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Outback Dreams They were best friends who were never meant to fall in love – but for one of them it was already way too late Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Tom Forrest were raised on neighboring cattle stations in the heart of the Kimberley As young adults sharing the same life dreams something came between them that Willow cannot forget and now ten years have passed When her father falls ill Willow is called home to take over the running of the family property Patterson Downs Her vision for a sustainable organic cattle station is proving hard to achieve She needs Tom’s help but is it all too late and too difficult to make amends A pile of Tom’s heartfelt letters has remained unopened and unspoken between them Willow must find the courage to finally bring them out Their tattered pages reveal a love story like no other – and one you’ll never forget Dear Banjo is a wildly romantic and utterly captivating story about first love and second chances from an exciting new Australian author

10 thoughts on “Outback Dreams

  1. Brenda Brenda says:

    Willow Banjo Paterson and Tom Forrest were best friends and had been for as long as they could remember Growing up in the Kimberley’s with their parents’ properties side by side Tom and Banjo had had many hours of adventure and laughter as they explored the stations getting up to what kids then teens all over do But the day both received their acceptances into uni in Perth everything changed – Banjo fled to Perth to become deeply involved in her university degree while Tom deferred and remained at the family farmTen years on and Willow still fondly recalled Tom but always with a side of grief and guilt for the friendship lost Tom had sent many letters to her in her first year but after the first two Willow hadn’t read any of them – and they had stopped Then when Beth Willow’s sister called to say their father was in hospital after a heart attack she packed up everything and headed back to Paterson Downs Barry Paterson wanted Willow to take over the running of the station so he could retire and retain his healthWillow’s vision of a sustainable organic cattle station had been a long time dream for both Paterson Downs and the Forrest station but she was delighted to hear Tom was already there with his dream But when she finally met up with him the vast distance between them; the coldness of Tom’s greeting was obvious to all Willow was shocked – she had no idea what the ten year gap had done to Tom Needing his help with her ideas for the station was proving too difficult – her thoughts were in turmoil; her confusion great Was it time to read his letters? And what would she find if she did? Dear Banjo by Aussie author Sasha Wasley is an emotional story of growth; of overcoming your fears and not shutting people out The author has two fantastic characters in Banjo and Tom and the many side characters play their parts well There was only one character I didn’t like – and he wasn’t meant to be liked Dear Banjo isn’t what I thought it would be – the cover is deceptive – and I thoroughly enjoyed it Highly recommendedWith thanks to Penguin Random House AU for my ARC to read and review

  2. Amanda - Mrs B& Amanda - Mrs B& says:

    Banjo was always going to be a winner for me as it includes all the things I love about a uality rural fiction book From the strong West Australian based setting to the emphasis on letters as a form of storytelling and the deeply romantic relationship between two childhood best friends from neighbouring cattle stations – Dear Banjo has so much going for it It comes as no surprise that I was genuinely thrilled when an opportunity to review this novel presented itself to meDear Banjo is the touching story of Willow ‘Banjo Patterson and Tom Forrest who hail from neighbouring cattle stations in the Kimberley region located in the north of Western Australia Willow and Tom are as thick as thieves in fact as teenagers they make a pact that they will never let anything get in the way of their rock solid friendship All that changes when life gets in the way Tom crosses the boundaries of their friendship while celebrating the success of both of them gaining entry into university With the death of her mother still fresh in Willow’s mind and the incident with Tom delivering feelings she would rather not confront Willow escapes to the city While Willow immerses herself in university life Tom is left behind in the country deferring his studies Tom continues to fight for Willow and he pours his heart out to her in the form of many letters However Willow painfully shuts Tom out from her new life and his letters go unanswered Some ten years later after carving out a successful career at university Willow must return to her family’s property With Willow’s father taking a turn for the worse health wise Willow must put the skills she learnt from her years in study into practice Transforming her family’s property into a thriving sustainable and organic cattle station is no easy task But what proves even harder for Willow is her relationship with Tom which seems beyond repairAs far as rural fiction goes Dear Banjo is easily one of my favourite novels now from this fantastic genre This pleases me greatly as I love to support new authors especially writers from my home state of Western Australia which is where Sasha Wasley hails from Sasha Wasley is not a debut author she has written books under the name SD Wasley in the mysteryparanormal genre Dear Banjo signals the first book Wasley has written in the rural fiction or life lit genre and it is also her first publication for Penguin Random House AustraliaI adored Dear Banjo The combination of elements in this novel seemed to click together just perfectly The unresolved and simmering relationship history between the leads Willow and Tom was the overwhelming reason why I loved this book It was also the reason why I found it extremely hard to make way for real life while reading this book All I wanted to do was stay with the characters and continue to experience this stunning storyWhat I loved about Dear Banjo was the progression of Tom and Willow’s relationship Wasley comprehensively covers the couple’s shared times as childhood friends through to the changes that occur to their lives as teenagers and finally to the present day In the here in now we discover Tom and Willow are estranged An eventual partnership seems unlikely but the romantic in me was hopeful On the whole I found Tom and Willow’s relationship to be realistic emotional and deeply humanWillow and Tom are well developed characters Whilst it took a bit for me to like Willow I eventually began to make sense of the decisions she made even though I didn’t always agree with them Willow makes a great transformation in character during the progression of Dear Banjo In contrast Tom was a protagonist I took an immediate liking to The addition of his letters to the narrative gave us a deep insight into his character I loved the character of Tom immensely in fact I wished my husband could express his feelings in the way Tom romantically does in Dear Banjo Tom and Willow are supported by a solid cast of supporting characters who all make a solid contribution to the unfolding story Two periphery characters featured in Dear Banjo Free and Beth Willow’s sisters left a significant impression on me I was over the moon when I discovered these two sisters would eventually get their own stories courtesy of the next two books to be written by Sasha WasleyThe setting of this book must be mentioned as it is so well drawn Wasley’s setting descriptions bring us deep into the heart of the Kimberley It was a place I didn’t want to leave thanks to Wasley’s prose Likewise Wasley’s focus on the farming practices on the two outback stations featured in the novel was informative authentic and accessible It reflected the depth of research Wasley has clearly undertaken in this areaI could pipe on and on about Dear Banjo but as this review is already proving lengthy I will wrap it up by concluding that I endorse this book completely It is utterly deserving of a full five star rating Dear Banjo should be an auto buy for readers who are drawn to rural fiction or contemporary life literature

  3. Sharon Sharon says:

    Childhood friends Willow Banjo Paterson and Tom Forrest grew up on neighboring properties in the Kimberley Most days Willow and Tom would kick about on the farm together making their own fun and adventures In between their fun they would talk about their dreams for the future and it seemed they both wanted the same things But all their hopes and dreams suddenly change and Willow and Tom end up going their separate ways The years go past uickly and over the years Willow has often thought of Tom A friendship like theirs should've lasted forever but sometimes life takes a different turn to what you might have planned Willow's father has taken ill and she must return to the family property How will Willow and Tom react when they see one another again? Can they have a future together or has too much time gone by? Some would say this is just a rural romance novel and I'm going to agree in part that yes it is but for me it was so much than that In fact I was pleasantly surprised at how much emotion was in this book A captivating story about friendship and love The descriptions on the outback throughout this story are remarkable and a credit to the author A really enjoyable read which I HIGHLY recommend

  4. Theresa Smith Theresa Smith says:

    I have to state right up front that I enjoyed this novel immensely To me the story was rather reminiscent of McLeod’s Daughters but in the very best of ways and I felt myself slipping into uite a comforted state of being each evening as I read my next hundred pages or soI love the representation of Australia that is depicted within this novel Sprawling stations communities within themselves and deep connections to the land and each other Through Willow’s and Tom’s shared passion for organic beef production Sasha Wasley was able to weave the subject of sustainable organic farming deep into the narrative and I found this focus of the novel uite fascinating along with the notion of continuing on with the family farm but with a newer sustainable long term aspect The environmental and welfare implications for this interested me greatly and I enjoyed the accessible way Sasha presented this topicThe challenges Willow faced when returning to the station were uite realistic and stretched her character well We saw Willow shift and grow in such a positive way throughout the story both within herself as well as within her family relationships within her employee relationships and of course within her relationship with Tom This type of character development is not always so apparent particularly in a story where there are uite a few other things going on all at once Often times one aspect may get sacrificed for the other and it takes skill to balance a great story with realistic character development and I feel Sasha Wasley handled this brilliantly in Dear Banjo Much of the background to Willow’s and Tom’s relationship was communicated through Tom’s ten year old unread letters to ‘Banjo’ I’ve always been partial to letters within novels so I was uite looking forward to these parts of the story and they did not disappoint The letters were heartfelt honest and above all realistic There’s a tendency with letters and diaries within novels to sometimes become a ‘dumping ground’ for backstory Again it’s all about balance; explanation versus emotion Sasha found the right balance from the get go and maintained this well Tom’s mounting frustration and heartache coming through as the letters progressed Likewise the letters Willow wrote to Tom towards the end of the novel were also very well done In trying to find the perfect way to tell Tom she was sorry and that she loved him Willow also laid herself bare and turned a corner that had previously been so far off for her A true ‘coming of age’ moment that is uite memorable taken within the context of Tom’s follow up grand gestureBilled as a rural romance I felt this novel could be adeuately described as a turn in the road coming of age love story but I guess rural romance is concise The personal journey for Willow was as much of an integral part of the story as the relationship between Willow and Tom I’m so pleased to find out that this is the first in a series as I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and looked forward to getting lost in its pages each night It will be lovely to return to these characters and see what Sasha has in store for Beth and Free as well as to check in with Willow and Tom as they forge ahead with their new life and shared vision for their stations As far as rural fiction goes Dear Banjo is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time #aww2017

  5. Dale Harcombe Dale Harcombe says:

    At age 15 Willow Patterson otherwise known as Banjo and Tom Forrest who live in neighbouring cattle stations make a pact not to let anything ever interfere with their friendship But then when they get their University acceptances Tom does something that Willow cannot overlook or forgive As a result Willow has not spoken to Tom for ten years When her father has a heart attack and is restricted in what he can do Willow heads home to Paterson Downs to take over running the family property which is what she has always wanted to do Her plan is to make it into a sustainable organic cattle station But there are than a few obstacles There are obstacles in trying to make some sort of feasible connection with Tom since he seems very cold Some might say with good reason Since they will be living in close proximity again Willow needs to try and make things better That includes doing something about the pile of letters Tom wrote to Willow after she left for university Letters she has not opened over the ten years Maybe now is the time to see what they said?Although I enjoyed this story I did find the reason Willow ignored Tom for so many years very flimsy Yes the author gives reasons why she behaves as she does but to me it never rang true Could be just my take but there were times when I felt like clonking Willow on the head and telling her to wake up to herself Tom is a lovely character and his letters are beautiful He is a man any woman could fall in love with There are several other characters I really liked and one I didn’t but you are not meant to like him The setting in the Kimberley’s is well conveyed It is obvious the author knows the area well I did feel the organic cattle station idea tended to become a little preachy at timesDespite that this was an enjoyable rural read which gathers momentum towards the end It deserved a better cover My first read by this author it will be interesting to see what she writes next

  6. Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling says:

    Astonishingly good My ViewA few months ago now author Sasha Wasley contacted me regarding the release of her new book Dear Banjo and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing We struck up a “on line” friendship – based on our mutual love of our journeys to the north of Western Australia the cover of her book had evoked many memories of campingcaravanningworking in that region – based on that red pindan infused cover I decided to give this book a chance And what a fabulous read I discovered This book is so much than an Australian rural romance – in fact I would describe it as a coming of age or contemporary fiction life literature with a dash of humanism In this read there are three main characters Willow “Banjo’ Paterson Tom Forrest and the rugged Kimberly outback Whilst Patterson Downs is a fictional town the settings and the local community come to life on the page The protagonists aspire to sustainable farming practices – a uniue perspective in rural writing and hopefully one that is becoming popular with actual graziers This aspect of the novel was fascinating the hero of the book Engaging well developed characters realistic settings and a narrative that enchants this is a must read

  7. Nadia King Nadia King says:

    Swoon worthy un put downable gorgeous rural romance from Sasha WasleyBanjo Paterson and Tom Forrest were inseparable growing up on neighbouring cattle stations in the remote wilderness of northwest Western Australia When Banjo loses her mother at fourteen years she finds herself shutting everyone out; even her best friend Tom Years later Banjo returns home to the Kimberley full of optimism about introducing new sustainable farming practices to the family's cattle station Can Banjo reconnect with Tom and take up their friendship again or was the rift all those years ago too large to repair?Dear Banjo is a swoon worthy un put downable book that had me hiding away for sneaky readsBravo Sash Wasley on writing a gorgeous story about the love between best friends and what it means to come home

