Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Transplanted Aussie Shane Cooper loves his job as a shearer and the home he’s made for himself in New Zealand. For over 20 years Shane has climbed to the top to be recognized as one of New Zealand’s premier shearers in the Senior Division where the most experienced of them all compete. Now 39, Shane has a house, good friends, and a life he loves. He’s only missing out on having someone to share his passion for shearing and his life.
Lachlan “Lachie” Moore is an up and coming shearer. Not yet good enough to compete in the Senior Division, he still loves to watch them shear, hoping to pick up on pointers to help him do a better job. At 24, young, reckless and gay, Lachie spots the hot, older shearer immediately, and its not just for his skills at shearing sheep that catches Lachie’s gaze. But Shane appears more than content to just look then act on the attraction each feels for the other.
Then the horrific Christchurch earthquake hits, and tragedy strikes Lachie’s family. Lachie deals with his traumatized family and takes up new responsibilities, ones that makes it impossible for Lachie to continue on with his dream of shearing as a profession. A year later, a new opportunity arises for Lachie to pick up shearing once more if only he can find the confidence in himself that now he has lost.
The new job reunites Shane with Lachie, only now he finds the lad changed and uncertain. Shane decides to help the struggling Lachie regain his skills and direction and the time together reignites old feelings between them. But Lachie has secrets he is afraid to share with Shane and Shane’s seems to want more than Lachie can give. What will it take to break up this barrier Lachie has created so both men can have what they so desperately desire?
I throughly enjoyed Cutting Out by Meredith Shayne. I seem to be reading quite a few books lately from New Zealand and Australian authors and all of them make me want to get on a plane and go “walk about” down under. Meredith Shayne’s story deals with professional shearers in New Zealand, a job that requires remarkable precision and care as well as speed if you are to make it to the top. Handling large squirming animals and a pair of shears at the same time takes a passion and coordination that not every person has and Meredith Shayne takes us into the heart of these men and women and the almost vagabond life they lead going from farm to farm to shear large numbers of sheep at a time.
I particularly enjoyed the insight Shayne gives us into the different levels of shearers, from the junior divisions of shearers just learning their profession (junior and senior refer not to the shearer’s age but experience) to the top Senior level and the sought after shearers that are asked to shear the top quality and much larger breed Merino sheep. The author easily slides her information about the profession, from the “shearing teams” that tend to work together over and over again as well as the loosely aggregated bunch assembled at the last minute, into her story making it all feel as natural as their surroundings. The camaraderie and the close community is strengthened by the bond of the Maori society that hovers like a benign parent over its members and families.
As the characters move from farm to farm and home locations, the reader is brought keenly home into the various cities and places of New Zealand, from Christchurch to Gisbourne, from the Queenstown Hill Time Walk to the Basket of Dreams statue. I felt she made me really see these place while also sending me to look up areas and places of interest in each town and park. And again all this is neatly folded into the narrative in such a way that it enhances rather than impedes the flow of the plot and the character growth.
But those characters! That’s the heart and joy of this story. I loved the reticent, introspective Shane, older, more experienced at life and love at 39 he knows what he wants but isn’t sure about where he stands with others. Shane has many facets to his personality and not all are compatible with the much younger Lachie’s 24 year old outlook that begins at cocky, free wheeling and exuberant. Something that the devastating impact of the earthquake in Christchurch changes forever. The author takes her time and theirs for the relationship to begin as a friendship and slowly turn into something deeper. For some readers, this timeline will feel far too slow and unhurried, but I found it to be in keeping with the characters personalities and background the author has created for them. And its makes the ending all that much sweeter.
What did I wish had been enlarged? Perhaps the Epilogue or the chapter preceding it. I would have loved a little more of their life at the end and how it all came about. But perhaps we can have that in another story, one that includes these characters and enlarges on others we meet inside this story. I loved it enough that I hated to have it all end. I think you will feel the same. Looking for a new romance to read? One with a spectacular setting and hot men to boot? Pick up Cutting Off and enter Meredith Shayne’s world of sheep shearers and their HEAs! I absolutely recommend this to one and all!
Cover artist is from Mumson Designs. They did a great job. I love that cover and it works perfectly for one of the characters.
Note: Use of Aussie/NZ English used. There is also a wonderful vocabulary to refer to at the beginning!
Sales Links: All Romance eBooks (ARe) amazon Cutting Out
ebook, 200 pages
Published October 11th 2014 by Bottom Drawer Publications