I've been debating whether to review "Hooked on a Feeling" as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge http://australianwomenwriters.com/ and I've decided to go with it. The reservations I had were two-fold.
First, I read a lot of romance and I try to use AWW to stretch my reading. "Hooked on a Feeling" is definitely a romance.
Second, I know Ainslie. She's a writer-friend, published with the same publisher as me. So I was a bit dubious whether people would think I was biased or just silly reviewing a friend's book.
And then I thought, **** it. Be proud I have such talented friends who write great books about relationships and emotional journeys and about Australia.
You see, "Hooked on a Feeling" is set in 1970s Australia and Ainslie got it so right - the language, the clothing and the attitudes - that I want to quote whole passages. But I'll resist. Read the book and discover the very Aussie language for yourself -- not that the Aussie language should put non-Aussie's off reading. Have a giggle! Australians are always ready to laugh at ourselves (or like to think we are).
There are sex scenes - if you're wondering what kind of romance it is. But the scenes are part of the plot, not a little naughtiness dropped in.
I was born in the mid-70s and grew up in a close neighbourhood. I remember (because I was one in the early 80s) when seven year old kids could be let out to roam and we'd find our own way home for lunch and dinner! It was a paradoxical time of freedom and constraint. Things were changing. "Hooked on a Feeling" captures that sense of change, the drama and fear, really well.
The characters feel real. They're not super-people. They struggle, hope, grow, take risks, fail, expect too much of each other -- or not enough. Loads of drama in that understated Aussie way.
This is a love story of the Australian suburbs, and now I'm wondering why there aren't more of them.