My Rating: 4 / 5
Format: eBook courtesy of Escape Publishing
Publication Date: June 2013
Category: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Australia
Imprint: Escape Publishing
Extent: 173 pages
“A dilapidated house, a city girl looking for a tree change, and a rugged vet with a past. Just another day in rural Australia…
Just ten days after her fresh start in the isolated Snowy Mountains, Samantha Walker trips over a three hundred pound pig and lands in the arms of Dr. Ethan Granger — and the firing line for gossip. It was hardly a ‘date’ but sparks of the sensual kind are difficult to smother in a community of only 87 people. Now there’s a bet running on how long she’ll stay and what she’ll get up to while she’s in town.
Ethan has his own issues — Sammy’s presence in his childhood home brings with it painful recollections of family scandals and a bad boy youth. When the gossip around them heightens, his life is suddenly a deck of cards spread on the table for all to see. Then Sammy’s past catches up with her… and it looks like all bets are off.”
Summary and Thoughts
The last thing Samantha Walker is expecting when she rushes in to the local veterinary surgery with her cat is to trip rather ungraciously over a pig and straight into the arms of a gorgeous man who just turns out to be Ethan Granger, the local vet.
A design artist who has fled Sydney to gain much needed distance between a conniving, controlling and self-centred mother along with an ex-fiance who proved he has no moral high-ground, she’s only been in Swallow’s Fall for ten days, trying to gain a sense of independence by building a new life for herself – and renovating the run-down property she has bought – her intentions don’t include a new relationship.
This first encounter, while igniting an instant attraction, also reveals Ethan’s other ability and sparks are bound to fly as she finds herself employing his skills and looking forward to his visits to the property – until her past catches up with her in a mean-spirited attempt to defame the name she has begun to make for herself in her new town and we are left wondering whether the lights of the big city will lure her back.
Ethan Granger, while being the local vet, is also a carpenter. Having grown up in the town and then been banished and come back as an adult with a pregnant wife in tow, he has had his fair share of hard knocks in his lifetime! Growing up in an abusive home has him cowering from any form of commitment and he has all but withdrawn into himself. As he finds himself taking on the task of helping Sammy with her renovations, their friendship grows and the attraction which was so obvious from their first meeting, grows deeper. The only problem is the dark memories he has of the house Sammy is restoring, the one in which he grew up and his inner struggles and the memories which he thought he’d laid to rest, threaten to become a barrier between him and Sammy.
Swallow’s Fall, population 86, while fictional, is a close-knit community where everyone looks out for one another and newcomers can sometimes find themselves the object of gossip and interference – and then there are the secrets. Jennie Jones, by creating a backbone in the form of a wager amongst the townsfolk on how long it will take before the newcomer high-tails it out of there, along with the three hundred pound pig called Ruby, who started the chain of events, has cleverly utilised these small town dynamics and interspersed the palpable emotional conflict within and between Sammy and Ethan with some well thought out encounters by utilising the townsfolk, the scenery, the weather and the house, to create a living breathing world.
Sammy came to life with her complexity. She is stubborn, capable and smart, has a hands-on attitude and a willingness to help, but seriously lacks self-confidence owing to her manipulative mother and obnoxious ex-fiance and, while I will admit that there were times when she lost me and I found myself having to re-connect with her, on the whole, she brought a breath of fresh air into Ethan’s life – a life overshadowed by his father’s abusive actions.
Ethan is extremely likeable and very sexy but he carries a lot of unnecessary baggage – most of it self-inflicted, and I found myself empathising with him as his vulnerability became apparent through his thoughts and memories. An inner war wages within him and despite growing feelings for Sammy he continuously withdraws, fearing that he has inherited his father’s tendencies. That is, until a revelation, and a twist which I didn’t seem coming, causes him to reconsider and suddenly, there is light in his darkness.
In bringing together two bruised characters, one of which harbours some awful memories of familial abuse, debut author Jennie Jones has sprinkled the narrative with humour and wit, added some tender moments and sizzling sex scenes and presented them in a package which encapsulates the dynamics of small town living and the memories and secrets which can make or break us.
I wish to thank Escape Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an eBook of this novel and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
A Little About the Author
Born and brought up in Wales, Jennie loved anything with a romantic element from the age of five. At eighteen she went to drama school in London then spent a number of years performing in British theatres, becoming someone else for two hours, eight shows a week.
Jennie wrote her first romance story at the age of twenty-five whilst ‘resting’ (a theatrical term for out of work). She wrote a western and sent it off to Mills & Boon in the UK who politely and correctly declined. She put writing to one side after that and took a musical theatre job. Which brings Jennie to her favourite quotation – “Fate keeps on happening” – Anita Loos.
When Jennie’s life changed and a new country, marriage and motherhood beckoned, she left acting and the UK.
She now lives in a log house in Western Australia, a five minute walk to the beach that she loves to look at but hardly ever visits due to there being too much sand. (Sand is like glitter; once it gets between your toes, you keep finding it in the house for months.)
Jennie returned to writing three years ago. She says it keeps her artistic nature dancing and her imagination bubbling. Like acting she can’t envisage a day when writing will ever get boring.