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REVIEW: Her Cattleman Boss by Barbara Hannay

Dear Ms Hannay,

7137dedd-c4e0-4b91-86e2-06667306368bimg100I’ve been meaning to try one of these Harlequin books set Down Under. High fives to Harlequin for publishing these Australian set books by Aussie authors that remain Aussie in feel and speech.

Years ago, Kate Brodie met and fell in love with Noah Carmody while visiting her Uncle’s cattle ranch. What she didn’t know was that he’d been warned off by Angus. Even though Noah clumsily, but gently, rejected her, Kate planned on returning to Australia from her home in England, sure she could eventually change his mind. Until news reached her that he’d married and fathered a daughter.

Kate pulled herself together, dated and pursued a career as a photographer. Then got the news that Angus had died. After an exhausting flight and trip to the Outback, Kate is stunned to find out that she’s inherited half of the cattle ranch, that Noah’s ex-wife intends to sue him for half of his share and the ranch’s only chance for survival in this extreme drought is to drive the remaining cattle to market.

Will Kate be able to convince Noah that they have a chance at a HEA or will she once again face disappointment down under.

Noah’s reasoning in not acting on his initial attraction to Kate makes sense in light of his warning from Angus not to mess with his niece. His not replying to her card and thinking that would quickly end the infatuation Kate had for him seems like something a guy would do.

Noah and Kate both have reasons to pull back in a relationship (his failed marriage and her earlier attempt at seduction of him which he, as a horny 20 year old male, didn’t know enough to gently dissuade her) which is good but the sheer number of times they pulled back each thinking the other uninterested or attached got on my nerves eventually.

There’s lots of time spent with Noah wistfully thinking that Kate has a boyfriend. And lots of time showing Kate certain that Noah still carries a torch for his bitch of a first wife. Who incidentally doesn’t show up well in the mothering stakes. Is this the new way to prove a woman is the villain of a book? But the way Noah puts off talking about their relationship, or lack thereof as he sees it, seems guy.

Olivia is delightful. Neither preternaturally wise nor lisping innocence she acts like an eight year old. She gets excited over seeing baby pigs, enjoys the chance to play with some girls her own age during the cattle drive and still loves getting new clothes for her doll on her birthday.

I like that Kate handles her relationships well. When she discovers that Derek isn’t the man for her, she coolly ends things, has a cry but quickly realizes that he wasn’t her one and only. Thanks for not prostrating her with grief over an asshat. Kate also doesn’t let this sink her in a downer mood wherein she mopes that no one will ever love her, she’s hopeless at love, blah, blah, blah.

When Noah is adding up the problems of his life, he appears to look at them as a man would. His first priority is the drought at the ranch and dealing with the cattle, then it’s the problem left by Angus’ will and only then his personal relationships. He also sees Kate as attractive but what really catches his attention is how well she handles the cattle drive, especially the truck stuck in the river mud.

It’s obvious that Noah loves his daughter. That she’s his princess as Kate was for her father. I enjoyed the scene in which Kate reminisces about how she used to wait for her father to come home from work and of the little surprise presents he would have for her in his coat pockets. Nothing amazing but they would be things just for her.

The cattle drive shows Aussies at their best. Hardworking, easy going, ready to pitch in and help at a moment’s notice. It also gives a clue as to the vastness of the Outback, the sheer distances involved in living here. I can see that it’s not for everyone – as we were shown by Liane. These people are independent and used to doing for themselves in a pinch.

Noah’s got a dry sense of humor. I laughed at his take on how their hosts viewed his and Kate’s relationship as shown by putting them up in a room with one bed.

Kate frowned at him. "What are you doing? Surely you’re not going to sleep in that swag tonight?’

His eyes glittered with a strange light. "I don’t have much option.’ Without another word, he hefted the heavy swag onto his shoulder and marched to the cottage.

"Wait, Noah. What are you talking about?’

"Come and see for yourself.’

Puzzled, she followed him into the small timber cottage nestled within a grove of bottlebrush trees. The interior was neat, functional and homely, with old fashioned cream linoleum flooring and pretty floral curtains at the window.

A double bed with a white waffle-weave spread dominated the large room. A small kitchenette took up the far corner and a door led off to the bathroom. Kate looked for another door. "Is this all there is?’

"This is it.’

"But-‘’ She watched as Noah set his swag on the floor and her pulse went haywire. "Do the Jamesons think we’re married?’

"They obviously assume we’re a couple.’

"I-‘I didn’t think to explain to Annie.’

"It’s not exactly something you rush to point out when you first meet people, is it? "How do you and, oh, by the way, I’m not sleeping with this woman".’ His tone was dry as dust, but his eyes betrayed amusement.

As she did with her breakup with Derek, Kate handles herself well when she and Noah finally do have “The Talk.” When he pulls back and gives Kate a lot of mumbo jumbo about her needing a man who can give her what she wants, Kate doesn’t crumble in a heap, she doesn’t beg or plead. Kate pulls herself together and with grave dignity ushers Noah out the door.

And bully for Kate that when Noah does come to his sense and runs after her, she doesn’t fly into his arms but rather asks hard questions about what wrought his change of mind. She’s been disappointed before and isn’t going to let her heart be stomped flat again. I like that she insists on being sure about the reason behind his complete about face.

I even like the epilogue though it’s filled with fertility. It’s not overly sweet, states what you want us to know about these characters and then gets it over. Good job. B


This book can be purchased in mass market from Harlequin or ebook format from the Sony Store and 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.


