A father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all.
Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.
Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.
I’m going to have to admit to some scepticism about this book. It had too many positive ratings, and no negative ratings. I wasn’t buying it.
Of course, I was wrong.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in some time, and I am very glad I took a chance on it.
It’s a mark of a good author that they can make you interested in something you have no interest in. I’d read this was a horsey book, and boy, it most certainly is. There’re more horse characters than human characters in Promises. Yet I found it fascinating. Like most girls, I went through the horse phase at a certain age (made worse by the fact my best friend had one, and also that I spent all of my spare time in a ballet studio – horse-riding was out of the question!). However, I grew out of that.
If I have a problem with Rural Fiction, it’s that many authors become so engrossed in farming details that they forget the majority of their readership couldn’t care less about how to look after sheep or cows! It takes a very special talent to draw a non-farmer reader into these details, and Cathryn Hein certainly has that talent. The characters’ stories evolved at the same time as they went about their daily business; I wasn’t bored because the farm work was a part of who they were, and it was essential to the evolution of the plot.
What makes Hein’s writing work is that she finds little moments to make her characters human and make them seem like real people. The brush of a thumb that gives away so many details. An expression on a character’s face that tells us things other authors would feel the need to spell out.
This is an emotional story, with a lot of imperfect people, and I loved that the author resisted tying everything up too neatly. Not everything works the way it would in an ideal fantasy world, and that made the book so much stronger.
So, my lucky streak with books set in rural Australia continues. Surely it’s going to end soon!