New York cop Sherry Abandonato cashes in her savings and dashes to Ningaloo in remote northwest Western Australia to find her sister who disappeared ten days ago. The only one with the skill to guide her to Derremawan is Mason Hayward, once an official guide with a reputation for getting people out of trouble, but now the town’s bad man.
In a searing afternoon of unexpected passion, Mason strikes a bargain. He’ll get her to Derremawan, if she agrees to go there with him unconditionally, on his terms and his conditions.
Sherry is astonished to find herself agreeing to the insane bargain, and worse, responding positively to the idea of three days of Mason Hayward dictating terms out under the Australian sun.
There are many things you will sacrifice for those you love - your house, the clothes off your back, all your savings, and even your sexual freedom, anything, in order to get them back. And this is exactly what one desperate lady does to try and recover her missing sister.
Still stunted after a self imposed romantic exile following the death of her partner ten years previous, New York Police officer Sherry Abandonato packs up and travels across the world to North-Western Australia, where her younger sibling Pepper, together with her boyfriend, has gone missing while camping in the unforgiving Outback desert.
Taking her life savings and rather ironic last name, Sherry travels to the remote communities near Ningaloo Reef in search of an escort to take her to Derramawan; the last known location of her errant sister. However friendly the local police are, their reluctance to help sends her to Mason Hayward, former local tourist guide who's been ostracised from the township following a tragic accident.
Surly and emotionally reserved, Mason agrees to transport Sherry to the trail for a steep price - she gives him all her savings for supplies, asks no questions at all and surrenders herself over to him physically for as long as the mission takes. Simple, really. Together the pair travel through the desert summer heat, trading sexual favours as often as stories about their lives, each slowly lowering their respective emotional shields as their two day journey stretches into something more than just a rescue mission. Deals are made, secrets revealed and ribbons flown, cementing a fleeting connection into something deeper than expected.
Ningaloo Nights has the all the emotional depth of plot and character as the arid desert it's set it. And most of this can be blamed on the failings of it's short story format which hinders the development of dimensional characters with clear motivation and a good plot.
My biggest issue is the murkiness of the two lovers; both Sherry and Mason (not a name you hear often in Australian frontier men) don't get enough time to form fully realised characters before they are jumping each other. In fact, the swiftness of their sexual relationship is quite off-putting, but that could just be because I'm not much of an "instant gratification" person when it comes to my romance novels - I enjoy the thrill of the chase, and its kind of hard to do that when within four pages she's got her top off and his hand's up her skirt…
This isn't further helped when the motives for forming this sexual bond are rather dubiously explained, and leads an emotionally vulnerable woman into a carnal deal with the devil. It's a completely understand action that when your only living relative goes missing half a world away - you cash in as many of your worldly possessions as possible to stage a rescue mission. However, where the story goes awry quickly is that Sherry allows herself to bargain her body for the success of the mission, which reads rather transactionally and as a ruthless emotional manipulation on behalf of the supposed hero.
Ultimately, if a quick, dirty roll in the hay is your kind of thing, then this story of a controlling and damaged hunk of Aussie man meat versus the sassy but stunted beat cop is ideal for you. But if you're looking for a well plotted, intricately detailed, full of stunningly prose and intriguing characters, then Ms Cooper-Posey's fluffy filler is something to steer clear from. This just wasn't my cup of tea, sorry!