Cover Image: Meet Me in Bendigo

Meet Me in Bendigo

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Based loosely on the movie You’ve Got Mail, Meet Me in Bendigo is a gorgeous Australian rural romance. I loved the “mouse that roared” battle between Annalisa Cappelli with her tiny, struggling small town hardware store and Carpenters’ Warehouse, the hardware superstore that opened nearby. 
Annalisa is a terrific character, who honours her forefathers, cares for her community and works herself to the bone to keep the store afloat. I loved that she is also creative as demonstrated by the intricate dollhouses she constructs. 
Ed Carpenter is pretty fabulous too. He’s a tender hearted man and I thought the inner conflict he feels over his two personas, Ed and GardenerGuy94, was well written. I struggled a little with his delay in revealing himself but his explanation was plausible so I forgave him. 
This story has some fantastic secondary characters too in the shape of the old guys, particularly Joe, and Annalisa’s Nonna. It’s obvious that the characters drive the story but there is also plenty of witty dialogue and a nice touch of angst. The plot is well structured and I thought that overall this was  charming read.
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Looking for a feel good read? Think an Aussie version of You’ve Got Mail might fit the bill? Then look no further than, Meet Me In Bendigo by Eva Scott. This is such a fun, light rom-com that will have you grinning from ear to ear as you follow along with Annalisa and Ed’s journey. Yes, you know how it ends but it is that journey that matters as you wait with baited breath to see how the truth will be revealed. 

‘Ed didn’t know how he was going to walk the tightrope between what he believed in and what he had to do, but he was willing to try. He had to get back to the man he used to be. Even if that meant bending a few rules.’

Another factor I really loved about this book was the secondary characters and small town vibe. I simply adored old Joe and his mates (they almost steal the show) with their witty barbs and comments. Her best friend Mel is also another winner. There are events throughout (apart from the obvious will they, won’t they) that made me smile - cleaning up after the kids party, the trip to protest in the minibus and the picnics in the field of flowers. 

For over a hundred years Cappellis had kept this store going in one form or another. They’d faced all sorts of hardships, from rebellion on the goldfields to war and recession. What advice would they give her? What would they make of the coronavirus and online shopping? Surely they’d have some useful wisdom to impart?’

The above events brought light to the story that was in fact filled with history past and present in the making. The inclusion of the newspaper articles spread throughout were an added bonus and really gave depth to both the story of the family and the history of the store. In the present, the impact of the current pandemic is delicately woven throughout and without being a focus, assists in providing the light and shade of the tale. 

‘I guess I miss me,’ he said so softly that Annalisa wasn’t sure she’d heard him correctly. ‘You miss you?’ ‘I feel a very long way from who I was before the pandemic started.’

I was totally in the mood for this Australian twist on the classic tale/movie of enemies to lovers. So if a light, fun filled romcom set in a rural Aussie town telling the tale of following your heart, being brave and moving on is what you are after, look no further.

‘I spent far too many years in the service of other people’s dreams. I don’t want you to end up the same way. Live for yourself for a change.’








This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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For a book that focuses its hero’s failed business issues on the Covid pandemic and has the heroine partially blame her store’s troubles on it, no one appears to socially distance, there’s no mention of masks, or in fact any other lockdowns that I know for a fact that Victoria, Melbourne in particular, was subjected to. What the hell?? The clueless heroine also seems to be basing her hopes to save the store more on luck and a miracle than having any kind of business plan. Her nonna appears to be the only one who’s looked at the accounting figures for the past two years yet didn’t mention anything to her granddaughter. Frankly, I’m amazed the family store didn’t close already. While I like the beta hero, he’s just a bit too wimpy, frankly, and is in serious need of a backbone. This story and it’s characters just aren’t holding my attention or interest. DNF
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Eva Scott has done it again, she has written a story that was filled with adorable characters that captured my heart. I fell in love with her work last year after reading Lonely in Longreach and when I saw this one being described as rural Australia meets You've Got Mail I was in no doubt that I wanted to read it as I was a massive fan of that movie!!

Meet Me in Bendigo was such a feel good read, a story that will definitely have you falling in love with all the characters and rooting for them. 

Annalisa Cappelli is a small-town sweetheart who returned to Wongilly to take over her family's hardware shop, Ed Carpenter is involved with opening Carpenter's Warehouse hardware superstore in the district.

Annalisa doesn’t want to let two hundred years of history go down the drain, so she wants to fight to keep her family's legacy alive. Helping her along the way is GardenerGuy94 who she’s struck up an online relationship with!

I loved how Annalisa first meets Ed for the first time, before she gets to know who he really is... I also adored the old guys who’d hang out in the hardware store!

This is the first novel I have read that has references to the pandemic, I am sure it’s bound to crop up in more as it’s something that isn’t going away anytime soon.
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This was an interesting, slow burn romance between two characters who are seemingly on opposite sides.

