Title: The Country Girl
Author: Cathryn Hein
Published: December 18th 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Australian, Romance, Rural
Rating: 4.5 stars
Can this love story find a new beginning?
After landing a major cookbook deal, star food blogger Tash Ranger swaps city life for the family farm. But Tash’s homecoming is bittersweet, for now she can no longer avoid seeing her best friend Maddy, who was severely injured in a riding accident. No one knows that Maddy and Tash had a deep falling out and with every visit Tash must pretend to be the friend everyone believes her to be.
Patrick Lawson, Maddy’s fiancé, battles despair and hope daily as Maddy lies imprisoned in her body. When Tash returns to Castlereagh Road with her joy and boundless appetite for life, he realises finally what his loved ones have been trying to tell him for months – that Maddy wouldn’t want him to throw his life away. It’s time to move on. But letting go is no easy feat.
Can these two friends step out of the shadow of Maddy’s tragic life and accept love, or is the past forever destined to dictate their future?
Rural romance writer Cathryn Hein returns with a brand new release, titled The Country Girl. Hein’s latest novel was a real treat for this reader, as a big fan of Hein’s work, a new book by an author I know will not disappoint is always a welcome experience. The Country Girl is, put simply, a lovely read from Hein. Romance features prominently, along with issues of trust, guilt and moving forward.
Food blogger Tash Ranger is making a name for herself. With a successful food blog and now a major cookbook deal, things are looking up for this country girl. Tash decides to make a return home to Castlereagh, near the country town of Emu Springs, in Victoria. Although Tash loves returning home to see her family and old friends, the tragic accident of her best friend Maddie, makes coming home that bit harder for Tash. Tash holds a very guilty secret, Maddie and Task had a big row before her accident and now Tash can’t forgive herself. To makes matters worse, the two have been unable to reconcile due to Maddie’s condition, she is severely disabled. Tash continues to pretend everything is fine but underneath she is hurting. Another important person in Maddie’s life who is hurting and is stuck in a state of limbo is Maddie’s fiancé Patrick. Patrick, along with Maddie’s devoted parents are clinging onto the hope that Maddie will show signs of life. When Tash returns home after her success in the city, her positive outlook on life sparks something in the despairing Patrick. Patrick and Tash wrestle with the memories and guilt over moving on without Maddie. This friends to lovers story is one that packs an emotional punch for any seasoned rural romance reader.
As soon as I opened The Country Girl I was taken in by the beauty of this novel. The title page, along with each chapter opening, is adorned by a stunning native flower design. The aesthetic appeal of The Country Girl gave me a hint of what to expect in this wholesome country based tale. Packaged within this latest rural fiction tale from Cathryn Hein, is a romance that will tug at your heartstrings. A tissue box is a staple with this novel. Hein’s novel is touched with sadness, raw emotion but it also offers hope for the two endearing leads of this novel.
Hein has cast a very likeable couple at the centre The Country Girl. Patrick is the hero of the story. He is a young hardworking farmer, who enjoys playing football for his local club. Patrick is engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Maddie. However, a tragic accident on her horse Khan has left Maddie with a serious brain injury. Since the accident life has stood still for Patrick, despite those around him begging him to move on.
The other half of Hein’s couple is Tash Ranger. Tash also hails from the area of Castlereagh, but she has swapped life in the country for the city. Tash is a character I immediately warmed to. I loved her bright and bubbly personality. Tash’s overall positive and nurturing outlook on life also struck a chord with me. Tash is an interesting lead, her burgeoning career as a food blogger was fascinating and very current. Tash’s career efforts give room for Hein to include many pages devoted to cooking and consuming food. These were an absolute delight and really made the novel. Plenty of cooking smells wafted from the pages of The Country Girl. I also found myself drooling many times over thanks to Tash’s dishes! It is a shame Hein didn’t include a few of these fantastic recipes in the back of her book for readers to try!
Patrick and Tash are supported by a bevy of memorable characters. Of these, Tash’s grandfather or ‘Pa’ as she refers to him in the novel, is the most colourful. I loved the gentle interactions between Tash and Pa. I welcomed Pa’s gardening tips and loved how he was involved in Tash’s food blogging videos. Pa is quite the hip grandfather, with a tender heart to match. As with many of Hein’s previous novels, animals feature prominently in the story. There is Khan, Maddie’s horse, who is blamed for her accident. Khan ends up in the care of Tash. Then there is the loveable Coco. All of the animals featured in The Country Girl are wonderfully drawn.
As this is a rural romance novel, romance is a big theme in this appealing novel. The romance that develops between the leads, Tash and Patrick, is tainted by their reservations about Maddie. However, when these two interact, there is plenty of sizzling heat, tender moments and a genuine love story that develop between the two. Tash and Patrick’s love story is not perfect, nor is it smooth. Plenty of roadblocks stand in the way of their burgeoning romance, along with a good share of relationship baggage and misunderstandings that define their coming together. Hein is an expert in rural romance stories and this one is no exception.
Hein wraps up her latest novel by taking the reader of quite the tumultuous journey to happy ever after, expect some tears, laughter and that tingly feeling in your heart. The Country Girl features a pathway to love, hope and happiness that I enjoyed following. Hats off to Cathryn Hein, who has again delivered a magnificent rural fiction tale.
The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein was published on 18th December 2017 by Harlequin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Country Girl, Cathryn Hein, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books Australia. To read the original review on the Beauty and Lace website please visit here.