Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outback After Dark

As some of you may recall, last year I reviewed Bronwyn Parry's debut romantic suspense novel, As Darkness Falls. The catch being that it was published in Australia and wasn't available in the States at the time. Naturally, since I enjoyed that first book quite a bit, the publisher was keen to send me the second book in the series, Dark Country. Again, only available in Australia. But take heart curious readers! Read my review, and then see the end of this post.

Morgan "Gil" Gillespie left the bush town of Dungirri with no intention of ever returning. Half the town thinks he's trash. The other half thinks he's a murderer. But after selling his successful pub in Sydney, he comes home to see local cafe owner, Jeanie Menotti, about some unfinished business. Instead he's confronted by townspeople who aren't happy to see him, his life in Sydney following him out to the middle of nowhere, and the body of a dead prostitute stuffed in the trunk of his car.

Kris Matthews is the local police sergeant in Dungirri. The town has seen it's fair share of troubles, ranging from drought, to unemployment, to the hunt for a child killer (see As Darkness Falls). When Gil rolls into town, bringing a whole host of trouble with him, she goes with her gut. And her gut tells her that while some people in town think he's bad news, she knows that he's not guilty of anything they've accused him of. Even with a dead body found in the trunk of his car, there isn't much evidence to speak of. So she doesn't lock him up, instead getting him to talk. That's when she knows that real trouble has once again landed in Dungirri. Because the child killer may be gone, but now organized crime has rolled into town.

One of the things I really loved about As Darkness Falls was how "dark" the story was. That tends to be a common complaint I have against some romantic suspense fare. The author pussy-foots around the suspense, and doesn't explore the scary corners. Parry doesn't shy away from tough subjects, although the "dark" isn't nearly as pervasive and oppressive in Dark Country. On that score, I suspect it will work better for those romance readers who shy away from heavier reads.

That said, on the flip side of that coin we have Gil. There is definitely a segment of the romance reading population who want their heroes to be above reproach. I wouldn't call Gil an "anti-hero," but he is guilty of getting in bed with the wrong people. Because of his connections, good, innocent people do get hurt over the course of the story. As he tells Kris, in order to make a good life for himself after his stint in prison (naturally, he was wrongly convicted), he made a deal with the devil. Should he have? Probably not. But at the time, he saw it as his only option, and he took it. I bought into this, and did think of him as a "good man." But if you're a reader who wants your heroes to be squeaky-clean? Yeah, Gil isn't your guy.

The highlight of this story for me was Kris. So often in romantic suspense novels, with cop heroines, the author downplays her assertiveness and makes her "weak" somehow. Either by putting her in danger or having her lose her brain in a too stupid to live moment. Kris is just a flat-out good cop. She's good at her job. She has good instincts. And the best part? She's not a ball-buster. She commands respect because she's a damn good person and damn good at what she does for a living. Yet, she's still feminine. She's still a woman. And she's smart. Heaven help me how I love smart heroines! She thinks logically, and uses her brain. So while some people want to string Gil up by his toe-nails, she looks at (get this!) the evidence.

Parry does have a lot going on in this book, and at times she has to throw one ball in the corner while she's juggling the others. She does get around to tying up the threads, but it does require some patience on the part of the reader. Also, while the suspense is really good here, the romance takes a bit more of a backseat in this story. Oh, don't get me wrong - it's there. That said, it helped tremendously that the author ends this story perfectly. There's a short time-table for Dark Country, with Gil and Kris knowing each other for about a week. Them walking down the aisle and her pregnant with triplets in the final chapter would not have worked, and I'm glad Parry went with the ending that she did.

This was another fine romantic suspense read from an Australian writer that really needs to get published here in the States. Yes, there are Australian-isms in this story, but nothing so mind-altering that this ignorant American couldn't follow along. Also, the town of Dungirri isn't that far off from some of the economically depressed areas in the United States (this story could easily have been set in my home state of Michigan). Parry's in the process of writing the third book in this series and I, for one, can't wait.

Final Grade = B-

Contest Alert!
Bronwyn Parry has agreed to give away a copy of As Darkness Falls and Dark Country to one lucky commenter on this blog post. Wahooey! Contest open to international readers (obviously, since Parry lives in Australia!) and a winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, October 21.

For those of you who don't want to enter, or don't win? As Darkness Falls (UK edition), the first book, is now available via The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping!). Dark Country is only available in Australia right now, although the author has heard it should be published in the UK sometime around March-ish.

54 comments:

  1. Ohh... this sounds like the perfect read. Suspense. Romance.
    ... I wanna win so I can read them!
    :-)

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  2. I loooove some good romantic suspense. I'd love to win these copies.

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  3. Romantic Suspense that's not from US>? I like to experiment in the subgenre so I am in!!

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  4. Hi Bronwyn,

    I'm reading more and more books set in Australia and I'm hooked. Even watched a few australian movies to get a better idea of the settings.

    Please count me in this contest as I'd love to read your books too ;-)

    And thanks for linking this blog on FB !

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  5. I have read both of Bronwyn's books and I gotta say they are both awesome. I too love Gil and Kris, I live in Australia and was able to get them both so don't enter me in the contest.

    I highly recomend trying to get these books they really are fantastic reads. And of course Bronwyn is such a lovely Lady.

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  6. Hi :)
    These sound great.
    Will they be available as ebooks for Canada/US?
    Please enter me, as I live in Canada.
    All the best,
    RKCharron
    xoxo
    PS - My email's in Blogger Profile

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  7. You hooked me with...

    One of the things I really loved about As Darkness Falls was how "dark" the story was. That tends to be a common complaint I have against some romantic suspense fare.

    And I love anything remotely close to "anti-hero"

    Please enter me too :)

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  8. I wanna win too. I would love to read them since buying them is out of my reach right now.

