Monday, July 14, 2014

Under the Burning Sky - Olivia Bersell

In 1969 Ex-Marine Ethan Coles, arrives at Stoney Creek, a cattle station in the remote Australian outback to take up his new position as the resident school teacher, and is instantly drawn to the beautiful eighteen-year-old half cast girl, Amarin.
The year is 1969.  Ethan Coles, an Ex-Marine, goes down under, to Stoney Creek, a town in a remote area in the Australian outback to teach.  He is instantly enamored by Amarin, an beautiful half-Aboriginal girl.  They quickly find themselves falling for each other, despite Amarin's mother's disapproval.  As they begin their summer romance, Ethan deals with getting accustomed to life in the Outback and trying to avoid a rival, while Amarin struggles to uncover the secrets to her birth, all while a mysterious murder shakes up the small town.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

*Disclosure: I received monetary compensation in return for this review.  However, all opinions are my own.

I found this book to be a pretty fun read.  I thought it was paced well, and I quickly fell in love with the characters.

The character building was by far the strongest part of this book.  Using 3rd-person omnipresent point of view (POV), the author manages to get you inside of each character's head, picking up bits and pieces of their backstory along the way.  Each character had a distinct voice in their dialogue and mannerisms; after having read a lot of books in which a lot of characters seem to be personality clones of each other, I found this refreshing.

The plot is a slow burn.  What I did like is that, while the two protagonists are immediately drawn to one another, the romance does proceed at a steady and realistic pace.  While the main plot is ultimately the romance between Ethan and Amarin, the subplots are extremely intriguing and draw you further into the story.  I kept wondering, 'who is Amarin's birth father?' and 'who is the culprit behind the murder?'  I was a bit disappointed to find that these were not answered in this installment, but they definitely leave titillating cliffhangers.

The writing is very straightforward, and it works for the story.  It first allows you to more or less get into Ethan's head as he heads to a place that is just about halfway around the world; it then follows along and settles you into his routine with working with his students and having secret rendezvous with Amarin.  While the writing doesn't alter when the POV focuses on another character, you still get a strong feeling for how the focus on that character is, if that makes sense.  At the end, the way some of the scenes are written can truly make your heartstrings tug a bit.

Some bonus points for including a fair amount of Aborigines in the story.  It's not too often I get to read about an interracial relationship, and I thought it was quite refreshing, since too often relationships like my own parents' are too often ignored in literature.

This all being said, there were just a few things that bothered me.  I'm a stickler for spelling and grammar, and particularly comma usage, which I found to be 'off and on' in the novel.  Near the end I noticed that there were some careless typos, though they don't create that big of a deal or impact one's understanding of the book.

EDIT: there was a sex scene that I wasn't too comfortable with due to perpetuation of some myths, but after contacting the author she agreed to edit it for future editions :)

This was a nice book to curl up with, and I definitely think you all should give it a chance! I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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