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Feature book: Muster in the Dust

24 November 2021

Muster in the Dust by Mel A Rowe

Series: Elsie Creek #5
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 23 Sep 2021
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook
Length: 338 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook)

Mandy Must’s whole world is Avallon Downs station, where she lives and works with her father and sister. The head stockman’s been ill, and Mandy’s taken over his work plus runs her own cattle, does the books, paperwork and farming. She works herself to the bone with no thanks from her father or sister. Both seem selfishly oblivious to how much they rely on her.

Mandy’s exhausted but determined to ask her father for the new Head Stockman’s job. She can do the work—she’s already done the work for months, and she wants the job with a passion.

To be honest I was rather furious with Mandy’s father. He’s a wealthy cattle station owner but never shows one ounce of thankfulness to Mandy, or one ounce of affection. That’s all reserved for her flighty sister. He sits on his behind and lets Mandy run around like a slave. I was extremely unimpressed but in the end—ah well, read it and see …

We’ve met Jonathan Riggs before, better known as Rigsy. He’s a distant cousin of Monet (see Xmas Dust), and he’s been an absolute charmer through the series. People—including Mandy’s father—think he’s a drifter, but in fact he’s one of the hardest workers ever. He picks up a huge number of jobs around town, helps with stock inspection, helps the railway crews at the train station, volunteers with the firies, and is presently managing Sandlot Station while the owner’s away. He’s a general all-round nice guy and goes out of his way to help old ladies; such a chivalrous, quietly heroic, thoughtful man.

He meets Mandy at the annual Cattleman’s Games, when she and her father and sister come to Elsie Creek. Mandy hopes to win acclaim with her carefully selected horses in the rodeo. Mandy’s rather smitten by Rigsy, and he falls for her like a ton of rocks.

Mandy is crushed, totally pierced with deep hurt when her father refuses to consider her for Head Stockman, so Rigsy whisks her away from all the madness in town, leaving her father and sister to cope with all the paperwork and things she usually does. They might appreciate her more if they have to do it for themselves! I loved the way he stood up to her father, all quiet and respectful, but taking no nonsense. Go, Rigsy!

It’s like a holiday for Mandy. He takes her to Sandlot Station so she can have timeout—and their romance blossoms, despite Mandy’s father going absolutely ballistic about it. (Whatever, I’m backing Rigsy and Mandy.)

There’s a lot of deep family hurt and conflict here that presents obstacles. Rigsy has a special plan for his life, and so does Mandy. Is a relationship even possible when two people are planning two separate things?

The way Mel A Rowe works the story out is perfect. Who knew rugged, outback Australia was so romantic? A deeply satisfying book. And yes, both Cecil the water buffalo and Karma the croc make further appearances. It wouldn’t be Elsie Creek without them.

Reviewed by Malvina

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

One Comment leave one →
  1. 24 November 2021 9:18 am

    Thank you, Malvina, for an amazing review, and for the ARRA for considering Muster in the Dust a featured book. I truly appreciate it.

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