Author: Penelope Janu
Publication Date: June 18, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
I read In at the Deep End by Penelope Janu last year and loved it, I had my hand up to book club her new release as soon as I knew when it was releasing I think. She writes intriguingly damaged characters with both sensitivity and a touch of mystery.
Golden Saunders lives a small and comfortable life she loves, away from the hype of her former life. She is a speech pathologist who includes animal therapy in her work with children at her home. She isn’t interested in the political elements of her stepfathers life or the racing community that was once such an integral part of her life. A corruption scandal saw her cut all ties with the racing world and concentrate on her work, her children and her own horses.
Tor Amundsen is a diplomat from the United Nations who has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get in touch with Golden. Eventually he arrives on her doorstep first thing in the morning and she is persuaded to help. Tor is investigating corruption and part of that investigation involves Golden’s family, and a life she thought she had walked away from.
These two characters have a combustible chemistry between them from the outset, but the sparks that fly are generally from them rubbing the wrong way on one another. They spent a lot of time aggravated with one another and arguing but through it all you could see the underlying attraction.
On The Right Track is told in the first person by Golden, a fierce and courageous young woman who did some serious damage to her leg in a horse-riding accident as a teen. The accident cost her the chance to become a professional jockey and all riding comes with hazards and consequences now. Her leg was pretty convincingly mangled and still years later it gives her trouble, and is heavily scarred. She has been left with trust issues and is self conscious about her leg.
Golden has been dictated to by men her whole life and she doesn’t intend to allow Tor to push her around as well. She has been convinced (blackmailed) into helping with his inquiries but she is far from happy about it; until she comes to term with the fact that the investigation will happen regardless, and maybe it’s time she got to the bottom of the situation and found out the truth so she can finally put it behind her.
On The Right Track is an entertaining cocktail of chemistry, mystery, humour, compassion and romance with a shot of children and animals to top it off. There is more than a dash of spice but it wasn’t graphically detailed or gratuitous. Golden has been hurt before and the injuries to her leg make many activities difficult and painful for her, it was relevant to the story for some scenes to be included that could have just faded to black and happened off the page.
Golden has maintained faith in her grandfather, and tried to hold onto faith in her father, through it all but now it’s being dragged back up and maybe she needs to put it to rest. She began helping under sufferance but the further they go the more she wants to be involved, hoping to find something that will offer her the closure she needs.
Golden has always prided herself on being able to read people, on being observant enough to notice the little things, the body language. This is something that I am sure is very helpful to her in her work but it doesn’t quite do enough for her with the enigmatic Tor Amundsen. She can see when there’s a little more than what he said but that’s about it, until they start to get to know one another and then she learns to read him a little better.
It has been said that Golden is difficult, she’s prickly, she’s contrary and the more I learnt about her, the more I got to know her, the more I could understand exactly why she was so contrary. She has been manipulated and threatened into doing what people want her to do throughout her life’ she’s been let down by those who were supposed to love and stand by her and the only unconditional love she ever received was from her grandfather.
Tor is quite closed off and doesn’t make connections easy so it was interesting to watch his character unfold as we got to know him; to watch what seemed to be inconsistencies in his behaviour. His work as a diplomat means he is also very good at reading people and is pretty good at reading Golden but that doesn’t mean he agrees with her, or appreciates her stubborn streak.
I loved everything about this book. The interactions between Tor and Golden were fabulous, they ran the entire range of emotions and you saw the inner turmoil they faced as the characteristics that frustrated them should have been enough to turn them off but weren’t. You saw the scars they carried that meant they didn’t form attachments and you wondered how it would all turn out.
Golden is a speech pathologist who often tells her children (clients) that she loves to hear their voice, she loves it when they talk yet she finds it very difficult to communicate with Tor. An element of the story that I did particularly love was the time Janu spent acquainting us with Golden’s children and their particular challenges, and their triumphs.
On The Right Track has a bit of everything and it is a book I would have loved to sit and devour but life didn’t let me play that way, instead I had to take it a little slower and savour it.
We did get to take a little peek in at Per and Harriet from In at the Deep End but it was only a fleeting glimpse, these are very much stand alone stories.
I would unreservedly recommend this one. Thank you to Harlequin for supplying my copy for review, and copies for the book club members.