Why we love it: Tricia Stringer takes us to outback Australia in a page-turning rural romance with characters we invest in wholeheartedly.
Paula, an independent Sydney girl, has had a rocky past with men. Her ex took everything, leaving Paula feeling like a shell of the woman she used to be. Then, at a friend’s wedding she nearly didn’t go to, Paula meets Dan. He is ruggedly handsome with a smile that leaves her weak, but there’s just one problem – he’s a farmer. Within an month they’re engaged, and much to the distress of her parents, have a hasty wedding. Paula moves to South Australia to live on Dan’s farm and is looking forward to a fresh start in the country but as ‘new blood’, she has no idea what she’s in for.
It soon becomes very clear to Paula that the life of a farmer’s wife will be harder than she thought. Dan’s aunt Rowena is a blunt, ruthless woman who leaves Paula feeling unnecessary (especially on the farm), there’s a beautiful woman named Katherine who keeps appearing at every turn, Dan is constantly out working late hours, and, to make matters worse, her new home is infested with mice. Trying to pass the days by redecorating, doing the odd office jobs about town and making friends with some of the locals, Paula slowly starts to feel comfortable in her new life. However, Paula’s days soon run together and the isolation begins to set in – was this what she signed up for? She can’t shake the feeling that Dan and Rowena are hiding something from her. The truth begins to come out, and Katherine becomes a bigger part in their marriage than Paula ever thought possible. She begins to realise that Dan might not be the man she thought he was, and so Paula finds herself wondering: is it time to go home?
A Chance of Stormy Weather is the kind of rural romance you can sink your teeth into. With characters that get under your skin (in the best and worst ways), it’s a hard book to put down until the last page. Your heart goes out to Paula as she makes this huge life-changing transition, and you’re cheering for her to succeed throughout. Stringer writes this novel in such a way that, despite not being in first person, you are plunged into Paula’s mindset and follow her through every emotional up and down. Stringer has also created other well-rounded characters to surround Paula. There’s Katherine, the too-perfect ex girlfriend that Stringer makes it easy to hate and Rowena, who may seem like a mother-in law from hell, but you’ll grow to love her. Tom, Dara and Jane are the perfect friends for Paula, and Dan is your typical heartthrob who tries his best (with some misguided actions), and you can’t help but fall for him just like Paula.
For all those who love a good romance, especially set in Australia’s outback, this is for you. Its depiction of rural life is incredibly realistic, and the situations Paula finds herself in ring clear. Throughout the book, you’re in two minds about whether Paula should stay or go and whether Dan is the one for her, but by the end after a surprising twist, you’ll finish feeling satisfied. It is a heartwarming story about farm life, marriage, friendships, and enduring love that’ll leave you wanting to pick up another one of Stringer’s novels.