Friday, March 28, 2014

Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

I have owned Helene Young's first book for several years now. I bought it after hearing the author speak at ARRC and instantly bought it on the back of that. Of course, buying a book is lot different to actually reading the book and even more different to reviewing it. Alas, it therefore sits on my bookshelf still unread.

Fast forward to Valentine's Day and I once again was lucky enough to hear Helene Young speak as part of a romantic suspense panel at our local Sisters in Crime chapter. I was fortunate enough to win one of the raffle prizes which included a book from each of the panellists (the other two being Cheryl Tucker and Bronwyn Parry) and a true crime book. This time though, I was determined to read the book, especially seeing as this was a standalone novel.

Having now read one of Young's books, I do kind of wish I had read her earlier books and it is something that I intend to rectify as soon as I have some space in my reading schedule!

Half Moon Bay opens with Ellie Wilding heading back to war torn Afghanistan where she works as a photojournalist alongside her journalist sister Nina. When Nina isn't there to meet her at the airport Ellie becomes concerned, with good reason as it turns out.

Fast forward two years, and Ellie is asked to do a favour for friends who believe that their local city council mayor is corrupt and they want Ellie's help to prove it. In the two years since Afghanistan, Ellie has been wandering around the world somewhat aimlessly, running from her grief, but now she is back in her home town and she is a woman on a mission. The mayor has sold off a parcel of land to a property developer that was specifically left to the town to build a community centre. It turns out though that there is much more than shonky property deals going on here. There are international drug dealers with ties in Asia but also leading back to Afghanistan, and to the story that Nina was working on when she was killed.

One of the people that Ellie comes into contact with in the course of the community opposition is engineer Nicholas Lawson who has been employed by the property developer and is in Half Moon Bay trying to convince the population that the development will be good for the town. Ellie does not remember him, but in Nicholas' former life in the army he met her on the night that her sister was killed, and he feels somewhat guilty about her death. And he remembers Ellie from that terrible night. He remembers and her determination and resourcefulness to do everything she could to try and save her sister. He admired her then and he is attracted to the woman that she is now, shaped as she is by the tragic events in her past.

For Ellie, the fact that she is attracted to someone from the other side is very problematic. She can't quite work Nicholas out. She knows that there is something that doesn't quite add up about him. What she doesn't know is that he is investigating the same drug rings as she is, and he knows that Nina getting too close to the truth is what got her killed.

As the pressure is turned up on on the major players, the danger that Ellie and her friends face also increases. Some of the time she feels as though she can trust Nicholas, but will they be able to work together to put all the pieces of the puzzle together before yet more tragedy hits the good people of Half Moon Bay, especially once she find out exactly who he is, and how he was connected with Nina's death.

I don't read a huge amount of romantic suspense. I don't dislike it, but I find it problematic when an author puts their characters in dangerous situations and then expects to develop the romantic relationship in that situation of duress. I therefore prefer straight contemporary romance, although a fair portion of those books have suspense subplots running through them. Young manages to balance the romance, which is quite a slow burning build and the rising tension associated with the suspense plot and tells a ripping good story and I am not the only one to think so. This book was recently named as the Favourite Romantic Suspense for 2013 at the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards.

Now I just need to find that first book so I can read my way through Helene Young's backlist. Lucky for me, she also has a new book that just came out. Maybe I should start there.

Rating 4/5


Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home. As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?

A compelling story of danger and desire by the award-winning author of Burning Lies.


  1. That's saying something if Young managed to get you hooked on a subgenre you normally aren't crazy about.

  2. Hope you find the other book! I don't read much romantic suspense but I know what you mean about the way it can be problematic. This sounds quite a complex book and it's a good premise.

    1. It'll turn up somewhere, but if not I can always get it from the library.

  3. I do think it sounds good, and as I do love most genres and need to mix things up ;)

    1. Yes, I am always mixing up my genres. Helps keep things fresh.