Picture Perfect Wedding

BOOK: Picture Perfect Wedding
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Picture Perfect Wedding
Fiona Lowe
Harlequin (2013)

Picture Perfect Wedding By Fiona Lowe Book two of Wedding Fever Erin Davis
will do whatever it takes to be the photographer for high-end brides. So what if
capturing the moments of people’s lives means she has no time for her own. Nothing will
get between her and the security she craves, not even the gorgeous farmer refusing to
let her shoot in his sunflowers. His family has always been tied to the land, but lately
Luke Anderson feels more like he’s chained. While he ponders his future, he still has
cows to milk and no time to deal with Erin or Bridezillas in his fields. Yet there’s
something about the sexy city girl he can’t say no to. So he says yes: just this once.
With the town in need of a photographer, Erin agrees to spend wedding season in
Whitetail. The sparks flying between her and Luke quickly ignite, but just as Erin
starts to picture her own happy ending, Luke takes a gamble that could risk it all...
For more weddings in Whitetail, check out Saved by the Bride, available now! 100,000
words

Picture Perfect Wedding
By Fiona Lowe

Book two of Wedding Fever

Erin Davis will do whatever it takes to be
the
photographer for high-end brides. So what if capturing the moments of people’s lives means she has no time for her own. Nothing will get between her and the security she craves, not even the gorgeous farmer refusing to let her shoot in his sunflowers.

His family has always been tied to the land, but lately Luke Anderson feels more like he’s chained. While he ponders his future, he still has cows to milk and no time to deal with Erin or Bridezillas in his fields. Yet there’s something about the sexy city girl he can’t say no to. So he says yes: just this once.

With the town in need of a photographer, Erin agrees to spend wedding season in Whitetail. The sparks flying between her and Luke quickly ignite, but just as Erin starts to picture her own happy ending, Luke takes a gamble that could risk it all...

For more weddings in Whitetail
,
check out
Saved by the Bride,
available now!

100,000 words

Dear Reader,

I feel as though every month I start my letter the same, gushing over our month of releases and telling you how amazing and fantastic they are. This month, I’m going to change things up and start by telling you that they’re all quite awful. Okay, not really. Poor authors, I wonder how many of them reading this just had a mini heart attack? Of course you should be excited about this lineup of releases, because it’s another wonderful and diverse month.

In the new-and-unique category, this month we have our first ever decide-your-own-erotic-adventure. Christine d’Abo’s
Choose Your Shot
is an interactive erotic adventure that not only lets the reader choose who the heroine ends up with, but what kinky fun the characters get up to along the way.

We’re thrilled to welcome Karina Cooper to Carina Press. She’s moving her steampunk series, The St. Croix Chronicles, to Carina Press—starting with a prequel novella,
The Mysterious Case of Mr.
Strangeway
, in which a young Cherry St. Croix takes on her first bounty, only to find her efforts challenged by a collector whose motives run deeper than a hefty purse. Look for book three in The St. Croix Chronicles,
Corroded
, releasing in September 2013.

We have a strong lineup of contemporary romances this month. Fiona Lowe returns with her next Wedding Fever book,
Picture Perfect Wedding.
Tamara Morgan brings us
The Derby Girl
, in which a roller-derby girl lives up to her “bad girl” image to woo an unattainable plastic surgeon, only to discover that he’s the one man trained to see past the surface. In the humorous contemporary romance category, Stacy Gail’s
Ugly Ducklings Finish First
will be a hit with fans of high-school reunion romances, and with those who like their romance on the more lighthearted side.

I’m also thrilled to welcome
three
debut authors to Carina Press this month, all with contemporary romances. In Kelsey Browning’s
Personal Assets
, book one of the Texas Nights series, a recovering good girl needs the right man to help her find her inner bad girl—which is easier said than done in a small Texas town. Next, when the bank refuses Emma the loan she needs to save her family home, she must turn to her neighbor Mitch McKenna, a sexy real-estate investor whose reputation she’s spent the past six months pulverizing into sand, in
Unexpectedly You
by Lily Santana. And last, but certainly not least,
Knowing the Score
by Kat Latham features a smokin’ hot rugby player with a scandalous past who gives up his vow of celibacy to help a virgin overcome her fear of intimacy. Three debut authors offer up three terrific contemporary romance novels—make sure to give them each a try!

