Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur: Review and Interview

June 30, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★★★

I was provided with an advance reader copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. I received no financial incentives to review this book.

Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur: Review and InterviewRed Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur
Published by Penguin Australia on June 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance, Rural Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher

From the internationally bestselling author Fiona McArthur comes a heartfelt story of family ties, the power of love and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go to the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn't expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay.

After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson doesn't hesitate to move home and spend some time with her grieving mother. When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area's first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she's just getting to know.

Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can't understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together.  And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other . . .

Today, I not only get to review the fantastic new release from Fiona McArthur, Red Sand Sunrise, I also get the chance to share a chat I had with the author herself. Fiona was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I hope you enjoy reading about it.

Here are my thoughts on Red Sand Sunrise:

Red Sand Sunrise combines two of my favourite romance fiction sub-genres – rural and medical, and does it in such a way that I didn’t feel as if one dominated the other. There was equal focus on both the medical aspects (the clinic and its activities) and the portrayal of rural life. Fiona has done a fabulous job of showing the difficulties of life in the harsh Australian outback, without making it seem bleak and untenable.

The three protagonists of Red Sand Sunrise – the Wilson sisters – have a wonderful and honourable strength about them. Each have felt the pain of losing their father, albeit in differing ways. Confronting what each of them represents could not have been easy for Callie, Eve and Sienna. I loved the progression of their relationships with each other, and I really appreciated that their connection, while real and close, was not perfect. With the shared issues of their past, it would not have done them justice to have everything suddenly become all peachy the minute they met.

The romantic aspects complemented the medical and rural elements of the story. I loved the reconnection of the gentle Callie with an old flame – and the way in which this grew was lovely and surprising in equal measure. Feisty Eve’s relationship with the mysterious station owner was nicely done, and the unexpected romance between Sienna and the local policeman was a lot of fun to read. But what worked really well for me is that the focus of Red Sand Sunrise was more on the development of familial rather than romantic relationships.

Those who surround the sisters in the town of Red Sand are wonderfully colourful and vibrant, just as you would expect in a place such as it is. What can I say about Blanche? She’s a complete force of nature – passionate, over-the-top and entertaining. As crazy as she makes the others sometimes, everyone needs a champion like Blanche – I have one in my work life, and I love it (and yes, my Blanche drives me batty as well). The portrayal of Callie’s mother, Sylvia was just lovely – being the face of their father’s seeming desertion could have turned Eve and Sienna from her, but her generosity and willingness to include them was so wonderfully done.

There are moments of fabulous humour, and episodes of high drama and emotion scattered throughout the pages of this story –  Red Sand Sunrise has the capacity to make you laugh, make you cry and let you cheer and celebrate the strength of three incredible women. I absolutely adored this book, and I heartily recommend it to lovers of both rural and medical romance.

Now for my chat with Fiona McArthur:

Hi, Fiona! Welcome to My Written Romance!

Can you give us the Cliff’s Notes version of what your book is about?

The name Red Sand Sunrise came from the visual moment in the book, right at the end, of Eve on top of the sand hills reflecting. The story is about how three sisters, two who didn’t know the other, came together outback, all working towards solving a medical dilemma in a small town.

There’s drama, romance, and the elements of ordinary people doing extraordinary things set in the amazing central Australian landscape.

What drew you to write this particular story?

I love midwifery conferences where you hear about amazing people and what they are doing in places other than normal hospitals. A presentation about a far west maternity service in a country town started the wheels turning and the story grew from there.

Have you always wanted to write?

As a kid, I wrote stories and my mother had boxes of card and poems I wrote to her over the years. Now I’m the one at work who pens the ‘Farewell’ or “Forty” poem for others. I didn’t think about writing stories again until I was thirty, with little kids, and started writing children’s stories they could illustrate on that old paper that came in reams and you had to tear off the edges. I still have one story, called “Pest In The Sandpit’ that my son, who’s thirty now, illustrated as a five year old.

Who do you count as your biggest writing influence?

Peter O’Donnell, and English mystery/adventure writer who had a female James Bond heroine called Modesty Blaise. And Dick Francis has the best openings.

What would you say is the best part of what you do – in both halves of your professional life?

In writing – that moment when you look up and three hours has gone, you were transported and the characters have taken you somewhere emotionally and graphically, that you didn’t expect – and you know you won’t have to fix a word except maybe spelling or punctuation.

In midwifery – birth – that look of wonder on woman’s face – not just about her gorgeous baby she’s holding for the first time, but the fact that she just did something incredible herself.

It seems like you have a busy schedule, with writing and your work as a midwife. What do you do for yourself? How do you relax?

Wine at sunset on the farm with my husband has the relax factor. Nights away with Ian in a beachside hotel sometimes. Once a year I take myself to a little old caravan at the beach for a week and just chill by myself. Love that, too.

What do you have up your sleeve for your readers next?

The first of my flying doctors book. The flight nurses and doctors I meet are fabulous people and there’s lots of adventure and drama and great Aussie humour just waiting to be tapped. Looking forward to that field trip.

Thank you so much for stopping by My Written Romance today, Fiona. It’s been wonderful chatting with you!


My Signature

One Response to “Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur: Review and Interview”

  1. Nicki Edwards

    This book is brilliant. I could read it again and again. As a medical rural romance newbie author this book and this author sit high on my pedestal. Can’t wait to read her flying doctor books.

Leave a Reply