Book Review: The Brothers of Brigadier Station by Sarah Williams

The Brothers of Brigadier Station…

Book Description:

She came to the outback to marry the love of her life. She just didn’t expect him to be her fiancé’s younger brother.

When Meghan Flanagan, a vet-nurse from Townsville, moves to Brigadier Station in outback Queensland to marry the man of her dreams, she is shocked to discover that perhaps her fiancé isn’t the man she wants waiting for her at the altar. The man she’s destined to marry, just might be his younger brother.

Cautious of women after a disastrous past relationship, Darcy is happy living on his beloved cattle station, spending his spare time riding horses, going to rodeos and camp drafting. He didn’t expect the perfect woman show up on his doorstep. Engaged to his brother.

With the wedding only hours away, Meghan must make the decision of a lifetime. But, her betrayal could tear the family apart. She knows all too well the pain of losing loved ones and being alone.

Now that she has the family she so desperately wants; will she risk losing it all?

Set in the drought stricken plains of Julia Creek, North Queensland and the coastal city of Townsville this is a rural romance that will leave you asking: Will she marry the right man, for the right reasons?

 

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My Thoughts:

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is the debut Rural Romance by North Queensland author, Sarah Williams. I always love to read a novel written by a fellow Queenslander, particularly if that novel is set in a location I’m familiar with, which this one is, since I currently live in the North West Queensland outback.

Sarah Williams has done a great job with her depiction of Country life. There is a particular focus on the harshness of drought, with great detail on the effects on the economy and livelihoods of rural residents and land owners, as well as the environmental impact and the changing landscape. I liked how Sarah didn’t shy away from telling it like it is; the selling up of properties to overseas investors and landowners being forced to kill their animals as a means of preventing their extended suffering as they slowly died from starvation. Novels that paint such an accurate picture are so valuable to our Australian literary scene. Life in truly remote areas is largely inaccessible for many Australians, who then get their impressions on what life must be like from the media and other forms of entertainment. I applaud Sarah for depicting this so well, as impressions of the country and country life are all too often not that accurate.

Likewise, the role of women on the land is represented well within this novel. Meghan, the main character, makes an observation on the lives of women that is quite telling and a great piece of writing from Sarah. She muses on the different demands placed onto a woman’s time, particularly if you live so remote that your children can’t even attend school every day. It certainly is a different kind of life, and I like that Sarah didn’t romanticise it. Once again, she told it like it is and let the truth speak for itself.

In terms of Meghan, the main character, I was in two minds about her for the entire novel. I found it interesting how Sarah explored the notion of her falling in love with the country way of life, more than her actual fiancé. I can see this happening in many cases, particularly when a person is searching for something they feel is missing from their life or if they don’t feel any strong attachments to a place because they no longer have any family of their own around. For Meghan, she wanted what Lachie could offer her more than she wanted Lachie, it just wasn’t all that obvious to her from the outset.

The relationship between Meghan and Lachie was not executed all that well, and I feel the novel suffered slightly because of it. There just didn’t seem to be any bond between them and there was very little couple interaction at all. Lachie was immediately depicted as uncouth and selfish, which seemed odd because if that was his regular personality, then surely Meghan would never have gone out with him in the first place. His change in personality seemed a little too convenient, more of a catalyst to pave the way for Darcy, who by comparison, was entirely perfect. Meghan’s immediate attraction to Darcy is not a character strength. It made her seem disingenuous right off the bat and I found it hard to believe that any woman would be so affectionate with her future brother in law, particularly when meeting him for the first time. Kissing cheeks, hugging, touching scars, flirty banter; this was red flag raising for me and consequently, did little in the way of enticing me to like her.

In terms of Darcy, he was a very likeable character. I took great interest in all of the descriptions of camp drafting and life on the land from his point of view, and once again, Sarah’s interest in what she was writing shone through. She has a great way of weaving this into the narrative without it sounding too descriptive.

Given that this novel was so very Australian, I felt disappointed that US spelling was used throughout. Reading Mom, instead of Mum, constantly pulled me out of the story, diminishing the authenticity that Sarah had clearly worked so hard to achieve. The local feel was compromised, and people driving around in trucks instead of Utes likewise affected the authenticity of this Australian rural story. I feel that whoever advised Sarah to do this has done her a disservice. Our media is saturated enough with US speak and US culture, to dilute our own in order to cater for the US market just makes me feel disappointed and quite frankly, more than a little annoyed as well. If a reader from the US wants to read a story about the Australian outback, then surely they would appreciate the greater authenticity that having Australian language would lend to the story? Personally, I have no problem with reading US language, providing it is within setting and context. Sadly, this gives the impression that The Brothers of Brigadier Station has been written by a US author.

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is indicated as being the first in a series about these brothers. Congratulations to Sarah Williams on her debut.

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is book 28 of my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

 

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Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy for review.