Circumstances and misunderstandings separate a young couple who must overcome past mistakes to find bliss in this contemporary, Australia-set debut romance.
One drunken mistake is all it takes for David Samson to torpedo his relationship with the beautiful Julene Somersby. After he cheats on her at a party, she walks out. He drowns his sorrow and regret in booze and other liaisons; she tries to move on, even after she learns she’s pregnant with her former boyfriend’s child. Still reeling from David’s betrayal, she keeps the baby a secret. She also revives her love of art (“In no time, her pencils had rediscovered the talent of the hands, flowing over the pages. Sketches, landscapes, and soon abstracts, oils and water colors”). Before long, she has made a splash in the Adelaide gallery scene. Inevitably, Julene and her ex cross paths again, and they decide to give their relationship another go. A happily-ever-after ending seems assured, until Linda Summitson, a woman David slept with, reappears with a baby of her own. She says little Sam is his, but David isn’t so sure. Either way, her attempts at blackmail threaten David’s future with Julene. Lally’s novel starts off strong as it tackles realistic relationship turmoil. David and Julene respond to his infidelity in ways that aren’t necessarily logical, but are certainly believable. Romantics should enjoy watching this feisty couple rediscover their love for each other, work through their differences, and start over again with their new baby. Some elements of the plot strain credulity, though, such as the way Julene goes from untrained painter to successful professional artist in a matter of months. Nor is it totally clear what she sees in the often immature David (aside from the possibility of great sex). When Linda starts hinting that he might be the father of her baby, David’s instinct is to label her a “sly bitch” rather than to accept that his inebriated antics might have had real-life consequences. The ham-fisted effort to inject drama into the story and cast Linda as the villain sours the last chapters of this otherwise enjoyable book. Linda is a manipulator to be sure, but David handles the situation so poorly that he’s hardly sympathetic. Julene, readers may think, deserves better.
A pleasant love story with a less-than-charming hero.