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Pages: 151
Goes Well With: A cup of coffee and a sandwich (Vegemite, if you’ve got it)

When Tully Chambers first met her new neighbor, Jake Holden, they didn’t exactly get off to the best start. First, after a drunken night out, he mistook her apartment for his own—convincing her that someone was trying to break into her home and forcing her to fight back. Then a late night of partying with his friends drove her to fight back once again. But, from the moment they met, Jake was intrigued by his beautiful but mysterious neighbor.

Though a relationship is the last thing Tully needs right now, she can’t stop thinking about her new neighbor, either. The tough retired soldier is absolutely infuriating, but there’s something about him that she can’t seem to resist.

As the two get closer, both begin to show the cracks in their tough exterior. Jake opens up about his military experiences, and, after some prodding, Tully finally opens up about who she really is—and the danger she’s in. Although the overprotective soldier in Jake wants to guard her and keep her safe, Tully angrily resists his help—until she realizes just how much she needs it.

At 151 pages in length, Karlene Blakemore-Mowle’s Fallout will require more than just a single lunch break—but this Australian romantic thriller will keep you in suspense from one lunch break till the next.

Thanks to the extra length, there’s more time to build a story, as opposed to developing a quick romantic connection between two clichéd characters, throwing in a minimal amount of tension, and wrapping everything up in a neat little package—all in the matter of a few short pages. Instead, Fallout has more tension and more suspense than the average short romance—and though you might suspect the direction it’s heading, it’ll hold your interest anyway.

Unfortunately, though, the story is still a bit too simple, too expected. The characters aren’t developed as well as they could be (especially given the book’s length)—and they sometimes come off as clichés (he’s a tough alpha male with a secret soft side, and she’s stubborn and untrusting). The bad guys, especially, feel like cheesy stereotypes—and their dialogue is often awkward and unnatural.

Fallout certainly isn’t without its flaws. But while the story is a bit too formulaic and predictable, it’s still interesting, too. It’s suspenseful—and sometimes even steamy—yet it’s still light and undemanding enough to make it a decent lunchtime read.

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