For readers of Karly Lane and Tricia Stringer… misunderstandings and injured pride stand in the way of true love in this charming rural romance from an award-winning and much-loved author.
After a troubled childhood and the loss of her beloved grandmother, Sapphie Brown finally finds somewhere to call home – the close-knit rural community of Horseshoe Hill.
The locals love Sapphie because she never gives up – as chair of the environment committee, with the children in her classes, the troubled teens at the youth centre, the ex-racehorses she cares for and even the neglected farmhouse and gardens. Sapphie gives second chances to everything and everyone. Except Matts Laaksonen.
An impossibly attractive environmental engineer who travels the world, Matts was Sapphie’s closest childhood friend. He came to deliver a warning – now he doesn’t want to leave.
All Sapphie wants to do is forget their painful past but thrown together they discover an attraction that challenges what they thought they knew about each other. Do they have a chance to recapture what they lost so long ago? Or will long-buried secrets tear them apart?
It’s been a while since I read a rural romance, and it turns out, in a week of crazy politics and pandemics, a rural romance was exactly what I needed. Especially this one, which is a standout in the genre. It really does have depth, with interesting, complex characters and all the environmental themes weaved throughout. Janu educates readers about the destruction of wetlands and river systems, among other issues, without ever being preachy. Volunteering in animal rescue myself, I also like that Sapphie rescues horses.
I loved the setting of Horseshoe Hill, brought so vividly to life that I actually googled to see if it was real (and if I could move there!). It’s fictional, however it turns out Penelope set a previous novel there as well. There was something incredibly comforting about spending a few hours in this small town, with its quirky characters, including Sapphie’s students at the local school.
However, the key to this story really is the chemistry between Sapphie and Finnish Matts, her childhood friend. But chemistry might not be enough; there’s a history there she doesn’t want to revisit. In the flowers she creates from paper and the beauty that grows on the land, Sapphie has found perfect imperfection. Could that be what love is like too?
This is my first Penelope Janu novel, and I now understand why she’s so popular. If you’re not a fan of rural romance, this might be just the cure. If you are, then you’re in for a treat.
Take a break from the news and spend time in Horseshoe Hill. Well written, interesting and filled with heart, Starting From Scratch is the perfect weekend read.