Flynn Steven’s cousin Suzy, once married to Marshall Beckett, reveals details of her awful marriage to a tyrant. She begs Flynn to see if the son she left behind is okay and locate her hidden diary, a “matter of life or death.” Flynn is at a crossroads in her life where she can renew her contract as a world-traveling concert violinist or search for what she really longs for—a home, with a special person to love. She arrives at Marshall’s horse ranch, Rainbow’s End, under the pretense of answering his ad for a nanny. But Suzy had failed to tell Flynn that in the same ad he advertised for a wife. This rugged, coppery-haired rancher is burned out on love and wants a woman to bear him children, without investing any emotional commitments. When they decide a marriage of convenience is the only way to save Rainbow’s End, sparks fly between them. But when he learns that she came under false pretenses, will he give her a chance to explain, or just send her packing?

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Romancing a Tasmanian Cowboy by Pinkie Paranya, Flynn Stevens is convinced by her cousin, Suzi, to answer an ad for a nanny placed by Suzi’s ex-husband Marshall Beckett and, while there, find a diary that Suzi left behind when she divorced him, one that could ruin her if it fell into her ex-husband’s hands. But Flynn soon discovers that Marshall isn’t the monster Suzi made him out to be, and Flynn’s loyalties ae torn. Should she help her cousin or follow her heart that is falling for Marshall?

Like most of Paranya’s books, the story is heartwarming, fun, and suspenseful, weaving in lots of surprises. A great love story.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Romancing a Tasmanian Cowboy by Pinkie Paranya is set Down Under in Tasmania. Our heroine, Flynn Stevens, heads for Marshall Beckett’s horse ranch, pretending to answer an ad for a nanny. But what she is really after is a diary that Marshall’s ex-wife, Flynn’s cousin Suzi, left behind when she divorced him. According to Suzi, Marshall was an abusive husband, and Suzi fears for her life if he finds the diary. But Flynn soon learns that Suzi has been less than truthful. Marshall is not a monster, just a lonely man, trying to raise his young son on his own. It doesn’t take long before Flynn is head over heels for both of them. But what will Marshall do when he finds out why she is really there?

Romancing a Tasmanian Cowboy is another jewel in the crown of this talented author. A heartbreaking, heartwarming love story, it will keep you entranced all the way through.

Chapter 1

Flynn needed to regain her life. Without her passport and money that was in her purse when it fell overboard on the ferry, she felt invisible. Coming from the mainland of Australia to the island of Tasmania should have been a breeze.

It was a relief to leave the ferry. Now, after getting off the bus, somewhere in the boondocks, she stopped on the little dirt road, set her backpack down for a rest, and breathed in the rain-promised air. She wore scruffy old jeans and walking boots bought at a surplus store in Melbourne, and now she deftly braided her hair into a long thick braid and removed her earrings. This was how she imagined a person a little down on her luck and looking for an adventure might dress. Who but an adventuress would answer an ad in the Melbourne paper for a job in Tasmania? When her cousin Suzy sent her the ad, she’d admitted it might be slightly old. But she assured Flynn that probably no one would stay and work for Marshall Beckett very long.

What had possessed her to leave her orderly life and charge off to champion her erratic cousin. A cousin who made the fantastic claim that she’d lost custody of her son and had left behind a diary that meant life or death to her. So like Suzy to dramatize, but then Flynn fell for it.

She picked up the backpack again, catching a sound of pounding hooves that blended with a simultaneous crash of thunder, interrupting her daydreams. Before Flynn could connect the sound with the road beneath her feet, a huge black horse bore down on her. She stood frozen in terror, eyes closed tightly, unable to move as she waited for the impact.

A whoosh of air brushed past and the heavy smell of horse assaulted her. When she dared open her eyes, the dust had not yet settled. Someone held her in a tight grasp, high above the road and close to a warm hard body.

“Bloody hell, woman! What are you gawking at in the middle of the road?”

She took a deep breath. Raw anger replaced her fear. She’d been through enough for one day. “I don’t take guff from some farmer with manure on his boots. Why don’t you watch where you’re going! You nearly ran me down. You don’t own the road.”

He let her down slowly, pulling her close against his body suggestively, as if to show his control.

She un-shouldered her backpack, letting it slide to the ground while she struggled to slow her heartbeat. Hands on hips, she glared up at the giant on horseback. He swung down from the saddle and faced her.

Flynn’s impression was of lean strength. She was small, vertically challenged her mother used to say. He towered over her, his face in the shade of his hat. The man’s shoulders were wide, his hips slim, and he moved with graceful agility. When he took his hat off, thumping it against his denim clad leg, his burnished-copper hair had streaks of sun-bleached lightness threaded through the crown.

His dark-brown eyes held a bold look of approval and admiration, mixed with indignation.

