Fashion student Lacey Weston is desperate to leave the city and go home to Jumbuck Springs. Her three older brothers are adamant she’s not. They made a death bed promise to their mother that Lacey would stay the distance at design school and Ethan, the oldest, takes this responsibility very seriously. But Lacey is deeply homesick and determined not to be dissuaded again. She’s also impulsive enough to try anything – even faking a pregnancy.
Ex-cop turned mechanic, Cooper Grainger – one of Ethan’s oldest friends – agrees to watch out for Lacey in the city even though he has a history with her he’d rather forget. How hard could it be, right? But a couple of years later, Coop is over pulling Lacey out of scrapes and cleaning up her messes as she tries to outrun her grief and sense of dislocation. He takes her back to Jumbuck Springs so she can persuade her brothers to let her come home. But things don’t go according to plan. Before Coop knows it Lacey’s pregnant and he’s putting his hand up as the fake baby daddy, filling in for the town mechanic and moving in with her at the local pub.
Lacey is thrilled to have won a reprieve but nothing about the situation sits well with Coop. Least of all having sweet little Lacey Weston as his new roomie…
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
Australia, small town boys and girls, hot romance and Amy Andrews? Sounds like a delicious combination to me, and the first in the Outback Heat series definitely delivered with its tale of a homesick, small town girl and her older brother’s best friend rubbing up against each other in all the best kind of ways.
I wasn’t sure about Lacey at first – she’s pretty impulsive and a touch bratty. Then again, she’s had a rough few years and the way her brothers have been treating her hasn’t really given her an incentive to grow up. It’s easy to see how an angry lie turned into something so huge, and while I think she could have been a bit kinder to Coop for stepping into the breach for her, the girl she becomes when she’s back home was enough to make me forget my doubts. I actually really liked Lacey the deeper into the book I read. Yes, she’s been spoiled and impulsive in the past, but she also went through a lot of grief and homesickness without the support she desperately needed. But deep down she’s a decent person who cares for others and has the kind of enthusiasm that build lasting bonds. I also really liked how level-headed she became when thinking about dreams and how they change.
She does have some help, of course, thanks to the wonderful Coop. Sure, he can be a bit grumpy and isn’t always the most sociable man in town, but the way he stands up for Lacey is great. True, there were times when the whole “bro-code” stuff made me roll my eyes, but he gets his priorities right in the end, and even when he was denying them both the deeper relationship they wanted, at least he always had Lacey’s back.
In all this is an enjoyable, easy read with plenty of heat. The characters are interesting, Jumbuck Springs has plenty of potential for more and the whole thing was brain candy of the best kind. If you’re looking for an escape from everyday life, or just need to unwind with a good bit of Australian romance, then Amy Andrews is always a safe bet – and this book definitely fits the bill. Can’t wait to read the next one.
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