REVIEW: Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

Published: May 22nd 2013

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 360 pages

Format: Ebook (Supplied by Netgalley and the publisher)

RRP: $29.99

5/5 Stars

Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home. As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?

A compelling story of danger and desire by the award-winning author of Burning Lies.

Romantic Suspense is a a genre that has been around for years, but one that is making a strong movement recently especially in Australia thanks to the likes of Bronwyn Parry and Helene Young. It was Helene Young’s first novel Wings Of Fear that first introduced me to the genre, and her subsequent novels that got me hooked and determined that I’d be a fan for life. There’s just something about an action packed novel, that combines the basic human notions of fear, hope and love together. What I particularly love about this genre as a whole however is how two completely different main characters are thrown together, usually in the worst imaginable situations, and they not only have to learn to work together, but must rely on each other to survive. What’s more, I love the very real emotions (and what heightened emotions they are!) that these characters can bring out in each other and the reader.

I first became aware of Helene Young’s work in 2012 when I devoured every single piece of work she had out on the market. So to say I was a bit excited about this latest release by Young, is something short of an understatement. As soon as I’d been granted approval on Netgalley I quickly stated reading this novel and had it finished in a matter of days. Likewise, as soon as it was released to the public in paperback I purchased not one, but two copies of this romantic suspense novel.

Unlike Young’s previously published novels (Wings Of Fear, Shattered Sky and Burning Lies), Half Moon Bay is a stand alone novel. It tells the story of Ellie Wilding, an international photographer known for her collaborative work with her sister Nina ( a foreign correspondent) in worn torn counties. After years away from home, Ellie has been asked to return home to capture evidence and record through her photos the crimes that the local government are committing against her sleepy Half Moon Bay town. Naturally Ellie is eager to agree and returns home with the ghosts of her past weighing heavily on her shoulders. For you see, on what was meant to be their last collaborative assignment in Afghanistan, Nina Welding was killed, overcome with guilt and the knowledge that she should have been there, Ellie can’t let the past go, nor can she stop looking for answers to Nina’s sudden death.

Nicholas Lawson was part of the military assignment that Nina was covering, what’s more he was there when she was killed. unbeknownst to Ellie, he was there when she arrived and carried out the heartbreaking mission of bringing her sister home. Now, years later, Nicholas has left the army and has once again found himself crossing paths with Ellie in Half Moon Bay. With a new job and a different lifestyle, Nicholas knowns all about Ellie and her struggle to find out what really happened to Nina in Afghanistan and he is determined to keep her away from finding out what really happened. After all one sister already died under his watch, and he is damn sure he won’t let another one fall victim to the same thing. Ellie see’s him as the enemy, but perhaps there is more going on in town than meets the eye…

After reading Burning Lies last year, I was worried about how Young was going to top that (Burning Lies is one of my all time favourite reads from 2012) and how she’d go about it. But dare I say it, I think Half Moon Bay is probably her best work yet (a big call from someone who didn’t want to let go of Burning Lies!). It’s grittier, and heart wrenching and the suspense could just kill you. Admittedly I found it slower in pace to Burning Lies and her previous work, but for some reason that didn’t bother me so much while reading, as the town itself is softer and the atmosphere of the book (or at least the parts set in Half Moon Bay) reflect this more sleepy and coastal lifestyle. As usual, Young’s characters are vibrant and true to life, and her writing so beautifully descriptive that you could almost seen them standing right before your very own eyes. I felt Ellie’s pain and Nicholas’ confusion as to how he can right the pasts wrongs. The characters and settings are so tangible that its as though you could smell the sea breeze, and felt Ellie’s fear when confronted with the answers to her questions.

The narrative itself is gripping and compelling, so much so that you’ll have a hard time putting the book down for any reason. I know I spent many a nights reading until the early hours of the morning only to face the following day exhausted and with black ringed eyes. A look I proudly kept until the books final page. It’s well paced and the romantic elements are forced or overdone. In fact, the romance takes a back seat to the criminal and dangerous figures lurking at large.

I highly recommend this novel to fans of the romantic suspense genre, or really anyone who wants to read a beautiful novel about the cost that comes with doing something the right way. It is heart wrenching beautiful, with a powerful love story that might just prove to be more powerful then them all.

Helene Young is the best selling author of Wings Of Fear, Shattered Sky, Burning Lies and now Half Moon Bay. For more information head on over to her website, her publisher’s website and her goodreads entry.

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3 thoughts on “REVIEW: Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

  1. Helene Young says:

    Thanks for your lovely review, Jess, and for all that you do to promote Australian authors. It’s very much appreciated! I hope 2014 brings many wonderful stories your way.

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