I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this fourth book in the Outback Brides of Wirralong series – a series written by a group of Australian authors. Emma, written by Kelly Hunter, features an opposites attract story as a daughter of the English aristocracy meets a cattle rancher from the Australian outback. It can be read as a stand-alone.
Lady Emmaline Greyson has never really belonged to anyone or any place. At the age of seven, her mother dropped her off at her father’s residence (per earlier contracted agreement) and rarely enters her life again. Her father (an earl), who is still bitter that Emma is not a boy, pays little attention to her besides criticizing her and dismissing her looks and intelligence. When Emma discovers a long-lost distant cousin in Australia, she goes to visit and finds a friend and supporter in her cousin Maggie. She also finds a man she can’t forget in Liam McNair.
Fast forward three years and Emma is returning to Australia. Her father has recently fired her from her job in his law firm for not marrying the latest in a string of lame suitors looking to enter the aristocracy and enjoy the influence of an earl. Australia has become Emma’s safe spot.
Lady Emmaline Greyson knew why she’d kept coming back to Australia…..To get away from her unforgiving family and try and eke out some small measure of independence in the hope that one day she’d become confident enough to make her great escape….to bask in uncomplicated warm welcome and acceptance.
Liam McNair couldn’t forget Emma either. She’s way out of his league but he keeps being charmed by her stories and funny non-sequiturs and he also sees the vulnerable, timid side of Emma.
When Max had mentioned [Emma] was flying in that morning, it had been no trouble whatsoever to swing by and catch her on her way out of the arrivals gate. He liked spending time with Lady Emmaline Charlotte Lewellyn Greyson, even if she did seem to think he spent time with her under sufferance. It was a mindset she afforded to everyone she met: that automatic assumption that people would think her not worthy or useful or easy-care enough to befriend. It was a problem.
Liam is only in Wirralong Station to pick up final supplies for the muster (cattle round-up) on his land – Red Rock Downs – and one final stock hand. Emma volunteers enthusiastically but Liam is not so sure. “It’s hot, dusty, occasionally heartbreaking work, No bathrooms, no showers, camp kitchen.” Emma is sure she can do it and do it well. Liam relents and the adventure begins.
Emma and Liam’s story is short at 149 pages but oh-so-satisfying. I loved Emma, with her quirkiness and timidity, right off the bat. She may have been raised by selfish parents but she’s loving and lovable. Liam’s background makes it hard for him to believe that a woman might choose him and the isolation of Red Rock Downs but Emma keeps showing up (which I admired). Liam is a romantic at heart and it’s fun to see him woo Emma in outback style. Emma is a delightful, satisfying read and I recommend it for anyone looking for some smiles and happy sighs!