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

Book Review: Summer Harvest by Georgina Penney

Title: Summer Harvestsummer harvest

Author:  Georgina Penney

Published: February 1st 2016

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Romance

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

English dog trainer Beth Poole is having trouble getting her life back together after beating a life-threatening illness and divorcing her husband. When her Aussie-soap-obsessed grandma sends her to Australia to recover, it seems a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation while she figures out what’s next.

But when Beth arrives in Australia things get off to a rocky start. To begin with, she’s on the wrong coast and there are deadly creatures everywhere. And if that weren’t enough, her neighbours are driving her crazy. She’s staying in the beautiful Margaret River wine region, right next door to a family-owned vineyard. It should be perfect, but the boisterous Hardy clan just don’t seem able to leave her alone. The usually reserved Beth is soon reluctantly embroiled in their family disputes and romantic entanglements. And eldest son Clayton Hardy is proving surprisingly persistent.

The more Beth gets to know Clayton and the Hardys, the more she sees what she wants for her future. But as the end of summer approaches, her past comes back to haunt her and will test her newfound relationships to the limit.

From the author of Fly In Fly Out comes this entertaining and touching story about family, friendship and love among the grapevines.

My review:

Summer Harvest is a modern contemporary romance novel, inspired by the author, Georgina Penney’s very close friend’s experience of dealing with breast cancer. While offering an insight into the effects of breast cancer, Summer Harvest is also a humorous and heartfelt journey, following one woman’s path in finding love again. The picturesque backdrop of the Margaret River region, located in Western Australia, is where this appealing story plays out.

Beth Poole lives in the north of England. She has a satisfying career as a dog trainer, but she finds herself at a loose end. Beth’s marriage has ended in divorce, she is recuperating from breast cancer and she is now living with her grandparents. Beth’s grandmother Violet senses Beth’s disillusion with her current life and gifts her trip of a lifetime, across the other side of the world. Although thankful for this generous gift, Beth feels uneasy about making the big journey across the other side of the world, to a city in Australia she knows very little about. Despite her apprehension, Beth makes the journey and it lands her in a cottage nestled in the tranquil vineyard region of Margaret River. It does not take Beth long to befriend the locals, including a neighbour from an adjacent winery, Clayton Hardy. Beth and Clayton experience instant attraction and a sizzling relationship between the sheets soon emerges from their meeting. However, Beth chooses to shield her health problems from Clayton, while Clayton has his own insecurities, which surfaces as their relationship develops. As the two month mark and the end of Beth’s trip draws to a close, Beth has to make the decision as to whether or not her love for Clayton can stand the test of distance.

I love the new crop of novels that have started to emerge as an offshoot from the popular Australian rural romance genre, aptly titled ‘vineyard lit’. It was absolutely superb to see author Georgina Penney set her novel in an area that is deeply familiar to me, the Margaret River region located in south west WA. Penney’s descriptions of this locale are both vivid and realistic, showcasing the true beauty of this region. The vineyard setting will be sure to appeal to readers and it is the ideal place for a romance to flourish.

I have to say I really appreciated the tone of Penney’s novel, which is the first I have read from this author. She managed to deliver a blend of heartfelt insight, realism and humour to the pages of her novel. Whilst the book does cover some fairly serious and life threatening issues, Penney takes it in her stride and the final product is a sensitively handled novel.

The leads of Summer Harvest, Beth and Clayton, are likable and relatable characters. Beth and Clayton each have their own set of insecurities, which keeps the reader interested in how they will overcome these feelings. I warmed quickly to Beth, as well as her generous grandmother Violet. Overall, I simply enjoyed the journey Beth makes as a person, to heal after her recovery from breast cancer. Clayton is an appealing lead and I liked his connection to the wine industry. His family makes a good contribution to the novel, with their dramas, couplings and strength of spirit. The romance side of the novel is on the steamy side, which will easily appeal to those who enjoy hot and heavy holiday flings. The road to Beth and Clayton’s life together is fraught with things left unsaid, unresolved feelings and a time lapse, however, the ending draws to a close in a pleasing fashion.

I heartily recommend Summer Harvest, particularly to those who appreciate a solid romance, a strong character journey and a bonza Aussie setting. I’m off to seek out Fly in Fly Out, also by Georgia Penney, as soon as I can, as I’m told it features some of the lovely characters featured in Summer Harvest.

 Summer Harvest, by Georgina Penney was published in February 2016 by Penguin Random House Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of  Summer Harvest, Georgina Penney, visit here.

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