Review: Red Dirt Heart 1 & 2 by NR Walker

Little Miss Lori and I decided to review these together because that’s how unicorns like to play. I’d already read Red Dirt Heart 1 and was really anxious to read the second in the series. Lori hadn’t read them yet so we could go into this review from two perspectives. Lori and I see eye to eye on lots of books but I also know cowboys are not her fave while they are WAY high up on my list. Way. High. Up. So, it really should make for a more well-rounded reviewing experience. I shall be squeeing like the ridiculous fangirl that I am and Lori will provide a review not seen through the haze of cowboy lust. The cool thing is, we’re both right because that’s also how unicorns like to play.  :D

Red Dirt Heart 1

Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.

Charlie Sutton runs Sutton Station the only way he knows how; the way his father did before him. Determined to keep his head down and his heart in check, Charlie swears the red dirt that surrounds him – isolates him – runs through his veins. American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives at Sutton Station to see how farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth. But it’s not the barren, brutal and totally beautiful landscapes that capture him so completely, it’s the man with the red dirt heart.

Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo.

Ann - 5 Hearts

This. This is why I love N.R. Walker's books.

Charlie and Travis are so incredibly charming and are going to go down on my list as a couple of my all time favorite characters. They are both very different yet a perfect match and I love how the author made that work. It wasn't just a blatant "opposites attract" kind of thing, it was more realistic and subtle, so that I could really believe the connection between the two of them.

I think my absolute favorite thing about this author's stories is that the characters connect through moments that I can see as a reader. I don't need to be told they are falling in love, I can see it in the little things they do to and for each other. Travis' sweet little nose nudges and when he would just look at Charlie. And not just look at him, but really see him. That seemed so important since Charlie had been hiding for so long and had resigned himself to being alone. I loved reading about him reveling in the attention and affection.

"He (Travis) leaned up and kissed my lips softly, then put his head back down and draped his arm over me. It was an intimate thing to do. It was unexpected but comforting. And really fucking wonderful."

The angst felt true and not at all overdone considering everything Charlie had to overcome. The secondary characters were perfect too, especially Ma and George. I don't think Charlie would have made it without them. This one is definitely a reread for me and I loved every little bit of it.

ETA: The chapter titles!! So clever and added to the experience completely. Loved them!

Lori - 3 Hearts 

I heard so much hype about this book that I already owned a copy when the blog was contacted with a review request. I have to be up front and say cowboys are not my favourite book theme, I often find them a bit, well frankly, boring. I'm afraid that, for me, this was the case with this book. I want to state right off though, that I feel this is a case of it's not you it's me. The writing was fine, I've read and enjoyed several NR Walker books, the set up and characters were fine, it just didn't wow me.

So, what did I like? The setting was beautiful. The loneliness and huge open space of the the Australian outback, with it's red sand and blue sky, was so apparent and real. Although it took me a while to warm to the characters, they were well written. I especially liked Ma. The storyline didn't knock my socks off, but I didn't hate it either.

So, what didn't I like. Remember folks, this is likely to be just me. I often find cowboy books boring. The strong silent cowboy/manager/ranch hand hiding his sexuality is just so....dull. I quite understand this is likely to be a reality for many actual cowboys (which makes me very sad) but I just feel once I've read it, I've read it.

So from that perspective Charlie did nothing for me as a main character. He was strong silent, lead by example, works harder than everyone else alpha, alpha, alpha and it just does not float my boat. Please don't hate me.

Travis on the other hand, I quite liked. He wasn't out and in-ya-face, but he didn't hide who he was either. He was funny, enjoyed his work but wasn't a martyr (mostly!!) to it. I didn't find him super special but I did quite like him.

The story-line, as I mentioned just didn't work for me. I certainly didn't hate it, but i could easily have walked away from it. I will say again - IT IS PROBABLY JUST ME.

All in all, the story was well written and if you like cowboys and alpha male type characters then I'm sure you'll love this. Don't let my feelings put you off.

Red Dirt Heart 2

Up until Travis arrived on his doorstep, Charlie had lived a very solitary life. He had surrounded himself with isolation; a couple million acres of red dirt, scorching sun and loneliness.

Six months on, winter has settled over the desert, and Charlie has the life he never dreamed possible. But living and working together, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for six months straight starts to take its toll.

Charlie is a stubborn, stubborn man, who tends to have more conversations in his head than what comes out his mouth, whereas Travis has no problem saying what’s on his mind. And even as they both struggle to communicate, struggle to make sense of need versus want, Charlie can see that he’s pushing Travis away - yet seems helpless to stop it.

When it all boils down to whether Travis should stay or go, maybe the decision won’t be theirs to make.

Ann - 4 Hearts

*happy sigh*

Charlie and Travis are back and I am a happy unicorn. I was so stoked to read this one as the guys had just really gotten together at the end of book 1 and there was still so much I needed to know about them and lots of settling in to do. Travis has just uprooted his entire life and Charlie is getting a chance to live a life he never thought he could have. I knew at the end of the first there was so much more to come. NR Walker totally delivered. All the things I needed to know were answered, expanded on and man what a rollercoaster ride.

All the little moments that I loved are back and there are even more. I mean there was nose nudging AND foot holding! Trust me, it’s freakin’ adorable and it’s what makes me love this author’s couples.

“He had a way of making me love him just a little bit more by doing the simplest of things. The littlest of things.”

Charlie is still spending a lot of time in his head. The first half of the book is mostly spent in his melon and it was honestly a painful place to be. Bless his confuzzled heart, but I was torn between wanting to smack him upside his head to knock sense into him and hugging the stuffing out of him. I was leaning towards the smacking thing because he was breaking Travis’ heart with his fear and with Travis changing everything about his life for Charlie it was tough to read.

Charlie is a LOT tougher than he gave himself credit for and I did like reading about him finally seeing himself as others saw him and getting out of his own brain for a change. It took some external forces that could really do some damage to their relationship for Charlie to be the man Travis needed him to be. I loved the second half so much. There was a lot going on and the pace accelerated quickly. Not so much that I felt like I jumped into another book in the series, but it was different enough from the first half that I felt a little out of balance during the transition.

I loved how it ended and there was enough resolution to make me happy and enough open doors to make me so anxious for the next installment. I’m completely enamored of the man Charlie has become because of his inner strength and because of Travis’ love for him.

I started this with a *happy sigh* and I shall end with the same.

*happy sigh*

Lori - 3.5 Hearts

As I said before I liked Red Dirt Heart 1, but i didn't love it. I also said I felt that it was more me than the book - so what about book 2? Well I did like this one better. The story gelled better for me. I found the characters more likeable (though there was a whole section with Charlie annoying the holy hell out of me. It was the classic 'misunderstanding', miscommunication trope and I nearly DNF'd at that point. Annoying MC's are annoying. I'm glad I didn't because I did enjoy the way the rest of the story unfolded. It felt like it had more meat (um, metaphorical meat you dirty buggers) than book one and it kept my interest better.

These are books I'm glad I've read, they passed an afternoon or two for me, but I won't remember them in six months time. That's not to say you won't - like I said before, it's more a me thing than a book thing. If you love cowboys and the in denial, moody repressed type - these will certainly be up- your street.
****These books were provided by the author for an honest review****

1 comment:

  1. After reading everyone's thoughts and comments, I've had it to my TBR list but not in a hurry to rush out and buy it. Must admit the Unicorn and Rainbow Poop caught my eye more.