Runaway Groom

Runaway Groom

by Fiona Lowe

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Overview

Runaway Groom by Fiona Lowe

Book three of Wedding Fever

Amy Sagar's life is in ruins. Fired from her fast-track job and dumped by her double-crossing boyfriend, she retreats to Whitetail, Wisconsin, to lick her wounds and regroup. Meeting an impossible, sexy Australian isn't part of her strategy for getting back on track.

Ben Armytage is running away. After being left at the altar and publicly humiliated, he's taking his vintage motorcycle on an extended road trip from Argentina to Alaska. Having his journey interrupted by a breakdown and sharing a house with a curvy, redheaded lawyer in a town obsessed with weddings was never on his itinerary.

Though being stuck in a luxury log cabin isn't really a hardship, living together with their broken hearts isn't easy. When the attraction between Amy and Ben proves unstoppable, they'll both begin rethinking their plans…

For more weddings in Whitetail, check out Saved by the Bride and Picture Perfect Wedding, available now!

99,000 words

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426897801
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: 01/20/2014
Series: Wedding Fever (Carina) , #3
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 227,735
File size: 390 KB

About the Author

 

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, author. Whether her contemporary books are set in outback Australia or in the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts and warm and likeable characters that make you fall in love. Sign up for her newsletter  at http://bit.ly/1FmSvHN All social media links are at fionalowe.com

Read an Excerpt

Had Amy Sagar known that sabotage wore Giorgio Armani, she would have paid a lot more attention. If she'd had even a hint at what was to come, she'd have broken her open-door policy the day Jonathon Wiseman had walked into her office and, instead, slammed the oak door shut in his face. She most definitely would not have slept with him.

As it happened, she'd been oblivious to the calculating deceit and the utter betrayal, which was why she was now standing on the front porch of a neat and tidy home in Whitetail, Wisconsin. It was 420 miles from Chicago and the Fortune 500 company she'd called home for the past five years. It may as well have been another planet.

She rang the bell, listening to the high-pitched peep of the frogs while she waited for the door to be answered.

An older woman with short, pink hair opened the door, her face friendly and inquisitive. "May I help you?" I hope so. "Mrs. Norell?"

"Yes."

"I'm Amy Sagar. It's been a long time but my family used to rent a cottage from you and—"

"You 're little Amy Sagar?" Delight spun through the words.

Amy shrugged. "I am. Only now I'm all grown up."

And it totally sucks.

"What a lovely surprise. Why, the last time I saw you and your sisters, you must have been, what?"

"Fourteen."

"Oh, my! It can't have been eighteen years, can it?"

Amy didn't quite know what to say to that except the obvious, yes, which was an easier reply than saying, and it makes me thirty-two.

Mrs. Norell stepped out onto the porch, opened her arms and enveloped Amy in a huge hug before stepping back. "Now, just look at you."

Amy wished she wouldn't. The last shower she'd had was yesterday when her life was as it should be—organized, scheduled and career totally on track. Now she stood in a crushed business suit, panty hose with spectacular runs and ballet flats, along with a ketchup stain on her blouse courtesy of the burger she'd eaten when she'd taken a break on the long eight-hour drive.

"It's good to see you again, Mrs. Norell."

"Call me Ella." Concern hovered in her eyes. "Is everything all right, dear?"

Remembering how good Mrs. Norell's hug had just felt, Amy had to work really hard at ignoring the caring expression on her face. It beckoned strongly, tempting her to tell all.

Stay strong. No one must know. Ever!

She refused to give in to a momentary needy weakness and admit that her life was in the toilet. And it wasn't just because she didn't want to look tragic in anyone's eyes, although who ever enjoyed being pitied? No, it was because she was fairly convinced that her own stupidity had been the cause of her current situation.

Smiling against aching muscles, she said, "Everything's great. I just had a hankering to see the lake and I thought, why not today. There's no time like the present, right?"

Ella frowned. "Except that it's hard to see the lake in the dark, dear."

Amy ignored the implication that perhaps she hadn't thought this trip through. "Do you still rent out the cottage, Mrs.—Ella?"

She shook her head slowly. "No, dear. I sold it a long time ago."

"Oh." Amy wrung her hands. The idea that the cottage wouldn't be available hadn't even occurred to her nine hours ago when she'd fled Chicago.

This morning at ten, when she'd walked back into her apartment clutching the box of personal effects from her desk, she could barely breathe, let alone think. What had started off as a normal, everyday Friday morning had ended ten minutes into the working day. Her stellar career in corporate law had been demolished faster than a house of cards and she hadn't even seen it coming.

Shocked and numb, she wasn't certain how she'd even got home on the El. She had no clue how long she'd curled up on her sofa clutching her knees and rocking back and forth, but she did remember the moment she'd raised her head and seen the photo that had been taken of her at the lake all those years ago. She'd adored that vacation. She'd been happy. Filled with hope for her future. Purposeful.

The memory had penetrated the monotone in her head that had been running continuously since she'd been escorted from the M.M. Enterprises building by security. The one that said, You allowed a rat bastard to kill your career. You can't trust anyone.

Coming back to the lake had seemed so logical that she'd jumped off the couch, grabbed two suitcases, frantically dumped in whatever clothes had been clean, put her house plant in a sink of water and had got into her car. On the long drive north, it had been the memory of that cottage on the lake that had kept her from driving into a tree.

"If you're just here for the night, dear, you're welcome to stay with me," Ella said kindly.

She bit her knuckle. "Thank you, but I really wanted to stay longer. It's been forever since I had a vacation."

Ironically, the fact she hadn't taken any vacation time in the past five years other than the prescribed holidays, meant her severance pay included quite a few weeks of vacation time. If having her job stolen out from under her had a silver lining, she supposed this might be it.

Ella tapped the doorjamb as if it helped her think and then she smiled. "The Rasmussens' vacation house is empty."

Hope soared. "Would they mind if I used it?"

"I think they'd be happy someone was living there in the off-season. Sometimes we get break-ins especially when it's obvious the house is empty. The only thing is, it's not quite in the same league as my cottage."

The old cottage had been pretty basic, which was the only reason her family had been able to afford the rental. Amy hadn't done basic in years unless she counted four-star accommodations. "It's not too rustic, is it?" she asked with some trepidation.

Ella laughed. "Put it this way. It gives a whole new definition to the word. I'll just go get the keys, a flashlight and I'll draw you a map."

Amy slumped. A new definition of rustic? Could this day possibly get any worse? Apparently it could. With exhaustion clawing at every part of her, she just wanted to curl up on a bed and put an end to this horrendous day.

Why? Tomorrow won't be any different. You still won't have a job and your career will still be dead. Sadly, the truth of that was inarguable.

Sweat poured off Ben Armytage as he pushed his extremely heavy, red, vintage Harley-Davidson up the road. The sign he'd just passed read, Two Miles to Whitetail, the Home of Weddings That Wow. The irony of the situation hadn't escaped him. His beloved bike, which had carried him without mishap over the thousands of miles between Argentina and Alaska, had chosen to break down four hundred miles away from Milwaukee. The home of Harley-Davidson and the place Red had been made.

The fact it had happened outside a town that celebrated weddings was just an added extra on the irony scale and a lot like rubbing salt into a wound. After all, this entire two-continent trip was the result of a wedding. Or, to be more precise, the lack of a wedding. His. He unzipped his leather jacket. Had the bike not weighed so much, and if there'd been another town that was closer, nothing would have enticed him to step foot in Whitetail.

Over the past two hundred and eighty days, he'd come to think of his bike in terms of the ideal woman. She didn't talk back, she sat between his legs and more often than not she was a little bit dirty. "Red, you could have planned this better."

She dripped oil on his boots.

If his lungs hadn't been cramping so much from exertion, he probably would have enjoyed the fresh scent of pine on the early-evening air. As it was, he could barely appreciate the vivid autumnal colors—the red of the maple, the yellow of the poplar and the orange of the beech, all of which glowed incandescently, backlit by the setting sun. It was very different from his native Australia and the evergreen gum trees.

He heard the hum of an engine behind him and he moved Red to the edge of the narrow road.

The truck slowed and an older man with a shock of white hair stuck his head out the window. "You outta gas?"

"No. She's fueled up but she started running rough and now she won't start."

He leaned over and opened the door. "Get in and I'll drive you into town."

"I appreciate the offer but I'm not keen to leave Red on her own."

