2017 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · romance · rural ficition

Book Review: Country Roads by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Title: Country Roadscountry roads

Author: Nicole Hurley-Moore

Published: January 25 2017

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 312

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Rural Fiction, Australian, Romance

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

The compelling story of a grief-stricken man reeling from tragedy and a hard-working female farmer dealing with betrayal who may just find love and healing with each other.

Rebecca Duprey is working day and night to keep the family sheep station, Bluestone Ridge, afloat. But Bec’s father, who’s been in a wheelchair since a farming mishap, keeps second-guessing her decisions. Now, to add Bec’s woes, her unfaithful ex-boyfriend has started lurking around, and the adjoining farm she’d hoped to buy has been snapped up by a guy from the city called Matt Harvey.

After leaving his job in advertising, Matt became a bestselling novelist. But since the death of his fiancee in a car accident, he’s had severe writer’s block and is desperately hoping his move to the country will help him deal with his grief and allow him to focus on completing his next book. Problem is, he seems to have started off on the wrong foot with his new neighbour, Bec Duprey.

Bec isn’t quite sure when she started feeling attracted to Matt, but she’s determined not to succumb to his charms. And Matt isn’t sure when his feelings changed about Bec; all he knows is he can’t get her out of his mind. Can Bec and Matt overcome their fear of loss to find love and happiness with each other…?

This absolutely compelling novel deals with betrayal, tragedy, love – and how first impressions aren’t always right.

My review:

Nicole Hurley-Moore is quickly establishing herself as one to watch in the rural romance genre. If you have a penchant for rural stories with plenty of heart, then look no further than Country Roads or Nicole Hurley-Moore’s previous two books.

Two very different leads are at the helm of Nicole Hurley-Moore’s latest novel, from chalk and cheese style backgrounds. Our leading lady, Bec Duprey, single-handedly runs her family’s property in the tiny town of White Gum, situated in country Victoria. Following a tragic quad bike accident, Bec’s father has had to relinquish responsibility for the family farm to his daughter. Bec virtually runs everything on the farm, all except the business and big decisions, which her father shows no signs of letting go. Lately things have been tough for the Duprey’s and their neighbours, as drought has ripped through their properties. The townsfolk of White Gum are all prayed for rainfall to save their failing town and surrounding properties.

Our leading man of the story is Matt Harvey, an author from the big smoke – Melbourne. Matt has  suffered from a horrific car accident that left him disabled and resulted in the loss of someone he held dear, consequently Matt moves to White Gum for a fresh start. Matt hopes his new purchase of a cottage nestled in Victoria’s rich countryside will unclog his writer’s block. When Matt arrives at White Gum he soon realises he is a complete alien to the rural way of life. This earns him the ire of next door neighbour Bec. Thankfully, the kindly townsfolk of White Gum welcome Matt with open arms and they band together to teach Matt a thing or two about small town country life.  Eventually Bec’s barriers begin to break down and she finds herself attracted to her neighbour. But with neither ready for a committed relationship, things become a casual arrangement only. When Bec’s ex Zane makes his presence known, it adds further complications to this new romance. Bec and Matt must decide whether they are ready to take a chance on love.

Nicole Hurley-Moore has been on my rural romance radar since she released her first book, McKellan’s Run in 2015. I really enjoyed McKellan’s Run and more recently Hartley’s Grange. Country Roads is now the third novel I have read from Nicole Hurley-Moore. I am pleased to say each of Hurley-Moore’s books have managed to capture my attention, as well as my heart.

Country Roads is a book about characters, as much as it is a solid tribute to life and the people who work hard on our rural areas. Bec and Matt are from opposite ends of the spectrum but somehow they manage to come together, though this process is not straightforward. I liked the contrast in characters and their experiences, through pairing Bec and Matt together. I found Matt in particular and appealing lead, the idea that an author sets himself up in the countryside to overcome personal demons as well as writers block, completely engaged this reader. Bec is an interesting character too, from her ability to independently run her family’s property, to her former relationship with neighbour Zane and the conflict she has with her father made for an engaging read. Matt and Bec are also supported by a cast of secondary characters, who enhance the storyline. There was a fair share of good as well as bad characters, adding intrigue to the story.

Hurley-Moore certainly excels in depicting country based settings. The fictional town of White Gum Valley is your typical run of the mill small country town. Hurley-Moore allows us to see through the developing storyline that these people are suffering hardship, with drought affecting their day to day existence. Despite this, the townsfolk remain hopeful and are still able to support and have fun together, which is important. Hurley-Moore also shows us the downfalls of living in a tight knit community such as White Gum Valley. Everyone seems to be aware of everyone’s business and when relationships go sour, such as Bec and Zane’s, unfortunately you still have to see this person from time to time.

Overall, I found Country Roads a more than agreeable read from cover to cover. The romance was gentle and nice, there were some sensual moments but on the whole, what I enjoyed most was the contrast between these two very different leads. This is a book where nearly all the ends are tied up neatly for the reader. I say mostly, as I have a sneaky suspicion that one of the secondary characters in Country Roads may have their very own story in the future, courtesy of the very capable Ms Hurley–Moore. So all in all, I am happy to recommend this lovely rural romance, it is one that will sit well with fans of the genre, or newcomers to the field of Australian rural fiction.

Country Roads by Nicole Hurley-Moore was published in January 2017 by Allen & Unwin, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

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