Patchwork Family in the Outback

Title: Patchwork Family in the Outback
Author: Soraya Lane
Harlequin Romance
Published: September 2013
Reasons I might actually remember this one: Teaching in a one-room school in the outback (and renting a home for $1 a week) just sounds gorgeous.
This is one of the many, many “set in Australia” romances novels I’ve been unable to resist picking up. I buy up Australian heroes the way some people buy cowboys. 
I don’t usually comment on covers, but this one has the worst case of “stick a rock on it and call it Australia” I’ve seen in a long while.
I am not a fan of plot moppets, AT ALL, but I liked these two in spite of their obligatory case of “instantly liking the heroine and in no way feeling threatened by her relationship with their father.” For children whose mother walked away, clinging hopefully to a new adult female presence is probably as likely as resenting her, and they were written in a non-cloying way, so it worked for me.
On the other hand there was an Aboriginal family that functioned more as a series of plot devices than as characters, and that annoyed me. The heroine thinks about going out to see them to offer to help educate their children; the hero takes the heroine along in a storm because the Aboriginal woman is in labour; but we don’t actually SEE the woman until the actual last page of the book. Her husband shows up for two entire pages in the middle, long enough to tell the hero and heroine that Sally’s had her baby and she doesn’t need any help. And, seriously, I know a category romance doesn’t have a lot of room for secondary character development, but I would have loved one or two tiny scenes with Sally — even just showing up for one sentence she manages to sound like she potentially has a sense of humour and a, you know, personality.
Active Ingredients:
Plot Moppets
Miscarriage(s) Backstory
Some of my Best Friends are Aboriginal
Bad/Shallow Woman Abandoned Hero (and their children, the plot moppets)
Lying Cheating ex-Husband Abandoned Heroine
Australian Weather: Floods

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