All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Starting Over by Susanne Bellamy

on August 14, 2018

Starting Over (Mindalby Outback Romance #2)
Susanne Bellamy
Harlequin MIRA
2018, 183p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Mindalby, a small town, a community, a home. But when the mill that supports the local cotton farmers and employs many of the town’s residents closes unexpectedly, old tensions are exposed and new rifts develop. Everyone is affected and some react better than others, but one thing is certain: living on the edge of the outback means they have to survive together, or let their town die.

When fashion designer Serena Quinlan arrives in Mindalby for the annual cotton festival, she is hoping to do two things: meet local leather worker Paul Carey and check out all the 50–year–old men to see if they might be her father. She doesn’t expect the explosive attraction she feels towards Paul, nor the untimely and unwanted arrival of her ex–fiance. When her search for her father leads to unexpected results, Serena will be torn between the past she came searching for and the possibility of a future she never expected.

This is the 2nd book of 4 that I received in a bind up and I was quite looking forward to continuing with this series after I enjoyed the first one so much.

The story revolves around Serena, a fashion designer who arrives in Mindalby for two reasons – one to meet a leather worker she wants to work with and two, to see if she can track down her biological father. Conceived at a music festival in NSW years ago, Serena has been raised alone by a single mother but her mother’s illness a short time ago has really motivated her to find her father, despite the few sketchy details that her mother has.

Serena and Paul have an instant attraction (they meet when Paul is kind of erm, exposed) and the banter flows but there are quite a few complications from the beginning. Like most of the town, Paul is preoccupied by the cotton mill closure and what it means for his extended family, especially his troubled younger brother who isn’t coping well with having his cotton held hostage. Both Paul and Serena have quite a lot going on and their strong attraction takes them both by surprise. Serena is just also coming out of a break up as well but the pull between them is hard to ignore.

I really enjoy the way thing are going with the town in this book….the town feels consistent between the two volumes and this one expands upon some of the hardship and difficulties that it’s facing with the closure and limbo of the mill. Tempers are fraying and people are starting to struggle as bills go unpaid and crops face being lost. Paul isn’t strictly a farmer but his family farm and he has financial interests tied up in it so he’s also invested in the outcome of the mill. He also created some leather panels for an event that he now thinks he might not be paid for, which was supposed to be something that turned his finances around.

Serena is using the excuse to meet Paul (randomly, she’s been asked to design some clothing for a town event) to come to Mindalby because it’s where her mother thinks her father might still be living. It’s a bit awkward to be trying to track down your father without even having a name to go by. It leads to a lot of weird situations where she thinks various people might be her father and they all bring severe complications to her burgeoning relationship with Paul. Also her ex-fiance is in town for some reason and seems bent on causing trouble and confusing Serena with mind games.

While I enjoyed the town journey I wasn’t as invested in Paul and Serena – it felt a bit too instalove for me and some of Paul’s early remarks left me feeling a bit icky. They didn’t even know each other so I just found some of that a bit distasteful, a bit ‘old romance’ rather than the type I enjoy reading in 2018. And all of the drama surrounding just precisely who Serena’s father was felt a bit contrived – like the only early options were really the ones that would create the most amount of drama and there are no other men in this town of the right age but it also wasn’t particularly convincing either. Just felt a bit like filler to pad the story out a bit and create some conflict between Paul and Serena when there was probably already enough going on.

This was okay – I enjoyed it for the town development but overall, I wasn’t particularly invested in the romance part.

6/10

Book #135 of 2018

{alternative cover when purchased singly}


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