I cannot tell you enough how much I have enjoyed rediscovering rural romance this past year of running My Written Romance. I used to read a fair bit of it, however for some reason, I stopped reading as much and lost touch with the genre.
Luckily, I have been given the opportunity to discover some incredible Australian authors – and one of my favourite discoveries has been Fiona Palmer. An earlier work of Fiona’s, The Sunburnt Country, is flying high in my top 5 books for this year.
It would be hard-pressed for me to leave The Outback Heart out of my top books for 2013 as well. It has the most wonderful sense of community, vivid scenery and a sweet and passionate romance. I don’t know what you dust your books with, Fiona, but they definitely have the crack for me.
What is The Outback Heart about?
Indianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.
He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?
As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.
So, here’s what I thought of The Outback Heart!
As in many small towns, the football club is the centre of Hyden’s social world – not only a way for people to play sport, but for neighbours and townspeople to connect and catch-up. Indi would have happily joined in the game like her father and brothers, but she loves just being a part of it. When it looks like they may lose the club, Indi steps up to help save it. She brings in a new coach, Troy, hoping that he will be the spark that will reignite the club’s (and the town’s) fortunes.
What Indi wasn’t expecting was the effect that Troy’s arrival in town would have on her.
Troy lives for football. A former star footballer as a young man, his dream of playing professionally was ripped away and unwilling to leave the game behind entirely, he took up coaching. Subsequent trauma caused him to leave behind his family, not wanting to get close enough to anyone and lose or be lost to them again.
Taking up the role in Hyden, he expected to whip the football team in shape. He certainly wasn’t expecting Indi.
I adored Indi and her passion for life. Her love for her family and her town is irresistible. Despite having to put her life on hold and return to Hyden when her mother got sick and passed away, Indi isn’t bitter. She’s there because she wants to be.
My heart ached for Troy and the loss of so much dear to him. I just wanted to hug him, and tell him things would be OK.
Watching these two discover each other and conquer the issues life threw in their path was just gorgeous. They have a really natural and sweet chemistry, and you just want to cheer them along and make sure they get to their much deserved happy ending.
There are moments in the book that will just about rip your heart out and I found myself on the verge of tears on at least one occasion. However, The Outback Heart is in no way an ugly-cry sad book. In fact, it is the direct opposite. The Outback Heart is an emotional and uplifting story about the power of love and family.
Just read it. Take time out and visit with this book – you will not be disappointed.
A quick side note: For reasons that will become apparent when you read The Outback Heart, Fiona Palmer is donating part of the proceeds from this book to Transplant Australia. If you are curious about what they do, or if you want to make the ultimate choice to become an organ donor, visit Donate Life.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Release Date: 25 September 2013
Note: I was provided with an advance reader copy by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Australia, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.