All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Right As Rain – Tricia Stringer

on December 24, 2013

Right As RainRight As Rain
Tricia Stringer
Harlequin MIRA
2013, 387p
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s gotten truly lucky meeting chef Adam on holiday in New Zealand. But then Adam disappears and so Mackenna heads back to her family farm in South Australia only to discover that her father has had a heart attack and been hospitalised. Her parents have hired someone without her knowledge and her brother Patrick is back from the city to help out with the farm. Mackenna begins to get the feeling that she might be being slowly shuffled out here even though it’s her that has worked the land beside her father for the last 8 years. Trained as a chef, Mackenna had a job that didn’t work out and she came home and simply never left. She loves the farm and its produce (sheep) and is passionate about the paddock to the plate. She wants to start a tasting room showcasing their product with the aim of hopefully supplying top quality restaurants and attracting people to the farm to see what she can do with the lamb. But it seems that if her mother has her way, Mackenna won’t be around on the farm at all.

Mackenna has so many ideas of changes to make, she’s brimming with them. It will mean spending a bit of money but she knows that the outlay now will reward them down the track. But with her father not being well, she can’t find the time to sit down and talk to him about her ideas for the farm. Instead she finds herself worrying about small things going wrong and where on earth the hired man is most of the time. And then there’s Hugh, her best friend of many years who has been coming around quite often lately. Has she found someone to move on with, someone that knows her? She’s even more confused when Adam turns up at the farm looking for her, claiming that there has been a misunderstanding. Now it’s not just the farm that plagues her thoughts, it’s him as well. She has everything she needs for a happy ever after right in front of her…. Will she be able to grab it?

Okay, I know that reading provokes an emotional response quite often but I have to say I cannot remember the last time I read a book that made me this mad. I actually had to stop reading it, put it down for a couple of days and then start again another time. I thought I might’ve been in an irrationally angry mood the first time but nope, it made me just as cranky the second time around. Mackenna’s mother is really the most meddlesome person and every time she was on the page fiddling around with things, it made me want to scream. There are some really unlikely things in this book starting with the fact that you can’t just leave the inheritance to the son because he’s the boy anymore. Those days are gone. Even if they do give Mackenna money it’d have to be exactly what the farm, contents and stock are worth down to the dollar otherwise any court in the country is simply going to add the assets together and divide them right down the middle for the brother and sister. You can’t even disinherit children that you have no contact with anymore, let alone ones that live and work on the farm. Secondly booked flights just don’t get randomly moved weeks forward, but that’s only a tiny thing and basically inconsequential to the plot. Thirdly… Mackenna’s parents aren’t even deceased yet. I understand wanting your affairs in order but there’s that and then there’s playing God in other people’s lives without even asking them. Also, there was nothing stopping Patrick and Mackenna from looking at their ‘inheritances’ after their parents passed on and saying, Well this doesn’t work me me… you neither? Ok, let’s swap. There are a lot of assumptions made here and it all seems to build up into a huge deal when really everyone should’ve just sat down right at the beginning. A conversation wasn’t going to cause Mackenna’s father to drop dead.

I really have huge problems with people who think they know what is best for others. Mackenna’s mother “doesn’t want this life” for Mackenna (meaning farming) but what she utterly fails to see, even when Mackenna is basically begging her to do so, is how much Mackenna loves it and how much it’s what she wants to do. Instead Louise, her mother, attempts to cut Mackenna out of the farm and shoehorn in her brother Patrick who works in marketing in the city. Patrick, although he grew up on the farm, isn’t as well versed in the techniques as Mackenna and although he’s willing to learn to help out, he doesn’t want to run the farm. Louise ignores this and she constantly sabotages Mackenna professionally which is why Mackenna keeps the tasting station a secret from her. Louise even attempts to kick Mackenna out of the house that was going to be hers, in order to give it to the worker. She undermines her, brushes her off, ignores her, dismisses her at every turn. Mackenna knows her stuff and Patrick doesn’t. Louise spends half the book shooing Mackenna away or cutting her off and the other half glaring at her or blaming her for something. There’s a half hearted attempt at the end to justify her reasons but it just seemed very weak to me and really poor. Not once did she sit her daughter down and ask her what she loves and what she wanted to do in the future. She even sabotaged Mackenna’s personal life when Adam turned up, attempting to push her towards Hugh. Even when everything comes out that Mackenna loves the farm and Patrick loves his job in Adelaide, she’s still not happy. I know I should just let it go…. but her behaviour really bugged me throughout the entire book. Especially as I don’t feel Louise ever really apologised for attempting to decide for her and making the wrong decisions and trying to cut her out.

But books are meant to provoke a reaction and this one certainly did that. I loved the rest of the story especially Mackenna and her passion for the farm and its produce. The tasting station was such a fabulous idea, showcasing her talents as a chef (and later Adam’s when he shows up looking for her) and the meat that they’re raising. She cared about the animals as well, never happy to be blase about them or to treat them as dollar signs or food. I also liked Adam although actually I thought more time could’ve been spent fleshing out his character a bit more, I would’ve liked to know more about him and see more of him and Mackenna working side by side. I don’t know if Tricia Stringer has plans for loosely connected novels but I wouldn’t mind Hugh getting his happy ever after… in another book somewhere!


Book #310 of 2013


Right As Rain is book #107 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

3 responses to “Right As Rain – Tricia Stringer

  1. Oh yes, Mackenna’s mother was very frustrating in this story! I actually found the romance plot quite weak too though.

  2. Louise made me mad, too. I could understand her perspective but that didn’t make it right or fair. I hated not only what she decided was good for Mackenna, but also what she decided was good for Patrick. The idea that she knows how hard farming is but still thought that Patrick, being a man, should have to live that life was just as infuriating as the idea that Mackenna must be rescued from it. I really wanted Mackenna to lash out so much more than she did, because I’d had three hundred pages of time to stew over this!

    I liked the writing and the realism though. I had to stop reading it as a romance, though, because it so clearly wasn’t one!

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