‘The French Prize’ (Book Excerpt) by Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Cathryn’s first three novels, PromisesHeart of the Valley and Heartland were finalists in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Australian Romance Readers Awards. Rocking Horse Hill is her fourth rural romance novel. Her fifth, The Falls, will release in May. The French Prize, her first action-adventure story, released in September with another to follow in 2015.

Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

Read her interview here. Below you can read an excerpt from her novel, The French Prize. Courtesy: Cathryn Hein.

EXCERPT

THE FRENCH PRIZE by Cathryn Hein

Olivia wrapped her fingers around his forearm. ‘Trust me, Raimund. Tell me what’s going on.’

‘No. It’s too dangerous.’

Her hand stayed in place. ‘Whatever’s going on, dangerous or not, if it’s something to do with La Tasse, then you need me.’

His eyes ran over her face as though assessing her sincerity, but he remained silent.

Olivia tightened her grip.

Without warning he smiled, then leaned forward and kissed her gently on the temple. ‘You are a very strong, very clever and very beautiful woman, Doctor Olivia Walker. I feel privileged to have known you. But it’s time you returned to England.’

Her stomach somersaulted at his words, at the tender touch of his lips, and for a brief moment she lost herself in a fantasy, but then reality crawled back to the surface.

She released his arm as though it were on fire and snatched up the cup from the table, holding it to her chest, her mouth set in a defiant line. Keeping her front facing him, she backed towards the door. If he wanted the cup, he’d have to come and get it, but he had better be prepared. She’d fight like an alley cat if she had to.

‘You can flatter me all you like, but it won’t work. I’m not leaving the cup.’

He held out his hand. ‘Olivia —’

She set her jaw, determined not to be fooled again by his slippery words. ‘It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the world.’

‘You are wrong. It belongs to no one but my family. It always has. It always will.’

Olivia frowned. ‘What are you talking about?’

Raimund said nothing.

Silence stretched and the air felt as tight as the wounds on her stomach. He wouldn’t stop staring at her, and she had the feeling she was being assessed in some way. Although only small, the cup felt heavier than it actually was, as though mystery had suddenly made it leaden.

Then Raimund sighed and pointed to the chair where her clothes had hung. ‘Sit down. We will talk.’

Suspecting some sort of trick, Olivia stayed where she was. ‘About what?’

‘What this is really all about. A sword called Durendal.’

Copyright © 2014 by Cathryn Hein. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd

Read the entire exciting first chapter of THE FRENCH PRIZE.

Learn more about THE FRENCH PRIZE at cathrynhein.com

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