  1. wendy
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 14:55:43

    Station not ranch. Droving cattle not cattle drive. Cow Cocky not cattleman. I think Harlequin might have internationalised the language. I couldn’t read this.

  2. Natalie
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 15:25:48

    Just thinking the same thing, Wendy. That language would drive me insane.
    If not cow cocky, grazier or stockman at least. My parents have a cattle property (not a station – it’s not that big) and I have never ever heard anyone who owns cattle use the words ranch, cattle drive or cattleman.

  3. Sami
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 18:26:45

    It’s true Harlequin does tend to internationalise the language, which grates on an Aussie. It would be nice if more authentic Australian terms were used, and I certainly think romance readers worldwide are smart enough to figure out what they mean without clunky explanations within the text. But apparently the powers that be don’t agree..?

    Having said that Barbara Hannay is a fav author of mine and I overlook that kind of stuff so I can sink into and enjoy her books. She writes interactions between characters that ring true to me, the men are men and the women aren’t simpering idiots. This sounds like another winner, but I’m not in the mood to read about ‘ranchers’ at the moment :).

  4. she reads
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 18:58:45

    while disappointing to hear that the language is internationalized vs using proper terms for country it’s in… that wouldn’t prevent me from reading a good book.

    Sounds like this is a solid tale – I’m putting it on my think about list.

  5. Jayne
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 19:59:43

    Well, bummer. And here I thought I was getting authentic speech from an Australian author. Thanks for the language lessons ladies.

  6. Barbara Hannay
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 20:44:36

    As this review was addressed to me, I thought it might be OK if I respond. (I hope that’s the case)
    Firstly, Jayne, thank you so much for taking the time to post a review of my book. I really appreciate the thought you’ve put into your response and I love that you liked so much about the characters and the setting.

    I was surprised that the language issue is such a stumbling block for readers. I haven’t read the US edition, although I’ve skimmed through it and I can’t actually find the words ranch or rancher anywhere. I’ve seen certainly never use them. I’d be surprised if they’re on the page…
    I must admit to using cattleman, however, (along with stockman and grazier where appropriate) and I honestly believe cattleman is part of the Oz lingo.

    As for droving — I researched the ins and outs of this thoroughly with my grazier cousin, who owns a property in the area where the book’s set, and you can be assured the details are authentic. I’m proud of keeping the Aussie flavour in my books and it’s really great to know that readers (and reviewers) appreciate and expect a dinky-die flavour. Thanks again for discussing this book and this topic.

  7. Sami
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 22:35:39

    Am I right in thinking you used the term ‘ranch’ in your review Jayne, but that it wasn’t used in the book itself? Not a criticism at all, but it might clear up the issue of language internationalisation and whether it actually occured here or if it’s all just a big misunderstanding. Ranch is a term that is never used in Australia, to my knowledge, but I must confess that I couldn’t comment one way or another on the other terms discussed. I’m an urban girl myself, so take these things at face value when I read books with an outback setting. I’ve not had a problem before with Harlequin books set in Australian cities as far as language and terminology is concerned. I don’t know if that’s because there is no de-Aussie-ing (I’ve coined a term) going on or if I just didn’t notice.

    None of this, as I said, is a stumbling block for me when it comes to enjoying a good book. I’m glad you stopped to comment Barbara, so I can gush about how much I love your books. Adopted: Outback Baby was one of the best books I read last year, and it so deserves it RITA nomination. I think your characters are always down to earth and the conflicts between them believable.

    Alright, gush over.

  8. Jayne
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 05:09:40

    Sami, I was thinking about this last night and it just might be mainly me using these terms automatically. I certainly know the term station as used to describe such an entity and I remember (from the book) graziers to describe cattleman plus ute instead of what we’d term an SUV. There were other, to me, Aussie sounding words, terms, slang which lead me to say what I did about the Aussie flavor of the book.

    I hope my review hasn’t negatively affected anyone’s decision to try the book on it’s own merits.

  9. Jayne
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 05:16:24

    Barbara, please feel free to comment on any reviews, posts, etc here. I love hearing from the authors I review and have learned much from their responses. From all this, I’m learning a lot about Aussie speech! Which is a good thing as I enjoy seeing regional flavors retained in books published in the US. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Barbara Hannay
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 15:53:09

    I enjoy regional flavours, too, Jayne. Love books set in southern USA, for example.
    I’ve had conversations before with American writers about the differences between your cowboys and our ringers.
    As the Harlequin Romance books are first edited in London, I think a lot of the regional flavour is retained, which seems to be a good thing all round. Thanks again.
    And thanks to Sami. I’m so pleased you enjoyed Adopted:Outback Baby. It’s early morning here and your gush is a great way to start the day.

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  12. Cindy
    Apr 19, 2009 @ 15:29:39

    I’m going to have to see if I can find this. I had sworn off Harlequins except for the Intrigue line simply because the hero is always a billionaire. There can’t be that many billionaire’s out there. I’d rather about a regular guy, like a mechanic or even sheep station in Australia. How refreshing. It sounds really good.

  13. Jayne
    Apr 19, 2009 @ 17:34:20

    Well, Noah is land and cattle rich but cash poor – hence the cattle droving to get them to market before the drought makes them lose too much weight. But he’s not a dark gazillionaire, tossing cash around and treating Kate like shit until the end of the book. ;)

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    Apr 20, 2009 @ 19:29:10

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