Home Sweet Home by Mandy Magro.
Home Sweet Home by Mandy Magro.

Kickstart a month of reading

Day 1: Every day in January we will publish an extract of a new book across a variety of genres to help you add to your must-read list for 2021.

Our first extract is from Home Sweet Home by romance writer Mandy Magro. She lives in Cairns and has published more than 15 books. Rural Australia always provides a rich and authentic backdrop for her powerful, modern romance stories and her fans can’t get enough of them.

Home Sweet Home by Mandy Magro.
Home Sweet Home by Mandy Magro.

PROLOGUE

‘I love you, so much, my gorgeous wife.’ Zachary’s voice was a soft whisper. His English accent was still strong, even though he’d called Australia home for almost half his life. Her heart buoyant, Sienna Lewis met the eyes of the man who had been by her side for twelve beautiful years.

‘I love you too, Zach, with all my heart.’ Resting her head back, she hummed to the Adam Brand song playing on the radio — it wasn’t often she heard country music in the big smoke of Brisbane. But then again, it had been a week filled with wonderful surprises, so what was one more? Life couldn’t get much better. Squished up beside her in the taxi, Zach was looking at her with nothing but love in his eyes. Smiling from her soul, she brushed a kiss over his cheek as she cuddled their daughter to her other side. All their dreams were about to come true. Finally, after countless emails and mountains of stress, their loan had been approved—they were soon to be proud owners of a twenty-acre property on the outskirts of Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. And after trying for what had felt like forever, they were going to be parents again. The home pregnancy test had been positive, and Sienna’s doctor had confirmed it. They couldn’t be happier.

The impromptu dinner at their favourite Italian restaurant had been a wonderful way to celebrate the news they’d prayed to hear. Pleasantly exhausted, she rested her head on Zach’s shoulder. The taxi driver manoeuvred through the traffic, a little too fast for her liking, but given the tetchy mood he appeared to be in, she wasn’t about to ask the man to slow down. Fingers entwined with her husband’s on one side, and her seven-year-old daughter’s on the other, she begrudgingly untwined them when her phone’s message tone chimed from the depths of her handbag on the floor of the taxi. She unclipped her seatbelt to reach her bag, but Zach beat her to it. With a grin, he dug out her phone and passed it to her, and taking it from his hand, she glanced down to read the message from her cousin Kirra. It was one of congratulations, with a line of emojis beneath.

Her gaze was torn from the screen when the car swerved. Sudden brightness had her glancing to her left to see headlights careering straight for them. A sharp breath caught in her throat. Instinctively, she turned to Zara … went to reach for her, to protect her. A long moment passed. Metal struck and crushed. Glass shattered. Suddenly, she was lurching through midair, her body jarring with crushing impact as her skin shredded against the bitumen. Something landed beside her. She tried to call out, but words refused to form. She fought to blink away the haziness blurring her vision, but before she could focus, the mayhem and noise, the wail of distant sirens, swirled, echoed and then stopped, as she tumbled into suffocating blackness.

CHAPTER 1

Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Her heart heavy, Sienna read the cheery saying printed on the coffee mug in her hand. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. She hated the saying, especially today. Today was her thirtieth birthday — the age she’d envisioned she’d have all that she longed for, all that she needed. It was hard to accept that, in a split second, those dreams had been turned upside down. That she’d lost both her husband and their unborn baby, that fateful day, and her life was never going to be the same again. She knew she should be grateful for the fact that she and Zara still had their lives. But it was a tough task. The passing of time had taught her many things — how the deep ache of loss didn’t seem to lessen, how the bottomless pit of loneliness only intensified, how the grip of fear in the dark of night stole her breath as she tried to make herself believe she wasn’t failing as a mother because she was drowning in her heartache. She could already feel Zach becoming more and more a part of her past, and not her future.

The worn tiles were so cold upon her bare feet that for the umpteenth time she considered grabbing her slippers, but once again found herself distracted. Closing her eyes to block out her dreary view of the neighbouring apartment block, she allowed herself the luxury of envisaging herself standing on the property she was meant to be calling home — a seemingly never-ending paddock, with nothing and nobody to be seen for miles, the earthy scent of the land she so longed to own encompassing her. She longed to go back to her roots…

Home Sweet Home is published by Harlequin Australia and available now.


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