Tag Archives: #ruralromance

Review: Evergreen Falls: A Novel

evergreen fallsEvergreen Falls: A Novel by Kimberley Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

The Blue Mountains hold a special place in my heart. Asides for having been there numerous times in my teens for youth Christian camps, it is also where I met my husband (during one of these camps). No, it wasn’t insta love… in fact, we barely spoke and only really got to know each other afterwards. Nevertheless, this is one reason why I was drawn to this novel: the setting.

There were a few things which fascinated me in the novel: the era (the 1920s always drew me in), the area (I have visions of going on a bushwalk and seeing the falls), and the image of exploring an old ruin of a hotel. Evergreen Falls was a fairly easygoing read –an easy slow dip into another world for a leisurely stroll through other lives and to emerge, contented with life.

Neither of the two main protagonists really drew me, unfortunately, I was actually more drawn to (& very curious) about other minor characters (Lauren’s brother, Adam, and Flora, Violet’s love-interest’s sister). Violet I found to be to be frustratingly blind, sometimes due to naivety but sometimes, stubbornly and foolishly so! I also found that I just can’t make myself believe the insta-love moment she had with Sam. There were other insta-love moments I believe in but for some reason, this moment between Violet and Sam just didn’t register in the ‘believable’ spectrum. It may be that I’ve already guessed what Sam’s issue is right from the very beginning so everything he did / said is coloured by doubt on my part. Plus, reading it from Violet’s perspective (see blindness above), I was distrustful of her truth.

Lauren posed an interesting character at the beginning because of her background / family. And due to this background, she’s a bit hot and cold for me. Sometimes, she just plunges into a situation while other times, she’s so timid, you just wonder at it. Overall, Lauren is an average likeable character who sometimes amuses the reader by her actions.

Evergreen Falls is a story of courage –of braving oneself in stepping out of the mould as made by your family. There wasn’t much in the way of twists and the ‘tragic’ circumstance wasn’t really that bad but I was happy that the ending was not depressing.

Thanks to Touchstone via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

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Review: Season of Shadow and Light

seasonSeason of Shadow and Light by Jenn J. McLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected Proof courtesy of publisher (in conjunction with blog tour ~check out my stop tomorrow with author’s guest post)

This is my first Jenn J. McLeod and I was a little intimidated with the size (almost 500 pages!) after finishing 2 books which were slow to pick up. However, I was hooked by Season of Shadow and Light by page 3 and I, seriously, said out loud, “thank God!” I don’t know if anyone else found this but I was intrigue by the randomly-kinda-creepy incident; it probably had something to do with the reference to ‘long lost love’. Yep, I’m another sappy reader 😉

Season of Shadow and Light is more than just romantic love. It is also a tale of familial love; of loving someone so much that you would do everything to protect them. But what does protecting them mean? Is it best to keep a secret as such? Is it best to manoeuver for a ‘normal’ family life to ensure the least disruption all around?

Paige has had a pretty tough time in the last 2 years; recovering from a stroke and a miscarriage which basically terminated her career, she’s no longer sure of her identity. There seems to be a conspiracy that drove Paige to go on a holiday in a small-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town but which found her in woop woop town instead. The most unlikely circumstance found Paige with her daughter, Matilda, and Nana Alice living at a place where the long-kept secret is threatened to unravel. You really can’t keep much of a secret in a small town.

Aiden was firstly introduced as a grump but surely, everybody’s entitled to a bad mood now and again. After receiving the biggest blow of betrayal, Aiden had no other choice but to return home. As Paige and Aiden are thrown in together more and more, it was patently clear that they found in each other a best friend. I’ve really enjoyed the easy interaction between Paige and Aiden.

Nana Alice was not enjoying this trip at all. She didn’t want to go but neither could she let Paige go without her. She was tense pretty much the whole time and her attitude with Paige was hot and cold. Alice always thought honesty is the best policy so this secret is weighing her down but yet she’s promised to keep it. I found Alice to be the most interesting character in this book; a very tightly-held together lady but this lady’s got some pluck!

There were a number of perspectives in Season of Shadow and Light, Paige’s primarily but there were snippets of Aiden, Alice, and another’s in the last part of the story. It was pretty easy to distinguish the perspectives by the feelings they exude –each of their voices were unique and their feelings real. I was quickly drawn into the story (page 3, remember) and it was told a good even pace until nearly the end. I found the ending a bit rushed but I guess after 450 pages, you need to wrap it up.

Season of Shadow and Light is a cleverly woven tale with each thread being laced tightly together, some with fancy knots, with no loose thread left behind (even the ‘random incident’ had a resolution!). If enjoy a story of self-discovery, of betrayal and healing, of lies and trust, I’d recommend Season of Shadow and Light.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Turtle Reef

turtle reefTurtle Reef by Jennifer Scoullar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Jennifer Scoullar’s Currawong Creek was the first Aussie rural romance I’ve ever read –it was sweet, it was heart-warming. It won me over and made me want to read lots more of the genre. Hence, my interest in Turtle Creek. Scoullar’s love for nature truly comes alive in these pages and is beautifully highlighted in this tale of romance.

It was a bit of a tough first half to read. It was slow to engage and there were a few roll-the-eyes moments for me. I just couldn’t connect with Zoe who at first, swore off men and in the next chapter, found herself pretty much fallen for Quinn. Yes, it was repeated that she’s sworn off men and had to work hard to resist Quinn but still she let herself daydream about being with Quinn. I found this whole business frustrating and unbelievable. On top of that, I also found Quinn to be quite aggravating (most especially when he decided what Zoe should drink, TWICE!). I just couldn’t get into this romance story.

The mystery part of the story was quite enjoyable. I liked the way clues were dropped and Zoe’s spunk in taking on the investigation. The resolution, however, deflated me. I think, being a mystery buff, I expected some sort of twist or at least, something a little more convoluted. This might have to do with having just finished a mystery/thriller novel prior to reading this book.

The best bits about this book, however, was the prose on nature. Scoullar trotted out one after another amazing pieces of this world (eg. dolphins, octopus, dugongs, etc) in such a skilful way of weaving into the story without it all being too much. Turtle Reef is basically an invitation to the readers to enjoy and protect this beautiful world we have been blessed with.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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