All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Heart Of The Valley – Cathryn Hein

on May 3, 2012

Heart Of The Valley
Cathryn Hein
Penguin AU
2012, 336p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Brooke Kingston lives her dream life working and training her equestrian hopefuls and running her racehorse-training family’s spelling and crop property, Kingston Downs in the beautiful Hunter Valley. Not one for the city and schmoozing the owners at Royal Randwick, Brooke is content to stay in the country, at peace with nature and her beloved trio of eventers, Poddy, Sod and Odd.

On the way home from a show, tragedy strikes and changes Brooke’s world forever. She can no longer do something that’s crucial to the running of Kingston Downs and she finds herself replaced. Her brother Mark, the family’s business accountant hires a manager for the property, relegating Brooke to basically useless. It’s all a ploy so her mother can get her back to Sydney and look after her, thinking that Brooke can only get the help she needs there. Brooke refuses to leave the property though. Kingston Downs is her home.

Lachlan Cambridge didn’t count on the owner’s daughter being still in residence when he took the job. Lachie is a qualified agronomist who needs this job to get some much needed funds together for his big future plans. Expecting a spoiled brat with a silver spoon in her mouth, Lachie can’t help but eat his words when he actually meets Brooke. What he sees is a broken girl, devastated by her tragedy, passionately dedicated to the property and determined to try and fix herself and atone for what happened. She cares so deeply for her horses and carries a crippling guilt that saps her confidence and makes her a quivering wreck. Lachie thinks he might be able to help her – he wants to help her. And slowly, bit by bit, Brooke is letting him.

Lachie and Brooke find a common ground – they both want the best for Kingston Downs, they’re both smart and interested in farming practices and they both care for animals. They didn’t expect to like each other but they come to do so, a slow simmering attraction builds between them, despite the complications of Brooke’s friends Andrew and Chloe – the former in love with her, the latter with her eye on Lachie. But it’s hard to see a future…after all, Brooke wants the manager’s position back one day and Lachie has big plans to move on and take over his ailing family farm. Both of them have very strong ideas about what they want out of their future and where their ‘home’ lies.

Heart Of The Valley is a wonderfully warm and inviting novel about overcoming adversity, finding strength and believing in yourself and letting go and embracing the love that comes along. I have to admit, this one kicked me right in my little girl heart. I adore horses. I always have. I wanted one badly when I was a child. My father is a former bookmaker and when I was in high school my best friend’s father was the most prominent horseracing trainer in our area – still is in fact, although I now live some 1500kms away from there. So immediately this novel was going to get a big tick from me for including equestrian and racing. But it earned a lot more than those two!

Brooke is bubbly, confident and driven when we first meet her but a tragic accident changes all of that. She’s a psychological mess in the aftermath, grieving and guilt-ridden and the pressure placed on her family to either ‘get better or get out’ doesn’t seem to help. She’s terrified of being shunted off the property and given her father’s stable appears to be going through a lean patch, she’s even more terrified the spelling and crop property will be offloaded for a nice chunk of change. When Lachie arrives it’s like a classic misunderstanding – he believes her to be a spoiled brat because she hasn’t left, she sees him as an interloper who has her job, albeit no fault of his own. She’s quite short with him which fuels his opinion of her as uppity but what I really liked about these two is that they’re both quick to let go of their first impressions and move on, especially Lachie.

Oh, Lachie. How I adored him! He was everything that a rural lit hero should be – strong but also gentle, intelligent but good with his hands and just an all round nice guy. He devotes himself to helping Brooke through her trauma, supporting her in ways that her family really don’t, he ‘gets’ her. He understands her need to stay on the property, to heal herself. It is through his support and encouragement that Brooke finds the strength to deal with yet another tragedy and also how to go about taking that next step towards getting better and overcoming her fears. I really enjoyed their evolving relationship – from resignation at the situation to wary acceptance to mutual respect and trust and then ultimately into something much deeper. I think it was extremely well written and very realistic – these were two people who actually got to know each other before anything happened at all.

Heart Of The Valley is an excellent addition to the ever-growing rural lit genre – it showcases a beautiful area, contains wonderful, well thought out characters that I really, really enjoyed and I felt the story was rounded and well paced. I felt for Brooke throughout the whole novel – I thought what she went through was terrible and I well understood her trauma. I’m not afraid to say this book made me cry hard at one stage. The animals are a beautiful addition, personalities of their own and they become characters in their own right, particularly the cranky Sod and Lachie’s little Jack Russel terrier Billy. I think they both served to showcase a side of Brooke and Lachie and also to help establish a connection between the two of them. Lachie cannot ride as Brooke does but he forms a lovely bond with the bi-polar Sod and Billy finds a big fan in Brooke who proves that she’s always around for belly scratches.

This is one of those books that has snuck on to my ‘re-reads’ shelf, perfect for one of those days where you want something familiar that you know you like, when you’re not quite up to meeting and getting to know strangers and taking a chance.

8/10

Book #73 of 2012

Heart Of The Valley counts towards my participation in the Australian Women Writers Challenge. This is the 25th book I’ve read and reviewed for this challenge, which has become quite an important part of my reading this year. I’m thrilled to have chalked up 25 books by fabulous Australian women writers, especially at such an early stage in the year. This challenge is doing such an amazing job to showcase the incredible writers we have and I look forward to keeping on contributing despite the fact that I completed my challenge 15 books ago! It’d be really nice if I could keep up this pace and read over 70 for the year!

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11 responses to “Heart Of The Valley – Cathryn Hein

  1. Totally agree with your write up of Heart of the Valley! AWESOME BOOK!

  2. Marg says:

    Lots of positive reviews for this one!

  3. Great review Bree, i loved this one too and would definitely read it again! I really loved Lachie too, it’s so nice to have a male lead who is both masculine and sensitive… it was lovely to see their connection develop into something deeper

    • I agree, I appreciated the time taken here for the two characters to become friends first and spend time together. That first sizzling attraction can be fun but I’m coming to really like novels where there is a lot of groundwork laid in the build up to a relationship

  4. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I just finished this yesterday, i really enjoyed it as well – a lovely romance novel with a great setting and satisfying substance

  5. […] And this from 1 girl… 2 many books! […]

  6. […] Hein, Cathryn – Heart Of The Valley (Penguin) Rural Bree @1girl2manybooks […]

  7. […] can read my reviews of Cathryn’s books including Promises (here), The Heart Of The Valley (here) […]

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