Fly In Fly Out by Georgina Penney

In brief: Jo’s life is not ideal – she works long shifts on an oil rig and she’s got a family secret – but when she arrives home to find a naked man in her bed, things are going to change. Drastically. (Read more here).

The good: It’s a fun read that packs a punch – perfect for summer.

The not-so-good: Now I need to read Jo’s sister Amy’s story (Irrepressible You), which means for more late nights up reading!

Why I chose it: The title caught my eye (living in the home of FIFO, you can’t help but be interested). Thanks to Penguin Books for the eARC.

Year: 2015 (Originally published in 2014 under the title Unforgettable You)

Pages: 336 (eARC)

Publisher: Penguin Australia (Michael Joseph)

Setting: Western Australia and the ocean off Mauritania

My rating: 8.5 out of 10

Living in Western Australia, you can’t help but be absorbed in the FIFO (fly in, fly out) lifestyle whether you work in the industry or not. You get used to the sight of hi-vis shirts everywhere, the Qantas Club continuously expanding to meet demand for flights to mine sites and sadly, a cup of coffee being a minimum of $4 (expect to pay around $5 for the good stuff). The mining boom has sent Perth into overdrive and it’s impossible not to reap the benefits (hello Topshop) but it’s only recently that there has been coverage of the negative side of FIFO-ing on relationships, mental health and stress levels.

Jo Blaine is an engineer with a longer commute than most. She’s an engineer on an oil rig off Mauritania and it’s not an easy swing (that’s how long your time lasts at work – Jo is on for so long, that it’s counted in weeks, not days). It’s a number of flights and a helicopter ride to get there from Perth, her assistant is incompetent and she gets the blame, there’s one phone and internet is patchy at best. Plus she shares a room with a snoring guy. It’s not fun. That’s why Jo looks forward to her off swing (time off) – chilling at her beautiful Fremantle apartment accompanied by her cat Boomba (best cat name ever). The last thing she expected after arriving home dirty and tired is a naked man in her bed…especially the brother of her house sitter, Stephen Hardy.

Stephen and Jo go way back. In fact, Stephen is dead set certain that he’s the reason why Jo and her sister Amy had to leave their small town. Even though that was years ago, he still feels terrible about it and aims to make it up to Jo. It takes a couple of swings, but Stephen and Jo get a thing going. But Jo and Amy are hiding a dark family secret that will put all of them in danger – will Jo open up to Stephen? Will she feel that she’s worthy of a relationship (as she’s formerly known as Rabies Blaine)?

I really enjoyed this story – I was expecting something quite light, but Jo and Amy’s secret is dark and the suspenseful elements had me racing through the pages. I wanted to see if and when Jo would confide in Stephen and what the fall out would be. Jo is a very strong character despite her belief that she’s unlovable and far too tough for romance. I like the switching of traditional gender roles and Stephen is much softer. He’s almost continually worried about offending Jo and making up for his slight years ago. Occasionally, I found him to be too eager and too considerate, but he did play hardball when circumstances called for it so he’s redeemed in my eyes.

I loved reading about sites familiar to me – Fremantle, Kings Park and Western Australia’s South West. They were all described lovingly and as a West Aussie, I’m proud that my city and state are portrayed so beautifully in a book. (Though I shan’t be looking at theatre in Kings Park in quite the same way again after a steamy Jo/Stephen session!) Fly In Fly Out is also incredibly funny on numerous occasions – Jo’s nickname of Krakatoa is well deserved with some of the strings of insults/profanities she comes out with!

I look forward to reading the story of Amy, Jo’s sister in Unforgettable You. Amy’s the complete opposite to Jo – keen on 1950s fashion and always beautifully presented. I’m also hoping to read more about photographer Scott, a good friend to both women, whom I’m sure has some good tales to tell.

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