Best friends who were never meant to fall in love… Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley #ContemporaryRomance #SummerReads @adwasleyauthor


Dear Banjo
Sasha Wasley
Published by: Penguin Random House
Publication date: May 29th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They were best friends who were never meant to fall in love – but for one of them, it was already way too late.

Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Tom Forrest were raised on neighbouring cattle stations in the heart of the Kimberley. As young adults, sharing the same life dreams, something came between them that Willow cannot forget. Now ten years have passed since she’s even spoken to Tom.

When her father falls ill, Willow is called home to take over the running of the family property, Paterson Downs. Her vision for a sustainable, organic cattle station is proving hard to achieve. She needs Tom’s help, but is it too late, and all too complicated, to make amends?

Tom’s heartfelt, decade-old letters remain unopened and unmentioned between them, and Willow must find the courage to finally read them. Their tattered pages reveal a love story like no other – and one you’ll never forget.

Dear Banjo is a wildly romantic and utterly captivating story about first love and second chances from an exciting new Australian author.

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EXCERPT:

Somehow she managed to pack up the entire apartment overnight. On the way to the airport the next morning, Willow got the taxi driver to drop in at Tanya’s place. Her friend was still in her pyjamas when Willow gave her the keys to her apartment and a couple of hundred dollars. Tanya tried to refuse the money but Willow pushed it into her hand.

‘No, Tan, I’ve booked professional cleaners and I need you to pay them for me. Keep whatever’s left over as a thanks. And could you possibly go in and get rid of the boxes I’ve left behind? You can have anything from them or just donate it all to charity. And then if you could just drop the keys off to the real estate agent, I’ll be grateful forever.’

Tanya nodded and her eyes went a little glassy. ‘You’re really going, aren’t you? For good, I mean.’

‘Yeah. Going home at last. I can’t believe I stayed in the city this long.’

Tears spilled down Tanya’s cheeks. ‘I’m going to miss you.’

‘Oh, Tan. You should come visit.’ Willow hugged her. ‘I’ll stay in touch.’

‘It’s not the same,’ Tanya sobbed.

‘I’ll call you in a couple of days, okay?’

Tanya nodded and gave her another tearful hug before letting Willow leave.

Jeez, Willow thought as she ran back to the taxi. Shows of emotion had never been her thing. Okay, she was moving a couple of thousand kilometres away, and she’d miss seeing Tanya at work, but surely it wasn’t worth crying over.

A memory of her sessions with a psychologist surfaced. Willow, you tend to hold people at arm’s length. Why don’t you try letting people in a little more? Willow snapped her attention back to the present, logging into the power company’s website on her phone to cancel her account.

She checked in for her flight and paid an exorbitant amount for her excess baggage before watching it glide away on the conveyer belt – the sum total of her adult life in two large suitcases. No, she remembered. 3700 square kilometres, 6500 head of cattle, a groundbreaking, humane, organic beef operation. That would be the sum total of her adult life.

She settled into her seat and thanked the heavens she’d been placed next to a young fly-in-fly-out type, probably contracted to the Herne River catchment project. He was already plugged into his tablet and watching a show involving zombies, so she wouldn’t have to talk to anyone during the flight. She wanted to write a to-do list. As soon as they were in the air she reached into her bag for a notepad and her hand met something unfamiliar. Not her notepad.

Tom’s letters.

Willow considered them, her heart rate bumping up all over again. Wouldn’t it almost be an invasion of Tom’s privacy to read them now, so long after he’d intended her to? Maybe those sleeping dogs should just be left to lie?

Yes, she would bin them all – drop them into the roving rubbish bag the next time the steward came around.

But she would be living next door to the Forrests again once she got home. By now, Tom would soon be taking over Quintilla, just as she was about to do with Paterson Downs. Their families were as close as ever. She’d need to resume some kind of relationship with Tom Forrest, no matter how difficult the initial patching up phase would be.

Maybe she could use this three-hour flight from Perth to Mount Clair to read all of Tom’s letters at last. She hadn’t even given the poor guy a chance after looking at the first couple. She’d been so absorbed in her own pain; grappling with the panic she felt every time she thought about what he’d done. Perhaps there had been an apology in one of those letters – an apology she should have acknowledged by now. A retraction of that awful moment when he’d said those words . . .

Tom’s handwriting was scrawled across the front of the topmost envelope – always familiar, no matter how long it had been. Willow took a shaky breath. Seven-thirty in the morning was a little early for a stiff drink, so she requested a coffee and pulled out the first two letters; the ones she’d opened and read ten years earlier.

Dear Banjo,

Happy New Year. I guess you’re settled in at the student hall by now. You sure went early. The other kids who got in aren’t leaving until February. I don’t know where you’re staying so I asked Beth to send this on to you. You might have heard I’m probably not going to take up my offer of a place at uni. I’m thinking I’ll defer my course – for now, anyway. Dad’s not fazed. He won’t have to hire extra help this way, not to mention the savings on the tuition fees. Mum’s not overly happy but I keep telling her it’s only for the year. She asks a lot of questions. Not really sure what else to say to you, Banjo. It’s weird without you. Whenever I’m on the quad I turn towards Patersons before I remember you’re not there any more. I keep thinking I’ll see you at the eastern gate, sitting on Rusty, ready for a fenceline race. You knew I’d always beat you but you’d have a go anyway. So, yep. Really weird. You’ve always just been there. I guess it doesn’t quite compute yet. Take care of yourself in the big city, okay?

