The Falls by Cathryn Hein
Review copy provided by publisher
Penguin Random House, April 2015
Synopsis- For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.
Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.
But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.
Review- The latest novel by Cathryn Hein, The Falls is set in a rural town in New South Wales. Teagen Bliss is devastated by her parent’s betrayal and the loss of her dream to manage her family’s farm in South Australia. She flees to her Aunt Vanessa’s home in NSW for respite, only to discover that she feels completely hopeless and depressed. With the support and nurturance of her Aunt, Teagan starts to find some sense of worth in working on the property and picking up a local job working with horses. Her Aunt’s friend and horse farrier Lucas Knight also helps to pass the time. Teagan is instantly attracted to him, but is no emotional state to enter into a relationship- not that she believes he’d ever have a romantic interest in her anyway. They develop a close friendship and Lucas proves to be a reliable friend and a committed lover; both of which Teagan finds completely overwhelming and unable to allow herself to enjoy. Her past experiences have landed her some major trust issues.
There are a lot of characters in The Falls, which helped to create a real community feel and a sense of place in Falls Valley. However, I felt that all the other characters and sub-plots got in the way of really fleshing out the conflict faced by Teagan and Lucas. The novel felt way too long for the rural romance genre and the numerous sub-plots really slowed down the pace of the story. Though I liked Teagan, her determination and hard-working demeanour, I felt the growth in her characterisation came quite late in the book when she acknowledges that she’s not coping. I’d have liked to see this happen earlier so that she could grow from that experience. In a long-winded story, the ending seemed a little rushed in that respect. As for the hero of the story, Lucas, I found him to be way too perfect and completely unrelateable. There’s so much focus on how amazingly good-looking he is and how Teagan cannot believe someone who stepped out of a Mills and Boone novel could ever be interested in her, that it completely overshadowed him as a man with any kind of substance. He certainly proves to be a reliable and supportive friend to Teagan, but I’d have preferred for these qualities to shine through rather than his glistening chest and warrior-like hair!
I’ve really enjoyed Hein’s novels in the past, but The Falls just didn’t do much for me. I struggled with the characterisation, the plot and the romantic elements. I did however love the setting, the small-town politics and the lessons that can be learnt from slowing down and enjoying a country way of life. While it wasn’t quite up to my expectations, if you’re a fan of Hein it is worth the read and I won’t hesitate to pick up any other of hers in the future.
“It was okay”
The Falls can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2015 challenge:
Book #9 reviewed