I was in Australia literally 24 hours ago, so the fact that this post exists is nothing short of a miracle.
And I’m so excited to be doing this review.
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.
Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.
Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.
When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?
Why am I so excited?
IT’S SET IN NEW ZEALAND.
IT’S A BOOK SET IN PRESENT DAY NEW ZEALAND THAT DOESN’T SUCK.
Previously, I had only read two chapter books (ie not picture books) set in New Zealand. The first was some weird fantasy thing which was mostly set in a fictional world, so it doesn’t count. The second was a really weird book set in the 1940s or 1950s that I really did not like. So you can understand my excitement about this book. I constantly get to read books set in the US, as well as the occasional ones set in the UK, Australia, and Canada. But there are so few books set in New Zealand.
So this book is set in New Zealand (if you haven’t figured that out already), which made it pretty great for me, since, for once in my life, I actually knew where they were talking about, and had actually been to a large number of them (the book is about a tour around New Zealand, so there’s a lot of places). Like honestly it was amazing. Everything New Zealand in this book was just amazing for me. All of the references that are normally American were instead Kiwi, and it’s so incredible to read.
Enough fangirling about my country. Time to actually review the book.
So this isn’t a YA, but it was still a good read. It’s a romance, and parts of it were kinda cliché, but still with an element of newness and originality.
It’s also all about a tour of things connected to The Hobbit and LOTR. I’ve mentioned previously that I don’t like The Hobbit. Long story short, I tried to read it a couple of times, but couldn’t get into it. I’ve also never seen any of the movies, because I’m a stubborn little squid. So there were heaps of references that I didn’t understand, despite all the New Zealand references. However, I didn’t feel completely lost the entire way. I feel as though both someone familiar with the books and someone who knows nothing about them can enjoy that element of the book. In fact, it even made me want to try reading them again.
However, this wasn’t an absolute favourite. Some of the characters and some of the choices made by characters didn’t really make sense to me.
Despite that, this was still a great book (which may be partially because of my New Zealand bias), which I would recommend, if only to get a little more knowledge of New Zealand. If you are a romance fan like me, then this is definitely one that I’d recommend. Four stars from me.
PEOPLE NEED TO WRITE MORE BOOKS SET IN NEW ZEALAND. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.