#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith Writes. How does it work? We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.
My third #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A book with a yellow cover’. I selected to read and review the latest release from one of my favourite rural romance writers, Barbara Hannay. The book is The Country Wedding and the front cover of this delightful Australian country romance is a warm yellow. It also features one of most favourite flowers, the tropical frangipani.
Two country weddings, fifty years apart … and the miracle of second chances
In the tiny Tablelands township of Burralea, musician Flora Drummond is preparing to play at the wedding of a very close friend. If only she could forget the embarrassing teenage crush she once had on the handsome groom.
All is as it should be on the big day. The little church is filled with flowers, the expectant guests are arriving, and Mitch is nervously waiting – but his bride has failed to appear.
Decades earlier, another wedding in the same church led to a similar story of devastation. Hattie missed out on marrying her childhood sweetheart the first time around and now she has returned to the scene of her greatest heartache.
As Flora is drawn into both romantic dramas, she must also confront a relationship crisis of her own. But the past and the present offer promise for the future and there’s a chance for friends, old and new, to help each other to heal.
From the rolling green hills of Far North Queensland to the crowded streets of Shanghai on the eve of the Second World War, this is a beautiful romantic saga that tells of two loves lost and found and asks the questions – do we ever get over our first love, and is it ever too late to make amends?
While looking on my overcrowded bookshelf for a book with a yellow cover, my eyes rested on The Country Wedding by Barbara Hannay. I soon snatched this book from its place on my shelf and decided this book was the perfect read for book bingo. The stunning cover is definitely yellow and has a great summer feel to it. It also features a bride wearing my favourite flower and my own choice of wedding flower, a frangipani. Hannay is an author who has captured this reader’s heart on more than one occasion, so an opportunity to read this book for my challenge was welcomed.
Barbara Hannay’s latest romantic saga crosses two time frames and two different countries. It also links two weddings, set decades apart, as both events take place in the tiny church located in Queensland’s tablelands region of Burralea. For keen readers of Barbara Hannay’s work, this is the site of one of her previous novels, The Grazier’s Wife. In the present day, the local community has gathered for the wedding of their respected local police officer Mitch. Flora Drummond, who has held a torch for Mitch for many years, is struggling with her feelings and summoning the strength to play her violin at Mitch’s ceremony. However, a missing bride soon puts a stop to this wedding taking place. This quaint church has also seen heartache many years earlier, when Hattie witnessed her childhood love, Joe, marry another woman. It seems history is repeating itself in Burralea. Hannay deftly combines the romantic dramas of Flora, Mitch, Hattie and Joe under the backdrop of the tropical beauty of far north Queensland. In The Country Wedding, second chances in the love department are very much on the menu.
A new romantic saga from Barbara Hannay always induces a round of excitement for this reader. I have been a fan of Hannay’s novels for some time now. Home Before Sundown sealed the deal for me. From then on, I’ve been hooked on Hannay’s work. When I first saw the title of this new novel by Hannay, I couldn’t wait to read it. I will admit to being a sucker for stories centered on weddings. The Country Wedding offers, not one but two wedding narrative threads, all contained within the one exceptional novel.
I felt immediately enmeshed in the wedding proceedings presented in this book. Hannay does a fine job of transporting the reader to the involving scenes of her book. I soon got caught up in the emotion and drama of the two different weddings in Burralea, despite the decades that separate them.
There was a lovely sense of familiarity about The Country Wedding. The central character of this book also appeared briefly in The Graziers Wife, which was also written by Hannay. Do expect a heartfelt reunion with Seth Drummond, Alice and Charlie if you have read The Grazier’s Wife. However, I do need to make it clear that there is no prerequisite to read The Grazier’s Wife in order to appreciate The Country Wedding.
As with all of Hannay’s work, expect to be enthralled by her setting country based locale. I have never had the pleasure to visit the tablelands region of far north Queensland, though Hannay’s enticing setting descriptions have encouraged my resolve to get there one day. In the mean time, I enjoyed the experience of being swept up in the rural township of Burralea. There is a passion and a strong sense of authenticity behind Hannay’s setting descriptions that speak volumes for her love of the land. The sense of community spirit and the colourful characters that make the town of Burralea come across clear as day in The Country Wedding. Likewise, I was impressed with Hannay’s ability to bring war time Shanghai to life, through her passages in the novel which are devoted to Hattie’s childhood and past. This forms the appealing past based narrative of the novel.
Romance is definitely the order of the day in The Country Wedding. Hannay is a respected romance writer, with an impressive back list of romance novels. It is no wonder that both the romances featured in this novel are utterly engaging. The first, involving Flora and Mitch, was a great example of a modern day love story, complete with an unfulfilled teenage crush and a bride with cold feet. Hannay also takes the time to insert an important thread on psychological abuse in a relationship, which has resulted in Flora’s brave decision to flee her marriage and career for Burralea. The second romance was the ultimate second chance love story, full of missed opportunities, misunderstandings and a wonderful nostalgic feel. Both love stories equally warmed my heart.
Hannay presents the reader with an additional narrative treat in The Country Wedding. Hannay includes a mystery element to her novel, through the discovery of human remains on the property owned by Seth, Flora’s brother. The resulting investigation and the story that emerges from the appearance of these bones offers the reader another fine reason to enjoy this novel.
Hannay shows us the path to happiness is not an easy one. In The Country Wedding, happiness is threatened by time, wrong decisions and heartache but in the end, love prevails for all. I encourage you to pick this one up if you are a fan of romance novels and high quality Australian sagas.
The Country Wedding by Barbara Hannay was published on July 31st 2017. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
The Country Wedding is book #12 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge