2017 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · small town

Book Review: Lemongrass Bay by Theresa Smith

Title: Lemongrass Bayleomongrass.jpg

Author:  Theresa Smith

Published: May 14th 2017

Publisher: Smashwords

Pages: 305

Genres:  Fiction, Australian, Contemporary

RRP: $5.99 (ebook)

When lightning strikes…
Emma-Louise and Rosie have been friends for life, their bond unshakeable. Both women are on the verge of a new life, a second chance at love and happiness, but the past is about to catch up with each of them.
A story of passion, resentment, secrets, and lies.

My review:

A freak lightning strike on the beach of Lemongrass Bay, a tiny back of beyond coastal town nestled between Queensland and the Northern Territory, has far reaching implications for victim Ethan Black and those close to him. Written by Australian author Theresa Smith, Lemongrass Bay is a powerful yarn, weaving together a story of friendship, love, loyalty and secrets.

Lemongrass Bay begins with a dramatic opening piece. Ethan Black, a local resident, is strolling along the beach on a stormy day with a camera in his hands. Ethan is determined to capture the perfect storm shot, which involves stepping into the sea when a powerful lightning strike hits. Flung into the air and badly burnt, Ethan is rushed by chopper for medical attention in Darwin. Coming to his aid is his best friend Emma-Louise. The accident brings emotions to the surface that have previously been buried between the two. However, Ethan and Emma-Louise find their newly realised relationship follows bigger issues. These include the return on an old foe to their small town, the impending loss of a loved one, tested friendships and the revelation of painful family secrets.  Lemongrass Bay highlights how we can’t escape our past, no matter how hard we may try to bury our heads in the sand.

My first impression of Lemongrass Bay was the way in which the cover seemed to speak to me. It immediately gained my full attention. I was intrigued by the dramatic and striking coastal scene that adorns the front cover of this book. This cover image is so important to the book, as it represents the pivotal opening scene in the book – the lightning strike on main protagonist Ethan. This scene is the catalyst for the events to come in the book.

With such a powerful opening scene that really delivered the ‘wow’ factor for me, I had a sense that I was in for a great read, in the capable hands of author Theresa Smith. The lightning strike scene in particular was eloquent, realistic and original. It was clear that the author has embarked on much research in this area, Smith bring this scene and the after-shock the victim experiences to life, with a strong dose of realism. It made for fascinating reading, as I will admit to possessing little previous knowledge on lightning strike victims. Smith also uses Ethan’s experience to explore the topic of PTSD in lightning strike victims, which is handled with a combination of poise and insight. Ethan’s journey was also my favourite aspect of this novel.

Smith’s setting, the dot on the map town of Lemongrass Bay, certainly comes alive for the reader in an instant. Aided by Smith’s beautiful descriptive prose, the reader is transported to this picturesque coastal locale. Smith also gives us a true sense of what it is like to live in small towns such as Lemongrass Bay, where everyone lives in each others hip pockets, which can be cumbersome, but crucial in times of need. We also get a picture of the strains people living in these small community towns experience in terms of essential services. These issues come into play through Ethan’s storyline and the medical services he requires. It also highlights the pressure placed on pillars of the community, the character of Emma-Louise is one such example, as we find out just how much the residents of Lemongrass Bay depend on her. It made for an enlightening read for this very privileged city resident!

Lemongrass Bay is a book blessed with multiple character voices, which helps to deliver the unfolding narrative. Soon after beginning this book, I got the feeling Lemongrass Bay was a novel driven by character, which is definitely the type of novel I tend to gravitate towards. The method of using more than one character voice works well, as it ensures that the reader has an opportunity to develop an attachment to each of the featured protagonists. I immediately warmed to the character of Emma-Louise, she was dependable and likeable, which are traits I appreciate. Ethan’s dramatic opening scene means we develop an early attachment to his welfare, which kept the pages of Lemongrass Bay turning for this reader. While Rosie, Emma-Louise’s best friend, is a well formed protagonist and the experiences Rosie has in the novel brings out the very best in this character. The secondary characters that feature in Lemongrass Bay flesh out the pages and events in this story perfectly. Meredith and the ladies of the quilters club deserve honourable mentions for their wonderful sense of community spirit, which leaps out of the pages of this novel.

At the core of Lemongrass Bay is the theme of love, particularly second chance love, which is handled beautifully by Theresa Smith. In addition, the secrets from the past that have been resurrected for the various characters of Lemongrass Bay to deal with, adds a good dose intrigue to narrative. There are even some memorable quirky moments in this book, at the hands of the town gossip and the local crocodile population, both of which kept me thoroughly entertained! Overall, I thought Lemongrass Bay delivered a wonderful and real portrayal of small town life. Lemongrass Bay was a novel I devoured from start to finish. It marks my introduction to the writing of Theresa Smith and I am sure I will be reading more of her work in days to come.

Lemongrass Bay by Theresa Smith was published in May 2017 by Smashwords. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

Learn more about the author of Lemongrass Bay, Theresa Smith here.

*Please note I received a complimentary copy of this novel via the author, Theresa Smith, in exchange for an honest review.

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One thought on “Book Review: Lemongrass Bay by Theresa Smith

  1. Reblogged this on Theresa Smith Writes and commented:
    Humbled and thrilled at this wonderfully thoughtful review of Lemongrass Bay. There’s no greater satisfaction as an author than to know that a reader completely ‘gets’ your story. The desired connections made and everything lining up. For me, with each novel I’ve written, all I’ve really wanted in the end is to know that my story has brought entertainment and enjoyment to those reading it. Thank you Mrs B for letting me know, in such an eloquent way, that I achieved this. Your thoughts are much appreciated and have completely made my day!

    Liked by 1 person

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