Tom

P.S. We should probably try to sort this mess out.

Author Bio:

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns.

Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony.

Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Swan Valley wine region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.

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Justice isn’t always black or white… A Cold, Dark Place by @toniannanderson #romanticsuspense #SummerReads @InkSlingerPR


Toni Anderson’s A COLD DARK PLACE is available now for free! If you’re looking for a thrilling and sexy romance, you do not want to miss this first book in her bestselling Cold Justice series!

 

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_redo-FINAL

 

About A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

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Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE for free:

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Read an excerpt from A COLD DARK PLACE:

“We’re up to fifteen women,” Lucas’s voice was gruff. The dark circles under his eyes added a worn out quality to his grim expression. He answered her silent question with a shake of his head. “I didn’t see any kids and no one who looked like Payton.”

Mallory was torn between disappointment and relief.

“He kept more personal trophies in his bedroom. Whoever shot the sonofabitch did the world a favor.” A flicker of unguarded emotion crossed his face. Then he buried it beneath six years field experience and a flat cop stare. “You’ll hear all the details at the briefing.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Lemme get a coffee and we’ll head over together.” He froze as a stranger wearing a visitor badge and carrying a laptop walked through the office doorway. “Alex? What the—?”

“You missed the meeting, asshole.” The man’s expression was fierce. “Thought I’d hunt you down and make you buy me a beer.” His gaze darted to her. “Looks like a bad time though.”

“That was today?” Lucas palmed his forehead. “Jesus, you’re right. I’m an asshole.”

“I already covered that.” The man— Alex— grinned, and Mallory got a fierce blast of gorgeous. The response wrung a reluctant smile out of Lucas.

“Believe it or not, Mal, this is a good friend of mine, Alex Parker. I asked him to attend a Counterintelligence Awareness Group briefing I organized so he could tell us about some of the latest internet security measures being developed in the private sector. He runs his own company in DC. Does a lot of government contracts. We served together in Afghanistan.” His gaze swung back to Alex. “I assume the meeting went ahead without me?”

Alex nodded. “We managed to fumble along without your incisive brilliance.”

“Yet I’m the asshole,” Lucas grinned. “This here is Special Agent Mallory Rooney.”

The stranger held out a tanned strong-looking hand as they were introduced. His skin was warm, fingers firm as they squeezed hers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent Rooney.” The self-deprecating smile was a killer. So was the short, ruffled light-brown hair and days’ worth of scruff on his jaw.

Despite the tailored suit, he hadn’t been intimidated enough by the high powered members of that committee to shave. The contrast snagged her attention. He was different from the law enforcement personnel and political players she usually met. There was something underplayed and restrained about him that didn’t mesh with the keen intelligence she saw in his eyes, nor the taut looking muscles that filled out that suit. It intrigued her. She hadn’t been intrigued on a personal level in a long time.

“You work in security?” she asked. “Keeping Trade Secrets secret— or trying to. It isn’t exactly running the gauntlet every day like you guys.”

Lucas sat atop his messy desk. “Says the man with the Distinguished Service Cross.”

Something vulnerable sparked in those slate eyes. “I got caught in a firefight and managed not to get killed. I got lucky.” Those eyes of his weren’t revealing anything now— all emotion banked. “I better let you get back to work. It’s a long drive back to DC.”

Their boss walked in and Mallory stiffened. Danbridge’s gaze skimmed Alex with a cursory glance that notched up to feminine appreciation on the second go ’round.

“Special Agent Randall, I need a word.” Then she walked into her office, heels tapping.

Lucas swore under his breath. “Alex, I owe you big time, buddy. I’ll be in touch. Will you show him out for me, Mal?”

“Sure,” she said. The longer she could avoid her boss the better. The two men shook hands and said goodbye.

“I can find my own way,” Alex said softly.

“No problem. I need to stretch my legs anyway.”

His gaze flicked to her boots and up, the brush of it almost as intimate as a physical touch. An unfamiliar sliver of sensation unfurled inside her, nearly unrecognizable because it had been so long. Attraction.

Telling herself she wasn’t deliberately prolonging their time together, she took the stairs as she led the way out. He was taller than she’d first realized. In her low-heeled boots she stood just under five foot nine and he was four or five inches taller. She frowned. Seeing him at a distance standing beside Lucas, she’d have described him as medium height and just okay looking. Up close, when you got the full force of those intelligent gray eyes and that perfectly proportioned masculine face, he was a hottie. Made you appreciate the inaccuracy of eye-witness accounts. No wedding ring either.

It was her job to pay attention to detail.

Even though she maintained a space between them she was hyperaware of him beside her. Outside the front entrance of the five-story, white concrete building he turned to her and asked, “Can I take you out to dinner sometime?”

“I don’t date.” The answer came out automatically before her brain engaged. Crap.

There was a long pause while those beautiful eyes of his wandered over her face, resting on her bruise from yesterday. He didn’t argue or try to change her mind.

“It was nice to meet you, Special Agent Rooney.” And then he walked away.

She squeezed her hands into fists. Damn, why had she said no?

Because she didn’t date.

She watched Alex Parker climb into his car— a low-slung sporty job— and raise a hand before he drove away. His car disappeared and a familiar sense of loss rushed over her. She clenched her jaw, turned around and went back to work.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

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