In a small Australian town, the most epic love story in history is unfolding . . . again.
Everybody knows everyone in Kincasey, and nothing ever happens. That’s until Jenny meets the mysterious Michael Webster. Long-held resentments simmer to the surface, loyalties are tested, and Jenny finds herself the centre of attention. Her situation isn’t helped by a deepening friendship with Michael’s stepbrother, Gabe, or her jealousy of Gabe’s beautiful but aloof sister, Caitlin.
Caitlin is the only one who knows the terrible truth: this isn’t the first life she and Michael have lived. They have a destiny to fulfil – and it’s time for Michael’s powers to awaken. But what use is power if it can’t give you what you most desire?
I’ve read a few different versions of the story already and seen movies versions too. Reincarnated lovers forced to spend eternity trying to find each other, until death inevitably separates them and then they do it all over again, and frankly that story can get a bit old.
But I did appreciate the points of difference this novel had, very rarely do you read a version of this story where one character is already falling for someone, who isn’t the lover they are destined to be with.
I loved that angle, it felt real, because love isn’t easy, it is messy and complicated. But for me this book fell a bit flat. I felt like the angle could’ve been pushed more, rather than used for half the book and then ditched in the hope to give the third member of the triangle a ‘happy ending’.
I also really liked that it never felt like a triangle. It wasn’t some epic love story where two people were fighting over someone, all while that someone desperately tries to decide who to be with. I’m over that storyline, so this had me excited for something a bit different. But it didn’t meet my hopes unfortunately. And that for me was where this novel let me down. Overall most of the other elements were strong; the plot had a good flow in most places, there were some hardcore emotional scenes, the writing style is beautiful especially when describing the setting but there was some characterisation that had me confused which led to questions about the over-arching storyline.
Like I said the setting was a huge hit. Rural Australia is always a setting I love because I spent so much of my childhood exploring places described in this novel and it immediately gives me nostalgic feelings. The description and imagery of the landscape is poetic and lyric-like, adding another layer of romance to this book which felt appropriate.
I also enjoyed the flow of the plot. There were sections where I couldn’t put the book down, there was so much going on and it wasn’t necessarily huge action scenes, but more intense emotional moments of dialogue that just pulled on my heart or scenes where the tension felt like it was about to tear the book in half. But at the same time there were chapters were I felt like nothing was going on. These sections felt like long scenes of just exposition, pages where the author was trying to explain time passing or how Michael explored his powers, and I didn’t enjoy those moments. They all felt so vague, like the author was having trouble giving solid explanations and it just bored me.
I did enjoy how we got glimpses into all the character’s frame of minds, I especially loved the chapters with the ‘villain’ character because it gave him purpose and helped define his personality very clearly to the reader. Often my biggest issue with antagonist characters is that I never feel like I understand why they are doing things or what motivates them, but here it was such a clear image. I really appreciated getting a look inside his head and it added extra layers of much needed tension later on.
I guess my main problem with the book was the character of Jenny. Reading the blurb, you get the impression it’s going to be this epic love story between her and Michael, while his siblings are there as plot devices providing obstacles to their romance. That is not the case. I don’t want to provide too many spoilers but one you read the first two chapters it is very clear your impressions are wrong and while Jenny is a main character, she is not the protagonist like you think she is. Which set me up for disappointment right from the get go and made me question exactly what story I was reading.
I also had questions about Jenny’s character development. As the story progresses she tumbles into a dark place; she’s angry and hurt and while she does get help through it from Gabe, it felt like the author paved over her heartbreak, loss and betrayal with another romance. It felt like a Band-Aid quick fix, rather than Jenny actually making progress as a person and moving through and over those emotions. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help think, well this looks like a rebound relationship if I ever saw one. Because she’s still so invested in the past relationship and pines after the guy, even around her new guy. Right until the author flips a switch and she suddenly doesn’t have feelings for the first guy anymore. It felt a little inauthentic to me.
Especially because the author does really develop her secondary characters, like Gabe and Cait’s, so well. I felt like even though they weren’t in every chapter I knew those characters the most; they were flawed, well-rounded and had incredible depth to them. It was just a pity that the character of Jenny didn’t get the same attention.
The character of Michael almost felt the same way for me, but I found some of his chapters towards the middle of the book too vague and hard to read. It was again a question of character development. There were sections where I didn’t understand his motivations or his actions. I think that was because the major conversation explaining why Michael is the way he is doesn’t happen in the book, rather it’s just referred to by the characters and I didn’t feel I had enough information because of that.
I did enjoy reading this book, it had some really strong elements and a huge amount of potential. Maybe if I hadn’t had the expectations from the blurb going into the book it might have been a different experience for me, but I do feel like there were some areas for improvement. A stronger focus on characterisation, rather than trying to characters fit to a predetermined plot, would have done a lot for this book. But it was a good read plot wise.
So if you’re looking for a romance-heavy book, and aren’t too worried about motivations for the characters, you’ll enjoy this book.
On a side note Jane Abbott is touring with Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Aus and will be in Adelaide, South Australia on the 18-20 November. So if you’d like to meet her or maybe pick up a copy of her book, this might be a great place to do that. For more info or to buy tickets, click here.
3.5 stars out of 5
I am sorry for the minor blogging hiatus. Life just took over this past month (and a bit) and while I wasn’t hugely involved on my blog, I was on my other social media. I will be getting back to my regular posting schedule really soon, so thank you for sticking around and continuing to read my blog posts.
Happy Reading ❤