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The Boundary Fence (A Woodlea Novel, #7) Paperback – 20 Jan 2020
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About the Author
When USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen isn't writing, she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who believes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, Alissa has always been drawn to remote areas and small towns, even when residing overseas. She is partial to autumn colours, snowy peaks and historic homesteads and will drive hours to see an open garden. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take. She draws inspiration from the countryside around her, whether it be the brown snake at her back door or the resilience of bush communities in times of drought or flood. Her books are characteristically heartwarming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW.
To find out more, visit Alissa on her website.
You can also follow Alissa on Facebook and Pinterest.
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If you love reading about country Australia and its people then you’ll feel right at home in this book.
Woodlea is the quintessential country town complete with people who truly care about each other and for whom it’s never too much trouble to drop everything and lend a hand. Of course there’s the town busybody as well and Edna seems to know everything about everyone long before anybody else does. The town is also the perfect setting for vet Ella Quinlivan and bull-rider turned bison breeder Saul Armstrong to heal from past hurts and discover love.
Ella and Saul are well rounded characters, competent in their working lives while dealing with the issues that act as a boundary fence between them as neither wants to enter into a relationship that is anything more than friendship.
While the developing relationship between Ella and Saul is central to this story the subplot revolving around the missing daughter of Violet, the former owner of Ella’s house, provides added interest.
This book is feel-good rather than earth shattering, drawing readers into the lives of Ella, Saul and their community. It’s packed with cute goats, a flock of guinea fowl, horses, bison and Saul’s dog Duke, all of whom contribute to the rural quality of the story. I felt right at home.
This is a story about two people overcoming their own personal demons individually and together. Both Ella and Saul have difficult pasts, though I did think they were a little overblown in both of them thinking they could never find love again. Yes, ugly breakups happen. Most people* realise that it sucks, take some time to get past things, and are aware even at an early stage that this too shall pass and one day, hopefully, someone better will come along. (*The exceptions, and reasonably so, being victims of relationship abuse who Do Not Want another relationship Ever, but that wasn’t the case with either of these two). I’m not that fond of the I WIll Never Love Again But Whoops There You Are trope because it makes the character an unreliable narrator, and in this case it was both of the protagonists, something which made me pretty impatient with them.
This is Alissa Callen’s seventh book in the Woodlea series, and I haven’t read any of the others, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on too much by jumping in here. Woodlea is a vividly painted community suffering in the grip of the drought, even if it does appear a little too perfect to those of us who know what Australian farmers are currently going through, that’s forgivable because gritty financial struggles, depression and dying stock do not make a great background for romantic fiction. Instead Woodlea is the sanitised, prettified version of an Australian rural town we’d all like to see, inhabited by lots of friendly folks many of whom I suspect had their own books in the series already (there’s a wedding here for one couple). Still, there’s angst and tension aplenty, not least while Ella and Saul investigate the disappearance of a teen girl twenty years earlier to try and give her mother closure.
There were parts of this book I really loved: Callen does a great job of bringing rural Australia to life in her story and the way of life in a small town felt extremely realistic, especially with the town busybody poking her nose into everyone’s business. The community as a whole was really enjoyable to read about, it’s just that I didn’t feel all that invested in the romance at the heart of the story. Overall, I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.
Ella is a vet at Woodlea. Saul is her neighbour and he has bison. Their paths cross often because they live in a small town but both of them have been hurt and both of them are guarding their hearts.
The book, the first one in the series I have read, reads quite well as a standalone (although I couldn't figure out why Ella would want to visit the UK, after what happened there). Other than that, the story makes sense. I am sure that if I had read the other books in the series, reading this one would be a richer experience, but I liked it just as it was anyway.
Saul was a lovely fella, solid and caring. Ella was a kind, community-minded girl. I also liked the secondary characters in this book; I really felt like I was walking around in their community, at times, I could FEEL the sun on my shoulders and the dust in my nose.
4 stars from me.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia.