Snowy River Man is a short but tension-filled romance novel that goes beyond the normal Mills and Boon formula of boy meets girl, explosive passion occurs, conflict erupts followed by passionate happy-ever-after resolution, to offer depth and complexity to the main characters, and delves into the realm of psychic abilities with credibility.
Katrina Delaney has a passionate one night fling with Jack Fairley, the attraction between them intense, but the following morning an engagement announcement in the society pages destroys Katrina’s bubble of love. Devastated and humiliated, she bolts while Jack is in the shower, leaving no trace.
Seven years later, Katrina dreams of a missing young boy, and she is unnerved to discover that Jack’s son is missing. Her dreams and psychic abilities have led her to help with locating missing children in the past, and despite her reservations, she sets off for the Blue Mountains to help look for Jack’s son.
Jack is suspicious of Katrina’s arrival and he’s guarded around her, believing that she has come with an ulterior motive rather than offering help. He views her an ex-drug addict, an incorrect interpretation of an encounter that he had with her several years before. Katrina has no memory of the encounter as she was suffering from chronic insomnia and constant recurring visions that distorted her perceptions of reality and was hospitalised and put on strong prescription medications. This misinterpretation creates an ongoing tension between them, as does a secret that Jack holds and is terrified of being discovered.
Romance novels aren’t a genre that I normally read and I wasn’t sure how I’d take to this book. So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the writing has strength, and that the characters and plot are well developed. Rather than being superficial, the main characters have believable personalities, are flawed, and they wrestle with feelings of distrust, regret for mistakes made in the past, anguish over secrets held, and a long suppressed desire that refuses to be extinguished.
Set in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Chandler does a great job of describing the surroundings and giving a distinct sense of place. The ruggedness of the mountainous area, the wild brumbies and horses, the local rodeo, and the property with the grand house and gardens were all well described and provide a good setting for the story.
What really appealed to me was that the storyline has twists and turns; there are secrets that are slowly revealed, teased out as the novel progresses. Katrina’s family background is shadowy and there are missing links that are somehow tied to Yarrangobilla, Jack has a secret that he’s terrified of being exposed, Jack’s personal assistant is scheming to her own agenda, and there are skeletons in the Fairley closet that old Mrs Fairley does not want brought to light. Chandler successfully draws out these tensions by giving snippets and clues but never quite giving enough away to be sure of the direction they will take.
Snowy River Man is a good read that combines romance and suspense within a charming and rugged rural Australian setting.
Snowy River Man by Lizzy Chandler (Escape Publishing – Harlequin Enterprises 2015)
ISBN 9780857992246 (ebook)