When Ashleigh decides to flee her difficult husband, Dominic, she’s all too aware he’ll come looking for her. The only way to escape, she realises, will be to move as far away as possible and reinvent herself.
Changing her name to Eliza, she drives for days until she comes across a tiny rural town with friendly locals and a nice vibe about it. There, she rents a room, gets a job and begins the long road to healing and regaining her self-confidence.
Then one day, on an excursion to a ruined homestead in the area, Eliza becomes fascinated with a family who lived there during the nineteenth century. But just as Eliza begins to unlock the secrets of her own past, Dominic arrives in town, determined to punish her…
With a cracker plot and nail-biting suspense, Indigo Storm is the story of a courageous woman fiercely determined to reclaim her life and her belief in herself.
Not long into reading the latest and seventh book from Australian author Fleur McDonald, it became apparent to me that this is an author that just keeps getting better with every new book she releases. Reviewing McDonald’s previous book Emerald Springs last year, I’m sure I stated it was her best yet, well again McDonald has served up an outback treat for her readers.
In Indigo Storm, drama is definitely the order of the day, from the opening page. McDonald’s protagonist is Ashleigh Alberto, a young woman who is the victim of an abusive relationship both physically and mentally at the hands of her husband, Dominic. Ashleigh doesn’t want to be the victim anymore and hatches an escape plan. She knows she cannot trust or gain the help of the townsfolk of Jindabyne, where she lives. Dominic is a manipulative man, who has the whole town wrapped around his finger. The reader quickly becomes immersed in Ashleigh’s escape, I know I was on tenterhooks for much of this section of the novel. Ashleigh makes as far as a small rural town of Blinman, when she has a pretty major car crash. In Blinman she finds a community that treats each other as family, a secure place to stay and employment. Not all the residents are won over by newcomer Ashleigh who is now assuming the identity of Eliza Norwood. Blinman’s resident detective has his reservations about Eliza’s sudden appearance in the town. Eliza’s arrival in Blinman coincides with a spate of wildlife poaching in the national park. Dave’s investigations eventually lead him to discover Eliza’s true identity and that her life may be in serious danger due to her violent ex.
Fleur McDonald amazes me yet again with this brilliant outback tale, combining abuse, outback crime, corruption, family and romance all within a spectacular rural setting. Ashleigh/Eliza is the type of character who readers will find easy to empathise with. Her plight echoes the silent voices of many victims of spousal abuse. McDonald handles this theme with the care, sensitivity and awareness raising it rightly deserves. The scenes involving Ashleigh’s escape and the time it takes for her to settle in Blinman, definitely had me resorting to biting my nails. McDonald knows how to evoke feelings of high tension in her romantic suspense novels. The romance side of this book is more of a side plot, it does not detract from the main plot which runs a number of stories. I found the story thread on wildlife poaching from national parks really engaged me, not knowing about this extent of this outback crime until reading Indigo Storm. The other story thread in this novel is based on Ashleigh/Eliza’s family background and parentage. This part did have me wondering about the coincidence side of this story, but I did not sway me from loving this novel. Readers will be sure to appreciate the authentic dialogue and interactions that occur between Ashleigh/Eliza and the residents of Blinman, they are quite a likeable bunch. I could also easily picture these realistic set of characters inhabiting the magnificent outback location of Blinman. McDonald draws on her expertise in the area of explaining outback settings, to give her readers a truly vivid picture of life in her rural South Australian backdrop, the setting for Indigo Storm.
If you enjoy outback stories that lean of the side of romance, suspense and intrigue, Fleur McDonald’s books are the way to go. Indigo Storm is another fantastic rural fiction novel from an author I never cease to recommend highly.