Southern Star by J.C. Grey

In brief: Blaze leaves Hollywood under a cloud to return home to Queensland. She didn’t count on the family homestead falling apart, a rising crime rate and falling in love.

The good: The suspense will have you glued to the pages.

The not-so-good: I would have liked the final dramatic scenes to be drawn out a bit more for extra suspense.

Why I chose it: From Destiny Romance, via Net Galley – thank you!

Year: 2013

Pages: 352

Publisher: Destiny Romance

Setting: Australia and America

My rating: 8.5 out of 10

I was first attracted to Southern Star by the gorgeous cover – who could resist the clear Australian light illuminating the heroine? Flicking to the blurb, I immediately surrendered – I do love a story about Hollywood’s rich and famous and I do like Australian rural settings. This sounded like a great book to relax with over the holiday season…

However, the book had other ideas – it literally opens with a bang as Blaze Gillespie’s life comes crashing down around her. Already the suspect in a murder case, devastation at a red carpet event sends her running back home to Queensland. Sweet Springs, her grandparents’ homestead, is full of happy memories for Blaze. However, she didn’t expect the house to almost be in ruins as she hides from the paparazzi. Lucky for Blaze that neighbouring property owner Mac, begrudgingly has her best interests at heart. Expecting the promiscuous femme fatale of the tabloids, he reluctantly takes a liking to Blaze. As the sexual tension between the pair builds, Blaze tries to get her life back on track. Most of the small country town shuns her, but she manages to make a few unlikely friends – a pregnant teenager and an alcoholic handyman.

As Blaze recuperates and her relationship with Mac grows, danger lurks behind her. Who is behind a series of crimes in the small town? Are they linked to Blaze? Why are her things disappearing?

I didn’t expect the element of romantic suspense to be so strong in Southern Star (especially given the sweet cover) but I really enjoyed it. I found it refreshing to have a mystery with sinister tones in between the romance and Blaze’s rebuilding of her life. While at first it’s impossible to guess who the perpetrator is, it becomes a bit clearer towards the final scenes. I still couldn’t have guessed their identity and their link to Blaze though, as I don’t think there were many clues throughout. That might bother a few readers, but not me (I’m there for the ride). The final scenes were very dramatic as both natural and physical threats descended on Blaze and Mac; however, it seemed to be over quite quickly. I would have liked it to be a bit more suspenseful and the natural disaster play a greater role (what does this say about me and love of character torture?!).

As for the romance, I liked how it progressed fairly quickly, not remaining as unresolved sexual tension for almost the entire book. This allowed for the reader to see a softer side of Mac (I must admit that I didn’t really warm to him at first) and also the opportunity to read the description of him in an Armani tuxedo. (Yum).

The supporting characters were great – really well written and interesting. The plight of the young pregnant girl was both sad and sweet, as was the redemption of Blaze’s handyman. It’s easy to see that Grey has a talent for writing memorable and interesting characters!

I flew through this book – almost going into meltdown when I left my ereader at home! It was very enjoyable – a great read for a long hot summer.

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