Author: Mandy Magro
Publication Date: 23rd April 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
A Country Mile is the latest release by Bestselling Australian Author Mandy Magro, set in a small Queensland town. I have read a number of Mandy’s books and always enjoy the story. Coming up to the end of May I have lots of admin type things that need to be done but I also knew I needed a book for the school run yesterday, the internal debate was on about whether I picked up a May title I hadn’t got to or started on the pile for June. May obviously won and I wondered if I would have the chance to finish it, a clingy baby today made admin difficult so it was snuggles and reading. Now the book is finished and I’m determined the review won’t wait 8 weeks the way Birthright did, apparently the June lists can wait though I must say trying to type with baby sitting on my desk cuddled into my shoulder is less comfy than it looks.
Sophie Copinni and Dylan Stone were best friends growing up who embarked on a teenage romance, they were perfect for each other and very much in love until Sophie broke it off out of the blue and moved to London. She devastated Dylan and things have been very tense the couple of times they have had to see one another in the ensuing years.
A wedding approaches between Sophie’s cousin and Dylan’s best mate and that means that they will have to see each other again, and be paired in the bridal party.
Both Sophie and Dylan have gone on to lead very different lives, and now find themselves at a very similar crossroad considering a permanent move back to their small hometown.
I think that A Country Mile shows great growth in Magro’s storytelling, I found it to be a much deeper story and some of the little things that have bugged me previously in her books were much less pronounced. Dialogue can be tricky to nail in a way that feels authentic and though there were still times I had to wonder if people really talk like that, on the most part I did find it more authentic; though sometimes it still felt a little too-Aussie.
Mandy is a big romantic at heart with a belief in soulmates and that once in a lifetime soul-deep love, and that shines brightly in this story; maybe more so than her other books I have read.
There are secrets, lies and twists in A Country Mile that kept me guessing throughout and they make it a little tricky to review well without spoilers. What I can say is that there were some double standards when it came to secrets that did grate a little but in the big scheme that was pretty minor.
The storyline was quite focussed on Sophie and Dylan which left the secondary characters quite shadowy, we didn’t get to know them very well and I think there was scope to explore them a little more deeply.
A Country Mile is a very serious storyline, when you get into the secrets, and I loved following along to try and work out what was going on. The secrets piled up and poor Sophie soon became the secrets vault and it was a role she wasn’t happy with, there is only so long you can be the keeper of secrets before something has to give; especially if they are secrets you don’t believe should be kept secret.
This book has a little bit of everything to take your emotions on a non-stop ride, a ride that will take them through highs, lows an everything in between. A Country Mile has some pretty steamy scenes but there aren’t very many of them and they aren’t intimately graphic though they are pretty descriptive. Her intimate scenes definitely focus on making love and a melding of beings more than just having sex.
I loved Dylan’s character, who doesn’t love a bad boy with a good heart. A tattooist managing a Sydney tattoo parlour but becoming concerned that things aren’t as above board as he believed. He’s a sensitive soul with some pretty heavy duty walls up to protect himself from heartbreak after being shattered by Sophie. He’s loyal and dependable, and most at home in his family farm.
Sophie was a character I couldn’t help but feel for. She was the keeper of everyone’s secrets and that meant putting everyone else’s needs first, the bucket list she discovered when she returned home was relatively tame in the big scheme of things but it certainly took her out of her comfort zone. The really big one was the catalyst for the story and it played out completely different to the way I thought. Sophie broke her own heart to do what she thought was right and she carried around the guilt to protect those she loved, I couldn’t help but want for her to get her happily ever after.
I thought the pacing was pretty steady and unfolded as I would expect but then there seemed to be a lot jammed in the last 50 or so pages. The ending was quite rushed and a big event completely changed the trajectory of what was going on. It made sense the way it played out but it seemed quite rushed.
Once again Magro has painted a vivid picture of the small town setting, making readers fall in love with the small town of Shorefield with it’s open paddocks and gorgeous beaches.
A Country Mile was certainly a ride worth taking and a story I enjoyed, it was at times a little predictable but then some of the twists were completely out of left field. The mystery was well revealed and the secrets just kept piling up, though some things happened and then were almost forgotten from the story, some to resolve later and some were just gone and that seemed a little of an oversight. There were some elements that left me with questions but I think that could be just me overthinking things a little.
I enjoyed A Country Mile, and I’m enjoying watching the growth and maturity in Magro’s storytelling which will definitely have me looking out for her future books. Overall I think this is a solid read and I would recommend it.
A Country Mile is book #24 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.