Love Between the Pages is an author event series that features WA writers Sasha Wasley and Anthea Hodgson meeting readers in various locations across WA between 19 – 27 June. Further details on the locations of these events can be found here. To celebrate these great events, I have a Q & A with both authors and a review to share on the blog this week.
Title: True Blue
Author: Sasha Wasley
Published: May 28th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Romance, Rural
Rating: 4.5 stars
Love is random. Accidental. You just live your life and then one day it’ll hit you with the right person.
Wandering soul Freya ‘Free’ Paterson has finally come back home. Idealistic and trusting, she’s landed the job of her dreams working on an art project with the local school, but she hadn’t planned on meeting the man of her dreams as well.
With his irresistible Irish accent, Constable Finn Kelly is everything Free wants – genuine, kind . . . and handsome as hell. He’s also everything Free isn’t – stable and dependable. Yet despite the passion simmering between them, he just wants to be friends. What is he trying to hide?
As Free throws herself into the challenges of her new job, fending off the unwelcome advances of a colleague and helping to save her beloved Herne River, Finn won’t stay out of her way, or out of her heart.
But just when she needs him the most, will Finn reveal his true colours?
Like a breath of fresh air, Sasha Wasley, a much loved Australian rural romance author returns to the scene with her second book and the next chapter in her Paterson Sisters series, titled True Blue. This time around, Wasley brings us the effervescent character of Free, a young woman who learns that it is just as important to remain loyal to yourself when finding the true love of your life.
In True Blue, free spirit Freya ‘Free’ Paterson makes the triumphant return home to the Kimberley, after living life in the city. A posting involving an ambitious art project at a local school has drawn Free back home. This dream job is all Free could have wished for and life takes another positive turn for this deserving young lady when Finn, a local constable, walks into her life. Free experiences an immediate physical and emotional connection to Finn, he is quite literally her perfect man. The tall and handsome Irishman is on the secretive side and is much more stable than flighty Free. The attraction and tension between the two is undeniable, but Finn is the one holding back, he makes it clear he only wants to be friends, which only serves to confuse Free. Free thinks it is best to distract herself from the deep feelings she has for Finn by delving headfirst into her school based art project. But the project becomes something much more. Free is compelled to play an active role in the protection of the local Herne River, a place that holds much value to Free. Free’s activism soon gets her in trouble, along with her heart, which is full of love for a man who is proving hard to get.
It is hard to believe that this is Sasha Wasley’s second rural romance novel and only a year has passed since her first novel was released. Wasley’s writing is both mature and assured. The experience of reading True Blue reminded me of what an asset Sasha Wasley is to the West Australian writing community and what a great new voice she represents for the rural romance genre. As you can glean from these introductory comments, True Blue is a novel that I rate very highly.
Sasha Wasley changes tack a little in her latest novel. Whilst this novel gave me comfort and a warm embrace through revisiting the Paterson family, the setting is less rural. It is good to see Sasha spread her wings and settle in on a small town approach in her latest novel. It definitely works. Readers still get the city come country girl feel, but True Blue takes this aspect of the story off the beaten track, so to speak. True Blue is more about a young woman reconnecting with her roots and sharing her passion for the country landscape with a man she wants to share her life with.
Free is a character who I grew to love more and more as the book progressed. I admired her optimism, her ability to see the good in others, her wholesome nature and her positivity, which seems to rub off onto those she comes into contact with. At times, I did notice how much younger Free was to myself. She was a little naive, but her heart seemed to always be in the right place. When she is betrayed in the novel, it is interesting to see her reaction. I also thought she was a little forward and brave in approaching Finn to begin with, I sure wouldn’t have the nerve to make the moves Free does! It is hard not to find a little love in your heart for Free.
Wasley pairs Free up against a worthy hero in Finn. Finn and Free have vastly different personalities, but their attraction sizzles off the pages of the novel. I liked Finn as a person, what he stood for and his approach to all facets of his life. I also appreciated how Wasley chose to give Finn a rather secretive side and when we finally learn why Finn acts as he does, it all falls into place, like a love puzzle! Wasley ensures this is no smooth love story, she gives this couple a few roadblocks to contend with, which adds interest to the unfolding narrative.
True Blue should not be cast as a simple rural romance, it offers so much more. There is a an outstanding sub plot on environmental awareness and the protection of land, through the town’s battles to save the local Herne River from construction projects. Wasley puts the spotlight on the use of dams and how this directly impacts rural properties. This segment of the novel allows Wasley to demonstrate her extensive research in environmentalism. This dedication to research and the authenticity of the storyline is also witnessed in the artist craft scenes in her novel. It is obvious that Wasley has taken the time and care to thoroughly learn the art side of her novel. The end result was very pleasing to this reader.
For me, the highlight of True Blue was the core prose and bountiful descriptions of the landscape, as well as people seen through Free’s artistic eyes. If only I could see the world with the creative and artistic mind as Free, her awareness of colour and structure blew me away! What a gift to have such a creative lens!
True Blue is a tender and soulful novel, it epitomizes feel-good fiction. It is a book that would be perfect for those times when you are feeling down and need the warm embrace of infectious characters and a hopeful love story. Put this one to the top of your list if you love Australian rural fiction.
True Blue by Sasha Wasley was published on May 28th 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of True Blue, Sasha Wasley visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
True Blue is book #60 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge