The world sat spellbound as men in tights and spiked shoes wearing shoulder pads that put the eighties to shame chased an oblique across the grass.
Me? I sat with my eyes riveted as well—to a book page.
Look, I’ve been looking forward to reading A Girl’s Guide to the Outback for months. And yes, I could read in advance, but I have deadlines, people. I have books that NEED to be finished and edited by very specific dates. So I can’t always just break up the workflow, no matter how much I ache to.
And yes, this came right in the middle of two deadlines. Talk about mixed reactions. What would I do? How could I actually relax and enjoy the book when so many things wouldn’t shut up as I flipped to the first page?
Well… after finishing A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, I can assure you that not only did I relax and enjoy it, I learned a few things about the Outback that I never expected to—and things you’ll never find in most travel guides.
Note: links are likely affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested and received a free review copy and am here to tell you what I actually thought of it.
3 Reasons to Love & Fear the Outback
Not only have I never read anything by Jessica Kate before, but before reading the synopsis of her book, I’d never heard of her. Right about that time, friends started buzzing about her debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes. Reviews were mixed, but none bad. I had to read this one for myself.
Not only was I treated to a well-written, humorous look at the psyches of two psychologically damaged humans. The way Ms. Kate then took her characters through a process of self-discovery and eventually through Biblical lenses just shows that people still write solid Christian fiction without making it icky and preachy. Well done!
Not only that, but Thomas Nelson still publishes them. *thud* Thank you, TN for the apparent shift back to your roots as a real Christian publisher. Praying it sticks.
The book—seriously, it’s awesome. I kept waiting for that thing to happen—the one where my stomach bottoms out and my heart sinks down with it. That thing where all my hopes for this great book become dashed against mediocrity.
Spoiler. It doesn’t happen.
Instead, Jessica Kate keeps us riveted to the page, makes us believe we’re there with snakes and spiders and kangaroos. We hear the accents, see the love for shortening everything to a nickname ending in “ie,” and end up slathered in Vegemite. What more could we want?
How about those reasons to love and fear the outback?
- As a green American with no clue what life is really like in Australia, it feels very much like one of the “last frontiers” to me—like my life in Mojave as a girl. Except with electricity and running water. They have that. We didn’t. But… I bet we had better cell service…
- Blunt speaking. Seriously, if all Aussies are like the characters in A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, I’d be in heaven there. While I’ve learned to couch my words in other words that ensure people know that I care about them even as I say what I think, it’s not natural. I’d rather be able to say, “I think that shirt looks hideous” rather than have to say, “Well, it’s not my favorite, but it sure looks comfortable” as a lead into a final, “Yeah, I really don’t think it’s flattering.” I can just hear several of those Aussies saying, “Seriously? Why would you buy such an ugly shirt?” God bless the Aussies.
- Romance. If your heart goes pitter-patter at romance, well. I suspect the Outback is the place to go. More on that in a bit.
- The weather. It sounds rather extreme to me—kind of like where I live. Except we don’t have cyclones in the desert—and rarely tornadoes. We do have earthquakes, so maybe we’re even on that. What do I know? Still, when your whole world can be upended by a little wind… ahem.
- Critters. Again, we have them here. Scorpions, rattlers, all the creepy crawlies. Still, there aren’t that many and not as deadly as the stuff out there. Just sayin’. If you want to stay safe, go where there’s not much in the way of crawlies—like Greenland or Antarctica. 😀
- Romance. If this book (and half the movies I’ve seen that take place in Australia) is any indication, if you’re looking for romance, go get lost in the Outback somewhere and pray for rescue. May the spit swapping—erm, I mean kissing commence. Seriously, this book has what I love and hate about romance. It’s real… believable. Understandable. And it’s also sprinkled with those things. Sighness.
If that’s not enough of a hint as to what’s in the book, I don’t know what else to tell you. Great storytelling combined with lovable characters and realistic faith make A Girl’s Guide to the Outback the first book to land on my 2020 favorites list. So glad I requested and received that review copy. Even more thrilled that I loved it.
Recommended for lovers of romance, readers who enjoy some spiritual meat to go with the candy, and folks who are still intrigued by people who leave out half the letters when pronouncing their own country’s name.
About the Book
Book: A Girl’s Guide to the Outback
Author: Jessica Kate
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 28, 2020
How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.
Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.
When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm.
As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.
As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile, Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?
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