Welcome to Whitetail, Wisconsin, home of Weddings that WOW!
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…
Book two in the Wedding Fever trilogy
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.
For photos of the gorgeous Luke, click
For more weddings in Whitetail, check out Saved by the Bride, available now!
Picture Perfect Wedding
Excerpt From 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."
"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.
From "Picture Perfect Wedding" by Fiona Lowe
Copyright: © 2013 Fiona Lowe
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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