Book Review: Caked in Dust by Mel A Rowe

Caked in Dust…

About the Book:

A shy kitchenhand. A sultry ex-fireman. And a town’s tradition is about to be tested…

There’ll be no escaping her reputation now, not when Lucy’s hopes of running her own kitchen are derailed by the new guy, Jax. In minutes, he’s managed to stir up the locals and condemn an institution—leaving Lucy jobless!

Bound by a promise to bury his past, Jax’s outback survival is off to an uneasy start as he tries to renovate a deserted farmhouse the wildlife has claimed as their own. In need of help, Jax volunteers to assist Lucy as she tries to flip her fried reputation via a crazy-train of trials. In return, she’ll guide him as they explore the boundaries of family, friendship, and his land.

A land that hides a secret Lucy is entrusted to keep.

A secret that could crumble her dreams into ash and risk losing the man she loves…

From the bestselling author of the much-adored Elsie Creek Series, the romantic adventure continues in this fun, tasty test of trust, love, and dusty outback traditions, revealing that the perfect recipe for happiness in the home is much bigger than a house—it’s a town.

My Thoughts:

Rural romance fiction is far from my usual reading preferences and consequently, when I do read a book within this genre, reviewing it proves difficult for me. I have to make a conscious effort not to judge the book by its genre and the many reasons why I personally don’t like it and instead just narrow my gaze onto the book at hand. Not easy though, as rural romance fiction is very formulaic and that is one of things I enjoy the least. You’re probably wondering why I even read this if I dislike the genre so much. It’s because I’m still not all that good at saying no. Getting better at it every day, but occasionally I am caught out by a review request in a moment of weakness.

I can see though how this story will have great appeal to those who do love the genre. It’s very well written, moves along at a swift pace and has all of the back and forth sparkling chemistry so required for an engaging romance story. The rural aspect is also well set up in terms of a vibrant community of all sorts living their best lives together in one of the remotest parts of Australia.

The biggest appeal of this novel for me personally was the history of the area that was woven into the story. With a newcomer to town, it was easy for the author to inject this into the story in a seamless way. Northern Australia is quite a fascinating place and this is conveyed strongly by this author, who writes with passion and enthusiasm about what is in fact, her own ‘backyard’.

So too does she approach the culture of the region with sensitivity and what appeared to me as local knowledge. The main character within this novel is an indigenous woman, a fact that is inferred through the narrative rather than openly conveyed. I pondered on this while reading and I have come to the conclusion that the author has perhaps written it this way as a means of conveying a greater message: that the people who inhabit this remote part of Northern Territory are Territorians first. That is their primary identity, because perhaps life there poses enough challenges without drawing other distinctions.

That’s my impression anyway, but there is a firm chance I am over-reading what is essentially a rural romance adventure aimed at entertainment and pure escapism. Either way, it all came together nicely and Caked with Dust was a pleasant way to close out my Easter Sunday.


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

Caked in Dust
Released 20th April 2020

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Caked in Dust by Mel A Rowe

  1. LOL There’s no guarantee that authors and/or their promoters will read it, but you could try adding Rural Romance to your Book Review Policy guidance about likes and dislikes.
    It *is* hard to say no, especially now. And it is hard for genre authors, because (as far as I can tell) there are so few bloggers who review genre fiction. IMO that’s because it’s hard to say anything much about formulaic writing, even though it is very popular and sells much better than literary fiction.
    But over time I have learned that (apart from the waste of my time reading something that’s not for me) it’s better to say no, as kindly as possible, and if I can, I suggest a blogger who might be interested in the book.
    The exception to this is authors and marketers who have used a scattergun approach and not bothered to so much as look at the content of my blog or read the review policy. I think this is really, really rude. If I’m in a good mood I reply politely and direct them to my review policy. Mostly, I delete the email without replying because I don’t feel any obligation to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ouch!
        See, that’s the problem: some writers bully or cajole or make you feel sorry for them, so you end up reading something that *you* know isn’t going to be your kind of book, but because *they* don’t read your kind of book, they don’t understand how badly it can go wrong for them. I remember one chap who’d written some SF experimental book and he went on and on and on, ending up insulting me for being unwilling to try it.
        I’m sorry you had this experience, try to put it out of your mind and remember instead all the lovely authors who cherish your reviews. Lisa x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. PS I think you’ve been generous in your review. But sheesh, there seem to be some authors who think they are entitled to 5 stars for everything, which devalues the currency IMO. It’s not enough for you like their book, you have to think it’s the very best of its kind…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! This! I gave this book 3 stars and wrote a generous review, but I was asked to provide reasons for my ‘low scoring’. Based on the fact I don’t like these sorts of books, three stars is very good and the review can be considered as glowing.


      • What an amazing sense of entitlement! Truly, I’m astonished by the effrontery of this, (though I shouldn’t be because I taught, for two dispiriting years, in a middle class suburb where every parent thought their child should get A for everything).
        You are not her employee required to justify yourself. You are not part of the book marketing industry. You are a volunteer giving your time, expertise and honesty to share your experiences with books to your readers.
        This is one of the reasons why we avoid self-published authors!!

        Liked by 1 person

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