. He’ll get the message.
***** end of extract*****
Fiona Walker is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles.
In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love.
She lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals.
To also find out more about Fiona and her novels, visit www.headofzeus.com
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.
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