The man nodded in perfect understanding. "Oh, yeah, she's a sweet ride. Hydra-Glide, eh? What year?"

Ben was used to answering questions about Red, but getting one from someone who recognized her straight off the bat was unusual. "Nineteen fifty-seven."

"I've got a '41 chopper myself." He got a faraway look in his eyes. "Back in the day I ruled these roads on that baby."

Ben laughed thinking of the motorcycle club his father belonged to whose motto was Grow Old Disgracefully. "You probably still can and should."

"Mebbe you're right. Just lately I got too much work to ride her much." He tugged on his beard. "Your baby's gonna be fine here. It'll only take ten minutes to get back with the tow truck and we'll have her tucked up safe by nightfall. Meanwhile, you look like you could use a beer, eh?"

Ben grinned. He'd only been in Wisconsin one day but the locals' love affair with beer almost matched Australia's. He pulled his wallet, phone and passport out of a saddlebag and got into the truck. "Thanks, mate. I'm Ben."

"Al Swenson, Whitetail's mechanic." He shook Ben's hand before putting the truck in gear and moving off. "Is that an accent I hear?"

Ben tried not to laugh because Al sounded like a character off A Prairie Home Companion. "Yeah. I'm Australian."

"An Aussie on a Harley in Wisconsin, eh?" Al slapped the top of the steering wheel with his palm. "Damn. Now, that's not something we see every day. Welcome to Whitetail, son. It's a nice little town. Why not stay awhile, eh?"

Ben saw an advertising flyer on the dash for Feel Like a Star Car and Carriage Service. It featured a photo of a bride in a horse-drawn carriage. He shuddered. "I'll think about it," he said, being polite, but there was no way in hell he would consider it for a second. Nothing short of the apocalypse could keep him in a town that celebrated weddings.

Half an hour later, Ben stood in Al's auto repair workshop not quite able to believe his luck that the guy who'd offered him help was a mechanic with a passion for bikes. Not that Ben didn't know his way around Red's engine; he did. He tinkered with it constantly and, truth be told, he probably took better care of it than he took of himself. Al would be great backup, though, if he couldn't fix Red himself and a good contact if he needed parts.

He glanced around. By the looks of the clutter in the workshop, Al was also a lover of all things that provided humans with transport. The front part of the workshop looked relatively modern but the back was filled with old engines, worn buggies that had once been pulled by elegant horses and something that looked like it might be a rusted-out Mustang. It reminded him of his dad's shed.

"Interesting collection."

"Some people would say I collect junk but I know different. Did up an old landau a while back and now it's used as a wedding carriage." Al rose from a squat after taking a quick look at Red. "Going on what you told me, Ben, it could be anything from valves to the manifold. I'll take a look at her first thing in the morning." He threw a tarp over Red.

"It might just be dirty fuel. We could work on her now," Ben said firmly, eager to find the problem, fix it and get out of town.

"Son, you just finished telling me you've been on the road for over two hundred days. Red needs rest and, looking at you, you need a home-cooked meal. What's your hurry, eh? We'll deal with it tomorrow." He opened the door and flicked off the lights as if the topic was now closed for discussion. "My daughter's putting supper on the table right about now."

Ben was used to the beat of his own drum. "I don't want to hold you up but if you're happy for me to work here alone, I'm sure I can solve the problem. I've kept her going this long."

"And risk her breaking down on you again and this time in the dark?" Al gave him a look that said Ben was clueless. "It's over a hundred miles to Eau Claire and there's no town bigger than Whitetail in between. It's not like you need to be anywhere in particular tonight, eh?"

Al had him there. The whole point of life on the road was to take it as it comes. He was an expert at doing that but he didn't want to do it in this town. Without transport, though, he was stuck and he could hardly break into the workshop and fix her.

Recognizing a fait accompli, he reluctantly followed Al back to the truck. "Can you suggest somewhere cheap I can stay?"

Al scratched his chin. "Oh, hell. I just remembered there's a wedding tomorrow and everywhere's booked solid."

Ben's gut tightened. A town filled with happy and excited wedding guests was the last place he wanted to be. He turned back toward the garage door. "Let me take a look. It's probably just the spark plugs."

Al's beefy hand shot out and clamped on his shoulder. "You're not going anywhere except to my house for supper."

