Author: Georgina Penney
Michael Joseph RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

9780143797081Expect entertainment, laughter and touching moments in Summer Harvest by Georgina Penney (Fly In Fly Out). Set in the beautiful Margaret River region (one of my favourite places), it’s a story of love and lust among the grapevines, complete with interfering family members, deadly Australian creatures, fisticuffs, puppies, and between-the-sheets escapades.

After being dumped by her husband when he found out she had breast cancer, Beth Poole is in a rut. She’s beaten the illness, divorced her loser husband, and moved in with her grandmother, but has no plans to have a life of her own. Luckily her grandmother, Violet, has plans; she sends Beth to Perth, Australia for some rest and relaxation, on the proviso that Beth gives her plenty of good gossip to talk about. Why didn’t her grandmother buy her a ticket to Australia’s east coast, she wonders. How do people survive in a country that’s “bloody hot” and teeming with deadly creatures? Has the heat sent them bonkers?

When Clayton Hardy nearly runs into Beth’s car on the side of the road, his first thought is that she is the one who’s bonkers. Inappropriate clothing for the climate … parking on a blind corner in the middle of nowhere. Bloody tourists, he thinks. But when he runs into Beth at his family-owned vineyard, he soon has other ways to describe her. Like, “not too bad” in the looks department, with a “compact backside” covered in a “sexy stack of a dress”, who smells “so good, vanilla-y fresh”. Pretty soon, Beth’s “pretty damn irresistable”. The two embark on a steamy affair that’s complicated by Beth’s hangup about her mastectomy, Clayton’s boisterous family, and miscommunication. Is this just a summer fling? Will the past repeat itself? Or will Clayton and Beth take their relationship to the next level?

I enjoy Penney’s writing. As with Fly In Fly Out, Summer Harvest is laced with self-deprecating Aussie humour, peopled with appealing and entertaining characters (Violet was my favourite), and set in a beautiful part of Western Australia. It felt familiar, and I do like that in a book now and then. She’s added depth with themes of loss and grief; the corresponding cancer-related storyline gives a very real insight into the reactive behaviour of such a diagnosis on others, as well as the psychological effects that can linger with survivors (and their families). The one thing I want to know is how the Hardy family had so many arguments at the vineyard, but never in front of the general public … pure luck?

Overall, an engaging and funny read, with plenty of romance, steamy romps, and the quintessential relaxed Aussie vibe. Enjoy it with a glass of wine – preferably from Margaret River. I can recommend the Swings and Roundabouts Chenin Blanc.

Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.




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