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Aussie Book Review: Bridie’s Choice by Karly Lane

Bridie's Choice

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC provided by publisher, Allen & Unwin

The Blurb

“Bridie Farrell and Shaun Broderick come from opposite sides of the tracks. But unlike Bridie’s family, who are perennial strugglers, the Brodericks are the wealthy owners of Jinjilu – one of the most prestigious properties in their local district.


All her life Bridie has longed to leave the small town she grew up in. But time after time family responsibilities have kept her anchored there. Meanwhile, Shaun’s dream of taking over the management of Jinjulu is dashed by his dictatorial father who tries to rule Shaun’s life both on and off the farm.


The Brodericks are dismayed when Shaun falls in love with ‘that Farrell girl’, whom they deem unsuitable. And they don’t just make their feelings clear to Shaun but to Bridie as well.
Faced with a choice, Bridie must decide whether to turn her back on her heart or her dreams in order to make the biggest decision of her life…”

Overview
Bridie Farrell is on the brink of finally being able to say goodbye to Tooncanny to follow her own dreams – well, that is, if she can get her sixteen-year-old brother Luke to finish his schooling and make it into the army before his so-called “friends” get him into trouble!
Beneath the tough veneer is a strong determination to shrug off the cloak of small town syndrome and, thanks to her questionable family history, Bridie feels that if she remains in Tooncanny she will never be taken at more than face value. Whilst the responsibility of raising her little brother has fallen on her young shoulders due to unforeseen family circumstances, and she takes those responsibilities seriously, Bridie yearns to live her own life and make her own choices and therefore doesn’t need any distractions to keep her from obtaining her ultimate goal – and this includes getting involved with Shaun Broderick.
After placing himself in self-imposed exile following a family tragedy of his own, Shaun Broderick is back in town and although it’s been seven years, he’s forgotten neither Bridie nor their past disastrous encounter. Son of the wealthy owners of Jinjulu, he’s back to claim his inheritance and prove a point to his father. With his brooding good looks hidden under the brim of an Akubra and an amazing body that would be a positive endorsement for RM Williams jeans, he attempts to make amends for past transgressions and befriends Bridie who, admittedly, is not quite sure of his intentions but hesitantly accepts his advances.
Shaun’s family, like Bridie’s, is rather dysfunctional, albeit on a different level. Whilst Bridie’s family shame is constantly bandied around town, the Broderick family have capably managed to hide behind a façade of normality. With a stuck-up mother who is unable to get past the death of a child and an arrogant father living with the guilt of past actions, they have other ideas for Shaun’s future.
Having made Shaun aware from the start about her intentions of pursuing her dreams, the responsibility of Luke now having come to an end and bridges slowly being mended with her own father, we see Bridie’s inner turmoil begin when Shaun’s parents’ actions and words quite capably force her to realise that she is not good enough for their son, making her all the more determined to leave Tooncanny behind and become the master of her own destiny.
Shaun quite frankly doesn’t care too much for his parents’ opinions on the company he keeps but with a secret weaving a dark thread through his family and a confrontation on the horizon, we see him attempting to persuade Bridie to change her mind – only trouble is, will he be able to stand up to his domineering family, thereby proving to her that she means more than a family inheritance?
My Thoughts
This book has been on my “to be read” list for some time now and I’m so glad that I finally got there. Having never previously read one of Karly Lane’s novels before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so let me just start out by saying that in my opinion, any author who is able to elicit emotions ranging from laughter and anger to tears and joy from their readers, has the great gift of writing with emotional depth, and Karly quite capably proves this in the way she has drawn her characters.
Two sub-characters who stuck out are Luke and Phoebe and I thought they deserved a special, although minor, mention.
Luke, I could have throttled and whilst I now await the teenage years of my two children with angst and trepidation, thanks to Karly, I was so excited that things took a turn for the better.
Phoebe paints a tragic picture and with her fast becoming the black sheep of the family she’s not gaining any supporters with the way in which she treats other people.
May I also just take a moment to say that I felt there was more to the stories of Luke and Phoebe and, if the author doesn’t mind me saying so, I think there could be another two novels in the making!
A heart-warming story of love in the midst of adversity, hope in times of despair and the discovery that the choices we think we should make don’t always work out to be what is best for us!
With a fast-pace, great tension, well-developed characters and a thread of intrigue weaving its way through, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and I look forward to reading Ms Lane’s other novels, North Star (which I already have on my shelf) and Morgan’s Law, as well as the romantic suspense novels she writes under the pseudonym Karly Blakemore-Mowle.
My thanks goes to the publisher, Allen & Unwin as well as The Reading Room, for providing me with a hard copy of Bridie’s Choice for review.
A Bit About the Author
Karly Lane lives on the beautiful Mid North Coast of NSW in Australia. A certified small town girl, she is most happy in a little town where everyone knows who your grand parents were. She writes women’s fiction – everything from romantic suspense to family sagas and life in rural Australia.
A wife and mother of four children, working part time as a pathology collector by day, she manages to squeeze in her writing whenever and however she can. She is a proud member of the RWA Australia.

Bridie’s Choice is the fourth book I have read for the 2013 Australian Women Writers’ Challenge.

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