The Country Wedding by Barbara Hannay

It’s release day for Barbara Hannay
with
The Country Wedding

..

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Read an excerpt

Two country weddings, fifty years apart … and the miracle of second chances

In the tiny Tablelands township of Burralea, Flora Drummond is preparing to play in a string quartet for the wedding of a very close friend. The trouble is, she can’t quite forget the embarrassing teenage crush she once had on the handsome groom.

All is as it should be on the big day. The little church is filled with flowers, the expectant guests are arriving, and Mitch is nervously waiting – but his bride has had a sudden change of heart.

Decades earlier, another wedding in the same church led to a similar story of betrayal and devastation. Hattie missed out on marrying her childhood sweetheart the first time around, but now she has returned to the scene of her greatest heartache.

As Flora is drawn into both romantic dramas, she must also confront a relationship crisis of her own. But the past and the present offer promise for the future and there’s a chance for friends, old and new, to help each other to heal.

From the rolling green hills of Far North Queensland to the crowded streets of Shanghai on the eve of the Second World War, this is a beautiful romantic saga that tells of two loves lost and found and asks the questions – do we ever get over our first love, and is it ever too late to make amends?

A few words from the author

This story is again set in my beloved Far North Queensland and includes a historical thread from WW2 set in both Australia and Shanghai. As always, I thoroughly loved writing this story and I can’t wait to share it with readers.

Barbara

Excerpt from The Country Wedding by Barbara Hannay

Burralea, 1958

The day was a stinker. The sun overhead was blazing and sweat trickled beneath the bridegroom’s collar. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the only cause of his discomfort as he waited outside the quaint white church perched on a rise above Burralea.

‘You look like you could do with a smoke, Joe.’ His best man, Cliff, shook out a packet of Camels.

Joe hesitated, remembering the aunts he would have to kiss once this ceremony was over. Then he thought about his bride, who was carrying his child, and who was about to head down the aisle in a fancy white wedding dress specially transported over a thousand miles from a Brisbane department store. Stuff it. He needed a smoke.

‘Thanks,’ he said, taking a slim cigarette and then ducking his head to meet the flame held between Cliff’s cupped hands.

‘They reckon every bridegroom gets nervous,’ Cliff suggested.

‘Yeah. Course.’

‘I s’pose the trick is to keep your thoughts fixed on the honeymoon.’

Joe dragged a little harder on his cigarette.

Grey clouds hunkered on the horizon, but they offered no relief from the burning sun.

‘You’ll have a bonzer time on Hayman Island,’ Cliff suggested. He’d been Joe’s mainstay during the past few weeks, ever since the drunken debacle at Joe’s twenty-first birthday party, the night that had started this wedding train rolling. The poor fellow was still doing his best. ‘I hear it’s really flash.’

Joe nodded, but he wasn’t about to confess that the bride’s father had coughed up the money for the luxury Barrier Reef resort. Ted Walker wanted the very best for his daughter, of course, and as owner of Burralea’s one and only pub, a grand two-storey affair with a splendid fireplace and a magnificent silky oak staircase, Ted could easily afford it. He was footing the bill for the wedding reception, too. It was going to be held in the pub’s enormous dining room. Joe didn’t have that kind of money. He ran a cattle property with his dad not far out of town.

Kooringal was a modest place compared with the huge stations out west, but Joe and his dad turned out good quality beef, and they kept their heads above water. He knew the Walkers weren’t happy about their daughter marrying ‘down’, but when Gloria had told them she was pregnant, they’d had little choice. They’d demanded a wedding, and put on brave faces. Joe knew how that felt.

He needed a brave face now as the church’s wheezy organ started up and Reverend Gibson popped his head around the vestry door.

The minister beckoned to Joe and Cliff. ‘Time, gentlemen.’ This was it. A cold jolt of panic spiked through Joe. His legs felt hollow as he ground the cigarette into the dirt with his heel.

He didn’t want to do this. He had no choice.

Cliff patted his coat pockets. ‘Still got the ring,’ he said with an encouraging grin.

Joe couldn’t manage an answering smile. ‘Good man,’ he said.

Shoulders squared, Joe followed Reverend Gibson into the little church, packed with family and friends all dressed in their wedding finery. He saw his parents in the front pew, his mum looking dewy eyed and his dad stern but proud. They were both disappointed that Joe’s older sister, Margaret, hadn’t come up from Melbourne for the big day, but Joe understood why she’d stayed away. Besides, he had bigger things to worry about today. Now, his collar was choking him, but a whispering excitement buzzed through the congregation, and there was a stirring at the back of the church. No time to ease the knot at his throat. Already, too soon, the organist was striking the chilling chords that announced the arrival of the bride. Joe stiffened like a prisoner facing a firing squad. He told himself that once the ceremony was over he’d be okay. He’d just get on with the rest of his life as best he could.

He wouldn’t be the first man to wed out of necessity, and he and Gloria would manage. Romance was supposed to be overrated anyway, although Joe, drowning in the very deepest of regrets, knew this wasn’t true.

The Country Wedding, from the much loved and internationally acclaimed bestselling and award-winning writer Barbara Hannay

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Barbara is an international multi-bestselling author of category romance and women’s fiction. Her novels have been translated into 20 languages, including Arabic, Russian, and Japanese, and are especially popular in Australia, the United States, France, and Italy. Discover more about Barbara and her many wonderful books.

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