‘Elizabeth’, by Estelle Pettersen: A Review


It’s 1996 and Elizabeth has to choose: work for six months at a country newspaper, Maranoa Herald, or lose her job. Convincing herself this is just another stepping stone, Elizabeth leaves the city and her fiancé, lawyer Paul Ricci, for a small town in rural Australia. Despite the scorching heat and pests, Bandara holds a charm of its own—Keith Starling, a handsome farmer with sky-blue eyes and a spellbinding smile.


Estelle Pettersen has long been a favorite of writer of mine, beginning with her novel Lessons on Seduction

Now, there’s Elizabeth.

What fascinates me about Elizabeth is how different it feels from Lessons on Seduction. Estelle’s publicly-available bios reveal her to be happily married, and a devoted family woman. Thus, Lessons on Seduction felt surreal, dream-like. It read like what it probably is: fantasy. It’s kind of like when I write about murder and mayhem. It reads like fantasy, because, well … I’ve never actually killed anyone!

Elizabeth, on the other hand, feels real. It reads like Estelle was writing from a place of experience. I loved the title heroine! She’s smart and assertive, but not so assertive that she crosses the line into being obnoxious. There is a fine line between strong and being a china-shop bull, and Elizabeth straddles it nicely.

Keith was an interesting hero. He’s basically small-town royalty, a big fish in a small pond. Often such men are insufferable, but it’s clear that Keith cares deeply for his community, and wants the best for it.

The relationship dynamic was fascinating. Elizabeth—a journalist from Brisbane, Australia—is forced by her editor to move to the small town of Bandara. Adjusting to small-town life after having lived in a big city is a reality that many of us have lived, myself included. So not only does Elizabeth have to adjust to small-town life, she has to come to grips with falling for a man who is absolutely enamored with said small town.

All I can say about the ending is that I love how it skips forward in time. Romances, by definition, always have a ‘happily ever after’ ending. But this one is more realistic than most, and that’s all I’ll say.

Spoilers, you know?

So if you’re looking for a short, fairly sweet romance read …

Elizabeth is the book for you!


The novella Elizabeth is very close to my heart because it is about a city journalist moving to a small town in rural Australia. She deals with lifestyle differences, prejudices, and spiders, snakes, and other animals at the start. However, she also learns to adapt, make friends, and…fall in love with someone who loves and cares for her very much.

Set in the fictional town of Bandara in western Queensland in 1996-1997, the story focuses on a love triangle between Elizabeth, hotshot city lawyer Paul Ricci, and gorgeous farmer Keith Starling. Elizabeth must choose between Paul and Keith, but she doesn’t see things so clearly until a few hidden truths start to pop out in the novella.

The story is fun, light, and flirty – it’s the prequel to the Starling Sisters series, a trilogy coming soon.

Much of the novella’s setting is based on a country town I lived in when I was a journalist for a rural newspaper. A few elements in the story are based on real memories , including stumbling around in the cattle saleyards, interviewing the football team (and not reading their names aloud after), and living in an apartment where there were King Brown snakes in the backyard and poorly designed doors.

Writing Elizabeth brought light into my world, as it was written during the COVID times when I was unable to travel back to Australia. I’m an Aussie married to a Norwegian, so I live in Norway these days.I hope that romance readers wanting to know a bit about rural Australia will find the story entertaining.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ESTELLE, READ HER INTERVIEW HERE: https://virginiawallace.com/2021/03/09/meet-estelle-pettersen/

STALK ESTELLE (AND BUY HER BOOKS) HERE!!! https://linktr.ee/estellepettersen

THANK you, Estelle, for appearing here today! Best of luck to you in the future!

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