by Margareta Osborn
Published by Random House Australia
Genres: Australian Rural Romance, Romance
Jodie Ashton is a single mother struggling to find security for her and her rather awesome daughter, Milly. She is wary of passion, having been abandoned by her cowboy lover, and craves stability and predictability. There is a safe offer in the table: older cocky Alex McGregor.
“There was a fleeting touch of possession in that look, which made Jodie’s insides momentarily quiver with uncertainty. But it was shuttered away as quickly as it had come, and an engaging smile was back on his face. A grin she had come to rely on for its ability to brighten her day.
‘Think about it, Jodie,’ he’d said. ‘I can make your and Milly’s life very comfortable.’”
Can Ash overlook the red flags of Alex’s dislike for Milly, and his outbursts of dominating behaviour? She takes off on a rodeo weekend with her friends, telling Alex she’s going to a quilting workshop. There her eye is drawn again by gorgeous cowboy Nate, which sets off a whole other set of her red flags, but Ash finds him hard to resist.
A huge coincidence brings all three of them together, and fireworks ensue (in more ways than one).
This is a novel for those who love flawed characters. Ash can be a bit annoyingly passive, and makes some decisions with very questionable ethics. But her fierce love for her daughter is a delight – this sort of passionate motherhood is a rare thing in books in this genre – and her less acceptable actions can be largely explained by her abandonment trauma and her search for a way to forge a safe future for her family.
Alex is certainly very flawed – I despised him much of the time – but this book manages to find some redemption for him also. And Nate. What can I say about Nate? He makes a pretty dodgy decision also, one with profound consequences, but we end up liking him too.
The best things about this book for me were the examination of single motherhood and financial insecurity, and the ethical dilemmas this can bring to a woman’s life. Minor characters Mue and Clem are great, too.
Recommended to people who like flawed characters.
Content warning for bushfire.