BOOK CLUB: Shelter From the Storm

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If you have enjoyed Penelope Janu’s earlier novels, then “Shelter From the Storm” will definitely appeal. It revisits a familiar setting, themes that Janu has explored before, and characters from previous novels. Despite that, this isn’t repetitive and will be enjoyed by fans.

Patience Cartwright joined the navy in part to escape her hometown, and in part to indulge her love of the water. She’s had a reasonably successful career but regularly clashes with senior officers. After the latest conflict, she’s forced to accept a secondment on land as a way of working her way back to the kind of work she wants to be doing.

She’s not comfortable with the secondment. She’ll be working with an environmental team near the town where she grew up. She’s not happy that she’s been asked to quietly investigate certain things about the team. She doesn’t want to revisit the area where she grew up unhappily. Nor is she thrilled that one of the members of the team is Hugo Halstead, who broke her heart when she was a teenager.

But Patience has little choice. A life-threatening illness forces her to spend still more time where she grew up, and with Hugo and his family. Their complicated feelings for each other are impossible to ignore, and Patience becomes aware of the community in a way she never has before. However, Patience has a good deal of past trauma to work through before she can make a decision about the future.

The novel is set in and around Horseshoe Hill, a fictional town that has been featured in many of Janu’s novels. The setting is vivid and lovingly drawn. New readers will have no trouble picturing it; past readers will likely find their perception of it deepened.

Patience is a character mentioned in other novels, including “Clouds on the Horizon”. Hugo appears briefly in “Starting from Scratch”. Janu uses this latest novel as a subtle way to give readers updates on many characters they’ve met in earlier novels. Many readers will appreciate knowing what happened to them after they achieved their “happy ever after”, and will feel that this too deepens the background of this novel.  

The cross-overs are obvious to continuing readers, but subtle enough not to cause any problems for new readers. Each of Janu’s novels works perfectly well as a stand-alone.

There are strong themes that run through Janu’s work. One is that her books feature characters who are passionate about the environment, often working in areas focused on preserving and improving the environment. Janu writes these aspects of the characters and novels with passion and commitment, and it’s easy to engage with this theme.

Another common theme is women who’ve experienced deep trauma in their childhood or young adulthood, and the need to overcome that. Janu depicts the trauma sensitively and realistically. However, I don’t always find her depiction of the recovery process to be convincing. Possibly that can be attributed to the length limitations of a romance novel.

Other aspects of the novel work well – the familiarity with which characters talk to each other is particularly notable. Janu avoids having her characters talk like soap opera characters who have to recap everything for viewers all the time. Instead, they assume each other knows and remembers things, while the narrative provides any prompts needed for readers.

Overall, this is a pleasant romance that will be a hit with Janu’s fans. I didn’t feel it was her strongest novel, so new readers may prefer to start with one of the earlier ones. Despite the heavy themes, this is a fairly light read written in an easy reading style.

A selection of our members are reading Shelter From The Storm by Penelope Janu. You can read their feedback below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Shelter From the Storm

  1. Another awesome book from Penelope, filled with romance, love, shadows from the past and some secrets. I absolutely adored this story. I couldn’t put it down.

  2. Shelter from the Storm by Penelope Janu is an enjoyable, easy to read story of second chance love. Patience and Hugo knew each other as teenagers. Now as adults working together on an environmental project their feelings of old resurface. Can Naval orders for confidentiality, old family promises and the hurts of the past be overcome to see them get their happily ever after?

    If you have read other books by Penelope Janu, you will find some familiar faces from the town of Horseshoe Hill woven throughout this story.

    I found this book hard to put down as I just needed to know what happened next.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. Thankyou Beauty and Lace, HQ and Penelope Janu for the opportunity to read and review Shelter from the Storm.
    I enjoyed this book and found the characters and their phobias very believable.
    Patience is a Navel Officer and as her two sisters along with her have had a traumatic childhood Patience is somewhat defensive, outspoken and a little wary and finds herself in trouble with the strict rules of the Navy hierarchy.
    After a resent overstepping she is forced to accept a secondment which will mean she will work in a town where there are friends and family and especially work alongside a man she has history with.
    As Patience puts all her abilities into the new work it becomes increasingly difficult to get past the memories of the things that happened to her before she ran away to find a new life in the Navy.
    After suffering a traumatic illness Patience recuperates back in the place she grew up in Horseshoe Hill being looked after by the kindly folk that natured her as a child.
    Finding herself still very attracted to her friend from the past Hugo Halstead she has many hurdles to jump before she can commit to any new relationship.. Work life in the new job becomes increasingly difficult as secrets and loyalties get in the way. Definitely a book to be recommended.

