All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Round Yard by Alissa Callen

The Round Yard (Woodlea #3)
Alissa Callen
Harlequin AUS
2019, 323p
Read from my Nan’s stash

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

A heartfelt story about finding where you belong. A new Woodlea rural romance by bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen. For only child Neve Fitzpatrick, family is everything. When she loses her mother, she heads to the bush to rent a farmhouse near her grandmother’s family home. To keep herself busy and her grief at bay, she offers to look after two little redheaded cowgirls and adopts a sassy pony and shaggy donkey in need of a refuge.

Drover and horse trainer Tanner Callahan may have just found his mother, but he’s resolved never to let anyone too close. Abandonment has cursed him all his life, and he won’t let it happen again. Only two things unnerve him: children and small-town matchmaking. Then he meets occupational therapist Neve. Warm-hearted and unforgettable, she represents all that Tanner feels will forever remain out of reach.

But when an old iron key unlocks family secrets from the Second World War, Neve needs help only Tanner can give. As the threads of the past unravel, and locusts threaten to suffocate the land, Neve and Tanner must make a choice. Will fear keep them running or is the home each yearns for already within grasp?

Ever since I met Tanner in the first book in this series, I knew he’d make a great character in a book of his own. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long and that’s another good thing about being able to read these basically all together!

Tanner’s journey to Woodlea led him back to his birth mother, who had to give him up for adoption when she was young. The two of them have forged a good relationship and continue to get to know each other, as well as Tanner realising that one of the people he’d befriended since moving to Woodlea was now his cousin. He’s found a good tribe but Tanner never lets anyone get too close and he’s learned to avoid the local busybody and matchmaker Edna who has eyes on Tanner for her daughter. Unfortunately for Tanner, he drives a distinctly coloured car and his presence in town is difficult to hide.

Neve has returned to be close to her former family home after a personal loss. She finds herself looking after two young girls who recently lost their mother while their father works and adds to the fun with a pony and donkey, both of whom seem to be escape artists. Tanner is roped in to help contain them and also to help Neve and the girls learn to handle them properly. Tanner is petrified of children, they represent the ultimate commitment and he’s not ever allowed himself to consider that as an option for his future.

One thing I really enjoy about this series is that it’s consistent. The quality of story and the depth of character in each of them are all very much on par and I’ve really liked all of them pretty much the same amount. I read them basically one after the other, which might not suit some people because they might feel a bit ‘samey’ but that’s what I was actually loving about them. They were perfect holiday reads – the right length, feel-good, small community stories but ones that still had a lot of character growth and exploration and the fun of being able to check in on couples from past books, because they all form that friendship group that drives the series.

I love Tanner and I just wanted to spend a large portion of this book telling him everything would be okay and that small children weren’t terrifying and that he’d find his partner in life. Tanner has quite a lot of abandonment issues – he was put up for adoption, his adoptive mother died, his relationship with his adoptive father is somewhat fractured and he had a relationship end badly. Tanner and his father don’t see eye to eye and are completely different. His adoptive father is a city boy, very professional job who doesn’t seem like he’s ever been west of Parramatta. Tanner is at home in the country, it’s where he feels comfortable and it seems that the more remote the better. He often spends large portions of time droving on his own. But he’s also lonely as well – it seems as though Tanner really wants a partner, someone like what Denham and Hewitt have found but he struggles to let go of the fact that it might not work out and he’ll be alone again.

This book did a great job exploring why Tanner feels that way and his relationship with his adoptive father and how that has impacted on the way he lives his life and the way he feels the way he does. When Neve finds something mysterious connected to her grandmother, it gives Tanner a chance to ask his father for help and although the two continue to clash on their differences, it’s also the way for them to go forward and try and find a common ground to work together on. Because sometimes I think Tanner feels as though he’s a disappointment to his adoptive father and that with his adoptive mother gone, there’s nothing to tether them together anymore.

Because I already liked Tanner from the two previous books, I really wanted him to have someone amazing but I think Neve fit the bill perfectly. I really enjoyed her story as well and her quest to find the truth about her grandmother as well as deal with what she had recently been through. Her bond with the two young girls she takes care of is so sweet and I really enjoyed the escapades with the pony and the donkey! Also Reggie and his test makes a return this book too, which adds another element of humour. Even Edna and her desire to marry Bethany off to every cowboy in town takes an unexpected turn.

I hope book 4 gives us Ella’s story. Now I just have to wait for it, which is something I’m not used to with this series.


Book #104 of 2019

The Round Yard is book #48 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

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