Posted in Australian Rural Romance, Kees2Review, Meet an Author

Fighting the Good Fight with Lee Christine

Romantic Suspense lovers will know the name Lee Christine well. Best known for hot lawyers and scandalous billionaires, Lee has delivered a rural romance that will have readers cheering for those fighting the good fight in the Mindalby Outback Romance Series. Here is Lee to tell you more:

A Daughter’s Choice is book four in a seven-book series that make up the Mindalby Outback Romance series. These stories centre around the closure of the town’s major employer, the cotton mill, and how the shock and ongoing repercussions affect the entire community.

Cover courtesy of HQN Mira

With seven authors involved in this complicated project, it was important to have a diverse range of stories. Some wrote about the mill workers who were immediately affected, others about farmers who had cotton bales trapped inside the mill. One story features a counsellor who comes to town to support traumatised residents. I chose to write about the flow-on effect of the closure and the resulting downturn in trade suffered by small business owners.

Along with a diverse range of stories comes a diverse range of characters. One of the things I love most about plotting a new story is figuring out an appropriate occupation for my protagonist. In ‘A Daughter’s Choice’ the character of Julian Stone owns a fleet of eight tankers and a fuel depot. His business is one that’s affected by recent events. Prior to the mill closing, Julian had entered into a contract to remove waste from the mill which he planned to turn into ethanol in the small plant he’d been building. With the cotton mill closing, Julian’s business now hangs in the balance.

Photo from Google

I didn’t have to look far for my inspiration for the character of Julian Stone. For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to my brother’s stories, as younger sisters do, of his time with Amoco UK, Ampol and Solo before becoming an independent oil distributor three decades ago. In that time, he’s lived through petrol price wars, petrol rationing, and tanker driver strikes. In good years there have been bumper crops and bumper sales of diesel. In bad years, crippling droughts have decimated crops and livestock. Only a few years ago, fuel tankers couldn’t make it through floodwater to deliver fuel for the harvesting machines before entire crops were lost to water. Tapping into my brother’s knowledge helped me to round out the character I created in Julian Stone.

Though fictional, I believe there is a stark realism to our stories of Mindalby. You don’t have to look far in Australia to see examples of towns that have died a slow death due to a factory, mill or mine closing.

Ultimately though, the Mindalby authors have written stories of hope and love, of truth and struggle, of triumph and celebration. Stories of people coming together to fight the good fight.
I hope you enjoy A Daughter’s Choice.

A Daughter’s Choice

Can one daughter’s choice begin to heal a broken town?

Lynsey Carter’s relationship with her father is fraught, so when she hears that the cotton gin mill has closed down – the gin that is her birthright – and her father is lying low, she returns to Mindalby to support her mother and seek out answers.
Business owner Julian Stone has been hit hard by the mill crisis, and when his high school sweetheart returns with a new self-assured attitude and a determination to help the town she left behind, the safe life Julian has made for himself becomes even more complicated.
As Lynsey is torn between family loyalty and a duty to the shell-shocked community, old passions reignite. But Lynsey has built a life for herself away from Mindalby. How can Julian ask her to stay?

Posted in Australian Rural Romance, Between the Pages, Kees2Review, Meet an Author

A Mindalby Inspiration

Today I welcome the super-talented Susanne Bellamy to the blog to talk about the inspiration behind her new release, Starting Over.

Starting Over (book 2 in Mindalby Outback Romance) was influenced by my mother’s talents and creative vision. Although I wasn’t conscious of her presence in my words at the time I can see that now as clear as day. Both protagonists are creative people; Serena works with fabric while Paul works in leather, but both have vision. They can see the finished piece in their mind’s eye while exploring the raw material.

My mother was like that. She would feel a piece of fabric, sometimes brushing her thumb over the weave, and say, “I can see this as . . . accessorised with . . .” To her, the finished piece was real, even if its existence was still in her mind. I believe most creative people are like that.

When we began tossing around ideas for a town driven to desperation by the closing of its cotton mill, I was drawn to explore how far-reaching the ripple effect would be. Not only the mill workers and cotton farmers would be affected, but also small businesses in town would suffer. Business would drop away as money dried up and families struggled to pay rent and put food on the table. I know plenty of people who live from pay to pay and don’t have a safety net. When the mill closes unexpectedly just before payday, the effects are devastating.

And so I chose to write about Paul, the town saddler who is branching out into creating artwork in leather and whose family owns a cotton farm. He takes a double hit, carrying a burden of guilt for choosing not to stay on the land and help run the farm, and fearing his brother might commit suicide when everything goes wrong.

Into the desperate town comes Serena, a young fashion designer from Sydney. She has been given an opportunity to showcase her work at the Mindalby Cotton Festival and has driven out to meet Paul who is going to make leather accessories for her collection. But Serena also is on a mission to find her father. Knowing only that he came from the area and was involved in cotton, she worries how the mill closure might complicate things if she is lucky enough to find him.

The overarching story of the mill closure and how the town deals with it continues through each story while also exploring how individuals deal with it. In difficult times the ‘real’ person is revealed when protective layers are stripped away. Some of them rise to the challenge and some find love along the way.

I hope you enjoy Starting Over. It’s the story of a town on the edge of the Outback that finds a way to come back and begins that journey.

Starting Over

When fashion designer Serena Quinlan arrives in Mindalby for the annual cotton festival, she is hoping to do two things: meet local leather worker Paul Carey and check out all the 50–year–old men to see if they might be her father. She doesn’t expect the explosive attraction she feels towards Paul, nor the untimely and unwanted arrival of her ex–fiance. When her search for her father leads to unexpected results, Serena will be torn between the past she came searching for and the possibility of a future she never expected.

Mindalby, a small town, a community, a home. But when the mill that supports the local cotton farmers and employs many of the town’s residents closes unexpectedly, old tensions are exposed and new rifts develop. Everyone is affected and some react better than others, but one thing is certain: living on the edge of the outback means they have to survive together, or let their town die.