What’s All The Fuss About Rural Romance?
Author Pamela Cook
If you live in Australia and have frequented the book section of any of the big chain retailers (Big W, Target, Kmart) or even bookstores in the last few years, chances are you’ve seen quite a few covers featuring girls wearing hats, possibly on horseback and maybe with a windmill somewhere in the distance. What you have witnessed is the still growing phenomenon that is Australian Rural Romance.
So what is this thing called Rural Romance, why do Australians love to read it and why is it still so popular?
Since the queen of the ‘genre’, Rachel Treasure, first appeared on the shelves back in 2002, title after title has been published. And it’s not all about the romance – crime, suspense, environmental concerns, social issues, family relationships, history – a whole slew of themes are dealt with by writers who may or may not live on the land. Most of the novels being written do contain romantic elements, if not a straight romance narrative, and all of them are set in country towns or on properties hence the category, Rural Romance. Best selling authors in the genre include Fleur McDonald, Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, and Cathryn Hein to name just a few.
At the time I wrote my first published novel, Blackwattle Lake, in 2009, I’d never heard of Rural Romance. But by the time it was accepted for publication (by Hachette) in 2012 the genre had become well established. And it’s popularity has continued to grow, which isn’t all that surprising given our cultural history.
Australians have always had a love affair with the bush. Our literary heritage is based on the writing of Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson, Neville and a long list of other writers who used various country or outback locations as settings for their stories. The narratives were often about tough men and hardy women who braved the dangers of the land, overcame disasters and often faced death but finally succeeded. Today’s versions of those stories aren’t all that different. They appeal to our desire to see the underdog triumphing over adversity and to our love affair with open spaces where even those of us who live in the city find a sense of escape and freedom.
The heroines of today’s Rural Romances aren’t the man-desperate-swooners many people associate with the back-in-the-day Mills and Boon titles. They’re independent, feisty, smart and have a lot going on in their lives which makes the romance side of their stories much more interesting. If they’re going to have a man in their lives he’d better be worth it – and that brings us to the heros of the genre. These guys are hot, sometimes brooding, but with a lot more to them than a six pack and a bare chest. And when the couples do finally get together the sparks fly – sometimes with the bedroom door open just a crack for the reader and often with it ripped right off the hinges.
As I mentioned earlier the wide variety of ‘sub-genres’ within the Rural Romance category really does provide something for everyone. Whether you like your romance undiluted, or if you like to cross over into the realms of crime, mystery or history, you’ll find a story to suit your taste. Don’t be fooled by the covers – while the girl with the hat on the horse thing is a way of marketing the books to the target audience I’m sure there’s a lot of other readers out there who would really enjoy these stories if they gave them a try.
Love, get-away-from-it-all locations, sexy heroines and heroes, interesting characters and page-turning storylines – what’s not to love about Rural Romance?
You can check out who is who in the world of Rural Romance and browse the virtual bookshelves right here on this site: www.australianruralromance.com
Close to Home is Pamela’s latest release –
A compelling story of love, lies and loss in a small country town.
Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for over half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between then haunting memories of her past and her dedication to the job.
Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family – her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backward glance. But it also means relying on the kindness of strangers and, when she meets local park ranger, Joel Drummond, opening her heart to the possibility of something more …
As tensions in the town rise, can Charlie let go of the past and find herself a new future in the place she left so long ago?
Close To Home will also be available at Big W and your local book store.
You can find more about Pamela and her novels at her website: http://www.pamelacook.com.au/
8/14/2015 05:00:03 pm
Hi! Monique and Pamela,
When I arrived in Australia,I fell in love with the Outback after watching, McLeod’s Daughters. My pen friend said there are stories also and they are called Australian Rural Fiction.Got my membership at the local library and since been a huge lover of Rural fiction.The first book l read was Man Drought by Rachael Johns and The Farmers wife by Rachael Treasure.Rural Romance can take the reader on a journey through Australia. Love it.
8/14/2015 05:17:21 pm
I agree books are a great window to a country. Whenever I travel I try and read books set where I’m visiting. Rural romance is a wonderful way to explore Australia without actually having to hop on a horse or sheer a sheep…or even leave home.
8/16/2015 11:03:03 am
I was a McLeod’s fan too Jessy! So glad you’re enjoying all the rural reads out there at the moment. Thanks for commenting and for your support.
8/16/2015 11:34:36 am
Your welcome, Pamela
Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
8/26/2015 10:34:10 am
Oh my goodness. I’m hearing so much about Rural Romance but didn’t know about australianruralromance.com
I’m going there now to check out some of the great titles…! 🙂
8/26/2015 10:48:02 am
Julie it is huge here…I think I heard 20% plus of romance books are rural romance when I was at the RWAus on the weekend…that’s a big chunk of the market…
8/26/2015 09:25:44 pm
Rural Romance is SOOO big here in Australia. And not just in romance, in Women’s Fiction, any genre. When I was draft my synopsis for my current wip, my “editor” made the change from ‘In dusty Lawson’s Ridge…’ to ‘In outback Lawson’s Ridge…’ And guess what, the first person in the industry to read the synopsis made an ‘oohhh outback Lawson’s Ridge’ comment.
Being a country girl (coastal country not outback), trapped in the city, I can fully get why stories about country town and country folk are so popular. God I miss the country!