Review: Jacaranda by Mandy Magro

Title: Jacaranda

Author: Mandy Magro

Published: Penguin/Michael Joseph May 2012

Synopsis: At nineteen, Molly Jones has the world at her feet. Then one drunken night she falls into bed with Mark, a cowboy just passing through. By the time Molly realises she’s pregnant, Mark is long gone. Now, at twenty-six, Molly’s life is almost perfect. She’s the devoted mother of Rose, and a renowned horse trainer. She lives amid the beauty of Jacaranda Farm, surrounded by family and friends – none closer than hunky stockman Heath. But she’s still looking for the love of her life, and a father for Rose. When Mark stumbles back into her world, as charming as ever, Molly begins to hope for a future she’d long ago relinquished. But how will Mark react when he learns he’s a father? And could the man of Molly’s dreams be closer to home than she thinks? Read an Extract

Status: Read from May 16 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy the Publisher}

My Thoughts:

This is Mandy Magro’s second novel, drawing on her experiences of life on the land in Northern Queensland, and Jacaranda is a heartwarming contemporary rural romance with just a touch of drama to keep things interesting.

Despite having endured the tragic loss of her parents and her best friend, Jenny, in separate accidents, Molly Jones is content with her life at Jacaranda Farm with her grandparents and six year old daughter, Rose. Molly’s only regret is that Rose has never known her father, a charming cowboy that disappeared after their one night together, and she dreams of finding a loving partner and creating a stable family for Rose. When Molly recognises Mark at the local pub, playing with a band passing through town, she hopes that he will welcome the news he is a father, but decides to learn more about him first before revealing her secret.
Heath Miller, a station hand on Jacaranda Farm, is disappointed when Molly begins dating Mark. He has been hiding his feelings for Molly for months, unsure if she would even consider a future with him given his history with Jenny. Learning Mark is Rose’s father is a further blow but it gives Heath the incentive he needs to confess his love to Molly, hoping he will be the one who provides Molly and Rose with their ‘happily ever after’.
It is the complications of the romantic attraction between Molly and Heath that is the focus of the story, but Magro also explores what it means to be a family. Tragedy has already struck Molly twice before the novel begins but she is tested again within the book when a fire threatens the life of her daughter and herself.
I liked the characters of Jacaranda, Molly is a mature 26 year old who is raising her daughter while working as an accomplished horse trainer at her grandparent’s fruit and cattle farm. She is sweet and good-natured despite having experienced devastating loss, and you can’t help but want her, and her delightful daughter Rose, to find happiness. Fun loving Jade is Molly’s best friend and I found it interesting that Magro chose to make her a lesbian, which allowed her to briefly acknowledge homophobia in the bush. The station hands, Trev and Kenny, are typical Aussie larrikins as is Heath though, as the romantic lead, his character is afforded more depth. Mark, Heath’s rival for Molly’s affection, isn’t everything he seems and though I am not sure I agree with the twist Magro gave to his storyline, it does redeem his character somewhat.
The setting of of the novel is distinctly Australian, Magro accurately portrays the hard work of raising cattle and growing citrus fruit on Jacaranda Farm as well as the fun to be had at country community events like the rodeo and outdoor drive-in. Magro doesn’t shy away from Aussie colloquialisms which work in context of the story, and the occasional use of profanity doesn’t bother me, but I have to admit I found a lot of the dialogue slightly unnatural, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.

This is the first book I have read by this Australian author who is reportedly working on her third and fourth novels. The first, Rosalee Station was published in 2011. I enjoyed Jacaranda, finding it a quick, light romantic read with a satisfying ‘happy ever after’ ending, and I wish Mandy Magro success with it.

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About The Author

Mandy Magro lives on the family fruit farm in Dimbulah, Tropical North Queensland, with her husband, Drew, and her young daughter, Chloe Rose. She loves writing about the Australian outback and all the wonderful characters who live there, and her own many adventures on the land have made her the passionate country woman she is today.

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:16:40

    I think your review gives readers enough information to judge whether or not they would like this book. The plot sounds fine to me, but I don’t like bad language, although I concede it is pretty widely used, adds realism and aids in characterisation.

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  2. Tahlia Newland
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:36:11

    It’s good to see aussie books being talked about. I toured a lot in Queensland when I was a performer, so I can see the setting clearly. Like Margaret, I’m not keen on profanities, but I had to use some in my new YA novella because it wouldn’t be right of the character didn’t use them. I kept them to a minimum though.

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  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:52:24

    Yay for cowboys! I know what you mean about unnatural dialogue, though. I often find that it’s when authors are trying to write true-to-life dialogue that it begins to feel forced.

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  4. Judith
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:42:03

    I’m smiling at the cover! What’s this about the hat? Almost every other Australian book I see on your blog has a woman with a hat on the cover. Amusing. I assume you wear one too? 😉

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 22, 2012 @ 15:57:03

      LOL um no, but the hat which is known as an Akubra (actually a brand but used more generically) is popular in the ‘bush’ – sort of our equivalent of a cowboy hat and given the sun you do need one.

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      • Judith
        May 23, 2012 @ 02:58:16

        Ah, I learned something, never heard of an Akubra. Of course, a straw hat with flowers would do the job (of keeping the sun out) just as nicely? 🙂

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  5. The Australian Bookshelf
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:51:24

    You’ve given this a fair review Shelleyrae. I agree that it was a light and easy read, but you’re right the dialogue got to me a bit too.

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  6. mandymagro
    May 22, 2012 @ 07:42:27

    Thank you, for a lovely review 🙂

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  7. Karly Lane
    May 22, 2012 @ 15:55:37

    Don’t get me started on the hats Judith!!!! The publishers are branding rural lit with hats on covers- my poor old characters have never even worn a hat–not once! in any of my books but they still get a hat on the cover! 😀 I have begged for no hat on the next cover…we shall wait and see what happens (I’m not holding my breath though!) however- the covers have all been beautiful on all the rural lit girls, books and it makes up for the hats!

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  8. Trackback: Romance 2012: What’s being reviewed? | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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