In brief: Julia returns to the small coastal town where she grew up to settle her late mother’s affairs. She didn’t expect to run into her teenage summer fling…
The good: Both Julia and Ry are really likable characters and there’s a good plot in addition to the romance.
The not-so-good: It’s a bit steamy in places, so make sure nobody’s reading over your shoulder on public transport!
Why I chose it: Sent to me by Harlequin Australia – thank you!
Pages: 302 (ARC)
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Setting: Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia; Adelaide and Melbourne
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
I first heard about this book at the Romance Writers of Australia conference earlier this year as Harlequin were running through some of their upcoming books. Nobody But Him was billed as a ‘coastal romance’ (immediately shortened to ‘co-ro’), a new subgenre to take on rural romance. I immediately scribbled down the details in my notebook (and tweeted, just in case) to check this one out. Luckily, a copy arrived shortly after at the local post office, being labelled as ‘2 big 4 postie’.
Yep Postie, you’re right. This book is way too big for ordinary delivery. This book is an impressive debut by Victoria Purman, not just in the coastal romance field, but in contemporary romance. It’s well written, clever, amusing and steamy. Plus it’s set on the gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.
The premise is simple enough – the protagonist Julia returns to the sleepy town of Middle Point to sell her deceased mother’s house. Julia left Middle Point as soon as she could, heading for Melbourne and never looking back. Now highly successful in Melbourne, she’s been called in to help her old friend Lizzie in the local pub. When Julia makes her appearance, she’s told to get out by the owner – Ryan, who turns out to be Julia’s teenage summer love. They didn’t part on the best of terms, but now Ry is a presence in town as a local developer and owner of the ‘ugliest’ house in town. Despite the years, things are still fiery between them – both inside and outside of the bedroom. Will Julia learn to accept that she can’t close the door completely on the past? Is Ry worthy of more than a fling?
I really enjoyed this book. Purman is not afraid to spice things up – there are some great argument scenes between Julia and Ry as well as some love scenes leaning more towards the spicy end of the scale. The language used by the characters is excellent – very realistic and the occasional swearing fits the scene more than just using the ‘f-word’ as an exclamation mark. Julia is a strong woman – some would say too headstrong –she knows what she wants and how to get there. But she’s also not afraid of admitting she’s wrong and apologising where necessary. Ry also has a few quirks to make him realistic but not a cliché – his impulsiveness, strong work ethic and determination to succeed in business. Plus from the descriptions, I can say reliably that he looks very fine in running gear.
Apart from the relationship between Julia and Ry, there are a number of other things going on in Middle Point. Julia’s friend Lizzie is funny and a good friend who knows when chocolate and coffee is required. I’d love to know more about Lizzie’s time in London and what made her return to Middle Point. There’s also a new housing development which ruffles quite a few feathers in town. Ry’s friend Dan also starts off on the wrong foot in town, trying to charm both Lizzie and Ry’s mother simultaneously. Is there a new relationship in the works?
Purman is also exceptionally true to the setting – she describes the Fleurieu Peninsula area in such detail that I almost feel like I’m there again (or want to take another trip soon). She makes it sound unique from other Australian coastal towns and her description of the local bakery is just delicious!
I’d love to see more of Purman’s work, especially set in the same area. Nobody But Him is an assured debut that is well worth the read for its interactions between characters and interesting plot.