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Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 29th May 2015
Storm Clouds by Bronwyn ParryStorm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Goodabri Series, #2
Published by Hachette Australia on January 13th 2015
Pages: 356
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four-stars

National Parks ranger Erin Taylor loves her job, is falling for her colleague, Simon, and is finally leaving her past behind . . .
Until a woman is murdered. But the victim is not just any woman – she’s Simon’s wife, Hayley. The wife he’s never mentioned. The wife he’s not seen in fourteen years. On the edge of the national park the alternative lifestyle ‘Community of Bliss’ denies knowledge of Hayley, but Simon and Erin suspect otherwise. Erin will have to draw on all her old skills – deception, lying, cheating – to gain the trust of its members and discover their secrets.
As Simon uncovers shocking details about the reclusive group, Erin is drawn further into their midst and finds a web of lies, decades old – and comes face-to-face with the charismatic, manipulative, dangerous leader who will let nothing and no-one stand in his way. On the wrong side of a river in flood that has become a lethal torrent, Erin and Simon must race to expose the truth and prevent a tragedy . . .

When Simon Kennedy returns after 2 months away from his duties, finding his dead wife in his house sets a series of events in motion that’s beyond his control, and jeopardises his growing affection for his colleague and friend, Erin Taylor. But because he has played his cards so close to his chest, the revelations about Simon’s past career and marriage can only come as a shock and a betrayal to Erin. Thrown deep into an investigation involving sinister cultish practices, Erin and Simon find themselves battling demons of a past they’d rather keep buried.

Storm Clouds is a chilling but wonderful metaphor for the building tension, and although it takes a rather predictable narrative route, Brownyn Parry weaves a tight and drawn-out thriller in the Australian bush. The romance takes a back seat as always – even though Erin’s and Simon’s needs are more drawn out than all the other characters in Ms. Parry’s novels – where the RST is almost a disappointing afterthought meant to mollify female readers after the heaps of sexual tension that runs through the pages. Ms Parry’s characters however, are memorable in their own right: steady, mature…and so very committed to whatever cause that they’ve given themselves to.

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending given the cascade of events after the climax (it’d be unrealistic after all, to expect all loose strings to be tied up), but I suppose the promise of ‘we’ll deal with it as it comes’ is as good as it gets with a Brownwyn Parry novel.

four-stars

Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 21st July 2014
Darkening Skies by Bronwyn ParryDarkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Dungirri #3
Published by Hachette Australia on September 10th 2013
Pages: 368
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five-stars

Award-winning investigative reporter Jennifer Barrett never planned to return to Dungirri, the dying town she’d escaped at seventeen. But the shock resignation and startling revelations of local Federal MP Mark Strelitz have reopened the police investigation into the long-ago accident that killed her cousin, and Jenn is determined to find the truth, even if it proves that the close friend of her youth has become just another politician with a convenient case of amnesia.
For eighteen years, the hole in Mark Strelitz’s memory has concealed the truth: that he was the driver of the car in which Paula Barrett died. The investigation was corrupt, another man framed and sent to prison, and now Mark needs to set things right, whatever the personal cost.
But as Jenn and Mark ask questions about the old crime, new crimes occur; the murder of witnesses, the destruction of evidence. Despite the risks, neither of them can give up their search for answers but the further they delve into the district’s seedy past, the more questions they find – and the more danger. Someone wants the past to remain buried, and those investigating it to be stopped – permanently.

I’ve looked forward to reading Mark’s story for some time and after this, I’m convinced that Bronwyn Parry can do no wrong – especially on the mystery/crime front.

As usual, the suspense far outweighs the romance bit, which is a thin, loose thread of teenage lovers reunited as adults deftly woven into a deepening mystery surrounding Mark’s sudden resignation after a life-defining event that happened 18 years ago. Held back by not-too-pleasant memories and issues that stretch farther than their own insecurities, Jenn’s and Mark’s burgeoning relationship is toe-curling, delicious and painful to read. There’s plenty of their hyper-awareness of each other given their complicated history but the fulfilment of their passion seems to pass us by, briefly mentioned by Parry in a short love scene in the closing pages of the book.

