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

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 for the Series 

Red dirt Heart Cover

 

Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.

And with those words, N. R. Walker introduces us to one of the most heartwarming, delightful, and throughly addicting series that is Red Dirt Heart!  Red Dirt Heart revolves around the complex and totally embraceable characters of Charlie Sutton of Sutton Station and Texan Travis Craig.   Per N. R. Walker:

Charlie Sutton runs Sutton Station the only way he knows how; the way his father did before him. Determined to keep his head down and his heart in check, Charlie swears the red dirt that surrounds him – isolates him – runs through his veins.

American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives at Sutton Station to see how farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth. But it’s not the barren, brutal and totally beautiful landscapes that capture him so completely, it’s the man with the red dirt heart.

But that brief synopsis doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of these stories. Through 4 books we trace Charlie and Travis’ journey towards love, relationship and a permanent home with each other.  Along the way we fall in love with not only Charlie and Travis but the red dirt desert of the Northern Territory that Charlie loves so much.  It doesn’t happen immediately but gradually in scene after scene as the stark, red hot environment claims the heart of Travis just as surely as Charley does.  And this is not a romanticized version of the red dirt country.  No, its comes complete with venomous snakes and spiders,  extreme temperatures that are lethal if caught unprepared or lost, and an almost alienness, a sense of solitude that can comfort or kill depending upon the circumstances.   And we learn to respect and love it for exactly what it is.

The same truth can be said about Charley…complex, abandoned, self-doubting Charley.  So easy to connect with and understand, Charley is a character as layered as the desert, full of extreme swings in his decision making, as durable and elemental as the red dirt he loves so deeply.  The Sutton Station is a part of Charlie, although he has yet to learn exactly how much and what large boundaries that station family includes.  For the Sutton Station comes with Ma and George, farm employees who are more mom and dad to Charley than his own. There’s Billy (an Aboriginal), and  several other workers that over the course of the stories form a close knit family to Charley and Travis.  But it’s not Charley that is the impetus for this shaping of people and events, no, its the arrival of Travis Craig that throws Charley and the status quo into shambles.  Delightfully so.

When Travis arrives, he meets a closeted, closed off Charley just waiting for a love he’s sure he doesn’t deserve.  And one of the things that makes this beginning of their journey so compelling is that the readers live inside Charley’s  head, an element that brings us so close to this bruised man that we love him immediately.  Books 1 through 3 are all told from Charley’s point of view.  In a neat feat of writing, N. R. Walker gives us the ability to see through the haze of Charley’s confusion, self doubt, and desire to realize that Travis is falling deeply in love with Charley even if Charley can’t see it.  Even as Charley is internally arguing with himself, busy throwing obstacles in their path to happiness because of his fear and uncertainty, we see Travis always in Charlie’s orbit, watching and urging Charlie forward.  What an addicting, captivating and yes, throughly charming pair and instantly we are invested in their happiness and future together.

What a troublesome road it is for Charley and Travis.  Outside of Charlie’s two step relationship dance, there’s immigration laws and visas, and the reality that Travis is an American citizen whose family (who loves him dearly) lives in Texas.  There complications that abound with Ma and George, orphaned animals that quickly grab onto your heart as much as the rest of the Sutton Station crazy, warmhearted group of individuals.  We get lessons in the mineral layers of dirt, learn what a bore is (no it has nothing to do with a person), and in general, see what it takes to run a station as large as Charley’s.  Those of us readers not from Down Under learn bits of Australian english and phrases, enough to instill the urge to travel and see it for ourselves.    As I say in my review for Red Dirt Heart 4, this series is as much a love letter from N. R. Walker to her country as it is about a deeply abiding love between Charley and Travis.

Along with way, there are some heartstopping moments so painful that tissues will be needed, white knuckle events that will make you feel suspended, frozen, until you (and the characters) are able to move forward and past them once more.  Those will be balanced with scenes of joy, laughter, and romance, such as Charlie understands it!  I laughed, cried, and laughed again through all the highs and lows, and even quiet moments of reflection and contentment that flow from these stories and the series as a whole.

Just a memory of a dialog or scene can send me running back to grab up that book, and before I realize it I’m lost once more in Red Dirt Heart romance and setting of Sutton Station and Charley Sutton.

Now the series is ending with Red Dirt Heart 4.  I’ve read the story, wept a little (ok ,more than a little. a lot) and said my happy goodbyes.  Told this time from Travis’ point of view, it’s a wholly satisfying, totally engaging series finale and gives us and Travis and Charley a glorious happily ever after.  It ends just where it should, no more, no less.   The Red Dirt Heart saga quickly became and still is one of my all time favorite series. It will be among the top on my rec lists as well as Best of.  N. R. Walker’s writing was vivid, at times lyrical in her love for her country and the Northern Territory, and full of the human spirit and endurance it takes to not only live life on the desert but to embrace it with all that you are.

But don’t take my word for it,  pick it up and start your journey into red dirt territory and the hearts and minds of Charley Sutton and Travis Craig.  It’s easy to read them in order as they are titled Red Dirt Heart 1 thru 4!  Elegant and simple.  Just don’t expect the same simplicity inside.  Be prepared to fall madly and completely in love with Charlie, Travis, Sutton Station and yes, the red dirt of  Australia’s Northern Territory.  What an amazing trip it is!  A real journey of their lifetimes! Begin it today.

All covers are the creation of Sara York.  I loved them.  They brand the series as a whole while each cover has elements important to that story.  Great job.

Sales links can be found on each individual review page listed below:

Red dirt Heart CoverRed Dirt Heart 2Red Dirt Heart3Red Dirt Heart 4 cover

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

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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

Back Into the Outback with N. R. Walker and her Red Dirt Heart Series! (tour and contest)

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N. R. Walker’s Red Dirt Heart series has turned out to be one of my latest obsessions.  I love every part of this series from the location to the characters and even the animals you meet along the way.  Now N.R. Walker has released the third installment, Red Dirt Heart 3.  Here is your first look at this must read series and book.  And don’t forget to enter the contest too.  Who doesn’t want a stuffed wombat of their own or a copy of this story?

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Nugget toy

I was thrilled to have a chance to “talk” to N.R. Walker, ask  a bunch of questions about the series, LGBTQ rights in Australia, and all things Aussie in general. It was a great interview. Here’s your chance to get to know this fabulous author a little bit better:

My N. R. Walker Interview

Q  I love this series and characters.  Where did the inspiration come from for Charlie and Travis?

N. R. Walker:  Aw, thank you so much! I had seen some pictures from an R.M. Williams clothing catalogue and just knew they were these boys. It fit them perfectly. I love writing these Australian Outback characters. I grew up in regional Australia (not the Outback) so I can relate to the people in these books. Every character is a little slice of someone I’ve known in real life.

Q  Since there is a real “Sutton Station”, have you visited it and experienced the red dirt for yourself?

N. R. Walker:  I did base Sutton Station on a real, working station in the Outback. You can see it here .  Though you’ll need to zoom riiiiiiight in. I based my fictional property on this location, not size.

I have been through the Outback, many years ago. Though it’s not a place that leaves you in a hurry. And I will say, the fine red dirt gets into everything. Every. Thing. Lol

I have climbed Uluru (back when it was known as Ayers Rock and it was climbable) and visited Kings Canyon. Quite a remarkable place.

Q .  The scenes with Matilda and now Nugget are adorable and yet so real.  Did you visit or have any experience with animal rehabilitation facilities for kangaroos and wombats?

 N. R. Walker: Not in the rehab facilities as such, but we had a pet kangaroo when we were kids. Growing up in a small rural Australian town, caring for sick or injured wildlife is common. I did a little research on proper care of joeys (both kangaroo and wombat) but most of what I wrote was just what I knew.

Q  Is there a set number of stories for this series or is it open ended?

N. R. Walker: There will be 4. I’m almost done writing book number four now, and I expect it to be released early 2015. I have no plans for more Charlie and Travis after that, but I do like to never say never. 😉

Q.  The current state of equality in Australia seems to go along the lines of state rights in the US regarding marriage and adoption. There is no gay adoption in the Northern Territory where the Sutton Station resides or gay marriage in Australia. Will that play out in the stories to come?

N. R. Walker:  It is something the boys discuss and encounter in book 4. I haven’t actually written that part yet, so I can’t say for certain exactly what will come of it, but yes, it is in the series.

Q. How do you feel about the status of LGBTQ rights in your country and do you feel stories such as yours help to bring greater acceptance? Australia has one of the biggest gay Pride events in the world.  Have you ever been?

N. R. Walker: I went to Sydney Mardi Gras a LONG time ago, and I’ve only been once. I’d love to get there again.

I hate that Australia is so behind in equality. I think we will need a change of Prime Minister before we see any move forward. Our current PM is a giant setback for a lot equality in this country.

I’d like to think my stories bring greater acceptance, and I’ve had people write to me and tell me they appreciate my ‘voice’ which has been lovely. I figure if I can make acceptance and understanding start in my house and bring my kids up to believe as such, then I’ve done my job.

Q.  Your favorite place you would want tourists to see in Australia?  What would you want them to experience and take away with them?

N. R. Walker: Oh, wow. There really is too much to see in Australia. LOL We have deserts, rainforests, coral reefs, beautiful cities and rolling country sides. I love it all for different reasons. I’ve seen a lot of Australia, and I’d have to suggest that people get off the tourist tracks and meet some genuine Aussies.

Q.  I love that we experience two national views that are so similar in some respects with Charlie and Travis.  It is a wonderful aspect to this story that we get the “insiders” and “outsiders” perspective on life on the farm and the Northern Territory.  Did you plan that from the beginning?

N. R. Walker:  It wasn’t really planned, but I have LOVED writing the differences between Aussies and Americans. I have a good friend in California who I talk to all the time and we quite often joke at the differences between us, even though we both speak English. And being an Aussie who has written mostly American characters for years, it’s been fun having the characters bicker about different word uses. I think it gives them a sense of realism.

I have loved writing in Australian English. And funnily enough, I have found myself having to change words back to “Australian” because I’m so used to writing “American.”

