Release Day: The Long Paddock by Alissa Callen

Congratulations Alissa Callen on the release of
The Long Paddock

Book #1 in Alissa’s Born in Boots series
Read an excerpt below

Country-girl Cressida Knight fills her days with her farm, a mischievous pet bull called Reggie and her volunteer emergency services work. The busier she keeps, the less she thinks about the cowboy who left her behind. She’s convinced the small-town Woodlea grapevine that she’s moved on, but now it’s time to move on for real. 

Champion bull rider Denham Rigby shares Cressy’s deep love for the land and all he’s ever wanted was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Cressy through life. But three years ago a dark family secret left him no choice but to run. Now family duty gives him no choice but to return to the bush.

What Denham hasn’t come home to do is to hurt Cressy by rekindling their relationship. He’s nothing but a liability and the beautiful, self-reliant cowgirl has to stay off limits. But when faced with Cressy’s desperation to save her drought-stricken farm, he can’t keep his distance. He joins her out droving on the long paddock. Then when Woodlea is hit by more than just rodeo fever, they are further thrown together and Denham loses the battle to lock down his emotions.

But has he left it too late to stop running? And will the woman he’s always loved be prepared to risk her heart for a second time?

Excerpt from The Long Paddock by Alissa Callen

Chapter One

The kelpie population of small town Woodlea might outnumber the locals two-to-one, but it seemed as though every man—and their dog—was in town today.

Cressida Knight rounded the corner to walk along Main Street. Rows of dusty vehicles huddled beneath the shade of leafy plane trees. Dogs slept on the back of utes or strained at their leashes to make new friends. Cressy bit back a smile. If Mrs Knox didn’t stop chatting to Mrs Mills soon, the next lot of puppies from her prizewinning poodle would be more pig-dog than pedigree.

Cressy lengthened her stride and walked into the long shadow cast by the two-storey pub. The historic Royal Arms never seemed to age. The white wrought-iron trim gleamed in the late-afternoon sunlight just like it had when she was a child strolling by holding her grandfather’s calloused hand. Loss crawled through her, making her feel wooden and heavy. Her feet dragged. The simplicity of her childhood hadn’t followed her into adulthood.

Animated chatter wafted with the smell of beer from the open doorway. The local grapevine was in overdrive. Everyone had just one thing on their mind. Denham Rigby. But however much the town held its collective breath for the first sighting of its favourite son, she had to appear unaffected. She’d worked hard to strip the past of its power to hurt her. Denham would soon arrive to attend his mother’s funeral but today was just like any other day.

She pulled the brim of her State Emergency Services cap lower to hide her face. Once past the pub she’d enter the social hub of Main Street where locals dawdled between the grocery store and newsagency. She’d drawn the genetic short-straw, missing the height gene as well as the gene that gifted her sister with a darker complexion. No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t always prevent her pale skin from blushing and revealing her thoughts. She loved the warmth of small town life but her feelings weren’t always for public consumption.

She waved at Mrs Higgins, who sat in front of the craft store behind a trestle table on which perched a painting of a Black Angus cow by a local artist. The town’s committee was busy fundraising for the restoration of the church bell in the historic Anglican Church. Time might have eroded the mountings of the iconic bell but not the devotion of its congregation. Mrs Higgins returned Cressy’s wave and gave a subtle nod towards something behind her. Cressy turned her head slightly to see a white four-wheel drive slow to a crawl. Her chest rose and fell with a sharp sigh. She should have known Edna Galloway would be in town. The queen bee of Woodlea’s social scene wouldn’t rest until she’d discovered whether or not Cressy had heard from Denham.

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