by Jeanette O'Hagan
I recently discovered a trove of book at our local library by CWD members, one of whom is Jessica Kate and her two recent rom com releases: Love and Other Mistakes and A Girl's Guide to the Outback. I powered through and enjoyed the light-hearted comedy, sizzling sweet romance and delving into deeper issues. Love and Other Mistakes tackles more gritty issues than Girls Guide to the Outback and could be seen as a crossover into Chic Lit, and I loved that about it, on the other hand I hands-down enjoyed the outback Aussie setting in the second book. Both well worth the read.
Love and Other Mistakes
At first glance, Love and Other Mistakes looks like a
light-hearted rom-com, but it delves more deeply than most rom-coms and I enjoyed it all the more for that.
Set in the US with a couple of Aussie secondary characters (Nat's dad & the Wildfire pastor, Samuel Payton), the story is about deep failures, second chances, and the healing broken relationships - and in many ways, it's also a story about dads (and moms). Nat is desperate to live up to her dying dad's dreams. Jem gave up on trying to please his stern police officer dad years ago, but is willing to mend the relationship because he is now a single dad and wants his son, Ollie, to connect with his only living grandparent. While Jem's niece, discovers her pastor dad doing something he shouldn't and is caught between two her warring parents. In the middle of this, Jem and Nat get a chance of fixing what went wrong six years ago, when Jem fled the Charotteville days before his wedding to Nat.
The story is fast-paced, funny, witty, romantic, and moving, with all the different threads tying together, and ending with a dramatic and emotional bang.
A Girl's Guide to the Outback
A Girl’s Guide to the Outback takes the action to outback Queensland. Business whizz, Kimberley Foster has six weeks to convince former Wildfire pastor Samuel Payton to come back and save ministry. The trouble is that over the last three years, he's rejected every idea she's had and sees her has his arch-nemesis. (We met both Kimberley and Sam in Love and Other Mistakes.) Sam returns to Australia because his sister, Jules, needs his help and he can't agree with Kim's expansion plans. In addition to the romantic sizzle between Kim and Sam, Sam's sister, Jules Payton, is desperate to keep the struggling family dairy farm going, even if means turning down the love of her life, vet Mick O'Reilly, a second time.
While each of the characters need to dig deep and deal with festering issues or old griefs from their past, A Girls Guide to the Outback isn't as gritty as Love and Other Mistakes and I would’ve liked a different balance in the outcome for Jules. But, there are plenty of witty repartee, humorous moments and some heart wrenching ones as well as much wrestling with faith and God's will. And I loved the setting for A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, a dairy farm on the Burnett River, west of Bundaberg, and 12 hours by bus from Brisbane, Queensland. We get full exposure to farming life (angry cows, snakes, spiders, farm machinery, puppies, floods, fire and cowpats), a teensy-weensy taste of the Gold Coast, and a Sizzler's buffet of Aussie customs and slang.
Australian author Jessica Kate is obsessed with sassy romances.
She packs her novels with love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast. When she’s not writing or discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in existence.
Her debut novel Love and Other Mistakes released July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback hit shelves in January 2020.
Jessica Kate did a MOM interview here.
Jeanette O'Hagan has spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs. She has published over forty stories and poems. Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.