All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Long Paddock by Alissa Callen

on July 9, 2019

The Long Paddock (Woodlea #1)
Alissa Callen
Harlequin AUS
2017, 343p
Read from my Nan’s stash

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

A captivating love story about community and second chances.

Country-girl Cressida Knight fills her days with her farm, a mischievous pet bull called Reggie and her volunteer emergency services work. The busier she keeps, the less she thinks about the cowboy who left her behind. She’s convinced the small-town Woodlea grapevine that she’s moved on, but now it’s time to move on for real. 

Champion bull rider Denham Rigby shares Cressy’s deep love for the land and all he’s ever wanted was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Cressy through life. But three years ago a dark family secret left him no choice but to run. Now family duty gives him no choice but to return to the bush.

What Denham hasn’t come home to do is to hurt Cressy by rekindling their relationship. He’s nothing but a liability and the beautiful, self-reliant cowgirl has to stay off limits. But when faced with Cressy’s desperation to save her drought-stricken farm, he can’t keep his distance. He joins her out droving on the long paddock. Then when Woodlea is hit by more than just rodeo fever, they are further thrown together and Denham loses the battle to lock down his emotions.

But has he left it too late to stop running? And will the woman he’s always loved be prepared to risk her heart for a second time?

Although I have plenty of books to keep me occupied on my iPad in the iBooks and Kindle apps whilst I’m here on holidays, I don’t really like to do all my reading on a screen. I still enjoy picking up a print book and reading one of those so I turned to my Nan’s books (which she passes onto my mother after reading once) to find something to read. I found a stack of 3 of these and they’re all linked. They looked perfect for the sort of thing I was after.

Neighbours Denham and Cressy were in a relationship years ago but then Denham left to further his career bullriding overseas in America and they haven’t seen each other since. Now Denham has returned to the family farm after the death of his mother which brings him and Cressy back into close proximity. There’s been rumours of a new boyfriend for Cressy but for Denham, she’s only ever been the girl for him. But Denham has a reason he feels they can’t be together and so he must recalibrate his feelings to ‘friendship’ and enjoy socialising with and helping Cressy but go no further.

Cressy’s family farm is in trouble. To make a success of it is all she’s ever wanted. It was her grandfather’s pride and joy and Cressy was always the one by his side, learning the ropes. But when it passed to her father, he made some terrible decisions and the drought is crippling her. She desperately, desperately needs it to rain. Knowing that Cressy is too proud to accept a straight handout, Denham must structure every bit of assistance to her as a ‘deal’ whereby they both benefit.

I ended up adoring this book. Denham and Cressy are both such great, down to earth characters and they have a really interesting dynamic. Things are a bit awkward between them at first – after all they used to be a very loved up couple and then they split up for Denham to go overseas and haven’t really interacted since. They care about each other a lot. Cressy is really concerned about Denham’s feelings after his mother dies and she always wants to make sure that he’s doing okay, that he’s not getting down about different things due to his quite complex family history. And Denham wants to help Cressy with her family farm in any way that he can. They have obviously never really gotten over each other (something Denham acknowledges openly to himself, and that he doesn’t expect to ever get over Cressy) but he also has these demons that he feels prevent him from being with her, from making her truly happy. I found that really interesting and something that is often under-explored in fiction although I think it is becoming a little more prevalent. I appreciated the exploration of Denham’s feelings and the agonising he did over it as well as his own determination to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of thinking Cressy would be better off without him. He feels as though he’s doing the best thing that he can, and I did admire that about him even though it was clear that there were other options for him. He just had to get to a place in his life where he felt that he could accept them as being his future.

I really loved the small community in this book – Cressy’s sister is a voice on the phone pretty often and she turns up late in the book to see her and Denham, as well as the local vet and hairdresser plus they befriend a new drover in town. There’s a steady friendship group being created and I’m excited to get to the rest of the books and see who gets their stories. It makes me glad that I’ve already got the two books here ready to go, it’s the best way to read something like this when you discover it. This is the sort of book that makes me want to live in a rural town (probably just briefly, I’m not really cut out for the lifestyle and I know it but it makes it sound so appealing that I forget that).

Really enjoyable.

8/10

Book #101 of 2019

The Long Paddock is the 46th book read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

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