Author: Annie Seaton
Publication Date: 23 July 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Whitsunday Dawn is not my first Annie Seaton and it certainly won’t be my last. I was introduced to her work with the first of the Porter Sisters series, Kakadu Sunset, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when we ran out of Porter sisters to read about. Seaton does have quite a collection of other releases, which I haven’t read, but I believe are in a different romantic genre. The Porter Sisters trilogy has elements of romance but they have strong adventure storylines and are very environmentally focused.
The Whitsundays are an idyllic paradise I have only ever heard about or seen in photos but Seaton has brought them to life within the pages of this book and what a glorious holiday destination it would make. Whitsunday Dawn shares the major elements with the Porter Sisters trilogy and adds a fascinating element of history that reads authentically and comes across meticulously researched.
There were a few different elements of suspense in Whitsunday Dawn and I loved that. There was a sense of mystery and puzzles to piece together. The biggest puzzle I put together but I never quite got the how.
Olivia Sheridan is the face of PR for Sheridan Corp, a big mining company proposing a project in the Whitsunday region, she is also the daughter of the boss. Eight years she has slogged her guts out for the company, giving it everything she has in the hope of making her Dad proud. She heads to the Whitsundays to host a community meeting about the proposed project, designed to allay the fears of the community and convince them that this is a good idea.
Her work for Sheridan Corp has become less satisfying, all her years at university are being wasted as her father uses her need for approval to convince her to do things in the name of her job without question. She is given information on a need to know basis and made to just relay the info she has, deferring to others for answering questions, which could well be tricky. She has worked tirelessly on this presentation to have last minute changes made that leave her a little less prepared than she would like.
Dual timelines add the element of mystery as we try to work out how they are connected. Seaton has added a captivating look at the region in wartime as we slowly get to know the family of the fascinating matriarch of a local family, Aunty Tat.
Whitsunday Dawn is topical, intriguing and disturbing all at once. Our environment is at risk from so many factors and mining companies wanting to reopen old mines, or open new mines, tend to find the right spin to sway communities; sometimes they seem to get the approvals they need even in the face of community dissent. Seaton has explored one very disturbing way that these projects can be passed.
Olivia Sheridan spends the weekend in the Whitsundays in the lead up to the meeting, her original plan had been to work on the presentation and get to know it inside out form her hotel room over the weekend; a chance encounter on her way from the airport to the hotel changed everything. She ended up doing some exploring and seeing a lot of the area; which gave her a much more human outlook than just the concepts on maps and in print.
I loved Seaton’s characters, well most of them. Olivia is a complex young lady who has been chasing approval for so many years that she doesn’t even realise how much of herself she has lost. She is in the area for work and has only been given the need to know info, until she starts to see for herself how terrible a coal loader and railway will be for the region. Her desire to believe the best of people sees her in deep.
Captain Jay was a fascinating character who it took quite a while to get the measure of. He has been called a jack of all trades and he certainly popped up in some unexpected places. He is passionate and determined, enigmatic and charismatic.
Aunty Tat is a fabulous family matriarch who is slipping between the past and the present. She is surrounded by a large extended family that is close and affectionate, but she still suffers the loss of a sister who disappeared without a trace in the war. We are taken back to Whitsunday Island in the 1940s when it is the home of Tatiana and her family.
I loved this story and the way it all came together. I would actually love more of Aunty Tat, we had a year or so of her early life during the war and then we see her in the twilight of her life, slipping back to the past but there is nothing of the years in between. I would love to read the story of the Ellis family through the 70-ish years in between what is covered in Whitsunday Dawn.
Seaton has included some fascinating historical information about the Whitsunday region, in the early days of settlement and throughout the war. She illuminates the very real issues facing the iconic Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Dawn is a book that I would definitely recommend.
Whitsunday Dawn is book #36 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.