Nobody But Him
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Julia left her hometown – a small town called Middle Point on the coast of South Australia – for Melbourne and university when she was just eighteen. She had big plans to become something, to lead an exciting life and none of those could come to fruition in Middle Point.
Fifteen years later and Julia is back in Middle Point. She’s been forced to take some time out of her high flying crisis management consultant job and head back to her hometown to sort through her mother’s house and her belongings and finally decide what to do. Her mother died 12 months ago but Julia has been putting this off. She knows that if she sells the house, she’s cutting her ties to Middle Point forever. And now that she’s back there, now that she’s seeing it all again through fresh adult eyes, she’s not sure that she’s ready for that.
It doesn’t help that she’s run into Ryan Blackburn. Ry and Julia had a thing all those years ago, before she left the town and left him. Now Ry is the owner of the local pub and a land developer and he also happens to be living in the house next door to Julia’s. Julia should finish up what she’s doing as quickly as possible and head straight back to Melbourne, especially when Ryan seems hostile…and very unavailable. But it’s a small town and the more they see each other, the more the attraction from so long ago begins to heat up again between them.
Falling into bed with Ryan is delicious but all of the old problems are still there. Julia still doesn’t want to settle down in Middle Point – she loves her job and her busy life in Melbourne. And Ry is about to embark on a big project, something that has Julia questioning their connection and if she knows him at all. However she’s about to discover that walking away from Ry and Middle Point isn’t going to be as easy second time around.
Nobody But Him is Victoria Purman’s first novel and the first in her trilogy to be set in Middle Point, a town on the coast of South Australia based loosely around those on the Fleurieu Peninsula. In this one, Julia has returned to her hometown in order to pack up her childhood home after the death of her mother some 12 months ago. Most of the houses along the beachfront have been sold, torn down and rebuilt as monstrosities but Julia’s mother hung onto theirs. It’s decorated in 70s style kitsch and Julia has to decide if she sells it and lets go of her life here finally or chooses just to rent it out. Despite the fact that this choice should’ve been easy for her, given how swiftly she left all those years ago, she finds herself torn as to what to do about the house.
Julia also finds that her summer teenage fling Ryan Blackburn is a permanent fixture in Middle Point, having purchased the local pub. Although he also runs a development business and has offices in the city, Ry spends a lot of time in Middle Point which means the two of them are forced into seeing each other and discover that the old attraction is still simmering away. Years ago Ry begged Julia not to leave but to his view, she got in her car and drove off without looking back. It’s fair to say that at first, he still harbours quite a lot of resentment towards Julia for leaving him, especially as after she did so, he made a few mistakes. Their first few encounters are a bit awkward but when Ry offers to help Julia with fixing up the house, a truce of sorts appears…and then more.
I really like the whole ‘returning home’ story line, especially in a romance novel and especially where there’s a teenage love involved. However I really wish that in this book, we’d been treated to more of Julia and Ryan from 15 years ago. Purnman does a great job exploring the chemistry that still lingers in the present day, building it up again but I’d have loved a better snapshot from their time long ago, to really see the connection they established. I’d have liked a bit more about Julia leaving too – some of those scenes could’ve really added a more emotional punch to the novel and given the reader a bit of a better understanding about how, 15 years down the track, they were both still so affected by each other.
I really enjoyed the setting in this novel – I haven’t been to South Australia, nor have I read too many books set there, especially out of Adelaide so it was a good opportunity to get to know another part of the country. Middle Point was going through a bit of a change, where a lot of the older houses were being bought up and redeveloped by wealthy people from the city but it still maintained its small town feel and close knit community. That is evidenced by how much people care about the new development and want to make sure it will respect the community and not overdevelop it. It made me want to visit this stretch of the coastline!
The secondary characters in this novel were very enjoyable as well and I found myself really liking Julia’s best friend Lizzie, who also manages the pub for Ry. She’s the heroine in the next novel so I’m definitely looking forward to reading her story.
Nobody But Him is a very enjoyable read and a great way to kick off a trilogy because it has me excited to return to the area and get to know a couple of characters a lot better. Thankfully the wait for book #2 isn’t too long!
Book #250 of 2013
Nobody But Him is book #91 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013