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Feature book: Lonely in Longreach

6 January 2021

Lonely in Longreach by Eva Scott

Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 1 Sep 2020
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 296 pages
RRP: $1.99 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

For some reason I thought this was a debut from Eva Scott, but when I looked her up she has multiple rural romances and a thrilling looking Romancing the Romans series. Go, Eva! The obvious delight of this is that we readers can now explore her other stories.

Lonely in Longreach takes its inspiration from the movie Sleepless in Seattle, where the child of a widower wants his lonely father to get a new wife. Oh my heart. We all know and love that movie, don’t we?

Eva Scott has run with the same idea but with a lovely unique twist. Sam Costello’s been widowed for years, running his farm and raising his son Levi. He’s, uh, ‘lonely in Longreach’ (not his words but how catchy is that phrase). It seems the time hasn’t been right to move on and find someone else. Yet.

Levi, on the other hand, is looking ahead. He’s two years from finishing high school. The plan then is to move to Sydney for his university years with best friend Maddie, who is also pushing the future Sydney move for (hilarious) reasons of her own. But the thought of leaving Levi’s Dad alone and lonely is weighing on both their hearts.

I cannot stress how much I absolutely adored the characters of Levi and Maddie. They were certainly not perfect teenagers, and they were both a bit muddled and unrealistic and ‘teenagery’ in their thinking, but their hearts were as wide as the land around Longreach. Top teens! Reading them gave me a lot of pleasure and a lot of laughs.

Maddie—with a slightly reluctant Levi—comes up with the craziest scheme ever to find Levi’s dad, Mr C to her, a girlfriend. The machinations are wonderful—and to their shock, they work! (Not going to tell you how they did it. That’s part of the fun.)

Journalist Sarah Lewis, solitary (and stifled) in Sydney, turns up in Longreach to do an article on finding love in the outback. Maddie is thrilled, Levi is terrified by what they’ve unleashed, Sarah is wary but excited, and Sam is clueless.

The meet doesn’t happen until half way through the book, which is a bit unusual for romance where hero and heroine usually meet as soon as practical. Here the delay works really well, and ramps up reader anticipation. You won’t be disappointed.

What a lovely sweet book this is. As you were dying for Tom Hanks to find Meg Ryan in Seattle, you’ll be tooting for Sam and Sarah in Longreach.

Things go horribly wrong, of course, and there is drama and angst to endure all over town before we can risk a hopeful cheer. The story is refreshing, lovely, and a wonderful nod to the deep bonds in a rural community.

One final nod to Sarah’s family, who have a fabulously funny introduction early in the book, it amused me no end. This included Sarah’s intriguing brother, Hayden. Just putting the vibe out, Eva Scott, maybe Hayden’s story can come next …? Please?

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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