Beneath Outback Skies is an Australian Contemporary Romance written by Alissa Callen.
I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem. Impressed with the simplistic writing style, interesting characters and the sweet romance, I was able to lose myself in the stark imagery and enjoy this fun read.
Story, Characters and Plotting...
Taking place in the dry and scenic outback's of Australia, I could easily imagine and feel the struggle of the community, the people and specifically, Banora Downs, as it was left barren by drought and transformed from a thriving freehold to the desolate and parched dustbowl we now see. I empathized with the desperate farmers as they waited for a rain that seems to have abandoned them.
Paige Quinn is determined to keep her homestead, Banora Downs, from the fate of surrounding farms where farmers are forced to sell or abandon their properties which have surrendered to drought. She's also resolute in caring for her disabled father and keeping him from realizing just how severe the drought has affected their farm and declining livestock. Suffering the effects of a past relationship gone wrong, her trust is hard to earn and she's built walls to keep her heart safe. Her struggle and determination can be easily misunderstood as detachment but in reality, she feels under pressure to pull them out of a never ending work load before they lose everything. I really liked her character. She feels Banora Downs and her father are her sole responsibility as she tries to keep the promise she made to her mother. Her strength and spirit was admirable.
Not as oblivious as she think, her father, Conner, has other plans. Seeing the strain and all consuming life of the farm weighing his daughter down, he decides it's time to step in and take action. Announcing he's invited a paid guest to stay on their farm, he introduced her to Tait Cavanaugh.
Instantly disliking the city-boy, Paige tries everything she can do dissuade Tait from staying. But little does she know, he's part of her father's plan and he's not going anywhere.
Tait has personal business to attend while he's at Banora Downs and getting close the Paige is just one of the benefits.
I really enjoyed Tait. He was hard working, gentle and caring. Coming from the city, he saw firsthand the problems facing this community and he stepped in and tried to help in any way he could.
Paige and Tait weren't to terribly complicated and there was a bit of intrigue in the middle of the romance. I liked the fact there was an instant attraction but they didn't immediately fall into bed with one another. There was a slow build with conflict and tension. But, though this was a sweet story, I would have liked a bit more of a push-pull to enrich the plot and more romance to ignite the spark and chemistry between the characters.
The Wrap Up:
The story was well told and I loved all the unfamiliar references to things specific to Australia. This was a sweet and enjoyable read and my first time reading this author. I will definitely keep an eye out for future works from Alissa Callen.
NOTE:: A gifted copy was provided for an honest review by Random House Australia.