Feature book: Red Dirt Duchess
Now this story was definitely an unexpected treasure in my pile of books to review. This is the story of an outback girl and a big city London boy.
Jonathon Hartley-Huntley arrives in the outback town of Bindundilly. He has been sent by his editor (or rather the predator—she wants him and he did wrong by her so this is his punishment to learn a lesson) to write a story about the outback floods. Jon meets Charlie, the pub owner, and at first scoffs at what is happening between them but then comes around very quickly. Jon comes from an illustrious family, his brother is an earl, but he is the one who will produce the heir as his brother and his wife have had difficulty conceiving. Jon sees a painting in the pub, one that Charlie’s father painted, and it revives memories of another painting from his childhood. He suggests Charlie come to England to see it.
When Jon sees the painting his family owns again, he has to confront some memories. These memories are particularly uncomfortable for him and his family but once he is able to discuss them with his mother he finds that sense of relief and a better understanding of who he is.
Charlotte (Charlie) Hughes is the pub owner. She is mostly serious, but there is an underlying cheekiness about Charlie. Charlie’s mother died when she was young and her father dragged her out to the outback. Charlie loves where she lives and doesn’t realise until Jon arrives on the scene that she misses finding a connection with a family.
She turns up in England to see the painting, which is going to auction, and Jon is in stand-offish mode but he does shows her around some of his place. Charlie is able to meet some friends of Jon’s mother and she feels comfortable with them. While in England Charlie finds out the true meaning of family.
I liked that the story went from the outback to London and back again. The characters appear to be true to life. The reader will feel a connection with Charlie and Jon. I don’t want to spoil too much but the celebrity wedding in the story will make you smile, especially when one particular person gets a comeuppance.
Reviewed by Heather
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.