Farwell Creek is a dry, dusty place – just a tiny hamlet in the middle of the drought stricken Australian outback. Once Bec O’Donnell and Nick Price, best friends and young lovers, planned on living happily ever after in Farwell Creek, but unfortunately real life got in the way of young dreams. Bec left her hometown for the big city and Nick stayed behind working a farm that was no longer his. And when they’re brought back together by the sudden, tragic death of the parents of their best friend Hailey, Nic and Bec find their teenage promise to be as distant as the rain. With nothing to offer, Nick refuses to act on the feelings he still has for Bec, and tired of waiting for Nick to acknowledge that he even cares she’s come home, Bec reluctantly turns her attentions elsewhere.

After a small, but potentially dangerous fire in town, it becomes obvious, at least to mover and shaker Bec, that the town is in dire need of its own bona fide bush fire brigade – complete with a fire truck, no less. But how best to raise the exorbitant amount of money this will cost? The answer comes in the form of Terry “people call me Gordo” Gordon – a tall, blond, handsome stranger who calmly and rather self-indulgently suggests a Bachelor and Spinster ball. But no one in the Creek knows what a B&S really is, much less how to organize one, so Gordo suggests Bec accompany him to such a ball in a neighboring town. Now Nick is clearly jealous, Bec’s mother Jean is more angry than usual, and Hailey is far beyond just a little concerned. But Bec is intrigued – not only with the idea of a ball, but apparently with the man who suggested it.

The events of the story swirl around the organization of the ball. While Hailey finds her happiness with the leader of the band they’ve hired, Bec and Nick continually butt heads as they try to make sense of their lingering feelings. Bec can’t deny she’s attracted to the flashy Gordo, but she still longs to have Nick look at her just once the way he used to. And Nick? He’s busy berating himself for being nothing more than a hired hand on his father’s old farm. Nick stubbornly and quite mistakenly believes he has to make something of himself before telling Bec what he’s feeling. And then he suddenly realizes that perhaps he’s waited just a little too long.  Will he ever be able to come to terms with losing Bec for good?

Fast paced and well-written, The Bachelor and Spinster Ball provides a glimpse into everyday life in the remote Australian outback. And despite wanting to clout Nick over the head a number of times, I really enjoyed the characters – and how, just like in any small town, they care about – and for – each other.  Highly recommended, The Bachelor and Spinster Ball is yet another excellent offering from Janet Gover and Little Black Dress.

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