The Girl In The Yellow Vest
Random House AU
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Engineer Emily counts cracks for a living. Whilst her friends from university have all moved onto exciting projects, she spends her days counting cracks in the concrete of a building in Perth. It’s mindnumbingly tedious but at least she has her relationship to fall back on. They’ve been together for years and Emily thinks he might be about to propose – instead he tells her that he needs “space” and breaks up with her.
Emily’s best friend Will suggests she apply to come and work on the project he’s working on in far north Queensland. Emily decides that she needs a fresh start in everything: job, surrounds, the whole works. She finds herself up near the Barrier Reef working with a team supervising the installation of a new shiploader and the work is far more exciting and interesting than counting cracks. She’s beginning to fit in with the crew on site although they’re mostly men and seem hell bent on trying to be the first to get a date with her. However Emily is surprised when it’s none other than Will that captures her interest. She and Will have been best friends for years and she’s never had these sorts of feelings for him before. She’s not quite sure what to do about them.
Charlotte Templeton is a little sick of the engineers and construction workers treating her seaside resort like a donga. They track mud in to the rooms (which they then trash), they leave their beer cans and bottles lying around outside around the pool and their raucous partying and language means that she and her teenage sister need to give them a wide berth. Charlotte’s sister is young and impressionable and Charlotte definitely doesn’t want her hanging out with the older crew of workers. Charlotte has a lot on her plate: she’s struggling to keep herself afloat financially and so she desperately needs the FIFO cheques so she can’t ask them to leave. She’s been a mother to her sister for years, despite only being in her thirties and she cares for their mother who has Alzheimer’s and spends most days thinking it’s 30 years ago and that Charlotte is a receptionist. She approaches the project manager Mark Crawford (known to everyone on site as “Caesar”) about possibly setting down some rules about respect for property and finds herself given the brush off every time. Charlotte is incensed by his rudeness and makes up her mind to teach him some manners….but she’s about to discover that Mark might not be one for socialising or politeness but he’s someone she can truly count on in a crisis.
The Girl In The Yellow Vest is Loretta Hill’s third book in a very loosely connected series that revolves around young engineers working on large projects. I really enjoyed both the previous books which were set on the same project in northern Western Australia and for this book we switch to Queensland. Emily went to university with Lena (from The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots) and she’s watched her graduating class all go on to fun and exciting jobs whilst her career has stalled, her crack-counting a source of amusement to her friends. If ever there was someone in need of a change, it’s Emily but she has remained tethered to her unexciting job because it keeps her in Perth with her boyfriend. When he decides he isn’t ready to settle down, there’s nothing keeping here there anymore.
Watching Emily adjust to her new job and surroundings is a great part of this book as she comes into her own and gets the confidence to do her job and make decisions. She’s not used to really doing much other than counting cracks and although she’s slow to find things to do, once she finds her groove, it’s all about preparing for the arrival of the shiploader. Her friendship with Will is so cute and although he’s had feelings for her for a long time, Emily has almost always been in a relationship and now that she’s out of one she’s also coming to terms with her growing feelings for her ‘best friend’. It’s a very cute kind of story. There’s lots of them finding the other attractive but thinking the other person isn’t interested, lots of misunderstandings about Emily’s former boyfriend (especially because Will is also great friends with him and he’s telling Will things that don’t really add up with what Will is also hearing from Emily, etc). However:
It’s actually almost dwarfed by the story of Mark and Charlotte. Mark is more of a Bulldog type: he’s stand offish, rude, he’s got a known reputation on site and most people stay the hell out of his way as much as they can. Charlotte barges in with all the tact of a sledgehammer to talk about him keeping his FIFO workers a little more in line with regards to the accommodation and sparks fly between them even as Mark is shoving her back out the door, brushing her off, running away and basically doing whatever it is to get rid of her. I thought Mark’s reasons for being the way he was were genuine and believable and it was interesting reading about a man in his position and how he felt about it and the heartbreak and later awkwardness of receiving his list of challenges and the determined way in which he goes about fulfilling every item. Mark definitely had hidden depths and he became my favourite character in the book. I really loved the way we were drip fed information about him that changed the reader’s perceptions and Hill put him in so many uncomfortable situations!
As long as Loretta Hill keeps writing these, I’ll definitely keep reading them!
Book #281 of 2013