City girl meets country boy in this sassy Aussie modern retelling of a classic. You don’t have to like the classics to appreciate a good opposites attract romance between a pair that bristle on sight and do their level best to take the hide off each other with words. A match-making mother, a conniving blue-eyed beauty, misunderstanding, a farm full of brothers, a cold precise lawyer, and love after all make for a fun, entertaining romance.
Evan Bennet and his four brothers still all live on the family farm. He and his older brother, Jamie, actually work the farm with their dad. His middle brother, Mark, works on a nearby farm for Charlie, Ev’s best mate. His youngest two brothers are a bit wild and work when threatened with loss of life or funds. Evan has hopes of some day leaving the farm to own his own vineyard and make his own wine after spending time and working with his late Uncle Rob. It’s a huge gamble and a part of him wants to just stay working on the farm. He also has strong feelings about marriage and women unlike his pushing matchmaking mother who loudly laments her lack of grandchildren. Evan is holding out for true love and it’s not like he hasn’t met all the girls his small town has to offer.
Only, that’s about to change. The old estate, Netherfield, has been taken over and being renovated so a country retreat and hotel can open. The manager is the pretty and very single Miss Claire Bingley. Evan’s mom is over the moon and making plans for one of her sons to catch the eye of the wealthy girl. Turns out, Jamie catches her eye and she catches his, but the same doesn’t happen when Evan encounters Claire’s icy best friend, Darcy Fitzwilliam. She’s rude and condescending from the start and then he overhears her insulting him, his family, and the town. Evan has some pride and quite a temper and the gorgeous, sophisticated woman sets him off. Not even his own stalker, Kooky Cara, or a chance at a fun and flirty Jemma can distract the fireworks that come any time the two are within sight of each other.
This one was fun. At first, I wasn’t too keen on either Evan or Darcy. He has a bad temper and she’s disdainful with her words. But then the two grew on me. Both had some growing to do and some groveling, too. The pace, setting, descriptions, and tone were all in keeping with an easy contemporary romance that takes a long while to develop.
Evan is the sole narrator of the story. He’s a hardworking down to earth guy who has a difficult mother and not a lot of patience for his younger brothers or an awkward girl who can’t take the hint that he’s not interested. But it is Darcy who really sets him off. He doesn’t understand why and assumes it is all because of her even as he tries to like another girl, Jemma, who also has trouble with Darcy. I like that the romance takes a while to develop. They had to learn to understand and like each other before anything else could happen. And when it does, this was sweet rather than hot.
My only real niggle was that I wanted to see Darcy and Evan have a few more encounters to establish what came after. Darcy’s initial interest was based on very little really. I also cringed each time Evan lost his temper especially with Cara. He could be brutal with his tongue even if I understood his frustration.
The story was engaging beyond the romance. I liked the small farm town setting, the Bennet family and their friends, but also the second half of the book that pursues Evan’s interest in wine along with his entry into Darcy’s world after she was in his for the first half. The flip in settings was a nice touch seeing them both in each other’s worlds.
All in all, I enjoyed this opposites attract sweet contemporary romance and would recommend it to those who want something engaging rather than emotionally challenging.
My thanks to Escape Publishing for the opportunity to read this story in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #243 CR
New to Me #102 author