Sunday, July 27, 2014

Country Loving by Cathy Woodman

4.5 Star

Romance blossoms between Talyton St George's newest farmer and her local vet. 

Successful city accountant Stevie receives two surprises in one week: a proposal of marriage from her boyfriend Nick and a phone call begging her to return to the family farm in Devon to help out after her father has a stroke.

But what she thought would be a long weekend in the country turns into much longer as she struggles to bring order to her father's rundown farm. Finally, she decides to give up her job -- and her fiance -- and take on the farm permanently. She dreams of turning it into a tourist attraction, never realising it would be so difficult. But with the help of many of Talyton St George's local residents, and the locum vet Leon, she is starting to make progress. Until a life-changing complication throws all her plans into disarray, and destroys her growing romance with Leon.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

Country Loving was not at all what I was expecting from the cover art- I had predicted a bit of a slow paced country village tale with simple characters that didn’t do much of anything but I was only half right. While the setting is simple and the tale of girl meets boy is common I found the people of Talyton St George to be intriguing and their interactions refreshing. I suppose it’s a modern day farming community with some of the old traditions mixed in what with the “lady farmers” and modern way of life!

Cathy Woodman’s heroine, Stevie, is awfully feisty in a lot of ways, particularly in regards to her feelings about the family farm. Her plans for a petting zoo, to bring Nettlebed farm back to life, were undertaken with strength and conviction that she was on the right path.  I liked her immediately but found her lack of confidence with the attraction to the local vet to be a bit out of character. I suppose her being vulnerable in love was due to her recent breakup but it didn’t fit for me with the woman tackling her father’s failing farm.

My heart was warmed by farm manager Cecil, his wife and the friends who came to help Stevie. I even had a bit of a soft spot for her curmudgeonly father (who really could have been a bit nicer to his daughter!). Woodman also brought in some nosey and/or grumpy neighbours to round out the idea of village life.  

But I was most stuck into the farm life, the mud, the cows and the whole farming thing. Country Loving has that simple story line but doesn’t miss out on giving us a good feel for the hard work and reward of being a farmer. I come from a long line of cow people (according to my mother) and have a cousin who recently retired from caring for a herd in Buckinghamshire.  We are always pulling over on trips to look at cows and I appreciated Woodman’s knowledge of farming peppered throughout the novel – without actually having to be stuck in the pile of cow manure myself.

I’d definitely pick up another novel by Cathy Woodman!

Thank you to Random House UK for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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