Review & Giveaway - Always With You by Hannah Ellis
It's a frosty day today, so why not take a look at Always With You. Set in Australia, the descriptive writing will have you warming up in a blink!
A secret kept for more than twenty years. A daughter intent on finding the truth…
In 1994, twenty-one-year-old Evelyn Taylor left England to backpack around Australia. When she stopped off in the dusty outback town of Kununurra, she never expected to fall in love with the place - and the people. But Joe Sullivan captured her heart, and when her fun-filled year in Australia came to an end, saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing she’d ever done.
In 2017, Evelyn’s daughter, Libby, embarks on her own Australian adventure. Grief-stricken following her mother’s death, she’s determined to find the father she never met.
Little does she know that digging up the past will be more complicated than she ever imagined.
“Are you seriously going to sleep there?” Andrew asked.
“My bed is taken!” I flopped ungracefully into the hammock and wriggled to get my balance right. “And this is really comfy.”
“I’m not sure it’s safe to sleep out here.”
“I’ll be okay. Everyone’s so friendly.”
“I was thinking more about the wildlife.” He glanced around, nervously. “There’s about ten thousand species of things that can kill you around here.”
“Ten thousand?” I asked, amused.
“I’m sure I’ll survive. You don’t need to babysit me!”
“Not sure I can really sleep in my bed either with all that racket going on.”
“You’ll have to find your own hammock then,” I said. “I’m not shari—” The screech that cut me off was loud, wild and far too close. Jumping out of the hammock, I was behind Andrew in a shot and clinging to his arm. “What on earth?” I said, looking up at the source of the noise.
“Bats,” Andrew said. “One of the few things around here which won’t kill you!”
“Bats?” It was too loud for bats.
“Yeah. Fruit bats are really loud. And really big.”
Rustling overhead drew my attention and the screech came again. Two huge black creatures flapped their massive wings, fighting and shrieking before taking off, causing a breeze as they left.
“Oh my God! They’re huge.”
“Yep,” Andrew agreed.
“What are you doing?” I asked when he manoeuvred himself easily into the hammock.
“I found myself a hammock, like you suggested.”
“But that’s mine.”
Light from the nearby path bounced off his eyes, glimmering as he grinned mischievously. “You got out.”
I glared for a moment. Then I walked purposefully over to the hammock and took hold of it with both hands, giving it a quick, forceful tug. Andrew flailed before tumbling out. Smugly, I reclaimed the hammock.
“You got out!” I said innocently when he brushed himself off and stood looking down at me. The hammock wobbled when he climbed in next to me, and I turned my nose up at having his feet beside my head. “You better not snore,” I said.
“You actually think you can sleep in this?”
“Well, it’s pretty wobbly for one thing.” He rocked the hammock to make his point. “And did I mention the wildlife?”
“You’re a bit of a scaredy cat, aren’t you?”
“I’m not the one who jumped a mile at a little bat.”
I gave him a quick kick before I closed my eyes. “Goodnight.”
I was happy to see Cam and his family turn up only a few minutes later. They had spent their Christmas Day on the river. Three boats pulled up to the riverbank and the rowdy occupants announced their arrival with whoops and cheers and a few of them singing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” at the top of their lungs.
“How’s my favourite British chick?” Cam asked, giving me a hug. “Having a good Christmas?”
“Yeah,” I said, my thoughts still lingering on Joe and Beth and wondering what had happened. “It’s been really good.”
“It’s about to get better,” he said. “I’m teaching you to water-ski.”
I frowned. “I saw a croc down there earlier.”
“You better learn to stay up on your feet then,” he said with a grin. Then he turned to shout, “Evelyn’s first attempt at waterskiing coming up! Someone get a camera and everyone gather round for a laugh!”
“Thanks!” I said, following him to the boat.
It was so much fun. To everyone’s delight, it took me a while to get the hang of it, and there were a few hilarious false starts which saw me nose-diving into the water. Then I got a feel for it and managed to get up out of the water. Cam steered the boat down the river, picking up speed as we left the house behind. He glanced back occasionally and shouted encouragement.
“Let’s turn around and show them what a pro you are,” he said after a while. We headed back and a cheer arose as we passed the house with me standing relatively confidently on the skis. Joe had returned and I caught his eye. I was having such a great time and laughed loudly before we left everyone behind again. On my next drive by, I got a bit cocky and lifted an arm to wave. Disaster. I let the rope go as I lost my balance and crashed spectacularly into the water. Below the surface, I spent a moment upside down and confused before hitting the air again, coughing and spluttering. Joe was at the riverbank and crouched to my level.
“Think so,” I said, choking and reaching for his hand. “I lost the skis somewhere.”
“Don’t worry about it. Cam’ll get them. You scared me for a minute. Thought I was gonna have to brave the crocs and jump in after you!”
He pulled me out in one movement and I stumbled on my jelly legs, falling into him. “You okay?” he asked again.
“What happened?” Cam shouted, turning the boat around. “You think you’re the queen, giving everyone the royal wave?”
“I thought I was getting good,” I said, laughing.
Always With You has an emotional beginning, one that gets you invested in the story immediately. From then on, it's told as a series of flashbacks and present day, which works really well.
What I really enjoyed was the skilled descriptive writing and how the author puts you right there in the moment. You can picture Kununurra and you are a part of the story. The characters are real, with flaws, and very likeable.
What had me so interested in the story was Evelyn. I was looking for a clue, a hint of who could have been the father of her child and was it going to be who I wanted it to be, or who I even thought it was? And, I have to say, the author cleverly keeps that all to herself until the end.
Libby's story is just as intriguing. She needs the Australian adventure to help the grieving process, not only to find the man she believes to be her father. Libby's search throws up a few surprises, with the author steering you along the wrong path at times. There are also sweet moments when Libby makes a few discoveries about her mother's time at Kununurra.
Sweet, thought provoking, with a surprising end!
4 Butterfly Rating!
ABOUT HANNAH ELLIS
Hannah Ellis lives in Munich with her husband and two little boys. She’s originally from England and has lived in America, Australia and Ireland. As well as writing, she also teaches English to kindergarten kids. In her spare time she likes to read books, drink tea and eat chocolate. She goes jogging regularly but hasn’t decided if she really enjoys it or not. She’s a huge fan of sunshine and the many Munich beer gardens.
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14219556.Hannah_Ellis
A signed paperback copy of the book (open internationally)