Author: Jennie Jones
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
The House on Jindalee Lane is my first taste of Jennie Jones, and her fictional town of Swallow’s Falls. This book is the first of a new series, but it seems to be a spin off series so there is a lot out there already about the town and it seems a lot of the secondary characters may have had their stories written. I did a little reading on Goodreads about The Swallow’s Fall series and I think it was the previous generation (which makes sense seeing this series is called The Daughters of Swallow’s Fall).
Jennie Jones is an internationally bestselling Australian author whose career began in the theatre; she has taken that experience and created Edie Granger.
Edie Granger was born and raised in the small Snowy Mountains town of Swallow’s Fall, population 182, but she hasn’t been home much since building her career in the Sydney theatre scene. Now that there’s a big shot American producer threatening to ruin her career Edie has fled to the safety of her hometown where she plans to put some thought into what comes next. How will she deal with Buchanan? And what will she do if he succeeds in annihilating her career?
Also newly returned to Swallow’s Fall is Ryan Monroe, a close childhood friend, who has recently left the Special Forces. He is trying to decide how to spend the rest of his life after making the life changing decision to leave the forces. He has a dream and a goal, now to make it happen.
I enjoyed The House on Jindalee Lane, I like the focus on the small tight knit community. The characters were certainly colourful and quirky which adds a refreshing element of humour. The story was well developed; offering elements of romance, suspense, tension and humour. The setting was gorgeous and inspired me to go visit.
Unfortunately, for me, the romantic tension felt a little contrived. So much of the story between Edie and Ryan needed only a conversation to solve the bulk of their issues. I found it a little tedious to watch the back and forth between them, the skirting around each other and not actually talking about what was between them. It was obvious where it was all going but each got snippets of info, jumped to massive conclusions and shut off or ran. This could have been a beautiful love story, and the groundwork was laid for it to be exactly that, but they couldn’t communicate effectively with each other and it just drove wedges between them that were completely unnecessary, and irritating.
Edie was a complex and interesting character. She built a career that she loved and distanced herself from her hometown, not necessarily intentionally. The time away had changed her but didn’t seem to have the same effect on those remaining in town. Edie doesn’t want to just sit around while she is exiled to Swallow’s Fall so she decides to create a small amateur theatre in her barn and put on a play that she has written, the play that sparked the bulk of her drama – Who Shot the Producer (a comedic whodunnit)
Edie’s sister suffered a horse inflicted injury and that is why Edie has come home, no-one knows the true reason for her return. She may not know how to deal with the threat Buchanan poses but she doesn’t want people to know; whether because she is afraid of their reaction or she doesn’t want them to worry.
Ryan is sharing the property at Jindalee Lane and helping to ready the barn for it’s new purpose. He overhears a conversation that leads him to discover the impending scandal and goes into protection mode. Ryan does his best to look out for Edie as well as doing some investigations of his own to discover the whole story.
I think the suspenseful elements were quite well written. Buchanan is a big shot producer who has his nose out of joint because he’s not used to being told no. Edie is a lot of things but she is an ethical small town girl at heart and she wants to make her way in the theatre world on her merits and not what she’ll do to get the part. She is hounded by rumours and on the brink of losing her agent so a small time production in her home town is designed to help her work out what’s really important to her and what will happen if Buchanan succeeds in ruining her reputation.
Buchanan might be big time but he isn’t above lowering himself to standover tactics, blackmail and thugs to get what he wants. He tries to keep all his heavy handedness going through his lawyers but if that fails he will get thugs on the case. This means Edie’s personal safety could be in as much danger as her reputation. Ryan is determined to keep her safe and brings in men of the town as he feels is needed, and friends from his forces days.
You never quite know if Edie is in physical danger, there are enough different threads to keep you guessing and this was fun to follow. It was a great way to demonstrate the way the town pulls together when it’s needed. It also served to show that moving on and building a career doesn’t necessarily make you an outsider, it’s all about perspective.
Edie spends the time preparing for the play reconnecting with her town, changing her perspective and developing a renewed love, but will it be enough to keep her around?
The House on Jindalee Lane is a lovely light read, I’m sure it will appeal to lovers of small town friends to lovers stories. I enjoyed the book and would read more stories in the series because I did quite like the characters.
The House on Jindalee Lane is Book #33 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.