Author: Annie Seaton

Whitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton

Whitsunday Dawn by Annie SeatonWhitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton
Published by Harlequin (Australia) TEEN/MIRA on 23rd July 2018
Pages: 384
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four-stars

When Olivia Sheridan arrives in the Whitsundays as spokesperson for big mining company Sheridan Corp, it should be a straightforward presentation to the town about their proposed project. But when a handsome local fisherman shows her what ecological impact the proposal will have, Olivia is forced to question her father's motives for the project.

Struggling with newly divided loyalties, Olivia is thrown further into turmoil when she is mistaken for a woman who disappeared more than sixty years before. When it becomes clear that Captain Jay is also keeping secrets, Olivia realises that there is more to these sunshine–soaked islands than she ever expected.

Seeking to uncover the truth, Olivia is drawn into a dangerous game where powerful businessmen will stop at nothing to ensure their plan goes ahead, even if that means eliminating her…

Against the epic Far North Queensland landscape, this is the story of two women, separated by history, drawn to Whitsunday Island where their futures will be changed forever.

‘Whitsunday Dawn’, set in the beautiful, otherworldly part of Northern Queensland, is so much more than the enemies-to-lovers trope undertaken by Annie Seaton when Olivia Sheridan tangles with Fynn James from the very start because of their conflicting agendas. Yet Olivia paths and Fynn’s paths cross in more ways than one, with the addition of a supposedly-delusional elderly woman who keeps seeing someone else from the past in Olivia’s face.

Seaton deftly handles two timelines and their contexts as she brings these seemingly unrelated things together—these can be chaotic and jarring nonetheless as the chapters slip between 2018 and 1942—and parallel developing relationships within as the story goes on. But even if the first shift to 1942 threw me off, it’s through this particular story (within a story) that Seaton revives an overlooked part of WWII that reached this remote region of Australia and those affected, while amping up the suspense as events in 2018 once again take the stage.

I liked Olivia/Fynn’s story as much as I was unwittingly drawn into Lil/Jack’s doomed one. But it’s all too-often that a particular timeline doesn’t end too well however, and Seaton’s moving portrayal of the tragedy of the pairing in history left me a blubbering mess.

‘Whitsunday Dawn’ closes on a bittersweet note—with the tacit acknowledgement that life, death and war can only leave scars and nostalgic wistfulness by the end of it all—but had me wishing nonetheless, that things still ended more happily.

four-stars

Diamond Sky by Annie Seaton

Diamond Sky by Annie SeatonDiamond Sky by Annie Seaton
Series: The Porter Sisters #3
Published by Pan Macmillan AU on June 26th 2017
Pages: 356
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four-stars

The Kimberley can be a haven for those who can stand the heat, but its isolated beauty can also be deadly, if you're not paying attention...

The remote Matsu diamond mine in the Kimberley is the perfect place for engineer Dru Porter to hide. Her insignificance in that vast and rugged landscape helps her feel invisible. And safe. Surely the terror she left behind in Dubai will never find her here.

Security specialist Connor Kirk knows from experience that beautiful women are capable of treachery. When he arrives at Matsu to investigate a diamond theft, he immediately suspects the reclusive but obviously capable Dru Porter. He knows she's hiding something.

As Connor's investigation deepens and Dru's past catches up with her, their instant, mutual dislike threatens to blind them to the true danger lurking in the mine, one which could leave them both at the mercy of the desert...

The Porter Sisters trilogy crept up on me in a way I never did quite expect. Annie Seaton’s gorgeous descriptions of aboriginal Australian land in the remote Kimberley have made these books as much about the surroundings as they are of the people and the protagonists. And Seaton’s stories are easy to get lost in, amid the suspense and the mystery that’s set in this unique, ancient region.

‘Diamond Sky’ works perfectly well as a standalone, focusing on Dru Porter, the youngest sister of the lot who had always wanted to find her own way in life, protected only by the detached, emotionless barrier that had formed after her father was murdered. Now working in Matsu Diamond mine, the arrival of a safety officer (who’s really a security investigator undercover) threatens to unearth a past she wants to escape.

I was immediately drawn in by the initial hostile relationship between Connor and Dru, since the former sets out to investigate the latter in a case of diamond theft and all evidence points to Dru as the guilty party. And in a story that spans several locations, the build-up is nonetheless slow going as Seaton throws up several red-herrings to lead you off the track that you’ve been sniffing about. But I couldn’t quite swallow all of them hook, line and sinker: Dru’s flight from Dubai and the reason for it is still sort of left as an open threat (though not as ‘severe’ as initially perceived) and the sudden transformation of the brash, abrasive loner Dru to the vulnerable woman suddenly prone to anxiety attacks and crying jags was jarring, as was the abrupt flip of the switch relationship change between her and Conner thereafter.

I guess I had expected more, especially as the threads that had all looked intertwined at first weren’t actually significantly related, and that was sort of a downer since I was hoping to read about a larger ‘conspiracy’ and an explosive climax that tied it all together.

That said though, ‘Diamond Sky’ is worth a read as are the rest of the Porter Sisters books—they’re all heavier on the mystery than the romance—if only for the very unusual setting and plot which got me out of commission for a good few hours.

four-stars

Dainetree by Annie Seaton

Dainetree by Annie SeatonDaintree by Annie Seaton
Series: The Porter Sisters #2
Published by Pan Macmillan AU on November 29th 2016
Pages: 326
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three-stars

The Daintree breeds survivors, those who can weather the storms, heat and floods that come hand-in-hand with its beauty. Doctor Emma Porter is one such survivor, dedicated to her patients and to preserving this precious land where she has made a home.
Emma's quiet life is disrupted when Doctor Jeremy Langford starts working at the hospital, bringing back painful memories: Jeremy was her first love and embodies all that she left behind in Sydney. Jeremy has demons of his own, however, and the tight-knit community of Dalrymple seems to promise the peace he has been looking for.
But while some come to the Daintree to find shelter, others are here to exploit the rainforest's riches. And they will stop at nothing to get their hands on its bounty.

I think the draw of this series is the very unique Australian bush-scape that Annie Seaton writes with such painstaking detail about, as well as the community life that’s hard but rewarding in so many ways. In fact, I’d say this book is more rural fiction with slight romantic elements than a straight out romance itself; the star of the book is the Australian environment in the north and the incredibly tough way of life that few people can relate to.

There’s a side dose of suspense and a case of wildlife trafficking as those who should be protecting the people and the national parks are found guilty of compromising them instead, but by and large, ‘Daintree’ feels very much like a loving tribute to those who live far from the cities and survive on grit, strong neighbourly bonds and the core services that support them.

The pace of the story unfortunately mirrors the setting in the bush and the pace of rural life : it’s slow at times and the second chance romance is merely brushed on when it comes to Em and Jeremy, whose connection seemed to be tainted by Em’s very judgemental attitude towards the latter after they ended badly 6 years ago. Characters sometimes veered towards the stereotypical and I actually thought the pairing needed more work – Em/Jem spent most of the book in a push-pull state that hurtled towards a rather rushed conclusion -, but mostly, this was an eye-opening read simply because of how different it was from most other books that have graced my desk.

three-stars