Bride at Briar's Ridge

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Sought-after bachelor Linc Mastermann is used to women falling at his feet. But past experience has taught this handsome sheep baron that women aren't to be trusted. Daniela Adami has come to beautiful Briar's Ridge to escape from her life in London. She's been hurt and her heart is guarded, but when Linc strides into her world he turns it upside down….

Linc only wants to marry to produce heirs to his fortune....

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Sought-after bachelor Linc Mastermann is used to women falling at his feet. But past experience has taught this handsome sheep baron that women aren't to be trusted. Daniela Adami has come to beautiful Briar's Ridge to escape from her life in London. She's been hurt and her heart is guarded, but when Linc strides into her world he turns it upside down….

Linc only wants to marry to produce heirs to his fortune. He isn't interested in falling in love. Or so he thinks….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373183975
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/14/2008
  • Series: Harlequin Romance Series, #4051
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Way was born in the City of Brisbane. A Conservatorium trained pianist, teacher, accompanist and vocal coach, her musical career came to an unexpected end when she took up writing, initially as a fun thing to do. She currently lives in a harbourside apartment at beautiful Raby Bay, where she loves dining all fresco on her plant-filled balcony, that overlooks the marina. No one and nothing is a rush so she finds the laid-back Village atmosphere very conducive to her writing

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Read an Excerpt

Line checked out of his Sydney hotel after a late breakfast. An easy two-hour drive later he was cruising through the beautiful Hunter Valley, wedged snugly between the blue-hazed Broken-back Ranges, dominated by the native eucalypts. He had an idea the word eucalypt came from the Greek for 'covered'. Maybe it had something to do with the way the buds covered themselves, as though seeking shade. There were over six hundred species of eucalypt at the last count—Australia's gift to the world. It was the fine drops of eucalyptus oil in the atmosphere that gave off that marvellous purplish-blue haze. That was how the beautiful Blue Mountains some forty miles west of Sydney got their name.

To his mind, trees made the landscape. He loved them. He was first and last a man of the land. Sometimes he thought he and the land were one—pretty much the same primal feeling of the first Australians, the aboriginals who had managed the land for 40,000 maybe 60,000 years. The white man, with his need for progress now almost out of control, was doing great harm to nature. The planet was screaming out for urgent change.

It was a brilliantly fine day, all blue and green and gold, and the unfolding landscape was like one of Hans Heysen's famous rural paintings that found their way on to calendars and postcards and the like. Miles of sun-drenched vineyards met his eyes, expanding to the horizon. Here and there he caught glimpses of glorious big rose bushes, bearing a profusion of flowers. He knew roses were grown in close proximity to the vines because their presence protected the vines from certain blights. Fruit and flower gave off a heady rich perfume and a riot of colour.

The Hunter was Australia's oldest winegrowing region, probably the most visited, and it produced wonderful wines. In fact the Hunter was a Mecca for those who relished gourmet food washed down with plum-coloured Shiraz, golden Chardonnay, citrusy Semillon or classic Cabernet with its blackberry flavour; a superb wine to complement every type of cuisine. He wasn't behind the door with the vino, having sunk a bottle or two in his time, but he still had a taste for a good cold beer.

Some parts of the landscape were reminding him of Italy: the imported eucalypts, the golden sun soaking into the fertile soil, the intoxicating aromas of fruit and flowers, the open grassy meadows filled with wild poppies, scarlet and yellow, their papery petals bobbing in the breeze. He was halfway to feeling good when for many years of his life he had been swept by restlessness. He had a dark side to him. Linc had come to accept that. Now he took his time, savouring the laid-back atmosphere of the valley. It held more than a hint of the wild bush he loved. Every country had its own landscape. The Outback was Australia's, but the real Outback was farther on—the Back O'Beyond.

He slotted in another CD and drove along with it as he continued on to his destination. Wangaree Valley. Wangaree was the legendary stronghold of the mighty sheep barons and their descendants, in particular his old friend, Guy Radcliffe. He and Guy had been through school and university together, and Guy had been a role model for him in those days—a calm, steadying hand when he'd really needed one. He remembered Dr Mallory, the headmaster of their school, describing Guy as 'the perfect gentleman'. There was no getting away from it. Guy was impressive. Linc, on the other hand, was kind of wild—especially since he and Chuck, his elder brother, had lost their mother to breast cancer a few years into their boarding school stint.

It had torn his heart out. He still wasn't over the shattering blow. Never would be. He had been very close to his mother, even more so than Chuck. Their father had favoured Chuck. The moment he thought of his mother Linc's breath caught on a moan. In those last heartbreaking days she had become so wasted—parchment skin stretched tight over delicate bones, hardly a vestige of her beauty left to her. But even at the end she had been so incredibly loving, so selfless and brave, thinking only of them, her two boys, and his heart broke all over again. Suffering seemed to happen to the best people. His mother had been the one who'd held the family together. He was going to miss her until the end of his days.

