Aussie Book Review: Secrets of Whitewater Creek by Sarah Barrie

“Jordan must save her farm from debt and sabotage – can she place her trust in a man from out of town?

Born and bred on the land, Jordan Windcroft is brave and independent. She's had to be. Her life revolves around running her property almost single-handedly on next to no money, and waiting out her four years of probation — a rap that she took for one of her closest friends for a crime she didn’t commit.

Thankfully there's an end to her problems in sight. Jordan’s probation period is almost up, and if she can just make the cattle sale, there’s a chance she can pull herself out of more than ten years of serious debt and keep her precious farm. The last thing she needs is for Reid Easton to start monitoring her.

Detective Senior Sergeant Reid Easton drives into Whitewater Creek on a mission to wrap up a three-year drug investigation; his only lead, Jordan Windcroft. The attraction between the two is immediate, but Reid is undercover and Jordan has a secret she can’t risk him discovering. Will either jeopardise their cause, for something as transitory as love – or will they keep their secrets to themselves?”

Originally published as Deadly Secrets in 2014, Secrets of Whitewater Creek by Sarah Barrie is an atmospheric romantic suspense centering around Jordan Windcroft, a young woman who, four years ago took the fall for a friend and was convicted for possession of illicit drugs. The little town’s darling, she’s also been struggling to keep her farm afloat since her parents died in a tragic accident and is trying to get enough money together to keep it out of the clutches of the town bully, a corrupt retired judge.

Her probation is about to come to an end when DSS Reid Easton arrives. Reid, a drug squad cop has come to town under cover as her replacement probation officer in the hopes that this is his last stop in wrapping up the investigation he’s been running for the last three years and isn’t interested in the small town politics that keep his suspect protected by its residents. He’s got a job to do and do it he will!

This has been on my TBR for quite some time now but I finally got there. While it’s probably not one of the best romantic suspense novels I’ve had the opportunity to read and review, I still enjoyed the strong characters, the setting and the element of suspense.

Jordan is a soft-hearted, animal-loving protagonist who is also feisty, strong, proud and has attitude - lots of it – which comes through so strongly in both the dialogue and her interactions that I found myself consistently comparing her to Stevie from McLeod’s Daughters.

I enjoyed the character of Reid who is admirable in his battle to bring down anyone who deals in drugs, although the reason behind this incredible desire only becomes clear quite late in the novel.

The villain in this story managed to freak me out because he is given his own viewpoint and isn’t merely a caricature. This, as well as the anonymous messages left for Jordan, serves to heighten the tension in the novel because as the reader we get to see his craftiness, what he wants and why he wants it. For me there was no suspension of disbelief because the situation that Jordan finds herself in could so easily happen. While I give Sarah points for his characterisation, as a reader, I felt that the climax was a tad drawn out and I was left somewhat frustrated.

Despite my misgivings on certain aspects relating to structure, I did enjoy the story and couldn't wait to find out whether the hero and heroine got their happily ever after.

On the whole, Sarah writes well giving us a great sense of place. She has delivered a suspenseful novel that I would certainly recommend and I look forward to reading further contributions from her to the literary world in the future.

I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.

About the Author

Sarah Barrie lives with her husband and children in a rural area on the Central Coast of NSW.

She divides her time between writing, being a mum and her position as editor of an Australian equestrian magazine.

When she finds a spare moment or two, she enjoys spending time with her Arabian horses and the various other  animals that call the farm home.

Though her writing career has traditionally  revolved around producing articles for various publications, her true passion  lies in fiction and she enjoys writing contemporary romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance.


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