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A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

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Romance author Jessica Kate explores the hilariously thin line between love and hate in her heartwarming new novel. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sams still recovering from a failed business. His coworkerstart-up expert Kimberly Fosteris brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mothers rejection from a young age till now Romance author Jessica Kate explores the hilariously thin line between love and hate in her heartwarming new novel. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying. When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?


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Romance author Jessica Kate explores the hilariously thin line between love and hate in her heartwarming new novel. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sams still recovering from a failed business. His coworkerstart-up expert Kimberly Fosteris brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mothers rejection from a young age till now Romance author Jessica Kate explores the hilariously thin line between love and hate in her heartwarming new novel. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying. When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?

30 review for A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sundin

    Full of humor and snappy banter, A Girls Guide to the Outback is loaded with fish-out-of-water Australian fun. And yet Jessica Kate tells a far deeper story. Kimberly and Sam and Jules are each hurting in their own ways, each searching for identity, and each running from what they most need. These three compelling characters pulled me in to the story and had me finishing it in record time despite a crazy-busy schedule on my end! Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended! Full of humor and snappy banter, A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is loaded with fish-out-of-water Australian fun. And yet Jessica Kate tells a far deeper story. Kimberly and Sam and Jules are each hurting in their own ways, each searching for identity, and each running from what they most need. These three compelling characters pulled me in to the story and had me finishing it in record time – despite a crazy-busy schedule on my end! Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. Well not bad. I just didn't realize when I got this via NetGalley this was a Christian romance. I tend to stay away from that genre because I just don't enjoy it at all. It didn't help that I realized half way through that this was a sequel to another novel with some of the same characters. This was cute though and I just gave it four stars though it didn't wow me that much. A very solid romance that I Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. Well not bad. I just didn't realize when I got this via NetGalley this was a Christian romance. I tend to stay away from that genre because I just don't enjoy it at all. It didn't help that I realized half way through that this was a sequel to another novel with some of the same characters. This was cute though and I just gave it four stars though it didn't wow me that much. A very solid romance that I can see readers who enjoy Christian fiction enjoying. "A Girl's Guide to the Outback" follows Samuel (Sam) Payton a youth minister living in VA. Plot reasons cause Sam to quit his job at the church and return to his family's farm in Australia to help out his sister Jules. Sam's coworker Kimberly chases after Sam in order to get him to come back to the ministry with an agreement that if she manages to help the farm become profitable he will return. Sparks fly. Honestly I didn't find Sam or Kimberly that gripping, they had some hilarious banter and they are obviously attracted to each other. Everything is very PG-13. There's also a side romance story going on with Sam's sister and their neighbor Mitch. When did we start doing that in romance books? Can we get back to just focusing on the leads and that's it? The writing was okay and the flow was too. The setting was fun though since I have only read a handful of romance books that have taken place in Australia.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    I really loved this book. I think from the very start it was the characters that drew me in. I found all the characters so incredibly likeable. I loved the Aussie accent, phrases and the descriptions of Australian life and the land. I was rooting for the jules and Mick and was happy with their ending as much as Kim and Sam. I lovely read. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jes Drew

    This book was so completely hilarious and absolutely swoon-worthy at the same time, it is one of the tales that genuinely deserves the title of rom-com. Of course, how can it be anything but with the four most stubborn young, single people in any kind of proximity together? We have the lead couple, practical Kim the business woman come to get back the charismic youth pastor, Samuel- even though they can't stand each other (despite the fact that they are both attracted to the other). Then there is This book was so completely hilarious and absolutely swoon-worthy at the same time, it is one of the tales that genuinely deserves the title of rom-com. Of course, how can it be anything but with the four most stubborn young, single people in any kind of proximity together? We have the lead couple, practical Kim the business woman come to get back the charismic youth pastor, Samuel- even though they can't stand each other (despite the fact that they are both attracted to the other). Then there is Samuel's sister Jules, who takes the stubborn prize, as she tries to stay in control, and Mitch, her neighbor who once loved her... and still does, actually. Throw all of them together onto a farm in the Australian outback where literally everything is trying to kill them and bankrupt the farm, and it was bound to get interesting. Especially as each of the characters were dealing with their own secret heart-aches: rejection, failure, surrender, and patience respectively. It all ended just right, too. But if it hadn't ended, and just kept going- I wouldn't have minded that either. I need more rom-coms like this one in my reading list. I received a copy of the book from the publisher, and the thoughts and opinions are my own. First published on my blog: https://agencyofbooksandspies.blogspo...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    This is a heavily Christian romance with two couples. Unfortunately, one of each couple bugged me heavily and the Christian aspect fell flat, too. I persisted to the finish because the setting was on the awesome side of interesting and I really wanted Kimberly to be happy. It was a little jarring the first time we hit Jules's PoV because I thought this was a single-couple romance. Also because Jules is an emotional goblin who reads years younger than her stated 31. It's probably just as well we This is a heavily Christian romance with two couples. Unfortunately, one of each couple bugged me heavily and the Christian aspect fell flat, too. I persisted to the finish because the setting was on the awesome side of interesting and I really wanted Kimberly to be happy. It was a little jarring the first time we hit Jules's PoV because I thought this was a single-couple romance. Also because Jules is an emotional goblin who reads years younger than her stated 31. It's probably just as well we don't get Mick's PoV (her ex-boyfriend who is a way better man than she deserves) because actually seeing first-hand the hell she puts him through could have potentially broken my attachment enough to dnf. Her blind devotion to the family farm is unreasoning and unrelenting and I suppose I could have found it more engaging if there was any kind of payoff she was looking forward to. But there wasn't. She has no romantic potential in the region, no hope for a family some day, so she's essentially choosing to caretake a dying prospect for a family legacy that ends, explicitly, with her. So its function on the story was very much like a negative motivation* in that she clung to it in an unreasoning way that didn't actually add anything to her prospective future. And Sam wasn't any better. Sigh. Okay, Sam is actually worse. He has this fear thing wrapped in guilt that haunts his every action, both romantically and professionally. He gets called on it a lot and many people tell him his guilt isn't justified and that his fear is unreasoning. But he still clings to it in the teeth of losing everything he says he wants; again, both romantically and professionally. So it's a giant negative motivation* that he clings to out of weakness and cowardice. But the even worse aspect of this fear is that it undermines the Christian faith that is supposed to be at the core of his character. He supposedly has this gift for ministering to teens. And I loved how Kimberly understood and supported that gift and how that is her initial draw to him. And yet Sam spends the entirety of this story resisting his calling. Worse, he has to be reminded, repeatedly and by multiple sources, to give his fears to God and to choose his path in faith. Indeed, this entire story would have short-circuited had he lived what he preached! And I find that a very curious way to go about depicting a character of supposed faith. And I want to be careful because there can be some great story in the struggle to live up to your own ideals and people fall short all the time and those stories are important, I think. But Sam doesn't so much struggle as he simply fails to show up. Until the epiphany in the end, of course. But by that time it was very much too late. Kimberly is awesome, though. I loved her devotion to her faith and to the community of faith and how she has these outstanding talents that she'd like to put in service to building the faith of others. So even though she's awkward with people and knows she can't do the work herself, she still does her best to support the things she finds important and that includes the Wildfire ministry built up around Sam. And I loved even more how deeply she threw herself into Sam's family farm, both to help immediate needs and to gain an understanding of their financials on a basis deeply enough to do actual and lasting good for their future. And I love that she delivers hard truths even though she knows the most likely outcome is alienating those she wants so badly to like, accept, and respect her. She's my kind of people and my heart ached for her. And Kate has a great hand with the side characters, giving them depth and emotional resonance beyond the mere needs of the story. Sam's mother stands out as a particularly dynamic example, even though, or likely because, she is so unsympathetically judgmental to start. So I didn't love this, but it isn't awful, either. I finished the whole thing and didn't regret sticking it out to the end. But it's all Kimberly and the setting/secondary characters that did it for me. No rating on this one for . . . reasons. It's complicated. Which is why there's a link... A note about Chaste: All the main characters have strong Christian faith and they don't even consider having sex in the course of the story—as you'd expect, I think. Frankly, this is very well done and exactly how I'd expect those characters to function given their background and expectations. Indeed, this is a very good example of how single adults with the expectation of chastity before marriage function internally. * Negative Motivations: I kind of hate that the term "negative motivation" isn't widespread, yet. Since it isn't, I'm going to save off this little jag to append to my reviews that feature the term. Jennifer Crusie blogged about it a bit back (or, if that link doesn't work, here's a cache of the original) and it changed how I understand story. The problem with the term is that if you've never heard it before, you'd assume it meant motivations that are harmful or immoral. Not so. What it refers to is motivations not to do something. The thing is that many of us are motivated to not do things for a lot of different, perfectly valid and reasonable, reasons. The problem is that in a story motivations to not do things are a huge drag on the plot—particularly considering the fact that most negative motivations are overcome by the character simply deciding they don't care any more (or, rather, that they do care and are now motivated to do the thing). So not only do you have a counter to action but you also have a situation where to overcome it, all a character has to do is change their mind. Which means eventually, the reader is rooting for the character to get over him/herself already and do the thing we want them to do. Conflict drives story. Conflict between a reader and a main character drives readers away from story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Turner

    I had the great pleasure of reading Jessica Kate's sophomore novel, A Girls Guide to the Outback, for endorsement, and let me just say...I loved it! Kate's first novel, Love and Other Mistakes, was a different sort of read for me. I still found myself recommending it because, as a storyteller, Jessica Kate has so many skills that come through on the page, even if the story wasn't exactly for me. But A Girl's Guide to the Outback gave me exactly what I wanted. It is a rom-com with depth, but with I had the great pleasure of reading Jessica Kate's sophomore novel, A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, for endorsement, and let me just say...I loved it! Kate's first novel, Love and Other Mistakes, was a different sort of read for me. I still found myself recommending it because, as a storyteller, Jessica Kate has so many skills that come through on the page, even if the story wasn't exactly for me. But A Girl's Guide to the Outback gave me exactly what I wanted. It is a rom-com with depth, but with the focus firmly planted on the two most important components of romantic comedy: romance and comedy. I loved every minute of my time with Kimberly Foster and Samuel Payton, and highly recommend their story!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen M.

