I already had purchased Billabong from Dreamspinner, and when I saw that Walkabout was being released, I wanted to read and review them together. These both are novella length and should probably be read together and in order. 🙂
Author: Jack Byrne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4.00 of 5 Stars
Billabong: Having long ago lost his wife and children, cattleman Jim Kelly works the family farm in the harsh 1800s Australian outback, most days wondering why he bothers. That question is foremost in his mind when a venomous snake takes him by surprise. Another surprise comes when a skilled doctor is in the vicinity to save his life. But the third, and biggest, surprise for Jim is falling hard and fast for that man.
Life on the lam is tough, and bushranger Mark Turner simply wants to maintain his freedom as long as he’s able. Unfortunately, being a doctor, his conscience won’t let him leave a snakebite victim to die. Before he thinks about the consequences of his humanitarian actions, he’s both saved Jim and become smitten with him. But considering how Mark’s past could negatively impact any possibility of a future, maybe falling in love wasn’t such a great idea after all.
Walkabout: In New South Wales, Australia, in 1876, sweating out a living from the savage, dry wilderness tests a man’s worth. Cattleman Jim Kelly gave up everything he knew to outrun the law with his lover Mark Turner. Struggling to survive, the two turn to crime and venture farther into the harsh outback. And while Jim is enthralled by Mark’s almost paranormal strength and physical power, he starts to question his love after seeing Mark’s explosive temper first hand.
Australian Outback, 1875
Early on, I was made to realize that I needed to trust this author in this story. The opening was justified the moment Jim and Mark first met.
This is the kind of historical that is not laden with specific detail, which can sometimes overwhelm and overshadow the story and characters. Not the case here.
The physical descriptions of these men are robust and complete. It was impossible not to picture them as they swam or rode or cooked or anything else… and more. And it’s not just physical traits but their physicality, and it provides insight into their personalities.
In some instances, there was more telling than showing, especially in terms of their growing passion thanks to a couple of time jumps of a few days or weeks. It’s tricky to maintain tension and realism when this tool is utilized but it can and has been done. However, the power of their obvious feelings is believable, especially as it pertains to motivations.
The more I read, the more of Jim’s and Mark’s personalities filled in, revealing their strengths, histories and humor.
The dialogue is natural, descriptions smoothly detailed and the story progressed at a believable pace, even with the hiccups.
Here’s the bottom line: as soon as I was finished reading this, I wanted to go right to Walkabout to find out and experience what was in store for Jim and Mark. That’s exactly what I did.
This one starts out well right off the bat, in particular the handling of a time jump: we’re now in the summer of 1876, so Jim and Mark have been making their way together for a while.
What does this mean? Romantic. I mean, can there be romance in the middle of the Aussie outback? Apparently so because this is romantic. It also continues with the humor and unexpected scenes that further build on Jim and Mark’s personalities, which translates to their relationship.
Here’s the cool thing: I realized that, with every swipe across the screen of my kindle, I liked Jim and Mark more and more. It speaks to the pacing again, which finds its confident stride in this book.
Because I like these two, it was so very enjoyable watching them work through what is are new experiences for both of them, albeit some in different ways. That is, except for one, which is new for both of them.
I couldn’t help but feel the ending was rushed, taking us from naught to 100 in no time. That’s fine but it didn’t seem to quite fit with the rest of the story. It also definitely sets up the next installment, which we had better be getting. 😉
Yep, that’s right, I will definitely continue on reading any book released for this series.
I provided links for Walkabout since it’s the recent release but you can easily find the links for Billabong on all of these sites, as well. 🙂
I own a copy of Billabong. It was released in Nov 2013.
I’d like to thank Dreamspinner Press for providing a copy of Walkabout for review. It was released on August 27th, 2014.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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