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Zoe's Muster by Barbara Hannay
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Aug 25, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: arc-are, aussie-author, netgalley-reviews
Read from July 13 to 15, 2012 — I own a copy

An engaging story, Zoe's Muster doesn't stray far from familiar ground for Barbara Hannay, the award winning author of over 40 category romance novels published by Harlequin, blending romance and an Australian rural setting.

Zoe Porter is stunned to learn that a North Queensland cattleman, Peter Fairburn, is her biological father, not the high profile Brisbane politician who raised her. Against her mothers wishes, but agreeing to keep her secret, Zoe abandons her cupcake business and takes a temporary position as the stock camp cook at Mullinjim, the Fairburn's property, eager to learn more about her father and his family. Zoe expected cooking for half a dozen ringers over an open fire during muster would be challenging but not revealing her true reason for taking the position proves more difficult, especially under the scrutiny of Mac McKinnon.

Zoe's Muster is well plotted with a credible storyline and I like the way in which Hannay expands this story beyond her main protagonist. This is not just Zoe's story, her discovery, and her desire to learn more about her biological father, has implications for both the Porters and the Fairburns. Claire's relationship with her husband is already under strain when Zoe discovers the truth of her paternity and though her instinct is to protect her husband, who is standing for re-election, Claire's guilt proves to be a catalyst for change.
Virgina, Peter's wife, is impressed with Zoe and considers her a possible partner for her son, Luke, who makes his interest known. Obviously Zoe's secret precludes that relationship which creates some tense situations. When Zoe's identity is revealed Virgina feels betrayed which is magnified by her insecurities stemming from Peter's past relationship with Claire.

The characters of Zoe's Muster are credible and Zoe is a likeable protagonist. Her motivations are easily understood and she is a well developed character. I loved the scene in which she gets her own back on Julia in regards to the spider and admire her willingness to awake in the pre dawn hours to feed half a dozen ravenous men.
The romance between Zoe and Mac has its own challenges, aside from the secret Zoe is keeping. Mac is wary of Zoe at first simply because she is a city girl, reminding him of previous heartbreak, but he also suspects she is hiding something. There is for me the right amount of heat in this novel, smouldering looks and a passionate encounter or two.

While romance is at its core, Zoe's Muster combines an engaging story with appealing characters set in a wonderful landscape. I enjoyed reading Zoe's Muster and consider it another fine example of the growing rural fiction genre being published in Australia.

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message 1: by Bec (new) - added it

Bec this is another one i'm looking forward to reading - looks good

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