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Small Towns, Big Stories. Renae Black on why she loves writing rural romance.


Small Towns, Big Stories. Renae Black on why she loves writing rural romance.

To celebrate the launch of our 2024 When Loves Comes To Town campaign we asked rural romance author Renae Black, whose new book Red Dirt Home is out in March 2024, to pop by the blog and tell us why she loves reading rural romance.

Rural romance is not just my favourite genre to write, it’s also my favourite one to read. For me, it’s the sense of a new adventure and coming home all wrapped up in one.

I love immersing myself in the  Australian bush. We’re lucky to live in a country where the meaning of our Aussie ‘bush’ is so diverse. It can refer to the red dirt of the outback, the white crunch of the Snowy Mountains, the dry plains broken with rocky outcrops or sloping hills, or the sandy edge of the land where it meets the sea. With the right words, a reader can feel the sharp prickle of heat from the sun in a cloudless sky belting down on the back of their neck or the oppressive weight of the northern humidity, taste the gritty dust whipped up by the wind and smell the smoke of a campfire, hear the crackle of burning logs against the calls of a herded mob. The Australian landscape lends itself to romance: skinny dipping in the creek, camping out under the stars, Bachelor and Spinster balls, and picnicking at naturally formed lookouts.

Small towns are home to endless possibilities for a story. In a romance, there’s always the promise that two people will fall in love, but it’s how love sparks or grows through secrets and hurdles that keep the pages turning. Will they be drawn together through the need to solve a mystery? Is there a newcomer to town, haunted by past hurts? Will the recipe for love be found in the diaries of historical town events? Or can love endure the tests of mother nature — droughts, bush fires, floods, dust storms and cyclones, to name a few.

RELATED: Read a sneak peek from Red Dirt Home

In my writing, I love exploring social issues and how they impact differently in a small town compared to suburban areas or cities. Rural communities are more isolated from services such as urgent medical care, social support and therapeutic interventions, and rely a lot more heavily on volunteers, which can be a great way to throw characters together. It can also create tension in the face of hardships. In a place where everyone knows everyone, it can be harder to open up to your doctor when they also treat your mother and grandmother, or shake the label of troublemaker you acquired in primary school. On a more serious note, shame can be amplified in a remote setting especially where domestic violence, mental health and sexual abuse are prevalent, as I’ve explored in my latest book, Red Dirt Home.

But the support and love of a rural community can be the greatest empowering influence — the way the townsfolk rally together when the chips are down, join forces to find a missing person or pull together a big event. If you’re facing a crisis, tragedy or hatching a plan to make your soulmate notice you, having a community behind you can make all the difference. A small town is a superpower for any main character.


Renae Black lives in Queensland with her husband and two young bookworms. By day she works as a social worker within the child protection industry. By night, she escapes to the romantic fictional realms of rural Australia that transport her back to her childhood home, a large property that bred cattle and hosted the odd ostrich sale.

Love rural romance? Don’t miss Red Dirt Home!

To move forward, she’ll have to face the past.

Paige Bennett is fulfilling her childhood dream of working and living on the land as a station hand on Whitetail Ridge. Getting her hands dirty, riding horses, working with cattle and kicking up red dust. Life can’t get much better. Or so she thinks, until a devastating act of violent betrayal leaves her unemployed, homeless and broken.

A fight with his father drove Jackson Brady off Karilga, his family’s cattle station in the Queensland outback. Now he’s made a life for himself away from the land, joining a band and settling into the city. When the girl he’s always had his eye on shows up with news from back home, he’s faced with a difficult choice: go home where he’s needed or stay where he’s wanted.

Winding up on Karilga Station, Paige is a shadow of the person she once was. Desperate to forget what happened to her, she considers leaving her beloved channel country. But things aren’t so easily forgotten in the outback. When fate gives her no option but to trust again, will she find love as well? Or at least a safe place to land?

Jackson knows he’s never been more to Paige than a country larrikin who only takes the beer at the end of the day seriously – a sentiment closely echoed by his father. Can Jackson prove himself to his father and become the man Paige needs him to be? Or will it all crumble in the red dirt of the outback?

A heartfelt, deeply emotional story about finding home, facing the past and falling in love, from a captivating new voice in rural romance.

Get the book here

Read a sneak peek

HQ Books in conjunction with are proud to highlight our list of bestselling rural romance authors and can’t wait to celebrate their stories with you

Their books are grounded in community, friendship, love and romance while also recognising topical issues affecting rural communities and towns.

Here is how you can help us celebrate.

You are invited to join HQ Books,, Better Reading  and our top authors as we host a series of one night only events in select country towns.

Each event will be a night of fun, games and prizes galore at interesting locations. So grab your friends for a girls night out, come and meet your favourite authors.

More details to come soon

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