    This is the second time that I have been privileged to read a Jessica Kate book on #netgalley. While I enjoyed her first book at times, it was a bit too personal. That rarely happened in her second book. The storyline is excellent and complicated. While parts of the story have a happy ending, parts do not. I feel like this is true to real life. Because the author is from Australia, the setting is definitely true to life. I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. Several main themes This is the second time that I have been privileged to read a Jessica Kate book on #netgalley. While I enjoyed her first book at times, it was a bit too personal. That rarely happened in her second book. The storyline is excellent and complicated. While parts of the story have a happy ending, parts do not. I feel like this is true to real life. Because the author is from Australia, the setting is definitely true to life. I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. Several main themes include unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance of ourselves and second chances. Although those ideas are emphasized, the book does not seem preachy. With this book, I moved the author up to me, "I can't wait until she releases her next book" list. Romance is an element, but so are struggles and setbacks that we all face. My strong recommendation is my own opinion!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hallie Szott

    4.5 What a delight. With characters from her debut Love and Other Mistakes, Jessica Kates A Girls Guide to the Outback delivers an entertaining rom-com with plenty of heart and depth. Ministry leader Samuel Payton is passionate, charismatic, and a tad risk-averse. Co-worker Kimberly Foster has great, but expensive plans to expand the ministry, so naturally, she and Sam cant help butting heads. He figures it is time for him to leave when he gets a call that his family could use his help in 4.5 What a delight. With characters from her debut Love and Other Mistakes, Jessica Kate’s A Girl’s Guide to the Outback delivers an entertaining rom-com with plenty of heart and depth. Ministry leader Samuel Payton is passionate, charismatic, and a tad risk-averse. Co-worker Kimberly Foster has great, but expensive plans to expand the ministry, so naturally, she and Sam can’t help butting heads. He figures it is time for him to leave when he gets a call that his family could use his help in Australia—but Kim cannot let him go that easily. The story then follows the (mis)adventures of this pair—and another charming couple, too!—as they work through the predicaments before them (and the baggage holding them back). I enjoyed every word of their experience and definitely look forward to reading more from Jessica Kate. In the meantime, if you need a rom-com pick-me-up read (especially with Valentine’s Day this week), I highly recommend reading this one. This review is also posted on Hallie Reads. I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I loved this book! A Girls Guide to the Outback was such a fun romance in a great setting. Sam and Kimberly were secondary characters in the book Love and Other Mistakes, however, this book definitely reads as a stand alone novel and there are no worries if you have not read Love and Other Mistakes. This book had so much heart and I loved all of the nuances to this unique story. It was interesting to see how both Sam and Kimberly struggled with things that had happened in their pasts and allowed I loved this book! A Girl’s Guide to the Outback was such a fun romance in a great setting. Sam and Kimberly were secondary characters in the book Love and Other Mistakes, however, this book definitely reads as a stand alone novel and there are no worries if you have not read Love and Other Mistakes. This book had so much heart and I loved all of the nuances to this unique story. It was interesting to see how both Sam and Kimberly struggled with things that had happened in their pasts and allowed those situations to impact the decisions they made and what they were willing to risk (or not risk). The chemistry was great between these two and I also loved the secondary romance between Jules and Mick, which was a second chance possibility for two people who allowed each other to slip away the first time arounnd. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. You can read this review on my blog: https://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.c...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Tero

    Once again, being a romcom (and me a not-so-romantic), I wasnt 100% sure what I was getting into. But I love comedy, so why not give it a try? And it was funny. Sometimes really awkwardly funny more than just cant-help-but-laugh funny, but there was humor twined throughout the story. The Australian setting was really cool, and I feel like Jessica gives a great tour-guide in her book, explaining terminology and such that we Americans arent used to. The storyline overall was very interesting. In a Once again, being a romcom (and me a not-so-romantic), I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into. But I love comedy, so why not give it a try? And it was funny. Sometimes really awkwardly funny more than just can’t-help-but-laugh funny, but there was humor twined throughout the story. The Australian setting was really cool, and I feel like Jessica gives a great tour-guide in her book, explaining terminology and such that we Americans aren’t used to. The storyline overall was very interesting. In a way, it moved slowly for me—as a lot happened while the main plotline crawled forward. Or maybe I was just impatient to get to the solution faster (because I’m more of a Kim personality). The characters were diverse and interesting. I loved their backstory and how it was woven into the present-day struggles they faced. The spiritual thread definitely made this book stronger. At first I was wondering if it was going to be a typical world-influenced, mission-building story, but that seemed to be the misconception of one MC’s point-of-view in the beginning. There were many times when the story seemed independent of a spiritual plot, but when it came down to the end, it was a beautiful message of surrendering to God’s hand (and leaving it there) and releasing past confusion and discouragements when He’s leading an individual on a new path. Everything that could be defined as “romantic content” was what made me the most uncomfortable. I’m just not appreciative of descriptions such as “her uterus did a backflip of approval” and “sexy” as a description and wondering if a girl has pajamas on under her robe. I guess… they may be very real guy/girl thoughts, but I personally feel like these are fleshly lusts that aren’t what should be paraded for a God-honoring, clean romance. I realize these are my personal thoughts, so if things like that don’t bother you as a reader, you’ll probably find nothing wrong with this book. There are some passionate kisses, but overall it would be considered a clean romance. *I received this book from Celebrate Lit and happily provided my honest review*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alysha (For The Love of Christian Fiction)

    4.5/5 stars! Full review to come!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucinda

    This book was a total surprise. I don't know what made me request it, but I'm glad I did. So, so good! Kim and Sam are the main characters but we also see Jules and Mick, who already have a past relationship between them. When Kim goes to Australia to help Sam's sister, Jules, with her dairy farm's financial situation, she's hoping to convince Sam to return to the US to continue is work as a youth pastor in charge. Kim is new to everything but she doesn't hesitate to help with whatever is needed. This book was a total surprise. I don't know what made me request it, but I'm glad I did. So, so good! Kim and Sam are the main characters but we also see Jules and Mick, who already have a past relationship between them. When Kim goes to Australia to help Sam's sister, Jules, with her dairy farm's financial situation, she's hoping to convince Sam to return to the US to continue is work as a youth pastor in charge. Kim is new to everything but she doesn't hesitate to help with whatever is needed. The setting was amazing and it provided the backdrop for Sam and Kim to get past their perceived animosity towards each other. But they've actually been crushing on each other for three years and don't know how to deal with their emotions. I loved this story and couldn't put it down. Highly recommend it. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Inspirationalfictionreader

    A Girls Guide to the Outback is the first novel Ive read by Jessica Kate. Im so glad I took a chance on this story! I really enjoyed everything about it! I love humor in any story I read and this story was full of it! The humor nicely balanced out the serious issues that Kimberly and Sam had to tackle. I really liked both kimberly and Sam and their chemistry was perfect! I also loved the secondary characters and their romance! The setting of Australia really added to the story and I loved learning A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is the first novel I’ve read by Jessica Kate. I’m so glad I took a chance on this story! I really enjoyed everything about it! I love humor in any story I read and this story was full of it! The humor nicely balanced out the serious issues that Kimberly and Sam had to tackle. I really liked both kimberly and Sam and their chemistry was perfect! I also loved the secondary characters and their romance! The setting of Australia really added to the story and I loved learning some Australian slang! I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ebos Aifuobhokhan

    You'd find two love stories in this book. Love stories between two different set of people but above all between the individuals and God. There is a lesson in this book for everyone. This book is filled with sweet humor, breathtaking chemistry, grit, fearlessness, loyalty, trust in God... First of, we meet the fiery, fearless Kim and the sweet, scared Sam. Their's was a roller coaster of insecurities, unrequited admiration and respect and a lot of self discoveries. I've never seen a book deal You'd find two love stories in this book. Love stories between two different set of people but above all between the individuals and God. There is a lesson in this book for everyone. This book is filled with sweet humor, breathtaking chemistry, grit, fearlessness, loyalty, trust in God... First of, we meet the fiery, fearless Kim and the sweet, scared Sam. Their's was a roller coaster of insecurities, unrequited admiration and respect and a lot of self discoveries. I've never seen a book deal with deeply buried insecurities like this book. Sam carried his insecurities like a signpost on his forehead, Kimberly had been wounded by those who should have loved her and that made her somewhat fearless and archenemies with Sam for a long time. I loved reading about their individual and collective journeys to letting go and moving on with God's purpose for their lives. It was so sweet how they complemented each other. A lot of hurt and words flew around but the important lesson here was when God is involved nothing stops Him. Their story will inspire you to make changes you've been afraid and reluctant to. Then we meet Mick and Jules. Jules is Sam's sister and in charge of their family farm in Australia that has been in the family for four generations. She allowed her place in the farm to define and cage her. Mick was frustrated with Jules because of their past. Jules had life changing decisions to make if only she could trust God and learn that she wasn't defined by what she did but by Whose she is. There is something for everyone in this book. No review would do it justice. You just have to read the book yourself. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    Im so happy that we get to find out what happens to Sam, the youth minister who was introduced in Love and Other Mistakes. This book mostly takes place on a farm in the Australian outback and is a Christian friends to lovers (and by lovers I mean there is smooching) romance with a second chances romance as a secondary plot line. Kimberly is a straight talking business woman who is passionate about ministry but has a hard time communicating. Sam is the founder of a youth ministry who quits out of I’m so happy that we get to find out what happens to Sam, the youth minister who was introduced in Love and Other Mistakes. This book mostly takes place on a farm in the Australian outback and is a Christian friends to lovers (and by lovers I mean there is smooching) romance with a second chances romance as a secondary plot line. Kimberly is a straight talking business woman who is passionate about ministry but has a hard time communicating. Sam is the founder of a youth ministry who quits out of fear and retreats to his home in Australia, where his sister Jules has taken over the family farm and is near financial ruin. When Kimberly comes to the outback to help with the farm’s finances in exchange for the opportunity to woo Sam back to the ministry, she has to come face to face with a growing attraction to the Aussie and deal with her own feelings of loneliness and fear. Sam too has to come to terms with the failures of his past and they all must find their identity in God or risk more regret. I really appreciate how the author weaves in truths about the faith without cheesiness and has a genuine love story (also without cheesiness) and with some PG heat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chautona Havig

    3 Reasons to Love & Fear the Outback Not only have I never read anything by Jessica Kate before, but before reading the synopsis of her book, Id never heard of her. Right about that time, friends started buzzing about her debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes. Reviews were mixed, but none bad. I had to read this one for myself. Not only was I treated to a well-written, humorous look at the psyches of two psychologically damaged humans. The way Ms. Kate then took her characters through a process 3 Reasons to Love & Fear the Outback Not only have I never read anything by Jessica Kate before, but before reading the synopsis of her book, I’d never heard of her. Right about that time, friends started buzzing about her debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes. Reviews were mixed, but none bad. I had to read this one for myself. Not only was I treated to a well-written, humorous look at the psyches of two psychologically damaged humans. The way Ms. Kate then took her characters through a process of self-discovery and eventually through Biblical lenses just shows that people still write solid Christian fiction without making it icky and preachy. Well done! Not only that, but Thomas Nelson still publishes them. *thud* Thank you, TN for the apparent shift back to your roots as a real Christian publisher. Praying it sticks. The book—seriously, it’s awesome. I kept waiting for that thing to happen—the one where my stomach bottoms out and my heart sinks down with it. That thing where all my hopes for this great book become dashed against mediocrity. Spoiler. It doesn’t happen. Instead, Jessica Kate keeps us riveted to the page, makes us believe we’re there with snakes and spiders and kangaroos. We hear the accents, see the love for shortening everything to a nickname ending in “ie,” and end up slathered in Vegemite. What more could we want? How about those reasons to love and fear the outback? Love: As a green American with no clue what life is really like in Australia, it feels very much like one of the “last frontiers” to me—like my life in Mojave as a girl. Except with electricity and running water. They have that. We didn’t. But… I bet we had better cell service… Blunt speaking. Seriously, if all Aussies are like the characters in A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, I’d be in heaven there. While I’ve learned to couch my words in other words that ensure people know that I care about them even as I say what I think, it’s not natural. I’d rather be able to say, “I think that shirt looks hideous” rather than have to say, “Well, it’s not my favorite, but it sure looks comfortable” as a lead into a final, “Yeah, I really don’t think it’s flattering.” I can just hear several of those Aussies saying, “Seriously? Why would you buy such an ugly shirt?” God bless the Aussies. Romance. If your heart goes pitter-patter at romance, well. I suspect the Outback is the place to go. More on that in a bit. Fear: The weather. It sounds rather extreme to me—kind of like where I live. Except we don’t have cyclones in the desert—and rarely tornadoes. We do have earthquakes, so maybe we’re even on that. What do I know? Still, when your whole world can be upended by a little wind… ahem. Critters. Again, we have them here. Scorpions, rattlers, all the creepy crawlies. Still, there aren’t that many and not as deadly as the stuff out there. Just sayin’. If you want to stay safe, go where there’s not much in the way of crawlies—like Greenland or Antarctica. 😀 Romance. If this book (and half the movies I’ve seen that take place in Australia) is any indication, if you’re looking for romance, go get lost in the Outback somewhere and pray for rescue. May the spit swapping—erm, I mean kissing commence. Seriously, this book has what I love and hate about romance. It’s real… believable. Understandable. And it’s also sprinkled with those things. Sighness. If that’s not enough of a hint as to what’s in the book, I don’t know what else to tell you. Great storytelling combined with lovable characters and realistic faith make A Girl’s Guide to the Outback the first book to land on my 2020 favorites list. So glad I requested and received that review copy. Even more thrilled that I loved it. Recommended for lovers of romance, readers who enjoy some spiritual meat to go with the candy, and folks who are still intrigued by people who leave out half the letters when pronouncing their own country’s name.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tressa (Wishful Endings)

    A GIRL'S GUIDE TO THE OUTBACK is a story of finding self worth not in others, but in the God who loves you, and being willing to let go of fear in order to let God work in your life. The setting is rugged and charming, with characters who struggle with self-doubt and loss, but who find friendship, family, and love. Highly recommended to inspirational romance fans! This story was a roller-coaster ride of humor, friendship, struggle, disaster, faith, family, and romance that pulled on all my A GIRL'S GUIDE TO THE OUTBACK is a story of finding self worth not in others, but in the God who loves you, and being willing to let go of fear in order to let God work in your life. The setting is rugged and charming, with characters who struggle with self-doubt and loss, but who find friendship, family, and love. Highly recommended to inspirational romance fans! This story was a roller-coaster ride of humor, friendship, struggle, disaster, faith, family, and romance that pulled on all my emotions. I laughed and cried, smiled and swooned. The characters were all easy to relate to and I loved them so much! I also liked that there were two different romances. Sometimes that can be a problem for me in a story, but it worked for me here. I loved all the banter between the love interests and the ribbing between siblings and friends. These characters, particularly Sam and Kim, have some deep heartache and fears to work through. It really broke my heart watching them deal with their hurts, both from the past and during this story. However, it made the sweet and happy moments that much sweeter. There was one thing that tied things up maybe too perfectly having to do with Kim's mom that could have been left out, but that was a small thing. Otherwise, I enjoyed every minute of this story. In the end, was it what I wished for? With a charming Australian setting for most of the story, wonderful characters, sweet romance, and an emotional journey that will pull on the reader's heart, there's much to love. Grab this one if you're an inspy contemporary romance reader! I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to see what Kate writes next! Content: Clean Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Madison

