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Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.
Charlie Sutton runs Sutton Station the only way he knows how; the way his father did before him. Determined to keep his head down and his heart in check, Charlie swears the red dirt that surrounds him – isolates him – runs through his veins.
American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives at Sutton Station to see how farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth. But it’s not the barren, brutal and totally beautiful landscapes that capture him so completely.
It’s the man with the red dirt heart.
Well…duh. It’s NR Walker. So…ya know…I’m obviously gonna love it.
And, writing this in the glow of having just ended this fantastic book, I throw down the gauntlet…it’s one of my favorites of hers. I like Kira & Matt in the Turning Point series. I adore Carter and Isaac (and don’t even get me started on Mark and Will) in the Blind Faith series. And I’ve made it no secret that I LOVE Thomas (and yeah, yeah…Cooper too) in the Thomas Elkin series. But, but…Charlie and Travis…I’m thinking they’re pretty much the sweetest couple she’s written and I LURVE THEM.
Set in the glorious red dirt farmlands of Australia on a MASSIVE station (aka ranch), we meet Charlie, the young owner and Travis the visiting student from Texas. And there’s the parental figures of quiet George and feisty Ma. And there are horses and helicopters, motorbikes, and station workers. And there’s something so BEAUTIFUL about it all.
The people, the emotional struggles, the labor, the animals, the landscape. There’s a powerful beauty that flows through this book. Not so much in the quiet, gracefully slow way of Julie Bozza’s “Butterfly Hunter“. But in the always-entertaining contemporary way that NR Walker has perfected. So yeah…beauty + smut (hee!)…and hotties.
But what really elevated this book was the emotion. The ghost of Charlie’s father and the accusations made towards him that have haunted him. The struggle to feel deserving of love…to battle away the resignation to a life of loneliness. The “fight for me, damnit” feelings from Travis. The protective love from George and Ma. Even the loyalty of Charlie’s horse, Shelby. So many FEELZZZZ in this book.
And just as I finish and feel blissful…the last page says “Red Heart II”. WHOOOOOT! MOAR!!!!!!
So, yeah…it’s not a 100% original story. But if you want a really entertaining, emotional, and satisfying contemporary to read…set in glorious Australia…this is the one. I closed my kindle with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
PS – and since the location is really a character itself in this book, here’s the link to NR Walker’s photo-album of the Northern Territory