Series: Porter Sisters #5
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing on March 11th 2022
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At a crossroads in her life, Sandra Porter knows she must find the courage to find her true self. She has lost her husband in tragic circumstances, and seen each of her adult children overcome adversity. Deciding it’s time to push her boundaries, she makes a booking to trek the Larapinta Walk across the centre of the remote Northern Territory.
World renowned nature photographer, Graysen Hughes has come to the outback seeking solace after the death of his wife. Always a loner, Graysen isn’t happy when the tour guide insists on the participants walking in pairs. At least Sandra Porter is quiet and keeps to herself.
After a suspicious accident and the sudden disappearance of their guide, the group struggles on, but then another accident occurs. It soon becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want them to complete the trek. Without any means to call for help, Graysen and Sandra flee into the bush in an attempt to stay safe.
Can they survive the wilderness in the heat and the rugged conditions, and can they both keep their hearts intact as they learn to rely on each other?
Annie Seaton’s landscapes of the Australian wilderness have been such a draw for me going into her books. Having her write about the Larapinta trail and all the otherworldliness it can offer to a city-dweller makes this part of the book an amazing read.
I’ve followed Seaton’s Porter sisters books on and off and Sandra’s story caps it all off, though I’ll admit that the sisters’ stories have long slipped my mind. ‘Larapinta’ is good on its own but there are a lot of catch-up chapters of what happened in previous books–more so if you’d like to catch up on Sandra’s large family and how they’ve gotten on after their own stories.
A large source of frustration here however, was the number of open-ended questions that I was left to wonder about after the book’s climax. So focused was the entire story on Sandra and Greyson’s feelings and experience with some deep third person POVs mainly confined to these two that the larger mystery isn’t exactly unravelled for the reader: what really happened to Andrew after the rescue? What exactly was the contract kill about and who were the pair responsible for sparking it all off?
We’re given speculative questions and answers but no clear resolutions, with Seaton choosing to put the spotlights on Sandra’s daughters (I did skip those chapters as they felt like a domestic distraction that I wasn’t too interested in pursuing) rather than drawing an overarching plot around the paid assassination and the collateral damage that followed during the hike itself.
The budding romance between an older couple also seemed to be just that: something shy that we witness over the course of a few days, heightened by the remoteness of the location and the sudden danger then falling flat when there is a sudden skip a few years into the future where Sandra and Greyson are suddenly settled into their HEA.
So this turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag in the end: engrossing because of the Larapinta trail and the suspense, but also disappointing because of the lack of development in that very area, yet with a definitive confirmation that romance isn’t just for the young.