#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · rural fiction

New Release Book Review: Hidden Valley by Annie Seaton

Title: Hidden Valley

Author: Annie Seaton

Published: March 28th 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 380

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Happily working on her family’s macadamia farm in the rolling hills of northern New South Wales, Dee Peters receives an enigmatic letter hinting of family secrets, and the prospect of her inheriting a cattle station in the Northern Territory outback. Torn in many directions: the request that she meet with a solicitor in Darwin, the evasive behaviour of her parents and the opposition of family friend and her-almost-fiance, Rodney Andrews, Dee’s contented life is suddenly thrown into turmoil.

The last thing she expects is to inherit a sprawling cattle station in the rugged outback, but she travels to the Territory to find the truth of the inheritance. Intrigued by the vague hints of the elderly solicitor, Dee decides to stay on the station for six months while she attempts to make sense of the past.

Ryan Carey has managed Wilderness Springs cattle station since his father died suddenly. Devastated when he discovers the property has not been bequeathed to him, the last thing Ryan expects is the arrival of a woman, and one who is keen to take over the running of the property. With reluctance, he agrees to work with Dee, but as she tries to make sense of why the property was left to her, a chilling secret from the past will shock them both.

As Dee and Ryan attempt to uncover the secrets of Wilderness Springs, it soon becomes very clear that someone will do anything to stop them discovering the truth.

Set in the harsh countryside west of Kakadu National Park, this is a thrilling mystery about hidden family secrets and finding love in the harsh Australian outback.

Review:

I began my journey with the Porter sisters in 2015 when I picked up the mesmerising Kakadu Sunset. I then followed this up with Daintree in 2016 and Diamond Sky in 2017. It’s been a while and a lot of books in between the last time I was acquainted with the Porter sisters, so my eyes lit up when I gained a copy of Hidden Valley. Annie Seaton’s latest is the fourth and final (maybe – check out the acknowledgements for more details) issue in this well received series. It delivers a combination of romance, family secrets, intrigue and drama, which is all set to stunning Australian backdrop.

Hidden Valley transports the reader effortlessly to the Kakadu National Park in Australia’s picturesque top end. Family secrets dominate this new outback-based title from Annie Seaton. We meet Dee Peters, a hardworking young woman who is dedicated to maintaining her family’s macadamia farm in NSW. When Dee is sent a letter indicating she is linked to a life changing family secret and an inheritance, Dee’s life is thrown into chaos. As Dee wrestles with some important decisions, Ryan Carey is dealing with the fallout from his father’s sudden death. In his grief, Ryan is confronted with the harsh reality that he is not the recipient of his family’s property and thriving cattle station. The arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to have ownership over the Wilderness Springs property sends Ryan in a spin. With some trepidation, Ryan lets Dee into his life and together they try to discover how Dee is linked to Ryan’s family. When the two uncover a shocking secret, they must both deal with the consequences. But someone is watching and waiting in the wings, determined to prevent the full truth from being exposed. Can Ryan and Dee settle the secrets that surround Wilderness Springs?

I consider myself a loyal fan of Annie Seaton. I have really enjoyed following the very engaging Porter sisters series since it began back in 2015. Although I have read all three previous books in the series, I will say that I read them almost as stand-alone novels, due to timing gaps between each story. I know of others who have read this series in complete order, one after the other, to enhance their reading experience. However, I was still able to appreciate Hidden Valley as an independent release. For those who love a spot of page-based travel, especially as we move into the cold winter months, Hidden Valley will definitely draw significant appeal. Annie Seaton’s new title was quite the winter warmer for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the top end.

As with all Annie Seaton’s previous releases Hidden Valley doesn’t disappoint scenery wise. We are taken to a couple of very memorable Australian locations in this tale and I loved my journey to both spots. I was completely transported to Seaton’s Aussie settings. Seaton is an author with an keen eye for detail when describing her landscapes. It is also very obvious that Seaton has a clear passion for her country. In addition, Seaton has an ability to expresses the spiritual awareness and wildlife features of the environment in which Hidden Valley is based. This is a real treat for those who have a deep appreciation for Australia’s magnificent landscape.

Seaton’s characters are a wonderful bunch to get to know. I enjoyed my connection to Dee for the duration of Hidden Valley. I felt very close to Dee as she made her way through some tricky territory in regards to family secrets, inheritance claims, land ownership and responsibility. Dee is character with her head on her shoulders, she is practical, hardworking, honest and loyal. I admired her spirit and I longed for Dee to succeed in this tale. I also wanted Dee to reach a sense of peace in regards to the family and emotional turmoil she is faced with as the storyline progresses. I’m going to avoid delving into this aspect too much, due to plot spoilers. Ryan is Seaton’s male lead and he is an admirable man. I warmed to this protagonist and I valued following his character pathway. Despite the twists, turns, hard choices, heartbreaking decisions, difficult truths and inner turmoil, Seaton’s leads manage to conquer their setbacks.

Hidden Valley features an engrossing narrative arc, that incorporates elements of intrigue, mystery, drama and romance, which is all set in the wonderful top end frontier. A big thumbs up from me!

Hidden Valley by Annie Seaton was published on March 28th 2021. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Hidden Valley, Annie Seaton, visit here.

*I wish to thank the author for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Hidden Valley is book #53 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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