Author: Karly Lane
Karly Lane has done it again, I started reading Second Chance Town yesterday when I went to pick the kids up from school. I managed a couple of chapters before the hordes descended on the car and then the Friday routine set in to get us out to football. We got home and everyone went to bed and the house was quiet and peaceful so it was the perfect time to read. Every time I looked at the clock I thought I really should go to bed, and then I told myself just one more chapter.
At 3am I decided that was it, I had to go to bed. The alarm goes off at 7 on Saturday for swimming so if I was going to sleep at all now was the time. I dug deep and found the willpower to put it down with about 50 pages to go, as soon as I got home today I curled up to get back into it; I couldn’t stay away any longer.
Bundah, the small fictional NSW town, is dying; employment opportunities are few and many of the younger generation are fleeing to the city for jobs and uni. A local business owner and real estate agent has been hatching schemes to attract people to their town and turn the slump around, the plans have never made it past the community but this latest one has merit and it might just work.
Luring new business to town with generous incentives sees an influx of people, and not all of them are welcomed with open arms. The more people arrive the more the community unrest escalates. What seemed like a good idea now looks like it may start to affect the long standing businesses of the town, vandalism picks up and then the drug problem escalates.
Could it be coincidence that the drug problem escalates with the influx of new people to town?
One of the new people in town is Hugh Thompson, he bought the top pub and is renovating with plans to cater to bike enthusiasts. Small town gossip immediately takes that and imagines bikie brawls and unsavoury characters invading their town at all hours, what Hugh envisages is the weekend bike enthusiasts who love a ride through the mountains or along the freeway and want a comfortable place to spend the evening with a nice meal and a bottle of wine.
Hugh is in Bundah for a fresh start and a new life but they aren’t necessarily easy to come by, especially when you want to keep a low profile and leave the past behind you. There are hints from early on that there’s more to Hugh than meets the eye and he is distancing himself from a past he’d rather forget.
Lucy Parker is an overprotective single mother with a teenaged daughter and long time resident of Bundah. Lucy was only a teen herself when her daughter Belle was born and things haven’t always been easy, she has worked hard to do the best she can for Belle and wants to protect her from making the mistakes she did. Belle accuses her of not being able to remember being a teenager and not allowing her to have any fun but I think it’s more that Lucy remembers all too well and wants to avoid Belle being in the same predicament. Teenage parties in the small town of Bundah often take place outside of town on property with no adult supervision, older guys and lots of alcohol – a recipe for disaster.
Second Chance Town is an engaging and captivating read that focuses on the plight of small towns, when the employment opportunities dry up the population starts to shrink and it’s difficult for businesses to stay afloat, so what happens when new businesses come in that are in direct competition to the ones already there? It can create tension when the long time residents are resistant to change.
I love the characters that Lane has brought into town. They aren’t the type of characters you would expect to find in a small town and they stand out.
The push for new businesses is about offering a revitalisation to the town of Bundah but it also offers a fresh start for the business owners joining the community.
Unfortunately it all comes at the same time as a run of overdoses which does anything but offer the teens a second chance. Experimenting with drugs has always been an issue with teens but the current spate means that harder drugs are making their way into the small town and no-one is happy about it. Not wanting to believe that this could be a member of their community they have known for years the fingers get pointed straight at the newcomers, though no specific allegations are made.
Lucy has been on her own most of her adult life and she’s happy with that; until the sexy new publican arrives in town to infuriate her at every meeting and wake her long slumbering libido. The chemistry between the two is palpable and realistic, they are well developed characters who have a strong attraction and many reasons to run from each other. I enjoyed the way Lane wrote their storyline, even when it broke my heart.
Second Chance Town explores teen drug use and shady pasts as well as a new picture of bike enthusiasts. You never hear much about the groups of riders who want to head out and explore the countryside on a motorcycle, you only hear about their outlaw counterparts and the trouble they leave in their wake. Second Chance Town is a refreshing look at a different type of motorcyclists.
Lane has expertly woven elements of romance and suspense with the terror of navigating a rebellious teen through a period that could so easily see them go off the rails, new life for small country towns and both extremes of motorbike enthusiasts.
A captivating read that kept me awake long past bedtime. Thank you Karly Lane and Allen & Unwin for another amazing read.
Second Chance Town is book #26 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.