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  9. Both books - such a great package!

    Thanks for the contest.

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  10. My budget is seriously depleted so winning a book is my only option. Pick me please.

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  11. Oooo! Pick me! Pick me! GGG. Loved the first book, really jonesing for the 2nd.

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  12. Sounds great. I love romantic suspense but it's hard to find books which have a good balance of romance and suspense.
    Count me in, please!

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  13. Hurray for the Book Depository! I've gotten a couple of books from them so far, and the service has been excellent.

    Also, am intrigued by the idea of truly dark suspense.

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  14. These books sound very interesting. Hope I win :o)

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  15. Great review you posted! I love a story that has a strong heroine and a storyline that doesn't pull any punches. I enjoy a story that's got some grit to it so definitely sign me up for this!

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

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  16. Since I haven't put together the funds for an Amazon UK order for these I will enter with great hope.

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  17. Sounds awesome. Thanks for the heads up on BD, will stop by to add to my wish list. :)

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  18. Oh, sign me up for the contest. Getting free copies of books that sound interesting is good. Getting them when it's difficult or impossible for me to buy them is even better.

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  19. I wish I known to look for this when I was in Australia! Now I'm back in Wisconsin (and I miss the great down under...)

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  20. always up for suspense..thanks for the giveaway

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  21. You were just talking about strong heroines over at the Border's romance blog. I wonder if this book brought on the idea for that post, LOL :) Cheeky, I know *grin*

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  22. The stories look like ones I would enjoy so please enter me.

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  23. I really enjoy romantic suspense. Also enjoy Australian books.

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  24. Having read As Darkness Falls, I'd love to read Bronwyn's latest. March is too far away!

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  25. Oooooh! I'd love to read the second book. I loved her first book, but I'm in the US, so I hope her books are available here SOON!

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  26. I don't enter a lot of contests, but consider me entered. I love dark almost anti-heroes and these sound intriguing.
    Plus - when I asked Ryan the other day if he would pay for me to go on a month long trip - two weeks in Australia and two week in New Zealand, he had the nerve to say no!! So while a trip to Australia is out now, a book set in Australia would tide me over until I get him to change his mind.

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  27. I love to read novels set in Australia, and these sound right up my alley.

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  28. I want these books SO BAD!! I was going to order the first on from The Book Depository, but I like the Aussie cover MUCH better. So I put it off, hoping I could bribe a friend in Australia to trade me for books only available in the US. That hasn't worked out yet, so I still don't have them. You could change that!

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  29. Wendy, I enjoyed your take on Dark Country (and As Darkness Falls). I’m lucky enough to have had the pleasure of reading both novels and concur with your reviews. Interesting also because as I read them I couldn’t help thinking they would be the very ticket for US suspense loving readers.

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  30. Pick me, love me!

    *ahem* Sounds like a great book -- I remember reading your review earlier for the first book, and you had my attention then too.

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  31. Glad to see I'm not the only one who's cranky Bronwyn's books aren't available in the US. :) Can't wait to read DC.

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  32. Oh, I would like to enter!
    carlos_durao AT hotmail DOT com

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  33. educhico AT gmail DOT com - put this one on this giveaway

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  34. Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

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  35. Oh, good offer!
    :)

    jafantunes AT sapo DOT pt

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  36. The books sound brilliant. Please enter me in the draw, Thanks for running the competition.

    angelshimmery at g mail dot com

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  37. Hey - didn't you loan me that first book? I honestly don't remember much of the first book except the mob scene. Maybe I'll stick it on my "TBR" list for when I'm bored and big. :)

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  38. This sounds good, please count me in!

    milkavainamo(at)lyseo(dot)edu(dot)ouka(dot)fi

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  39. Would be a great way to get ready for my trip to Oz next summer! :)

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  40. The books sounds great. Thanks for the chance to win them.

    teresa.fav AT gmail.com

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  41. I would love this one!

    o_rei_de_havana AT hotmail DOT com

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  42. Hello there!
    Thank you for this giveaway.
    The book seems to be a great read!

    dr.strangelove.vs.citizen.kane
    @
    gmail.com

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  43. Wow, great giveaway!
    Count me in, please, please, please!


    catarina DOT magoito AT gmail DOT com

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  44. I'm up for this!
    39[dot]5susy[at]gmail[dot]com

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  45. Please count me in.
    It's a great prize!
    goncalo{.}mil{@}gmail{.}com

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  46. One more for the road!
    :)
    joanapatriciadias AT gmail DOT com

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  47. My great friend J Dias just sent me an email telling me to sign up for this!
    :)
    Thank you to her and to you for the giveaway!

    tanitalves AT sapo DOT pt

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  48. Bron, sounds like a fantastic story! Can't wait to read it. :)

    (((hugs)))
    ~~Meg

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  49. Of course now if I were to be the "winner" people would likely be suspicious, wouldn't they... *sigh*

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  50. *waving arms doing my best Horschach impression* Me, me, oh pick me!

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  51. Well, to be nice to the author, I think someone really near Australia should win, so she doesn't have to ship the book so far. Someone in, say... New Zealand?

    I'm just sayin'. ;)

    Seriously, though, I think this novel sounds great - especially the heroine! Gotta love the good assertive, strong, smart heroines. :)

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  52. W00t! Found this post just in time as I've been dying to read As Darkness Falls for ages but couldn't get my hands on a copy (and was waiting until I had more books I really wanted to order from the Book Depository).

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  53. i wanna read this it sounds good. There are hardly any book competitions in Australia (I'm From Perth):D
    but truthfully im so glad i can enter this one. :D im running out of books to read and all my friends have the ones ive read but hopefully i can still buy these ones, even tho Aus get books late, im glad i can get this one.
    but this serie is on my list. :P

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