Return to Jacaranda Avenue
I’ve been on a bit of a binge the past year reading romances set in Australia and New Zealand, and was delighted to discover yet another such romance, this time set in New South Wales. This romance has the added bonus of featuring several popular romance tropes: a couple that met as children, has a second chance at love, and is also “older.” While not without its problems, I generally enjoyed this romance and will look for more by the author.
Polly Chappell and Matt Enright were desperately in love 25 years earlier when Polly’s best friend – who was also Matt’s sister – died in a terrible accident. Polly was the only witness to the accident, and Matt’s mother blamed Polly for her daughter’s death. Instead of sticking up for Polly, Matt abandoned her and left town. Polly was devastated by his departure, traumatized by the accusations his mother spread, and moved away soon after.
It’s now 25 years later and Polly has just moved back to town to care for her aging parents. A former big city chef, she’s purchased an old café in town and has turned it into a patisserie. Up to her ears in debt from renovations to the building, Polly desperately needs to make a success of the shop. But while she longs for many customers on her first day in business, she’d hoped one of the first wouldn’t be Matt. Although the old attraction is still there, Polly doesn’t trust him.
Shortly after Polly opens her shop, she sees the store owner next door get beaten by a delivery driver. It’s when she goes over later to see if he’s all right that the book took a bit of a downturn for me. The story switches to the owner’s POV which lets us see how despicable he is. I’m not a fan of villain POV and didn’t care for this. Soon after this incident, someone begins to try to chase Polly out of town, first with a note “Murderer Get Out,” and then by vandalizing her shop. When Matt – the owner of a security and surveillance system company targeted to the rich and famous – offers his help, Polly reluctantly takes it, drawing them closer.
My favorite parts of this story are Matt and Polly. As the story moves along, and as the two become closer, we learn more about the motivations behind some of their actions after the death of his sister. They both acted poorly when younger, each made mistakes, and are different people now. They’ve had many of the life experiences we’d expect of someone in their early 40s. They’ve each been divorced, are coping with aging parents, and have a child they love and worry about.
I liked Matt and Polly’s slow progression back to each other. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing Polly become re-integrated into the community, making friends with other business owners.
There were a few too many obstacles thrown at Polly and Matt in the end for my taste; just dealing with the lingering effects of Matt’s sister’s death seemed enough. However, despite some difficulties, I enjoyed most aspects of this book, and would recommend it, particularly for those who prefer their romances with a more mature hero and heroine.