    Full of Aussie slangs and humour, this delightful book will have you laughing and crying as the characters wade their way through major life decisions and romantic entanglements (and a whole heap of cow muck). Kimberley does everything she can to keep Wildfire, a youth drop-in Center, surviving. She even has big plans for expansion, if she could just get founder and youth pastor Sam on board. But instead, they constantly butt heads. When Sam up and leaves the program after rejecting her Full of Aussie slangs and humour, this delightful book will have you laughing and crying as the characters wade their way through major life decisions and romantic entanglements (and a whole heap of cow muck). Kimberley does everything she can to keep Wildfire, a youth drop-in Center, surviving. She even has big plans for expansion, if she could just get founder and youth pastor Sam on board. But instead, they constantly butt heads. When Sam up and leaves the program after rejecting her expansion plan she has no choice but to follow him to his family dairy farm in rural Australia in the hopes of winning him back. While in Australia, Kim falls in love with Sam’s tenacious sister and the family history that is wrapped up in the farm - everything she’s never had. But as she and Sam form a tenuous truce to start working together, the sparks start to fly as each reveals a hidden side of themselves. But can their relationship last if their plans fall apart? While I enjoyed the story of youth ministry start ups, big dreams and a dairy farm to save, it was the characters that I really fell in love with. Kim is so outwardly strong and confident. But I could relate to the quivering, hurt mess she is inside. She has never felt like she belonged, never felt like she was worth anything, constantly striving to be good enough for her demanding mother. And Sam, through his blinded fear, has contributed to that. Sam, for his part, has been burnt from past failures and from misplaced criticism. His fear drives him, leaving him constantly at odds with Kim’s ambitious plans. While their new plans succeed and fail, it is the mending of the heart that drives this story. Kim and Sam start, not quite as enemies, but with plenty of shared hurt and past inflicted wounds. As they work together on Sam’s family’s farm - and Kim doesn’t hold back, jumping straight into the messy work- they share more of themselves and learn to really listen to each other. Their growing relationship is slow to start and certainly doesn’t jump from enemies to attraction. But once that spark does creep in, whoa boy, talk about chemistry. Alongside Kim and Sam’s stories, is Sam’s sister Jules. She is committed to saving the farm and keeping her ex, vet Mick, at arms length. I’ll just say, there is a fantastic bonus romance to enjoy. There is pretty much every Aussie slang referenced in this book, but it’s not too over the top. And it’s written for a USA audience, with the explanations for the sayings, words or objects woven into the story (and for the record, Vegemite is awesome). A Girl’s Guide To The Outback is a fun and funny romance with plenty of heart. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

    Thank you to Jessica Kate, Thomas Nelson Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. When I received this novel, I didn't know that it was a sequel. It isn't listed as so, therefore, I had no clue. I read this book really with no problem, but after reading the first book, Love and Other Mistakes, I really understand the characters more than I did before and can give a true review on A Girl's Guide to the Outback. The first thing I really enjoyed about this Thank you to Jessica Kate, Thomas Nelson Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. When I received this novel, I didn't know that it was a sequel. It isn't listed as so, therefore, I had no clue. I read this book really with no problem, but after reading the first book, Love and Other Mistakes, I really understand the characters more than I did before and can give a true review on A Girl's Guide to the Outback. The first thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the humor. Even through this is classified as a "Christian romance", I thought there were a lot of good moments that I didn't expect. There are some parts that are genuinely funny, but others that are so awkward that you can't help but giggle at the weirdness of it. The characters were straight up damaged. I loved learning about Sam and Kimberly. I read their stories and I found it really interesting. They developed so well through this novel that by the end, I was really rooting for whatever outcome I was bound to get.  Learning about Australia was such an amazing part of this story. I've never traveled outside of the United States and I feel like I had been to Australia after reading this book. It was very detailed and I got to really see how Australians act and talk. I didn't think it was too over-the-top like some books with a foreign setting. Overall, I think that Jessica Kate did a fantastic job with this one. I loved learning about the characters and how they work, by themselves and together. I am definitely giving her other novels a try!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Scott

    This story was a charming read. What I found myself loving most was the setting. Having never been down under, I've enjoyed learning the culture through this fun book. This novel was well-written - filled with witty banter and engaging characters. I can't wait for more from this talented author.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    This was a very fun read! I really enjoyed it! I dont usually read rom-come, but this one was great! I loved the Australian setting and Australian slang. The characters were very real and relatable. I definitely look forward to reading more of Jessica Kates books! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. This was a very fun read! I really enjoyed it! I don’t usually read rom-come, but this one was great! I loved the Australian setting and Australian slang. The characters were very real and relatable. I definitely look forward to reading more of Jessica Kate’s books! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. How far will a girl go to win back a guy she cant stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attractand that God has a sense of humour. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, hes still I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humour. Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly. When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavour, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church. As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile, Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future? When a super-speed reader doesn't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!! (Ditto the fact that the first day of autumn clocking in at an alarming 101-degree humidex!) This was a delightful clean romance with a great message and zero shades of grey or any other colour to be found. The dynamic between Kim and Sam was enjoyable and the fact that their romance was not too treacly was utterly enjoyable. If you are a reader in search of a genuinely sweet romance with a great underlying message, this book is for you or your patrons as it is likely to be utterly enjoyable to all. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "Social Influencer Millennials" on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🦘🐨🦘🐨🦘 p.s. - I have a kind of visual "defect" in which I can look at a paragraph or a page and see one set of words that then stick in my head and I cannot get out ... what did I see in the above publisher-provided description? *****Sam’s ministry butt***** Sigh .... words escape me. All I could think of was a minister's tushy the whole way through the first chapter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    LOVED! What a fun book! Once again, Jessica Kate has shown to be an unforgettable author entering the rom-com world. Full of her usual "sass", "A Girl's Guide to the Outback" also brings back the thoughtfulness of this author to write characters with such depth and growth. Kimberly Foster and Samuel Payton have each given each other some really hard time over the past three years. But, my favorite part about this book was how the characters started seeing each other through new eyes by doing what LOVED! What a fun book! Once again, Jessica Kate has shown to be an unforgettable author entering the rom-com world. Full of her usual "sass", "A Girl's Guide to the Outback" also brings back the thoughtfulness of this author to write characters with such depth and growth. Kimberly Foster and Samuel Payton have each given each other some really hard time over the past three years. But, my favorite part about this book was how the characters started seeing each other through new eyes by doing what they should always have done -- communicating. It was refreshing to see how deceptiveness was unnecessary to create tension; just human ability to hurt each other was enough. Most beautifully was how they'd also create space for vulnerability, for a chance at something new, despite never have been given much reason before. But it is this small silver lining that especially Kim holds on to. *

  24. 4 out of 5

    KyLee Woodley

    I so enjoyed this sassy telling of an uptight American's journey to Australia where she finds love. Jessica's voice is so fun and distinct. I absolutely loved reading it!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jite

    This is a cute Christian Inspirational romantic comedy about American risk-taking business developer, Kimberly, and risk-averse, Australian youth pastor, Sam, and how these on the surface, polar in personality opposites, are actually pretty similar in their self-doubt and fear and yet have to work together to save Sams sisters farm in Australia. Theres also a secondary second chance romance plot in this featuring Sams sister, Jules, and his best friend, Mick, so you kind of get a two-for-one with This is a cute Christian Inspirational romantic comedy about American risk-taking business developer, Kimberly, and risk-averse, Australian youth pastor, Sam, and how these on the surface, polar in personality opposites, are actually pretty similar in their self-doubt and fear and yet have to work together to save Sam’s sister’s farm in Australia. There’s also a secondary second chance romance plot in this featuring Sam’s sister, Jules, and his best friend, Mick, so you kind of get a two-for-one with this. I think that was both bad and good- good because I don’t think I would have wanted to read a completely separate book for Jules, but bad because it took away a bit from the focus on Sam and Kimberly. There are also multiple perspectives in this book- we get the story from Kimberly’s, Sam’s, Jules’, and Mick’s perspective and for this reason, urgency in one conflict is sometimes lost when the story is taken on by a different character with a different conflict. This relay style of story telling and flashing to other storylines in the middle of someone’s plot and conflict, read more like a tv miniseries, than it did a novel and I could definitely picture this as a film or miniseries. I also think that the relationships as they are written would have transferred better on film than they did reading them- I didn’t feel like there was enough of a “why” for the romantic relationships. Overall, I did enjoy this. It’s a little slow-going in parts because it was a little hard to stay in the story sometimes with all the voice-switching. What I did love were the themes of letting things go and trusting God, and the difference between the identity we give ourselves and who we think we are, versus the identify God gives us and who he says we are. I think the author did an amazing job blending the Christian part of the messages in with the plot really seamlessly so it never came across as separate or forced. For a Christian reader who prefers a completely chaste romance or wants to buy this for someone who does, there is quite a bit of kissing/making out in this. It’s never anything beyond PG or PG-13 but just to keep in mind if this is not something you want to read. This was my first book by this author and I would read her again. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nola