He glanced away across a field, plainly disconcerted by her glare. Seconds passed before he looked back at her. His eyes were wary. It was his mouth that caused her anger to dissolve into confusion. A sensual mouth, tilted at the edges for easy laughter. However, he was not laughing now.

Chapter 2

“What the hell are you doing? Standing in the middle of the road, off with the fairies, isn’t exactly bright, you know?”

Flynn was speechless. The man was blaming her for walking on the road! She shut her eyes in an attempt to gather her composure. That pause sometimes made her fellow musicians nervous. She had never been one to hold back her temper.

A smattering of raindrops added to her indignation. Tears of angry frustration welled up in her eyes. She raised her head impatiently to clear them away.

“I haven’t the time to argue with you,” she said. “It’s starting to pour down rain.”

A sprinkle of freckles across deeply tanned cheeks seemed to crinkle when he grinned. The oaf was laughing at her!

“’Tis a bit of a stretch, wouldn’t you say? Of course if we stand here yabbering long enough, it could happen.” He looked up at the sky. “I haven’t seen you around these parts before. You’re a Yank, aren’t you?”

She ignored his question. “I’m looking for a place with the absurd name of Rainbow’s End and a man called Marshall Beckett. I suppose you know all about him. Everyone else on this island seems to.” When she’d lost her purse on the ferry, locals rushed to commiserate with her. She learned a lot about Marshall Beckett and his farm called Rainbow’s End.

Silence stretched taut like a rubber band pulled tight.

Mirth again replaced the tight lines around his mouth. “Well, maybe I do know of the place. What do you want with him?”

He leaned back a little to look into her face—examining her as if she were a horse he was inspecting.

“It is none of your business. Are all Tasmanian cowboys so rude?” she countered.

Flynn knew she hadn’t misjudged his look of undisguised admiration. The appraisal she saw in his brown eyes made her uncomfortable and yet stirred something deep inside her. She had learned from her mother to grasp and maintain control of situations, which he seemed determined to not allow.

“I ’spose you could call me a cowboy.” He waved out toward the grazing cattle and horses in the meadow. “Although I doubt we’re comparable to your wild west types.”

“We don’t have many of them left anymore, outside of movies and novels. But again, where is Rainbow’s End?”

“It’s not far from here.” He waved his arm toward the pasture bordering the dirt road. “That’s a part of it.” He didn’t offer more in the way of explanation.

Flynn sighed. “Do you work for Beckett?”

“Might say so,” he said laconically.

The challenge in this man’s eyes was more than she was up to meeting just now. “Point out the direction. I’d like to get there before the rain actually washes me off the road.” The sprinkles did seem to come down a little thicker.

He swung a leg gracefully up over the saddle as he mounted. “There’s room behind me. Sultan won’t mind. I’ll drop you off at the door.” He reached down to take her hand.

She looked up at the enormous horse and then nervously sidestepped the tanned, muscled arm stretching toward her. Not for anything would she have subjected herself to riding on that horse. Just the thought of holding tight, bumping up and down against his broad back, wasn’t her idea of a graceful entrance.

“Absolutely not!” She tilted her chin in the air. “I prefer to walk.”

He looked surprised. “Why walk when you can ride?”

“I prefer not to arrive at my destination sitting behind someone like a sack of potatoes and smelling of horse.”

“I’ll not argue that. Though leaving you here alone goes against my gentlemanly instincts.” He emphasized the last two words, making her wonder if he was still laughing at her or just being sarcastic. “You apparently know what you want. Follow the road as it twists around. Up there by that clump of eucalypts.” He pointed ahead toward a steep rise in the road. “That will be Rainbow’s End.”

Humph. Rainbow’s End, indeed.

He pointed up at the darkening sky. “I hope you get there before she lets loose.”

When she didn’t answer, he waved cheerfully, as he turned away, shouting “Cheerio” back at her. Instead of going up the road, he directed the horse over a fence and galloped off through the meadow.

Flynn took a deep breath. “Country clod!” She stuck her tongue out at his retreating back as she watched him ride away, and then laughed at herself.

Only when he disappeared behind a grove of trees did she begin to walk up the road. She hoped he wasn’t a close neighbor.

What has Suzy lured me into? There was no way her cousin could have fit into this provincial countryside. They had gradually lost touch after high school, when Flynn had gone on to train with the New York Symphony and begin her concert tours while Suzy went on her modeling gigs. Then one day Suzy had called, ecstatic with news of her marriage. Typical Suzy—last minute spontaneous decision with no time for wedding invitations. Had she not wanted anyone to meet her intended?

When Suzy’s son was born, she sent Flynn a note. Timmy had been only a babe in arms when they finally met again. Suzy came to one of Flynn’s concerts and they spent a few hours together afterwards. When Flynn had asked about her married life and husband, her cousin was uncharacteristically evasive.

