Purchase on Amazon
May be read as a standalone.
Andy Evans is on the move. For six long, lonely years, he’s been running from his past, leaving his family and his life as a drug-addicted rock star far behind. His latest move takes him to the sleepy seaside town of Oamaru, New Zealand, to sell cigar-box guitars to tourists. The only running he’ll need to do will be training for half-marathon in nearby Dunedin. But when Andy sets eyes on Steampunk HQ, Oamaru’s main tourist attraction, he realises his days of running might not be over, especially if a certain Steampunk fan from his past catches up with him.
Annie Martin is on the cusp of great success. Her career as a Steampunk academic is about to take off, as long as she can convince one disagreeable, New Zealand-based Professor to sign up to the anthology she’s putting together. Thankfully, Annie is a master at maintaining her poise and few people, no matter how nasty, can rattle her. Not any more. In fact, it’d been a good six years since anyone had gotten under her skin, after her best friend’s brother had vanished into thin air.
When Annie finds her future career on a collision course with her secret past, Andy Evans is the last person she expects to find tangled up in the mess. With a vengeful drug-dealer or two hot on his heels, and a vindictive academic determined to ruin her credibility, can Annie bring Andy back to his family before it’s too late? Annie and Andy are used to being alone, but if they don’t work together, there’ll be much more at stake than her livelihood and his sobriety.
‘We’re going up there?’ she asked, thinking she’d much rather they were about to be ferried through the canals of Venice by a man in a stripy shirt and straw hat.
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Have you been?’
Annie shook her head.
‘It’s awesome,’ said Andy. ‘The view is spectacular.’
Annie dropped her eyes from the heavens to the earth beneath her feet. She rubbed the palms of her hands against her skirts. Why couldn’t she just say no thanks? Because even without looking at him, she knew he was beaming at her, chuffed by his own idea, thinking he was offering her a real treat. After he’d come all this way to pick her up, how could she crush his spirit?
‘Okay,’ she said, and they joined the short queue to wait their turn.
When it came, Andy stepped into the capsule and reached back for her. She hesitated, and a small frown creased his forehead.
‘Are you alright with this?’ he asked, a little too late. She nodded and took his hand.
Because there weren’t many people waiting for a ride, they had the capsule to themselves. Annie was relieved. At least Andy would be the only witness if she went into meltdown.
She released his hand as their ascent began; hers were clammy and she didn’t want him to notice, lest his curiosity trigger that meltdown. Andy dropped himself into a seat and the capsule swung with his movement. Annie reached for something to grip and found nothing. Supressing her panic, she edged herself backwards until her calves hit the seat behind her and she sat heavily. They were already about thirty feet in the air.
‘Uh huh?’ she said. She was having trouble focusing on anything, her gaze moving madly about the cabin and then to the township getting smaller below them. She tried to swallow. ‘Do you have any water?’ she asked.
He produced a bottle from his jacket pocket. ‘You’re not okay, are you?’
She took a sip. ‘I’m fine,’ she said, looking anywhere but at him.
She felt his eyes on her for a moment as though he was deciding whether to believe her. Then he shifted in his seat, making the damn capsule swing again. Annie gripped the edge of her chair and made the mistake of checking how the far ground was below them. A long way, as it happened. Heart pounding, she looked up through the glass ceiling and discovered they had a whole lot further to go.
Andy was talking about the mountains on the other side of the township.
She cast a cursory glance in their direction. ‘Mmm hmm. They are remarkable,’ she mumbled. Then, when Andy shifted, to tell her about the lake, the capsule rocked again.
‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ she blurted.
Andy spun around, rocking the bloody capsule some more.
‘For the love of God, sit still!’ she shrieked.
‘Oh crap,’ he said. ‘You’re afraid of heights, aren’t you? Why didn’t you say something?’ He leaned forwards, rocking the capsule again, and Annie clamped her eyes shut.
‘I thought I could do it,’ she said through gritted teeth.
‘Hey,’ he said. ‘You’re perfectly safe. This thing has never had an accident. No one has ever fallen out or dropped off.’
‘There’s a first time for everything.’
Eyes still squeezed shut, she felt Andy’s hand on her knee. ‘Open your eyes, Annie, and look at me.’
‘I can’t,’ she said.
‘Pardon? Did you just say “I can’t”? I never took you for a quitter. I must’ve misheard. What was it you said?’
Annie forced her eyes open. She drew a short breath. ‘Happy?’ she hissed.
He was smiling so he must’ve been. ‘Give me your hand,’ he said.
She shook her head. ‘Can’t move.’ Her heart was thundering now, expanding in her chest, taking away space from her lungs, which, starved of oxygen, were withering.
‘Give me your hand, or I’m going to prise it off the edge of that seat. And when I do, you know this thing is going to swing.’
Annie closed her eyes and thrust her hand at him.
‘Eyes,’ he said. She opened them again, and concentrated on his face.
‘Good,’ he said. ‘Keep them on me. You’re missing out on some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, but it’ll still be there when we get to the top.’
His eyes travelled down to her hand in his and he turned it, rubbing his thumb across her palm.
‘Okay,’ he said. He cleared his throat. ‘I’m going to tell you what I told my family the other night. Where I went when I left and what I’ve been doing ever since.’
I’m going to preface this review with this: I didn’t read the first two books in the series. I didn’t realize that Annie and Andy were featured earlier in the series and had a history together. I wish I would have known this beforehand. Did it upset my reading of their story? No, but feel like I missed a bit about them from the beginning. That said, on to the review. 🙂
I’m a sucker for a story set in New Zealand. Plus, throw in a suspense element in the mix and I’m a goner. Ms. Collin has written a book that I could not put down. The chemistry between Annie and Andy is off the charts. Sexy, sizzling with these two. Trying to fight their feelings for one another was a pleasure to read. I’m weird but I like the couple to work for it. Makes for a richer story.
Annie is a dream. Smart, stylish (I could never pull off Steampunk but she does) and marches to a different beat all together. But that’s what makes her unique. She’s not your cookie cutter heroine. She is who she is…take it or leave it. Which is what attracts Andy to her. She’s not like the others and challenges him. Comforts him and respects him. Regardless of his past history. Yes, 6 years is a long time but once he comes clean to her, she understands him so much better.
Andy, Andy, Andy. I wish I could have been there 6 years earlier to tell him that it was going to be okay. People still loved him and cared for him. But he decided to run away and try to figure it out on his own. Sometimes it works and other times not. In his case, it didn’t work. Seeing Annie again and dealing with crazy dealers and dealing with addiction. You’d think he would just give up but he doesn’t. He has something to work towards…his relationship with Annie.
Ms. Collin doesn’t shy away from the emotional issues in the story. Nor does she back down from addiction, rehab, abandonment and don’t forget the all important family issues. Its a raw and gritty book but there is humor, too. She handles everything with sensitivity and realism. She layers her subplots with the main plot that just flows off the page. I loved the action in the book and again, the suspense element was great.
I will definitely be on the look out for Ms. Collin’s again. I really loved her style and voice. Plus, she’s an Aussie and I’m a sucker for them, too.
But when dastardly property developer Craig Carmichael comes along, threatening to demolish her gallery and take everything away, Charlotte has an unexpected fight on her hands. Not only is she battling to stop Craig’s development, she’s also struggling against the mysterious magnetic pull that has her on a collision course with Craig himself.
Craig Carmichael is fighting the Battle for Boundary Street on more than one front. The tenants of the building he wants to knock down are mounting a strong case against him and in a hot-headed moment he put his career on the line for a project that is threatening to fail. If the project doesn’t succeed he will lose everything, but for some reason he’s having trouble maintaining his focus.
As their worlds begin to unravel around them, anyone could win. It’s what they might lose that has Charlotte and Craig wondering what it is they really want.
Purchase on Amazon
Everything happens for a reason, they say. And sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and make bad decisions. Sleeping with her sister’s best friend is one of the dumbest things soon-to-be divorcee Emily Evans has ever done. But she’s determined to put it behind her and move on. She’s walked away from her cheating husband, managed to make a new friend, and found herself a real job and somewhere to live so she doesn’t have to couch-surf any more. Everything should be falling into place but for one problem – there are some mistakes from which you can’t move on.
Meanwhile, Ben Cameron is getting on with his life. After all, it’s the only thing to do once your heart has been stomped on by the woman of your dreams. Expanding his business and getting cosy with the girl next door are proving welcome distractions. He’s even happy to babysit his nephew, as long as he can to hand him back when he’s done! And thankfully, Emily Evans, the woman with the heavy boots, is avoiding him like the plague.
But Emily can’t avoid him forever, and when she drops a bombshell that turns Ben’s world upside-down, suddenly, getting on with his life takes on a whole new meaning.
About Jennifer Collin
Jennifer Collin writes quirky, and sometimes gritty, love stories about ordinary people dealing with what life throws at them.
She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, two noisy children and a cantankerous cat.
She used to party, but now her idea of a good time is an uninterrupted sleep. These days, her characters do her partying for her, and she doesn’t necessarily let them sleep.