Title: Riverstone Ridge
Author: Mandy Magro
Published: October 21st 2019
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
An authentic and heartfelt story about uncovering who you truly are and where you belong from bestselling Australian author Mandy Magro.
After making a mistake that felt like the end of the world to her teenage self, Nina Jones fled the small town of Huntingvale. Now sixteen years later her beloved adoptive mother, Bea, has passed away, forcing Nina to return and decide whether to sell her family home, Riverstone Ridge. But even though Bea can’t be there to help her through it all, she’s left Nina five letters, one sent a week, to finally share the secrets she’d been unable to reveal in life.
For Logan Steele, Nina’s return is the catalyst he’s needed to finally move beyond his tragic past and start living again. But only if she stays. When mysterious and increasingly worrisome accidents start happening around the homestead, both Logan’s cop instincts and his protective feelings toward Nina spur him to investigate. Will he be able to piece together the puzzle of the past in time?
And with dark family secrets emerging from Bea’s last words rippling into the present day, how will Nina find the courage to be truthful to the one man who has always held her heart?
‘Riverstone Ridge – the place that gave life to the past she tried so hard to forget.’
Bestselling Australian Author Mandy Magro, who has now penned her fourteenth feature novel, returns with a new romantic suspense tale, titled Riverstone Ridge. The past, the present and the future of lead protagonist Nina Jones is defined by long held secrets, which unveil as the book makes its emotional journey. Riverstone Ridge proved to be the perfect weekender read, ideal for the upcoming Christmas break.
Teenagers make mistakes and for Nina Jones, the heroine of Riverstone Ridge, Nina has made a pretty big one. With no choice but to flee her home town, the site of her mistake, Nina has been haunted by her past for many years. When Nina’s adoptive mother Bea passes away, Nina realises she must now confront the demons of her past and return home to Huntingvale. Not only is Nina faced with the mounting grief surrounding the loss of the only mother figure she has known, she must also make a decision about her family home. As Nina makes this tough decision, she works through a set of letters left by Bea. Each of these five letters provides an essential link to the past, a time Nina would rather forget. Another difficult part of Nina’s homecoming is facing her former boyfriend, Logan Steele. Logan is one hurt man, wading through a pit of grief and loss, following a tragic accident that took away his loved ones. Now Nina’s return forces him to move on with his life and slowly Logan learns to open his heart again. However, a number of suspect events and mysterious incidents occur, threatening Nina’s life. Logan must get to the bottom of these dangerous events, before someone is seriously hurt. While for Nina, she faces the fight of her life, she must finally reveal her heartbreaking past secret to the man she loves.
If you are looking for a solid rural romance with a line of suspense, Mandy Magro is the person for the job. This author has penned no less than fourteen novels, all with elements of love, suspense and romance, which are set to an authentic rural stage. I always know where I stand with Mandy Magro, she delivers an engaging narrative, well developed characters, strong country based settings and plenty of page sizzle. Rivertstone Ridge, Magro’s latest, is no exception!
We first meet the leading lady of this new tale as a teenager. Nina makes an ill-fated choice as a reckless teenager. This incident has long term implications for Nina and her loved ones. I could sympathise with Nina early on, we all make mistakes, and Magro helps us to see that Nina is only human, she has a price to pay for her behaviour in the past. In the present, Nina is just as appealing. I cared for Nina and I felt her pain over the loss she experiences of her adoptive mother. We are privy to both Nina’s inner thoughts and her love interest, Logan Steele, through the narrative format applied by Magro. I enjoyed getting to know both these characters and the narrative structure helps us to develop a good picture of the lives of both these protagonists.
Within Riverstone Ridge, Magro explores the depth of emotion and the differing experiences of the grief, in the wake of tragic loss. My heart went out to Logan, the hero of this tale, when his sad past is revealed to the reader. Logan was such a genuine man and I sincerely wished for him to experience happiness again. Likewise, the female lead of this novel, also goes through the motions of the grief process following the loss of her adoptive mother. Magro’s sincere treatment of the bereavement process makes Riverstone Ridge an emotional read.
Emotions also come in the form of the second chance romance that sparks between Nina and Logan, upon Nina’s return home. There are a few complications and reservations for these characters to endure. However, when they finally get their act together, there are some hot and heavy scenes. Magro definitely turns up the heat factor in this department!
Another part of Riverstone Ridge that I appreciated was the application of a collection of letters penned by Bea to Nina. These letters provide a window into the soul of this woman, tormented by difficult secrets and a heartbreaking past. Linked to these letters are the two central mysteries, providing a hint of suspense to the unfolding story. Magro unveils key details pertaining to the truth of these mysteries in the latter stages of her novel. These two mysteries definitely carried me along and the process of unlocking both these secrets kept me engaged.
As we have witnessed in all of Mandy Magro’s previous novels, Magro’s attention to detail in relation to her setting is always fantastic. In Riverstone Ridge, Magro displays her true affinity for Australia’s unique country landscapes, with her focus on drawing out the special features of Queensland’s rural district and the fictional town of Huntingvale. Magro definitely plunges her readers deep into this provocative rural landscape and it was a joy to experience these aspects of the book.
Magro sets everything back in order by the close of the novel, secrets from the past are aired, resolutions are made, and a tragedy brings the characters of this novel closer together. Love, romance and family dominates the close of Riverstone Ridge, reminding the reader that these are the things that make the world go round! I would happily recommend this novel to enthusiasts of the rural romance genre and readers of Australian contemporary fiction.
Riverstone Ridge by Mandy Magro was published on 21st October 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Riverstone Ridge, Mandy Magro, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Riverstone Ridge is book #153 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge