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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Book talk: Romantic tales for Valentine’s Day

Jeff Popple reviews three romantic tales for Valentine’s Day. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: murdermayhemandlongdogs.com

Starting from Scratch by Penelope Janu

Mira, $29.99

Sapphie Brown is almost the quintessential rural romance heroine. A compassionate teacher, youth worker, environmentalist, carer of ex-racehorses and owner of a neglected farmhouse, Sapphie is clever, creative, charming and unlucky in love. When the attractive environmental engineer Matt Laaksonen comes back into her life, Sapphie has the chance to rekindle the connection that once existed between them but is still scarred by the events from years ago. Old love, lost secrets, a beautiful Australian rural setting and a likable cast of characters make Starting from Scratch an enjoyable read for this Valentine’s Day.

Everything Is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

Piatkus, $32.99

Eleven years ago, Amy’s boyfriend disappeared along with her best friend. It was such a shock to Amy that she gave up on life and drifted into a boring admin job instead of becoming an artist. Her only pleasure now is collecting mementos that most other people would consider rubbish. With newspapers piled up in the hall and wine bottles and china birds scattered everywhere, her house has become a messy collection of memories. Terribly anti-social, Amy is not too interested when new next-door neighbours move in, but gradually she finds her life shifting and new opportunities opening up. A light and uplifting read, with some good touches of humour and a dollop of mystery. 

Crackenback by Lee Christine

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

Lee Christine made a good entry into the Australian crime genre with last year’s Charlotte Pass and has now followed it up with another entertaining Snowy Mountains mystery, Crackenback. Police Detective Pierce Ryder and ski patroller Vanessa Bell return for a second adventure and are joined by remote Thredbo lodge manager Eva Bell and the mysterious Jack Walker. With a killer on the loose in the Snowy Mountains, the four of them become caught up in a dangerous sequence of events that leads to an exciting climax. As with Lee’s first novel, this is an engaging tale with a brisk pace, some good twists and a nice dash of romance.

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