All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Elsa’s Stand by Cathryn Hein

on September 10, 2020

Elsa’s Stand (Outback Brides #3)
Cathryn Hein
Tule Publishing
2018, 260p
Free on Amazon for kindle

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When the sudden death of his mother forces outback opal miner Jack Hargreaves home to Wirralong, his plan is simple: mourn his mother, sort out the family farm, and get the hell out of the town that has always hated him. But Elsa O’Donoghue, the beautiful hairdresser with a big heart and even brighter smile, has other plans.

From the moment Jack strides into her salon and helps himself to her clippers, Elsa is in lust. He might be a poster boy for the strong silent type, but she senses there’s a good man behind that stoic facade. With her business taking off, Elsa is finally ready for a relationship and Jack is just her kind of man. Not to mention, she’s never said no to a challenge.

Worried their association will harm Elsa’s business, Jack tries to avoid her, but Elsa is irresistible. Soon, she has him believing and hoping for a future with her in Wirralong, but another family tragedy shatters Jack’s fragile dream. Jack knows he must leave Elsa to protect her, no matter the cost to himself. 

Recently I read Serenity’s Song which was Cathryn Hein’s contribution to the most recent quartet surrounding Wirralong, a town in country Australia. In that book, the main character runs her beauty business out of Elsa O’Donoghue’s hair salon, so Elsa is a steady presence throughout the book. Through reading that, I picked up on enough of Elsa’s story to know that hers was a book I really wanted to read. Before the quartet I read, there’d been two previous quartets and I intend to catch up on all of them but this one was free on all Amazon platforms, so it was like a sign.

Elsa grew up local – her mother was a teacher at the primary school and it seems like she’s firmly entrenched in the community. She runs the hair salon and thanks to a friend turning her property into a boutique wedding venue, Elsa has plenty of brides and bridesmaids to keep her busy as well as the locals. She’s well liked and respected, the locals don’t raise an eyebrow at her family, which is different to what Jack Hargreaves has experienced. His parents had an unusual situation and his father is a rather notorious figure often connected to the shady Melbourne underworld. Jack has always been closer to his mother, the two of them bonded over a shared passion for prospecting. Kate, Jack’s mother always believed in the truth of the “Strathmore sapphires” and she has searched tirelessly for them on her family property. On the day she died, she called Jack when he was on his Lightning Ridge opal mining claim and left a message telling him she’d found them. Unfortunately she passed away the same day, leaving their location a mystery. It was some weeks before Jack picked up the message, not having service on the claim and he has to drive non-stop to make it back to Wirralong for her funeral.

Jack and Elsa have such an interesting first meeting and I really enjoyed all of their interactions. Elsa is a fun personality, she’s really friendly and forthright and she’s happy to chatter away to Jack and draw him out when he visits the salon. Jack is definitely a very quiet person, he doesn’t talk much and he’s well aware that people look at him suspiciously in Wirralong, sure he’s tarred with the same dubious brush as his notorious father. Jack has never liked the scrutiny and even though he’s inherited his mother’s property, he’s not sure he can see himself making his life in the area, not with the way that people look at him and what they’re thinking but don’t have the courage to say.

Elsa takes Jack exactly as she finds him – she’s not interested in rumours about his father, about his family or people’s opinions on him or them. She likes Jack. She likes the look of him and she even likes his rather silent manner and enjoys pampering him a little by offering him the full luxury shave package, which definitely helps to advance the simmering attraction between them. Elsa and her mother are movie buffs who enjoy a lot of classic movies, movies that Jack hasn’t seen and she uses that as an opportunity to get to know him more by inviting him to watch movies with her in the name of broadening his education. Elsa enjoys gently teasing Jack, who is quite serious and she’s one of the few people it seems, who can definitely get a strong positive reaction out of Jack.

I found this really fun and I loved both Elsa and Jack. They had contrasting personalities that worked really well together and their interactions are really enjoyable. I understood Jack’s reservations about getting involved with someone that the town had such a high opinion of, that he felt that he might ‘taint’ her given the way some people felt about him. But it’s Elsa (despite Jack’s intimidating size) who is the brasher, more aggressive of the two, who makes it super clear that she doesn’t care what other people think and neither should he, she isn’t bothered by rumours and innuendo and she accepts him as he presents himself to her and nothing else matters.

Really need to read the rest of these, they’re such perfect reads for me at the moment.


Book #178 of 2020

Elsa’s Stand is book #67 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020

One response to “Review: Elsa’s Stand by Cathryn Hein

  1. Marg says:

    These books are definitely perfect comfort reads for right now

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