In brief: Calla has a lead on her brother’s disappearance which takes her to rugged Kangaroo Island. She didn’t count on running into a rugged, damaged (and handsome firefighter) several times… (Read more here).
The good: A lovely story in a wildly beautiful setting.
The not-so-good: Sam is more stubborn that he appears initially.
Why I chose it: Thanks to Harlequin Australia for the eARC – I really enjoy reading Victoria Purman’s books (I love them so much I would pay full price anyway!).
Pages: 320 (eARC)
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Setting: South Australia
My rating: 10 out of 10
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set on Australia’s Kangaroo Island, but in retrospect it’s a gorgeous place to set a book. A ferry ride away from South Australia’s coast, it’s a wild, rugged and beautiful place. The perfect place to set a story about love, loss, family and letting go, which is what Only We Know is about. Victoria Purman proves once again that she’s a talented writer with a particular flair for making settings a character in the story. I haven’t been to Kangaroo Island (only the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis), but now I definitely want to check it out. It sounds idyllic, curled up in front of a log fire while watching a beautiful sunset…
That’s kind of what Calla, the main character had in mind when she imagined herself on the island. Hell, she’d even bought her paints along in the hope she would start painting again. But Calla had a deeper reason for wanting to go to Kangaroo Island, as she had heard that her brother was there, who disappeared from her life two years ago. Calla hoped to give Jem something that was his, whether Jem thought it belonged to him or not. The one thing Calla forgot was that she gets dreadfully seasick. A chance meeting with a stranger on the ferry and then again in the supermarket leads Calla to Sam, a firefighter with a family secret of his own. Sam’s dad is getting old and forgetful and can’t live on the family farm much longer. But will he move? No, he’s dreadfully stubborn and this is Sam’s last chance to get him to leave the family home. Then he will sell and return to Adelaide.
Both the characters think that their respective missions on the island will be easy, but of course they aren’t. The story is full of dramatic events balanced with some lighter moments of Calla and Sam fancying the pants off each other but being too shy to say or do anything. Calla is damaged from a long term relationship with a married man, while Sam carries an injury with haunting memories. Plus both have family baggage, but sometimes the perspective of an outsider helps to settle things. All the characters jump to life off the page and are fully fleshed out, from the lady manning the craft shop to Jessie, Jem’s partner. It’s a story that gets into your head quickly and stays there. Purman treats her characters with a tender touch – every action is thought out and everyone gets their happy ending, even if they had an exceptionally bumpy road to get there. What I really liked too was that Calla and Sam became friends before falling in love. I found that refreshing, rather than the sex first, then friendship and love. I think their friendship demonstrated that the couple could rely on each other 100% in any situation.
Victoria Purman’s writing gets better and better with every book (it was pretty fine to start with, don’t get me wrong). But Only We Know just reaches out to you and pulls you into Calla and Sam’s world from the start. It’s easy to read and easy to forget the time when you read her books. I thought I’d miss the characters from the Boys of Summer trilogy, but I didn’t at all because Sam and Calla (and Charlie, and Jem) are all engaging enough to accept them.
I also adored the cover of Only We Know, I think it’s perfect. Victoria Purman took the background picture herself (so you know it’s really Kangaroo Island) and Calla is just how I imagined her. My only disappointment was that by reading the eBook I didn’t get to look at the gorgeous cover! If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the beauty of South Australia while being engrossed in a great story, read Victoria Purman.