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Book Review - Eight Seconds by Frances Dall'alba

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

‘Grace Lucas’ was a young girl with big dreams. She lived an early life unnoticed but found comfort and love in horses. Her heart was rich with joy when she was with a horse, despite the abuse she endured throughout her life, starting when she was just a young girl.

Set during the ’60s & ’70s in the Australian Outback, we follow Grace’s life with each chapter, weaving in and out of the present day. Cleverly retold in this way, I was engulfed in not one incredible story of survival but two. The underlying theme, which is very relevant today, explores ageism, sexism, and misogynist behaviour and how despite hindering her throughout her life, became the driving force behind her will to succeed. Grace is a survivor and a lover of rodeo, which makes her a compelling and inspiring lead character in ‘Eight Seconds.’

Eight Seconds’ is a narrative about how Grace Lucas became Australia’s first female bull rider and, consequently, a 2-time Hall of Fame inductee. She ended her career in Mareeba, right on my doorstep. I especially enjoyed reading about her travels throughout the region and the happier times of her life, spent right here in Far North Queensland.

There have been times in her life when Grace was just like one of us, but there were also countless times when she became a superstar, a shining light, and a gobsmackingly courageous woman. She’s not Australia’s best FEMALE bull rider, she’s one of the best bull riders, period. Eight seconds was the goal, which kept her passion alive and her adrenalin pumping.

What I found extremely enticing about this book is that Dall’alba’s usual genre, romance, can be felt throughout ‘Eight Seconds’. Although not a romance novel, ‘Eight Seconds’ carries the same warmth and level of drama you often find when reading the romance genre. I liked it, surprisingly, and not being a big reader of romance novels – actually never read a romance novel! – I found myself wanting to read Dall’alba’s other books (all of which are romance novels). Well done, Frances!

This book I’m sure this will be a great success. Appealing to so many; horse lovers, rodeo fanatics, abuse survivors, single parents, and lovers of Australian history and the outback, I have no doubt almost any Australian would enjoy the incredible story of Grace Lucas. My mum has my copy, but the next stop will be family in Mareeba, who have been born and bred in the region and I’m sure will thoroughly enjoy reading about a local legend in Grace Lucas.

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