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Feature book: Xmas Dust

17 November 2021

Xmas Dust by Mel A Rowe

Series: Elsie Creek #4
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 23 Oct 2020
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 292 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $29.39 (print)

Monet Tucker is an absolute fireball, take-no-prisoners bush pilot. The love of her life is her sturdy little red plane, Gertrude. Monet is smart, mouthy, bossy, loud, and known as the Wicked Witch of the Westerly Winds, with her broomstick painted on Gertrude’s belly. She also owns the ‘Unofficial Elsie Creek Inn’—a big, sprawling house in Elsie Creek where stockmen crash for the night in their swags on the floor, no questions asked, and leave a small cash donation in the jar when they leave. She never locks the door, even when she’s away.

You might guess from this brief description that under her tough exterior Monet has a huge heart. And you’d be right, not that many people really notice.

Tim Kirby’s known Monet from way back. He’s the ‘Posh Prince’ of Rigby Downs, a remote cattle station close to Monet’s childhood home. There was a huge flood in the wet season about twenty years ago that caused devastating damage to Monet’s family—and Tim and his father were there to help them back to Elsie Creek. Tim’s been there for her ever since, in an I-know-your-worst-secrets-and-I-still-care kind of way.

Monet usually babysits Rigby Downs when Tim and his family have their annual holiday, despite his mother’s snobby bias against her. This Christmas is no exception. But when Monet flies into Rigby Downs she’s greeted with a dirty house full of empty beer cans and extreme snoring. Tim hasn’t left the property and is sleeping off a monster hangover.

The poor guy has just called off his engagement to the rather seductive and pushy Sherice who—as it turns out—has been having affairs with other men behind Tim’s back. Tim hit the bottle to drown his sorrows but went rather overboard. In the process, he forgot to cancel his contract with Monet—so she decides to stay and work out the time anyway.

Monet usually does their books, mows their lawn, cleans their house and in general makes things ship-shape for the family to return. She’s not about to forgo the contract so ignores Tim—shoves him into the bedroom to keep him out of her way—and starts all her jobs. Can’t keep a good woman down!

Then a monster cyclone stirs and grows and comes their way, touching down on Christmas Eve. Even if Monet wanted to leave, it’s too late. She and Tim batten down the plane and the outbuildings, prepare the house and bring all the provisions into the bathroom, their safe spot.

People who’ve lived through a cyclone, or remember Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and the devastation that occurred in the NT, will know how terrifyingly destructive they are. As Tim and Monet hunker down in the bathtub the cyclone rages outside, Tim suddenly realises he’s been a fool. The person he needs and loves the most, his feisty, sexy friend, is sitting right there with him—and they may not make it through the night.

Monet leaves before he wakes in the morning, unaware of his true feelings. She’s busy flying stranded people into Elsie Creek and distributing emergency provisions. Will that night change them? Will their chaotic relationship make it through?

The community of Elsie Creek is strong in this story, especially during the aftermath of the cyclone. I love the way they came together on Christmas Day, making sure everyone was safe and having a good time despite the awful circumstances. Cecil the water buffalo and Karma the croc (he’s got a name now) made guest appearances, which I welcomed. A terrific story.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 17 November 2021 10:33 am

    Thank you, Malvina, and ARRA for this amazing review! Monet, the feisty bush pilot, was an absolute dream character to write, I’m delighted you liked her and Elsie Creek. Thank you for the feature.

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