Book Club: The Last McAdam

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Author: Holly Ford
ISBN: 978-1-76029-611-7
RRP: $29.99

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.

The Last McAdam is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now through Angus & Robertson BookworldBooktopia, iBooks, Amazon and where all good books are sold.

Holly Ford can be found at

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Last McAdam so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “Book Club: The Last McAdam

  1. For various reasons, I’ve recently read a number of books set on farms in Australia or New Zealand, and this novel really stood out from the crowd.

    For a start, Tess Drummond doesn’t just work on a family farm. She’s an experienced farm manager, employed by a major company to go onto new acquisitions – farms – and turn them around. Raised partly in Australia, she’s working in New Zealand now. Her latest job is to fix the aptly named Broken Creek, and she doesn’t expect any more trouble with this than with all the other farms she’s restructured.

    But Broken Creek has unique complications. Previously owned by four generations of McAdams, the last son – Nate McAdam – is still employed as head stockman. Which would be bad enough, but he’s also the stranger Tess briefly hooked up with a few weeks ago. The rest of the staff come with problems too – although good at their jobs, all of them are damaged in some way, and Broken Creek is a haven for them. Firing them will not be the routine job Tess is used to.

    I really enjoyed reading a farming novel in which a woman had a strong position of authority that went beyond physical farm work. It’s a nice insight into a side of farming we rarely hear about, but even more, it gave Ford scope to make Tess a very strong and unique character. Her focus on doing her job well – which requires some tough business decisions – and the conflict between that and her empathy, felt very real. Tess is a character I really enjoyed; she was really well rounded and I found her one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve come across recently.

    I also found the growing relationship between herself and Nate particularly well drawn. Although there’s a strong physical attraction, the relationship is grounded in mutual respect, working well together, and finding shared values. I really appreciated a romance novel which looked so far beyond simple physical attraction.

    The writing flows and is engaging, and there’s enough action to keep you absorbed. The kinds of things that happen are very realistic, and won’t stretch your credibility at all. There’s a bit of suspense, but it’s not overdone.

    Overall, I recommend this strongly. It’s a really enjoyable romance novel with some unusual depths, and a fun read.

  2. A lovely read of a farm sold to a conglomerate who chose to put Tess Drummond in to assess and try to turn the failing farm around. Meet Nate who is the previous owners son and currently managing the farm. Nate and his 3 workers know there time on the farm is nearing an end and only time keeps them there while Tess assesses what needs to be done prior to a new manager moving in. Instant sparks between Tess and Nate make for an interesting story along with different events occurring on the farm from flooding to injuries, to love and history. All things to be taken into consideration for the future of the farm and decisions on who stay or goes. Tess is great working figures and plan but is also a working farm girl. Nate a farm worker but not so good with figures and putting plans on paper. Set in rural New Zealand this is a delightful story where strong characters lead to love. Holly Ford you have a fan in me!

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to read Holly Fords novel ‘The last MCAdam’

    I enjoyed reading this book due to the fact that not only was it an outdoor /working farm girl meets love of her life (while not wanting to admit it) but it was another side of farming that I had not known. Tess was certainly a strong character and the story revolved around her but the other characters make for an interesting addition. I particularly loved the old blind man/cook who was as much a fixture of the farm and you really felt for him when his future was not certain.

    Nate came across as the strong silent alpha male looking out for his buddies. We also see a gentler but determined side thru his handling of situations such as when Tess went to meet her boss who she thought she was in love with.

    Holly researched and understood the finer details of the working farm and the background of information required to make this story work including knowledge about bigger companies takeovers of small family farms which made the read that much more believable.

    With plenty of drama thrown in, it was a great read and I would not hesitate to recommend for a good weekend read.

  4. The Last McAdam

    A really great novel by Holly Ford. I have always liked a good romance but this was a whole lot more. The story focuses on Tess Drummond, for want of knowing the right terminology, she is a Farm Consultant. Specialising in getting farms profitable again, Tess is a bit of a nomad, no fixed address. She is a really likeable character who meets her match in Broken Creek, falling in love with the people and the place.

    Holly has a beautiful writing style, a great pace and very easy to read. I found this hard to put down and would absolutely recommend this novel.

  5. This novel is a combination of romance and suspense and one that I found so irresistible, I could not put it down until I had finished reading it.
    It is set in New Zealand and begins with Tess Drummond at the wedding of her friend Ash Ferguson, where she meets Nate McAdam who she hooks up with, but then runs out on.
    Tess works for Carnarvon Holdings who are a global agribusiness company who take over properties they pick up at mortgagee auctions. Her next assignment is the remote sheep and cattle station of Broken Creek. Her job is to turn the property’s fortunes around, but unknown to her the head stockman there is Nate McAdam, the man she ran out on and who would have inherited the property if his stepfather hadn’t run it into the ground. Besides Nate the others on the farm are the handyman, gardener and cook Stan who is a blind octogenarian, stockmen Harry who only has one arm and Mitch who is still struggling with bad memories after serving in Afghanistan. When a manager is appointed to take over the farm he will be wanting to have his own team of employees so Tess will be required to make the present farmhands redundant, a task she does not want to have to do since getting to know them. She is also determined not to give in to her attraction to Nate and to just get on with the task she has been given.
    I would like to thank Holly Ford for writing such an enjoyable novel and also Allen & Unwin together with BeautyandLace for allowing me to read and review this book, which I most definitely recommend.

  6. A thoroughly enjoyable read. I was laughing and giggling from the first chapter to the lasts. The book was devoured in less than 24 hours, which is very uncommon for me!

    You start with Tess at a wedding of a long time friend, feeling a bit self conscious and very alone as she knows no one else there. And with all weddings there seems to be the impending “hook up” of the singles. Escaping with some dignity Tess resumes her working life, moving place to place, restoring and rebuilding farm structures for a corporate company Carnarvon Holdings.

