Review: Gemma’s Bluff by Karly Lane


Title: Gemma’s Bluff

Author: Karly Lane

Published:: Arena: Allen & Unwin November 2014

Status: Read from November 17 to 19, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Gemma’s Bluff, Karly Lane’s sixth novel, is a contemporary story of friendship, love and self discovery set against the backdrop of rural Australia.

Having just graduated from university and in need of a break before being press ganged into the family business, Gemma Northcote reluctantly agrees to join her best friend, Jasmine, on a six week working holiday on a farming property in rural New South Wales. While carefree Jazz isn’t the least bit concerned about their lack of experience – ‘google’ will have whatever answers they need – sensible Gemma is worried they are making a huge mistake, especially when it becomes clear that their host had no idea they were coming. Nash Whittaker doesn’t have the time nor energy to indulge the ‘McLeod’s Daughters’ fantasies of two city girls, yet he is desperate for some help and reluctantly agrees Gemma and Jasmine can stay, as long as they make themselves useful. Surprising herself, Gemma finds the challenges of the farm invigorating, and the gruff charm of its owner increasingly irresistible. She begins to imagine making a life for herself at Dunoon with Nash, but can Gemma find the courage to defy her parent’s expectations and forge her own path to happiness?

Gemma’s Bluff has a strong and fairly traditional romantic plot. Gemma and Nash are instantly attracted to one another but their romance develops only as they get to know one another. I enjoyed the build up to the consummation of the relationship but they have only a few short days together before it all goes wrong, and it is more than a year until they are reunited.

I liked Gemma for the most part, she is sensible, capable and kind, and I enjoyed the way she grew in confidence and self awareness during her time at Dunoon. However Gemma does make a decision three quarters of the way through the story that I have to admit soured me on her character somewhat. Though reasons are given which work for the plot and characterisation, the justification doesn’t work for me personally.

A secondary plot involves Nash and local boy Ben whose long standing enmity boils over when Ben interferes in Nash and Gemma’s relationship. The tragic reason for their hostility plays into the separation of the couple, and adds drama to the novel.

As always, Lane evokes Australia’s farming district with vivid description and recognition of its realities, with Nash struggling with drought and the effects of recent government bans on live export. The dialogue is natural and the writing is solid.

Though not my favourite story from Karly Lane, Gemma’s Bluff is still an engaging contemporary rural romance that should satisfy fans, and new readers, alike.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.


Also by Karly Lane – click for my reviews


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Review: Something Like This by Karly Lane | book'd out

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