Book Review: The Billabong by Jack Byrne

The Billabong by Jack ByrneTitle: The Billabong
Author: Jack Byrne
Genre: Historical Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Published: November 27, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press

Having long ago lost his wife and children, cattleman Jim Kelly works the family farm in the harsh 1800s Australian outback, most days wondering why he bothers. That question is foremost in his mind when a venomous snake takes him by surprise. Another surprise comes when a skilled doctor is in the vicinity to save his life. But the third, and biggest, surprise for Jim is falling hard and fast for that man.

Life on the lam is tough, and bushranger Mark Turner simply wants to maintain his freedom as long as he's able. Unfortunately, being a doctor, his conscience won't let him leave a snakebite victim to die. Before he thinks about the consequences of his humanitarian actions, he's both saved Jim and become smitten with him. But considering how Mark's past could negatively impact any possibility of a future, maybe falling in love wasn't such a great idea after all.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: Great historical MM romance though I would have loved the relationship development to be character driven instead of plot.

The Set Up: Jim is working his lonely cattle ranch in the Australian outback in the late 1800s when he’s bitten by a snake. Jim is sure he’s dead but a drifter wanders by. Mark is a doctor but on the run from the law. Before Mark can think better of it he saves Jim from snakebite and in the recuperation time, the men become more than friends. But Mark’s past is a haunting the men and Jim will have to decide what’s most important to him.

Why I Read this Book: I adore historical MM romance and search it out.

What I Liked: Jim and Mark are great characters and their romance well done. Jim’s lonely life as a cattle rancher is well described so I understood why he’d be reluctant to admit his feelings for Mark. Mark’s past is more mysterious until novella’s end but his emotionally and sexually open nature balances his reluctance to talk about his past. Mark and Jim’s romance isn’t instantaneous which I liked but develops slowly as the men circle each other. The sexual and emotional intimacy was well matched as the men spend time in their tent but also talk a lot.

What I Also Liked: I’ve never been to Australia and I loved this setting. The animals and the desert atmosphere were so well written I felt like I was there. From the freezing nights that force the men to share bedrolls to the scorching hot days where the men skinny-dip in the river, I was right in scene with the characters. The author/publisher was very smart to start the novella with a little glossary that was helpful.

What I Didn’t Like: My one complaint was that the plot device forced Jim to accept his relationship with Mark. I’m never a fan of a plot progressing the relationship instead of the leads doing so out of emotional engagement and that’s what happened here. I admit Jim made his decision in a big way with no looking back but I wanted that to happen organically out of the relationship and not because Mark was in peril.

IMO: Historical MM fans will enjoy this novella as I did even with its relationship development being plot driven instead of character as I most enjoy.


J9’s Rating:
4 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


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