This month we also have three fantastic male/male romances. Kim Knox kicks off a fun-filled science-fiction historical trilogy. As described by the author,
Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death
is
Sherlock Holmes
meets
The Scarlet Pimpernel.
With aliens. Check out further Agamemnon Frost stories in September and October 2013.

John Tristan joins Carina Press with his male/male fantasy romance,
The Adorned.
A beautiful young man indentures himself to a tattooist and becomes a living canvas for the artist and his inhuman patrons. And for those who like their male/male romance in the contemporary genre, Libby Drew’s
Bending the Iron
is sure to hit the mark as she builds a brand for emotional, wonderful male/male romance.

Following book one of her Magick Trilogy,
Magick by Moonrise
, Laura Navarre takes us back into her historical paranormal world. When the Angel of Death falls in love with life, will a secret Tudor princess pay the ultimate price? Tudor England and the celestial realm collide in
Midsummer Magick.

Last,
Love Letters Volume 4:
Travel to Temptation
continues the collection of
A
to
Z
erotic short-story romances penned by Ginny Glass, Christina Thacher, Emily Cale and Maggie Wells. Volumes 1 through 3 are now available. Look for volumes 5 and 6,
Exposed
and
Cowboy’s Command
, on sale in September and October 2013.

As always, we have a significant backlist of books that I hope you’ll browse and take a look at, in genres from horror to mystery to fantasy to female/female and across the ranges of romance. There’s an adventure waiting for every reader!

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Acknowledgments

Writing a book wouldn’t be possible without the generous help of so many people. Special thanks to Amanda and Swaney for introducing me to Maggie-May, cow-dog extraordinaire. Please forgive the liberty of exchanging the
echidna bark
for an American
coon bark.

A thousand thanks to
Dairy Carrie
and to
Jessica
,
The Modern Farmwife.
Not only have I enjoyed your entertaining blogs about life on a dairy, I’ve appreciated very much the time you took to patiently answer my emails. Any mistakes I’ve made about AI, calving and milking are solely mine.

Thanks also to Kari Lynn who introduced me to Tim and the other fabulous dairy men and women on Twitter who tweet from their tractors! And to Mark for his invaluable advice about sunflowers. I would have been lost without you all. Go #Agchat!

Special thanks to my good friend Doris from Wisconsin who took me out to visit a family farm. Poor Farmer Doug had no clue he was going to be quizzed to within an inch of his life by an Aussie who calls four-wheelers quad bikes, and Holstein cows Friesians. Thanks, Doug, for allowing me to witness a herd health check, for answering all my questions in such detail and for the special opportunity to tour your farm.

Thanks to the entire team at Carina Press and with special mention of my wonderful editor, Charlotte. Carrie and Stephanie who answer all my queries so cheerfully, Tara and team for the gorgeous cover, and Angela for her enthusiastic support of digital-first.

Last but not least, I give thanks to my family whose love, support and belief in me keeps me going.

Whitetail Bugle: Online
Edition
Positions Vacant/Wanted
Relief milker required at Lakeview
Farm. Call Luke Anderson (715-555-8391) or stop by the farm.
Relief
cleaner for Lakeview B&B and cottages. Call Wade Anderson NOT
Luke.
(715-555-8399)

Chicago Daily News
Business
opportunity! Weary of fast-paced city life? Move your photography business
to Whitetail,
Wisconsin, land of lakes, glorious sunsets and brides.
Call Nicole at Affairs With Hair at
715-555-4351

Twitter

@ErinDavis. You captured our wedding day
perfectly. Thank you!

Chapter One

At dee end of dee road
,
turn left.

