(Opposites Attract in the Outback): Rain Dance by Karen Wood

(Opposites Attract in the Outback): Rain Dance by Karen WoodRain Dance by Karen Wood
on 1st September 2014
Pages: 304
'You should come to the drought-relief fundraiser,' Kaydon said to Holly. 'It's a big fancy ball, heaps of fun.' Boy, could this girl use some fun. And some rump steak.Holly shook her head.Kaydon gave up. Trying to make her smile was like doing a rain dance. There were clouds and rumblings, and a sprinkle here and there. But no amount of fancy footwork was going to make it happen for real.Holly Harvey doesn't want to move to Gunnedah, far from her friends and her home near the beach. And she's a vegetarian, so living on a beef property, with cattle yards, polo ponies and pig-shooting, makes it even worse. She and Kaydon are worlds apart - until a fight breaks out at the fundraising ball.Another addictive romance from the author of Jumping Fences.

The country is in Kaydon’s blood. As a fifth generation cattle farmer, he was born knowing that some day he would be expected to run the property. But his lack of say in his own future has him feeling trapped. When his father finds a business partner and buys a new property, Kaydon is sceptical. The drought has been making farming more difficult and Kaydon can’t quite work out why they are expanding when the rains still haven’t come and there is less food than ever for the cattle.

Holly’s family are also feeling the financial effects from the current economy. When the bank took their house, they were left with not a lot more than the clothes on their backs. Moving from a place near the beach to the middle of nowhere isn’t Holly’s idea of fun but with money being so tight her dad can’t say no to a few months work building a house on Kaydon’s father’s new property. Holly doesn’t eat meat and finds country life brutal and at times barbaric. Kaydon is a symbol of everything Holly isn’t. But when times get tough, Holly realized that maybe they aren’t so different after all…

Before reading Rain Dance I only knew two things about Gunnedah NSW. The first is it’s where supermodel Miranda Kerr is from. And secondly there is a big agriculture exhibition there each year. Despite (or perhaps because of) not knowing very much about the country, I loved reading Kaydon and Holly’s story in Rain Dance – especially the outback setting. It is one thing hearing about the drought on the news and quite another to be reading about it from characters experiencing the effect of the lack of rain first hand. In Rain Dance, Karen Wood has given us a story which not only entertains but educates about just how hard things are for those living in the country.

There are so many things I loved about Rain Dance. I thought the characters were great. Holly is 15 and at that point in life where she’s depended on by her family but at the same time treated like a child. She has no say in her life about where they live or what they do but has to look after her younger sister and make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear and food to eat. Kaydon is almost Holly’s opposite with him spending most of his year at boarding school and free from most family responsibilities. His father doesn’t depend on him for a thing and Kaydon wishes to be taken seriously with regards to running the property. Despite their differences, I thought they were a great match for each other. His direct and down to earth country ways meshed well with her green and hippy ideals.

Most of the events in this book occur within a one week period but the pace worked perfectly for the story. From Holly’s arrival in Gunnedah to the ball and the events afterwards – it never felt rushed but instead everything happened at speed which felt right for the characters. I enjoyed the situations Ms Wood put her characters in and was surprised at how much character growth we could see in such a short time. I especially loved Eva’s role in the later part of the novel.

Rain Dance was a great book with realistic characters facing real life problems. From family relationships to financial ruin, this novel covers a lot of ground. The romance was wonderfully paced and a clean read for anyone wanting something which would suit a younger audience. I loved the setting with the outback being such a prominent feature in this book and will definitely be reading more by Karen Wood in the future.


Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy. 

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