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Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill

Girl in the Hard Hat (edition 2013)

by Loretta Hill

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154647,891 (4.5)1
Title:Girl in the Hard Hat
Authors:Loretta Hill
Info:Random House Aus (2013), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Australian author

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The Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill



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Loved it - full review to follow in a day or so
  sally906 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Last year, my mother read a book called The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots by Loretta Hill and strongly suggested I read it. Like most kids, I don’t always listen to my mother and tucked it away for later. Fast forward to early January 2013, when I told my mum I was reading this book by the same author, she couldn’t wait to: a) read my copy and b) see what I thought. So Mum, I loved this book and I must read the other book soon!

Western Australia has been having a mining boom for several years now, and it’s pleasing to see a book set in amongst the camps and construction work. Wendy is Perth raised, but worked as a safety officer on various mining sites. After finding out incidentally that her father may not be her biological dad, she follows a path to bring her to her real father. She ends up working on a wharf construction in W.A.’s Pilbara, near Cape Lambert (a real place, all of towns Hill mentions – Karratha, Wickham, Cossack, Roebourne – are all towns of the Pilbara region). Wendy is met with a certain degree of suspicion at the camp – she’s wearing the enemy’s uniform and she wants to change things to make them slower (but safer). She is met with wariness by the other few female employees (Lena, an engineer, is the main character from The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots) and given a broken down donga without air conditioning (a crime in summer!). Gradually, Wendy makes friends with Lena, Sharon and Cobber and catches the eye of Gavin. In the midst of their wary circling of each other, Gavin and Wendy have a lot of drama to deal with – fights, safety mishaps, weather and a mysterious man.

This book is more than a romance – in fact, romance takes a back seat most of the time. It’s a book describing what is in a way daily life for Australians working ‘up north’. It’s a different portrayal of ‘FIFOs’ (fly in, fly out workers) than what is seen in the media – men behaving badly with a lot of cash to splash. This book shows how the focus is on work – and sometimes it can be dangerous. I liked also how Hill brought the weather into it, as summer can bring all sorts of nasty events with it. It also explains why there is so much focus on buildings being strong enough (or in the case of Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha, half underground) to withstand strong winds and rain.

Wendy is a likeable character, despite her job requiring her to change work practices for the men. She is strong enough to withstand to hostile atmosphere, yet is still feminine. The subplot of finding her father doesn’t overtake the novel and take away perspective from the setting. Gavin is a good hero, nice but still with his faults. His calm demeanour is in contrast to some of the other male characters, such as Carl (favourite word unprintable), Fish (always looking to skive off to go fishing) and Cobber (gentle giant who loves his food).

The second half of this novel was edge of your seat drama – I literally had sit down and finish it straightaway. One of the pairings was a little surprising, so it will be interesting to see if another girl returns to the Pilbara for a sequel.

I loved this book and thought it was a well written tribute to a part of Australia I’m pretty familiar with. I thought Hill got it down pat – the red dirt, the heat, the seafood. The safety and machinery parts were clearly explained and didn’t take up too much detail. It’s very Aussie and a lot of fun with some funny moments. Definitely worth reading!

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Jan 28, 2013 |
This book starts very similarly to her first book and this didn't thrill me at all. Then as you get into the story it changes and the characters become a familiar family. This is a little more than a girlie romance with a bit of a twist. The description of the weather events are excellent and very true. A great north west Australian story, that is set in the iron ore mine area. ( )
  cookiemo | Jan 17, 2013 |
In Loretta Hill's debut novel, The Girl in Steel Capped Boots, love for Lena and Dan was discovered in the most unlikely of places, amongst the red dust of a mining camp in the Pilbara. In The Girl in the Hard Hat, Loretta Hill returns to the iron ore operation on the coast of Western Australia as Wendy Hopkins arrives for her first day as a Saftey Officer at TCN.

After a two year sabbatical Wendy is eager to return to work but on arrival finds there is no job for her, despite the promises made by her Uncle Mike. Wendy is crushed, she needs to stay in the area to search for the biological father she has only just learnt exists, so when she is instead offered an assistant's position at Barnes Inc she is grateful for the arrangement. Wendy's first mistake is turning up at the camp wearing TCN's uniform, starting a rumour that she is a spy for the client. Her second is annoying the camp clerk who assigns her a donga with a broken air conditioner unit and damaged furniture. Her third is informing Carl that the company's Safety Officer is an alcoholic resulting in the man being unceremoniously fired ad she being promoted to his position. They aren't the only mistakes Wendy makes but perhaps falling for the camp womaniser, Gavin Jones, will be her fourth and final one.

I was happy to return to Cape Lambert and re discover the characters I had grown familiar with in The Girl in the Steel-Capped Boots. Lena, Dan, Carl and Sharon all have a role in the story, as do Fish, Leg and Radar. But it is Gavin, the charming, cheeky, womaniser, and Mike, the misogynst bully, who have the most significant roles in The Girl in The Hard Hat.
Gavin Jones turns out to be an alias, for he hides a secret that prevents him from revealing his real identity. Keeping in character he makes a move on Wendy and is rebuffed but that suits Gavin just fine, he isn't interested in getting involved and Wendy doesn't strike him as the casual type. Yet he can't seem to get that single impulsive kiss out of his head, or ignore the sizzle of attraction between himself and the hot blonde.

Mike is also hiding a secret from Wendy, one that will shock her to her core when he finally confesses.

I found it took me a little while to warm to Wendy, she seemed a little cold and officious initially. Eventually we learn that her guarded behaviour disguises her obsession with finding her father and Wendy's concerns about the safety of the company stem from her failure to prevent a tragic accident at her last job. As she begins to settle into Barnes Inc she recovers some of her equilibrium, befriending her office mate, Chub, as well as Lena and Sharon and daring to admit her attraction to to Gavin, if only to herself.

The romance that develops between Wendy and Gavin burns slowly building sexual tension with smouldering glances and casual touches. There is a little more drama and suspense in The Girl in The Hard Hat- an accident on the wharf, a surprise inspection and a killer stalking the town as a category five cyclone hits the camp head on.

You don't need to have read The Girl in the Steel-Capped Boots to enjoy this novel but I recommend that you do. Well written, witty and entertaining, The Girl in The Hard Hat is an engaging contemporary romance in an unique Australian setting that I can't wait to visit again. ( )
  shelleyraec | Jan 10, 2013 |
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From the author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes another funny and deliciously romantic tale of a woman in a man's world. Wendy Hopkins arrives in the Pilbara to search for the father who abandoned her at birth. Getting mixed up in construction site politics at the Iron Ore wharf just out of town was not high on her 'to do' list. But when she takes a job as their new Safety Manager she becomes the most hated person in the area. Nicknamed 'The Sergeant', she is the butt of every joke and the prime target of notorious womanizer, Gavin Jones. Giving up is not an option, though. For, as it turns out, only Wendy can save these workers from the coming storm, find a man who wants to stay buried and ...put a bad boy firmly in his place.… (more)

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