Book Title: Storm
Part of Series: No
Author: Nicole Stuart
Number of words (approximately): 48 210
Star Rating (of five): Four
Summary: An all-woman tour grouping in the Australian Outback with leader Dan Brown the sole male are trapped in a valley after a violent storm collapses a cliff across the entrance. The group members learn to like each other, then one of the women is bitten by a spider, and Dan and Vanessa have to walk hundreds of kilometers across the storm-ravaged land to fetch help.
- As soon as there was enough light, Dan scouted for a place to cross the stream, choosing the place where they could get over most easily, then went to wake Vanessa. She stretched painfully as she stood. Dan saw with concern that she was showing some signs of strain.
“Are you feeling OK?” he asked.
“I’m fine. Just a little stiff, and I could do with about twenty hours of sleep!” She smiled at him, wincing a little as she stretched. “I’ve been sitting in an office for the past six weeks, rushing to get my work completed before I left. I haven’t been able to keep up my exercise program. But I’ll be fine!” She stood, and took a few experimental steps, stretching her muscles. “Let’s go!”
“I’ve checked where to go over the stream,” said Dan. “It’s down that way, about fifty meters. The stream is a bit wider there as it goes around the bend, but it appears not to be so deep or fast-flowing. It’s about twenty meters wide there.” He led her along the bank to the crossing place he had identified, then pointed out a bush to belay the line. He climbed down the crumbling bank, taking care not to slip into the water, then stepped into the water, feeling for solid ground with his feet. The bottom was rocky, but reasonably stable. He crossed over fairly easily, wading thigh-deep through the water for the first section, then, near the bank, the bottom suddenly dipped so that the water reached to his chest. He pushed through, feeling the strength of the flow of water on his body threatening to push him off his feet, and reached the opposite bank. He found a place to climb out, scrabbling up the soft ground. He walked a short distance up the stream, to the point where he had planned to reach the bank, near an overhanging tree a short distance downstream from the bend in the river, then held the line to support Vanessa as she crossed. She stepped into the water, feeling it tug strongly on her legs. Balancing carefully, she walked across. She was about five meters from Dan’s side when a tree trunk washed around the bend, bearing down on her with frightening speed. Dan, watching for just such a danger, saw it first.
“Move as quick as you can!” he shouted. He pulled on the rope, taking care not to pull Vanessa over, but helping her overcome the drag of the water on her legs. She was less than two meters from the bank, up to her breasts in the water, when Dan saw that she would not make it in time to escape the roots of the tree washing down the stream. If they hit her, she would certainly be injured and probably dragged downstream, possibly even drowned! He leaped over to the overhanging tree next to him, that he had been using as an anchor. He reached for a stout branch with one hand, and, hanging from that hand, extended his body over the bank, using his legs as a pivot. Vanessa saw his plan, and she jumped towards him with all her strength. The water took hold of her, but her attempt succeeded, and she came within range of Dan’s arm. He looped his free arm around her chest as she grabbed his shoulder and scooped Vanessa bodily out of the water. She quickly lifted her legs high, and the tree roots scraped along the bank where she had been standing a second earlier, momentarily hooking on her boots, then moving past with inexorable power downstream. Dan held her tight to him for a few seconds in his relief, longer than he needed to, then swung his body back towards the bank and set her carefully down. Vanessa stood, and assisted Dan to recover his footing. -
Structure: The book complies with the recommended format for an eBook, and reads well. The spelling, grammar and syntax are good, and the use of language considered and pleasant.
Content: The book tells of an interlude that changes the lives of five women and one man. It builds the characters well, and describes the atmosphere of the Outback excellently. Nicole Stuart has a knack of telling a believable story in a way that holds the attention of the reader, and her understanding of the locations of her books is clear. She is able to put the reader there.
Reviewer’s Comments: Storm! describes a part of the world that I know in a way that I found delightful. Her characters are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I became immersed in this story, feeling that I was there! I enjoyed the story, the book and the experience.