Storm Over Mandargi by Margaret Way

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Australian-set romance between 22-year-old Toni and (older, but not specified) Damon Nyland, who owns the ranch Toni’s brother manages, among other assets. He lives elsewhere in some horrendous-sounding country McMansion.

Toni is rude, immature, angry, stroppy – for no apparent reason at all. I could barely get past her first interaction with Damon who has done nothing wrong at any stage, ever. She even flings it in his face that he’s a millionaire, like that’s some sort of crime? And no, Toni is not some kind of social campaigner or communist, nor has Damon done her family wrong or anything, she’s just a nasty, rude, resentful, sulky, bad-tempered little brat. I expect the author intended her to be “fiery” but if so, it didn’t work. Toni is simply rude and aggressive.

I didn’t have a digital copy or I would have done a word-count of “eyes” but they are constantly mentioned. Damon’s in particular, they are “ice-green”, “jade green”, “frost-cool green”, “strange”, “gleaming”, “brilliant with life, clear and glittery”. Like a “jungle-cat”. They constantly “narrow”. Toni’s eyes are endlessly referred to as “dark” – on literally every page. It’s bizarre.

We have a marvellously beautiful and vile Other Woman (yes – there’s a “tinkling laugh”) who is about the best thing in the book, though she doesn’t get any comeuppance for practically trying to murder Toni.

Being set in Australia and written in 1973, there are references to Aboriginal people, that aren’t disparaging per se, but are rather uncomfortably colonial/patronising. Eg Toni lecturing one of the women workers to get married rather than cohabit with her bloke.

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