A shy young woman finds romance and adventure when she becomes a governess in the Australian Outback in this sequel.
Capper retells the story of her first novel, Opal Ridge (2015), but from the perspective of a different character. Thea Moreton, who played more of a supporting role in the previous book, here takes center stage as a young woman who accepts the position of a governess to Bruce Thomson’s two young daughters. She leaves her family in the Australian city of Brisbane to go live in the Outback and, despite some initial culture shock, gradually comes to love the children and the hard work of maintaining the farm. Predictably enough, she comes to love her kindhearted employer as well. Bruce himself had determined never to love again after his wife, Diana, decided she couldn’t take living in the bush and left him and the children. Yet Bruce finds himself falling deeply in love with Thea as she becomes an indispensable part of his household. After Thea makes some mistakes that result in a loss of water for the farm, she decides to return home. It’s up to Bruce to convince her to return and become part of the family once again. Capper’s overall idea for this novel works well; although she makes reference to specific scenes from her earlier work, it’s not necessary to be familiar with the entire series to understand and follow Thea’s story. Like the first book, it demonstrates a vivid sense of place and a love for the details of life in the Outback. However, it also prizes these details over character development. Although the pairing of Thea and Bruce is predictable from the get-go, the conflict that arises between them feels a bit contrived, even if it is taken directly from the first book. Moreover, lines such as, “He wasn’t looking for romance in his life. He’d been there,” spell out the characters’ motivations too overtly instead of letting them develop organically for readers.
An evocative but predictable romance.