A Southern Star

Excerpt

beach-sunriseColin Monteath/Hedgehog House – www.colinmonteath.com

Eventually the bay opened up before Christie, the ocean sparkling in the morning sun, the foam on the waves whipped up in the light breeze. Again, the stark beauty of the area captivated her. She stopped, noticing a small aircraft approaching, wondering where it was going. “My friends,” Blake said shortly. “They’ll land on the beach,” he continued, anticipating her question. “Stay and watch.” Christie shook her head, suddenly uncertain. Blake had been cold, barely polite all morning; she was intensely aware of the raw, unfamiliar environment. Her usual confidence fled as she looked down the spectacular beach, Blake’s presence suddenly unbearably painful.

“Up to you,” Blake said, inwardly furious that she had hardly acknowledged him all morning. “After all, you’ve got such a busy day.”

Christie’s heart lurched at his cutting tone. “It’s not that,” she said quickly, and then stopped abruptly, realising what she had said. Blake looked down at her, noticing her expressive blue eyes were unguarded, troubled. In a flash of perception he saw there was no malice in them, only confusion.

He tried again. “The plane will be landing in a few minutes. Stay and watch it from here if you want to, then you can head off.” Still Christie did not move; Blake watched her, silently admiring her figure, her long legs as she balanced on the sloping sand. And last night he had again noticed her quick mind, her obvious intelligence. He had always prided himself on staying one step ahead, yet with Christie this was a constant challenge. She did not seem at all unnerved by the solo tramp, was obviously well prepared. Apart from her sleeping bag, he thought, a slight smile on his face.

Christie shrugged. “I’ll keep going, watch the plane on the way.”

Of course you will, Blake thought silently. Because that’s the exact opposite of what I suggested. “See you later then,” he said casually, turning to focus on the approaching plane, watching her walk away out of the corner of his eye.

Characters

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Christie

Blake’s eyes widened appreciatively as the hood of her jacket blew back, exposing windswept dark hair framing a pair of blue eyes and flushed cheeks.

A city girl all her life, Christie Mitchell flees to southern New Zealand in what seems to her friends like a moment of madness. After everything that’s happened it’s understandable that she’s fiercely independent and relies only on herself, despite Blake’s infuriating attempts to take control. Even when the stakes become impossibly high and there is nowhere else to turn, Christie knows she can’t afford to trust someone like Blake, whose only priorities seem to be working in a vineyard and flirting, and not necessarily in that order!

Blake

Christie saw Blake as if for the first time, noticing with almost detached appreciation his unconscious, natural charisma, the staggering good looks, the dark eyes hinting at… Stop it, she told herself firmly.

Tall, dark and handsome – yes, it’s a cliché, but it describes Bake Ryan perfectly! All too aware of the way the opposite sex is irresistibly drawn to him, Blake’s unconscious charm and flippant comments mask a sharp mind and intellect – and a few other issues as well. When Blake meets Christie he realises that his charisma and good looks seem to have little or no effect on her rigid independence…so why is it so hard to stay away when Christie’s life takes an unexpected turn?

Setting

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A Southern Star is a contemporary romance novel set in southern New Zealand –Dunedin, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Stewart Island and the small towns of Central Otago all feature. These beautiful areas are an ideal setting for a New Zealand romance novel, offering remoteness, gorgeous and unique scenery and “New Zealand the way it used to be” for those readers living in the city, anyway!

The locations referred to in A Southern Star do exist although the situations, businesses and people referred to in those settings are totally fictitious. The hotel in Dunedin is imaginary – although, as Blake comments, there is “accommodation right along George Street.”

The Central Otago settlement of St Bathans, with its incredible Blue Lake, and some of the locations of the Central Otago Rail Trail are also mentioned, but all Central Otago businesses, vineyards and restaurants mentioned in A Southern Star are fictional.

Those readers familiar with Stewart Island will realise there has not been accommodation “on the hill” in Oban for many years, since Ferndale House was destroyed by fire. The hotel (and pub) referred to on the island in A Southern Star are also imaginary and their mention does not refer to Ferndale House or any other establishment.

Creative licence has also been applied to the location of the hunting hut and Department of Conservation hut regulations!

Maps

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