Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill

Today I am excited to be participating in the blog tour for The Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill!

Last year I read and thoroughly enjoyed reading Loretta Hill's debut novel, The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots. The things that really stood out for me in that book were the unusual setting, having the heroine in a truly male dominated environment and the great story. Fortunately, the author has managed to keep all of these same factors in her follow up novel.

When Wendy Hopkins turns up for work at her new job, things couldn't really have gone more wrong. Her uncle Mike has put in a good word for her and the boss comes up with a job. What she doesn't know is that Uncle Mike was blackmailing the boss, and now that there is no need for secrecy, there is no more job! Dan Hullog (the main male character from the last book) does, however, recognise that the skills she has are useful and so he ensures that she gets employed with Barnes Inc, the company responsible for rebuilding a huge iron ore wharf in the Pilbara region of far north Western Australia. Given that she thought she was going to be working for Dan, she turns up on the first day wearing his company uniform which goes down like a lead balloon when she is instructed to go to  the Barnes Inc office instead.  First on the job issue - everyone thinks she might be a spy from the enemy. Add in the fact that she upset one of the few other women on site and ends up in a cabin that is basically uninhabitable, it's not a great start.

Within a few days Wendy has identified any number of breaches in the safety standards, not the least of which is that her immediate boss is incapable of doing the job. When he gets fired, the other Barnes Inc workers have more reason to not like her, and then of all things, she wants them to actually make changes to improve safety, like having safety briefings and other things like that. Before too long Wendy finds herself being the target of several incidents, one of which leads her to be nicknamed 'Sarge'. She also finds herself the target of the advances of notorious flirt Gavin Jones. With around 350 men to 5 women, the last thing that Wendy needs is to be the target of gossip, but when she and Gavin share a steamy kiss she can't help but be interested.

Loretta Hill
Wendy is used to working in a male dominated environment, but it has been a couple of years since she has done so. After something went wrong on a previous job, she took some time off with the plan to travel the world. When she went to get a copy of her birth certificate for her passport application she found that the man she thought was her father really wasn't. Shaken the core by the fact that everything she thought she knew about who she was is in fact a lie, Wendy is now searching for her father. She only knows a few things about him. He is a miner/engineer, he has a distinctive injury to his foot and his name is Hector. Wendy has to balance the demands of her high stress job including trying to build friendships with the other women and gaining the respect of the men with the search for her father. The stress factor climbs through the roof when the client demands a full safety audit after an incident and so Wendy has to get everything up to scratch quickly and, to top it all off, the cyclone season is approaching.

Gavin Jones played a large secondary role in the previous book and I really enjoyed getting to know him a little better in this story. He is originally portrayed as something of a lovable larrikin with an eye for the ladies, but there is much more to him than initially meets the eye. While he is happy to muck around a lot of the time, he is also damn good at what he does. Wendy isn't sure though, there is something that just doesn't add up in terms of his skills and his experience. She knows he is hiding something, but she has no clue what, and to be honest, as a reader I was completely surprised by his back story.

While Wendy and Gavin were both fun characters to read about, and I loved dreading about them both individually and as a prospective couple, one of the other great features of both this book and the previous one is that there is a great cast of secondary characters. From the manager of Barnes Inc, Carl, who still swears like the proverbial trouper and his girlfriend, to Dan and Lena from the first book as well as Wendy's colleague Chub, the pages are filled with humour and charm and, best of all, felt like authentic characters to be populating the Pilbara setting. Loretta Hill has herself worked as an engineer in the Pilbara and I think the authenticity really shows in these books.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next books from this talented new author. I can't wait to see what comes next from her.

Rating 4.5/5

Follow the blog tour

Yesterday, Bree from All the Books You Can Read shared her thoughts on the book. Tomorrow's tour stop will be hosted at Confessions from Romaholics


From the author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes another funny and deliciously romantic tale of a woman in a man's world.

Wendy Hopkins arrives in the Pilbara to search for the father who abandoned her at birth.

Getting mixed up in construction site politics at the Iron Ore wharf just out of town was not high on her 'to do' list.

But when she takes a job as their new Safety Manager she becomes the most hated person in the area. Nicknamed 'The Sergeant', she is the butt of every joke and the prime target of notorious womanizer, Gavin Jones.

Giving up is not an option, though.

For, as it turns out, only Wendy can save these workers from the coming storm, find a man who wants to stay buried and ... put a bad boy firmly in his place.


  1. his sounds rather interesting, and very different, which is something that always intrigues. I must see if I can grab this one when I can. Excellent post today, Marg!!

    1. I hope that you get a chance to read it. It will give you a real taste of a specific part of Australia.

  2. I loved this as well Marg - great review!

  3. I must find out if these books are in the States. I want! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Wow! High kindle prices! Added to wishlist. Excited.

    1. I looked at the ebook prices and thought they were pretty reasonable. I guess I am just used to the high book prices we have to pay!

  5. Thank you for a wonderful review. I'll be smiling all day!

  6. Great review Marg - loved your take on it!

  7. Mum is reading this at the moment - she's not a big fan. (She loved The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots though). I'll be reading it probably next week.

    1. I hope you like it when you do read it.

  8. That sounds really good. I loved the first book, and I'm intrigued that Gavin gets his chance to shine :)