A MelanieM Review: Red Dirt Heart 3 by N. R. Walker

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Red Dirt Heart3Life 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.

Sales Links:     All Romance eBooks       amazon     Red Dirt Heart 3

Book Details:

Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo.

ebook, 287 pages
Published October 17th 2014
edition languageEnglish
seriesRed Dirt #3

A MelanieM Review: Brothers in Arms (The Broken Road Cafe #2) by T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Brothers In Arms coverDaniel O’Leary fled his high powered life in Atlanta, exchanging it for ownership of the The Broken Road Cafe in Blue Ridge, a life he hoped would be simpler,honest, in all ways easier on the soul and emotions.  But life has a way of playing with your expectations.  Instead Daniel met Chief of Police Nick Oliver, a closeted, complex man and fell in love.  As did Nick.  Daniel also found his life filling up with new friends, neighbors, and town folk determined to pull him into the close knit soceity of small town life even as his connections to Atlanta refused to let him go.

Now Daniel finds himself immersed in the lives of those around him and finds that life in Blue Ridge is every bit as full of complexities, pain, and bullying as life in Atlanta.  One of The Broken Road’s high school employees is  being harassed by the local school bullies and his vulnerability  pulls at Dan’s heart while leaving him at odds as to what to do about it.  Nick’s semi-closeted status is starting to cause further issues between them and someone from Dan’s past in Atlanta arrives to cause more pain and heartache.

But there is an even bigger danger lurking, one that will change everyones life forever.  The Broken Road Cafe is supposed to be a new life for Daniel O’Leary but what happens when his old one won’t let him go?

The Broken Road Cafe charmed me with its plot and myriad cast of inviting characters.  I loved the premise and the relocation to a small town that felt so similar in culture and mannerisms to the places my  relatives grew up and still reside to this day in Georgia.  Now with Brothers in Arms, the author widens his lens to include more of the townspeople and places than we have visited before.

Small town, Georgia is a place that T.A. Webb knows intimately and that knowledge allows Webb to usher his readers into the minds and community of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Whether it is the wonderful mayor or the bigoted hard-nosed high school football coach, these people feel as believable as they do familiar.  Outside Daniel O’Leary is slowly finding his way into the life of Blue Ridge, one he accessed by buying the town’s favorite eating spot, The Broken Road Cafe.   Whether it is through the people that come there to dine or the employees who work for Dan, the pull of a closely knit community is having its effect upon Daniel.

In this story, bullying at the high school level is having an impact upon one of Daniel’s most vulnerable employees.  Webb’s blunt, factual treatment of this issue serves to highlight all the victims of bullying, not just the direct target themselves.  It also points out just how difficult it is to stop the bullying at its origin, especially when it occurs on the playing field of high school sports.  This is a heartrending aspect of this story, and if you find yourself sniffling at the pain caused by the bullying and the aftermath felt by the victim, well, you aren’t alone.

Daniel’s new love, Nick Oliver, is still closeted to most and having issues coming out.  And Nick’s wavering is  having ripple effects in all his relationships, not just with Daniel.  Serious issues continues to pile up at an alarming rate and Nick is the first to wonder if he is able to handle them all.

T.A. Webb has a multitude of plot threads running throughout Brothers in Arms.  From the intimate messiness of relationships to the broader scope of business and family, the author weaves the past events and characters together with all the new ones for a complex, suspenseful and totally surprising wonder of a story.   It is hard to comment to  much on the plot and events as each could contribute to a spoiler alert for all the twists and turns Webb has in store for everyone here.

I really didn’t see that ending coming,  I don’t think you will either.  Sigh.

No matter.  Still, I want more.  More of Blue Ridge, more of The Broken Road Cafe, and all the people who pass through its doors.  Here’s hoping for a long and lovely run.  If you are already on board with this series, pick this up now and continue the tale of Daniel O’Leary’s new life in Blue Ridge.  If you are new to this series, start at The Broken Road Cafe to see how it all began.  Both are among Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words highly recommended reads!

 Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Sexy cover  and great job of branding the  series, but I wish there was more to it than the torso.

Sales Links:   All Romance eBook         amazon        Brothers In Arms

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published July 24th 2014 by A Bear on Books
ISBN139781311991799
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Broken Road Cafe #