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Monday, June 21, 2010

Heat in the Outback by Suzanne Brandyn

Heat in the Outback by Suzanne Brandyn
Publisher: Eternal Press
Genre: Contemporary
Heat: sensual
Length: Full (212 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Snapdragon

The soaring temperature in the Outback is not the only heat Sarah Munro faces when she returns home for her father’s funeral. She wants to settle his affairs, sell the family’s homestead, Munro Cattle Station, and return to Sydney, and her fiancĂ©, as quickly as possible. Sarah doesn’t want anyone to find out what she’d done in the past. She wants to close this chapter of her life for good. Then there will never be a reason to return to this dusty one horse town. She is wrong!

Ethan Wade, her first love is at the homestead. Ethan claims he owns half of Munro Station. Sarah wants him out! As they try to settle their differences, a raging attraction ignites.

Will Sarah and Ethan find each other again as their past explodes before them?

Sarah Munro goes back to the old family homestead in the still semi-untamed, hot and humid world of New South Wales, Australia. She leaves behind both her fiance' and her current, and enormously successful, life in Sydney.

Her visit brings her past too much into focus: her past and her first love. From her view, we find Ethan Wade as a tough Aussie outdoorsman who knows what he wants and is set on having it. We have to question his real motives - and Sarah has to stop running from all she has tried to leave behind before they can even begin to sort things out.

We get to know Ethan from his own perspective; we develop a much closer understanding of his thoughts - and indeed, meeting Sarah again is shockingly emotional for him.

There's a measure of suspense right from the very start. Ms. Brandyn doesn't just give away Sarah's past mistake, or perhaps, betrayal. Nor does she let us guess the real direction of the storyline; the best part of this is that secrets are revealed in a very unpredictable way.

The blue mountains unfold as the backdrop or the lonely cattle station in the scrub brush, dry withered grasses struggling to survive. We readers feel completely inundated with the place, from sights to scents, the outback comes alive. The community, old friendships, and rural location all give us a sense that Sarah is far from the place and person she has become. And is that what she wanted? We have to wonder...did she just take up the life she found when she ran away from that one mistake? Sarah's anxiety about disclosure is actually quite secondary to her grief at that long-ago decision. And as the secrets come out, so too do the possible entanglements.

Ms. Brandyn writes beautifully of this exotic locale, in fact her descriptions would give even area residents a new perspective on their home. Descriptions are never overdone either - a line here or there, interspersed, work to give us an overview that we are hardly aware is building in our minds. Not so our main character's internal monologue, which occasionally does drag drearily on...but always clarifies the past.

Ethan, the Aussie cowboy, tough as he is, is every girl's dream, but somehow a little bit more, too. There are definitely surprises in store. Sarah is not the only one with a secret.

Wonderfully evocative and engaging, Heat in the Outback should be on everyone's summer reading list.