#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · romance

New Release Book Review: Meet Me in Bendigo by Eva Scott

Title: Meet Me in Bendigo

Author: Eva Scott

Published: July 28th 2021

Publisher: Mira – AU

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

Rural Australia meets You’ve Got Mail in this romantic comedy about online dating, second chances, and following your heart.

Small-town sweetheart Annalisa Cappelli has returned to Wongilly to take over her family’s hardware shop while she heals from a tragic loss. The business was hit hard by the pandemic, and now a Carpenter’s Warehouse hardware superstore is opening in the district. There’s no way Annalisa is going to let two hundred years of history go down the drain, but she’s going to need to fight to keep her family’s legacy alive.

The one simple thing in her life is her no names, no complications, easy-breezy online relationship with GardenerGuy94. For now, their online flirtation is the only kind of romance Annalisa needs. Until she meets Ed Carpenter. Sexy as hell, he’d be the perfect man … if he wasn’t trying to destroy her business.

Ed Carpenter is in Wongilly to offer the owner of a small hardware shop a payout to pave the way for his family’s next superstore. What he doesn’t expect is for the owner to be the woman he’s been talking to online. Annalisa is beautiful and passionate, and he’s sure she’s the one for him. But how can he reveal the truth without losing her?

Review:

Communication, family legacy, commitment and matters of the heart all collide in Meet Me in Bendigo, the latest rural romance delicacy from Eva Scott. Inspired by the classic 1990s rom com title You’ve Got Mail, Meet Me in Bendigo fuses quintessential Aussie rural fiction with an entertaining comedy of errors about online dating. Eva Scott’s new title absolutely sparkles from start to finish.

Meet Annalisa Cappelli, a hardworking young woman who is still nursing a broken heart after the shock loss of her boyfriend. The only thing that seems to keep Annalisa’s spirit alive is her family’s beloved hardware store, which has been operating in the small town of Wongilly for two hundred years. But Annalisa faces an uphill battle in trying to keep her family’s longstanding business afloat. The lethal combination of the pandemic and a new hardware business opening nearby has put the future of the shop in jeopardy. But Annalisa has also been preoccupied by an online relationship she has with a man named GardnerGuy94. This supportive and flirty relationship seems to be helping Annalisa cope with the ongoing stress of keeping her family’s business alive. But Annalisa’s heart is sent aflutter when a man named Ed Carpenter waltzes into her shop and life, but his presence only brings further complications for the struggling business owner. When Ed offers Annalisa a lifeline, a payout from her family’s dwindling business, all he meets is resistance. With Annalisa fighting against him, not for him, Ed must prove to her that he is the man of her dreams.

For those who love a good rom com 90s style, Meet Me in Bendigo will appeal. With a nice rural twist to the narrative, Eva Scott’s latest is an essential read for those who love a spin on the traditional Aussie rural romance. With our lives very much dictated by online forms of communication, Meet Me in Bendigo looks at the good and bad side of contact via messaging services. Dating has definitely taken a very different turn in recent times and Meet Me in Bendigo looks at a flirty online relationship that develops between the two leads of this tale, with an interesting complication. I enjoyed observing this new direction in terms of dating and forming relationships, it is very different to when I was last in the dating game! Although I am not in the same position as the central characters of this tale, I was surprised by how much I connected to and happily lapped up the romance side of this novel! Eva Scott is very adept in this area thanks to her previous writing experience and it shines through the love story aspect of her novel.

Another area of the Meet Me in Bendigo that really worked for me was the family legacy focus. Both Annalisa and Ed are faced with similar problems in terms of the inner struggle they face between family loyalty and personal aspirations. Eva Scott approaches this aspect of her tale with a sense of understanding and sympathy, that allows the reader to really connect deeply to the characters. Matters of the heart and finding a solution to the personal turmoil these characters face forms a significant part of Meet Me in Bendigo. I loved this component of the story and it compelled me to turn the pages of this book a little too quickly!

Scott’s setting is wonderfully presented. Wongilly is fictional creation, but Scott breathes so much life into this little community that is hard not to feel fully involved in this quaint little town. With plenty of descriptions about community life, buildings and the entertaining crowd of Wongilly, Meet Me in Bendigo is an embracing read.

Another area of this tale that I feel I must mention are the wonderful little snippets of history that are slotted into the chapters of Meet Me in Bendigo. Following a distinct timeline from the past, which travels back two centuries earlier, through to the present day, we are presented with an array of definitive events impacting Annalisa’s family. From war, the depression, births and deaths, Meet Me in Bendigo covers it all, inciting plenty of interest for the reader. This was my favourite aspect of Eva Scott’s tale and I looked forward to each yarn included in this high engaging novel.

With personable and charming Ed and resistant but loveable Annalisa, plus the surrounding crew of Eva Scott’s tale, I was won over completely by Meet Me in Bendigo. I loved the online communication and mix up of personal profiles that performed the crux of this crowd-pleasing rural romance tale. I really wanted these two deserving souls to join together and finally realise how well suited they truly are, this couple were meant to be! Eva Scott holds out the prospect of future happiness for as long as possible, it was a clever trick, but it worked!

With so much warmth to give, connection and plenty of emotional tension, Meet Me in Bendigo receives a full five-star rating from me.

Meet Me in Bendigo by Eva Scott was published on 28th July 2021 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Meet Me in Bendigo, Eva Scott, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Meet Me in Bendigo is book #77 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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