Author: Lily Malone

Water Under the Bridge by Lily Malone

Water Under the Bridge by Lily MaloneWater Under The Bridge by Lily Malone
Series: Chalk Hill #1
Published by Harlequin MIRA on 19th February 2018
Pages: 268
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three-stars

Ella Davenport hasn’t been in a swimming pool since a bad decision ruined her chance of Olympic gold. So when Ella decides on a new career selling property, she chooses Chalk Hill. The country town is a long way from the water, with no pool in sight. Perfect!

Jake Honeychurch doesn’t want to sell his Nanna’s house, but circumstances force his hand. Listing the property with the rookie real estate agent in town, and asking a hefty price means it shouldn’t find a buyer. Perfect!

But determination and persistence are traits Jake admires, and Ella has them in spades. After all, no one ever made an Olympic team by being a quitter.

When news breaks of a proposed waterski park, a local developer starts sniffing around Honeychurch House. Ella’s first sale is so close she can taste it, until a sharp-eyed local recognises her.

Between sale negotiations with Jake that keep getting sidetracked, and a swimming pool committee hellbent on making a splash, Ella has more to contend with than kisses and chlorine.

Can she throw off the failures of the past and take the chance of a new start? Or will her dreams of a new life be washed away again?

I’ll say something from the outset and that has to do with how much I normally love Lily Malone’s writing. It’s just ‘Water Under the Bridge’ that didn’t quite work out right for me, despite the wonderful setting of a part of Western Australia so little explored in rural fiction and the unique rhythms of life that Malone captures very nicely here.

There’s something so wistful and close to my heart here about Ella’s new career direction and her past trauma after all—a hundred and eighty degrees somewhere else, where all hopes are pinned onto having something noteworthy marked into a new career; in Ella’s case, the sale of an overpriced home which is listed by an owner out of grumpy pretence.

That much got me through a third of it, where I soon found myself flagging. Admittedly, Ella and her constant hedging about her son’s real parentage when I thought she owed it to Jake *and* her son to be open with them tested my patience sorely; that much reduced my enjoyment of the story which inched forward only because it became a test of Ella’s inability to be honest and open with many moments that seemed deliberately engineered to stop her from doing so as well.

Ultimately, it became an exercise in frustration because it was road block after road black of stubbornness rearing its head in so many places: Ella’s reticence and overreactions and self-pity, Sam’s obstinate acting out, Abe’s refusal to talk, and the list goes on. I’m usually out to root for the protagonists in romantic fiction—if I can’t ship a pairing, then it’s pretty much useless—but the difficulty I had getting behind a female protagonist who kept blowing hot and cold (and made it so effective such that inroads were just simply impossible) definitely deterred this.

So frankly, I’m not too sure how to place my own feelings about the book. There were parts which I was enthralled with, parts that I really didn’t like, yet I’m still eager for the next book in the series because, well, Malone’s writing isn’t something I can resist.

three-stars

The Goodbye Ride by Lily Malone

The Goodbye Ride by Lily MaloneThe Goodbye Ride by Lily Malone
Published by Harlequin Enterpises AU on May 5th 2016
Pages: 102
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four-stars

A fresh, funny and poignant romance set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

Olivia Murphy is a woman on a mission. The Ducati motorbike that once belonged to her brother has come up for re-sale. Liv wants to buy the precious bike, and she needs the ink dry on the paperwork before the approaching long weekend, when tourists with fat wallets will descend on her hometown of Hahndorf.

Only one person stands in her way; and she’s just tripped and fallen at his feet...

Owen Carson likes rare and beautiful things and he has the Ducati in his sights. Then Liv literally falls into his path, and he finds his heart captured by beauty of a very different kind.

How far will Liv go to make the motorbike hers? Can a viticulturalist fall for a man who prefers beer? And will a long weekend among the grape vines be long enough for Owen to convince Liv he's interested in more than just a holiday fling?

Anything by Lily Malone is a treat and ‘The Goodbye Ride’ isn’t what I’d expected but intriguing nonetheless: a dizzying immersion in the rich, Australian environment, the careful cataloguing of emotion and inner thoughts – prioritised over a great amount of action that I’ve probably grown used to. The novella’s premise is simple but poignantly evocative, sensitively delving into issues such as homophobia, bittersweet memories and the (in)ability to move ahead in life after a tragedy.

I don’t feel as though I know very much about Olivia, Owen and Ben apart from these very short few days that Lily Malone writes about, yet I don’t somehow feel cheated as I would have with other books. The light at the end of a long tunnel simply emerges by the time the last page is turned and all we’re left with are pathways of possibilities – which appear to be a more fitting (and perfect) ending than a HEA.

four-stars

So Far Into You by Lily Malone

So Far Into You by Lily MaloneSo Far Into You by Lily Malone
Published by Escape Publishing on October 1st 2015
Pages: 248
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five-stars


A new Australian rural romance about a millionaire wine tycoon, the woman he betrayed and the second chance neither was looking for…

When she cut her viticulture degree short and moved home, Remy wasn’t thinking about anything more than making the next dollar for her pocket. Working two jobs to keep food on the table and a loan shark from the door, Remy and her mother slowly build a new life together. Then a freak storm tears through the Margaret River Wine Festival — and Seth Lasrey tears through Remy’s life.
Seth is old money. She is no money. He’s the boss. She’s his employee. He is society connections and expectations. She is threats and bad decisions and lost dreams. They seem to be so wrong they can only be right — until a costly mistake and a timely deception drives them apart. Remy picks up the pieces of her life and begins anew. The last thing she expects is Seth to show up in her small town in South Australia, bringing with him memories that she can’t escape and a damaged heart that she’s not sure she can resist.

Putting into words just how much this book blew me away is an impossibility at the moment. ‘So Far Into You’ takes the second-chance romance and sinks it deep into Australian viticulture without losing sight of the the grit, the pains and the joys of losing and finding again. Funny, a little raunchy and so buoyantly balanced – in both plot and language -, I tumbled, fully enthralled in this Cinderella-like set-up, eager to see how Seth and Remy would get on five years later. True to form, Ms. Malone thankfully sees no need for overly dramatic confrontations or leftover teenage angst; instead, she sets Seth and Remy’s previously-broken journey back on their rightful path with many moments of healing laughter and friendship.

Personally, I adored Remy – so resilient, so big-hearted and so spunky that I immediately insisted mentally that all heroines should be like her. For a story that spans over 5 years, I never once felt as though I’d lost sight of who Remy and Seth were (such is the power of Lily Malone’s exquisite storytelling) and sighed the entire the journey to their eventual bliss when it became obvious that the book was coming to an end.

five-stars