therese creed

Two Stories in One: Driftwood and Poppy’s Dilemma

Earlier in the year, Tam J got on a bit of a roll, enjoying a few rural romances back to back. Lucky for us too, as it means that today I can bring you two reviews for the price of one! Here’s what Tam has been reading, first up, Mandy Magro’s Driftwood (Harlequin)…

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Taylor is a city girl, born and bred, but deep down she knows there is more, something a little more country. It’s always been her dream to be a jillaroo and to sing country songs. Despite pretty unrelenting pressure from her mum and step-dad to forget these dreams she loads her guitar and her beloved dog, Floyd, into her car and hits the road. Taylor doesn’t have a plan…she just drives.

driftwoodTo Taylor Whitworth, knowing that she’ll never meet her biological father is devastating. All she knows is that before he died, he was a stockman. Taylor yearns to be like her father — and to become a jillaroo. So she packs her bags and hits the road, destination unknown, until she happens upon the country township of Driftwood.   

Life-burdened Jay Donnellson is a cowboy through and through. Both his passion for the outback and bad boy image have been inherited from his forefathers. The whole town whispers about him but Jay doesn’t care…until his rough and tumble lifestyle is stopped dead in its tracks when he happens across Taylor on a deserted country road.   

When Jay offers Taylor a job as a jillaroo on his cattle station, their mutual love of horses helps to form a bond between them. It’s not long before they find their wonderful friendship developing into something more.   

Mandy Magro cleverly tells two stories within Driftwood. The first is set in the mid 1800s and focuses on a bushranger named William who is on the run after being falsely accused of the murders of a local family. William is in love with Anne, landlady of the local hotel and he plans to take them both away from their troubles.

The second story is set in the present day and Magro very comfortably places these two stories alongside one another. Each tale has its own cliffhangers set to keep you reading.  She entwines both narratives until they each meet at Waratah Station.

Heartbroken and troubled, Jay is in charge of Waratah Station and he has faced his fair share of tragedy. He has vowed to protect himself from more hurt. As you might expect, this includes shutting out Taylor. Still, he can’t help by wonder if this will only deny himself happiness? And even if he tries to block her out, would it even be possible? They seem destined for each other from their very first meeting!

At times this story was a little clichéd and the writing was a little messy, but I enjoyed the two takes on this story, giving the reader a touch of the historical as well as injecting real-to-life and easily relatable characters.

I love a good bit of ‘Chook Lit’, and this story ticked all the boxes. If you’d like to find out more about Mandy Magro’s novel, you can visit Harlequin’s website here.

Shortly after reading Driftwood, I moved onto Poppy’s Dilemma, by Karly Lane (Allen and Unwin).

I completed adored this novel! This was partly due to the story of Poppy and of Maggie, but also because it took me back to a place of my childhood, a place of beautiful memories of growing up spending time with my Nan, learning to bake, being part of a small town and hearing Nan’s own childhood stories.

poppy's dilemmaPoppy Abbott seems to have it all. Bright, successful and attractive, she lives in a beautiful apartment with sweeping views of Sydney. However, since the recent death of her beloved grandmother, she’s been struggling to come to terms with her grief.

Feeling nostalgic one evening, Poppy decides to sort through her grandmother’s belongings, which she hasn’t been able to face before. She’s hardly started when she comes across an old leather diary with the name ‘Maggie Abbott’ written in the front. It’s not long before she’s drawn into Maggie’s life and her fears for her soldier boyfriend during the First World War.

As her interest in Maggie’s diary intensifies, Poppy decides to spend some time at her grandmother’s house in the country. Away from the city, Poppy begins to wonder if all the things she’s always valued so much are what she really wants out of life. And then love intervenes…

Karly Lane manages a beautiful balance within the story between present and past. When Poppy begins to read Maggie’s diary we are taken on a trip back to the 1910s, and it is nothing short of fascinating. As a reader, I was given an way into sharing their experience; the pressures that the Australian families were put under when their loved ones went away to war; the roles that would have traditionally been filled by men that needed to be filled by women in their absence; the judgement reserved for the men who, for whatever reason chose not to go and fight; and the tragic and all too frequent loss of the men who didn’t make it home alive. The tragic love story of Maggie and Alex had me completely captivated. Perhaps the much of my fascination about Maggie’s story came from the fact that it was based on a true story that the author read about in an old newspaper clipping. As it happened, the story had taken place in her own home town… hence inspiring this novel.

Poppy’s Dilemma also follows the blossoming romance between Poppy and Jim. Poppy has been hurt and lives life without attachment so as to avoid being let down again. But her handsome country-boy neighbour may just change all of that…

This story has it all; mistakes, intrigue, history, healing and of course romance! And to top it all off it was set in a small town of Australia so it was easily relatable. It was truly beautiful.

To find out more about Poppy’s Dilemma, check out the Allen and Unwin website here…

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Tam is currently reading Charlotte’s Creek by Therese Creed (Allen and Unwin) and she’s promised to let us know all about it soon! Find out more here

On the Land: Redstone Station

TBYL Reviewer, Tam J can’t seem to get enough of rural literature. Here’s her thoughts on the latest…

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Redstone Station (Allen and Unwin) is the debut novel by Therese Creed. Originally from Sydney, Therese moved to a farm in rural Queensland for love. She now helps run a 17,000 acre cattle station with her husband, an undertaking which has clearly inspired this novel, offering the reader a glimpse of the real-life dealings on the farm and putting them in a compelling story.

redstone stationAlice is happy to be returning home to Redstone Station after two years at Agriculture College. During various placements at farms and stations during her time at college she was shocked at the second-class status of women workers, whereas her grandfather, Sam, who owns Redstone, has always treated her as an equal.

For his part, Sam is delighted to have his granddaughter back on board. In shaping Alice he tried to avoid the mistakes he’d made with her mother, Lara, and she has lived up to his high expectations, graduating from Ag College with flying colours. He now sees Alice as his last chance to preserve his beloved station and successfully take it into the future.

Exceptionally hard-working, with great horsemanship, an instinctive understanding of animals and a natural aptitude for farming, Alice is determined to justify her grandfather’s faith in her. But will her budding regard for one of the stockmen throw her, and the future of Redstone, off track?

When we first meet Alice, she is an 18 year old girl fresh from Ag College. She is full of ideas as to how t improve the profitability of the now struggling cattle station, but she first has to convince her old-school farming Grandfather, Sam.

Sam is getting older and realises that they need some new help on the farm, and as a result they take a chance with the town clown, Jeremy. Jeremy appears to be the best of a bad bunch, however he fits in beautifully and brings new life to this farming family and Redstone Station. He also turns out to be a wonderful companion for Alice. This was perhaps one of my favourite things about this story, watching the beautiful friendship that these two developed quickly.

I did find it a little hard to see Alice as just a young adult. Her character’s voice seemed older, but perhaps this is just due to the fact that Alice had to grow up fast, when she was abandoned by her unwed mother and left with her grandparents Sam and Olive.

I liked Alice, but larrikin Jeremy was my favourite character by far, and I found myself wanting to be able to take care of him.

The author paints a detailed picture of the life and trials of farm life. Fighting fires, drought and other seasonal stresses, the constant job of fixing fences, keeping wild predators at bay, weaning cattle and the ongoing financial battle.  The characters are faced with life changing loss, friendship, racial tension, love and misunderstandings. Despite all these challenges, they are really only looking to be accepted and respected.

I did find this story a little slow in some parts, and felt that the end of the story dragged out a little. I was feeling anxious that there was not going to be a complete conclusion, but in the end Therese’s novel was resolved quite well, even if after a bit of length, it did seem to finish quite quickly.

It was a lovely story and it was refreshing to read a story that was set locally, with a climate and characters that were easy to relate to.

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If you’d like to find out more about Redstone Station by Therese Creed, visit A&U here…