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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: More Than A Promise by Lauren K. McKellar

Wow. I’m still reeling a couple hours after finishing reading this book, because it is emotionally INTENSE. Be warned; if any of the following trigger you, you might want to give this one a miss. Cancer deaths, cancer treatment, violence towards pregnant women, alcoholic parents, abusive parents.

This is another in the Mindalby series of Australian romances about a small outback town thrown into turmoil when the cotton mill suddenly closes down. Asher is a single mother, working at the local real estate agent where times are as tough as everywhere else… everyone wants to sell up and get out of town, but nobody’s buying. Her job’s definitely in jeopardy. To add to her worries, her father (who works at the mill) is descending deep into a pit of alcoholic depression.

Into this scenario comes Flynn, a Sydney city boy working for Vale Enterprises, a possible buyer for the mill and maybe a saviour for the town. Flynn’s got his own troubles, though. Diagnosed with cancer at eighteen, he failed to reach the academic heights his father expected… and now, just when he has the opportunity to make a reputation for himself as a business negotiator, the cancer’s back.

Sometimes the story seems like Flynn and Asher just lurching from one crisis to the next without getting time to take a breath, much less fall in love. I totally got why Flynn made the decision to keep his chemo treatment from Asher; considering the amount of pressure she was under, adding to it would have been nothing short of cruel, asking her to bear his burdens as well as her own.

There are no magic bullets here. There’s death (of a side character who has a significant effect on Flynn) pain, money worries, fear for the future, and all those things real people have to suffer with in real life. This isn’t a book if you’re looking for an escapist, light-hearted read, but it is a great one if you’re looking for characters who are incredibly real and engaging, who you’ll begin to root for as soon as you meet them on the page.

This isn’t a book for everyone. I’d say it belongs almost in literary fiction rather than romance, despite the strong love story running through it. The HEA… well, because there are no magic bullets with cancer, it’s really only an HFN (Happy For Now). After all the trauma Asher and Flynn had been through, though, the hopeful note the book ended on was good enough for me. Five stars for a powerful and very real read, but don’t be looking for escapism here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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