Author: Bronwyn Parry
Hachette RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Australian author Bronwyn Parry has a real knack for building up tension in her romantic suspense novels, and her latest book, Storm Clouds, is a terrific example. There’s plenty of romantic tension between her two leads as they set aside their attraction while a murder is investigated, and even more tension as the investigation reveals its secrets.
Set deep in the Australian countryside, with a National Park as its backdrop, the suspense is kickstarted early, when National Park rangers Erin Taylor and Simon Kennedy discover a woman’s body in Simon’s house. An Army Reservist, Simon has been away for a couple of months and this is the first time he’s set foot in his home since he was called up for service. In a greater shock, he realises that the woman is his wife, Hayley, who he hasn’t seen in fourteen years. He’s also never mentioned her to Erin. As the husband, Simon is the first the police suspect, but Erin is convinced of his innocence; together the two must uncover the secrets behind Hayley’s alternative lifestyle, and expose a manipulative cult leader.
A web of lies, a dangerous cult leader, a commune on the edge of the park, and an encroaching storm adds up to an exciting and interesting storyline. Throw in the simmering attraction between Erin and Simon that’s about to reach boiling point, and there’s tension galore. The story moves at a fluid, fast pace and keeps white-knuckled readers turning pages all the way. The romance is somewhat secondary to the action around the characters, but the promise of a happy ending is maintained throughout. This sample is about half-way through:
She stepped forward again, lifted her head to his and kissed him on the mouth, no fleeting brush of the lips but a promise, brief and hungry and passionate, that almost demolished his reserve. And then she turned and walked into her bedroom, closing the door behind her.
The bedroom scene, when it happens, is beautifully put. Parry conveys plenty of passion, but leaves some mystery. I like that. The lead characters work well together – I had no trouble picturing them together and wanting all the hurdles in their way to clear. The conflict keeping them at arms’ length is also believable, with unfinished business and a desire to do things right adding to the outside events.
Storm Clouds also demonstrates Parry’s skill at conveying her love for the wild places of Australia, mixing plenty of description into the narrative to paint a beautiful but forbidding landscape. Her brand of rural fiction is darker, less rosy than many of her rural fiction counterparts, with her remote locations adding to the restless tension. In Storm Clouds, the weather is used to great effect, creating an atmospheric build-up that promises to wreak havoc.
If you’re a lover of romantic suspense, put Storm Clouds and other books by Bronwyn Parry on your to-read list.
Available from good bookstores and Hachette Australia. My copy was courtesy of Hachette.
Bookish treat: I made some no-sugar biscuits from dates, coconut and a smidgen of raw honey. So tasty!