Ben wasn't used to such insistent hospitality and he was getting the strong impression it would be easier to just give in but that wasn't something he was very good at.

"I'd invite you to stay with me," Al continued, "but my family's visiting from Saint Paul for the wedding." He sighed. "The house is full of excited women."

Ben thought he'd just dodged a bullet. "No worries. I'll pitch my tent."

Al shook his head again. "The mornings are mighty chilly this far north."

Ben had camped in a lot worse places. "I'll cope. I saw a sign about a campground near the lake."

"It closed last week." The mechanic's pale blue eyes suddenly lit up. "But I know just the place and it's right on the lake. How about I lend you my chopper and you head out there straight after supper, eh?"

The thought of a sweet ride on a chopper silenced all his concerns about spending time in the wedding town. He shot out his hand. "It's a deal."

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Runaway Groom 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Turophile More than 1 year ago
Runaway Groom is Fiona Lowe’s final installment in the Wedding Fever trilogy, except  I hope she and the publisher change their mind. This book is my favorite in the trilogy and I want to see more of this town and these characters.   The Wedding Fever trilogy  is exactly what I look for in a contemporary small town romance.  LIkeable characters, small town setting where the characters know each other, and humor without the saccharine sweetness that plagues a few too many books in this genre.   What I loved most about this book (and others in the trilogy) is how true to life the challenges that the characters face feel, but there’s still that happy ending. I’ll admit as a red haired lawyer who grew up in Wisconsin I can relate on many levels to the heroine, but so much of the story and what the character go through will ring true even if you can’t pick out Wisconsin on a map.  Amy, our heroine, has lived her life weighed down by what she thought her family expected of her.  Her sisters were the pretty ones.  She was the smart one, the successful one, the one who’d break through that glass ceiling and succeed.  She doesn’t have the same experience with men as her sister, and misplaced trust in a guy leads to her entire world crashing down around her.  Ben, our hero, is an Aussie so sexy you keep hoping he’ll spring off the pages and into your world.  Yet he’s running away from his own demons, a run that’s waylaid when Amy mistakes him for an intruder and delays his departure from Whitetail Wisconsin.   As the story progresses, they discover the secrets they're hiding are holding them back from happiness and love. But, oh, what a lovely journey.  One thing that sets this romance apart is that  the author doesn’t make it easy on either one of them.  They make mistakes, they say and stupid things to each other - like we all do.  Heck Ben realizes he’s a dickhead and admits it! Yet they both find the strength, within themselves, to get beyond it.  In too many stories, the woman saves the man or vice-versa - yet here, both Amy and Ben find their own inner strength while recognizing the love they feel for the other.   A great read. 
Monicareents625 More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an ARC from Fiona Lowe. As the third book in the Wedding Fever Trilogy, Runaway Groom is another page turning romance from Whitetail Wisconsin, Home of Weddings that WOW! Amy Sagar is searching for a place to recoup, lick her wounds. As an attorney, she is used to being in control of the situation…until she is removed from her job and her relationship. All in one very bad day. Amy is used to the finer things in life and when she finds a cabin in the woods that surprisingly exceeds her needs, she feels like heaven is finally smiling down on her. That is, until Ben Armytage, a sexy Australian looking for a quiet place to rest until his Vintage motorcycle is repaired, walks into her hideaway. Ben is running. Hiding. On the back of, Red, his motorcycle, he had taken in the sites from Argentina to Alaska. It was time for both to rest. Running from broken hearts and finding themselves stranded, in the same cabin, in a town that celebrates weddings. With broken hearts and egos, neither of them were excited to be in a town that celebrates weddings. After an injury that was due to a misunderstanding, Ben is forced to stay longer than expected. However, does Amy or Ben really want to leave? Their instant attraction is unexpected, especially after past events had led them to Whitetail….but how can this beautiful, curvy redhead and this sexy, muscular Australian not find a connection? Being strong minded and fighting their desires can only last so long. I really enjoyed reading Runaway Groom and highly recommend the Wedding Fever Trilogy to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance novels. Fiona Lowe’s heroines are strong minded and confident, each one having their own personality and charms. The protagonist men are always strong, sexy and determined, creating instant heat. The romance that develops is always hot and steamy, very satisfying! The story is written beautifully, so that the reader can feel and connect with the characters. The plot is, as with all of her books, well written and easy to follow. Add this book, as well as the first two in the series, if you have not read them, to your 2014 ‘to be read’ list. Saved by the Bride (book 1), Picture Perfect Wedding (book 2), and Runaway Groom (book 3) is one of my favorite romance trilogies and I recommend it because I know it will be yours too!
