Title: Last Bridge Before Home
Author: Lily Malone
Published: December 16th 2019
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
With her trademark fresh and funny tone, Lily Malone returns with a captivating new romance set in the heart of the Australian outback.
For Jaydah Tully, the country town of Chalk Hill has never felt like home. Home is a place to feel loved. Home is a place to feel safe. Jaydah’s home life is dark in ways the close-knit community could never imagine.
Jaydah knows that the man she loves has never understood her need for secrets. Brix is a Honeychurch, she’s a Tully – her family are Chalk Hill’s black sheep. It’s better for everyone if Brix stays away.
But Brix is a one-woman man, and when he returns to his home town to help his brother, the first person he sees is Jaydah. Independent. Private. Proud. When things are good between them they are really really good but all too soon they’re back in the old patterns, caught in the same argument: Her father. Her family. Her life that doesn’t include him.
Underneath her tough exterior, Jaydah is drowning. She has one chance to change everything. Is she brave enough to take the risk and let Brix in? Or will her father keep them apart forever?
Lily Malone draws her endearing Chalk Hill series to a close with Last Bridge Before Home. A rural romance with strong domestic themes, this heartbreaking story pulls out all the emotional stops. Lily Malone’s latest covers small town politics, community relations, family dynamics, social issues and a tender love story.
Lily Malone’s third issue in the Chalk Hill series revolves around central protagonist Jaydah Tully, a resident of the small West Australian country town of Chalk Hill. Jaydah is a young woman plagued by troubles on the home front, which has remained hidden from public view. Jaydah has worked hard to to keep her dark family secrets closed from all, including her love interest. The return of Brix Honeychurch to Chalk Hill signals the start of something more promising for Jaydah. As these two residents of Chalk Hill negotiate a relationship together, they find it is marred by old hurts, family secrets and unbreakable loyalty. The Last Bridge Before Home is about taking a chance, letting people into your life and embracing much needed change.
I have really enjoyed delving into the pages of the Chalk Hill books, which now stands at three novels. Last Bridge Before Home takes a slightly different approach to the previous two novels. There was definitely a real and gritty tone to this particular novel in the set. The romance is there, but it gives way to a weightier story of domestic and family abuse, as well as a strong examination into disability. It is clear that Lily Malone has informed her book with plenty of research. If you peruse her Acknowledgements section you will get a very good feel for the amount of background study that went into the production of this novel. The situations presented in the novel felt real, along with the authentic interactions. I found Last Bridge Before Home to be quite an interactive read, I wanted to reach in and help, as well as shake some sense into the characters at times!
As a West Aussie gal, I loved the opportunity to revisit a setting that is very familiar to me. Although Chalk Hill is fictional, it is based loosely around an area of South West of Western Australia that I have frequented. Malone adorns her book with plenty of rich locale descriptions, placing the reader in this stunning area of our state. Malone also successfully highlights the atmosphere of small town community living. I admired how Malone was able to simultaneously allow the reader to see that small towns are able to both be incredibly aware of the situations faced by their neighbours, but they can also be completely blind to other difficult circumstances. A kind of behind closed doors scenario is explored in Last Bridge Before Home.
The characters in this novel are portrayed with care, sensitivity and insight. They are a great bunch to follow and I valued the way in which they were represented on the pages of this novel. A heartwarming romance gently flows between the pages of the novel. The love story between Jaydah and Brix is defined by past hurts, second chance love, hesitations, opposition and trust. Expect to laugh, cry, despair and get a little angry with this couple, but when an author makes you really feel, you know you are onto a winner.
I noted the book cover praise issued to Lily Malone and her writing from fellow West Australian author Tess Woods who declares ‘Hands down my favourite contemporary romance author… sharp and clever but incredibly warm’. This is a precise and well worded endorsement, I have to concur. Last Bridge Before Home signals a most fitting end to a genuine series.
Last Bridge Before Home by Lily Malone was published on 16th December 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Last Bridge Before Home, Lily Malone, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Last Bridge Before Home is book #31 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge