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The cover should have warned me what lay ahead, but the premise of a Northern Ireland Troubles thriller with links to current day Byron Bay sounded intriguing. Halley meets Aidan, who is on a mission for his brother Liam. Halley, it seems, has not always been Halley the Mullumbimby cafe owner and had some involvement with Liam on a paramilitary mission in London some years back...

 

The novel starts out like a pretty standard romance - Kimberley Brown's Trusting a Stranger comes to mind - as Halley is persuaded by Aidan to turn her life upside down. The back story seems incomplete - why would Aidan want to meet Halley? How did he find Halley? Why is Halley in hiding anyway? 
 
As the details start to fill in, they don't seem quite right. Anyone with half an idea of Northern Irish politics will spot that the wrong people seem to be doing the wrong things at the wrong time. The timelines seem to be impossible to follow, with Liam and Aidan and Halley/Megan moving backwards and forwards from Australia to Europe and back again, lack of clarity of motivation at any given point, Liam being in prison and out of prison and in prison again seemingly at will, lack of clarity about the mission, when it was supposed to take place, who was involved and what their roles were. And as explanations are offered for why some of the details seem off, other details unravel behind them.
 
This is not written like a thriller - way too much focus on Aidan's sinewy body and hot breath - and seems a bit plotty for a romance. It tries to do both but succeeds at neither. Sorry Laura Bloom, this really wasn't my cup of Nambarrie. 
 
**000

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