“Right you are, Patrick.” Erin Davis answered her GPS with a
grin. She might be in the heart of the dairy state and surrounded by cornfields
and cows, but inside the car with her playlist blaring, she was having an Irish
day.
Anything
to make the time pass quicker on this
unexpected country dash across state lines.

The Cranberries started singing about dreams. Personally, Erin
thought dreams were overrated having lived through the fallout of ten too many
of her father’s ill-conceived ideas. No, she was more of a risk-free planner.
She had a gut filled with determination, a goal in sight and, most importantly,
a step-by-step chart of objectives which she was ticking off one by one. The
brides she’d photographed were thrilled with her work and recommended her to
their friends and family, but as great as word of mouth was, it was all slower
than she’d hoped. Bottom line? She could do with more bridal bookings so she
could give up her loathsome part-time waitressing job.

A memory of accompanying her mother to a pawn shop and watching
the pain as she parted with her own mother’s watch quickly reminded her that a
slow and steady build of a business was better than a fast rise and a
spectacular bust. Things were going okay and if she had anything to do with it,
all her hard work would lead to her becoming
the
wedding photographer that brides all over the Midwest and beyond would book the
moment the sparkly ring was slipped on their finger.

“I make everyone look happy no matter what and I do it good,
hey, Maggie-May.”

Her Maltese–Shih Tzu terrier cross and fluffy-white sidekick
yapped her
You know it
,
girl
approval.

The only dark cloud right now was the fact that her current
bride wasn’t happy, hence the reason Erin was driving from Minneapolis, through
lands filled with lakes, to a dot on the map called Whitetail, Wisconsin. It was
Erin’s mantra to do everything she could to keep her brides happy and with
Constance Littlejohn, she was doing that and then some. Unlike her name, Connie
was far from constant but she had an open checkbook, shared a great idea and she
was Erin’s ticket to winning the prestigious “Memories” photo competition for
bridal photographers. Winning the Memmy, as it was affectionately known in the
industry, would be a pinnacle career point and one Erin wanted not just for the
professional accolades but for the security it would give her business. The
security she craved so she could sleep at night.

The Welcome to Whitetail—Weddings That Wow sign announced she’d
arrived at the town. She’d never heard of it until Connie had dropped a copy of
US Bride
on her desk open at the article about
Chicago heiress Bridget Callahan’s wedding
.
Connie
had said, “I want the same only bigger, better and with a twist.” Erin had
enthusiastically accepted the challenge.

She smiled as she passed under a banner announcing a wedding
tomorrow and she immediately had to slow for a horse pulling an empty, white
carriage. Used to photographing couples in a carriage amid the tall buildings of
Minneapolis, she instantly thought of the pretty lake and covered bridge she’d
driven past earlier. It would make the perfect backdrop with the early evening
light. A fizz of excitement bubbled through her and she made a mental note to
discuss it with Connie.

She pressed the GPS to check on her instructions again because
she had the world’s worst sense of direction and routinely got lost in her
hometown. Out here in the boonies, she had no hope without support.

In one quarter mile
,
take the second left.

She groaned. “Patrick, my lovely, that’s all very well but
exactly how far is one quarter mile?”

As a photographer she could visualize setups, solve the
problems of large group poses, deal with light and depth like a puzzle, but tell
her something was fifty feet away and she had no clue and winged it every time.
She glanced in her rearview mirror. Unlike the city, at least she didn’t have a
line of traffic behind her and she doubted the orange tractor would catch up to
her. She’d crawl along until the red arrow on the GPS actually showed her the
turn and that way she’d avoid her usual mistake of turning too early.

The bridal march ring tone on her cell phone chirped, cutting
across U2 and telling her it was a client. Her old station wagon had been built
long before cell phones were
de rigueur
and
Bluetooth was mandatory so she used the cutting-edge technology of yelling at
her phone which rested in a designated bracket on the dash. “Hi, it’s Erin.”

“Have you spoken to him yet?” Connie’s high-pitched voice
demanded.