caitbellleigh1 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. Runaway Groom is book three in the Wedding Fever series. Runaway Groom is the tale of Amy and Ben both suffering from broken hearts and bruised spirits who not only find themselves in Whitetail surrounded by wedding blissfulness but also stuck together in a rustic home. Neither wanted to be around another person but as always sometimes fate steps in to change your life. First I have to say that I loved Ben from moment one. His personality shined even though he was trying to hide himself as he got over his past. It's not always easy to write a male character whose emotions are so easily felt but Fiona Lowe did wonderful with Ben. Ben was charismatic from the moment he and Amy "collided". The hospital scene had me flat out giggling as I pictured it happening. Amy was tough. She had an absolute backbone which commanded respect from the start, she may have been down but she was not going to be beaten even if she didn't know her own strength. I love a strong heroine. Fiona Lowe always has a way of mixing comedy with a sweet, hot, romance, Runaway Groom was no exception. There was a wonderful balance between the romance building between Amy and Ben and their own personal battles. It was a wonderful addition to the series.
Nas-Dean More than 1 year ago
RUNAWAY GROOM is a January 2014 release by Carina Press by award-winning author Fiona Lowe. Amy ran away from a broken relationship and betrayal to Whitetail. And comes in contact with Ben from Australia. A loner, it seemed. He was travelling on his motorbike. After a minor accident Amy and Ben are forced to stay together. Can these two broken hearts mesh and meld together? For Ben is also running away after being jilted at the altar by his fiancée. They have definite chemistry and give in to their passions, but would it lead to long term? RUNAWAY GROOM is emotionally satisfying romance. It is fun, witty with fast-paced dialogue. Author Fiona Lowe always writes spell-binding romances and this was no exception. Highly recommended!
sbart84 More than 1 year ago
This is the third book in the Wedding Fever series. It takes you back to Whitetail WI. This book can be read as a stand alone. Amy and Ben collide in same luxury log cabin with bruised and broken hearts from previous relationships. The town welcomes them in with open hearts. Amy evens helps with sewing of wedding dresses. I enjoyed watching their relationship grow into the romance. It was great to catch up with residents of Whitetail. I am hoping for more tales from this town. I received this book from the author for an honest review. Highly recommend.
Gecko_Book_Girl More than 1 year ago
I've read the first two books in the Wedding Fever Series which I loved and Book 3 in Fiona Lowe's Wedding Fever Series does not disappoint. During the local heatwave I started reading it at 1am (big mistake) with the misguided thought to 'just read til I fall asleep'... well I finished it at 6am - good thing I'm still on holidays! Just when you thought there was no one left in the town to marry off in comes Amy Sagar, who's fond memories of summers in Whitetail, Wisconsin decides to get in her car and drive when her high-flying life as a Lawyer in Chicago gets pulled from underneath her by her double-crossing ex. While Amy was expecting a old log cabin she ends up in something much nicer - only to be interrupted by Aussie 'intruder' Ben Armytage who is on a road trip of his own having fled Australia after being left at the alter. What begins as a case of crossed wires and dislocated shoulders slowly simmers into something more but the path of love never seems to run smooth... especially when your well-meaning parents decide to drop in. Ben & Amy's story is intertwined with those of the locals of Whitetail Weddings that Wow including single dress shop owner Melissa who decided that she isn't going to end up with the heartache of her sister and is only going to let a man into her life who meets her strict criteria. But will totally unsuitable Scott slip past that list??? And what of the lovely old neighbourly widowers Ella & Al? Can they find happiness again? This book has plenty of laughs, love and lots of heart, not to mention a wedding or two complete with last minute dress nightmares and accidental pregnancies changing wedding deadlines. I hope this is not the end for the Wedding Fever Series because I'd love to know what happens next. I also love that a special local (Geelong, Australia) charity Kids Plus Foundation got a mention in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago