His Outback TemptationAuthor: Annie Seaton
Series: Prickle Creek #4
Also in this series: His Outback Nanny
Publisher: Entangled: Bliss
Release date: May 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Freelance photographer Sebastian Richards has put aside travelling the world to show his grandmother he is capable of helping out on the family farm, even though it’s hard to let go of his wanderlust. But when he rescues a beautiful woman from a difficult situation, and Sebastian learns Isabella Romano is going to his hometown, heading back to Prickle Creek holds more appeal.
Isabella has come home to the Outback for a short visit to her father before she heads off to begin her dream job in England. Circumstances throw Isabella and Sebastian together at every turn—so maybe a short summer fling could be fun?
Isabella is determined to leave, even though her heart wants to stay. Sebastian is determined to stay, though his heart wants to go. But the only way for them to be happy is to take a chance on love.
The Faerie Queen’s review
This one was a really weird one for me. For a romance, it didn’t really hit the mark. But then I did appreciate some of the things it did do.
So what do I mean? Let me see if I can break it down.
Sebastian (Seb) is the last of four grandchildren to come home to the farm that his grandparents handed over to Seb and his cousins. As a photographer, he’s travelled the world, but now’s the time to come home, or so he thinks. On his plane is the Italian Isabella (Bella), who is visiting her dad in Prickle Creek before going off to Windsor, England to follow her culinary ambitions in a posh pub. In a somewhat problematic “meetcute”, the two find each other in the airport and decide to go back to Prickle Creek together.
From a modern life standpoint, I liked how this book addressed two things through its two main characters. The town everything takes place in does come across very traditional, almost dated. The men must have very traditional roles as leaders of the families, with very masculine jobs, while the women all want to become wives and mothers and take on jobs in the caring professions (e.g. housewives, nannies, schoolteachers). I also noticed this in His Outback Nanny, which I admittedly enjoyed because things did make sense in that one, and it wasn’t as apparent.
For Seb, the big issue was family expectations to do with his career. Despite his international renown as a photographer, this profession did not fit in with what the town and his family deemed worthwhile. He believed he had to stay and make the farm his life. He’d always felt like they didn’t respect what he’d done with his life, with photography being a fun, frivolous hobby that didn’t require all that much hard work. As someone who knows a lot of artists of various kinds – including authors – I know that this is a common perception that people with non-creative careers have of creatives. And it did come across like this a lot of the time, though in the end, he had to decide what was right for him.
Bella had the same sort of issues, but it was more. Not only did people question her career ambitions – with even Seb failing to acknowledge her dreams – but she also had the same problem a lot of us career women have: questions and expectations regarding her family plans, as if everyone has a say in your procreation. Her father, Seb, everyone seemed to want her to just give up the amazing opportunity she had waiting in England to stick around for a guy she’d only known for a few weeks. I, for one, appreciated seeing her struggles, especially in a town and around women who seemed wholly consumed with marriage and babies. (Everyone has babies, guys, everyone. No one is safe.) Yes, she wanted children one day, but why did she have to give up her career? As someone who has the same internal battles about whether/when to have children, I could empathise with Bella.
In the outback, it was nice to see two characters struggling with dated expectations and figuring out what worked for them. The ending, especially, was pretty awesome, but I can’t say why without spoiling anything.
You may have noticed my little comment about a problematic first interaction earlier. Seb and Bella meet at the airport when Bella launches herself at Seb, kissing him without warning. I don’t care how cute this is supposed to be just because they’re “meant to be” or whatever, this is sexual assault. He has no idea it’s going to happen, doesn’t know who she is at first, and is told to go along with it. Ok, yes, he could have pushed her off, but that doesn’t mean what she did wasn’t wrong. Are we just supposed to ignore this because it’s a girl doing it? Because she’s pretty and he’s handsome? Because it works out in the end?
Ultimately, though, what really made this book so-so for me was that the chemistry was never really there. As with His Outback Nanny, this was a very clean book, with a bit of fade-to-black, which meant it had to rely solely on dialogue and some more innocent interaction to build up a connection. But I didn’t feel anything while reading, didn’t see what all the fuss was about with them parting because it never seemed like anything special or meaningful. And that’s the kicker.
So while I liked seeing some of the modern relationship issues presented in this book from a literary standpoint, it fell short for a romance.