Right now he had to make an effort to clamp down on his upsetting memories. No one seemed to realise it—he knew he projected the misleading super-confident image of a man right on top of things—but he was a pretty complicated guy, maybe even messed up. Only his mother had truly understood him. His father had been antagonistic even when Linc was a kid. He knew he had always asked too many questions—not trying to be the smart-ass his father had long since labelled him, he had actually wanted to

know. He'd always had an enquiring mind. But his father hadn't seen it that way. To him, being questioned about anything was rank insubordination. Ah, well! He wasn't the first and he wouldn't be the last not to get on with his dad. But that was all over.

He was in the valley for the best of reasons. Guy had asked him to be one of the groomsmen at his wedding. Something he had kept from the family. He had wanted to tell Chuck, but Chuck could unwittingly be conned into admissions he would never have made on his own. The wedding was to be celebrated the coming Saturday. Guy was marrying a very special girl by the name of Alana Callaghan—'the most beautiful girl in the valley'—or so the legend went. Linc had been delighted to accept his friend's invitation. Besides it would give him the opportunity to view Briar's Ridge.

Alana and her brother, Kieran, had inherited the sheep farm from their late father. Guy had told him it was a good buy, and Guy was the man in the know. Guy also knew Linc was anxious to strike out on his own. Briar's Ridge just might work.

It would be a huge challenge, even so. He did have money of his own, plus a nice little nest egg he had inherited from his maternal grandad—God rest his gracious, loving soul. His father, Ben, as tight-fisted as they came, would have refused point-blank to lend him a stake. Giving was out of the question. The only thing his father would have given was a few tips to Scrooge. Except where Cheryl was concerned. Linc felt a burning in his chest at the thought of Cheryl, who could have answered to the name Jezebel. Cheryl was another pressing reason he had to get away from Gilgarra. Cheryl, the third Mrs Ben Mastermann, had taken no time at all to fix her predatory china-blue eyes on him, of all people. He had taken it as a tremendous insult—both to his father and him.

Now nowhere was safe. A woman hell-bent on pursuing a man who in no way wanted her wasn't a pretty sight. He might have earned himself a bit of a reputation with the ladies, but he considered himself an honourable man. Hell, he was an honourable man. His only option had been to approach his father and let him know of his ambition to strike out on his own. He wasn't about to tell him that day was at hand. Ben Mas-termann had been known to wreck more than one property sale.

'Your place is right here!' his father, angry as a bull, had bellowed, veins like cords standing up in his neck. Ben Mastermann had been furious that his younger son was willing to abandon their family heritage, even though everyone in the district knew father and son were nearly always at loggerheads.

What his father didn't know, and Linc could never tell him, was the problem he was having freezing out Cheryl. Their mother had only been dead two years before their father had taken Valerie Horden, a socialite divorcee and a longtime acquaintances to wife. That hadn't lasted, although Val hadn't been a bad sort—kind to him and Chuck in an off-hand sort of way. Not that they'd seen much of her, what with school and university. The marriage was over after six years, with a ritual exchange of insults, laying blame, and a hefty settlement for Valerie. Nothing like marriage to bring out the best and worst in people. Val, a dedicated sportswoman, had plunged in, but had soon found herself way out of her depth with the demanding and autocratic Ben Mastermann.

Then had come a long hiatus, but just when Linc and Chuck had thought they had good reason to believe their father had abandoned any search for another wife, without warning along came Cheryl—who had seriously been searching for a rich husband along with the meaning of life. That had been a little over two oppressive years ago, and even now Cheryl was only a few years older than Chuck, which put her in her early thirties. The two brothers had spotted her as a gold-digger on sight. Chuck had put on a tortured smile for his father's benefit—Chuck was such a good-natured guy, and he loathed confrontations—but Linc, who had adored his mother, had stood well back, realising there was going to be trouble. Big-time.

Their father still believed Cheryl had fallen as madly in love with him as he had with her. He even joshed her about her 'chasing him'. That was something Linc and Chuck definitely believed. Not that their dad wasn't a fine-looking man, but he was in his late fifties to Cheryl's thirty-two or three, and of course there was the tiny fact their dad was loaded. Some ladies appreciated that sort of thing. A rich older guy was infinitely better than a young guy who wasn't. There had even been talk of their having a baby. He'd wait for that to happen. The luscious Cheryl was obsessed with her figure, and he'd bet the farm Cheryl had no intention of getting pregnant. She would even convince his dad it was his fault without saying a word. Wasn't that the way with older guys who had so much to prove?

It was all kind of sad. Worse yet, dangerous. Linc wasn't a guy who frightened easily, but Cheryl had freaked him out when she had burst into his bedroom.

'You can't go, Linc!' She had thrown herself headlong at him, clutching him around the buttocks, kneading his behind through his tight jeans with her talons, her pretty face contorted with what he'd been supposed to interpret as passion. 'You can't go and leave me. Just play it cool, okay, baby?'

Play it cool, baby? He'd marvelled at her language, let alone her damned effrontery. And he hadn't been able to fault her nerve.

'You're married to my father, Cheryl. Or was that just for the money?'

She had looked at him with an injured little smile, indicating that was so unfair. 'I think you'll find I'm making him happy,' she'd claimed, china-blue eyes smouldering not for his dad but him.

