Title: The Art of Dust
Author: Mel A. Rowe
Published: May 23rd 2019
Publisher: Mel A. Rowe
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australia, Rural, Romance
RRP: $2.77 (ebook)
Rating: 4 stars
Some summer loves you can never forget, found in a place where summer never ends and where you’ll discover the essence of the rugged and romantic outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, in this small-town series of Elsie Creek. It’s a place filled with more cattle and crocodiles than people—who still manage to find love…
Are you ready to Escape to a HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
After seven-years, creative Mumpreneur, Kathryn (Kat) Jones, returns to the outback town of Elsie Creek at the request of her dying uncle. Kat can’t fix the man but she can care for his wife, fix his home, and fix his beloved vehicle to get him there.
Workaholic, Kyle Smythe, owns the only mechanical workshop in town, and he’s about to propose to another woman when his ex-muse rolls into his yard seeking help to restore her uncle’s ute.
For Kat, Kyle was her best friend, her creative collaborator, and first and only love. But his rejection tore her heart apart.
Kyle’s scars still sting over Kat’s desertion—especially when he’d needed her the most.
Yet these long-lost summer soulmates are compelled to team-up to make a man they both care for happy in his final days.
Can they work together without re-igniting that spark shared those many summers ago? Or will it remind them of their promises of forever that ended in never…
Summer love, chances are this is a romance that you will never forget. In The Art of Dust, the first novel in the Elsie Creek series, penned by Australian author Mel A. Rowe, the summer romance between Kathryn Jones and Kyle Smythe is one the two will never leave behind. However, separated by time, distance, secrets and heartbreak, this couple may get another chance to rekindle their lost love.
The Art of Dust is the based in the top of Australia. A placed filled with endless dust, continual summer weather and the odd water buffalo or two, it has been seven years since the heroine of the tale, Kat, left Elsie Creek behind. Kat returns to Elsie Creek, to make amends as her uncle sits dying. Kat knows it is time to say goodbye to her uncle but she has some unfinished business in town, including supporting her aunt, and helping to restore her uncle’s beloved car. It is Kat’s uncle’s car that brings Kyle Smythe, who was once Kat’s summer love, back into her life. Kyle is asked to help repair Kat’s uncle’s ute, but all he can think of is the past and his love for Kat. However, Kyle’s love is about to be sealed elsewhere, he is almost ready to propose to his long term girlfriend. Kat’s presence shakes things up again and despite their past stings, these two former lovers find their feelings for one another have never waned. A big secret stands in the way of these two finding love again in the outback – can they find a way back to one another?
I was first introduced to the work of Mel A. Rowe when I read her wonderful contemporary romance, The Football Whisperer last year. A chance to read a brand new second chance contemporary rural romance book by Rowe definitely had me hooked. I am happy to report back that I thoroughly enjoyed my second experience of Mel A. Rowe’s writing.
I do have a weakness for second chance romance stories, especially those set in rural Australia. I had a good feeling from the onset when I began reading The Art of Dust. By far my favourite part of this book was the location. Elsie Creek is the central locale base of The Art of Dust and it is captured with a strong a sense of place that pervades each page. I know the author, Mel A. Rowe, has lived and worked in this part of Australia and it shows. The scene setting in The Art of Dust is magical and I enjoyed being swept away by Rowe’s vivid setting descriptions.
‘She walked the dusty roads guarded on either side by barbed wire fences that held cattle with horns wider than push bike handles. She passed beneath the shade of the heady scented flowering gumtrees where screeching rainbow lorikeets eagerly lapped up the nectar.
Shouldering her way through the pink-flowered turkey bush, tiny blue wildflowers brushed her boots, and she soon found herself back on the strip of black asphalt that rolled ahead like a never-ending carpet.’
Linked to this is the portrayal of Elsie Creek itself, we learn that this tiny town it is a melting pot of long standing locals, cattlemen, farmers, miners, fishermen, long haul truck drivers and more. Although they live in each other’s hip pockets, it doesn’t stop the community from banding together moments of crisis or despair. This becomes apparent when Kat’s beloved uncle and pillar of the Elsie Creek community sits dying. So many stop by the pay their condolences to a man that was respected by many.
The Art of Dust is defined by long standing secrets. There is a big secret that stands in the way of Kyle and Kat, Rowe’s lead characters. This secret defines their past, present and future. I liked how this plot obstruction was handled by Rowe. It added an extra special element to this second chance love story. The dialogue in this aspect of the novel was a standout for me, capturing the depth of feeling of two people going through a pure tussle of emotions.
Rowe’s characterisation is definitely a strong point in this novel. The leads are well developed. I could easily picture them in my mind, they had a strong visual quality. Likewise, as a mother of a child the same age as Kat’s daughter, I thought Kaytlyn was portrayed with a great deal of authenticity. I loved her original and spunky nature. I also adored her dress sense! The secondary character set are represented well on the pages of this novel. A standout was the quirky water buffalo named Cecil who works as a kind of harbinger in the novel. What a highly original character to include, I loved it, especially his place in the final moments of the novel, it was a truly meaningful touch.
The Art of Dust is a nicely layered contemporary romance, reminding us that it is possible to lose and pick up the pieces of love again. Not only is The Art of Dust an enjoyable rural romance, this book is also rich provocation of the people, the places and the unique qualities of the Northern Territory. The Art of Dust is a very promising start to an exciting new rural romance series.
‘As the shadows stretched across the main street, Cecil, with ribbons waving from his horns and tail, followed the setting sun. Behind him, the people of Elsie Creek came together to celebrate, in a place where summer never ended.’
The Art of Dust by Mel A. Rowe was published on 23rd May 2019. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Art of Dust, Mel A. Rowe visit here.
*Thanks extended to the author, Mel A. Rowe. for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Art of Dust is book #76 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge.
For an opportunity to win 1 e book copy of The Art of Dust simply leave a comment below. Thanks to Mel A. Rowe for this this fabulous competition! Good luck.
*Competition open internationally. Closes Sunday 9th June 2019, 11pm (WST).