Breaking the Drought by Lisa Ireland

In brief: Jenna is a city girl through and through, but when she’s persuaded to attend a ball in a country town, she realises not everything in the country is bad (especially not Luke Tanner). Read more about the story here.

The good: Great characters, interesting storyline, action, romance and danger – all in one package!

The not-so-good: I need another of Lisa’s books to read…like now!

Why I chose it: Thanks to Escape Publishing; I’ll also be meeting Lisa Ireland at ARRC15.

Year: 2014

Pages: 175 (eBook)

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Setting: Victoria, Australia

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

I think everyone knows by now that rural romance is my favourite subgenre when it comes to romance. This is a bit odd as I’ve spent my adult life in the city and I don’t plan on changing any time soon. But I do love to read fish out of water stories and Breaking the Drought is a brilliant story in this vein. Another one of my favourite fiction tropes is stories set in media. So this book is double crack for me – a magazine editor fish out of water heroine going to a bush ball.

The story opens with an editor’s letter from our heroine, Jenna, describing her marriage list. She openly acknowledges that her friends think she’s crazy and when the man who ticked loads of boxes on it dumps her and gets engaged in quick succe3ssion, Jenna is thinking she may need to revise things. That’s when her friend Brooke decides to book them both in for a weekend of bush fun with eligible country bachelors in the tiny town of Barton. Jenna is firmly a city girl with no interest in the country or country men, but she goes along with Brooke, rather reluctantly. From the moment she puts her Jimmy Choos into the dust, Jenna’s got a chip on her shoulder. Not only are they not staying in the town’s one and only hotel, but they’re staying with the Tanners out on a property with no mobile reception and broken internet connection. How will Princess Jenna cope?

Fortunately, Jenna begins to join in, half-heartedly at first but more so after Luke Tanner catches her eye. When she’s forced to stay in town longer than she expected, she and Luke start up a ‘no strings’ romance but multiple factors have them pulling away. Add in country drama and it seems neither of them will want to realise that they are looking for something more…

This is an incredible debut by Lisa Ireland. It’s warm, funny and assured. Both Jenna and Luke are well drawn characters with an interesting backstory that adds so much to the narrative. Jenna’s princess like antics (how does she not know that red dust and Choos don’t go together – can she not Google?) stopped at just the right moment for me. I realised that it was all just a front to hide her awkwardness and I warmed to her as a character. Luke’s backstory was much more interesting for me as it was revealed in such tiny titbits I just had to keep on reading. The supporting characters were also lovely – Brooke, Jenna’s friend was the voice of reason. Maggie was a font of wisdom and strength and Lottie, the local reporter, should get her own story!

Breaking the Drought also celebrates rural life and the sense of community in small towns in a lovely way. When disaster struck the town, it was inspiring to see the townspeople coming together to help each other out. There were also several nerve-wracking pages where I wasn’t too sure if the characters were all going to make it. The tension got to me and I simply had to stay up to finish the book! There are a lot of events happening in this book and you won’t want to miss a single word.

If you’re looking for a read that draws you into the atmosphere of Australian rural life with genuine characters that will stay with you beyond the last page, Breaking the Drought is your book.

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