Summer harvest by Georgina Penney

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Penguin Books Australia, 2016. ISBN 9780143797081
(Age: Adult) Romance. Illness. Beth Poole is a dog trainer, whose life has been turned upside down after a life threatening illness and the desertion of her husband. Her grandmother, obsessed with Australian soaps, sends her off on a holiday to Australia, but it is not to the east coast of her TV shows, rather it is to Western Australia. Beth decides to make the most of it and books an extended holiday at Margaret River, hoping to rest but the Hardy clan make it difficult for her to retreat and Clayton Hardy is the most interesting of all. Can she overcome the doubts that her past experiences have given her and learn to trust and love again?
This was a romantic story that flowed beautifully and was easy to read. Beth's dilemma arising from her past illness grabbed at the heartstrings as she gradually regained her self-confidence, started to wear attractive clothes and broke her self-imposed isolation by making new friends. Clayton Hardy is also an engaging character, who has hidden depths and fears that he too has to overcome before he finds his true love. Penney sensitively delves into the ways that people cope with serious illness and how buried grief can affect relationships.
The setting of Margaret River, the beach, the wineries with their delicious sounding wines, the food and moments set in the vineyards under the moon, brought back memories of a lovely holiday spent there. Penney's description of the area will certainly give readers who have never visited the area a desire to do so.
This is an engaging romance that is sure to entertain with its romance and family bickering, and its underlying serious theme will also engage the emotions. It reads well as a stand-alone, and people who enjoyed it will be pleased to know that Penney's previous book, Fly in Fly out, also features the Hardy family.
Pat Pledger