Title: Walking the Line
Author: Mandy Magro
Published: November 21st 2016
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Australian
Rating: 4 stars
For how long can secrets stay buried?
Country-loving Dallas Armstrong is a hard-as-nails bull rider, who dreams of becoming Australian champion, just like his father, Mick, was. But when he discovers a shocking secret about his father on the same day Mick dies in a car accident, Dallas’s world is turned upside down. Now it’s up to him to protect his mother from the truth, and to keep the family farm Rollingstone Ridge afloat. And he will do everything in his power to do so.
Charlize Dawson is a successful city journalist whose marriage is in tatters. Begrudgingly sent to the country to write about Dallas, she is surprised to find that he isn’t the arrogant cowboy she’d assumed he’d be. Instead she and Dallas and share an intense chemistry and deep connection that lead to a stolen kiss at the Rodeo Ball.
But when Charlize’s research for her article puts her on the path of uncovering Dallas’s secret, he demands she stop or lose him forever. Dallas or her career, which should she choose? How can she turn her back on the people who have welcomed her into their lives with open arms, all in the name of her job? Her career is all she has left, and she has worked so very hard to be where she is. But how can she reveal what she knows, if it means losing the love of her life?
There are a great line up of female Aussie writers in the popular and ever expanding rural romance genre and Mandy Magro, author of Walking the Line, is a solid fixture on this genre.
Magro’s eighth and latest novel, Walking the Line, combines journalism with country life and professional bull riding. The book opens with a cracking prologue, delivering a secret and a line of suspense that runs throughout the bulk of the novel, guaranteed to keep the pages turning. It involves the hero of the story, Dallas, who uncovers a shocking secret about his Father. Unfortunately, the very same day, Dallas’ Father tragically dies in a car crash. This secret is not divulged to the reader, which kept me invested in the storyline, until the big reveal at the close of the novel. Naturally, Dallas and his family are consumed by grief but they still need to keep their farm afloat. To raise much needed funds for their property, Dallas and his Mother agree to an interview written by a city journalist. In this article, the journalist delves into Dallas’ life as an aspiring bull riding champion. Dallas and some locals are also raising funds for drought relief by posing for a naked calendar. When city girl Charlize comes to cover the story, she gets more than she bargained for. The news article ends up taking a very different direction and sparks immediately fly between the still married Charlize and the sworn off city girls Dallas.
Walking the Line immediately struck me as a rural fiction novel heavy on the romance, which really worked for me as a reader. I was in the mood for a light, undemanding, somewhat formulaic read from my favourite genre and this is what I got from Ms Magro. There are some gentle messages of love and different takes on love (and lust) in this book. These range from a heart-warming story thread involving the main character Dallas’ Grandfather, Dallas’ Mother’s devoted marriage to Dallas’ Father and the lusty love that sparks between Dallas and Charlize. It doesn’t matter which guise love takes in the book, I found each one endearing.
Magro’s female protagonist Charlize, undergoes the typical fish out of water transformation from city to country girl that occurs in many other popular rural romance efforts. Despite this part of the book being fairly run of the mill, I still enjoyed Charlize’s journey immensely. I also appreciated the humour that came from these sections of the narrative.
Magro always excels at bringing a slice of the country life alive, for the reader to appreciate. Walking the Line is no exception, it is brimming with great descriptions of the struggles and hardships of Australian farm life. The novel also exudes the strength of rural community and the rich beauty of the land. Added to Walking the Line is the focus on the rodeo circuit, which I knew little about prior to reading this book. I found this both highly interesting and enlightening. The bull riding theme certainly gave a sense of danger to the main character of Dallas, adding further appeal to this protagonist. Finally, no Mandy Magro book would be complete without a trademark reference to country music, fans will be pleased to know this is briefly included in Walking the Line.
Walking the Line was the perfect holiday binge read for me, it was romantic, suspenseful in places and featured a readable narrative that had me gently turning the pages until the end. It will appeal to a wide audience, as well as diehard fans of the rural romance genre.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty and Lace. To read the original review on the Beauty and Lace website please visit here.