You’ll Always Have Tara: A Riches to Romance Tale by Leah Marie Brown
Tara Butler was born under a lucky star, enjoying a life of leisure in beautiful, historic Charleston, South Carolina. But luck, and family fortunes, have a way of running out. Suddenly Tara is left with only one place to turn—her late aunt’s country home in north-west Ireland. The catch: to claim her inheritance Tara must agree to live in Castle Tásúildun for three months. With two other potential heirs. And choose one to be co-owner of the estate.
Tara sees right through her aunt’s matchmaking scheme, and she’s not willing to share Castle Tásúildun with anyone. If charm doesn’t get rid of her rivals, she’ll find some other way to drive Aidan Gallagher and Rhys Burroughes away. But as God is her witness, both men are infernally stubborn. Aidan, once her carefree childhood friend, is now an army veteran desperate for the peace the castle offers. Rhys, a smooth-talking businessman, plans to preserve the ramshackle property by transforming it into a luxury hotel. Tara, for the first time, is realizing that frankly, she does give a damn—about others’ happiness as well as her own. But is she ready to open her home—not mention her heart—to the possibility of an epic adventure?
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“Ya could have written to me.” He presses his bare knees against my legs. “Why didn’t ya?”
I want to tell him I didn’t write to him because I was terrified he wouldn’t answer and his rejection would have been too bitter a pill to swallow. I left Ireland with memories of my perfect summer romance with a boy who seemed to like me, really like me. I cherished those memories. What if I had written to him and he ignored my letters? Or, worse, wrote back to tell me I had misunderstood what happened between us, that it was just a thing, a silly, meaningless thing and I was being a silly, lovesick girl. No, Aidan was the perfect boy in my perfect summer romance. The one that got away, not the one who ran away (to Crawdad Cravath).
I am plumb out of words. I don’t want to lie and my pride won’t let me tell the truth. So, I just slap a Band-
Aid on this painful situation. I hide my pain beneath a smile.
“Ah, I see,” he says, crossing his arms over his chest and smiling back at me. “Ya didn’t want your fella to
know about me. What was his name? Gaylord?”
“Grayson,” I say. “His name was Grayson.”
“Grayson. I knew it was a poncey name.”
“He isn’t a ponce!”
“Ya told me he took ya to a dance and got well fluthered after drinking something called a Furry Navel.” He laughs. “If that’s not a ponce, I don’t know what is.”
“It was the prom and the drink is called a Fuzzy Navel. It’s made with peach schnapps.”
“Peach schnapps?” He shakes his head. “Ya could crawl to every pub in every county in Ireland and ya
wouldn’t find a single Irishman drinking peach schnapps. What self-respecting man gets fluthered drinking peach
“Leave it to an Irishman to judge another man’s masculinity by how much he can drink,” I say.
“I question his masculinity because he chose drinking girly cocktails with the lads over dancing with you . . . and he made ya cry once when he said he thought ya needed to lose weight. The fuck?”
The last bit comes out as a confused exclamation, which I assume is Aidan’s way of saying, what is up
with that? I’m not gonna lie, y’all, the sentiment behind his profanity makes me absurdly happy.
“I can’t believe you remember that story.”
“I remember everything about ya, Tara.” He smiles— not the half-teasing, half-mocking grin he flashed me a few seconds ago, but a smile so sweet it makes my teeth ache. “I don’t remember ya being such a worrier, though. The Tara I knew back then would have climbed in the cage and challenged me to a fight.”
I laugh. Aidan always brought out my feisty, fearless side, the side that didn’t worry about spilling tea
on my dress, or running barefoot, or scandalizing the neighbors with my tom-girl tree climbing. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I liked coming to Donegal, because I could let my perfectly coiffed hair down and forget about my perfectly proper Southern roots. I could just be . . . me.
“I like knowing ya were worried about me,” he says, pressing his knees against my legs.
“Of course I was worried about you. How could I not worry? And I’ll be sick with worry if I ever see you in that cage again.”
“Are ya planning on staying in Ireland for a while?”
“Then ya will definitely see me in that cage again.”
“Great!” I look down at my legs, at Aidan’s knees pressing against my legs, at the fine sprinkling of blond –
ish hairs on his knees. “I can hardly wait.”
“Ya don’t need to worry about me, luv,” he says,
tilting my chin up until I look into his eyes. “Bet on
- Bet on me and I promise ya won’t lose.”
I am not sure if he is talking about betting on him as a cage fighter or something else? Is he charming me,
like he did ten years ago? Is seducing me part of a plan to get me to name him as co-owner of the castle?
I look at the thick fringe of blonde lashes around his cobalt blue eyes, the dangerous glints of silver hidden
in their depths, and hope he is trying to seduce me. I am twenty-seven years old and I have only slept with two men. Grayson Calhoun and Mason Haywood. Mason was from a respectable Southern family, attended Ole Miss on a football scholarship, belonged to Sigma Nu, and checked all of my daddy’s boxes for the perfect son-in-law. Aidan doesn’t check many of my daddy’s boxes. Maybe that’s why I find him thrilling, because he is different from the seersucker-wearing, polo-playing men I know back home.
“I’ll bet on you, Aidan Gallagher, but that doesn’t mean I’ll watch you win that bet for me.”
“Fair enough.” He reaches for one of the tins sitting on the table between us. “Cat said ya brought me a wee gift. Is this it, then?”
“I wouldn’t call it a gift,” I say, suddenly embarrassed.
“It’s nothing, really. Just something I baked.”
He lifts the lid.
“Biscuits? You baked me biscuits?” He looks at me with an expression of disbelief. “Are ya telling me the American princess took off her tiara and sparkly shoes to slave away in the kitchen for a lowly Irish lad?”
“Never mind,” I say, reaching for the tin. “Give them back.”
“I was only slagging,” he says, nudging me with his knee. “Ya need to stop spending so much time with
Oxford. He’s thumping the humor out of ya with all of his dry shite numbers and financial talk.”
“Try a cookie or I’ll be giving you a grand thumping, Aidan Gallagher,” I say, nudging him back.
“There’s me lass,” he says, laughing. “That’s the Tara I remember.”
He takes a cookie out of the open tin and bites it in half. He finishes the first cookie and reaches into the
tin for a second.
“Do you like them?”
“Are you slagging me? These are the best biscuits I’ve ever had, even better than Mrs. McGregor’s gingersnaps.”
“They’re deadly biscuits, lethal.”
He breaks his second cookie in half and sniffs it.
“Working around cider every day must be affecting me sense of smell because I could swear these biscuits
smell like Bananach Brew.”
“Your smelling is fine,” I say, beaming. “Remember that bottle of cider you gave me the other day? Well, I
liked it so much, I replicated the flavors in a cookie. I used your cider in the dough. Of course, I didn’t know until I got here that it was really your cider, that you own Bananach Brew. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“We haven’t seen each other in ten years. I didn’t think I should start with, ‘Hiya Tara. I run a small craft
“You’ve created something really great here, Aidan. You deserve to brag.”
“I don’t brag.” He smiles and the blood rushes to my head. “I would rather brag about these biscuits.”
“You really like them?”
“I fecking love them.”
“I call them Bananach Brew Bites.”
He puts the tin down and leans close, just like he did all of those years ago on the rocks below Tasuildun.
Only this time, he doesn’t kiss my chin.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am an American writer with a penchant for Paris and all things pink! Before writing novels, I worked as a print journalist for a Pulitzer prize winning newspaper, broadcaster for a major news outlet, and a professional photographer.
An avid traveler, I have had adventures and mishaps from London to Tokyo, which I write about on my blog, On Life, Love & Accidental Adventures, and in my contemporary novels.
I was once a collector of truly useless bric-a-brac and cheesy tee-shirts. My cheesiest? A tee shirt with a cartoon Jesus riding a surf board and the words, “And on the eighth day, Jesus went surfing in Greece.” Today, I prefer to gather friendships and memories as travel souvenirs.
In my free time, I like to watch movies, read, and snap photographs. Check out my travel shots by clicking on the Adventures tab above or by following me on Instagram. I love to hear from readers, so send me a note!
For more information follow this link to Leah’s website.