Romance books are hot right now, and since so many of the books I’m seeing on the shelves and the socials are from OS authors I’m on a mission to find and read and rave about as many Aussie titles as I can. Five Bush Weddings by Clare Fletcher caught my attention the moment I laid eyes on that divine cover. The dress, the boots, the bouquet of Aussie flora – it is all perfect. I was hanging out for pub day, and then was lucky enough to win an advance copy in a giveaway on social media from the lovely Penguin Random House team.
What is Five Bush Weddings About?
With her ex soon to be married, her mum back on the dating scene, and her best friend threatening to settle down with the Most Boring Man Alive, Stevie is feeling left behind.
To top it off, her old uni mate Johnno West, whom she hasn’t seen for years, keeps turning up as best man at Stevie’s jobs. And he is looking so good.
Perhaps their youthful pact – that if they were both still single in their early thirties they’d get together – is not so crazy after all?
Then the enigmatic Charlie Jones walks into the frame …
My review of Five Bush Weddings by Clare Fletcher
This book made me laugh on the very first page, and I enjoyed it all the way through. I think Five Bush Weddings sort of sits somewhere between rural romance and contemporary romcoms, and it has a super Aussie rural feel without feeling at all cliched or stereotyped. I loved that the book felt lighthearted but also touched on some real issues that people and places experience – friendships evolving as we move or grow apart into new relationships, the pressure of family expectations, and the struggles of regional areas from natural events like drought and dwindling populations. Perhaps talking about ‘struggles’ makes it sound quite grim, but I actually really found that these bits always had a sense of positivity and hope about them as well, which I really liked.
In terms of the characters, we really get to know Stevie and Jonno the best, although we also learn just enough about some of the people around them to be satisfying and make their world feel real. Throughout the book we get bits from both Stevie’s and Jonno’s perspectives which I liked, especially when we got to see the same event through both of their eyes. Stevie really epitomised the 30 year old who just hasn’t managed to figure out that they are a grown up now, and is pretty much drowning in the responsibilities that come along with it. There were some moments when I wanted to shake her, and I wondered whether someone could really be this clueless, but at the same time she manages to mostly be endearing somehow. Johnno, on the other hand, is just the sweetest angel man you’ll ever meet in romance novel, and actually without being annoying at all. Except, of course, when it came to Stevie – there were a few moments of “would you two please just get it together!” (which I think adds to the romance reading experience, right?).
Overall I found this one a fun and uplifting read. I sped through it, and it’s one of those novels where I think I’d love to have books tell the stories of some of the other characters too. I think it’s a strong debut novel from Fletcher, and I’m keen to see what she does next.
Oh, also, I thought it was interesting that Five Bush Weddings has a reality dating show, not as a main plot point, but it definitely impacts the story, after I just read Here for the Right Reasons by Jodi McAlister which is set inside the filming of another reality dating show. AND the next book on my Aussie romance tbr is The Dating Game by Sandy Barker which is also a romcom set in reality tv.
I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve read this one, or if you have either a favourite Aussie romance book OR another book set in reality tv that you’d recommend
Five Bush Weddings by Clare Fletcher
Out now from Penguin Random House
Source: I won an arc of this one in a giveaway from Penguin Random House on social media.
Category: Aussie contemporary romance fiction