A Family Affair

A FAMILY AFFAIR (A Starter Library Novel)
Contemporary Romance



Sian looked around the propped-up bonnet.  A car with its parking lights on had pulled up behind hers.  She was both relieved at the arrival of help, and annoyed at her relief.  Sian liked to think she was independent and capable.  It ran counter to her convictions that she had to admit defeat.

Then she realised the car was a Range Rover, in two-tone brown, and the figure climbing out of it, muffled to the chin in a stockman’s coat, and with a felt hat pulled down low over the brow, was none other than her hated neighbour, Morgan Stewart….

Sian clenched her jaw, and stepped back behind the bonnet, out of his line of sight, and grimaced.  Of all the people that might have stopped to help, it had to be him!  Oh, this was galling.  Morgan Stewart never failed to miss any opportunity to be rude and accusatory.  This time he would be sure to make fun of her car, call her a typical female driver, point out that if she took better care of her car this might never have happened.  And in truth, she wouldn’t be able to deny any of it.  Her only excuses were a lack money, and a plethora of other more urgent and important tasks.  They wouldn’t wash with him.  Morgan Stewart’s entire life was perfectly ordered and maintained.  He would never understand that sometimes one had to choose between necessities.

He stepped past the bonnet, and stopped at the side of the car, lifting his chin enough to look at her from under the brim of his hat.  Morgan Stewart had blue eyes so vivid and clear they were mesmerising.  Framed with thick dark lashes, they were frankly beautiful, but the rest of his face was strong, square jawed and wholly masculine, so the effect was doubling hypnotic.  Morgan used his startling eyes to good effect: staring down his opposition with a silent regard that was typical of the way he treated everything in his life.  Nothing ever seemed to shake Morgan Stewart from his decided course of action.  He responded to all events and all people with a steady, restrained flexibility that allowed him to step over or around an obstruction and carry on along his path with the relentlessness of an armoured tank.

Except when it came to Sian.  Sian was the one exception.  She knew he would go out of his way to plague her … had actually once watched him cross a crowded room to trade insults with her before calmly turning back to his business.

They cordially hated each other.

Morgan ran a successful little empire from the top floor of the only two storey building in town.  The Stewart family had been in the Valley for generations, and Morgan controlled their business interests.  Sian had learnt in her one abortive semester in a business course that profit was the motive that drove businessmen like him.  She caused him to descend to petty insults, because her motives and ambitions were not centred on profit.  In a world where Morgan Stewart could understand and manipulate people by their greed for material possessions, Sian was untouchable, and that was what drove him mad.

He peered down his straight nose at her, the startling blue eyes cool, and glanced at the exposed engine.  “Problems?” he asked.

“None that can’t be fixed,” Sian assured him sweetly.

He ignored her, as she had known he would, and bent over, ducking under the bonnet to look at the engine more closely.  “What happened?”

“It was banging, and then it quit.  Why?”

“I’m not going to diagnose the problem on divine inspiration alone.”

“I didn’t ask you to diagnose the problem at all,” Sian told his broad shoulders and back – all that she could see from her position in front of the bumper.

He lifted his head enough to glance at her.  “You want to stand around in the rain just looking at it?”

“I like the rain,” Sian said.  It was the truth, but she knew the answer would annoy him.

“So does the average earthworm.”  The corner of his mouth pulled down, conveying his opinion of her fanciful likes and dislikes.

“Besides, the rain is slowing,” Sian pointed out, before he could add something even more condescending.  And it was.  Abruptly, it stopped.  The silence was complete for a handful of heartbeats, while Morgan glared at her, and the world was still.  Then the call of a crow broke the little spell, and all the normal sounds of the forest around them started up again.

Morgan straightened up again.  “Get in the Rover.”


“I said ‘get in the Rover’.  You’re shivering.  I’m not going to have you catch pneumonia and try and pin the blame on me for keeping you standing around out in the weather.  Get in the Rover.”

Sian was indeed shivering inside her damp coat.  There was the smallest of breezes sprung up now the rain had stopped, barely strong enough to ruffle her wet hair, but it cut through the material of the coat with the effectiveness of an arctic gale.  Damp locks of hair hung inside her collar, dripping rivulets of water.  “I’m not getting in your car.”  It was an automatic protest.  Get into Morgan Stewart’s car?  Never.  It implied a friendliness that didn’t exist.

Morgan looked up from his study of the engine again, and glared at her.  But before he could speak, the sound of the driver’s window being wound down made them both turn to look.

Lilly pulled her upper body out of the window, and turned to sit on the window sill, clutching the roof and window frame of the car for security.  “Hi Morgan.”  She grinned at him.

Sian pursed her lips at the casual usage of his first name.  She would have to speak to Lilly about it.

“Well hello, Lilly.  I didn’t realise you were in the car.”  He spoke without animosity.  Morgan was never anything but polite to Sian when Lilly was around, and he treated Lilly with untainted friendliness, which had always relieved Sian.  She believed there was no need to drag Lilly into the middle of their on-going skirmishes.  “How’s school going?”

“Pretty good.  I got another star on my chart today.”

“That’s good.”  He smiled at Lilly, showing even and very white teeth.  “Why don’t you get into my car, Lilly?  It’s warmer.”

“Can I?  Great.”  Enthusiastically, Lilly pulled herself all the way out of the window, and dropped to the ground.

“Lilly!” Sian admonished.

“Sorry.”  Lilly ran back to the big Range Rover and reached up, straining, to open the door.  She climbed inside.

Morgan turned back from watching Lilly to look at Sian.  “You were saying?” he prompted.

Sian bit back her first response.  Insulting him would only require telling the truth, but it wouldn’t help get her car started again.  As much as she disliked Morgan, he had stopped to help … even if it was only because he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a few more digs at her.  There was no-one else.  This road was a minor spur that ran for twenty miles into the State forest, to an old abandoned timber town.  The only people who used the road were Sian and her neighbours, and she rather doubted Edward would be along soon.  It was only just gone four, and he worked late on Thursday nights.  So Sian held her tongue.  “I’m all right,” she told Morgan.  “I’d rather help you … so I can see what’s wrong.”

He gave a short laugh and shook his head, as if he was amused at her intentions.  “I’m not fixing your car.”

“You’re not?”

“Not here and now.”   He reached for the supporting arm and clipped it to the bonnet.  “Watch your fingers,” he warned, and let the bonnet drop back down.

“But…”  Sian was bewildered, and not quite sure how she could protest that she needed her car, and not sound ungrateful.

Morgan rested a fist on his moleskin clad hip.  “It’ll be dark soon, and that wind is picking up.  You’re already soaked, and I don’t want to be.  I’ll drive you home, and in the morning I’ll have your car towed into the Valley, to a mechanic.”

“But … Lilly’s got school, and I have—”

“I’ll drive you both in.”

Sian swallowed back the same automatic protest.  How else was she going to get into work in the morning?  Yet the idea of owing any sort of debt to Morgan Stewart was hard to accept.  She had a niggling suspicion he would hold that debt over her somehow, and upset the even tenor of her life more than he did already.

Morgan must have seen something of her dilemma in the expression on her face, for he sighed.  “I don’t need your undying gratitude, Sian.  I’m doing it for Lilly’s sake.  You can’t leave the child sitting in a cold car while you try to play mechanic.”


He reached for her arm, and pulled her gently around the corner of the bonnet.  “So get in the damned car, will you?”

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Read the reviews

But beyond a satisfying love story, it is a well-written book. It reminded me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place.

This book was a wonderful read. She dangled the happy ending like a carrot until the very last page.

…exceptionally drawn characters

…had me breathless from the first page

I could not help but fall in love with this well-written story and the characters on their path to self-discovery

Sian can’t forgive Morgan for the past.

When she was a teenager, Sian O’Sullivan’s father, a gentle poet, was swindled by his business manager and shortly after committed suicide.  Morgan Stewart is also a successful entrepreneur—and her neighbor and landlord.  Sian can’t stand the man because seven years ago, when her husband was still alive, Morgan mercilessly denigrated Luke’s talent as an artist.

Morgan believes Sian isn’t his type.  He prefers ice-blonde princess-model types.  Sian is brunette, all womanly curves, unglamorous and unworldly. Besides, she is the most irritating neighbor he’s ever had…although he has a soft spot for her six year old daughter, Lilly.

A series of disasters throw the two together, forcing them both to reassess their prejudices, as they learn more about each other.  Set in the fictitious town of Lentara Valley, in the timber forests of Western Australia.

This contemporary romance is part of the Starter Library series, which is only available to readers who subscribe to Tracy’s email list.

1.0: A Dangerous Man
2.0: A Family Affair
3.0: Worlds of Wonder

Book can be read on all devices and apps. [More info]

Books In This Series



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A Family Man
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
 by Becky
A Family Affair

Wonderful heartwarming story. Loved the friction to friends. Well thought out charecters and relationship build up. I really enjoyed the book.

 by Helga
Good story

Beautiful romance story.

 by Heather Baxter
A Family Affair

This was a great wee read & I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew from the off what was going to happen, I just had to keep reading to actually find out.
The story line was to die for & the fact that a large gruff man could fall for a woman & child without realising tells me a lot about a person.
The ending was scrumptious, basically I loved this story Tracy...xx


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