Title: The Last McAdam
Author: Holly Ford
Published: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Rural, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
This romantic, irresistibly entertaining novel tells the story of Tess Drummond, who’s been sent to turn around the fortunes of a remote sheep and cattle station her employer has taken over. What Tess hasn’t counted on is coming up against the station’s handsome and charismatic head stockman, Nate McAdam, whose family owned the property for generations…
Passed down through the same family for over a century, the remote sheep and cattle station of Broken Creek has recently been taken over by global agribusiness company Carnarvon Holdings. Now Carnarvon has sent its best troubleshooting manager, Tess Drummond, to turn the property’s failing fortunes around – fast.
When Tess arrives to take the reins of Broken Creek she’s faced with a couple of nasty surprises. For starters, her head stockman, Nate McAdam, happens to be the same gorgeous stranger she hooked up with – and ran out on – a few weeks before.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Nate was supposed to inherit Broken Creek until his stepfather ran it into the ground. Now the last McAdam on the station leads a team of men whose bonds have been forged through hell and high water and whose mission is to see off Carnarvon and Tess so he can take his rightful place.
A genius with farm work – and women – but a disaster in the office, Nate is everything Tess believes a farmer shouldn’t be. Determined not to give in to her growing attraction to him, Tess sets out to do her job, but she soon finds herself caught up in the battle of her career.
I don’t make any attempt to hide my love for the genre that is rural fiction or rural romance, in any shape or form. So, when the opportunity arose to read a novel from this genre set in a rural location I have not read anything about before, I jumped at the chance. This is how I came across Holly Ford, the author of The Last McAdam.
The Last McAdam opens at a wedding. Our leading lady of the novel, Tess Drummond, is attending the wedding of a friend, who is actually the groom and she finds herself in the awkward situation of knowing no-one else at the wedding. This all changes when Tess crosses paths with another wedding guest named Nate and the two seem to hit it off. Before things really get off the ground, Tess makes a swift exit and the two never really get the chance to cement their connection. Some weeks after the wedding, Tess is sent to a locale named Broken Creek as part of her role as a troubleshooting manager, working directly for a global agribusiness company, Carnarvon Holdings. The property of Broken Creek is an isolated sheep and cattle station and Tess is sent to assist in a takeover, which has seen the family owned property fall into the hands of Carnarvon Holdings. At Broken Creek, Tess gets more than she bargained for, not only does she cross paths again with Nate, but she also faces stiff opposition from a bevy of workers. These workers have rallied around Nate and Broken Creek, refusing to see Broken Hill fall into the hands of Carnarvon Holdings. Complicating matters further, is the fact that Nate was meant to inherit Broken Creek but was unable to due to his stepfather’s mismanagement. Nate is the very last of the McAdam family left and after 160 years, it looks like Broken Hill will no longer be in the hands of the McAdam’s. As Tess fights off her growing attraction to Nate, she also finds her job will test her very limits both professionally and personally.
It was a lovely and warm long weekend here in Perth and there is nothing better than sitting down to enjoy a good book by the pool. I did just that and The Last McAdam was my book of choice. I only intended on reading a few pages of this novel, but a few pages turned into a lot of pages and before I knew it, I had whizzed through the novel in record time. Perhaps this is a good indication of how engaging this novel turned out to be – for this reader anyway! I did enjoy the author, Holly Ford’s style of writing, it was open, down to earth and seemed to be structured in a way that the pages just melted away with no huge effort. The Last McAdam reeled me into its developing story instantly and the remainder of the story came with ease. I did find the first half of the novel seems to focus more on setting up of the events to come and on character development, which was fine by me. The latter part of the novel included a fair amount of action based around the farm and contained a line of suspense, which worked well.
The overwhelming appeal of The Last McAdam came from the alternative setting. I had the comfort of knowing this was a rural fiction novel, a genre I am most at home with, but it was delivered with a slight twist. I relished the location descriptions of life on a typical sheep and cattle station, in the mountain region of New Zealand’s south island. It is a part of the world I would dearly love the opportunity to visit at some point in the future and Ford’s depiction of this stunning setting just added to my desire to go. The Last McAdam also provides a realistic portrayal of life on a struggling farming property. Ford has clearly researched this area well, as I was introduced to areas in farming I was not aware of until reading this book, which is always enlightening.
Romance fans will not be disappointed in Ford’s novel. There are plenty of sparks that fly between the leading man and lady, offering lots of simmering tension, missed opportunities and tender moments. This is a gentler romance compared to some I have read of late from the rural fiction genre, but it hit the right note for me.
Along with a rolling storyline packed full of romance, spectacular setting descriptions and an authentic look at farming life in New Zealand, are the characters that drive this novel. Starting with Tess, she has a strong but likeable personality and it was great to see her in the position of a farming consultant, leading the way. Nate is a worthy match for Tess, he is stoic but has a softer side that is gradually revealed through the course of the novel. Supporting Tess and Nate are a cast of secondary characters that should not be overlooked, as they add colour and variety to this engaging novel.
Holly Ford stakes her claim on the popular rural fiction genre with her entertaining offering, The Last McAdam. This lovely novel combines a stunning rural location, an authentic take on farming life, a touch of romance and a set of endearing characters. It is a book to watch out for and comes highly recommended.
The Last McAdam by Holly Ford was published in March 2017 by Allen & Unwin, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
*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.