The Outback Bridal Rescue by Emma Darcy
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars
This was a pleasant surprise for me, as a reader. Emma Darcy is hit and miss for me, when it comes to Harlequin Presents. I often find myself alienated by a romance story that is too modern and overtly sophisticated, and doesn't touch me, when I read her stories. But, that is not the case with The Outback Bridal Rescue.
I like the prominent male point of view with Johnny's character. Johnny was an orphan, who never knew his father, and lost his mother at a very young age. He was abused as a foster child, and learned to keep people happy by turning on the charm. He got himself into trouble at the age of sixteen. As a result, he and two other boys were sent to Patrick Maguire's sheep station in the Outback. This turned out to be a life-changing event for Johnny, as he found a mentor, and honorary father in Patrick. He never forgot what Patrick did for him, and considered the sheep station a home away from home. When he gets word that Patrick died, he's devasted. It turns out that Patrick has left 49% of the financially-ailing sheep station to him in his will. The remaining 51% was left to Megan, Patrick's daughter, who despises him, for all intents and purposes. Yet, Johnny cannot allow that to stop him from doing his part to see that Patrick's legacy doesn't fade. He's determined to get Megan to accept his help, and to work with him to save the sheep station.
Megan fell deeply in love with Johnny as a very young girl. When he fails to be there for a very important moment in her life, she starts to believe that she doesn't matter to him, and the caring treatment she received from him was nothing personal, just part of his usual charm. She grows quite bitter towards him in the intervening years. When she finds out that her father left almost half the station to him, she feels betrayed. She's determined to do what she can to limit his involvement in the station.
This couple butt head initially, but they come to an understanding because of their mutual love for Megan's father and the station. They decide to be friends and to work together. But the night of Patrick's funeral, they ended up being more than that. As a result, Megan ends up pregnant, and Johnny insists on marriage. From this point, the story is about Megan coming to terms with her insecurity about herself and how she can fit in the life of the international celebrity and singer that Johnny has become. Johnny enjoys the fruits of his successes, but he never forgot the lessons that Patrick taught him. Deep down, family is the number one thing for him. He's torn, because he can see how the celebrity life aspects torture Megan, and he's ready to give it all up, for her. I liked that Megan showed some maturity, and was able to get past her insecurities, to encourage Johnny in his career.
As I said above, this was a deep story, with a lot to offer, emotionally. I liked both characters, finding them to be sympathetic. I felt bad for Megan that she was feeling so unwanted and inadequate, although Johnny never saw her as being either. I sympathized with Johnny in his feelings that Megan hated him, but he wasn't sure what he had done to cause her dislike. I wanted them to come to an accord, and to see if they could make things work between them. This story did touch me, and I liked the aspects of Johnny trying to integrate his professional persona with his life with Megan on the sheep station. In the end, he was really trying to find himself, and by the end of the story, he is able to do that. I also liked that Megan came to terms with her insecurity and was able to focus on being the supportive wife that Johnny needed, meeting him halfway, and accepting the love he had for her. This book had a good message about family and finding what you felt you could never have, and about love giving us the ability to compromise for the greater good.
Recommended read. Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.
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