Annalisa meets GardenerGuy94 online in a community forum debating the construction of a hardware superstore opening in the region that will put Annalisa's family hardware store out of business. In this anonymous friend, she finds a companion who shares her values of family, hardwork and running a small business. Then she meets Ed Carpenter, and he is the complete opposite of GardenerGuy94 - despite being sexy as hell, he's one of the partner's in Carpenter's Warehouse and trying to get her to sell her generations-old family business.

There are plenty of things I loved about this book, both its cast of characters and its setting. Set in a post-COVID world, all the characters reeling from the implications of long-term lockdowns. Ed Carpenter's small landscaping business collapsed forcing him to return to work with his half-siblings and Annalisa's trying to keep the family hardware story afloat. It felt very real in the current climate, as both of them are trying to make sense of a world that's changed and goals that haven't gone to plan.

Aside from Annalisa and Ed, there's a host of side characters who are delightful, mostly the residents of Wongilly (and Annalisa's grandmother). Annalisa has a group of older gentleman - friends of her grandfather - who regularly come and take up residence inside the hardware store and play cards and keep her company. They're so much a part of her life that when her new plan for the store begins to emerge, she's able to find a place for them there. Meanwhile, her grandmother provides her with guidance and a link to her family's history within the town.

I have to admit that I was not a huge fan of the cat-fishing plot, which would have been more acceptable if Ed had come clean early on that he knew Annalisa was the woman he was talking to online as GardenerGuy94. He knows for the majority of the book, which makes it kind of weird. I think Annalisa's reluctance is entirely understandable in this case, and Ed does have a lot of work to do to make it up to her.

Otherwise, it was a perfectly enjoyable read.
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What a great story this one is, I loved meeting Annalisa and Ed and thoroughly enjoying their journey to a gorgeous HEA one that is fraught with ups and downs and friends and families helping and maybe not helping along the way, filled with witty banter this one is sure to keep you turning the pages.

Annalisa Cappelli arrived back in her small home town on Wongilly with a broken heart but ready to look to the future and run the family hardware business that was started over one hundred and sixty years ago. Things have been hard with the pandemic and now a huge new hardware warehouse, Carpenters is opening spelling doom but rest assured Annalisa is not going to let her ancestors down without a fight.

Annalisa has happily made friends with someone online GardenerGuy94 and he is always there to boost her morale and help with ideas, he is just what she needs in these trying times, then enter Ed Carpenter the man is truly handsome, sexy as but he is the enemy and here for one reason and that is to destroy Cappelli’s. Her emotions are all over the place.

Ed has arrived in Wongilly to make an offer for a payout to the Cappelli family never expecting to find that the owner is none other than the woman he has built up a friendship with online and that his feelings for her would hit him so hard. Ed has had a few ups and downs in his life and working for the family is not a happy place to be, helping Annalisa is what he wants more than ever.

I loved this story so much, it is filled with emotions, it is witty, Ed has his work cut out for him to win Annalisa’s heart in this one, and can he combine both men? He is caring, strong and loving and Annalisa is such a beautiful strong person filled with love for so many people she wants so hard to not be the one to let Cappelli’s down. This is a roller coaster ride that had me cheering them on, smiling, laughing and teary at times, beautifully written another winner and I have to say the old guys Jo, Dave and Terry are the best I loved them and Nonna all fabulous characters that added so much to this fabulous, moving and witty story that I highly recommend, it is a must read.

My thanks to Harlequin AU for my copy to read and review.
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Regional Victoria meets You’ve Got Mail in this sweet romance about legacy and dreams.

Annalisa Cappelli has big shoes to fill running her family’s hardware store, which has been a staple in the small regional town of Wongilly for over 150 years. Her family’s legacy weighs even heavier on her in the wake of the global pandemic and a continuing decrease in sales. To make matters worse, a new hardware superstore, Carpenter’s Warehouse, is set to open in the district, which will effectively drive her out of business. The one positive in her life is her online relationship with GardenGuy94, who is the first guy she’s been interested in since the death of her boyfriend. What she doesn’t realise is that GardenGuy94 is Ed Carpenter, one of the part-owners of Carpenter’s Warehouse. Working at his family’s company after losing his own business during the pandemic, Ed would rather be elsewhere pursuing his dreams. So when he has the chance to oversee the final stages of the new store, he jumps at the chance at being able to meet up with GoldfieldsGirl. What he wasn’t anticipating was GoldfieldsGirl actually being Annalisa, the woman who he’s meant to be offering a payout to. Ed knows who Annalisa is, but she has no idea that her enemy is the guy she’s slowly been falling for online. There’s a connection both online and physically, but Ed struggles to reveal the truth when he could lose her on both fronts.

