fiona mccallum

Oh Emily: Time Will Tell

TBYL Reviewer Tam Jenkin was very excited when this book came her way…

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This beautiful story, Time Will Tell by Fiona McCallum (Harlequin) is the second instalment in The Button Jar series by Fiona McCallum. I read the first story, Saving Grace last year and loved it and after eagerly awaiting the second book, I was not disappointed.

time will tell

Emily Oliphant has made some drastic changes in her life. She’s ditched her abusive husband and embarked on her own adventure, renovating a dilapidated property and starting up her own business. Against all odds, she’s found a sense of place and purpose, but is still too scarred by her past to form any romantic attachments, regardless of who’s vying for her attention.

Now she’s received an offer from the elderly owners of her beloved rented home to buy the property, land and all. Hopeful and tentative, Emily feels she is taking a step in the right direction, although is unsure how she will raise the money.  Except Emily holds a button jar – a gift from her recently deceased Granny Mayfair – which, unbeknownst to her, could contain the solution to all her problems…

But just when Emily thought things were beginning to go her way, everything takes a turn. Soon, she’s involved in a romance she thought she had no time for and dealing with the shock of two unexpected deaths, forcing her to make some difficult decisions. With her finances, her property, her friendships and her budding relationship now hanging in limbo, Emily is once again drawing on her inner strength to overcome a new set of challenges.

I was extremely impressed that this book picked up at exactly the place that Saving Grace finished, meaning that I didn’t feel that I had missed out on any of the journey, and I was quickly drawn back into the story. Again, Emily is our leading lady and her story is filled with tragedy, tough decisions, and a further journey of self discovery.

Emily has to decide whether she should take up the offer to buy the old house she is living in and possibly make her dreams of running a Bed & Breakfast a reality. She just can’t work out how she will afford it. Emily’s mother is still making her undermine her own abilities, but with the help of her Dad, her best friend Barbara and the handsome Jake who comes visiting again from Melbourne, she begins to learn how to stand up to her mother and stop listening so closely to all whispering voices of self-doubt.

Just as she thinks decisions have been made tragedy strikes, leaving Emily in shock and also with the possibility of a farm to care for. Emily finds she is a topic of town gossip again and this has her making some decisions which leave her lonely and questioning everything all over again!

While reading, I did feel that sometimes Emily needed a good shake to get her to see clearly – I really didn’t want to mess up her budding new relationship with Jake. I felt slightly anxious about all the issues that Emily had to deal with and wanted to tell her ‘just one thing at a time, Em’. Fiona McCallum writes beautifully and again she swept me away with her descriptions of country living. I wanted to take early morning walks on the farm with Emily, and I wanted to sit down and have a cuppa with her and Barbara. This book very nearly had me packing my bags to make the country move myself!

We get answers about Emily’s Gran’s button jar and the mystery of “seven of Golconda’s finest”. Jake continues to take a stronger role in Emily’s life and in the story. I enjoyed watching this character develop. I also enjoyed the way Fiona McCallum tells a love story without it all being pages of description about what happens in the bedroom. A beautiful novel filled with romance, inner strength and above all, friendship.

Meant To Be is the third instalment of The Button Jar series, and is due for release in November 2014…and I can’t wait!!!

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If you’d like to find out more about Time Will Tell by Fiona McCallum check it out at Harlequin Books today.

 

Tam loved it! Saving Grace

I think TBYL Reviewer Tam J might have liked Saving Grace, by Fiona McCallum (Harlequin) just a little bit…

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Well, I have to start by saying I loved this book!! I loved the characters, the friendships and the intrigue, the imagery of the beautiful countryside and of course, the touch of romance.

saving-graceWhen Emily Oliphant married John Stratten, she thought it was the beginning of an exciting new adventure — standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most eligible farmer in the district and pitching in to build a thriving agricultural business. Three years later, however, Emily sees her marriage for what it is — a loveless tie to a callous man.

When John’s cruelty reaches new heights, Emily is forced to move out, braving both her husband’s wrath and her mother’s glaring disapproval. With the encouragement of her new friend Barbara, Emily moves into an abandoned property and takes on the mammoth task of turning the unloved house into a home. In the process she discovers a new business venture, meets new friends and finds an inner strength she never knew she had.

Emily’s fragile confidence is soon tested, though, when the owners of the property make her a tempting offer. Will she risk everything and invest in the ramshackle house that has finally given her a sense of purpose? Or will Emily listen to the views of the community — and the voice of her mother — and go back to her life with John?

Emily is the leading lady in this beautiful book of great sadness and great courage. After discovering that she has made a terrible mistake marrying John Stratten she endures the abuse for three long years, until one day she can bear no more and raises the courage to finally stand on her own and leave him.

