Aug 8 2009
Dear Ms. Way,
I had heard your name mentioned when Australian writers were being discussed. And with “Paperback Hero” fresh on my brain, I decided to try “Cattle Baron: Nanny Needed” when I saw it at the eharlequin site.
Amber Wyatt knows she’s going to cause a scene when she shows up at her ex-fiance’s wedding to the granddaughter of the filthy rich Sir Clive Erskine. In fact, she’s planning on it. But despite what the bride’s mother, in her awful hat, might think, Amber has something tasteful in mind to remind Sean of how he jilted and publicly humiliated her.
But Rosemary Erskine hauls out the big guns and has her nephew, Cal MacFarlane step in. The result is Cal taking Amber out of commission, but in a kind way that takes the feelings of all parties into account. Cal’s fear is that his powerful relatives will retaliate against Amber, which is indeed what happens.
Now out of her broadcasting job, Amber decides to take Cal up on his offer to fly back to his Outback cattle station, Jingala, and spend some time doing what she’s always wanted to do, write.
When they arrive, it’s to discover that Cal’s uncle and young wife are having marital problems with their infant son smack in the middle of it. Amber quickly steps in to try and soothe things. But will she only make matters worse or is there hope for her budding romance with Cal?
Since I’ve never read one of your books, I decided to read the excerpt chapter before buying. I was psyched by it and by how your heroine and hero are introduced.
I loved the first third of the novel. Amber’s plan at the wedding to show her fiance what she thinks of his actions was classy, IMO. And Cal handled her and the situation beautifully with tact and sensitivity to both Amber and his family. His instincts for them to be seen on the town that evening were great and his offer to have Amber back at his station to work on her book after his grandfather pulled the strings to get Amber fired, which Cal warned Amber would probably happen, was sincere and well intentioned. So I was looking forward to seeing what would happen once they got back to Jingala.
What happened was a third of the book worth of WTF.
Finally I turned one aspect of it into a drinking game. If I took a swig of beer each time you had Amber mentally think of Cal as the “Cattle Baron,” I’d be stinking drunk by the end of the book. Instead I drank water and ended up heading to the loo a lot.
I like background information about books with settings that are new to me but damn, did the middle section of the book have to turn into a field guide/nature book for the Australian Outback? Way TMI here. Plus the information that’s included as “later she (Amber) found out….” seems awkwardly inserted. If I want to learn that much information about Australian wildlife, I prefer to watch Sir David Attenborough.
Amber becomes Earth Mother/baby prozac. I mean, really? Kid’s been screaming his head off for months, no one can calm or soothe him then suddenly Magic Amber arrives and he immediately pipes right down? As for Amber’s psych 101/Earth Mother evaluation of Jan, at first I can go along with her suggestions and questions. But after she’s been at the station for weeks and is still trying her counseling I say, look at the writing on the wall, Amber and trust that Cal and Elliot and the whole damn household have tried everything and nothing’s worked. Amber’s also supposed to be a journalist who’s done some expose pieces on troubled youth so her amazed reaction to Cal’s statement that mothers abandon their children makes me think less of her intelligence.
I wasn’t nearly as happy with Cal once he got back to the Outback. What happened to Mr. Nice Guy? Cal can have a nasty streak and I don’t mean about Jan. He’s snide and snappish to Amber whenever the discussions turn to his ex-fiancee, Brooke, but he sure feels like he can comment and grill her about Sean. And he tells Amber he’s not going to push her into anything then pushes her into kissing him. Even after she declines and says “no” more than once.
And enough! about Amber’s luscious skin. Just…enough already.
I had hoped that after the Australian travelogue, the last third of the book would perk up. Alas, “Descending into melodrama – sounds like a daytime soap.” is what I wrote in my notes. Jan is such a two dimensional bitch. No shading, no subtlety at all. But I give you points for the fact that when Brooke, with her perky breasts, made her inevitable appearance, she wasn’t a bitch.
Here are two incidents that had me shaking my head: Jan is shaking the baby and going off the rails yet Cal and Amber stop on their way to defuse the situation to discuss her new silk robe from Japan. (o-0)
Amber is falling down the stairs after being pushed but she’s more worried about the chance that the MacFarlane name will be blackened by the scandal because of who pushed her? WTF?
Oh, the soap opera drama. Lots of !!!! Too many !!! And every superlative adjective from the thesaurus to describe the MacFarlane station, house, horses, food, clothes….
I’ve said before and will say it again, epilogues aren’t my thing. But at least this one is short as well as a hoot – it’s so bad. The use of the word “dynasty” was a nice OTT touch. I just wonder what the family reunions will be like between Amber and the rat who dumped her. B for the first third of the book but a D for the rest.