All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Beneath Outback Skies – Alissa Callen

on January 29, 2013

Beneath Outback SkiesBeneath Outback Skies
Alissa Callen
Random Romance
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Paige Quinn is desperately trying to keep the family property, Banora Downs, alive. She is the sole worker these days, taking care of the land and cattle and looking after her father, who was crippled some years ago in an accident. Paige hasn’t told her father just how few cattle there are left now – it’s a hard struggle and backbreaking work but Paige doesn’t know or want anything else. Banora Downs is home and so she keeps drought proofing, keeps limping along, awaiting the end of the drought that will help re-establish the property and bring to life all the dreams she has for it. But the drought has gone on for a long time and things are getting desperate.

That’s why Paige is in no mood to tolerate city boy Tait Cavanaugh. They used to advertise on the web as a homestay location and but Paige pulled all those adverts down some time ago. City people don’t understand just how bad things are out here – they eat all their food and take all their water using long showers. There’s no denying that for a city boy, Tait knows his way around the land. And he’s unfailingly generous. But Paige just isn’t interested in someone like Tait, who’s going to be taking himself back off to where he came from soon. Even though Tait asks a lot of questions about Banora Downs and the plans she has for its future and finds her obviously attractive, Paige isn’t going to go there. Not again. She has been with a boy from the city before and he proved that when it came down to it, there’s no way he was cut out for life on the land and for Paige, the land and the farm always come first.

Tait can’t help but feel guilty because he’s hiding a secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs. He wants to tell Paige why he’s here but things between them are finally starting to get somewhere that isn’t hostility or arguing. His plans are almost complete but will Paige and the community still be behind him?

Beneath Outback Skies is one of the launch titles for Random Romance, the new romance-based digital imprint of Random House Australia. There are five launch titles and this is a full length rural romance novel about life on the land and finding the courage to love again.

There’s no denying that Banora Downs is in trouble. The drought has gone on so long that it looks like never ending and they’ve been forced to sell off a lot of their cattle to survive, keeping only a few breeders. They hadn’t had a crop in a while and the beautiful gardens that once surrounded the grand homestead are nothing but a dustbowl. She’s busy dawn until dusk, being the only worker on the farm these days and she makes no attempt to disguise her displeasure at her father allowing Tait Cavanaugh to holiday on the property. Paige has no time for boys and their toys, regarding Tait’s V12 car with disdain. Tait however, tags along after her everywhere, trying to get her to relax, or have a coffee or sit down and have a meal or go to this dance and this kind of bothered me a bit. I think it’s supposed to be sweet in an “ohhh, he’s looking after her”, type of way but Tait was so forceful (and often manipulative) that it came across as bossy, controlling and in a “the little woman doesn’t know what’s good for her, but lucky I do”, smug sort of way. Whilst I liked Paige and her tough, never-say-die attitude and her devotion to not only the family property but also her crippled father, I didn’t much like Tait unfortunately. He’s hiding a huge secret, the real reason that he’s out at Banora Downs but in the end, I didn’t even really understand the need for such secrecy. I can’t say too much without spoiling it (and I believe readers will discern for themselves very quickly who Tait is and why he’s actually there) but there’s a lot of build up about Tait fearing things getting out, avoiding telling Paige things, etc and likewise, Paige’s father goes to a lot of trouble to conceal things too, but it just doesn’t seem necessary? It seemed that everyone just majorly overreacted about things being revealed and when everything was revealed, it was sort of a letdown because Paige barely blinked. It was an awful lot of build up that didn’t particularly pay off and for someone who is quite smart, Tait fails to pick up on something very obvious, the owner of a company that he’s trying to find a contact name for. Paige basically gives him the information he needs on a platter and he doesn’t even put it together.

I love stories about living on the land and they’re very popular right now but I think that the wide variety of ones available are also making me a bit choosy. I know what I like and what works for me and I know exactly what’s out there and it makes me a bit of a hard taskmaster I think. This novel did have some strong ideas – loved Paige, loved her dad and I liked the community. I liked the fact that things weren’t perfect for them, they were really struggling which I felt was pretty accurate. I’d have loved more about trying to get the farm back on its feet and what that would involve. But unfortunately, Tait as a character didn’t work for me. I found him overbearing and that meant I just couldn’t really get into their romance. Whilst the characterisation was quite strong, the chemistry was underdeveloped.


Book #18 of 2013


Beneath Outback Skies is the 7th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

Whatsinaname6I’m counting Beneath Outback Skies towards the What’s In A Name?6 Challenge. It’s the 2nd book read and ticks off the 1st category, read a book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title.



2 responses to “Beneath Outback Skies – Alissa Callen

  1. Marg says:

    It’s a shame you didn’t like this one a bit more. I had requested it a while ago but only just downloaded it yesterday.

  2. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    This is on my reading list for this week.

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