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Review: Serenity’s Song by Cathryn Hein

Serenity’s Song (Outback Brides Return to Wirralong #3)
Cathryn Hein
Tule Publishing
2020, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

He’s got a history of bad decisions—is he finally about to make the right one?

Jesse Hargreaves can’t outrun his notorious bad boy reputation. Betrayed by a woman he trusted, he retreats to his hometown, Wirralong, to serve as his brother’s best man and rebuild his life. But change isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when Jesse has to fight his fierce attraction to the maid of honour—a woman well aware of the darkness in his past.

Beautician Serenity Strachan’s flippant one-liners and vibrant hair colours are armour to protect her fragile heart. She’s always crushed on Jesse, but she’s determined to keep him and his sordid past at an arm’s length. That’s easier said than done when Jesse asks Serenity to help renovate an old property. And when they’re trapped underground in a tunnel cave-in, their emotional barriers fall faster than the tunnel walls.

When rescue arrives, they question their new emotional intimacy. Can Serenity trust this new Jesse with her heart? And can Jesse trust that Serenity will ignore the lure of a fortune to keep his secrets safe?

Because I haven’t read the books prior to this quartet, I wasn’t really familiar with Serenity, although I gather she’s appeared several times before. She’s a beautician, working out of the same business as her friend Elsa, who runs Hair Affair, the local hairdresser. Serenity loves dying her hair bright, fun colours – orange, red, blue, candy pink. She’s pretty much impossible to miss, which is one of the reasons why she’s completely incensed when bad boy Jesse Hargreaves almost runs her down in the street. Jesse grew up in Wirralong but left to go and live in the city with his somewhat notorious father when he was about 12. Recently, Jesse hasn’t been having too good a time of it – he’s suffering from heartbreak and betrayal and there’s been a few incidents with the police as well. He’s back in Wirralong now to lay low and try and heal himself. His brother Jack is marrying Elsa soon and Jesse will be the best man and Serenity the maid of honour. It’d be good if they could get along but their first few interactions are filled with cheap shots and bickering. It isn’t until the two are trapped underground after a tunnel exploration goes wrong that they start to find a common ground and Serenity starts to see the man that lurks beneath Jesse’s sullen exterior.

I really liked Serenity, I thought she was loads of fun. Loved the hair and also her affinity for music and how she often uses her phone to queue up a song in her playlist that fits her mood or makes a point – especially towards Jesse and especially early on, when the two are kind of at odds. I also really liked Elsa and the friendship the two of them shared, plus the glimpses of Elsa’s relationship with Jack that was sprinkled throughout the story. For readers who are familiar with Elsa and Jack, it would’ve been really nice to see them getting ready to be married and their book has definitely gone on my TBR pile to read very soon. These books have really made me want to read the previous quartets, get to know the stories that have been told already in this town.

Jesse was a bit of a trial to read at first – he’s been through some quite traumatic life events and he’s really quite bitter about it. Betrayed by someone he trusted, someone he loved that he thought loved him, Jesse now has a lot of trust issues, particularly towards women. He’s quite resentful and sulky and definitely doesn’t really present the best character when he returns to Wirralong. He’s not afraid to tell off local busybodies and he doesn’t endear himself to Serenity by nearly running her over in his car. But when they’re trapped underground, Serenity gets a chance to see another side of Jesse, a more mature and steady side as he’s determined to protect her and ‘save’ her from their predicament. Jesse is quite good in a crisis – he remains pretty calm and levelheaded and manages to keep Serenity calm as well, even when things do look pretty bleak. It definitely changed how I saw Jesse – before that, I wondered why Serenity, even when they were bickering in public, was still mooning over him in private. But afterwards, he seemed like he had a lot of potential – he just had to allow someone like Serenity to see him and also, deal with those trust issues, because they were really quite deep and it almost caused him to really mess things up. Again!

This was really fun. Looking forward to the final book in this 4-part series!

8/10

Book #167 of 2020

Serenity’s Song is book #60 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2020

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