Author: Nicole Hurley-Moore
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is the latest release by Nicole Hurley-Moore, and if I’m really lucky it will be the beginning of a new series featuring these characters and the small fictional Victorian town of Kangaroo Ridge. I feel like there is plenty of material to keep coming back to explore, hopefully Hurley-Moore is inspired accordingly.

The Carrington family have suffered extreme tragedy and had to pull together to make it through. This story takes place eight years after the tragic accident that left the 5 Carrington siblings orphans.

The eldest of the siblings are Tamara and Sebastian, twins who were quite close until their world came crashing down as teenagers. Aunt Maddie returned to Kangaroo Ridge after the accident and helped the twins keep the family together in their family home.

The family have weathered the storm and had to grow up way too quick. All have dealt with the loss of their parents in their own way and it has left cracks in their relationships.

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is a story of family, of relationships and of finally taking the time to sit back and work out why the twins that were so close have grown apart. A story of finally working through the grief and moving forward.

Tamara stepped up to do her part in taking care of the family but she also went off the rails a little, and it took it’s toll on her relationships. She has thrown herself into the family business and I actually look forward to hearing more about the wedding venue they have grown out of the family farm. The family business is something that as a family the Carrington’s built from the ground up in the wake of the loss of their parents.

The Carrington’s also own Kangaroo Ridge’s only pub, and that has become the realm of Seb. He manages the pub and lives on-site, where the rest of the family are still on the farm and involved with Carrington Farm, the sought after wedding venue.

Carrington Farm was devised by the Carringtons to make the farm sustainable and allow them to keep the property and stay together. Seb and Tam forewent any plans of going away to university so that they could keep the family together and they have built successful lives for themselves, but it hasn’t always been easy. They had to fight to keep the pub viable while the twins were still only minors and they were lucky to have the support of their small town community.

I loved these characters and I felt so strongly for all of them. There are quite a few secrets squirreled away in these pages and I was pleased to see that by the end of the book all of those secrets found their way into the light. I find myself quite invested in all of them and would love to see Seb, Aunt Maddie and Felix get their own stories, and ultimately happy endings.

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is about the whole family but central to the storyline is wild child Tam, who finds herself constantly at loggerheads with Seb; stoic, dependable Seb who thinks his sister is wild, reckless and unlikely to ever settle down.

We get to know a lot more about Tam than Seb does because we get an insight into her head and her secrets. There’s a lot about Tam that people don’t know, and as much as it would benefit everyone to share those secrets, Tam is happier keeping things under wraps.

I could go way down the path into spoiler territory but I don’t want to do that… so time to rethink what I want to say.

The story is written in dual timeline, so it takes time to discover what happened to the Carrington parents. Flashback chapters set 8 years ago slowly takes us through the events leading up to the loss of their parents, and how they managed to get through in the aftermath. The more we learn, the more we get to know all of the characters, and the more I came to feel for them.

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is a complex look at family relationships, trauma and moving on; with a healthy dose of romance.

My heart broke for the Carrington children, as they lost their parents but also as they navigated the way forward. Seb and Tam had grown apart but hadn’t really had the time to analyse why, they were so busy trying to keep the family afloat. Now that life has settled a little it’s time for the twins to start looking more closely at their relationship, while there’s still a chance to save it.

The romance is very sweet, though at times a little predictable, but I loved it. I was very much in the corner of this couple and I wanted to see them succeed and I wanted them to get their chance in the sun, a chance they very nearly had 8 years earlier. A romance that had it’s share of supporters, and it’s detractors, and a pretty insurmountable seeming set of hurdles.

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is published by Allen & Unwin and available now where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for a copy in return for an honest review.

Nicole Hurley-Moore can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

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