Bittersweet Australian Rural RomanceWhen Isabelle Cassidy’s husband dies, he leaves her not just their two children but also all the debts from their overextended city lifestyle. Isabelle applies for a reduced rent property in the tiny South Australian town of Stony Creek as a way of getting back on her feet financially, and providing her small family with a new start. While she does have some trouble adjusting to life in the small town, her major issues are her son—who keeps getting into trouble at school—and her own inability to move on from life with Dan.
The Peppercorn Project is the first book in a new rural romance series from Australian author Nicki Edwards. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the books in her first series (and I think there is still one more to come in her Escape to the Country series, because there is one recurring character she has yet to marry off).
I think there are a couple of reasons I didn’t enjoy this as much. One is that the first book in a series often has a lot of setting in terms of time and place and introducing new characters, and it naturally feels a little unfamiliar.
Another is that The Peppercorn Project is about a widow who is still in love with her husband for much of the book—which meant she wasn’t a character I found it easy to related to (but let’s be honest. Who wants to be able to relate to a widow who lost the love of her life in a freak accident?). This meant the romance took a long time to get going, and felt a little rushed towards the end.
I’ll also provide a brief content warning: while Nicki Edwards is a Christian, The Peppercorn Project is a general market romance novel. It’s clean, but there are still a few scenes that many Christian romance readers won’t feel comfortable with.
But those slight niggles aside, The Peppercorn Project is an enjoyable light romance with shades of darker issues, like the drug problems affecting rural Australian communities. The cover is lovely, the writing is good, and the characters are excellent.
Matt Robertson is a worthy hero, a policeman intent on protecting his adopted community of Stony Creek . . . and the beautiful wounded widow who has just moved into town. Issie is fragile and distant, daughter Mietta is a darling, and Fletcher is achingly familiar. The townsfolk range from goodheartedly interfering to downright irritating, which is exactly as it should be (after all, we have to get to know some characters so we have an idea of what to expect in the next novel in the series).
Overall, this is an enjoyable light read with a location and characters I’ll want to come back to. Only no more distraught widows, please!
Thanks to Momentum Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Nicki Edwards at her website (http://www.nickiedwards.com.au/).