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Authors: Lisa Ireland

Breaking The Drought

BOOK: Breaking The Drought
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Breaking the Drought

Lisa Ireland

Breaking the Drought
Lisa Ireland

When a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, he's the last person who wants to notice…

When Jenna McLean gets roped into attending a matchmaking ball in a small country town, she holds no illusions of meeting the man of her dreams. A no-nonsense magazine editor, Jenna doesn't believe in leaving love to chance, which is why she's developed
Marriage Material
– a fool-proof framework for husband hunting. Shearers and farmhands need not apply.

Sheep grazier Luke Tanner has met women like Jenna before, and knows not to waste his time. With the drought dragging on and bushfire season around the corner, the last thing he needs is a spoiled city girl like Jenna adding to his problems. He'll help out with the ball because it's good for the community, but he won't dance, he won't flirt, and he definitely won't be matched.

It's been a long dry season, but everyone knows when it rains, it pours.

About the Author

Although born and bred in the city of Melbourne, Australia, Lisa has always been a country girl at heart. After graduating from university, her love of horses, cattle dogs and tumbling-down farmhouses led her to accept a teaching position at a small school in rural Victoria. A flood, a bushfire, and countless snakes taught her there was more to life on the land than fluffy sheep and home baked scones! Lisa hopes her stories reflect the deep admiration she has for rural communities. She will never forget the hospitality she was shown as a wide-eyed city slicker, new to life in the bush.

Lisa now lives in a small coastal town and spends her days dreaming up stories as she walks along the beach. (Don't tell her husband — he thinks she's there to watch him catching waves.) When not writing, reading or conducting conversations with characters in her head, Lisa is busy being mum to her three boys and trying her best to train her impossible but adorable Labrador.

You can visit Lisa at
, find her on Facebook at
, and follow her on Twitter


Many people had a hand in bringing this book to life.

My heartfelt thanks to:

Kate Cuthbert (for saying yes!) and all the team at Escape for being so lovely to work with.

My fantastic editor, Julia Knapman, for holding my hand through the editing process.

Ligia Pelosi, who believed in this story from the beginning. Without her I would have given up at the first hurdle.

Amanda Knight for sharing all the highs and lows, and being a wonderful critique partner.

Carmen Vicos for reading endless drafts and revisions.

Cate Ellink and Janette Radevski for their thoughtful insights and ongoing support.

Rachael Johns for never being too busy to answer my many questions.

Justin O'Brien for giving me an insight into CFA operations.

Romance Writers of Australia. Without this organisation I would still be dreaming about writing a book someday.

My friends at Western Women Writers, for all the support and encouragement over the years (and the cakes!).

All my Facebook friends and Twitter followers for providing me with help whenever I asked, and for being an awesome cheer squad.

Extra special thanks to my boys, Charlie, Will and Alex for being my biggest fans.

Finally, to my husband, David, for the technical support, the suggestions (strangely no ninja scenes made it into the final draft, but thanks anyway!) and for all the little things you think I don't notice, but I do.

For my mum, Lorraine, who always believed in me,
and my dad, Kevin, who taught me to dream big


About the Author


From the Editor


Bestselling Titles by Escape Publishing…

From the Editor

Dear Reader,

With the wedding season upon us, conversation in the
office has turned to love and marriage. The general consensus around the water cooler is the two go hand in hand.

Me? I'm not convinced that love is a vital ingredient in a successful marriage. In fact, I would argue that using romantic love as the main criteria to bind yourself to another person for the rest of your life is simply foolhardy. Of course, my view is not a popular one here in the office. I'm pretty sure I heard the words ‘Wedding Grinch' being uttered by a co-worker yesterday.

You might be wondering,
if not love, then what?

So glad you asked!

The Urban Dictionary defines marriage material as
a person who you think would make a good spouse for you

No mention of the L-word.

Marriage is a contract, a lifetime commitment and, in my opinion, not something to be entered into lightly. Is it really the best idea to base one of the most important decisions of our lives on the strength of thumping hearts and tingling skin?

Any potential spouse of mine will need to meet a few basic criteria before I'm prepared to think about signing on the dotted line. To that end I've developed a checklist. My colleagues and friends think I'm crazy, but I think I'm being pragmatic.

