The Opal Octopus

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Review: Lovelorn by Claire Andersen

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Lovelorn
by Claire Andersen

Published by Random House Australia
on November 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 304
four-stars
Review: Lovelorn by Claire Andersen

Mia has chosen a sea change, moving from the world of Melbourne art galleries to Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. Having been accused of art theft in the past, she has withdrawn from her job, her family, and her will-they-or-won’t-they engagement to curator Rohan.

“Here, let me top up your champagne and we can get back into the mood.’

They ate quietly, the ring sitting between them like an exclamation mark on a blank sheet of paper. Waiting. Mocking.”

Now working as children’s book illustrator, Mia is convinced to take on art tutoring. Her first student, Sophie Brunelli, is a young girl from a local Italian family. Mia becomes enmeshed with the Brunelli family, befriending Sophie and her grandfather, but she is not sure what to make of Sophie’s uncle Jack, who appears to take an instant dislike to her. Why is he so cold towards her at first? Could he know about her past?

I loved the Darcy/Lizzy vibe in Lovelorn. First impressions are not always accurate – and that goes both ways. Jack comes across as distant and mocking at times, Mia is caught out looking somewhat less than suave and self-possessed, and Jack has knowledge of shenanigans elsewhere of which Mia is unaware … and I can tell you nothing else because spoilers!

The book has a well-drawn sense of place, especially in the contrast between coastal town Lorne and Melbourne:

“Even at this hour, trains were still bustling back and forth. There was a different world out there, a busy rush of people who didn’t know or care about each other. How different it was in Lorne, where you saw familiar faces in the streets, chatted to shop owners, took your time. Even now, she could be sitting on her balcony, observing the endless spectacle of stars meeting ocean. Traffic noise exchanged for the sound of waves washing ashore.”

I also enjoyed the occasional gigglesnort double-entendre, lightening the mood of the book:

“ ‘He’s interested in selling this property and I might consider buying it. I find the view quite breathtaking.’

Mia let go of the shears hastily. Was he really referring to the ocean? His voice was husky and his eyes met hers and then travelled lazily down her neck, where strands of hair were plastered against her skin. Her breasts suddenly felt taut and strangely alive. It felt as if he was touching her without even having to raise a finger. She was painfully aware of the flimsiness of her thin top and the fact that it formed the only barrier between his gaze and her bare flesh. Even worse, she felt sure he knew what his look was doing to her. A tiny bead of perspiration trickled down between her breasts.

‘These will need to be oiled and tightened,’ he said, still using that throaty voice.”

Most of the book is nothing like this level of corniness – but this passage gave me a good laugh!

I had a few issues, generic sex scenes among them. (I know, I whinge about that a lot.) And where are the condoms?! I also got a little frustrated at times, wanting to yell at the two main characters to just talk to each other. There was also what felt like a weird evasion of the climax of book. Just as a major conflict is about to occur, the book fades suddenly to the future and the climax is then told secondhand in retrospect. I’m not sure why this authorial choice was made, but it didn’t quite work for me.

Despite my few objections, this book was a entertaining read, enjoyably grounded, and it kept me turning the pages till the end.

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