Friday Sampler: A Sterling Proposal by Sonia Parin
May 6, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler features an excerpt from A Sterling Proposal, a contemporary romantic comedy by Sonia Parin.
As one reviewer said: Author Sonia Parin uses her knowledge over region and culture to craft an intriguing novel, painting vivid pictures of the characters and their engaging tale for readers to lose themselves in the depth of the plot. A Sterling Proposal is a simple, straight forward, gripping tale, well woven with naturalistic circumstances faced by life-like characters that keep the readers entertained and interested till the every end.
She grew up thinking she was an only child, now she has two sisters, half a town and a difficult man to win over…
When New Yorker, Zoe Wilde, takes a miniature poodle and an alpaca to a cattle dog trial, local cattle baron Luke Sterling knows life will never be the same… However, he doesn’t think she’ll last longer than a week living in the small country town, especially if the thunderclouds that have been hovering over the horizon roll in. Her roof leaks.
A coffee overdose, some goats and buying up the town’s supply of chocolate prove Luke right, Zoe doesn’t belong in Eden. But springing to her rescue at a fundraiser, his feelings are exposed prompting him to break the stalemate between their families and prove Zoe’s found a place in his heart. But he’s missed his chance and now history is about to repeat itself…
The Wilde heiress… in Eden…
“Don’t you have anything to say?”
Luke Sterling would rather round up stray cattle in a summer heat wave than catch up on town gossip. In fact, he’d rather clean out his neighbor’s septic tank himself, but he knew better than to blurt out the truth.
“The ratio of raisins to nuts in my cereal this morning was off and don’t get me started on the coffee. I’m sure Joyce has switched brands—”
“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said—”
“Bea, you’ve been coming through loud and clear.”
“First, you said you needed to have your eyes tested because the scales can’t be right. Then you told me how you couldn’t get through to your daughter because her head is crammed full of big ideas, leaving no room for common sense and… finally, you told me the rumor’s gone viral.” And that, he knew, was the clincher.
“Assuming you want me to do something about it, how about I put in a request to have the town water supply tested?”
She hitched her hands on her hips. “People are not hallucinating.”
“Bea, there hasn’t been a Wilde in the area in over fifty years.” And, clearly, they were having a slow news day. Tipping his chair back, he looked out the window at the derelict building across the street. “Suddenly, Zoe Wilde surfaces as the new heiress and sets off a flurry of speculation, ghost sightings—”
“She’s real. The newspapers ran an article on her.”
He swivelled his chair from side to side. “Okay, then let’s send her some flowers,” he said and hoped that would put an end to that.
“What sort of flowers did you have in mind?”
“The sort that say congratulations.” He shifted in his chair. “But nothing too cheerful.”
“Flowers are cheerful by their very nature.”
“Nothing too bright then.” Because it might be perceived as too insensitive. After all, it had only been a few months since Zoe Wilde’s father had perished in that boating accident out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
“So you want to congratulate her but you don’t want her to get too excited about it.”
“Just do what you think is most appropriate,” he said and tried his best to ignore the tug of curiosity about the new heiress. As far as he knew, she had no experience in the business arena; neither did her half sisters—both prominent social butterflies.
He looked up and noticed Bea giving him a waiting-for-the-penny-to-drop look.
“Is there a problem, Bea?”
“Just a tiny one. Blooming Buds is closed, but if you’re determined to send Zoe Wilde flowers, maybe I could get some from my neighbor’s garden. Or, maybe you could cross the street and go say hello—”
He chuckled. “Cross the street?” Now he knew she was putting him on. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d set foot on that side of town.
“You can deny it all you want but an hour ago Tom Ellis met with three women outside the Wilde building and that can only mean one thing—” The sound of screeching tires had his assistant turning toward the window. “The Grange boys.”
The local rebels without a cause… “What about them?”
“They just pulled up outside the Wilde building and they’re not bringing flowers.”
* * *
“What do I think of Eden so far?” Zoe asked herself, her voice pitched high enough for her sisters to hear. “Very picturesque. I drove from New York to Seattle once, right across Montana. Eden looks like a down under version of it.” With an expansive landscape dotted with cattle and a town sitting at the foothills of a rugged looking mountain range, and that was as much as she’d noticed since all her attention had been fixed on staying on the right side of the road… or rather, the left, and on trying to engage her sisters in conversation.
She still wasn’t having any luck. As soon as they’d arrived, they’d made themselves scarce going off to explore the rest of the building, or so she hoped. For all she knew they might have snuck out the back door, beating a hasty retreat back to Melbourne…
She wouldn’t blame them.
Zoe sent her gaze gliding around the lobby of the Wilde building. At one time, a millennia ago, it must have served as the hub of commercial activity in the area.
Swiping the tip of her finger along a mantelpiece, she wrinkled her nose. There had to be an inch of dust covering every surface, nook and cranny.
The building had to go.
This would be her first decision as a Wilde. And a no-brainer, Zoe thought as she brushed the dust off her hands. Still, she should sleep on it. After all, it was part of her newfound heritage. She shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it all.
“Okay, all set,” she called out. The naïve chirpiness in her voice made her smile. It’s called fake it till you make it, Zoe.
And she’d been doing it for months now, trying to make sense of the new life she’d inherited, while everything that really mattered fell by the wayside. One way or another, she’d get her life back on track and rolling in the right direction. It was time to become better acquainted with her new family…
She peered up the stairs and was about to call out again when she heard what sounded like glass shattering against the building.
Back home in New York, she’d dismiss it as nothing but the neighbors having one of their usual spats, the sort that invariably led to foreplay and other types of sounds. However, she’d been in Eden for a couple of hours and hadn’t even heard a car drive by…
Nudging the front door open, Zoe saw Tom Ellis, the town lawyer she’d been talking with only a few moments before, striding away from a man who stood with his back to her.
She took in his thick brown hair curling around his collar, and then sent her gaze gliding from one shoulder to the other.
Nice, she thought looking at his butt long enough to be caught in the act when he turned to face her.
At first glance, he looked relaxed and friendly. And then she picked up another layer. Something quietly commanding. Contained. In control. As if nothing would faze him. He didn’t look like the type of person who would smash a bottle against the wall. In fact, he looked like someone who’d stepped off a Times Square billboard advertisement for the latest in casual country wear, his raw maleness making those male models look like a poor impersonation of the real thing.
Zoe automatically stretched her hand out and smiled. “Hi, I’m Zoe Wilde.”
He nodded and gave her a firm handshake. “I’m Luke Sterling.”
Here to welcome you to Eden, she mentally filled in, glad to know she hadn’t had to go chasing after the cattle baron—something she’d put at the top of her to-do list.