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18 August 2014

Barbara Hannay: Moonlight Plains

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Good Australian Outback Romance
There are a crop of recent outback/homestead romances around and this is one of the better ones. Barbara Hannay has continued her bestselling Fairburn family romances by stepping slightly sideways to bring in the story of Kitty Martin in wartime Townsville and the Charters Towers area of outback North Queensland during WWII.

In February 1942 Kitty was alone in her Grandfather's homestead "Moonlight Plains" (he was away on a muster) when she heard two planes overhead and one of them crashes. Despite thinking that they may be Japanese, she goes out in the paddock to find out what is happening and meets Captain Ed Langley who had landed to try and save his buddy Bobby who has been seriously injured in the crash of the second plane. She helps Ed rescue Bobby but unfortunately his wounds from the crash are fatal. Later on back in Townsville she meets Ed again but their reunion is a family secret that will be kept for more than 70 years.

Moving on to the present day Kitty is a very old lady in a retirement home and gets to know Sally Piper, a young and beautiful photo-journalist, who frequently visits her grandmother at the same home. Sally travels to Moonlight Plains on a journalistic assignment to see Kitty's grandson, Josh Fairburn, a cattleman turned builder who is restoring this grand old Queensland homestead where Kitty first met Ed. While they are immediately attracted to one another their attraction is hampered because Sally is still recovering from the death of her husband three years ago.

The setting in wartime Townsville, with the "invasion" of American troops on their way to the war in the Pacific gave the book a new dimension for me. I didn't realise that so many American troops passed through Townville and I also didn't know that the Townsville was bombed on several occasions in July 1942 by Japanese planes based in Raboul.

I found this a very easy book to read, and the characters well formed and realistic. I look forward to reading other books in the series.

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