This book was sent to me by Random House Australia. I have been asked to write a review and my review is truthful to my opinion of the book.
It is unusual for me to read a book that is a sequel without reading the original first. So I surprised myself when I read “The Girl In The Hard Hat” by Australian author Loretta Hill, without first reading “The Girl In Steel Capped Boots”. I generally believe sequels to only make sense if you’ve read the first book. This wasn’t the case.
According to the back of the book:
Wendy Hopkins arrives in the Pilbara to search for the father who abandoned her at birth.
Getting mixed up in construction site politics at the Iron Ore wharf just out of town was not high on her ‘to do’ list. But when she takes a job as their new Safety Manager she becomes the most hated person in the area.
Nicknamed ‘The Sergeant’, she is the butt of every joke and the prime target of notorious womanizer, Gavin Jones. Giving up is not an option, though. For, as it turns out, only Wendy can save these workers from the coming storm, find a man who wants to stay buried and … put a bad boy firmly in his place.
Through research, I found that it is a sequel in the sense that the main characters in the “The Girl In Steel Capped Boots” are minor characters in the follow up. Given that it falls under the genre of “Farm Lit”, which I hadn’t heard of until recently thanks to The Hoopla, I expected “The Girl In The Hard Hat” to be just your run-of-the-mill outback romance.
It is clear that Loretta has a detailed background knowledge of what it is like to work on a construction site in the Pilbara region. On her personal blog, I saw an interview with Loretta about the book and where the idea came from. She said:
“the story takes place on an engineering project I worked on as a structural engineer about ten years ago. It is set on the Pilbara in northern Western Australia. This place really struck a chord with me while I was there both for the environment and the people I met. My story is definitely fictional but I hope readers get a real feel for what it’s like to live and work in the outback.”
Well, I would’t worry if I was Loretta because I felt like I understood what it would be like to work in an environment like that and how difficult it would be at times to be a woman in an industry dominated by men.
For those loving a good romance, you won’t be disappointed either. Wendy’s interactions with the mysterious Gavin are hilarious, tension- and passion-filled. I particularly enjoy that she punches him in the face on their first meeting. I like a character with a bit of moxie, one who can hold her own. I like the way their story slowly unfolds and how you’re desperate to find out more.
My only issue was that I found Wendy to be a bit of a mystery at times. I didn’t always quite understand where her character was coming from or how she could be so naive and selfish at times. Without giving away too much, it’s not until Wendy is about to see a candidate who could potentially fill the “biological father” role that she even considered how this might impact his life and the life of his family if it turned out to be true. For a smart woman, which Wendy clearly is, this seemed a little out of character to me, that she hadn’t really thought about how her actions had the potential to affect others.
Despite her naivety, I loved that Wendy wasn’t a damsel in distress. She is a strong, independent and smart woman. She knew how to look after herself and was happy to play the role of the bad guy if it meant ensuring the safety of those on site. She didn’t mind being unpopular for a while to do the right thing. She had the kind of character and qualities that I admire in people. So while I may not have completely related to her, I had a great deal of respect for Wendy.
Especially when it came to Cyclone James. Despite being a fictional storm, I was impressed with the way Wendy handled the situation, from being hellbent on creating a Cyclone plan when there was no threat, to implementing the strategies to cause minimal damage and injury when the storm hit. While the story mainly focused on Wendy and Gavin, the supporting characters added that little bit of something extra which I could go into further but then we’d be here all day.
“The Girl In The Hard Hat” was an incredibly easy book to read. Fast paced with simple, but clever dialogue, I was able to finish the book in less than two days while still having a social life. It’s in-depth without being complicated and I think Loretta has done well. It’s a great summer read.
“the musings of monique” is the last stop on “The Girl In The Hard Hat” blog tour which has been organised by the wonderful Random House Australia to showcase Loretta Hill’s fantastic novel. You can have a look at the other reviews here:
Wanting a taste of “The Girl In The Hard Hat” (and “The Girl In The Steel Capped Boots”)? Random House Australia is offering you a free sample here.
If you want to find out more about Loretta Hill, you can find her author page here.
Images supplied by Random House Australia.