Review: Once Burnt, Twice Shy by Karly Lane


Title: Once Burnt, Twice Shy

Author: Karly Lane

Published: 30th November, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read December 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin



My Thoughts:


Karly Lane shines a light on the Rural Fire Service, and their heroic efforts during Black Summer in this heartfelt rural romance set in the mid north coast of NSW.

At a loose end now that her daughters have left home and she’s sold her Gold Coast business, Samantha Murphy has volunteered to look after the family farm in Burrumba while her parents enjoy an extended overseas holiday. Though a world away from the life she has been leading since leaving home as a teenager, Sam quickly regains the rhythms of country living and considers making her return permanent. A passionate reunion with her high school boyfriend, Jack Cameron, cements the idea, but life seems reluctant to give them the second chance they both want as a deadly bushfire threatens to destroy everything they love.

Like the author, I was unfortunate enough to be surrounded by the 2019/2020 fires, but luckily I was never directly impacted thanks to the selfless work of the NSW Rural Fire Service who defended our town. Sam and Jack’s experiences of the fire ring true and Lane captures the heightened emotions of the event with sensitivity. I well remember the stress and anxiety as a thick pall of smoke darkened the sky while the fire front crept ever closer, as people from outlying areas sought shelter in our local halls, and as the showground filled with displaced pets and livestock. It was devastating to learn of homes and property destroyed, and even more so the lives tragically lost.

While there are many tense moments in Once Burnt, Twice Shy as the bushfire rages, the ‘second chance’ romance between Sam and Jack also has its complications with their renewed relationship marred by family drama. Both are divorced and carry baggage from their previous relationships, and both also have daughters who aren’t comfortable with their parent becoming involved with someone else. I thought Lane portrayed the issues that affected them authentically.

Despite the rather heavy, emotional themes within the novel, there are flashes of humour. I laughed aloud as Sam attempted to wrangle her mother’s recalcitrant Guinea fowl.

Once Burnt, Twice Shy is another engaging novel from talented author Karly Lane whose stories celebrate rural Australian communities, and its people.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carla
    Jan 09, 2022 @ 05:56:28

    I can’t imagine what living through those fires would have been like. This sounds like a realistic and emotional story. It must have given you some palpitations having lived so close to all that danger and destruction. Great review Shelleyrae.

    Liked by 1 person


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  3. Mystica
    Jan 11, 2022 @ 15:38:29

    Sounds very emotional. But realistic too as this is what happened.

    Liked by 1 person


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