Title: Half Moon Bay
Author: Helene Young
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Read: June 18 - 20, 2013
Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home. As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.
Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…
As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?
A compelling story of danger and desire by the award-winning author of Burning Lies.
‘Plenty of action, sizzling romance and page-turning suspense’ Book’d Out
‘Helene Young is a very accomplished writer, building her romance and suspense with verve and skill.’ Sisters in Crime
I have been eyeing off Helene Young’s books for some time, but have always been wary of the “romance” part in romantic suspense fiction – romance not being one of my preferred genres. But in hindsight I am really glad that I have been given the opportunity to dive into one of Young’s books, as I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style – there was a lot of suspense, some remarkable characters, a great Australian setting and yes - a fair bit of sexual tension. It made a lovely change from the fare of gruesome murder mysteries I have been reading lately.
After losing her journalist sister Nina in a nighttime shooting in war torn Afghanistan, photojournalist Ellie Wilding has spent years travelling to escape her feelings of loss and guilt over not being able to help her sister. She only returns to Half Moon Bay, a small fishing village on the far New South Wales coast, when neighbours ask her to join the fight against corrupt politicians and developers who are threatening her hometown. When the mysterious Nick Lawson arrives in town representing the land developers, Ellie is both repelled by his presence as well as drawn to his enigmatic personality. Soon it becomes evident that Nick is somehow connected to the events leading up to Nina’s death in Afghanistan, and that the threat to Half Moon Bay has deeper and darker roots than expected. Not prepared to give up the fight even in the face of danger, Ellie must find out who she can trust in order to stay one step ahead of the threat and protect her own life.
Young has a flair for creating an atmospheric and authentic Australian setting and believable enigmatic characters. Having visited the part of the New South Wales coast Half Moon Bay is set in, I instantly had a vivid sense of place and could picture the scenery clearly – especially the surfing scenes brought back fond memories. The story unfolds so seamlessly and the dialogue is so engaging that it played out almost movie-like in my mind and kept me engrossed the entire time, reluctant to put the book down.
What I applaud Young most for is the fine balance between suspense and romance which made for a great read. At no point did Ellie and Nick’s relationship overshadow the storyline or dominate the narrative. Young has delivered a complex yet believable plot with enough twists to make for a suspenseful read, aided by current topical issues and a rural setting with its own natural hazards, such as isolation and bad weather. Protagonist Ellie is a plucky, independent and likeable heroine whose cause is heartfelt and worthwhile, and her motives for the risks she takes are always plausible. As for Nick – mmmh – despite his sometimes clumsy choice of phrase he sounds quite delectable!
Half Moon Bay should appeal to both Australian readers as well as an international audience, who will have no trouble picturing the idyllic setting of this small Australian seaside town (and instantly feel tempted to book a ticket to visit the beautiful Yamba area). I highly recommend Half Moon Bay to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense, or who has been (like me) a bit sceptical about the genre – consider me converted! I now can’t wait to read Young’s earlier novels, starting with Wings of Fear (which has been on my wishlist for a while).
A warm thank-you to Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out and to the author for providing me with a free preview copy of this novel, which gave me many hours of reading pleasure! The views expressed in this review are strictly my own. J