2016 Reviews · Australian · rural ficition

Book review: Bluegrass Bend by Mandy Magro

blugrass bend

Book blurb:

She couldn’t let her past steal her future any longer…

Ivy Tucker was a gifted musician with big dreams but the night she was viciously attacked took all that away from her. Without the intervention of a mystery man she would have been killed. She has no idea what her protector looks like and though she wrote to him, he never responded. She can’t blame him wanting to forget the past, she feels the same. To survive, she focuses on the healing work she does alongside her aunts at Healing Hills – working with horses to help people rebuild their shattered lives. But her home, her life and her business are under threat…

Ronny Sinclair is finally free after eight years in prison. He regrets ending a life, but in the heat of the moment it was the only way to save another. The young woman he protected was worth every second he spent locked up, and her face and angelic voice are etched in his heart and mind forever. A bittersweet twist of fate gives him a new start in her hometown, Bluegrass Bend. Would she recognise him? Could she, after the terrible state she’d been left in?

Fate intervenes, pushing Ronny and Ivy together at a fundraising event. When Ivy needs Ronny to help her save Healing Hills, he knows he should keep his past hidden, that he should stay away from her, but their love of the country, horses and music brings Ivy and Ronny closer – dangerously so. As feelings build their fragile trust is threatened by Ronny’s secret. Will his determination to leave the past behind him cost them their chance at love?

3.5 stars

Mandy Magro is an author who holds a firm place in the Australian rural romance genre. I always enjoy Mandy’s books. She has an ability to present her readers with just the right blend of great characters, quintessential country Australia settings, memorable romances and her love of all things country music. Bluegrass Bend was a most welcome addition to my weekend reading schedule, as I was definitely in need of a therapeutic feel-good read after a heavy week.

Horses and their healing nature are the subject of Mandy Magro’s latest rural romance offering, Bluegrass Bend. It is an area which grabbed my attention and held my interest throughout the novel. Bluegrass Bend features heroine Ivy Tucker, a young woman who holds the dream of being a musician until one night she is horrifically attacked. Barely alive, she is saved by a good Samaritan. Following the attack, Ivy makes it her life mission to save others through her counselling services. She establishes a retreat with her aunties, whereby she is able to offer her own counselling services. She also uses her love of horses as a form of human therapy for her clients. One day fate intervenes and draws Ivy into the arms of Ronny, a man recently released from prison. As Ronny and Ivy grow closer through their love of similar things – music, animals and the simplicity of rural life, a big secret Ronny holds threatens their chance at future happiness.

I have read all of Mandy Magro’s books to date, and I enjoy her pure country Australia based voice. Magro’s storytelling reflects her love for all things rural, from her stunning settings, to her passion for Australian country music and in this book an eclectic cast of animal characters. In Bluegrass Bend, the reader is treated to a picturesque backdrop with the novel being set in the Blue Mountains region of NSW. The descriptions of this wonderfully scenic part of Australia firmed my plans to visit this part of Australia in the not too distant future. With a major part of the novel focussed on the role of animals in the therapy process, it is clear from her writing that Mandy Magro has completed her background research on animal/equine therapy. I thought this thread was a great addition to the storyline of Bluegrass Bend. The romance side in this novel has an emphasis on physical attraction and there are some steamy scenes between the two leads, but in true rural romance style, there are complications that arise. This provides Magro with the opportunity to explore issues such as trust, secrets loss, heartache, and hope. Magro also chooses to focus some of Bluegrass Bend on victims of violent crimes and their healing journey. On the whole this aspect of the novel was handled in an insightful and sensitive way by the author. Overall, I enjoyed Bluegrass Bend, it was light and predictable in places but it does read well. Bluegrass Bend was exactly what I was searching for at the time I picked up this book to read.

Readers will be sure to enjoy the gentle nature of this light rural romance offering by established Australian country author Mandy Magro. One to add to your shelves if you enjoy rural based fiction or a good place to start if would like to begin reading this highly readable genre.

Bluegrass Bend was published in 2016 by Harlequin Australia.  http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781760374242



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