Rating: 2.75 🌈
Trial By Fire is another cowboy n’ kids story similar to that group of books I recently talked about when I reviewed another similar novel by this author.
Two cowboys, this time one is from a large cattle station in Australia. Kid element is a baby who’s parents were the siblings of both cowboys, also a frequent pairing. And the siblings have just died in some accident, in this case a plane crash.
Here the story deviates as the men squabble over rights to the children (versus pulling together), warring parents, and almost immediate action and angst brought on by plot threads that seemed to arise out of nowhere. This on top of a surplus of storylines that just didn’t feel smooth and relatable.
That includes the romance between Holden Sheffield and Aussie Lachlan McCoughney. While both characters, indeed all the characters here are finely crafted, the author never really developed any real chemistry between the men. I never believed in an immediate attraction, let alone a “love at first sight’ dynamic.
I’m not sure if the issue was that Lachlan was a Aussie and missing that bone deep knowledge Tortuga has of her Texas/New Mexico/western cowboys .That entire Australian section,, from people to tiny things meant to be “Aussie “ fell flat against a Texas sky.
Especially since some of the other secondary characters were fully realized, including one who’s death and funeral elevated this story for its sheer poignancy and depth of feeling.
That romance? It felt rushed and unrealistic, while there were so many other elements piled on top almost as distractions.
Another real issue for me was the nonchalant way the author treated the characters future plans. The 6 months in Australia or in US, with a baby who’s a US citizen with one openly gay parent who is the legal guardian. Then casually mentioning marriage and adoption for the Aussie boyfriend/partner. All without taking into consideration Australian visas, LGBTQIA marriage laws with regard (and consideration for) the LGBTQIA community there. Were there any then considering this is a re-release?
LGBTQIA marriage, adoption, and Australian laws has been written about more widely and in depth by Australian authors. Usually accompanied by pain, frustration, waiting, and angst. Same about visas. So this lack of research was puzzling and seemingly showed a lack of care towards this serious topic imo. Realistically not going to be the “smooth sailing “ it’s made out to be here, even for the wealthy.
This story has some solid elements, some wonderful characters but together it’s never solidified. Just felt forced.
I love this author and have other books of hers to recommend. I’m just not sure this is one of them.
Great cowboy funeral though.
One Aussie. One Texan. One baby. One hell of a fight.
When his sister and her husband are killed in an accident, Aussie cattle station owner Lachlan McCoughney rushes to Texas to rescue their infant daughter, Chloe. He expects to find his niece living in squalor with the Sheffields, a rodeo family.
Instead, Lachlan finds Holden Sheffield, a salt-of-the-earth cowboy running a huge business operation. They want to explore their mutual attraction despite the many problems thrown their way, and together, they must find a way to give Chloe a new family and find a love that spans thousands of acres and two continents