Review: Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Title: Heart of the Valley

Author: Cathryn Hein

Published: Penguin Australia May 2012

Synopsis: Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod. Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight. What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

Status: Read from May 01 to 02, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Penguin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Heart of the Valley is a heartwarming rural romance by Cathryn Hein, whose debut novel, Promises, made the Australian romance best seller list.
Brooke Kingston has proved herself an excellent manager of the family property in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, until the aftermath of a tragic accident interferes with her ability to fulfill her duties. Yet Brooke resists the pressure to join her concerned family in the city, determined to remain with her beloved horses and work hard to overcome her issues. Despite her objections, Brooke’s brother  appoints Lachlan Cambridge to take her place, Brooke is devastated but refuses to leave Kingston Downs, and her precious ‘boys’, Sod and Poddy. Brooke views Lachie as an unwelcome intruder but the quiet, competent and handsome farmer proves to be Brooke’s staunchest ally as she faces her fears, and the one man that may heal her broken heart.

While at its core Heart of The Valley is a romance, Brooke’s journey to free herself of her fears is a feature of the story. When we first meet her, Brooke is a confident, happy young woman but when tragedy strikes she is left distressed and depressed and with a real phobia that adversely affects her life. I couldn’t help but be sympathetic to her anxieties, despite her stubborn refusal of help, and understood Brooke’s determination to regain control of her life on her own terms.
Hein sensitively and authentically portrays Brooke’s challenges, and her slow recovery.

Lachie’s physical description makes him just my type and his personality is equally as appealing. Despite being a physically intimidating man, Lachie proves to be gentle, respectful and intelligent though undoubtedly masculine. Lachie has endured his own trials, he has a complicated relationship with his father that saw him leave the family farm he loves and he needs the job at Kingston Downs in order to support his younger brother at University. Initially Lachie expects little from Brooke, making assumptions based on his recent experiences with his ex girlfriend, but he doesn’t hesitate to reach out to Brooke when she needs him.

The romance between Brooke and Lachie progresses naturally which I very much enjoyed, from the initial spark of attraction, grows mutual respect and friendship. The romantic tension builds slowly but surely even as their relationship is complicated by a number of factors, including their positions at Kingston Downs and Brooke’s emotional vulnerability. I felt that Brooke and Lachlan complemented each other wonderfully as they worked to navigate their own dreams and desires.

Hein chose the Hunter Valley as the setting for her book as a way of paying homage to the happy years she spent in the region. As an agricultural consultant, she spent a lot of time visiting the farms in the region and her experience shows in the details – particularly as Brooke and Lachie discuss the farm’s crops and day to day routine. Even though some of the information is superfluous it does add to the authenticity of the story.
Hein’s participation in pony club, eventing and dressage provides the backdrop for Brooke’s love of, and work with, the horses of Kingston Downs. Brooke’s horses, Sod, Poddy and Oddy have personalities of their own, and they, as well as Lachie’s puppy Billy, find their way into your heart. It’s a rare girl that didn’t dream of owning her own horse as a child and Heart of the Valley taps into this longing, creating a strong connection between Brooke and the reader.

Heart of the Valley is a novel about letting go and moving forward that mixes tender romance with heartfelt drama. I finished Heart of the Valley with a contented sigh for a story well told and a longing for a horse of my own. Cathryn Hein has joined my ever growing list of must read Australian women writers.

Available To Purchase

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@Amazon {Kindle}

About the Author

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned. Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day. Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.
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Also by Cathryn Hein

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brendat59
    May 07, 2012 @ 16:22:16

    Excellent review Shelleyrae! Definitely one I’d love to read:)



  2. 1girl2manybooks
    May 07, 2012 @ 18:44:31

    Glad you enjoyed this one too Shelleyrae. It’s lovely seeing it get such positive reviews, it’s a very enjoyable story.



  3. The Australian Bookshelf
    May 08, 2012 @ 20:50:02

    I enjoyed this one too Shelleyrae and I’m hoping to find a copy of Promises to read.



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  5. MarthaE
    May 11, 2012 @ 13:34:38

    This sounds like a nice easy read. I love horses too. Another added to my wish list. 🙂



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