Review copy provided by publisher
Hachette, April 2013
Synopsis- Will escaping to Ryders Ridge help Dr Daniella Bell forget her past, or force her to confront it head on?
Shaken after a tragic incident in the city hospital where she worked, Daniella figures that the small north-west Queensland cattle town of Ryders Ridge is just the place to hide. Caring and dedicated, she quickly wins the trust of her patients, and the attention of handsome station heir, Mark Walker. As their relationship grows, Daniella begins to think she could make a new life for herself in Ryders. But country towns have their own problems.
Under the big outback sky, Daniella discovers that the local rumour mill can threaten both friendships and careers, and that like the city, Ryders Ridge also has secrets. Mark, too, is a complication – as good as they are together, how can a doctor maintain a practice and live on a cattle station?
Just as Daniella considers running away for a second time, a terrible accident forces her to face the secret she left behind in Brisbane, and risk losing Mark forever.
Review- Debut novel Ryders Ridge claims a solid position for Charlotte Nash in the rural lit genre in Australian fiction. With a sweet developing romance, small-town politics and a hero/ heroine that are both passionate and flawed it makes for a captivating read.
Daniella Bell has escaped the chaotic lifestyle as a doctor in a city hospital to a rural town in north-west Queensland known as Ryders Ridge. She undergoes a medical placement in the town’s clinic run by Dr Harris and experiences a slower pace of life even though her work keeps her consistently occupied. Daniella is dedicated to her work and has quite a reserved personality so it takes some time to settle into a small-town where everyone knows everyone, dinner parties are an expectation and it’s likely to run into patients at the local supermarket or pub. She befriends Jackie the clinic nurse and single mother who takes her under her wing and introduces her to the town.
Cattleman Mark Walker makes an early impression on Daniella; his masculine, calm presence is noted at the outset. Brought together by his father’s health issues and an incident in the Hospital, it quickly becomes clear there’s a mutual attraction. Mark comfortably pursues Daniella who after some hesitation does allow herself to develop feelings for Mark and a sweet, natural romance develops thereafter.
Even though not a lot happens plot-wise in the story- there are a lot of small town events and patient consultations- it felt like as a reader I was taken on journey. It was so refreshing to see a couple just have an attraction to each other, go on a couple of dates and then become official without any major setbacks. There was a natural evolution of their relationship, even though some inner conflict kept the reader on edge about the longevity of their budding romance. I thought Mark Walker was the perfect hero, the right combination of masculinity and a protective presence that makes Daniella feel safe but he’s also very open with his feelings, honest and thoughtful. Though, he’s not without his own flaws as he quickly falls in love with Daniella and plans out their future without consulting her. Daniella on the other hand is a little reserved, cautious and guarded in her relationship with Mark- traits that sometimes can make it difficult to connect with the protagonist- but I really warmed to her, she has an inner strength and professional demeanor but there’s also the lack of confidence in her role and the anxiety she gets in social situations that makes her seem more human.
I read Ryders Ridge over the weekend and I really didn’t want to put it down. Unfortunately I had a busy weekend and was in and out of the house constantly but even when I wasn’t reading it; it was the kind of story where the characters stay with you and I was wondering what was going to happen next. Nash concludes the story in a way that I felt was quite realistic and fitting for Daniella and Mark even if everything wasn’t all tied up perfectly.
Nash is definitely a debut author to watch and I look forward to seeing what else she has in store in the future.
Ryders Ridge can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge: