The Australian Outback is vast, beautiful, and deadly, but for Nate Baldwin it offers a place to hide from the rest of the world. After a terrible accident, Nate is unable to forgive himself and retreats to the isolation of the Outback. Here he can impose upon himself his own penance. He has no friends and rarely associated with his neighbors and this lack of human interaction suits him. Or so he tells himself. And then Nate finds Aidan Brennan, near death and suffering from heat stroke.
Aidan is running, blindly and without having prepared for such a flight. He just knows he needs to get away as fast as possible, to hide until he can discover who is leaking critical case information in his department, information that got someone killed. When he meets Nate, Aidan is only concerned about getting away, so he doesn’t bring pain to Nate as well. But as each man is forced to confront the guilt tearing at him, they discover, in one another, the hope for something better.
Outback Redemption deals with the pain of loss, the weight of guilt, and the power of forgiveness. The story involves the death of a child and torture of a secondary character, so if you’ve got triggers, you may want to proceed cautiously. Outback Redemption has an important story to tell, but ultimately struggles to make the impact I think it wanted to. Nate and Aidan are perfectly serviceable characters and, while their emotional struggles are communicated clearly enough by the author, they failed to make an emotional impression on me. I struggled to connect with either of them and while I was sympathetic to their suffering, it was hard to actually care about them. Nate’s self flagellation especially didn’t seem as tortured as we were supposed to believe. Their romance was straightforward, but not particularly inspired, and I wondered more than once if their relationship would have succeeded if not for their mutual traumas. It seemed to be about the only thing they had in common.
The writing is decent and there are moments of depth, especially when the author seems to connect with the Outback’s natural wildness and immensity. There were also periods of action, either physical or emotional, that seemed to charge the overall plot. But on the whole, I felt the story sort of limped along. It seemed to know where it was going and what it wanted to accomplish, but it never seemed particularly driven to get there. As a result, the pacing waxed and waned between being just right and too slow.
Outback Redemption certainly isn’t a bad book and it offers readers an emotional journey from beginning to end. But for me, it just didn’t have the depth or impact I was hoping for and, as a result, I walked away feeling somewhat unfulfilled.