Blog Book Tour | “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” by Jessica Kate

Posted Tuesday, 4 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel:

For the past two Summers I’ve participated in an INSPY readathon during July whilst I’ve been hosting for PRISM for nearly three full years now. I’ve seen my fellow book bloggers lamenting about the stories they’ve read about Jessica Kate (including Rissi) whilst I haven’t had the chance to sample her Contemporary Romance styling for myself. When I read the premise behind this novel I felt it was a good fit for me as a reader because I *love!* stories set in the Australian Outback!

This is partially why I was overjoyed sharing my #mustreads for 2020 during last week’s #TopTenTuesday as Janet Gover is releasing her new book “The Lawson Sisters” and she’s the Australian author who introduced me to Contemporary Australian Romances with her “Flight to Coorah Creek!” (and thus, launched the #CoorahCreek series!) I’ve been meaning to expand my search for stories set in Australia however, its been a bit slow going as my local libraries aren’t always able to request stories published elsewhere from the states until last year when my requests for UK publishers started to gain some traction. This year, I’m determined to find Canadian & Australian authors/publishers to request and see if I can read more of the fiction originating out of those countries.

I already have shared how devastating the news about the Australian bushfires have been on my own heart & soul. The news is never easy to handle on a good day, but finding out about the wildlife & the natural environs which are charred reminders of the wreck a bushfire can create in such quick-swift course is beyond heartbreaking; it is also why I started off January without the focus for reading and a mood set against blogging because my heart was elsewhere. I barely read throughout January and it is within February I am aiming to get my feet back into reading. This marks one of the first stories I’ve been able to read this New Year 2020 and I am hoping to find many throughout February which will re-jump me back into the joy I have sharing my readerly life with my dear hearted readers & visitors alike.

There is a heavy somberness reading about Australia but as its a country I’ve had mates & fond memories of friendship from the past inasmuch as my attachment to the Australian Zoo and the conservation efforts of the Irwin family; I also love Australian Literature. This is why I was eagerly excited about finding one of Jessica Kate’s novels appealling to me this New Year and I was hopeful it would be a good jumpstart towards reading more authors from this country I’ve been smitten with ever since I first saw The Man from Snowy River as a young girl who loved riding horses!

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Blog Book Tour | “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” by Jessica KateA Girl's Guide to the Outback
by Jessica Kate
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.

As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Romance Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780785229612

Published by Thomas Nelson

on 28th January, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 358

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Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)
an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub)

Converse via: #GirlsGuideToTheOutback,  #JessicaKate & #TNZFiction
as well as #ContemporaryRomance & #INSPYRomance

About Jessica Kate

Jessica Kate

Australian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant.

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my review of the girl’s guide to the outback:

Aside from a few startled eyebrows over how this novel is intoned with phrasing and word choices – I found Kimberly difficult to warm towards whilst the person who gives her the most angst is Sam, the usually supportive Aussie who downplays his strengths and stays humbled about his praises of accomplishments; the easier of the two to feel more comfortable around. For me, Kimberly is quite narrow minded when we first encounter her – she is determined to accomplish the goals she’s set forth for her youth centers but she’s blinded by the other people whom she interacts with on a regular basis. Not just with Sam but with the bloke who was trying to court her and failing miserably to even encourage a small note of consideration out of her whilst Sam struggled to find the words to express his truer feelings about everything connected to Kimberly’s plans to re-brand the vision he had for the youth center he loves supporting.

They were quite the pair of opposites – she was career driven with a reckless streak inside her to grow at a heightened rate of risk whilst Sam was more focused on the work at hand than the future expansions which may or may not be worth exploring. I immediately sided with Sam because of how grounded he was and how I could understand his point about being financially cautious. Yet at the same time, I also understand his remorse about his family’s farm and the situation he had caused for his sister Jules. He was a man who was torn between his familial obligations and the choices he had made to re-build his life in the states. It wasn’t surprising to me where he elected to spend his time because of how Kimberly basically found a way to cut him out of his dreams for the youth and what he had hoped to accomplish on behalf of the shareholders. In this, Kate did a good job of setting down the backstory and explaining how this project affected both Kimberly and Sam on a personal level.

I really loved Jules! She reminds me of the spunky heroines from the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series because she has this innate ability to prove that even if you give a person a smidge of Hope it is enough to build upon! She also is spunky like Meemaw from Young Shelton with enough moxie to whip her brother Sam into at least considering things that go against his better judgement and nature! Sam is stalling his own life with the worries of a man who doesn’t like to take risks and thereby giving himself a shorter chance of success in the pursuits which are quite dear to him to see succeed. Something is definitely holding him back – even Jules sees it and she only had the chance to be with him for a short time before she realised he was better at productivity when Kimberly was in his life! Imagine that!

