July 19, 2017 | Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley is published by Penguin. RRP $32.99, available now.
When her father falls ill, Willow Patterson is called home from University to take over the running of the family property, Patterson Downs. Running the place has always been her dream, and she has big plans to turn the cattle station to organic and sustainable practice.
As she is packing she stumbles upon her stash of unopened letters from Tom Forrest, her childhood best friend and manager of the neighbouring property, Quintilla. Willow has been putting off dealing with their falling out for a decade, but knows that she can’t any longer, not if she is going back for good.
The letters reveal the depth of the childhood misunderstanding, and her delay in reading them has compounded it further. A shaky rekindled friendship develops between the two on her return, with both keen to walk the tricky road into organic accreditation together. Tom is strong support to Willow, who is incredibly capable, smart and experienced but operating in an outback male dominated world of tradition and long held practice.
From the moment the story takes Willow home to the red earth of the property, there is a feeling of coming home, not just for Willow (or Banjo as she is affectionately called by Tom), but for the reader as well. It’s made all too easy to feel the dry and the heat of WA, or the charm of the hollow tree where Willow and Tom left messages to each other as children, or to imagine forking lightning on the horizon, the muster. Willow is also reunited with her two sisters, each very different, and their relationships with each other is another strength and very enjoyable to read.
Tom is steadfast and a gentleman in every respect and this is one of the reasons I really loved this novel. Sometimes in Rural Romance, I find the men caricatures of men, troubled and dark and brooding, sometimes mean and hard to fall in love with. Not so here. Tom is my kind of guy. In DEAR BANJO, we have a smart, capable woman who stays that way (even though she is figuring out a lot) and a strong, gentleman of a man who supports her rather than rules her, who loves her, unconditionally, exactly as she is.
A charming novel, with a touch of classic romance.
Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She lives in the Swan Valley wine region with her two daughters. She writes commercial fiction, crossover new adult/YA mysteries and paranormal. Sasha Wasley’s debut novel, The Seventh, was published in January 2015. Her first new adult paranormal romance series, The Incorruptibles, debuted in 2016.