Author: Cathryn Hein
Heart of the Valley is the childhood fantasy of every young girl who grew up wanting a pony, until it turns into a nightmare anyway.
Rural Romance seems to be the genre of the moment and Cathryn Hein has written a beautiful novel that fits perfectly on the shelf alongside the growing number of others I have read.
Recently I interviewed Cathryn and mentioned that I couldn’t wait to read it if her bubbly personality shone through in her writing. Well I’m here to tell you that her bubbly personality does more than shine through, it resonates on most pages of this book, and the ones it doesn’t are even more heartbreaking because you know bubbly is not appropriate.
There are some extremely heartwarming and tender moments that have you reaching for the metaphorical tissues in the ‘awwww’ moments. The romance isn’t overt and in your face every page, it is very much a case of the promise of romance insinuated throughout. That tension that crackles and leaves you wondering whether it is ever going to reach the point of consummation.
You are going to need the physical tissues though, regardless of how tough you think you are you are going to need the tissues. If you have an empathetic bone in your body anywhere you ARE going to need to keep the tissues handy and the worst thing about that is that it is really quite difficult to read around tears. I don’t want to put spoilers in so I should probably not say any more about it. Let’s just say that there are some scenes with heartbreak so devastating that you can’t help but be drawn in.
Central to this story is horses. Anyone who loves horses and feels an affinity with them is going to love this book. Every event and action revolves around the horses to some extent. Cathryn’s love of horses is plain to see and that love radiates through every passage written about one of the horse characters in Heart of the Valley.
Brooke is our protagonist and she works with show horses at Kingston Downs while the rest of the family work with racehorses at Kingston Lodge. A tragic accident threatens to take everything that she loves unless she can find a way to mend her broken heart.
Then there’s Lachie, newcomer to Kingston Downs and a real toss-up between part of the problem and part of the solution, carrying some pretty heavy baggage of his own.
And the best friends, Chloe and Andrew, who along with Brooke, make for a rather unlikely threesome. Best friends since school and trying to maintain the status quo to save the friendship. Will they ever realise that sometimes things need to change?
All of our main characters, the human ones anyway, come into this book with some very definite goals. They all know exactly what they want but not all are clear on how to get it. When all is said and done are these dreams going to remain the same?
The tenderness, the horror, the love, the underlying emotions not discussed, the beautiful scenery. It all comes together beautifully but the centrepiece and the showstopper is definitely the horses and Brooke’s love for them. Even the romance is overshadowed… actually that’s not right, let me try again.
There is a quite definite human romance or two in Heart of the Valley, that can not be denied, and they are quite beautiful – though at times the happy endings is uncertain. These romances are left in the dust of the romance Cathryn brings to Brooke’s love affair with her horses.
Whether you love horses or not I think you are going to find something to love in this book. It is emotional and will take you on a journey through a wide range of emotions and leave you satisfied – though with some open questions.