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

New Release Book Review: Once Burnt, Twice Shy by Karly Lane

Title: Once Burnt, Twice Shy

Author: Karly Lane

Published: November 30th 2021

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 360

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Rural

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Recently divorced mother-of-two Samantha Murphy agrees to house-sit for her parents for a few weeks-but when the house involves several hundred acres of farming and livestock, it’s a little more involved than the usual job. Sam left the family farm years ago for a more exciting, glamorous life on the Sunshine Coast, but now that her kids have grown up and moved out, she’s at a crossroads.

Jack Cameron was in love with Sam when they were teenagers, and she broke his heart when she left town at eighteen. Their lives moved along similar paths-both marrying, having families and getting divorced-but in very different locations. Now that Sam is back, they begin to realise that there are unresolved feelings between them.

As catastrophic fires roar destructively through the local farming community, Sam has no choice but to evacuate her parents’ farm. But worse is still to come: Jack is reported missing and Sam is forced to prepare for the worst news.

A heartwarming story of second chances, of loss and rebuilding, and of finally coming home.


The selfless work of our country’s Rural Fire Service is placed in the spotlight thanks to Once Burnt, Twice Shy the latest rural fiction release from Karly Lane.  A story of faith, courage, strength and future prospects, Karly Lane’s eighteenth novel is a sizzling summer read.

Leading the way in Karly Lane’s latest triumph is Samantha Murphy. This recently divorced mother returns to her home town to help her parents. While house sitting her family’s rural property, Samantha must contend with over a hundred acres of farming land and some rather unruly livestock. For Sam this return home is quite different to her life on the coast, but she embraces the change while considering her future options now that she is divorced. When Sam encounters local man Jack Cameron while tending to her family’s property, she realises that she still has lasting feelings for her teenage sweetheart. However, just as Jack and Sam begin to rekindle their love, their lives are put on the line due to a raging bushfire. With her family’s beloved property directly in line with the fire, the situation looks bleak. Will Sam and Jack survive the fire engulfing their community?

Devoted mother and writer Karly Lane is one of Australia’s leading specialists in rural fiction and she has demonstrated that she can successfully combine family life with writing stories about our stunning countryside. I am a loyal fan of Karly Lane, and I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to review Once Burnt, Twice Shy. This novel marks the eighteenth release from the bestselling author and it is a story that works hard to draw our attention to the essential lifesaving work of Australia’s Rural Fire Service.

In the acknowledgements section of Once Burnt, Twice Shy, author Karly Lane openly admits to this novel being difficult to write due to witnessing her community lose their properties and livestock due to devastating fires in the region. I am thankful to Karly Lane for overcoming this personal difficulty to pen this moving story. As a result of this direct first experience with bushfires Karly Lane has composed a tale that accurately expresses the sheer fear, heightened emotions and panic surrounding this severe threat. Lane balances the feelings of danger and uncertainty with the selfless dedication of the Rural Fire Service. It is important to give a voice to and acknowledge the efforts of these everyday heroes, even if it is in a contemporary fiction novel format.

Alongside the powerful bushfire theme and community spirit depicted in this novel is a second chance style romance. The leads of this tale have previously been a relationship as teenagers. Lane explores the idea of reconnecting again as an adult once divorce, children and life paths have entered the love equation.  As a forty-something I really enjoyed Sam and Jack’s romance as I was really able to connect to their middle-aged love story. It was refreshing to see a rural romance play out from a mature protagonist angle. Lane successfully explores the back stories and personal baggage of her leads, providing her audience with a high engaging rural romance tale.

Lane has inserted a great set of characters for her readers to contend with in Once Burnt, Twice Shy. I did take a very early liking to heroine Sam and I sympathised with her life situation. While hero Jack was a breath of fresh air, I really hoped that these two souls would reconnect. With a fabulous community support base and some very memorable animal figures included in Lane’s new novel, these additional plot flourishes made Once Burnt, Twice Shy a memorable read. I really loved the animal folk in Once Burnt, Twice Shy, there are some cracking farm creatures, including some very funny guinea fowl who deliver a good serve of humour to this rural fiction tale. Overall, I think there is plenty on offer for readers to enjoy in Lane’s eighteenth release.

Karly Lane gives it her all in Once Burnt, Twice Shy. I really valued this one and I hope you do too.

Once Burnt, Twice Shy by Karly Lane was published on 30th November 2021 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Once Burnt, Twice Shy Karly Lane, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Once Burnt, Twice Shy is book #107 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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