Jules definitely has vision and its her go get them attitude which I felt was a perfect compliment to Sam’s relentless non-self-starting attitude where he lets his self-doubt and his personal fears override his ability to embrace his gift for ministry. He’s the kind of bloke who has natural talent for nurturing the lives of today’s youth but he is hung up on himself and the ambitions of others to allow himself to simply feel comfortable and confident in his own capacity to be a leader. I had to smirk when Jules struck the deal she had with Kimberly; it was a win win situation for both women but also for Sam, if he ever relented that win to his sister.

There are a lot of references to contemporary and modern life but I was missing the ambiance of the Australian Outback. I thought for sure when the novel shifted off the states and resettled us on the farm where Jules lives taking care of the family’s homestead we’d start to interact more with the land, the animals and farm life but it was more of transitioning the characters to this setting than in being able to see the setting as I would have expected to experience it. I felt that was a bit of a missed opportunity as that is one reason why I am attracted to stories set in Australia or even in the Western states of America; to see and feel like I can breathe in the aesthetics of where a story is set and alive.

As the story progressed there were some moments where Kate shifted off the main artery of dialogue and interactions with her cast of characters to where we could see snippets of the scenery but for me, I was hungry for more insight and more flavour of setting and place to truly feel like I had jettisoned off into Australia. I felt Australia took a backseat in the novel and the characters took center stage – in many ways the novel felt like a moving play where the dialogue was a bit more focused and important than the background behind them.

Kimberly was settling into the farm well enough – her interest in how it operated and in lending a hand was genuine – a twist of events I think which truly gobsmacked Sam. I gathered the feeling he never quite gave her enough credit. For me, they were constantly oil and water – if they weren’t grating on each others’ nerves they were proving that they were both exhausting to be round. They had their moments where they’d surprise each other – saying something kind-hearted or being more receptive to what the other was sharing. In those small moments, they weren’t enemies as much as two people being given the chance to ‘meet’ each other as if for the first time. I felt this was their greatest weakness – for all the noise they exchanged about each other and the opinions they had towards one another, they really didn’t outright hate each other to any particular level of notice. It was more to the fact that they simply had miscommunicated and misunderstood each other until Kimberly went to Australia to win back a favour from Sam.

Although I did struggle to find my footing in this Contemporary Romance it had moments which made me smile and other moments where I felt it was a bit more geared towards a millennial reader than a GenX such as myself. There weren’t too many overtures which made me instantly connect this with a Christian Contemporary Romance novel – aside from the life’s calling of Sam to work in ministry with youth and the key focus of the novel on a revival of youth outreach centres which are faith-based and rooted in Christianity with a direct focus on being a spiritually renewing centre for at-risk youth and teens. I felt this was definitely a Contemporary which would have wider appeal for readers who enjoy New Adult Romance and non-Christian Contemporary Fiction.

on the contemporary romance styling of jessica kate:

When I first started reading A Girl’s Guide to the Outback I was slightly confused by some of the choices of phrases Kate made in describing the thoughts or feelings of her characters. I was confused by what I was finding in the context of the story because it wasn’t reminiscent of my regular Contemporary INSPY Romances* – rather, it was a bit more fitting and representative of traditionally published Contemporary Romances without the INSPY inclusive.

Despite that hurdle at the beginning of my readings I continued on as I wanted to better understand the journey her characters were going to embark on and also, to tuck closer to her style and sort out how she was styling this new version of Contemporary INSPY Romance. By new, its a bit more blunted and brash in some of the takeaway thoughts or ways of phrasing certain emotions; not exactly my preferred style of descriptive narrative and one key reason why I struggle to find my footing in Contemporary Romances overall; though for an INSPY novel this is a first.

(*) By regular readings, I am referring to Brenda S. Anderson, Kellie Coates Gilbert, the authors from Love Inspired (either the Contemporary Romances or Suspense), Lisa Wingate, Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, and numerous others who have crossed my readerly path including the Heartsong Presents novellas.

I decided to approach reading this as a non-INSPY Contemporary Romance and that opened the door for me to stop noticing the differences between what I usually read and this release. It was a hard sell for me to accept this as an INSPY Romance and that is why I changed how I was reading it – specifically to stop noticing the phrases or word choices which were taking me out of the pacing of the novel and to seek closer to the story as it developed through the journey Sam and Kimberly were each taking in this junction of their lives. On that note, I found a compelling story about seeking out the personal truths in all our journeys and owning those truths even if it means making radical changes in our lives.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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A Girl's Guide to the Outback blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

End of the Blog Tour badged provided by Prism Book Tours

By clicking this badge you can find out about the giveaway associated with the tour;
my particular tour stop doesn’t host the giveaway as I’m a review stop, however,
you’ll find many other bloggers who are hosting the information!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!
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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback”, synopsis, the author’s photo (for Jessica Kate) and biography as well as the blog tour banner and The Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 4 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Australia, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction

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