An enemies-to-lovers, online relationship, small-town romance set in Australia, inspired by an iconic 90s rom-com? Yep, definitely the makings of a super enjoyable read! This book had my name written all over it, and it certainly lived up to and exceeded expectations, delivering everything I was looking for and then some. Small-town romances are some of my favourite romances, and in particular I loved that it was Australian – not only do I really need to read more books set in Australia, but the setting of Wongilly was one I could so easily picture having grown up in a small regional community myself.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters, from the old codgers who played cards in the hardware store, to Annalisa’s Nonna and her bestie Mel, and of course Annalisa and Ed themselves. They’re all characters I could so easily imagine and see in my own community, and they were also characters I definitely wanted to know more about, especially the old guys – they all had an interesting story to tell and it would be interesting to flesh out the world of Wongilly even more. Annalisa and Ed’s relationship was packed with all the emotions and they definitely hit me in the feels, both the good and the bad, throughout the course of the story.

One of the things I really enjoyed were the newspaper articles scattered throughout which told the history of the Cappelli family, and the highs and lows they experienced over the years. It made the story feel even more real, like the town of Wongilly actually existed and the Cappelli family were real people. Small towns have such a rich history, and as someone who is both passionate about history and from a small town, I really connected with Eva weaving this into the story.

I read this book in a day, which is a pretty good indication of how much I enjoyed it. It ticked all the boxes for a romance read, so if you’re a fan of Aussie romances, this is definitely a book to add to your TBR as soon as possible.
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This is a lovely rural romance with You'Ve Got Mail vibes. The good thing is that I wasn't thinking at all of the movie while reading the book - there was more than enough in the book to keep my attention.

Perhaps a slow burn for me, it did take me a while to fully appreciate the two main characters, but by the end I especially loved Ed! I also loved Annalisa's 'extended family' and there was one special touch — with the newspaper clippings — that I really enjoyed, bringing both the past, present and future together. 

Thank you Eva Scott, HarperCollins and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

#MeetMeinBendigo #NetGalley
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Eva Scott speaks to my 90s rom-com, Tom and Meg loving heart with Meet Me In Bendigo.

You've Got Mail meets country Australia as Annalisa and Ed find love online, only to realise that they are one and the same.

I love the old guys who hang around the store and Annalisa's nonna. I adore Annalisa's best friend, I love the small town vibe - I did the tree change to the country a while ago and boy, is it a case of you can't do anything without everyone knowing lolol

I did feel a few times that the dialogue was a direct lift from You've Got Mail, or similar enough that it seemed like it, but I may be wrong and maybe nobody else thinks this way.

I will admit to getting a little teary along with Annalisa a couple of times - I am not afraid to say I am a big ol sook at times hahah.

I really enjoyed Meet Me In Bendigo, and am wondering what we will get next
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DNF’d at 45%. I usually enjoy rural romance but this story was just so frustrating and annoying. My main issue was with the way the characters reacted to circumstances and each other in context - they just didn’t make any sense. It’s like the author wrote the MCs one way and then decided to just force them to act in ways completely against their personalities for the sake of shoehorning the plot. The female MC was so totally naive and clueless as to lose all my respect (seriously, what sort of shop owner is so totally blind as to not know when they’re going under and not already have a plan? Where’s the chat with the bank?) and the male MC was a decent bloke in his head but acted like a tool. 
In the end I just couldn’t continue wasting my time.
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This book has a fantastic storyline-after great emotional loss, Annalisa must decide whether to continue struggling with her family’s legacy or follow her own dreams. Ed is over feeling like a failure and wants to pursue his own aspirations. 
I enjoyed the interaction between Ed and Annalisa, he’s a part of the family who are opening a superstore in direct competition with hers!
GoodfieldsGirl and GardenerGuy94 find strength in each other online, will love flow over into real life, is it time to take a chance on what feels like a new beginning and start anew?
A tender warm read, you’ll be feeling the hope and holding your breath for a happy ending!
Thank you Eva Scott, the Publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this wonderful book!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Annalisa Cappelli is the last one standing - she runs the small hardware store that her family opened during the 19th century. But the arrival of a Carpenter's Warehouse, a chain hardware store, spells disaster. Why does Ed Carpenter, whose family is responsible, have to be so good looking? If only he could be more like GardenerGuy94, her online friend. Perhaps they're more alike than she realises...

Well, this book was always going to have a tough customer in me - I absolutely love You've Got Mail. But you know what? I enjoyed most of it. I'm so relieved to find a romance book that doesn't ignore or dance around the pandemic, but incorporates it into the storyline. Annalisa and Ed were great - but overshadowed by the delightful old guys and Annalisa's nonna.

Now. The big problem. Some lines of dialogue seemed to be copied and pasted straight from You've Got Mail. Mostly tweaked, occasionally verbatim. This was really off-putting to me. If I wanted to experience those scenes again, I could just watch the movie.

Meet Me in Bendigo shines the most when it stands on its own.
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