All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Lake Hill by Margareta Osborn

on June 6, 2017

Lake Hill
Margareta Osborn
Bantam
2017, 320p
Copy courtesy of Penguin Random House Australia

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

All her life Julia Gunn has been weighed down – first by a controlling father, then by a staid older husband, and always by a long-buried secret from her teenage years.

Now she’s going to do something for herself.

Except en route to a new life on the coast at Lakes Entrance she finds herself – courtesy of a rockslide – stuck in the remote mountain town of Lake Grace.

Yet maybe fate is on her side. Because Lake Grace is home to Rick Halloran – ex-rodeo king, sculptor and grazier – and the man with whom she enjoyed a brief, unforgettable romance twenty years ago.

Not only that, but Julia has dreamed of running her own cafe, and she’s just spotted a For Sale sign outside the prettiest little tea-room by the lake . . .

Julia is finally on the verge of the life she’s always wanted.

Then her long-buried secret knocks at the door . . .

In Margareta Osborn’s 5th full length novel we head to the beautiful Gippsland area in eastern Victoria where Julia Gunn is on her way to a new life. Having been widowed young, only in her thirties, she’s resigned from her job and has decided to move to Lakes Entrance and buy a cafe/tearoom. Only fate intervenes and she finds herself stranded in the mountain town of Lake Grace – not quite where she wanted to be, but lovely nonetheless. Especially when she spots something for sale that will work perfectly with her dream.

Lake Grace is also the home of Rick Holloran, Julia’s first….well, everything. Many years ago they shared a brief romance as teenagers before Julia’s strict pastor father whisked the family away to another town. Julia has never forgotten Rick, nor what eventuated from that romance. When they cross paths again, a lot of the chemistry they experienced as teenagers is still there.

I’ve always wanted to go visit that part of Victoria – I’ve never been. The coastline is stunningly beautiful and there’s some lovely high country too. Julia has left Melbourne behind after the death of her much older husband and is determined to finally be able to live her own life. Having been dominated by first her controlling and abusive father and then to a much lesser extent, her husband, who always had certain expectations, she no longer feels that pressure and can finally just be herself. Live her own life.

Julia has definitely been through some difficult times and now, even some twenty years later, they still weigh quite heavily on her. A fresh start won’t banish those thoughts but I think that for Julia it’s the first step in perhaps moving forward. Fate lands her in Lake Grace and she is regarded with suspicion for being a journalist at first – Lake Grace is highly protective of some of its residents for reasons that are probably very genuine and admirable but at the same time, Rick Halloran in particular is well, a bit of a jerk to her. He doesn’t recognise her immediately, although he’s aware that she’s familiar and he’s too caught up in assuming that she’s a journalist come to harass him.

Those with the Halloran seal of approval are welcomed with open arms though and the community rallies behind Julia after that first awkwardness to help her once she buys the tearoom with the intent to reopen it. Julia makes a friend in Rick’s much younger sister as well as the locals who run the pub and work for Rick in various capacities. As well as this, there’s the budding friendship with Rick himself, which definitely has potential. Julia has something that she knows she needs to confide in him, but she fears his reaction.

There are a couple of good twists in this book and a little bit of mystery running through the story too which was good. It creates good conflict for Julia and Rick as they are attempting to establish their relationship. Certain things in his past have made Rick….well, a bit of a control freak to be honest. He’s quite bossy and he likes basically having what he says goes. Both his sister and Julia are grown ups and don’t need to be told what to do and I thought it was good that they called him out on it. Rick definitely needed to learn to ‘let go’ and step back a bit!

I really enjoyed this story, particularly the way that all of the characters came to life and played an important role. I do have to admit that in the scene where they were all introduced in the local pub, I found it a tad overwhelming – but as Julia got to know them all properly, I did too. I really liked the character of Ernie, the town’s retired doctor who offers to help Julia out in the kitchen, hiding a talent for some baking. Many of the characters had sadness or secrets or something that just added to the whole picture of the town that Osborn had created here. I also liked the way that Julia really found something of herself in Lake Grace, a place to settle and call home and an occupation that made her happy. There was romance but it was never really the strongest feature of the novel – it was about Julia and her journey, coming to terms with what had happened in her past, trying to make her peace with it and move on to a stronger future. There were people she’d met along the way that were clearly going to be a part of that future but her individual journey was for me, the strongest part of the book and this was well represented.

8/10

Book #98 of 2017

 

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