Flynn understood this to mean she wasn’t happy with her husband, and that was the last time they saw each other. Timmy should be about six now.

Feeling the breeze against her face brought her back to the present. The rain drifted down in fits and starts, pelting her with what felt like hard little balls and then letting up to an annoying drizzle. She pushed forward, her backpack pressing heavy on her shoulders. When she arrived at Rainbow’s End, she wondered if she should tell Marshall Beckett about her lost possessions on the ferry ride. She had the letter from the ferry captain stating what had happened, but she preferred not to show it to him, especially if he was as uncompromising as Suzy claimed. It would be humiliating to give him the upper hand by letting him know she had nowhere else to go. However, there was always the risk he might not hire her without her first showing him Captain Dugan’s letter.

She resisted the urge to call Dolores for help. Rivalry between mother and daughter had always existed below the surface. Dolores was more of an older, fault-finding sister whom she could never please. Flynn wasn’t even sure where her mother was right now. She could be anywhere.

Flynn brushed the tendrils of damp hair back from her face and felt a surge of relief when she saw the large grove of trees at the top of the road’s incline.

A sense of urgency to see Suzy’s son, to see how things were going with the boy, made her walk faster. How could this Marshall Beckett get away with kicking Suzy out and taking the boy away from her, leaving her with nothing?

At the top of the road she stopped. There stood the house Suzy’s letters had described as the dreary prison she so despised.

It appeared to be an odd-shaped, rambling sort of two-story house, painted buttercup yellow and trimmed in apple green. Wild ferns, blooming hedges and a lush profusion of uncontrolled flower plots scattered here and there, like the graceful spreading of a full, colorful skirt. Toys littered the porch encircling the house.

Flynn was confused. From her cousin’s description, she had expected to see forbidding gables and bars on the windows.

On the porch swing, sipping from a large, frosted glass in a leisurely manner, sat the man she had met on the road.

Damn! She wanted to shout and shake clenched fists up at the sky, but instead she approached the porch and set her backpack down against the step. Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her head to stare directly at him. Waiting for him to speak first.

“Did you enjoy your walk?” He smiled pleasantly.

She smiled sweetly back. It crossed her mind that her face might suffer permanent damage with the strain.

“Oh, to be sure. A really delightful walk, although I am a bit soaked. Did you enjoy our conversation on the road where you nearly ran me over?”

Looking at his face, she felt drawn by the hint of laughter on his lips. In spite of the humor, there was something secretive in the depths of those dark eyes, something that warmed her and yet at the same time made her uneasy. The copper glints in his hair matched the hair on his arms, revealed by rolled-up sleeves. A matching curly nest of hair showed just above the open-collared shirt.

He had an air of authority—an assurance bordering on arrogance. His eyes watched her with the stealth of a hawk searching for a rabbit.

What kind of a mess would this turn out to be? She had nowhere to turn for help. Common sense rushed to her rescue. I had better cool it until I replace my belongings. And there is still Timmy to check on and the diary to look for.

He rose from his position on the swing. His easy grace seemed calculated. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Marshall Beckett.” He reached down to give her a hand up the stairs. “The farmer with manure on my boots.”

Marshall Beckett? She flushed at his jibe, ignoring the proffered hand as she fought to retain her composure, while at the same time furiously trying to think what her next move should be.
“Is this part of your farm? The bus driver said it was at least a mile to your house.” She forced herself to look up into his ruggedly handsome face again and somehow her smile became real. Nothing Suzy had said about this man had prepared her for meeting him. Belatedly, she wondered why Suzy had never sent pictures.

She couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. This could work to her advantage, posing as an adventuress. Dumb idea. Why would an adventuress take a job as a nanny? For the lark of it? The most likely scenario was to earn a bit of money to continue traveling.

“I’d like—I’d like to discuss some business with you.” She despised the hesitation in her voice. The clouds settled, lower and darker. Thunder rolled across the sky and out of the corner of her eye she saw lightning strike into the fields.

“Business?” Once again his eyes crinkled at the corners. It was becoming an infuriating habit; she wasn’t here for his amusement.

How could Suzy have put up with this unmannerly, arrogant man for even a few years? It was easy to see how she might have been attracted at first. Impetuous, restless Suzy was a magnet for macho men. Flynn usually attracted the more cerebral types.

Had she imagined that fleeting, wary look in his eyes? Suzy never could abide enigmas. So far, Flynn had mentally listed numerous reasons why Suzy might have succumbed to this man’s magnetism and then not have wanted to stay with him. And yet…there was something compelling about his smile. Was that hiding something, too? This was not going to be easy.

© 2010 by Pinkie Paranya