Year of Living Contemporary: Book 27 - Wish
So remember last time when I was all, ‘I love Australian rural romances; won’t someone write me a good one?’ because the heroine was so annoying I wanted her to end up lonely and alone?
Well, along comes Kelly Hunter, who I already love, with a new self-publishing foray away from her traditional categories, and granted my Wish. (See what I did there? Cause I wished for one? And her book is called Wish? See? See? Well, I thought it was funny.)
Disclaimers first: this is a novella. Also, it’s probably available in lots of places other than Amazon, but I’m lazy, I didn’t want to put off writing this review while I asked Kelly, and I have a Kindle, and I’m not ashamed to admit I love it! LOVE IT!
So Billie is a single mom with a good kid and an interesting job, but living above a bar in metropolitan Sydney among the prostitutes and drug addicts is probably not the best place to go about raising a well-adjusted boy. So she sets out on a tree change to revitalise a pub in a small country town in rural New South Wales.
Not everyone is happy for her to be there - she’s got all these ideas and plus she’s all tiny and stuff and just ripe for underestimation against the big bad bush. (heh. That’s not a euphemism, but it made me giggle when I wrote it). The big bad bush in this case is represented by Adam, who knows something of the dangers for women and children when it comes to the elements, what with having lost his wife and child to a virulent storm.
So Billie goes about making things better, and making friends, and generally proving that she’s a decent person to have around. Grudgingly Adam begins to accept that she’s not going to leave. Also she’s way heaps hot, and he has this bad habit of trying to protect her, even though she keeps telling him not to. But then bad things start happening, and it looks like it’s all directed at Billie, and Adam’s not sure he can watch another woman he loves die.
So this story is short, but it’s complete - I especially liked the leaps forward in time that allowed the reader to understand the relationship was growing without any sort of short cuts. I also really liked Billie, who is smart, tough, but not dumb when it comes to her own safety and that of her son, Cal. I also liked Adam, though he’s not as dimensional as our heroine, especially in the little details that showcase exactly how unwilling he is to let anyone else get close.
What I really liked is this one little part where Adam and Billie have entered a no-strings-attached sexual relationship, and Billie acknowledges to herself that she is not this kind of girl, and that she deserves better from a man in her life. I love love loved this because
- Billie is not the kind of girl who can enjoy a no-strings-attached sexual relationship (and I’m not saying that there aren’t women out there who can’t, and I’m not judging women who do, so no jumping on high horses), especially because she has Cal to consider, and a life to build
- Adam is treating her like a dirty little secret, and while Billie is getting something out of the relationship (that is, great orgasms), she deserves to be treated with respect
- In a lot of ‘start with sex’ romances, that whole issue of respect is glossed over with a ‘they both want it’, but in this case it creates an unbalance, because Billie was respecting Adam and his wishes - that is, no strings attached, nothing serious, no one knows - but Adam isn’t respecting Billie’s - that is, serious and steady and open. Billie acknowledging that, and then dismissing it for a time, made me like her a whole lot more. We all know what overpowering lust can feel like, but it was so satisfying to know that Billie retains her brains in the face of all that muscled goodness.
- Billie kicks Adam’s ass to the curb about it eventually, and then it all comes back into play at the end, when Adam has to prove that he does respect her and her needs and desires, which just makes it all neat and tidy and lovely.
The secondary characters are briefly but strongly sketched, with a nice secondary romance that’s pretty much all subtext.
The only thing I didn’t like about this whole novel was the last sentence, which I felt was a bit corny, but it ties in with the whole Christmas theme, and I’ve always been hyper-sensitive to corn.
Bottom line? Oh yeah - you know it:
Worthy of a dancing Picard :)