He couldn't disagree with what she had said about making his dad happy. His father was still at the honeymoon stage, and thought all his Christmases had come at once.

What else could a man do? He had pushed her aside, leaving her staring at him like some vamp in a 1940s Hollywood movie. Probably a calculated piece of play-acting. Either way, he hadn't been able to get out of his bedroom fast enough!

Not that woman trouble hadn't been a part of his life. He didn't go looking for trouble; it came to him. Married women had offered—cold-hearted, toffee-nosed ones too—but they had never been accepted. Married women were off-limits in his book. Not that he had even met one who had inspired an uncontrollable urge. It was Cheryl who was at the uncontrollable urge stage. She had shelved all caution. It all went to show she didn't really know his father. Any man fool enough to lay hands on Cheryl would finish up a corpse, with his dad going to jail.

How good it was, then, to make his escape! He'd have made it long ago, before only the entire district knew he was the one who actually ran Gilgarra. He was the ideas man, the power behind the throne. Chuck was a fine sidekick, a good hard worker, but he wasn't an ideas man—as he freely acknowledged. Their father had all but retired to give his sole attention to Cheryl. He had left them with it. And not before time.

Wangaree Valley was distant enough from his family turf, in a region called New England in the north of the state, bordering Queensland. It encompassed the largest area of high land in the country. His mother's family, the Lincolns, had quite a history in the area. They had raised merino sheep and bred cattle for generations. The Mastermanns had come later, and they had prospered on the sheep's back. Now Linc was looking to raise a dynasty of his own.

He wanted kids. He really liked kids. Two boys and two girls. He didn't care what order they came in. Just let them be healthy. But he just hadn't run into the right woman yet—even if he'd never been lacking in girlfriends. There were those who claimed he had broken too many hearts, but that had never been his intention. Some girls just wanted to settle down the moment he met them. As for him, he realised at this stage of his life he wanted marriage, even as he feared some wild cat still prowled within him.

He glanced at the time on the dash. He had told Guy he would be arriving mid-afternoon, so he had plenty of time. Hunger pangs were starting up again. He would stop to eat somewhere—the Hunter abounded with fine restaurants. He knew Guy owned an award-winning restaurant on the Radcliffe Wine Estates, but what he was looking for was more like a good cafe; a fresh ham and salad roll would do, with a nice cup of coffee. A man needed a good cafe or restaurant run by Italians for that.

Australia had become almost a second Italy, which was okay by him. He had spent an entire year in Europe after he had left university, and been back many times since. Paris was Paris—unique—but he absolutely loved Italy. Italy appealed to the exuberant side of his nature. He was not a quiet man. Neither was he the hell-raiser he had once been. The hell-raising had really got a kick start with the death of his mother and the escalation of the abrasive relationship he had with his father. He had been overlong in kicking free, but then Gilgarra had needed him.

By one-thirty he was driving through Wan-garee's town centre. It was a very pretty town, a showpiece for rural Australia. There were some well-preserved classic heritage buildings on wide, tree-lined streets, and from what he could see a few lovely little parks. He was almost at the end of the main thoroughfare, Radcliffe Drive, when he spotted a place called Aldo's. With a name like that it was sure to offer good Italian fare and a decent cup of coffee. He was very fussy about his coffee. His long stay in Rome had assured that. There was even a parking space just outside.

He drove up beside a shiny black SUV, then put the sports car into reverse, slotting it in as neat as a pin between the SUV and an old battered ute with the obligatory bull bar.

He was a long way from home and he couldn't feel happier.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    &rightarrow Deputy Application [SlateFur] &leftarrow

    Name &rightarrow SlateFur

    Age &rightarrow 25 moons

    Gender &rightarrow T &male m

    Reasons &rightarrow SlateFur is active, loyal, positive, [most of the time] tries to do what is right, friendly. Now to why: SlateFur is a little ambitious. But he's not insane like DewStar. More like a, it would be nice, but I respect whatever you choose, senario. SlateFur would send out patrols. Hunting Patrols, Border Patrols, etc. Also, he would talk to you. If a cat needed a ceremony, they could tell me. Then I would write a report in your den so it wouldn't be cluttered. Need someone to talk to about something? SlateFur is a great friend, he can be serious when needed. He hates battle, but if needed he will lay his life down for his clan.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Iceshade and Darkfrost

    I wouod like to be deputy beacause I am smart and witty. I can think fast, and move faster. I am good with battle strategies, yes I do play tricks, but always for the good of my clan. Thank you.{<_>&#1060<_>}<br><br>

    [<_>&#1046<_>] Darkfrost-<br>
    I am strong and loyal. I take no nonsense. I will always follow orders, and they can only be from my leader of deputy. I respect all life, and protect it with my own. I don't give in easily, and don't give up either. You cant break my bonds to my clan. To death and after. Briarclan is my top priority. I have no mate and no kits, which means no other responsibilities. Thank you for your consideration. [&#1046]

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Deputy Applications.

    Tell me why I should pick you for deputy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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