HOLLY FORD ( ALLEN & UNWIN, $32.99)
Chick-lit is an unlovely, diminishing term, but it’s hard to know what else to call this romance – a roar-ripping bodice-buster, perhaps, with extra livestock.
Romances are supposed to end with a wedding, but this begins with one. As if that wasn’t genre-bending enough, the heroine almost has impromptu sex for her own enjoyment. Are we in for a majorly transgressive subversion of the genre?
Not bloody likely. The first “ruggedly handsome” face looms up on the second page. It belongs to Nate, the fellow wedding guest who has taken the fancy of Tess Drummond, a Ms Fixit for an investment company. His eyes transfix hers like a “hare in the headlights” – thank goodness the writer didn’t fall back on that hoary old “rabbit in the headlights” cliché.
Tess is turning 30 and still has no man. Not, the book says, that there’s anything wrong with that. Except that it’s just the worst thing ever. But there’s little time to dwell on her celibate state – or the fact she nearly had good, no-strings sex – because she’s off to put things right at a runningdown farm called Broken Creek (doesn’t sound too promising, does it?).
Imagine her surprise when the bloke currently running the farm is the bloke with the eyes that turn women into hares. Now she, the hard-headed executive, is going to have to duke it out with the sentimental hunk who’s emotionally attached to the farm. And not just him; there are the coworkers, too. One is a blind octogenarian, one is missing an arm from a fire he started by accident, and one has PTSD from serving in Afghanistan – Charles Dickens’ treacle supply would have been severely depleted describing this lot.
And we haven’t even got to the love triangle yet. Lovers of reliable romantic conventions will not be disappointed by The Last Mcadam. +