Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Life for Charlie Sutton has never been better. With Travis by his side now on a permanent visa, Charlie feels that there is nothing he can’t do. Run his multi-million dollars station, finish his degree and even become a member of the local ranch board. But things change quickly and before Charlie knows it he is dealing with Ma’s failing health, issues among his staff and Travis’ latest rescue, a wombat baby named Nuggat!
Still, Charlie knows that with Travis’ love and support, he can manage anything. But then Charlie’s calm and stability is shattered in two heartbreaking moments. A revelation from Charlie’s past makes him question everything he knows about his life. And Travis receives bad news from home. News that makes him leave for the States. A pivotal moment in the life of Charlie Sutton has arrived and how he deals with it will either throw everything he has gained away or give him finally the future he has always wanted.
Red Dirt Heart 3 continues and deepens the story of the Sutton Station and its owner, Charley Sutton, as he adjusts to all the foundation shaking changes that have occurred in his life. From the solitary son of an embittered, albeit successful rancher on the largest station in the Northern Territory, Charlie’s life dramatically changed with the arrival of Travis, the international exchange agronomist, who arrived to research and experience first hand life on the Australian desert. With the harsh conditions and by develop strategies that would work both in Texas where Travis came from and in arid stressful conditions of the Sutton Station, Travis hoped to make an impact but never envisioned that his heart would be stolen by the land and Charlie Sutton.
What a lovely, complicated character we have in Charlie Sutton. By making it his voice that we hear as the story unfolds, his ruminations, confused thoughts and feelings about every aspect of his life and the farm makes him our intimate companion, one who we become heavily invested in. Add to that the impeccable created of Travis Craig and we have a team to root for and love. Travis is a charming and layered a character as you will meet, clearly Charlie’s equal in complexity while maintaining an open heart and outlook that Charlie needs in his life. Walker slowly reels us into their romance over the first 2 stories as neither man anticipated falling deeply in love, especially the quiet, and closeted Charlie. Loving Travis has meant that Charlie has had to take a hard look at his father’s bigoted legacy which had become an ingrained part of Charlie’s inner voice, one that made Charlie think he would never be good enough to take his father’s place and have someone to love and love him back. Between a mother who deserted them both and a stringent, harsh father, Charlie’s life became one of self isolation and work. Then Travis arrived and everything changed…almost. What made the first stories so deep and real was the growth that had to happen inside Charlie. All the ground swells of emotions, arguments, and hard self introspection that Charlie had to go through was not only believable but we were in his head as each new decision and change happened and sometimes fought against.
N. R. Walker has the ability to bring the Sutton Station to life as we read. It becomes lively, loud, and intimate the deeper we delve into the story and these characters lives. And while Charlie loves and needs to have Travis there with him at home, Charlie’s inner voices have only quoted but not gone away. That strong, judgmental voice of his father’s is still, unconsciously or not, impacting Charlie’s outlook still. He fears what the other ranchers/farmers will think if they find out charlie is gay and in love with another man. Will he be ostracized our outcast by his peer, his father’s peers and the businesses the Sutoon station depends on? I love that N. R. Walker’s capacity to make all these frustrating aspects of self acceptance and character growth work superbly within her story. It makes her characters so human and relatable.
Am I obsessed with this series and group of characters? Why yes, I am. Each new book brings about a deepened saga, full of heart, red dirt, and the enormous capacity of people when hit with life shaking revelations, bullying, new life changing relationships, love, and even loss, who then continue on to make something better out of their lives, for themselves and the others they care for. This is a series I have already found myself returning to again, rereading the stories in preparation for the next.
If you have not made the acquaintance of this remarkable author and series, run, don’t walk, to the nearest computer and grab up Red Dirt Heart 1, then proceed briskly to Red Dirt Heart 2, and then here at Red Dirt Heart 3. There will be a Red Dirt Heart 4 and possibly 5. I love the simplicity in naming the series, it has certainly made it easy for me to remember the title of each book! I also have several interviews with N. R. Walker, about her writing and this series. You can find them here and here.
At the end of the year Red Dirt Heart and N. R. Walker will be at the top of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2014 lists. Don’t wait until then to start your journey into the harsh, beautiful land of Australia’s Northern Territory and the men who live and love there! Happy Reading.
Cover art by Sara York, who does a lovely job branding the series but still giving each book a distinct look.
Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo.
ebook, 287 pages
Published October 17th 2014
seriesRed Dirt #3