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REVIEW: Cattle Baron: Nanny Needed by Margaret Way

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.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

19 Comments

  1. joanne
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 12:28:31

    Oh, the soap opera drama. Lots of !!!! Too many !!!

    Oh, Jayne! You must read King Country!!!! I’m not making fun of you but of myself because I bought and read everything Ms Way had written up until about two or three years ago. I still have a — very yellowed — collection of some of her first books. She was (and perhaps still is) the Queen of the Exclamation Point! The Queen!!! Her first books were published in that teeny print size with exclamation points from top to bottom of the page. Too funny.

    She also always showed, probably way too much for many readers, her absolute love and knowledge of Australia, it’s history and it’s customs. And her absolute love of the over-the top aggravating Alpha Male. And she never deviated from the beautiful and perfect heroine. By today’s standards I guess she was/is a cliche but man I loved her books when I found them back in the day.

    I’m glad she’s still working and I think I’ll have to go get this one and see if the journey down memory lane is good or at least sweet. Thanks so much for the review!

  2. Barb
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 12:37:41

    LOL. I haven’t read Margaret Way in 30 plus years because of the very same OTT soap opera tendencies she showed back in the beginning of her career. Nice to see I haven’t missed much.
    On the other hand, somebody somewhere must like her because her career with Harlequin (Mills and Boon) does go back those 30 plus years (!)

  3. Lizzie
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 15:32:18

    Thanks for the review. I just noticed this was in my local library, so I’ll get it from there and have a laugh over the travelogue parts.
    By the way, on my Mac the main column is overlapping the sidebars slightly. This happened last night. Has anyone else noticed or is it just my computer?

  4. vanessa jaye
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 16:26:22

    Is this a ‘B’ review or a ‘D’ review?

  5. Jayne
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 17:33:57

    Vanessa, it’s both. B for the first 3rd of the book and D for the rest.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 17:36:47

    On the other hand, somebody somewhere must like her because her career with Harlequin (Mills and Boon) does go back those 30 plus years (!)

    Yep. I’m thinking she’s comfort food. One of those authors who is consistent and always gives a reader what the reader is looking for. Her bio says she’s written over 100 books so far so she must be doing something that somebody likes.

  7. Jayne
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 17:43:10

    Her first books were published in that teeny print size with exclamation points from top to bottom of the page. Too funny.

    OMG, no. I think I’ll pass. ;)

    She also always showed, probably way too much for many readers, her absolute love and knowledge of Australia, it's history and it's customs.

    I don’t mean to denigrate her knowledge of Australia and I did enjoy this up to a point. But the point got passed way before she stopped.

  8. Gennita Low
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 19:43:54

    Oh, I used to buy every Margaret Way M&B book! I think I learned all about the Outback from her when I was 14 ;-). She had some great stories but they were always melodramatic, and just perfect for my teenage years. It’s all about absolute love and hate and…spanking. LOL. Thanks for the memory. Another M&B author who goes overboard but was very, very popular was Charlotte Lamb. Man. Now I have to go dig out some of those screamers.

  9. Nicole
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 20:51:40

    If you want an Australian romance, I just read a good one by Anne Oliver, Pregnant by the Playboy Tycoon. And of course, stupid title. It’s more of a road romance and the pregnancy doesn’t come up for awhile.

  10. Sarah Mayberry
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 22:55:59

    I’m also on Mac and having the same side-bar overflow problem, for what’s it’s worth. And Annie Oliver won the Romantic Book of the Year Award in Australia in both 2007 and 2008. The RBY is a reader judged award, so it’s kind of the ultimate endorsement. I’ll also put a plug in for my good friend Joan Kilby, who writes for Superromance – she’s a lovely, funny, mature writer. She’s Canadian by birth, but she’s been in Oz for long enough to count as one of us by now…

  11. ShellBell
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 00:55:03

    You must read King Country!!!!

    King Country is my absolute favourite Margaret Way book. I still have it 25+ years on from my first read!

  12. dotty
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 02:24:41

    It makes me cringe just a little that so many books about Australia are all about the sweeping outback etc.

    I know it’s a large part of the country, but we have cities too. We are not just about red dirt, kangaroos and koalas.

    I know I’m generalizing but enough of the outback already.

    I love it when books are written about locations but don’t beat you over the head with where they a set. When you just get a hint, like names of towns or streets or favourite beverages that sort of thing.

    It’s like when I read a book about New Orleans, I don’t need to be hit over the head with all the tourist stuff, just references in passing.

  13. Jayne
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 05:50:27

    If you want an Australian romance, I just read a good one by Anne Oliver, Pregnant by the Playboy Tycoon. And of course, stupid title. It's more of a road romance and the pregnancy doesn't come up for awhile.

    Oh, sweet Lord, what a title! It’s not one I’d be likely to pick up because of it…that is unless someone tips me off that it’s a good book. I’ll look for it.

  14. Jayne
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 05:52:08

    She had some great stories but they were always melodramatic, and just perfect for my teenage years. It's all about absolute love and hate and…spanking.

    Spanking? Really? None in this book. I feel cheated now. :(
    I want Outback spanking!

  15. Jayne
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 05:54:22

    Sarah, thanks for the second for Anne Oliver and for mentioning Joan Kilby. I’ve never heard of either of these ladies but will be looking for them in the future.

  16. Jayne
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 05:59:25

    It makes me cringe just a little that so many books about Australia are all about the sweeping outback etc.

    I know it's a large part of the country, but we have cities too. We are not just about red dirt, kangaroos and koalas.

    I know I'm generalizing but enough of the outback already.

    Woot! I enjoyed the use of setting in the book I read by Sarah Mayberry. Enough to give me some flavor but not drown me. The Barbara Hannay book I read was the same – even though it did take place in the Outback. But it wasn’t ALL Outback ALL the time, if you know what I mean. I didn’t feel smothered with koalas and kangagoos.

  17. Nicole
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 19:54:38

    Oh, also, the Anne Oliver book doesn’t mention the Outback. It takes place on a car ride to the Gold Coast.

  18. Linda
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 07:41:02

    Hi
    Do you know if Margaret Way has ever had a asian or eurasian heroine in any of her novels?
    Regards
    Linda

  19. Linda
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 07:43:08

    hi
    Do you know if Margaret Way has ever had a asian or eurasian heroine in any of her novels?
    Regards
    Linda

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