The good: The return of the familiar setting and introduction of new characters.
The not-so-good: Beth is not a risk taker, which I felt slowed the book’s pace.
Why I chose it: Enjoyed the first two books in the series Thanks to Penguin for the copy.
Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Setting: North Western Australia
Rating: 8 out of 10
I’ve really enjoyed Sasha Wasley’s previous two books in the Daughters of the Outback series (Dear Banjo and True Blue) so I’ve been eagerly anticipating the story of the final Paterson daughter, Beth. While Dear Banjo focused on the family cattle station and True Blue looked at life in Mount Clair, Love Song primarily focuses on an Indigenous community outside the town. It’s a lovely contrast of setting and different stories about three very different sisters.
Up until now, local GP Beth has presented herself as the most serious and strict of the Paterson sisters. The oldest of the three, her role has previously been to talk sense into Free and correct the others in matters of the heart. Now that the reader gets to see into Beth’s head, it’s revealed that life is not all black and white for her. Beth is proud of the business she’s built up, as well as the strict routine of exercise and work. But there is something missing, even though she was reluctant to notice it until Charlie Campbell returned to town. Charlie was Beth’s first love and she realises that she’s had trust issues ever since. (And that nobody has ever really compared to him since). Now Charlie, a star singer, is back in town to fight against a new mine close to the community where he grew up. That makes for multiple awkward moments as Beth is the community’s doctor and equally as passionate to help. Can they get past their differences and work together? Will Charlie tell Beth what caused him to disappear?
Now you know that this story will have a happy ending, but the journey towards that is pure joy. Charlie and Beth are adults (even though they can be as stubborn as children) and their working relationship is great as they both strive to take care of toddler Pearl who has special needs. Pearl is such a cutie, with her ability to get food everywhere but her mouth and big sister Jill is the most loyal sister Pearl could hope for. Beth and Charlie support each other through their times of need, both big and small. It’s delightful to read the growing realisation of their rekindled feelings towards each other (and equally frustrating when they misread the other’s intentions!)
The inclusion of the Indigenous community Madjinbarra was sensitively done I felt, bringing to attention the needs of the community (such as regular health care) and the lack of funding / tolerance from city slickers for anything different to the bright lights. I haven’t read a romance story with an Aboriginal hero before – here’s hoping that we see a lot more after the wonderful Charlie. He’s sensitive, devoted to his family, talented and holds a candle for his first love – what more could you ask for in a hero? He is the balance Beth needs in her life, to help fill the whole in her family life after the death of her mother and to bring spontaneous joy.
So now that the Paterson girls have their happy ever afters (and the series has been optioned for film), I hope that Sasha Wasley has something great planned for readers. We need more of her inspiring fiction on our shelves!