Mindalby Outback Romance collaborative group venture is a community spirit orientated, small-town romance series. Each story explores the impact a major business closure has on the lives of people living in a remote community. Suspense, crime, mystery and romance flow through the individual stories.

The series is set in the fictional town of Mindalby, in north-western NSW, on the banks of the Darling River. The major industry is cotton growing with sheep and other agriculture being secondary sources of income. The population is 5,629 and encompasses quirky and interesting core characters that feature in each story with a local commune where alternative lifestyles and beliefs (including wicca) are embraced.

The over-reaching series arc: The major shareholder of Mindalby Cotton Company appoints an external voluntary administrator and closes its doors overnight. It is a large cotton gin and a small textile factory and the largest employer in town.
The series begin on the first day of closure.

Fancy a taste of the stories?

Read on!

Starting Over by Susanne Bellamy

Was this town her father’s home?

Her breathing slowly returned to normal as Serena surveyed the dry grass and dirt patches of the backyard and the drunken paling fence separating the corner block from the road. A tall, ghostly white gum tree occupied the back corner. Between its base and an outbuilding, a woodpile was neatly stacked beside a solid chopping block. Buried in a sawn-off stump, an axe angled up defiantly.

According to her city-loving mother, she had connected with a man who came from a place like this. And now Serena was in Mindalby to find him and maybe forge her own connection. Her dispirited gaze took in the drought-affected garden and her heart sank. Maybe letting Veronica Carter, the fashion store owner, talk her into using the local saddler to make belts and a handbag wasn’t such a good idea. On the way into town closed shops and the crowd gathered at locked gates had given her a bad vibe.

She took another deep breath and tried to calm herself, but she was still shaken by the encounter with the truck. That truck driver deserved to be booked. “Blast and damn him.”

“Who, me?”

At the sound of a deep, male voice, she turned and took several quick steps around the car. “I’m Serena Quinlan, the—”

She came to an abrupt halt.

Water dripped from shoulder-length, black hair and a stubbled jaw over a well-muscled shoulder and chest. The rest of his body was lost to view behind the corrugated iron half-wall.

Serena followed the line of the man’s arm to a tanned hand gripping the edge of the wall. A strong hand, a workman’s hand. Soap bubbles ran down his forearm and dripped from his elbow into a muddy pool beneath wooden slats. A sliver of bare thigh flashed into view.

“Pass me that towel, will you?”

Serena met his dark-eyed gaze before she registered what he’d said. “Towel?” She blinked and looked around. A towel with the Manly Sea Eagles emblem lay on the ground near her feet. Looking from the towel to the man her inner turmoil fled, replaced by amusement. She’d caught the saddler bare-arsed in his outdoor shower.

A gust of wind rolled the towel further out of his reach.

“Any time soon would be good, unless you’re comfortable talking to a bloke in the buff. Doesn’t worry me, but—”

Laughter threatening Serena scooped up his towel and held it out. “Maybe not at our first meeting.”

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