Title: Brumby’s Run
Author: Jennifer Scoullar
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
How do you choose between a long-lost sister and the man who’s stolen your heart?
Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy, and most especially the bonds of sisterhood.
Samantha Carmichael’s world is turned on its head when she learns that she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.
While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian Alps. Within days, city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of handsome neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.
A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie returns to claim what is rightfully hers?
“Choose, Mrs. Kelly,” says the doctor. “The adoptive couple are here to collect the child.” He leans in close and lowers his voice. “They’re concerned there’s a problem.”
Well wasn’t there? If this didn’t count as a problem, then nothing ever would. Mary smiles at her sleeping twins. How to decide? There is no way, it’s Sophie’s Choice. She could play eeny, meeny, miny, mo? Or rock paper scissors with the doctor? He wins and Charlene might go. She wins, perhaps Samantha? The doctor puts on a sympathetic expression. “Of course, if you’ve changed your mind ...”
“No,” says Mary, with hoarse haste. “I haven’t.” It was going to be difficult enough raising a single baby. She plucks one, then the other of her dark-haired daughters from their shared crib and cradles them in her arms. She inspects their faces. All the clichés make sense to her now. They do have button noses, and rosebud mouths that purse now and then in sleep. They are utterly perfect, and she can’t choose. She can’t even tell them apart.
“Mrs Kelly.” Mrs Kelly. Why was he calling her that? There was no Mr Kelly. A sop to his own sense of propriety perhaps? “If you need more time, perhaps they can come back.”
No, that will prolong the agony. She just requires some sort of a sign, some indication of what to do next. The left-hand twin parts her lips in a delicate yawn. The room grows airless. With infinite care, Mary raises the baby that lies in the crook of her other arm, her right arm, and offers it to the doctor. “Are you sure,” he asks.
Of course she isn’t sure. There is no certainty anymore, and there never will be again. The world is a senseless place, filled with random acts of cruelty and prejudice, but she nods anyway. As he receives the right-hand baby from her, it yawns too. A misgiving, cold as death, stalls her heart. Dr Kapadia checks the infant’s wristband. She wills time to stretch. She counts the seconds it takes for him to cross the floor, to reach the door, to vanish with her baby. She consciously commits each detail of the scene to memory. Mary looks down at the single, sleeping baby in her arms. Is it Charlene or Samantha? What if she’s giving away the wrong child?
“I’ll rub him down myself,” said Sam.
Brodie gave her a lascivious look. “Sure you don’t want a hand?” He chewed on a piece of straw. It dangled limp from the corner of his fat lips. She slammed the stable door in his face, causing Pharaoh to start. Sam hung up the hay net, stuffed it full of his favourite lucerne, and kept some hay aside to make a wisp. Her deft fingers twisted the leafy stalks into a long, thin rope. Then she gathered the top end into two loops and wound the remaining string back through, to form a solid pad of hay. “Ready, Pharaoh?” The big chestnut lent his body towards hers, and she began to strap his neck with regular slaps. The tempo increased as her body found its rhythm. Pharaoh tensed and relaxed, tensed and relaxed, in time with Sam’s movements, and she slipped into a kind of meditative trance. The horse was not the only one to benefit from such an isometric workout. By the time she’d worked her way along his back and buttocks on both sides, girl and gelding were both spent.
Sam sighed in satisfaction. Now she’d finished school, the future stretched invitingly ahead; a future where her mother wasn’t in charge of every aspect of her life. A white Christmas, visiting her grandparents in France for a month. On her return she’d spend each spare minute with Pharaoh, preparing for the summer dressage trials. Then the challenge of commencing a commerce degree at the University of Melbourne.
“Samantha?” Her mother peered over the stable door.
“Just a minute.” Sam hid the wisp so Pharaoh wouldn’t eat it and went out into the stable yard. Her mother’s always pale complexion had turned ivory, and her eyes were red, like she’d been crying. But that was impossible. She never cried. “What’s wrong, Faith?”
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that. It’s not natural.”
Sam was ready with a smart remark, then thought better of it. Her mother seemed genuinely distressed.
“Get cleaned up, Samantha. We need to talk.”
“You can’t talk to me when I’m dirty?”
Faith heaved a great sigh. “Don’t be difficult, darling. Get changed and meet me at the car. We’ll do lunch.”
Sam was starting to worry. She was already halfway through her mushroom risotto, and Faith had barely said a word. The salad lay untouched in front of her. Sam began stealing the cherry tomatoes and olives from her mother’s plate.
“There’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll just say it.” A dramatic pause. “You mustn’t hate me, Samantha.” What on earth was she on about. “Promise me?”
Sam wanted to argue the absurdity of making a blind promise, but her mother’s expression silenced her. “I promise.”
Faith’s clasped hands trembled, just a touch, where they lay on the white, linen tablecloth. “Samantha.” A deep breath. “Your father and I adopted you as a newborn.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Universal link: https://books2read.com/BrumbysRun
November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
I’m most thankful for my happy, healthy family and the privilege of being able to write stories for a living.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
Brumby’s Run is set in the magnificent high country of Australia in summer. Long lost sisters, a sweet romance and a fight to save wild horses makes this a perfect book to snuggle up with.
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Runs November 1 – 30.
Drawing will be held on December 1.
Jennifer Scoullar writes page-turning fiction about the land, people and wildlife that she loves. She has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Jennifer lives with her family in on a beautiful farm in the mountains that was left to her by her father. Horses have always been her passion. Read her books now to discover why Jennifer Scoullar is one of Australia’s favourite storytellers!
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