In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is living under an assumed name and rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and a chance to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark.
After tragedy tore her family apart, Kristy fled to Cooktown with her feisty teenage daughter, Abby. She hoped being part of the small community would help them both heal, but Abby’s sports coach is turning out to be a compelling distraction. When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger in Cooktown. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.
It sounds odd, but the thing that really struck me about this book is how well-structured it is. The information comes out gradually, but not too gradually. Characters are introduced as they need to be, but the story never seems crowded with them. Writing this kind of crime/suspense/romance book can be tricky because it is hard to find the right balance. So few authors do.
From a technical point of view, I’m sure this is Helene Young’s best book so far. Another great thing about this author is that she uses settings that she knows and clearly loves. It’s not possible for an author to always use places they have been to (Middle Eastern warzones, for example!), but you can always tell when someone is using a setting they care about and haven’t just looked up on Google.
There is a mature romance at the centre of this book. Not that the characters are old, but that they’re grounded, and have realistic backgrounds, and know a thing or two about life. Reading about them really illustrates how unrealistic a lot of characters in other books are. I think there are a few Australian authors around at the moment who approach their characters as people rather than “romance novel people”. It makes a difference.
Young writes books that are a good balance of all the elements of a suspense story with strong romantic elements. I never feel like the romance is getting in the way of the plot, and I never feel like the plot is getting in the way of the romance. Because of that, I think this is the sort of romantic fiction that appeals to a wider audience.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.