  4. This novel is set in rural New South Wales and explores the themes of environmental regeneration, dealing with a difficult childhood, neurodiversity, what constitutes “home”, recovering from a physical trauma, and falling in love.
    Patience is a naval officer who is seconded to an environmental organisation to secretly investigate anomalies in the spending of government funding. She is forced to return to the area in which she grew up and interact with the kind family who took care of her at times. Their son, Hugo, was the one she fell in love with when she was 17 and their relationship is rekindled.
    Patience is a fascinating character, a maths genius who counts and calculates constantly as a calming strategy. Her ambivalence about Hugo and returning home is her constant mindset, as is her need to literally “get back on the horse” after a serious accident while riding.
    I enjoyed the story but I feel there was a lot of repetition and I would have preferred the action to have moved more quickly. It was an easy read and I’d recommend it to those who enjoy rural romances.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Enterprises for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review Shelter from the Storm by Penelope Janu.
    Patience is in the navy and is quite often posted to boats that are overseas, when some disciplinary matters arise. Patience is then seconded to an environmental team in the job of assistant, with an extra role that no one else on her team knows about. A man from Patience’s earlier years is also on the project, a man by the name of Hugo Halstead. In her earlier years Patience had a crush on Hugo when they swam on the same swimming team. Patience was smitten by Hugo and in the end he ended up breaking her heart. Patience had been avoiding Hugo since then. When she is injured and needs to recuperate the only place is at Hugo’s parents farm and she can’t avoid Hugo anymore.

    I really enjoyed reading this book and always love reading books set in Australia. It was an easy read and I would recommend it to everyone.

  6. Shelter From The Storm by Penelope Janu was a fabulous book. I was engaged in story from the first chapter and couldn’t put the book down.
    Main character Patience Cartwright is a young naval officer who values her career which gives her purpose and a place of belonging. She never intended returning to the country town that she grew up in, Horseshoe Hill, where she had an unhappy childhood and had left with a broken heart. But fate intervened and Patience was forced to accept a secondment nearby on the same team as the one man, biologist Hugo, she never wanted to see again.
    This was a well written rural romance with a great mix of likeable characters, interesting facts and information and family drama. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys being totally immersed in the lives of the characters and a feel good ending.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction for the opportunity to read and review Shelter From The Storm.

  7. Penelope Janu’s Shelter from the Storm was an extremely enjoyable rural romance.
    Patience Cartwright, a naval officer and a maths whiz is thrown together with her teenage crush, Hugo to work on an environmental project with a secret assignment. With a difficult childhood in the past, she is independent and strong but but must work through various challenges and past hurts.

    I’d read the earlier novel, Clouds on the Horizon, and while you can read this one on its own, it was delightful to find some connections. In this novel, I really liked how the reader learnt about the histories of the characters as well as the titbits about frogs and river health. I also found the supporting characters – both work colleagues and family members – so delightful.

    Not only is it a very easy-to-read romance with a lovely Australian setting, it also contains quite a bit of action and issues to delve into. I would recommend it, without a doubt!

    I will certainly be looking for further novels by this author. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this novel.

  8. Shelter from the Storm by Penelope Janu was a good read, just not a favourite read for me.
    I struggled to connect with the main character Patience and so found the book a bit tedious at times. This was definitely just me though as I can see others absolutely loved the book. I also found Penelope’s previous book Clouds on the Horizon difficult to read so I think it is simply a style of writing that doesn’t really work for me. Hey I can’t love every book I read can I?!
    I did enjoy parts of the story though, especially about conservation as this is something that I can relate too and am passionate about so found it quite interesting. I also enjoyed that this book touched on characters from her previous novel so gave it a sense of familiarity. I don’t believe it is necessary to have read previous books though, it is a nice to have done rather than a need to have done.
    The story revolves around Patience who works in the Navy. After being reprimanded and almost losing her job for an incident she is seconded out to work with an environmental team that is headed up by the one true love that broke her heart many years ago. Vowing to put personal feelings aside, all is going well until she suffers from a life-threatening illness. Being forced to recuperate with the family who’s son hurt her so badly is another duty she needs to tackle but this duty has a way of tugging at her heart strings and opening up her eyes to something she never realised she wanted let alone needed.
    I liked this book and am glad I persevered to the end and would recommend it to those who enjoy rural romance, horses and conservation.
    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace and to Harper Collins for the chance to read this.

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