Welcome to the Girl in the Hard Hat blog tour! A bunch of us are reviewing this book in turn, in conjunction with Random House. I received a digital download of this book for free, and was not paid to give this review. Random House has made it clear that they are not asking for us to ‘talk up’ the book, but rather, would prefer our honest opinions on this book by Loretta Hill.
This book is the sequel to The Girl in the Steel-Capped Boots. Unfortunately, I haven’t read the first book, but would like to. The heroine of this novel is Wendy. She’s on a search to find out who her father is and meet him. She travels to the Pilbarra to work at an iron ore wharf. Her uncle tries to line up a job for her at the company, TCM, which she quickly works out is not going to happen, after she arrives there for her first day of work, in the TCM uniform. She is lucky enough to snag a safety officer job at Barnes Inc instead.
She shows up at Barnes Inc, ready for work, but makes the mistake of wearing the TCM uniform. She is instantly hated by the majority of the workers, as they don’t trust her; they believe she is a spy for TCM. She’s initially employed to assist the current safety manager, but once everyone works out that she plans to actually do her job and make relevant changes, she’s disliked even more. When she gets the original safety manager sacked, she’s pretty much demonised for a while by the workers.
Not only does Wendy have to get the site safe for current work, she also has to prepare the place for the upcoming cyclone season. All with little cooperation from those on site. Because she takes her job seriously and is in a position of authority, she gets a reputation of being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud and not knowing how to have a good time.
Now, I was not sure if I’d be particularly interested in a book about working on an iron ore wharf, but of course, I gave it a go. Loretta managed to make this subject really interesting. It wasn’t long before I became heavily invested in the story and needed to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.
Wendy has an admirer called Gavin, and there’s a lot of tension there. He makes no secret of his attraction to her, but has his own obstacles that see him trying to avoid becoming too close with Wendy. Wendy is attracted to him too, but is desperately trying to remain professional and get taken seriously by her workers.
Unfortunately, very few people take her safety concerns seriously at first, and resent the changes she makes to the workplace. They’re also highly resistant. It takes series of dangerous events for workers to slowly begin to respect Wendy. She gains respect in spades at these times, because of her ability to keep a clear head under the pressure.
Gavin gives her some suggestions on how she can relate to the men on the team better, and to her credit, Wendy tries his ideas and slowly starts to make some progress. I enjoyed watching the change between Wendy taking on a seemingly impossible task, to her winning the workers over. She had a few failures along the way, but rose to the occassion when it was needed.
I found reading it a little nerve-wracking as I went on, because I just knew that we’d come to a point in the story when the cyclone would hit. I found Loretta did a great job of building suspense and anticipation, but I would’ve liked to have seen some stronger twists. At one point in the story, Gavin and us readers discover who Wendy’s father is long before Wendy does. It was surprising, but possibly not written as gut-wrenchingly as it could’ve been. I didn’t feel as though the news was as earth-shattering to the reader nor Wendy as I was expecting.
Mostly, I enjoyed this book. I liked learning about the Pilbara, and even the iron ore wharf! Anyone who can make that interesting to me is doing something right. I liked the message of not giving up and not relinquishing your integrity just to be liked. I found it inspiring how she won everyone over in the end with her good work ethic and compassionate nature.
I give The Girl in the Hard Hat three out of five stars. Thoroughly enjoyed it.