Carina Chapman wants a vacation. Somewhere hot. Somewhere decadent. Somewhere far, far away from her complicated life in New York. Somewhere in Australia appears to be the answer, until Carina discovers her PA has booked her into the wrong resort.
Cowboy Jake Richardson can cook a mean camp-oven roast, track wild horses, breed cattle and knows Australia’s rugged High Country like no other, but he needs to diversify if he wants to keep his land. Tourism seems like the answer, but his housekeeper just quit, the rooms aren’t ready and he doesn’t know a short black from a cappuccino.
Then his first guest arrives.
City slick Carina is smart, classy and disgruntled that her dreamy five-star retreat has been replaced by a rustic homestead beside the Barcoo Creek. Jake has seven days to convince Carina he can deliver all the items on her vacation checklist – including the five-step method to an everlasting relationship…
Margareta Osborn has a lot to achieve in a short space of time in Outback Cowboy.
We have an American heroine (from NYC, no less) who turns up in rural Australia with no idea what to expect, no idea what the local vernacular is, and no mental preparation whatsoever for an entirely different landscape and culture. And in this shorter story we have to believe she can transform into someone who could be in a permanent relationship with an Australian man from the land.
The title itself is a play on the language differences between the US and Australia (we tend to not call our men working the land cowboys).
This is a popular theme for rural romances the world over, and it can go one of two ways. Often authors fall into the trap of painting the “city girl” heroine as vain and stupid, and they make it all about her adjusting while he stays the same – this is when this theme doesn’t work for me.
When it does is when the hero learns a few things about himself, too, and doesn’t condemn the heroine for being from a different world.
I think Margareta Osborn achieved this. This is a hero who is out of his depth in trying to turn his property into a resort, and the heroine has a thing or ten to teach him about that. Sure, she is used to pampering and city life, but she’s definitely not stupid.
However, she is not particularly likeable at the beginning of the story. I have recently enjoyed a few books where an unlikable heroine transforms as we get to know her better. It’s sort of a taboo theme for the romance genre, as readers are always much faster to hate a prickly heroine than they are a bastard of a hero.
So I really appreciate when an author takes some risks with their female characters. Women are allowed to make mistakes and still be liked.
The language differences were done well; I hate it when the culture clash is turned into a joke, but it was done more subtly here. The only thing I noted was that our American leading lady was immediately thinking of eucalypts as “gum trees”. When I worked at an American school in Asia and we hit the Australian studies unit, nobody knew what a gum tree was.
Oh, and the fact she immediately understood temperatures in degrees Celsius!
This is a smaller publisher, and I do think they need to give some more attention to their editing, as there were missing commas and extra apostrophes, and little distractions that occasionally drew me out of the story.
However, this was a solid, quick contemporary romance read that would work for people on either side of the Pacific Ocean.