Driftwood by Mandy Magro

In brief: Taylor runs away to the bush and finds life and love in Driftwood.

The good: Liked the parallel historical narrative about the settling of Waratah Station.

The not-so-good: Dialogue felt a little clunky at times.

Why I chose it: ARC from Harlequin – thank you!

Year: 2013

Pages: 242 (ARC)

Publisher: Harlequin Mira

Setting: Country Australia

My rating: 7 out of 10

Ever just wanted to take off from your life and hit the road with no destination in mind? Taylor Whitworth is fed up with life in the city and her stepfather’s demands, so she does just that. She finds herself outside the northern Queensland town with no petrol when she’s rescued by Jay Donnellson from Waratah Station. Finding a job in the local pub and friendly people is like a dream come true to Taylor. But when she gets a job as a jillaroo, things start falling into place beyond her wildest dreams…

Meanwhile, back in 1860s New South Wales, Anne and William are having a secret love affair. He’s a bushranger and she’s a wanted lady – by the crooked local policeman. A dramatic turn of events means that they need to flee town quickly. Will Waratah Station in Queensland be their salvation, or will it all unravel?

As the novel progresses, these two narratives become increasingly entwined. I did enjoy the historical narrative – I don’t think there’s enough historical romance involving kind-hearted bushrangers and I would have liked to have read more about Anne and William. There was enough material to develop into a separate novel. However, I did find their dialogue a little clunky at times – it just didn’t ring true for me, seeming a little formal, particularly between the bushrangers.

Back in the present day, the romance between Taylor and Jay is sweet. I did find Taylor a little immature as a hero (perhaps because of her age, she’s in her early twenties and I’m er, older) at times, but at others she seemed to have a wisdom beyond her years. The coincidence at the end is kind of implausible, but, hey this is why we like fiction! The way it comes to fruition is dramatic and heart wrenching. There was fairly little standing between them (one half-hearted scheming woman a lack of privacy) as the focus shifted to the station.

I found the inclusion of Adam Brand (Australian country and western singer) as a character original. It really held my interest, seeing this person from television interacting with fictional characters (as well as being caught up in a number of dramas, big and small). I don’t want to spoil the big event at the end, but suffice to say, Magro has put a lot of research into just what happens during a disaster. Having been in a similar situation, I found her words to ring true (and thank goodness Adam Brand was okay). I liked that this dramatic event wasn’t based around the romance, but everyone working at the station. It was very refreshing.

I read this book during an unusually hectic week and found it enjoyable and easy to keep track of the narrative. If you’re looking for a light read with bushrangers, sexy singers and dramatic events, this is just the read for you!

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