Aussie Book Review: The House at the Bottom of the Hill (Swallows Fall #3) by Jennie Jones
“From the best-selling author of House on Burra Burra Lane, comes a brand-new story about opposites, attraction, an outback pub, and a pink house...
The mysterious death of her mother has left Charlotte Simmons on edge and off-balance for too long. The only way to move forward is to get answers, and those answers can only be found in one place. So Charlotte buys a Bed & Breakfast establishment in Swallow’s Falls, a small town in Australia’s Snowy Mountains, as a ploy to get close to the man who might have the answers. She’ll jazz up the old place, flip it, get her answers, and be gone in two-months – max.
What she doesn’t count on is opposition from the dogmatic and slightly eccentric members of the town council, and the hotshot owner of Kookaburra’s Bar & Grill and his two-hundred-squats-a-day physique whose mouth offers to act as mediator, but his eyes promise something so much more.
Easy-going Daniel Bradford knows progress is slow in Swallow’s Fall. He’s finally about to put his plans into place to upgrade the hotel when a prim-and-proper, citified redhead blows into town, putting everyone on edge. The only way to contain the trouble she’s about to cause is to contain her – but he knows trouble when he sees it, and soon it becomes very clear that there’s absolutely nothing containable about Charlotte, or the way he feels about her.”
Jennie Jones invites you back to the drama and small town antics of Swallows Fall where the residents stick together, a slow-burn between the newcomer and a handsome resident will become a blazing fire, a mystery is about to be solved while a years old secret will unfold.
Charlotte Simmons has arrived in Swallows Fall all the way from the UK after the death of her grandmother and the sale of her beloved bed and breakfast business. Having been brought up by her gran after her mother’s mysterious death years before, she continues to be haunted by unanswered questions surrounding her mother’s murder and feels the only way she can get the truth about the man who murdered her mother is from Ethan Granger (House on Burra Burra Lane), his son.
Under the pretext of buying the local B & B (the house at the bottom of the hill) and renovating it so that she can begin trading as a going concern, she doesn’t realise that the residents have a certain pride for their town and are vehemently opposed to change so, when she makes plans to change the exterior colour of the cottage, she doesn’t count on the radical opposition she’s about to come up against. Thankfully she’s not planning on staying too long … all she needs to do is get Ethan on his own and ask him a few questions.
Her plans are somewhat thwarted though when she makes an unexpected friend in the form of Daniel Bradford, the owner of the local pub. Without meaning to, she soon finds herself being drawn in by his easy-going manner, his willingness to help her and his darned sexy butt! And then, there’s her dog Lucy! But, Daniel has his own secrets too!
This is the second book in the series (sorry Jennie, haven’t quite got to the Christmas novella, 12 Days at Silver Bells House yet) and again I have been enchanted by this little town of Swallows Fall (whose population has now increased to 97), wanting to visit so that I can see all the quaint old buildings, visit the pub, rock in a chair next to Grandy and listen to his reminiscences of times gone by, all the while learning everybody’s secrets.
Jennie’s writing is warm, inviting and extremely entertaining with her great wit and humour pervading the story in the interactions between both her main protagonists as well as her stellar but quirky cast of secondary characters such as Lucy (Charlotte’s four-legged friend), Mrs Tam, Mrs J, Ted, the twins, Ruby the pig and, of course, dear old Grandy, the town’s intuitive patriarch. Her incorporation of a number of the characters we grew to love in The House on Burra Burra Lane (my review here) also gives this novel a sense of continuity whilst providing some closure on a previous hot topic.
The question of the colour of the house at the bottom of the hill, in addition to Charlotte’s agenda for being in Swallows Fall and the unwanted sparks that begin to fly between her and Daniel, provides the motivation for most of the conflict in the story and, as a rural romance, this works well in keeping the momentum of the book going.
Jennie truly does capture the heart of a small Aussie town from the close-knit community to the pride of its residents, right down to the gossip-mongering and, like Burra Burra, there’s a bit of mystery at its heart and sadness as its core.
Charming, warm, mysterious and romantic, all you romance buffs out there need to come home to Swallows Fall!
I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a hard copy ARC of this novel.
About the Author
Born and brought up in Wales, Jennie Jones loved anything with a romantic element from an early age. At eighteen, she went to drama school in London then spent a number of years performing in British theatres, becoming someone else two hours, eight performances a week.
Jennie wrote her first romance story at the age of twenty five whilst ‘resting’ (a theatrical term for ‘out of work’). She wrote a western! But nobody wanted it. Before she got discouraged a musical theatre job came up and Jennie put writing to one side.
She now lives in Western Australia, a five minute walk to the beach that she loves to look at but hardly ever goes to - too much sand.