Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Up until Travis arrived on his doorstep, Charlie had lived a very solitary life. He had surrounded himself with isolation; a couple million acres of red dirt, scorching sun and loneliness.
Six months on, winter has settled over the desert, and Charlie has the life he never dreamed possible. But living and working together, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for six months straight starts to take its toll.
Charlie is a stubborn, stubborn man, who tends to have more conversations in his head than what comes out his mouth, whereas Travis has no problem saying what’s on his mind. And even as they both struggle to communicate, struggle to make sense of need versus want, Charlie can see that he’s pushing Travis away – yet seems helpless to stop it.
When it all boils down to whether Travis should stay or go, maybe the decision won’t be theirs to make.
Listening to the amazing repertoire of voices that emerge from Joel Leslie, the narrator of NR Walker’s Red Dirt Heart series, it has come vividly back to me why I loved this book and series so in the first place.
Here once again I feel all the insecurities that have Charlie Sutton pushing Travis away, fearing that he will leave him sonner or later after all, getting tired of Charlie or the harsh landscape that is the outback of the Sutton Ranch. Also the deep fear and pain instilled by Charlie’s father about his sexuality that continues to influence his behavior, all in negative ways. It’s a daily battle for Travis to fight, against Charlie’s inner demons and monologues and the verbal fights that seems to be getting more frequent.
Along with all the personal relationship dynamics, we get the wonderful “found family” on display at the ranch too. There’s Ma and George, Billy, Bacom, among the core that’s being gathered together here. There’s watching Charlie stretching forward through his interactions outside the station as well as his tentatively accepting a future outside his fears with Travis at his side.
And always there’s the growing love and deepening relationship between them both that I just love, that encompasses both mens past history, family, respect and love for the land and each other.
This is what it’s all about, right here. Open desert, flat to the horizon, blue sky, red dirt and you.
All Red Dirt Heart stories flow naturally, one right into the next, so reading or listening to them without interruption now that the series is finished is a true joy this time around. It just highlights how well constructed the stories and series is as well as how well developed and multidimensional all the characters are. Stomtimes a series doesn’t age well with time. Not so with the Red Dirt Heart series. In fact, I may even love them a little bit more. Joel Leslie’s voices have now become those people for me in my head, Trav’s slow southern Texas drawn and Charlie’s broad Aussie tones forever set as theirs.
Nut how I love this love affair. Of the heart and of the land.
“He had this way of making me love him just a little bit more by doing the simplest of things. The littlest of things.”
I’m heading into RDH 3 audio next, then all the way to the end. I’m smiling and picturing the station, the people, and yes, even the animals, especially Nugget. I can’t imagine that as a reader you haven’t found this series already, but if you haven’t the audio version is such a marvelous way to make it’s introduction, via the superb narration of Joel Leslie who inhabitants these characters as if he was made to do it. I highly recommend every aspect from author to narrator. Just listen in the order they were written and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
Cover art: While all the covers have a certain similarity, this is one of my favorites with the red dirt front and center. Love it.
Listening Length: 7 hours and 10 minutes
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published January 18th 2017 by NR Walker (first published August 17th 2014)
Original TitleRed Dirt Heart 2
Edition Language English
Series Red Dirt #2