Book Review: Queen of the Road by Tricia Stringer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Angela needed a miracle … She didn’t expect it to come in the form of a red 18-wheeler.
"Juggling two jobs, raising her four-year-old daughter alone and drowning in debt, Angela Ranger is struggling to survive. So when Angela’s father offers her a job driving trucks in the tiny rural town of Munirilla, she accepts. After all, it’s only temporary …
Despite taking to the road with ease, Angela finds moving to Munirilla may not be the godsend it seemed. Her accommodation is dingy, her fellow truckies are less than happy to see a woman on the road, and the locals are reluctant to use her services.
There is one local who’s glad to see her, though. Fill-in farm manager and loner, Coop, resists his natural tendency to avoid personal connections when he meets the efficient and gorgeous, Angela. But Coop has problems of his own – sheep are going missing, his neighbours are acting strangely and the demons of his past are urging him to move on again.
In Munirilla, both Angela and Coop will face the ultimate test of character. Will they follow reason and leave? Or follow their hearts and build a home in the small town … together?"
Life hasn’t been smooth sailing for Angela Ranger. We pick up on the story a few years after her boyfriend (and the father of her four-year-old daughter), has abandoned her to follow his own dreams, whilst she has been left devastated and “holding the baby” so to speak. Trying to work two jobs to make ends meet for her and her daughter, as well as pay off the huge debts she has created just to survive, she’s almost at the end of her tether when her father offers her a job as fill-in driver for the Munirilla-Melbourne run for his company, Ranger Transport - having been on trips with her dad as a young girl and learning to drive as soon as she was old enough, she’s perfectly capable but is she willing!
Egged on by her step-mother and after a bit of a wild night at a friend’s wedding, she bravely accepts her father’s offer, albeit with some trepidation. And if she thought life on the road with a four-year-old was tough, then being a woman in a domain which is clearly male dominated, takes a lot more grit. There are times when Angela begins to second-guess her decision, but she soldiers on nonetheless, and whilst there are some in Port Augusta and Munirilla who approve of her bringing some gender balance to the trucking game, there are others who do not. From pranks to plain malice, she manages to handle the situations with true Aussie grit.
The first time Coop meets Angela, she takes him by surprise and he realises that it’s been a long time since a woman stirred any kind of interest in him. Coop’s a drifter, never spending too long in any one place, but he’s been in Munirilla for more than two years now, helping out on Alice Tansell’s farm. During their first real conversation, Angela learns that he himself has a truck licence and has previously driven for a mining company in Queensland, but prefers to work with animals and in open spaces. As their friendship develops and we see them advance from mere friends to something a bit more, we discover that whilst Angela has her own problems, Coop, too, wrestles with demons from his past which continue to haunt him.
Of course, fate has something else in store for both these troubled people, but will they be able to recognise it for what it is, and do something about it?
I really liked this book and our Aussie authors continually amaze me – we have such talent in this beautiful wide land – and I think I just met another writer who deserves a place on my bookshelves.
Tricia Stringer managed to grab me from the first page and the whole way through I kept checking to see how far away I was from completion - needless to say I didn’t want the story to end.
What I really loved about this book is that it’s not the normal run-of-the-mill romance where “boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy almost instantly, boy and girl fall into bed, girl and boy have an argument, boy and girl make up and live happily ever after”.
Ms Stringer’s characters are well-developed and human. The storyline is extremely believable with the author touching on real-life social issues such as alcoholism which, as always, resonates strongly with me and always stirs a lot of emotion from personal experience, and single motherhood, another ever-increasing issue in today’s day and age. And, of course, what would an Aussie rural romance be without a certain element of suspense and danger!
All in all, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read with lots of little strands coming together to form a great plot and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to all lovers of rural Australian romance.
I wish to thank the publisher, Harlequin Australia, for providing me with an advance copy of this great read.
A Little About the Author (taken from “The Reading Room”)
Tricia Stringer grew up in South Australia on her family's Eyre Peninsula farm before moving to Adelaide for secondary and tertiary education. Since then she has married, raised three children and continued to live in rural South Australia. She has worked as a teacher/librarian/information technology coordinator for many years and has also run a Post Office and bookshop with her husband. She enjoys travelling to diverse areas of Australia, bush camping and sipping the odd glass of wine when she's not tangling with computers, reading a good book or walking on the beach hatching her next story. “Due Date” is her third novel for adults and the sequel to “Changing Channels”.