Emily adopts a dog of her own, Grace, who becomes her greatest companion. Grace was Emily’s attempt at comfort, in the hope of helping her cope with the cruelty of John and the long hours that she was forced to spend alone in the house while her husband worked on the land (which he forbid Emily from helping with) or while he drank at the pub and did God knows what else.

It’s through Grace that Emily comes to meet Barbara, a woman who has married a local but who was originally from out of town. Barbara is looking for friendship just as much as Emily, and as such, develop a fast friendship. It’s wonderful to watch the bond between them grow, and see just how must they help each other through life’s challenges.

This novel is very relatable and the pictures that Fiona McCallum paints with her words are just stunning. I felt as though I was living right alongside Emily in the old abandoned house which she moves into and does up. I was right alongside her as she picked apricots for her jam, I felt like I was alongside her as she spent dinners with her cold and disapproving mother, and I felt her grief as she mourned her Gran, a much-loved Grandmother who passes away at the beginning of the story.

This was a book I found difficult to put down and as it become obvious toward the end of the novel that this story was far from over, I became even more immersed. As the book draws to a close, Emily is only just starting to develop a new relationship with the handsome Jake from Melbourne, her jam is starting to sell at the markets and perhaps the most intriguing story left unfinished – what is left to find out about Gran and Prince Ali and what happened to the gift of “seven of Golconda’s finest”. Will Emily accept the offer to own the property she has moved into? Will she make her dreams of a B&B come true? Will she see Jake again? And will she solve Gran’s mystery?

I can barely wait for the conclusion of this story as I have been left feeling like Emily was a dear friend and want to see what her next moves will be! Hoping that the sequel to this story is not too long a wait!!

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So I guess if the next instalment comes my way, I’d better send it on to Tam, don’t you think?

If you’d like to find out more about Saving Grace, by Fiona McCallum you can do so here…

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Just a little bit country: Wattle Creek

I think it’s fair to say that the Australian country-side is naturally pretty romantic, the outback mysterious and beautiful. And for this, it should probably not be that big of a surprise that rural romance, otherwise known as country lit or ‘chook lit’ has become such a popular new genre.

Over the past couple of years, rural romance novels have experienced great success, their popularity increasing four-fold with new titles being released regularly and being very well received.

One of today’s most well known outback romance writers is Fiona McCallum’s who’s Wattle Creek (Harlequin Books) I’ve just recently read. A story full CWA meetings, small town gossip, bush fires and handsome young farmers, it’s chock full of country charm.

Fiona’s novel is the story of Jacqueline, a young woman who finds herself making a home in the small town of Wattle Creek, and Damien, a young farmer struggling:

Damien McAllister is a man on the brink. Spending long, hard days on a farm he has no affection for; and nights ignoring the criticisms of his mother, Damien can no longer remember what he’s living for. But in a small town like Wattle Creek, there are few people to turn to – and Damien learned long ago to keep his problems to himself.

Until Jacqueline Havelock, a young psychologist escaping her own issues, arrives fresh from the city and makes Damien question everything he has know about himself… also igniting a spark in his lonely heart.

Refreshingly, although Jacqueline and Damien’s fledgling relationship is the core of this story, it is a gentle romance, growing slowly and pleasantly. There’s no heaving chests or throbbing of any kind, it’s just a lovely story of two people finding in each other something that they both desperately need.

Ultimately Damien needs companionship and support, and in his story, the author is able to share a really  authentic tale of bush challenges. It explores the issues of isolation and relentlessly hard-work, and of the psychological challenges that many farmers face silently. Loneliness, depression and thoughts of suicide are all struggles faced by rural men, and this story considers them all.

Jacqueline faces her own demons, and finds out that running away doesn’t always work to exorcise them. To do that, she needs a champion…

This is a lovely novel. It is an easy read, nice and quick to get through. It’s a little cliched in parts, but other than that it’s well written and very readable. For me, I found it a really wonderful introduction to this relatively new genre, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Fiona McCallum has two earlier books Paycheque and Nowhere Else, both available through Harlequin Books.

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Winners warmly announced

I’m pleased to announce the two winners of our Harlequin Books give-away! Anniepinkshoes and Carmel Corry have each won a copy of their choice of the books Fiona McCallum’s Wattle CreekBoomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe or Temptation, by Karen Ann Hopkins.

Thanks everyone for entering, and rest assured there will be a couple of more chances to win over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned! Plus July’s TBYL News: All Things Books... is out on Monday, and there will be a chance to win a great book from Picador. Subscribe here…

Annie and Carmel, just email me your details (postal address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Wednesday, 4.07.12 and I’ll make arrangements for a copy to be sent to you! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 5.07.12