Fourth in the Mindalby Outback Romance series about the residents of a small outback town thrown into turmoil when the local cotton mill closes down unexpectedly, this book’s heroine is Lynsey Carter, the daughter of the mill owner, who moved to Brisbane to pursue a career in agricultural science. At her mother’s behest, she’s come home to try and help sort out the crisis.
Lynsey’s mother and father divorced long ago and her mother was replaced with a younger model, who’s referenced multiple times but doesn’t appear in this book. Lynsey doesn’t have a good relationship with her father who basically encouraged her to get out of town early, including blackmailing the man she was in love with to dump her. Now she’s back and Julian Stone is still there, having built a successful fuel haulage business from the ground up, and the chemistry between them is as strong as it’s always been.
There is so much realism in the small town of Mindalby, a town utterly dependent on the continued prosperity of one major employer, and all the authors in this series have done a great job of portraying the bleak outlook if the mill stays open and the flow-on effects to everyone in the community. Mindalby feels very real, as do its characters, and I found myself feeling a great deal of sympathy for Lynsey’s position when she is faced with the unpalatable truth about her father and the fraud he’s been committing for years. She has to make a choice; whether to hand over the proof she’s unexpectedly presented with to the auditors and the police, or destroy it and stay quiet. Either way, the legacy her grandfather built will be gone and the Carter name mud in Mindalby, but there’s only one path she can see which might lead to her being able to live with her own conscience.
The book raises some interesting moral questions - what would you do if a relative turned out to be acting criminally? Just how much criminality could you tolerate? Where do you draw the line, and why… do you draw it when it starts costing other people, or will you tolerate it as long as it doesn’t affect you personally?
There is a side plot with a genuine villain where Lynsey is put in danger through Julian’s actions, something he realises when he’s feeling particularly righteous and which flips his whole perspective on its head. At first I thought it was a bit of a red herring, but when the reveal came I realised it was actually an essential part of his character development. Up until that point he’d been feeling a bit smug and righteous and I liked him a lot better once he understood that sometimes, bad things happen even when you’re trying to do the right thing.
Lynsey and Julian had great chemistry, though I was a bit disappointed in the way Julian’s current romantic interest just conveniently disappeared without so much as a whimper when Lynsey arrived on the scene. That was outweighed, for me, by how realistic both characters and story felt and how well it tied in with the rest of the series. Five stars for yet another fantastic read in this wonderful Australian series.
A Daughter's Choice is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.