In her latest novel of romance and intrigue, Goulter (Giving a Damn About Scarlett, 2012) explores the realities of love and lust and whether love at first sight can last forever.
Joanna Mahler falls for eccentric Australian Will Richie hook, line and sinker. In San Francisco, she unexpectedly stumbles across the melodious sounds of Will’s voice during an afternoon stroll in the presidio. The divorced mother of two high school sons is immediately taken by Will’s voice and music. Though she describes Will’s appearance as “odd, almost elfin,” she’s enchanted. On impulse, and despite the warnings from family and friends, she agrees to fly to Australia and stay in the bush with Will for just over six weeks. As Joanna soon learns, true love isn’t always easy. Will is a divorced husband and father currently expecting another child with a needy former lover. He’s a poor dreamer banking on the income that will hopefully come from a new invention. The couple’s radically different backgrounds create predictable tensions for the unlikely love connection. Joanna is embroiled in small-town scandals and begins to doubt her choices; Will’s life is a disaster. Is he truly the man of her dreams, or was her journey an utter mistake? Goulter presents an intriguing mystery propelled by her characters’ questionable morals and intentions. Joanna’s motivations could be better fleshed out, as it stretches the limits of belief that a woman with a stable life would leave her children and home for a man she barely knows. Will is also an enigmatic character, though Goulter adeptly paints his physical traits and personality yet leaves his true motivations and interests in the shadows. Set in the Australian bush country, the landscape is at times beautiful and desolate, and Goulter allows the country itself to come alive as a character, furthering Joanna’s reservations and reinforcing her role as an outsider. Though her misgivings about her new situation aren’t surprising, one can’t help but simultaneously admire Joanna’s adventurous spirit while pitying her apparent naïveté.
A well-crafted romance that will leave readers wondering until the last moment whether a happy ending is truly in the cards.