Erin was used to Connie’s direct approach. “I haven’t quite
reached the farm, but according to Patrick, I’m not far away.”

“Who?”

“Patrick. He’s the gorgeous Irish voice on my GPS.”

A puff of breath came down the phone. “Concentrate, Erin. I’m
talking about Farmer Joe or whatever his name is.”

Erin mentally slapped herself. Connie was a busy woman who
rarely had time for jokes. The soon-to-be bride was engaged to a man who wanted
to marry her and, by default, she had no understanding or need of imaginary
chats with a sexy, lilting Irish accent. Nor would she understand that those
conversations were as close as Erin had come to a date in months. Working every
weekend, whether it be photography or waitressing, made it hard to meet
people.

That and the fact you put the business
ahead of everything.

She did and she had no problem. She was investing in a secure
future and that meant pleasing her clients. She gave herself a shake. “Sorry.
Yes, I’m totally concentrating. I know how important this is to you.”
How important it is to me.

“Good, because
you
have to make
this happen for me.”

When Connie had outlined her ideas for her wedding photos,
she’d assured Erin that everything in Whitetail was organized. She’d told her
that the bride and groom got the keys to the town for their day and there’d be
no problem with the photo shoot because Connie had a friend of a friend whose
cousin had married a man who knew a farmer in the county. Erin—perhaps
naively—had believed her right up until the mercy phone call she’d received at
four yesterday afternoon.

People often commented on Erin’s people skills so she had no
doubt that making personal contact with the farmer and getting him to agree to
the use of his field would all be a walk in the park. “I promise you, it’s all
going to work out just fine.”

“It better. I’ve left him thirteen messages this week and he
hasn’t returned a single one of them.”

Thirteen seemed a lot. Erin slowed, signaled, turned left and
automatically put on her soothing voice. “Connie, I’m sure you have a ton of
other wedding things that need your attention and I have this. I’m almost at the
farm and by suppertime everything will be just fine.”

“Farmers are always crying poor, right, so if you need to,
double the money,” Connie instructed. “Offer him a few nights at Daddy’s hotel
so he can get out of the country and live a little in the city. Do what you have
to do, just get me that sunflower field.”

The line went dead just as Patrick said,
Go straight.

The minor county road wound through rolling green pastureland
dotted with red-and-white barns and tall, blue silos. In the distance, she could
see stands of birch, beech and aspen trees as well as her favorite Christmas
tree, the white spruce which up until now she’d only seen growing on a Christmas
tree farm. Raised in a series of cities, she was struck by the mix of light and
dark green leaves that contrasted so beautifully with the clear, blue sky.
Beyond the trees lay the shimmering water of a large lake which she assumed must
be the one the many signs in Whitetail had pointed to promising “the perfect
vacation.” The vibrant colors of nature combined with such clarity and vividness
that she pulled over.

“We have to shoot this, Maggie-May, it’s truly beautiful.”
Grabbing her dog and her camera, she jumped out of the car and took some long
shots to help satisfy the urge she had to go exploring rather than keeping on
task.

Ten minutes later she was back in the car, following Patrick’s
instructions, although the last
turn right
had her
worried. The farmland seemed to have disappeared and she was driving through
dappled light cast by a thousand trees, and there wasn’t a cow in sight. She
consulted her backup map but it only showed the main county roads and, given
this road was unpaved and she’d passed a brown sign a mile ago that had
proclaimed Rustic Road, she was pretty certain she needed to go back. There
wasn’t a lot of room to do a U-turn and the edges of the road looked decidedly
soft. She felt every inch a city girl in a foreign place. “Patrick, my gorgeous
hunk, where are we?”

At dee end of dee road turn
right.

She bit her lip and weighed up her options. If she took the
bend she might find somewhere safe to turn around and if she drove slowly she’d
avoid ending up in a precarious situation like the people who put all their
trust in a GPS. People who drove into a lake or ran out of fuel stranded in the
desert. People who ended up on the news, lampooned on websites and, worse still,
recipients of a Darwin Award.