Q.  What would be a Australian comfort food?

N. R. Walker:  Well, that can vary from house to house given we’re such a diverse country. But I’m a seventh or eighth (not sure exactly) generation Aussie. My ancestors came out here from Ireland with the convicts LOL. So a “comfort food” for me would be maybe corned beef and béchamel sauce, or a pot of tea and something sweet like a cake or slice.

Q.  If you have a favorite childhood book, what was it and how did it impact your writing. today.

N. R. Walker:  I loved The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I’m not sure it impacted my writing, just my love of reading

Q.  What’s next for the Red Dirt Heart series and N. R. Walker?

N. R. Walker:  RDH4 is next. I would also like to get a short Christmas story out, and I have my next novel planned/outlined in my head. It’s a sci fi-ish vamp story which is not normally thing but these characters are not letting me get out of writing it. I will look at and aim to have between 6-8 releases next year, but looking at my very blank 2015 yearly planner, it feels a little ambitious.

Thanks for having me here today. Great questions

STRW:  Thanks for the great interview.  It’s been a joy.  Now for all you readers, here is a look at Red Dirt Heart 3!

Charlie Suttontravis craig

Red Dirt Heart 3

 Travis and Charlie

Book Name: Red Dirt Heart 3

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23155382-red-dirt-heart-3
Author Name: N.R. Walker

Author Bio: Who am I?

Good question…

I am many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer.

I have pretty, pretty boys who live in my head, who don’t let me sleep at night unless I give them life with words.
I like it when they do dirty, dirty things… but I like it even more when they fall in love.

I used to think having people in my head talking to me was weird, until one day I happened across other writers who told me it was normal.

I’ve been writing ever since…

Author Contact:

  • Website: nrwalker.wordpress.com.
    Facebook: N.r. Walker
    Facebook Fan Page: N.R. Walker Author
    Twitter: @NR_Walker
    Email: nrwalker2103@gmail.com

Reddirtheart3300Publisher: N.R. Walker
Cover Artist: Sara York

Pre sales Link:  Amazon  All Romance eBook

Red Dirt Heart 3 Blurb:

Life for Charlie Sutton has never been better, or busier. With Travis now a permanent fixture of Sutton Station, a permanent fixture at Charlie’s side, Charlie’s convinced he couldn’t do anything on his ever-growing to-do list without him.

He can run a multimillion dollar cattle business, finish his degree, try and further the local beef industry, deal with staff issues, Ma’s failing health, and an attention-demanding wombat. He can even deal with an unexpected visitor and some shattering news. 

He can deal with it all, as long as he has Travis.

But what happens when he doesn’t?

Red Dirt Heart 3 is the story of Charlie Sutton finally realizing he can be the man Travis Craig deserves, even if he doesn’t have Travis. It’s a story of love, family, holding on, letting go and coming home.

Red Dirt Heart  #3 Excerpt:

We climbed into the ute and Travis drove, only mumbling under his breath once or twice about what side of the road he was on. I thought we were headed to find something to eat, but he pulled up at a pet store.

“What are we doing?”

“You’ll see,” was all he said as he was getting out.

I followed him into the pet shop, past the puppies, fish and birds down to the kennels and produce. When he stopped at cat beds, I shook my head. “Oh, no no no. We’re not getting a cat. We used to have one, it lived in the shed and the bloody thing was feral.”

He didn’t even look at me. “It’s not for a cat, Charlie.” He picked up a cushion-box looking thing with a hole in the front. The label called it a cat igloo. “It’s for your damn wombat.”

“Oh,” I said brightly. “Well, that’s okay then.”

He pushed Nugget’s new bed into my chest. “So he sleeps in his bed, not ours.”

A sales guy, about eighteen years old, walked up and was looking at us funny. He probably just heard what Travis said, and I didn’t care. I just shrugged, guessin’ that I’d come a long way in the last six months. “How did I know he’d think it was playtime?”

Travis sighed and turned to the sales assistant. “Do you have any feed pellets for wombats?”

He raised his eyebrows. “Wombats?”

I nodded. “Yep, you know, ‘bout this big,” I held up my hands to show him, “shape of a brick, cute little thing.”

Travis took a god-fucking-help-me breath. “About a year old, pain in the arse, stubborn as hell, boot-chewin’, gets into everything type of wombat.”


Tour Dates/Stops:

RDHBadgeOctober 17: SA McAuley, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Rainbow Gold Reviews
October 20: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
October 21: Love Bytes, Hearts on Fire
October 22: Nic Starr, Jade Crystal, Wake Up Your Wild Side
October 23: Nephylim, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Emotion in Motion
October 24: Amanda C. Stone, My Fiction Nook, Prism Book Alliance
October 27: Fallen Angel Reviews, Parker Williams
October 28: MM Good Book Reviews, Multitasking Mommas
October 29: Smoocher’s Voice
October 30: BFD Book Blog, Queer Town Abbey

 

 

 

Nugget toyContest: Rafflecopter Prize: One of 3 e-copies of Red Dirt Heart 3 or a stuffed wombat toy! (I want that toy!). So must be 18 years of age or older. Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for all additional contest details. Did I say I wanted that toy? sigh. But only you all can enter…

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