Hot Island Nights
Copy courtesy of Marg
Elizabeth has always done what people have expected of her. She lost her parents at a young age and was taken in by her grandparents. To repay them for their generosity, she changes her degree to suit them, joins the committees her grandmother nominates her for and even dates the young man they push her towards, agreeing to marry him.
Her world is blown apart when, weeks before the wedding, Elizabeth sees a copy of her birth certificate and realises that the man she believed was her father was not, he was her stepfather, marrying her mother when she was two years old. Devastated that not only have her grandparents kept this information from her, but they’d informed Martin, her fiance and expected him to keep it from her too, Elizabeth finally sees that what she is doing is not making her happy. She calls of the wedding and flees. Maybe if she can find her father, then she can set about finding herself.
Her father’s last known whereabouts were Phillip Island, Australia a tiny dot south east of Melbourne famed for its beaches and penguins and that’s where she goes. She doesn’t find her father, who is off in Sydney preparing to crew a boat for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, but she does find Nathan Jones. Who is wearing only a towel.
Elizabeth has always lived a very proper life, she’s never really known passion. She knows that she doesn’t love Martin the way she should and that they weren’t really compatible. When she sees Nathan, her proper side, her upbringing of 30 years of doing what other people want, tells her not to worry about him. He’s a bum living in a shack on the beach with no real discernible job. But the other side that’s trying to break out says well, why not? He’s there and he’s very sexy and what does she have to lose?
As she falls headlong into an affair with Nathan, Elizabeth is about to discover that he is more than just a cut body. Nathan is suffering in the aftermath of a severe trauma, something that has caused him to shun his previously successful life and hide away down in Phillip Island drinking and surfing away the pain. The more she learns about him and the more she shares about herself, the more she realises that this isn’t just a fling. It’s very, very real.
I used to read a lot of Harlequin M&B stuff when I was in high school and I probably overdosed. My grandmother had a subscription and she was a prolific reader and passed them all on to me. I had no money, she had books. And when they’re all you read, they can get a bit repetitive. And because of that, I didn’t read any for a very long time. But in the last few years I’ve found that every now and then, one makes a nice change. Especially when it’s a well written one.
I picked up this one because I’d seen Marg’s comment on her review of the companion novel, Her Best Worst Mistake and the premise of that one intrigued me a lot. Marg said I should read this one first, so I did and although you could probably read them in any order without detracting from the story, I’m glad I saved the other one for last.
I vowed to read as widely as I could for the Australian Women Writers Challenge but I hadn’t yet read any Category Romance so this also helps nicely to qualify for a part of the challenge I hadn’t completed yet. I read through this in about two hours whilst my husband watched his team play footy and it was the perfect read for a cold Saturday night.
Elizabeth is a bit typical, an ‘English rose’ with blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin who comes all the way to Australia to track down a father she’s never met and who might also possibly not even know that she exists. It’s a brave move that is the very beginning of her resolution to find herself and live her life the way she wants to and to stop sacrificing things she wants in order to please other people. She’s very uptight in the beginning, very frosty and Nathan seems to enjoy baiting her and getting a rise out of her but as she settles in to life in Phillip Island she starts to relax and unwind. Her character evolution is quite remarkable as she falls in love with Nathan and comes to realise that she doesn’t need anyone’s approval, not even her real father’s, in order to be happy.
Nathan’s trauma was quite an interesting story line, it’s not often I’ve read too many of these types of books where the male love interest is suffering in such a way. Nathan is suffering dearly and it was hard not to feel sorry for him, so obvious was the depth of his pain. He’d been drowning himself in grog and women so he could sleep without hearing the screams but it isn’t long before he figures out that the thing that soothes him the most, is Elizabeth. The only thing is, Nathan isn’t sure he deserves to be so happy and embrace the life he has left, after what happened. Elizabeth will have to draw upon all her new-found confidence to try and make him see that they both deserve it.
Book #89 of 2012
Hot Island Nights is the 32nd novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012. It gives me a new setting (Phillip Island) and also a new genre to tick off.