    This is a fun rom-com from Jessica Kate, and follows two of the characters from her earlier novel 'Love and Other Mistakes'. Samuel Payton, the talented youth worker from Wildfire Ministries, has returned to the family farm in Australia to help his sister Jules who is struggling to keep things running on her own since their father's death. If things don't improve, they could lose the farm. Jules convinces Sam to enlist the help of Kimberley, his American work colleague from Wildfire Ministries. This is a fun rom-com from Jessica Kate, and follows two of the characters from her earlier novel 'Love and Other Mistakes'. Samuel Payton, the talented youth worker from Wildfire Ministries, has returned to the family farm in Australia to help his sister Jules who is struggling to keep things running on her own since their father's death. If things don't improve, they could lose the farm. Jules convinces Sam to enlist the help of Kimberley, his American work colleague from Wildfire Ministries. Although Kim and Sam often clashed, Sam can't deny that she is brilliant at business. Meanwhile, things haven't been going well for Wildfire Ministries since Sam left. Kim agrees to come to Australia for four weeks and help Sam, if he agrees to at least come back and help train a suitable replacement so that Wildfire Ministries doesn't close. Though Kim's greater desire is that she'll be able to convince Sam to come back full-time. There is the inevitable clash at first, but this is a rom-com so you know it won't be long before he's noticing how attractive she is and she's noticing those muscles sticking out from behind his blue singlet. However, there are also some deeper issues, as both have to confront their past, their fears, and issues of Christian faith. There's also a nice secondary plotline with Jules and her ex-boyfriend Mick. That man is a saint! The writing is really good, with lots of great lines and fun metaphors and imagery. I also loved the Aussie flavour, but it's written in such a way that those in other countries get the meaning (as seen through American Kim's eyes). It's also a clean romance, though pulses do get racing at various points! Although this is a sequel to 'Love and Other Mistakes', there's enough backstory that it can be read as a stand-alone. It's often tricky for a new author to follow up a debut novel, but Jessica had done a great job. I actually enjoyed this one more than the first. If you like rom-coms with an Aussie twist and some deeper issues of faith, there's a lot to enjoy in this novel. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Last summer, I read Jessica Kate's debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes. While I enjoyed it, I also had mixed feelings about it and didn't think it lived up to the hype. (Some of the fault definitely lies with the publisher, who marketed the book as a romantic comedy when it was definitely much more of a drama.) But I appreciated the author's writing style, so I knew I would give her next book a chance. I am so, so glad I did!!! A Girl's Guide to the Outback is everything I wanted Love and Other Last summer, I read Jessica Kate's debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes. While I enjoyed it, I also had mixed feelings about it and didn't think it lived up to the hype. (Some of the fault definitely lies with the publisher, who marketed the book as a romantic comedy when it was definitely much more of a drama.) But I appreciated the author's writing style, so I knew I would give her next book a chance. I am so, so glad I did!!! A Girl's Guide to the Outback is everything I wanted Love and Other Mistakes to be. It's so funny (and it takes a lot for a book to get me to laugh out loud), it's romantic, and it's just a joy to read! Kimberly and Sam (two minor characters from Love and Other Mistakes) work together at a ministry in the United States but can't stand each other ... at least so it seems. But as they actually get to know each other while trying to save Sam's sister's Australian farm, sparks fly. I loved the whole back-and-forth of their romance, especially following their first kiss, which came about in a really fun sequence! This is a two-for-the-price-of-one romance, as Sam's sister Jules gets her own second chance romance, and it's just as swoonworthy as Kimberly and Sam's romance. Plus, there are some really fun Australian references (I had to Google "chicken salt," and now I'm thinking of splurging on some from Amazon), as well as some not so fun ones that had me thanking the Lord I live nowhere near those ridiculous snakes and spiders! The novel does deal with some serious topics like money issues, absentee parents, and learning when to let go, but it doesn't go nearly as dark and heavy as its predecessor did. This is a fabulous rom-com, and I can't recommend it highly enough! Disclosure of material connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    A Girls Guide to the Outback is a humorous armchair adventure romance that simultaneously initiates the reader (and heroine Kimberly) in Aussie culture AND shares a story of belonging and purpose. Sam and Kimberly also have All. The. Sparks. and chemistry in their love/hate-romantic relationship. It was just so FUN to see their banter and friendship transforming. Jessica Kates sense of humor shines through in her writing. (If you follow her on any of her social media platforms or podcast, you A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is a humorous “armchair adventure” romance that simultaneously initiates the reader (and heroine Kimberly) in Aussie culture AND shares a story of belonging and purpose. Sam and Kimberly also have All. The. Sparks. and chemistry in their love/hate-romantic relationship. It was just so FUN to see their banter and friendship transforming. Jessica Kate’s sense of humor shines through in her writing. (If you follow her on any of her social media platforms or podcast, you will find this to be true!) The witty humor and all the pop culture things are interspersed with a serious message of courage and faith. Courage to take risks in many ways, like whether to be vulnerable to heartache or love or to trust God to carry you through your failures. These lessons come along naturally with the story as Kim, Sam, and Jules work (and play) together, argue once or twenty times, and find out what happiness looks like on the other side of trials. As a reader, I can see Kate’s passion for her culture clearly shining through. Jessica Kate has infused this story with her own personal farm upbringing and Aussie terminology. The charm of rural life — and dedication — it takes to run a farm, are an important part of this story. Australia becomes a setting-as-a-character by the end, making me feel like I’ve visited the outback myself (minus the poisonous snakes and drought conditions, of course). While Jessica Kate is busy writing her next story for me to devour, I’ll be over here trying to find ways to work the term “fair dinkhum” into my everyday vocabulary! Thank you to the publisher for the review copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aimee (Getting Your Read On)

    What a cute book! I loved the setting and I loved getting to know the characters in this book. They had depth and personality. This author is great at creating scenes that I can easily visualize in my mind and I love how it all played out so vividly. Kimberly is really like an onion with those layers being peeled back slowly, one at a time. I loved her drive, her determination, her willingness to work hard and her desire to be a part of something bigger than just herself. Who cannot relate with What a cute book! I loved the setting and I loved getting to know the characters in this book. They had depth and personality. This author is great at creating scenes that I can easily visualize in my mind and I love how it all played out so vividly. Kimberly is really like an onion with those layers being peeled back slowly, one at a time. I loved her drive, her determination, her willingness to work hard and her desire to be a part of something bigger than just herself. Who cannot relate with the desire to belong? It really connected me to Kimberly. When Kimberly arrives in Australia, she begins to become somewhat of a revelation for Sam too. Watching him realize things not only about Kimberly but about his own life and tendencies was very satisfying. And Jules? She was fun. I'm glad she got a happy ending too. 💙 #GirlsGuideTour Content: kissing, mild peril, Christian fiction - I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Deatrick

    I thoroughly expected this book (from just looking at the cover) to be a light rom-com but boy was I wrong! This was definitely a story with depth and a good deal of humor too. Both main characters did a great deal of self-examination and learned a lot about themselves and each other in the process. They went through near tragedies, messy working conditions and family upheaval but that is what made the story richer. And there was also another romance as a bonus. I very much enjoyed this book and I thoroughly expected this book (from just looking at the cover) to be a light rom-com but boy was I wrong! This was definitely a story with depth and a good deal of humor too. Both main characters did a great deal of self-examination and learned a lot about themselves and each other in the process. They went through near tragedies, messy working conditions and family upheaval but that is what made the story richer. And there was also another romance as a bonus. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it! I was given a copy to read by NetGalley (thank you) but the opinions are entirely my own.

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