If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act. Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart. Book #1 in the OFF THE MAP series
My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I should probably preface this review by saying that I wanted to love it more than my average read simply because of the setting. Having Australian parents but only having lived in Canada, I find myself more and more interested in reading books by Australian authors or set in Australian locales. So yeah, the location was my initial draw to this book. However, as the story quickly progressed, I was easily pulled into the lives and plights of Talia and Bran.
Talia has come to Melbourne to hide out, essentially, from everything that has gone wrong in her life up until this point. She blames herself for so much, including her sister's death. Not only is she dealing with her grief over her sister's death, she's also dealing with her parents' divorce, failing out of school, and a legitimate mental disorder in the form of OCD. It's no wonder Talia wanted to move across the world for a fresh start! And things start out going really well for her. She easily makes a new friend from her dorm and strikes up a friendship/romance with a cute Aussie surfer. Things get a bit more complicated when she (literally) runs into Bran, however.
Bran seems to be able to see right through Talia. He senses her compulsions right from the first shared drink, but doesn't seem put off by them in the slightest. Through their mutual friend, they get thrown together at first, and although they show plenty of animosity towards each other, it's quickly evident that there's something more than friendship brewing between them. I loved watching Talia and Bran learn about each other and have fun together! It was wonderful to watch their emotional connection grow.
If there was one thing I would change about this novel, it would probably be the ending. It seemed like a HEA, but then I found out there would be a sequel. What?! Haven't these two been through enough? I quickly got over this, however, and am eagerly looking forward to starting "Sideswiped"!
My rating: 4 stars