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Feature book: Paperbark Hill

17 August 2022

Paperbark Hill by Maya Linnell

Series: McIntyre Sisters #4
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 31 May 2022
Publisher: ‎ Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 400 pages
RRP: $23.99 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

Readers, what a divine cover. Maya Linnell said in an RWA interview that the pictured garden on the cover is actually her own! How absolutely wonderful.

This is the fourth book about the McIntyre sisters in rural Victoria, and we can’t get enough of them. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the previous books, you can easily figure out who’s who.

The four girls (and their father) have country at heart. They feel truly centred and the most productive and healthy when they come back to the area that has nurtured them as they’ve grown. Family is dear to their hearts, and those priorities of family, the land and their community provide the background for rural romance at its best.

We’ve met widowed Diana McIntyre and her four children (three boys and a girl) before. Her deceased husband Pete is still a beloved character here, as he should be. Diana misses him very much. Her children miss him very much, particularly her teenage son Cameron who is old enough to have the most memories—and old enough to be hostile to anyone who might take his father’s place in his mother’s heart.

Diana’s dream has been to start a flower farm specialising in dahlias. As she finally begins, she is met with tragedy: her elderly mentor Colin Gardiner suddenly dies. He was her chief support and advisor, and she has no idea how she is going to manage without his help. Plus, she truly cared for him.

Colin’s pharmacist son Ned Gardiner races home to be with him—and that’s a very poignant journey. Ned’s a single dad, whose wife left him, and he now spends his life travelling with his young children around Australia, using pharmacy locums to move around and tick off places his deceased sister had longed to visit.

To say his relationship with his parents is complicated is an understatement but saying too much here would be a spoiler. Still, he mourns his father very much. With his brother Jonno on an expedition to the Antarctic (and a very interesting brother he is, too), Ned stays on the family farm to settle his father’s estate and reconnect with his absent mother.

Diana impulsively offers him a job helping her on the flower farm. She’s planted plenty of other flowers as well as dahlias, and she is very excited as the orders for bouquets and deliveries rise quickly. She’s also working towards an on-site book launch with a popular gardening author and desperately needs help. I think she and Ned are both surprised when he agrees, though he considers it very temporary.

Can this be a chance for Diana and Ned to find rest and peace and romance with each other, even as they balance two farms and their families between them? How can it last? It’s only temporary, right?

A very enjoyable heart-warmer.

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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