Title: Savannah’s Secret
Author: Mandy Magro
Published: May 2021
Content warnings: mention of suicide, murder
I received a copy of Savannah’s Secret from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Starting over was never going to be easy, especially as he’s looking for the one thing she can’t give … the truth.
Set in the heart of the Australian countryside comes a compelling romance with a touch of suspense from bestselling author Mandy Magro.
Savannah Garret remains resolute in testifying as the sole eyewitness in Brisbane’s most dangerous criminal case. For safety, the police have furnished her with a new identity and instructions to keep to herself. With a shiny new driver’s licence in hand and job as a barmaid lined up, this die-hard city girl finds herself stepping off a bus and into the desolate street of the small country town she’s now to call home.
Ash Sullivan has it all, money at his fingertips, his own property, and a successful chopper mustering business. But when it comes to love, he’s failed miserably. Bitter experience has taught him that if he is ever lucky enough to meet a special woman he can fall for again, she has to be upfront from the get-go, no matter what.
These are two people, as different as chalk and cheese, who were never meant to meet until fate intervened. Will they grow to be the person each other needs? Or will their differences drive them apart?
Set in a remote rural town, Savannah’s Secret is the coming together of two people with tragic pasts and overcoming the secrets that are holding them back.
Savannah Garrett is in witness protection after testifying in a criminal case; the trial over, she’s sent to start her new life in a small, rural town – a sharp contrast to her high-flying city life. Despite being outside her comfort zone, she finds the charm in working as a bartender in the local pub and getting to know the people in the town, especially Ash Sullivan, local chopper musterer and town enigma. He has his own tragic history that has kept him from pursuing relationships. Until he meets Savannah, and then the two have to find a way to overcome their own pasts and see if they can be what the other needs.
This was a very easy reading experience. Savannah’s Secret is the second of Magro’s books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Despite being a self-confessed city girl myself, I have family who live in rural areas, and there’s a level of comfort I find in rural romances, as well as a sense of idealism. Savannah is used to living a completely different life in the city, one that’s shattered when she is the sole witness to a crime against her best friend, and so not only is she having to spend time adjusting to her new life, new name and new location, but she’s also grieving. This makes her reluctant to open up to people about her past (especially since there are parts she’s can’t talk about for safety) and even harder to form connections.
Ash manages to weave his way under her skin. He’s a genuine nice-guy who was raised to treat women respectfully. He flirts, but never pushes Savannah, and tries to be understanding when he realises she’s holding a lot back. There were a few instances where it felt like he was a bit black-or-white about Savannah when her truth is finally revealed, and part of that ending and resolution felt a bit rushed, but overall I enjoyed their playful and fun dynamic.
Standouts included many of the side-characters – Jacko, the local publican trying to keep his pub afloat, Ash’s parents who step in to look after his property and animals when he’s away working, and Pork Chop, Ash’s pet pig who is a clearly beloved family member. I also truly appreciated the descriptions of the landscape, and especially the little house that Ash rents out to Savannah so she has somewhere to stay. It honestly sounded beautiful.
This is a book that deals with loss, change and finding love. Magro weaves all of it together into one compelling read.