  8. Luzie Luzie says:

    This review may contain SPOILERSI absolutely love this book it's got everything a good romance novel has to offer Love Excitement Action and a special twist that no other book so far has had at least no book I've encountered which is the rural Australian bush I didn't even realize how much I needed someone like Tom and Willow and their amazing friendshiprelationship before I read about them He is the absolute wothiest love interest I have ever met cause he's loyal sweet genuine nice hot patient and he's always there for Willow I could also relate to Willow since her trouble both with being a social butterfly and with finding the strength to overcome life changing happenings makes her a bit of an introvert Ultimately I loved the fact that this book had so many small details that helped those two to finally be together such as the letters or those small things that were hidden in the boab tree These little things make for a sweet and heart warming romance 455 stars

  9. Sam Still Reading Sam Still Reading says:

    Oh Dear Banjo I’m not sure where to start with my review of this novel for fear it will turn into a gushing love letter to it The letters in this book from hero Tom to heroine Willow aka “Banjo” her nickname for having the surname Paterson are passionate and full of emotion Just a young man pouring his heart out in raw words to the girl who he thought was a friend with the potential to be so much It was the letters that truly cemented this book’s place in my heart I’m a sucker for spying on the personal private lives of characters and Dear Banjo does that so well But the letters are only one small part of this novel Dear Banjo is as much about friendship and finding your place in the world Both Tom and Willow palpably grow as characters during the story so you can’t help but feel a little bit proud of them at the end for making it through the rollercoaster of emotions drama and farming It’s never boring and never over the top I’d describe this as a great rural romance that truly celebrates the Kimberley way of lifeThe book opens in Perth which feels like a cold grey emotionless place for Willow It’s easy to see from the start that she’s living a life only half lived buried in agricultural research thousands of kilometres away from her home in the north of the state It’s always been planned that Willow would return to run the station that way but a uick forced retirement by her father has it happening a lot faster than she expected There is just one thing holding Willow back – the demise of her friendship with Tom whose family owns the neighbouring station Tom wrote her a letter every week for a year when she left for university and Willow didn’t even open them let alone reply after a fatal fracture in their relationship On the plane home Willow starts to open the letters and Tom’s decade old feeling pour out of the pageWhen Willow returns to Mount Clair the nearby town to Paterson Downs everything comes back to life colour and warmth seeping through the pages It’s easy to see from the writing style that she feels that she’s truly home But it’s not just the awkwardness with Tom Willow has to contend with but the change to sustainable organic cattle farming that puts a lot of noses out of joint on the station To make it work she needs to turn to the only other farmer in the region doing the same thing – TomSasha Wasley has created a wonderful story with rich characters Both Tom and Willow are real and believable There are no leaps of faith just dramas big and small to work through It’s a very believable romance between them made stronger by the rebuilding of their strong friendship I also liked the farming detail as it was told in a very interesting conversational way and never boring so many dramas I’d like to think I learned something The Kimberley setting was also beautifully rendered It was great to feel the warmth and red dirt in the middle of winterI’d love to hear of Willow’s sisters Free and Beth who were supporting characters in the story and vastly different Free is as her name suggests – a meandering travelling artist who is on the verge of an artist in residency position at the end of Dear Banjo Beth is vastly different – a determined fiercely focused GP with a giant 4WD What makes them tick?Finally I’d like to mention the delicious food in the novel – not what you’d expect of mass cooking for the station employees but some of their meals had me drooling So you can see that there is something for everyone in this novel – get on board and read a wonderful Aussie story Thank you to the author and publisher for the copy of this book My review is honesthttpsamstillreadingwordpresscom

  10. Donna Donna says:

    So an Australian rural romance not what you'd usually see come up in my feed however here it is Needed something 'light' for the cricket on the ereader as rain predicted and knew there would be long breaks between play long breaks filled with loud music This book read on the train and finished by the tea break Interesting information on organic sustainable farming practices and what is reuired for stations to receive accreditationTom is too good for Willow Dude seriously this chick was lacking a lot of warmth at the beginning Not reading your letters all those year ago and they were epic letters so wrong So there's drama uirky characters tension happy times conflict and it was okay Might even read the next one

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