Author: Holly Ford
The Last McAdam is a rural romance with a brand new setting for me, Holly Ford takes us across the ocean to failing sheep and cattle station Broken Creek in the mountain regions of New Zealand.
Ford writes with humour and insight to give us a story of never giving up and an ingrained attachment to the land.
Tess Drummond works for Carnarvon Holdings, a global agribusiness that buys failing farms and turns them around. She is sent in to Broken Creek to do what needs to be done to make the place successful again, it’s her job and one she’s good at. She has all the paperwork and knows what needs to be done, on paper it looks so easy but when she arrives at Broken Creek she discovers that you can only see so much of a situation by what the paper says.
Nate McAdam is the head stockman at Broken Creek but more than that he was the heir to the property, until his stepfather ran it into the ground and it was sold off. He stayed on as head stockman with a team of men who are bonded to Nate and the property.
To add a little tension to the already fraught situation Tess and Nate have already met. In between postings Tess attended the wedding of an old friend where she met and hooked up with Nate, before running out on him. This creates tension, awkwardness and just a touch of humour to the situation which is fun to follow.
The Last McAdam looks at the way big agribusiness works, the focus on profit and not on looking after the land and the people who live off it.
I really enjoyed looking at the personal side of the story. For the first time Tess has driven into a situation that she can’t contain to what works best on paper. She gets involved with the remaining staff and with the property and it makes it impossible to separate what is best for the station on paper with what is actually best for the station, the land it sits on and the people who are attached to it.
Broken Creek has always looked after those who look after it so there is a very good reason that the station is overstaffed and it won’t be as easy to cull staff as Tess thought.
The basis of the story is sound and interesting, Carnarvon want a prosperous station and Tess has all the answers that will get that for them but at what cost. Tess has spent a lot of years perfecting the art of keeping everything to do with her work purely professional and keeping any personal attachments out of it but will all of the stories at Broken Creek bring that to an end.
The Last McAdam is as much Tess’s story as it is the story of Broken Creek. The story is told from her perspective, in the third person, so we get to know what’s going on in her head but not in Nate’s. It means we get to know what got her into the field she’s in and why she doesn’t form attachments.
The Last McAdam is a tale of big business, family heritage, romance and the importance of the land. It is heartwarming as well as quite tender and emotional. The characters on Broken Creek are quite complex and diverse, they all have interesting stories that illustrate the connection some people have to the properties they live and work on.
A rural romance that offers a much more intricate storyline than just the romance and a picturesque change of scenery.
Holly Ford can be found at hollyford.net.