Marriage Material — My Ideal Man

Is seeking a lifetime commitment

Has a desire to have children

Has No Baggage

Is ambitious

Must have a secure income

Is prepared to support my career

Does not gamble, smoke or drink excessively

Keeps fit and eats healthily — preferably a vegetarian

Is not afraid of housework

Must love cats (dog lovers need not apply)

What do you think? Log onto
to vote in our Hearts or Heads poll, have your say on the Gloss Facebook page, or tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #GlossHeartOrHead.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,

Jenna x

Jenna McLean


Chapter 1

‘Jerk alert at twelve o'clock!'

Jenna McLean looked up to see what her friend, Brooke, was talking about and instantly regretted her action. Her eyes locked on Simon Travers, her ex-fiancé, as he walked into the bar arm in arm with his latest conquest. Jenna gulped her martini and prayed he hadn't seen her.

No such luck. Simon and Alyssa made a beeline for their table.

‘Rumour has it they're engaged,' Brooke whispered.

Jenna raised her eyebrows but said nothing as Simon approached.

‘Jenna!' Simon said, planting kisses on both her cheeks.

Jenna's eyes flitted to Alyssa's left hand. Sure enough, a large, square-cut diamond adorned her wedding finger. Jenna was dismayed to feel tears pricking her eyes. Brooke was right, Simon
a jerk, and she certainly didn't want him back. But six months ago she had wanted nothing more than to be Mrs Simon Travers. That dream had come to an abrupt end when she had come home early one evening and discovered him entertaining Alyssa — in his underwear.

‘How are you, Simon?' Jenna did her best to inject a disinterested tone into her voice.

‘Great,' Simon replied. ‘Actually, I have to confess I hoped I might find you here. Good to see you're still reliable.'

Predictable was what he meant.

‘What do you want?' she asked.

‘I, or rather we, have some news. I wanted to tell you in person, before you heard it on the grapevine.'

‘That you and Alyssa are getting married?'

‘We're engaged, yes. How did you know?'

‘I'm the editor of a magazine that thrives on gossip, Simon. I have my sources.'

Simon looked at Brooke pointedly before returning his attention to Jenna. ‘I suppose you have.'

‘Congratulations,' Jenna said. ‘I'm very happy for both of you. Now if you'll excuse me…'

‘I wanted to give you this.' Simon handed her a silver envelope.

‘What is it?'

‘An invitation to our engagement party next Friday night. No hard feelings, eh?'

Jenna was speechless. No hard feelings? Did he seriously think she was going to celebrate his engagement after what he had done? And it wasn't as if he cared about her feelings. She wasn't stupid enough to think that. No, Simon Travers knew that it didn't pay to have the editor of one of Australia's most popular women's magazines offside.

Brooke's voice broke into her thoughts.

‘What a shame, Jenna. That's the weekend we have the thing on,' she said.

Thing? What thing?

Brooke gave an almost imperceptible shrug of her shoulders, sending her the signal to just play along.

‘Oh yes…the thing.' Oh God, could she be any less convincing?

Simon raised his eyebrows. ‘What
would that be?'

Brooke fished in her bag and pulled out a ragged piece of paper. ‘The Barlow Bush Blokes' Ball,' she said, placing the flyer on the table near Jenna.

Simon laughed. ‘This doesn't sound like your scene, Jenna. I can't imagine you in the bush.'

‘Maybe you don't know me as well as you think.'

He smiled and clasped Alyssa's hand. ‘Well, the invitation's there if you change your mind. We'll leave you to your drinks.'

‘Snake,' Brooke hissed at Simon's back as he and Alyssa made their departure.

Jenna sighed. ‘A soon to be married snake.'

‘You're not going to let that worry you, surely?'

‘It's not that I want him back, but I feel like I'm standing still while the rest of the world is running past me.'

Brooke furrowed her brow. ‘What do you mean?'

‘I'm 27 years old. Looks like the plan to have my first child before 30 is out the window. Not only am I not married, I don't have a boyfriend or even the prospect of one. I'm destined to be a lonely little old lady with 14 cats.'

Brooke burst out laughing. ‘Oh Jenna, don't be so melodramatic. You really need to lighten up and stop trying to control every little aspect of your life.'

‘What's wrong with being in control?'

Brooke shrugged. ‘You don't seem to be having much fun lately, Jen. That stupid
Marriage Material
list is half your problem. You can't go around interviewing men for the job of spouse. If you just relax a bit and enjoy yourself then maybe you'll meet The One.'

Poor Brooke. She was still under the naïve assumption that romantic love was the secret to a happy marriage. Jenna was under no such illusion.

‘I don't “interview” them. I just complete a little mental checklist. If they don't measure up I'm not going to waste my time or theirs. I'm simply being pragmatic.'

BOOK: Breaking The Drought
5.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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