I’ve always loved Parry’s male leads and Mark is really not too different from the other heroes in her books – masculine, principled, effortless with words and so multi-faceted that I’ve (un)consciously used them as benchmarks for assessing other romantic leads. Jenn is no pushover either; her tendency to run scared and over-question issues, while annoying at times, is at least clearly acknowledged and compensated for in the ending.

five-stars

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 22nd June 2014
Dead Heat by Bronwyn ParryDead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Goodabri Series #1
Published by Hachette Australia on March 27th 2012
Pages: 352
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five-stars

National Parks Ranger Jo Lockwood is often alone in the wilderness, and she likes it that way – until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered.
Detective Nick Matheson’s new posting to the north-west of New South Wales is supposed to be an uneventful return to normal duties and a normal life. He knows organised crime from the inside out and suspects that the victim in the camping ground is not an isolated murder.
Jo is committed to helping the investigation but she has seen the killer’s face and now she’s at risk. Nick’s determined to protect her but as the body count starts mounting, his past and present collide, threatening the people he cares about most.
Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by hunters who can’t afford to fail, Nick and Jo will need to trust each other completely, and use all their skills and knowledge in order to survive.

Dead Heat is Bronwyn Parry’s latest undertaking apart from her Dungirri series and a very engaging read despite the narrative and structural similarities – murder, police corruption, organised crime’s shady activities – that drive the plots of her other books. While Parry’s obvious love of the unique Australian rural landscape shines through very clearly in every book that she writes, the biggest draw for me are her characters, who are principled, somewhat tortured but rational enough to put the foibles of the stereotypical romance types to shame.

In Dead Heat, we’ve Detective Nick Matheson and National Park ranger Jo Lockwood whose paths cross after a grisly find in the bush. The slow burn between them was skilfully and realistically handled but I came away feeling like I didn’t know Jo as well as Nick, apart from a defining accident that has largely shaped her wary stance towards commitment and relationships. Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate that Nick and Jo don’t exhibit any of the stereotypical behaviour that I’ve come to associate with romances – sudden, overwhelming, jealousy, over-protective and possessive behaviour, senseless and brainless females.

five-stars

Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 16th June 2014
Dark Country by Bronwyn ParryDark Country by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Dungirri, #2
Published by Hachette Australia on September 1st 2009
Pages: 400
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four-stars

Most people in the small town of Dungirri have considered Morgan ‘Gil’ Gillespie a murderer for eighteen years, so he expects no welcome on his return. What he doesn’t expect is the discovery of a woman’s tortured body in the boot of his car, and new accusations of murder.
Wearied by too many deaths and doubting her own skills, local police sergeant Kris Matthews isn’t sure whether Gil is a decent man wronged by life, or a brutal criminal she should be locking up. But she does know that he is not guilty of this murder – because she is his alibi . . .
Between organised crime, police corruption, and the hatred of a town, Gil has nowhere to hide. He needs to work out who’s behind the murder before his enemies realise that the one thing more punishing than putting him back in prison would be to harm the few people he cares about.
Kris is determined to help him, but will their search for the truth make her the next target?

The spotlight falls on Morgan Gillespie and Kris Matthews – a supporting character in the first book – this time around and we’re thrown deep into complex issues surrounding witness protection, the limits of law enforcement, organised crime and its spillover into the rural parts of Australia.

I dove straight into Bronwyn Parry’s second book in the Dungirri series as soon as I got hold of my copy and while I didn’t like it as much as I did her first, there was pretty good round storytelling and a fantastic build-up that should be present in the mystery/crime/thriller genre.

Ms Parry has become one of my most-liked authors and I can’t wait to get to Mark’s story in the third book.

four-stars

As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 5th June 2014
As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn ParryAs Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Dungirri, #1
Published by Hachette Australia on January 1st 1970
Pages: 356
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five-stars

As Darkness Falls is set in the isolation of a small town on the edge of the New South Wales outback. Haunted by her failures, country police officer Detective Isabelle O'Connell is recalled to duty by Detective Alec Goddard to investigate the abduction of yet another child from her old home town.
With the killer playing a game of cat and mouse and targeting Bella, they have only days in which to find the girl alive, but they have very few clues, a whole town of suspects, and a vast wilderness to search. For Bella, this case is already personal; for Alec his best intentions to keep it purely professional soon dissolve. He starts to think of the missing child as if she were his own, and his anguish over Bella’s safety moves beyond the just his concern for a colleague. Their mutual attraction leaves them both vulnerable to their private nightmares – nightmares that the killer ruthlessly exploits.

Gorgeous writing, strong, unwavering characters (that aren’t bastard Neanderthals or too stupid to live), and a murder plot that kept me on the edge of the seat throughout. The slow burn between Alec and Bella was mesmerising to read as the pages went by, making me wish for more of this special brand of intensity between them. Even after I finished the book, I was left wondering about the both of them, hoping for more than just a glimpse of what their HEA might be.

five-stars
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