Title: The Stockman’s Secret
Author: Mandy Magro
Published: May 18th 2020
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
From a leading rural romance author comes an inspiring novel about having the courage to forgive past mistakes, set in the heart of the Australian countryside.
Secrets can unite, and they can divide. Will he be able to make things right between them?
In the small town of Little Heart, Juliette Kerr and Joel Hunter are drawn together by their shared experience being targeted by school bullies. But when the bullying takes a drastic turn, Juliette can see no other way to protect Joel from the aftermath than to break his heart and make him leave her behind. Devastated and confused, Joel packs his bags, heading far away in the heart of the outback to jackaroo at Rosalee Station for as long as it takes his heart to heal.
A decade later, Joel returns to mend fences with his family and to offer Juliette support. He’s no longer the hot-tempered young man who left, but he’s never stopped loving her. Is it finally time to make things right between them? Will these two lovers find a way to make peace with the past and regain their future together?
The Stockman’s Secret marks bestselling Australian author Mandy Magro’s fifteenth release. A rural romance specialist, Mandy Magro is a trusted author in this popular genre, who consistently produces books that fill the reader with plenty of heart and enjoyment. The Stockman’s Secret is a compelling rural story of love, tragedy, heartbreak, disappointment, redemption and hope.
Little Heart is the beautiful rural setting in The Stockman’s Secret. Mandy Magro’s latest is based in tropical Queensland and this tiny locale is home to Joel Hunter and Juliette Kerr, the lead characters featured in The Stockman’s Secret. Together, these two have fought off the bullies of the town, but when a tragedy occurs, they go their separate ways. Joel moves away from Little Heart in the wake of this terrible and life changing incident, taking up a role as a jackaroo. Joel departs home home town with a big hole in his heart. A decade later, Joel comes home to Little Heart in an attempt to reconcile with his family and Juliette. But time has created a big rift between Joel and Juliette. Can these two former lovers find a way to rekindle their lost love?
There is a really touching dedication in the back of The Stockman’s Secret. It helped me to understand how passionate Mandy Magro is about her writing team, craft and readership. As Mandy Magro mentions in her closing sentence of her Acknowledgments, a Mandy Magro novel generally has you smiling, dreaming and hiding somewhere quiet in an attempt to overcome life’s hassles. If a book has the power to do any of these things, I am a happy bunny! I really enjoyed meeting the characters of The Stockman’s Secret and following their journey, it was a heartfelt sojourn to a quaint rural township of Queensland.
One of the areas that Mandy Magro displays her prowess is her setting. Through The Stockman’s Secret I was able to remove myself from cold, windy and stormy Western Australia to lush and sultry Queensland. What a joy! I immediately warmed up and I consumed Magro’s descriptions of the tropical surrounds and stunning local wildfire of this region. It is obvious that Magro is very familiar with this location and her passion for the rural areas of far north tropical Queensland is very evident in The Stockman’s Secret.
Another segment of the novel that Mandy Magro shines is her knowledge and understanding of Joel, the stockman’s role. Although I have read quite a lot of rural romance, I am still not confident in my understanding of the job description of a stockman. I found this area of the book fascinating and the horse based sections were such a pleasure to read. Magro ensures these segments of her novel are insightful, believable and authentic.
Character wise, the hero and heroine of this tale were credible, personable and refined. My sympathy for Joel and Juliette developed very early on the piece. My heart went out to both leads through the pressures of their family life, faith, strict rules and the awful bullies that targeted them. This was an emotional story that did bring some tears to my eyes. Magro draws out the heartbreak and upset in these areas. I really did empathise with both Joel and Juliette. There were some well drawn bad guys in this story, along with an endearing supporting character, Joel’s sister Zoe. I do hope Magro has plans to revisit this character, I think there is room for a flow on novel featuring Zoe.
Plot wise, The Stockman’s Secret was intriguing, often risky, edgy, but also clear in its intentions. Magro opens up a conversation around topics of family relations, cruelty, unfair treatment, fear, faith, devotion, abuse, control, betrayal, heartbreak, sacrifice, loyalty, resilience, past love, reconciliation and forgiveness. There is no doubt that The Stockman’s Secret is a book that hums with activity, keeping the reader fully engaged from start to finish. A truly heartwarming close leaves the reader completely satisfied. My thanks to Mandy Magro for giving life to such an endearing set of characters and pitting them against some complex life challenges. The Stockman’s Secret is a recommended read.
The Stockman’s Secret by Mandy Magro was published on 18th May 2020 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Stockman’s Secret, Mandy Magro, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Stockman’s Secret is book #74 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge