I've always had a fondness for Australia, and it is a goal in my life to travel there someday. I attribute this to having read Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day about a million times in my childhood, and to reading romances by such talented Australian authors as Amanda Doyle, Kerry Allyne, and Margaret Way for the past twenty years.
Margaret Way has over 80 books in print; all with a few things in common: glorious scenery, strong characters, and a powerful style of writing that keeps the reader turning the pages to see how it will end. Mail Order Bride is written in the same vein.
Matthew Carlyle is the illegitimate son of one of Australia's most powerful cattlemen. Never having been recognized by his father, Matt and his mother struggled to survive throughout his childhood. When Matthew was old enough, he worked in cattle ranching, ultimately bought his own small outback station, and the two finally had a home of their own.
Now, years after his mother's death, the station has become successful. He's ready to settle down, find a wife, and start a family. Knowing what it's like to not have a complete family, he truly wants a mate that he can share all aspects of life with. However, he lives out in the middle of the rain forest – however can he meet the right woman? He decides on the tried and true method used in previous generations: a mail order bride.
Cassie Stirling was born into a family of wealth and power. She's had everything her heart desires. Everything, that is, but the love and attention of her parents. She was raised by a nanny and shipped off to boarding school at a very early age, and wants nothing more than a husband and family of her own. She meets up with Matthew by chance when vacationing, and they are instantly attracted to one another. She learns of his advertisement for a wife, and applies for the job.
Matthew is adamantly against the idea. He is illegitimate, far out of her social class and income, and even worse – her parents are friends with his father. Their desire for one another is too strong to ignore, though, so they decide to spend some more time together at Matthew's station, with a chaperone. If their feelings remain the same after a few weeks of isolation in the outback, then they will marry.
Margaret Way's unique and skillful style of writing has sort of an urgent quality, that draws the reader in. She can put more sexual tension into a tame foot-rubbing scene in a Harlequin Romance than many authors of the more "sensual" lines put into a sex scene. I was drawn into this story from the beginning. The characters were interesting and well-drawn, and I wanted to know that their story would have a happy ending. The descriptions of the outback and the rain forest were vivid enough that I could easily see them in my mind.
Had my credit limit been as expansive as my imagination, I would have called a travel agent then and there, and booked a trip to Australia.