NOBODY BUT HIM
Author: Victoria Purman
Mira RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman was unexpected for two reasons. One, it was an extra book, one I was sent by the publisher even though I hadn’t requested it. Two, I didn’t expect it to be so entertaining. I gave the book a Sunday Shout Out a few weeks ago, a feature I reserve for books I’m not planning to review … but I enjoyed it so much I decided to go the extra mile. Two sassy characters, a heated romance and a lovely, familiar location made it the perfect chill-out read after a long week at work.
At the age of eighteen, Julia Jones left her hometown — the small beachside town of Middle Point — with plans to make something of herself. Living in a small town was not how she saw her future, even if leaving meant saying goodbye to her first love, Ryan Blackburn. Fifteen years later, she’s back; her career and big-city life are on hold while she finalises her mother’s estate. Her plan is to sell her mother’s house and get back to the city as fast as she can. As a favour, she helps her friend Lizzie in the town’s pub one night … only to run smack-bang into Ryan Blackburn. He’s not happy to see her – she left him heartbroken years earlier – and the feeling’s mutual. His suggestion that she stay away from him is one piece of advice she will listen to when it comes to Ryan and Middle Point.
Julia soon finds that selling her house could take more time, and work, than she anticipated. When Ryan offers a helping hand, her instinct is to refuse. Yet, she can’t deny that Ryan would make an extremely good-looking handyman … he still looks mighty fine after all these years. She also can’t deny that the attraction that brought them together as young lovers is far from dead and buried. If anything, it’s ready to erupt. Soon, she’s ignoring her better judgement and diving into an ‘I’ll think about it tomorrow’ fling with Ry. But what she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up on you … and that saying goodbye to her hometown — and to Ry — is so much harder the second time around.
Julia’s sassy attitude and Ryan’s hot-bodied alpha male disposition make for bubbling chemistry and conflict – just what the publisher ordered. I liked the way the two tried but failed to ignore their attraction to each other – it was easy to believe and easier to hope the two would just get it together, already. The love scenes were intimate, naughty and fun … and reflected the characters well. I wouldn’t have expected less. I also liked that when it came to the punch, Julia showed her media-savvy side, earning Ryan’s professional respect. Where he was able to help her physically, she was able to help him with fine problem-solving skills. I can see a future of heated arguments, passionate make-up sex and a lot of love for these two. They just need to work on compromise, something I felt both characters started to learn over the course of the book, but have some ways to go.
The novel touched on the theme of small-town development in a believable manner that added to the conflict between Julia and Ryan. It’s an issue pertinent to readers anywhere – whether development is a good or bad thing, what the benefits and costs are, and how to develop sustainably. From the way it was written, I felt that it was an issue close to Purman’s heart, one that she addressed in fine journalistic style – with balance. The other thing I liked was the virtual trip down memory lane to McLaren Vale and the Victor Harbour area; it’s a beautiful area and Purman’s love for it is evident in her descriptions.
Available from good bookstores and Harlequin Australia. This copy was courtesy of Harlequin Australia. The book is the first in the Boys of Summer series.
Bookish treat: How can I not wish for a McLaren Vale white to sip as I read?