High Country Secrets by Jane Carter

51gN1BH6z9LTitle: High Country Secrets

Series: N/A

Author: Jane Carter

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Blurb: How can you be in love with one man and violently attracted to another?

When Jessie Cranfield and Michael D’Larghi take the stage to sing together at a local fundraiser in their hometown, the last thing Jessie expects is the electricity between them. Not only has she not seen Michael for years—but her fiancé is sitting in the audience.

Michael is used to overcoming any obstacle in his path to achieve his goals. Now his goal is Jessie, the former girl-next-door from rural Cooma. But not even Michael can foresee that their attraction might uncover family secrets that could tear both their lives apart forever.

A Montague-Capulet war has nothing on the Cranfields and D’Larghis. Can Jessie and Michael risk falling in love, or is it too much for their families to bear?

Thoughts:  The book was set in Australia and has a forbidden Romeo and Juliet type romance.  I am not sure what exactly I expected, but it wasn’t this.  The book starts with a couple secretly meeting to have an affair in 1983.  You know there is an impact on the story, but you don’t know who is meeting.  Fast-forward to 2013 and Michael and Jessie end up singing together in an emotional and sizzling hot duet for a local fundraiser.  They continue to think about each other after their duet, but they would have to even if they didn’t want to.  Everyone witnessed the sparks between them and are talking about it, plus their families hate each other.  Both Michael and Jessie are in solid relationships, but fate keeps bringing them together.  Michael decides that he is ready to pursue a relationship with Jessie and ends things with his girlfriend, but Jessie refuses.  Regardless of how she is starting to feel about Michael, she is engaged and takes that commitment seriously.

When Jessie’s fiance gets promoted to a job in China and accepts the job without even discussing it with Jessie, she starts to examine her feelings.  When she decides that she doesn’t want to go with him, he lets loose all of his feelings about his issues with her and Michael and trash talks her family.  They break up and he leaves Jessie with the rent on her own….a rent that she can’t afford.  When Michael finds out about the break-up and Jessie’s situation, he pursues her and also secretly helps her out.  Everything with Jessie and Michael is so right except that their families aren’t ok with the relationship.  They start trying to figure out what has caused all of the animosity and Michael figures it out.

When the situation blows up, Michael confronts everyone and ends up finding out the truth is much worse than he expected.  Can Michael and Jessie make it through not only their own hurdles, but all the trust issues and misery the past has thrown in their way?

I really enjoyed the interaction with Michael and Jessie.  I liked the progression their relationship took.  I loved the instant connection and how they fought it.  I loved how they kept getting thrown together and each had to learn to accept their feelings.  Michael was so down to earth, but passionate about his family’s business.  He loved his family, but they had issues too.  He was so quick to accept his feelings for Jessie and was prepared to fight for them.  I loved Michael!  Jessie was different.  She fought her feelings for Michael, but allowed Alan (her fiance) to steamroll her.  I really didn’t get that at all.  I was relieved when she finally started to examine those feelings.  Together, Michael and Jessie were so sweet, but with an underlying heat.  I loved it.  The mystery surrounding the past was also interesting.

Why a B then?  As an American that’s never been to Australia, I really couldn’t see it.  A large portion of the story is based on the land and I couldn’t understand it.  There were also so many secondary characters and story lines that I couldn’t keep up.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the book format either.  The biggest issue, though, was the way that the fathers went from hating each other to drinking coffee together in a blink.  This huge obstacle just resolved itself and we found about it afterthefact and in about 1 page.  What? I hate it when this happens.  It feels like there is a page limit to the book and with 5 pages left everything has to get crammed together with a pretty bow.

Overall, it’s a good story with a mild mystery element and a great couple.  A good hero can make any romance worthwhile, right?

Grade: B

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