London Daniels is returning home to Willow Bay, Alberta, on the heels of a televised loss. She blew her shot at the Summer Olympics and cost Canada the gold medal in dressage.
During her years of training abroad, her family's stable has fallen on hard times, and thus, they’ve accepted an offer to board the racehorses of Branson Tucker, the infamous tycoon, for the winter.
London lacks conviction after her ill-fated fall. And as if returning to her hometown to watch her epic failure replay on everyone's big screen isn't torture enough, she’s expected to cater to a man with an ego bigger than her hundred-acre farm just to earn a dime.
Is London saddling up for another ride that will leave both her heart and her ass in the dirt? Or could the handsome, unwanted guest at Willow Bay Stables be her second chance to go for gold?
Anne Jolin Bio:
I was born and raised in Ladner, a small farm town just outside Vancouver, Canada. I grew up riding horses, shooting guns, and driving in trucks.
I never expected to be an author. A massage therapist? Yes. Take over the family construction company? Yes. But an author? No. Writing was something that snuck up on me and rooted itself into my life. It was beautiful to discover that love, and I’m truly grateful to say I’ve found my passion.
Since I’ve always been a creative person, it feels amazing to harness all of that energy and use it to tell a story I love. I enjoy incorporating bits of my real life into the stories I write. What parts are true? Hah. I’ll never tell—what would be the fun in that?
If I could leave y’all with one thing, it’s that life’s far too short to not live it out loud. Drown in your passions, hold on tight to the things that inspire you, and chase your dreams relentlessly. I can promise you without a doubt that you won’t regret it. I know I don’t.
“Has anyone here even gotten wine from that liquor store in the last decade?” my father huffs, setting his twelve-pack and a bottle of wine down on the counter. “It’s absurd. Bloody Google Maps in that joint if you ask me,” he announces before dramatically growling off the countries that have their own wine sections at the local Liquor Barn. He’s nearly finished most of Europe when he finally sees me standing in the kitchen.
“Hey, Daddy,” I whisper, feeling somewhat out of place in the home I grew up in.
“London Bridge,” he says before swallowing against the lump in his throat. “You’re home.”
“Yeah,” I let out lamely, shifting on my feet.
Opening his arms, he grins, showing off the wrinkles of a life well lived. “Well, give the old fart a hug, would ya?”
There are men—salt-of-the-Earth, work-hard, love-hard, honest men who’d give you the shirt off their back when you really needed it—and my dad is the very finest of that bunch. While, to us kids, he’s a loving yet burly teddy bear who protects us from the monsters under our beds, to the outside world, Larry Daniels looks like a grizzly bear—the kind you absolutely do not mess with. Not that I’m suggesting messing with any bears is a particularly wise life choice, but for argument’s sake, you get my drift.
He’s nearly six-foot-four, always sporting a five-o’clock shadow, and the epitome of rough around the edges. His frame is hulking—not just in height, but size in general, after years of working on a farm. That, coupled with the fact he’s nearly always carrying a buck knife on his belt, means he’s pretty intimidating. And while I may have gotten my dainty European looks from my mother, I definitely got my mouth from my father. Heaven knows I have a mouth like a sailor, despite years of people telling me women oughta sound like a Hallmark card.
Looking at him now, I’d say the only difference between him and Owen, obviously other than age, is that my brother has tattoos. Otherwise, they’re like carbon copies of each other.
After moving around the island, I step into his arms, and the moment I breathe in the smell of his Brute cologne, my composure shatters. Making fists in his shirt, I cry against him.
“I know, sweet girl,” he sympathizes with a softness in his rough voice meant only for his children. “Your daddy’s got big shoulders, London. Why don’t you let me carry some of that weight you’ve been holding?”
Looking up at him, I feel so guilty for the time with my family my ambition has cost me.
“At least for a little while.” He winks.
After throwing my arms up around his neck, I squeeze him as hard as I can without hurting myself. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” he says back, his jaw tight. Daddy’s never been good with crying daughters.
“Can we eat already?” Owen whines.
I turn just in time to see Aurora whack him in the back of the head with her oven mitt.
“They were having a moment, you ass clown.”
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