Title: The Boundary Fence
Author: Alissa Callen
Published: January 20th 2020
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
A warm-hearted and touching story about recovering after trauma, love and community. A new Woodlea rural romance by bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.
Healing doesn’t just take time, it takes courage…
The scars country vet Ella Quinlivan hides are not solely on the outside. Men are off limits. She fills her world with her friends, work and the colourful community of small town Woodlea. She also becomes custodian of a sandstone cottage of an elderly friend whose teenage daughter went missing two decades ago.
With a broken marriage behind him, Saul Armstrong is determined to recapture his dreams by bringing American bison to the Australian bush. He intends to stick to his side of the high wire fence that divides his farm from his distracting new neighbour, Ella.
When Saul calls out Ella for a bison emergency she isn’t just thrown out of her comfort zone by dealing with an unfamiliar animal. Slow-smiling and guarded Saul stirs emotions she’d long ago discarded.
As the summer heat parches the landscape and dust obscures the sun, hidden secrets come to light. Not only will Ella and Saul be tested, the connection forged between them will be threatened. Will love be enough to guarantee their freedom or will fear continue to dictate the direction of their lives?
Alissa Callen’s warm and embracing country based Woodlea series returns, with a new installment titled, The Boundary Fence. A consuming story of past hurts, new beginnings, a long buried mystery and community ties, Alissa’s Callen new rural treat will draw in fans old and new.
The Boundary Fence ushers in two new leads, Ella Quinlivan (a minor character from previous issues in the Woodlea series) and Saul Armstrong, a newcomer. Ella is a local vet, who is nursing some pretty big scars from her past. She loves her local community and although she has lots of friends in her life, she is not ready to welcome a man into her heart. Saul comes to Woodlea with a broken heart, but a stiff sense of determination to get his America bison stud off the ground. The boundary fence that divides Ella’s property with Saul’s, acts as a line to stop this couple from falling in love. However, a vet related emergency thrusts Ella straight into Saul’s arms. Bonding over his bison farm, the two begin to forge a tentative connection, which will see them slowly break down their barriers to love. But life isn’t easy, as Ella, Saul and the community members of Woodlea discover. There are new challenges to negotiate and problems from the past to overcome.
I consider myself a set fan of the Woodlea series, I have enjoyed the first book in the series, and The Boundary Fence. However, I am keen to catch up on the two books in between, The Red Dirt Road and The Round Yard, along with the accompanying novellas. So many books, so little time! Anyway, I digress, I do have a connection to Alissa Callen’s work. In the past, I have found great appeal in her genuine characters, down to earth rural settings, interesting plotlines and the pure warmth that seems to emanate from the pages of all her novels. The Boundary Fence was no exception to the rule here.
Ella is a character who is easily likeable and her life definitely pulled at my heartstrings. However, Ella is not one to wallow away and say ‘woe is me’. Rather, Ella ploughs away at her job as a vet and she passionately tends to her property. Ella also has strong links in the local Woodlea community and she seems to be embraced by all, who have taken Ella under their wing. Many of their intentions are honourable, but some got under my skin!
Saul, the hero of this tale, shares some similar traits as Ella, but he also stands out as an individual character. Saul is Australian, but he has spent some time in the US, working on rodeos. The Boundary Fence sees Saul return home, with big hopes to build a successful bison empire. I loved this aspect of the story. I felt that prior to this book I hadn’t given bison much thought at all, but now I feel more educated in the field of bison care and farming. Saul is recovering from quite a nasty relationship breakdown, which Callen delves into as the book progresses. It is understandable why Saul feels as he does and acts in the way he does towards Ella. However, I liked his character and the resulting romance journey, it felt authentic.
Callen presents us with a love story that is about a slow and growing attraction between two leads, who clearly have big hang-ups. Ella and Saul have plenty of past baggage. However, the small and gentle steps these two take to love was refreshing. The romance never felt forced and as a result, I was able to fully accept the love story that eventually develops.
Callen offsets her rural romance with an element of mystery. I did appreciate the sideline story about Violet, Ella’s neighbour and her missing daughter. This counteracted the character journey and romance plot very well. This segment of the story definitely kept the pages turning for me until the end.
I can’t say for sure if this is the final goodbye for Woodlea, I have inkling that Woodlea has some more secrets and stories to share in the future. In the meantime, I would highly recommend The Boundary Fence to fans of homely style rural fiction books.
The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen was published on 20th January 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Boundary Fence, Alissa Callen, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Boundary Fence is book #18 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge