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Feature book: Summer at Kangaroo Ridge

11 May 2022

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 1 Mar 2022
Publisher: ‎Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 272 pages
RRP: $23.99 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

The Carringtons are a strong, resilient family. They own a pub in the small country town of Kangaroo Ridge, and are developing the buildings on their farmland for weddings and party venues. They’re all busy and involved and slowly attaining financial security, but there’s a tragic story behind their united front.

Eight years ago a horrendous car crash mercilessly robbed the five young Carringtons of their parents. Without hesitation their pregnant Aunt Maddie stepped in to look after them, love them and provide stability. She did a great job, but the family’s threatening to buckle as the children grow into adulthood.

Twins Sebastian and Tamara are the eldest, and now seem to bear most of the burden of keeping the family together. Twins are often close, but Seb and Tam’s relationship is on an uneven keel.

Seb’s almost become like an autocratic parent, stern and unforgiving and harsh, and has taken on management of the family pub as his primary role. Tam acted out in her late teen years by becoming a bit wild and unpredictable, but now works hard in the family business, especially on the wedding planning side of things. Even so, Seb doesn’t seem to believe Tam’s trustworthy, with the family’s best interests at heart. He finds it hard when she disappears every now and then, and suspects she’s seeing someone he won’t approve of on the sly.

Well, yes, Tam is seeing someone. Very early on we discover who that someone is, and it’s quite a surprise. He very definitely won’t get Seb’s tick of approval for lots of complex reasons, which is why Tam’s kept their relationship secret.

There’s a lot of push-pull in this family. The younger siblings, Gray, Lix and Luce, are brought to life vibrantly. All terrific, different personalities. Gray in particular has enough maturity to have more insight into the troubles between Seb and Tam. He’s a lovely strong character, an unexpected anchor and a loving brother to them all.

In the end, Seb and Tam have to come to terms with the crash that killed their parents before Tam can reveal the love of her life. In flash-backs we see the lead up to the crash, the devastating reason behind it, and the blame game Seb and Tam carry on their shoulders afterwards. Unnecessarily so, but hey, as onlookers we can see that while they can’t.

Thank you Nicole Hurley-Smith. It’s a privilege to walk with the Carringtons through this crisis time as they bravely tackle their psychological baggage, especially Tam (and her lover) and Seb. I hope Seb gets his own story next; he deserves happiness!

Reviewed by Malvina

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

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