    The latest farm, Broken Creek, purchased due to high debts and huge losses from a farm fire. She has to investigate the properties potential, see what is to be done to get it back to making money and most of all, find a way to remove the four staff from the property, all with rather iron clad contracts.

    What she doesn’t expect is that the staff are all “damaged” in some way, fighting hard to not leave the property. Stan, the groundskeeper is blind, Harry a stock hand only has one arm and Mitch the farm pilot and farm hand suffering from wartime PTSD. The biggest surprise was that her potential “hook up” from the wedding is one of these staff and more than that. Nate is not only her embarrassment, but also her Stock manager AND the son of the former, bankrupted, owners!! The tension between them is obvious and awkward.

    Follow the tale as they win over her mind, change her direction and in the end, try to keep the last McAdam where he belongs… On the farm!

    I loved the New Zealand farmscapes, the descriptions of the land and weather were fabulous. The truth in the hardships and realities of corporate take overs was great. A fabulous read, I look forward to finding more of Holly Ford’s work if this is what they are like…

  7. I don’t make any attempt to hide my love for the genre that is rural fiction or rural romance, in any shape or form. So, when the opportunity arose to read a novel from this genre set in a rural location I have not read anything about before, I jumped at the chance. This is how I came across Holly Ford, the author of The Last McAdam.

    It was a lovely and warm long weekend here in Perth and there is nothing better than sitting down to enjoy a good book by the pool. I did just that and The Last McAdam was my book of choice. I only intended on reading a few pages of this novel, but a few pages turned into a lot of pages and before I knew it, I had whizzed through the novel in record time. Perhaps this is a good indication of how engaging this novel turned out to be – for this reader anyway! I did enjoy the author, Holly Ford’s style of writing, it was open, down to earth and seemed to be structured in a way that the pages just melted away with no huge effort. The Last McAdam reeled me into its developing story instantly and the remainder of the story came with ease. I did find the first half of the novel seems to focus more on setting up of the events to come and on character development, which was fine by me. The latter part of the novel included a fair amount of action based around the farm and contained a line of suspense, which worked well.

    The overwhelming appeal of The Last McAdam came from the alternative setting. I had the comfort of knowing this was a rural fiction novel, a genre I am most at home with, but it was delivered with a slight twist. I relished the location descriptions of life on a typical sheep and cattle station, in the mountain region of New Zealand’s south island. It is a part of the world I would dearly love the opportunity to visit at some point in the future and Ford’s depiction of this stunning setting just added to my desire to go. The Last McAdam also provides a realistic portrayal of life on a struggling farming property. Ford has clearly researched this area well, as I was introduced to areas in farming I was not aware of until reading this book, which is always enlightening.

    Romance fans will not be disappointed in Ford’s novel. There are plenty of sparks that fly between the leading man and lady, offering lots of simmering tension, missed opportunities and tender moments. This is a gentler romance compared to some I have read of late from the rural fiction genre, but it hit the right note for me.

    Along with a rolling storyline packed full of romance, spectacular setting descriptions and an authentic look at farming life in New Zealand, are the characters that drive this novel. Starting with Tess, she has a strong but likeable personality and it was great to see her in the position of a farming consultant, leading the way. Nate is a worthy match for Tess, he is stoic but has a softer side that is gradually revealed through the course of the novel. Supporting Tess and Nate are a cast of secondary characters that should not be overlooked, as they add colour and variety to this engaging novel.

    Holly Ford stakes her claim on the popular rural fiction genre with her entertaining offering, The Last McAdam. This lovely novel combines a stunning rural location, an authentic take on farming life, a touch of romance and a set of endearing characters. It is a book to watch out for and comes highly recommended.

    *I wish to thank Beauty & Lace for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

  8. I was really looking forward to reading this book as I was born into a grazing property. My father had to walk off our property when all our sheep drowned in a flood. I know only too well the hardships farmers can face
    “The Last McAdam” didn’t disappoint. It was so much more than the usual rural romance story. Set in the South Island of New Zealand it tells the story of Tess a gutsy,trouble shooting Farm Manager. Tess works for a large Agribusiness and is sent in to finalise the takeover of a property managed by Nate (the last McAdam)
    The novel addresses the issues faced by farmers vs Agribusiness with humour and humanity. It is an easy to read book as it moves along fastly. . As well as the two main characters, there are several others whose stories add to this tale. Yes, this is a romance; but it is so much more. It is the interactions of those in the book that really make this stand out. Real salt of the earth people.
    Highly recommend this for a feel good book to read over a lazy weekend

  9. This story reminds me of my Grandparents farm, quirky characters with lots of heart and heartwarming stories.

    Holly is a headstrong women with a job to do, but she also has a heart of gold. What will win out? Her job or her heart?

    The journey is all about discovering what she really wants to do with her life and along the way she takes a few hits, with a few revelations as to where here heart really lays, with her boss or with Nate.. Holly needs to decide whether she was to settle in one spot or keep moving on, and as all headstrong women know it takes a while for our hearts to talk some sense into our heads!

    All in all a pretty good book, set in my favourite place to visit.

  10. I’ve just finished this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nate McAdam….ohhh dear god he sounds HOT! I love how we had a strong leading lady ‘Tess’ its nice to not have the typical damsel in distress. Easily 5 stars from me. I look forward to hunting down more of Holly Fords novels.

  11. I also loved this book, something so Australian about a farming book!

    Nate and Tess definitely had a love worth reading and I read it within a few days (very hard to do with 3 children!) I love that Tess can hold her own as this is more realistic these days!

    Look forward to more from Holly in the future!!

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