Jun 8, 2010

Their Newborn Gift: an Antipodean Cowboy book

by Zana Bell

Reading: Souless - Victorian vampires with attitude.
Watching: BattleStar Galactica. Beautifully drawn, flawed characters
Listening to: Audio books!
Making me smile: Being home and not at work today.

He recognised the face. It was in the one photo he had kept of himself as a child.

Reilly Martin’s life is rewritten from the moment he sets eyes on Molly – the result of an unforgettable night five years earlier with Lea Curran, a beautiful girl he picked up in a bar one night. A girl who’d left the following morning without a word, leaving him feeling “cheap as a motel television.” Rodeo star Reilly, King of the Suicide Ride, had never been used like this before – he’s always the one who loves then leaves without a backward glance.

But now Lea is back to use him all over again. Molly is desperately ill with aplastic anaemia and will die without the DNA from a sibling’s cord blood. Lea’s proposal is both simple and insane. She wants to make another baby with him to save Molly’s life.

Lea is not prepared, however, for the ensuing obstacles nor for the hard bargain Reilly drives in return. He is determined to salvage something from the wreck of his superficially mega-successful life and with Lea’s arrival, he suddenly sees a way to do so. His counter proposal is every woman’s very worst nightmare but for Lea, no price is too high when it comes to saving her daughter.

Using up every last ounce of her considerable courage and pride, she accepts.

From the first scene when this impossible situation unravels, Their Newborn Gift, a Harlequin Romance, is a rattlingly great read. Reilly and Lea are both loners and with their fraught personal histories, neither is particularly well-equipped to play happy families – however much both secretly yearn for it. Reilly, consummate tamer of wild horses, has to win the trust of skittish Lea, while she must break through the sun-toughened layers of macho this guy shields himself in.

And between these two ornery characters is the miracle of Molly, whose elfin looks and valiant ways not only capture her father’s heart, but the reader’s heart too. The developing relationship between father and fragile daughter is touchingly portrayed.
Reilly and Lea have nine months to get to know each other, nine months to learn from each other but it seems it won’t be long enough for two such stubborn characters. Their attraction sizzles despite the bulletproof defences both have raised and the sensuality of writing scorches like the searing outback sun.

Which brings me to the setting. As a longtime Western fan, I was thrilled to discover there is clearly an Antipodean option these days. It has all the hallmarks of a great cowboy book; a harshly beautiful countryside, horses and, most importantly, rugged individuals who’ve learnt survival the hard way. Nikki has done a beautiful job of describing the Outback so vividly it lives like another character in the book. Even in damp, chilly New Zealand I could feel the heat seeping through to my bones.

Throughout the book, the air supercharged and electric right to up to the climax. I found myself switching off the light at night then sneaking it back on for just one more chapter! Way to go Nikki, it’s a cracker of a book.

And now I’m busy scouring the brochures for holiday deals to Western Australia J

Nikki’s book also got me thinking about the attraction of the cowboys. I’m a sucker for Louis L’Amour novels, Deadwood and Firefly which is really a western set in outer space. There’s something irresistible in the toughness of character, the frontier spirit etc. Besides, to my mind, there’s no hero quite as cool as a quick-thinking, slow-speaking, quick-draw cowboy. I even enjoy cowboy ballads!

Are there any other Westerns fans out there? What are your favourite books and movies? What’s the attraction for you? What about other genre preferences?


  1. Great review, Zana. It sounds like a fabulous book! I have to read it!

    I love love love Firefly! Cowboys and spaceships is an inspired combination! I've never watched Deadwood, but have heard great things about it. Must see if I can find it on DVD!

  2. Yeah, Nikki's book is great. The covers are very cool,too!

    I still can't believe they cancelled Firefly! Deadwood too was chopped down before its prime. Alas!

  3. I've read this and *loved* it. And, like Emily, I'm a huge Firefly fan.

    Thanks for the review, Zana!

  4. Thanks for sharing this fab review Zana. I've read this book too and its AWESOME!!! Loved the horses aspect and I'm not usually a horse gal. Molly is gorgeous too. I'm not usually a cowboy girl exactly but I'm a sucker for Aussie farmers.

  5. Hey Rachel and Rachael - how great to have two more Nikki fans. Clearly I have the wrong name tho' :)

  6. I have this book sitting on my bedside table and can't wait to read it!!! honestly, I havent' read more than a few pages at night lately... need to go to bed earlier!!
    Westerns - I used to read the occasional one as a child, all set in the USA and I loved John Wayne movies (though I was too young to remember them well now). There was one he starred in with a pinto horse and a dog he had with him at all times... loved it!
    Nikki, this is going to be a tear jerker book, must remember those tissues. And Zana, thanks for giving the review =)
    One last thing LOL!!!!! Shannon and I (my daughter) have been meaning to watch Firedly for a while now, looks like it's a definite to-do now!

  7. Ooh, great review, Zana! I've been lucky enough to read this one too. Nikki has written a fabulously intense book with realistically gritty characters that almost walk off the page. And the stakes were so high in this one it had me holding my breath all the way through!

    Yeah, I'm a sucker for an Outback story, and I love rural Australian settings.

    Umm... Firefly? Sounds like I've been missing out. Best go and investigate,

  8. Hey Mel, sounds like you remember the horse and dog almost better than you remember John Wayne! You and Michelle are in for a treat with Firefly.

    Meanwhile, I'm taking all recommendations for further Outback stories - specially with cold, soggy winter nights setting in.

  9. Zana, you want a recommendation for another Outback book? Try Michelle Douglas's one in the same trio that Nikki's is from: The Cattleman, The Baby and Me.

    Oh, then there's the other one that goes with it - Melissa James's One Small Miracle. All three have an outback hero and a baby - how cute is that? And two of the heroines are sisters and the third one is the friend of one sister. You definitely need all three to get the full experience, I say. =)

  10. Rachel said '..and the third one is the friend of one sister...'

    Or *is* she?

    Just sayin' (*wink*)

  11. Zana, thanks for such a cracking review! I love that you totally got the characters and, particularly, the Kimberley setting.

    For anyone wanting to get into the series from the start, both earlier books are still avail from e-Harlequin or Michelle's is onshelf now down-under.

  12. Great review, Zana and Nikki! Can't wait to get my copy! Both your covers for this book are gorgeous Nikki.

    Must get to the shops to get Michelle's book!

    Zana, I love a cowboy story! Firefly is brilliant - and what's not to love about Nathan Fillion! We've just ordered Serenity.


  13. Doh!! Wrong book! Sorry Nikki, I have your other book "Lights Camera, Kiss the Boss." Looking forward to reading that one too!! =)

  14. Will be putting this book on the TBR pile Nikki - love cowboy stories!

    Wow....best cowboy story - thats a hard ask...I have an old Silhouette special addition - from 1983, the pages have yellowed, and the cover faded, called Sorrel Sunset - by Gena Dalton, not true 'cowboys' as no cows in the story ...just horses, but love it still and have carted it across the continents with me.

    Bye 4 now

  15. Ooohh another for the TBR pile. Sounds fab. I loved LKKTB and it looks like nikki has another winner on her hands!

  16. Thanks Zana! Fantastic read Nikki! Looking forward to your next best seller!