Maggie-May barked and pawed the window.

Erin glanced up, gasped and grabbed her camera as a deer leaped
and pranced across the road, quickly disappearing into the trees until even its
white tail had been absorbed by the dense foliage. Minneapolis seemed a world
away from this. With a tug of disappointment that she’d missed capturing the
beautiful creature, she set her camera down. “Next time, Maggie-May.”

She threw the car into gear and continued down the rough road
which turned sharply. The gravel changed to flattened grass and she bumped along
a bit farther until the trees gave way to wide, open spaces. She pressed the
brakes hard. Black-and-white cows, with green grass hanging from their big, pink
tongues, lifted their heads and turned to gaze at the car with interest. They
started walking toward her, their gait increasing with each step. The closest
she’d ever been to a cow before was the label on the plastic gallon of milk that
graced her breakfast table. Her heart leaped into her throat as one cow licked
her window. “Patrick!”

You have reached your
destination.

* * *

Luke Anderson sat on the small, sandy beach with his
border collie, Mac, resting his head on his thigh. He gazed out at the blue
lake, letting the warmth of the sand, the haunting wail-call of the loon and the
gray-white colors of the rocks seep through him. No one had ever asked him if he
had a favorite part of the farm, but should they, he’d immediately answer, “the
lake beach.”

Not that he didn’t have strong ties to all of the farm; he did.
He’d grown up exploring every inch of it and loving it all but this beach was
extra special. He’d been coming here for as long as he could remember. He’d run
here to lie low the first time he’d gotten into serious trouble from his father.
At ten he’d committed a dairyman’s cardinal sin by leaving a gate open and
inadvertently allowed the bull to escape into a pasture of top milkers. He still
remembered the shock that had torn through him as his usually mild-mannered
father let rip with a string of curses he’d rarely heard him use before or
since—words Luke hadn’t even known his father knew.

He scooped up a handful of sand, letting the grains fall
through his fingers. This beach had been the site of his first solo campout at
nine and much later, at fifteen, it had been the place he’d first kissed a girl.
Brandy Peterson. He smiled, recalling the inauspicious start to acquiring a
skill he was now told he was very good at. Back then, having no clue what he was
supposed to do, his tongue had been frayed by her braces but it had been worth
it for the quick touch of his hand against the warm curve of her breast. At that
moment, Luke had known for certain that unlike his older brother Wade, he loved
the touch, taste and scent of women.

And over the years, he’d fully explored that realization many
times with many women, taking full advantage of his college years. Later, he’d
built on that experience during the five years he’d worked for an artificial
insemination company where the job had taken him across the country and as far
away as Australia and New Zealand. He idly wondered what Brandy was doing now.
Like him, she’d left town for college, only she hadn’t returned. Most of the
young women who left Whitetail didn’t return, which left the northwoods town
with a higher than the state average of single men. He was part of that
statistic. Not that he minded the single part—he was more than happy with
that.

He shielded his eyes as the thrum of a vacationer’s boat engine
reverberated across the lake, reminding him of the reason he was on the beach
today. The future of the farm. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and reread
the email from his high school buddy Axel Jacobson, who was now a real estate
agent in Milwaukee. “Parcel of land valued @ 1.3m.” He abruptly shut it down,
blocking out the number which made his gut churn every time he read it.

Earlier in the summer, Axel had been in Whitetail, visiting his
sister, Annika, who’d both surprised and thrilled the town when she’d married
Finn Callahan last winter. Axel had stopped by for a beer and they’d come down
to the lake for a cookout and some reminiscing.

“So your mom finally got your dad to go to Arizona?” Axel had
asked.

“Yep.” Luke shook his head slowly. “I didn’t believe it until I
saw the truck pull out through the gate. Even then, I expected the old man to be
back by milking time because in thirty years I can count on one hand how many
times he’s left the farm for more than two days.”

BOOK: Picture Perfect Wedding
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