Wish by Kelly Hunter
This novella has all the elements I love in Hunter’s writing. I would have preferred a longer story…but I say that about all her books, too.
This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.
Determined to raise her 11-year old son Cal ‘somewhere peaceful and perfect and full of possibilities’, Billie Temple has given up her life in Sydney to run the local pub of a small country town. Unfortunately, when Billie and Cal arrive at their rental cottage, landlord Adam Kincaid makes it clear that he expects them to find alternative lodgings asap.
Wish was originally a self-published novella by Aussie author Kelly Hunter and was re-released in August 2012 as one of the launch titles for Penguin’s Destiny imprint. Romance novellas are always tricky things—the length tends to demand a very tightly controlled pace and intense character development with little room for a fully fledged backstory.
For the most part, Hunter rises to the occasion admirably. Adam’s inability to call Cal by name because it reminds him of the family he lost, speaks volumes without wasting words. And Hunter employs her signature style of letting the characters speak for themselves instead of spelling out every emotion and back story detail to the reader. On the other hand, there’s a suspense subplot that feels unnecessary.
Billie and Hunter enter into a fuck buddies type of relationship—the romantics may prefer ‘friends with benefits’; however, I think it takes a while before I’d consider them truly friends—but Adam’s nature means he slowly becomes part of Billie’s life despite his reluctance. When that happens, Billie realises the (emotional) risk he’s becoming to herself and to Cal, and attempts to stop the arrangement.
I love this particular reworking of the mistress trope, and I’ve seen in done to great effect in category romance, too. There’s something poignant about a heroine strong enough to protect herself from emotional damage, thereby forcing the hero to finally put to rest his own personal demons to attain happiness.
Yay or nay?
This novella doesn’t break any new ground, but it has all the elements I love in Hunter’s writing. I would have preferred a longer story…but I say that about all her books, too.
Who might enjoy it: Romance readers looking to dip their toes into outback romance
Who might not enjoy it: Readers who are bothered by tacked-on suspense subplots
A review copy of this book was generously provided by Destiny Romance via NetGalley.