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In my first read for the Australian Women Writers 2012 challenge, I picked up a book I've been meaning to read for a while: Equilibrium, by Meredith Shayne.

I don't often read romance, so I'm not terribly familiar with the conventions of the genre, but I very much enjoyed this story. Small-town New South Wales seems like the perfect place for veterinarian Michael to escape his demons - especially when he meets ex-policeman Ryan Mitchell, who is steady, kind and gorgeous. But when a family crisis hits, so do Michael's demons, and suddenly it looks as if he might lose everything, past, present and future.

Shayne has a knack for creating realistically flawed yet sympathetic characters. A possible exception to this is Ryan, who seems to have no flaws at all - but as he's my dream steady, supportive male character, I can't really complain about that! The supporting cast are briefly but believably drawn, particularly Michael's sister and best friend.

The writing is solid throughout - quietly evocative without ever feeling showy. I liked the slow build of the romance, and I thought the sex was well done; I often cringe away from sex scenes in books, but there was no need for that here.

The ending didn't quite work for me, in that it felt slightly rushed. Part of that is a function of the format of the story, in which the action is divided across twelve months. But I felt a little more attention could have been given to wrapping things up. I gather there is a novella sequel to the story, which I'll be looking out for in the next few months; I'd happily read much more about these characters!

Summary: An excellent, satisfying read for anyone who likes m/m romance. I will definitely look out for more from Meredith Shayne in future.
Edition I read: Kindle ebook. The paperback version is available from Dreamspinner Press, where you can also read an excerpt from the book.

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