Beneath Outback Skies
Author: Alissa Callen
Publisher: Random Romance
252 pp e-book
Copy courtesy of the publisher via netgalley
Beneath Outback Skies is one of the launch titles for Random Romance – a digital romance imprint of Random House. There are five launch titles with more to be released later in the year. Beneath Outback Skies is a full length rural romance.
Headstrong Paige Quinn is keeping her family’s farm “Banora Downs” afloat almost single-handedly. With her father in a wheelchair, she is responsible for maintaining the farm and its animals in the middle of what seems like an interminable draught. They are lucky though, as “Banora Downs” is one of the few farms that have managed to survive the draught that is gripping outback New South Wales, Australia.
In the midst of this comes city pretty-boy Tait Cavanaugh, who is guarding some big secrets. He is the CEO of the consultancy firm AgriViz, and is hired by Paige’s father, Connor, to draw up a business plan for the farm. Tait stays at the farm under the pretence that he needs a break from his city life. At the same time he is trying to uncover some family secrets of his own.
Little by little, feelings between Paige and Tait begin to form. He is quite the gentleman, and goes out of his way to help on the farm, and make Paige’s life a little easier. Paige, however, is used to looking after things on her own and isn’t readily going to let any caffeine-addicted city-slicker take control. She has also been burnt by a previous relationship with a city boy and she is determined not to let that happen again.
For a romance novel, I thought it was very slow to get going. Although both Paige and Tait were both strong characters, it wasn’t until half-way through that I felt any chemistry between them. For me, the second half of the novel was much stronger than the first, and for this reason I think perhaps the story may have worked better as a novella. I would have liked the romance that was evident in the second half to have been there all the way through. I also got frustrated at the number of times we were told Tait was hiding secrets. I couldn’t really understand why Tait felt he had to keep everything about his past a secret.
On the plus side, I enjoyed the rural setting – the old-fashioned ball, swimming in the dam, campfires and toasting marshmallows and, of course, the relief when the rain finally arrives and the draught has broken. I also thought that Callen highlighted the difficulties faced by farmers during severe drought really well.
Beneath Outback Skies is the second book read for the AWW2013 challenge.