Romance and suspense in the Australian Outback, Winnawarra has the backdrop for an intriguing book.
Winnawarra by Elizabeth M Darcy was the first book by this author I have read and I’d certainly be interested in checking out her other titles.
Winnawarra had a well-developed plot that moved along at a good pace. World building was very well done. Ms Darcy had a lovely way of describing the scenery and it was interesting to see them from Emily’s English perspective. Characters were very well developed both primary and secondary characters. The relationship between Doug and Emily was believable and very easy to go along with.
I did find Emily’s character a bit skittish. I didn’t like that she kept relying on Doug to keep her safe, and almost blamed him if something happened. I can understand her fear, especially being in an environment so very foreign to her and surrounded by strangers; but she just came across as a tad clingy and I would have like to have seen a bit more spunk from her. But that is a very small criticism; her behaviour in no way ruined what is an excellent story.
Now, I must confess that I did reach a point early in the book where I nearly put it away, never to pick it up again. As an Australian who has lived in country Australia I’m used to the rhythms and dialogue of the ‘bush’. I’ve noticed that some reviewers criticised the ‘old fashioned language’ used by even some of the younger characters. Well, that’s just how it is in the country. It is extremely common for men, if they have been brought up to respect women, to use a more courteous way of speaking. It’s not uncommon for a tipped hat and a nod as greeting. That’s just how it is, and to be honest, I love it! Similarly, speech patterns are often a bit slower. This is not an indication of intelligence; it’s just how it is. These idiosyncrasies are not universal, you’ll find many men who talk a million miles an hour and have a city style vocabulary; like everywhere else, everyone is an individual.
So what made me almost throw in the towel with this one? In the first six or so chapters I found the author went a bit overboard with the stereotypical Aussie lingo. I know she is trying to set the scene and make sure everyone knows it is Australia, not America; but still it’s a bit exaggerated. At first I thought it may have been from Emily’s POV where she was particularly sensitive to it as it would have been completely foreign to her; but no, it was just the author’s style. Luckily, it did settle down and the ‘lingo’ died away a bit. Speech did not lose its Australian authenticity, but it was dialled down to more normal levels. But what had me almost throwing in the towel was something so minor, but it really annoyed me.
In Australia, from the 1980s onwards the Australian government has run an advertising campaign regarding sun safety. For many years it centred on this gorgeous cartoon with the song “Slip, Slop, Slap” YouTube Clip this is iconic viewing in Aussie TV history, and was central to many childhood memories. Unfortunately, it was misused in the book. First, the slogan is rarely, if ever, used to refer to the putting on of sunscreen. It’s used more as a reminder for someone to “Slip (on a shirt), Slop (on sunscreen), and Slap (on a hat). But the deal breaker was that it was quoted incorrectly as “slip-slap-slop.” Blasphemy! Ok, so not quite that bad, but it was towards the end of the author’s overuse of Australian stereotypical dialogue and I guess it was just the icing on the cake!
Despite the quirks in language early in the book, I thoroughly enjoyed Winnawarra. It was a well done story, and I’ll admit I was tossing up between two possible suspects for the killer until the reveal towards the end of the book.
If you enjoy contemporary romances with a strong ‘whodunit’ theme set in the Australian Outback, I’d certainly recommend giving Elizabeth M Darcy’s Winnawarra a go.
Winnawarra is available for preorder from Amazon.