Gemma’s Bluff by Karly Lane
Review copy provided by publisher
Allen & Unwin, November 2014
Synopsis- Gemma’s life has always been a foregone conclusion: school, uni, then into the family business. Her best friend, Jasmine, is a whole other story. She thrives on spontaneity, her room is always a mess and she rarely sits down and plans anything in her life.
When Gemma and Jasmine decide to go on a working holiday together on a property in central New South Wales, their friends and family are surprised, since neither woman has any experience of farm life (unless you count Jasmine’s obsession with McLeod’s Daughters).
Away from family commitments and expectations, it’s not long before Gemma is thinking about following a new life’s path in the country. It’s a choice between safety or going out on a limb for love …
Review- I have no hesitation in picking up any new release novel by Karly Lane, some of her titles like Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice sit way up there with my list of favourite rural romance novels by an Australian author.
Gemma’s Bluff is Lane’s fifth novel with Allen and Unwin. The main character Gemma Northcote is roped into taking a last minute working holiday to celebrate finishing her Business Degree and to have fun before taking up her first proper job in her father’s real estate business. Her best friend Jasmine had a troublesome upbringing and is always coming up with wild ideas that are completely out of sensible and practical Gemma’s comfort zone. Even so, she feels it’s her role to look out for her unruly friend no matter what the consequences.
So together they end up on the road, to a rural property in central New South Wales but things quickly go from bad to worse, when their only mode of transport is written off in a kangaroo accident and when they turn up to meet their new employer- Nash BLAH, he has no idea who they are or why they’re there.
Eager to prove they could be of some help to the overworked and financially strained farmer, they convince him to let them take on minor jobs around the property. With absolutely no experience in getting their hands dirty, they rely on google to educate them on the tasks he assigns. Jasmine’s attention span quickly wanes and she gallivants off to the pub, hooking up with a mysterious local named Mack, any chance she can get.
Gemma on the other hand, is much more the homemaker and surprisingly enjoys her newfound freedom and takes charge of Nash’s kitchen. Experimenting with new recipes and testing hearty meals on her farmer roommate, she realises that cooking- not real estate is her passion. She also forms a slow-building connection with Nash that eventually blossoms into a romance. With so much drama, Gemma hits a cross roads. She needs to decide what direction she should take in life. The one marked out by her parents, or the one she’d been dreaming about since she was a kid?
There’s a lot to love about this story, and for the most part I really liked Gemma. I could completely relate to her and the drawn out romance between her and Nash was very believable and quite sweet. If I could rate Part 1 as a separate novel I’d give it 5/5 hands down. However, the Part 2 really let down this story.
I didn’t like the decision that both Gemma and Nash made. I felt it was really extreme to completely cut off contact with little effort to sort out the miscommunication. I’m sure I could have dealt with that if it wasn’t for the extended separation before they reunite. It’s a pet peeve of mine in romance stories where the hero and heroine are separated (due to some stupid miscommunication) for long periods of time (I’m talking fifteen months!). I can understand the reason- so that Gemma could grow as a person and make some strong decisions in her life. It could have been worked into the story while her and Nash worked things out.
End of spoiler ***
Though Part 2 was a letdown (and extremely frustrating!), I did read the whole story in one day and I was thinking about the characters for days after I put it down- so I do need to give it credit for the impact it had on me. It certainly tugged at many different emotions.
I’d still recommend Gemma’s Bluff- in fact any novel by Lane- to rural romance fans.
“I really liked this”
Gemma’s Bluff can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2014 challenge: